George offered to come by early in the morning to take Jordan and Emily shopping for machetes. Yes, you read that correctly. They each wanted to bring one home and George assured them he knew where to go for the best quality and lowest price. So, at eight o’clock in the morning he arrived. We fed him his breakfast and then we walked down to the main road so they could all hop on bodas to get to their shop. Emily so badly wanted to try a boda ride. It made me nervous because I remember a promise I made to her parents that I would not allow her to enter into danger. I know for sure bodas are dangerous and George showed me a scar to prove what happens if you don’t hold on with both hands. I hardly had to mention my concern for this adventure before George was on the phone calling his friend who is known as the “best and safest” boda driver in Kampala. He called him to drive Emily. So the three of them hopped onto the back of motorcycles at the cost of $2.50 and disappeared weaving through the Kampala streets.
A half hour later they re-appeared at the house carrying four machetes each and a live chicken in their hands! They stopped at one of the markets on the street where chickens are in cages and bought our dinner. It was hilarious. We plan to have a slaughter lesson by our friend David so Emily can prepare a delicious stew for dinner. Of course the boys are planning to video tape the entire show. Emily is the one most willing to do the slaughter, she lives on a farm after all, don’t let the beauty and brains fool you she’s got brawn too. Craig has heard his oldest brother Don, Emily’s father, has slaughtered and plucked a chicken in eight minutes. The little brother in Craig just has to know he can do it faster than his older brother. I suppose this proves the little boy never leaves the man. I have no doubt he will squeak in under eight minutes.
We walked towards the market, and George showed Emily and Jordan where to sharpen their new weapons. The man proceeded to sharpen two of the machetes there on the street. They wrapped them up so no one on the street would be afraid of two mzungus walking along with two sharp machetes and returned them to the house. They met up with us quickly as we made our way to the market. George was impressed that the women of the local market knew me, thanks to Kira who is my ticket in, as they waved hello to us passing by. Hidden way in the back is the food stall market where we buy our fresh fruits and vegetables every day. This is a place where I’ve been slowly working on the trust and friendship of the people. They were wary of me at first, but now I’m not such a strange sight. This was the first visit for Donny and Jordan. It is quite a cultural experience. I try to buy from everyone there, but by now there is an old woman I adore who loves Kira and gives me lower prices each time I visit. We selected some ripe avocado. Donny looked at the size of it and asked seriously if it was a papaya. There is an avocado tree in the back of this house, and I dream of having one of my own some day. The land here in the south of Uganda is among the most fertile in all of Africa. The people here are so blessed with good growing conditions and delicious produce.
Jack took my camera with the small lens and began snapping pictures of me there in the market. This is one place that I am seriously careful and tentative about shooting pictures. They don’t like it so much to be a tourist attraction. Only after a couple weeks have I been able to begin to take photos of those I know. I didn’t think anyone would mind if a cute kid like Jack took pictures, so I set the camera with settings to shoot in the dark without the flash so he could be a little more inconspicuous and I patted his behind to go see what he could capture. He wanted a picture of a rooster a few stalls beyond where we were and the next thing I know there is a woman who is raising a straw broom and yelling at him in Lugandan. He backed away a little stunned. I asked George why she was angry, and he said, “because he was taking a picture without buying from her”. I felt horrible. I suggested we go buy our peas from her and apologize but George said, “no, it is time to leave. When someone acts angry, it is time to go.” So we left. Jack needed a little encouragement to understand this cultural problem and not take it personally. His feelings were hurt and he was a bit shaken as no one is ever angry with him. Usually he’s collecting a crowd of friends where ever he goes. He was cured from his heavy heart with a can of sprite from the supermarket. He went home and recorded the event in his journal. I made a mental note to purchase some food from the woman over the next few days so she isn’t harsh with us anymore. I have this personal goal of being accepted by the people at the market so they call me friend, not the mzungu woman with one of their children. It’s a tough crowd to crack open, but I am up for the challenge. I have three more weeks here, and I’m determined for them to all like me by the time I go. George said I am a real Ugandan for even trying to shop back there. I may not be that, but my daughter is, and wherever she may go I will lead her so I must first be accepted and comfortable wherever that may be. I am a real mama.
After our shopping adventures Craig and I left for the day to go to the Embassy for our visa appointment. First we stopped at the bank because I’ve managed to spend all the money we brought! That’s no surprise to anyone. Long ago he and I made a deal. He can enjoy magic cupboards that remain stocked with his favorite foods, and the magic drawers where clean folded clothes appear while I enjoy the magic bank account that dispenses the money to make his magic- and then some, occur. It’s worked so far in our twenty years together. I often get teased that I need to become a profit center and not the cost center. But we both know my work makes heavenly deposits for eternity as I raise the leaders of the next generation. My side collections and hobbies come with the deal and keep me cute enough to keep around.
Anyway, with a pocket reloaded with shillings we enjoyed a lunch in a nice restaurant with Kira as our center of attention. Dining will no longer be relaxing for us when we bring her along. That doesn’t bother us so much, as we have had our fill of years of dining in luxury and we know there’s nothing more important than the minutes spent raising a baby because they quickly disappear. Craig is so wonderful with her. He walked her around so she could see other children. She’s so social, it enthralls her to meet people and observe what they do. She’s teething again and it’s driving her mad so he went to the pharmacy to get some pain reliever. Already he can’t bear to see his little girl suffer.
At the embassy Craig had his first experience being stripped of his electronics. They locked up his favorite toy before allowing him into the embassy. Without a blackberry he twitches. (So do I.) We waited for an hour and a half with our friends from the house who also had appointments. CNN played on a tv in the corner. I haven’t watched tv since arriving and the sight of Larry King reminded me how happy that had made me. We watched our friend, Dan Owens, who is staying at our house, receive the visa packets for the two children he is adopting. To see him grasp the package was emotional. It symbolizes the end of it all. They went home to the house, packed, and left in the evening after happy/sad good-byes so they could introduce their children to America and their three siblings waiting at home. As Craig and I watched them go we could only praise God for the obedience of Dan and his family to give love and opportunity to these two children who had once been in the absolute worst possible conditions here that you can imagine. God can accomplish so much with willing obedient hearts. I will share more of their story some day. I will also add his blog to my blog roll and I promise you will be inspired by what they endeavor to do for Uganda.
We had our simple appointment with the counselor for our visa. We passed a year’s worth of information through the window, answered her question about how we came to know about Kira and enjoyed the compliments she gave our cute babbling baby on my lap. She thanked us for caring about the children in this country. After a few minutes she said, well if you aren’t planning to fly home right away I will have this ready for you next Wednesday. Considering I am staying until January 15th no matter what, this was perfectly acceptable for us. We walked towards the street feeling a great relief. The work and appointments here for our adoption are complete. The only thing left is to have that package put in our hands as we saw Dan receive his. There was a quiet joy and also an unexpected sadness knowing our time here will soon end.
Craig and I took a taxi for the first time ever. It’s a van stuffed with people and they stop wherever you need to be let out. It cost two shillings for the both of us. That’s a deal. The only problem was they didn’t speak any English so accurately describing where we needed to get out was challenging. Thankfully hand gestures speak a universal language.
Returning to the house we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with beautiful sunny weather that included a regular wave of cool breezes to keep us smiling. We spent the afternoon like it was a Sabbath, and it was greatly needed as we have all been going at a pace that even teenagers can barely manage. Emily cooked chipote, a seasoned pan fried bread that resembles a thick tastier tortilla. We enjoyed how she conducted her crew of helpers (my boys) in the kitchen to pitch in and work. She’s so much fun to have in our family. She placed a fried egg in the center of each chipote, some chopped ham, tomatoes, avocado and shredded cheese and rolled them up like burritos. Traditionally here it is called a “rolex” and you can buy them on the street, but we added the ham, cheese and avocado because we are American and we like to “have it our way”. She gets so much joy out of preparing food for others, it really is a gift she offers to everyone we meet here. We are always snagging people to come for dinner. And to sit at the table here in Uganda as a family and enjoy conversation and a meal with new friends is almost better than any other activity we could try. Seeing elephants and giraffe walk in front of our truck might slightly override, but I’m not absolutely sure.
While we ate we discussed the ministry projects we have yet to accomplish with our remaining time in Uganda. With our adoption work finished we will focus seriously on accomplishing all we can for the people we love here before we pack and wave good-bye. Emily and I agree we are not yet thinking about being home. We are still on for the adventures ahead, and eager to push more and more into our time so we can know for sure we gave God our best efforts here. Craig mentioned putting together a mission team to come in June to help at an orphanage. It would coincide with George’s wedding, as he has asked me to be his photographer. We are seriously considering a way to get me here to do that for him. Who knows? We are prayerfully requesting God show us a clear plan and give us willing people to come help a cause I am going to share with you soon. I am thankful God has shown me personally what I need to do next for the people in Uganda. I am burdened with the passion to make a difference and with God as my strength and provider, there’s no limit to what can be done.