BLOG: 15 of 101 days in Uganda

Posted on: September 15, 2015 12:00 pm
Tags: Blog, Uganda,

by Mekenzie Elbert

The first fifteen days of this journey have been filled with many exciting, scary, and adventurous learning experiences! It is now the second week of school, and the first full week for the primary students. Culture differences are so real, and I think I have been experiencing the truest form of culture shock. People here are accommodating and kind, but there are many barriers in understanding each other. These barriers are not only in language, but in the way that we greet each other, how we prepare for a meal, or how we wash our clothes. I have learned a lot about patience, and a lot about putting myself out there and getting involved. 

I finally built up the courage the other day to sit between a group of second and third graders playing on the school ground. I found it to be a little awkward and hard to communicate at first. We all exchanged names and they laughed after trying to pronounce "Makansie." I asked if they enjoyed singing, and they started with "We Are Very Happy to Have You Here." I thought they may sing just one song, but the songs kept going until one little girl asked me to sing for them. I was completely thrown off and embarrassed. I started singing "Jesus Loves Me," only to find out that I didn't remember all of the words. I played them a song from my phone, but I could tell they were not fulfilled. So, I sang them the song "You Are My Sunshine"- a song that was sung to me by my mom when I was young, and a song I still sing with my little sister. The girls wanted to learn the words and sing with me. After a few verses, I realized I had made some new little friends.

I was able to experience my second Mass here in Buseesa, but this time the church was packed all the way out of the door with students and nearby villagers. Father Godfrey had just returned from a visit to the U.S. and he shared a beautiful homily about carrying your cross. He reminded the students to stay focused on the hard work that they had set out in front of them. It was a good reminder that I can also carry the cross of these cultural differences and turn them into something more powerful. I can carry them with me and learn and teach from them to impact all of those around me. The students sang loudly and played the drums so we could feel them beating in our chest, and everyone was involved in the clapping. Although poor in many ways, Uganda is filled with Christ and filled with people that love him!

This past Sunday, Lisa, a former volunteer visiting from Germany, and I took 53 first and second graders on a hike into "the bush!" Buseesa has rolling hills covered in large rocks and palm trees. The students were so grateful and the views were stunning. By the end of the weekend I had taken many new titles: Sister, Teacher, Makanz, Auntie, and was even asked to be called Mommy. These small souls have definitely begun to capture my heart. Although it has been a challenging transition to a world so new, I am reminded that God made us all to love and to serve each other and ultimately Him.

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Article: Volunteers at mission in Uganda


Sr. Janet
Date: on September 19, 2015

Oh Mekenzie, I can so relate to all that you shared. God bless you for your openness, goodness in willingness to share life with our precious people of Uganda.

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