Thanks Grandpa!

We took Alisha’s dad to the airport last night and said goodbye after an eventful and fast two weeks. What an awesome blessing it was for us to have had him here. It is an impressive list of all he helped us with: from watching and playing with the boys to fixing the locks, buying the boys’ bikes and putting them together, taking trips to town on the boda-boda to run errands for us, lending advice on certain aspects of life like buying our car and appliances, helping the plumber fix our widespread plumbing issues, cleaning our cupboards, fixing the doors on the cupboards, setting up the washing machine, stove, dryer, TV and DVD player, taking us on a ‘day-off’ trip to Jinja that was a much needed respite from getting settled, fixing the guards door latch – and then locking himself in the room after he was sure it was fixed! (me and the plumber had a great laugh about that one!), and so many more things big and little that he did to help.
But really, that amounts to only about 10% of his real impact of being here. Having one of our parents here with us to just experience everything we were experiencing for the first time and seeing and feeling what we were feeling (yes, even the terrible stomach flu!) was so comforting and reassuring. (We know our other 3 parents would’ve been here doing the same thing if they could’ve been and we’d have loved to have any and all of you, so just know you were well represented by Ken Berry!) It’s amazing how a challenging new experience can strip you of your self-confidence to make simple decisions. But having a parent there was such a blessing – not that he had all the answers to questions about how to do things in Uganda, but just having him there with us trying to figure things out was a boost to our confidence and helped us get our feet underneath us quicker.
So as I’ve said before, we’re now tweaking the ‘normal’ routines we’d established with him in the mix. It’s a big loss, but at the same time, it’s so nice that we didn’t have to figure this out 2 weeks ago when we literally had nothing but an empty house and clothes!
I told Alisha’s dad the other day that my initial observations are as follows: the tricky part about Uganda is that it has advanced enough that there are a lot of things available here that you don’t find nearly anywhere else in sub-saharan Africa (and by the way, I think that is an awesome thing for the people here who are seeing their quality of life go up and up as the years pass – I pray this begins to happen in all the countries here and continues 10-fold in Uganda as well). But that development seems to be “a mile wide and an inch deep”, so you may be able to get a microwave and refrigerator; but they won’t run during peak hours when the power level dips (i.e. when you need to cook!); or you might have a hot water heater, but the price of electricity is so high that if you leave it turned on more than an hour or two a day, your monthly electric bill would soar to over $600/month; or you can buy most any appliance (though by no means cheaply by Africa standards), but the quality of those appliances is quite poor, and you can expect things to break fairly regularly. So with everything that is available for purchase, it’s hard not to set your expectations back to American standards – but doing so will result in great frustration (like me having to return to the store 3 times to return a blender…only to find that the reason I couldn’t get them to work was because over here, you have to insert the glass pitcher into the base before the power will turn on!).
So living here demands that you remember to keep your expectations low, no matter how things appear. In many aspects, life appears and in fact can in part be, very normal here. But beneath the surface lurks much frustration to the person who doesn’t expect to wait at every step of the way, and who has expectations that things like ATM machines or toilets work the same from day to day, or that traffic jams will sort themselves out in a fair and reasonable (or even safe!) fashion, or that when you buy something that doesn’t work you can expect a refund or even to be able to return it at all, or that signing up for the internet is just a matter of paying the fee and requesting service, or that the car’s blinker in front of you means that he’s turning and not that he’s telling an oncoming car to get over! etc, etc.So if you ignore what appears to be normal Western life and remember that you still are in a 3rd world country, life is very manageable and livable, and even enjoyable here – and in fact it feels far more normal than you’d expect, even if the next country over which serves as the financial lynch-pin of the region is falling into chaos over a prolonged political crisis! See, sounds pretty normal when you think of it that way, eh?! :) Oh, and one other thing – if you can forget the fact that your family and loved friends are 10,000 miles away, that helps too! We’re still working on that one! :) (Pictures: at top, we're just about to load the car to head to SFO to start the trip, then the next two are of us with Alisha's dad at Bujagali falls during our trip to Jinja).


Emilie said…
Those pics are amazing! I had this vision (nightmare) of the Crawford/Sampson boys thinking it would be "FUN" to swim in the wild, rushing river!:(
berrytribe said…
As your fellow "out-law" to the Berry family, I concur!! We are so blessed to have married into some amazing parents' lives!! More than once, Dad and/or Mom Berry have come to my rescue! :) I'm so happy that you could have Dad with you to help in the immediate transition phase - a blessing, indeed!! But, thanks for sending him home. Mom really needs him!! ;)
Kristen said…
very cool perspective you have. praying for y'all as you continue to settle into the new routines of life.
inWorship said…
Haven't commented in a while, but I've been enjoying your posts and pictures.

I am excited to hear how you guys are settling in. I am anxious to hear about the job and how it plays out.

Miss you guys and praying always.


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