Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm Home - Really - March 14, 2010

Really, I am! I know this will surprise most of you, but I came back to the US on March 11 - it was a surprise to the family (except Corky)...I wanted to be at their "mid winter get away" at St. Cloud and decided to COS (Close of Service) on March 10th a long time ago - just lied a lot since then!!! The kids were really surprised - not suspicious at all!!! We decided that the last time we were all together was August '07 at Bert and Naomi's wedding reception! That's too long!

Great fun at the hotel tho' I got a bad cold (airplane) and was a bit off - the little grandkids took a long time warming up (not sure if they ever did), but the older boys, Riley, Dylan, Henry and Ben got back into it! Greg said "it doesn't seem like you were away", but it does to me! Really overwhelmed by the crowds at the hotel, all the food, and how many people are grossly overweight! Older women in Uganda get big and you see some overweight men in Kampala but otherwise all I've seen for two years is really skinny people!! Funny that that should strike me even more than the obvious skin color difference.

Jean and Kody (well, Jean) are making wedding plans - she and Gail got 3 Bride magazines while we were there! I'm not surprised that Jean is so organized (she's even more OCD than I am if that's possible) but it amazes me that she is really into the wedding planning! The (very) tentative plans are for 2/11/1011 (Friday nite) at Lutzen Ski Resort on the North Shore in Minnesota!

Weather is not bad - 40s and 50s and snow is melting, but I'm freezing!!! Going later this afternoon to watch Greg and Bert play hockey and I don't know if I'll make it!

Miss the folks in Uganda, but I'm really happy to be home. Want to rest for a few weeks and then maybe look for some work part time! I am really tired. Living that long in a foreign culture is exhausting!

Back to the "regular" blog - old news now! I'll try to write a few more times as I get more into American society and my reactions to being back.

While I was working at the PC office the last days in Uganda I drafted my blog for the week. Am now at home Friday morning and adding. I just saw the Waste Management Truck go by - I love those guys!!! Them, the USPO and the Library - sorely missed in Uganda!

I last posted from Uganda on Friday the 6th. Friday nite Shari, Holly and Michelle had Becky and I over for dinner - the last Bean Burrito feast! A great meal. Holly's gas tank just finished (she has 3 weeks to goin Uganda) and the power is out so she's w/o any cooking facilities! Bummer. She came over for hot water Saturday a.m. (since she brought me hot water when my gas and power were out before).

Saturday, the 7th was the dreaded farewell party - I didn't know how I'd do! Ugandans LOVE parties and there was no way around it! Fortunately, they combined the going away for Shari, Holly, Sr. Goretti, Sr. Veronica and me which made it a lot less intimidating! And it was wonderful - LOTS and LOTS of work by the staff and kids!

It poured rain in the a.m. but didn't stop anyone! The priest from the parish, who I really like, came and said Mass at 10:30. Reading and sermon were on The Good Samaritan. Holly and Shari had invited the other "local" PCVs - Adam from Mukono and Heidi from Katose which was nice; plus, Lieke and Louwke ("the Holland girls") and Becky were there, along with the other departing guests! After Mass there was a program - Fred MCd and it moved! We each gave a short (really) speech and in between there were dances, songs, poems, etc. It all lasted just over an hour which is VERY un-Ugandan but great! Lieke video taped it and will send me a CD after they get home which will be nice. I got lots of great gifts which worried me (again) about packing. PH gave me a great "certificate" folder w. pictures and nice messages, and a really elaborate wood plaque, got lots of baskets, beads and purses from others, and from Sula, a "half gomez". The gomez is a traditional dress worn for special occasions and can get pretty elaborate. A half gomez is the same style but less elaborate. It's not African but an adaptation of the dresses the missionaries made the women wear - the only "African wear" we see is on the dancers occasionally. Will wear it when (if?) I get a power point together and go on the road.

During the program Didas and other staff were putting out the kids' food in the shoe room, so as soon as the tables were rearranged dinner was served! Great food - matoke, rice, beef, fish, ground nut sauce, chipati, pineapple, bananas and sodas. (I treated for dinner - the kids so love a break in their diet). Several other Sisters from the convent came for the meal.

After all the festivities I said goodbye to Sr. Goretti (very sad) and Sr. Veronica....and went home to try to pack. It wasn't working and I re-did it many times in my head that nite. Finally got the idea to leave my old brown suitcase and use one left by China (still under my bed) that's bigger - tried it Sunday a.m. and it all worked! YEA!

Sunday after Mass I divided my clothes into boy (T-shirts, polo shirts) and girl piles and took them down to PH to be distributed by the head girl and head boy. Head boy (Alex) didn't get my instructions (?) and was keeping it all, till I was alerted Monday a.m. - think we worked it out. Eva, head girl, started giving it away and by Sunday afternoon I could see myself all over PH! She really appreciated the old suitcase to use as a locker for her things,too!

Becky had us all to lunch which was really nice - on our veranda! Holly and I had our "last walk" (everything was last), and then I went to a nice little supper at Fred's. All in all, a great weekend. I'm feeling strangely unemotional - not sure if I'm heartless or just can't comprehend that, after two years, I'm actually leaving!

Monday we took off about 9:30 on a whirlwind trip to Kampala (is there any other kind of trip for PH?). Sr. Juliet came as well as Andrew (boy w. CP who I love), Josephine, and a fairly new resident, Maria (more later), plus various people from town who wanted a ride (it was a holiday, Women's Day). The Sisters, kids and Fred sang The Franciscan Prayer in parting - it's so neat. It's much better sung, but goes:
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make his face to shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up His Countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

We stopped first in Kisoga, so Josephine could get a letter from her former Head Mistress to take to apply for college scholarships (nothing in Uganda is done easily - always has to be a personal stop and hope the necessary people/articles are there as promised). Stopped at the Italian's Sisters clinic to see some potential residents, but (fortunately) the Sisters were out w. visitors. On to Seeta to say goodbye to the Chairman of the PH Board, and then to Kireka (just outside Kampala) to try to find a another place Josephine needed to visit for information on scholarship applications (didn't find it - there are no addresses - you just hunt).

Then we went to Butabika Psychiatric hospital. The young woman, Maria, came to PH several weeks ago. She was sent by another Sister who went to nursing school w. her. She's had some bad times and basically has had a "breakdown". She talked to the nurses from Butabika when they were at PH for the Epilepsy Clinic last week and they Told Sr. J she should be admitted - she didn't know that - she thought we were going to pick up some medicine for her! Pulled up to the women's building and our "welcoming committee" was a pick-up parked outside w. some men and two police women in the back and a lady dancing away, wearing only her bra and panties - and lots of feathers in her hair - she stayed, too!

Sister went in first, and then we went in w. Maria. She figured it out (she's very bright) and went ballistic! They finally held her down and sedated her. The hospital is really clean and seems OK and I was impressed that the staff was so nice - defintely not One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest. While Sr. J and I waited for her to settle so we could take her clothes back (they get a green uniform), the other residents visited w. us - I suppose it's unusual to have a muzungu and a Sister stop by! They sang hymns, prayed for us and one even read part of Revelations (IN ENGLISH - she had to be well educated). I've never particularly liked Revelations, but having it read to you by a mad woman in a Ugandan security hospital is another experience! Do they know something we don't know?

Anyway, finally got out (YEA) and on to the PC office. Fortunately, the office had alerted the security staff so we could drive in and unload - tho' Sula and Sister had to be checked and turn in their phones (?); Meghan Bender, a friend and PCV from our group, was in the volunteer computer lounge (offices were closed for the holiday) so they didn't have to feel they were leaving me alone. So, that was the final goodbye - Sr. J was really sad, but I was still awfully casual about the whole thing (wierd).

Megan and I went down to the hotel and out to dinner together...nice! Tuesday and Wednesday I went to the PC office to finish paperwork (and there was still plenty!). Tuesday afternoon I went to the Mall to do some errands and saw Invictus -it's a bit hokey and drags in parts, but I loved it and glad I saw it in Africa!
Pretty sleepless nite - last one in Uganda, but it still hadn't registered!

Wednesday we had a big group lunch - 10 of us around from our group (3 others leaving this week) - good times. I will miss those guys. I decided to bite the bullet and will subscribe to Facebook just to keep up w. them. You know you probably won't see most again, but it was a fun bunch! Had my final interview w. my supervisor and medical and Shari and Holly went with me and the PC driver to the airport. Two years over - it's hard to believe!

Flights all were on time and w/o a hitch. Watched Up in the Air and Harry Potter to Amsterdam and then Blind Side, My Favorite Fox (?) and tried to watch Where the Wild Things Are (dumb) to Minneapolis. I can never sleep on planes and by the time I arrived I was exhausted (plus, haven't slept well the last week). At the Amsterdam Airport they have a small exhibit from the Rijks Musuem (very nice). Picture wasn't there but got a print from Josef Israels - Children of the Sea - I just loved it!! Spent my last Euros!

Corky met me after customs (I had to declare the drum but they were satisfied when I said the head was cow leather - ?) and we headed home - first on the list at home were a hot shower, microwave popcorn and laundry (love watching the machine work). I slept 11 1/2 hours Thursday nite. Now I'm pumped to go to the hotel in St. Cloud and surprise (hopefully) the family!

If I'm undone by anything - it will be technology (which has always been a problem for me). Corky got me a new phone and I'm stumped; TV remote is too complex and tried to see some videos from Uganda and can't make them work either!!!

Well, that's enough for now.....I'll be slowly re-integrating into society from here on in! Again, thanks to everyone for your support and patience. God Bless you All!


irshbo said...

Welcome home Kathy! thank you for sharing your past two years with us, I found it very interesting and I do admire you for following your dreams

eatpna said...

:) It sounds like the surprise went well. Greet them & stay warm!!!!