Monday, August 27, 2012

Cologne, Germany

After leaving our friends in Holland, we took the train into Germany. We needed to travel to Cologne to visit the Institut fur Afrikanistik. It is the African Linguistics department of Cologne University. A certain German linguist had written about the Ik language back in the 1980's but he had never published this work and we could not get the text anywhere else but at this university. So we were off to Cologne in order for Terrill to complete his collection of texts written about Ik by other linguists. We arrived at this huge train station which was a bit overwhelming. Trains were constantly leaving in various directions and platforms were full of people and luggage. We had the hardest time figuring out which train left from which platform. Not only was everything in German...but when you bought the ticket, it did not tell you where to go. We had a few near-meltdowns in this station. But fortunately, we made every train we needed and got to the places we needed.
At the Institut fur Afrikanistik.
After getting the texts Terrill needed, we were free to explore the city. The most prominent building in the city by far was the Dom, an old church started in 1248 and not completed until 1842. Nearly 600 years of construction and the work is not finished. The church employs a team of 60 people and spends over 7 million dollars a year for the upkeep of the Dom. It must constantly be cleaned and renovated to keep it in pristine condition. It really is an awe-inspiring building and we could only stare at it when near-by. It was so big that we couldn't fit all of it into our pictures. One view is above showing both towering spires. Another view is below showing the body of the church. 
The church was originally built to house the bones of what Cologne people claim to be the three wise men. Back in the 1200's, a bishop had traveled to Italy and returned with these bones. Thus the church was sketched out and started. The bones rest in the golden coffin above. The tour guide did admit that a scan was done of the craniums to determine how old each person was when they died. One skull was in his 50's when he died, one was in his 30's and one skull was that of an adolescent. Wise men? Cologne people choose to believe it's still true. Everyone else must decide for themselves. 
The Rhine river runs beside/through Cologne. It has seven major bridges that cross it. Above is one bridge used just for the trains. The Dom is in the background. Below is a wall of the bridge that we were walking beside. In recent years, people have started a new tradition. When they get married, they attach a padlock to the railing of the bridge and throw the key in the river. By throwing the key away, their love is supposed to endure as you cannot unlock the locks. There are presently 40,000 locks attached to this bridge. 
Along the Rhine, quaint and colorful buildings are stacked side by side with old churches in the background. 
The city is also full of beautiful architecture and massive doors. Everywhere you look is a piece of art and history mixed together. It's sometimes hard to take it all in, especially since we come from Timu where they have not preserved art or history of this form. The two places are worlds apart.
We were enthralled by these small cars. Although we've seen them in movies, we had never seen one up close. It was impressive how advanced these Europeans are in environmental conscientiousness. The streets are clean and most people either bike or walk to work. It is clear that they are trying to leave a smaller carbon footprint. 
As we walked through the streets, we enjoyed the 'acts' that were put on in order to receive tips from the tourists. At first we weren't sure if we were actually watching levitation happen...but after a few minutes of watching these guys, we were pretty sure that the one on bottom is holding up the one on top with a piece of metal that extends up into the clothes of the man on top. We think he is sitting on something connected to that pole and the man on bottom is sitting on another support. Just our theory. 
One of the highlights of our time was visiting this Gestapo jail. It tells the stories of hundreds of prisoners who wrote on the walls and documented their thoughts/feelings during unjust imprisonment. It is a record of what happened in Germany during the 30's and 40's. The memory of those who were murdered in this place will not be forgotten and Lord-willing, nothing like that will ever happen again.
This is a sunset from our apartment window. The sun didn't go down until 10pm which really surprised us at first. We were used to the sun setting around 7pm every night, all year round. In conclusion, Cologne was surprising and fun. And a good re-acclimation into the western world. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Temporary blog-out

Hi! We forgot our USB camera cord in Holland, so we haven't been able to upload photos. That's why there hasn't been any new posts! Starting on Friday next week, we plan to begin blogging again.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Holland in summer

The first stop on our rather protracted way home to the US is Holland. For two days, we are staying with Patrick & Brenda Rietveld, fellow SIL colleagues. They used to live in Entebbe, Uganda and Musoma, Tanzania, but now they live in Barneveld, Holland where Patrick works remotely as a translation consultant. Here they are with their three children:

When the Rietvelds asked us what we'd like to see, we told them we didn't really know (apart from wooden shoes, wind-mills, and dikes, of course...). So today they took us out into the countryside for a picnic in the blooming heather. Since most international travelers get to see Amsterdam, we considered it a real privilege to spend some time in rural Netherlands. It's truly beautiful with roads shaded by gigantic oaks, farm-houses with grass-thatch roofs, and of course the purple heath.

(The last picture is of the edible 'foxberry'.)

On our way back from the picnic, we stopped to see an exhibit of sand sculptures. This year's theme was the Dutch royal family (one of their kings was thought of as a gorilla, apparently...):

The sand sculptures were really big and carved with incredible detail. They last less than a year; next year new ones will be made with a different theme.

After going through the exhibit, we had coffee and ice-cream: yummy!

We are thankful to have friends here in the Netherlands. They have been so hospitable and have allowed us to rest as we make the rather shocking (and exciting) transition from the near stone-age environment of Timu to a land (Europe) of so much accumulated human achievement.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A new way to get pregnant

Huh? We had seen this sign back in May when Terrill's family was visiting and had a good laugh about it then, but I was reminded of it when I walked into the same bathroom again today. Seen as posted in a ladies room. Now...I get the chain of thought that led to this statement...but putting it in such a way could be confusing to the average person. I wouldn't put it past a naive and sheltered young girl to think that drinking alcohol could actually make her pregnant. Just another interesting way that the advertising world is affecting the education of young Ugandans.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

For all you good ole' boys

You're not the only ones who enjoy a nice wad of chewing tobacco. The Ik grow tobacco in their gardens and then dry it before grinding it into a fine powder for sniffing. They call it their 'dry coffee' and it really does have enhancing effects for their moods. Other Ik prefer to chew the dry leaves of tobacco before it is ground. Some will chew it for days at a time. But what to do when it's time to eat and you need to save your wad? You tuck it behind your ear until tomorrow. Men & women alike indulge in this favorite past-time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Miracle grow

I didn't plant a garden this year because I knew we'd be going home during the season of harvest and our compound would be locked. But our friends the Taliaferros and Lanes in Kaabong did experiment with numerous vegetables. One of the successful growers was zucchini. In the states, I would always buy zucchinis that were only six inches long or so. Imagine, to my surprise, when we were gifted with zucchinis this size. I wear a size 8 shoe just to give you an approximation of how big this vegetable is. Is this normal or have we struck gold with zucchinis in Karamoja?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Leaving is never easy

Now that we're down in Kampala and back in civilization, we'll have a more constant supply of internet to blog with.

We left Timu on Friday at noon. It was a bittersweet drive off the mountain. After three months in Timu, we definitely needed a break from the monotony of our schedule. At the same time, knowing the break would last for six months had us a bit reluctant to leave. I was in a place of emotional numbness as we drove...not knowing how to feel. Relieved for the break? Already missing my children and hilarious old people? Not knowing how I'll readapt to life back in the states?  Wondering about the reverse culture shock? Since then it's been three days and I've had time to think. I've decided that I'll take life one day at a time and deal with the furlough stresses as they come. By God's grace, we made it in Timu (mostly alone) for these past 2.5 by his grace we'll survive the U.S. as well.

But I do already miss my Timu children. Although they can be annoying at times, they provide a daily source of joy for my life. Several evenings a week I would visit a near-by village. As soon as I came into view, the children would shout my arrival and I would turn into the pied piper with children trailing  behind and vying to hold my hand. They just wanted to be a part of something. They also need a break from the monotony of their daily lives and I usually had something to divert their attentions. So this is a good-bye to them for the next six months and a prayer that God will keep them under his hedge of protection. To: Longole, Kusam, Pelin, Night, Lokolikol, Josephine, Ocen, Nakiru, Koko and Lemu (above).
 Here the kids were showing off their skills.
Teresa is the mother of seven of these children. I visit her often because she lets me practice language with her without laughing at me too much. And, she's very chatty even if I can't respond. She wanted me to show you what she does every single night in order for her children to eat. She is grinding maize into a fine flour that she'll make into a porridge to go with the greens that she collected from her garden.
And this is old Cecilia...a character if I ever knew one. She lives life dramatically and when I told her I was going away...she made a show of praying over me and asking God to protect me. Little boys like Thomas like to make fun of Cecilia but they still respect her at the end of the day.

And so, my hiatus from the evening routine in Timu begins.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Family Foto Day

Last Sunday we got to do something we've wanted to do for a long time:
take family photos of our neighbors. Our idea was to get pictures of
the families in the neighboring villages, put them up on a bulletin
board somewhere, and memorize everybody's name. Then, for their part,
they'd all get a family photo for remembrance.

Even though I announced it two weeks earlier (or maybe because I
announced it two weeks earlier), relatively few people showed up for
the photo shoot. But those that did gave us a lot of good fun and good
pictures, some of which we wanted to share with you here. These are
the people we live among, try to serve, and are growing to love:

(In some of the pictures, one or both parents are missing. Also, it's
customary to frown instead of smiling in pictures...)