All posts by Milana Jordan

Adena Abel

Much time has passed since my last post. The Internet is slow here and we only have two computers. I will try now to update you on the many things that I have experienced already during my time here in Uganda.

When we arrived in Entebbe our guide, Herbert, and our driver, Fred picked us up and took us to the Sunset Motel where we spent our first night. The next day we drove to Lira (about 7 hours on the bus).

We were all jetlagged and falling asleep off and on but we still managed to see some great things. We drove through cities, villages, and bush (undeveloped land). People had mixed responses to seeing a bus full of people who were obviously not African driving by.

Many people waved at us and a few men gave us thumbs ups. Some teenage boys made fun of us, and a few women in one village acted as if they were going to throw bananas at us and angrily waved their knives in a way that suggested they wanted us to leave. We also encountered people who tried to sell us newspapers through the bus windows.

Mostly we have experienced nothing but kind, open and welcoming people. When we arrived at our hotel in Lira we had some time to walk around. Most of us left the hotel grounds for a walk and met a group of children who were very excited to see us. They loved having their pictures taken and posed and made faces for us.

With their limited English we learned a few of their names. I took a particular liking to a young girl who was holding an infant. Her name is Adena Nancy and her little sister, Adena Abel, could not have been more than a few months old. Through some elaborate gesturing I communicated that I wanted to hold her sister and she allowed me to without hesitation. It was a touching experience that she trusted me, a stranger, enough to allow me to do so.

I noticed that there were ants all over the blanket that Adena Abel was wrapped in and some were crawling on her face. I tried my best to brush them off of her but she didn’t really seem to notice. She looked up at me peacefully while sucking her thumb and I was touched by what a symbol of innocence she was.

I got the yellow fever vaccination AND I HAVE PROOF!

The adventure sure did start off adventurously. As I sit in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport blogging from a borrowed laptop and still hours away from my final destination I have already experienced some unexpected events. 

Let’s start at the beginning. I began packing late last night (procrastination. oops.) and after writing out lists, starting laundry, and plugging in my camera batteries I started working on gathering documents. It was then that I realized there was one thing on my list that I didn’t have. My yellow vaccination record card. “My mom has that” I thought. So, I casually walked into the other room and asked her for it. To my surprise, and chagrin, she replied “I thought you had it”. Oh no.

So operation Find-Milana’s-Immunization-Card-ASAP began. We looked through both of our cars, my room, everything I had brought home from school, my parents room, folders of medical records, and my mother even drove to her office at Creighton and looked through everything there. No such luck. The card (which was listed as required in order to obtain a visa and gain entry to Uganda) was still MIA. 

Plan B: I photocopied it to turn into the Dean’s office with my study abroad packet. They open at seven and most likely have that copy on hand. Is a copy of it good enough? Off to Google. Nope. I need the original card. Darn. 

Plan C: I need to get a new one. I’m starting to get a little bit stressed. But I stay focused. A call to Kohll’s Pharmacy, where I received the vaccination confirms that they open at 8am. Well, I have to be at the airport at 7am to meet the group and check in. But the flight is scheduled to leave at 9:18. 

The plan: I will finish packing and in the morning my mother will drive me to the airport to meet the group on time. My father, in the meantime, will go to Kohll’s immediately at 8am to ask for another copy of my vaccination card. He will then drive as fast as he can to the airport and give it to me. 

At the airport my mother and I inform the professors of our little problem. They are all a little bit worried (with good reason) but keep their cool and we go ahead and check in. Dr. O’Keefe, Tim, and the rest of the students up to go through security and wait at the gate while my mother, Carol, and I wait for my father’s call. 

My father calls. “The sign on the door says it opens at 8:30am”. Oh. No. 

Plan D: He tries to get it to me in time. 

Back-up 1. I leave without it, go to Uganda and hope they don’t ask. If they don’t mention it I won’t.

Back-up 2. I leave without it my mother scans (in color) the card and emails it to Dr. O’Keefe who will have it to show on the iPad. (We will hope they accept that).

Back-up 3.  I leave without it and if they don’t accept the iPad proof we move to bribery. I have a couple hundred extra dollars. Are they willing to compromise their morals?

And so we wait. The pharmacy opens and my father is there and ready. 

The pharmacist shows up and quickly gets the paperwork together and my father sets off. He calls me on the way to the airport. 

But. I have already gone through security thinking he wouldn’t make it. We tell him to come anyway. And step on it. Dr. O’Keefe goes into problem solving mode. He talks to TSA and says that if my father brings the card to security TSA will bring it through for me so that I don’t have to go through a second time. We also talk to the man working at the gate. He promises to tell us when the last call is made so we don’t get left behind. 

My phone rings… It’s my father! He just handed the card to my mother who was waiting curbside and she is running through the airport to get it to me. Yes!

I meet the TSA guy who is helping us out and point out my mother. He runs and grabs it from her, puts it through the scanner, and hands it to me. I run. Literally. Back to the gate and Carol and I board the flight. I receive high fives graciously from my classmates and professors and am happy to be on the flight with EVERYTHING I need.

I find my seat and settle in to read “They Come Back Singing“. I look up just as the plane is taking off and realize that I am now officially en route to Uganda. 

Game on. 

Preparations

The beginning of our trip is now mere hours away. I’m not sure how to express everything that I am feeling right now. There is excitement. Definitely. I think nerves may be starting to creep up. Most of all I feel blindsided by how fast this is happening.

I am going to Africa. Let me repeat that. I am going to Africa! Even as I type it I have trouble wrapping my head around the concept that I, Milana Jordan, am going to Africa. Literally. 

My classmates and I have had 21 hours of intense instruction about a myriad of important topics. In just three days we’ve learned the basics of video and video editing, a semester’s worth of Theology, and how to interview and write journalistically. 

There is still a lot that needs to be done before I leave. I need to make lists of what I should pack in my carry on and in my checked bag, what should be in my camera bag, what I want for the flights and layovers, and what reading assignments need to be completed before we leave. I feel a tad stressed. I really don’t want to forget anything.

Though I’m sure it would take a lot more than a forgotten t-shirt to ruin this trip I want to be sure I’m as prepared as I can be. 

Free Hugs

Well, the first day of class has officially begun. Dr. John O’Keefe got us started (at 9:00 sharp!) with an abridged presentation on the history of the church. We then got our mugshots taken for our profiles. Now that reading has been assigned and I’ve fulfilled my free hugs quota (I am wearing a “free hugs” t-shirt today.) I am faced with the daunting task of explaining my motivations for deciding to go on this trip.

As you read in my profile (You did read that, right?) I am a lover of adventures. However, this trip means more to me than just another adventure. Not only is it immensely more epic than my usual “adventures” but it is also a great opportunity for personal growth and to do something that I am extremely passionate about; tell someones story. I am excited to learn and to teach.