Monday, June 29, 2009

You drive me crazy- Britney Spears

I am now an officially licensed Ugandan driver! I did have my International Drivers license, but that only lasts a year. The process for me to get my Ugandan license was mainly done by the missions offices here, but the final steps did have to include me. I had to take a morning off of school to drive across town with the man who was ‘taking care of it’ for me. While I forget the official name of our first stop, I remember what it was for and what happened there. It is where everyone who is bringing goods into the country has to go in order to declare things. Oddly enough, this is where part of the licensure process takes place…a large warehouse. I had to wait in a sectioned off room while the man I was with went behind the glass to talk to some people. He came back out and told me we would have to wait. I was anxious of course, wanting to get back to my room, so I gently reminded him that I didn’t have all day because I had to teach. A few minutes later he came back out talked to a man at a desk, then went back behind the glass, did a few mysterious things and returned. This is when he informed me that we could go. I was thoroughly confused. From here, he directed me to another warehouse a few kilometers away. Along the way I asked him some questions, which led him to inform me of the bribe which had taken place. Yes, in the government! Apparently what happens at that first warehouse is something to do with approval, which at that stage would have taken 4 days to clear. Really only a few minutes, but they like to take their time. So, a bribe is put forth to hurry it along. I didn’t bother asking how much. The next warehouse we went to is a company that the government hires for making digital licenses. I put in my information, then waited to be called. I sat and did some work until my name was called. From here, I proceeded to go to 4 different windows. The first was where they took my picture. Quite a neat experience actually. People are so friendly here. The two behind the desk talked to me, then took a few pictures. They even turned the screen around for me to pick which picture I wanted to use. Then they gave me a piece of paper and told me to go to a certain number window. I went there and waited in line and handed them the paper. They typed in info and printed out a piece of paper. I went onto the next numbered window and waited in a very long line, all to come out with the same piece of paper and head to the next window. At least at this window they gave me my temporary license and told me to come back in a week to get the real thing. The most amusing thing of all was that at each station that I went, each one told me that I had an amazing picture- ‘the picture of the day.’ I was able to come back 10 days later and pick up my license. Quite fun I must say to hold a drivers license of your own in another country. But at the same time, quite disturbing that it’s not only the cops who are corrupt, but the very system.

Jesus bring the rain-MercyMe

So I realize that I have not updated on here in a long time. However, I've got a couple that I had written a while ago that for one reason or another, never got put here goes!
This one was written between April 25 and May 13.
Sometimes it seems as though Africans think they are going to melt in the rain. Even the ones who clearly would be perfectly fine if they got a little bit wet, run as if their lives depended on it when the rain starts. The other day while finishing up my bible study for my discipleship group I heard the rain start coming down out of my window. Due to the heat of the day and my love of the smell of cool rain I decided to move my study to underneath the porch outside. It was beautiful for a few moments. A wonderfully calm rain was flowing slyly beneath my feet, but I was sitting back far enough from the ledge not to get wet…so I thought. That’s the thing about the rains here in Kampala, not only can you never tell when they are coming, but because of Lake Victoria being upon us, the breeze changes everything. The rains picked up along with the gusts of wind and before I knew it there were pin sized drops of water all over my book. Nonetheless, I continued my study right inside the door so that I could still admire the rain, but this time at a distance.
A quite memorable experience for me when the rain was not so far away was my boda-boda (motorcycle) ride in the rain. This is such a happy memory for me. I was in town with a friend in the afternoon and we had just left the new (and only) mega shopping center, walking down to catch bodas back home. That’s when the rain started. It was light enough and thought it would be fine. Little did we realize that there were no boda’s at that stage. So, we went on walking down towards the main traffic light where there’s another stage. It started to rain harder, but by that time, we were getting wet and there was no turning back. Eventually we crossed the road and convinced some men to take us back to my apartment for the correct price. Then the beauty came :)
What I saw in the next 10-15 min made me smile so big. Was I wet? Yes. Was I cold? Yes. Did the rain sting like needles? Yes. Did it really matter? Nope, not at all. Quite refreshing really. Here’s why. There were little kids playing and jumping in the rain, even some of them stripping down to their birthday suits to bathe in the puddles. Some of them stopped to scream and laugh at the muzungus riding bodas in the rain. The shopkeepers were standing in their open doors watching the world pass by. Women walked hunched over with their shawls meagerly covering their heads. The other people who were ‘stuck’ on a boda in the rain looked like turtles trying to hide behind their driver.
While the chill was just starting to overwhelm me, the exhaust from the cars passing by warmed me up. I had thought about putting my own shawl over my head, but I didn’t want to ruin the moment. In fact, I kept finding myself wiping my eyes so that I could get better glimpses of the world surrounding me in that joyous moment of love that God gave me. I somehow wish that I had had my camera on me, but at the same time, there would have been no way to capture the experience that I had.
We arrived home safely and oddly enough, I was sad that the moment was over. I don’t know why the experience hit me so hard. The earth seems to become new after the rain comes. The air is crisp and has a marvelous smell. The rain slowed significantly as I walked up to my door, and I took in a deep breath to have the moist chill fill my lungs.