Routines, Refrigerators and Rafting the Nile Oh My!

Wow! My time here has flown by. Thanks again to everyone that has prayed for me, thought of me and financially supported me. You are the body of Christ and without you I could not be where I am today. Thank you.

I apologize for not posting more pictures up to now. There is something in the core of my being that dislikes selfies. I’d rather experience the full moment of things that occur rather than miss the moment because I was busy taking pictures of everything. I’m working on finding a balance to that.

As a general recap, my first two weeks of living in Jinja, I was blessed to have three missionaries that were about to leave for furlough show me around the town. I was so thankful for that time. Their advice and kindness was exactly what I needed starting out in a new culture and continent.

Four days after I arrived in Uganda, I started teaching my first class in a nearby village. I recited the creation story, which is not as easy as you might think. Ambassador Institute is about memorizing scripture word for word, and the creation story is tricky because each day of creation is similar with “and it was so” or “and God saw that it was good” but they are not in the same order each time. But, I found that as I was memorizing, the story became more real to me. I could see each day of creation unfold. It was really beautiful and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the story.

The next week, I added two more classes to my schedule. I teach a class in town and another village called Mugulaka with Mama Rose (it is pronounced “Moo-goo-lah-kah”); you have no idea how hard it was to pronounce this correctly. It is a beautiful village about 30 km from Jinja. The students are so eager to come to class and through the help of a translator, these students are thriving. I love going to this village because we go past lush valleys and hills, Eucalyptus forests and we always stop at Mama Rose’s farm for fresh raw milk from the cow.

On days that I’m not teaching class, I attend and help facilitate leadership and teacher meetings for Ambassador Institute and I help a couple local missionary families with homeschooling.

Beyond my weekly routines, I’ve already had a few adventures. I celebrated my birthday in Uganda. I had a week of blessings and dare I say the best birthday to date? The day before my birthday, I went bungee jumping. Click the link for the full story.

Then, my host mother and the Jore family surprised me with a real American style birthday cake and a birthday feast of Ugandan food! I then spent an evening with friends playing games at a coffee shop and later that week went white water rafting down the Nile River. Apparently, people from around the world come to raft the Nile because of it’s powerful Grade 4,5, and 6 rapids that are unmatched in the world. One of the girls with us had rafted the Grade 5 rapids of the Snake River in the United States. She said they must change the scale of things internationally because the Nile River was 10x scarier. Here’s a few photos from that adventure.

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We hit eight rapids that day that were Grade 4 and 5. They all had terrifying names like, “The Washing Machine”, “The Bad Place”, “Silverback” and “Hair of the Dog.” There were some little rapids at times that we were allowed to swim down. I took them up on this offer.

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The waves that hit us were huge. We managed not to flip during any of the rapids but I was launched out of the boat one time. I wasn’t injured and really enjoyed that brief second of flying.

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Our lunchtime meal consisted of pineapple and glucose biscuits, which were basically sugar cookies to give us energy for the rest of the rapids.

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An image of our cheerful group standing behind the Grade 6 rapids called “Itanda Falls” that we had to walk around because they are too dangerous. Grade 6 means “there is a great possibility of injury and/or death.” This rapid was amazing to see. I was literally shaking when I saw the massive rapids we evaded. Sadly, these rapids will be gone within the coming year. The government will be destroying them to put in a dam.

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After a while, I realized these rapids were nothing to be afraid of. They were soooo fun.

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Oh, you know. Just conquering more massive rapids.

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You can tell my strategy was to stay in the boat at all costs. I actually ended up pushing our guide off the boat. Or so he claims.

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This is probably my favorite photo of the day. My facial expression is priceless. It really captures how I felt each time we went through a rapid.

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After each rapid there was a sense of dread and survival instincts that kicked in. Before each rapid, our guide would tell us what the name of the rapid was, its grade and what to do when we went through the rapid. Sometimes, it was possible to still paddle through the rapids but most times the strategy was to “get down” on our guides command and be at the mercy of the rapid. One girl in our group would always prematurely “get down” even if we were supposed to paddle. It was comical to see her instinctive response.

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Our first rapid was a Grade 5 named the “Muzungu Eater” featuring a 2 meter drop. The other side of this rapid was a Grade 6 named the “Dead Dutchman.” If the name wasn’t explanatory enough, an experienced white water kayaker decided to go down this rapid alone. His body surfaced a week later.

Apart from routines and rafting, I’ve recently purchased a small refrigerator! It was second-hand from a missionary family that no longer needed it and our “family” loves it. It means that I can cook healthy “muzungu” meals and we can safely store leftover food that would otherwise sit at room temperature for 24 hours and then get reheated and re-served.

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Our house girl, Jamila, stared at the fridge in awe. Then with a glint in her eye, she told me, “I’m going to have cold water and ice…every day!” She looked like I had just given her a pony. Seriously, it’s amazing that something we take for granted in the United States can give such joy. I’m thankful for these reminders.

Everything we have is a blessing. Everything. From the refrigerator and stove that you have, to the ability a single woman has to independently earn a living and not be forced to marry to survive. If you take anything from this update, take this. Blessings come in many different forms. I hope you have the wisdom to see them and appreciate them as they come to you.

God’s blessings from Africa!

Rebeka

 

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