Third term is over, my students have completed theirs exams and gone home, my tutors have left the college for the holiday, and I have absolutely nothing to do until February when the students are supposed to come back.
...Or so I thought. One of the tutors at my college, Brother Lawrence, watches Buzi anytime I go out of town. He even went out and got his own dog, Rex, after I got Buzi because he wanted to be able to train him like I trained Buzi. He's a wonderful man and is actually buying 2 chickens this week to raise until Christmas so that we will be able to have chicken for our Christmas dinner.
Anyway, last Sunday I took Buzi to the brothers' compound, where Bro. Lawrence lives. I spent the better part of the day there learning how to make balls out of banana fibers and showing the brothers that dogs know how to fetch. I was even invited to stay and have lunch with the brothers. Before I left they invited me to come to English mass on Tuesday.
Some of you know that English mass is something I have really been missing here. I live in a Catholic parish with a beautiful church, but I just can't do Luganda mass. It is 3 hours long, all in local language, and every time I went I was forced to sit in the front pews and make a speech after the sermon. I was always a spectacle and could never go to mass in peace. Feeling invisible is something I didn't think I would miss, but it's something I definitely have a deeper appreciation for now.
Mass was wonderful. It was like an American mass, 50 minutes to the second! The entire thing was done in English and even the music was familiar. A few of the brothers made up the choir and played drums to accompany the music, which is by far my favorite part.
Wednesday I went back to the brothers and taught them to bake, dutch oven style. I showed up with my two huge baking pans and all the necessary ingredients to make cookies and found the brothers in the dining area unpacking all this food they bought to prepare a big lunch...rice, tomatoes, and vegetables they had gathered from the garden. I was teaching them to bake and they decided to turn lunch into a special occasion.
Spending time at the brothers' compound has been such a blessing. I was honestly really worried that I would go crazy at my house with nothing to do. I continue to surprise myself with the things I am still learning about my village. I met and am getting to know a group of wonderful men who, on a daily basis, thank me for the sacrifices I've made to come and help their country. It's always nice to be appreciated, but even nicer is knowing these men are genuine. They don't expect anything from me in return and are always eager to teach me.
While spending time with the brothers, I have never been hit on or called mzungu or been shown anything less than respect, which lately has been kind of hard to come by. They are organizing a bunch of mattresses for us to use on Christmas when volunteers will be traveling to my house. They said they're going to slash my compound so it will be "smart" when Mom comes. They've organized an English mass on Christmas day for us to attend. They've even volunteered to help us slaughter and prepare the chickens for Christmas dinner.
This past week has reminded me that integration is a process, not an end result. That's something I feel I've lost sight of lately.
Leaving for camp GLOW tomorrow and then World AIDS Day out East after that. Then Mom, Mar, and Ang will be on their way here. Can't wait to see you guys and show you everything I've learned these past 10 months!
Happy Holidays, everyone!