Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Plunged into Darkness

We are back to 'normal time' here in the UK, so the nights are dark and the dawn is earlier for a short amount of time. The first week always feels the most depressing. Everyone suddenly realises that winter is much closer than you thought and the chances of having a nice day disappear.

It's great for firework displays though and for all those who will be out on Saturday for Hallowe'en. Not a joyfilled time of year really, but I like it. The trees are changing colour and there is a better excuse to be snuggled up with hot chocolate. And most importantly apple filled donuts covered in cinnamon sugar. Yum!

And for something completely different, Liz and I will be hanging out in St Albans Cathedral from 8pm on Friday to 8am on Saturday, with hundreds of young people and some lovely people from my diocese. I am looking forward to the twilight hours, something I enjoy and don't find creepy, where every one is quiet and you feel like you are the only one awake. The fun thing is I'll have to teach. Have you ever led a session gone midnight? It struck me how unusual this might be the other day as I was preparing my session. I could have so much sugar/caffeine in my system that I'll be non-sensical. Start praying!

Anyway, it should be lots of fun and I hope to make many new friends during the night. If all else fails at least I can say I attempted to teach between the hours of 9pm and 2am. A unique opportunity!

Of course it's not all about darkness, this weekend also includes a 'Light Party' alternative to Hallowe'en for the children at church, and our new bishop is coming on Sunday to confirm (a CofE rite of passage?/ritual?) some adults and young people. then I finally get to see my family for an evening meal. Very happy to end the weekend like that!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Uganda Part 5 - The Aftermath

So, by now, a whole 6 weeks after our return from the wonderful country, things have settled and friendships across the country are starting to form

But thats not what I want to talk about...

On our way back from Uganda, we were delayed leaving Entebbe only by a few hours, but it made us late landing in Cairo. The plane in Cairo only waited 50 minutes, and we were left in Cairo along with many others who needed to be in London that night. Very helpfully the men on the trip had taken over and decided to sort us out.

Now begins about 6 hours of rollercoaster emotion, not helped by the fact that some of us had been up for 27 hours. First we were all going home via frankfurt, then we were all staying, then we were all going again. Every time the men came back there was a new wave of emotion (not all positive). Plenty of tears.

I referred earlier to being "ripped apart" from some of the team. This came at about 3pm when some of us were allowed to get on a plane to Frankfurt and the rest of us had to stay. Eventually the remainder recieved transit visa's and headed to a hotel in Cairo. We had two other Ugandan families with us and one lady who was by herself and instantly bonded to our group.

We washed and eat and slept and got on a plane on Monday morning, 24 hours late. It was much easier to be in Cairo Airport the second time around, 'cept it sounded like Egypt Air had had a weekend of it. They asked us if we'd like to fly via Frankfurt, even though we had our boarding passes and passports in hand! I wanted to punch the dude in the face, but had done so well up until this point...

The delay gave us a traumatic experience to further bond over. Much to the point when I headed to the Mission Direct office on Tuesday it was all I could talk about.

And the reason why I've written about it is now we are trying to claim insurance back on the flights, but this comes with conditions and things I cannot control. For example, the insurance company would like proof of delay, but with Egypt Air's track record in communication, I'm unsure we'll get written confirmation of delay. And it sounds like there will be a whole complicated back story to why we were delayed.

So I will keep you posted on how it goes, because any money we do get will go straight to the project!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Uganda Part 4 - The Pictures

Sorry it's taken so long for this one, facebook has almost ruined the art of Photo Blogging.

So here we go, in choronological order I suppose...

This one really speaks for itself. The second time I've been south of the Equator.
Me and 10 year old Joel. One of the proper little brothers of the trip... he is awesome!
The school at the beginning of the trip, the far left of the building is not finished yet, that was our job. The matrons quarters.
The rainbow we made on holiday club day 2. We put up a lot of the things the children had made and it made our meeting space much brighter.This is St John's about 30 mins from Rukungiri. It was really good to see the church and join in. There was an auction after, Joe brought a goat, Stephan brought a chircken!

This is the sewing room in the Mother's Union. They practice on cement bags because it's a lot less expensive than material.
The Life Skills Clinc, where parents with disabled children come and learn how to cope, talk to other parents and teach their children basic life skills. It's part of the 5 Finger project.
The pre-primary school, finished! well, our bit was finished. The roof has been put on now. I'm still massively impressed with what the builders and the team.
This is Benjamin, my builder friend who remembered who I was and asked for me by name. We had some very good relationships on site. The Ugandan people are lovely.
A huge Elephant!
All my lovely young people at a salt lake on the dawn safari!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Uganda Part 3 - That Family Feel

We had our debrief day on Saturday. Another trip over to Godmanchester, in a lovely part of the country, Cambridgeshire.

This was the first time we had seen everyone since being torn apart at Cairo Airport. Unfortunately we were missing 6 people from our team, 2 married couples who thought it was too far to travel for and 1 mother son team who were too busy. We arrived (on time - big drama last time meant we were late) and had lots and lots of hugs and a few tears.

We really were a family on this trip. Having an 8, 10, 12 and 13 year old on the trip really helped this. We also had a 70 something and everything in between. People perfectly capable of looking after themselves and some who needed coaching through everything (this is regardless of age). Everyone had their bad days and there were space giving moments.

It was massively different from all the other teams who were mostly older and married, or a bunch of young people from school. They each had their own bonding things. We were family for two whole weeks, from the moment we arrived at Heathrow airport, by the time we got to Kampala we were one family (at least that's my perception).

During the two weeks I had some very indepth conversations, we laughed so much around the dinner table, we got irrate with each other, we experienced some life changing things together.

When we had to say good bye on Saturday, I didn't realise how exhausting the whole day had been. I definitely didn't want to say goodbye. So I've promised myself trips to see people. We didn't work very hard on our presentation, but we had lots of fun while we were there.

I know lots of people have been on mission trips this summer, and I can bet they'll all have something to say about what bonded their teams, I can certainly say that our varying ages was the thing that bonded us the most.