Monday, February 27, 2012

Mistaken for Maturi

This is a conversation I had today while I was in the local Forex Bureau changing Ugandan shillings into Rwandan francs (for a quick trip back to Kigali on Wednesday):

Lady: "Where are you from?"
Me: "I'm from America."
Lady: "Ohh..."
(Lady speaking to her co-worker in Runyankole)
Lady: "You are from Mexico?"
Me: "No, I'm from the United States. Mexico is a different country."
Lady: "But you are looking like Maturi! From 'Don't Mess With an Angel.'"
Me: "Really? I look like a soap opera star?"
Lady: "Seriously. You resemble her. Your height, your what, your what. You look just like her!"
Co-Worker: "Maybe she is your sister?"

This went on for another few minutes as they discussed how much I look like this actress and laughing when I offered to give them my autograph. You wouldn't believe how popular Spanish soap operas are here!

So what do you think? It doesn't help that most Ugandans think all white people look alike and are related, but could I be mistaken for Mexican actress Maite Perroni?


Is that me?!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Be patient
towards all that is unsolved in your heart,
learn to love
the questions themselves."

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pancake Day

Something that I really love and appreciate about our team is the numerous cultures and countries represented on it. Because of this, we get to celebrate many more holidays than usual and learn about traditions from around the world.

On Thursday, we celebrated a belated Pancake Day at one of my teammate's house. This is the British version of Fat Tuesday, and it turned out to be a lot of fun! Those Brits sure know how to party.

The first thing I learned about Pancake Day is that the pancakes are not like our traditional pancakes. These more closely resemble an egg-y version of crepes. These pancakes can be made more savory by topping them with green pepper, tomatoes, and cheese or they can be eaten as a sweet treat with peanut butter, syrup, chocolate sauce, or honey. The traditional topping, which turned out to be my very favorite, is sugar and lemon.

Like any good gathering, the majority of the time is spent with everyone hanging out around the kitchen because the main event of Pancake Day is the actual making of the pancakes. Not only is this the main event, it's also the source of entertainment for the party! Because these pancakes are so large, thin, and floppy, the "easiest" way, and arguably most fun way, to flip them is by tossing them into the air and catching them in the pan. Everyone is involved in this process and gets a turn to toss a pancake. Our hostess was prepared with a drop cloth for the floor just in case any pancakes inevitably missed the pan.

Our British teammates appeared to be seasoned pros at this flipping business, but others of us felt the pressure to get it just right and asked for some coaching and tips. Amazingly, very few pancakes found their way to the floor and none landed on an unlucky flipper's head. Apparently, some families tie a string up high in the kitchen and you have to flip your pancake over the string! We haven't reached that skill level yet, but maybe next year...

If you'd like to try making your own delicious British pancakes, I've provided the recipe and instructions below. Happy flipping!

British Sugar And Lemon Pancakes

1 cup of flour
A pinch of salt
2 eggs
1-¼ cups of milk
2 ounces of butter
Granulated sugar and lemon wedges


1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Use the back of a spoon to make a “well”.

2. Add the eggs into the well along with half of the milk. Using a whisk, gradually stir the flour into the eggs and milk. Beat the mixture well until all the lumps are gone and the batter is nice and smooth.

3. Add the rest of the milk and whisk again.

4. Heat a frying pan on high. When it is hot, turn the heat down to medium.

5. Melt the butter in the frying pan and then pour it into a small bowl. Measure 2 tablespoons of butter and add it to the batter, stirring well.

6. Use a tablespoon of the melted butter to fully grease the pan. Put 3 tablespoons of batter into the frying pan (It's also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan all at once).

7. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter.

8. Cook the pancake for 30 to 60 seconds or until it gets slightly brown. Then flip the pancake and cook the second side till it is light brown. This side will only need a few seconds to cook.

9. Repeat this process (starting with a little melted butter) until all of the pancakes are cooked or until everyone is full!

10. To serve the traditional way, sprinkle each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice and caster sugar, fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or simply roll them up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Is Who I Am

You can't live in an entirely new continent, country, and culture for an extended period of time without being changed.

And I don't mean changes like your feet are constantly dirty no matter how much you scrub them or your standards for fashion and style have gone way downhill.

I'm talking about changes of the heart. Changes in your character. Changes that you don't even realized have happened until you catch yourself speaking, acting, and responding in a way that is so unlike you.

Yep. Uganda has changed me. In just seven short months God has stripped out so much of the old and replaced it with something transformed. This work didn't begin when I left the States in August, though. It began years ago as the Lord started softening my stubborn heart toward missions and His people all over the world. 

I used to think, "Oh, I could never be a missionary. That is so not for me."
Now I'm honored to serve with Africa Inland Mission.

I used to think, "Maybe I'll teach overseas some day, but not until after I teach in the States for a few years."
Instead, I moved to Uganda three months after graduation.

I used to think, "I only want to go to Uganda if I can teach early childhood education in a Ugandan school."
Now I've come to terms with the reality of that statement and experienced the extreme difficulties and limitations of that position.

The Lord, who is so gracious, is changing me, shaping me, and creating a new spirit within me.

He is giving me dreams that are not my own. I could never come up with the things that He is placing on my heart. But He is slowly and surely confirming in me that these dreams are, in fact, becoming my own.

He is changing my heart to be more like His, whether I like it or not. Whether it fits with my visions and hopes or not. Whether it scares me or not.

He is changing me.

In the past seven months:
  • I've made a third-world country my home and feel so blessed to have done so.
  • I've developed deeper convictions about world missions and gained a great understanding of how to disciple others.
  • I've felt the real power of prayers and generous love from supporters back home.
  • I've developed a deeper understanding of the needs and issues Uganda and the Church in Uganda is facing today.
  • I've wrestled continually with the concept of "when helping hurts" ( and how to be unrestrained as I share and show the love of Christ with the needy.
  • I've knelt before the Lord and poured my heart and tears out to him telling Him just how hard it is. I've sat in silence in the presense of Jesus and listened to Him remind me that He knows.
  • I've surrendered all my plans over and over again so I can be more useful as Christ works in me and through me.
  • I've realized God's calling on my life is so big. Bigger than I want to admit at times.
  • I've learned I am learning to be ok with the unknown and embrace vague visions for the future.
This is not who I was or who I will be in a few months from now, but
This is who I am now.

Friday, February 17, 2012

This and That

Sorry for the lack of communication this month! I've been trying and trying to get inspired to blog about something, but I simply haven't been able to come up with much. Instead, I decided to give you a taste of what my month has been like so far.

I spend most of my time during the week with this cute boy. It has been such a joy to be his teacher this year, and I appreciate his great sense of humor.

We have been doing art this month, learning about primary and secondary colors as well as warm and cool colors. "Dade the Artist," as he calls himself, has created some wonderful masterpieces!

tints and shades

hot dogs and cool cats

I have been enjoying shopping for fabric here in Uganda and when we took our trip to Rwanda. The colors are vivid, and the patterns are eye-catching. This month, I had two skirts made from Ugandan fabrics by a local tailor. He does a great job, and I'm looking forward to wearing these!

One of my roommates, Martha, is quite the seamstress, and she brought her sewing machine to Africa. With her guidance and experience, I have been enjoying completing some small sewing projects of my own using local fabrics. This is an apron I made using Rwandan fabrics for a dear friend back home!

Typically my days are fairly relaxed, and I can use the afternoons however I see fit. Often I visit other missionary families in the area, snuggle some abandoned foster babies others are doing emergency care for, do some errands in town, visit  my Ugandan friends at their homes or workplaces, or do something team-related. I greatly enjoy the flexibility of my schedule these days!

This week, unfortunately, hasn't been nearly so enjoyable. Early on Monday, a stomach bug made itself known, and it has been relentless all week. I have been out-of-commission most of the week, though I managed to teach twice. Unfortunately, my body wasn't quite ready for that and decided I need to stay home for a few more days. I have such sweet and thoughtful roommates, though, who have been sympathetic and even go to town to pick up Sprite or juice for me.

Passion fruit is my new favorite.
Do we have them in the States?
They're one of God's most delicious creations!

It was a struggle for me this week to be confined to the house, not because my introverted self doesn't love being at home for extended period of time, but because there were so many things I had been looking forward to doing this week that I just wasn't able to do. It was disappointing, and I wondered why I, who almost never gets sick, had to be bed-ridden this week. Eventually, by mid-week, I realized there was nothing I could do about it and accepted it.

But today I realized that God didn't want me to simply accept that this is how my week is going to be. No, He wants me to rejoice in it!

We are called to rejoice in the Lord always and to give thanks in all circumstances.

Rather than resenting the situation, I should be thanking God for it.

2 Corinthians 12: 9 says,
“'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me... For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When my body is ill and simply has no strength left, but I choose to rejoice and thank God anyway, it is then that Christ is lifted up, and His name is made great both here on earth and in the spiritual realms. When God's called, chosen, and faithful followers praise Him in the midst of painful and disappointing times, their testimonies of the Lord's unending goodness are heard. These hearts of gratitude speak words of truth not only to friends and family in that person's life but also to the angels and demons battling in the spiritual world.

God's power is acknowledged as the only source of power, and my weaknesses no longer matter because my strength is perfect in Christ. Now my prayer this week is that my times of rest would be for the glory and service of the Lord and for the advancing of His kingdom.

Whether my weeks are full of obvious "ministry opportunities" or simply involve resting at home, I desire to do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). And it looks like this is a resting week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Here are some very commonly used Ugandan-English words and phrases... also known as Uglish.

Chips = fries
Crisps = chips
Nice time. = Have a nice time/Have a good day.
Long time! = It's been a long time since I've seen you!
Disturbing me = bothering me
Pick from school = pick someone up from school
Are you having…? = Do you have…?
Such a… = a compliment (“He’s such a guy,” …the adjectives are left out)
Short call = going to the bathroom
Balance = your change from a purchase
Move = walk
Shift = move from one living accommodation to another
Where do you stay? = Where do you live?
Extend = Move over, make room
I am used. = I am used to it.
Let me come./I’m coming. = I’m going/leaving, but I will be back. 
You’ve been lost./ You are lost. = I haven’t seen you in awhile.
Smart = put together, well-dressed, good-looking
They are over. = Something is gone (“The eggs are over for today.”)
She/he =  interchangeable pronouns used for either gender
You are fat. = it's a compliment…
She is called… = Her name is…
Digging = farming
Vernacular = local language
Big man = rich, important person
Somehow = slightly, occasionally, can imply doubt (“The water heater is working somehow.”)
A push = to walk with someone for some distance (“I will give you a push to the road.”)
Ehhhh =  yes, okay
Beep me. = let the phone ring once or twice before hanging up
Maids = bridesmaids
Snaps = photos
My stomach is paining. = My stomach hurts.
Sure?! = Really? Is it true?!
Are we together? = Do y'all understand?
I am fearing them. = I am afraid of them.
I'm leaving now now. = I'm leaving right now.
Just here = right here ("Turn left just here.")
I have ever... = I have... ("I have ever been there.")
Keep = to put away ("Keep your sweater in your desk.")
Slope = turn ("Slope left at the corner.")
He can always win me at that game. = He can always beat me at that game. ("Beat" is only used in a very literal way to mean physical abuse.)