Teaching classes, going to church, and feeding hungry people were on the list of things we planned to do during our year in Uganda. Wrangling goats and eating freshly slaughtered chicken just hadn’t really crossed our minds. But God sometimes has new experiences waiting for us that we never would have planned. Here’s a little story about an unlikely friendship started right in our own backyard. (We asked our new friend, through a bilingual neighbor, if it was okay with him for us to share this story with you all. He was delighted.)
It is common in Uganda, for houses and apartments to have staff. This is not limited to the rich, like in America, as most properties have at least one person employed and living on site. Where we live, the groundskeeper/gate opener/guard is Frank. Sarah and I are getting to know Frank a little bit, but Andy has taken to him rather quickly. A large part of that is likely the emphatic “Boyyyyyy!” with a huge smile every time Frank sees Andy. Andy loves to say “Thank you, Frank!” whenever he does something for us, especially opening the gate to allow our car into the driveway. Between Frank’s English and our Luganda, we have a fairly limited range of topics to discuss. This was the extent of our relationship with Frank for the first few weeks residing here. But lately, Frank has opened up a bit, including playing ball in the driveway with both our kids, and letting Andy help with the animals that he takes care of here at the house. The goats, aka lawnmowers, go out each morning and return in the evening. Frank has allowed Andy to “assist” in bringing the goats back in a couple of times. Our two-year-old got quite a kick out of holding onto a baby goat’s leash as they both scrambled up the big hill. We may have a little farmer on our hands!
Recently, Andy and I noticed a rooster milling about the area where Frank cooks his food, right outside his little apartment. Upon further inspection, we found the chicken was tied to a bush. Later that night, our beloved Frank knocked on our door holding a hot pot of chicken. I answered the door and Frank gestured with the pot and handed it to me. I nearly dropped it because it was so stinking hot! Apparently, I’m a wimp. I thanked him and rushed into the kitchen to set the pot down, and then the two of us sat and ate. Frank indicated that the last piece was for “Boyyy.” I tried to explain that Andy was going to sleep, but that I would give it to him tomorrow. Frank’s usual big toothy grin was reduced by about half, so I knew he was pretty disappointed. I thanked him about ten times as he left.
Just then, Sarah emerged having put Andy to bed, and I told her what happened. We both agreed that, for the first time ever, we would get our son up out of bed. I carried Andy and his piece of chicken down to where Frank was washing dishes, much to the delight of them both! Andy sat in the driveway eating his chicken, while Frank beamed proudly that his little friend was enjoying his cooking. I asked Frank if he had chosen one of the loud chickens (lots of crowing around here). He answered, “Yes. Chicken,” apparently having no idea what I was asking.
While Andy was still chowing down, Frank popped into his apartment and retrieved a blue student workbook. He brought it to me and opened it up to the first page, holding it so he and I could both see what he had written. He read me all of the letters of the English alphabet and all the numbers 1-10, working hard to get them each correct. He then took me through the next several pages of basic English lessons. Every now and then, he would look at me for assistance, but he had clearly been working very hard, and was rightfully proud of his progress.
One of the things that Frank read from his book was, “This is an apple.” A couple days later, Andy, Bethany, and I brought some apples to Frank, and we all practiced saying “This is an apple.” I am so proud of this man for working hard to gain new knowledge, and I am so glad that Andy and I get to be his friend. It was an honor to share his chicken, especially since I knew that there would be one less “cock-a-doodle-do” the next morning! God is helping us build relationships with the people here, even those we never could have anticipated.
Friends and family have been asking what our days are like here. A little while back, I recorded our goings-on, and here it is! Some days we have other evening activities such as Literacy Class at Kwagala (kwagalaproject.org
), and Nick often has meetings with Kyampisi Childcare Ministries (kyampisi.org
), but this is a typical school day for us!
6:30- get up, breakfast- toast, bananas, yogurt, coffee for the parents (and ACE wanted some noodles and beans from last night)
7:00- get ready for school, put away dry dishes, check the laundry on the line- still wet
8:00- drive to school in Naguru, teach P1 class- Letter J, Tens and Ones, Shapes, Jonah
(Nick stays home with A and B.)
These are some of the kids from our class: Udda, Nakalembe, Aisha, Medi, Mawejje, Yashire, Praise, Shadia, and Maamu.
12:00- Chris and Courtney arrive at school- Games and Singing Time!
2:00- arrive home from school, eat lunch- leftovers from what Nick cooked earlier-scrambled eggs, beans, and corn- yum!
3:00- family super market trip for a scrub brush, pasta, yogurt, water, and to talk to the internet provider about our plan
4:00- nap for Bethany, prep for supper- peel and soak matooke, boil tomatoes, chop onions and garlic
4:30- write this blog post, play with Andy, watch Frank the grounds-keeper chase the chickens
5:00- FaceTime with family
5:30- finish preparing supper- peel tomatoes, cook veggies for sauce, mash matooke
This is the start to most of our meals-- fresh tomatoes, carrots, onions, and peppers.
6:30- family walk/hike, find cool rock formation, visit with neighbors
7:30- arrive home, clean-up from supper, playtime, yogurt and crackers for the kids
ACE's vacuum fascination is back in full swing, thanks to my anniversary gift! (Yes, those are Christmas pajamas...his choice.)
8:00- bedtime for Bethany, Bible Time with Andy
8:30- bedtime for Andy, Bible and prayer journal- Psalms 24-25, Numbers 15
9:15- watch Food Network Star online, start a basin of laundry soaking in soapy water
9:45- check email, mess around on Facebook, get ready for bed
10:00- bedtime for Mom and Dad
We had a day off from school and took a family trip to the Uganda Wildlife Education Center. Here are a few photos of the fun and relaxing time we had together!