Okay, so this is a little easier to talk about. On our way home we flew through Amsterdam and we chose to take an overnight layover and do a little touring there instead of trying to pack a tourist day into the time in Africa. Our interns, Terry and Kevin, were with us.
As our plane landed pretty early in the morning, we spent an entire day walking around on next to no sleep. I think I might have slept a bit on the plane, but I cannot remember. It's that fuzzy.
Kevin is practically a professional vacation planner, he's that good. So my main contribution was, "I'd like to see the Anne Frank house and buy chocolate." In researching, Kevin kept reading how Haarlem, a suburb about 20 minutes from the airport, was far cooler and less crowded than Amsterdam. And the Anne Frank Museum was sold out until October. And there was some kind of "Fringe Festival" (like it's not fringy enough already) happening in Amsterdam that drove up hotel prices way out of missionary budget range. And I said, "I'll take the Corrie ten Boom Museum. And chocolate." That was easier to arrange, so Haarlem it was.
In the airport we learned that we actually could get into the Anne Frank Museum at 8:30 that night. We snapped up those tickets, talked through a rough plan for the day, then hit the bus so we could drop luggage at the hotel. At that point our tummies began to rumble and we headed off through the scenic and adorable streets of Haarlem in search of food. Anything would have done it, honestly, but we found a pastry shop that had all kinds of crazy delicious looking stuff in the window and outdoor seating with pink benches and coffee.
Our tour time for Corrie ten Boom was not until close to noon so we had ample time to see the square and other parts of town. September 12 was some kind of national holiday wherein all important landmarks and museums are free. That meant we got into the cathedral and could have a good look around. It was beautiful.
After the cathedral I think we walked to some other places. I don't really remember, I just think we must have because we could not have gone straight to the Grotemarkt. Think gigantic outdoor farmer's market to shame all American farmers markets. It was where we had lunch, and we could not have been ready for lunch yet. Or maybe we were. I don't know, I just know we kind of split up and found all sorts of random tasty treats then met back up by a strange sculpture to enjoy it. Raspberries, meat pies, cheese, fruity beverages, stropwafels, nom nom nom.
Then it was time for the Corrie ten Boom Museum. I don't have much to say about this, but if you have not read the book, do it. And if you ever get to Holland, go to the museum. They would not let us take photos of anything but the secret room but I did not care. The guided tour was all we needed.
Holland is famous for cheese and it's unfortunate that both Kevin and I are mildly lactose intolerant. But who cares. We sampled a LOT of cheese anyway. I am happy to report there were no real repercussions. Kevin, Joel, and Terry were happy about that too.
At some point we bought chocolate and did a lot more walking and cheese eating and then took the train to Amsterdam, where we had a canal boat tour booked. Kevin had gotten us in with a very small operator, Robbie. As in, his boat was just large enough for all of us, which was pretty awesome because we ended up with a really customized tour. It was two hours long and we saw what felt like all of Amsterdam from the tranquility of the water. Well, actually, no - it was not really tranquil. There was a lot of other boat tour traffic, mainly populated by drunk people. Everywhere there were folks out enjoying the city. Robbie told us it's pretty popular to just grab a bottle of wine and hang out on a bench or the walls by the canals and spend a few lazy hours with friends.
And then there was the Anne Frank Museum. Okay, so it was pretty cool, but if I had to choose between it and the Corrie ten Boom Museum, I'd take the latter. At the CTB all has been left in it's original state, more or less. You get a real feel for the life. At Anne Frank it's all empty rooms and I could not get a feeling that anyone had lived there at all. It's like walking through a vacant apartment you might be considering renting. But the exhibits in the rest of the museum are good. And again, no photos.
By the time we finished there it was about 9:30 or 10:00 and we had been up for far longer than I want to try to calculate, walked more miles than I know, and eaten at least 6 times. We were SO ready for bed. So we headed to the hotel and crashed. I could have slept on about anything at that point, but this was the comfiest bed ever, so it was the bomb.
Next morning we had to be off to the airport by 9:30, but we learned that the Dutch don't do a lot before 10:00 on a Sunday, including open their cafes. While hunting for food, we went all "Squirrel!" finding a windmill, got some cool photos that may or may not have included Terry climbing on something to pose, and then finally had success in rustling up some grub. Back to the airport, where customs took almost 90 minutes because all 3 bags of camera gear had to be unpacked and thoroughly searched (always) behind the 4 other couples who did not listen to the warnings about taking laptops OUT of your bags and thus were also being searched by one solitary, patient man.
But in all other ways, Holland was pretty excellent and we do hope to visit again.
We have been home for over two weeks now, and as you can probably guess from my dereliction of blogging duties, this was a somewhat tough trip to sum up in a series of short posts. I can also blame technical difficulties with our hard drive and the need to keep up with school and eMi work, but I am beginning to wonder if maybe it will just always be this way, this struggle to put into words what ten days of work in the developing world is really like. There are a lot of emotions that surround it all. But then we get home and try as I might, I can never really convey what is running through my brain. Even four months after our Kenya trip I fail miserably when I try to tell someone about it with more than, "It was a good experience. I'd like to go back." If you've done this sort of thing before, you get what I'm saying. If not, I strongly encourage you to take a trip and feel it all. And then I will sit and have coffee with you afterwards and understand completely when you can't get the words out either.
For now, I am happy to at least have photos to fall back on where words fail me. Here are some of my favorites from all of our time in Uganda. -Jenni
I left for Uganda with a laundry list of photographic “assignments:” shoot a video tour of our new building in Kajjansi, get general footage we can use in future video work, team photos, and get some good images for the Inside EMI magazine. EMI had 4 projects happening in Uganda this term and I got to cover 2 of them. Obviously, there was the one I was on, African Bible University. The other was master planning for Sozo Children in Ngongolo. While I covered still photos on this day, Joel shot video.
Our team leader arranged a good driver ("good" is an important distinction in Uganda) to take Joel and I to the intern house (“Ebony and Ivory” was on the radio) in Kajjansi where we met up with the project team for Sozo. Right away we got a big surprise - Geoffrey! He was an intern during Term 1 when we arrived in Colorado and we had no idea he was going to be on this project team. Poor Geoffrey had no idea he was going to be followed around by the paparazzi for a day.
The team was spending the morning on the 27-acre site where the founders and staff of Sozo Children hope to build small group homes, a chapel, dining facilities and a prayer garden. Currently the children live in a few houses scattered around town and we spent the afternoon at one of them. But the morning was for hiking and hacking our way through a veritable jungle while the engineers and architects marked property boundaries, dug percolation test holes, and got a good overview of the site.
When I say “hacked and hiked” I am not at all kidding. We had several local men with machetes working through the dense brush ahead of us. This was the closest I will ever come to understanding the life of a National Geographic photographer. I’m sure God was there too because we also had to slog through swampy terrain that was perfect for nasty snakes, but none showed themselves. I should have encountered at least a few giant spiders but never saw one larger than a nickel. When the engineers were not doing anything photogenic I tried to photograph some truly amazing butterflies, but every time I got close and got my shot all composed nicely they would flit off. I was certain I could hear them laughing their little butterfly laughs at me. I also still had “Ebony and Ivory” going through my head. (Editor's note: It has been 28 and days and it's still running...)
The jungle hike was a fun adventure (we found a monkey skull!), but the best part of the day was hanging out back at the children’s home, getting to know people a bit. On most project trips the presentation happens on the final day, but Sarah and her team chose to do a sort of “halfway through” presentation. That meant Joel and I not only got to see the scope of the plans but to photograph the staff’s reaction and their interaction with the project team.
The Sozo home that we returned to for lunch and afternoon work is home to MJ, their pet vervet monkey. I got to hold him, but he has a slight attitude problem, so after about 18 seconds he bit at my arms, tugged at every piece of my shirt he could grab, pulled my hair, then fled. One of our team members had packed away the monkey skull we found at the site and decided to bring it out for MJ to see. It seemed to have the desired effect. He was nicer for a bit after that.
In addition to monkeys, skulls, jungle hikes, not snakes, and project previews, we were witness to a bunch of chickens getting "processed," which is the nice way of saying they lost their heads and were immediately scalded and plucked for dinner. The children's choir gave us a performance of a couple of pieces they had been working on. And I did my best to talk with a few staff and visiting workers so I could learn their stories in words, which always enables me to tell a better story with photos.
Our day at Sozo was one of the highlights of our week. Below are a few photographic highlights. Enjoy!
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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