Monday, June 04, 2007

Kasey, the Tourist

WOW! Carrie's engaged, Dallas is going to Cleveland Spanish speaking! I love you guys! Being away definitely makes ya love family more...I've always loved them of course.

WOW! There really is no other way to describe this last week…especially Friday and Saturday. I rafted the Nile River! It was incredible, probably the most amazing thing I’ve done in my life. We planned a trip to Jinja to do a day of workshops and then Saturday we were going to play. Jinja is where the source of the Nile is located and where Gandhi’s ashes were spread. We heard there was bungee jumping so we were all planning on doing it. The plan was to bungee jump Friday night, Saturday we would shop for souvenirs, eat at an American restaurant and then go to the Nigeria-Uganda soccer game. Well the bungee master’s back was really hurting Friday night, he said he would be fine the next day, but he was still in pain (I’m guessing drinking all night didn’t help much). So we were all really down, until we found out about rafting, we decided to do that instead. It was an all day trip so it meant we couldn’t do those other things, but it was so worth it. I’ve never been rafting before, but what a way to start. The section we did had 5 class 5 rapids, 2 class 4’s, 2 class 3’s and several smaller class 1 and 2’s! We talked to some guides and kayakers who travel all over the world rafting and kayaking and they said this was the best place in the WORLD to raft. It’s the second most intense river in the world to legally go rafting on, the 1st is the Zambeze River. But several people die on that river each year. Another part of the Nile also has some pretty intense rapids but there are 80,000 hippos in that section. Hippos kill more people than any other animal. So the part that we did is really the best combination of intensity and safety. We started out by practicing getting down, forward/backward strokes, getting out, getting back in, etc. Then we headed down the river. The Nile is gorgeous! There is so much wildlife. We saw a crocodile, bats, monkeys, tons of different types of birds—even several bald eagles. They are actually fish eagles, but are closely related to North American bald eagles and look just like them. We flipped three times but probably should have flipped several more times. The morning part of the trip we faced rapids after rapids. Class 5 is the highest class they can legally take clients on. They are so much fun! They have really funny names for each rapids. We went down Total Bunga, which means Totally Crazy. There was a 12-foot drop. We went down the drop and then got tossed around at the bottom and finally a big wave just threw us. I’m not sure what it was but at Total Bunga and then at Bad Place I just got thrown. When we flip they tell us we just have to take it and stay cool. That was hard. At Total Bunga I got thrown and then I felt like I was put in a washing machine—I couldn’t tell which way was up and wave after wave was hitting me down and making me do cartwheels in the water. So yeah, after like 5 or 6 really frustrating seconds I was up and just floated down to everybody else. At Bad Place (ha, I love the name) we were going down, then into the rapids, and then really just unexpectedly flipped. That one was really fun because none of us were prepared for it and we were all thrown far. The waves didn’t keep me down as long as Total Bunga. Bad Place was incredible, though. We’re talking like 300 yards (3 football fields) of rapids. At Overtime, there were crushing waves and tons of large rocks. We went through it pretty carefully and were stuck for like 10 seconds on a rock, but yeah, that was fun too. There were a couple slower parts of the river where we just swam. It was so relaxing and fun doing flips off the raft and just being carried by the current. We saw so many grass huts and locals washing their clothes. The Nile is so beautiful. The whole time I couldn’t believe it…I was on the Nile, I was rafting! I loved the wind and whitewater into the face. I think I first learned about the Nile in 1st or 2nd grade when we talked about Ancient Egypt. It’s so cool to actually go to the Nile and enjoy it. It’s so hard to describe Saturday, there really aren’t words to describe the excitement, exhilaration, beauty, and grandeur of the Nile. I just love seeing the diversity and beauty of God’s creations and really experiencing them.

Last Monday I went to Parliament and mostly spent the day chatting with Hamis and MP’s and learning about Uganda. We’re starting lots of business classes. We have four groups that we teach one to two times a week. It’s really fun being specific with them, discussing their business ideas, and applying the things we’re teaching them. I’ve been helping out at the Crane School still, and we’re going to Sis. Hasifa’s school now. Sis Hasifa is one of the most amazing members I know. She was a Muslim but was baptized a couple months ago and is now just so intense and excited about learning the Gospel, telling her friends and family about it, and helping people. We’re going over there and showing her how to hold Family Home Evening. We have so much fun at the Crane School. I really think that the way we help them the most is by just inspiring them and being their friends. We’re teaching them English and literature but it’s the one and one stuff that really makes a difference. I love asking them what they want to be and helping them set goals to reach. Some of my good buddies are Captain Frank, Captain Fahad (because they both want to be pilots), Dr. Samuel, Honorable Moses (he wants to be a member of Parliament and says that I must also add His Excellency when I say his name), and Pastor Timothy. These guys are fun. One of the girls graded the paragraphs that they were supposed to write, and Fahad wrote, “Kasey is my best friend and will be President someday. It makes me happy that Kasey will never forget me.” So I need to become the President now and never forget Fahad (that part will be easy).

At Parliament we learned a lot more about the health care system. Pres. Bush set up a Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria where people can get free medication for those diseases. The problem has been corruption, ugh. The Minister of Health and several other people embezzled millions of dollars out of the fund. Minister Muhwezi fled to the UK and had until May 30th to come back to Uganda. He did, but most think that nothing will happen to him because he was a high up general in Pres. Museveni’s army when they overthrew the previous government. But it is causing good political discussion here as several MP’s are saying that nobody is above the law…so we’ll see what happens. Ugh, I’m not sure if abortion is as black/white as I thought it was. Hamis was saying that when girls are raped, they will often do ANYTHING to abort the baby. They will use hangers, long knives, or drink a mixture of bleach and gasoline to kill the baby because there is so much shame in teenage pregnancies in this society. They even have a clinic where girls can check in anonymously and stay there during their pregnancy to avoid the shame.

Ok, things are rolling with Honorable Fred. That’s how you address members of Parliament (MP’s) here. I didn’t meet him until last Wednesday. He came to our house and we talked about our program on Friday. He told us how excited the schools were about us coming and how several other schools wanted us to come. So we started talking about ways to reach out to the schools in his constituency (130 of them). He is going to arrange a teacher training workshop on a Saturday where the teachers of schools will come and we will give different workshops. He also said we could give trainings at the teacher training schools. We’re all so excited! We feel like this is the best way we can reach out to as many students as possible. So Friday we took off for Jinja at 7:00 in the morning. Honorable Fred and Hamis picked us up and drove us out to the first school. We went to a really rural village where nearly every person in the village is involved with sugar cane growing. It was such a beautiful drive. There are high hills and lush, lush valleys. They treated us like royalty at the schools. They had an assembly and wrote out this speech personally thanking us for coming and kind of asking for funds. So we had several different workshops that we rotated the students through. We had games, motivation, hygiene, and girls’ maturation. We also had a workshop for the teachers. The district minister of education came and sat in on the workshop. I was involved with games but heard that it went really well with the teachers. Thank you to those who sent me stuff. The teachers asked questions and they girls really felt like they helped the teachers improve their methods. It was fun driving with him. He waved to everybody, shouted greetings, etc. When there is a death in the family people set out their blankets on poles and spend days there. When he saw this he would get out and talk to the family. We went to a more urban school later on, night and day difference. They spoke better English and were more rowdy than the other school. But we had really good experiences at both schools. Dave and I did games and had a blast! We played hokey pokey, boom chicka boom, the tooty tott, red light/green light, and octopus. Ha, when we all broke after the assembly at the second school, I had all the kids run after me. One of the girls said it was just the funniest thing seeing 300 kids running after me. It was a fun day…and exhausting!

So Tuesday the pigs next door were squealing SO loud. I really thought they were dieing or something. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard anything like that in my life. People here mix up their r’s and l’s a lot. It’s funny. In Church they always say, “let us play” when it’s time to pray. Mmmm, our cook, Edith, makes us really good Ugandan food. We eat lots of squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, cassava, bananas, etc. They really like their starch here. I have hot sauce that I put on my food to give it a little seasoning.

Things are really rolling here with setting up teacher training and business classes. I think I’m going back up to Parliament some time this week and arranging the teacher trainings. Hopefully I’ll be going up to the North on Thursday.

Life…is good.


dallas said...

Ola Kasey! this is awesome to read how you're changing the world... literally one day at a time.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are having a great time!
Be safe!

Becca said...

Ok I can't believe you swam in the Nile! That might become my new goal in life.

Be sure to check out Becca's Blog