Everyday Conversations, From Live It Everyday

  • A Day In Uganda

    Dear Live It Everyday community,

    I decided that yesterday I would wake up and document my day. Living in Uganda is never dull and every second is unpredictable. So I thought I’d record a random day and luckily for you yesterday was a golden example of my chaotic life.

    8 am

    Wake up to the noise of a lizard’s quick feet (pat pat pat) crawling past my face and learning electricity has gone out. Great start to the day.

    No electricity means I better hope my electronics had enough battery power from the day before to carry me through the black out. Unfortunately, my computer was completely dead. (I guess work will have to wait.)

    No matter, the day is still redeemable because fresh coffee waits. I walked to the kitchen for a spoon from the silverware bin. The bin is dark so I always know my six and eight-legged friends are crawling around. I chose a spoon, dodge the creepy-crawlies, wipe it off, and proceed to my dreamy French press. What would I do without it?

    After coffee I head into town for work. After four months of driving on the same roads I always feel convinced that I have every inch memorized. Gaping potholes, giant sand dune-like bumps, rocks, old nails, and animal surprises dominate Ugandan roads.

    Even if I think I’ve memorized the road, there is always something new. For example, yesterday I had to dodge a pile of bricks that took up most of the road and were as tall as the hood of my car. In Uganda, they cover the larger potholes with huge lumps of dirt and rock or, my personal favorite, brick.

    Now, why does a tall pile of brick help the pothole situation? I mean, I guess running INTO a stack of brick is better than bouncing through a shallow pothole?

    I just don’t get the logic. But that is my life. Dodging potholes and piles of brick.

    I arrived to my office to find a group of men working on the driveway that I use to pass through to park at my office. They were making brick and their water jugs, men, and barrels were covering my pathway.

    I rolled down my window as a fellow approached. I don’t know what it is but I can tell very quickly whether or not someone is trustworthy and honest, and with this guy I smelled a snake before he even said hello.

    He greeted me, half-heartedly. In return I said, “Hi. Can I pass?”

    He said something about their work and I told him, “Well I work at the center. And I’m carrying in 200 Kilos of flour today. Can you move your supplies so I can pass?”

    Then, out of nowhere, “You ran over my brick!” He accused as he pointed to a pile of wet brick from the night before with a tire mark all the way through the row.

    “Excuse me? I did not run over your bricks.” I said firmly, obviously unimpressed by his behavior and showing him I am no pushover.

    “Yes you did! You ran over my brick!”

    “I did not!”

    “They said it was you!”

    “Who?”

    “People around here! You ran over my bricks last night!”

    “Sir, I did NOT run over your bricks. I don’t work at night. ”

    At this point we were both heated. He thought he had found an easy target (someone to cough up money for mysterious damage). And I was ticked he had blamed me and thought he could treat me that way.

    “Now let me pass,” I demanded.

    At that point he argued that he owned the road (driveway), allows me to use it for free (for five seconds as I pass through), and that we had spoiled his bricks and he would no longer allow us to use his road.

    Did I believe it? Not for a second. However, in my time here I have learned to choose my battles carefully. So angry and disgusted I turned off my car, slammed my door, and carried all 200 Kilos from the roadside, across the driveway, and into my office. I decided doing the extra work was better than speaking another word to this guy. I think my glare was enough revenge and he probably felt bad watching me carry 200 kilos from so far just because he was stubborn.

    My assistant got to work shortly after and told me the man owns pieces of the roadside but NOT the driveway because it is a government road reserve. He just wanted me to pay something either for the brick damage or my determination to use the road. Guess where I parked today? (I moved their supplies and pulled right in.)

    After the mishap we left town to head to our children’s club located in a village about an hour and a half away. I was still boiling with anger by the time I was halfway there. Something in me decided to calm down and enjoy the rest of the day, so I let the music take me away.

    We made a stop to visit the home of one of our newly sponsored kids. While we were meeting with the family we took note of a storm coming in, which is weird considering it’s the dry season, and with the dry season only comes heat and dust.

    As a heavy wind rolled in dry dust swarmed all around us. We ran to the car and once in I clenched my teeth back and forth realizing how much dirt had gotten in my mouth. I touched my hair and felt the coat of residue. Ahh, nothing like a breeze of fresh dirt.

    As we drove on I mumbled to Sandra, “no flat tire, no flat tire” because the week before was … convenient.

    Flashback

    Seven days ago I had two visiting friends (Cassie and Isaac), my pastor Titus, and my assistant Sandra in the car as we drove to club. As we approached the main road to the club I noticed it looked different today. It was covered in trash and rock, someone was “working” on it the Ugandans informed me.

    I told the group, “I hope we don’t get a flat” since that tends to be a monthly norm.

    Isaac, my mechanic at home, reassured me, “Well if you’re going to get a flat tire I’d rather be here anyway.”

    Cassie, on the other hand, mocked, “Yeah! If we’re going to get a flat it might as well be right here, right now, on this very road!”

    *PUM PUM PUM PUM PUM * was the failed testimony of my back left tire.

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    Titus covered his smile of disbelief with his hands and cowered in the corner.

    Isaac gripped the handle.

    Cassie was sliding down in her seat, ashamed.

    Sandra was laughing.

    I was in a daze saying, “No … no ….. NOOOO ….”

    To conclude: I totally made Isaac change the tire.

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    Back to yesterday

    We made it safely, and smoothly, to club. We were greeted by about 40 children all lined in two rows across the drive-way singing, clapping, and dancing to our arrival. A bit cliché, I know, but they’re my students and I adored every second of it.

    After our club we headed back to town. This particular region is known for the narrow back roads with a mountain backdrop. It’s my favorite drive out of the whole week.

    Yesterday, however, it went sour. A motorcycle taxi (called a boda-boda, or boda for short) was speeding with a passenger behind him. He lost control and misjudged the space he had, and he hit my car.

    I immediately stopped the car realizing he must have left a scratch and clearly broke my side mirror. I opened my door to find a dent as well.

    The guy approached my vehicle limping (theatrical attempt for pity). Did I buy it? Need I say?

    I let the pastor handle it first to see if they could reconcile without my involvement. I let them speak in their own language for a few minutes then as they transitioned back into English I realized the conversation had gone South.

    “How much does a mirror cost?” The driver asked, now looking at me.

    “I don’t know.” I replied.

    He and the pastor bargained a bit and concluded for maybe $20 or so.

    “Alright. Then you pay me.” He declared.

    I laughed, and mocked, “WHAT! I pay YOU? Was that the negotiation? Come here.”

    He looked at me strangely like I was the crazy one.

    “Come here!” I said again.

    I finally got him to come to my point at the front of the car. Another boda was approaching from down the road.

    “Look. As soon as YOU hit ME (doing the math for him) I immediately stopped my car. I didn’t pull over, I didn’t turn my wheel; I stopped as soon as you hit me. Now watch this. I have a demonstration for you.”

    He looked at me confused, not sure where I was going with it, so I reassured, “Just watch.”

    As the next boda came closer I turned to watch him. As he approached the car and slowed I kindly waved him on so he wouldn’t have to pause at our crash site. To my surprise (just kidding) the boda and his three passengers passed by my car with no problem and no damage.

    What I did next may have been over the top, but irrationality demands more elaborate demonstrations.

    As the boda and his three passengers passed by with no problem I leaned forward in fake disbelief and clapped proudly. After they passed, I kept clapping, said, “Wow! Did you see that?!” and turned around to the driver whose mouth was wide open.

    The best part was the group of children surrounding us who joined in the applause.

    Then I got serious. “So you see. I parked my car exactly where you hit me. You had enough space to not damage my car. All of these bodas have passed with no problem and no damage. The broken mirror is your fault because you didn’t slow down. Now, you pay me.”

    He continued to argue so I counted every passing boda who succeeded my test. I counted to ten before I gave it a break.

    We went back and forth because this guy is the poster-child for irrationality. We had about 20 witnesses who were all telling him it was his fault and his responsibility to reconcile the situation. But, like I said, I can smell a snake.

    He began pulling out every possible excuse. (I guess he realized the fake limp didn’t stir up my pity) When that failed, he tried every other way to put the blame on me. When all else failed, he called me racist.

    At that point I got in the car and asked Titus to handle him, again, before I would lose it and throw a right cross.

    Sadly, nothing panned out. It wasn’t his bike and he had no license, so even tracking the bike would lead to a dead end. This guy was truly a snake. He lied, blamed, made excuses, and acted the entire time. He wouldn’t own up to his mistake and every trap we set for him still couldn’t keep him down because the region has NO police and no way to turn in an immediate report to some authority in the area who could be of real help.

    I took his name (probably fake) and the bike number. As my last move I threatened to go to the police but deep down I know they too are corrupt. I’d have to pay them to do their own job and most likely fail since the region is so far and we had no legitimate information on this guy.

    We moved on.

    I returned home late that night. To what? No electricity, no fan, and no electronics to even document this story. And, to top it off, our cook had broken my French press and I consequently messaged my supervisors to ask them to send me a new one and accidentally wrote, “no Cara for coffee until it arrives.” I thought it was too funny to correct and I am finding out what life is like without coffee. Maybe I’ll write a novel for that catastrophe.

    Here in Uganda everyday is a bad day, truly. Every single day something goes wrong. I think if I ever have a good day it would be the day I don’t leave my house and the electricity remains.

    But despite every surprise, roadblock, chaotic plot, and problem I realize that I have it made. You see, I’m on the same continent where Ebola is striking down the western nations. Warring neighbors surround me. I’m north and west of some major sex and labor trafficking zones. I’m east of a nation where a terrorist group kidnapped hundreds of young schoolgirls to be wed and never returned them home. I’m surrounded by countries characterized by war, terrorism, trafficking, and crimes much worse than the daily things I have to conquer. Uganda is recovering from her past and is trying to enjoy and maintain peace.

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    In perspective I often think of my colleagues in the West working in Ebola stricken hospitals. I think of my missionary friends breathing deeply through the sound of bombs bursting down their very own street.

    My bad days are bad … I’m covered in dust. I’m victim of corruption and liars. I find toads and lizards under my feet when I walk around at 4 am. I work with troubled children, deadly viruses and diseases, and extreme poverty. My car is damaged and my patience is constantly under pressure … But at the end of my bad days I always try to have a good laugh.

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    Could the bad day have been more unrealistic? Could the bad day have been more convenient than a flat tire at the butt of Cassie’s joke? Honestly, in Africa, I’m absolutely sure it COULD get more unrealistic and “convenient.” Africa is funny like that.

    Still, on your bad days, think of those in worse conditions.

    And when it is all over, have a good laugh because there isn’t much else you can do.

    From Uganda, Cara Hope

  • Thursday Updates

    Hi, friends!

    If you've been hanging around for any time at all, you'll notice our sparkling new website redesign. We are so, so excited about it! Click around, check it out, and take a gander at our new "about" and "our contributions" page. Y'all are the best!

    IMG_1441And this is how we feel about tomorrow being Friday!

    Photos // David Wallace, Model // Charles Matthews, Apparel // men, women, Web // Deatherage Web Development
  • Wednesday Wears -- Shield of Faith

    We had the pleasure of working with Charles and David at Waveland State Historic Site in Lexington a few weeks ago and let me just tell you that 30 degree weather will very quickly make your hands numb. It was such a blast getting to know these two better and work with them!

    Charles styled our Shield of Faith tee for the remainder of the winter months perfectly. Take a look!

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    You didn't believe me when I told you it was cold, but here's proof.

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    Spring is coming, friends! Stay warm!

    Photos // David Wallace, Model // Charles Matthews, Apparel // men, women
  • A Tuesday Pick Me Up

    Everyone always complains about Mondays being hard, but sometimes, Tuesdays are just as difficult. Here at the Live It Everyday HQ, it's raining and we're running crazy to get everything ready for Christmas. 'Tis the season!

    If you need a pick me up today and haven't already seen this, I'm totally obsessed with Humans of New York lately. I'm a writer, so I love stories ... especially those that are real. Here's my favorite.

    The caption is: "He does math problems out loud in his sleep. She collects vintage teacups."

    It's such a cool site, guys. Go check them out here & read some of the sweet/sad/awesome/uplifting/totally crazy stories. On your lunch break, of course (;

  • Wednesday Wears -- World Peace

    Last week, we released our new volleyball line just in time for the holidays and for the cold winter ahead.

    And here at the Live It everyday HQ, we're trying our hardest to hang onto fall. Here are a few ways to dress our world peace tee! One with leggings and a chambray shirt; the other with a maxi!

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    Fun fact: Molly is my best friend in the entire world.WW - WP - 1Our photographer snapped this because, you know, it's basically a definition of our friendship.

    DSC_4340-KyserEdit DSC_4504-KyserEditWW - WP - 2Are you sure you're okay? Yes? Okay.

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    It was so great working with Molly and our insanely talented photographer, Kyser. We had such a blast. She's wearing our women's world peace tee and I'm wearing our women's cross tee!

    Photos // Kyser Lough, Apparel // men, women
  • Throwback Thursday -- Show Hope & Family Fest

    Hey guys! I'm so excited to be introducing a new series today, Live It Everyday's very own Throwback Thursday! Each Thursday, we're going to have a post here that is in some way a throwback for our company! We love the idea of looking back and meditating and just generally laughing at ourselves and how we used to think that we could print our own shirts in our garage. Ya live and ya learn.

    Today, I'm so excited (I know, lots of excitement) to also introduce you to our brand spanking new YouTube channel! We were thrilled to be able to shoot this video at Show Hope's Family Fest this summer and we're more than ecstatic to share that video and some sweet photos with you today!

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    What, John? You want me to what? What, John? You want me to what?

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    Our new friend Scott, the Executive Director for Show Hope

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    I just did that! You guys, I just interviewed them and didn't die!

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    The music was obviously great. Though we didn't get to meet Steven, it was such an experience getting to see him perform and interact with the crowd! And yes, that man on the far right does have his head painted. These people are cool.

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    The Red Bus Project is an awesome part of what Show Hope does. It's a rolling consignment store and travels to different events, but mainly college campuses. They've visited my University in Murray, Kentucky! It was so exciting. LiveIE-ShowHope-74

    You know, drumsticks.

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    Listen, this umbrella was being difficult.

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    Watching myself on this video is KIND OF terrifying. It was my first time doing anything like it and there was DEFINITELY a huge learning curve. The good news is, is that we had an incredible videographer, John, who really walked me through how to not blink a zillion times...it didn't work out as well as we'd hoped (whoops!)! Hope you guys love it!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SrXO5nm97M

    Don't forget -- 11% of your purchase when you buy our faithful or peacemakers apparel goes to Show Hope, an organization dedicated to caring for orphans. Click here to visit Show Hope's website and check out some shirts here and here!

    Happy #throwbackthursday!

    Photos // Kyser Lough, Video // HD Perfect Video
  • Wednesday Wears -- Live It Everyday Volleyball

    It's freezing and you've got to work on your game. We know that walk from your car to the gym or from your dorm to the gym is misery. Stay warm and kill it in practice with these Live It Everyday volleyball t-shirts now available.

    Don't let the cold get to you. It may be winter, but your game can't hibernate.

    DSC_4627-KyserEdit DSC_4628-KyserEdit DSC_4716-KyserEditDon't worry, for all you short sleevers, all of our volleyball designs are offered in short sleeve, as well.

    DSC_5029-KyserEdit DSC_4868-KyserEdit This was the "Haley, I thought you promised us donuts" face.DSC_4854-KyserEditShoutout to my girl Tori who killed it in a 6 am practice with a photographer... Kind of awkward.

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    Check out the line here.

    Photos // Kyser Lough, Apparel // women

     

  • Happy Veterans Day From The Live It Everyday Team

    Today is a day of reflection, a lot like many other American holidays that celebrate the men and women who have selflessly served our country. We appreciate them, and today, we honor them.Veterans Day PostWhile we honor you today, veterans, we think of you and your sacrifices everyday. Thank you for serving our country and protecting our freedom. We do not take it for granted.

    Happy Veterans Day,

    The Live It Everyday Team

  • What Live It Everyday Means To A Full Time Missionary

    Uganda.

    I've been here for eight weeks launching the program and in that time, I've interviewed more than 50 families to potentially enroll their children in the program. Home visits have been a one-of-a-kind learning experience.

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    Most of the children live in huts. One hut I evaluated housed about 14 people; they were like sardines. Their villages reside over an hour outside of the closest city and the majority of the families live off of their own crops, only ever selling for a mere bar of soap or an attempt to scrounge up just enough shillings for school fees at the very last minute. (Here, children can attend school initially without paying their fees. Eventually, near the end of the semester, the ones who have not yet paid are sent home.) The interviews are held under the shade of tress surrounded by chickens and goats at my feet. I shake very dirty hands that have just come from attending children, animals, or working in the field. And today, I ran out of hand sanitizer. Sigh.

    The home visits have allowed me a brief glimpse into the daily routine lives of my students. I've met their students. I've met their families. I've seen their living conditions; I've witnessed their simple life raw and up close.

    In the interviews, I ask certain questions to later assess a family's level of poverty. The list of questions include inquiring about the source of their drinking water. Today, a family told me they drink from a well. I've yet to see a traditional well in Gulu, so I asked where it was.

    "You passed it on your way here; you crossed it," the family told me.

    "Well, (punny) by golly the only thing I passed and nearly fell into on my way here was a dirty pond, AKA a glorified giant standing puddle!" I thought.

    "We passed it? We passed a pond." I decided to say instead.

    "No, it is next to the pond. You will see it on your way out." They assured me. On their evaluation I checked the "safe drinking" box and wrote "well" as the source. There have been about four interviews in that area of homes.

    After the interview, we left to venture back to our car. The entire time I was checking around my feet and was ready to leap like a Broadway ballerina because an hour before, I watched a black Cobra cross my path. Talk about a rough day. Venomous cobras, nearly falling in dirty ponds, empty hand sanitizer...what would be next?

    We reached the pond (glorified puddle) as Titus helped me across the rotting logs. I wasn't seeing the well, so I asked where it was, guessing it could be behind the tall African grass. "It is here," he pointed to another pond, an actual pond, but one clearly infested with bacteria. The pond is what they were calling a well. Their "well" was a small spot where people bathe, wash their motorbikes, and collect drinking water from the murky, brown H2O with green bacteria hovering on its surface.

    "This...is not...a pond." I slowly contemplated out loud. My team laughed at me. "Sandra, pull out those evaluations and change them to unsafe drinking water, source, pond, please." I required of my assistant.

    We keep a first-aid kit in the car because home evaluations are where we witness the most unfortunate situations. Multiple times, I've gone back to the car for clean water, gloves, alcohol, Neosporin, and Band-Aids to care for an open wound.

    I once called over a little boy who appeared to have pink all over his skin in the distance. As he came nearer, I realized it wasn't a skin deformation or anything biological, but instead it was a series of open wounds and scars all down his face, neck, chest, and arms. "What happened?" I asked. "He was thrown from a Boda-Boda (motorcycle)," his mother told me.

    This family lacked any minor form of treatment to care for his wounds. His skin was peeling off like a severe sunburn and awful, make-me-queezy things were coming from underneath.

    I don't think Live It Everyday needs to just be an inspiring "go do this" or "feel this" kind of lifestyle. Sometimes, living life and living it to the fullest is plain awareness. Sometimes, living it everyday is silly knowing that you have it made. Your life is most likely surrounded by clean water and a fully stocked medicine cabinet, things that make a difference between life and death in other areas of the world.

    So today, just live it out knowing that you're blessed. Live it out in awareness that other parts of the world are suffering, but to them it's just normal life. Live today as passionate, or compassionate, and do something about it. Be aware! And feel blessed.

    Still hiding from the cobras, Cara

    To see more about the program that Cara is coordinating, click here. To give, click here. To read more about her adventures on her personal blog, click here

  • A Runner's Personal Running Motivations

    The good Lord and running.

    The two go together more than you might think.

    For one, there are tons of Bible verses that have helped me through hard practices and victorious races.

    One of the more popular verses that athletes live and die by is Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

    For two, do you know how many times I have cursed while running? Whether it’s the pain I feel in my lungs or the feeling of not being good enough, running has broken me down several times. But that’s the thing about running; it can also build you back up.

    Biblical Half Marathon Motivation

    So here is a verse for every mile of a half marathon.

    Mile 1: Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of age. Matthew 28:20

    Mile 2: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

    Mile 3: He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. Psalm 91:11

    Mile 4: Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. 1 John 3:7

    Mile 5: The Lord will work out his plans for my life. Psalm 138:8

    Mile 6: Whatever you do, do well. Ecclesiastes 9:10

    Mile 7: You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20

    Mile 8: I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize. Philippians 3:13

    Mile 9: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we van imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 

    Mile 10: Anything is possible if a person believes. Mark 9:23

    Mile 11: I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8

    Mile 12: The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38

    Mile 13: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

    So next time you have a great race or are struggling during a daily run, remember these verses and keep run hard.

    Happy running, Meghann

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