Monday, February 2, 2009

The Small Things of Life

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? . . . Matthew 16.26

Several months ago, Grace OPC was blessed to ordain and install Dr. Jim Knox as a deacon to serve as a missionary doctor in Uganda.

For years, Jim has served on several short-term mission trips to Uganda, and has been planning to go to Uganda full time as a missionary doctor. Well, Jim has safely arrived and has already begun his diaconal ministry to the Karamojong people by working in a medical clinic.

Recently, Jim sent an update sharing how much he enjoys Uganda and provided a list of observations outlining some of the differences between living in the U.S. and Uganda:

1. Every time you wash your hands, it is like you have been out playing in the mud. Even in just walking back from the clinic, the dust can make my hands that dirty as we are in the middle of the dry season.

2. Every time I take a shower I wash off so much dirt. It looks like I just have a really great tan, but it ends up being mostly the brown dust!

3. Although it has been a long while since the mission has run out of water, we are still conscientious of water usage. So, for example, when I take a shower, I turn off the water every time I can. When I am putting the soap on my hair, I turn the water off. Etc.

4. I have begun taking showers between 4 and 6 pm. The water actually feels nice at this time of day. Otherwise, it is just too cold for me. This is the time when the day is the hottest, so the water has warmed up a bit and it is okay to have some coolness to cool you down.

5. The compost has to be taken outside every night. Otherwise, the cockroaches will multiply rapidly. They are all the small cockroaches (nothing like those in Texas or Philadelphia).

6. You always have to turn on a flash light before you move about at all at night. Just to be sure there are no scorpions, snakes, or whatever on the ground. So, I use a flashlight ever single day.

7. I wear a hat pretty much every day (I never wore a hat in the USA) because of the equatorial sun.

8. We sleep under mosquito nets.

9. By the way, "mosquito" is pronounced "moss-kwee-toe". "Fruit" is pronounced "frew--eet". "Guitar" is pronounced by some as "gwee--tar". If some has diarrhoea (yes, the British spelling is used), no one says, "Do you have diarrhoea?" Everyone asks the question, "Are you diarrhating?"

10. The stove in the big community kitchen that I use burns things really easily. So, you basically just have to stand by the stove the entire time. I have been able to make a Texas sheet cake, a pumpkin cake, a spice cake, as well as various other things on the stove top. The cakes all tasted okay, but they tasted nothing like when I have made them in the USA. I guess that the ingredients are just not exactly the same.

11. I get to roast my own G-nuts. The Africans call what we call peanuts, G-nuts or groundnuts. One of the families just gave me the great idea of trying to roast my G-nuts with various things like garlic or chili, etc. G-nuts have really become a staple food for me.

12. All of our laundry is hand-washed. We hire someone to do our laundry for us. She scrubs each piece of clothing by hand. So, clothing has to be pretty tough, or it just disintegrates. But, it is so clean!! Even with all of the dust and stains.

13. I wear the same clothes for so many days in a row. Otherwise, the K-jong notice when you have multiple changes of clothes. Plus, the smells here are just different. Baths are not as common, so no one notices if you have on the same pair of clothes. [I do change my underwear every day, though, just in case you were wondering!!!]

14. When I go running, people just stare at me. It is really funny to have people stop whatever they are doing, look at you, and just continue to look at you until you are out of sight. I have had several people start to run with me, all the while speaking excitedly in Karamajong!! I can understand when someone asks me in K-jong "Where are you going?" But, I don't know how to explain that I am just going in a circle, with no specific final destination.

15. All vegetables are soaked in a dilute bleach solution, just to kill anything that might be on their outsides!

16. I have begun to really enjoy cold water. I usually just have always drunk room temperature water, but this cold weather is growing on me. There is only one temperature that comes out of the tap, so cold water comes from storing water in the refrigerator.

17. Cabbage is a staple vegetable. I have made cabbage salad, using cabbage just like lettuce with carrots, onions, etc. I have made that cabbage salad that you put raman (yes, they are available even in Uganda) noodles and almonds (although I have to use G-nuts instead of almonds). Any suggestions for ways to cook cabbage. A head of cabbage costs less than 50 cents.

18. You can't put toilet paper in the toilet. You have to put it in a bucket beside the toilet, to be burned later. So far, I think that I have only forgotten 3 times since I have been here!! the plumbing just can't handle it!

19. There is a gecko in our kitchen who has lost its tail. There are geckos and skinks all over the place! They are cute, in a reptilian sort-of way!

20. When you go to the grocery store in the city of Mbale, they just use a calculator to add up your total. They don't have regular cash registers.

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