We have lived in Kampala, Uganda for about six months now. In answer to some questions from you folks reading the blog, here is a post about the major changes we’ve experienced as a family! Nick and I worked together to compile this list for you.
The Top 10 Ways Life Has Changed for the Eiden Family:
#10: Kid Stuff
During any given week in Hays, Kansas, you could usually find Sarah and our two kiddos at all of these locations, all within a 5 min drive or 10 min walk:
-Sternburg Museum of Natural History (family membership as a gift from Aunt Stacia)
-each of the three playgrounds near our home
-The Hays Mall
-Gram Rose’s House
-Sonic, McDonald’s or Burger King PlayPlaces
-Celebration Church Gym
-Hays Public Library Children’s Department
-Frontier Park and Big Creek
I had no idea that Hays was such a treasure trove of free and fun places for kids and families! Here in Kampala, we are also blessed with kid-friendly things to do, but they come at a price. There are a handful of playground areas (some nicer and safer than others…) which usually cost about $2+ per child. It takes a 30+ minute car ride to get most places, so a trip to the playground usually accompanies a necessary errand. There are no grassy areas within walking distance, at least none that are unoccupied by animals (goats, cows, etc). There is a museum here, but it is not that kid-friendly, nor cost-effective for us (but we did have a nice time while we were there!). There are some beautiful pools and resorts around, but they are a once-in-a-while activity due to cost and location. And, we have yet to find a library with a children’s department.
So, our new list of usual family activities is:
-walk down to Ibrahim’s shop (neighborhood roadside stand) for fresh produce
-help Frank (gate man) bring the goats in for the night
-local restaurant playground
-visit school and play games with the kids
-kick the ball around with the neighborhood kids
Again, we are so blessed to have a vehicle, money for playground tickets, and healthy legs for walking. No complaints! Plus, Uganda has beautiful weather year-round, so the outdoors are almost always available for fun! Of course, learning letters sounds, counting, music, and reading are all still a part of our daily routine!
#9: We’ve Got the Power… yeah, no.
I’ve been keeping track somewhat, and I don’t think we’ve gone more than 3 consecutive days with Internet, Electricity, and Water all working. Our electric water heater is a real God-send, but it does kind of stink when you try to take a shower during a power-outage and realize Cold or Dirty are your only options. It also takes a good 30 minutes to heat up, so no last second bathing decisions! We are learning to be thankful for these amenities… luxuries, really. There are people around us without these extravagancies, reminding us of how blessed we are to be able to afford to watch our silly tv shows, and keep up with friends and family online.
If I have a question about my kid’s runny nose or an insect I found, Google is only a click away.
We have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know people from all over the world during our time in Uganda. Our understanding of money, church, and government is changing. We’ve gotten to know Ugandans and understand more about their ways of life. In short, our world has been rocked.
For example, one of my teacher friends at school was giggling while helping me learn how to wash my hands using water from a jerry can. Here’s the conversation:
Teacher: You need to cup your hands like this so you don’t lose any water.
Sarah: Sorry! I’ve never done this before.
Teacher: Then how do you wash your hands in America?
Sarah: I put my hands under the water coming out of the sink and scrub until they are clean, then turn the water off.
Teacher: And where does the water go?
Sarah: Down the drain.
Teacher: That is extravagant.
Sarah: It is.
There you go- a new appreciation for clean running water, indoor plumbing, and money to pay for all the water I could possibly need. And that is just one tiny little example of how our perspectives are changing.
There are different expectations and different rules here. But we are also finding that people everywhere are the same-- We all want to be fed, heard, and loved.
The goal is not to have an American perspective, or Ugandan, or even a global perspective. We are striving for a Biblical, eternal perspective that only comes from walking with God.
#7: Stuff and Space
We downsized from a 5 bedroom home with garages for both our vehicles, to a 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor. No storage room. No laundry room. No office. No spare bedroom. These are things we thought we could not live without (at least not comfortably). A few years back, we didn’t even consider buying a home without a full basement to ensure plenty of space for storage and play areas.
But guess what—we can live without them. We have discovered that the Eiden family can live comfortably in 2 bedrooms! (Somehow, Andy is the only one who gets his own room.) We are surviving just fine without an extra room full of stuff. Not only that, but we are finding out how blessed we are to have this place to stay, and our old annoying car to drive.
#6: Lack of Modern Appliances
I’m developing some muscles! No dishwasher, clothes washer, dryer, or microwave are making us a stronger people! I appreciate clean clothes and dishes much more now. Things take longer here, and we are starting to appreciate the slower pace… sometimes!
I have a confession to make: Due to insect larva and over-all disgustingness of hand washing cloth diapers, we have decided to take a break from them for the time being. Pampers it is, for now! (I’m sure I’ll go through a money saving or waste-not-want-not phase and try cloth diapers again, but not today.)
We also have no air conditioning in our home or car. I’m actually surprised at how much we don’t miss it! Good thing it isn’t nearly as hot as Kansas Summer, and the wind-blown look is more acceptable here.
As I’ve said before, we are so thankful for our good eaters! All four of us are enjoying the food here. All the organic produce and freshly baked bread are treating us well! The tea and coffee are just wonderful and we are drinking more hot beverages then we ever did in America! We’ve been enjoying cooking here, and also eating at restaurants for a break! When we’re getting a little homesick for some good ole ‘merican grub, I cook up some hot dogs and potato salad, or grilled cheese and tomato soup (which are more expensive and difficult to make here, but so worth it)! However, I must admit that there are some things we’ve been craving:
-Jimmy Johns sandwiches
-American junk food (Doritos, candy, frozen foods)
-real ice cream
-food made in my slow-cooker
-pot roast, brownies, cookies, and casserole from my oven
-deli meats and cheeses
-Diet Coke (we have Coke Zero here, but it just isn’t the same)
Well, we don’t have any. And that is very strange for the two of us. We are job people. We’ve always been job people. Both of us grew up working hard and saving for things we wanted, even as children. As adults, we never have had fewer than three jobs between us. And now… we have none.
Of course, we have plenty of work to do. But it just isn’t the same as having a set schedule, paycheck, and overall security.
We believed when we quit our jobs that God would provide. And He has. You have. We are not self-reliant. Saying those words is like a punch in the gut. We have always said we trusted God for His provision. But now we actually need it! This is good for us to learn. In reality, we have constantly needed God, and He has been the One all along blessing us in our finances, and in everything else.
So, thank you for supporting this mission. Thank you, friends, family, and church for providing for our needs.
It’s mid-December, and we are smack in the middle of the most prominent holidays of American culture: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Pinterest and Facebook were all abuzz about pumpkins, cool weather, and apple cider. No Fall here... we are even started to miss football! (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration…) “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” is quite the appropriate song for us right now, especially since every third Facebook post is about how cold and snowy it is back home. All that wintery stuff gets us in the mood to see our dear family and friends, but it is nice to not have to put on a parka to get out of bed.
We are enjoying meshing our African life with our family traditions. We made a Thanksgiving dinner, with several customary items (we even found cranberry sauce – the solid tube kind), and a few replacements that served their purpose well (chicken instead of turkey, because we didn’t want to deal with a live bird). We have decorated for Christmas, complete with a junior Christmas tree. We have adorned the tree with lights, of course, as well as a few small ornaments, plus some balloons as is common here. When we have electricity, some Christmas lights glow in the windows, and we even scored some Danish cookies from the supermarket. We know that the true meaning of Christmas doesn’t change with geography, but we are happy to be in a place that has significantly less commercialism surrounding the birthday of our King. Most of the people here have no expectation of Santa paying them a visit, and I haven’t seen any elves on shelves. The birth of Jesus is reason enough to celebrate, and for some, is the only celebration they have (many laborers work year round, only getting Christmas day off.)
#2: We Miss You!
It is pretty tough being so far from family and friends sometimes.
You will either be delighted or heartbroken to hear that Andy loves to announce, “Mommy, Daddy! Someone is at the door!” He runs over and welcomes Nana, PawPaw, & Uncle AJ, Gram Rose, Mimi & Papa, Elijah & Keegan, or other family and friends. Then he says, “Come give them a big hug, Mama! They came to visit us!”
With the time difference and inconsistent internet connections, even just having a conversation with anyone in America can be difficult. We’re so thankful for skype dates, even early in the morning! It has been so good to see your faces and hear your voices. Thank you for making time to connect with us!
It makes me think of the missionaries in the years past who had no connection whatsoever with their families and churches back home (like Uncle Raymond and Aunt Cleo), and even those who are doing it now out in more remote areas. I thank God for our internet connection!
On rough days (or weeks… or months) Nick and I have started the habit of pointing out the good things about being in Uganda. Counting our blessings, if you will. One thing we continually come back to is that we have been through these changes as a family— that is special. We rely on one another.
We also rely on God. I don’t mean that we like God and read our Bibles. I mean that we need Him. We depend on Him daily for encouragement, for confirmation, for direction, for hope.
Even when things are difficult, we can rest assured knowing that God will use these trials to strengthen us.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.