BethM on August 18th, 2014

Why yes, I did request the phrase “I think I need some coffee.”

Let me be upfront here: I have never been good with languages outside of English. I tried to learn Spanish in high school…but I’m pretty sure the only thing I got out of that was the ability to start basic conversations, ask for the bathroom, and talk about dogs singing in towers. (Thank you, ridiculous language-learning curriculum.) But now, I figure a two and a half year commitment to live immersed in a language foreign to me is the perfect opportunity to try again.

Uganda is an overwhelmingly multilingual country. Different tribes in different regions speak different languages, or different versions of a similar language. It’s not uncommon for a person to speak three, or even four languages, based on the needs of the area in which you were raised. Here at Kasana amongst the Baganda people, Luganda is the primary language of choice. For me, the incentive to become fluent in the language is based partly on my job: I teach art in Primary school, and my younger classes learn exclusively in Luganda.

So with this in mind, I started Luganda lessons with my dear friend Aunt Agnes last month. We sit together, she talks in Luganda, I try to speak Luganda back to her, we both laugh, I scribble notes. It’s an enjoyable system. Sometimes I have specific questions; sometimes we learn whatever happens to come up.

On Saturday morning, we spent an hour learning basic items found in the market. And in the afternoon, we took a boda (motorbike) into the market together for a “practical” test. We wandered around the market, purchasing enyanya (tomatoes) and nanasi (pineapple) and ebitungulu (onions) and emboga (cabbage), and I listened to Agnes barter for prices, happy that I could pick out the numbers as they were spoken.

So while at this point my Luganda is extremely limited and sometimes results in humorous mistakes, I am loving the experience of learning a language by immersion. End goal: to teach without a translator. Possibly unattainable, but definitely worth working towards.

Taking our Luganda lesson to the market.


BethM on August 9th, 2014

A few weeks back, I wandered aimlessly to and filled an imaginary shopping cart. See, I was gifted with all sorts of art supplies before I came to New Hope, and I’ve had very adequate supplies for our artistic needs this term—plenty of paper, markers, crayons, and a few more fun supplies like watercolors and paint brushes. But occasionally I’ve found myself wishing for some more specialized items. Scrolling through pages of art and craft supplies on Amazon, I found myself adding googly eyes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, even craft feathers to my “cart”—little things that would make some of our projects just a little more exciting.

Then, just for kicks, I clicked the “submit my order” button, and Amazon informed me that shipping to my location is unavailable. Oh well, it was a fun thought. After all, pom poms and fake feathers are definitely not an artistic necessity.

Fast forward to this week. A team from the States had arrived at New Hope, carrying with them some art supplies from a group of my dear supporters back home. I had given them a very generic list of needs, not wanting to be overly specific (“I really need feathers and googly eyes” or “Please send pom poms ASAP” seemed a little dramatic). Last night, the supplies arrived at my house, and I enjoyed a mini art teacher Christmas as I sifted through what was included.

First I came across a pack of googly eyes. (Funny, I thought. That’s something I’d added to my imaginary shopping cart.)

Then I saw the bags of pom poms. (Excellent!)

And then there were the pipe cleaners. (Wonderful! Didn’t even have to ask.)

And then, of course, two bags of fake feathers. (Okay, now that is far too random to be a coincidence.)

So today, I am thankful for the wonderful people of Edna Hill who have supported me so generously in so many ways (some of which they didn’t even know). I’m thankful for fun craft supplies that are easy to come by in the States, but a very special treat over here. I’m thankful for extra art paper and paint brushes and popsicle sticks and stickers.

And that’s the story of how I got pom poms and feathers from Jesus.


BethM on August 6th, 2014

Let’s talk about milk.

Now, I appreciate milk. Milk and cereal. Milk in delicious cakes and goodies. Milk in pudding. Milk and cookies. Mmm, so many wonderful combinations.

In the States, our milk came pasteurized from the store. Here, the milk you find in stores is the kind that can sit on a shelf unrefrigerated because it’s actually some super sketchy chemical creation. The good news is…New Hope has a farm!

And on that farm, we have some cows.

And so every morning, usually between 7 and 8, you will hear the dinging of a bicycle bell. If you take a peek out your window, you’ll see a man on a bike with a huge milk can strapped behind him. He’ll show up at your door, and you’ll run for the nearest pot or pan, which you will hold up as your requested amount of milk is meted out (you’ll pay about 1,000 Ugandan shillings per liter, the equivalent of about $0.40 USD). Then, you’ll thank the milk man and head to the kitchen.

Unpasteurized milk can wreak some nasty havoc on your insides (no offense, raw milk fans), so you’ll probably want to set your milk on the stove top and bring it to a nice boil for awhile. You might be a little surprised at how quickly your innocent-looking milk will go from barely bubbling to foaming up and over the edge of your pan, which might lead you to keep your eyes glued to the stove top the entire time.

But of course…

…you might still wind up with spilled milk.

Oh well. It’s all worth it for that possibility of fresh milk and cookies, right?

BethM on July 28th, 2014

This past week has seen some fun changes for me and my life at Kasana. A week ago, I packed my bags, said goodbye to the Britton family who had graciously kept me fed and housed since I arrived, and moved across the road to New Hope’s secondary site. Here, I’ve moved into a cozy two-bedroom house with Wesley, a lovely fellow American girl who works on administrative staff. It’s a happy-sad occasion, really—I’m sad to miss out on the daily excitement of living with Mary and Geoff and the kids, but very much enjoying having a place of my own. Wesley and I have been unpacking and organizing and coffee-drinking, so life in the new place is off to a very good start.

A few weeks back, Wesley also popped into my class with the Primary 3 kids. Being the wonderful photographer that she is, I’ve snagged a few pictures from her to give you a few more glimpses into my workplace over here.

Using a glass jar and a flashlight, we made a rainbow on the floor—much to the delight of the kids!

We used a variety of leaves and other textured objects to make crayon rubbings.

Demonstrating how to get a good rubbing to some very eager learners.

There are some talented artists around here, I tell you.

Complimenting some very beautiful finished products!

This week at school, end-of-term exams are in full swing. Aside from a few teachers’ meetings and school events, my work hours are shifting from time at school to time at home, preparing for Term 3. Reflecting on the past term, I decided I felt very ready and willing to take on more classes, so I will likely be adding the two preschool classes as well as the P4s and P5s next term. So over the next several weeks of “holiday,” I’ll be planning out some fun projects and activities for the various ages in each class. Very excited for third term!

God continues to sweep me off my feet in this new life. I am consistently, repeatedly, and overwhelmingly aware of his blessings—and not just his blessings, but He Himself. At our mid-year staff meetings only a week ago, I was challenged by the question: has God called you here, or has God called you to HimselfAs a person who has always struggled (see?) with the concept of “God’s call,” this perspective grabbed hold of me in a new way. We are all of us called to be in constant transit toward our Savior. Along the way, he may lead us to specific places or specific people. But always, our ultimate call is to Himself.

How are you answering your call to move toward Him? Next time I’m around, I’d love to hear about it over a good cup of coffee. Let’s share in each other’s journey Godward.

Grace on July 14th, 2014

I am deeply full of simple things;
of anticipations and doubts and light brushes with the universe.
Like the painted buntings ruffling the goat weed-
now poised above it, now diving beneath it-
I do not wish you to attend to me.

Soon I will walk in two-thousand-year-old cities
and I will be like a single cobblestone, or a half of one.
Two-thousand years of feet will flow over me,
and I will not be crumbled by time’s trampling,
but I will hold out my hand for the marks.

I will walk in great shadows and not shake,
for it is good that they be large and I be small.
On mountains that will outlive me, I will be a single fern;
curling and unfurling once, twice, and then no more.
I will only be a worshipper.