It’s rainy season here in Uganda, and this afternoon is particularly rainy and cold (yes, the low 70s feels cold to me now). I have Christmas music playing in the background and African tea cooking on the stove. I have an angel made out of banana leaf fibers and a Christmas song quote written on my letter board, but those are really the only Christmas decorations I have so far. Christmas sure does look a lot different here on the equator.
Something I have been learning to enjoy here is cooking from scratch. You can’t go to Trader Joes and buy frozen food or mixes to bake. Pretty much everything has to be made from scratch here. Recently I decided to make some bagels with the “everything but bagel” seasoning I brought. They were really good if I do say so myself, and I found some cream cheese in Kampala to spread over them. I’m hoping to do a lot more baking and cooking over my Christmas break.
Not gonna lie, it was hard being away from family for Thanksgiving. Thankfully, though, I got to celebrate here in Uganda. Since Thanksgiving is not a holiday here in Uganda, we still had a normal day of work. Afterwards, however, Tina and one of our cooks on staff made a delicious Thanksgiving feast for all the interns. We laughed a lot and ate delicious food, and it was really sweet to still celebrate even though we are all away from family. Tina even gave all of us a little goodie bag full of chocolate from the States! It was honestly the best gift haha!
I realized today that Jinja really feels like home now. In ways, it has already felt like that over my time here the past 5 years, but this time it’s more permanent and I’m really doing life here. It is not a vacation or trip. It is not always exciting and fun, but it’s real life happening day in and day out. I was awake at midnight last week vomiting from a parasite, and last month I had a bacterial infection, but I also get to hold the cutest babies and help empower women to sustain their own families. I get to worship God alongside people from all different tribes and tongues, and I get to have dinner along the Nile River with my fiancé. Life is hard and good and joyful and abundant.
As I head into my last week of work before Christmas break, I am thankful to be here. There are days where I really miss my family and friends back in Nashville, and all I want is to hug my mom, but I also have so much peace about being here. I am learning so much about working cross-culturally, and the differences of best practice in America versus Uganda. Social work looks so much the same and yet also so different between the 2 countries. I am excited to continue to dig in here and learn/grow more over the next 2 years. I can’t believe it’s already been 3 months!