Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Bad Place!

I have been completely regreting not updating my blog at least weekly since I haven't been very good at keeping a journal either. Coordinating volunteers and partner organizations has been a busy, but very fulfilling job. I've tried keeping a notebook to write down some thoughts at the end of each night, but I usually only get through a few sentences before you see the ink leave the page and my head hit the pillow.

Uganda is absolutely incredible! The longer that I am here, the more I believe that I could actually live here. The people are fantastic, willing, giving, happy, and humble. It inspires me to be more like them. It is amazing to think that the reason that I took this job was to make a difference in the world, some kind of positive change, when really the one that is changing is me. The people are my heroes and I am finding myself wanting to be more like them with each passing day. To be content and happy with candy wrappers for shoes or an old plastic drinking bottle as a rattle, my heart is forever changed.

I have also been contemplating quite regularly the qualities of a good leader. I have learned so much through prayer and scripture study, but also from those whom I am surrounded with each day- my co-director, the volunteers, and the people of Uganda that we serve. Sacrifice and selflessness really are the key to happiness. Sometimes some forms of sacrifice are more difficult to make than others, but it is a lesson that I am constantly learning. The irony of it is even if a task is presented before me that I may not be entirely excited about, that if I choose to do it for the benefit of another, willingly and with a smile on my face, as a result, I become happier also. I wish I could share all of the incredible experiences that I've had because of this simple change of attitude, but it is too many to recount. I love to serve!
This past weekend, we decided that we wanted to go white water rafting on the Nile River. As you can tell from the picture, the rapids were pretty intense and climbed up to several class 5 rapids- including going over a waterfall! As they were loading our boats up and separating the equipment in preparation to get onto the river, I must admit I became a little nervous that our boat might bump into a crocodile or a hippo! My fears became a reality when I had to use a banana tree as a bathroom before climbing into the raft. I looked over and only a few feet away from me was a giant 3 ft lizard! It looked like a Salomander on steroids! I had no idea what in the world this strange African creature was and I emerged from the bushes just in time to get my shorts up around my waist! Our guide later informed me that it was a Monitor/er... no idea... if someone decides to google this and find out what it is, please let me know!
As time went on and the intense African sun beat down upon us causing us to swim more than be in our raft, my fears of all creatures were exchanged for the cool relief of the Nile. Our guide was fantastic and fun! He was a fellow Canadian who used to work as a guide on the Ottawa River. We all had a great adventurous day and actually made it through without tipping on 4 of the 5, class 5 rapids. The last rapid that we approached was nicknamed "the bad place". Our guide had never made it through once without flipping. The picture above illustrates our raft approaching "the bad place". Sure enough the raft flipped and we all got rocked! Everyone was dumped out and thrown into the raging rapids of the Nile River. It was pretty intense too! Just under a minute of being tossed around by swirling white water. Before going into "the bad place", we had a lesson of how to correctly time our breathing... it was a good thing that I learned something from that otherwise I would have paniced and been toast. Somehow while I was trying to synchronize my breathing while trying not to drown, I began collecting the floating oars that were thrown out of the hands of my fellow rowers on our raft. Don't ask me how the first lesson of the day that included "Whatever you do, do not loose or let go of your paddle!" stuck with me in my moment of trying to stay afloat for my life!

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