Do you hear what I hear?

IMG_20130809_174901The view of the hills astound me. The taste of Stoney has me addicted. The feel of a warm handshake from a local leaves me filled with joy. The smell of the fresh African air on a cool morning brings a smile to my face each new day.

Sight. Taste. Touch. Smell. Africa certainly appeals to all of these senses in a major way.

But I have noticed that there is once sense that it constantly overwhelms: sound. The sounds of Kampala, Uganda never seem to quit. It could be early morning, middle of the afternoon or late at night. The sounds are constantly flooding my ears with beautiful noises, both natural and man-made.

I’ve been here less than two weeks, but I have already come up with a list of common sounds heard around Kampala and my home here.

“Mzungu! Mzungu!”
If I had a Ugandan shilling for each time I’ve had that shouted my way, I’d be a rich lady! I have seen many different “official” definitions of the word, but around here it simply seems to mean “white person” or “visitor.” It’s commonly shouted in markets and along the streets. Sometimes people are trying to sell you something, and other times they just want to be seen. Apparently it’s not necessarily derogatory, but it’s much nicer when a Ugandan says, “Madame!” or “Nyabo!”

“My heart will go on…”
Doesn’t Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic make you want an ice cream treat? Apparently they think so here in Kampala. This must be a favorite of the ice cream man around here, because it’s what he plays as he tries to make a living selling ice cream off the back of his bicycle. Another favorite is, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

a“Beep! Beep!”
Whether traveling by boda, taxi or car, you can’t avoid the constant beeping from other vehicles. It’s not like America where a bunch of road-raged drivers are taking their aggression out on other drivers by honking their horns. People here honk simply to let people know that they are there, and to make sure they are seen. This is crucial to a town like Kampala where there are always people walking and enough bodas to fill the state of Texas.

“(Insert Arabic call-to-prayer here…)”
Wow. Muslims like to pray early. The “Call to Prayer” is announced over very loud speakers, and I wake up each morning at around 5 a.m. when they start. The sounds of the Arabic language and Muslim prayers to Allah echo throughout the city multiple times of day.

“Caw! Caw! Caw!” “Roof! Roof!” “Cockadoodledoo!”IMG_20130804_142647
There’s really no end to the animal sounds in Kampala. Dogs are constantly barking, birds singing and roosters loudly exclaiming, “Cockadoodledoo!” I’ve heard bird sounds here I’ve never heard before, some of which sound like monkeys and others like crying babies. The animal sounds sometimes leave me feeling like I live in a zoo!

“Doot doot doot dooooot!”
I am not sure who got the kids across the road a recorder, but sometimes I really wish they hadn’t. While I enjoy “When the Saints Go Marching In,” I tend to be less impressed with it at around midnight, coming from a recorder. However, it’s always beautiful to hear a young child making music.

“Swish, swish. Swish, swish.”
I am amazed at the Ugandan desire for cleanliness. Each day I see street sweepers, men and women with tiny brooms, sweeping the dirt along the sides of the road. Yes, sweeping the dirt so it is free of trash and other debris. The “swish, swish” of their brooms reminds me of the great pride they take in keeping their city clean.

The sights, smells, tastes and touch of many wonderful things around Kampala leave my senses overwhelmed and overjoyed, but it’s the sounds that have truly captured my heart and made me happy to call this new place home for a while.

We may not care, but I’m glad someone does…

Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to help. God gave me a heart for the poor, especially theIMG_3029 poor in other countries. When I see poor people, my heart breaks. I don’t question why they are poor or accuse them of being lazy. The things I’ve seen in Niger and Nicaragua are so heartbreaking that it makes me want to do all I can to help.

“What about the homeless in America? Don’t we have enough people to help here?”

That’s a common statement from many people here in the U.S. Honestly, it holds no weight with me when it comes from people who aren’t doing anything about the people in the U.S. that they claim to be so concerned about. Who are they to judge my passion and tell me I should be more concerned about something else?

1403438_jacky_-_our_young_jack_russel_dogYears ago, I remember getting frustrated at a commercial for the SPCA. Dogs? People were concerned about animals when we had people dying in the world! How ridiculous is that? But then I realized, what if no one cared about the animals? What if no one was their advocate?

God gave everyone a heart for something or someone different. If we all cared only about the homeless in America, we’d be in some major trouble.

Who would help those in countries where their own governments won’t help?

Who would look out for the animals and their safety?

Who would work at nursing homes to take care of the elderly?

Who would stand up for our planet and work at keeping it clean and beautiful?

While someone else’s passion might not be the same as yours, it’s important to realize that EVERY passion for humanity, animals and the planet is necessary for our world to survive.

Some people don’t understand my passion for Africa. I don’t know where it comes from, other than it’s the heart God gave me. I look at my friend Kim who works with special ed kids all day long, and I don’t understand her heart. It’s a heart I don’t have. While I hurt for those kids, I don’t have the desire to work with them.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but I wish some people would be more sensitive to the different passions we all have. We think the world is falling apart right now, just imagine what it would be like if NO ONE cared about the kids in Africa, the animals, or taking care of our planet.

I don’t have a burning passion for animals or making sure the planet is taken care of, but I’m glad that someone does.

Finding Hippos and a Meal for a King…

From my journal of the mission trip with Jesus Film Ministries to Niger, Africa in 2009.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Today was a FABULOUS day! We had cinnamon rolls and banana bread for breakfast and then headed out for our boat rides. The rain really cooled things off last night after a huge thunderstorm, so it was the perfect morning.

Bruce haggled us a good price for the boat ride, and then we were off! In my boat was me, Kathy, Sheri, Zac and Jonathan. The water was pretty muddy and was only a few feet deep. The boats looked really old and were falling apart, but we trusted our guides.4788_103252161572_2999197_n

We went really far in hopes of finding some hippos. I was kind of nervous. Hippopotamuses?! They are HUGE and are NOT nice. And the guides said that they are as fast as horses when on land. Well, we did find some hippos! All we really got to see were their heads but it was still very cool. We walked around on a beach on an island, and we watched the hippos from there and took lots of pictures.

4788_103252191572_6479839_nWe got back in our little boats and our next stop was this tiny little village on an island. We walked around the village. We met some of the people and took pictures of the kids. One little boy just walked up to me and grabbed my hand! He was so cute!

All of the little village kids sent us off when we floated away. There were about 20 of them waving and yelling as we left.

For lunch we went to Angel and Venonce’s home (they run the university Campus Crusade as IMG_0673 (2)national directors in Niger). It was a pretty big deal for them to do that. I guess they didn’t do that with last year’s team! The meal was INCREDIBLE! It was some really weird stuff, but it was also really good. There were a lot of vegetables, some sort of meat (no one dared ask what), and of course all the Fanta we could drink.

Their home was pretty nice. It was gated- like every “real” house here is. They even had a servant!

We talked a bit about the political issues in Niger. It is scary to think Niger could get a new president who will declare it a Muslim country and outlaw any other religions. I don’t even want to think about it.

4975_102900226572_770615_nOur Jesus Film showing was OK. Not many people came but a few accepted Christ! I must remember to pray for this one young man who accepted Christ. He spoke some English, so we talked a little. I was really excited that some of the kids remembered my name! How cute!

Things got creepy when a sand storm started moving in. So when the film finished, we packed up quickly. Even though we did have some scary Muslims chase kids away, at least we didn’t have it as bad as the group that got rocks thrown at them. Crazy! No one got hurt, but that had to be scary.