some awesome moments in the busyness

29 06 2011

We had the chance to spend a night at Wildwaters Lodge, on an island in the Nile River on Saturday night.  This piece of heaven is between 2 large rapids on the river: there is the continuous sound of rushing water all about and at night it became quite overwhelming (who knew? the level of the Nile changes because of the hydro-power stations on the river). 

This lodge is a bit of luxury and spoil in the midst of a populous and busy nation.  It is not too far off the route between Mbale and Kampala, so is worth a visit again some time!  We were picked up and taken on the short trip to the island by boat (Deon loved this!) and then waited on for the night, except when left in privacy to explore, rest and enjoy the facilities. 


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After the one night spent there it was back to business: in Entebbe and Kampala again.  I managed to acquire some books for the adult literacy classes I will be presenting but after asking around and looking in every place I could think of I saw that knitting needles are IMPOSSIBLE to find in the shops here!  We are now going to do knitting classes using skewer/sosatie sticks!  And I am investigating the plarn thing as normal yarn/ wool is very difficult to get but plastic bags lie around in abundance!  Apparently the ladies are ready and waiting for classes to begin: please pray as we get going with the literacy classes and craft lessons next week.


Seuss inspirations on a normal day

23 06 2011


When I sat in the car the other day the inspiration came to me.  Within a few short minutes I had seen a lady being knocked down by a boda-boda (not a serious injury, thankfully.), a huge cow’s head being carried home (the horns were sticking out under a rag) and a Mzungu rasta – just one of the diverse sights in a very normal morning here! I realized that each one could be so unusual in ‘civilisation’ by itself – it immediately sprouted lines from Dr Seuss. 


This was my first thought: 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!                      clip_image001          

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And
you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll
decide where to go."

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.”

(I will not use the entire poem here but it is GREAT!  Go read it!)


SOOOOO – here is my parody, with an average day in mind:


Oh the sees you can see,

Oh the sees you can see

If you open your eyes in Town Mbale!


See a cow on a bike-

Well, its horns like a spike

Sticking out of a box.

Oh it’s the head of the cow, just the head for a meal

Some beef brain stew supper- does that appeal?


Think a hop to the shop , be a comer to Bam

See a white-rasta-hair-do

Or lovely black nun.

See a sticky-picky driver, pinky stinky T-shirt

Knocking walky-stalk lady down into the dirt.


See big bags of beans piled in upside-down cones,

See blood red fillet steak cut from the bones.

See dried fish with brown tails; brown rice in weight scales

To park at the market for looky-see zones.


Oh the sees you can see,

Oh the sees you can see,

When in our Mbale.


(A picky is another name for boda-boda driver ; the motorbike taxis ubiquitous here.)











The day’s plan on track… and then not.

22 06 2011

You know those days where you see things happening at the same lazy  African pace that they usually do? Those ones where you plan a bit of market shopping, then a bit of this and that?  For about an hour the day started off along those lines. Then it went way way in a different direction! 

I took the camera along to the market today to share some of the atmosphere with you. These are a few selections:  a few people I asked for photos wanted money for posing – I was not in THAT space of generosity today! 

I do use SOME of these sellers: the friendly veggie lady gets my support, and the banana lane is a regular stop (until our trees are in season).  You may be relieved to know that the butcher and fish seller have NOT yet received our support.  They probably will never.  (It takes more effort to get our beef.)


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I had been home for a  just a short while and  started recovering strength:  a trip to the market takes foresight (wear the right pants to hide money; pack the kaveera –shopping bag; wear good shoes for muddylane traversing), strength and fortitude while there (gather a right momentum to keep going and not stop-at all!; saying no to several pleas for money, stepping over,under and around obstacles, moving from stall to stall – you cannot buy everything from one supplier) and a deep gasp for fresh air and energy once sitting in the vehicle again. 

Soon Deon received a call to say that the lady who we had thought of getting to spray against insects etc was on the way – we had about 5 minutes to prepare.  We knew we had to evacuate the house for the day, so I packed a bag with a few activities to keep me busy at the hotel pool. Prepared, right?

Not at all.  When Mrs Spuit arrived we saw that we were not at ALL ready: all furniture has to be moved the the centre of each room. All clothing and goods removed from cupboards, placed on bed, covered with a tarpaulin.  All food removed from cupboards, covered with a cloth. It was mayhem for 5 minutes, with Sarah, Deon and me frantically rushing to pack.  As I thought it looked like we might be ok, Deon spurred the action a bit more with an international conference call with his company- 3 minutes after Mrs Spuit arrived!  Further mayhem, action and frantic rushing.  Eventually the call was taken as we walked down cow-pooped roads to the hotel.

After several hours away from home we returned to hear that we needed to stay away for a while longer.  I wanted to stay away for a full month of holiday: Mrs Spuit’s deputy-spray-boy,Mist-er Mohawk had had a roof wetting, and floor wetting, and furniture wetting –and-anything-else-wetting party while we were away.

There are puddles of DDT on the floor still drying as I write this; we have had to rewash EVERY dish in the kitchen, and it feels like we are moving in all over again (déjà vu is just TOO soon in this case!) So I would far rather write a blog and deal with the repacking in a while.  But it has to happen tonight still… our bed is under the blue tarpaulin and PILES of clothing, towels, medicines…

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The printer looks like it has dreadful dandruff. Know of a good printer shampoo?

I tried to get a sense of the puddles in the bathroom.

We are trying not to breathe in too hard. This is necessary to help with the mosquitos and we already see several cockroaches feet-up outside.  I just hope all our geckos are safe!

Garden moments

20 06 2011

Life is not particularly eventful at the moment. We have been to and returned safely from Kampala (the journey back was made with two uninvited chickens, who were given to invited passengers.  Just a note – chickens smell and cluck, even when uninvited to do so.)   We are both trying hard to shrug off niggling sore throats, coughs, infections – these uninvited visitors may pack up and go now! 

So here are a few photos from around the garden again.  We are heading to the end of the rainy season but the ground remains abundant and fertile.  Ah!  Africa!

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Carrot seedlings. Plentiful!                     Boxes of seedlings of SA seeds –                                                        sprouting in just 5 days!

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View from the bottom of our property: House behind top trees.

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Some other pretty sights in the garden:  it is looking lovely with new plants flourishing, and the sunbirds are beginning to enjoy our nectar feeder. 

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Kampala moments

17 06 2011

We have been in Kampala for the last day or so – a number of meetings with lawyers, members of the companies involved in Deon’s job and some enjoyment of the malls Kampala has to offer have kept us busy.

I wanted to share a few delightful sights:

Graduation is a BIG DEAL here.  So big, that the family should buy the graduate something from this selection: Kampala 020You could get the cellophane-wrapped silk flowers with a little message, or the vivid garland to string around the neck, or the wonderful message of support – as seen in a little more detail here:

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The very best option is to get at least one of each for the beloved graduate in your life.  This proves your pride and affection for the graduate, and numerous photos should be taken. The end results will look a little like this:

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Together with the coloured hood of the degree achieved it all looks tremendously festive indeed. 

It seems like after the ceremony one may remove the garland and heart (which has a handy string to wear around the neck and  hold the colourful message heart close to the wearer’s physiological heart).But it looked to be the done thing to remain in the graduate gown, hood and cap for the rest of the day, no matter where the graduate goes.

We saw all the festivity of gathering grads just next to the lawyer’s offices this morning. The sense of accomplishment was tangible in the area as numbers of graduates and their supporters gathered.  I knew I had to share some of this with my blog readers, but the police did not believe the same – as I was trying to grab a pic of the gentleman and his family (seen above – they readily and happily agreed to pose) a policeman shoved me away. (“You Mzungu. We don’t want that here. Go”) I had to get this photo on the sly as the posers were moving up the ramp.

Several hours later at one of the malls I saw 2 or 3 graduates still in their gowns (hence my deductions about wearing the garb  all day). I quite enjoyed the sense of absolute achievement and joy that all others were alerted to – perhaps we SHOULD make a little more of a fuss over graduates in Shiny-shiny land!  Enjoy the success after years of effort and walk into Spar in the cap, hood and gown. Why not relish in all the years of struggle for more than an hour or so?

(Andrew, I will send a lovely garland for your graduation next year…)


The Protea hotel here is comfortable and pleasant.  We got the lucky blessing in our room: A family of guinea fowl roost on the railings at night. The noise as they settle in for sleep is raucous: why must these birds take so long to say their goodnights?  It is a bit worse than the Waltons (‘Nag John-Boy’, ‘Nag Mary Ellen’, ‘Nag, Olivia…’)  in terms of time taken, but still the sound is so typically African and remains endearing. 

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Mud-hut opportunity

15 06 2011

In a place like Uganda it is really important to keep sensitive to God with regard to  where, who and how to help. 

There are so many who ask and one simply CANNOT always give: like the kids in the streets who have yelled “Mzungu!  Give me money!”, or this somewhat more developed argument in the market the other day:

As I was putting my foot out the car door a robust teen entered my personal space:  “Irish!” (ie- would you like to buy potatoes?”)

‘No thank you, I have got’. 

After clutching my bag tightly while buying capsicum (green pepper), tomatoes and lemons across the street, I stood alongside his space of selling vegetables on the sandy ground.  I was buying bananas from the lady next to him; she had to run around looking for ‘balance’ (change, which she did not have).  This gave the robust boy time to beg again. He started the approach reasonably civilly:

“You want onion.”

I glanced down at the rather weak offerings – he is trying to sell, not just beg, but the onions looked really bad, and I answered truthfully,’No thank you, I have got.’

“Give me some money.”


“So you want me to die?”

The typical teenage defiance I have seen in many places was present, as were the efforts at trying to push an Mzungu as far as he could.  I did not give him anything, told him he was not in danger of dying just yet, and wished my money along quicker. 


There are novel approaches to asking for help, and then there are the bits where I feel God really speaking and I think I can help.

I had a meeting with Sarah’s group this morning, at their structure which is now ready for use.  I had to hold in laughter and shock when I looked at the agenda – I was noted as “visitor/ managing director’”.  I did make it clear that I do not go in for titles and such high positions!  I do not even have an  idea of what a managing director does, with my remote experience of corporations!

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   Our new classroom – dusty floors, no tables but good air supplies through roof and window (no glass pane).

What we did establish is that I will teach some ladies literacy and lead knitting classes, to improve the situations for ladies here.  I would really appreciate prayers, please – language will be an issue (there is no Lugisu dictionary, no books available, and there are differences in Northern and Southern dialects!) , level of teaching and getting equipment for knitting – we look set to try make our own needles from bamboo grown on the mountain!  (so far no parcels are arriving – ordering in the mail will not work!!)


I am overwhelmed, I think – at opportunities, that God wants to use me, and how to do this?    But I LOVE the challenge and chance to be creative.  I long to be in a place of helping in true discipleship, not hype or emotionalism. 

Great jubilation!

12 06 2011

konzekhayaOur boxes have arrived!  Deon was phoned early this morning and went on an emergency trip: the boxes we had sent from SA, 2 and a half months ago, had arrived in their containers at the mine!  But they were lying open, between mining goods.  Deon hardly waited for a cup of tea before dashing out of here!

There has been considerable effort to get this accomplished: We trekked out to the other side of Pretoria to deliver our goods: 4 or 5 boxes of arts and knitting equipment, books and camping stuff (tent and mattress, mostly) which would be packed in with various mining equipment.  We sent a list with the things and with the packing manager.  This list was affixed to a lid when it arrived but at at least 6 other times we had to send a list.  It would be too much to list the individual items: 3 balls of acrylic yarn, 2 balls of turquoise handspun, 1 tube vermillion, 1 tube paines grey, 1 tube prussian blue… But the authorities would just not be pleased. So the boxes had ALL been opened and dug through when Deon found them.  It does not seem like anything was taken, but a few handmade cards were destroyed and some items were very dirty.

Yesterday I had spent the entire day in bed. No, wait. Large parts of the day were spent in close proximity of a white porcelain bowl in a lonely room… It was not pleasant, it was not pretty.  I was left rather drained of energy.  But I gathered all my mental and physical resources to bravely face unpacking the boxes today, courageous warrior that I am… ^_^ 

So lovely to stroke balls of real wool, rack out tubes of colours of paints, arrange shelves of unread books, and my BIBLE – the study one, with many pencilled notes, that has travelled across India with me; reacquaint myself with my dictionary, haul out my file so that I can carry on with the writing course I started… AH!  Such small treasures mean a lot to me.

Now we are set to be in Africa, with all we need for survival (just a vehicle is lacking).  Things are great!


Most of our boxes were sturdy plastic – but one of those was cracked.  This was how the one cardboard box arrived – torn and dirty. 

Unpacking in progress in my little work corner, in our lounge.  Ah!  Creativity is about to spurt from this space!