31 October 2008

Traveling Mercies

So I know you weren't worried but I'm safe and sound back at home in Bundibugyo. You weren't worried because you didn't know you should have been...and you shouldn't have anyways really because worrying doesn't do anyone any good afterall...Ashley and I drove to Kampala on Tuesday and returned on Thursday with lots of supplies and groceries, 2 visitors and a new teammate. The Batmobile was packed (and equipped with 4 beautiful brand spankin' new tires - it's funny the things we get excited about around here :).

This trip was the first time I've driven out without a veteran team member along for the trip. So it was just Ashley and I for the trip out of the district. And it got off to a bit of a rocky start...well, actually getting off was the problem...evidently your 4 wheel drive cannot be in neutral if you expect to move forward (or in any direction actually) at all (even if your regular stick shift is in gear...) well, you live and you learn. We thought we'd tried everything but in the end had to wake Pat up (it was 6:30am or so at this point), she shifted the 4 wheel drive out of neutral and PRESTO! the car moved forward...details details. So, after jiggling the door lock up and down to get the drivers' side rear door open to load stuff into the back seat, and after more jiggling of the drivers' side seat belt in order to get it latched, after waking Pat up to find out we were just being stupid, we were on our way at about 6:50am.

Ashley skillfully drove out of the district for the first time, and I drove from Fort to Kampala. At one point on "the other side of the mountain" there were boulders and smaller rocks in the road, obvious evidence of a rockslide. "Wow. Look at that" we both said as we swallowed our pride and realized that driving the Bundibugyo road, and really at all in Uganda, we are totally at the mercy of our Father in Heaven. What if we were on that exact part of the road when the rockslide happened...what if? But, we weren't. On our return trip back into the district I was struck again by the immensity of mercy we are shown on a daily basis here, I said a quick "thank you God for your mercy" prayer and maneuvered the vehicle around the boulders and on our way. No car trouble, no punctured tires, no accidents, no rockslides, no getting stuck in the mud...and the list goes on. Thank you God for your traveling mercies on us.

26 October 2008

Okwesigwa Kwaawe (Great is your faithfulness)

Okwesigwa kwaawe, ai yesu, bukya bukya kuloho
koona eki ndukwetaaga
omukono gwaawe, taata, gukakimpa

Your faithfulness, oh Jesus, is always, is always there
All that I need, your hand, father, gives me

Ekyanda n'enjura
Ekiihe n'kasambura
Izooba n'enyunyuzi
byoona nibyatura okwesigwa kwaawe

Dry season and rainy season
Planting and harvest
The sun and the stars
All proclaim your faithfulness

2. Okuganyirwa ebibi
N'obusinge obwikaraho
N'okubaho kwaawe
Byoona bingarramu amaani

The forgiveness of sins
Peace everlasting
Your presence
They all encourage me

3.  Niiwe onyebembera
Niiwe kunihira kwange
Emigisa yaawe
Iwe wenka, niiwe wagimpaire

You are the One guides me
You are my hope
All your blessings
You only, gave them to me

It's not the "Great is thy faithfulness" that I'm used to, but it's much more fitting for the people and culture of Bundibugyo.  We sang it in church this morning and it's one that people know really well and the harmonies are really beautiful.  The first verse references to the dry and rainy season and planting and harvesting and the sun and the stars take on a whole new meaning here...these are real challenges and real beauties of life here, they are real evidences of God's faithfulness. 

25 October 2008

the ward

I got my camera out yesterday during rounds on the pediatric ward. I don't do this often because I still feel awkward about taking photos of people here. Usually on the ward the kids and parents don't seem to mind and usually enjoy seeing their "snap" on the lcd screen on the back of the camera, but I still feel like it's a bit like making a spectacle of them and I don't like that feeling. Anyways, now that we're clear on the challenges of photography in Africa, let me tell you a bit about these kids...
First is Daniel. He has lost 3 kg in the last 2-3 weeks, now looking like every "starving child in africa" picture you've ever seen, but this was the first day of his admission on which his weight came up a bit...only about 0.25 kg but we get excited about baby steps like that. Then there's the twins. These twin boys are being raised by their aunt, who, it has become very evident almost immediately, runs a very tight ship...these boys sat there on the end of their bed with their feet dangling in the air above their shoes for the duration of the morning, from when we started rounds on the other side of the ward until it came time to see them about 2 1/2 hours later...I got a wave out of one of them but otherwise, they didn't really even budge an inch and you didn't hear a peep from either of them. They are both being treated for TB after their mother died of an unknown febrile illness. After the twins there's a little boy whose face gave away a likely diagnosis of lymphoma...it took me a while to figure out what exactly was off about his face but in the end the left side of his face has a mass, but then he has a puffy right eye...with other masses noted in other parts of his body, prognosis seems poor with disseminated disease. Then there's yet another set of twins. Twins are really common around here. This set of twins is, along with their mother, also being treated for TB. It's not a very good photo because of the back lighting but I think you get the idea. Notice the older sister seated on the floor with the 2nd twin. This is a phenomenon I've picked up on in my time here: the older sister with younger twin siblings has little chance of any kind of a life of her own, little chance for education or any options of self investment, her life will be consumed with caring for these twins. Carrying one of them to and from the hospital or anywhere else the mother goes, cooking and carrying water for the family while the mother breastfeeds the twins (a full time job), doing the family laundry, and the list goes on and on...Then the next 3 photos are of the morning's entertainment on the ward. "Pah-ti's" remedial art class. Pat has been working on this mural for a while here and there when she gets a chance and yesterday she brought along a few apprentices. These are boys that are, as you notice, not in school on a Friday morning. They're not in school for a variety of reasons, being kicked out for theft, being unable to pay school fees, and the youngest of them just needing a little TLC from "mama Pah-ti." Once she got them going they really enjoyed it. Art is not a priority around here...in a place where daily necessities of living consume all of one's attention and energy, it's not often that anyone has or takes opportunity to teach or practice the making of any form of art, but clearly when given the opportunity they totally take off with it. It was really fun to watch these guys learn and then to paint. All the mom's and kids on the ward got quite the show too, everybody watched the mural process...what else are they going to do while they wait in their beds for Jennifer and I to make our way around the ward?! The mural will be something for not just these mom's and kids to enjoy but for families and patients to enjoy for a long time to come.

21 October 2008


are one of the things I miss about life in the States.  I think it's something I inherited from my mom, but I really don't like overhead lights...especially when they're naked fluorescent bulbs dangling from the ceiling...we use them because they're energy efficient or something of the sort, and last longer, and, well, all kinds of practical reasons I'm sure, but in the end this is one instance in which my priority is something other than the most practical option.   

I have been trying to think of an alternative to turning on the overhead fluorescent bulb in the main room in my house just to have light to type by, and one evening, after eating by candlelight the answer suddenly dawned on me...If I can eat by candlelight, why can't I type by candlelight too?! So, here I sit as I type, with a single flame next to my computer (I know I know, not all that safe for by little mac book, but I'm being careful!) It's quite lovely, actually.  A fantastic and very elementary solution to a simple preference issue.  

(I should really not be complaining about such things, the girls are having solar battery issues and have no power at all right now, so they're doing EVERYTHING by candlelight.)

18 October 2008

Masso's Departure events

Church leaders sending the Masso's off to Sudan in prayer (Michael, Liana, Karen, Acacia, & Gaby - check out his one knee, hand on the hip, "knight"-like look :)
Prayer during the Masso's goodbye church service - it was a great service but an excuse for an even longer than normal church experience
Liana Masso and Naomi Pierce - inseparable girlfriends
Acacia Masso and Julia Myhre lifelong friends
Quinn Pierce and Gaby Masso - the bestest of friends (they love watching team slideshows from behind the screen :)
Gaby Masso in his snazzy new suit. He really wanted a suit so his dad took him to the market and got him one - here he is in it's inaugural wearing. He had been telling us he planned to look "perferct" for the occasion and he most certainly did. At this moment he was a tad bored but what can you say? Our event couldn't possibly live up to his outfit!
Miss Ashley and her latest "suit-or" :) He really did get down on one knee to pose for the photo :) Such a cute pair!
A table set for a farewell feast
Karen Masso, Pat, and Jennifer
The Pierces - with children very sad to be saying goodbye to their friends
Three of the Von Myhre Family Singers
Liana Masso and Aunt Jennifer

here are a few assorted photos from events surrounding the departure of the Masso family a couple of weeks ago.

17 October 2008

Recent Events

Miss Heidi's read aloud - "Michael D. Masso, Will You Please Go Now?!" - an adaptation of Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now?! by Dr. Seuss that I read at the Masso's goodbye party
Inaugural use of the Barbie towel
Nakasero house - where we spent the first two nights away last weekend (just outside Fort Portal)

Formerly known as the "Bart-mobile" this Nisaan Patrol 4x4 has found a new name in it's new phase of life as the singles mobile...now the Batmobile (in honor of it's former name) is in the hands of the singles on the team...it's ours to put new tires on, get the shocks and suspension systems checked out on, put fuel in, respond to requests for usage of and rides in...it's now our responsibility.


localized rain storm
layers of clouds over the savanah of Queen Elizabeth National Park

This post is for the Jones kids (Margaret, Isaac and David). I hear they're really into weather these days and after Bekah told me that in a facebook chat we left the district for the weekend and I kept seeing these kinda striking weather patterns, so I thought I'd share them. Enjoy guys!

Next: 3 shades of gray

Next: striking beauty

14 October 2008


So, you know how I said I get potential blog post build up? Well, one of the remedies is to just write about stuff as soon as it happens (which only works if you have time - and I have 18 more minutes of internet time as of right now so we'll see if this works).

This just happened about an hour ago.

I'm walking back from the girls' house next door after a fantastic dinner (including a round of pre-dinner drinks - yeah gin & tonics - for most of the adults - sorry girls) with the Pierces who have had a really stressful few days. I even have my torch (er, flashlight) which I don't really need because the moon is so bright, but my fear of running into a snake keeps me toting it along with me anyways. I'm rounding the corner of the planter that runs along the front of our house approaching my door and I almost tripped over two sets of darkly clothed feet/legs. I peered around the corner with my torch and found them to belong to 2 UPDF soldiers lounging infront of my door...For sure almost peed my pants...which I realized as I was getting ready to take a shower was not actually pants, of course, but rather a skirt...but "almost peed my skirt" doesn't really work very well I don't think...I greeted the two camoflaged men and asked if there were any problems around and in true Ugandan fashion they assured me there were not. (Well then why the heck are you sleeping at my front door?!?!)

We heard earlier today there might be some rebel activity going on across the border and security is getting stepped up around here, but usually that just means soldiers on the mission, not soldiers at my front door...and it's not everybody's front door, just mine. I guess my front stoop is particularly comfy, I dunno. Usually when UPDF guys are around they're on the mission - camped out in an open space up near the workshop on your way from our houses up to the community center/church. We've gotten used to being on the look out for them sleeping here there and everywhere on our way back from Myhre's on Thursday nights, but I was surely not expecting to find them sleeping at my front door, that's for sure.

08 October 2008

Build Up

There are all kinds of build up in our lives…the wax variety in our ears, the plaque variety on our teeth, the sclerotic variety in our blood vessels…but when you’re an American living in rural Africa there’s also the potential blog material variety in the back of your mind…it’s definitely a phenomenon here…I experience things all the time that make me laugh or cry or scream (or wanna scream), and I think to myself…‘that there is blog material…’ but then the thought runs the other way out of my mind before I get a chance to write about it and it’s lost, sometimes forever, sometimes not. This material right here, maybe not so blog worthy, but because everything of the potential blog material build up variety has run the other way out of my mind, this is what you get. Sorry.

Leaving the district for a long weekend in the morning. I am so ready I can't even begin to tell you.

04 October 2008

A Few Good Men

I had the rare opportunity to spend an evening alone one night this week, so I took advantage of it. I made a tasty dinner and borrowed a movie from the girls. After eating pasta with chicken, tomatoes and fresh basil with a glass of wine by candlelight, I crawled into my bed and watched A Few Good Men. I assume most of you have seen it, but in case you forget, it's about 2 Marines accused of murdering one of their fellow Marines and about the Navy lawyers who are responsible for their defense.

One line stuck out in my mind.

The two lawyers working with Tom Cruise's character to defend these two Marines, get a bit testy with each other after a particularly challenging day in court. Jo (Demi Moore's character) says to Sam, "Why do you hate them (the 2 Marines they're defending) so much?"

He responds: "They beat up on a weakling...they tortured and tormented a weaker kid...they didn't like him, so they killed him, and why? Because he couldn't run very fast..."

As Jo is storming out of the courtroom, Sam turns and asks her, "Why do you like them so much?"

She answers: "Because they stand on a wall and they say 'nothin's gonna hurt you tonight, not on my watch.'"

For this reason I also am thankful for the men and women in our military. But I was thinking mostly about the poignancy of the line outside the military context.

The truth of this line struck a cord in my heart. The truth of the desire in my heart to have someone play that role in my life...to have someone say "nothin's gonna hurt you tonight, not on my watch" and back their words up with actions. I might venture to say that it's a desire all women have embedded in their hearts, and I might also venture to say that it might be a desire all people have in their hearts.

But the truth is that no one can offer us such promises. Not even God promises that He will protect us from all hurt; from ultimate and eternal harm yes, but from all the hurts along the way, no. He uses those hurts somehow...But I will say that even though I know this is true, the desire for protection from hurt is still strong inside of me.