Saturday, April 3, 2010

First days in Africa

I have now been in Africa for my first 48 hours. Drinking my second cup of African coffee on Easter morning I can hear the cliche sounding cock-a-doodle-do’s from the neighbors rooster. My head is trying to process all the new things around me, and I feel like its on a dial up connection. A great deal is different, yet a great deal is the same. People are extremely friendly, food tastes very good, drivers are crazy, yet they don’t get mad during, and the atmosphere is laid back. People focus on relationships here. They carry live chickens by their wings. Everything is green and only some roads are paved. I am not sure where to start, or how to really blog. I have a thousand things running through my head looking for a place to make sense of my surroundings and experiences. Brother Jay picked me up from the airport. At first I thought he was driving which slightly terrified me, yet I acted confident. Patrick drove. We got into town and picked up my cell phone. Its like those nokia’s everyone used to have equipped with snake. It has a built in flashlight too. I was excited about that. The house is pretty nice. We have bathrooms, a shower bin, a kitchen, a porch and beds with mosquito nets hanging from the ceiling. When my imagination takes lead, I just think they are like the tents I used to build with sheets and pillows when I was a kid. No big difference, yet this one is guarding me from deadly disease carrying insects, not make believe things or G.I. Joe’s. Food is great. Different, bland, and less, but still good. We have been to a few small restaurants that have open air atmosphere and everything from chicken (encoco) to Porshe (not sure exactly. A little like white playdo?) Last night I had peanut butter and bananas on kipati’s (tortillas) Like every Saturday in the future, yesterday, we went to the Mercy Home, which is an orphanage for children from about 2yrs to 18yrs. I left speechless, fighting tears. I don’t really know what words could be best used to describe what is there but I will try. I hope these pictures help some. Muddy roads lead us to the gate that opened to many children’s love, affection, and hungry stomachs. We were greeted by a dozen or so kids all happy to see us. “Mzungu!!”, they shout as our van puttered to a stop. Mzungu translates to white person basically, but it does not have a negative connotation like these words do in the states. They had joy on their face to see us, and were delighted to see Jay since they have previously met. We brought rice and beans to feed to them since they only eat a few times a week.... Yes, a few times a week. I know... We got the center of the orphanage and I asked how many children lived there. I heard Patrick respond 23, but I soon realized I lost the true number in his Ugandan English. There is actually 103. Saxson (one of the older guys in the orphanage) got all of us to sit down. He said in broken English “We want you to know how thankful we are you all come each week, but we have nothing to give you. Instead, we have prepared song and dance for you.” They sang praise songs to God, and danced to show their thanks. I was speechless and felt so unworthy of thanks. Then guilty of the backpack a brought worth more than what these kids have ever had combined. They praised God and sang songs. It is incredible to see their joy in Christ. Then they all taught me to “pick rice”, which means pick out the stones in the uncooked rice, because it is “not good for the teeth.” During picking rice, I felt the presence of God like never before. Knowing these kids situations, seeing their love for Him in the midst of poverty, and trying to clear my head and worship by picking rice was a new and incredible experience. All these kids want to do is lay on you and hold your hand. They were enthralled with my hands, exploring a different skin color. Daniel, one of the older boys, wanted to show me his “acrobats”, which was him balancing bottles on a stick held by his teeth. It was actually very impressive. I didn’t attempt it. Broken glass bad for feet. I took a great deal of these pictures just to show the children their portrait, which they loved because I guess they don’t see themselves often. There was a language barrier that kept us from talking deeper than names, but a close friend of mine told me today that even as cliche as it sounds, Love is a universal language that shows Christ without words. (Thanks!) I wasn’t able to bust out my new haki sak yet(One other universal language), but I will be sure to bring it next time. The children lined up, youngest to oldest, to receive food. They waited quietly, did not argue, act out, or act impatient. They had better manners than any child I have met. Each one said thank you, or “Webale” in Luganda. Overall, it was a very mixed emotion experience. Sadness to see these children living with literally nothing. Pure joy watching their faces singing praise songs to Jesus. Guilt of my possessions and what I take for granted. Happiness holding and loving on these babies. Questions wandering now what I do to change this. As I said, there are no real words to describe this.
There was a gecko in Jay’s room today. I think I will name it Gary if I see it again.
I have my own bicycle. it is a Panasonic ProngedHorn. I road it in our yard and after the wheel turned the opposite direction I was steering, crashed. I knew I shouldn’t trust a bike made by an electronics manufacturer.
There are bearded dragon’s that run wild here. If someone had told me that, I would have been here years ago. I haven’t got a picture yet, but one I do promise. Alfred, the one other man that lives with us, said sometimes he finds Chameleons! ...The search is on!
Jay and I conducted an experiment today with the water purification system Colby gave us. We don’t have the instructions, so we winged it. I am the control. Jay is the variable. He tried to the water, and I didn’t. So if something happens to Jay, we know it didn’t work.
Now it is Easter morning. The first Easter morning I have spent away from family, friends and the United States. (by the way, I miss you all). Today is the day which make us Christians are who we are. Followers of Christ are built on what happened today many years ago. The resurrection of Jesus, which is a much more than just another holiday or reason to go to church. It is what gives us all the opportunity of forgiven sins, eternal life, and life to the fullest in Him. Easter is what gives us the confidence we stand on, the faith we have, and the assurance in Christ. Today is a day to celebrate. By his wounds we are healed. Today is the reason Jay and I are here. God on earth giving us Jesus Christ, Son of God, Word in flesh, was sinless, the spotless lamb that paid for all of our sins. He said on the cross “Tetelestai.” It is finished. Paid in full. Now, on Easter morning, think about today, and why it is what it is. Wow. It blows me away when I really think about it. I have been trying to find how to say Praise be to God in Luganda, but no luck yet. Maybe next time.


  1. Hey Allen! I am so glad to see the pictures and to know that you there nice and safe with Jay! For a person that says they don't know how to blog, that was a really great blog! I will contine to keep you in my prayers and know that you are doing amazing works for God over there. Have a wonderful Easter!


  2. Allen, happy Easter! What a wonderful place you are in to spend it. Glad I found your blog — I'll definitely be keeping up with you and your good works. I can't find out how to say "Praise be to God" in Luganda, but I did find that "Praise the Lord" is "Mokamiye Bazibwe." Don't ask me how to pronounce it, haha. We miss you! Glad to see you brought the hammock :)

  3. Love to hear how you are Allen, our prayers are with you! This post is very touching and funny! You are a great writer!! Keep up the amazing work God has in store for you! Adria has kept me up to date lately and I am amazed at the people and things God has done to prepare you for this journey, I can't wait to read as it continues.

  4. ALLEN!!!
    So glad you are blogging so we can keep up with your African adventures! Keep the posts coming! Miss you-Kelly & Tyler Johnson

  5. Hi Allen....I love your blog...great detail and emotion, really sharing. And I'm so excited for you...what a road you're on right now, one that will change you for life. I wonder, what would it take, money-wise, infrastructure wise, to make sure those kids got fed every day. Can you find out? Love, Donna

  6. This is truly amazing, Allen. Tears of happiness running down my face. God is so good.