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02 January 2013 @ 12:14 am
Update on my life. I'm just doing my thang, ya know. I lived in Africa for four months and found myself and now I come back to Tennessee where people are ignorant and a lot of people don't get it, but it's okay. I knew this would happen, so I'm not bitter, just stating facts. I've just been getting lost in The Walking Dead and Glee and hanging out with good people. I luckily have really good friends around me who know how to listen incredibly well, so I am so blessed in that. Stuff is changing, i ha changed. My views on marriage have changed so drastically that I want to throw up every time I see a new engagement on Facebook--- not hating on those who choose that for themselves, of course, but that's just not for me. There's just so much I want to do before I tie the knot, or especially have children. But one of the biggest things I learned while in Uganda is that other people are going to live their lives different than me, even those I love, and I'm going to have to be okay with that, so I'm learning. I go back to school on Saturday and move in, which I' stoke about as well, and that's so different from how I was as a freshman. I just want to travel EVERYWHERE and listen to people's stories and have a beautiful heart and make people laugh, so I'm just gonna do me and live life and be content and strong with that. I've been put in a few situations in the past few weeks that showed me how much I grew while I was in Uganda and it has made my heart rest easy because I didn't know if those changes would apply and stick once I got back to America, and it's so good. I'm so ready for this semester to start and to see what else goes on. Everything in life just feels like a time warp, like I never lived in Uganda for a semester. It's cold now and super weird and some people have facial hair. And I'm different, thank God. I'm going to have a lobby duty job in Elam Hall again this semester, I'm going to be taking twenty-one hours including Spanish because I changed my major, and I'm going to be living with my best friend so I think everything is going to change and be wonderful and yep, I'm down with all of it.
15 December 2012 @ 04:34 am
photo (4) 

So I went over to my Nana's house today to see her for the first time since coming home from Uganda, and I gave her the gift I bought her--- a nice little vase for her to put all her flowers in. However, when I packed it up to get it to the U.S., I used the CHEAPEST kind of cushioning so it wouldn't break getting thrown around by the airplane people... so here you go, people. My Nan thought it was a hoot. I love her so much.
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13 December 2012 @ 11:49 am
13 December 2012 @ 01:28 am
For the last three nights, I have been grieving leaving Uganda, and that’s something that I never thought would happen. It’s such a cliché, but I wished away my time during those four months there, and when it finally came time to leave, I wished for more time there. One thing that I’ve figured out: if I’m going to go somewhere abroad, then I need to stay for a while--- I mean a long while. Now I don’t know what ‘a while’ is, but it’s incredibly hard to be fully present when you know that you have x amount of days remaining until you go back to where you came from. Four months seemed like a long time, but it really wasn’t at all. I discovered that when I had two weeks left, I finally felt like I belonged there. I got used to the simplicity of life, to the lack of food choices, to my host family’s love, to the friends who constantly surrounded me, to the Glee nights I had with Deanna and Haley, to the crazy running around to get good internet, to the staying up late when everyone else had long since gone to bed, to the crazed complaining breakdowns/dance parties with myself I'd have in Myriah's room, to the bootleg dvds and deep conversations about life and love I found everywhere. I will miss these things. Four months is how long I needed to integrate to life in Uganda, and as soon as I was blessed with that integration, I had to leave. I am so glad to be coming home, but a lot of me will miss my other home. I don’t know . . . There was an air of magic to Uganda that I didn’t know really existed until I had to leave it.

In Uganda, I could be whoever I wanted to be, and in that, I found myself. I found a woman who was responsible yet out of her mind and is absolutely not ashamed of it. I found a person who has a good heart and a good head on her shoulders, and someone who values her vocation over her career; I literally have no idea what I am going to do with my life except for serve God and serve people, and I guess the rest will just figure itself out. I found someone who is kind, I got a little bit more patient, and I learned to love people without being afraid. And I embraced her, this new and beautiful person. In Uganda, no one knew my past and it was so romantic. I didn’t have to explain anything and I was able to just be hilarious and absurd and loving, and everyone loved me for me. I gained another family in Uganda--- not just my host family, but with the other students I shared in this experience with. I just said goodbye to the last person I was with, Adam, and I have been sitting here in my gate for my flight bound for Nashville all by myself and I wonder if everything was all a dream. It truly feels like it. I just checked my stinky Chacos for the red dirt and it’s still there, so I guess it was. I miss everyone already so much; there’s been a lot of crying and hugging in the past few hours, but now, everyone has moved on and gone home and it’s over. It’s over... it really is.

I’ll be back in Nashville in three hours. Get at me.
07 December 2012 @ 11:43 pm
Tonight is my last night on campus at UCU. My room is completely bare of all the pictures and notes I had tacked all over my walls for the semester. I'm packed (way overweight, what a surprise...). Now I'm getting my last internet for the next few days. I feel like I should have some kind of super wise thing to say, but I don't, so I'll just end my semester here with this:

Nkwagala nyo. It's a phrase my host mom taught me today. It means, "I love you very much." Today I said goodbye to my host family and we spent ten our of the twenty minutes I had there praying for my safe return and my friends and family back home. I am so blessed to have them. Last night we had our farewell dinner for all of our host families and practicum site friends. Tonight I gorged on rolex, french toast, and orange fanta. We leave tomorrow at 2 PM for Entebbe, where USP will be staying at a nunnery for debrief for the next three days until we're taken to the airport.

The next time you hear from me, it'll be me weeping at seeing the people I've missed so much. I CANNOT WAIT TO COME HOME.
07 December 2012 @ 11:35 pm
DSC_2300 DSC_2308 


I am going to miss a few things...
03 December 2012 @ 08:31 pm
My friend Jean and I were walking to Mukono today with another USP student, Heather, to get some fries at a little take-away restaurant called Tipsy (alcohol isn't even served here, ha). Heather had some Chick-fil-a sauce she wanted to use that she got sent in the mail and I had some A1 sauce leftover that I brought for the beginning of the trip. I suddenly saw a kitten sleeping on a bench across the road and started freaking out (Ugandans don't have pets, so the animals don't let you pet them here ever) and asked if they would wait on me as I crossed the street. This is the conversation that ensued:

Me: Guys, a kitten! Ah!

Heather: Oh my gosh...

Jean: I hate cats. And dogs. But I love chipmunks!

We died laughing. I asked if she had ever seen a chipmunk before and she said no, but she had seen the ones in the movies that sang with their sweatshirts on.
01 December 2012 @ 11:12 pm
It is so funny how you can be making these lavish plans to study and/or live in other countries that you've visited for about five minutes and yet your heart is so in yet another place, back home. I've been wanting to do my Master's in London this week, but that's just this week's stream of thoughts, ha. I think I just want out of here; nope, I know I want out of here. For anyone who thinks they can just pick up after graduating and follow their dreams to live in a country with a culture completely counter to your own--- especially Africa's--- I'm not saying you shouldn't follow those dreams, but I'd definitely make an extended visit to said place before investing moving your furniture and life over. It is so much harder than you can ever imagine. There has been a lot of healing and lessons learned and minds made up in this place this semester. But I have ten more days left here, and after that I never have to see this red dirt again and I am stupid ecstatic about it. I didn't think that the countdown would ever get close to zero, but it is, and I am tearing up just thinking about the prospect of seeing my loved ones again. This might sound shallow to anyone who has a heart for Africa, and I have definitely developed one this semester, but if you have not lived here or been present for a significant amount of time, you will realize that it is not the 3 AM club music streaming into your room, or the lack of chicken nuggets, or the waking up to count how many bug bites you have on your face from the night before, or the incredibly demeaning sexual harassment that white women face here, or the super simple life that I am talking about that is so disturbing. That's not to say that there aren't good things! I could go on about those too. But it is just hard to come to a place like this when all of your perceptions of it are completely off. Uganda is not a place of starving babies and the AIDS pandemic or immense poverty. In some places it is, but saying the aforementioned statement is like saying that because there's one man who is homeless in New York that every single one of them are.

The most difficult thing to realize: I am not needed here. I am not needed anywhere, really. God will carry me and use me no matter where I am or what I am, but here--- being thrown into this country to feel completely useless away from everything I've ever known, just to be here and be present, has struck me with the realization of how much I need God. I wish it would sink in more before I am thrust back into the zealous crazy of the first world, but I'm going to keep trying to develop this realization.

I am so jealous of the Vienna kids coming home tomorrow. Love you guys and be so safe.
28 November 2012 @ 11:43 am
So last night I went to visit my beautiful host family, which is about a seven minute walk away from campus. I got lucky--- some students have at least forty-five minute away ones. The number one USP rule--- besides drinking and having sexual encounters and all of that other obvious mess--- is that you must be back to campus by curfew. Curfew is at seven o'clock--- in Uganda, that's when it gets dark. At first, after being at a university where I haven't had rules on staying out late in about a year and a half, I tripped a bit. But once you get to Mukono and you see night here for the first time, you realize why. Boda bodas (motorcycles) fly by every few seconds on the road, and some of them don't have headlights. You can't see snakes and if you're stepping on them, since there aren't streetlights or anything to guide your path. And honestly, there's nothing to do during the day, no less at night, so you don't need to go out then anyway.

I planned to see them for about an hour and a half. I left campus at 5:30 and planned to leave around 6:50 so I could get back before dark. Even though I'm confident enough in the path, it's still difficult to see at some parts and the road is dangerous, even just after sunset, so I didn't want to take any chances. I played with Fifi, let her plait my hair, and had a heart to heart with Judith about a boy she's loved for years who recently (and finally!) admitted his love for her. I helped Momma slice the skin off potatoes, put the baby chicks in their room, and really, just sat and visited. It was so nice. So, at 6:45, I put on my sandals, unraveled my hair from its raucous knot from Fifi's playing, and told Momma I was going to have to head back. She stared at me with the most confused look. "But you haven't eaten yet," she told me.

I guess now would be a good time to note that Ugandans don't eat dinner until 9 or 10 o'clock at night, so this was obviously out of the question. I told her that I would be fine, that I could eat in the dining hall at UCU, but that I had to get back before the darkness settled over Mukono. She didn't even take my words into account before saying, "Lizbell, we are making you a special dinner that will be ready by seven. You can pack it and take it with you back to school."

I almost died. I tried to tell her that she didn't have to do that, but once again, she just didn't care about what I had to say. "You sit," she said, as she stoked the fire and poured cooking oil into the saucepan and began chopping the cabbage. So I sat. What else could I do? I chopped a tomato as the cabbage simmered in the oil and Momma began cutting potatoes into the small wedges that are my absolute favorite--- when they're sliced that way, you know they're going to become chips (fries)!" Then she asked me if I liked eggs, and she made me an omelette too. I don't know if this sounds like it to an American reading this, but that was THE BEST MEAL I've had during the entirety of my stay in Uganda: cabbage and tomatoes, an egg and onion omelette, and chips with my last package of Chipotle BBQ sauce my Mom sent me from McDonalds. Incredible. I could eat that the rest of my life.

I learn more and more every day about how one should be served, and how one should allow themselves to be served, because God calls that out of us as well. And it's hard, because I don't want anyone going out of their way for me. Here in Uganda, it has been such a blessing that the word no is not a part of the family dynamic. There is no such comment as, "Mom, I'll do the dishes later," or "I'm too busy, ask my sister," in the Ugandan dictionary; at least, not in my host family's. For me, it's the opposite. I always get a no from them. It means that no matter how many times I offer to do the dishes or how I always tell them not to go out of their way even if I hate a certain dish we're having for dinner, they always tell me no. "No, Lizbell, I want to help you. Lizbell, you sit down and rest, I know you are tired! Of course we're making you a special dish Liz, we know you're allergic to matooke (mushed up plaintains, blugh)." They are so good to me. I didn't get to leave until about eight, and then, Judith walked me home and we caught up even more. I am so blessed by them.

I went and visited my beautiful host family, and I still have not stopped learning from them. They are teaching me the meaning of patience, of true servanthood. And I will always be grateful for that.
25 November 2012 @ 12:03 am
self 2

There are so many girls on this trip that I wish I could show this to. It is insane that they are so insecure that literally all I hear them talking about is how many miles they ran that day or how much yogurt they got ahold of instead of carbs or how their boyfriends aren’t going to love them if they come home from Uganda fatter than when they left. If that’s true, you need to get a new boyfriend. And when they talk about these things in front of girls who are even bigger than them, or have even more insecurities than they do, it breaks my heart to see how it hurts them. Because if someone smaller than you is talking, in great detail, about how fat they are, what does that say about those who actually are bigger than them? They’re still beautiful. I am completely happy with my body—- yeah, I’m told I don’t eat the greatest but who cares—- and when I hear this talk, all from satan, then it makes me hate my body too. I hate it I hate it I hate it. Don’t measure your worth by how much you weigh, good Lord. If we cared more about God’s promises and how much He loves us, we’d completely forget about calorie counting and pudge and dropping a jean size and just focus on telling each other how beautiful we already are.