I have already been here for a month and cannot believe how the time is flyng by! I have completely fallen in love with this place and the people and just want the semester to slow down... My roommate and I have already talked about how we could come back here to live and I am even looking into the possibility of extending my trip to stay longer with her. But even though I love it does not mean it is always easy because living here as an American brings up many tricky life questions that I have been struggling with. The past couple days have been busy and fun- full of class, fellowships, and serving at a school/orphanage. Fellowships are like small groups but are more formal than Bible studies like we are used to in the States. They are mainly people taking turns preaching or sharing testimonies of how God has worked in their lives. I participate in one with Honors College, the group on campus that we live with. On Monday night, it was Honors College's turn to lead worship for the main campus fellowship so several of us joined in for that as well. One thing we have learned while being here is that it does not matter if you can sing or dance well, you just do it anyway. Because of that, though I normally would not, I have joined a group called TLM, which meets as fellowship and also rehearses and gives concerts. My roommate and I, along with at least one other American have joined because it will be a lot of fun and will push us, as well as integrating us further with more people on campus. Laura, my roommate, and I are also running together in the afternoons and will hopefully practice some with the track team, though are not sure how formal that will be and may just be on the track around the same time. On Tuesday afternoon, I went to Chain for the first time to really help out. It is a school and orphanage, though many of the kids have families but just come from bad situations. Several of the children are blind or have very bad eyesight (many as a result of childhood malaria), which is a condition that is extremely marginalized in this culture. I spent my time there sitting with a 13 year old boy named Nathan in Primary 5 (I'm almost positive this is comparable to our fifth grade). He has poor eyesight and has to use a braille machine. I dictated whatever the teacher wrote on the board to him. The classroom style here is more relaxed, especially for the children who cannot see well and therefore are unable to fully participate, so during some of the down time he taught me how to use a brailler and then gave me a paper so I am working on learning braille and how to type it as well. After the school day was done, I played with several young girls, many of whom were in Nathan's class. Nathan also showed me his guitar and played "Lord I Lift Your Name on High" and started to teach me some of the chords. It was a lot of fun, and then we left early to come back for a USP dinner and worship night. Over all, it has been an amazing couple of days just spending lots of time in community worship and learning.
But the past couple of days have brought up some hard issues as well. One of the hardest for me is really confronting the fact that I have grown up in such a blessed environment and really have not had to struggle, while I am meeting so many people that have faced really difficult situations in their lives that I cannot relate to in any way. The hardest is when they are children and we're supposed to be teaching them but I just am not sure how to do that... Especially since we are here to learn and grow and did not come with the purpose of helping Ugandans; and definately not on the qualification of being American or white. Whenever we serve at our practicum sites it is as members of the community, not because we came here to feel emotionally gratified from working with "the orphans." But it is good that there are other people in the group confronting the same issues so we can talk about it and ultimately, I just have to give it up to God and trust Him and believe in His ultimate justice. And for now, though I am not comfortable really teaching the children or giving them cliche answers, I can be there to love on them and listen and let them teach me... Because ultimately, I came here to be challenged by these very issues and learn and grow, not for the adventure or beauty of Africa, though I don't mind enjoying that too!