Happy New Year!

Today I am thankful.  Thankful for new beginnings, for the chance to start over fresh.  Thankful for the gift of life.  For beauty, for friendship, for experiences.  I am thankful for all the people that helped make 2010 a year to remember.  There were certainly challenges and I can’t say it was an easy year.  But I am thankful that God is helping me grow through the hardships and that He is giving me renewed strength to embrace this new year.  I am thankful for my new friends here in Uganda.  For this awesome opportunity to serve here at the NewstART center in Kitala.  For the welcome of these boys, who have literally opened their home to me.  For Uganda and all its beauty and pain.
Getting here from Masindi was no small feat.  I took the bus, which was overcrowded and reaked of body odor, farm animals and exhaust fumes.  I had been warned by the US embassy that public transportation in Uganda right now is unsafe, so I spent much of the 4-hour journey praying for safety and peace.  Somewhere along the bumpy dirt road, we stopped at a police patrol and a police man with an AK47 got on the bus.  He proceeded to tell us all that it was very dangerous traveling to Kampala and we should all be alert for potential terrorist threats.  He said there have been bomb threats every day and we just need to be continually vigilant.  To say it didn’t scare me would be a lie.  But getting off the bus would have been foolish, so I turned up my music and jammed out to some Imogen Heap. 
In Kampala, I was overwhelmed by the swarms of people and the insane traffic.  I walked from the bus terminal to the taxi pile-up, where I was shoved onto a taxi to Entebbe.  The taxis here are 15-seater vans which usually have more than 15 people crammed into them, as well as various other items and accesories. 
Thankfully, my trip ended smoothly and I arrived at the NewstART center around 3pm.  The boys all were so happy to see me and welcomed me very graciously into their house.  They are so full of life and energy and love–each one of them is unique and I am honored to have this opportunity to live with them for the next 5 months.  They do all their own cooking, cleaning and laundry, which is very impressive!  They cook over a small charcoal stove, outside.  Everything takes a lot longer to prepare, but tastes so good!!  They do not have running water, but have electricity…which apparently is very unreliable.  The first night I was here, the power went out, and we ate our dinner by candlelight.  It is very striking how dark it is here–I feel like I’ve come from an overlit city to a black expanse of nothing.  Of course, on the plus side, this lack of unnatural lighting makes the stars incredibly brilliant! 
Our New Years celebration last night was fantastic:)  We had a full blown Ugandan party!  It started around 5pm with the boys catching and slaughtering 2 chickens.  Then Andrew had invited several women over to help with the cooking.  The boys decided to start dancing, and we enjoyed some Ugandan reggae while they showed off their skills.  They are very talented dancers!  For dinner, they set up chairs in a circle outside and made a bonfire using scraps of wood from the neighbor’s building project.  They cooked meat on sticks over the fire, and we ate an amazing feast of whole potatoes deep fried, fried bananas, cabbage salad, and pineapple.  It was delicious!  We welcomed in the new year with lots of singing, dancing and djembe playing around the fire.  It was an unforgettable experience and an awesome way to start the year 2011.

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One response to “Happy New Year!

  1. I love every minute of this – even the scary busride bc you are so clearly protected and desired there. Thanks so much for posting you brave, wonderful girl. Welcome 2011! I am praying that this year is such a season of blessing for you (if it is in His will and timing, of course – and it sounds like it is!) love you :)… And miss you, too

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