Tag Archives: adventure

The Hairy Lemon


Good Friday 2012: I broke my two-year running tradition of attending The Journey‘s hallowed Good Friday service followed by margaritas at Pueblo Solis with my parents.  I missed it.  I miss them!

But sometimes, kids, life takes you to Africa.  (I have been watching way too much How I Met Your Mother, so forgive the omniscient, backwards-looking Bob Saget voiceover.)

Good Friday a group of us took a matatu a couple hours outside of Kampala to the banks of the Nile River.  I had the immense pleasure of getting to hold a baby on my lap for our journey.  His mother handed him to me as she was climbing in with her two children.  BABY!  He was wearing a sweet silk suit and immediately fell asleep on me.  Well, melt my heart.

We took a few bodas from the village to the banks of the Nile.   There were pigs

and a bell to alert the Hairy Lemon staff

on the island

that we need a pick up…

via canoe!

The Hairy Lemon is a small island with cabins, tents and a patio with simple bar and buffet.  It was peaceful and relaxing.  The Hairy Lemon provided tents and food–much easier camping!

We waded in the Nile

played games

walked around the small island

read books in hammocks

sang songs with a guitar.

Then it rained ALL NIGHT– and we are talking African rains– but my tent was not like The Green Monster of college camping trips.  Nary a drop of rain entered my tent.  I stayed cozy listening to the pelting rain and rolling thunder.  On an island.  In the Nile River.

Thank you, Hairy Lemon!  And thank you, Charity Queen for this drawing!  (You may need to click on it to get it to show…)




Today was the rainiest day yet.  I think we are officially in the dreary midst of the rainy season here.  I think it may have rained about twenty out of the last twenty-four hours.  I took advantage of a break in the rain this morning to flag a boda.  About halfway to the office (yes, we work on Thanksgiving- gasp!) it began to rain… harder and harder… another few minutes my driver and I were just laughing because of what a soaking mess we were.

Bless the rains down in Africa…

Does everyone knows that Toto song?  Please download it and dance around your kitchen like Mary and I do.

Here are a few snaps of life…

On our last office holiday for Eid we took bodas through town up to one of the seven hills in Kampala to the Baha’i Temple.  A crew of mzungus on bodas usually creates a stir.  You can see me make a cameo in the side mirror!


Did you know each continent only has one Baha’i Temple?  Africa’s is located on a hill in Kampala.  The gardens are beautiful–worth returning for quiet respite from the city.

This is Jason (Church & Community Relations intern from New Jersey), Jennie (Communications Intern in IJM’s Nairobi office from New Zealand), me (your Structural Transformation Fellow from St. Louay!), Scott (Communications fellow from Virginia), and Mary (Executive Assistant also repping St. Louie, home of Nelly and Toasted Ravs!)


Ruth, Jennie (from the Kenya field office) and I went white water rafting on the River Nile.  I have no pictures from the actual experience because of the wild nature of the activity, but it was wonderful.

The best part was after lunch when the skies got dark and we prepared for our daily rainstorm.  As we hit the first rapid the skies opened up and unleashed pelting rain.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  The whole rafting experience seemed so much more dangerous and dramatic!!  In the tame sections between rapids we jumped in and just floated downstream.  I was laying on my back surrounded by unblemished, lush scenery staring at an endless sky in the Nile River.  I couldn’t think of anything to sum it up except repeating “Extravagant, extravagant, O Lord You have been with me.”

Here we are before we begin:


Last weekend Mary and I were so excited to learn about a Christmas Rummage sale at the American Recreation Association (ARA– or a country club that Americans can join.  We are not members).  We spent an hour wading through piles of clothes sitting on tarps on the ground.  We literally kicked off our shoes and sat down in the clothes.  I walked away with two shirts and a dress for 24,000 shillings or about $8.00.

We also me this young man who referred to himself as “Gorilla Santa Man.”


This is a picture of some of the buildings in our complex of tenements… err apartments.  It must have been laundry day for a family:


Finally, this is a little guy that scampered across the wall nearly scaring the crap out of me before I realized it was just a salamander type friend.  Regardless how harmless, I hoped that my mosquito net would also keep him out of my bed that night.


I have shared twice today in two different groups one important thing that I am thankful for.  This morning in office devotions Florence, our aftercare specialist, talked about cultivating a thankful heart and we each named one thing we were thankful for.  And then at our Thanksgiving dinner with about 30 Americans and one guy from Wales, we each also shared.  And both times I said “I am thankful for my family’s support though I know it makes them sad that I am not with them today.”

I was thinking about them all day, wishing I were watching the parade with grandma, sitting in front of the gourd bearing my name at the beautiful, overflowing table, tossing around a football or watching National Lampoon Christmas Vacation.  It doesn’t seem right to be so far away from you.  But I’m thankful for your love and I am thankful for our brief Skype chat.

To all my network– you!: I am thankful.  I am thankful for the effort that you put in to keeping connected and sharing about your life and listening and praying for mine.  It means so much.  And to those of you who have supported me emotionally, financially, prayerfully– thank you.

The rains are still falling and I’m off to bed.  Love~*natalie

IJM Staff Retreat over the Nile


The day after I arrived, the IJM team loaded a bus to Jinja for an annual staff retreat.  (I know—I arrived just in time, right?)  We stayed two nights in cottages overlooking the Nile River.  There was a constant roar of the rapids below which lulled me to sleep behind the mosquito net.  It was indescribably gorgeous.  Our church and community relations coordinator, Josh, worked his magic and got us an incredible deal.

It was a perfect opportunity for me to meet and learn names and personalities of my coworkers for the next year.  And the staff was able to rest, build community, worship, play soccer, and learn about David, the Warrior Worshipper.  We played a super-competitive game of dominoes Thursday night until midnight.  Was I jet lagging?  Yes.  But I had to make Grandma proud.

Our staff is intelligent, articulate, open and genuine.  They work tirelessly for our clients, commited to seeking justice.  They know, love and worship the Living God with an authenticity and depth that I feel like I rarely see.  And oh do they sing!  Our times of singing were not distracted with instruments but were simple, incredible multi-part harmonies.  It brought tears to my eyes the first night, I was so moved.  I am here. 

Saturday morning communications fellow, Scott, and two Ugandan staff (Diana, lawyer and my cottage-mate, and Ida, veritable movie star and office administrator) went bungee jumping over the Nile.  Ain’t no thang.  We watched from a sweet, rustic open bar above the Nile filled with Brits and Australians watching rugby.

ME! - No, this is Scott. Great form!

Mary and I stayed in Jinja an extra day and ventured to Bujugali Falls where we slipped our feet into the Nile! and accepted a boat ride from a friendly guide.   He tied us into life jackets and we took a river cruise and a hike on a small island.  We met a native of Jinja named Jeremiah whom we befriended.

Me, Mary and Jeremiah on an island on the Nile next to an abandoned witchdoctor's hut

We ate lunch together overlooking the Nile.  While waiting for us to drop any crumbs from our lunch, a monkey in a tree above our table relieved himself on Mary’s arm.  Yep!  A monkey!  On Mary!

Monkeys over our lunch table give Mary a treat

We took a boda (motorcycle for hire) into Jinja and walked along Main Street before hiring another boda to take us to “the Source of the Nile”.

Sweet shades of boda driver

After some comical mishaps including being told by our driver to “Get off” so he could make it up a hill, being followed up the hill by goats, and then running out of gas (Mary and I tried so hard not to laugh at the absurdity of it all, me trying to push off the ground to give it some help), we made it and it was quite underwhelming.

The source of the Nile is just where Lake Victoria begins emptying into the river, winding north to the Mediterranean, a trip which takes 3 months.  I mean, the Nile from any point is gorgeous.  But no need to go searching for “the source.”

The Nile at Sunset

We met up with our friend Jeremiah to watch the Uganda-Kenya football game.  HUGE DEAL.  It ended in a tie which was also underwhelming.

Mary and I grabbed dinner (chicken, greens and matoke (mashed and steamed plantain—a Ugandan specialty)) before getting into a “taxi,” a passenger van squeezed with about 15 other Ugandans, to get back to Kampala.  It takes three hours and costs about $2.  It is a crowded, dusty, bumpy ride… but totally legit.

And that was my first three days.