Thursday, June 30, 2011

Marvin Bonus Track!

So I was sitting in my living room last night working, and Marvin comes and sits right outside my door... singing as usual. But this time, this is the song he was singing! My friends and I just laughed and laughed, and since I got a candid recording of it, I had to share it with you too!! Goodness, I love this little boy! :)

Translation ;)

Melonie, Melonie, Melonie is my mom,
Melonie, Melonie, Melonie is my mom!

Melonie, Melonie, Melonie, is my love,
Melonie, Melonie, Melonie, is my love!


Friday, June 24, 2011

My friend, Marvin

This week I just wanted to show you something that has been bringing me extra joy in this past week! Meet my friend, Marvin.

Marvin is 5 years old, and he and his family live in one of these apartments. They have the one in the corner, and I live in the one on the far left.

Marvin has been sick for the past week, so he’s been unable to go to school and instead has been hanging out with me! I must admit it’s a little more challenging to accomplish lots of language learning when you have a cute little face begging to be let in the door day in and day out. He’s definitely been feeling better the past couple of days though, which means that he has lots of energy and a playful spirit that even outshines mine!! So when I say playing time is over, and now I have to do my work, this is the inevitable outcome:

I am constantly surprised at how similar kids are across the nations! They laugh, play, cry, throw tantrums, and need the same love and attention no matter where they are! This one just happens to have big brown eyes, a dark face, bright white teeth and a sweet little voice! I thought you might like to hear one of the songs he loves to sing for me:

The Bird is On the Popo Tree

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A New Name

With all of the change that I've been experiencing (and hopefully embracing!), there is one that is of the greatest personal importance to me. My name. For many years now, I have thought about the difficulty that Ugandans have hearing, pronouncing, and remembering my name. Melanie just doesn't quite fit with the rules of pronunciation in these local languages, so my name ends up coming out more like 'melon.' In fact, that is the most common way I have heard my name described. "Melanie: you know, like watermelon!" I have to say that as much as I love the name Melanie, I do not like the name watermelon :) My African friends here have also struggled to remember my name, which is understandable when it is so foreign to them. It pains me to see them struggle and be embarrassed when they are unable to remember my name, so I've been thinking and praying about what to do in order to make my new friends and acquaintances more comfortable with speaking my name.

I have made the decision to change my name here in Uganda, and instead of being called Melanie, I will be called Melody.

I never imagined the amount of mental strength it would take for me to be known by another name. The name Melanie is such a part of my identity, and how I think of myself is intimately connected with my name. I have always loved my name, and I rejoice to know that I may still be called Melanie by my friends and family in the States, but here in Uganda I am learning to also think of myself as Melody.

So much of being a true missionary is assuming a new identity. When most people think of going to Africa as a missionary, they think about all the different things missionaries will be *doing*, but rarely do people know how much of a different person missionaries must *be* to live and work among a different people. Here, I speak differently. I laugh differently. I have different patterns of thought. I care more about different things. It is all a part of being Jesus to these precious people. Just as He became flesh for me, I desire to be that same model of incarnational love to the people of Uganda.

It is all good, and wonderful, and exciting, but it is also a bit uncertain, unnerving, and unsettling. In this transition time, as I stumble through figuring out who the Ugandan Melody is, and how much of the American Melanie can/should remain, I cling tightly to my Rock who never changes. Looking to Him for my direction and strength.

Because you have been my help, in the shadow of Your wins, I will sing for joy! ~Ps 63:7

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Weekend for Culture

This past weekend was quite the cultural experience! On Friday, I attended the introduction ceremony of Pastor Charles, and his intended bride, Maureen. Here in Uganda, when two people wish to marry, they must do an introduction of the families. It's a very lengthy process with the groom's family choosing the intended bride from among many 'fake brides.' Then the groom's family presents many gifts to the bride's family, and they all celebrate with cake and feasting. After the introduction, the couple must wait about another month for their wedding ceremony.

Taylor, a fellow muzungu, being presented in her gomas (traditional Ugandan dress) with other 'fake brides'

On Saturday, I was also invited to attend the wedding of Denis and Agnes. As much as the introduction ceremony is purely Ugandan, the wedding ceremony was surprisingly western. The bridal party was composed of bridesmaids, groomsmen, and flower girls, all dressed in formal wear. The ceremony itself was also in the western style, the most noticeable difference being how loud and enthusiastic the audience was! After the wedding came the reception with the cutting of the cake and singing and dancing by a well known performer here in Uganda. All of this was finished with food for all the guests (my guess would be about 400 people).

The newlyweds, Denis and Agnes

This week, I have also been making friends with Paul and Flower, two of my next door neighbors. Paul is 19, and Flower is 14, and they both speak the best English I have heard to date in Uganda! Flower reminds me much of my sister Michelle, as they both have wonderfully kind hearts, incredible intelligence, and eager affection. I am so glad to have such wonderful neighbors who are quick to love, and not afraid to teach and correct me in my language and cultural propriety. Praise God for giving me such friends and neighbors!

Flower and I

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First Post from Africa!

Greetings from Mbale! After 35 hours of fairly uneventful travel, I reached my new home in Mbale on Tuesday afternoon. I have been so warmly greeted here, both by the Ugandans as well as several other Muzungus living here, and as they have all told me to feel at home here, I’ve decided to do just that! Natalie, a muzungu working at a children's home here, has been just wonderful in showing me the ropes. About an hour after I got to Mbale, she took me out around the town, showing me the different shops and getting me acquainted with the supermarkets. On my previous trips, I never had the opportunity to be out around town since we were living in a hotel and working in outlying villages every day, so being able to drive around and meet people with Natalie was both a treat and a challenge. I am definitely getting a taste of just how huge this adjustment and learning curve will be. I knew it would be a challenge, but now I get to see just how much of one it is! I’m so grateful to know that my Jesus is with me each step of the way and even when I don’t understand others and they don’t understand me, there is One who knows me intimately and can use me to minister beyond my capabilities.

As I start language work with Diana today, I’m so excited to finally be able to concentrate on learning a language that I’ve desired to speak for so many years now. As I work to understand and learn as quickly as possible, I would love your prayers for quickness of thought, thorough understanding, and effective communication with Dianna. Thank you so much for your prayers, they are definitely needed more than ever!