30 March 2008

kia sabite = sunday

I don't have any of the other days memorized yet but this one has stuck since it has some frame of reference for me (sabite, sabbath, shabbat, etc).

Today I went to church with my friend Asita (pronounced Asta and as she says "in luzungu: Esther").  It was another over the river and through the woods adventure, was about a 45 minute walk or so to Bundikahungu Church of Uganda.  Her husband Buligi is a church leader in this parish of the Anglican denomination called the Church of Uganda.  He wore a white robe, he knelt and prayed and there were a few congregational "readings"/call & response type liturgical parts but of course no one has books of any sort so they have it all memorized.  Mwesige Jophes sat next to me and translated a total of about 10 phrases throughout the 2.5 hour service.  So, needless to say, I only got the highlights for sure but you can tell generally by people's faces/tones of voice, etc, what is going on.  Just before the sermon, Buligi motioned to me to come to the pulpit and said something or other in Lubwisi that I didn't understand and I couldn't even understand what Jophes was saying in English (or "Luzungu" = white people's language) but I knew enough to know that he wanted me to come and say something to the congregation...hm...well, okay, here goes...I told  them it was so good to come here to Africa from America and be able to worship with them, to experience another part of God's Kingdom...that all around the world we have brothers and sisters and that we all worship the same God, and thanked them very much for having me...whew, it wasn't too bad.  Buligi then preached about the fact that Jesus came to bring peace to the world.  We sang two songs I had heard before and the others I just clapped along with.  The offering involves an auction of sorts, as it does in most churches here, if you bring soybeans, matoke, sweet potatoes, and give them as a tithe then they auction them off to someone that needs them for their family that week and the proceeds go into the offering plate...kind of a really nifty idea I think...

I hope to post a picture but the internet is being absolutely horrendously slow...On our way to church we passed another church in full swing, it was just a thatched roof held up by 5 wooden poles or so but it faced a breathtaking backdrop of the Rwenzori's.  It's a beautiful day here today and I stopped on the way home to take a photo...one of these days you'll see it...

26 March 2008

Gory Days

So, I could post everyday about things I’ve seen, heard, done, and lead you to believe I’m some kind of superwoman, but I would also totally be pulling the wool over your eyes. That’s the thing about a blog, you can put your best foot forward in each entry (most of the time – I’m not even really all that successful at that) and, because in my case I’m living halfway around the world, no one would ever know the difference. You don’t read the stories of when I snap at my housemate or the kids who mock me as I ride by on my bike, or the times when I put my own comfort ahead of being culturally sensitive, or the stories about how I’ve been here for two months now and still can’t remember whether Amoxicillin/Septrin/Augmentin/Cloxacillin are given 2 or 3 times per day when given orally, or how many days oral Quinine is given for if no IV doses are used, or about how tentative/hesitant I tend to get about doing new things here by myself, or how much I care about what my teammates think of me and what I can/can’t do well, or how defensive I get when I feel devalued by something someone says to/about me, and the list goes on and on and on…

So, when I mistakenly lead you to believing that I’m a superwoman, remember these things are true too. I’m reminding you to remember that I’m fallen; me and all the other missionaries/people in this world, and I’m reminding you of that today because I’m acutely aware of it today. All those things I listed above have been true of me in the last 24-48 hours or so, and it’s painful to think them and the fact that they’re not even the worst of it. It’s good for me to be acutely aware of these things, but it’s not fun.

When I encounter people who put their pastors up on a pedestal and treat them like gods I’m quick to tell them to remember that they’re just people too, they go to the bathroom and yell at their kids and wake up with morning breath and bed head and all the rest. I’m learning that it’s easy for people to put missionaries up on pedestals too, and there are things that we do as missionaries that encourage that, and one of those things is reporting the glory stories and not the gory stories to those that know us, love us, and support us. I have been a culprit of this and for this I apologize. Ask me for some gory stories now and again and I’ll be reminded that whether I like it or not, they’re true and you need to hear them too.

19 March 2008

Notes on Death and Grief cont.

So here are a few more things I took note of in watching how the Ugandans handled death and grief.

- Instead of stepping back/away upon hearing of death as I literally did, the Ugandans step forward/towards the loved ones left behind. They all literally step towards the grieving, they walk right up to the house, into the room where the dead person’s body is lying and greet/sit with the family/friends.
- It doesn’t seem to matter how well you know the one who died or the family members, everybody comes to greet/sit.
- The sitting lasts all night, when I came back to the Health Center the next morning there were logs outside of his house, still smoldering, around which everyone had gathered all night.
- Most people were not crying. Jennifer said this was a very unusual setting because Stewarts biological mother lives in Jinja where Bigui is from, so she was not present when/after he died. Bigui’s second wife, who is from here and lives here, was present and was crying softly in the corner as Bigui spoke of his son and as Ammon sniffled with his head down. Evidently the biological mother practically lays on top of the body and wails, and then everyone else wails/cries along with her, so because she was not there it was really pretty quiet except for what Bigui was saying.
-there was going to be some sort of embalming involving parafin (kerosene) and syringes but I didn't see what they did really. But a couple of the nurses stepped in to do that
-people bring money to help with burial costs and transport, etc.
-men and women were sitting inside with the body, evidently usually it's just women and the men sit outside.

18 March 2008

Notes on Death and Grief

Yesterday Bigui’s 7 yo son died of heart failure related complications of Sickle Cell Disease. Bigui is a middle aged guy probably my dad’s age I would guess, and he’s the in charge clinical officer at Nyahuka Health Center here in town which means he’s the most senior authority overseeing the place. He has a good sense of humor, is really kind and seems to have a sense of integrity too.

Stewart was really sick all weekend and died mid-morning on Monday. Jennifer had seen him in the morning before coming to the ward for rounds and told me when I asked how he was doing that “he can’t get much worse without dying.” After we were doing seeing the inpatients on the ward I looked out the windows in the doors to the ward and noticed there were a lot of people gathered around where Bigui stays (some staff have housing on the grounds of the Health Center). I had my suspicions and asked one of the nurses why all of the people were gathered outside and she told me she had just heard that Stewart had died. She told Jennifer who dropped everything and went across the yard. I needed to make sure that nobody walked off with all of the medicine on the cart, so I went to put it away. When I finished I went and stood outside of the ward, across the yard from Bigui’s place. I was conscious of the thoughts re. my own cultural norms/expectations going through my head about what to do/not to do at this point in time:
- I don’t know Bigui very well, I’ve only been here 7 weeks or so, and I didn’t know Stewart at all…
- Who wants a white girl that doesn’t know what to do hanging around anyways making things more awkward than they already are…
- I want to give Bigui and his family space to grieve without having to entertain people that don’t know what to do/say who are hanging around
- What would I do in the States? In the States everyone except close family and friends steps back when someone dies, even in hospital culture only the staff involved in the patient’s care are involved…everyone says it’s to give the close family and friends space but I think it’s really more about avoiding the look/smell/emotions/thoughts/fears/words of death, at least it is sometimes for me.
- But when I have been close to death, touching it, holding it, smelling it, thinking about it, talking about it, it has been a priviledge.
- I wonder what they do here? All of these people are gathering around the front door, and he’s not been dead more than an hour or two max. I wonder if this is welcomed by Bigui and his family or not. Is this what everyone does? Are they gawking? Is this their way of loving?
- If I go over what do I do, what do I say? Do I go inside or stay outside? Do I say anything? Do I do anything? Do women do something different than men? Can I cry or should I not?

So for a time I remained at a distance and watched and wondered.

Then Jennifer beckoned me over and we went in and sat. That's what people do here, they sit. We sat in a room on benches, and Bigui sat on a bench next to a mattress on the floor that had his dead son lying on it, covered in light blue flower print sheet. The first thing Bigui said when I arrived was "I'm stable. I'm firm. God has helped me to be firm." He went on to talk about his son, how sick he had become so quickly. How when he was well he had learned to play football (soccer) and cope with his sickle cell disease very well. His eyes were pink and glassy with tears but he never shed one that I saw. Ammon, the other clinical officer sat down next to him and while Bigui spoke of his son began to shed his tears, with his head down and only a few sniffles gave the tears away. It seems that similar to the States, men here are not supposed to cry. But Ammon's kind heart and sweet spirit were shown through his tears. Other nurses, midwives, sweepers, slashers, assistants of all kinds gathered around.

Another thing Bigui said was that "we had the medicine, we had the man power, but God, He is the commander in chief. I did not think it was a good idea to take my son, but God, He had another idea. I know that you all did not want my son to die and I thank you for all of your work and assistance, we had everything that we needed, but God took him. He had another plan."

More another time...

A little something about a bike...

I’ve commented more than once about how much I’ve enjoyed the bike that my brother gave me for Christmas. Today I thought I’d tell you a little something about why I’ve enjoyed it so much. I think I’ve never really had a nice bike, and this little green machine is a mighty nice bike. I mean, it’s not a Cadillac, you don’t look at it and go “wow, now that’s a nice bike!” but that’s one of the things I like about it, it’s not show-offy but it gets the job done very well. Some of you are thinking, “come on now, Heidi, enough about the bike!” but just stick with me here for a little while. So, the non-show-offy-ness of the bike is loveable quality number one. Number two is the ease with which you can shift gears, no oomf required that usually makes you overshift and end up in the wrong gear and frustrated, just quick and easy dial turning on the right handlebar, it’s beautiful. Number three is how effective and efficient each gear change is; each change really does make a big difference in the increase/decrease in effort required/yielded with each rotation of the wheel. Loveable quality number four is the seat, a very nice air gel seat that makes for a non-sore-toushy at the end of the day and doesn’t look like a granny seat. Number five is the carrying rack on the back, which I told you about in a previous post so I won’t describe it any further – let me just say, very helpful here. Number six is the looks of it – just a subtly snazzy dark green machine!

Stephanie took the this picture of me and my green machine today crossing the river on the way to Busunga, the same satellite Health Unit we visited when we got stuck in the rain several weeks back. This is the river where there used to be a bridge but the river flooded last fall and washed the bridge away. The other picture is a yota for Jeff in thanks for a great job on the bike. Notice the guy in the background in nice pants and shoes being carried across the river by another guy; that’s one way to make a living.

Right now Stephanie and Karen and Scott and Jennifer are meeting with two of the guys who work with us in the Nutrition programs (Geofrey and Lamech), to try to get their side of the story involving accusations their coworker Pauline has made against Geofrey. Stephanie and I were just talking while huffing and puffing up one of the hills on our way to Busunga this afternoon saying that we really want for none of them to have to go, but for there to be some miraculous resolution to the situation and that everyone will be able to continue on without hostility. But this is one of those situations where short of an intervention of the Holy Spirit we don’t see a way for that to happen. It’s just really sad and really hard to know what’s true and right and just.

**so this just cut and pasted from Word via Firefox but not Safari, hmmm...**

Cutting and Pasting

What in the world am I doing wrong?  Can anyone tell me why what I write in Word won't paste into this little box I'm writing in to post here on blogger?  It's driving me crazy.

another tuesday

So, in few minutes I'm off through the river and through the woods to one of the satellite nutrition programs with Stephanie and hopefully it doesn't rain again, but what is there to do? Nothing. 

I hope to write more soon about yesterday.  It was quite an experience, my first with death here really.  The in charge clinical officer at the Health Center lost his 7yo son yesterday morning to heart failure as a result of Sickle Cell.  It was really interesting being conscious of my own cultural expectations/norms about death and grieving, and trying to be open to/figure out a new set of expectations/norms.

16 March 2008

Happy Palm Sunday everyone!

Today we were reading the account of Palm Sunday from Mark 11: 1-11 and I couldn't understand the reading/talking so I read it and then started reading the story preceeding the account and was totally blown away...Bartimaeus' persistence and not caring what everyone thought, his eagerness as he threw off his cloak and sprang up when Jesus called him to himself, and when Jesus asked what he wanted, he said "I want my sight"- plain and simple, and Jesus answered his plea because of his faith it says...this is what I needed to hear this week, that Jesus does pay attention, that he does see our persistence when others mock us, calls us to himself, and that he HEALS!  Dear Jesus, I believe, please help my unbelief!

Assorted Photos

WHM ladies plus a few kids at Mountains of the Moon (hotel in Fort Portal) on the day of the departure of the Bartkoviches (JD Bartkovich is the one seated on the couch in the middle). From Left to right: Jennifer Myhre, Annelise Pierce, Sarah Reber, JD, Karen Masso, Stephanie Jilcott, Pat Abbott (seated on the right) and Ashley Wood (standing on the right).

This is a warthog - think Hakuna Matata :) But I had no idea that they are so lazy that they kneel with their two front legs as they eat from the ground. This one was right by our hotel rooms at Mweya (he should have made it with the other Mweya shots but oh well).
Ebola healthcare worker graves at Bundibugyo Hospital - Dr. Jonah's is the one on the left and there are 4 total (the head nurse, the eye assistant, a clinical officer, and Dr. Jonah). I pretty well lost it when I stood close to the graves - it's just so wrong - these were the ones fighting!

Melen (Dr. Jonah's wife) and Jennifer after the brief memorial ceremony on
Bundibugyo Ebola Free Celebration Day

The Kwejuna Project food distribution was quite a long and drawn out process - giving food out to about 150 HIV+ women and I said to Scott Myhre towards the end, "we're going to be here until the cows come home!" "The cows ARE home!" he answered. Here's one of said cows out the widow of the church/community center here on the mission where the food distribution took place.

Scott sharing a little bit of God's love for these women from the Bible
before the food was handed out.

Bundikiyora church ladies and me Sunday 2/24

Bundikiyora church kids with Wade and Shannon

Mweya photos (2/27-29)

"Heidi and Jeffrey, stop running down the stairs, you sound like a herd of elephants!"


Back Itch

Safari morning - the most worth it 6am wake up I've ever had! You get up, get in the car, and drive and all of these amazing things just pass by, it was incredible!

- "Would I?" - "Big ears!" he he he

Can you see the lioness?

Water Buck

Safari Feet

15 March 2008

Ants in your pants!

Impali bring a whole new meaning to this phrase my dad used to use to describe us kids when we were really figety and couldn't stay still. Impali are pinching ants that travel in swarms along a linear path and who invaded my house yesterday morning. They had invaded the girls' house next door a few days before I so I knew it was only a matter of time before they came to my house. I was locking my door in the rain on the way to the health center and was already late and looked down at the doorway and there they were, marching right accross the doorway and under the door and into my house. They follow the walls so they had marched all the way around my greeting room and the storage room off of it but luckily that's as far as they got. I got out the can of Doom and they all promptly met their death. But evidently I need to mix water and Kerosene and pour it outside by the door and that will serve as a barrier they won't cross.

But when walking over to the girls' house to watch a movie after dinner last night I got into the house and thought I had successfully avoided the Impali attack and was sitting down on the couch and "ow ow ow ow!" I yelped after one pinched my leg and jumped up and had to take my pants off in the middle of their living room to get the couple of little pinching buggers out! The girls had both done the same thing at my house earlier in the evening so they knew exactly what was going on and all I could think of was "ants in my pants that make me wanna dance!"

Today I have the task of sweeping up the dead Impali in my house and making the kerosene barrier. Fun times.

The end of a WEEK!

I thought I'd post this picture just in case you all have forgotten what I look like, Scott took it last week during rounds. This little one's name is Asimwe Annet I think and she was just sitting on her bed and smiling as we were seeing the patient in the next bed so I couldn't help but pick her up and love on her a little. She's HIV + as is her mom, and she was in for weight gain. One day this week I caught her smiling and laughing with her mom as her mom did the African equivalent of raspberries on her belly, it was so precious to see her mom lovin' on her like that.

It's been quite a week. Last night Ashley and Sarah came over for dinner because I was needing to find ways to use up both of my portions of DMC milk for the week and so I made pasta with a white sauce with veggies and cinnamon rolls (using up the milk was a great excuse for making cinnamon rolls - which didn't really turn out as well as I'd hoped but they were pretty good for a first African attempt). The meal was really yummy if I do say so myself and the girls seemed to enjoy it too, and with a glass of red wine for each of us it was a great end to a rough week!

My mom asked for some more details on the drunken soldier story and I realized my vague illusion to that could leave several of you, especially a mother, a little worried. It wasn't really all that bad, it was just par for the course for how Wednesday was coming along. After the 32 wkr premie that wasn't breathing, shattering an ampule of Artenam while trying to draw it up and gauging my thumb in the process (think Heidi's blood dripping all over the unit while she looks for something clean and dry to stop the bleeding - and the shattering, it's what every nurse is afraid of when cracking open an ampule, but never happens - until wednesday) for a septic unconscious kid with high fevers and a stiff neck and extremities who we thought might have malaria but it turns out was probably "just" septic and died a few hours later, the HIV/AIDS ART clinic operating without Scott Myhre or Scott Will or Pat - they ran out of Septrin and there was a box at my house so I biked home on Jennifer's bike and got the super heavy box of septrin and loaded it onto the back of my bike's snazzy carrying rack (thanks Jeff!) and rode the bike very carefully (as carefully as you can on these roads) back down to the clinic trying not to topple the bike over as boda's and trucks are racing by, and then after everyone leaves I'm the last one there and decide to organize the charts for next week's clinic and just before I'm finished the drunken soldier comes into the clinic expecting to get his meds and seen by the doctor. His eyes are blood shot and glazed over, his speech isn't all that clear (especially his attempts at english) and he's not standing all that steadily either. I try to explain to him that I'm the only one here, that all I have is the charts, no medicine, no doctor, that everyone has gone and he has come too late. He persists and hands me his number, "I'm glad to see you have your number," I said, "but I have no medicine to give you and there is no doctor here to see you." "Give me my book!" he continues to insist and I'm now begining to get a little worried that his insistence is going to go a few steps past belligerence and into something a little more scary, and just then two Ugandans came from no where and started talking the guy down and telling him what was up. One was a sweeper lady who cleans the buildings in the health center, and the other was some random man but they told him he was too late, there was nothing I could do and to stop disturbing me (pretty much just what I had told him) and the guy ushered the soldier away. I have no idea how they knew what was going on because there didn't seem to be anyone around - maybe my english sticks out enough that they could hear it outside around the building and could tell I needed some help. In any case, thank God for them, I didn't have it in me after the rest of the day to be all that patient with him.

Ngonzi Christopher is still holding his own, each time that Jennifer and I have seen him since that first day he's been sleeping or without spasms at the moment.

13 March 2008


Means hospital.  And as I was leaving today there was a woman walking to the hospital carrying everything she would need to cook/live at the hospital in her arms and carrying the mattress she planned to sleep on in the hospital ON HER HEAD! 

The 32 week premie who wasn't breathing yesterday morning is still breathing today.  Only by the grace of God.

This afternoon is Team Mtg with Team Pizza following which I am very excited about.  I look forward to thursday afternoons/evenings.  It means a little bit of life together and not so much on my own (especially this week).  

12 March 2008

The rubber hits the road

I have 4 minutes left of internet time, let me just say that it's been a rough few days, and I wrote all about it but can't get it to successfully cut and paste into this post, so you'll just have to take my word for it...it includes me being the sole medical person in the peds ward yesterday before Jennifer arrived with a baby who wasn't really so much breathing, a lone encounter with a drunk UPDF soldier, and a whole lot of other stuff in between...thanks for praying.

11 March 2008

let it out

aaaaaahhhhhhhhh.....so frustrating...email's not working right, blogging isn't working right, internet is so dang slow...TIA, This Is Africa...sometimes I just wanna scream.  Today it was so random, I ended up helping in Immunization clinic today because everyone's coming out of the woodwork to get their kids immunized now that Ebola's over and we are allowed to give them again...it's good, I'm glad they're coming, but I was standing there calling out names, and a room full of women holding their babies are staring back at me like I'm from another planet, so I repeat it again, faster and with my very best African English accent (which if you've ever heard me try to pull off an accent you know is pretty bad), and they all continue to stare back at me...the nurse standing behind me takes the card out of my hand, says the name a couple of times and the mom pops right out of her seat "Nisioni!" she says, "that's me"...for the love of it...and then right then and there I had a craving for Chick-Fil-A...how strange is that...standing there sweating (a constant state of existence here) infront of a room crammed full of Babwisi women and their babies and I'm craving Chick-Fil-A...just great.  I told myself, Heidi, there's no time for this foolishness, get your mind back to Polio and Measles...and on I went, making babies cry, what a wonderful profession...geez louise...

10 March 2008

Ngonzi Christopher

Can you imagine being 8 years old and being alert and oriented and having your body convulsing uncontrollably? Today Jennifer and I went to the male ward to see an 8 year old boy that the head nurse said was convulsing and Bigui (In Charge Clinical Officer = PA or NP level clinician) was perplexed about how to diagnose/treat. We approach the bedside and from standing at the foot of his bed I could hear the fluid rattling around in his lungs with each breath. His bare torso is a “six pack” flexed like I’ve never seen before, each muscle very sharply defined, he has an irregular breathing pattern marked by a series of rapid breaths and then a few minutes of slow breaths, and then he opens his eyes and is moaning some, Jennifer asks him a question in Lubwisi and he answers, I ask what he said and Jennifer said that he said that his breathing/chest is all that hurts...when she asked is that it, he even managed to do the affirmative eye-brown raising that they do here when answering yes to questions, and then every muscle in his body spasmed and his face winced...Jennifer tried a spinal tap (in case it's meningitis which is doubtful) but his body was stiff as a board and we couldn't get him curled into the position to enable her to get the needle in the right place...meanwhile we're explaining to a conscious 8 year old that we're going to stick a needle into his back when his body is already out of control...I know very little about tetanus, I never saw it at Childrens back home, but evidently the mortality rate is high and it's from what I've seen today a really awful way to go, so pray if you're able, please! I would be terrified if I were him!

09 March 2008

A few sunday tidbits

-I just noticed in church today that save a few women sitting with their husbands, and the WHM families sitting together, that the women and young women/girls sit on one side and the men and young men/boys sit on the other side (this is my 4th time worshipping in this particular church, not sure why it has taken me so long to realize this).
-You know you're in Africa when the "offering plates" are the same kind of plastic containers with lids that you pee in at night when you don't want to trek out to the cho in the dark.
-It gets a little wearisome when you can't even get through a church service without someone leaning over and putting their hand out in front of you and saying "you give me money!"

08 March 2008


from last night...

So, it’s Friday night around 8pm and I’m just getting settled in at home for an evening of “normal” Friday night-ish activities like ice cream and a movie. Yep, you read correctly, I wrote ICE CREAM! I’ve been sleeping in an empty room next door at Stephanie’s because her roommates and my housemate are all gone for the week and, well, when one is a single woman living in Africa it’s nice to go to bed at night knowing there’s someone else in the house ☺ Anyways, the point is, they have an ice cream maker and it was my night for taking the evening portion of DMC’s milk (the Myhre’s cow is named Dairy Milk Chocolate) last night and so we have fresh, pasteurized on the stove, cream settled on the top, whole cow’s milk to make ice cream with, so I’m super excited! Maybe I’ll put chocolate chips in it and make chocolate chip ice cream…anyways, can you tell I’m just a little bit looking forward to this?!

So, a few notes from the day…

- one of the unfortunate things about wearing long skirts and living on the equator (ie. it’s HOT here), is that when sitting, it doesn’t really work very well when one tries to cross one’s legs…one leg just slips and slides right off of the other slick and sweaty leg…and I’m sooooo figety when I’m sitting for long periods of time because of my back or something, it’s really hard not to be able to cross my legs…
- Affection is evidently only something experienced between friends/siblings here. Men/boys will hold each others’ hands while talking or walking together as will women/girls, but men and women do not. I told Karen Masso that I’ve noticed that there’s no PDA (public display of affection) here, and then I asked if affection is really a concept/notion here between men and women at all and she said it isn’t, that affection is only experienced/expressed between friends/siblings.
- Men and women don’t really ever date here, you’re either sleeping together or married and it seems that neither really involves much (if any) of what I would recognize as love/affection. Getting “ringed” is becoming a bigger and bigger deal in the church at large here. The first Ugandan home I was in, the couple started asking me about my family and one of the first things they asked was whether my parents were “ringed” and when the wife began to tug on her wedding band and looking inquisitively at me I finally understood what she meant, and I shook my head yes and told them my parents were indeed “ringed” and they both smiled and said “EHhhh” in approval. In most families here the father has many wives and each “marriage” is simply an economic and conjugal agreement of sorts it seems without a formal ceremony or rings involved, so it’s a big deal when a man and woman commit to faithfulness to each other as one, and that’s what the wedding or “ringing” symbolizes.
- Women are not usually offered, and therefore don’t usually drink, alcoholic drinks here (ie. when there’s an event in someone’s home or in the community and alcohol is served, it is served to the men in the room/yard/space).

I’m thinking about all of these things because today I went to a 6 hour “Introduction” ceremony/event for a young man and woman who intend to be married (the wedding was actually supposed to be tomorrow but her dad decided he’s too busy and important to come from near Kampala right now so it’s being pushed back until April (this is the 3rd postponement in the last 3 months). Basically the ceremony included the families/friends of the couple (back in the day this would potentially be the first time they were meeting each other); the woman’s family doing a series of skit like exchanges offering other women to the man’s family first and the man’s family has to pay the woman’s family money to send the other women away, etc., the woman’s family bartering with the man’s family for money, goats and cows since they are giving up their precious daughter (can you tell that so far it’s just one way after another for the woman’s family to milk as much money from the man’s family as they can?!) There was eating and there was soda ☺, and then the best part came right at the end, the exchanging of engagement rings. Ndyezika and Juliet each spoke briefly, before placing a ring on the other’s middle finger, of their love for the other, of how God has answered their prayers for a wonderful God fearing spouse and how He had brought them this far and they pray He will keep them forever, and Juliet added that if anyone in her family should try to “disturb” her being married to this man, she will laugh in their face! You go girl! It really was totally worth the 6 hour wait. I had been sitting spending most of the time lamenting what marriage seems to be in this culture in my mind and then this young man and woman blew their cultural norms out of the water in such a beautiful way!

06 March 2008

"Why am I afraid to love?"

I wrote this entry last night...


"Why am I afraid to love?"– Ken Medema

Am I afraid of losing what I give in love?
Am I afraid of giving what’s not wanted?
Am I afraid you’ll use me if I pour out my heart?
Why? Why am I afraid to love?

Am I afraid of loving only for myself?
Am I afraid my love will be untaken?
Am I afraid that somehow you will turn me away?
Why? Why am I afraid to love?

Am I afraid of pleading? Am I afraid of bleeding? Am I afraid of crying? Am I afraid of trying? Am I afraid of dying? All for love? All for love?

Dear Jesus, love me now, again I pray.
Hold me close to your breast and let me stay.
Let perfect love work in me casting out my fear.
Teach me not to be afraid to love.

Am I afraid of pleading? Am I afraid of bleeding? Am I afraid of crying? Am I afraid of trying? Am I afraid of dying? All for love? All for love?

Dear Jesus, love me now, again I pray
Hold me close to your breast and let me stay.
Let perfect love work in me casting out my fears
Teach me not to be afraid to love, no, not to be afraid to love, you know how hard it is to love.


This song brought tears to my eyes tonight as I listened. Ken Medema has quite a way with words, he seems to put my thoughts into words in a way not many other songwriters do (sometimes I don’t even know they’re thoughts - which is probably why I have tears streaming down my face). Geez louise, this is one wise blind pianist, let me tell you. This song also has a good bit of meaning for me in relation to my childhood. Mr. John sang this song on the Redeemer Church choir tape I think…way back in the 80’s, I was maybe 9 or 10 at the time, and it has always struck a chord in me from what I remember…and here in Africa it takes on a whole new meaning, on so many different levels…

This morning I found out that Byamukama James, the “blinker” I blogged about a few entries ago, died yesterday afternoon. It was a surprise because he looked no different to any of us yesterday morning than any other morning, and evidently in the afternoon he suddenly went into respiratory distress and died within two hours. He was HIV+, was trying to recover from Kwashiorkor, and had been started on TB meds the day or two before he died…now can you imagine why it took every ounce of energy in his body to blink? Am I afraid of pleading/bleeding/crying/trying/dying on behalf of these kids? All for love? It hurts, but they hurt more…

The latest heart string tugger is a little 8 year old named Sureka Jackson. He’s developmentally delayed (most of my heart string tuggers are it seems), has strabismus (his eyes are crossed most of the time), and is WAY underweight…like under 10kg…TINY little guy and pretty shy it seems but sooooooooooo very cute...I caught the series of shots above of him sitting outside of the Peds ward today from my seat across the yard at the World AIDS Day celebration (which I learned today was actually celebrated elsewhere around the world on Dec. 1st, but seeing as Bundibugyo was in the throws of Ebola at that point there was no celebrating going on here then, so it was postponed until today).

05 March 2008

photo resizing attempt

Success! Wow that was so much faster! I just went and reduced the size of the photo in the iphoto exporting options before exporting it to my desktop and then uploading to my blog page, so maybe this means you'll all get the photos you've been hoping for :) And maybe this means I'll take more since it's easier to post them...but for now you can enjoy this guy - yep, I saw him with my own two eyes, this is no National Geographic photo, this is a Heidi Jeanne original! Internet is up in about 5 minutes so I must go, but today is the World AIDS Day celebration here (kind of strange to celebrate a horrendous deadly disease, but I think it's really a celebration of the opportunity for testing and treatment and awareness and such...so we'll see if we can get much of anything done at the Health Center today....doubtful...).

01 March 2008

Boda Boda

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have taken the plunge and can now say that I am a boda riding resident of Uganda! I'm sitting here in my first internet cafe in Uganda, in Fort Portal, and to get here from my friends' house in Busoro county on the outskirts of the city I took on a challenge. I walked to the main road and a motorcycle driver honked quickly twice as he was coming up behind me, I turned around and he slowed to a stop beside me. "Are you going to town?" he asked, and I said, "Yes, thank you. I need to go to Andrews' supermarket, do you know it?" "Yes, I know it"
he replied. "Okay" I said as I sat my skirted self side saddle on the back of his boda (motorcycle taxi). "This is my first time to ride a boda" I added as I climbed on. "Okay" he added with a chuckle. He asked if I had just come here as he drove off rather gently (for which I was thankful). I replied that I have been in Bundibugyo and we walk everywhere there. That was the end of our conversing as the wind created by the movement of the bike is not very conducive to hearing much of anything. The trip was very uneventful, for which I was also thankful, and we arrived at Andrews' supermarket both in one piece and I paid the driver 1500 USh (Ugandan Shillings) for the 10 minute drive which he maneuvered very well and thanked him very much.

Now, this might sound like an unimportant set of events but I can assure you it indeed is not. Let me just tell you about the thought processes and questions that I went through in order to get to the point where I reached this accomplishment...Rachel was at home as I left she and Katy's house in Busoro and so she walked me through it all before I left but here's all that led up to this infamous boda ride:

1. Where do I go to get a boda? Do they come to you or do I have to walk to a taxi park or a certain corner or location?
2. How do I get a boda? Do I walk up to several and have to choose one or do I just have to bargain with one? Do I have to make a certain gesture or say a certain thing to let the boda's driving by that I would like a ride? How do I gesture, if that is in fact what I need to do, without giving the impression that I'm a prostitute or selling something illegal or God knows what else?
3. How do I find out how much they're going to charge me? How much is reasonable?
4. Will they speak English enough that I can communicate to them where I want to go?
5. How do I sit on the back of a motorcycle in a skirt without falling off?
6. How do I "hold on"?...I've never ridden a motorcycle in the US let alone in a foreign country, and wrapping my arms around a strange man's waist (which looks to me like the only way to successfully stay on the back of such a vehicle) doesn't like a good idea to me in general, but I certainly don't want to be roadkill either considering the roads here are the single largest risk to one's life...
7. Is the driver going to expect payment at the begining of the ride or the end?
8. What am I going to do if the driver takes advantage of me having no idea where I'm going or what I'm doing and takes me wherever the heck he wants...(which has happened to friends of mine in taxis in other places in the world).

So, after all of that the questions and answers (I didn't ask Rachel all of them) and talking myself out of thinking about all of my mom's stories about riding on bikes and getting feet stuck in tire spokes and thinking about the men I've taken care of in the hospital (especially when I worked at SLUH) who were s/p motorcycle accidents with road rash all over the front of their bodies from skidding across the pavement head first, I took the plunge and succeeded without a hitch!