First of all let me say that a former student of mine reminded me once to celebrate in everything. So for today we will celebrate the small steps closer that we are getting to returning home. The answer to how to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. No John Hooper, its not with extra salt and a side of bacon!
Are You Ready For Some Futbol
Saturday was a big day for Uganda. Their country’s prized soccer team was scheduled to play Zambia in their home field advantage of a two match set that would be determined by the aggregate score of both games. The match last month resulted in a 1-0 loss for Uganda on Zambia’s home field. That meant that the Ugandan national team needed to win by a margin of at least two goals. The match had obliviously started because I took a look around the B&B and there was no one. The normally bustling street was stone cold quiet. Just an hour earlier, I was invited to sit down with the staff and enjoy a nice Ugandan meal. After I began to realize just how big of a deal this match was to the countrymen, I got much more interested. They had shared their “tailgating” food with me. They quizzed me on my international knowledge of soccer; of which I have none. I even ragged them a bit about not making the World Cup in 2010. Soccer has never interested me in the least. During the 2006 World Cup, Carla and I had just returned from a trip to Ireland and were battling a terrible bacterial infection. We sat at home for seven days, too weak to even drive to the store for food. Daytime television sucks, so we watched World Cup soccer. We watched intently, trying to learn the rules and players. A few days later we got better and forgot about the sport of soccer until we were in Haiti during the 2010 World Cup. The day of the opening match that put Argentina against Mexico, we were walking through the rundown neighborhood heading to a home that was destroyed in the Earthquake that hit that January and killed over 300,000 people. To get to what was left of the damaged homestead we had to cross a very suspect bridge. At the southern abutment of the bridge was a hand painted sign—THIS BRIDGE WAS BUILT AS A TOKEN OF APPRECIATION BY THE CANADIAN PEACECORP. Oh great, I thought, I’m gonna die at the unskilled hands of a Canadian! The bridge was about forty feet long and was as high from the bottom of the wet ravine where the local pigs ate garbage and children played as if nothing was out of the ordinary. That particular day we crossed the bridge to scores of men in a heated argument. (There aren’t any other kinds of arguments in Haiti, because everything is HOTT) I would be lying to you if I told you that I wasn’t scared. Mentally, I quickly took an inventory of the items in my bag and planned an escape route down the ravine. I would head back south and find my way to safety if I could make it to the Porte au Prince. Our group leader approached the quarreling men and I was sure that he would be murdered right there in the muddy road. After we walked on a bit more, I asked him what the problem was back at the bridge. He told me they we arguing over who would win, Argentina or Mexico! Outside of the USA, people take soccer very seriously. I thought, especially in the south, that we took American College Football serious. Sorry guys. On the international stage, Soccer is the real football, and it is KING!
Sitting up on the rooftop of our B&B looking out over the ghosttown that was Kampala just fourteen minutes earlier, I knew that Uganda had scored. Just like in Haiti when the announcer would belt the word GOAL across the AM airwaves, the entire country could be heard screaming and making noise with whatever that they could beat or bang together. Uganda let me know that their team was on the board. Across the valley it sounded like Bryant Denny Stadium just before the game, you know when the PA plays the clip of the Bear. Horns honking, muffled screams coming from neighboring houses, and, of course, our B&B staff were screaming like sorority girls on bid day.
The game went on to end on the 1-0 score at the end of regulation, and since the qualifying round was decided by the aggregate score of the two matches, we had a problem. The aggregate score was now at 1-1, so ten sudden death penalty kicks would decide who would advance. It came down to the last kick that was blocked by Zambia, and they secured the win with the score of 9-8. The loss was a stinging blow to the country, but these people are resilient, and after the sun rose again everyone was happy and still proud of their team.
We decided that we would not go to church on Sunday, but instead hang out with ZG and go out to dinner that evening at the Serena Hotel. The Serena Hotel is a 5-star hotel where rooms start at $400 per night. However, for less than $40, my family ate like royalty at an Italian restaurant inside the hotel. Even to the wait staff at the eatery it was obvious that we were not the caliber of person who stayed at the Serena Hotel. After two hours of bread, sodas, potatoes, BBQ, pizza, cookies, coffee and tea, we called Twaha and made it back to the B&B in time give ZG a bath and fill out some VISA paperwork. We set an alarm for the first time in over a week to be up in time to make it to the Internal Affairs office downtown by 9am for an interview for ZG’s passport. Continue to pray that we can get the passport processed quickly as it is the last hurdle in our way before we can apply for ZG’s VISA.
French Kiss Your License Renewal Worker Today
Imagine that you had to go to Capitol Park to renew your license plate.
First Baptist Church had set up ten rows of old church pews, GameDay Tents had put up a tent over the pews, and the whole thing was surrounded by a hodgepodge of storage buildings filled with old chairs and stereotypical public servant workers genuinely uninterested in you as a human being. After the Sheriff’s department grants you access and keeps you and 500 of your closest friends herded tight to the tent, you sit waiting for your name to be called. Your name never gets called, but luckily someone pulls a string for you, and you are sent to sit in one of the storage buildings still unsure of what happens next
I just need a new license plate people!
You are asked questions that you don’t have the answers for and panic as you fill out the papers as best as you can. The waiting room attendant forces you inside the next building and you have your application reviewed and collected. You are told to go to building #9 if you have any questions about your tag application. In building #9 you are told to go to building #6. In building #6 you are told to come back Thursday.
Thinking about what just happened you suddenly get sick to your stomach. How will they find my application in all the stacks of unfiled folders and paperwork? Who do I call to follow up with? Will I ever get my tag renewed?
Disgust is interrupted by laughter at the ridiculousness of the experience. You go home to drink hard liquor and smoke cheap cigarettes.
Carla and I have decided that the statistical probability of ever getting a passport should be 0%. The scene that I asked you to imagine in the preceding passage is exactly what happened to us today. I know that there is a method to their madness and that God will guide our paperwork through, but the anxiety of thinking about the negative possibilities is all that is there right now.
We went through the process today with two other Mzungu families. One of the families had been in country one week longer than us, and the other had been here one week less. They were both Christian families and it was a relief to discuss our experiences with someone that can relate. I have been joking to our facilitator that I don’t dislike Uganda, I just really want to sleep in my own bed. She always tells me that I need to be patient and remember that my family is all here. I should take her advice I suppose.
The rest of the day was spent at the B&B playing with ZG out on the porch. She is such, as Carla calls her, a priss pot. We need to set some discipline up I guess. When she doesn’t want to drink her milk, she puts the sippie cup near her mouth and pops her lips a few times. If she is fighting sleep, she will put her head down, close her eyes, and then when we think she’s asleep, pops her head and with the biggest smile and yells, ahhhhhhhh! She has to be held by her momma at all times, unless she has something better to do. What a priss pot!
I know everyone has been praying for us, and Lord knows we need it. Today, I want you guys to pray for the other families that we met today and their process. Pray that they receive good news and can travel home to start their lives with their handsome boys. Also, pray for Patrick as he drives eight hours tomorrow to transport the mother with chiggers to the leprosy hospital. Pray for the treatments, that they allow her to be restored to a new health.
We are peaceful. Short of engaging in illegal activities, we are here until we are told we can leave. I hope we can maintain that mindset.
You Guys Rock,
Two Twisted Parents