Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A day in the life of Me!

Hello All. So I have had a lot of requests for more details about my life and the people and just activities in general. I will do my best to paint you a picture of a typical weekday here.

7:00- watch alarm goes off and I try to remember how to press the sleep button. (lost the travel alarm clock)
- then the task of fighting with my mosquito net begins. I slide out and slip into my flip flops so my feet do not become nasty!
- the usual morning routine begins
- I sleepily walk out to a room full of male and female Ugandan volunteers all very chipper and "sharply" dressed (you say that if someone looks nice) It is customary to greet everyone so no grumpy morning Meredith is allowed.
- then the fight for the butter (which needs no refrigeration..) the bread and the one frying pan begins. The usual breakfast fare is fried bread with sugar and water or tea.
- some mornings we have group devotions and some mornings we are rushing to the van to make it to the babies home.
- Courtney, Hannah, Rachel, Ivan, Collin, Felix, Jeff, Rita, Edith, Amanda and who ever else is coming that day all pile into the van and begin the oh so wonderful bumpy van ride to our destination.
- When we arrive at our outreach we are greeted by tons of shy smiling faces that all what to hold your hand, rub your hairy arm (they have no arm hair so we are fascinating), count your freckles, talk to you, and just get a hug or a kiss.
- at any outreach we have singing, games, a bible story, exercise, and sometimes feeding programs.
- after our morning outreach we head back to the house for lunch. Someone has stayed behind to prepare lunch so it is ready right when we get there. The typical lunch is a form of starch (rice, potatoes, pasta, matooke), rice, stewed meat, greens, and usually fruit or sliced avacado. We get 20,000 ugandan shillings per meal to use to buy food for everyone. That equals $10. But things are CHEAP. Like today. We got 5 onions and a bag of greenbeans for $1!!!
- Off to the afternoon activity! The afternoons are usually spent with older kids, maybe 13-18, at either a Scripture Union (like a christian club in school), Kids in Need home for street kids, or to the Remand Home which is a juvenile home for convicted teens. Interesting fact. In Uganda you are guilty until proven innocent so some of the kids have done nothing but some are real criminals.
- Back to the house to hangout for a bit. The girls and I either read, journal, do laundry (which takes FOREVER. Hand washing and rinsing everything and then hanging it to whoever invented the washer and dryer), go get African coffee, ice cream, or if it is your turn to cook go to the grocery.
- the walk to the grocery is a bumpy, dusty, 5 minute walk uphill. My favorite thing about going to the grocery are the police men that stand at the door to "check" your receipt. This really means that they simply initial your receipt. No, they do not check your bag, or read what you bought. I am convinced that would be the most unfullfilling job ever. The government is wasting so much money! The grocery has so many types of rice and flour and spices. We never buy the fruits and veggies there, only at the market stands due to price.
- The market stands have: onions, garlic, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, green pepper, cilantro, eggplant, avocado, pineapple, banana, passion fruit, peas, carrots, and I think that is all. Sometimes they have random things too.
- On the way back to the house as soon as the neighbor children see us they FLY down the hill screaming and smiling and jump into our arms as we twirl them around. Then they help us carry our groceries and get a hug from each one of us.
- Dinner is always a process. Take tonight, for example, in the middle of cooking the power goes out. Praise the Lord for a gas stove and kerosene lanterns! Dinner can take up to 2-3 hours to cook...most of the time it is worth the wait.
- After dinner activities have been composed of girls movie night, 4 of us crammed onto one sofa to catch up on Grey's Anatomy that took only2 1/2 days to download, long talks, Flight of the Concords, reading...etc.
- Bed time and be sure to apply bug spray and tuck the net in tight!

Last night was one of my favorite thus far.
The air was cool for once and the sky was clear. Two blonde muzungus and 17 Ugandan children all crowded around one Mac to watch KungFu Panda. It was like Christmas morning for them. I had Claire and Maria draped over me and when I offered some of my cool clean water she downed it in two seconds. Contentment is what I felt.

Monday we went back to Nsambia and I got to hold 2 week old precious Ashford [that is what I have named him, I can't pronounce his real name] I didn't ask how he got there, and I didn't really want to know. All I know is that as long as he was close to me he was happy. Another girl there named Gift stole my heart. She was new too and she was near me most of the time. She had the best laugh/giggle I have ever heard.

Yesterday we went to the Ntinda School of the Deaf. InUganda if you are deaf you are more than likely sent away to live at a home. These smiling children were amazing! The littlest things made them happy. I spent almost an hour simply throwing a ball back and forth with a group of them. There were a few older ones who could even talk. I sometimes never know if what I am doing is meaningful to these kids or lasting, but when we were leaving any of them asked if we would come back next Tuesday. When our reply was yes, their smiles said it all. I feel like these children and babies are slowly helping the pieces of my soul come back. They are showing me that hope and love and redemption are still possible, even for little ole' me. Christ is the ultimate healer but I know that He is using these people to show me what His kingdom is supposed to look like.

Quick glance at my favorite people here:

Courtney: has lived all over and now lives in Bristol, TN. She is sweet, intentional, outgoing, funny, and loves to talk through things. She has a masters in English Literature and may want to do occupational therapy.

Hannah: One of the funniest, most random, most talanted singers that I have ever met. Her parents are missionaries in Mexico and she can always make me laugh. She is an incredible speaker and the kids love her!

Felix [ugandan]: "sweet Felix" is what we always say. Everyone here falls in love with Felix just a little bit. Awhile ago he was in a terrible car accident and had to go through tons of physical therapy. After healing he decided to pursue rehabilitation all for the glory of God. He is the guy that finds the child that is the most shy or the most disabled and puts all of his energy into making that child simle and feel Christ's love. He went with us to the deaf school b/c he knew sign language and it was amazing to watch him.

I love and miss you all! Keep up the comments, I really do love them!!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hope in Uganda

Above are some pictures! Enjoy! Highlight of today. Getting a pedicure for 50 cents.

1) my bed!
2) the girls in the house
3) Jacob!
4) me and Jacob at Sanyu Babies Home!
[not sure what order they uploaded in, so just figure out which title goes with which picture]
I want to tell you a story. Our time in Kids in Need had drawn to a close. We were with the ragamuffin children of Uganda's society. Street kids who were living in this place with nothing but each other a few scraggly puppies and their God. I thought we were about to leave, and then two teenage kids who had been hanging on the outskirts came up to sing an original song. They began to sing and although I could not understand them, I knew in my soul it was beautiful and heartfelt. Then Felix began to translate for me....and I was stunned. This "boy" was singing about how much hope he had in the Lord. That although he had no parents, no money, and few friends his hope was in the Lord. He praised God for his life and the breath in his lungs. The song ended and I was humbled to the core. What have I had to endure. Sure I have had some tough times---but nothing like that. So on this relaxing Saturday in Uganda, I will praise the Lord for my life. Whom He has given much, much is expected. I hope and pray He will use me to show His light and love for the broken, the dejected, the forgotten, the betrayed. For after all, I have been all of those things, we all have at some point, and it was Him alone who pulled me out towards His light. We all need just enough hope to look up. You never know what you might see!

Love to everyone! Thank you for the prayers and encouraging comments. I read each one of them! ALSO: disclaimer. Do not think you have to send me a package, it was just the fastest way to get the info to people.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Ok, not sure if anyone has sent me mail or packages, but here is the correct address:

Meredith Strickland
c/o Empower a Child
PO Box 33273
Kampala, Uganda

It takes about 3 weeks for packages to get here. List of items that could be useful

Well, (community group) cd's with some of Pastor Tyler's new sermons because I lost my ipod, Hushpuppy mix, dish detergent but not the kind for the dishwasher, clorox/antibacterial kitchen cleaning wipes, cake mix, brownie mix (etc), another t-shirt, gum, snacks, NEW DAVID CROWDER CD!, DVD's, little kids toys, beads, markers, string, pot holders, dishrags, and anything else your heart desires! Letters are welcome of course!!

Highlights of today: seeing crippled, bandaged children sing and dance their praises to the Lord, telling the story of David and Goliath and hearing it translated into Luganda, hearing teenagers sing in english and Luganda, good conversations with Courtney (from Tennessee) and Hannah (goes to School in Portland and goes to the same church as Donald Miller, so cool), making Italian in African along with dessert samosas while singing classic 90's Goo Goo Dolls with spoons as microphones!

Also, I was encouraged by John5: 6-9 when Jesus comes upon a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. He asked Him if he wanted to get better and when the man responded yes Jesus said "Get up, pick up your mat and walk." and the man was healed. I feel like this trip is the beginningof me picking up my mat and walking. I feel like I have been walking wounded for a whole year and when I said Yes to Christ is when He began His completing and healing work in me. I know that if a year of hurt brought me here to sit at the feet of Christ then all I can say is "blessed be the name of the Lord". He loves me and all of a sudden I am unaware of my afflictions that are eclipsed by His glory [thank you David Crowder for that quote].

Tomorrow- babies home and remand home!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Uganda 101

There is a storm blowing in over the hills of Kampala tonight. I just finished making "taco" meat and chipatis for the house. [chipatis are fried flat pieces of dough that are the size of a tortilla] I walked the 10 minutes to the market on the crowded dusty street with Collin (a ugandan) and he haggled with the ladies at the stand. Going to the market is when I become acutely aware of the color of my skin and hair. It is a rare occurance to see another muzungu. All of the taxi drivers and boda boda men think that you MUST need a ride :o) either that or they are asking you to marry the (which frankly tops my proposal record in the states!) Then we walk back and little claire and maria run up to us to get a hug before I dissappear behind the gate. I hand poured, mixed (on our "clean" kitchen counter), and rolled about 20 chipati's and Hannah fried. It is Collin's mission to teach me how to cook Africa food (which I am not super fond of) Now as I sit here at the office computer looking at the gecko on the wall trying to blend in I will tell you what I have learned about the culture so far here in Uganda. Then I will tell you about the outreaches we have done so far!

  • pedestrians do not have the right of way, if you are hit by a moving vehical they will drive awayquickly because if the public sees it then they will mob the vehicle and take the person out and kill them. crazyness.
  • there are about 4 paved roads in kampala.
  • it is possible to fit 17 people in a 12-14 passanger van.
  • chickens roam everywhere, just like squirrels!
  • you can see a cow tied to anything... a stump, rock, tree, pipe, etc
  • they put a rope around babies waist to give them a good waistline
  • they pierce babys ears so they cannot be used as child sacrifices
  • PDA is very looked down upon
  • if you are wearing something that is more than 3-4 inches above your knee you are considered a prostitute
  • babies have a low level of importance
  • Ugandans get their view of americans solely through media. Thus, they have thought that white people can fly(superman can right?), when we are shot it can't kill us [white people always live in movies], native americans are a myth and no longer exist, if you do not have the body of a supermodel you are either fat or pregnant, eskimos are not real and if they are only live in Greenland, and they do not have a clue what I mean when I say "ya'll".
So, what I have learned in a nutshell. Outreaches...

Nsambia Babies Home: Monday went here in the am and walked into a class of about 15 toddlers who all screamed either "muzungu" or "mommy" all at once! Break your heart right? We just played with them and loved on them for a few hours. Only issuse, no diapers, so we changed about 25 pairs of pants! When the 3 little babies got up we each took one of them and held them while we played with the others. I got to hold Morris who has been there for a few months and was very content to sit in my lap!

Victory Primary School: Imagine...walking down a dirt path through the slums to a clearing where there are 4 clapboard and tin roof buildings that house about 100 students. We help teach, make and serve porridge, lead worship, and do a lesson. Our group acted out Daniel and the Lions. They loved it. The best was when the small kids started basically booty dancing to the djembe drum! Priceless. I will try to get a video next week. At one point I swear I had like 15 kids touching me!

Scripture Union: a small 40 min time of priase and worship, prayer, a message, and discussion. These are older kids and I got talk with Barbara who's favorite subject is chemistry and wants to be a doctor! I led prayer at this meeting.

Whew! That is a lot! The house has been without water for over 2 days now which means bucket showers and squatty pottys. [which are swarming with cockroaches and basically disgusting] PLEASE pray for water SOON!!! I miss everyone and I am getting into the swing of things now. The Lord is teaching me that I really cannot get through a day without Him or His grace. I was encouraged today by Matthew when He says... "do not fear, for I am with you" and with me He is. Pray for safety and wisdom and that the Lord would continually fill me with His joy! Because really, all we need is Him.

oh, and as americans we are most spoiled by dishwashers and washing machines. i washed [and i use that term wash loosely] dishes last night for like an hour. Ok, time to go have girls movie night with Courtney and Hannah! The Holiday will be showing in 10 minutes in Uganda!!

Seek Him. Seek His face. ask for His spirit and joy to fill you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

sunday in Africa.

Today was a little long... we went to a 3 hour church service...there was a little girl who sat with us who was fascinted with our watches and rubber bands on our wrists! It was adorable. We then went to lunch and I had chips and chop (ie. a furry flat fried meat of some sort...awful!) Then I went to an african market to buy fruits and veggies and meat and rice and then carried it back to the house with one of the guys. Then we had a huge party for all of the summer volunteers complete with them slaughtering a goat and sticking the hide on the wall outside. After seeing that I just couldn't bring myself to eat it. The TAIL was intact on the grill!!! I was in charge of decorating with Christmas was pretty hysterical. There is a picture of Obama in our living room and we gave him earrings with ornaments. It made me laugh!

I am ready to get into the outreaches. Tomorrow we are going to a babies home and having a planning meeting. Hopefully I will be able to walk into town to get some money and breakfast food. I was informed that next week we are going to Gulu on Tuesday. Not sure what we are doing but it will be an adventure! I am praying that the Lord would change my heart towards this place and these people. Because honestly...right now...i have cried everyday and I want to go home. But I pray for courage and a changed heart. Miss you all! I will try and figure out how to post pictures. no promises though. The internet is a bit slow. Also, pray I could get some good sleep. There is a bar right next to us that plays LOUD music till like 2am. NOT FUN! And there are these awful squawking birds and a cow that moos in the morning so loudly it sounds like it is giving birth! Ohhh TIA! (this is Africa!)

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Goodness, I am in Uganda! I am still feeling slightly (ok VERY) overwhelmed. Everything here is different. The smells, the sights, everything! There are hardly any stoplights here, there are few paved roads, there is no orion in the sky, but there are lots and lots of bugs!

Today consisted of me sleeping12 hours from my jet lag, riding a boda boda for the first time, eating goat and jibate (not sure how it is spelled, but it is fried dough pitas), and then lead praise and worship at a campus crusade type meeting for about 200 college students, and watched am African fashion show about good dress codes, and saw a beautiful lightning storm. And do they all know how to dance!!! Woah! It is so encouraging that the Lord hears praises in any language.

The house I am staying in is good and we have a guard at our hardcore gate named Friday who lives in a tiny shed beside it! I have a bunk bed complete with mosquito netting. I will just tell myself it is the canopy bed I have always wanted! There are 4 other girls here that are all very nice. 1 more is coming in a few weeks, but 3 of them are leaving in November. :o( I have a lot of emotions right now, but I know I will be ok in time. The Lord has me here for a reason and i am anxious to meet the kiddies. I miss home a lot, but I am comforted by all of the prayers! Miss you all and keep praying for courage and strength.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Proverbs 13:19 - "A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul".

  • 2,000 trips to Target [check]
  • repacking my suitcase 8 times [check]
  • enough medicine to cure a village [check]
  • hard core mosquito repellent [check]
  • shiny new blank journal [check]
  • giraffe print travel pillow! [check]
  • camera to capture the moments [check]
  • bible to get me through the day [check]
  • prepared for what lies ahead [not even close!!]
I keep looking at the clock and imaging what time it is of Uganda. Smiles on dark faces keep floating through my mind. That must mean only one thing...... I am FINALLY leaving for UGANDA!!! YAY!!

I am still in complete shock that I am going. I have no idea what is awaiting me and for the first time in my life I am completely ok with that! I feel like I have spent this entire summer pouring over people's blogs and pictures I have found on Facebook of EAC in Uganda. I have spent a lot of time reflecting over the events of this past year and as hard and as painful as many of them were...I am so thankful that the Lord allowed everything to happen... because now I get to live out a dream of going to Africa. I feel like everything in my life has been leading up to this moment. I am standing at a precipice and I am ready to jump. (those of you who know me well know how much i despise roller coasters and heights and really anything to do with I am still shocked at how calm I feel about everything!) I have a sneaking suspicion that the Lord will show me more than I could have ever expected and break me in ways that will humble me and lead me deeper and closer to Him. I can't wait! I have spent far too long making my life about things other than the Lord. My hope and prayer for this journey is that the Lord will teach me how to love more fully and deeply and completely, and cause an irresistible revolution to awaken in my soul that can never be extinguished.

I will be leaving from Raleigh at 11:15am tomorrow morning and travelling to Charlotte, New York (spend the night there), Johannesburg South Africa (15 hour flight), and finally to Entebbe, Uganda. In Entebbe the wonderful people of Empower a Child will be picking me up complete with a sign and driving me to the house I will be living in! I have no clue how great the internet connection is going to be but hopefully I will be able to post within the first day or so.

I now leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller. This is from the prologue of his book "Through Painted Deserts". A book that chronicles his cross country trip in a VW Van with a good friend.
[warning: this blog will probably include many book quotes, I love to read and many times others words more fully express what I am feeling]

"I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."

Now I am doing the one thing I have never wanted to do or expected to do. I am leaving.

and I could not be more excited!

Friday, September 11, 2009


So. There are riots in Kampala due to the arrival of the King of Buganda. Thus.... I am not leaving until Wednesday the 16th and I will not arrive until Friday the 18th. I have so many emotions right now. This puts a kink in MANY plans that had already been made. But....

Psalm 18: 49 Therefore I will praise your among the nations, O LORD; I will sing praises to your name.

The Lord knows why I must wait. And He will work all of this out for good. I come. just slightly delayed!!!