Monthly Archives: July 2011

Snapshots #16: Settlers of Catan

I’ve decided there are only three things I need to feel “at home” in a place. I need a running loop, an oven, and ample opportunities to play Settlers of Catan. Give me those things, and I’m happy.

You may think I’m flippant for counting Settlers as one of the marks of being “settled” in a place (pun may or may not have been intended), but it’s actually quite a helpful indicator. First of all, playing Settlers means that you have friends with whom to play Settlers. And these friends are friends who think that playing an old-fashioned German board game on a Saturday night is actually a fun night out.

The first half of this year I really struggled, because although I had carved out a running loop (on back roads with relatively few near-death traffic encounters), and tamed my temperamental oven (that turned on occassionally, and always cooked things at 10 degrees higher than it was set), I had no Settlers.

So there was much rejoicing when my Dad brought it over in January. I promptly took it to the Carrolls‘ house, who loved it so much they bought the game themselves, taught Scott and the IJM crew how to play, invited Phil and Julie over for dinner and Settlers, and played it tonight over at my friend Hannah’s house.

Should I be worried that I don’t even know how to have a game night without Settlers? Is this a case of unhealthy dependence? 😉


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Snapshots #15: A Bike Named Domino

Meet Martin, IJM guard and gatekeeper extraordinaire. And meet his bike, Domino.

If there’s one person this year who’s taught me what it looks like to seek justice for widows and orphans, it’s Martin. He’s not on the front lines of battle, so to speak. He spends his days sweeping the compound, opening the gate, picking up morning snacks from the market, and responding to my frantic cries for help when I answer the outside phone and the caller starts yelling wildy in Luganda (which Martin happens to speak much more fluently than me).

Yet every morning devotion that  he leads involves some reminder from the Psalms about God’s heart for justice, his prayers for our clients and our work raise the roof (you can almost feel the pounding on heaven’s door), and the diligence and joy with which he goes about his work is always challenging.

So back to the bike. He rides his bike back and forth to work every day, and uses it for quick trips to pick up snacks at the market. One day I told him how much I loved riding bikes back in the States. His response: “Oh sis! You must take Domino and ride, please. Anytime, you can feel free!” (An offer I have since taken him up on. I only ride on our little back street to the corner store, but it’s still super fun to be on a bike after so long!). When I asked Martin – “so, is Domino the type of bike or something?”, he responded with a characteristic laugh (actually, it’s more of a giggle):  “‘No, sis,[giggle] I just wanted to give it a name. And I like Domino so I thought sure, I’ll name it Domino [giggle].”

It’s hard to be grumpy when you’re working with co-workers like that. 🙂

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Snapshots #14: Silhouette

You don’t get sunsets like this in America.

I mean, there are probably places with pretty sunsets, or pretty palm trees,  or pretty bad pollution,  but Kampala’s combo of all three is pretty unbeatable.



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Snapshots #13: Twins

Claire and I showed up to work today wearing the same thing – which, of course, called for a picture. We look so similar today that if you saw us on the road, you’d think we were sisters, right? 🙂

Claire has been one of my best friends here in Uganda. IJM’s newest aftercare specialist, she joined IJM in November after working for a variety of compassion ministries and NGOs in Kampala. Married with a darling baby boy, she really is like my older sister. She smiles as I freak out about what the future does or doesn’t hold, listens to me blow off steam as I leave the office after a frustrating day, and tells me what outfits do and don’t look good together (a very valuable skill that I don’t really have). Always ready to listen, she knows when I am down and need a hug, and has an incredible amount of patience (you can tell she’s a good social worker!). With our clients, she’s professional, caring, smart, and well-loved and trusted.

Around the office, she’s known for her characteristically sarcastic edge even when she’s being sweet. Today, she told me that it would be better if I just left tomorrow – because the longer I stay the harder it will be to say bye. Sigh. Goodbyes stink.


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Snapshots #12: High-Class Living

(I am not sure if I should tell you this, because it might ruin your idea about my life in Africa. Oh well.)

Tonight, Ryan and I were treated to a dinner out by our dear Uncle Bert.  I am convinced that everyone needs an Uncle Bert in their life. He came to visit me in April, and while he was here, he took me out to one of the fanciest restaurants in Kampala – the revolving restaurant that overlooks the entire city with a 360 degree view. It’s one of only six in Africa, so it’s a pretty big deal. We had a great time, and so when Ryan arrived in country a few weeks ago, Uncle Bert made me solemnly swear to use some money he had given as a way to treat Ryan to a nice dinner out. I happily obliged, of course.

And as a bonus snapshot for you, guess what we saw while admiring the city lights of Kampala? (You’ll never guess)

Yessiree, that fuzzy green thing in the sky is a bonafide UFO coming in for a landing on the streets of Kampala.

(And you thought fancy restaurants and alien invasions didn’t exist in Africa).

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Snapshots #11: It’s Dark

Well, folks, today marks the sixth day that my power supply has seriously struggled to perform well. Ever since the government realized they were $80 million in debt to private electricity companies (which recently decided to just stop supplementing Uganda’s electricty without fair payment), Kampala has been on 12-hr load-shedding shifts (a euphemistic phrase that basically means: no power, for extended amounts of ime).

So, my computer dosn’t have a lot of life left on it, my camera has a hard time taking pictures in the dark, and frankly, I’m grumpy at the government and don’t really feel like taking a picture and waxing eloquent about the beauties of life in Uganda.

It’s just been one of those days, you know?

To save you from a-day-without-a-snapshot, here’s a picture from my travels to Tanzania. When I saw this flame tree (literally, that’s what it is called), with the early morning sunlight rising over it, this line written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning kept popping into my mind.



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Snapshots #10: Bread-Baking

Over the past six months at Christ Community, I’ve filled the role of Bearer-of-Baked-Goods for most Sundays. But with my impending departure looming ever closer, we decided it was time to do a little ‘passing of the torch’, if you will. I was geared up for something simple like cookies or wacky cake, but they all decided that they wanted to learn how to make bread (gulp!).

All I know about bread-making comes courtesy of my dear mother, who suffered through many recipes that I insisted on ‘helping’ her with,  and my blogosphere role model, The Frugal Girl. I’m no expert (my bread is always denser than it should be), but I passed on what little I know, and everyone was quite pleased with the results. We even calculated how much cheaper it would be to make our own bread (a 75% decrease in cost).

I never was the most domestically-inclined person growing up, but it is amazing what life as an MK teaches you in the way of baking and home-making – it’s been fun to utilize some of that knowledge during my time in Uganda.

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Snapshots #9: Mmm, Koshary

Tonight, I made Egyptian food. Yes, I know I live in Uganda, but koshary remains one of my most favoritest things to eat, after many fond memories of eating this common street food when I studied abroad in Cairo. A massive portion of koshary (enough to feed 3 girls), just cost 40 cents, and the best place in town was just four blocks from our flat. So, when I found dried cruncy onions imported from Pakistan in a local Indian store a few months ago, I knew that making koshary was inevitable.

As you may have ascertained from the photograph, this recipe is a carb-fest, so if you don’t believe in carbohydrates, you may want to avoid this recipe. But if you have a fruit/vegetable stand right outside your house with cheap and fresh tomatoes, access to rice and authentic dal, and an Indian store that stocks Pakistani fried onions, then you’re in luck, because this is the perfect recipe for you! {A personal affinity for vegetarian recipes probably wouldn’t hurt, but this recipe is so filling that even meat-lovers might be pleasantly satisfied!)


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Snapshots #8: How We Celebrated the 4th

We baked a cake, dressed up like like pirates and went bowling.*

*By ‘dressing up like pirates’, I mean finding whatever poofy or striped shirt we had tucked away in our closet and drawing an eye patch on cardboard. (I thought the whole head-scarf thing would be cool, but apparently it just made me look like a gypsy insead of a pirate). By ‘bowling’, I mean knocking down 2-litre soda bottles with a soccer ball in my friend’s living room (she’s a homeschool teacher and so is quite brilliant with home-grown entertainment).

Yes, it was a little unorthodox – no fireworks or orchestral renditions of the Star-spangled banner for us. But you do what you gotta do when you’re a displaced American living in Africa. 🙂


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Snapshots #7: Girls’ movie night [IJM Style]

Recently, we’ve been trying to start up a tradition of Thursday night movies at my place for all of us IJM girls. This week, we watched this movie:

Yep, no romantic comedies for us. We watch courtroom thrillers.

I love these nights because I really see the personalities emerge from all my IJM friends and co-workers. Many are lawyers, which means that conversation is typically way over my head.

While I’m busy yelling at the TV screen: “No no no no don’t kill her!… Wait, he IS innocent! They can’t do that!… OHMYGOSH I CAN’ BELIEVE HE JUST GOT OUT OF JAIL”,  Ruth is picking apart the criminal trial, Gerry is analyzing the quality of the state prosecutor’s cross-examination (and remarks that it’s a lot easier to fluster the witness when you don’t have to translate every question and response into Luganda), and Wendy is throwing around big words like “breaching attorney-client privilege”. Claire, aftercare specialist, pats my hand comfortingly: “It’s okay, Krista. You know it’s just a movie.”

Thankfully, my co-movie watchers are really gracious and let me stop the movie about every 14 minutes to ask questions: “Wait,I don’t get why he can’t just tell the judge that he just realized his client is actually the bad guy?”

What I learned from tonight – my friends are good lawyers. I, however, would not be. 🙂

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