26 September 2008

trying to be a happy wheezer

After 5 1/2 years of working on a pulmonary floor in a children's hospital, treating kids with asthma each and every day, I finally understand the feeling of relief one can have from an MDI. Seems to be I'm a wheezer. Wednesday I had Jennifer listen to my lungs, after little relief from my spasmodic cough after several days. "you're wheezing. have you ever wheezed before?" "not since I was about 12!" I told her. Not since some excersize induced asthma while playing soccer which I've thought since then was just me being a wuss, but I guess not. I started using a salbutamol inhaler (equivalent to albuterol I'm guessing), and almost instantaneously I can tell a difference...I can feel my airways relaxing, my cough gets deeper instead of tighter...it's amazing.

So, yep, I'm still not feeling so great, but am trying to be a happy wheezer. Trying not to do too much but trying to still be a productive member of society. This afternoon I'm going to try to conquer the piles of dishes next to the sink and the laundry waiting to be put away, all things that have been put off and put off throughout the week...I still don't feel like it but no one else is going to do it, so it's gotta be done...


I've been struck since I've been back here in Bundibugyo, just how much the kids we see on the pediatric ward make me smile. This last week or so my little friend Joanne has been smiling at me every morning. The initial shock of her burns and the pain caused by the daily dressing changes has given way to her "well child" personality...so precious.

Until this morning, I thought she was a he, and that her name was Jowadi, not Joanne...oh well...

Earlier on in her stay she was sporting these super snazzy black and red striped underpants....and that's it...just the red and black striped underpants. Jennifer remarked that they were right out of Dr. Seuss or something of the sort...She would waltz around the ward in her snazzy underpants with her arms bent at the elbow and her burned hands flapping around like bird wings...it was pretty cute. I would stand weighing kids and she would just walk up and stand on the big girl scale we got from UNICEF (it's DIGITAL!!!! - we'll see how long it lasts) all proud of herself. I would thank her and off she went, waddling away with her big belly and hands flapping. Cuteness.

Hassan is a professional

And he makes chapati's, eggs, beans and potentially other delicacies available to you if you happen to be walking, riding, or driving near the MAF guesthouse in Makindye...I got a kick out of his roadside marketing scheme. And look, there's Hassan himself with the early morning sun shining on his elegant eatery.

21 September 2008

under the weather

You know you're under the weather when...
  • you can't take your temperature accurately because when you close your mouth around the thermometer, you can no longer breathe because your nose is so stuffed up
  • you have to go around your small-ish house and pick up piles of used tissues gathered on the floor next to your couch & bed
  • you have gone through 1.5 boxes of tissues and 1.5 roles of toilet paper in one weekend
  • you're met by a teammate at the front door as you're leaving for work in the morning who says with a concerned look on their face, "are you okay? you look awful!"
  • you skip church because you're afraid that seeing as you're already kind of the center of attention because you're white, you figure your productive cough and nose blowing might just render your brothers and sisters worship-less if you showed up
  • you refrain from eating Jelly Belly's and drinking gin & tonics in addition to pretty much everything else because you can't taste anything beyond the generic "salty" and "sweet"
  • you bring all of the small pillows from the couches and add them behind your pillow on your bed to prop yourself up in order to breathe at night
  • you are reluctant to roll over in bed at night because you're sure that as soon as you do you'll be thrown into a coughing fit
  • your work at the health center is limited to however long the tissue stash you brought will last you
Have I succeeded in making you feel really sorry for me? You shouldn't really, because none of these things have anything to do with living in Uganda/Africa or being a missionary or anything. I just couldn't think of anything else to write about since I obviously haven't been out of the house in 2 days except of course to use the bathroom and go and get meds from the Myhre's.

19 September 2008

language puzzles

“Ida. You know when you are married, and you put this ring on your finger, and you put this cover on the bread? Do you have it?” Ngombeki had come over to my side from Pat's as I was folding laundry that was actually dry (Praise the Lord) with a puzzled look on his face.

Hmmm. Not really trackin’ with ya Ngombeki. “It’s something you put on bread? A cover for the bread or it’s something you eat?”

“Ehh!” he says with a smile.

“No, I’m asking. You need something to cover the bread with or you need something to put on the bread to eat with it?”

“Ah….” he said as he thought of another way to ask me for whatever it was he needed…

George heard our attempt at discussion and came from Pat’s side over to my side carrying a metal 9x13 pan of what looked like banana cake. “His sister is getting married and you put it on the top” George said.

“Oh, you have a cake. You need what you put on top of the cake. You need a container?”

“No, you put like this…” and George smeared his hand around above the cake.

“Ah, you need ICING for the cake. Your sister is getting married and you need icing for the cake.”

“Ehhhhhhh” they both said in affirmative unison with smiles on their faces.

“Uh, huhhhhhh!” I said in agreement. “I don’t have icing that is already made, but I do have this” pulling out a box of confectioner’s sugar. “I have these directions also” pulling out the Joy of Cooking and finding the quick white icing recipe. “But I have never made it from these directions. I am not sure how it is going to turn out. This Karen, I have heard that she is the best at making this icing. You should go and ask her about this icing, and if she is not there or cannot help then I can try these directions.”

“OH-kay” Ngombeki says in agreement. He’s satisfied with that plan and heads off with his cake and box of sugar to find Karen.

I love these interactions. I love these times when it’s up to us non English and non Lubwisi speakers to try to figure out what the other is trying to say. Usually it’s me and Asita. She knows more English than I know of Lubwisi but we still have quite a time of it…usually with lots of laughing and hand motions. A comedy of errors for sure. But the satisfaction from piecing things together and figuring out the puzzle, and the crumpling in laughter that ensues is priceless!

16 September 2008

"Back to life, back to reality..."

That was one line of a song in the 80's...no recollection of who sang it but it comes to mind in relation to my life today.

I've been back in Bundibugyo since Wednesday evening of last week. The latter part of last week was an ease back into life here. Today was the smack upside the head.

Spent the morning distrubuting food to inpatients and outpatient follow ups and motherless babies. Always a bit of a balancing act...how many stories and names and faces and charts and books can you keep straight and respond to and keep accurate records of all at one time. But, we were done by not long after 11am. Not bad at all. Made my way back to the ward to tie up loose ends and check and see where Jennifer was with rounds. She was just finishing...or so she thought...but just when you think you're done, people come crawling out of the woodwork (or the cement and mud as it may be here) with various requests and questions.

We biked home, I branched at mine and she went on up the hill to hers. I found Susanna finishing her work of making tortillas and sweeping the floor. I greeted her, thanked her for her work and tried to get a few emails written. Then Baguma picked me up for our trip over the river and through the woods. Riding on the back of a motorcycle with Baguma driving is a stark contrast to the weaving and speed of Kampala boda drivers. I actually told him at one point, "you can drive faster if you like, don't worry about me, I'm used to the driving of the boda drivers in Kampala." "But driving at that speed is risking life" he replied. Doh. I agreed and left the issue alone even though at times I wanted to shake his shoulders and say, "really, I could walk faster than this!"

When we came to the river, there wasn't anyone in the water, and there was a herd of men trying to get me to let them carry me across...I've always just insisted on walking across myself. So, my feet and the hem of my skirt get wet, who cares. But with all the rain we've had I wasn't sure of the depth of the water and the speed with which it might carry me downstream (remember the Nile experience?), so I decided to surrender my pride and agree.

How long has it been since you accepted a piggy back ride from a complete stranger of the opposite sex? That's what I thought. The last time I did this, the stranger kinda squatted and I hopped on, literally. Well, evidently that's not how it's done in Uganda or once one clears the age of 10 or something because that's exactly what I did this afternoon and everyone on both sides of the river got quite a laugh. Glad to be of some comic relief.

Well, I'm running out of time to post this so for your benefit this will be brief.

The program at Busunga was relatively painless, but then was followed by the staff and volunteers confronting me about their complaints and dissatisfactions with the program and specifically their "motivation." I was actually really glad for this but personnel management has never and will never be my strong suit. But we communicated well I think and are working on the situation.

After another piggy back ride across the river (this time I managed to climb on rather than hop on which seemed to be better received), we arrived back at mine at about 5:30pm or so.

The evening, as I stood with a cucumber in my hand I had intended to cut and use to prepare a dinner, was spent in confrontation with a neighbor and friend and local church leader about his reception of some communication he's received from the team recently.

Dinner was served at about 8:45. With tall Gin & Tonics :)

Welcome home, Ida.

13 September 2008

Life in Jeopardy

When I was younger, my friends were often of the opinion that my dad only worked one day per week. He’s a pastor, and has been for most of my life, so it was understandable for them to think that Sunday was his work day and the rest of the week my dad did whatever dad’s do when they’re not working…usually they asked me what that was and I had to describe to them what I thought my dad’s job really entailed and clarify that it did in fact involve more than one day per week…what I wouldn’t give to go back and be a fly on the wall during one of those conversations…Anyways, along with this peculiarity of being a PK was the fact that your dad was never really totally off duty. There were always the phone calls about so and so who was really sick and just taken to the hospital, or such and such who just had a baby, or just died, or a marriage in a crisis, or a life in jeopardy for one reason or another. And you never knew when those were going to come…during Christmas dinner or as you’re trying to get out the door to your final tournament soccer game, or in the middle of an episode of the Cosby Show. It was just part of the job. I never really thought much of it until I got older. I thought everybody’s jobs were like that…

Now, I have a job of my own like that. How’d this happen? Turns out my mom has a job like that too, but I never really knew it when I decided to follow in her footsteps.

Two weeks ago, a life was in jeopardy and I was not expecting to be on duty. I was sitting by the pool in Jinja, reading, having rafted the Nile the day before. Sarah was taking a pre-dinner shower, and Ashley was sitting across from me with her nose in a book as well. The pool was quiet after a day of visitors enjoying the water. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a few Ugandans walking along the far side of the pool, and then one of the guys jumped into the water. I looked up to see what kind of mischief he was making. When he stood up in the pool, I noticed he was holding something, then as he walked across the pool, I realized it was a child he was holding. The child was lying across his arms, limp.

Ashley must have noticed the look on my face and turned to look and see what I was looking at. The next half hour or so would take a really long time for me to describe in detail here. But in summary, the child died in front of my eyes. For medical, cultural, circumstantial and practical reasons, I made the decision not to do CPR. Have you ever made such a decision? What do you think of me for making such a decision? I could try to defend myself, but when I’ve tried to do that in the last couple of weeks all of the words come out wrong and so I just need to leave it at that.

This is the first time in my life as a nurse that I’ve been the ONLY ONE…the only medically trained person in the vicinity…but my experience and my knowledge of the situation led me to the decision not to do CPR and that had an impact on my heart. I felt okay with my decision in the moment, I had a peculiar peace as I walked away, but a few hours later I began to doubt my judgement, I began to doubt and question everything. Sarah and Ashley and I had made plans earlier in the afternoon to play a rousing game of Nertz after dinner but I was no longer in the mood.

After debriefing some with my mom the next night, and with Jennifer the other night after pizza, I can say that I still stand by my decision with their encouragement. It’s with much trepidation that I write of this, because my biggest fear is what other people will think. But the truth is that This Is My Father’s World, and His shield is my defense. But the purpose of this blog is to communicate what life here is like, to communicate to you what my experiences here look, sound, smell, and feel like…and this one is no different. It’s an experience unique to our life, to my life here, and it has taught me more of who God is, and who I am. But the truth is also that a family somewhere has been mourning the loss of a son, whose chest heaved for the last time as I held his hand and watched.



“The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.” - Hannah

-1 Samuel 2:7-8


I’ve seen the lightning flashing, and heard the thunder roll.
I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing, try’n to conquer my soul.
I’ve heard the voice of Jesus telling me to fight on.

He promised never to leave me, no, never alone.
Never alone, oh, never, never alone, never alone,
He’ll never leave you alone.

The world’s fierce winds are blowing, temptations sharp and keen.
I’ve felt a peace in knowing my Savior stands between.
He stands to shield me from danger when earthly friends are gone.

In affliction’s valley, I’m treading the road of care.
My Savior helps me to carry my cross when heavy to bear.
My feet, entangled with briars, ready to cast me down.

- gospel tune sung at Grace and Peace the Sunday before my departure

This Is My Father's World

One of the things I came to realize during my time in Kampala was the obvious fact that since my arrival here in Uganda, I have taken on the weight of responsibility for the extent of injustice, poverty, sorrow, and need that I’ve come into contact with. I have tried to bear the weight of this on my shoulders. I think if you gave my shoulders a squeeze, even now, you could probably feel something of this weight in the tension of my muscles. One night in Kampala, my shoulders gave out.

It was the day of the nurses station conversation in which the nurses and nursing students were pleading with me to take them to America with me because they want to go and the US Embassy won’t give them visas. What do I say to explain to them the ease with which I and hundreds of other Americans have come to their country for various reasons and lengths of time, as compared to the difficulty and likely impossibility of them ever coming to the US, I asked myself. I demanded an answer of myself, and myself didn’t have an answer to give. My shoulders gave way. It might seem trivial issue to you, but I think the visa issue was just the last straw, my shoulders couldn’t handle any more. When I crashed on my bed, still in my white uniform, after my return from the hospital, I broke down in tears. “God, I can’t do this. I don’t know what to say, what to do. I can’t take on the responsibility for this.” And I realized then that this wasn’t the only thing, that under this visa issue was a whole pile of things I’ve seen, heard, felt, and experienced here I can’t explain, that I can’t change, that I have no answer or resolution for.

This realization, these tears, this episode of my shoulders giving way to the weight of the world around me, drove me to my God. I started flipping through Psalms and came to and read the 89th.

“O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging sea; when its waves rise, you still them…The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. The north and the south, you have created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name. You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. For you are the glory of their strength, by your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.” Vs. 8-9, 11-18

The earth is His. Justice is of the foundation of His rule, it’s His, not mine. And blessed are those who walk in the light of that knowledge, walk in the light of His face. Blessed are those who walk as if their horn is exalted by Him alone.

This is my Father’s world…though the wrong seem oft so strong, He is the ruler yet.

09 September 2008


...my official registration number with the Uganda Nurse and Midwives Council. At least I think that's what I remember seeing on the form. Needless to say, I am officially registered as of today, 9 Sept. 2008 as a nurse in Uganda. After the process of the last several months, this feels like a big deal. You wanna know what's also a big deal? That it only took me two hours in the office to accomplish this monumental task! I was honestly prepared for it to take almost all day. I went with my water bottle and ipod in tow.

So, yes, I was rockin' out to Old Crow Medicine Show sitting in the Council waiting room this morning. "Rock me mama like the wind and the rain, rock me mama like a southbound train, hey, mama rock me..." While everyone else was watching/listening to Ugandan pop music videos. Tell you the truth I was watching the videos while listening to OCMS...the music was all in Luganda so the audio doesn't do me any good anyways. But it was quite the juxtaposition, Ugandan pop music videos with OCMS as the soundtrack...anyways, I digress.

There were a few moments when I thought I was gonna blow a fuse...

Administrator Lady: "We also need 2 smaller passport photo sized black and white pictures for the ID card..."
Heidi (internally): you've gotta be kidding me, I bring 3 black and white 5.5cmx5cm photos and you're telling me you want two more of a different size? just cut the bigger ones down to whatever size you want for goodness sakes...
Heidi (audibly): "you need them, (throat clearing), today?"


Administrator Lady: (handing the handwritten letter confirming my registration with the council to be given to immigration for continuing on with my work permit progress to the receptionist) "You type this for this one her. She needs to take it with her."
Receptionist: "My computer, it's not working. I don't know why" (with a puppy dog like sad smile on her face as if to say 'sucks for you!')
Heidi (internally): you've gotta be kidding me. let me type it for you, her computer was working back there in her office, let's try, beyond all cultural norms, to be pro-active
Administrator Lady: "These ones, they need their letters, you find another computer, let someone else come here."
Heidi (internally): "that's what I'M talkin' about!"

But in the end, it all worked out. I delivered the letter this afternoon to my friend Richard at MAF who does some of our immigration work for us in Kampala, and he was duly impressed. That was satisfying. He understood what a long process this has been, and understood my enjoyment of being able to put that letter of recommendation in his hands. He says he'll deliver it to immigration tomorrow.

The interesting thing about the timing of all of this is that today is Sept. 9, 2008, the day I "passed the test" and got registered as a nurse in Uganda. 7 years ago (minus 3 days), on Sept. 12, 2001 (yes the day after 9/11) I took my nursing board exam at home, the NCLEX exam, and passed (although I didn't find that out until weeks later), which rendered me a Registered Nurse in the United States of America, or at least in Pennsylvania.

So, Sept. is a big month in my nursing career it seems.

07 September 2008

with glasses raised

we celebrated my last day at Rubaga on Friday night. (me) Ashley, Pat and Sarah from L to R.

Location: Le Chateau (Belgian Restaurant)
Red Beverage: Lindemann's Framboise (sp?) - Belgian raspberry beer
My Dinner of Choice: Tilapia Tartare with chips (ie. fancy fish sticks with tartar sauce and french fries with Heinz ketchup) sometimes you just feel like eating something ordinary, you know?
Dessert of Choice: Coupe Brasillienne (vanilla and coffee ice cream with caramel sauce and whipped cream)

It was a really fun meal. I'm really thankful for these women. We're each really different and have different passions and interests and strengths and weaknesses but God uses them to teach me more about Himself through them, uses them to bless me, uses them to challenge me, to make me laugh, to celebrate with me. I could say much more about each of them, but they each deserve their own post...

The Bad Place

I'm a bit behind in my blogging, so things are a bit out of order here, but I realized that I never wrote about our experience rafting the Nile last weekend.

I guess the story really starts a week ago Friday, Sister Claris' last day at Rubaga. She came over to my room after work because I'd told her I had something to give her. I handed her a paper bag with a little token of my appreciation of the friendship and companionship God had given us over the previous 7 weeks (it was a scarf/wrap of sorts for her to wear around her white head covering because it's always getting dirty when she travels and gets in and out of dusty matatus, etc. And she was glad to point out that it matches her gray and blue/white striped dressses. I was glad to point out that I planned it that way :) Then she handed me a package and told me that she didn't get this in Kampala. That a good friend from India had brought it and she had been waiting to give it to someone who she was close to and meant a lot to her and that she thought would like it, and that she had decided I was that one. I was really honored, and asked her if she was sure she wanted to give it to me...she assured me she was sure. I gingerly opened the wrapping paper and inside found nothing less than a Barbie towel! Yep, a Barbie bath towel! "A barbie towel!" I exclaimed. "Thank you!" I told her with a little chuckle :) I think I'll need to take a picture of it just so you can see it in all of it's glorious pinkness. Really, though, I'll ALWAYS remember her when I take it off the shelf after a shower. It was the perfect ending to the 7 weeks :) he he he

Anyways, Sarah and Ashley were present for the gift exchange and personally witnessed the hilariousness of Sister Claris. I finished throwing the last few things into my backpack for the weekend and Sister walked Sarah and Ashley and I out to meet our taxi who was driving us to Jinja. It's normally a drive of about an hour and a half, but took about 3 hours because it was Friday evening rush hour...except I'm not sure the term rush hour quite applies...there's really no rushing about it..."crawl hour" might be more accurate.

Rafting was booked for the next morning, pick up at 8:30am.

The biggest (maybe the only) disappointment is that I don't really have pictures to show for the experience, but for obvious reasons taking a camera in the raft was not an option. Therefore you'll have to come do it for yourself if you really want to see it for yourself :)

First of all, it was a bee-u-ti-ful day. Blue sky, just a few white puffy clouds around the edges of the blue expanse. In them morning, as we waited for the rafting company to pick us up, I was concerned that it was going to be a bit cool for being in/on the water all day, but clearly my Kampala experience has been long enough that I'd forgotten just how hot the African sun is...needless to say it was warm enough :)

When gathered at the rafting company's office/hostel, Sarah and Ashley and I were 3 of a group of about 25 , we were briefed by Juba, the trip leader for the day, on the overall way the day was going to look. We were all fitted with life vests and helmets and then loaded into a cattle truck of sorts and driven to the put in site.

In what was a slightly disconcerting/confusing sequence of events, the three of us actually ended up in the raft of another rafting company that is somehow connected with the one we had booked with, but it was all part of God's provision for the day we realized in the end. Our guide for the day was Charles, who told us his nickname on the river was "Prince of the Nile" (we asked if we could just call him "Prince" :) Our raft-mates were two British oil traders about my age or so - the woman currently living in Singapore and apparently dating the man living in Dubai, and then an Australian business woman about my age who was traveling in Africa for 3 months after finishing an assignment in London, and then an American man about my dad's age (not sure what his story was). And I think once we were on the river we all shared about the same risk desire level...the same "need for speed"...the same degree of "daredevilishness" which proved to work out really well.

We were the last boat, of the 4 in the group, into the water and spent about a half hour being educated on how this rafting thing really works, what to do if you ended up being flipped, ended up under the boat under the water, ended up away from the boat...how to try to haul yourself back into the boat, or more realistically, how to be hauled back into the boat or haul your friend back into the boat, etc. Then we took off. If I remember right there were a few grade 2 and 3 rapids to begin with, then a 4, and then the first of 4 grade 5 rapids for the day...

Now, I need to do some research on the prevalence of grade 5 rapids in the white water rafting world, but everyone kept talking about how the Nile is known for its grade 5's. We even went around/avoided a few grade 6's along the trip, for which I'm thankful, but the grade 5's are super fun (when you stay in the boat).

The reason we were glad for the raft placement we ended up with was that after the first grade 5 we hauled a girl into our boat who was in tears. The guide asked her if she was okay and she yelled "no, I'm not okay!" Her guide had flipped them on the rapid intentionally, and she was pretty shaken by it all. She wanted off the river ASAP. Kudos to "Prince" Charles though because he was really kind to her and talked her into staying in our boat for the rest of the day, except for the grade 5's, we would paddle to shore, drop her off, do the grade 5's and then pick her up at the bottom. It was a lot more work for us in the boat, the river didn't always wanna let us get over to shore very easily when so close to a grade 5, but we were all glad to help get her to the end of the day. A lot of the guides are wise a** hot shots who get a kick out of flipping people, and try to do it at every chance they get. And some people think that's fun, but I personally think it's way more fun to ride the rapid in the boat...the ride itself and the satisfaction at the end are incredible! The girl we hauled into our boat was a Dutch medical student who kept saying "I've done c-sections by myself since I've been here in Uganda, and that's nothing compared to how scary this is!"

So, we stayed in the boat the whole day, and then we dropped our Dutch friend off before the last grade 5, and Charles took the opportunity to brief us on the plan for this rapid. It's called "The Bad Place" he told us. He explained the reason for the name is the whirlpool effect caused by the direction of several currents coming together at a certain place in the rapid. He briefed us on how if/when we were flipped out of the boat, we should resist the urge to fight the water, and remember to try to swim to the right, that it was there we would best be picked up by the rescue kayakers and then the safety raft...we discussed whether we wanted to flip intentionally or not, and the girls were pretty sure we didn't want to and the guys did, but the guys ended up giving in and we agreed we were going to take the 50/50 chance of flipping route as opposed to the 75% chance of flipping route...we got out and walked around the grade 6 that preceeds the Bad Place, we all took deep breaths, and got back into the raft. Off we went, and despite our guide's efforts and our furious paddling, we flipped in no time.

The boat flipped towards my side of the boat, which meant I went under the boat for a moment and then ended up in the open water, quickly to be sucked down into aforementioned whirlpool action, 4-5 times, with not enough time between to get my breath....I was officially terrified! I was sure I was going to drown. I remembered our instructions to swim to the right and not to fight the water, but the two seemed mutually exclusive...swimming to the right would for sure be fighting the water...the river was not allowing for any swimming to the right I can tell you that much for sure. The Nile was for sure doing whatever it pleased with me. Trying not to fight it seemed the only do-able option, so that's what I stuck with. Perhaps equally as terrifying was that when I would very briefly pop up, I couldn't ever see anyone else...not a kayaker, not a raft-mate, no one...and I was being hurdled down the river at what seemed like a pretty swift speed. but then I got turned around in one of my pulls under and when I came up I saw the beautiful face of miss Ashley Wood bobbing up and down upstream a bit...PRAISE THE LORD! I thought to myself. Hallelujah. At least she'll be able to tell everyone where I met my demise, I thought. She was coughing and sputtering a bit too, and later told me that my face was all red, and that I had a wide-eyed terrified look on my face, but that there wasn't really anything she could do to help. I knew that was the case, but I wanted to make sure she was okay and yelled "Ash-ley"...then down under I went again...but then when I came up a few waves later, I saw a rescue kayaker coming towards me. Now, harkening back to the briefing that Juba gave us at the beginning of the day before we left for the river, I remembered him saying that when you were in the water and saw one of the rescue kayakers, they would appear to be Jesus to you at the moment! Never a truer statement has ever been made! I tried to move in his direction, relatively futilely (sounds more and more like Jesus, eh?)...Ashley held on to the back of his kayak and when i got close, the kayaker (whose name I never managed to find out) told me to hand him my paddle which I hadn't realized until that moment was still hand in my hand, then I managed somehow to wrap my legs around the front of the kayak like they taught us, and held on with a death grip to the handle positioned for just a time as this. I coughed and sputtered and tried to get my breath as the kayaker rowed us over to the safety raft, Andrew the safety raft guide hauled Ashley in, and then picked me up by the straps on the shoulders of my vest and hauled me head first into the raft next to Ashley...I scrambled to sit on the edge and put my hand on Ashley's leg just to know that she was really there...and then I looked up and Sarah was in the boat too! "Sah-lah!" I exclaimed. "you okay?" "yep, are you?" she replied with a chuckle as she looked at me! Then we were rowed to shore and climbed out back onto dry land where our other 4 raft-mates were waiting. Andrew kind of smiled and chuckled as I was belching like a sailor from all of the air I had swallowed while gasping between being pulled under and trying to tell Ashley how glad I was to see her head bobbing in the water...

So, we climbed up the hill to the trucks, handed over our paddles and gear and got a snack and settled into the cattle truck for the ride through the nearby villages to the camp where dinner awaited us. Now, you all know I detest beer, but my brother's always trying to get me to taste different kinds hoping that it's going to grow on me, that I'll acquire the taste as I mature or something...not the case so far...but with dinner we had two tickets for drinks which included the choice of a Ugandan beer called Nile Special. I figured I had to try it at least once while I was here, just to say I for sure don't like it, and what better a time/place than looking over the Nile after rafting it...So, I made myself drink about a 3rd of it, and then Sarah sacrificially offered to finish it for me :) Yuck.

When we made it back to the hotel that night we were all in bed by 9pm! What a great feeling though, to be that exhausted after a day like that. Zzzzzzzzzz

Big blue

the 15 year old (just guessing) Nissan Patrol 4x4 mentioned in the last post (photo requested by Geofredito Lutjenito)

06 September 2008


Nyabos and Sabos, today is my first post-Rubaga Hospital day. A long, full, good day, complete with lots of grocery/supply shopping, good food, and a trio of clutch-popping running push starts of Pat's 15 year old Nissan Patrol 4x4.

I left Rubaga yesterday with completion letter and ward evaluations in hand, I got the 3 black and white 5.5cmx5cm photos taken/printed, I bought 160 US Dollars with about 260,000 Ugandan Shillings, and am now prepared to take on the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council this coming Tuesday. The king of a tribe in the Jinja area died this week and so Monday has been declared a National Holiday, therefore Tuesday is the day. I will go early and I will wait and wait and wait, I will go from this desk to that desk, from this person to that person, and wait some more, until I have a letter in my hands stating that I have been approved for registration/a work permit.

Then likely Wed. will depart for Bundibugyo. The above mentioned Nissan Patrol will need to be our transport home, and there's a good bit of work that needs to be done on it, so we're hoping for no later than Wed.

The guy in the bushes

So, as you saw in the pictures, the deed is done. My hair has been cut, by the guy in the bushes. Caroline Becker is partially to blame, she succeeded in convincing me via facebook chat. “It’ll always grow back” she said. Actually, there really isn’t any blame to place – it’s probably about 3-4 inches shorter than I asked for (and that’s when it’s wet)…apparently “chin” and “ear” are one in the same when talking about desired length of hair…but it looks fine, not the best haircut I’ve ever had but so far not the worst either. And all for 5,000Ush (= ~$3). Oh and the guy in the bushes, he’s got a name, his name is Moses…

Moses cut and cut and cut some more – for about an hour actually…including the apparently unavoidable occasional comb snag of the left ear cartilage piercing (only ripping the earring back off once). There was a woman named Eva there also…at one point she offered Sister Claris (who kindly accompanied me for this momentous event) a magazine to read (yep, even the guy in the bushes has magazines) and of all the ones she could choose, she offered her a Bridal magazine…really? The woman who has taken a lifelong vow of celibacy? I mean I guess I was thinking something more along the lines of “Catholic Digest” or something, but she graciously accepted and flipped the pages until Moses was done chopping.

Now, I know this post is about a week and a half late, and some of you have complained about my description of the guy in the bushes, saying he’s not really ‘in the bushes’ but I need to get a view of the little shop from the road, and it’s definitely in the bushes…it’s a guy in a shop in the bushes, how’s that for accuracy? ☺

01 September 2008

busy week

the photo you've all been waiting for: Sister Claris
Moses: the guy in the bushes, going to town on my hair
the salon (aka "saloon") in the bushes, except you can't see the bushes...sister is standing in them and taking the photo
Friday - Sister's last day at Rubaga and that's as much of my snazzy white uniform as you're going to see :)
the blue African sky
Jinja, the source of the nile
the source is lake victoria to the right, and the nile goes off to the left
the nile - we rafted it on saturday - more to follow