Wednesday, May 30

3 Years!

By the way, just celebrated 3 years of marriage with this hunk:

And we are happier than the day we wed.

Tuesday, May 29

UCF 11th Anniversary Celebration

Last Sunday UCF celebrated their 11th anniversary as a church. The service was a festive celebration of what God has done in and through UCF. And yes, there was cake. 

The choir all decked out in traditional African wear. We wore our outfits too.

 Pretty fabric decorating the tent.

The band.

After an extended time of worship, a group of kiddos performed a comical dance. It was darling and pretty funny. 

And then a mime performed. For real. He mimed to a worship song. It was unusual but really cool.

The guest speaker for the service was one of the original founders of UCF. It was neat to hear how God began UCF and how far it has come since then.

Then a group of ladies came out to dance.
Sarah and I were supposed to be a part of this (see this post) but due to a scheduling conflict we couldn't attend one of the Saturday practices. The dance was a traditional East African routine (from Kenya, I think). The ladies performed it beautifully.

At the very end of the service was the cake cutting ceremony. I was too busy eating to take pictures. And then later that evening we came back to church for the Finalist Dinner. It was a busy day but lots of fun.

Friday, May 25

School's Out.

Final exams are over and the semester has ended so most students have headed home for the summer holiday. The vast majority of students come from outside the city. Some just outside Kampala, some from Eastern or Northern Uganda, some from neighboring countries. And they've returned to their cities and villages for the summer break.

Which means the UCF congregation is a lot smaller these next few months. Since the majority of the members of UCF are students, the people around during the summer are the staff, professionals, marrieds, and families. So Sunday services won't be as full, events will be fewer, and regular weekly Bible studies have concluded until September.

Our schedule doesn't change that much though. We may have a few less events to attend but we will still spend our time at church during the week like normal. We still have staff meetings, etc. And I will still meet with the lady I am discipling and continue lessons with my language tutor. Trey will continue working on curriculum for the UCF Discipleship Training Program (more about that soon!).

The church wisely uses the break to give the staff (pastors and administrators, not us) their two week vacation leave and plan for the upcoming academic year. Although it's quiet around the UCF campus these days, it's a nice break for a few months. And when the students return we will be refreshed, excited about the upcoming plans for the year, and ready to go!

Tuesday, May 22

Finalist Dinner

This past Sunday evening we helped at a dinner for the graduating seniors of Makerere University who attend UCF. Here, the seniors are called finalists, hence the name of the event: Finalist Dinner. 

Dressed up heading to the dinner. 
This is how much Trey likes getting his picture taken. He insisted we take one sad photo because it accurately depicts how taking pictures makes him feel.

He agreed to smile in this photo since he got to take a sad one first.

When we arrive at church at 5:00 p.m., the time the event was scheduled to start, only one finalist was there. One. For real. We haven't gotten the hang of African time yet. Since nothing was setup or ready to go we pitched in to help. Trey and I did some food prep. He willingly burned off the feeling in his fingers while making chapatti. He's been trying to lose feeling in his fingertips since we got married. All the great chefs, home cooks, and most moms can touch hot things without getting burned so he wants that ability too. He says it's like having a mini-super power! That Trey sure does make me laugh.

Check out his smile below. Trey will smile for a photo when there are other people around. I think it's an avoiding public shame thing. I try to take advantage of that. It's my grown-up version of asking your parents if your friend can come over in front of the friend. It forces them to agree to avoid an awkward situation. But in the grown-up version I don't get in trouble afterwards because I'm totally in the right and Trey knows it.

But he did shift his eyes. Subtle defiance. Also, don't mind Kyle's death stare. Maybe he was channeling Trey's inner feelings?

And here I am trying to avoid slicing my fingers off while shredding cabbage with a dull knife on a tray in my lap.

The tent all decorated for the event. I love the colorful fabric.

 Sarah and I with our friend Diana.

Inside the tent.

The event finally started up around 6:30 p.m. 1.5 hours after the scheduled start time! One of the members from UCF used our camera to take photos of everyone as they arrived and entered the tent. That meant us too! I'm smiling triumphantly because Trey has to pose for a miserable three seconds for yet another dreaded photo and this time someone else is to blame! Victory is mine!

Kyle and Sarah gave a short talk to the new grads about meeting, dating, and marrying the right person. 

There were a few more speakers who talked about interviews, jobs, and being professional. And then we ate dinner. At 9:00 p.m.! Oh my gosh I thought I was going to pass out from hunger. Lucky I survived but it was a close call. Uganda eat much later than we do. Lunch isn't until 2 or 3 p.m. and dinner is anytime after 8 p.m. Boy howdy I don't think I'll ever adjust to that. 

And then, of course, in the African tradition, we did the ceremonial cake cutting. It's a big deal, folks. The cake was cut, pictures were taken (my camera battery died before this part of the evening), everyone partook, and then we went home around 10:00 p.m. It was a long night but a great time of celebrating the finalists and welcoming them into life after college. 

*Disclaimer: Trey read and approved this post before it was published. So I had full permission to tease him about his photo induced misery. Plus, he knows he's ridiculous.

Thursday, May 17

A Special Delivery

A very special package arrived yesterday all the way from Texas! Mr. & Mrs. Allen, Sr. and Mr. & Mrs. Mabry Allen mailed us a package a few weeks ago and it arrived today! It’s full of goodies we can’t find here and really wanted.

-Size 14 soccer cleats for Trey and size 11 soccer cleats for Kyle. The boys play soccer with some guys from UCF on a weekly basis and were wanting some better foot gear. 

-Soccer socks!

-Some more UT gear. As an Allen, you can’t have enough UT stuff.

-Montreal Steak Seasoning! Although we can find most spices, our favorites seasonings and rubs aren’t available here. We can’t wait to barbeque with it!

 Thanks, fam! We loved all the goodies in the package!!!

Tuesday, May 15

Power Outage

We just got power again after a 24+ hour power outage. No lights. No fans. No electricity to charge our computers. No electricity to charge our fridge! So we avoided opening the fridge and freezer until the power came back on. Which was tricky to do for 3+ meals for 4 people. Plus all our electronics died. 

Back when we were staying at Micah's guesthouse in March, the power went off almost every night for the entire night. And then we moved into our home and the power stayed on almost all the time. It was such a blessing. It would go out maybe once a week for a few hours but that was it. We set up candles around the house and kept a big ice block in the freezer to transfer to the fridge in case of an outage. We only ever needed the candles on the occasional night. So we got used to having consistent power all the time and lived in fear of when "the big one" would come. And yesterday it went out right after lunch and just came on this evening. We are hoping that was "the big one" and but you never know here. And as much as we want to complain about inconsistent power, there are so many people who live without power every day. So I guess half a day without computer or internet isn't so bad. And a night without the bedside fan didn't kill us. And none of the food in the fridge spoiled either. So we came out pretty lucky after all. 

I did get some pictures from the outage last night to show y'all.
Here's us in the living room after dinner.

And here's us playing a game before bed.

And here's us cleaning up before going to bed.

Sunday, May 13

Country Lites

There is a dance group called Country Lites which is made up of members from UCF. They are a group of guys who grew up in the slums behind the church, began dancing, and now run youth dance groups for the kids in the slums. They are pretty cool guys and fun performers.

Country Lites had a big show at UCF tonight. The event included guest performers, singers, dancers, etc. Doors opened at 3:00 p.m. and the event was scheduled until 8:00 p.m. When we arrived at 4:00 p.m. they hadn't started yet. Ha! We are still adjusting to African time. We stayed until around 6:30 p.m. Without ever seeing Country Lites. We should have anticipated the event running late and the headliners not performing to the end... oh well!

My entourage greeted me immediately upon arrival. 

And then turned the camera on me.
A little overexposed but I like the shots anyway.

I brought an apple to snack on, took a few bites, and then gave it to the kiddos. They would each take a bite and passed it to the next kid without hesitation. It was sweet. Because community is so strong here the kids share really well. If one kid gets food or drink or a treat, they share with everyone. I'm excited for our kids to learn that too one day.

With our groupies.

The opening act was a dance off with some audience members. 

Best seat in the house next to this handsome bearded man...

 ...who ended up with a kiddo on his lap. 

Then this guy sang.

And this guy danced.

And these darling girls sang.

And this lady sang and free-styled. She is a Sunday school teacher for the kiddos at UCF and sang a song about the Bible. It was great.

Then we left. Thoroughly entertained but slightly disappointed at not seeing Country Lites. 

Friday, May 11

How Erin Got Her Groove Back

*I’ve never actually seen that movie (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) but I liked the title idea.

You may or may not know that I grew up dancing. I did the recitals, performed in the shows, competed with my teams, attended the conferences, etc. I was involved at my local dance studio and on the dance team during high school.  I even continued dancing for fun in the first few years of college. But I haven’t danced since then, save for a few Zumba classes at the gym. I was trained in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and lyrical (contemporary). I even dabbled in Latin dance during college. And as of yesterday I have added African dance to the ole resume. Somehow, much to our dismay, Sarah and I have been coerced into joining several ladies in a dance for the 11th Anniversary Celebration Sunday at UCF.

Initially we felt strongly about not wanting to perform. Sarah and I politely refused the first several times we were approached about dancing. A) I know nothing about African dance (except for watching many seasons of So You Think You Can Dance which does kinda make me an expert). B) I didn’t want to distract from the other dancers because everyone would just watch the white lady. But after several more refusals were rebutted by a lot of convincing, Sarah and I will be performing next Sunday. This should be interesting.

In other dance related news, I have also been requested to lead a yoga and/or dance class for some ladies at the UCF gym. The last missionary who was at UCF led a yoga class and the ladies here really loved it. It was a great time of fellowship, fun, and fitness (like that alliteration?). When she left (she was here a year or so) the class ceased too. And they have been missing it ever since. So Dinah, one of the ladies on UCF staff, asked me to start up the class again. Although I have done my fair share of dancing in years past and taken my fair share of yoga/pilates/Zumba classes at the gym, I am in no way qualified to teach. But there’s a need and I’m here and I said yes. So I’ll use all the dance moves and yoga positions I can muster and pray for a huge helping of God’s grace, strength, courage, and endurance (because it’s been more than a few months since I hit the gym, yikes). And if it is at all successful then it’s all because God is working it out through me.

Get it? Working it out? Like a workout… 

Thursday, May 10

The Guest Room & Bath

As a reminder (in case you haven't memorized the layout of our home), here is the floorplan so you can see where the guest room and bath are. 

We got the room all ready for our first visitor last weekend, Katelyn. 

This is the bunk bed we custom ordered. It's a twin on top and a double on bottom. That way there is enough room for two on bottom and one on top! 

We added curtains to the window since it is on on the ground level and there is a lot of foot traffic behind the house because our neighbors cook and do laundry out there. The fan is there to keep things cool without an AC. Plus we put a flashlight in there for when the power goes out in the middle of the night and some earplugs because it can get pretty noisy. There is always some dog barking or goat screaming or baby crying or preacher yelling in the places around our compound. 

And here is the view from the other side of the room looking into the house. The closet and the door. The door beyond that goes to the garage.

And this is the guest bathroom:

This is the small powder room before the shower and toilet room. I didn't take a picture of the shower and toilet because, well... it's not really exciting.