Monday, January 31, 2011

Africa- We Love to Hate

Jehovah, give me patience.
No, the title does not mean that I am in some sort of trouble with the Ugandan mafia (Do you know how ghetto the mafia here would be?), nor have I started blackmailing high government officials (also ghetto). Smuggling rare African wildlife, however...well let's just not mention that.

Every so often, even when you're having a wonderful time, you have one of those days where you wake up and know that you're going to have a bad day. That much being said, I've discovered that sometimes it is ok to hate something . What do I mean? Well, sometimes its alright to hate things that simply lack the common sense and understandable aspects that most things in life are crawling with. This post is going to take a small break from interviewing brothers or sharing experiences from the field service/studies in order to tell you the Love/Hate relationship I have with Africa. I hope you enjoy. :]

(Ps. Internet still won't let me post pictures on Flickr or the Blog, sorry. :[ )

When you're walking home from the kingdom hall and see a car in a driveway with the driver sitting down reading a magazine, the normal, sensible thing to believe is that it would be safe to temporarily pass in front of the parked car. With no fear of being run over. However, because this is Africa, things don't work that way. As I passed said driveway, the driver seemed to suddenly recognize the opportunity to make a healthy batch of Muzungu roadkill pie, and threw down his magazine. Popping the car into drive, he charged fearlessly ahead, totally disregarding the fact that there was now a human walking in front of him for the first time all day. Thus, the bumper mark on my leg. Yeah, he hit me. Not hard, but still. Of all times, of all moments, he stays there all day except the very moment that I dare cross his parked path. Forgive me, for I have sinned, thinking that it might be safe to venture in front of a parked car. 

Here is another example:
What do I wake up to today, but the blasting sounds of karaoke? You see, here in Uganda, they seem to love noise. The louder, the better. Now sometimes that can be a good thing. (TURN IT UP TO 11) Other times (When you're sleeping, for instance) that can be a very, very bad thing. There are trucks here equipped with upwards of 5 stereos as tall as I am, blasting the most random stuff. Sometimes its music (all of which sounds the same and has absolutely no melodic sense whatsoever), sometimes its a radiotalkshowprogramthing (which is mostly just guys yelling gibberish at a microphone), or sometimes its country music (Dear god, what have I done to deserve this? Take my soul instead!) So today, they parked right outside the house and had a karaoke session. Which, to be clear, karaoke in Africa is quite different. It pretty much consisted of a guy yelling a looped: "Yes...UH...Yeah....Yes!" into a microphone while the same copy/paste African song played in the back ground, accompanied by another guy screaming: "Haha!...woo! Aaaaaaayaaa! Uh huh!".
It's not very very often that I've wanted to murder someone.

And of course, another one:
After about 2 months of using motorbikes on the bumpy Ugandan roads, I decided to walk everywhere. Get some exercise, see the sights, and have the chance to say that I successfully walked everywhere, bla bla. So I did it. There was also one other reason I was exploring the benefits of. Unfortunately, the damage was done.
The continuation of the Barrett line now lies with my brother, Josh.
Between my love of Mountain Dew and the trauma from a deadly motorbike/bumpy roads combo, I've pretty much given up on the hope of being a father in this system of things.
Sorry, kids. I did it for a good reason.

One more:
Hand Entrapment. Forgive the stereotypical American word usage, but dude, what the world?? STOP TRYING TO HOLD MY HANDS.
Everytime some dude tries to hold my hand, it sends chills of terror and pain through my soul. Especially since MOST hands I've ever shaked here in Uganda have been SUPER wet and warm. 
There are varying levels of likelihood of Hand Entrapment. 
Gray (Non existent)
Green (Slight possibility, no real alarm)
Blue (Possibility increases, caution advised)
Orange (High danger level, Comfort bubble Violated)
Red (Incoming Hand Entrapment, Immediate Diversionary Tactics Required)
Black (Entrapment Underway)
It usually starts with a greeting (Green alert), where the person shakes your hand (Blue Alert). You can sometimes tell what sort of shake it will be. If they approach with their hand held high, it is most likely going to be a "Highfive Shake" where you clap hands loudly, do a quick shake, and let go (Down to Gray Alert). Sometimes, their hands are (as mentioned) very sweaty, nearly dripping (back up to a Blue Alert) If, however, they approach you with a smile in their eyes and a waist high outstretched hand, this is a huge threat. (This brings up way of to a Orange Alert) When the hand slowly slides into yours, don't mess around. Huge threat level. (Bumped up to Red, nothing to laugh at) At this point, there is very, very little keeping you from Black, where you're then forced to execute maneuvers (varying in difficulty and effectiveness) to keep your hand. If not, the Entrapment never lets go. He just stands there, talking and holding your hand. Then he starts to swing it. Then he pats it with his other hand. Or he might do the absolute worst thing of all, rubbing your hand. As you writhe in pain, he obliviously continues telling you about his goats or his rash or what not. It is too late, and you'll be in pain for the rest of the day. Thus, I've compiled a list below that you should execute (according to situation) once you reach Red Alert.

These are the few techniques I've worked up.
 1. The Scratch. (Obvious, simple, effective. Scratch your face, ear, neck, etc etc. Something above your clavicle to ensure that you bring your hand high enough to cause him to let go. The knee also works, but that is just awkward as it involves you leaning towards the offending hand holder)
2. The Cough. (Simply cough, giving you immediate reason to quickly retract your hand. Effective, but risky. Remember the danger of sweaty hands, and judge the volume of wetness now on your palms before you attempt a cough. A dangerous transfer of nasties could occur between your hand and face if caution is not exercised)
3. The Transfer (Immediately find another hand to shake, possibly the next closet person. If done effectively, you can continue the conversation with the first person while freeing yourself from Hand Entrapment. The Transfer seems to be rather tricky at times, as you may be too isolated to preform it, and you also risk Hand Entrapment by the next person)
4. The Initiative (Take the first step in thwarting Entrapment by converting the handshake into a fist bump. Very effective, though 1 time out of 10 it turns into them being confused, laughing, and grabbing your fist and squeezing. I...still don't know how to respond to that) 
5. The Distraction (Fake a distraction just before the handshake, such as a bug on your leg, or hearing your named being called. Possibly even reaching into your pocket. Extremely risky if you do not move your hand in the process, as they will grab your hand and look towards your manifested distraction, throwing you instantly in to Black Alert. Follow up is necessary, or else they will try and redo the shake)
6. The Paranoid (Last ditch effort only! If the person that is about to preform Hand Entrapment is known for his gross hands or 'spit talking', punch his teeth out while screaming "DON'T TOUCH ME!!". Unadvised, dangerous, and messy)

And thus, I end the post, having run out of ideas to post about. Still gathering information on the local brothers and sisters to share with you, so keep your eyes open! Wait...before I end, let me clarify in case anyone was wondering.
I'm loving my time in Africa, and all these crazy memories are going to be included in my history pages. I've finally seen how to write my own pages to my own story, and for as long as I will remember, I won't forget the crazy things that have happened in my service to Jehovah. I consider each bug bite, each scab from bumpers, each revolting shudder as a blessing from Jehovah for allowing me to serve him more fully, all the while having the time of my life. So never fear, this is awesome for me. I cannot wait to be home, but I'll never regret my time in Africa. Africa is preparing me for a life time of exploring this earth in service to my Heavenly Father, Jehovah. Want to rock with me? Jump aboard, send me an email, and lets need great somewhere! I'm not stopping till death or Armageddon!
As always, taking requests/questions! Leave a comment or send me an email. :]


  1. You described exactly the dreading feeling we get every time we have to shake hands to that brother YOU KNOW has RIDICULOUSLY SWEATY HANDS (I mean, how's that possible???)... you know he's coming...and you know you'll have to shake hands with him...But these experiences have already changed you in a REAL I hope you're going to have the same (if not worse, and you know what I mean) experiences where you'll be going next... These are the things shaping your life to serve Jehovah better...WELL DONE TREVOR!!!We're all cheering for you!!!

  2. This is just a random question from a person interested in need greating in Africa, what languages have you found there to be a need for in Uganda? Thanks for you blog, I am enjoying it.

  3. In the 2011 Yearbook, page 91 faithful missionary John Cutforth said, "A true missionary becomes all things to all people. If people give you a stump to sit on, sit on it; it is the best they can give. If they give you a roughly hewn bed, sleep on it; it has been made with kindness. If they offer you a sweaty handshake, shake their hand and hold it; it is offered in love." (Nah, that last bit I made up. Haha!) That actually sounds really gross and awkward. Especially if they rub your hand... just gave me the eebie-jeebies!

    Bro, we know you're loving Africa... sometimes you just have to 'vent'. Taby and/or Chris is right... you are being molded for further assignments. If Jehovah knows you can get through this, just think what your next assignment will involve! How do you feel about leeches? Muwahaha! Hey they might reverse the no kids thing (Dude, tmi. I don't even want to know, haha! :-P) Hang in there!

  4. Bobette
    Trevor, I loved the awkward hand-holding culture clash. You will enjoy the 10/1/98 WT pg. 19 article. Make sure to see the photo in the article. Our Cong. had a Gilead couple assigned to Togo right after this article came out-and yes all his cultural fears were realized. As a mother of a son who is also now 23, you really must break the Mt.Dew habit. I hear a liter of that stuff will take rings off toilet bowls.

  5. Bahahaahah!!!!! And I thought I creep people out and make them feel awkward and invade their space! I should incorporate this hand shake technique! lol Too funny Chevah! I love the way you write! its as if im right there! i got up and washed my hands cuz it felt like it was being held!

  6. Thank you for sharing this wonderfully hilarious story (because it's happening to you)! I needed a good laugh (I think I even cried a little from laughing so hard)!上手! Somehow, it seems that hearing someone else's stories of terribly awkward moments makes your somewhat awkward moments (like standing in a group conversation and one of the friends says something in Tagalog and everyone else laughs while you give a delayed "I have no idea what you're talking about" laugh)seem slightly less painful! (^u^) 冗談冗談!!

    I find that although I've encountered challenges, that it is a precious privilege with many blessings! I'm sure we all feel that way to some extent.

    It's great to hear you're enjoying your time there, and still alive (and walking I'm assuming). Keep up the great work and encouraging others while building yourself up! がんばってね!

  7. Chris/Taby -Thanks, its actually nice to hear. :] Seeings how you are so familiar with the challenges and ups and downs of Uganda, its nice to be able to have someone to relate to, you know?

    Anon -Oooh! I mystery guest, how lovely! Nice to hear from you, whoever you are. Languages? Hm...well I'd have to do some research, but right off the bat I think I could give a little info. The local language in the city I'm in (Fort Portal) is Rutoro, though most seem to know at least some English. As for myself, I've been able to get along mostly on English, though learning Rutoro would greatly boost my ministry. Let me see what else I can find, ok? Thanks for reading!

    Bobette -Yes, yes, I know. Mountain Dew isn't the best choice, right? Has Blaine listened to you about it, or does he not really drink? Lol! Grats on his newly 23rd year of life!

    Zech -Then you'd fit in wonderfully here, wouldn't you? You're NOT going to be my wingman anytime soon, let me tell you that.

    Nautica -I remember the language barrier awkwardness that I felt in was very similar to what you discribed! Lol, but I wouldn't trade that for the world. As you've said, a precious privilege with many blessings. Awesome posts, btw! I'm a big fan!

  8. What the...?? What am I, chopped liver? Oh wait, did you leave me out to punish me for ganging up on you, hating on you, and giving you poopie bag duty? Yeah, I kinda see your point. Will sorry do?

  9. Jenny -AAAhahahahaha!Forgiven!

  10. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! I've been missing these posts and I forgot how much I enjoy them! I have some questions about need greating... MAJOR QUESTIONS THAT WILL LIKELY DETERMINE MY FUTURE! But no pressure. Ill email you, I think I have your email. Just letting you know so you can look out for it. My email address is just my name so it should be easy to pick out.
    Thanks again for the ever awesome posts and can't wait to start keeping up with them again!