Sunday, February 19, 2012


Contents in this blog are the whole truth and nothing but.  Some of it is gross, some of it is funny, some of it is sad, and some of it is just plain wild!  So read at your own risk:)


(day 1-5 was my travel through Paris, and London)

DAY 6: We made it to AFRICA! Holy moly, I really cannot believe we are actually here! We took a night flight from London to Uganda and got here at 7:45 in the morning. From the airport we had to take a 5-6 hour bus ride to Mbale. Luckily we all have our luggage and none of it was lost. This has been the biggest adventure of my life. I seriously cannot believe I'm here. Right now I'm on my bunk bed with a mosquito net covering me. There are about 15 of us so far and the girls are in one house while the boys are in the back guest house. It is so crazy here. There are wild dogs barking and we have a guard outside to keep us safe. We got here when it was dark and rainy and we don't have power. The house we are in is pretty big and when the Ugandan people see us they shout "MZUNGU!!" (White person) The streets are nuts! People are everywhere, coming up to our windows trying to sell things. The kids are so cute, they wave to us and I taught this little guy how to blow kisses. Africa and its people are BEAUTIFUL. The first thing we see in our room was a lizard. T.I.A. (This. Is. Africa.) We always say that if we are experiencing something slightly unusual. We visited an orphanage and held the little kids. My heart melted. We are treated like kings here and everyone thinks we are rich. Which...we are. These people might live closer to heaven though. Loving it so far. And so it begins...

DAY 7: Today we woke up and had a meeting about safety rules. We took our first boda boda (taxi) ride into town. And by taxi I mean motorcycle/dirt bike. Crazy. Everything here is dirt cheap! Money is crazy too, 50 cents goes by so far and can mean so much! We went to the internet cafe. I could hardly type I was so excited and nervous to write home for some reason. But it's not even been one week since I left and I feel like it's been MONTHS. We went to the market and then went to our neighbors for dinner. They are these big white South Africans with big bellies and lots of money. Dinner? Lamb, sausage, corn fluff stuff, cole slaw, and this tomato sauce stuff. I was craving Cafe Rio. I forgot to mention that Rebekah's boda boda got a little lost. The first one broke down so we couldn't find her for a bit, but she got another boda boda and found us. We had a dance party tonight too- loved it. Can't wait for church tomorrow. Africa is amazing, no doubt. The little kids say, "I mzungu, how are you?" and give us bonga (bones) cutest things ever. It still hasn't hit me that I'm here. THIS IS AFRICA. I think we start our work in an orphanage on Monday. I can't believe I actually live here!
DAY 8: Today we went to church for the first time. It was amazing. We got a taxi, all 15 of us piled in but they wanted to charge us all-together 80,000 shillings ($40) Suzanne, our country director, threw a fit at the guy named Blue since it was too much. So all of us got out and took boda bodas to the church. We helped in primary and the little kids were so cute. I love them. They are very reverent and stand up when they answer questions. So cute! One girl was named Ruth; she would look at me out of the corner of her eyes and just smile the cutest white grin. In relief society we learned about charity. When asked "What is charity?" they didn't answer the typical, "giving service" it was more like, "lending your neighbor your blouse." The people here are so happy. Probably some of the happiest people in the world. We were also able to see 4 people get baptized. They filled up a dumpster with water and one by one they were baptized while we all watched. It was really neat. Afterwards we went back and sang hymns. We sang "Nearer My God to Thee" and I felt the whole world stop. I looked to my right and Franko, who is maybe 5 years old, was trying to sing as well. His shirt was torn in half and it was probably his nicest one. My heart broke. I really felt the spirit so strong in a ward that was barely being established. I loved it. Afterwards, we saw a performance of teenagers at their church. Africa? Amazing. I want to BE in Africa while I'm here. I need to pray about a couple of things but I'm scared a bit. Right now I'm using a flashlight while under a mosquito net waiting for my family to call. THIS IS AFRICA. My family is getting ready for dinner in a few hours while I hear wild dogs barking like CRAZY outside. Gotta be is hard to live here, but I need to forget myself and get busy. So grateful to be here tho!

Baptismal Font

DAY 9: For a team activity we all wrote how Africa has made us feel so far. This is what I wrote: I feel very humbled to see the things I've seen so far. I've also been able to witness some drastic culture differences. I didn't realize how some of the poorest of poor are some of the happiest in the world. I've been trying to think of what I could to make the biggest impact while I'm here. I was very impressed by the church here, and how everyone is so friendly and looks out for each other. The hardest to see and watch is when kids are really unhealthy. I've been noticing teeth here as well since I have been focusing on dental hygiene and have maybe only noticed 2 people so far without a missing tooth or a chipped tooth, or tartar on their teeth. I'm sure that not only do they have imperfections, but pain is also a factor as well. I feel like it was a "tough love" blessing to have a tooth ache before I came because I saw a glimpse of what some might feel. But where do they go? I want to observe and ask where people go if they have a toothache and see what needs have to be met. Later on today we went to 2 orphanages. The first one had 73 kids and the second had infants as young as 3 days. My first real cry of the heart completely broke.  Some of the happiest kids I've seen and some of the saddest. They thrived for our attention and cried when we would have to set them down. This is Africa. I love these people. Really hard, but I love being here and living my dream. I don't feel like I'm gonna be the ones influencing their lives...they've already touched mine forever. Yes, still miss that kid. P.S. We cut off chicken's heads and our chef cooked them for us. I might become a vegetarian after watching that!

DAY 10: Today we visited 2 hospitals and an AIDS/HIV clinic. The first one was actually pretty nice. The second one was a bit rough. These poor sick people are jam packed in a room with a lot of others who are sick. You can smell infectious disease in the air. It's difficult to watch I'm loving my time in Africa. I don't think I would actually be here if it wasn't for my family's support. I'm trying to live every second I have here. I don't want to miss a thing. I'm learning a lot but I want to learn more. Before I left I got a couple blessings from my dad and bishop and was told that the Lord would be in front of me and right beside me. I have often thought about that and have definitely seen His hand in my life. Especially when I get scared or see hard things. He has never left me and won't ever fail me.

DAY 11: Today was kind of a crazy day. We woke up and went to some schools. After we went to a restaurant (a pretty high class one for here) and ate a really good meal. I was starving...well..not at all actually...that word now has a whole new meaning. But it was tasty. I forgot to mention that when we were at the schools I had to go potty REAL bad. So I got up to go, a cute little black boy handed me a wad of toilet paper and off I went. The hole. About the size of a half a piece of paper wide. Just a simple square hole in the ground. At least I can work on my aim:) After lunch we went to the internet cafe. But we had to ride home on boda bodas...which is fine and normal, except this time it was pouring rain so out of about 10-15 drivers NONE of them wanted to take us. Finally 3 of them got brave (I was with Sarah and Whitney so we needed 3 drivers). Sar and Whit's bodas go flying and my guy makes it across the street and just halts dead in his tracks. Didn't like the rain. Well...all 5 feet of me wouldn't have it. I couldn't be stuck in Africa by myself so I started yelling, "What are you doing?? We need to catch up to my friends! I won't pay unless you go!" response. Finally, I look over and one of his friends man'd up enough to take me. He zipped his coat up to his eyeballs and threw on his hood. To me, this was just a summer rain... for them it could've been the end of the world. I have never laughed so hard in my life. Here I am on a boda boda, in the middle of Africa in a rain storm watching the flaps from my driver's coat almost slap me in the face. We got quite a laugh because we were drenched. I had to take pictures and videos of it. We got home okay and decided to grab our shampoo and conditioner and shower in the rain! It was better than our shower so why not, right? We had spaghetti, garlic bread, veggies, watermelon, and avocado juice for dinner. As we're all chatting away the power goes off leaving it JET black. Only in Africa.

DAY 12: Wow. Today was a good day. We drove about 25 minutes outside of town to visit a community and met a group of about 30-50 people who had HIV/AIDS. They were so sweet and loved it when we visited them. After that we were to meet a group under the mango tree. When we got there a group of men were building a xylophone out of a banana tree! It was huge and so awesome. They dug a hole in the ground and laid different sizes of wood on top to make sound and music. There were about 320 kids there (including some parents) but a lot were orphans. We taught the kids how to sing some songs like "head, shoulders, knees, and toes." they didn't speak a lot of English so they just copied our actions. All the kids are BEAUTIFUL. This one little girl who was about 2 loved being held. I held her for most of the time and she fell right asleep. I fell in love with her. She was so cute. I just want to take her home with me. If ever I am in a situation where adoption is an option…I pick her. I would love to be able to bring all 320 home with me. Then, the dancing began. the xylophone was jammin out and this mass of people were loving it. I was loving it! I am living a complete dream it is unreal. Everyone is so friendly that all we could say to ourselves was, "I never want to go home." People take care of each other here. 4 year olds carry their 2 year old siblings on their backs. These people have nothing but are still so happy. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to live in Africa. My most common phrase is: "Is this for real?!" We had a braai (BBQ) over at our neighbors, the South Africans. We had porridge, sauce, cole slaw, homemade bread, lamb, beef, and sausage. For dinner we had curry and rice and avocados.


1) so grateful for hot showers at home

2) hand sanitizer

3) working with volunteers is great because no one really complains

4) music! It’s an international language

5) Being able to experience a new culture.

6) Clean water and how we can just get ours out of the tap.

7) How happy kids grateful to witness it.

8) Stoves, American foods!

9) DOOM! And bug zappers.

10) Africa. Still can't believe I'm here.

DAY 13: Today we walked through another school. More like the slum though. It started with our group of 15 and then little kids would latch onto both arms. I was having the BEST day. I couldn't stop grinning. On our way to the slum I just kept smiling. People in my group would be like, "Sheesh, a flower could sprout and make Aubrey's life!" I was on cloud 9. While we were at the slum a kid fell in the mud, I felt so bad for him so I picked him up, and later found that it was probably sewage, not mud. I was covered. All well. T.I.A. We went to another school. We tried to exchange money but they wouldn't let us because of a black dot on our bills. It was ridiculous. We went to dinner and road boda-bodas at night, secretly so fun. Oh, and let's not forget the bee sting I got on my foot today as well. It was hiding in my tevas so when I put them on it stung me. I just tried to brush it off, I was having the best day and sewage and a bee sting won't stop me. I am so happy to be here. I love these people.

DAY 14: Today was a good day, it's our day off. So we slept in (which means 9am because Africa is so noisy with roosters, dogs, music) and threw on our dresses and went into town. We had to go to the ATM, get more airtime, use the internet and then came home. We walked to Mbale Resort and laid by the pool! It was so nice! Except I got a little burnt. It was crazy laying in the middle of Africa by a swimming pool. I loved it. We went to another really nice hotel to eat dinner. Our group is crazy but I love them like brothers and sisters. Everyone's playing cards right now; it's been a good day.

DAY 15: Today was church day. It was really good. Last week my friend Lydia from church remembered me and Ruth from primary came running up to me to give me a huge hug. Lydia is getting baptized next week. I couldn't be happier. Other than that we just stayed home ALL day. I cut some hair, did some laundry (not really Sabbath day activities) Kinda a long day but I'm in Africa so I can't complain. P.S. 60-70 cockroaches infested our fridge. And geckos? We let them live with us. Guess they're good for bugs. Where am I again?

just tasting a baby gecko.

DAY 16: today was a harder day. We hashed out our projects earlier and then ran a few errands. Later on we got a phone call. One of the kids that was at the village we danced at fell out of a mango tree, 20 ft. tall onto his head. He was 9 years old. He laid there unconscious while the whole village stood around not knowing what to do. Charles (our friend) picked him up and carried him on a boda boda (worst thing to do, but he didn't know) he was bleeding out of his nose and ear. First thing they did was call us. Suzanne and Jenner are EMT's so they went and met them at the hospital and were gone for hours. He had to get a cat scan so we all are pitching a little bit of money to help him with that. Results showed he cracked his skull and was having some clotting. I don't know this kid but I've been so worried. I was crying to my Heavenly Father about it... I don't even know the little boy's name but I love him. A different kind of love though. My heart aches. Suzanne and Jenner came back a little shocked; I think it was probably worse than I think. I'm praying for a miracle. P.S. I think I want to work with women here in Uganda and maybe start a "Smile Camp." I hope to have some help and be inspired to know what work I can do to help the most. I don't feel like I can do it all, these people need a lot of help. I'm studying the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon. It is very stressful to live in Africa and realize what I can't do, or try to figure out the best solutions. We are definitely going to need the Lord's help. The Brother of Jared thought up solutions and ideas for the barges and then the Lord stepped in. I definitely can relate that to my life a little differently than before. I want to gain a stronger testimony about personal revelation while I am here.

DAY 17: The days in Africa are getting busier and going by faster. Today I rode in an ambulance with the little boy who cracked his skull. It was a joke. We took him on this tiny rickety bed to CURE hospital and when we got there I jumped out of in search for the main guy and the receptionist said, "Have a seat." well, you know me, yeah right. So I go find Derek (the main guy) he was on the phone so I gestured and whispered, "Excuse me, emergency!!!" He hung up his call and busted up laughing and said, "I have 900 other patients with an 'emergency' how is he any different?!" I was shocked. For real? This is when I truly realized I'm NOT in America. A few hours later they did surgery and everything went well. Our 2 EMT's just might have been the instruments in saving little Ivan's life. It has had me so worried but I know for a fact that the Lord is ALWAYS with us no matter what! In my blessings I got before I came I was told that the Lord will be WITH me and in FRONT of me. That is the perfect truth of my experiences thus far. So grateful. I might start a business to help Kenneth's orphanage of 73 kids...dessert chapattis is what I have in mind.

DAY 18: Today we met with a school called Impact Ministries. We are going to paint their classrooms as well as some other projects with their water and ponds. We went and bought paint. 2 kids gave us the cutest puppy for free. I named him Simba. I love him. We cleaned his fleas and got him shots. After that we went to the internet cafe and then went to CURE hospital to propose a project where we teach women and staff nutrition, hygiene, and first AID. We are off to a great start. Ivan is at CURE hospital so we got to visit him. He is a miracle. His life was saved. My life is very touched by that tough 9 year old boy. Africa is beautiful. Right now I'm sitting on the front porch in awe of where I am. I absolutely love it here. There is a palm tree in front, lots of beautiful plants and the sounds of Africa: Kids, birds, crickets, roosters, drums, dogs, singing, more drums, clapping. I'm definitely closer to heaven here. I don't want to forget a single second of this. I'm soaking it in. I want to remember this feeling of love I constantly feel. I want to constantly feel God's presence like I have had the entire trip. I want to remember even the nasty smell of this place. I don't want to leave. I am so happy. The deep down kind of happy. I feel like the wounds and hard things I've gone through in the past are finally being erased and scarred over, healed. When I was really little I used to fall asleep on the porch. When James passed away I laid on porch for hours. When I have chats with my mom...we sit on the porch. Now? I'm in AFRICA on my porch. There is something beautiful about looking out into the world and having a home behind you. Not everyone gets to have that. This world is beautiful. I never knew how much more there is out there. I don't know why I was thinking that. There is just solitude here. So much peace.

holding simba on the porch

DAY 19: This morning we went and got Simba some milk in the market by our house. (Me, Simba, Suzanne on one boda). We started our first project of a painting classrooms at a school. IT was a bit harder than expected. The paint was like watered down chalk. But we made do and did the best we could. We had dance-paint parties with the boys that were helping us. They loved my music. It was so fun. We went to a random restraint. I ate rice and chapatti, always followed by a coke. We discussed our trainings for the hospital for tomorrow, I’m way excited! It’s pouring rain right now as I go to sleep. I’m in love. I feel so happy here. I haven’t been this happy in such a long time. I’m loving and soaking in every minute. Even the hard minutes. Africa is so good to me. I don’t think I want to go home.

DAY 20: Today we had 2 different projects going. Half of us went and finished painting the rest of us went to a training at CURE and taught nutrition, hygiene, and first aid. It was about 4 and a half hours long. We taught about 50 mothers. It went really well except when I tried to teach dental hygiene they would ask questions like what to do if you can’t afford toothpaste what should you do? I had to kind of go with a different approach. We ate at Chat n’ Chino…yuck. Well. It was ok. It takes 2 hours to get our food. We spend so much time at the house so we get a little stir crazy and laugh lots too. The moon is bright and I love it here.

1)   Emails from my mom and funny chats with my man!
2)   The moon
3)   Wipes. If we can’t shower every day, they save us.
4)   Toilets…latrines are interesting
5)   People’s sense of humor

DAY 21: Today was nuts. We have Saturday and Sunday off. So me, Whit, and the 4 boys on our team went on the funnest hike! There was a mud slide about a year ago that killed a lot of people, so we hiked to it. Except it was pouring rain when we went so it was like hiking MUD. IT was so funny because we all kept falling flat on our faces! And were SO muddy. We took this taxi that crammed 20 people and flew. We were off-roading in this mobile! So bumpy too.  It was nuts. (Took about an hour to get there). We took boda bodas up half the mountain (that was a riot) and the second we got there it was DOWN POURING. All I know is that Africa is beautiful. I love it here. So unreal. Pictures on my camera don’t give it justice at all! Dark green plants and waterfalls and mountains. It’s like our mountains at home but on steroids. So pretty. On the way back the boda ride cracked me up. <e and Whit shared so there were 3 of us on this ghetto dirt bike and our driver was cruising. By that I mean about 50-60 miles per hour. He turned on this siren and the boys followed close behind. People would run away from this mzungu parade. It was unreal. I remember telling Whit, “HOW are we gonna explain this to people?!” Oh…and it was raining. We laughed our heads off. I was dying. When we got to the bottom of the mountain our driver said, “I had to go fast. You’re mzungus, I wanted to impress you!” It was such an adventure day, I loved it. The other girls went and got their hair done and are still there. I’m glad we went on the hike. 

DAY 22: Today was kind of a more quiet day. I had cramps so I stayed home from church. It was kind of nice to have a day off. There was pretty rainbow out today. I love it here…not to sound like a broken record or anything, I’m just so lucky and grateful.

1)   Tampons and toilet paper
2)   Cell phones…so what if it’s a brick?
3)   Banana’s and Peanut Butter
4)   Geckos eat bugs in our house
5)   That I could eat my WHOLE entire fish. Tilapia.
6)   When the power stays on.
7)   Duct tape
8)   Sunshine when we want our clothes dry.
9)   The scones that Lindsay made us.
10 Bars on our windows to keep us safe.

DAY 23: Today was good. We had a meeting to hash out more projects. It was a more laxed day.  Tonight dinner just wasn’t my favorite. It was like sweet potatoes that looked like carrots with this nut gravy stuff. And these chopped up leaves on the side. Oh… and roasted fly/crickets. YumJ I kind of had a break down so I called my friend. He sympathized with me for an hour and then told me to take my attitude to the Lord and help me change it. To stop feeling sorry for myself.  He encourages me to live it up and soak every moment I have here. He encourages me to forget about myself. I was a little bugged after getting off the phone with him but I bit my lip. Got outta bed and had a good night with my group. So for now I’m gonna try to put him on hold. On to another great week.

DAY 24: Today was a good day. We woke up, had a meeting and then went to an outreach that helps kids off the streets. It was called Child Restoration Outreach.  I feel like we could help them a lot. I also got in contact with a couple dentists and will be meeting up with them this week. We want to get going on our “Smile Camp”, I’m getting excited. I went to institute which was good. I love hearing them ask and answer questions. We had Rolex (chapatti with eggs) for dinner. And had a first-aid training tonight. Success. I’m tired.

DAY 25: I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon. I read the promise in Moroni about asking the Lord if it’s true. I feel already that it is. I know with all my heart that the Book of Mormon is true. There are still so many people who don’t know about it yet. I need to be a better missionary even if I don’t have a name tag. PS. Had my first panic attack on this trip. Everyone is sick. We all got blessings. Rough day. I know the Lord is still with me though. Good night.

DAY 26: Today I was sick most of the day. I slept til 3pm! I don’t know what my problem is; all of us are getting sick. I’m feeling a little bit better though. We talked to a dentist today and his name is Dr. Fred, it went really well. Our Smile Camp is in progress. 

DAY 27: Today was a crazy day! We woke up at 9:00 and put on our “Islamic” attire. We had to wear long sleeves and scarves because we were meeting with an Islamic University. Is this really my life?! So awesome. The men don’t shake females hands and it’s inappropriate to look at them in the eye. I felt like I was walking on egg shells. Very best behavior. After that we had a festival at Impact Ministries. This was one of those moments I thought to myself, “I’m not cut out for this.” When we got there all the kids were happy but very well behaved. We showed them a dance and they loved it. Since we were “guests” they fed us. This was hard because they served us big platefuls in front of about 300 hungry kids. And it’s rude to not eat what they serve. So we ate. I felt guilty that my stomach hurt and I couldn’t finish it. One girl, named Kalthella is about 4 years old. I always seem to find her and she’ll sit on my lap and cuddle with me. I call her “baby”…I love her. My heart melts for her, she gets me every time. She is so beautiful. She’s quiet from the rest and follows her brother (who is tiny too…like 5) and she kinda hides behind the chair and in the crowds. It hurts to think that time with her is limited so I can’t think about that. After we ate feeling bad that we ate first we were able to help serve the kids. All the volunteers got up to serve this huge group of kids. I stayed by our stuff and held Ella while she ate. I watched my volunteer friends serve the kids some land rice, boney pork, and cabbage stuff. Which I’m sure is their only meal besides porridge.

My world stopped.

The look on the kid’s faces. But also the look on the volunteer’s faces as well. My heart could’ve burst. I didn’t cry (I’m trying to be tough) but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t choke up while holding my “baby”. I felt everything stop. Kind of like an out of body experience. These kids were thrilled to get food. They didn’t push, they didn’t shove…they waited with longing eyes and watering mouths. By the end, it got worse. They were out of food. About 30 still didn’t get food. We asked what are we to do? “They are just used to it.” Is what we were told. Sometimes you just don’t eat. My heart completely broke. How do you just not get to eat? Little Elle ate a lot for a 4 year old, with her hands.  She had a little bit left over so Bex (one of the volunteers) went and offered it to one of the kids who didn’t get any. They looked at her like she saved the day. It was barely a fist full of cabbage. I’m bawling as I’m writing this, so I can’t write anymore. I’m very moved. I won’t ever be the same.

DAY 28: I’m writing about day 28 a day late because yesterday was kind of a rough day, but good too. We woke up to go hike Sipi Falls. It was about an hour and a half taxi ride up the mountain. What was thought a 20 minute walk turned into a 7 hour mud sliding hike. At first I was debating whether or not to go because I wasn’t feeling very good. But I did anyway. (I heard my friend in the back of my head to “live every moment.”) So we hiked the falls and it was amazing. There was one moment where we were literally in a waterfall rain storm. It was wild, but we all survived…even if I slid down this steep part and landed upside down in the bushes. It was fun. Towards the end of the hike, I started to feel a little bit worse. Luckily we were by a small village so we asked where the latrine/toilet was. Turns out it was a small hut. Oh and I forgot to mention that I had a bad case of diarrhea so I spent some time in the hut with a hole in the ground. And with my luck I ran out of toilet paper. Just my luck. But not to worry, Bex handed me some “soft” Indian leaves. I finally finished my business and off we were again. Now? The hour and a half taxi ride home. I wanted to die because I had to go again. I clenched my fists and said about 52 prayers the whole way home. FINALLY we get back to town and I burst off the taxi and throw money at my friend to pay and asked some stranger if he knew where the toilet was. After a journey down a dirty alley, finding keys, and me screaming, “It’s an emergency,” we made it. I’ve never been so grateful for a hole in the ground. To make a long story short I exploded. The second I was done I looked around… My luck? No toilet paper. I looked around, pulled up my pants, and off I went pretty much with crap in my pants…T.I.A. Everyone was still standing in a group figuring out plans so I grab my phone from Whit’s bag and she says, “Don’t you want to eat?” sorry but do I LOOK like the kinda girl that wants to eat right now?? “I just crapped my pants” is all I could say as I hopped a boda and went home. I was so done. I was covered in mud, my own feces, and ready to just cry. Before I came my friend said this would happen so I called him and said, “Your wish came true.” I got home with tears and told Suzanne (my country director) what happened. I had tears and then just busted up laughing. Is this for real?! I hopped in the shower…cold and about 3 drops come out at a time, but I was so grateful for even just 3 drops. Suz heated up some water so I could rinse with warm water. I was so sick. I took some amodium and sat on the toilet leaning over the tub to puke for an hour and a half. I just bawled. It wasn’t too good. But I guess I can now have more sympathy for anyone else who craps their pants.
The lucky hut
DAY 29: Still sick today. Stayed home from church again. Feel a lot better than last night though which is good. I need to get busy this week so I stop thinking about home. Sundays aren’t my favorite because it’s a lot of down time.

1)   Sprite for upset stomachs
2)   Home meals
3)   Toilet paper
4)   Hot water
5)   Soap, shampoo
6)   Prayers (even 52 of them)
7)   Sports bras…so much more comfy
8)   Granola bars
9)   My grandpa.. I guess when I called to wish him a Happy Birthday he told everyone at church. I love that man.

DAY 30: I have been really sick the past few days. Yesterday I woke up at noon, ran a few errands and towards the night felt really sick. I don’t know what is going on. I got a blessing and in it was said that whatever sickness I’m having will pass. I pray it passes quickly because the past few days have been rough. I talked to my mom for help and she’s all “You can’t afford to lose any weight.”

DAY 31: Today I woke up feeling SO much better! I was so excited. As time passed I’ve realized I’m not all the way better. I sat on the toilet and leaned over the tub the other day in case it came out both ends. I’m hoping that it’s the end of it because I’m not very fun when I’m sick. Today we woke up and went to a trade show. IT was awesome. I brought a bunch of souvenirs for friends and family back at home. Africa really is so beautiful. Right now it is thundering SUPER loud and pouring rain. Tropical rainstorms are so amazing! I’m loving my time here, it’s just hard to love it 100% when I’m not feeling 100% but I still don’t want to waste a single moment. It was so cute at the trade show Noma (the kid I sat by at institute that drew me pictures) spotted me, waited until I hopped off my boda and ran up to me to give me a hug. When Africa gets hard, it’s moments and tender mercies like that, that make it all worth it. I feel very blessed to be here, slightly homesick as of late, but I’m living my dream so I can’t let anything stop me. I’m the luckiest to be able to be here. Can’t complain.

P.S. I have worms. I don’t want to talk about it.

DAY 32: I can’t believe it’s already June! What the heck? Today I was pretty sick. I’m taking de-worm pills. Sometimes the pain in my stomach hurts so bad I just have to hold still and say a prayer. I’ve had thoughts of going home because I’m useless and can’t help with anything. But then I thought about my mama. She suffers from severe migraines EVERY single day and still does her very best to put on a smile and be fun to be around. She’s amazing. I know that Heavenly Father is aware of me being sick. He didn’t cause it to happen, He just has to permit it to happen. Just a little trial I guess that I feel is killing me. I do know without a doubt that he comforts me and has watched over me this entire trip. Whether it’s boda rides, homesickness, or fighting stomach pains from worms. He’s there. This world is a lot bigger than I imagined. He truly cares about everything, not just the big stuff. My patriarchal blessing talks about how charity can heal things immeasurable. I think I mentioned that earlier in this journal, but I’m definitely here for a reason. My past needs to be healed and done with. My cute “bunkmate” Lindsey left a note on my bed of words of encouragement. It’s amazing how much something like that can affect me. It was such a blessing and tender mercy. It’s amazing how the Lord uses us to be answers to prayers because that letter was perfect timing. Today we were watching videos and pictures of our trip so far. I loved it. I’ve kinda had a negative look on things since I’ve been sick so it made me stop and realize how lucky I am to be here and see the things I get to see. Who cares about worms… It just means when I eat I’ll be eating for 2. But really, can’t wait til they pass completely. Other than that, I’m digging this life.

DAY 33: I loved today. We woke up, went to the trade show, bought some souvenirs, ran a few errands, and toilet stops and came back home. All of the boys went to Kampala for some agriculture something and so they won’t be back til Sunday. I love these girls I live with. We just had a girl’s night, ate, cleaned the house, had a dance party, and made up an Africa dance to waka waka by Shakira. I love it. Then we watched girl movies like “My Sister’s Keeper” and “John Tucker Must Die”. Beka is one of my good friends, I bet we’ll be best friends when I get home too. I really am loving my life. Today was extra good for some reason.

DAY 34: Today we made hand washing stations at Sister Mary’s Orphanage. They’re called “tippy-taps”. Then we went to Impact to play with the kids since it was a holiday here. It was so funny when we played red rover. The kids were so cute! One kid got clothes-lined and fell and another kid jumped with both feet and cleared the 2 arms in the way. It was so fun. We worked on other projects and then went to the trade show for 3 hours. We bought some cool stuff. Then we went to Mbale Resort and got banana splits for Whit’s bachelorette party. So happy it’s the weekend and so grateful I’m feeling better. Lovin’ Africa.

DAY 35: Today was fun! We went to the pool at Mbale resort, went to BAM (grocery store) and the internet café and then came home and watched, “Life as we Know It.” The rest of the team went to the soccer game so it’s been a nice, relaxing, girls weekend. We bought jerseys and have had fun here.

DAY 36: Church was good today! They got a brand new branch so it was way fun to be there and see how it all works. I decided that the people here are just amazing and the reason why I’m here. In relief society we talked about bearing our testimonies. Sister Jackson (the mission president’s wife) gave such a good lesson. It was Whit’s last Sunday and the hymn we sang was “God be with you til we meet again.” I was leading and looked out into the congregation and it’s full of Africans with a few Mzungus and Whit was choking up with tears in her eyes. It amazes me how much the Lord loves everyone even on the other end of the world. For some reason church opens my mind to how much love these people have. On another note there has been a lot of drama in the house dealing with the country directors. I just decided that whatever happens, I’ll let it because I didn’t come to Africa to deal with roommate dilemmas, I’m here for a different reason. Oh gosh, I’m homesick today. But still, I love Africa and couldn’t go home early. T.I.A.

DAY 37: Today was a good day. We all worked on our projects. We met with Mbale Regional Hospital and other communities to hold classes for nutrition, hygiene, and first aid. This morning my family called at 3:30am, I’m not feeling very great…just a head cold, not worms luckily. Just tired. Night.

DAY 38: I’m sick again today but that’s ok. We taught a school how to hand wash. I took a Nyquil. So goodnight.

DAY 39: Today was such a good day! We woke up and went to Sister Mary’s for a few hours to help with the pre-school. It was really good. The little kids are so crazy and wild, but very entertaining. They are funny, but sometimes mean to each other and inch and drag across the floor by their hoods and then drop their pants and pee in the middle of nowhere. They are crazy. Then we came home for lunch and prepped for our leadership training at Impact Ministries. It was great. We taught P7 (11 and 12 year olds) and class monitors what a “goal” is and how to set goals for themselves and the school. We did an object lesson with a Frisbee and they loved it. We taught them how to play ultimate Frisbee, it was so fun.  I’ve been in such a funny mood tonight and doing the weirdest things. Like we were watching this DVD that the hospital gave us and it was showing a kid and there was a fly on him, so naturally I moved my hand up to shoe the fly away…and of course, realize that it’s a laptop midway. I also wanted to show everyone how banana peels are really slippery…let’s just say I was on the floor after falling from the demo. 

DAY 40:  We helped weed a coffee seed plantation at “Coffee-a-cup” this morning. We’ve been learning some greetings in Lugeshu. To say “Good day” it’s “Mulembay” so of course when I was practicing to the first kids we see this little boy was all “We understand English” in this ‘matter of fact’ tone, it cracked me up. Being here is one of the hardest things I’ve done. No, it’s not a mission, but it’s still hard for me…it’s worth it though.

DAY 41: Wow, 41 days? It is starting to FLY by. Today was great. The newbies for 2nd wave arrived and it’s been fun. They got here around 5:30pm, we went to town, introduced them to boda bodas and helped them get all settled in. We showed them our African Dance and then our guard, David, brought in the “treat”. A.K.A. cooked cricket/white ants. Of course I chime in being like “it’s initiation- we ALL had to do it.” (Secretly, I never ate one before). So I play it off like it’s no big deal and would say stuff like, “They just taste like butter and salt…it’s good!” (I was pretty funny, I have to admit) But then I started to feel REAL guilty when the newbs would get all teary-eyed, gag, shake outta their skin to eat these insects. And I’m over here acting all tough. Well, my guilty face gave it away and next thing I know I have a bowl of insects in front of my face ready to eat. My heart was racing. But I deserved it. 100%. I still refused and apologized over and over for making them do it. but finally had to cave… I did it.  It wasn’t bad after I spit out the first one and was told I had legs on my lip. 

GRATITUDE LIST: Africa is getting better by the moment, I can’t believe I’m halfway done.
1)   Friends. 
2)   Beautiful Africa. IT seriously is unreal.
3)   Rain
4)   Power of music
5)   Love and friendliness
6)   Heavenly Father never leaving my side even through worms, bee stings, sewage coverage, homesickness, walking in town, being lost in London, sleeping at night, when I eat crazy food, when I miss Nick. He never fails me. I love the Lord, more than anything. He gets me through everything.
P.S. My mom left for the Dominican today. She’s my hero. She’s my biggest example of service. She’s also one of the reasons I’m here. I know she is doing the same thing this week. I absolutely love my mama.
DAY 42: Today was our day off. We slept in til 9. We took the newbies to Impact Ministries and played with the kids for awhile. They are seriously the cutest ever. The new people seem to be adjusting pretty well. 6 people are in my room. T.I.A. We went to the internet café for a bit and came home and ate avocado/tomato sandwiches which were so good. It’s been raining most of the day. When I thought it stopped I was paying our cook mercy to wash them. I fell asleep and of course it’s pouring. But the best news of the day? I HAD NORMAL POOP! I know, I know. Tonight we are going next door to have a braai with the South Africans. They are crazy. My life is so great. I’m so grateful I get to be here. So lucky. I love Africa.

DAY 43: Today was the hardest day so far. Whit came in and told me that my best friend since 7th grade Bo Pennington committed suicide. I loved that kid. We were the best of friends. I bawled. I made my dad put the phone next to the ear of my little sister who was sleeping, and that was my escape...I cried to her from across the world. But people on my team have been so nice and taken good care of me. They wrote me notes and lots of hugs and chats. My heart is broken. He had so much to live for and will be very missed. I know that Heavenly father is taking good care of him. I know that Bo can see that someone loved him all the way in Africa. It’s hard to write about because I’ve tried to stop crying. I’m very sad. Tonight I cry… but tomorrow I need to be busy and pray for his family. The Savior lives.

i love you Bo!

DAY 44: I woke up this morning and went to work. I didn’t get much sleep last night but that’s ok. Just staying busy. Read this at a school we visited today: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Reminds me of what my dad always has told me. Definitely needed that.

DAY 45: Today we went and observed Elgon Elementary School for a while. I wrote my dad an e-mail and then we went and taught the sanitation outreach at Impact. I seriously love Kalthella. She wants me to hold her and will want to hold my hand and always stand by my leg and just want to touch. I love her so much. We also went to institute. It was so good. They taught about the Law of Consecration and about

JOY: J= Jesus first, O= Others next, Y= Yourself last

Right now we are being silent in our team because of a mouse. I can barely shine my light because all of our suitcases are out and we’re trying to catch it. We are making Devin stay in here to get it. It’s midnight!  I love this though.

DAY 46: Today was oh so good. I woke up at 8:30 and we were off to Busimba School. We grabbed supplies to make a rain gutter. We packed that and a ladder on this tiny little blue truck and off we went. We pretty much 4 wheeled it up the mountain while sitting in the bed with supplies. We went to work. It was hot and sweaty but we did it. Afterwards we went to a natural swim pool and jumped in. IT was so fun. It was me, Andy, and Devin. They are both great. We grabbed a pop on the way home and had such a good dinner that Mercy made. I’m gonna miss having a cook every night. We ate chicken curry and it was oh so good. I took a shower and zonked asleep.  Since Bo passed I’ve been trying to stay super busy. I don’t think of home as much. I think his funeral is today. I gave Whit a note to give to his family. I just have to stay busy. Love that kid though. Right now I’m jamming to some good tunes, wild dogs are going crazy outside and there is a really cool eclipse right now. I’m in Africa for Pete’s sake! I’m living my dream…. I’m HERE! I wonder what dream I’ll have next. Life is amazing, the Savior lives and I’m so happy.

DAY 47: Today we woke up at 7am and went to a village an hour and a half away. We crammed in Blue’s taxi like usual and off we went. At one point we had 7 people on the same row of seats. Gotta love it. We taught hygiene and nutrition to the village. We had a dance party and gave the kids de-worm pills. (I wasn’t too fond of that) They fed us a meal in one of the huts (rice, fish (bones and all), posho). This is Africa! I decided that it’s beautiful here; the sunsets/sunrises are so amazing and gorgeous. I love the people here as well, all so very nice.

View from our yard

DAY 48: Let me start with the end: Today I survived a riot. Sorry but what?! Today has been nuts! This morning we met with the soccer coach for one of our projects and then we went and shadowed Dr. Fred and talked more about the Smile Camp. It went really well and things were rolling. We’ll probably do it at CRO (organization for street kids- Child Restoration Outreach) Then 3 of us girls went for a jog around Senior Quarters (where we live) for a bit and saw the prettiest African sunset with kids running next to us holding our hands. We had dinner, played charades, and then little did we know how the rest of our night would go… So Chameleon is a famous musical artist here in Uganda and he was having a concert so we thought it would be a good cultural experience. We got there at 9:00pm and opening bands played for HOURS. I went up to the front of the stage and just started dancing and some Africans joined me. There was a creep mzungu from Ireland that we tried to steer clear from. Some of them were drinking. Well…1:30am rolls around and we were STILL waiting for the main guy to come out when all of a sudden I get hit in the face with a plastic cup. All of a sudden a bunch of people were throwing trash and the singer to boo him off the stage. Next thing I know I look at Devin’s face and his eyes get all big and he’s all “ohhh shizzz!” He stands up and someone threw a chair. People started getting loud so we knew we had to get out of there. So we start to leave away from the crowd and a glass bottle gets chucked at the stage right in between Devin and I and shatters glass on us. (We were fine). We went to the farthest wall and stood away from the crowd. Next thing we know, there are people throwing chairs over the wall. So in this huddle of 6 we scampered to the next safest place…which happened to be a plastic zebra. (I promise I’m not making this up) We hid. Devin had his arms around us because we were getting scared. IT was complete madness and fires were starting. Super dangerous. I guess the main reason the main singer didn’t come out was because he was in the back smoking weed. What. A. Joke. We finally made it out of the common area and all of a sudden in the midst of all this madness who do we hear? Chameleon. So everyone starts bookin it back to see him, but by then all of us were done. IT was so late. We needed to get home fast so we hopped a boda and off we went. Well…our boda driver + English = getting lost. We had to switch bodas and finally found our way home. It was like 2am by the time we got home. Rem then got locked in the bathroom so we had to break her out. We were all starving…nope, hungry and frazzled when we got home. So we chomped on some beef jerky, trail mix, and treats. P.S. Me and Rem said a prayer by the plastic zebra and made it safe thanks to Heavenly Father. Dumb idea though to go and not very smart. Such a crazy night!

DAY 49: Today we went hiking up to the top of the mountain and saw a “natural ladder” made out of sticks! It was cool. We hiked to a cave and then swam in a water hole. Really tired for some reason. Goodnight.

DAY 50: Today I stayed home from church with Rachel. She’s the only inactive girl on our team and can’t be home alone so I stayed.  I’ve been able to listen to a talk by John Bytheway and ponder about a couple things. I’ve been thinking why I’m here in Africa. I think I’m very selfish. Because the reason should be here is for Christ. Worms, pooping my pants, having to sleep in a mosquito net isn’t why I’m here. I’m here to serve my Heavenly Father by serving these incredible people. I only get 4 more weeks with these beautiful people. I need to forget about myself.

DAY 51: Holy shiz… I go home in 4 weeks! That’s so soon. Today we went and volunteered at Mbale Regional Hospital and I was able to witness a live birth. It’s crazy. Not at all like the U.S. that’s for sure. The mom is just sprawled on the table with her clothes off and no epidural or anything. It’s nuts. Cute little African babies. We ran errands, ate a Kenya dish which was corn, beans, avocado, and sauce. IT was pretty good. I love Mercy our cook. Cutest lady ever. We had brownies for Mckay’s birthday. I bit something kinda hard…T.I.A. right? We danced and did a work out in the living room. 

DAY 52: Today I helped prepare and get ideas for sharing time in primary in the new branch. It was so fun. AND… (drum roll please) We found a place/school to do the dental camp!! Yahoo! A few days ago we saw this message written with chalk that says “Come to Boma” so we did and it was perfect number, location, and everything. Cutest kids ever. I came home and was so excited. We came home and I ran around the compound, ate French toast, and then of course the power went out. A cold shower with the power out is an African specialty.

DAY 53: Today we worked on leadership stuff and then went to the internet café. Got a few interesting e-mails from back home. After that, we went to Impact and played red light/green light and taught about self-discipline and having good habits.  The kids were cracking me up. They love to touch our white skin and take photos. They were being silly today and one girl turned one of her eye lids inside out. It was nuts. I was laughing so hard with them. WE sing with them “oh happy day, when Jesus Christ, washed my sins away, oh happy day!” Seriously some of the cutest kids every, I feel like Heavenly Father gives me tender mercies every day where I take a step back and realize that I’m living my dream. I’m actually here! I’ve also learned lessons of love and happiness. These people have nothing but yet have so much more than we do. They have a way about them that is pure love, especially the kids, each one of them are angels. Since a lot of babies and kids we work with are orphans, my friend Lindsey mentioned how when she’s with the kids she can’t help but think about the mother on the other side being so grateful that we held her son or daughter. I feel the same way. My heart is the fullest when I’m with those kids. Oh, happy day.


DAY 54: Today I worked on stuff for our dental camp. I also went to a nutrition training at Mbale Regional hospital there. They taught family planning to a bunch of mothers. This one mom had twins. One was healthy (so it seemed) while the other wasn’t. Skin and bones. The healthy one was zonked asleep on the mom’s lap while the other was pushed aside to the end of her lap. I watched for a second, got u, and asked to hold her. The mom was ok with it. So I picked up this tiny angel. She looked skinny from the small distance but actually picking her up completely broke my heart because she was even half the size of what I thought. She snuggled up to me and fell asleep. I held back tears. I love her. I prayed for her because I don’t know how long her body can stay like that. She was so fragile. In my head I thought MAYBE she was 1 year old. She weighed like 15 pounds and as big as my newborn nieces at home. When I asked her mom how old she was…3 years was the actual answer. I was even more heart broken. She was so cute and it was so sad. She’s an angel baby. It had such an effect on me for some reason. After that I went to help the boys with their pancake business. Next thing I know, I’m in the middle of the circle of almost 100 people in the middle of Africa…cooking pancakes for 500 shillings (25 cents) ha? A quarter? So crazy, so fun though! Definitely one of the highlights. I love my Heavenly Father. We’re rafting the Nile this weekend. Life is amazing. 

DAY 55: Yesterday at 8am we went to Boma and decided the Smile camp would be held July 8th. We got the kids pumped. From 10-2 we went to the surgical ward at Mbale Regional Hospital and watched 2 crazy surgeries. One was a malnourished man who wasn’t able to go to the bathroom. So they cut him open to put a catheter in. The other was an “exploration surgery” where they made a 6-8 inch incision to find what was wrong and/or if there was a tumor. I saw intestines and all! It was nuts! Good thing we were wearing masks because my jaw was wide open at how intense it was. So cool though to see. After that we taught nutrition and hygiene at CURE hospital. And then met with Dr. Fred to order supplies for our Smile Camp. After that we took a 2 and a half hour taxi to Jinja to raft the Nile. It was so fun. We stayed at a really nice hostel and ate dinner and had dance parties before bed.

DAY 56: Today we rafted the Nile. WHAT? Class 5 rapids. It was madness. I thought I was going to die. We had 8 to a raft and 3 girls from a different organization joined: Diane, Olivia, and Jessica. They were so cute and funny. There were 8 major rapids and our guides name was Henry. We had to do a practice sesh before we left so we would know what to do in certain situations. The second we jumped in the river my life jacket was too big and my helmet was too, so the shoulders and the life jacket raised a foot and a half above me as my helmet covered my eyes. Haha it was ridiculous but I got out and got different sizes so it was all good, no big deal. The first rapid was a class 5. All I know is we were cruising down this waterfall and this wave wipes out the girl in front of me and snatched my paddle with her. “Paddle harder,” was commanded and without a paddle that’s all I could really do is hold on for dear life. I just see this faded red helmet be swept away in the madness. (She was fine thanks to the kayakers that watched our every move and would save us if we abandoned ship). Rapid 2? A little more intense. In fact, I don’t remember much because all of a sudden our raft was upside down and I was in a whirlpool of waves. My head kept bumping the raft as I was trying to find some air. Was I upside down doing flips? It kinda felt that way. They taught us to “Go with the flow”, and not swim to the top, because sometimes you won’t know which direction to take. So you count on your life jacket to take you up. I remember seeing a red helmet under me. If I was gasping for a breath of air surely she was. All I could do was plug my nose (in fear of parasites), hold my legs up so no rocks would wipe them out, and pray to the Lord that I could get some air soon. I probably was only under for 10 seconds but it felt like an hour. Especially when I was panicking. It happened one other time where I had to hold my breath, stay calm, and trust my life jacket will bring me to safety and pray my little hear out! AS I write this event, I can’t help but see it as an analogy. When life gets too hard, or you feel like you’re in a “whirlpool”, sometimes you have to have the faith to hold your breath, stay calm, pray and trust that the Savior will bring us back up no matter what. Even if sometimes we’re on our last second of a breath, or our face is blue, He will NEVER fail us, and he didn’t fail us in the Nile either. I lived to tell the tale! Our team was called “Team Moses” because Moses floated down the Nile in a basket and me it. We were 6 small girls. Our new friends were on a Christian mission and loved Jesus. They would pray before the rapids too. Even if it was a little different from what I was used to, I absolutely loved it. A little kid across the way on an island shouted to our boat and said, “Mzungu, you are so beautiful,” and one of the girls shouted back, “It’s because Jesus made me that way!” Hallelujah, they were so cute. After we rafted we went back and had a huge BBQ and watched the pictures the “safety kayakers” took of us. I had the time of my life, it was amazing. We drove back to Mbale that night.

DAY 57: I slept like a rock last night! I was exhausted. I woke up and got ready for church. Blue picked us up at 8:45 for church at 10:00. We are so lucky to have it close. It was amazing as it always is. The spirit is so strong even if I can’t understand every word. Some of the simplest testimonies can be some of the strongest. I’ve been thinking about Bo a lot lately. In my heart of hearts I’m really sad about it still. But I have to be strong because I have no other choice. Memories fill my mind from even 7th grade. It makes me miss him. I pray to my Heavenly Father to tell him that I love him. He was such an amazing kid and great friend to everyone. I’m blessed to have known him for 10+ years. I played the keyboard for relief society and we learned about testimonies. It was good. After church I was sitting on the step and look over and Noma (the cute little boy from institute) saw me and ran right up to me to give me a hug. My life lit up right there. I love him. He doesn’t speak English so it’s a little harder to communicate, so I found someone who spoke Lunganda/Lugeshu and had them translate. From that I found that Noma doesn’t know how old he is. He is an orphan, both of his parents died, and he lives at the market…A.K.A. the place I can only be in for 2 minutes because it’s so crazy and dirty. My heart sank. The hardest part of Africa is realizing that yes, I’m living in poverty, but I get to go back to the U.S. these people are stuck here. (in mzungu book). And even then, I’m staying in a mansion for Africa. I get my own bed, pillow, dinner every night. It makes me feel so guilty. I wish I could take Noma home. I’d give anything. He has changed my life. We are so lucky to live in America, I will never take that for granted. There’s a chance I might extend an extra week and fly to Kenya to work on teeth. Devin knows a group of dentists coming out and I might go assist them-we’ll see. I miss home, but knowing I go home so soon makes me miss Africa already. I’m the luckiest to be here.

My Noah
DAY 58: Today I went to an organization for Fistula. It was interesting. We had a leadership meeting at Chat n’ Chino, went to BAM, and then taught English at the church. I decided I love teaching English. It was awesome. 

DAY 59: Weird day. Nothing really went right, but at the same time did. We talked to Boma (the school we’re doing the camp) and they couldn’t do it on July 8th anymore so we had to meet back and forth with Dr. Fred. Ugandans are hard to do business with because they don’t write anything down and say what you want to hear, so it’s a little frustrating. But we finally just picked July 12th. We’ll see how that goes. A lot is happening with the "love life" at home, but for now, my heart is with the Lord and His people in Africa. Only 4 more short weeks, not long at all. My dream is in progress, God lives and loves us more than we know.

DAY 60: Today we went to the baby’s home at Sister Mary’s. I held a month old baby who was left an orphan because the mother died from the birthing process. I know she’s in heaven still watching and loving her sweet babies (twins). We went grocery shopping after. Ate avocado sandwiches (a regular) and nutella mixed with peanut butter (banana’s and crackers dipped) à so good. We went to the internet cafe and then had a leadership meeting and went to Impact and taught about being proactive. Kalthella was there with her brother Kaleem, both are so stinkin cute I can’t stand it. The kids wrote down their bad habits and we burnt them. We had a hospital meeting after and had a rollex for dinner. Good day.
DAY 61: Some things are going on back at home and I have mixed feelings and officially don’t want to leave this place. I’m hosed.

DAY 62: Really? July already?? I can’t believe I’ve been gone for 2 months today. Today was a rough day at the hospital. I worked in pediatrics and then went back to the surgical for the last couple of hours. When I got there, a mother brought her baby in. She was 4 days old, premature, and had 3rd degree burns all over her face, arms/hands, and feet. It was so sad to see this tiny little body (probably weighed 2 pounds at most) just lay on a huge metal bed. I had to walk out of the room, holding back tears. I don’t think I was prepared emotionally to be here. But how would I have prepared? I’ve seen some things that are really hard to take in. And all I can do is pray for these people that I love so much. All of them. After that we went to the intent café. E-mailed family back home and worked on dental stuff for my Smile Camp and then a few of us went night swimming at Mbale Resort. Devin, one of the boys here has become such a good friend with the best advice. He tells me how both sides of a relationship should feel like they are the lucky one. I believe that. We’ll see though, maybe I’ll just stay here forever, jokes, but really. I don’t want to go home and have to figure out my life.

DAY 65: Happy 4th of July! Whoop whoop! Today I’m writing during lunch instead of late at night. I’m trying to concentrate and BE in Africa, but I have a lot on my mind from back home and it’s driving me crazy. Today we made hamburgers, fries, and ice cream floats. Followed by dance party and games. We played a game called “Ninja Attack” where you stand in a circle and try not to let anyone touch your hand. Today I also met with Dr. Fred and got supplies for our camp. It should be fun. There are these 3 cutest girls that go to Boma Primary School which is right by where we live. The other day they were sitting by each other on the grass just talking. They’re around 12 years old. I had this gut feeling to sit by them so I did for a little bit. After that they waited by our gate and when I was headed to Jinja they hurried and gave me a get well card and a little note. I loved it. They are the cutest girls ever. Made my day completely that’s for sure.

DAY 66: Today I went to the hospital and helped in the maternity ward. I served up formula for the moms to feed their babies (some dads) The nurses gave me a nutrition lesson and they taught me how to measure a baby for mal-nutrition and if they could be discharged or not. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about mothers/womanhood since I’ve been here. I saw a sign that said, “teach a girl, teach a nation.’’ I believe that’s true. Women aren’t treated or respected as well as men are here, it’s really sad. I feel like if we influenced mothers we would influence generations to come. I feel like mothers and women in general can make some of the biggest impacts in helping poverty.  I sewed some bean bags for the primary and taught English.

1)   Dishwasher
2)   My mom’s milk and being able to have the knowledge to keep me healthy
3)   Diapers
4)   Education
5)   America

DAY 67: Besides the current love life going on back at home… Africa is so great. We went to the baby’s home and fed them bottles and held those sweet angels. We scheduled leadership lessons with Mt. Elgon, ate pasta with avocados went to a science seminar training for teachers, went and got supplies for dental camp, ate ice cream with PB, and French toast for dinner. When we were at BAM my head was in the freezer box and the power just goes off (totally normal) but I just looked up and it was pitch black, I was in a freezer in the middle of Africa. I busted up laughing. Bex was all “T.I.A.” I seriously love it here.

DAY 68: Today we went to Busumba Primary school (the one where we made rain gutters) and talked to them about sanitation. The cutest twin boys that were 3 or 4 played with us. I love them. We had Rolex again tonight (eggs in chapatti). The power has been out so we had our 2 hour meeting in the pitch dark. I think I’m okay leaving in 2 weeks, it’s not my favorite having 21 roommates, alone time and personal space doesn’t exist.

DAY 69: Yesterday we made fertility bracelets at Mbale Resort for a few hours by the pool. We forgot scissors so I went to go find some and came back with all they had:

A machete.

I laughed so hard. Only in Africa. After that I e-mailed home, ran errands, taught hygiene at CURE hospital and went with Suz to Mt Elgon for dinner. The South African neighbors showed up and paid for our dinner and bought us a banana boat. IT was fun. They are like these old, funny, fat men that make sure we’re take care of. We got home and did facials for girls night and watched the Notebook.

DAY 70: What the heazy? Day 70?! That blows my mind. Time needs to slow down. Today was relaxing. We slept in til 9am, went to the pool, got a full body massage at Mbale Resort, went to the internet café, and kickin it at the house. The massage? A little interesting. 2 ladies worked on me for a half hour and just a little weird. Only 10 bucks though. The room was too small so if they needed to get to the other side of the room they would just scoot all 113 pounds of me on the bed. It was more like they were rubbing oil on me..haha and they stuck their fingers in my ears at one point, super weird.

CONFESSION: I’ve been feeling super guilty lately. I leave a week from Tuesday and I’m having withdrawals. How do I leave this place? Noma? Kalthella? The babies at the hospital and orphanage? It breaks my heart and leaves me feeling guilty.

DAY 71: This morning we taught piano lessons at the church before sacrament. It was really good. They caught on so fast. Ben, a 7 year old was so cute. I love teaching little kids, they are angels. Before today I said a prayer that the Lord would have Noma show up since it was my last day, I had to say goodbye to him. It was miracle because I’m not even normally at church early, but who showed up? Noma. My heart was so full. If I could take anyone it would be him. I seriously love that little boy. He sat by me all through church. We took pictures, he drew in my journal. I had to lead the music and he came up with me to help me lead. Ugh, I love him. As sacrament ended I knew I had to say goodbye. I wrote a note to him in my mini Book of Mormon and gave it to him bearing my testimony and telling him that a mzungu loves him. I had to get Bernard to translate for me. Oh gosh. This is difficult for me to even write about. I’m crying pretty hard because I will never forget that little boy. When I had to tell him I was leaving to America for good, he looked me in the eye and stepped back, giving me a look like I betrayed him. My heart shattered. I hugged him, kissed his head. I made him promise to keep coming to church. I walked him to primary, and walked away. How do I walk away from this place? How do I go home to a hot shower and warm bed while he wears the same shirt every day and sleeps on the streets? How? How do I leave that? I’ve been having a really hard time the past few days. I’m so guilty. I love that little boy. He will forever be engraved on my heart. I won’t ever forget the connection I had with him and we didn’t even speak the same language. He asked me for money. If he only knew how badly I wanted to take him home. I love Noma and will miss him. I’m gonna be a bawl bag when I leave this place. After church we went to North Road Primary school for soccer camp. We scrimmaged and a bunch of 6 year olds kicked our trash! It was so fun though. After we taught leadership skills. To 150 soccer players. I believe in them. Today was more rewarding in a lot of different ways. These kids might not have the latest ipod or clothes, but they have love. Maybe that’s why I had to come here…to witness a love never shown in my life at home, a charity expressed more selflessly, a happiness that lasts forever, a friendship that never fails because they watch after each other, and a hop-e that can take over the world. They have faith that can move mountains, they just need ideas on how to do it. These people are so incredible and I will never be the same. God Bless Uganda.

DAY 72: Today I prepped for my dental camp tomorrow mostly and then went to CFAI for a “thanksgiving” farewell for those leaving next week. I might peace out to Kenya with Devin- I love that kid. Such a good friend. We’ll see. Today I had a tender mercy. I was having a rough time and just had a bad day. But when I left the house and tried to stay busy 3 girls from Boma school were sitting outside my gate and yelled, “Aubra!” when they saw me and ran and gave me a hug. 4 girls about 12 years old, my day was made. Noma was at literacy but I couldn’t go, so Bex helped him write me a note. Tender mercies for sure. I’m so grateful for my Heavenly Father and feel abundantly blessed.

DAY 73: SMILE CAMP! The day I’ve been planning months for. Today was probably the most rewarding day. I got to do what I love, where I love, and with people I love. I ran a dental camp in Africa. It was amazing. There were about 350 kids at Boma primary school and we extracted about 45-50 teeth. We had big speakers, rotations, games, dance parties, crafts, music, hand washing, and dental lessons. I worked with Dr. Fred and some others from my team…definitely couldn’t have done it without them I was stressed last night, woke up at 3am and then again at 6:30. My team got up early without one complaint and put on their HELP Int’l shirts and off we went. It was a crazy, emotionally draining, packed day. But we got so much done. The best part is when we got all the kids together and had a dance party to waka waka (this time for Africa) , the ids loved it and were so happy. I lived my dream. I held a dental camp in Africa finally! Heavenly Father helped let things work out because we hit a couple speed bumps but all in all it was a success! The whole point of the camp was to teach dental hygiene and get them excited to see Dr. Fred. We had Adeen (from New York) come help us and the missionaries, Tuttle, Noble, Ludwaba, and Omondie helped as well. Funny comments were made, like Adeen would say, “Alright, who wants to get this over with?” I was like, “No…who GETS to have a turn??” And one volunteer said that one of the teachers (named Christmas) was telling the kids to stop peeping their heads in the exam room because they will see what horrible things we are doing to their friends and if they didn’t obey they would trap them in the room and yank out their teeth. Are you kidding? No wonder the whole world hates the dentist! Everything went well, though. The kids did better than I thought except if one kid started to bawl we had a roomful of crying babies. WE had toothbrushes and ibuprofen/amoxicillin for them once they finished. It was a success. I feel like it was the Lord that really helped make it happen, because I was super intimidated to do it. At the end we danced to Waka Waka again. There aren’t tons of pictures because we were all so busy, but definitely best day so far. My 3 little friends Sharon, Rachel, and Lydia (the ones that wait for me at the gate) had a “gift” for me. IT was in a black grocery bag with a knot tied. I opened it and inside were 2 cracker packages, a cupcake rolled in lined school paper, and a lollipop. My heart was full. These kids have NOTHING, but are so giving of what they do have. I was so impressed. Africa is definitely closer to heaven. I e-mailed Pat about switching my flight…we will see.

The gift the girls gave to me..all they had! so cute.

Couldn't have done it without them!

DAY 74: Today was another great day. We woke up early and left around 7. We met with Tesila, Tabitha, and Naa Naa from CFAI. They are our age and total angels. Blue took us to Bunabioka village in his taxi. IT was about 45 minutes there and then an hour hike up to the school at the top of the mountain. It was BEAUTIFUL, seriously so pretty. The village was great. It was like on Emperor’s New Groove with a bunch of mountains and valleys around us. CFAI is an organization that does outreaches. They are amazing. I asked Tes where she gets money to be able to do this and she said that she doesn’t let money stop her with anything. Because the Lord will always provide. I loved that. She’s like Mother Theresa. The girls taught their women’s health lessons to 69 women and we started to help build the foundation for Devin’s school. It was muddy, messy, and so fun. I loved it. Kids were carrying rocks on their heads, men were working and it was incredible to see the determination these people had to build a school. I was impressed. It was so peaceful up there. I walked to the other side of the building and was able to pray to the Lord and read the Book of Mormon. I was reading in Mosiah about doing service to others is serving God and how we shouldn’t boast about our service to other people. I hope I remember that when I head home next week. I loved looking up from reading and seeing a breath-taking view of Africa. IT was heaven. They fed us dinner, we ate beans and rice and matoke (cooked bananas) with our fingers. A sunset was painted on the sky tonight. WE walked down the mountain with that as our back ground. I was loving it and tried to take a picture but it just doesn’t give it justice. I don’t want to leave this place. I think we’re going chimp tracking tomorrow for the weekend. I have the best life ever. This week I am soaking in everything. I have to come back.

DAY 75: I spent most of the morning writing up a report about the Smile Camp. We ran a few errands before we were supposed to meet up with the other mzungu’s at the bus at 5:15. We got there at 5:07 and one of the buses to Kampala was peacing out so our boda driver started to CHASE the bus down. We were weaving in and out of traffic to catch up. Definitely living an episode of mission impossible right then. Finally we were driving next to the bus (after almost hitting a bike, man, and car) and the bus stopped for us. We asked if our friends were on it and they weren’t so we were off again and finally found them. We took a 5 hour bus ride and got to the crazy city at 11pm. It was wild. We all slept at the hostel with nasty blankets. Please bless I don’t get ring worm.

DAY 76: We drove from Kampala to the Queen Elizabeth National Park. IT was a super long drive. Kampala is nuts, it is super packed with no laws. Before we left we waited on the bus for a while and so I decided to go to the bathroom. Well apparently you have to pay 500 shillings to pee in a plastic hole. I only had 100 shillings so they stopped me and had a “police” lady tell me I had to pay more. I stood there pleading my case when a nice man handed me a few more coins so I could get out of there. The bus drive took most of the way. Ugandans don’t really have a bubble. They talk so close to your face and pack as many as can come. The more the merrier I guess. We got to the park late at night and drove 15 minutes with Mustafa (our transport guy). Elephants were everywhere. We slept at the hostel next to elephants and hippos and wart hogs. For 42,000 shillings. No gate so the animals would romp around right next to us.

DAY 77: Today was great. 6 of the group went chimp tracking early in the morning and me and Rachel went to a town an hour away to get an ATM and cash for everyone. We met a ranger named Caleb and he was able to help us. We met back up at the hostel to eat lunch, but we didn’t want to pay another 42,000 shillings so we talked to the worker lady and she wouldn’t let us cancel our rooms. Her name was Edith and we got in quite the dispute with her but Caleb was able to help us work it out so it’s all good. The lodge here is amazing. We hung out there for a while and then, da da da da… a safari! Mustafa showed up driving a van/taxi with a silver rack on top, so we hopped on our pink and purple roofed van. We saw buffalo, cob, lions, elephants, and hippos. A safari in Africa? Check. So fun.  To get to the hippos we had to drive through a village. All of us were taking pictures and videos and all of a sudden this little 12 year old African kid strips off his clothes and runs butt naked to the lake where the hippos were. It seriously was the funniest thing ever. I still cannot stop laughing because he was doing all these tricks for us in the water. All the sudden you see this tight, bare bum with squeezed cheeks and legs flipping around. I won’t even mention the cartwheel or backbend. I was laughing so hard. Afterwards he just came running back after a 10 minute show of all his goods, put on his clothes and that was that. I’m still laughing. Then we drove to Fort Portal in a small car. All 8 of us. 3 in the front, 5 in the back, including a larger African woman. I laughed so hard. Good day.

DAY 78: Today was so fun, we woke up in Fort Portal and took bodas to some caves and waterfalls. Wait, first we searched for a place to eat breakfast for an hour and a half. But we found some, not to worry. Africa time drives me nuts sometimes but what do you do. The caves and waterfalls? Unreal. It was my kind of hike because we walked only a little ways and pretty much walked into the jungle book. Vines, caves, big tree roots, and waterfalls… I was in heaven. I absolutely loved it. Afterwards we drove to Kampala on a bus. WE sat on the backseat and the bumps were wild. We were midair half the ride. I sat by Devin, love that kid. We have become the best of friends. Everyone teases because we’re glued at the hip, but let them tease. We ate at the restraint that didn’t even seem like Africa. I ate a burger, fries, and a milkshake! So good. Oh and let’s not forget, when we got off the bus I started my period so I ran to the only bathroom…they made us pay 200 shillings to go in, and then gave me 3 squares of toilet paper. For real? Africa hasn’t yet thought of the idea of tampons…so I proudly wore a pad with an extra amount of respect for the African women. WE stayed at the hostel (4th one on this trip) called Red Chilli. They didn’t have enough beds so we got some foam mats out of the storage; bug sprayed it up and slept on the floor. I had salad dressing on my pants, ketchup on my shirt, period, wind-blown hair from a 4 hour bus ride and couldn’t be happier…because I’m in Africa.

DAY 79: We woke up early and grabbed a pizza before we got on the bus. We rode a boda boda in the middle of mad traffic in downtown Kampala. It was crazy. We all got back to Mbale in the afternoon, it felt like home. WE went to the internet café and went home to get backed. We met the new peeps and did an ending trip testimonials advice. It was good. During it the power was on and when it got to my turn I ran to the light switch and made it so the “power was off” mostly to hide my tears. Leaving is definitely bitter sweet. It took me awhile to get everything packed and burn pictures from Sarah’s computer. The other girls that went up to Kidepo for a safari didn’t get home til 5am (I went to bed at 4am). Bex came and laid by me the next morning. I love her and will probably be friends with her and Rach when we get back. We all exchanged notes, I love those girls.

DAY 80: We woke up around 7am and got a taxi around 9am, stopped at BAM shopping 
center for some last minute snacks and were on our way to Entebbe. It took about 4 hours. WE stopped in Kampala for crafts and lunch and got to our hostel later that night. Thomas from Australia was our roommate that night…in his speedo underwear and all. Haha sick.

DAY 81: Today we got up at 6am because our flight left at 9:05am. There was a slight problem with our luggage but we worked it all out just fine and were on our way to London right now. I don’t know why but I just had a lot of anxiety leaving this morning. I’m excited to see everyone at home, but I don’t want to leave this place. P.S. yesterday we were pulling into a garage to eat and our luggage was on top of the taxi and my bag got completely crushed. The wheel and frame are busted. Not to worry, we made a splint, nothing a little duct tape won’t fix. I have a lot of mixed feelings and emotions right now. How do I peace out and leave these people here? They fed us lunch on the plan and I already felt like I needed to eat every last bite because the kids I was with would give anything for it. I miss Africa already. I have to come back. I feel like everyone should be able to have my same opportunity. I feel like it has changed me and I will never be the same. I think the biggest thing I learned here is happiness. It doesn’t take “things” to make someone happy. I’ve always believed that but now, I know that because I’ve seen it. Those people look after each other and have the best relationships with one another. They are good Samaritans. They are angels in my life. I broke down when I had to say goodbye to our cook Mercy. Her eyes got watery so she left really fast to hide her tears while her little 3 year old Quinta was wrapped on her back. I love her. I feel like it’s hard to express exactly how I feel. I sit on this plane with tears coming down my face. These people may not have much, but they know more about living than I do. They treated us like celebrities, they loved us the very second we met them and were our friend instantly. I hope that I never take school for granted because they would kill for that opportunity. I feel like I will never have a legit excuse to not be happy. I will never be the same. I know without a single doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father has been with me and ahead of me every step of the way. People in Uganda have such great faith, and hope in everything. I am so grateful for the Lord and how I’ve been so greatly blessed by being an instrument in His hands. Life is so much easier when I’m on His side, running His errand, and serving His people. I hope to continue serving when I get home.

DAY 82: Welp, I’m on my last flight to Salt Lake City. All that came to mind as I landed in Chicago for my 3 hour layover was “I miss Africa”. I feel out of place or something. I miss seeing African faces with big white smiles and shouting, “Mzungu, how are you?”. Last night we went out into London and saw Big Ben. I loved it. Except everyone I talked to my Ugandan accent would come out. It was weird to not. It was way fun though. Just me and Remmik from my group. We ended up just sleeping at the airport all night at the Giraffe restaurant. Everything closed so all we heard all night was some construction workers. Everything went smooth with my flight to the USA. I sat next to a guy named Jag. He was Sikh so he wore a turban. He was asking me about my love life at home so I told him about the Nick and Brady situation and he made me list pros and cons and at the end of the flight he’s all “well, I hope everything goes well with Brad!” haha… I laughed out loud as I forgot to remember my past connected to that comment.

I really feel like Africa healed so many things in my past. I feel like it made other things happen for my future. I’m definitely proud to live in America…but “home” might just be Mbale, Uganda. I miss it so bad already and I’m not even off the plane yet.
T.I.A. – This is America. I will never be the same.
My last sunrise before boarding the plane back to America