30 July 2008

"Dear lady..."

So, I think I need make an apology to all of Uganda, mostly in advance (since about 18 months of my 2 years is still yet to come) and some in hindsight (since I've been here 6 months) for all of the terrible cultural fopah's I've made (is that how you spell fopah?)...So, I was just telling Maria (she's declared herself my "mother' of sorts while I'm here in Kampala - she's in charge of accomodations here at the Center) this afternoon of how I'm always forgetting that it's customary to sit down before you greet someone (if you're not on the street or something of the sort)...I usually just launch into the list of greetings - since I'm so proud of myself for knowing how to say SOMETHING for goodness sakes - and then minutes later I realize, shoot, I should have sat down first...it's kind of strange, you can carry on a whole conversation and just not say "good afternoon", but wherever you are in the conversation, if you sit down, you then launch into "good afternoon, how's the day" etc...and then continue on with the conversation.

Well, then there's the Catholic culture, which I'm not all that familiar with in my own country let alone here in Uganda. I think I just insulted a priest in a major way...I'm sitting here at my computer and a man comes up behind me and hands me a piece of paper and walks away. On the paper is a not saying "Dear lady..." and then explaining to me that he's been here for 3 hours and needs me to help him with something. I read the note like 3 times and still didn't have any idea what it meant...and it's signed "Fr. [somebody-0r-another]". So, I walk over to where he's sitting at a computer already logged out of his time allottment and told him that I didn't understand what the letter meant. I still don't understand what he wanted me to do, even after asking him like 3 times to explain it to me again....something about he's really late and printing something and underlining something and numbers and sheesh, who knows. I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders and said, "I'm sorry I don't understand." He smiled and said "okay" as I handed the letter back and then he starts folding the letter emphatically and decisively and "hmmphf"ing and then dropping things loudly on the desk and shoving his chair around as I went back to my seat...sheesh...It really is frustrating to not even understand what someone is trying to tell me IN MY OWN LANGUAGE...obviously he was frustrated as well...darn protestant...

Notes from the Surgical Ward

- So, in true Ugandan nursing fashion, I have been issued a little white outfit (very spiffy as you can imagine) to wear to the hospital everyday. Okay, so don’t take “little” literally…it’s just a figure of speech I guess…we’re not talking about a tight-fitting-mini-skirted white outfit like you’d find on a variety of skinny blondes at any given mainstream Halloween party in the States (since everyone knows that’s what nurses wear to work everyday afterall – so practical in cleaning up all kinds of bodily fluids and hauling people of all shapes and sizes up/down/around into different positions in their beds - since that’s clearly what nurses do all day…anyways I digress…). I was issued white tops and “trousers” since I’ve been told the Ugandan nurses “fear the trousers.” All of the “real” nurses wear the little white caps (which are more like crowns and seem to me to serve no purpose other than demarcating who is somewhat legit), and white uniform dresses. Well, the “trousers” I was issued are elastic waisted and about 5 sizes too big for me, so I had them altered back in Bundi before I came for good. Let’s just say that the altering was good, but you can only alter pants that are 5 sizes too big so much. So, one of the nurses and I were walking to where the hospital laundry is done (a couple buildings away from the Ward) and I was having to hike up my pants to keep them from falling down (which while wearing a long stiff shirt is no small task) and remarking to the nurse “these pants they gave me, they are too big.” And she looks at me with a surprised look and says matter of factly, “but you also are big.” Well, gee thanks. I acknowledged the truth in her statement but clarified that I may be big, but the pants are clearly big-er…it reminded me of the time I was on a boda going up the huge hill just past the health center in Nyahuka, and the motorcycle was put-putting away, struggling to get up the hill, and the driver turns his head slightly so I can hear him and says “you have too many kilo’s”…what else could I say other than, “sorry” (well, maybe, “your boda has too many years” would have worked).

- While we’re on the subject of “little white nurse outfits” I’d like to take the opportunity to point out that flirting with nurses is evidently a worldwide phenomenon. I’ve been out of adult care for about 6 years now and while it happens every once in a while with teenage boys (and girls for that matter with male nurses and staff) in childrens’ hospitals, it’s a whole different ball game in adult hospitals.

- The topic of male/female patient/nurse interactions brings me to another observation from this week. Generally speaking Ugandan culture is male dominant – men behave as if they were created to “rule over” women, men here rarely allow for vulnerability on their part to be made evident. Well, being on the Surgical Ward this week there are a few male burn patients with severe burns covering about 30% of their lower limbs. Their treatment involves daily dressing changes (which are, by the way, done at the bedside with no pain medication) done by the nurses. During these dressing changes, considering their thighs are the most affected part of their legs, these young men (about my age probably) have to put their legs in all kinds of positions to allow for the removal, wound cleaning and re-application of the daily dressing. With grimaces and gasps as their open flesh is poked and pried and scrubbed, these men are totally vulnerable. It’s a pretty unique situation anywhere in the world I think, for men to be put in such vulnerable positions (literally) apart from their own choice, especially here in Uganda. And these nurses, Ugandan women, handle the vulnerability with such care, I’ve come to really admire it. These women could choose to totally take advantage (not sexually, just even interpersonally) of these men and their vulnerability, but they don’t. They treat them with the utmost respect and dignity, trying to help them maintain as much privacy/dignity/honor in the process as possible. I have no idea what they’re saying of course, it’s all in Luganda usually, but I can tell that they speak kindly and gently and even humorously to these men as they do their job. And the men seem to recognize this and return the respect the nurses give them (only flirting with them every so often).

- Ugandan nurses have an obsession with trays (and “trolleys” or carts as we call them in the States). Each ward has a whole stack of trays and you don’t go in into a room to so much as hang a new bottle of IV fluids without one…even just carrying in that bottle of IV fluids, you had better carry it in on a tray. I’ve been scolded many a time now, which is not surprising since my SLCH coworkers will attest to my tendency to pile bed linens and gauze and suction catheters and medicine and IV set ups and bottles of sterile water and anything else I might need in a room in my arms to carry it to the bedside…usually dropping several things along the way and requiring their help in picking them up as I smile as to say “sorry! It’s me again!” (The funny thing is that I usually forget something anyways and stand in the doorway and look for Pammy as she ducks and dodges my glances begging for her help :)

- Redempta (“Reh-DEMPT-ah”) is currently my favorite name I’ve learned/found here in Uganda. It’s the second name of one of the theater assistant students on the ward. It seems such a true reminder of our status as “redeemed” – where we’ve been saved to as Christians and our complete lack of ability to accomplish that on our own.

- Yesterday I was so bored in the afternoon that I was reading the admission/discharge book where every patient is cataloged and diagnoses are recorded. Hands down, the funniest diagnosis I’ve ever heard is: Testicular Exploration. I mean really, surely they could have called it something else…I know I know, Heidi, get your mind out of the gutter. Runner up (which I found today in my afternoon boredom) is the diagnosis of “Fell off the building”….ouch. Spelling is also not a very highly respected skill in Uganda; the diagnosis “Gun shot wound” was not nearly as common as it wound be in an American surgical unit, but was also spelled “gun shit wound” (which pretty accurately describes my position on the “right to carry” policy disputes we often have in the States), “gun shoot wound,” and “gun shut wound” (which pretty accurately describes what the goal of the hospital stay for such a diagnosis would be).

- And on a totally unrelated note, a comment on the habits of boda drivers. There’s a boda stage at the next plot down the hill from where I stay. That means there’s a small plot of dirt by the side of the road where boda drivers congregate while they wait for their next fare. Well, they’ve picked up on the fact that there’s a muzungu living here at the Center, so when I walk out of the gate, if I walk down the hill on their side of the road and make eye contact with them as a group, within a couple steps they’ve all revved their engines and they peel out of their spots and try to be the first one up the hill to get my fare. I laughed out loud yesterday and said to the winner of the race “ you guys crack me up!” He responded, “you have to be the first, if you delay....” and shook his head with a smile.

26 July 2008

no small thing

And this is the little house in which they've kindly allowed me to cook my own meals.
Sheesh, this one looks really dark...it's my room, hopefully you can actually see something of it...Just so you know, I've never been known for keeping my room very tidy...it's out that there window that the rooster's domain lies...I think I'm getting a bit more used to the racket and maybe even sleeping through it sometimes!

Looks remarkably similar to a jail cell, eh? My door

The dismal but clean hallway to my room - my room is through that door at the end of the hallway, marked "Private" - but's it's not really private at all because the bathroom that everyone on the hall uses is also behind said door.

and then if you turn around, here's the view from my bldg back out towards Rubaga Road. So nice, isn't it?!

The dorm-ish bldg that I live in. Note the Center's Land Rover on the right...the Catholics don't do too badly for themselves! Those paned windows are rooms similar to mine, but mine is on the back side of the bldg.

This is the view from the back of that classroom/library/icafe bldg.

There's the sign that lights up (even when there's no connection the sign lights up just fine :) To the right of the guy in white is the canteen where I would get breakfast if I were a breakfast eater, and where people can buy snacks and drinks and so forth (including those of the alcoholic variety, I was shocked (and pleased) but haven't yet sampled the beverage offerings - not much for drinking alone, you know?)

The center of the Center so to speak, this is just as you come in the gate - and this is on a Friday when lots of students of various kinds come in for classes offered at the Center. It's some sort of a satellite location for Uganda Martyr's University. The building on the right houses a library, classrooms, and the internet cafe where I sit currently.

Down Rubaga Road - the view of the city from the hospital entrance I use, the Center on the right where I stay.

Up Rubaga Road...the white sign on the left is where I'm staying (aka "the Center" by perhaps only me), the two story building on the right is the hospital (Medical Ward is on the top floor and Surgical is the floor below), then at the top of the hill is Rubaga Cathedral.

So, 2 days in a row now, the internet connection here at the Center has been great! Thanks for praying! I'm going to try to upload some pictures of my temporary home here on Rubaga hill. We'll see how it goes...wuh hoo, it's working...hopefully it's just this screen that makes them look so dark, hopefully they look better for you...It was a beautiful day yesterday as I left the hospital at about 5:30pm after a frustrating day, so I changed out of my uniform into "street clothes" and went around and took a few pictures of the place...Start the tour from the bottom of the list of pictures. I was thinking yesterday as I put these pictures on my flash drive as I sat on the porch of the building I live in, just how thankful I am for this place. It really is more than I could have thought to ask for or imagine!
Today I think I'm going to head into town to see a movie...yep, I'm pretty excited...even if the two movies I'm trying to decide between are The Dark Knight (the new Batman movie which I just read online seems be getting good reviews - but it's still a Batman movie of all things), and Kung-Fu Panda (which I totally laughed outloud at last weekend when I passed by the theater to see what was playing, but then a couple days later Scott Myhre said he saw a preview for it and said it looks really funny...I could go for funny...but really, it's a movie called Kung-Fu Panda! sheesh)

24 July 2008

Facade vs. reality

So, here in Uganda, there's the facade of what reality looks like or seems like, but then there's the usually less favorable reality of what really exists. For instance, when you're in Nyahuka at the market and you walk into Iddi's store, there's a soda fridge in the left corner, usually stocked with sodas...hmm, you think to yourself, I didn't think there was power in Bundibugyo...you would be correct...so, in fact there is a fridge but it does nothing except serve as a storage location for sodas, there is no power and therefore no refrigeration, and therefore no cold soda in the market in Nyahuka. But the first time I walked in there and saw the fridge I got all excited about the prospect of a cold soda before I remembered Bundibugyo is "wireless" :) Alas, no cold soda for this sorry newcomer.

But this same notion repeats itself over and over again, you go to a hotel or hostel that says they have hot water and you get all excited and leave the water run for forever and realize there is in fact no hot water. Well, my experience in Kampala has proved to be the same...power, hot water, refrigeration, etc...there's the facade but not always the reality :) I've tried to have the attitude of "well at least I have power sometimes :)" or "well, that hot shower last week was pretty nice" but it's not always the first thing that comes to mind when I really feel like watching a movie or am really looking forward to a hot shower and find only cold.

Mail reality: Some of you have asked about a snail mail address but because I think the Center really only has a PO Box, and I'm not sure if you sent anything that I'd even be sure to get it before I leave in 6 or 7 weeks, I'd say the best thing to do is to send whatever you'd like to the Bundibugyo address and the teammates coming to Kampala throughout the time I'm here can bring whatever is there for me (right teammates?! :)

Email reality: There is an internet cafe where I live, with a sign that lights up and everything, but there's very little successful email checking going on there as of recent. So, my goal is to check/send email every saturday at least, so if you're not hearing from me, that's why...it's gonna be a slow process...okay, well, that's enough, I've spent a lot of time at the computer today and I'm getting weary of it...but the quick wireless connection has been heavenly I must admit.

I miss you guys!

This would be my "little" brother and sister (thanks for the photo Amanda!). I mean really, who could ask for more wonderful siblings?! Clearly no one. Granted, we've had our ups and downs, mostly due to my failures as an older sister (being grouchy and demanding and over sensitive and the like :) but I really am so thankful for these two. Each of us is really different from the other two and yet remarkably similar at the same time, it's kinda cool actually. And I think we each grow scarily closer and closer every year to becoming our parents, but what else could you expect?! :) I'll stop right there and not embarrass them any further, but just wanted to say, I love you guys and miss you so much!

Get over yourself

I watched Blood Diamond a couple weeks ago. It was the third time I’d seen it, and there are several lines/monologues that stand out to me each time…it’s the same lines in both my pre and post Uganda arrival viewings. It’s a good movie, I would recommend watching it. It’s not easy to watch and it’s violent, but it’s worth it, I think.

I’m gonna try not to spoil the movie for you, but here’s a few snippets that have left me thinking…

“Don’t tell me, you’re here to make a difference, eh?...Peace Corps types only stay around long enough to realize they’re not helping anyone, the government only wants to stay in power until they’ve stolen enough to go into exile somewhere else, the rebels – they’re not sure they want to take over, otherwise they’d have to govern this mess, but TIA [This Is Africa]…” – Danny Archer (white Rhodesian talking to an American journalist)

Why am I here? Maybe I am a “peace corps type” – I’ve only been here 6 months and am already thinking, “am I really helping anyone?” Are there any men/women with integrity in leadership/government here? Or anywhere in the world for that matter? In a BBC article by a Nigerian writing about the comparisons between Zimbabwe’s Mugabe and Nigeria’s Obasanjo, he says “Managing power is more difficult than capturing power.” He and Danny Archer are on to something I think…there’s so much power struggle here in Africa, and then so many leaders struggling to lead and failing to do it well, all struggles that are wreaking havoc in so many countries…and not just here in Africa.

DA: “…might be time to get your family out, eh?”
Bar keep: “And go where? Just fire up the chopper and fly away like you people? This my country, man; we here long before you came, long after you go…”

This bar keep’s comments have put a finger on just the notion I’ve thought a lot about here, that this is in fact not ‘my country’, and I can in fact fly away whenever I am told I need to, and yet no matter how hard it gets, life here for Sierra Leonians (in the case of Blood Diamond), or Northern Ugandans (in the case of the atrocities inflicted by the LRA), or North St. Louisans (in the case of the realities of drug and gang wars), is in fact home.

“Tell me something, huh? How long you been here in Africa?...You come here with your laptop computer, and malaria medicine and your little bottles of hand sanitizer, and think you’re going to change the outcome, huh? Let me tell you something, you sell blood diamonds too…who do you think buys the stones I bring out? Dreamy American girls who all want a storybook wedding and a big shiny rock, just like they see in the advertisements of your politically correct magazines, eh? So please don’t come here and make judgements on me, alright?...get over yourself, darling.” – DA

Doh! Um, those things were all on my packing list too...seriously though, there’s some wisdom in these smart aleck comments of Danny Archers’. There’s a sense in which those of us westerners here in Africa come with the idea that we have something to offer, something to help change ‘the situation’ (whatever ‘the situation’ might be). And then we come and make all kinds of judgements about corruption and poverty and disease without looking at the roots and realities of these same things in our own culture let alone our own hearts…Get over yourself, Heidi.
P.S.- I’m not here to judge anyone with a diamond on their finger, or anyone who’s bought someone a diamond for their finger – the movie does make me think more than twice though about whenever I might someday have to think about such a decision, and when I think about the alternatives I can’t help but think that there’s likely such atrocities behind any precious stone/metal/naturally occurring substance…I wonder what the stories behind rubies are, or emeralds…

“Sometimes I wonder, will God ever forgive us for what we’ve done to each other? And then I look around and I realize God left this place a long time ago.” – DA

Not sure if Mynda remembers this conversation, but our landlady said this very same thing to me as Mynda and I sat in her office asking her about ending our lease because I was moving to Uganda. And I completely understand where she and Danny Archer are coming from, but the interesting thing is that I’ve never seen God at work more plainly than I can here.

“Dia…what are you doing?...Dia Vandy of the proud Mende tribe…you are a good boy who loves soccer and school. Your mother loves you so much; she waits by the fire making plantains and red palm oil stew with your sister Nyanda and the new baby. The cows wait for you, and Babu the wild dog who minds no one but you. I know they made you do bad things, but you are not a bad boy. I am your father who loves you and you will come home with me and be my son again…” – Solomon Vandy

Holy smokes. Solomon totally talks his son out of the grip of evil in this scene…it’s heart wrenching and beautiful at the same time. It’s the same thing God does with me, reminds me of who I am and more importantly who He is.

19 July 2008

The week in review

Isn't this the title of a section of the sunday newspaper in some city I've lived in? Anyways...

Monday: First day at the hospital, I can't remember anything specific about the day...oh, right, the doctor who did rounds was this guy with a really dry, dead-pan sense of humor that took me a little while to adjust to, not really something I've come across much in Ugandans. At one point he's writing in a patient's chart and says to me "what is 'ah-cahn-swah'?" I said, "sorry?" he repeated it again, and I still had no idea what he was asking me...I wasn't sure if he was quizzing me on some medical term or medicine or Lugandan term or something...I finally repeated what I heard said and replied, "I don't know what that is." He started to write the word on a piece of paper..."Ooooohhhhh, Arkansas! That's a state south of Missouri, where I am from." And he went on with whatever he was doing...so random...Oh, and then there's the volume challenge...Ugandans speak very quietly when they're trying to be polite, so quietly I can't hear them, and it just makes their accents that much harder to understand for me...So I don't get half of what's said on rounds even if it is in English because people are talking so quietly...If it seems important that I do hear what they're saying I just have to say, "I'm sorry, I can't hear what you're saying..." but there's only so many times you can say that in one conversation, you know?

Tuesday: Sister Claris hits the scene. Sister Claris is a little Indian nun who is a nurse and is doing the same thing I am at Rubaga but is one week ahead of me. For whatever reason, she wasn't around on monday but returned to the floor tuesday and we quickly hit it off. She's got a great sense of humor and is probably old enough to be my mother, and is really curious and hard working and just generally fun to be around. We became partners in crime of sorts and have taken on a few "tidying" projects on the floor. She gives me a hard time about my "American speed", saying that I do everything quickly and what hurry am I in, we have all day :) I give her a hard time about how fastidious she is about things. It's a little challenging to balance her Indian accent with the Ugandan accent, and try to take on enough of whichever one is appropriate in order to be understood...sometimes it's pretty funny...

Wednesday: Oh, yes, this was the run-in-with-the-Doctor-day. A different doctor came to do rounds and she didn't seem to like me very much. Let me just say that rounds are completely disorganized...well, I mean it seems that way to me, and I'm one of the most disorganized nurses I know. The Ugandan nurses seem to think it's organized so maybe it's just organized chaos, but
because there aren't computers, everything gets written down in a book, and not just one book but like 5 books, and they change hands constantly and people are doing different things and I just can't keep track of what's going on, so I often just stand there waiting for someone to tell me what to do. At one bedside a nurse physically pulls me over to the bed and hands me the glucometer and asks me to do a blood sugar on a patient. I reach for the gloves and needles and such and the doctor says to me "Gloves? You don't need gloves!" I looked her in the eye and told her, "I prefer to use them, thank you." She replied, "You're not going to be touching the blood, you don't need to use gloves to do that. Here in Uganda we don't have enough gloves." My thoughts were as follows: "How about you stick to doctoring, and I'll stick to nursing?!" I'd seen Uganda nurses use gloves for blood sugars and even less risky procedures, so I knew I wasn't doing anything any differently than anyone else was, she was just mad I was there...mad I was white, mad I was in Uganda, and so she was trying to make me feel bad for consuming precious medical resources...bah humbug. After confirming with all the other nurses, I learned that I was not in the wrong, that she was just being mean. It's true, there's not always gloves when and where people need them, but that's not because there aren't enough gloves in Uganda, and especially not at a private hospital where everyone pays out of pocket for each service they receive. Anyways, I could go on and on. But yesterday she softened up and this doctor and I had a good exchange involving smiles on both of our parts.

Thursday: Assembly in the morning, a short meeting of hospital leadership and staff and so forth, Sister Claris and I had to introduce ourselves...everyone chuckled when I said I was working in Bundibugyo...not exactly sure why, whether it's that looked down upon or what...There was scripture read (it's a Catholic hospital) about laying our burdens at Christ's feet, and we sang a song too to that effect ("Lay your cares upon Jesus..." or something like that) and went on our way.

Friday: I knew it was coming; Sister Prossy, a Ugandan nun/nurse confirmed that I was not only not married, but not dating anyone either, and then proceeded to try to convince me to join the sisterhood like her. She did it with a smile on her face, but seriously. "You just call your mother and tell her 'bye-bye' and then you come and live with us!" Oh geez. 5pm couldn't come quickly enough. I also took on the role of answering the phone since when it rings no one appears to move or do anything about it. Not that I know what to say to anyone on the other end, but at least it stops ringing! I spent almost all day going from the ward to the lab and back and then to the pharmacy and taking patients to ECG and ultrasound. The xray machine wasn't working for most of the week, so that cut out a lot of trips I would have had to make...

Noteable patients of the week:

"Hah-baht" (ie. Herbert but sounds as such when pronounced by a Ugandan) - HIV + and has TB and has been a bit confused and beligerent all week - solution? Give him a few sedatives.

Annet - 14 years old, 02 = 59% when they sent me in with the pulse ox...did anyone jump? Nope. What is there to do? There's no ICU, there's no dialysis to treat the renal failure she's suffering from...so there she sits, heaving with every breath and an oxygen tube down her nose (yep, down her nose, they don't have nasal cannulas, so they use 10 fr. suction catheters and stick them in until resistance is met and tape them in place and connect them to the concentrator they use to administer 02). Thankfully 3L brought her up to about 90%...but then her nose starts to bleed...

I won't even start to tell you the cheese saga from the week, we'll just say that 8-500g balls of cheese were successfully delivered to the team in Bundi on Thursday. Praise God.

Well, my time is almost out. So I'll sign off. If you've written me an email, I'm going to try to respond this week, but phone might be a better bet.


what's a girl gotta do to get a decent internet connection around here?!?!?! Goodness gracious. The connection at the Center where I'm staying was great monday night, and then has been pretty much nonexistent since then, so after several days of attempting unsuccessfully to check email and so forth, I planned to spend all day today camped out in a high end hotel in town using wireless and just generally relaxing...surprise surprise, nothing works the way you think, after checking 2 hotels I've finally ended up in a run of the mill internet cafe and will have to come up with another plan.

I successfully found my way into the taxi park (total madness by the way) via matatu (Uganda's version of public transportation - minibus type things that are cheap and jam packed full of people). Now, here's the thing...you don't so much have any idea where you're going, so you just pretty much get out when you think you need to, or when someone else who looks like they know what they're doing gets out, and then you give the "conductor" guy (aka friend of the driver who earns part of the day's profits for hawking customers while driving by and opening and closing the door for people and taking money/giving change) some change (I have no idea if I gave him the right amount but he didn't shout/chase after me, so I'm guessing it was okay)...then I walked up to Kampala road, with the determination to find some reasonably priced Zyrtec for my allergies (I've been out for three days now and have been sneezing up a storm, and blowing my nose like crazy!)...I'm convinced that as long as you walk like you know where you're going, you'll be okay...I relied on my generally good directional instincts and successfully found Kampala road and headed to Norvic where I bought some drugs...who needs a prescription anyways, this is Africa, you just walk into the drug shop and buy what you think you need :) Love it (the American nurse in me screaming inside "this is not how it's supposed to be done, who's checking doses and drug interactions and discussing side effects?!"). Then headed towards a craft market I hadn't yet been to, bought a few trinkets for people, and then headed to the Serena...can you say WAY out of my league? This is I think the nicest hotel in the country and there I was in my flip flops and jeans (yes, jeans! no skirts for Heidi in the big city!) looking for free wireless :) Not so much to be found (they wanted 30,000 Ush for a day's worth of internet time, sorry charlie). I had lunch, and then wandered to the Sheraton where evidently everyone in town who drove a Benz was getting married...craziness, you would have to look closely to tell that these wedding parties were in fact Ugandan and not American...big white dresses, suits, satin-y bridesmaids dresses, and little flower girls and boys running around...but internet was my goal - again, the hotel was stingy so I headed to the mall, where I now sit in an internet cafe.

I'm gonna attempt to post more about the week...

14 July 2008

one wedding, one rooster, and one hospital

I don't know, I get pretty lame when it comes to titling my posts after a while...

So, I'm here in Kampala, safe a sound. Writing from the internet cafe here on the complex where I'm staying. I'm living at the Uganda Catholic Social and Training Center, across the road from Rubaga hospital. Arrived last night at about 9pm, totally exhausted but really thankful for a safe trip, and a belly full of good Indian food.

You first need to know that as the matatu driver pulled into the Center, the "quiet" I had observed the 2 times I visited last week, was not so much accurate. There was actually a wedding reception in full swing, christmas lights, microphones and Ugandan pop music and all...sweet...but then there was my friend Maria, waiting for me with a warm greeting and a hug and laughing at my joke about how kind she was for throwing me a party to welcome me to Kampala...it really was what I needed. I did ask Maria if there are wedding receptions held here often, and it turns out the answer is yes...sweet...All I can say is praise the Lord for sound sleeping genes from my mother dearest :)

The next thing you need to know is that there was a rooster making a racket outside my window starting at like 5:40am...the darn thing continued cock-a-doodle-do-'d every 20 seconds for another hour and a half until I finally got up...the sound sleeping genes only carry you so far...the rooster right outside your window evidently is where the line is drawn! When I came home at 2pm on a lunch break the thing was still at it?!?! What the heck?! Anyways, this city girl obviously knows nothing about roosters...

Then there was the hospital, a good day overall. Kind people, laughs, the usual stares and maybe even not as many as a usual day in Bundi, and even some hands on nursing which I love, a little blood sugar checking and some insulin giving...A man died just as we were all leaving, HIV + and not conscious, had that totally haunting "no lights on" look in his eyes, and the gaunt dark skinned face, his chest heaving with each labored breath, his wife having refused the oxygen...aged him several decades upon first glance...his maybe 7 year old son was the only one around to comfort his grieving mom (not as loud as grieving in Bundi is that's for sure)...The 7 year old was just as wide-eyed as his dad was before he died, stunned and sad and no idea what to do next.

Okay, my minutes are almost up and I'm tired. More in a few days.

07 July 2008

A very brief recap

Ashley and I with the Semliki valley in the background, including the Semliki river which at this point also serves as the border to Congo - I've really enjoyed the time every week (or so :) that Ashley and I get to hang out and talk and pray together. She teaches the elementary school aged missionary kids and does a splended job!
WHM Bundibugyo single lades at the Equator!
Standing ON the equator!
Pool view at KFW - spectacular if I do say so myself - I think this place is thus far my favorite getaway in Uganda.
Hippo tracks in Queen Elizabeth National Park
My first hyena

Just wanted to get a quick something posted to say that my 24 hour trip to Kampala was good. It involved the usual: lots of waiting to see people and then getting passed from person to person, office to office - the run around, basically. But I'm fine with that, to an extent, as long as something gets accomplished in the end, and it did, so I was okay with it all.

I made arrangements to be working at Rubaga hospital for 8 weeks, and made arrangements to stay in a place located just across the street from the hospital...I'll say more later, but I really feel like it's all God's provision. Again, not at all what I expected for 8 weeks of my "summer" but I can see His hand in it all, which is really comforting.

In the meantime, it's crunch time, so you won't likely read much from me this week if anything.

Here's a few pictures from the 3 days away we had after Kampala with the team at Kingfisher West (the same location as the last posting of gobs of sunset pictures...). I will say that it was soooo good to have time to spend with my teammates without a set program, away from "work"...to get to know people as people aside from their roles on the team or in the community here in Bundibugyo. Some raucous games of water polo, nertz games galore, and just general hang out time, it was a blast.