Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome Home Uganda

Hi everyone!

We are back at the internet cafe and I thought I would write a quick update.

We moved in on Saturday morning with a wonderful homestay family in Lweza. We live with a mom, dad, younger brother (10 years old), sister (21 years old and home from a break from University), and other sister who is also the household help. There are other children in the family, some directly related and some not. Some are away at boarding school or university, or don't live with the family all of the time. Our host dad works at an NGO that works on HIV/AIDS testing/eduction and our mom is an accountant who also runs a "small" chicken farm. (We found out later that her small farm has 800 chickens on it!!!) Our home is extremely nice and our family has been amazingly welcoming! We feel like we have a home and a family here in Uganda now and it is a really wonderful feeling!

On Saturday we spent the day mostly moving into our new home for the next couple of months. We have our own room in the house. Also, the house has electricity, running water (with a shower and flushing toilet!), a large gate that surrounds it for security, and guard dogs who are out once the sun goes down. We have a TV, and even a refrigerator/freezer. On Saturday we ate a wonderful meal of fresh chicken (from the farm), beans, rice, matoke (traditional ugandan dish made out of cooked, mashed, ripe bananas), and green beans. We had fresh pineapple juice afterward - delicous! We also were able to attend a meeting of a savings and credit coop that our family is a part of, along with many of their village mates.

Sunday we went to church with our mom and one older sister. It was a really wonderful experience. When nobody showed up to lead the service, our host mom and sister took it upon themselves to read scriptures and prayers from the Anglican worship book. Our mom gave the sermon! We sang Amazing Grace, What A Friend We Have in Jesus - all the classics! As we left, many more people were coming to the church for the service in Luganda that would take place after our English one was completed.

Also, my host sisters caught me up on their favorite soap opera - Hidden Passions. Unfortunately the power went out so we weren't able to watch it. We tried to go to the neighbor
s home with a generator, but it also failed. Lucky for me, one of my sisters spent about 2 and half hours catching me up on the story line - so dramatic! So, I will look forward to catching the rerun on Saturday! (PS - I NEVER followed soaps while in the states, so this is another cross cultural experience!)

There is so much more to share but my time is running out! I hope you know how often we are thinking of you all and how we can't wait to share more stories with you! Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers and know that we are also sending them your way! If you get a chance, shoot us an email ( or We miss you and would love to hear about what is going on in all of your lives!!!

Much love,


Friday, February 25, 2011

We have internet but only 14 minutes more!

Hey Everyone,
We just wanted everyone to know that we arrived safely in Uganda a couple of weeks ago now. We only have a few minutes to post this but just thought we would send a quick update to you. We have been having a great/exhausting experience at training so far. Tomorrow we get to go to our homestay families finally, we can't wait. We also have found out that we will be in the Southwest part of Uganda, more updates on that later. But we have been learning survival Luganda (spoken around Kampala), teaching techniques, safety/security, health stuff, and many other fascinating and not quite so fascinating things. We can't wait to update you all more really soon. Thanks so much for all your thoughts and prayers.
Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

36 Hours of Brotherly Love

Well our short stay in Philadelphia is almost over, and then in a mere 25 hours from leaving here we will be in Entebbe, Uganda!! We are officially now not PCN (Peace Corps Nominees), and are PCT (Peace Corps Trainees). Our day has been filled with group builders, shots, and understanding guidelines. We started the day at 8 am and finished around 5:30 pm. We covered everything from Core Guidelines, to Anxieties/Aspirations, to what to expect when we get to Uganda. The day was filled with meeting many new friends.
We found out that for the first two weeks we are in country we are going to be in what is called "Standfast." This means that we will basically not leave our training facility, Lweza, for the first two weeks at least. Every volunteer in the country is in standfast and for each one it means something different for. It is incredibly re-assuring that they are taking precautions to keep us safe while we are there. We are definitely ready to get there and get this crazy adventure started.
This evening we went out to eat with a large group of people to Maggiano's Little Italy. Which if you know Emily and I but at all you know that this was one of our favorite places until it closed in the Twin Cities. So that was a great celebration dinner for our leaving for Uganda! The waitress was super excited for us, and as such gave us celebration cookies and charged us for 7 extra meals. We had a great time and once we got the waitress to correct the bill we had many relieved laughs to go around!
We leave our hotel tomorrow morning around 2 am! Which we are just so excited about. But we will first fly to South Africa from JFK (15 hrs). Then to Entebbe from there (4 hrs). Once we get to Uganda we may be contactless for our time in standfast. We won't have a chance to get cell phones until that time is over. So this may be our last post for a little while. We will be excited to tell you all about our time once we have gone through at least two weeks of training. Thanks again for the great send off and we can't wait to tell you all about training!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

4 bags = 160 lbs = personal belongings for 2 whole years!

The good news is the packing is over! It was not an easy task, but we think we've done an OK job.

As much as we desired to pack light, it's really difficult to decide what is and isn't necessary for the next two years of our life in Uganda! Peace Corps and other volunteers have given pretty helpful lists, but when it comes right down to it it's not easy to sort out our 160 combined pounds of stuff. As much as he wished, we couldn't bring Milo! :-( (we didn't even stage this picture! He just plopped right into a suitcase as we were packing all around him!)

Generally, here's a very summarized list of some of the items that we brought:
  • Modest business casual/professional clothes for work
  • rain jackets
  • sleeping bags
  • spices we like to cook with
  • games to play
  • books
  • Kitchen and other tools
  • Laptops, Ipods, Cameras
That's what I can think of right now! When we did the dreaded weigh in before we left we were pleased to find we were about 20 pounds underweight! So, all is well and hopefully it's everything we need and not much that we don't!

Also, today was the day that we left home! We'll try to write more later about our staging experience in Philadelphia, but we wanted to take a moment to tell everyone how grateful we have been for the support as we have gotten ready to go. Friends and family have been absolutely wonderful through this all and we hope you know how much we appreciate and love you all. Thank you for understanding our emotions and being so supportive and excited for us. What would we do without you all!!!

More to come....