Have you ever just stopped and listened to your surroundings? Stopping to smell the roses or listen to the birds is not in my usual routine, but God has been teaching me the lesson of being still and just listening.
Meet Elizabeth, Faith and Launa. These girls did a great job welcoming us to their mom’s garden while she was out.
The beautiful thunderstorms that bring showers of blessings. August is the beginning of the rainy season here, and rain is such a wonderful sound on a tin roof as well as the answer to many farmers’ prayers.
I know I keep bragging on the student gardens at Restoration Gateway, but they are worth bragging on. Not only are they doing an awesome job at growing the produce, but one student even made 2,000 shillings this week when Irene decided to buy from the garden.
The rumble of the car on red dirt roads. I could easily watch and freak out as the driver navigates not how to avoid the potholes but rather find the ones that are less horrific, or I can close my eyes and thank God for our great driver.
Songs of praise and clapping hands. There really is nothing that compares to a Ugandan praise service. If your hands aren’t clapping and your feet aren’t moving, you’re doing something wrong.
Kids either are scared of Mzugus or want to be your best friends. When 10 of them want to walk a mile with you and hold your hand, you don’t protest.
Laughter — oh, wonderful laughter. Whether it is the kiddos giggling as they follow the Mzungu around the village, the women’s groups hysterically laughing as I attempt to say a few words in Luo or Ryan and I laughing as we teach English phrases to Kunde and Irene, laughter is a constant sound around me, and I absolutely love it.
The Zee World song on TV. Indian TV shows are a favorite here, and if there is a TV within earshot you can tell when someone is sitting down to watch an episode of “Sacred Ties.”
One of my favorite things about measuring gardens is getting to meet the families of the women we work with. This is Rita and Josephine, the cutest little twins!
The whistle of birds and the chirp of crickets. I’m not sure if it is because of the rainy season or if July was just a good month, but the power has been going out a lot lately. That just means an opportunity to hear the silence of man and hum of nature.
When the cattle are raised nomadically it means that hardly anything can startle them, which is good when we are walking through a herd of 20 measuring gardens.
The rustle of a dried maize field with a herd of cattle. Nomadic management help raise cattle in Uganda. This means a random herd of cattle hangs out in the fields as we’ve been measuring. Even though it sounds like a stampede as the cattle make their way through a maize field, they are some of the most docile cows I’ve ever seen.
I hope that in years to come I can look back and read these descriptions and recall the beautiful sounds that have made me so thankful for my time here. For now, I will continue to take in all that I can.
Catherine Rutan is a 2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow serving in agricultural development roles in Uganda. Rutan is from Spring, Texas, and is a student in the Master of International Agriculture Program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on international development. This fellowship is sponsored in part by the Noble Research Institute.