Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Never Done that Before!

There is a "first time" for everything, so they say. I just didn't realize some of my "firsts" would take place in Uganda - a country so far from home.

Yesterday I was thinking about some of the things I experienced for the first time in Uganda. Here is what I came up with:

 - My first trip to Uganda, October 2006-March 2007, was my first time outside the U.S., except for one day in Canada in 1991, which hardly counts.

 With island children during my first trip to Uganda.

- It was my first time to be away from home for any length of time.

- It was also my first international flight that took me to Uganda. My return to the U.S. in March 2007 was my first time to fly alone.

- I had my first ice cream on an airplane as I flew back to Africa in January 2010. Though it was served at the equivalent of breakfast time, I ate it because I didn't know the next time I would enjoy chocolate ice cream.

- It was my first time to live on an island or in a place without running water and electricity.

- In that visit four years ago, I used an Internet "cafe" for the first time.

- It was my first introduction to "flash drives" as I kept seeing people with these "sticks" hanging around their necks.

Me on a boda-boda

- I had my first motorcycle ride in 2006 in Uganda. Boy, was it scary as I perched side-saddle on the seat behind the driver, with a too-heavy backpack on my back and held on for dear life. I thought the driver was going way too fast and too close to other apparatus on the road. Now I love motorcyle rides and they are my favorite way to travel in Uganda! I love the wind whipping through my hair and being able to see the passing scenery better than you could from a vehicle. By the way, this type of transport is called boda-boda (pronounced "bo-duh, bo-duh") and supposedly comes from the fact that they go from "border to border."

- I had my first tailor-made dress in Uganda. There it can be less expensive or equal to having a dress made for you, compared to buying a new one in a store. And it is fun because you get to design it!

- I bought my first high heels. To go with another tailor-made dress for a wedding of one of the island teachers. : )

April 2010 - Amanda and I wearing our tailor-made dresses and preparing to attend a wedding.

- Okay, so this isn't necessarily a first, but I painted my toenails on a regular basis during my recent stay there. Prior to going to Uganda, I could probably count on one hand the numbers of times my toenails had been painted.

- I had my first ever pedicure - on my 30th birthday - in Uganda. I always shied away from them because I know how extremely ticklish I am. I survived and enjoyed the first pedicure, but the second one was quite different. I had a hard time sitting still as it seemed my ticklish nerves were right under the surface!

- Speaking of birthdays, my 30th was my first-ever birthday to be celebrated away from family. But, it was certainly a very special and memorable one. (Thank you, Amanda!)

A collage of my birthday activities - breakfast, pedicure and manicure, "Crazy" golf, a delicious lunch, swimming and a surprise dinner with dear friends at Ling-Lings in Jinja.

- Okay, not quite another first, but I wore sandals and flip-flops almost all the time in Uganda. This is the girl who rarely wore sandals in the U.S., except for in the summer and at one time, disliked flip-flops (didn't like something rubbing my toes). I also was not one who previously enjoyed going barefoot, even in my own house. Well, I always go barefoot inside at the island SHIM base. It is part cultural and partly to keep the floor cleaner. : ) Now I go barefoot all the time at home. : )

- I enjoyed my first cooked bananas. There are many different kind of banana varieties in Uganda, and matoke is one of the most common. It is not very sweet and is prepared by boiling it for several hours. It is usually served with some kind of sauce. I particularly enjoy matoke when it has the consistency of mashed potatoes.

- I saw wild animals, like lions, monkeys, hippos and others outside of cages on a safari in December 2010. See videos on my "video" page for a close-up look and check out my blog post "When I in awesome wonder..."

- I started a blog when I knew I was going back to Uganda, thus the genesis of "Journey of Faith."

December 26, 2006 - Karina and I (Yes, we officially celebrated Christmas the day after - on "Boxing Day." It was for no reason other than we were too busy to observe Christmas on the actual day.)

- It was the first time I ever celebrated Christmas away from home, family and friends. But, I did get to observe it in December 2006 with dear friends, Karina, Amanda D. and Jessica (all from the U.S.).

- For the first time, I shared a room with someone other than my sister and long-time roommate Leah. The first was Karina, and then Amanda. : )

Amanda and I wearing our matching tailored dresses.

- For the first time I rode a bicycle and was not the one pedaling. Piki-pikis (pronounced "pee-chee, pee-chees") are another way to travel in Uganda. Hop on the back of a bicycle and pay just a few hundred shillings (usually less than 50 cents) to get from here to there. Just don't take one if you are in a hurry. :) (Okay, I take that back. There was a time when I was a younger when I was just too exhausted to continue on a family bike ride. So my dad attached a bungee cord to my bike and pulled me along.)

 Me preaching in our island church. Brainard, a dear friend, was translating.

- I preached my first sermon in Uganda. It was in my home church in the Kyoya village on Lingira Island. I think the topic was about as we look to Jesus, we are changed. I have preached several times since then and taught Sunday School. Being instant in season and out is so important there. One time I was given all of five minutes' notice before teaching the youth Sunday School class.

- Living in Uganda it was my first time to not be able to drink water from the tap, and strictly to drink purified, boiled or bottled water.

- In Uganda, specifically on the island, I learned to take "bucket baths" - taking a basin of water into a shower area and using a cup as the dipper. : )

- In Uganda, I learned a foreign language, aside from some American sign language a few years before my first trip.

- In Uganda I cooked for the first time over something other than a stove or campfire. Cooking over charcoal stoves is a challenge, so I usually leave that to others. A two-burner gas stove is a luxury on the island.

 Late 2006 - Making peanut butter balls over a one-burner propane stove.

- I learned to really dance in Uganda - well, sorta. : )

- In April I had a major first and a chance to face one of my biggest fears. Despite my life-long anxiety over water, I went whitewater rafting on the Nile. And, I loved it and would go again in a heartbeat. : ) I will not, however, be facing my fear of heights and go bungee-jumping.

April 2011 - Whitewater rafting on the Nile River

- In Uganda, it was the first time I realized God was calling me to be a missionary. It was never something I dreamed of or longed for, but God has His ways of bringing us to where He wants us to be and causing us to be truly fulfilled in that place. Now I cannot imagine my life apart from Uganda.

- In Uganda I made my first friends of a different nationality. Now they are family to me.

Okay, so I am sure there are more, but these are the "firsts" that came to mind. I am so grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to experience a different county, a different culture, a different way of life. There are challenges, but the opportunities, blessings and adventures outshine any difficulties.

I am not naturally an adventurous, spontaneous risk-taker, so it took God putting me so far out of my comfort zone to really learn to experience life in a much-fuller way. I am so, so thankful!

So, what have been some of your recent "firsts"?


  1. I loved reading your great list! How wonderful to see how God stretches and grows us! I'll have to get back to you on my recent firsts after I ponder it for a bit... (-:

  2. Ruthie,

    I am so amazed at our reconnection and at the fact of our shared love for another country and its people!

    One first for me would be knowing someone firsthand who boards a plane, crosses seas, and then lives in Uganda, the "jewel of Africa" right?

    We have a girl in Bukaya whom we sponsor through Amazima. What if you could someday hug her for me? Oh, dude, what a day that would be!

    Anyway, you bless me greatly. Thanks for sharing all of these snip-its and photos.

    Love & hugs & blessings to you.

    ~ Darlene

  3. Lauren, yes, it is good to reflect on God's ways in our lives. How He gets us from "here" to "there" always amazes me. I would love to read some of your firsts! :)
    Darlene, thank you so much for your nice comments! I loved your "first." :) Bukaya is in Addis Ababa, Ethopia, right? I had to look it up as it wasn't familiar. A missionary couple who I did my training with is serving in Addis Ababa. I should write them and see if they are familiar with Bukaya.
    Many blessings to you, friend!