Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Last King of Scotland

We've been asked now by several people if this is a good movie to watch since it is about the brutal former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. The answer: yes, if you're aware of the bad stuff and can either avoid watching it or prepare yourself ahead of time. First, it is rated R and in no way should any children ever watch this movie. It is generally a dark film, and replete with immoral behavior and attitudes that are just inherent in the characters.
There is disturbing violence and some torture, and a couple of scenes that you should be forewarned about so you are ready for them (or ready to turn your head). There are two sex scenes that are quite graphic, though short, and another scene with topless dancers. By the end of the movie, I really had no emotional tie to the main character, so I wasn't too concerned whether or not things worked out for him or not. Also, it paints a picture of violence and instability that no longer reign in Uganda, so I wouldn't want anyone to be concerned that this is the environment we're moving into.
Ok, so that's the bad. Now the good. Forest Whitaker definitely deserved the best actor oscar for his portrayal of Amin - he was incredible. Beyond that, the movie is filmed entirely in Uganda, and much of it in Kampala where we will be living. The scenery is very accurate and gives you a good feel for what it's like in both the rural villages and the city itself. It was almost surreal at some points as I watched, almost feeling transported back there. So if you're curious about what things will look like for us, this movie is the next best thing to visiting us someday (though I recommend the latter).
There is also a 30-minute documentary on Idi Amin's Uganda on the DVD, so at the very least you can watch that. It just scratches the surface of some of the violence, so definitely not as gruesome to watch.
Ok, now the warnings (*spoiler alert* stop reading if you really want to watch the movie without being warned of the bad parts). By far, the most difficult scene to watch is a shocking sequence that shows one of Amin's wives having been murdered and dismembered with her limbs sewn back on in the wrong place (you only see the end result). This scene occurs in the last 1/3 of the movie. You will know it's coming when the young doctor (main character) is walking into the hospital looking for her and the halls are filled with the sounds of wailing people (he's had an affair with her and impregnated her, and was trying to secretly abort the child).
The second disturbing scene occurs near the end, when the doctor is tortured by Amin's men - he's hung from large fish-hooks inserted into his chest. Again, you can see it coming so turn your head or fast forward if you don't want the visual.
As for the sex scenes, one occurs near the beginning, appearing almost our of nowhere. The young doctor is on a bus after just arriving in Uganda, and then next thing you know he's in a room with one of the local women. Totally unnecessary (aren't they all?). The second one occurs later in the movie at an outdoor party at Amin's compoound (the topless dancers appear in the background at this party), when the doctor sneaks off from the party with Amin's wife Kay to her quarters. You can see it coming so FF or look away as you see fit.
There you go - you've been warned. In the end, because I had been warned ahead of time of the bad parts (thank you Matt Sampson), I was easily able to avoid them. As such, I'm glad I saw the movie because I have a little better understanding and picture of Ugandan culture.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

eMi here we come!

It finally arrived! The letter and packet we were hoping to receive came today in the mail. In short, they have offered us the position we were hoping for - appointment as the Staff Structural Engineer in the East Africa office! Woo-hoo! We are very excited. We have signed the letter and will mail it back tomorrow.

They also gave us a training schedule, which culminates in our departure for Uganda sometime between January 1st thru 18th, contingent upon our support being raised by then. They would like me to be done working here no later than November 30, and start working for eMi on December 3.

Other highlights:
* Celebrate Hope conference in Jackson Hole Wyoming from July 4th thru 8th
* Orientation and training seminar August 12 thru 17 in Colorado Springs.
* They list 7 books for us to each read by the end of the year, on topics ranging from raising support to raising kids in 3rd world countries to Africa.
* They want us to take at least the first 2 months in Uganda to get settled and established before I begin working. (That will be very hard to do!)

So we are very excited to finally have some answers and timelines...though now we have a whole new batch of questions and decisions! We have to decide when to sell our house (probably right away) and when to officially start the fundraising (probably not right away).

So please start (or keep) praying for us as the next few years are going to be at the same time exciting, scary, fun, boring, a blessing, trying, adventurous, frustrating, some of the very best times of our lives, some of the very worst times of our lives, ... a wild ride, but fortunately one that we are confident God is in control of, so we will "rejoice in the Lord always!"