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Wednesday, December 31, 2008
While we were in Texas, we told some of you about a little boy from the orphanage who had found his way into our hearts. As far as we knew, he wasn't officially adoptable because he had a mother living in the village somewhere. He had been at Amani since he was about 3 months old with no visitations from his mother in 3 years.
Brian and I began praying that either this child's mother would come and take him home or that God would make a way for him to be a part of our family.
While we were in Texas, "Little Brian" 's mother was contacted and a visit was scheduled. She came a few weeks before Christmas and I heard that she cried when she met her son. Brian was also able to meet the mother and he said she also has a baby boy named Peter. She was anxious to take her son home before Christmas so arrangements began to be made.
The day before he left, I was able to give him a goodbye hug. I don't think he knew he was about to leave (he doesn't know one "mama" from another yet) and I didn't even know he was leaving the very next day--or that he wouldn't be returning. But two unique things happened in that goodbye...
He gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek.
And I told him "I love you"
On Christmas Eve day, little Brian went home with his real mama... and his new little brother Peter.
I grieve for my loss, but rejoice for his gain. God's ways are far above our ways. And this I know to be true:
HE'S ALWAYS GOOD.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
A short review of the last two months:
1. Nov. 5 ~ Began journey from Jinja, Uganda to Houston, Texas to attend Brian's brother's wedding
2. Nov. 10 ~ Arrived in Houston after a long stay at Entebbe airport and a miraculously cheap price for a one way tickets!
Hurray for PIZZA and MEXICAN FOOD!!!!!
3. Nov. 16 ~ Aaron and Rachel's wedding was BEAUTIFUL and there's no way on earth we could have missed it!
4. After the wedding, we began brainstorming on how in the world we would get back to Uganda in only a few weeks!
Tickets were pricing out at about $5,000 for the two of us so we knew it would take a miracle!
5. We worked our old jobs (me - hair, and brian - waiting tables) in addition to picking up holiday work and random other jobs!
People were so gracious to us as their hearts were moved to give very large tips and/or donations. Thank you!!!
6. We found a great price through a missionary travel agency and were able to purchase round-trip tickets for only $3,000!
7. Dec. 8 ~ We departed our beloved Texas to return to Jinja, and finish out our year long commitment to serve our cousin Danyne and her family.
8. Dec. 10 ~ Arrived in Jinja, only to find that the wrong keys had been left for us and we couldn't get into our own house! It took quite a while before we were able to find some keys that would open the door...
Once we were inside, it was almost no consolation as we found our house covered with dirt and grime and gecko poop. This was to be expected, but is even more difficult when you are exhausted from travel.
I cried. We went to sleep very early that night and just closed our eyes to the place.
9. Dec. 11 ~ The next morning we woke up very early (6am) and got to work cleaning our house! It took a full 12 hours and once again we were exhausted. I cried some more. Five weeks in the USA sure does get you use
to all of the comforts and conveniences. It's easy to adjust back to that, not so easy to adjust again on this side! :) We went to bed early again that night.
10. Dec. 12 ~ And the next morning ~ all was sunshiny again! It's amazing what a clean house and some good sleep can do!
Since then, I've been slammed at the salon--everyone needing their hair done before Christmas. That's good of course--but Wow--I've been worn out! Needless to say, I'm thoroughly enjoying my 4 days off,
especially since upon returning I've been given a new schedule of working 6 days a week instead of the 5 I've been doing. Whew!
Brian and I are looking forward to August which is when our return tickets are set for. We often use this term "AUGUST RUSH" to encourage ourselves that 8 months isn't really that long. :)
We do believe that God brought us here for a reason and that He is working things in our lives and through our lives even though from this perspective, we haven't been able to figure out what it is yet! ha!
So we are content to be where He has placed us, and surrendering ourselves daily to His hands that are forming us... but we can't help looking forward to the day it's finally time to go back home!
Here is a pic of our first Christmas as man and wife. Brian surprised me by expressing unprecedented Christmas spirit! He's been passing out candy canes (Ugandans have never seen these before!) and he even came home one night with Christmas lights! We never did figure out how to hang them... our walls are made of cement and we have no drill... so the lights were draped around and behind the couch! I've never seen lights like these before--they are very festive! Aunt Nellie sent me some Christmas stockings which I never could figure out where to hang, so they too were leaned against a wall once they were filled with some of the stocking stuffers my mom sent with us in our luggage. Mom also sent us a tiny Christmas tree, only 6 inches tall, which we loaded with lights and mini ornaments. Brian's idea is for our tree to get 6 inches bigger for every year of marriage!
Christmas Eve, we went to dinner with some people at a new restaurant called "Flavours". The food was decent and it was a nice atmosphere. Nothing to write home about or anything.... hey, wait--I am writing home about it! Must have been better than the usual Jinja cuisine. :) Afterwards we went Christmas caroling with some of the missionaries in the area. I thoroughly enjoyed this, as I don't get out much! The evening was even a bit "cool"... it could have even been compared to a warm Christmas in Houston! The last stop was a couple's house who served us up some tasty apple cider and Christmas cookies. Yum! I was pleasantly surprised by the Christmas feeling in the air. :)
Christmas morning, we talked on the phone to our families during their Christmas Eve. We had home-made Indian chai (my specialty) and opened our gifts. Brian got for me all new and matching dishes! Plates, bowls, silverware, a pitcher and matching glasses, coffee mugs, etc... It's so fun to have our own dishes finally--we have just been using hand-me-downs for everything so far. Now we have things that are nice for us here, but not so nice that we will need to tote them all over the world with us. It feels good to have something that brings you a little happiness, but that you aren't attached to and could have one day and leave the next. A good Christmas present indeed!
Then we prepared our side dishes to take to a Christmas "brie" (South African barbecue) with our S.African friend Jonnes (sp? "yawn-ez"). I made green bean casserole and Brian made potato salad. Our neighbor Amy made a tasty sweet potato casserole and afterwards we enjoyed dark chocolate brownies made by Jonnes!
To close, here is a picture in front of the main supermarket Brian goes to and a Ugandan Santa Claus passing out candy and dancing like the dancing Santa Claus next to him. Always something random to laugh about over here!
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Stay tuned for more Jinja sketches!
Lots of Love
Friday, November 14, 2008
We came back on one-way tickets for Aaron's wedding (it's all we could afford)
and will be working our tails off to purchase tickets back to Africa
to finish out our year long commitment!
So... I'm in the business of doing hair if anyone needs a cut or color!
And we are also looking for any work we can do (preferably for big bucks! ha!) while we are here.
We've got somewhere around $5,000 to come up with in the next few weeks!
And just for the record, it is SO GOOD to be back in the U.S.A.!
b & l
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Her 23rd birthday was yesterday.
I received her permission to post this of course!
She has quite enjoyed our music collection and has been learning to use the i-pod
to repeat a song she likes. Today she asked me:
"What is it called again? Is it EAR-pod or EYE-pod?"
BEAUTIFUL, isn't it? :)
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Well, here in Jinja they are part of life. They LIVE here, whether we do or not. We moved into their house, but this is no problem for them--for them, the more of us the merrier! You see, WE bring the FOOD! We've had the tiny ones since we got here, but a few weeks ago, their cousins showed up... Big huge black ants. I screamed the first few times I lifted the honey jar and experienced these guys crawling onto my hand, but now I know to expect them. I've had them crawl up my legs while I'm standing in the kitchen and they don't bite, so really we just kind of ignore them and flick them off if they come climbing.
Then there's the whole colony of ants living in the wall of our shower. Imagine various shapes of flat rock with gray cement between them as the walls... now imagine many years of showers and the deterioration that might bring... There, in the crevices, the ants abide. Who knows how deep into the walls they've developed their city. There is a vertical line of them, a freeway of sorts, running north to south, maybe 2 1/2 or 3 feet in length, ants marching from one opening to the other, on our shower wall.
They mind their own business for the most part. I did go on an ant rampage a few weeks ago though--some ants in the kitchen made me mad so I got out the... Baby Powder of all things (When we first moved here, someone told me baby powder keeps ants away). I squeezed large clouds of powder onto the ant colony's freeway. It stuck to the wall like snow, ants scurrying in panic mode, falling with the powder to the ground below. It was exactly like a mini-avalanche. They'd step on the "snow" and slide off the cliffs. A mixture of satisfaction and regret were mine. The ants had cleared the freeway.
The following day, the evidence of white powder remained on the wall and the ants had resumed their traveling up and down that freeway. I've decided to let them be... they don't really harm us. Besides, what's wrong with a colony of ants living in your shower wall anyway?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
2. Ok. On to MOVIES!
At the supermarket, we are able to purchase a few random DVDs for our entertainment. But these aren't the DVDs you find at an American supermarket! Here, you buy one DVD with anywhere from 5 to maybe 20 movies on it--all ripped off in one way or another. There are no "legal" movies for sale. So if you want to get a movie, well, there's no other option. Many of these are terrible quality--especially the ones like what we watched a few weekends ago--recorded IN a movie theatre! Talk about terrible audio..... "What? What did they just say?" (pause, rewind, play again... and again) and "Oh, bless you! Wait... did the movie just sneeze?" Not to mention the people who keep getting up and walking across the bottom of the screen throughout the whole film... "Could you please sit down already!?!" Now try following a complex film like George Clooney's Syriana with all that distraction. I was a wreck!
(the next subject is a BONUS sketch, inspired by my own experience today... I hope this makes up for the time it's been since the last sketch...enjoy!)
3. G-NUT LADY.
In Jinja, it is common to see women walking down the street carrying huge loads on their heads. One particular kind of lady you will see on any given day in Jinja-Towm is "the G-nut lady". She carries a large basket, maybe 2 1/2 or 3 feet in diameter, full of nuts, on her head. The most common nut here is the Ground Nut or "G-nut". In America, we know this very common nut as none other than the... peanut! She also has a number of other nuts: soya nuts, corn nuts, "sim-sims", etc... If you want to buy, you can choose between two sizes, and whether you want only one kind of nut or a mixture. (I chose corn nuts today--yum! My friend Agatha calls them "hard corns"). The woman then fills a cone made from a rolled sheet of newspaper and you pay her 100 shillings for the small or 200 for the bigger size. This comes out to about 6 cents or 12 cents! And it is probably the woman's only source of income... day in, day out, walking the streets of Jinja, selling G-nuts. AMAZING, yes?
(Sketches--3 coming soon--subject: ANTS)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
1. I will start with the MILK.
I have already explained in past posts that we get milk straight from the cow. Today, I am proud to say that I have adjusted to the "animal" taste and no longer find it necessary to buy a separate milk for myself from the supermarket.
Just to refresh your memory and add a bit more detail to your understanding of our milk, I will explain the process:
Each morning a man rides up to our gate on his bicycle with a large can of milk tied on the back. If we want to buy that day, we take a pot or a large bowl out to him and bring along a hand-held strainer. We specify whether we want one liter or two and he begins to measure out the milk using a large plastic cup. He scoops the milk from the can as we hold the pot up with one hand and the strainer in the other hand. He pours from the cup, through our strainer and into our pot. The strainer catches anything like dirt or cow hair that might still be in the milk. We then take the pot inside to the gas stove where we boil it.
There is an "art" to boiling milk, I've learned...
You boil it only until the top begins to bubble. Then, QUICK! OFF THE HEAT! Let it go a moment longer and that milk will boil right up and out of the pot! I've learned this from experience... numerous times. I can't even count how many times I've had to rescue a growing and foaming pot of hot milk, only to have to clean dried milk off the stove and counters later on!
After the boiling (however traumatic it may have been on that occasion) we allow the milk to cool again. Then, I use a spoon to skim the "cream" off the top. If you've never lived on a farm, you don't know that this cream is thick, white and yellow stuff, very oily, and nothing like what pours out of a carton in America! I never seem to get it all off so there are always remaining "floaties" even after one last attempt to strain them out as I pour the milk into the pitcher, pop the lid on, and into the refrigerator it goes!
Milk... it does a body good.
***Stay tuned for Sketches of Jinja--2, coming soon to a blog near you***
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Friday evening, Sept 5, 2008
our baby passed through to eternity.
The peace of God was so surrounding
and His grace was undeniably with us.
We named her Jinja which means "rock"
and Rosemary which stands for "remembrance".
We made a memorial jar... wrapped our child in a beautiful watercolor silk made by our dear friend Kirsten... filled the jar with rocks and rosemary and olive oil, flowers, and notes and prayers, and beautiful things... We took a small boat out onto Lake Victoria to the place where the Nile River begins. It is called the Source of the Nile and there are large rocks there. We put the jar into the Source and floated colorful roses on the water. On our way home, we enjoyed Coca-Colas and a cigar we bought on the night we conceived little Jinja. We looked up and saw two rainbows in the sky. It was beautiful. We felt God's peace and God's promises surrounding us. The driver of our boat was named "Emmanuel".
Thank you to all who have been praying and know that we can feel the love and are looking forward to what God has for us in the future. We are full of joy and hope!
Love to all!
Jinja Rosemary Tharpe
You are our Rock of Remembrance
In you we know the faithfulness of God
You are the growing in rocky times
You are the evidence of beauty in pain
Your life is the promise of things to come
Our hearts are full to have carried you for a time
Your purpose goes on and will stay with us
We celebrate you as we sow this seed
Be fruitful, Baby! And drink from the Source
Your life flows forever, wrapped up in mystery
Emmanuel is steering our boat... "God with us..."
We saw two rainbows in the sky...
And I held two roses in my hand.
Monday, August 25, 2008
August 15, 2008
Our friends Micah and Diane have been in the country the last week or two. We took a coaster (a small bus) into Kampala last Thursday to meet up with them. It was our first taste of Kampala (the capital of Uganda) which is much bigger and busier than Jinja. The bus got stuck in traffic for a very long time and we decided we could get there faster by walking so we just got off the bus in the middle of stand-still traffic and caught a "picky-picky" (a terrible name for a motor boda boda a.k.a. motorcycle). We then were able to weave in and out of traffic and reach our destination much faster!
It was so good to see faces from home and likewise for them. We found our way to a VERY fancy Italian restaurant (we were quite underdressed) where we enjoyed Margarita pizzas and bread dipped in olive oil! It was quite a refreshing experience for us all! We then walked at least half an hour to "Garden City Mall" enjoying the sights of the city and reached it just as all the shops were closing about 6pm--too bad!
Back at their guest house we said our goodbyes and they loaded us up with a bag of Jelly Bellies (Thank you Micah!) and a few more candies and treats from Mama May, and we headed back to Jinja. The next morning, we got a phone call from the girls--they too were now in Jinja! None of us knew that the first contact they would be working with lives in Jinja as well! So it has been fun to have some Texans around town and we've been able to see them at least every few days. We took them to Amani (the orphanage) on Monday and we all played with babies for a few hours--and fell in love of course.
On Sunday I went to a village church with them where we experienced African children dancing and dancing and dancing during worship. It was incredible! Micah spoke to the people and her words were powerful and full of truth! I myself was inspired and reminded to line up straight according to God's Word which all comes down to loving God and loving the people I come in contact with in the same way I love myself! Those two things are the most important things. How quickly we get distracted thinking we have to do this or that or pointing our fingers at those who we think should or shouldn't do this or that, or looking out for our own interests when really it all just comes down to... or shall we say "up" to... LOVE. hmm.....
Anyway, with that I'll wrap up this novel sized post. The last few weeks in this new world of ours have really started feeling a bit more like home (at least for now) and the weeks are actually beginning to fly by. God-willing we'll be back in Texas for Aaron and Rachel's wedding before we know it!
Much Love to All!
Random Ps. I just want to give a shout out to my pal Jess Clark... just because I think you're swell!
Friday, July 25, 2008
(only 13 days behind cousin Burciaga!)
i loved reading everyone's comments... thank you so much for your words!
it's like reading multiple emails all at once without having to pull up a new page (which takes forever!) :)
i'll keep you guys posted!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
July 22, 2008
This weekend we were finally able to move into our own little house.
Thank You Jesus!
It was quite a job cleaning that place. Imagine a really old house that's been vacant for a few months... now imagine windows with screens only and no glass... whatever is outside has no problem getting in... now imagine geckos running around in there and what they leave behind... add a few months of bugs and maybe a few rats and "wa-la" you've got QUITE a cleaning job on your hands! Needless to say, I am worn out though there is still much to do. But it's beginning to feel a bit more comfy after spending two nights there and all day yesterday cleaning... and we are growing fond of our quaint little cottage!
Also in the weekend news, Brian has joint-purchased a bicycle! He and another guy who is here adopting a little girl are going in on it together and working on it. It's called a Hero. It's black and gold and red and Brian is very excited about fixing it up just right. We went to the market yesterday to buy a "boda" seat for the back and a basket for the front. Now, Brian will be able to "drive" me to work every day as well as carry groceries in the front! Today, they are putting the seat and basket on and tweaking a few things... Soon we will be "up and pedaling!"
As for pregnancy symptoms, it hasn't been too drastic so far... Frequent trips to the "toilet" as they call it here, falling asleep a few hours earlier than usual, hungry of course, and strange food aversions as well! I had a large lunch of beans and rice and potatoes sometime last week and even now the thought of rice makes my stomach turn... I cannot stand the thought of it.
I've been eating a lot of eggs. They are cheap here and make a good long lasting breakfast when combined with a couple of pieces of toast or a bowl of oatmeal. Today my sweet husband made breakfast before I even got out of bed--french toast and fried eggs... and a tasty cup of tea! But somehow this morning, I couldn't stand the thought of eating a fried egg! What happened!?!
Brian is being such a good sport about all my weirdnesses... Thank You God for a good man--patient and sensitive and persevering!
Of all the foods you CAN get here in Jinja, I cannot seem to find a decent cracker! All they sell is cookies... and "biscuits" which are the same as cookies! I could really use a box of tasty veggie crackers or something--even some basic Saltines! :) Anyway, that's my one complaint for the day.
My apology for the lack of pictures on these blogs... so far we have been unable to upload photos... we are hoping to go back eventually and add pics to the previous blogs... The internet here is just nothing like being in America. Pray that the military guys get a good wireless connection and that we are allowed access to it. Then we could afford the hours of uploading while in the comfort of our own home.
Also, I want to give a BIG HUGE THANK YOU to my grandparents, Meme and Happy, for giving us this computer so we can keep in contact with you guys at least a little and hopefully more in the future! Thank you Meme and Hap! And Happy 50th Anniversary year! :)
So, in conclusion, after two months of marriage... We finally have a home... as well as a vehicle! We've been in Africa for an entire month, and we've got a baby on the way! Life is an adventure--challenging at times--but worth it because we know God is GOOD and that He works all things together for good for those who LOVE HIM (that's us!) and who have been called according to His purpose!
PRAISE HIM! :)
Addendum: I just found out what our mailing address is!
P.O. Box 1799
It's as simple as that! If you want to send a package, be sure to send it AIR MAIL to insure that it doesn't take two years (literally) to get here! Also, the smaller the package, the sooner it will get here. Big packages seem to get stuck in the routing. Big envelopes are good as long as they are small enough to fit in a normal sized mailbox. It should only be about $8 to mail a small package.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
So I figured out that if I wait until I have internet access to create a blog for posting, by the time I catch up on and reply to emails, I have no more time or energy for blogging! So I've decided to compose my blog posts when I don't have web access; then I'll just copy them when I'm able.
Two weeks we've now been in Jinja. After a few days of catching up with Danyne and Surj, their girls and baby Jagpal, and seeing a bit of our new world, we landed in bed for two days and two nights with not so happy intestines. Meanwhile, a church around the corner was holding an all-night prayer meeting on high volume with loud speakers and singers who shouldn't have microphones... they literally sang til the sun came up! Needless to say, we did our sleeping in broad daylight, not the night!
As soon as we recovered, it was "off to the shop!" The gift store that Danyne and Surj run in Jinja had recently been "shifted" to Main Street (they changed locations) and we had the challenge of unpacking everything and getting it in order. It took us an entire week to do it, in addition to getting the new "saloon" (as they call it here) up and running.
The shop is called "Akiba" which is an African word for "treasure" and the salon which is upstairs from the shop is called "A Kut Above". We opened Tuesday (July 9th) and I am enjoying working there, especially when I have clients! It's nice to be doing the same thing I would be doing at home... helps this place to feel more comfy.
Next on the wish list is to move into our own place. In our 6 weeks of marriage we have been living out of suitcases with no place to call "home" so needless to say, I AM READY!
The little place we will live in is next to Surj's Palm Tree guesthouse where Brian is in charge of making sure the 15 or so U.S. military men who will be living at the guesthouse for the next year are fed the right food at the right time. Basically, his job is like managing a kitchen at a restaurant. (Funny how we are doing the exact same thing we would be doing at home, but we're in AFRICA!) The place isn't ready for us yet so pray that takes place soon. For now, it is good to spend time with family here and adjust a bit to the rhythm of Jinja, but I am looking forward to settling in a little better and getting my things out of these tubs we packed in!
That's pretty much the "catch up" on life here so far...
In other news, all in a matter of days I've got a sister-n-law with a new baby on the way and a brother-n-law with a new bride to be! Congrats to Jamie & Billy and Aaron & Rachel! Yay Family!