27 May 2008

More on re-entry...

• I think God certainly created us to work together…it’s hard sometimes but I really think it’s healthier…we’re not all alike, and when we work together I think it draws different parts of each of us out and they complement one another…I think it’s actually the same things that make it healthy make it really hard too sometimes…we face things in other people that we wish we had in us, or we face things in others that we don’t necessarily like but are good and helpful and necessary at certain times…maybe some of you who are married are thinking, “duh, Heidi!” Because I imagine and have heard that this is most evident in the relationship between husband and wife, but let me tell you it’s not only in that relationship that this is true. The rest of us are roommates, and coworkers, and teammates and friends and sons/daughters and brothers/sisters of various kinds.

• I’m thinking about this because it was showcased at my front door this afternoon. Michael sent a woman and her 4 mo nephew whose mother died 3 weeks ago after being bitten by a snake. This woman, named Rebecca, has been breastfeeding this child since the mother died and she lives about an hour and a half away from me. Someone told her that the people at our church help orphans and so she came seeking some kind of assistance (she never really said what exactly she expected to get/find in the way of assistance). Unfortunately she doesn’t really fit the program that we have, and the child seems healthy for the most part, so there’s not much we have to offer her. Pat and I talked with her together and as we prayed for this woman after giving her money for transport home and some small pocket money I realized that God had used my familiarity with the programs available, and my practical/factual persona, combined with Pat’s language skills, personable/winsome/compassionate persona to show what I can only pray was love to this woman. I was smacked in the face by my lack of compassion and love and tendency towards rules and guidelines, but was so very thankful for Pat’s presence and communication and relating to/with this woman.

• Because of this interaction with Rebecca, I’m also realizing what I anticipated might be the case before we came back…I think I’m engaging more…it’s hard but it’s good. I’ve been in survival mode I think for the last 3 (almost 4) months and now I’m coming out of my shell…my emotionally protective shell…watch out world…or maybe I feel like I have the potential to come of my shell, we’ll just have to see what happens. I feel like I’m beginning to be more aware of the disparity here, more aware of the reality of the situations people are in around me. I’m feeling more of the weight of needing to be faithful with the resources God has given me and what that might look like/not look like. What does love look like/not look like? All of this means more questions, more being unsure, and likely more tears.

• You should also know that with experience here in Bundibugyo also comes the ability to kill large spiders, the size of my hand, ALL BY MYSELF! This afternoon, the cho, 1 can of Doom, 1 cho lid, 1 dustpan, and no screams. Hasta la pasta spider! Now, if only they had Doom for snakes…I have yet to see one but that’s gonna be quite the event, I’m sure.

25 May 2008

Aaaahhh home...

But first a few pictures from a visit to International Hospital in Kampala to visit Maate, the 15 year old who Jennifer referred there for treatment for what turned out to be disseminated TB in his GI track. He's doing well, has more energy and spunk, but still hasn't gained much weight. He'll stay at International until he's able to tolerate solid food by mouth and demonstrates weight gain while doing so. He has a feeding tube and gets some calories that way until he can tolerate food by mouth. It was great to see him and it seems they treat him well and that he's hanging in there. He's been there almost 6 weeks now and when I asked him if he's eager to go home he said he is but that he understands that they need to be patient with getting better and that it will go slowly. It's only slightly ironic that I'm wearing my Ted Drewes shirt and visiting a child that has likely never had ice cream and may never in his life, not to mention is 15 years old and doesn't weigh much more than 20 kg! Great choice on the wardrobe for the day, Heidi. Geez louise. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

This is Maate and his dad - it's a huge deal that his dad is even there, and he seems to be doing a good job with him and his care too...initially Maate's mom didn't think they'd be able to convince him to go with Maate to Kampala, so the fact that he went and is still there is a huge answer to prayer. Thanks to all of you who prayed for Maate - keep it up! As you can see he's got a long way to go before he's a healthy 15 year old!
A bedside in the Hope ward - a ward for sick kids who can't afford to pay for their care - it's funded by various businesses and organizations around Uganda and it's absolutely phenomenal that this kind of care is made available to people like Maate this way. SLCH friends - notice the lack of equipment at the bedside and the presence of the mosquito net over the bed...different priorities and resources!
This is the outside of the hospital - mind you this is a private hospital but pretty nice, eh?
Here's the instructions on the inside of the bathroom stall door instructing people on how to properly use a flush toilet - note "1. Do not stand on the toilet seat, SIT on it." Evidently if you're used to only sqatting over a hole, then when you see a toilet, you stand on the seat to then be able to squat over the hole to do your business...I think it's why the hotel we stayed in on the Sesse Islands the first night had no toilet seats in any of their bathrooms...just a little cultural education for ya.
Now this is back here at home - this afternoon I was going out to the cho and saw this beautiful butterfly flying around all of the beautiful flowers planted along the path - these two pictures are the best I could do - it's a fast little sucker and I'm a slow photographer!
I think you get the idea...

So, our drive home yesterday was pretty uneventful, which is good. It was slow because we were so loaded down with stuff, but thankfully was without problems. I drove the Fort Portal to home leg and realized again how much I like driving this road...it's like an obstacle course...so fun, and sooooo beautiful too!

I think I also forgot to tell you the closing part of the story of Mukidi I started at the begining of my story of our time away. We knew when we left that he didn't likely have much long to live. During our last week in Kampala Pat got a phone call on Monday that he was unconscious and much worse. An hour or so later, another call to say that he had in fact died. This is a big loss...he was a wonderful man even from my short time here. This is the same man who when I visited for the first time with Pat not long after I arrived told her, "I can tell by her smile that she loves people." Shoot, who says stuff like that?! That could be the most wonderful thing anyone's ever said about me, much undeserved I think. You can pray especially for the Myhre's as they grieve the loss of a good friend and neighbor.

It's good to be home. It's different coming home this time. It feels like I'm not brand new anymore, thank goodness! I feel like I'm no longer in survival mode but up for relational interactions in a way I wasn't before feeling so new. Please pray for me to take time and have courage to forge ahead with friendships here.

23 May 2008

The breather comes to an end...

Kampala! The city! I got a little bit giddy as we drove in Sunday mid-day and I saw the backdrop of the city…we’re going to the city! It was kind of this strange combination of a country girl getting excited to go to the big city and a city girl glad to return to the familiar…I don’t think I’ve ever spent this much time so far from an urban environment, ever, in my whole life…it’s very strange…I’m constantly realizing how this effects me, and driving into Kampala was one of those times…even though nothing about Kampala is familiar to me, the urban-ness of it was familiar…the buildings all close together, the paved roads, the # of cars on the road, the signs and billboards, it’s strange but it’s comforting for me. Like in the States, I get all freaked out when I’m in the suburbs and there aren’t very many street lights and it’s really dark and there aren’t lots of people around and it’s really quiet…gives me the heebie geebies…well, at home in Bundibugyo, imagine pitch black – I’ve never seen it dark like it gets in Bundi…the only lights around are the glow of kerosene lanterns/candles spotting the landscape…and it’s quiet, but because there’s not the hum of traffic and other things, you can hear people talking as they sit outside cooking/eating, and you can hear peoples’ radios powered by batteries, but even then, it can be pretty quiet…when I walk to get the milk at the Myhre’s on the days Pat and I are assigned, I’m always flinching when I hear things move behind me or when a frog jumps up against my leg in the grass, I whip my “torchie” (flashlight) around and sweep the shadows behind me looking for snakes and small creatures…eeeek.

Kampala reminds me of some of the cities I visited in India, maybe just a little…on a less crowded scale though…kind of like a Chennai of sorts maybe…but not as green as I remember Chennai being…then there’s the driving on the “wrong side” of the road part that makes traffic patterns here still confusing to me…I’m always forgetting to look right and then left when crossing the street, which has the potential to be a fatal mistake, but luckily so far I’ve been with other, more seasoned “wrong side of the street” conscious people, and so far I’m in one piece. Then there’s the “roundabouts” concept. I forgot to ask my transportation planner brother about this theory, but I was sitting in the car going around one of these seemingly totally chaotic roundabouts trying to figure out why the world they existed and someone was talking about the madness at intersections with street lights when the power goes out (frequent occurrence here in Kampala)…and then I realized, in places where there isn’t electricity for stop lights and signals, a roundabout is maybe the only solution to moving lots of people through an intersection with some semblance of order…maybe everyone else has already thought of this but it helped me have some patience with the system, since it doesn’t seem like a very good one to this western mind.

Sunday afternoon we went to church at Kampala Pentecostal Church (KPC). It was great to be able to understand the whole service since it was all in English. It was something else to be in a service though that visually could very well have been in any large contemporary service in the States…video screens and drum sets and electric guitarists plucking the strings with their teeth during a solo, and worship leaders bouncing up and down with the beat of each song. It was really different to see such a well educated and seemingly wealthy portion of Ugandan culture…wealthy compared to their fellow countrymen in Bundibugyo. It was encouraging in lots of ways and discouraging in others. I also found out that this church is the home church of the African Childrens Choir which was one of my first exposures to Africa as a child. I vividly remember going to their concert at a church in Mount Lebanon when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old…I loved it! We listened to the tape on many a long car trip growing up and although I can’t remember any of the words right now, if you put it on, I’d probably sing along with the whole tape.

We stayed the first 3 nights at the guesthouse of Hospice of Uganda. They do outpt. Hospice care and in-home hospice mostly for people with HIV/AIDS and cancer. This guesthouse is an income generating project for the organization which has some European roots/connections. It’s clean, low-key and quiet if you’re not on the street side of the house, but I slept fine even with windows facing the street – it’s the city girl in me again, and it’s cheap too. Then the last 2 nights and tonight we’re staying across the street from Hospice at the American Recreation Association (ARA) which is owned by the American Embassy here in Kampala and has great facilities but is a little more pricey.

I’ve spent a good amount of time this week trying to straighten out logistical details with my Work Permit and Special Pass and Drivers’ License applications, we’ve shopped for medicine, groceries and office supplies, we’ve bought stamps and gone to the bank and we’ve had cars worked on, and we’ve picked people up at the airport and we’ve eaten out at restaurants, and I’ve had a diet coke every chance I get ☺ All are things we can’t do at home, and it’s been nice to be able to do here. Though my mind started getting a little foggy when I tried to think through everything I needed to get done while we were here and still try to rest and relax too…

And then there’s the Soroti situation…I got an email Monday when I checked my email for the first time in a week, from our contact at UNICEF here in Kampala, instructing us to send 2-3 people to a 5 day conference in the Soroti district from May 26-30 about the treatment of severe malnutrition in a treatment center setting…that’s NEXT WEEK! Soroti is at least 2 days of travel from Bundi, and I’m not even getting back into Bundi until Saturday night…it made my stomach turn to think about not being able to go back to Bundi this week and instead traveling on to Soroti for a week by myself…I talked to Karen and Jennifer and Pat about it, told them I really didn’t wanna go, they did all they could to encourage me to go acknowledging the timing was less than ideal, but I wasn’t really being very flexible…Jennifer emailed our contact back and I just found out a few minutes ago that she said it’s totally fine if we don’t get anybody there this time around, that they’re probably going to have another one and there will be other opportunities to learn about the topic…PRAISE THE LORD! I was having a hard time figuring out if I was being too inflexible or if it was really reasonable for me to say, I just can’t do this right now. I was talking to my brother on the phone about it and I told him, if I had like 3 months to gear up for something like this it’d be different, but I only really was given 3 days! Evidently however, you’re never given more than a week’s notice about these seminars, the timing is never good, you just kind of have to make the best of it and go and usually they’re pretty beneficial and encouraging and informative. So, I’m forewarned and at least know some of what to expect when they spring another one of these on us. It’s unbelieveably relieving to know it’s okay with UNICEF that I not go to Soroti this week.

I’m ready to go home. Home is Bundibugyo these days. That’s where my stuff is, that’s where my friends here in Africa are, where my work is…and I think it’s good that I’m ready after 2 weeks to go back. That’s not to say I didn’t start crying looking through pictures of Erik and Heather’s darling little Eleanor last night, a darling little girl I’ve never met, that’s not to say I didn’t tear up when talking to my brother on the phone about my ups and downs these last few weeks, that’s not to say I didn’t get a huge smile on my face when read a note from Sylwinn saying that my little buddy Daniel was impressed with my rope swinging endeavor, and seeing pictures of her precious little Grace (another precious little girl I’ve never met) asleep in her sling on her back like an African baby ☺ That’s not to say that I’m really sad I’m missing my little sisters’ college graduation this weekend. I’m so very proud of her and have a HUGE amount of respect for the mind and the passions God has given her, and I wish I could give her a BIG hug and tell her that face to face, but a phone call will have to do. And the list goes on and on and on. But I am still ready to go home.

The breather continues...

So, where was I?...Right, Bushara Island. We left Friday morning around 8am, I drove back in to Kabale and then Pat got behind the wheel and drove to Masaka. We stopped for samosas and sodas and then I drove out of Masaka and took a smaller side road for a while that lead to a ferry we hoped to take over to the Sesse Islands in Lake Victoria.

• A ways down the dirt road we noticed several vehicles in the road, and as we approached we realized the road was completely blocked by a huge truck that jack-knifed or something of the sort and then all the matatus and cars that tried to pass on either side had become stuck in the mud creating quite a mess! Evidently the cars closest to the problem had been waiting 5-6 hours for the mess to be cleared…I had no hope; it was 3:45pm when we got an idea of what we were dealing with, and the last ferry was to leave at 5pm and we weren’t sure how much further we had yet to drive beyond the roadblock to get to the ferry. We had been on the road for 7-8 hours by this point and I was sure it was going to be totally in vain, that we were going to end up in some shady hotel in Masaka for the night – tired, grumpy, and disappointed…Pat, however, was full of hope. She used the opportunity to chat it up with all kinds of people milling around; she was sure the ferry was going to wait for us…I was not so sure. However, Pat’s hope won out and the accident was cleared and we were on our way within an hour of our arrival on the scene. A wrecker came and pulled the huge truck out of the middle of the road, and everyone drove on through...that is after the car in front of us stalled and wouldn’t start up again – no fear, TIA, 3 guys just rocked the car back and forth out of the way, no problem! We zoomed off and got to the ferry just at 5pm and there was space for one more vehicle, just our size! Whew! And the ferry was FREE! Free for us and for the vehicle. I asked someone a few days later how in the world they can operate such a thing without charging anyone to ride it, and evidently it’s a service provided by the government. It was an hour long ride to the largest of the 84 or so Sesse Islands…we took in the views from the roof of Pat’s vehicle, and arrived safely on the other side. Now, Karen Masso dubbed this ferry the “scary ferry” due to Pat’s description while she talked to Karen on the phone…it wasn’t really so much a passenger ferry, although there were lots of passengers…its more of a industrial/commercial vehicle ferry used mostly it seemed to transport vehicles supplying the islands with various kinds of equipment/food/livestock, etc. There were a dozen pigs in the truck next to us along with a lot of produce (tomatoes, matoke, etc)…the situation got a little worrisome when a big blue fishing boat full of people (think Haitian refugees or something of the sort) pulled up to the side of the ferry, the ferry slowed down, and a bunch of people climbed on, and we continued on our way thankfully without any further shenanegins.

• Upon our arrival on the Island we drove another hour to the other end where the hotels are located, and pulled into the first one we found that we recognized from my guide book…the Panorama Lodge…let’s just say I was a little disappointed…pink light bulbs in each room, no toilet seats, a “Panorama” view of only the Panorama itself, the booming music from the disco across the road…It was dark, about 7:30pm and we were all really tired, so we decided to stay. There were redeeming points including Arnold the very kind, very competent host who asked me at dinner if I could speak German because he took it in secondary school and likes to speak it when he can…I had to tell him I didn’t, that I just look like I should know how…the whole fish I had for dinner was very tasty and a great close to the day.

• Saturday morning Pat and I drove around and checked out our other accommodation options, hoping for something on the beach, and at our last stop we hit the jackpot. We went back, packed up our room, paid our bill, said thanks and goodbye to Arnold, and drove a little ways down the beach to another hotel where we were given a great deal, each got our own room with a beachfront view, where we spent the afternoon reading and playing volleyball on the beach with a group of American interns that were also staying there. Again, I enjoyed a gloriously long hot shower ☺

• Sunday morning we got up early and got a ride to the “ship” – a ferry on the hotels’ side of the island that is not free, but is more of a passenger/vehicle ferry, and takes the 3 hour trip to Entebbe. Now, there was much scuttle-butt and bickering about getting our vehicle onto the ferry since we evidently had not followed the appropriate procedures, but there was room and they agreed after much to-do. So, I got behind the wheel and began backing the vehicle up onto the ferry…imagine this, Heidi behind the wheel of a 4 wheel drive vehicle with about a half dozen African men (security guards and Dept of Transportation and Works employees) yelling instructions about how to back the car up, “no, this way, no, that way, slowly by slowly, stop, go, can’t you see that one? Just do what he tells you to do! Not that way, this way!” It was a bit frustrating to say the least. And then in true Ugandan fashion, one of them looked at me as I was closing the car up and said, with a smile, “Morning!” AAAAAHHHHH Don’t talk to me like I’m knee high to a grasshopper and then just smile and say good morning!?!?!?! But it did help me move on to a better attitude more quickly I guess. Anyways, I got the car onto the ferry in one piece and without breaking anything! I sat and listened to hymns and other Sunday morning appropriate music on my ipod (Thanks George and Amanda!) for most of the duration of the boat ride. There were snacks and drinks available right next to where we were sitting and the men around us started drinking at about 8:30am…evidently Uganda has something close to the highest alcohol consumption per capita in the world and I believe it! But I was content with my music and the little “worship service for 1” I had during the ride. We arrived safely in Entebbe and I was glad to hand the car keys to Pat and she drove off and on into Kampala where we’ve been for the last 6 days or so.

….another posting break in the story…will continue next time with the Kampala segment…

22 May 2008

Breather...part 1

That’s what the last couple of weeks have been, a breather. As with any travel experience there have been high’s and low’s but I think a good way to describe the time as a whole is as a breather. Being in Bundi is kind of like swimming – not bad, in fact quite fun but definitely requires work and effort and has it’s fair share of challenges…and leaving the district for an extended period of time is like coming up for air – still requires work and effort, but also involves rest and life giving oxygen that enables you to continue on when you put your head back under and continue with your stroke…kind of a good analogy if I do say so myself, but maybe I stole it from somewhere…surely I didn’t come up with it on my own.

In any case the photos below are a few of the noteable images from the last 2 weeks. Let’s see if I can describe a little more about all we’ve done.

• “We” really refers to Sarah and Pat and I.

• Right after I posted last (“R&R”) Pat and I went up to see Mukidi. A little history: John Mukidi was a bed ridden, elderly neighbor of the Myhre’s who was dearly loved by their family, Pat, and many others throughout the history of the mission. Two weeks previously I’d attempted to replace a suprapubic catheter by lantern light at 9pm that had “come out” earlier in the day. Scott had placed it a few days before in the theatre at the Health Center. Needless to say I was unsuccessful, despite the valiant effort of my fearless assistants Pat and Sarah, and Pat took him to Bundibugyo hospital the next day to have it surgically replaced. Then a week later I returned to his bedside to remove the stitches in his abdominal incision and change the dressing around the tube. Friday, I’d stopped by to see him around mid-day, but he was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him. When Pat and I went to see him together, later in the afternoon, he was still asleep, and it was clear he was spending most of his time this way as the week had gone by. He was no longer talking much at all, barely opening his eyes at all. Pat and I talked about the cultural issues surrounding end of life care and choices families make and about the use/side effects of Morphine and so forth, and then when Pat asked, the older of his two wives made it very clear she did not want to give him any of the liquid morphine they’d been given from a previous hospital stay. Pat stayed the night with the family and we left the next morning.

• We took off around 10 or 11am on Saturday May 10. I drove to Fort Portal (he he he) since Pat hadn’t slept much, and we continued on after Fort to Kingfisher West, a hotel in Queen Elizabeth National Park where we spent a glorious first night of R&R. We arrived just in time for sunset, a gin & tonic, and a lovely dinner with Katy and her mom who were staying in the banda next to ours much to our surprise. Just before bed I took the most glorious piping hot shower – I had to force myself to get out in case I was cheating some other guest out of their gloriously hot shower. But it was the kind of hot shower where you get into bed and your body is still retaining the warmth of the hot water…sooooo nice since it was considerably cooler than Bundi already at this point in our travels.

• The next morning after a leisurely breakfast as we looked out over the park, we left and drove south to Lake Bunyonyi near the border of Rwanda, in the Kabale district. We took a small motor boat to Bushara Island. The Island holds a camp with cabins and tents, a restaurant which prepares all of your meals, canoes and a walking trail around the island, lots of birds and the highlight of the week was the rope swing (see photos below!) which we all did on Thursday, our last full day on the Island. Otherwise I did a lot of sleeping, reading and writing and a little card playing…but not a whole lot else! It was a very relaxing 5 days! I read a book while we were there called We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, by a guy whose name I can’t remember, but is a writer for the New Yorker and it’s a great book about the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. I would highly recommend it.

...I’m going to go ahead and post this and write more tomorrow hopefully…but pretty much there you have week 1…

proof of travel 4

Sesse Islands beach (in Lake Victoria) sunset
This is why we drink bottled water when we travel :) Yummy!
Sarah and Pat on the "scary ferry" - a free ferry from near Masaka to the Sesse Islands
Kampala Pentecostal Church (aka KPC) - is this really Africa?!

proof of travel 3

Heidi's rope swing experience according to Pat (the event photographer and fantabulous rope swinger herself :) - The platform
"Yikes this is high..."
"Okay Heidi, get yourself together, just jump..."
"EEEKKKKKK" - not AT ALL a flattering picture but hopefully helps you get the idea
"Let go, Heidi!"
2nd time around - note the wet hair - "still gotta jump, huh?"
release #2 :)

proof of travel 2

Where Sarah and I slept the first night at Bushara
showering outside - someone climbs up the ladder in the back and fills up the bucket with hot water at the specified time you request in advance, then turn the knob and voila!

Dugout canoe in process
Terracing of crops in the Kabale district

proof of travel 1

How magnificent!

Check out this little guy and his colors!
the drive south
Sarah and Pat on the boat across Lake Bunyoni to Bushara Island
Lake Bunyoni

09 May 2008


...it's so close, I can almost taste it. Just a few minutes ago I finished signing over all of my nutrition and medical work to the appropriate and capable Ugandans, notably Costa, Margaret, Pauline, and Basime. I leave the work confidently in their hands which is sooooo nice.

So, what stands between me and departure tomorrow morning? Packing, cooking/eating dinner, visiting Mukiddi the Myhre's neighbor whose health is not good, and who calls me his nurse. I stopped by earlier but he was sleeping. And from my experience as a nurse and sister and daughter, waking a sleeping man has about the same implications as waking a sleeping baby...actually waking a sleeping Heidi is about the worst of all of the above scenarios! But I digress...in the morning I need to turn off my fridge and stove, take the trash to the trash pit, close the shutters, oh and check my email quickly, then we'll be off. Maybe I'll get to drive to Fort Portal...he he he

I hope to be back online in a week or so from Kampala and then maybe some Skyping and downloading of music and sermons and such will be in order. Until then - WESALOEH!

07 May 2008

The laughter of a child

...does wonders for the soul! Today after about 5 hours of madness in the ART clinic (for HIV patients) Pat and Sarah and I were all hot/sweaty/tired & hungry. But there was little Musoki Irini, maybe 2 1/2 or 3 years old, just a giggling/laughing away at whoever would play with her. I first heard her in the next room, and thought to myself, "that kid is having a blast!" There aren't too many kids in ART clinic who are having a blast, so it was quite noticeable. Then Musoki and her grandmother moved on into the room we were stationed in as they got closer in line to seeing the clinical officer for treatment. She and I had played hide and seek earlier in the day at Nutrition and she continued with Sarah in the afternoon, then Sarah tried to steal her porridge in jest and Musoki just thought it was hilarious and was giggling up a storm...I found my frustrations and short tempered-ness flying out the window with each progressive giggle, it was so fun just to listen to her!

This is a child who just a month or two ago was coming in every other week with respiratory infections that had her in really bad shape as her weight progressively declined, now she's on ARV's and TB therapy and she's totally thriving! I've never seen/heard her play like this, so active and full of life! Praise God from whom all medicine flows! And praise Him for the laughter of children!

06 May 2008

updates of the glory and gory variety

  • Swizen, the kid that no one thought would survive but left a few weeks ago, walking and dancing to the ring tones on his plastic cell phone, is now a whopping 9kg and looking absolutely fantastic! He came for his first follow up/weight check today and granted he's 4 1/2 years old and only weighs about 20 lbs but considering where this kid came from, he looks phenomenal...he looks like a big boy, like his face is filling out to catch up with the size of his belly, and well, see for yourself. He sat on my lap for a while today as I registered other nutrition kids waiting for food. If only you could have seen him from my vantage point just before this photo was taken - I was talking to him (the few Lubwisi words I know and then mostly in English) and he was looking up at me with his cute big boy face and doing his "mm" responses in just the right places like he understood just what I was saying even though I'm sure he had no idea...
  • The case for men - the day after I wrote the post about what I had been thinking about men and their need for reform, I found out some really devastating news that certainly doesn't help your case, guys...I found out that one of the men that goes to the church here on the mission with his wife (they both work in people's homes here on the mission) beat his wife after deciding to "take a second wife" sometime in the last several days...you hear that a lot here, that men decided to "take another wife" and it wasn't until yesterday that I really processed what that means for him and especially for her...it means that he decided to sleep with another woman and plans to continue; that he left his wife and kids alone and went to sleep somewhere else with someone else or he brought another woman home and slept with her in his own bed. Yesterday his "1st" wife lay up at a neighbor/friend/relative's home black and blue from her husband's loss of control, and their 4 kids were wandering aimlessly around the mission as they didn't really know what to do with the situation...I can't imagine being in their shoes...Unfortunately, I'm sure some of you can imagine...in many ways this phenomenon is not unique to Bundibugyo. Here, however, this is culturally acceptable and encouraged, and that leaves me here tonight as I write, outraged!

04 May 2008

rest ahead!

This coming saturday Pat and Sarah and I are leaving the district and heading south to Lake Bunyoni and Bushara Island for 5 days or so. I hear it's really restful, kind of a wooded, lake environment with cabin-ish dwellings called banda's. And I've heard it's COOLER there than it is here and right now that's just what I need. We'll drive there and stay for the 5 days or so and then head to Kampala where we'll spend a week I think...a week of urban life, ie. restaurants, good internet connection, grocery shopping, and probably smog and bad traffic and all that too :)

Needless to say I'm looking forward to the break. We were originally going to head to Tanzania to Kilimanjaro and see Abby Havens in Moshi, but it was gonna be quite pricey...a bit more than this missionary can afford for a vacation! Plus, you can take the Heidi out of the Lutjens' but you can't take the Lutjens out of the Heidi - budget travel all the way :)

Oh, I almost forgot, the real kicker behind the decision not to go to Kili was I don't so much have a visa right now :P My tourist visa expired on 4/28 and I found out a few days before that that my application for a work permit was being held up in red tape shenanegins and I've been asked to show up for an interview with the Ugandan Board of Nursing (or the equivalent) before they'll consider my application any further...crap crap crap...I knew something like this was gonna happen...so, until I get a "special pass" it's not so much a good idea for me to try to leave the country if I have any intentions of getting back in...

Anyways, less than one week before down time! Wuh-hoo!

Knife guy

I finally got up the guts a couple weeks ago to stop on my way into the market to take the knife sharpener's picture while he was hard at work. Yep, a man, hard I work, it does happen :) He's sharpening a ponga (akin to a machete)...they use them for just about everything...


This might ruffle a few feathers but I'm gonna go ahead and say it anyways...men, the world over, are in need of reform.

Everywhere I go, whether it's walking down my old street in St. Louis, or the dirt road here in western Uganda, there are men sitting around while women work...everywhere I go there are women trying to raise families without husbands/fathers and the women and the children suffer as a result - suffering consequences that will last them their entire lives, and will affect how they think/act/interact for the rest of their lives...everywhere I go predominantly men struggle with alcoholism which in turn affects them and everyone around them for the rest of their lives...everywhere I go predominantly men are violent with those closest to them in their families...everywhere I go when women are given the opportunity to serve, men step back and fail to continue to lead in this way...

What's gotten into you? you might ask...Well, 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 to be precise are what has gotten into me today. We went to a church in a neighboring village today and one of the elders from the church here on the mission preached on 1 Tim 3:1-7 in preparation for a congregational meeting they were having to nominate elders. He was speaking about what qualifications God calls men in church leadership positions to have. I'm not going to get into the battle about whether women should be in church leadership positions too, I'm just talking about men for now. If you wanna duke it out with me on women in the church, then we can take that outside, but for now, I'm talking about men.

What does Paul say men in leadership should be like?
  • above reproach
  • the husband of but one wife
  • sober-minded
  • self-controlled
  • respectable
  • hospitable
  • able to teach
  • not a drunkard
  • not violent but gentle
  • not quarrelsome
  • not a lover of money
  • manage his household well
  • be well thought of by outsiders
He adds in writing to Titus:

  • not arrogant
  • not quick tempered
  • a lover of good
  • upright, holy, and disciplined
It seems to me like a good list, I haven't thought yet much about what else I might put on a list or if this is pretty all inclusive, but these are things that I hold in high regard.

I even would go so far as to say this is a list that not just men in church leadership should aspire to/be held accountable to, but also that men in general should aspire to/be held accountable to...I would want anyone that marries anyone I love to be this kind of man, I would want any man that I love to be this kind of man. I want this for my brother, for my father, for my friends, and for anyone I would, potentially someday, just maybe one day, if God so chooses, fall in love with; I would hope he would be this kind of man.

Now, all you men reading this, I am in no way implying that women are perfect creatures and somehow innocent in all matters, and maybe you can tell me all about how you think women need to be reformed, I'd actually like to hear what you think about that, but today I was struck about how God has called men to behave as compared to how I see most men behaving. I also am in no way implying that all men are horrendous creatures that have no good in them, really, I'm not...okay, enough apologies...

02 May 2008

He who makes the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk...

He's the one in whom and through whom I do anything at all...

Today I almost started crying during rounds. Yes, rounds on the Pediatric ward, not with Jennifer Myhre as is the usual routine, but with another nurse and a medical student who needed to get some work hours in or something who agreed to do it every so often while Jennifer is gone. We were standing by the bed of Jennifer Lubabo, maybe 4 years old (I tend to be several years off in guestimating ages here), who has been on the ward for a few weeks now. She came in unconscious as far as I remember, seizing and stiff, eyes closed/cracked open without sign of the lights being on inside. She got IV valium, antimalarials, antibiotics, UNICEF formula, and was started on TB therapy last week or so...This week, her eyes are open, but I don't think they work like they did before whatever this sickness is closed them some weeks ago...I don't think she can see.

Her mom says she responds to her call, so she knows she can hear, but when you stick something infront of her face and right up to her eye she doesn't blink until it touches her eyelashes...I don't know if it's a result of whatever illness caused her seizures, or if it's a side effect of the TB meds, or if the two are related, or any number of things, but I feel completely helpless...I can't speak to her or her mom other than to greet them, I don't know anything about RHZ and it's side effects/antidotes to it's side effects...

But the rock solid truth, the only thing I do know, is that my God can make the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk...He can make Jennifer see again or he can give her what she needs to live without sight; He can make her speak again or he can give her mom what she needs to care well for a daughter who cannot see or speak...

Come quickly Lord Jesus!

How hot?

Really hot. So, I just looked on my map of Uganda hanging in my room and here in Nyahuka we are JUST ABOVE the equator, but in the grand scheme of things I live ON the equator. Lots of people have asked just how hot it is here, so yesterday as I was walking home from the health center at about 2pm, in the blazing sun I thought to myself "I'm gonna stick my alarm clock out in the back yard in the sun to see just how hot it really is here." So I marched into the house and out again, this time via the back door after grabbing my alarm clock from my bedside table. This is one of those super nifty alarm clocks that has a thermometer in it too, AND it converts from Celcius to Fahrenheit and vis versa; bravo REI (or Casio or whoever it is that makes it :)...anyways, so I left the clock/thermometer out in the middle of the back yard in the grass in the direct sun for about half an hour or an hour (you would think I would know since I was looking at a CLOCK/thermometer, but no, I wasn't that observant). And, drumroll please...the temperature was 111 degrees F! (40 degrees Celcius for those of you who live anywhere in the world except the US)...that's hot. It wasn't that hot when I got here a few months ago, if estimating I'd guess it was about 10-15 degrees cooler during the hottest part of the day until the last few weeks...the sun really is something else here...sooooooooooo strong! I've got a pretty nice farmers' tan going on if I do say so myself and it's pretty much just from walking to and from the health center for 15 min. in the morning and the same in the mid-afternoon. Other than that, Will Bain, I am wearing my sunscreen faithfully. It get's down to about 77 degrees F as I'm going to sleep at night these days (used to get down to 68 or so when I first arrived). So, that's enough weather forecasting for today, just thought you might wanna know :)