One year ago today I said my final farewells to friends and family. I still remember sitting around my friend Jenny's kitchen table with Jenny, my mom, Ashley, and Ashley's nurse aide, Jodi. An outsider never would have guessed that one of us was traveling to live halfway around the world for 2 years.
One year ago today I was still home, still anticipating what was to come. I was still imaginging and dreaming of what life would be like in Uganda. I was still starry-eyed at the thought of what being a missionary would be like, completely oblivious to the ups and downs I was about to encounter. One year ago today, I had no idea how my life would be now, let alone how I would ever make it here.
One year ago today I was still home. Here are some ways life has changed since last year at this time:
- Laundry - I didn't particularly enjoy doing laundry at home. Now I'd give just about anything for a washing machine. Now all laundry is done by hand. Soaked, scrubbed, and wrung out all with my own two hands, hung out to dry on the line. That is unless it rains on laundry day. Then laundry is draped everywhere around the house.
- Power Outages - As I write this we have no power. It's been off since morning and is likely to be off until evening or even beyond. On average we have power about 50% of the time. The power company tends to turn it off during the day and it's there during the night.
- Staring - I never used to get stared at back home. I blended into the crowd. Now I'm a white girl living in the middle of an African village. I stand out, and I'm growing to accept and expect the stares.
- Quietness and loneliness - With no power and no one around like me it's awfully quiet and lonely at times. At home I had to seek out quiet, alone time. Here I have to seek out people time. Even as I write this, I am in my office all alone with nothing by the pitter patter of raindrops to keep me company. (Of course that will all change with the kids get out of school later!)
- Seasons - I exchanged 4 distinct seasons for just 2 seasons whose only distinguishing difference is wither it's really hot or really hot and rainy. It makes it a little harder in my mind to remember what month we're in.
- Water - At home I drank water straight from the tap. I could drink it straight from the hose if I didn't mind that plastic taste. Now all water is either bottled or filtered. Filtering enough water for 2 days takes about 40 minutes.
- Showers - I took hot showers every day at home, in a shower with actual water pressure while standing in a tub. Now cold showers are the norm and even "hot showers" are really lukewarm. If I want it warm I have to flush the toilet.
- Bed net - I used to sleep free of fear of mosquitoes. I could hang my foot off the end of the bed. But now I live in fear of the sound of a mosquito at night. Is that inside my net? But my net is my saving grace. It not only protects me from mosquitoes but also lizards, spiders, cockroaches, millipedes, dangerous caterpillars, snakes, and rats.
- Cooking - Can I just say I miss my microwave. Reheating leftovers was a cinch. Just stick them in, hit a few buttons, and in just a couple minutes food was ready to eat. But here everything is prepared from scratch and leftovers are reheated on the stove or in the oven with much care for getting things up to the right temperature.
- Driving - I used to drive carefully, obeying all traffic rules, driving the speed limit, staying in my own lane, rarely passing people. Now I follow the rules of Uganda where it's every man for himself and the boldest and quickest get the right of way. I swerve in and out, passing taxis, dodging boda bodas, people, chickens, and goats.
- Scenery - I exchanged rolling green hills dotted with Maple and pine trees for rolling green hills dotted with banana plantations.
- Language - The way I speak English has changed. Evening now has 3 syllables (eve-uh-ning) and yes is now 2 syllables (yes-eee)
- My name - At home I was "Aly." Now I am Aleeeesohn, Alsohn, Aleeesohneeee, Ahhly, Teecha, Teecha Alson, Auntie, Mami (Madame), and more recently, Housah
- Tv - I used to have 200 tv channels. Now I have a dvd player and a selection of movies and tv shows I brought from home.
- Teaching - I used to have every imaginable resource under the sun to work with and what I didn't have I found at Walmart. Now I get creative with what I can find.
- Shopping - I used to have Kohls, Old Navy, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, JoAnn's, Target, Walmart, Wegman's. Those are distant memories. Now it's Shoprite, Nakumatt and Game, and they're all about the size of the Michael's in Lakewood.
My life has certainly changed over the past year. All of these things have been a huge adjustment, but in the end I have learned that some things in life just aren't that big of a deal. It's a simpler life, though more complicated at the same time. I miss some of the luxuries of home but also enjoy the laid back nature of Ugandan culture. My eyes have been opened to new experiences and new ways of living, and I know I'll never be the same.