In 2 hours
I originally planned to write out my day today, just to capture what it's like a few weeks in to living here...plus Mike and I went on a date today which somehow ended us up at a funeral in a cocoa grove with hundreds of people and a few very gracious hosts... but I didn't get to that... I only made it into the first 2 hours.
So here goes, a glimpse into my morning Tuesday March 10, 2020.
I can see a glimmer of light coming over the Rwenzori mountain range, morning is here. The view is the best part of our bedroom. Just different shades of green for miles, with the backdrop of the highest mountain range in all of Africa. The entire family is still asleep but as the light gets brighter the kids all wake one by one and crawl into our bed to snuggle, which quickly just turns into wrestling, then mayhem. I'm thankful for our large bed that lets us do this every morning, with the backs of their hair all matted and their sweet morning smell. I know these are special times.
Soon Mike brings the kids to their stools at the kitchen counter. "I have language lesson with Agaba Godfrey at 8 am today!" He says from the kitchen.
I'm surprised to see it's 7:30. I would have guessed it was an hour earlier. We stay up later and sleep much longer here.
I get up. The morning routine starts.
I make the kids big bowls of oatmeal while Mike showers. After their oatmeal they want cereal. They're little beasts. Cute beasts. But they are constantly eating!
We only have 1 more box of cereal so I have them eat apples instead. I"m pretty sure Cheerios are a 6 hour car ride away in Kampala. There's a chance we could get some in Fort Portal, which is an hour and a half away, but apples are still a better choice.
I realize the same applies to the apples- but those have a shorter shelf life. Decision made.
The kids will be asking for snacks all day, so I soak some carrots in vinegar water, peel and chop them up. I brush a few army ants out of some tupperware and put the carrots inside. "You guys are welcome to eat these for a snack later." I remind them not to open the fridge to look at options. And when they get their carrots, to close it right away. The power goes out and there's food that needs to be kept cool even when we don't have electricity. So to treat it more like a big cooler.
I heard the water often goes out in the late morning. It's going to be a hot sunny day, a great day to dry clothes on the line, so I throw in a load of laundry early.
Boston drops a glass on our cement floor and it shatters everywhere. We sweep up enough, but there are definitely tiny shards hiding in plain sight and a second sweeping is in order.
Agaba Godfrey knocks at the door. He's very punctual. I'm glad because I have a language lesson with a woman named Patience right afterwards, so his timing works perfectly. I quickly run into a bedroom to put on a long skirt over my stretch pants, as not to offend him by showing him my legs (which are the equivalent of breasts in Uganda).
Mike lets him in and we awkwardly try to say hi while telling him to "keep your shoes on!" "sit down!" "there's glass all around!". He scans the floor and doesn't see anything. We seem like lunatics. I'm using the handheld broom and dustpan sweeping at nothing. We've already messed up the most basic of cultural expectations here, the greeting. But he knows how new we are. We will do better next time.
Mike and Mr. Godfrey go to the back porch to start his language lesson. Winnie is back there screaming about an unusual bug, that looks like a bee, but not quite. I try to get it out so they can start their lesson.
The kids and I explore our new backyard. It's pretty basic. A green lawn lined in a chain link fence. An old water tank used for collecting rainwater, rusted and cylindrical and out of service. A small storage space. A "cho", which is an outdoor bathroom. I'm reminded we should probably board that up soon. I tell the kids what the cho is again. "A big, dark, scary, deep hole with a bunch of people's poop at the bottom." The disgusted looks on their faces shows me they won't be playing inside. But still, Boston. Add that to my mental list of basic things to get done.
We make our way over to a huge plumeria tree and underneath it, hundreds of yellow-bellied white flowers blanketing the ground, dropped generously by the storm in the night. The one that slammed our shutters tight and made me wonder if the sounds were nature or a guest knocking.
I run inside to get that last minute Amazon purchase I made before coming to Uganda. The waterproof picnic blanket. When I bring it around the corner Winnie says "Mom! Who's is that?"
"It's ours! You mentioned you wanted one like Maddie and Hannahs. So I got one."
The smile on her face and the huge dew drops make me glad I got it.
We spread it out together and the girls collect plumeria flowers and line them up perfectly in a huge circle. I try to convince them to spell out "Happy Birthday Poppy".
It was my stepdads birthday yesterday and we got to talk quickly before our call was dropped. We're still trying to figure out the best times to call, and how long our credits will last. Apparently we didn't have enough loaded to call the US for more than 5 minutes.
I thought it'd be fun to send a picture to let him know we were thinking about him. Both Winnie and Piper confidently tell me no. They're not doing that right now.
So much for that.
I wonder how much to press in to what we've left behind, versus being present here. Of course we want to maintain strong relationships, but how does that look? Social media, facetime, texting. It gives us the ability to, at times, straddle both worlds simultaneously.
But they've decided. Not right now. The girls are enjoying playing with the flowers, and I am appreciating their joy in the moment.
Boston is in my lap sucking hard on his pacifier. He's obsessed with that thing since our move. He even talks with it in, and greeted someone in Lubwisi with it dangling from his mouth. It's interesting to see how each of our kids are coping with being transplanted, and what they need more of right now. Boston wants to be held constantly, and spends about 2/3 of his life with his "fire" (pacifire).
Piper is acutely aware of anything that might scare her, and asks "is (fill in the blank) real in this world?". When those words come out of her mouth I can be pretty sure she's got some anxiety about it, and we will be mitigating that anxiety with stories, facts, google searches, eye witness accounts, and prayer. Last week her main concern were bears. The week before that it was ants (which are everywhere, in every size unfortunately- but she's grown.) This week it's soldiers.
Winnie keeps everything bottled up, denying all negative emotions, and then gets angry, cries, and says she just needs some alone time. And maybe some candy? (I can relate.)
I'm snuggling Boston, scanning the trees for snakes wondering if there are any up there. A few days ago a 5 foot black-necked spitting cobra flew through our yard. I say flew because it wasn't slithering. It had it's head up in the air and was moving faster than Boston can run. It wanted out, it was headed somewhere fast. Mike yelled "KAAAAACCE get the kids inside now!" I ran outside to get them and that's when I saw it.
I'd never seen a snake upright like that before.
The week before our neighbors cat was stalking a foot and a half egg eater snake. We noticed it when it slithered by us.
This led me into some google searches and now in my stiller moments has me curious about whats up in the trees.
The load of laundry finishes. I bring it out to the line in a big blue bag. I ask the kids to help run the clothes to me as I hang them. The constant bending up and down is either tiring, or annoying to me. I can't tell the difference this morning.
I start comparing myself to all the Ugandan women living around me, hang drying their clothes, all the time. This is my second time doing this here and I'm already looking to expend less energy on this task.
Only one of my kids says they'll help, and it's not the one that I'd like to see helping. So I try again. I'm met with some rudeness and back talk. What I thought was going to be a pleasant moment, a friendly family chore, turns sour. Our backyard isn't private. We are right up against a cocoa grove where people farm, and around all the other sides people walk to and fro. I'm not yelling, but I'm arguing with a child, which is probably unheard of here. From what I've seen, children either respect or fear their elders. But the back and forth at the clothesline is neither. I'm sitting on an emotional seesaw, my side feeling exposed, frustrated, out of sorts. On the other side is my other kid, the one choosing to help, trying to counter act what is happening by cheerfully handing me all the clothes and singing while she's doing it, being sure to make eye contact with me for validation.
In the background I hear Mike and Godfrey speaking Lubwisi. I look around and see that I don't know where Boston went. I run to look and see through the screened in back porch that his head is resting on Mikes shoulder. We need to board up that cho, I think again. The hole is so tiny, but it's not worth the risk.
Since Mike is holding Boston I run inside to take a quick cold shower. Our bathroom is home to many insects. That is normal. I have the idea to start a bug journal so I can at least learn what they are. The idea is low priority but I think of it often, since bugs are everywhere here!
I run from the bathroom, across the living room, hoping Mr. Godfrey doesn't come in from outside and see my in my towel. Most of my clothes were in a rolling suitcase that fell out of our Uhaul on our drive to the San Diego airport, the morning we left for Uganda. We circled back around the road but the suitcase was gone. This particular morning I'm grateful as I run into the bedroom where my clothes sit in a pile. Patience is scheduled to show up for my language lesson any minute, and the limited choices of what to wear make getting ready less than a 5 minute ordeal.
Mikes lesson finishes and Mr. Godfrey leaves to go teach his students at the local elementary school across the street and down the road.
I wait for an hour, but Patience never comes. It turns out, her daughter was very sick. Our lesson is cancelled. I find myself disappointed, but sympathetic. The same feeling as last week when my lesson was cancelled because of a death in her family.
We are at the very beginning of our language learning, and there are a few trained people in the community ready and eager to teach us. It's hard to balance empathy for unforeseen circumstances (death and sickness) with the practical side of actually needing a teacher to show up and teach me. Without a real relationship between her or I, or any sort of history, I'm not sure what to do.
I remember when I first got hired as a nurse, I was in a hiking accident in Yosemite and ended up needing ankle surgery. I was out of work for 6 months. I was devastated that I couldn't prove how much I wanted that job, and how grateful I was to have it. Instead, I had managers and coworkers show me undeserved favor in a time of great need. It left an impact on me.
I ponder all this and figure I'll talk to a few seasoned missionaries later to see what options they recommend.
It's now only 9:30 am, and I am already exhausted!
I sit down on the couch and finish a book I started last week with the girls, called Ivy and Bean Take the Case. I'm surprised we've finished a book already. We must have more time on our hands, or it's having no TV. When we turn the last page they immediately want me to read it again.
It helps to remember what our team leader said... "Your job right now, is to settle." And there are so many facets to settling. And processing all the new elements is good, but can also feel like work.