Most of the last week of my family’s visit was spent in Gayaza. They were able to meet my friends and co-workers and see a snapshot of my life. Melissa was able to work in the health center with me, Mom took tea with the teachers during break and Dad talked farming with my friends. Gayaza is too close to my heart to properly express what my family experienced so I’ll leave it to my mom to convey her thoughts:
“Philip and I stayed in a village next to Gayaza called Kasangati. The first morning we got our own matatu (van with more people than should ever be packed into a van) and met Amanda and Melissa at church. I got to meet my African granddaughter Grace. She is Amanda’s neighbors’ little girl. I have been talking to her on the phone most Sundays when we talk with Amanda. I think we both carry on our own conversation but don’t have any idea what the other one is saying but we have become friends anyway. She hugged us and knelt before us and giggled. As we walked to church, the first thing people saw was my cane. Amanda said finally they don’t stare at her for being white - they never get past my cane.
Our eating experiences have been most interesting throughout our time in Uganda and being in Gayaza didn’t change that. Besides the multitude of Shacks we have eaten at we have also been invited to many of Amanda’s friends’ homes. First the priests and nuns had us. Of course there was no electricity so we began supper without any idea what we were eating. We did know that somewhere on the table was matooke (smushed plantain steamed all day in banana leaves), posho (maize mixed with water, very thick), sweet potatoes, irish potatoes, plus pork and chicken. They very seldom serve meat here so we were very privileged in deed. Then we went to Annet and Grace’s where she made us cassava and the best passion fruit juice. Melissa became addicted to Passion fruit juice. Jen invited us to supper one evening but in true Ugandan fashion she had not begun to prepare so we had to go back to Kasangati before it was ready. Melissa and Amanda ate with her and said it was good. The next day we went to Susan’s, the girl Amanda works with at the health center. We went to her house and had the best Ugandan food. She made some noodles with sauce, eggs scrambled with things in them, cabbage salad and fruit. On another day, we were invited to Joan’s, a teacher for adult literacy where Amanda helps out. We took a matatu to the village center and then walked through all sorts of villages, plantations, jungle, up and down hills, over creeks, slide down clay banks….for over an hour until we came to her house. Throughout the walk little children were yelling “muzungu, muzungu” and waving like crazy. They followed us to the next little village and new ones took over. Finally we got there and visited with her and her 4 day old baby. So adorable!! She also has 3 other children. When we got there she began preparing the food. She prepared another very Ugandan meal and wrapped everything in banana leaves. Quite the presentation.
We love Uganda. The country is so diverse and beautiful. The people are the kindest and most welcoming we have met anywhere. So many people have thanked us for “producing” Amanda and letting her come be with them here. Her Uganda family is very large and while they have taken such good care of her, they say she has taken better care of them. They told me that no one could replace her and they are praying that she will be able to stay.”
I’m very glad my family was able to spend time in Gayaza. Everyone was thrilled to meet each other. My Ugandan friends were so welcoming and made me proud. My family was so willing to meet everyone and try anything given to them. Somehow, my mom has become a saint in Uganda and received many gifts and words of thanksgiving and praise. People would have been disappointed if they hadn’t met her. It was a great experience for everyone on all sides to come together. It made my heart swell with deep love and gratitude for the special people in my life.