Update - Saturday 4/26/08
The last few weeks have been pretty low key, mostly because our car has been in the shop off and on all month so we've pretty much been stuck around the house. After a series of overheating incidents, not starting incidents, and finally a just stopped running incident, we took the car in to find that the engine needed to be replaced or rebuilt. We chose rebuilding because that was about $1000 cheaper. It was in the shop 3 weeks being rebuilt before we picked it up last Saturday.
By Monday it was back in the shop as it was making a high pitched sound and had no power. We picked it up Wednesday morning after he had replaced the 'Turbo' fan. Wednesday afternoon, Alisha drove it to the store and back, and as she arrived at our gate the plastic radiator reserve tank blew it's top and smoke was billowing. So we pushed it in our gate and let it cool, called the mechanic and he sent a guy. He checked it thoroughly and couldn't find a leak. So I drove him back to the shop and they told us to try driving it more since it was a newly rebuilt engine and may just be running a little hot initially. By the time I got home, the water was boiling again. I called and the mechanic said something must wrong for it to be so hot so quickly. He agreed, and asked me to bring it in the following day so he could check the radiator. So Thursday afternoon I dropped it off and we're still waiting to hear back (it's Saturday morning).
I should say that the mechanic is actually a very nice man (Indian) and is well respected here amongst the mzungu missionaries, so I don't think he's doing anything wrong. He's just trying to save us money by only fixing what's necessary. It just so happens that everything is necessary!
So enough about the car, it's just that it has dominated our life over the past month since we have had to alter our 'system' (i.e. getting the boys to school, grocery shopping, shopping for other needs, getting to church, fun outings, etc).
Our neighbor Lynne has continued to be a Godsend as she has helped so much by taking Alisha and the boys to school and also grocery shopping. If it's dry, walking the boys to school is fine. But if it has rained, it is a muddy mess and there is a steep hill to climb down that is pretty dangerous because it's a narrow, one-lane dirt road that all the cars use to drop their kids off at school. So walking them to school when it's muddy is a bit dangerous.
It's the rainy season now (March thru May), which means it rains pretty much every day or night. Usually, we will have a big thunder storm at night or in the early morning, but by mid-morning it's clearing up. Then it will be fairly nice during the day, with either partly or mostly cloudy weather. The sun is so intense here though that when it shines through for a minute, it quickly feels hot. But the temperatures now are generally low 60's at night and mid 70's during the day. Pretty nice - we definetely like the rainy season best since it's not so dusty and you don't feel hot and sticky all day.
Also on our minds lately is a decision we have to make in the coming weeks. Alisha has been asked to teach Kindergarten at Heritage next year. She would be Jonah's teacher. It would be a half day job, so that's nice. But, it would mean Graysen would have to go to pre-school all 5 days from 8-12. It would be nice financially since Brodie and Jonah's fees would be covered (it's not a paid position - teachers usually raise support to teach there. But more often than not, the teachers are moms of students, so they just get their kids' tuition fees waived.)
So we're kind of torn about that. Fortunately, Alisha has a trial run at it starting this coming Friday. Brodie's teacher is going to Egypt for a week, and asked Alisha to cover her class for 6 days. Alisha agreed to do it, but just from 8-12 in the morning. So we figure by the end of that substituting stint, she'll have a good feel for if she wants to do it for a whole school year. If you would add that to your prayer list, we would appreciate it. We want to make a good decision that will be best for Alisha and also the boys.
Other than that, a few snippets:
...the guard for our next-door neighbors found a big snake in their bushes last week! We think it was a black Cobra - it's body was the diameter of your wrist. He tried to kill it but it got away. So later that day we had someone come and spray both of our yards for snakes. I have no idea if spraying does anything, but it made Alisha sleep better so it was worth the $20. I told Alisha I think he sprayed with "snake oil"!
...one of the eMi interns house was broken into and an eMi laptop was stolen. It was at night while he was sleeping. They cut the lock and took the laptop, a cell phone, and 3 pairs of his shoes. He lives in a four-plex, and they broke into one other unit and stole a tv, dvd player, and some other expensive things. They were sure it was the guard. They had complained about him several times recently (bad demeanor, just a shady character) and so his last day was to be 3 days after the break-in. Plus, the night it happened, a neighbor had looked out her window around 3am and saw him talking to two other people within the compound. Oh, and the stick they used to reach in through a window and snag the neighbors keys was a board tied to his guard baton - left behind at the scene! So the police came and dusted for finger and foot prints, and surprisingly, they caught him two days later. No sign of the stolen stuff, but they are bringing charges against him.
...we have decided to hire day guards for every day, so our compound will now have a guard 24/7. Before, we had one every night and 4 days, but we decided the extra cost was worth the security, since we've had a few questionable figures ringing our bell at times. You never know if someone is scoping out your place or not, but we didn't like the idea of them seeing our pattern of not having a day guard M, W & F. So Alisha and our house help Stella will feel much safer now knowing there will be someone here all the time. Plus, we'll now be supporting almost 4 (3.8) full-time jobs for Ugandans, which we're happy about.
...Brodie's stomach has finally been doing good the last week. He hasn't been complaining of stomach aches or having to race to the restroom everytime. That is such an answer to prayer. We felt so badly for him and are relieved that he is feeling better. It's also translated into great behavior reports at school, and a much more pleasant little boy around the house too.
...Jonah's garden is starting to sprout, so he's excited. He's also been building jumps in our yard for their bikes to ride over (they are still unable to get any air). He's also been enjoying playing everyday with his next door neighbor friend Julia.
...Graysen is also doing well. He is very into puzzles and loves to cut and color. He has become good friends with the little neighbor girl Liana - she and Graysen are two little peas in a pod. They call each other 'my friend', as in "Mom, can I go play with 'my friend'?" They are two cute little kids.
...Alisha and I are doing well overall. There are good days and bad days. Days where we really enjoy being here, and days when reading emails and hearing stories from home make us count the days until two years are up. There are things that are great about being here, such as a much more low-key lifestyle with more time together as a family, but being away from family and friends and familiar surroundings continues to be a daily battle of the mind.
Pictures: (top) Graysen reading his favorite book ('Little Critter') before bed. (second) Brodie practicing being a good brother by reading to the boys - allowing Graysen to sit on his lap was a big deal for him, so we really yucked that up! (third) Alisha and the boys working out this morning to 'Turbo Jam' from MillionDollarBody. (Fourth) Brodie helping Graysen play 'Clifford' on the computer this morning. (Fifth-Seventh) Jonah out by his various garden plots this morning (he has 4 different garden plots). The first one is by his corn and green beans, the second one is by his watermelon, squash, radish and even a little aloe vera plant, and the last one is with our day guard Patrick. He is such a nice man and takes good care of our yard and our boys. He is the oldest of our guards (38) and has 5 children that live back in the village with his wife (about 8 hours away). Of the 7 guards, only 2 have their families living with them here in Kampala. The rest live back in their villages due to cost of living, but also because they have deep family ties there and property and family they have to take care of.