All posts by Marybeth Carlough

What is peace?


What is it?

This is what I struggled with while we were in the country. How on earth were these people able to forgive the rebels for what they did?! Are they JOKING?! I’d never ever forgive someone if they had made me watch someone murder someone I loved. If I had been abducted, I would never be able to stop holding a grudge.


And yet, I watched and listened to almost every person we talked to as they said, “I have forgiven them.”

It still gives me chills. 

I have learned what peace is. Peace is being able, no matter what, to see the good side of something. To not get stressed out over something, no matter how major this is.  These people are the definition of an optimist. They believe in the good of a person, of anything, even when they cannot see it. They live life day to day, and know that no matter what they do, tomorrow will be different; tomorrow will be better.

They have taught me to try to be more at peace with myself, because there cannot be peace in a world when people don’t have peace with themselves.


Peace be with you.

First World Problems.

We’re done.


Well, almost.

I still have the paper to write, and the final to do. So actually, I’m not nearly done.

I sat here, trying to find motivation to write my paper, and thought to myself “Ugh. This SUCKS. I don’t want to write a paper. I want it to be SUMMER. Hasn’t this class required enough of me?! I’m ready to go to the beach!”

Then I stopped.

REALLY, Marybeth?! Have you learned NOTHING over this five-week course?! I’m annoyed about having to write an eight page paper, while some people would give anything to get an education. Wow. Makes it seem minimal to write a paper, huh.


I’ve been blessed. I’ve been given so much for which I am not grateful for. If I take anything away from this class, I really hope that I remember the faces. I hope that I can think of the people I have met when I went there. I hope that this experience stays with me forever. 

I am blessed to be a witness.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

We’re still here. We’re still editing. We’re still truckin’.

I feel like I’m echoing a few of my fellow bloggers when I say this, but I don’t know what to tell people. Every time I see someone, they always ask me, “How was Uganda?!” and I never know what to tell them.

Option 1: Uganda was GREAT! I got to experience things I’ve never seen before, like extreme poverty and starvation, and now I get to be back in the United States using state-of-the-art computer equipment and sleep mosquito net-less in my air-conditioned room! YEAH!

Option 2: Uganda was a difficult experience. It wasn’t all safari trips and river Nile rides. We had to listen to students tell us about how they were abducted, we heard parents tell us about having to deal with losing their children, and now we’re dealing with it!


Since being back, this is the big question people ask. How do you sum up something like this in ten words or less?

Uganda was wonderful. I can’t wait to go back!

I’ve talked to a few people about this. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of world traveling friends lately. We’re all in the same boat. Talking to people like Daniel Taylor who just returned from the Dominican Republic and will be in Nepal in a few weeks, or Emily Hanigan who got to go on this trip last year, or Melissa Hollabaugh who previously studied for a semester in the Dominican Republic and just returned from Peru, and getting to tell them about my trip, hear about theirs, and know that they’re in the same boat as me, is great.

It’s a good feeling to know that people understand and know exactly what you’re going through, and are going to be there for you just as you are there for them, to walk on.

And now life can return to normal… right?

We’re back.

After a few very long plane rides, we made it back. We’re back in our lives; back to the US. I thought I would be more than glad to be back to what I know. I thought I would cherish the air conditioning, the food, the accessible internet, the warm water much more now that I have experienced living without. I’ve been here for less than a week, and all I can ask is why.


Why was I born into so many privileges?  How come I am able to cool myself off by turning down the temperature of my house, while others have to wait until the sun goes down for a little relief? Why am I able to be a picky eater and turn down and waste food all the time, while some people just hope for one meal a day? Why do I feel like I am entitled to so many things in life, such as clothes, a phone and a good education when some people can’t even afford to provide shoes for themselves? How come I can go to sleep without worrying about a mosquito net, and some people cannot even afford one, even though they live somewhere that they need one?

It’s something to think about. It’s hard. Coming back to America, I saw a lot of things I hadn’t seen in awhile.

  • Well, mzungus (white people)
  • People with meat on their bones
  • Laptop computers. The only person I saw with one in Africa was our guide, Herbert. He also works for Computers for Africa. I don’t know if these two things correlate, but I think they just might.
  • AIR CONDITIONING. Okay, so I didn’t actually see this, but I definitely felt it. And what a glorious feeling that was.

I’ve had a few days to get used to being back in the US, but there is still so much I miss about Africa. I hope that someday I can go back and see all of these people again. They have all touched my life in ways that they don’t even realize. They showed me a totally new world, and for that I am grateful. They opened my eyes to what I had never before seen. Now that I have, I’m grateful that we get to show others what we have seen.

A series of events. (part 2)

The day continued from the before post…

2:08pm: It’s like a scene from Jumanji. One second, everything is great,
and the next it’s insane. All of a sudden, there is a large swarm of
flees in the bus. I hear screams of terror (mostly Michelle) and disgust
behind me. We’re swatting madly, but there’s just so many of them. Matt
explodes one fly, and starts to take out his anger with a piece of
paper. It’s covered in guts by the end of the day. 

4:30pm: Molly and I are bored of the drive and decide to pierce my nose. It hurts. 

5:20pm: We arrive in Kampala. Dallas driving ain’t got nothin on this
place. It’s insane. There’s no order. People are only concerned for
themselves. I fear for my life. 

6:30pm: We make it to our hotel. Fred prevailed!

It’s been a long day. It’s weird to think that it’s Tuesday night here,
and I’ll be home on Friday afternoon in the US. I feel like I’ve been
here forever, but I also feel like I just got here. It will be mixed
emotions leaving. 

P.S. Don’t worry, mom. I didn’t actually pierce my nose by myself in a
foreign country. I just wanted to see if you read the whole thing. Love

Also, I know I already said it, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTIN! Being in this country, seeing the things that we have, makes me realize who my friends are, and how much they mean to me. I wish I could have celebrated one last time with everyone before we all part ways for awhile, but I now know that I had to be here. . As they always say here, We shall all meet again.

A series of events.

Well, there were 19 of us when today started dark and
early in the morning (it was even too early for the sun) and there’s
still 19 of us now at the end of the day. There’s a lot of what I can say
for today. It’s been an interesting day. A definite roller coaster of emotions.
Here’s an approximate retelling:

5:00am: Alarm goes off. What the heck? This is EARLY. I glance at Molly
through our mosquito nets and we nod. No way we’re showering before
breakfast. Snooze. 

5:10am: Snooze goes off. Time to REALLY wake up. Breakfast in 20
minutes. We stumble around, thankful that the generator turned on the
lights at 5. We throw on clothes and walk to the dining room. 

5:30am: Breakfast. 

5:55am: Head to bus. Realize there is a bat doing laps around our hut. Michelle, Bridget, Molly, and I run for our lives. 

6:03am: We take off. We are headed to the safari!

7:00am: Ferry across the Nile. Large guy with gun gets in the bus. He’s
our guide. I don’t like guns. This could be interesting. 

8:00am: We see a HUGE heard of giraffes. I also realize its midnight in
the states… aka Justin’s birthday. Happy birthday! I realize I’m
missing ANOTHER 21st birthday celebration. I better see a freakin’ lion
for all this trouble. Tim tells me lions are very rare. Great. 

8:30am: LION! It’s in the bushes, but it’s there. We get pictures. 

8:40am: Our driver, Fred, thinks he sees another lion. We go off-roading
in our tour bus as people in safari vehicles look on. We see another
few lions so booyah to them! We resist the urge to point and laugh at
them. Fred and the Magic School Bus dominates again. 

9:35am: We get stuck. Like, STUCK. Fred’s pissed. We’re 25 minutes away
from ending our 3 hour safari and we can’t get up the sand hill. We have
to all get out of the buss while the guys try to push. Were outside of
the bus in a game park. And I KNOW there’s lions now. Suddenly I’m a
huge fan of the large gun the guide has. All of a sudden, one of the
safari cars we saw shows up and helps pull us out. Very glad we didn’t
point and laugh now. We’re unstuck, but now we have to turn and go the
other way. 

11:00am: We’ve gone the long way and booked it out of the park. We’re back at the ferry. 

11:30am: We get on the ferry, but it starts to take off without Fred and
the bus. We’re all confused until they pull back and Fred gets on.
Disaster averted. 

12:08pm: We’re headed back to the hotel for lunch when we see a van that
has been in an accident. We stop to help and Matthew uses his doctor
skills to bandage up a mans hand. Turns out the man was part of the
group that saved us. Wow, pay it forward. 

12:30pm: Lunch. 

1:00pm: We leave Murchison Falls. Molly and I are sharing the front seat
with a great view of the road. It’s a 5 hour drive to Kampala, and I’m
PUMPED to get to experience it in the front. 

Friendships for a Lifetime.

It’s been a long week. We’ve been filming like crazy
since day one. We’ve visited multiple churches, classes, schools, and
organizations. I still have yet to see a cheeseburger. 

Today’s life lesson: “Marybeth” is not a name that the locals
understand, or ever repeat. Thanks for the difficult name, Peggers and
John. (haha jokes) 
My goal while being here has been to get at least ONE person to say my
name. Two days ago, we visited a school. We went to see a section of the
school that was far away, so we had to walk. As we were on our walk,
one girl, Miriam, grabbed onto my hand. As we walked hand in hand
towards the school building, I felt a little boy grab onto my other
hand. I tried on the whole walk to get them to say my name. I even tried
Mary Elizabeth or Mary, but they couldn’t say it. Tim, one of the
professors on this trip, apparently let one of the priests at the school
know how much wanted them to say my name. I forgot for awhile, and just
dealt with what was on hand, seeing into the hut that was the teacher’s
break room. When we got back to the bus, I was saying goodbye to the
two who had been with me all day when I heard it. The whole group saying
“Thank you, Mary Elizabeth.” 
It brought me to tears. 

This has been such a life changing experience. I’ve never seen life
being lived quite like here in Africa. I’ve never had so many emotions
course through my system at the same time. This is real life. This is

Nile Special

Emotions I’m feeling: excited, overwhelmed, content

SO much has happened since I last posted. For starters, I’M IN AFRICA.

That’s still weird to say. I’m in Africa.

I walked inside into the Omaha Eppley Airport at 7:20 am on Thursday, May 19 (15 minutes late… whoops!) and stepped outside at 10:50 pm on May 20 in Africa.

In the 3 or so days since we arrived, (still unsure of the time change thing) so much has happened. (I know I keep saying this.. but its just true!) We’ve hit the ground running and are busy all day every day.

Well, except for the first day, which was filled with more travel. Apparently 28 hours just wasn’t enough to start our trip, we needed 7 more the next day to bus from Entebbe to Lira.

We’ve only been here a few days, but here’s what I have learned so far:

1. Being a picky eater doesn’t fly. Starting on the flight to Amsterdam, I realized my pickiness was going to be a problem. We had four meals on the flights: dinner and breakfast on the way to Amsterdam, and lunch and dinner from Amsterdam to Entebbe. Dinner the first night was called “delicious chicken” and consisted of chicken, sweet potatoes, and BBQ sauce all mixed together. The breakfast the next morning was a breakfast sandwich that had biscuit and egg with jalepenos in it. It was called “delicious breakfast. The next flight started with a lunch that had pasta with some green things in a runny red sauce (great explaination, I know.) with flan that was called “delicious pasta,” and finally, for dinner, we had a pizza (!!!) but it had basil all clumped in one section and other than that there was a salad with noodles and olives called… you guessed it… “delicious pizza.”

Then, since we’ve been here, we’ve gone to an Indian food restaurant twice. Funny that I had to go to Africa to experience Indian food. Probably because if we were in the States, I wouldn’t have eaten it. Mom and Dad, I know you probably don’t believe this, but I tried it! Well, some of it. Not a fan. But, being as it is really hot here and we’re working long days, I had to deal.

On the upside, the lack of pesticides make bananas edible for me(I’m usually allergic), so I try to start every day off with one.

2. Africa has a distinct smell. Sounds weird, but its true. It smells like diesel and burning things. I haven’t figured out yet what that is. It’s a little overwhelming.

3. Matthew Dorwart is competitive.  I know he’s on the basketball team so maybe that should have been evident, but playing multiple games of UNO has showed his sassy side.

4. Molly Miller and I are roughing it slightly  more than everyone else.  We are the only two who have yet to have a room with a shower. Everyone else has ALWAYS had one. Not so fun. Right now I have a king sized bed, but we have no shower. We’ve become great acrobats to shower in the tub faucet.

5. Mosquito nets are necessary, but a pain. For instance, they definitely keep out bugs. But if bugs are already in your bet, they keep them in. EXAMPLE: Last night, Molly was in bed and I was brushing my teeth and she found a daddy long legs in her bed. After a minor freak-out session, she yelled at me to get toilet paper, which I grabbed and ran over to her, all while toothpaste was running down my chin. She grabbed it, threw it over the spider, and threw it out of the net, only to realize that she didn’t actually grab the spider. So as toothpaste still runs down my face, we repeat the cycle, with Molly getting the spider this time.


Overall, it has been a great trip so far. African mass was beautiful, and I wish our singing in mass could be as fun as it was there.


Mom and Dad, I don’t know if I told you I made it to Uganda… I’m here!

Also, shout out to Jamie DeLaat and Emily Hanigan for having birthdays while I’ve been gone. I miss and love you both!


In actually being able to bless these African rains,


It’s time for AFRICA.

Emotions I’m feeling: NERVOUS. FREAKED OUT. Pumped.


This is CRAZY. I have to be at the airport at 7 tomorrow morning. It’s getting so close! 

Its hitting me. It’s slowly sinking in that I won’t be sleeping in my bed for the next week. I’m starting to realize that I won’t be in America tomorrow. I’ll be in AFRICA.

We had our first reflection today. Last year backpack journalists Emily Hanigan and Rachel Johnson came to talk to us. It may seem kind of funny, but I guess until today, I forgot we were going to be filming while down there. I’ve been gearing up for Africa so much that I guess I forgot to think about the film side.

Now, don’t get me wrong.. we’ve been practicing filming plenty. Video Boot Camp 2011 was intense. But nothing can prepare us for what we’re going to experience while down there.

As I’m starting to pack (whoops.. procrastination strikes again!) I’m letting the fact that I’m leaving slowly set in. I’m trying to prepare myself for what I’m going to experience, but at the same time, I know what I actually will experience will be so much more.



Ready, Set, AFRICA!

Emotions I’m feeling: Happy. Excited. NERVOUS.

I’m so excited to go to Uganda. Seriously, I am. But there’s a little bit of me that is still a little nervous.  Okay, I’ll admit, a LOT nervous. But mostly about the food.

All day, we’ve been learning about how the biggest worry in most Ugandans’ lives is where their next meal is coming from. Luckily, I don’t have that worry. I’ve been blessed enough in life to be able to be a picky eater. 

Weird. I’ve never called “picky eating” a blessing before. But its true. This will be a wonderful life lesson, though, to see how other people live. I’m truly blessed to be going on an adventure like this.

It was luck, really, that I was chosen to go. It was a Wednesday when I emailed Carol, one of the professors, about this trip. I knew I wanted to go on the backpack trip, but I never thought it was going to be in Africa. I emailed Carol to get details of the trip, and she told me to sign up, because spots were going fast.

She wasn’t kidding.

By Saturday of that same week, the application had closed, and I was one of the lucky people chosen to go.

Here we are, six months later, three days away from departure. I’m really excited to document my adventures, and I’m glad about the team we have going to the country. I’ve only known most of these people a few months, but we really mesh well together. It’s going to be a fun time!


Here we go! Catch ya’ll in Africa!