Longing and Belonging

A dear friend and mentor allowed for me to borrow her cabin in Monteagle, TN.  About 1.5 hours from Nashville, it is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the US — including Fiery Gizzard Trail.  I went for recreation — but mostly to spend time with myself.  I arrived mid afternoon and walked along the Sewanee Perimeter Trail.  I noticed that most of the leaves on the trees were still green — but the ones on the ground had accepted their fall colors.

IMG_2802The leaves reminded me of a prayer I stumbled upon looking for help writing my own pastoral prayer for next Sunday:

“O God of all the changing world,
we pray on this October morning for your guidance.

The leaves have begun to clatter on their branches,
clinging to their summer hold
yet gazing earthward,
amorous of the ground below
and its quiet embrace.”

I thought of my own clinging to summer — afraid of the winter’s cold — yet knowing that “times they are a changin’.”  I also watched the sunset:

Sunset SelfieOn Saturday morning I took a book by John O’Donohue called Eternal Echos and I read it listening to Foster Falls under the trees that seemed to turn red and yellow overnight.

Foster FallsI read this on page 7: “Every human heart is full of longing.  You long to be happy, to live a meaningful and honest life, to find love, and to be able to open your heart to someone; you long to discover who you are and to learn how to heal your own suffering and become free and compassionate.  To be alive is to be suffused with longing.  The voices of longing keep your life alert and urgent.  If you cannot discover the shelter of belonging within your life, you could become a victim and target of your longing, pulled hither and thither without any anchorage anywhere.  It is consoling that each of us lives and moves within the great embrace of the earth.  You can never fall out of the shelter of this belonging.  Part of the reason that we are so lonesome in our modern world is that we have lost the sense of belonging on the earth.”

When I read this — I thought of a song that has been a touchstone for me since I learned it in a voice lesson circa 2001.  “I Wish It So” from the musical Juno — I sang it to the falls — “I’ve an unrest in side me, oh it’s long I have had such an unrest in side me, and it’s gettin’ real bad… for I wish it so…”  My voice pouring from inside me over the edge of the cannon matching the falls’ intensity.  I get O’Donohue’s longing.

Tonight, I hung out with a dear friend.  When I’m with him I recognize the way I want to feel when I’m with my future partner.  He’s not my future partner — Yet he gives me the gift of belonging and inspires my longing.

O’Donohue goes on:  ”One of the deepest longings in the human heart is the desire to be loved for yourself alone.  This longing awakens you completely.  When you are touched by love, it reaches down into your deepest fiber.  It is difficult to realize actually how desperately we do need love… If our hearts were our outside bodies, we would see crippled bodies transform into ballet dancers under the gaze and in the embrace of love.”

I couldn’t drive home after our time together — so I walked around the park some more.  I had a nice little chat with God — trying to put words to my experience — Why? What? When? I recognized that my love for this person is really only the tip of the iceberg of my deep, robust, vast longing.  “This fracture is always open; it is the secret well from which all longing flows.  All prayer, love, creativity, and joy come from this source; our fear and hurt often convert them into their more sinister shadows.”  Could I learn to embrace my longing?  Could I learn to trust it as a source for the wild and vibrant parts of myself?  As I walked to the top of the hill I could see the sun beginning to set.  The low hanging clouds caught on fire from the suns distant glow. It looked like this:

Sunset OneAnd then this:

IMG_2847I stood there amazed.  Then I took photos.  Then I sang a refrain “For the Beauty of the Earth.”  Then I snapped out of my honor, “Wait just a minute God!  You can’t just show me something shiny to distract me from the very intense conversation we were having about longing and why my longing for, well, everything, is so intense!” And the minute I stopped my little rant — God spoke to my heart — This isn’t about distraction! I’m reaching out to say, “Me too.”  I get your longing… I understand and I’m with you in it.  I have it too.

And in that moment I belonged.

A poem about names and fear…

It’s funny that I’m not great with names — (just in case you didn’t know, pastors are supposed to be good at names).  I used to be better at names while I worked as a camp counselor because I would always ask every camper where their name came from or I would give them a nickname and when I gave it or had a story I was better able to remember it.  This morning as I taught Sunday school I asked everyone in the class where their name came from.  One husband from a couple who had been married for over 30 years shared the origin of his name from a French novel and his wife exclaimed, “I NEVER KNEW THAT!” It was precious.Michael shared a poem with me today that connects with my love for knowing where people’s names come from.  It also connects with the fact that I’ve been very afraid recently.  Last night I got to a parking garage in downtown Nashville.  I went by myself to see TN Rep Theatre’s production of Sweeny Todd.  (This is kindof a secret garage connected to McKendree UMC downtown, in which I have special privileges to park — it’s in the middle of downtown but it’s quite desolate.) When I arrived at the garage I was scared to get out of my car.  I quickly opened the door and got out of my car. The smell of congested air and piss wafted and I just as quickly jumped back in the drivers seat.  Then I thought of last week — walking back to my car from the symphony — parked on a side street downtown — and saw the passenger side door bashed in and my purse gone.  I thought how thankful I was that my property was damaged and not my body.  Then was nervous to walk downtown — through the cold, misty, darkness and cat calls.  Then I thought about the fact that the show is about murder — hilarious as it might be — I had no idea how I would get back to my car later that night.

So I turned the ignition and drove home — Sweeny Todd is playing until Nov. 2nd — so I will have another opportunity to see it with friends.  A friend reminded me when I called her on the way home that sometimes it’s okay to be scared.  Next week in church we are discussing Jesus’ question, “Why are you Afraid?”  Jesus obviously knows how scary this world can be — but Jesus asks this question because even though it’s okay to be afraid Jesus doesn’t want me to live a life debilitated by fear.  “And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age,” Jesus reminds me at the end of Matthew (28:20b).

Also this poem is a good reminder for me and I think you will love it: “Fear Of” by Devin Kelly

The Plunge

Last Friday I skipped from Scales Chapel into Shelley Kuhlmeyer’s office elated and talking a mile a minute that I just might be able to take “The Plunge” and preach on Sunday morning without sermon notes.  I spent most of the day with my iPhone in Scales Chapel recording my attempts to weave together a sermon from the brief outline I had gathering in my mind over the past few weeks.

“You have to talk it out to yourself,” Michael said as he gave me advice on my sermon.  The metaphor he gives for preaching without a manuscript is a cloths line blowing in the wind — You have a pair of pants, a shirt, underwear, a few socks, another skirt and you have a sermon!  “What happens when one of them blows away?!” I questioned.  “That happens,” he replied, “sometimes you loose a sock or get them out of order.”

This Sunday — the plunge — was a huge moment for me vocationally.  I finally feel like I released my voice and some kind of freedom that I can’t explain.  I don’t think I lacked the Holy Spirit prior to Sunday in my preaching — but I felt a greater use, reliance, and energy from her in a very profound way.  Most preachers spend a good deal of time prior to preaching praying that the Holy Spirit will work though them.  Both of my homeletics classes at Vanderbilt taught us to pray with fear and trembling and this week those prayers were even more real.  It was the perfect sermon to preach for the first time without a manuscript because it was an outward sign for me that I would not let shame — not being good enough — rule my life.  I would trust in the grace of God.

I also knew I could trust in the grace of West End staff and members.  I am so thankful for the many brilliant individuals that gave me so much grace and encouragement before and after the sermon and not just my preaching but allowing me to be fully myself in all my work at West End — I feel so grateful.

I am excited to go on this journey of continuing to become who God created me to be.  I can not say Thank You enough to all those who are part of that process encouraging, guiding, and loving.  I am honored and awed to be a pastor.

If you want to watch the sermon, you can watch it here on YouTube.

Modern Day Flappers

A few weeks ago I shared late night nachos at Sunset Grill in Hillsboro Village with two of my dearest friends, Ben and Elizabeth.  We had just watched the movie Boyhood across the street at the Belcourt.  Boyhood is the kind of movie that would show at the Belcourt –a non-profit movie theatre specializing in documentaries, artstic, and innovative films.  The director, Richard Linklater, filmed the same cast over twelve years and, like the title suggests, it’s about childhood and growing up.  Literally the boy actor grows into a man before your eyes.  So, we were discussing the movie over nachos and Ben says, “I can’t help but think about what the movie would have been like if it were about girlhood.”

I laughingly said, “You would say that!”  (Ben might be more of a feminist than I am because of his deep appreciation for Marylynne Robinson’s poetry, fiction, and prose…) and replied, “What would the movie womanhood look like?”  I rambled on, “What if I filmed my best friends over the next ten years and see what happens?”

“I think I’d watch that,” Ben responded, “What would you call it?”

And without really thinking I replied, “Modern Day Flappers.”

We kept eating nachos and discussing various parts of the movie that we liked — but the idea didn’t leave my mind and the next day I typed in the domain name: moderndayflappers.com.  It was available.  Then I Googled “Modern Day Flappers” and found two interesting articles: Five Signs Your a Modern Day Flapper in the Huff Post and Modern-Day Flappers: Lena Dunham and Girls from Biographile.  Both reference the same book published in January of this year Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell.  I immediately searched for the book at Nashville public library and sent it to the branch near my house.

I love the parallel between Lena Dunham and Girls and flappers.  I have seen every episode of Girls and I am intoxicated by the woman’s locker room conversation put on national television from a realistic perspective in an authentic and unapologetic tone.  Yet, there is more than one conversation going on in a women’s locker room!  Many of my friends have talked about how we resonate with Dunham’s characters, yet they do not allow for their spiritual domains to influence their life choices and their context of NYC is very different than Nashville!

A few days later, I picked up the book from our branch and read in the introduction, “The young women of this era weren’t the first generation in history to seek a life beyond marriage and motherhood; they were, however, the first significant group to claim it as a right (pg. 5).”  “Yes. This.” The voice in my gut said when I read those words…

A few pages later Mackrell’s words resonated again with this statement about the six women whom she presents to represent flappers, “Often they feel closest to us when they were struggling and uncertain.  None of them had role models to follow as they grappled with the implications of their independence.  Their mothers and grandmothers could not advise them how to combine sexual freedom with love, or how to combine their public image with personal happiness (pg. 10).”

I feel a lot of uncertainty when I try to articulate how to be a woman, in the south, in public and private settings, seeking my right to an identity outside of wife or mother, navigating singleness, love, sex, and independence, while also discovering and being found by God, and desperately trying to “be human in the most inhumane of ages (Thomas Merton).”  All of this coupled with the fact that I am clergy and “should” know these things!

I, for sure, do not have all the answers — but I do have a ton of questions.  Therefore, over the next year of my life — “30, flirty, and thriving” — I am going to ask as many questions as possible and ask them of those who are on the journey with me — my modern day flappers — my late 20something and 30something friends who are also seeking their identities, wholeness, and love.  I hope to discover parts of myself in the stories I unearth in them.

I will record my interviews in a podcast called — you guessed it — Modern Day Flappers!

Modern Day Flappers

 

Guatemala and Camu

When I think of that smell of wood and plastic trash going up in flames, my heart fills with love and that love wells up as water in the corners of my eyes. These are tears of truth, not of sadness or joy.

As I write this, it takes everything not to pick up my backpack and breath in the smell of burning that still lingers on the cloth. Yet, last night when I got home from Guatemala I washed and showered and washed again and lathered to get the smell off my skin. This morning I put lots of mouse in my hair to cover up the smell that lingered.

My backpack had almost the same exact smell when I came home from Uganda.

For me, it is a smell of truth and one that connects me deeply to the entire world. Yet, last night on my plane flight home from Atlanta to Nashville I wanted to apologize to the person next to me for the way I smelled. “I promise I don’t always smell like this,” I wanted to say — while deep inside I wished it would never go away.

Smell has a way of bringing you back to a time and place, I know there is a lot of academic research about it — but I’m not as interested in quantitative studies about smell and memory, as I am about the stories. I was talking about smell with a friend recently and he spoke of walking past a woman and the simple fumes of her perfume brought him to the time when he was first falling in love. The smell of Irish Spring soap has a similar effect on me.

Do I quickly wash off the smell of open wood fires because I am afraid to go back to the times and places where I saw women suffering from poverty and patriarchy?

Today in a class — I am auditing a class at Vanderbilt Divinity School on Albert Camu from Prof. Victor Judge — we discussed “The Fall.” Spoiler alert — The story is about a man who is on a bridge and watches a woman about to jump to her death — he says nothing. She jumps — he does nothing. As she screams for help, he neither says or does anything. There is a lot more to the monologue — but the man forever avoids bridges.

I’ve seen the plight of women in poverty and heard about the effects of patriarchy. I know enough to say something. I know enough to do something. I know enough to use my words and actions to say something before, during, or after she jumps off the bridge.

Today in class Prof. Judge said, “Every moment is important and has consequence. Every waking moment has a promise of change.” With my recent experience in the foothills of the volcanoes in Guatemala in the forefront of my mind — my heart erupted and tears streamed down my face. During the intermission I explained to Prof. Judge they were tears of truth. He lovingly replied, “I hoped they were not tears of unhappiness.”

I wrote in my notes:
So what am I to do? There is so much… I am willing. I can continue to organize Sunday morning class spaces (ha ha not fair — I am currently working with imagination and creativity) But (or maybe I should say AND) I am called to be on the ground, smelling of fire, eyes not only welling with the waters of truth, but also the dust from the roads blown by trucks filled with travelers and produce, the sun bringing color to my face instead of using concealer, brushing my teeth with purified water — sometimes afraid, sometimes overjoyed, sometimes at peace, but always present.

Directly after I wrote that, Prof. Judge said, “Those who remain vigilant to combat the plague are the least likely to contract it.”

If I combat poverty and patriarchy, then I am less likely to participate with it.

Hiking a mountain in San Juan, Guatemala.

The Blessed Mother Mary photographed while hiking a mountain in San Juan, Guatemala.

Thou Shall Connect with Your Inner Artist

Inspired by my best friend Jaime and her blog entry Thou Shall Not Snooze During Lent, I will write about my plans for the season of Lent.  This year I plan to “give up” my constant critique and intellectualizing in my personal devotion.  I was inspired by a book I have yet to read–but it’s on the top of the list–”Against Interpretation” Susan Sontag and my own need to rejuvenate the artist in my Biblical interpretation.  So my lenten goals are as follows:

Read “Reaching Toward Easter” this year’s Lenten Devotional published by the United Methodist Upper Room not with critical eyes but connecting with the Holy Spirit.  I also sent the book to my mom for us to read it together.

Read the book of Romans at least twice as I would poetry and not as a hermeneutical approach.  I might even break up the words in poetry format so that I am forced to read them differently.

We’ll see how well this goes… what are your plans?!

Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations in NYC

A few months ago I received an email from the Divinity school list-serve that was soliciting Presbyterian women to be delegates for the 56th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations in NYC.  I clicked the link to find out more about this year’s commission and discovered the Priority theme is “The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges.”

My first thought, “I HAVE TO GO!”

and my second, “I’m not Presbyterian.”

So, I decided to email my contact at United Methodist Women (UMW) who helped me arrange my travels this summer in Uganda to find out if I could be a UMW delegate.  She replied back with a kind email informing me that the UMW delegates would be rural women from around the world to speak to the CSW about their personal stories and ideas for advancement.  I could not be prouder or more excited about their choice of delegates… However, that leaves me out.  Yet, she forward me to the people arranging the UMW events and delegation at the CSW to see if they would have a need for me.

After a few more emails we decided that I could help with publicity, worship, and logistics!  They also agreed to play for my housing during the dates of the CSW!!

On Wednesday, Feb. 23rd I will be flying to NYC to stay with the delegates, help navigate NYC, assist with preparation for their presentations, attend portions of the commission, plan for worship, and — give daily updates, blogs, pages, and video on the United Methodist Women’s network about the happenings of the CSW.

I will defiantly keep you posted as well.

5 seconds of fame!

On Monday I received an email from ABC producer Brian Hartman who wanted my permission to use a few seconds of my YouTube Video from 2008 about a cruise ship lifeboat drill for a story about cruise ship safety on World News with Diane Sawyer.

I hadn’t watched this family vacation YouTube video in years and it made me laugh out loud that he wanted to use a piece of it!  They only used the clips of the lifeboat drill on World news… but I still feel like a little piece of my YouTube brilliance was discovered :) .

I’m sure it’s only time before Food Network discovers my videos on the best cupcakes, gelato, mac-n-cheese, and meat-n-threes!!

African H2O Adventures

Canoeing on Lake Victoria to Kenya
A few weeks ago I traveled to Bussia, a town on the border of Uganda and Kenya.  I only have a single entry visa to Uganda so I wasn’t planning on crossing the border BUT when my friend told me that it was a 30 minute, 10,000 shilling ($4), canoe ride across Lake Victoria to the Kenyan border and that I wouldn’t pass a border checkpoint, I decided that I would take a quick trip to Kenya!

Capturing the Sun in the boat

The canoe was made of thick, hard wood and weighed so much that 3 men had to push the boat into the water. I took my friend and escort Moses, who cannot swim and has never been in a boat for more than 5 minutes, with me on my journey to Kenya. Two men got into the boat with a very long stick and an arms length paddle. I thought — this will be interesting. I watched as one man stands in the back of the canoe with the long stick in the water. He pushes, with all of his body weight against the stick wedged in the bottom of the lake and propels the boat forward. The other man sits in the front of the boat.

After about 10 minutes analyzing the distance traveled and time taken, I realized that my 30 minute boat ride would be on African time about an hour later we reached the Kenyan border. It was obvious that this was not a typical muzungu way to travel to Kenya because I got exceptional stares when we entered the small canoe-port. I got out of the boat, walked up the road, took a photo IN KENYA, and then got back in the boat. I sat and watched a woman wash her son in the lake and then the men and women wash their jerry cans and then fill them with the brown, murky water. When our drivers came back the one in the front was now propelling the boat in the back.

Small waves lapped on the side of our boat and there was a decent wind on the water. Moses kept talking about how the disciples felt right before Jesus calmed the storm. I chucked a bit at the comparison, but for someone who is deathly afraid of water and to be in a canoe traveling to Kenya — maybe it’s a good analogy. I used my lifeguard training to tell Moses that if something happened and we fell in the water that he should simply STAND UP.

All in all, the journey was extremely refreshing for me. I am energized being on the water and enjoy the beauty of Lake Victoria, which is comes in second to Lake Superior as the largest lake in the world. There was not another boat in sight and I enjoyed watching the sun fall in the sky as we reached the Ugandan shore.

The River Nile
Last Monday I decided to be a tourist. It is common for people to white water raft the Nile for $125, but when I found out I could tandem kayak the Nile I knew that for $140 I needed this extreme experience! Plus they transport you to and from the Nile and feed you a BBQ dinner :) .

Swimming in the Nile

I have kayaked in the ocean and on rivers before, but never in white water. After loading in my kayak the first thing my guide taught me was to roll the kayak. When one kayaks you wear a “skirt” that keeps water from entering the Kayak so it is possible to roll upside down and back around without too much trouble. (I have done this by myself where I am in charge of how long I stay in the water and use my own strength to flip it back upright but I have never waited for someone else to flip me.)  Basically, when the boat flips upside down he directed me to throw my paddle and hug the boat as close as possible and wait for him to flip it back over.  We practiced a few times in the still water and it was easy to wait for him to flip us back upright.  He told me that the Nile is deep water and that hitting your head on rocks would not be a problem.  But just in case, we were all given helmets.

Being in a kayak for the rapids felt like I was literally sitting on top of the water for all of the action. I had a front row seat for each wave to catapult me out of the water or hit me square in the face!  It was intense, invigorating and exhilarating.Uganda Kayaking Photos

The first time we flipped in the rapid — please try to imagine my fear!  I am upside down in a boat your legs trapped inside the kayak and your body submerged in water which is tossing you different directions.  I grabbed the boat with my arms but decided that waiting for the flip would mean my death and I panicked, released my skirt, and swam to the surface.

While I was bobbing down the white water I realized that the whole thing probably happened in about 6 seconds 2 seconds for the wave to take us over, 2 seconds for me to hold, and 2 seconds for me to swim to the top. BUT IT FELT LIKE A LIFETIME!splash!

The second time we flipped I knew it was coming when I saw the wave!!  I remember counting 1 wait Nancy, 2 wait Nancy, 3 wait Nancy, 4 wait Nancy, 5 wait. PANIC!  I swam to the surface road out the rest of the rapids and a rafting boat quickly came and pulled me aboard.

oh no!All in all it was one of the best water experiences of my life!  My guide was hilarious and there were 2 other tandem kayakers that I could share stories with as we traveled down the river Nile between the seven rapids.

The experience also made me realize that there are plenty of people who travel to Africa and never talk to an African beyond the ones that are serving them on their tourist adventure.  They eat BBQ and travel in hot air balloons over villages for the same price that one of the women and her children in the village could live for a year.a break by the rapidsme and my guide

That said, I also met a man on the rafting trip who was a missionary in Uganda for 6 years with his family and he started the Source Cafe in Jinja town.  Over the next few days I visited the cafe and met the women in charge of women’s development.  Ida is native to Busoga (the tribe covering Jinja) and is doing INCREDIBLE work with women—specifically theological development.  It is a week later and I’m back in Jinja talking with her about her women’s theological curriculum and her development work.  As we shared our similar interests we realized that we would continue to resource one another and I know that she will be a wonderful connection with women’s work in Uganda. I am forever amazed that much of my relationship with God looks like my tandem kayak adventure on the River Nile.  Sometimes it is intense, invigorating and exhilarating Sometimes I get out of the boat and go for a swim or just sit in the boat and look around most of the time I have trouble waiting and panic before God can flip the boat back upright but all the time God puts people, beauty, and fun along my path to love and direct God’s plan — plans to give hope and a future.

Somehow these tangents connect in my head…

It’s been 4 weeks in Uganda and I still wake up in the morning under my mosquito net and think: Whoa, I’m in Africa.

Sometimes it’s not the mosquito net that reminds me it’s the blaring radio music as early as 7:30am.  There is a constant backdrop of pop music played from house windows, restaurants, stores, churches pretty much anywhere there could be a radio playing it is on and usually at full volume.  There is a song I hear literally 5 times a day (I heard it 6 times yesterday).  Actually pretty much anytime I hear it I say to whomever I’m with, I have never heard this song!  (My sarcasm is usually lost on them but I get a kick out of it.) The song is called, Takatiki.  Takatiki is the sound a clock makes like our tick tock.  The song is about a woman who is waiting for her lover to come home, to call, and to be with her.

Last night I went out to listen to live music.  Much of our pop music trickles over to Uganda, but there are many pop Ugandan and African songs.  Another popular song is sung by a man and says, I would rather be with an ugly woman who can produce children and welcome others than just a beautiful woman.  Another one is called Mwami which is the word for husband in Lusoga (it sounds a lot like “mommy” and I originally thought she was calling for her mommy).  A woman is singing to her husband who fulfills her.

Before I left the states, my best friend recommended that I read the book: He’s Just Not That Into You.  (This is the kind of book that only your best friend who loves you and knows your past relationships recommends) I didn’t get a chance to read it, so I brought it with me to Uganda. Basically the book is about the excuses women make for men who may treat them poorly in various situations anything from not calling to fear of commitment to dating other girls it tells the reader to get rid of the guy who is just not into them.  I laughed a lot at myself then I thought about these Ugandan pop songs and the many American pop songs about fulfillment in being intimate with another person.  I am realizing that a lot of empowering women is helping us realize that our worth is not dependent on the men in our lives.

Polygamy has touched so much of this society.  You can see the pain it causes the women and children and the church, for the most part, is silent.  The church does not want to split families and is struggling to address the even deeper issue of poverty.  I want to know what goes through the heart and mind of the third wife and what about the lives of her children?

Friday I went to a culture day with Mukwaya (my teacher/introduction leader friend).  It’s the African version of solo and ensemble where every school choir in a district sings for judges.  Each culture day has a theme to educate the community and has numerous performances.  First each choir must sing the East African Anthem then they compete with speeches, traditional songs, original compositions, and traditional instruments.  This culture day was about the East African Community. I learned that Uganda, Rwanda, Brundi, Kenya, and Tanzania are in a partnership and will soon have one currency.  The speeches and some of the original compositions were advocating for open trade between the countries and have a single language, Swahili.  One of the original compositions talked about poverty and how the east African community is helping to end poverty and children suffering. (I kept thinking I hope this is more like the European union and not NAFTA.)

The traditional songs and instruments were my favorite!  There were no endongos, but there were many children playing the endingidi (thumb piano) and endungu (bow harp).  It was sometimes hard to hear.  I had a really good seat for the anthems, but it got REALLY long and REALLY hot inside the hall space, so I gave up my seat to get some air outside.  When we came back we stood in the back but Mukwaya made sure to translate the songs.  One of the songs was about being a barren woman.  She went to the witch doctor and he blessed her and then she had twins!  The kids energetically acted out the whole thing ha ha!

Ugandan School Song and Dance 100_0271 100_0272

Almost every day this week I have visited with a woman’s group or choir.  I love the time I get to spend with the women because each group is different and I never know what to expect and I always learn something new!  Thursday I met with a group of women who have a development project where they teach women to sew for 5000 shillings a month (that’s $2).  I met some of the women sewing, some with their babies at their feet.  They learn on paper bags, but eventually they are able to make cloths to sell or find a job in town.  It was originally made for the women in the church, but now they have opened it to the community.  This church has a fantastic choir they taught me three songs.

I love choir rehearsals without the instruments present or when the power is out.  Almost every church, in which I have been, has an electric keyboard. I have yet to meet a woman piano player. It was explained to me that men play the instruments because a woman does not have time to learn. The instrumentalist uses one of the 10 drum loops on the keyboard and plays it behind every choir song. Many piano players do a great job of playing by ear and they transpose each of the songs using the black keys.  Yet, it is always TOO LOUD.  It is impossible for me to teach a song with a drum loop and someone trying to figure out chords in the background.  So, I usually ask them to learn the song with me, then I helped them learn the accompaniment.

Kawala UMC DancingSAM_1937

I have to constantly tell myself to slow my speech, especially when teaching.  Today I was in a group and no one was willing to translate, so I spend 1.5 hours speaking slowly to a room full of blank stares by the grace of God we learned the song, “Draw Me Close to You.”

Saturday I went to a beauty parlor, mostly because I wanted the experience to see how and where women get their hair done, but I also wanted to get my toes painted.  I waited for about an hour and watched a weave put into a woman’s head and some other women get up-dos and then put on a gomsei.  My pedicure took about an hour I don’t think my feet have ever been cleaner!  The boy scrubbed my feet!!  I had to ask him to stop because I was worried I would not have any skin left! The basin for my feet was filled with burning hot water, so I knew that it was clean and the water for the clippers was steaming too, so I felt pretty good about the whole thing It cost 15,000 shillings, which is about $6 and my toes look great.  However, my feet became dusty again the moment I walked outside!

Thank you if you are still reading — I realize this is just a random assortment of thoughts and experiences… but I have to share these experiences of a lifetime and find a way to process the privileged that I own in order to have them!