28 December 2009

"...I thought they were sprinkles!"


Have I introduced you to Anna yet? Sheesh, time flies. Anna arrived in late October, a new member of our team in Bundibugyo – here to teach missionary kids and various other things - in time to overlap for a few weeks with Sarah before she left the field in early December. In any case, you should know that Anna has a way with words ☺ Somehow summing up entire holiday seasons in a couple phrases! “Those are bugs?! I thought they were sprinkles!” came out of her mouth a few days ago and it pretty well sums up Christmas in Bundibugyo. It was Christmas night, we had trekked down the hill to the duplex from the Myhre’s where we had spent the latter part of the afternoon and evening, and we were putting leftover food away, including some spectacular Christmas cookies Carrie had made, complete with red and green sprinkles (thanks Ash!). After they sat outside on the pizza table throughout the evening, ants and other bugs had began to celebrate Christmas by starting in on Carrie’s cookies, and she found them as she began to put them in a Tupperware for safe keeping overnight in the light of the kitchen. So, Carrie remarked about the bugs in the cookies as I was putting other leftovers in the fridge, and Anna replied with this brilliant summation as she studied the cookies on the counter after eating a piece of one.

- lights for the tree we bought at Uchumi that supposedly had 8 settings of various speeds and patterns of blinking/still but in actuality only had several not really all that different versions of seizure inducing blinking…oh well - lights are lights! we enjoyed them nonetheless (without any seizures I might add)
- Christmas is usually during dry season, and when we drove into the district with Carrie 4 days before and the entire back of my blue Capri pants were saturated with sweat, I was sure it had arrived! I was excited that at least it meant we would be able to eat Christmas Eve dinner on the back porch and maybe even Christmas breakfast, but alas, it rained all evening/night from Christmas Eve into Christmas morning…oh well – we ate a spectacular Asian meal Bundibugyo style, and then enjoyed a spectacular Black Forrest cake ala Scott Will for dessert by candlelight in front of the tree
- Carrie was sad that she wasn’t going to be in Bundibugyo for a Sunday church service and I comforted her by informing her that there would be church on Christmas, “one of the best services of the year.” Then ALL of the songs the congregation sang at the beginning of the service were Christmas carols that no one sings any other time of year, so they haven’t memorized them from repetition, and most people can’t read to learn the words, so they were sung slowly and awkwardly by a few…oh well – following these songs were the choirs, everyone decked out in their Christmas dresses/suits – always fun to watch and listen to
- We did rounds on the ward on Christmas Eve and the last kid we saw is an HIV + kid who it seems is dying, has not been conscious for the weeks she has been admitted for, whose mom must have known her status but was in denial and therefore didn’t get any prenatal care with her pregnancy with the younger sibling because she didn’t want to get tested…the mom refusing to have an NG tube placed in her daughter for hydration and formula feeding for caloric intake, but after I kneeled down on the mat she was sitting on with the child and explaining why we thought it was the best thing to do, she agreed. She then asked how long it would take to make her child well again, and I told her that there was no guarantee that anything we did was going to be able to make her well, but that this was the best option and we needed to try. My American ideal of everything needing to be well and good on Christmas was busted wide open…oh well – it made me realize yet again just how good the news of the birth of Jesus – Immanuel, God with us – really is, and how the harsh realities of life should make Christmas that much sweeter. And it did.

The bugs in the Christmas cookies – when you expect them to be sprinkles and they’re actually bugs it makes the ones that actually have sprinkles and not bugs taste that much better! And so goes life. Thanks Anna!

Christmas Cheer

It was the weekend before Christmas and we (Anna, Scott Will, and I) were eager to add as much Christmas cheer to our days as possible. We happened to be in Kampala to shop and pick up my sister during the performances of the Watoto Church (formerly KPC – Kampala Pentecostal Church) Christmas Cantata, so Sunday morning we got up early and were out of the guesthouse by 7am, arriving in time to get good seats and beat the crowds who filled the 8am service performance sitting on the floor in the isles!

Quite the production I must say! Tuxes, formal gowns, brake dancers, Christmas carols including a rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel that left me with goose bumps, and a funny narrator cast as one of the angels announcing Christ’s birth. The narrator was thoroughly Ugandan…the accent, the inflections, the exclamations…and it was during his description of the scene when the angels announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds, as he waved his arms and shook his hips describing the singing and dancing that went on that night that I realized again just how much my white western upbringing affects the way I read scripture, and imagine history…I have only ever imagined the angels sang classical choral music as they lit up the night sky…you know, Bach, Beethoven, Handel…who says they weren’t beating drums and shaking their hips with voices in African harmony? That whole scene with the angels and the shepherds has been quite poignant to me this Christmas…

Then as the homily of sorts, the pastor quoted S.M. Lockridge from a 1976 sermon preached in Detroit, reminding all of us of who exactly it was that the angels announced the arrival of:

“His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you... but He's indescribable. That's my King.”

Oh, right! That’s what we’re supposed to be about…that’s who our eyes are to be fixed on. Refreshing light bulb moment. I left the auditorium reminded that even in a dusty, hot December in Uganda, Christmas is what it is regardless of the continent or weather.

The next day we got into the Zoolander, packed to the gills with stuff, and drove through the day, out of the city and eventually rolling into Bundibugyo mid-afternoon…getting out of the car the back of my pants were soaked with sweat, my hands were quivering with the post Bundibugyo road shakes, and within 10 minutes of closing the door after unloading the car someone was knocking on the door wanting to tell me their problem (ie. ask me for money)…welcome home Heidi, and Happy Christmas!

23 December 2009

24 hours later than expected, but oh so worth the wait!


So, if the last post was mostly for Ashley and Nathan's enjoyment, then this one is mostly for my mother's enjoyment :) Her girls are together on the same continent for Christmas...and that's pretty much second only in her mind to both of us being together and with her on the same continent for Christmas.

This photo was from Monday night, the traditional team White Dinner in honor of the Norwegian heritage of the Myhre family. After sitting and sharing a delicious white meal together, we headed to the patio, my favorite holiday evening hang out spot in Bundibugyo, and talked about HOME...and I was thankful for God bringing part of my HOME here to Bundibugyo for Christmas.

More stories to follow :)

The Discovery

…as in a Land Rover Discovery. Thus continues the saga of vehicle ownership in Uganda.

Our main mechanic is a man named Ssesanga. I think I’ve mentioned him before…the most intimidating Ugandan I’ve ever encountered. Stern, and no-nonsense at first encounter, he makes a great mechanic. Kind of like a good surgeon, he can get away with lack of “engine-side” manner as long as he is good at what he does. You don’t go to a surgeon because of their inter-personal skills, and you sure don’t go to Ssesanga for that either, but you sure don’t go to a psychotherapist for open-heart surgery or a master cylinder repair. Long story short - I go to Ssesanga for his knowledge of and experience in car repairs, and he has yet to disappoint. He’s a Land Rover mechanic. Do I drive a Land Rover? Absolutely not. However, along with Land Rovers, he also “kamechanica’s” Nissans. He’s pricey, but he knows what he’s doing. I’m willing to pay good money for a job well done when it comes to a vehicle I’m responsible for on these roads, so he gets my business.

Every phone call I make to his cell phone to arrange for brining our vehicle in for repairs, I take a deep breath and steel myself for being thoroughly deflated. It’s fine. At least I know what to expect. And this past Thursday was no exception. It was late in the day, and I was the third World Harvest staff person in a week’s time to contact him about vehicle repairs (and the only woman, I might add). Both prior WHM encounters that week involved quick trips through Kampala and likely hurried customers trying to get back home to Bundibugyo in a timely fashion. Needless to say, Ssesanga was not enthused about my desire to drop my vehicle off on Friday and then pick it up ready to go on Saturday. He railed me pretty hard, chastising me (and “all of you people”) for not allowing for enough time to properly care for my vehicle, for always being in a hurry, for being so na├»ve as to believe that the problems I was reporting could be repaired in a short time, and he led me to believe there was no way I was going to be able to have the vehicle repaired within the weekend’s time. We agreed I would bring the vehicle in the morning and upon his assessment discuss how much time it would require and whether I was going to need to alter my travel plans. I hung up deflated and frustrated that he had to take out what seemed like his frustration with the rest of the team and maybe the rest of his entire customer pool on me, but trying to understand what it must be like when standing in his shoes. I’d be frustrated too.

Friday morning, after praying for a gracious heart, I arrived between 8 and 8:30am as instructed and “the doctor” was in. I was prepared to wait until mid-day or so since that’s how long I waited to discuss with him the last time. I explained the problems to him (the car/steering wheel shuddering above 80km/hr despite the stabilizer bar unit being replaced by another mechanic the weekend before, visible gaping holes in the seal around the windshield into which rain pours rendering the vehicle full of mildew after each episode, the unwashable grime covering the windshield rendering it almost impossible to see out of at night with oncoming traffic/lights, and a couple other details like locks that needed tightening, etc.), he tells me that I should go and that he will call me with an estimate as to how long it might take. As I’m gathering my things to leave the lot and venture into the city to do Christmas shopping for the day, he looks at me and says, “you’re going to do what? Shopping?” I agreed, and he pointed to a row of Land Rovers parked infront of the office, one of which is running with no one in it, and says to me, “I’m giving you the Discovery as a loaner. The seats have a button on the side so you can position it however you like, and it takes diesel. I gave it to Dr. Scott the last time and he so he was the last one to fill it. Otherwise, it drives like any other car.”

“You’re doing what?” I replied with my eyes wide and mouth hanging open! “I’m giving you that white one there as a loaner” he answered. It took me a few seconds to gather my thoughts and said “you’re sure about that?! I mean, I am careful, but I don’t want anything to happen to it.” “Ah! After driving that lorry around town, this machine will feel like a small car” he replied. I stood dumbfounded for a few more seconds, trying to decide whether this was a reasonable thing for me to do…sure would be convenient, but sure don’t want to have to pay for repairs to a Land Rover! “You go” he said. “The vehicle is running, the key is in the ignition. So, I didn’t delay, I squeezed into the drivers’ side door (the lot is JAM packed with Land Rovers so there’s no much room left for people to get in and out). Anna got in on the passengers’ side and we looked at each other wide-eyed! I pulled out my cell phone and called Scott Myhre immediately. “Scott Myhre!” I said as soon as he answered, “Ssesanga is giving me the Discovery as a loaner! Is that okay?! It makes me so nervous!” He calmly replied that it makes him nervous too, that the Discovery is the nicest of the loaners Ssesanga has given him, that I need to be willing to fix whatever might get damaged in the course of the day, but that it sure is convenient! I hung up, took a deep breath, released the emergency break and eased out of the parking space. Scott Will jumped in the back after paying another teammates bill on their behalf, and off we went.

God is so funny…I got to Ssesanga’s shop gearing up for needing to extend our time in Kampala by several days, for dealing with more of his frustration with me, and he goes and offers me one of his precious Land Rovers as a loaner for the day! Sun roofs, leather seats, electric seat controls…I was floored…and kept remarking about it for the rest of the day, flabbergasted by God’s (and Ssesanga’s) mercy and kindness to me. I shopped with my phone close by all day, waiting for the call as to what kind of time he would need, but I never heard. I figured, well, I have his vehicle, he’ll call me if he wants it back! Mid day the next day, I called him, he gave me a total for the price of the work and said I was free to come pick it up, the work was finished! I drove the Discovery back onto the lot that morning in one piece, and full of diesel. I dropped A LOT of money, but the car is driving like a champ!

So, Ashley and Nathan, if you’re reading, I gave Ssesanga’s Motors a Christmas card on our behalf and you never know what might happen next time! Maybe we’ll be fighting over who gets to take the Zoolander in the next time!

P.S.- That afternoon, after rolling my window down the handle of the crank you roll the windown down with fell off…it’s now kept in the ashtray, and you reach over and put it on the door every time you want to roll the window down and then return it to it’s home in the ashtray after each use. AND I realized that I had forgotten to mention the nonfunctional fuel gauge on the list of things needing repaired, but it hasn’t worked in the 2 years I’ve been driving the car, so why fix it now? Just kidding, but really, remind me to add it to the list of things next time I take a deep breath and dial Ssesanga’s number ☺

P.P.S - I just realized that Ashley and Nathan might be the only ones interested in reading all of this, and probably not for another month or so, but if you're still reading - sorry for the ramblings of likely unnecessary details :)

04 December 2009

"maaaaaaaaaa"


a little blurb about one way to save a child's life this Christmas :)

Hunger, sickness, loss: the gift of a goat to a family with any one (or more) of these challenges, leads to milk for a malnourished child. This gift translates directly into protein and calories - a very tangible demonstration of the love of Immanuel: God with us. This year, as a result of your generous gifts last Christmas to BundiNutrition’s Matiti Project, 109 goats were distributed to families coping with these very real challenges in sustaining life in Bundibugyo. We are so grateful for your generosity. It is a privilege to be your “hands and feet” on the ground here as we see the smiles on a mother’s face as the arrow on the scale creeps higher and higher!

This Christmas, if you would like to “Give-a-Goat” to provide milk for a hungry, sick or left behind child, $130 allows us to purchase a high grade dairy goat (due to the number of goats distributed to date, we are now able to purchase their progeny locally here in Bundibugyo), train the family in its care, give them a few tools for constructing a simple shed, and then enable them to take the goat home. $200 will allow us to do the same AND to set aside a portion for supporting the ongoing development of a local high grade dairy goat breed in Bundibugyo – an effort to develop a culturally appropriate and sustainable source of milk to boost the protein and caloric intake more widely, in a district where half of all children are chronically underfed. For the third consecutive year, we are offering African handmade Christmas tree ornaments to the first 100 Give-a-Goat donors (at the donation level of your choice). Please read the following directions carefully, and a very Merry Christmas to you from all of us here in Bundibugyo!


and the down and dirty on how to actually “give-a-goat”:

1. Use www.whm.org to donate by credit card. This is the simplest and fastest method, and allows our colleague Ginny Barnette in the Sending Center in Philadelphia to quickly confirm your donation and address and mail you the ornament. Here is the direct link : http://whm.org/project/details?ID=12375

2. Send a check to WHM Donation Processing Center, P.O. Box 1244, Albert Lea, MN 56007-1244, writing “Goat Fund 12375” on the memo line. Since the processing and return of the information to Ginny could take a couple of weeks, you may want to email her (GBarnettte@whm.org) in order to be sure you receive the ornament before Christmas.

3. If you would like the ornament mailed to a DIFFERENT address than the one on your credit card or check, you must also communicate this to Ginny. A card will be included with each goat describing the program

23 November 2009

Bupopo


“Manyiye Bupopo?” Baguma asked as I approached the gathering of young men in my front yard. They all speak English but Baguma likes to test our Lubwisi now and again, and usually I fail, but that’s okay because usually it makes for a good laugh all around.

“Mmm” I answered in the affirmative, accompanied by the affirmative raising of the eyebrows. Wait, hold on…maybe I don’t…so I asked “do I know them, or do I want them?” trying to clarify his question.

“Manyiye Bupopo?” he repeated, louder and slower this time, hoping that maybe I’d get it the second time if he said it slow and loud enough (sound familiar?).

“Do I know them? Yes, I know them” I replied.

“What are they?” he quizzed.

“Papayas” I answered relatively confidently…everyone put their heads back and laughed.

“No, DIMPLES!” he laughed again. “Bu-po-po! B-U-P-O-P-O” he repeated, spelling it out this time.

Pawpaws are papayas…bupopo is Lubwisi for dimples evidently….details details.

“Ahhh!” I exclaimed. “Then yes, I do know them.” I said with a smile, bupopo and all ☺
“Everyone has told me there is no word for them here, when I've asked” I said. He questioned my sources and the dimples discussion continued. He pointed out that some people only have one (mupopo) and some have two (bupopo)…and I informed him that my brother used to tell me it looked like I had bananas in my cheeks….they all got a kick out of that seeing as bananas are a pretty culturally appropriate description in these parts. The discussion reminds me that my dear grandmother, my only living grandparent, who doesn't remember much, but loves to smile, every time she sees me she pauses, smiles, and sighs and says "you have the most beautiful dimples, doesn't she?!" to whoever may or may not be nearby...love you Gram.

It was a good end to the day. Sarah and I had just returned from a 5 o'clock stroll down Butogho road in which I had been close to tears in frustration with a guy who touched me as he passed too closely on a boda-boda...infuriating...but now, it was dusk, my favorite time of day, and the dimples discussion lead to more laughter and the opportunity for me to encourage a few of my friends. There was a reason for there to be young men gathered in my front yard actually...it's not like there are usually gatherings of english speaking, respectfully and appropriately smiling and laughing young men in my front yard. I had asked 2 of them to come with another coworker so that I could take their picture, and I had them review some Nutrition fundraising information I've been putting together. So, we laughed, and chatted and took pictures and laughed some more in the front lawn as the sun went down.

PS - it was in the course of these conversations I was reminded that I rarely spell anything correctly in Lubwisi, so all of the above is recounted as heard by my english speaking ears :)

PPS - The photo is just a demonstration of my bupopo, and a picture of my dear sister and I from March when I was Stateside who I am very much looking forward to seeing in a matter of weeks now!

14 November 2009

consternation

noun: feelings of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexpected

From time to time, while at work at the health center, I get waves of something that seems to fit this word...it's not a perfect fit, but close enough. It wells up inside of me and I have a hard time moving past it. It usually takes an outside voice of reason to help me move past it. This week it was Thursday, during rounds as we saw yet another grandmother taking care of a motherless child, who we initially gave high energy milk to to support the child until the grandmother started to lactate and be able to breastfeed the child herself. This particular grandmother is in fact not breastfeeding her grandchild, and brings the child to us scrawny and starving and hoping for our help.

Now, a gracious individual, a "non-consternated" individual, sees a scrawny, starving, motherless child and feels a deep sense of compassion and empathy and sets their mind to coming up with a plan to feed/provide for the child. Heidi unfortunately doesn't always fit this category of healthcare provider...from time to time I fall prey to anxiety and dismay that I think comes from seeing so many people in this category and feeling helpless to actually really HELP them...feeling helpless to do anything but solve the immediate problem, which after a while I think may actually hurt them (bandaid after bandaid)...but I think, in reality, I'm learning that instead of getting my pants all in a bunch (or my skirt at the case may be), the best thing I can do is to pray and do my best to solve the immediate problem...in this case, feed the starving child. It doesn't sound like rocket science, but when this was the solution coming from the mouth of the cool calm and collected Scott Will, it sounded like rocket science to my consternated heart and mind..."well, we need to admit the kid, right? All we can do is treat the patient we see in front of us, we can't be responsible for what happens after they leave these doors...right?" he said. "Right." I sighed. "Thank goodness for a voice of reason" I thought to myself.

This is why I'm just the nurse. This is why I realized, while riding on the back of the Myhre's truck this week, that I'm not so sure that going back to school, and taking on a role of more responsibility is a good idea for me...I already take on way too much responsibility for things that are in fact not my responsibility in all facets of my life...it could be totally debilitating....but maybe not...I dunno...

13 November 2009

Glorious!



So, it gets hot here, I'm not sure if I've mentioned that before...nothing like Sudan, I've been told, but hot nonetheless. And in the Lutjens family, when it's hot (frequently the case in summer months in St. Louis), you sit outside when you can stand it...the morning, the evening....and thus far, the little patch of concrete outside my back door has been where I sit when I need to be outside...but nobody can sit with me there really...I mean, sometimes Chloe is willing to share her bench with Pat or another single visitor, but otherwise, I sit by myself...which isn't so bad sometimes...

But I am, today, announcing the completion of the duplex patio! This announcement is a bit late...we inaugurated the patio a few weeks ago...a cool-ish saturday night, a fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, apple pie, iced tea, and cold beer meal...complete with candles, mosquito repellent, and great friends - what more could you ask for in a picnic?! It was really fun and I've been making use of the patio ever since, for retreat time, mobile office space, chats with friends, and just to sit...

This announcement would not be complete without a tribute to the people that made it possible...namely the Elwood men. The project was just a dream in my head until the Elwoods visited and John decided he wanted to make it happen...I left the district and he got to work...then when it was time for them to go, he passed the torch to Nathan, who really graciously continued the work for what ended up being a couple of months...we initially had a few conversations that sounded a bit like this...

H: "Are you sure you are willing to do this? I don't want a patio to ruin a friendship..." (complete with inquisitive, older sister, come on - tell me the truth, looks)
N: "I'm pretty sure...I'll let you know if it gets to be too much."

this is because I offered absolutely NO HELP in this process except financial funding and the occasion cup of cold water (both of which are crucial, I realize this)...they designed, planned, implemented, and oversaw the whole process! So, a HUGE thanks to John and Nathan, I am so very grateful for the time and energy you put into this...hopefully WHM missionaries in the duplex for years to come will benefit from your labor in love. And, just for the record, I feel like a blog post is a really weak token of thanks, but for now it's all I've got...sorry...

31 October 2009

life in pictures

Dinner at Naomi's by oil lamp.
I was shelling fresh beans and floored by the beautiful colors God made in such a thing as beans....
Pat and Ashley (getting a back massage, so a bit blurry...sorry Ash) chillin' by the fire...
Quinn's birthday bonfire...so fun...in rainy season it's actually cool enough in the evenings to stand sitting by a blazing fire!

26 October 2009

Still catching up: Queen Eliz. July 25-26

on safari: the boys (in the zoolander), the Myhre's (in Clifford the red land rover)















"AH! it's a......." It's so fun to watch someone crack themselves up! At 7am I am rarely cracking myself up, but Ashley, she was in rare form :)


Me laughing at Ashley and her early morning antics with the camera :)












Salah and her stunning self looking off into the distance for something never seen before...














LOOK! Quick! It's a rare sighting of bazungu women! (Heidi and Naomi Hill - visiting Family Practice resident and now friend :) - who happen to be coming back from a potty stop behind those bushes on the left with t.p. in hand :)




Pat and her lovely self smiling for the camera :)

18 October 2009

5 days in Bundi

It was action packed...go go go...but that's what happens when you have skills and gifts that are of use in a place with few resources for such skills and gifts...Thursday was the Kwejuna Distribution, I did my usual information gathering at the check in table of sorts, mom and dad, along with John and Barb Elwood, prayed with any HIV + women who wanted prayer which is actually a role I've never played at a Kwejuna Distribution, one that I think would be a significantly impactful experience, so one that I'm glad my parents had the opportunity to do. Kwejuna is documented by pictures 3 & 4. The first two are friends from around the Mission...the first is Lydia, two friends, and Kym, the second is Naome and Page. After the distribution there was team meeting (dad taught/led discussion on the Peacemaker book by Ken Sande) followed by Pizza. Friday, dad did prep work for the teaching he was going to be doing, mom and I went to the health center where some of the staff was doing a cooking demonstration for mom's with kids admitted to the pediatric ward (last 4 pictures). Saturday dad taught church and community leaders and an assortment of team members again on the Peacemaker book. In the afternoon we went to Ngite (local waterfall up into the mountains a short bit). Sunday dad preached in church and then again in the evening at team worship. Monday mom and I went to the health center again and dad taught a day long seminar with Christ School staff on the Peacemaker book. Tuesday morning we left! It was short and packed full, and there was so much I didn't get to show them, people they didn't meet, places they didn't go, food they didn't eat...but I am thankful for the time we had. It was precious indeed to be able to show my life here to them, to have them live it for a bit. And there marks the reverse order documentation of my parents trip, from end to begining...it was so much fun and I am so thankful for the opportunity they had to come. Love you guys!







Back a few months....




It seems like such a long time ago now...but I never finished the photo documentation of my parents trip here, so here's another few installments that I think will complete the 3 weeks of fun :) After leaving Bundibugyo we drove to Kampala where we stayed at the ARA for a couple nights...we hadn't planned for a couple nights, but we were all pretty tired. I took Sarah to the airport the next morning, went and got Pat a few new tires (she had oh so generously lent us her vehicle for our travels), then returned to the ARA and took a 4 HOUR nap...I've always been a good sleeper...from infancy I've been told, and the summer had taken it's toll...I was bushed (as my dad would say) and in a real bed, even if the middle of the afternoon, I was OUT! My parents told me they wondered whether they should wake me or not, but decided against it. I eventually pulled myself out of bed and returned to the rest of the world. The top photo is the haven of rest known as the ARA :) It has a pool and so my mom (as close to a fish as any person I know) was quickly at home, and anywhere that my dad can sit outside and read, he's content. So we stayed two nights, and then we drove east. Driving from Kampala east towards Mbale and on to Sipi Falls, we crossed the Nile, and visited the source, and then we drove up the Nile a bit to Bujagali Falls...one of the falls that I rafter over last year about the same time with Ashley and Sarah. My dad loves rivers and streams, and white water, he was in awe, as were we all. It was fun to see the falls from the river bank and be able to take a few photos (our rafting trip went un-documented - for obvious reasons). The power of the water was incredible. I have video footage, but not the bandwidth to post it, so you'll just have to trust me :)

15 October 2009

October words

rain – love it. the noise, the wetness, the hush, the cool, the clearing, the green, the growth, the lightning.

ink – lots of it. scattered all over a white shirt and my favorite jeans with a hole in the knee…on purpose ☺ In celebration of the lovely Julia Kathleen Myhre and her 13th birthday. The Phantom Tollbooth was the theme – The Senses Taker my character…a zany record keeper of sorts (in honor of my record keeping role in our work here). Now, this is not one of those beloved childhood books for me (I’ve actually never read it cover to cover), but it is for Julia, and so we celebrated.

ice cream – heavenly. any kind, anytime, anywhere. Last Wednesday night was no exception when the guys brought some down from Myhre’s who were leaving town the next morning. “I LOVE ICE CREAM!” I exclaimed as I sat in my chair with my bowl gripped with 2 hands! When I was shivering with salmonella fevers the next afternoon, this was not exactly the first thing that came to mind! 5 days down for the count, lots to drink, not much to eat, lots of time in the bathroom, my body is almost completely recovered, and only time will tell if my love of ice cream ever does! :P

movies – the silver screen. When one is lying in bed for days with fever and severe abd. pain, after the stage when all you can do is sleep comes the stage where all you feel like doing is watching movies. Fever Pitch, Outsourced, Changing Lanes, The Great Debaters, My Best Friend’s Wedding, to name just a few…the next stage is when you’ve gained enough strength to hold up a book in front of you and your eyes open to read.

poet – poem. “That young man with the long, auburn hair and the impudent face – that young man was not really a poet; but surely he was a poem.” (G.K. Chesterton – The Man Who Was Thursday) A quote from a delightful description in the opening page of the book currently atop the stack on my bedside table.

slasher – IV team. More often than not during October, there has only been one nurse working on the Pediatric ward at any one time. This week, Betty, who is a superstar Nursing Assistant, has been on her own with Scott Will and I. 40 patients and one nursing assistant…it’s unimagineable really, but you gotta do what you gotta do. So, I gave meds and hung boluses and took out IV’s and wrote discharge instructions as we went along. Now, from a few posts ago, you’ll remember that I’m not the best nor the most courageous IV stick that ever graced the floors of a pediatric ward…and Betty isn’t trained for it, so who does she call to her rescue for the line up of kids who needed IV’s for blood transfusions and antibiotics? The slasher. Cultural information: lawnmowers are not really part of the fabric of life here, so guys with sharp hacking implements are employed by anyone with spaces of grass to “slash” the grass to the desired length. This particular slasher that Betty called on is the “in charge” slasher so-to-speak, and quite good at putting IV’s in…who knows how he got into the IV placement business, but there you have it. Webaleh slashers.


pride – dark. It’s a darkness that’s quite safe though, one that keeps me from having to show my face to the bright light of the sun. The last few weeks I’ve been running smack into it, day after day after day, like a brick wall obstructing the only road. It’s gotta come down, or I’m not gonna get anywhere! But be gentle, k God?!

future – bright. But blurry. Being the Miss Practicality that I am, I have never really stressed out about my future…Wondered? Sure. Curious? Sure. Dreamed? Sure. Planned? Absolutely. I’m not sure what my life will look like this time next year. I’m not sure what kinds of words will be featured in a theoretical post such as this one a year from now. But it’s fun to dream, fun to think about all the options and possibilities. I am thankful to have such a privilege as options/dreams. Decisions are going to need to be made in coming weeks and months, will be interesting to see what comes to be on the other side!

Mumbai – Christmas. My lovely sister has FINALLY been given her visa for a year-ish long fellowship in said Indian metropolis. She leaves the States next week. Why is Mumbai connected to Christmas you’re wondering? I’m getting there…I was sooooo bummed when she wasn’t able to come with my parents in August due to her visa being held up, but now that it has come, plan B is in full swing and I’m super excited to be planning for her to come here to Bundibugyo for Christmas! We’ll both be out of the country for Christmas, so what better solution than to be together!

Nalongo – mother of twins. A dear friend at home in St. Louis is pregnant with twins and due to “produce” any day now...she will soon be a Nalongo (mother of twins)…how sad I am to not be able to be there, to hold those precious little babies and love on them and their mama. She’ll be celebrating a birthday of her own in just a few days as well. Praying for ALL of you here, dear friend!

30 September 2009

Covenant

"God continued, 'This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I'm putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I'll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I'll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth.' And God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant that I've set up between me and everything living on the Earth.'" - Gen 9: 8-17 (The Message)
This is falls #3 from our 3 falls hike at Sipi. When I crested the hill that obstructed the view of the bottom of these falls, tears welled up in my eyes. The combination of the image of God's covenant in the rainbow combined with the steadfast rocks under the violent and forceful water was like a gift from God direct to me at that moment. Our guide was antsy to get back before the afternoon rain came, so we didn't stay long, but a glimpse was all I needed!

28 September 2009

feeling disconnected?

Make some cookies...I'm pretty sure that making cookies could probably solve most of the world's problems. It occurred to me just after writing the last post, that what I should do about feeling disconnected is to take a few steps towards connecting...you know how when you feel disconnected you don't really feel up to connecting? Well, that's where making cookies comes in and saves the day...so I got out the monstrous bag of chocolate chips that mom and dad brought me (thanks guys!), cut the flour by 1/4 cup, split the butter asked for with half shortening (to conserve on butter which is in short supply), took them out of the oven a few minutes before they were due, and took a plate full of hot cookies to the girls' house and to Nathan...I didn't even have to say more than "I made you some cookies" but it communicated much more (I think...I hope...maybe I was the only one benefiting from the communication, but it worked for me!). Now, it, of course, is also very possible that the several cookies worth of dough that I snitched along the way went a long way in curing my disconnection...the wonders of chocolate :)

26 September 2009

randomness

  • from a child's admission sheet under the "history and complaints" section:
"febrile ass with cough" heh heh heh :)
  • The treatment room is a smallish room with a set of windows, a bed, a bench, and a set of shelves...otherwise empty unless patients are lined up on the bench waiting for IV placements or blood draws. Yesterday I stood next to the bed on which lay the body of a toddler whose life had just ceased and was overwhelmed by the deafening bone chilling reverberations of women wailing in the small room...I could literally feel their grief rattling my bones.
  • "Those look like my sandals" I thought to myself. I was leaning against the nurses' desk as Jennifer went through her morning routine of telling everyone to get their paperwork out along with all of their medicines in preparation for rounds. My eyes were scanning the floor in the center pod, avoiding the stares of all of the parents, looking at the seguilis and basins stashed under the beds, at the jolo-jolos (flip flops) taken off beside the mats used for sitting and eating next to the beds, and then past a set of male feet next to one of the nearest beds...it was after those feet that I did the double take, looking up at him, finding him staring back and me, then glancing down again to his feet...dusty black leather straps that wrap around the big toe, cork foot beds with black rubber soles...I grinned to myself and after Jennifer had finished told her "The sandals that guy is wearing look like one of the pairs of shoes that were stolen from my house." She looked back at me to see if I was serious..."really?!" she said. "Yep" I confirmed. She looked at the shoes and said "they look like Birkenstocks." "yeah, but they're not, they're Naots, I bought them in Israel when I studied abroad there in 2000." She looked up at the man who was understanding our English and stated that he bought them in Fort Portal at Mpanga market...he was dressed like someone who would have the means to make such a trip and I believed his story. "Can I see the bottom of the shoe?" Jennifer asked and he showed her...looking at the side of the sole she read, "It says N-A-O-T?" she read looking to me for confirmation..."Yep, it's them." I confirmed. "These shoes were stolen from her house a few months ago" Jennifer reported. "EH?! Foh shuah?" he exclaimed. "It's okay," I said, "I'm glad you're enjoying them. They're good shoes. I bought them in the year 2000." "Eh? And it's now 2009" he pointed out. I smiled and nodded. What in the world is the likelihood that one of my all time favorite pairs of sandals I bought in Israel 9 years ago would be stolen, taken to Fort Portal (a 3 hour trip from here), sold in the big market there to someone who lives in Bundibugyo and wore them to Nyahuka Health Center? Craziness. We laughed. It's good to start the day with a good laugh.
  • I don't think I ever mentioned that the day after my return to Bundibugyo after 3 weeks of travel/R&R, a snake was killed in my house...about the diameter of a quarter and black he slithered into my house before the door closed after I brought my laundry out back for washing by Asita...I turned around and saw him go into the house and yelled...Asita looked at me to see what it was I was making a commotion about, and she began to yell as well. Pat heard me too and came to see...Pat and Asita used sticks and rocks to bring him to his death just inside the back door of my house as I stood by and watched...good thing he didn't decide to show his slimy self while my mom was around :)
  • I love rainy season...the cool that the rain brings to an afternoon or evening as it blows in, the way you can often hear the rain coming as it falls on the tin roofs closer and closer to where you are, the incredible clarity with which we can see the mountains most mornings after rain the night/evening before, the quieting of knocks at the front door when it's raining, falling asleep to the drone of the rain falling on the roof, and of course the changes in barometric pressure that Pat is sure causes her to sweat at random times throughout the evening :)
  • I love it that my brother will tell me "Heidi, that sounds like a hellacious idea!" after mentioning to him something I am thinking about...he's probably the only person on the face of the earth who will say such a thing to me, but I love it! I need that in my life! (Okay, so I'm maybe not so excited at the exact moment when that comes out of his mouth and makes its way across the phone lines and over oceans from thousands of miles away, but a few moments later I smile to myself, and think "Webaleh Jeff!")
  • I don't love hard copy record keeping and the disaster of budgeting that ensues in BundiNutrition.
  • I watched Changeling the other night and was very well disturbed. Watched Vicky Christina Barcelona last night and was challenged and both discouraged and encouraged at the same time.
  • I am feeling quite detached from everyone and everything in my life right now. It's not a sentiment I would recommend. Not quite sure what to do about it.

21 September 2009

8E shoutout

Hey ladies. Have, in the last few days, been "friended" by a few of you on facebook which gives me hope that you haven't disowned me for my lack of communication :P Lack of communication does NOT equal lack of thought! In fact early this week I thought about all of you a lot. Let me tell you a little story...

Biira was a 3 or 4 year old girl, a bit older than most of the kids we see with malnutrition...developmentally delayed, she says "mama" and that's about it, came in with LE swelling, skin peeling, mouth cracked in the corners, typical presentation of Kwashiorkor. She never smiled, always irritable. She was started on F75, the starter formula for severe acute malnutrition supplied to us by UNICEF, and she began to loose weight. We actually like for this to happen with Kwashiorkor kids because their weight should drop as they loose their edema and then they turn the corner after a week or two and begin to gain "good" weight (without edema). Anyways, for the first week she continued to loose weight, the second week we moved her up to the "maintenance" formula, F100 (higher caloric density) - she continued to loose weight. Knowing that it takes some kids more time to turn the corner than others, we continued to support her with various treatments for her diarrhea including vitamin enriched oral rehydration solution for severely malnourished kids. She kept taking the milk, and kept loosing weight. Into her 4th week she was beginning to waste away after making a brief improvement late in the 3rd week...Friday when I left she had IVF going through a scalp IV that the supervising nursing officer placed and I didn't think I was going to see her Monday morning when I came back.

Monday morning her mom had packed all of their things up, and Biira was lying on the bed wrapped in a kitenge unconscious and walking that precipice between life and death...Jennifer and I were alone on the ward without any Ugandan staff. We looked at each other, each took a deep breath, she put her pen to the page and I reached for another bottle of IVF. Now, none of my 8E coworkers will be shocked to learn that I was quite relieved to see that the scalp IV Mr. Mwonge had placed on Friday was still there. I strung the IVF and drew up some saline to flush the line before starting the fluids...*#$@! It was swelling when flushed - ie. the IV was no good; there but not really there. Remember how I said we were alone on the ward without any Ugandan staff? You know what that means..."Heidi, you're the one!" I thought to myself. I gathered all of my supplies, hoping that someone would miraculously appear by the time I got it all together...nope. Well, there clearly must be another solution...so I went searching for another nurse. I searched in vain. The only one around was Mr. Mwonge stumbling out of his house on his way to the cho...I clearly was not going to interrupt him. So back to the ward I went, steeling myself for facing the challenge awaiting me in the treatment room...a 4 year old very dark skinned little girl who has had diarrhea for weeks in need of an IV..."There are no IV teams, Heidi, no transport teams, no NICU nurses, no no one...you're it. She's going to die if you don't do anything (and still probably will die even if we do, but that doesn't stop us)" (all of this of course swirling around in my head in a matter of seconds...)

So, I rip off the curled hem of a glove before putting it on, tied this rubber band "tourniquet" around Biira's wrist...nothing...the other wrist...nothing...gently slapping her hands, trying to make a shadow of even the smallest vein pop up...nothing...trying to reposition her and myself around the bed so that I could get the best light from the open window...both feet...nothing...so I put it around her head and there was one...nope, look closely, it's pulsing...that's an artery...no go...I tried 3 times, trying to leave room lower for someone else to try when all I got was a quick flashback and then each would blow...I kept looking...from one side of her scalp to the other...and that's when I heard Asussi's voice...ah! another nurse...praise God! She tried a few times, and couldn't find anything either...Mr. Mwonge came eventually and tried without success...Even NGT placement was not successful, kept coiling inside her mouth...no ice to try to stiffen the tube with...what to do? How to hydrate this child?

Asussi recommended the mom heat some water and we would fill a few gloves with water and place them around Biira as she lay in bed, to try to create some vasodilation to ease IV placement...the family complied immediately. When I left for the day there were 3 experienced nurses around and Biira was warming up.

Tuesday morning the night report said she was finishing her IVF, and there was the bag hanging...Agnes had successfully placed an EJ...you gotta do what you gotta do...We were a half hour or so through rounds and I heard a mother begin to cry..."uh oh" I thought to myself...Jennifer looked up from the patient she was seeing and a crowd was begining to form around Biira's bed. We went over and found an aunt or grandmother closing Biira's eyelids, as Biira's mom cried with her hands over her face...Jennifer put her stethescope to Biira's chest...nothing...the crying grew louder...I handed Kasareka, who was already gloved, a stack of 4x4 gauze for tying her chin closed and wrists/ankles...the crowd grew around the bed....as they got things packed up, mom was helped out to the front porch of the ward. I glanced up from the patient we had returned to seeing and the mom's tears had grown to full blown wailing and she was writhing on the floor in mourning, with other women trying to help her up to no avail...I took several deep breaths, accompanied by heavy sighs.

So, even though we finally got a line, we could do nothing to stop this little one from drifting off...but just goes to show you that not much has changed...I'm still a wuss when it comes to putting IV's in...it's not for lack of knowledge, just lack of courage...poking children when there are people around who are better skilled seems cruel, but what has that led to? No skilled experience base when there is no else around...This place doesn't so much allow for lack of courage...I keep telling myself one of these days I just need to take a whole week and be the go-to for IV placement and blood draws...practice makes perfect (although I'm sure none of you non-nurses like to hear that - it's for sure the truth). So, thanks to all of you who saved my rear countless times on 8E with putting in lines/drawing blood, and thanks to all of you who made me do it myself (BW, BM, MK, MH, LH). I miss you guys so much!

everyone sitting down?

...you'll never believe this...I voluntarily got out of bed at 6:15am this morning and went on a walk with Pat! Sooooooooo nice. If only getting out of bed were not my least favorite part of the day...we definitely need to do this more often. Only curteous and friendly people are on the road at that time of day evidently, AND we were rewarded as we headed back towards the mission with an absolutely stunning view of the pink/purple rays of the morning sun cast atop the Rwenzori mountains! Then as we rounded the next bend, the light had changed and the mountains again were shadowed...what a glimpse of glory!

20 September 2009

frailty and boldness

I just started reading Mountains Beyond Mountains last night after picking it up from the Bundibugyo Library - Chez Myhre Branch. "GASP!" I can just hear the collective gasps now going on around the world as you all read..."Heidi's never read Mountains Beyond Mountains?! Travesty!" And you would be right, it's been a long time comin'. In any case, I am reading it now, so you can all get back on your chairs and rest assured that I have not in fact lost all connection to the rest of the world, I'm just several years behind, not much is new there!

Anyways, only 2 chapters in but I'm already enjoying it. Humor me while I share a bit of what makes me tick...I've recently told you about my fondness of the city, here's another snapshot into my affinities...this is a bit from the above mentioned book that so articulately describes some of of what I love about health care. PS (pre-script) - Now, all of you out there who I have disagreed with about medicine and it's importance or lack thereof, other medical topics of various kinds, bear with me, give me some grace and the benefit of the doubt for this once and just read :)

"Outside the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, you're aware of a relative urban quiet. A Wall Street of medicine surrounds you: the campus of Harvard Medical School and the Countway Medical Library, Children's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Brigham. The buildings look imposing packed together, and even awesome when you let yourself imagine what's going on inside. Chest crackings, organ transplants, molecular imagings, genetic probes - gloved hands and machines routinely reaching into bodies and making diagnoses and corrections, so much of human frailty on the one hand and boldness on the other. One feels stilled in the presence of this enterprise. Even the Boston drivers, famously deranged, don't honk much when passing through the neighborhood." - Tracey Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

"so much frailty on the one hand and boldness on the other"...whether you're at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston or Nyahuka Health Center IV in Bundibugyo, Uganda, some things are the same the world round...unfortunately the "famously deranged" drivers of Nyahuka don't have the same sort of reverence for NHC IV as they do in Boston for those imposing institutions...(you'd be hard pressed to describe NHC IV as imposing!). Whether Boston or Nyahuka, you have to pause every now and again to marvel at what it is that's going on around and through you...successes and failures...frailty and boldness are in it all.



16 September 2009

Sipi


After leaving Bundibugyo, and before heading to Nairobi, the Lutjens 3 headed east through Mbale to Sipi Falls, near Mt. Elgon and the Kenya border. I had never been east of Jinja before this trip, so it was really fun to see a new part of the country and how different it was from the west. My mom remarked, as we drove through the low lying rice fields, how it's amazing that in such a small country we were able to see such diverse terrain. Here we are, smiles and all!
The day after our evening arrival, we headed off on a day hike to the 3 falls in the area, first to the bottom of Sipi (pictured here in pretty close to it's entirety)...

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, my ROCK, and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
"The Rock" - my favorite part of waterfalls are the base of the falls, where the water hits whatever is below. I was really struck by this image as I stood there watching and listening to the thundering water against these rocks. I left Bundibugyo and arrived at Sipi in a pretty hard place in life, and the image of the solidarity of this rock in the thundering and crashing water was just what I needed. My dad read Psalm 19 before we all went to bed at the end of the day of hiking, and my mind took hold of the last verse (14).
...back to the hike...note the banana trees...just a very different kind of hiking than I grew up with...different but just as beautiful!
The hike to the base of Sipi involved a descent and then this ascent of the pictured ladder.
Falls #2 - after Sipi we hiked to these falls where we stopped for lunch.
A shot of Sipi from the top, from the lodge we stayed in. The grassy clearing just to the left of the top of the falls has a few people standing in it...one of them is me preparing to abseil down the falls. Abseiling is like repelling I guess. Your rope is anchored into the rock at the top, you're secured into a harness, you face the rock, you put your feet on the edge and sit back into the harness, and begin walking down, then the rock disappears and you're hanging freely from the rope, and you feed the rope, which is hanging down at your side reaching the bottom of the falls, through the 8 hook next to your harness and slowly by slowly you move down the rope...I was definitely moving slowly but I was in no hurry!
I'm not sure if you can see it, but if you follow the middle dark "finger" in the rock down, there's light colored rock and then a more circular dark spot which is about 1/2 way down the photo, and in the middle of that dark spot, there's a white speck...that's me :) It was one of the most exhiarating experiences of my life...suspended by a rope in front of the thundering falls...amazing.
This is the view of the valley from our lodge
And our dinner with a view. Spectacular spot.

13 September 2009

on an urban childhood

I was listening to my ipod in bed the other night. I can't, for the life of me, remember what song it was, but whatever I was listening to mentioned a Buckeye tree...the visual memory of a pillar from my childhood came flooding back into my head...

For those of you who have never been, Pittsburgh is a very hilly city...and not just rolling hills, but steep hills that made for exhilarating descents on a bike, but for the cardiac workout of a lifetime on the ascent! Our house at 5445 Kincaid street was at the plateaued crest of one such hill. The whole neighborhood of Garfield is defined by the hill it covers, and our block was just one position on one ridge on the bigger Garfield hill (now, mind you, I'm no topographic expert, but bear with me!) At the bottom of our hill, on the far right corner stood a buckeye tree...

...a monstrous buckeye tree as I remember it. In the fall, maybe (?), it littered the sidewalks under it's massive branches with the spikey pods that held buckeyes inside...the seam that divided the pod in half would open and the silky smooth dark brown surface of the buckeye would be exposed. We often collected the buckeyes (for what? I don't remember, maybe for throwing at each other?) tying them up in the blouse of the bottom of our tshirts. This tree is one of those things that brings to my mind a feeling of home, a feeling of the familiar, a feeling of constancy, something that stood there throughout the 10 years we lived in that house, that never failed to produce and shed these little trinkets that we took such joy in.

Looking back on it, I have no idea why we loved them so much, maybe it was the contrast of the harsh spikey surface of the pod, and the smooth silky lining of the pod and surface of the nuts themselves; maybe it was a fascination in the fact that the tree yielded anything at all (in our urban neighborhood, there weren't any other trees that yielded anything at all other than their dead leaves in autumn), who knows. But I have similar affections, still to this day, for squirrels (called "squillers" here in Uganda because of the confusion of l's and r's), pigeons, sirens of most varieties, the cheerful noise of children playing outside, curbs/sidewalks, passing a suped (sp?) up car with deafening base booming from the rear window speakers...

I've realized these things only since being in rural Africa, funny how that works, huh? Similarly, while we were at the beach, I realized again how much of a city kid I was, and largely still am...

I rarely ever walked anywhere without some sort of shoes on my feet...it was just downright stupid to go without, you'd end up with pieces of glass or who knows what else stuck in your foot...this means I was and am "tenderfooted"...because I never walked barefoot, it hurts to now...any little irregularity in a surface - stones/branches, etc. and I'm grimacing and limping...it's pretty humorous to watch, I imagine.

My life was rarely dictated by the weather/seasons/suroundings...other than whether or not I could play outside (if not, I just played inside) or whether to take a raincoat to school with me, these things did not alter my plans...if it rained, I still had to go to school, I just wore a raincoat or carried an umbrella, I still had to go to work, I just put my windows up in my car...it didn't effect whether or not I ate food, just maybe whether there were garden fresh tomatoes or store bought ones in the salad at dinner...even when we went to the beach, it didn't matter what time of day you wanted to build a sandcastle, the beaches we went to were wide enough that whatever the tide, there was still plenty of space for such creations between the water and the boardwalk...

I can't just leave my stuff sitting places and go away and do something else somewhere else...it was just stupid to do that, how naive to think it would still be there when you got back, it was practically your fault if it weren't there when you got back, you were being dumb (not so much that the thief was doing anything particularly wrong...).

I really don't have any interest in touching things that exist in nature, that are not meant to be touched...not interested in touching the sea urchin hiding under the rock, not interested in holding the octopus found in the tide pools, seeing is fascinating, but touching, I'm just not interested...seems cruel and unnatural...always pretty much prefer to be left alone and to leave alone when it comes to nature's creatures.

And I can't really understand why people don't love pigeons and squirrels...I've found that most people I've met, in fact, do not...I just don't understand...

anyways, enough rambling for now.

12 September 2009

The Lutjens in Kenya part 2

"Good morning!" After our day in Nairobi National Park, and mom's development of a special bond with the g-raffe, we stopped on the way home at the Giraffe Center which is kind of like a really nice giraffe petting zoo with a stone mansion where you can pay something like $500/night to stay where the giraffes poke their heads in your bedroom windows. Needless to say, we didn't stay overnight, just visited. My mom and I went in, she was in awe, and I had the pleasure of being the photographer of the event...so fun!
Reach! I was laughing hysterically to myself watching mom with all of these school kids...look at her reaching above all their heads and little hands to get her chance to feed the giraffe :)
"There you go! See, we really can be friends!"
It was this sign that made it possible for me to get my mom out of the giraffe center before the end of the afternoon...adherence to rules, evidently it's in my blood...
"Won't you be my neighbor?"
Admiration.
We spent one afternoon at the elephant/rhino orphanage - it's quite the place, really...26 orphaned baby elephants and this baby rhino (having a blast frolicking in the mud!). The staff reported their current number of "guests" has them bursting at the seams, they think due to poaching and the drought.
Here's a perspective shot, to give you an idea of how big a baby rhino is.
"I've fallen and I can't get up!" Reminds me of that med-alert bracelet commercial slogan I remember so well. But this little elephant hadn't actually fallen into that muddy watering hole, he/she had marched him/herself right into it and was now having a bit of a problem getting out...kind of reminds me of Tigger and the tree :)
The keepers are the guys in the green coats, they sleep with the elephants (each elephant has a little stall and each stall has a bed built into the corner with a warm blanket for the keeper), feed them formula with bottles as seen here...
and protect them from the sun, by putting the little red blankets on their backs so they don't get sunburned (usually as babies they stay in the shadow of their mom which protects them from the sun, but now orphaned their keepers end up functioning like their mom), and shading them with umbrellas. The elephants really come to know their keepers as their "mother" and follow them around, etc. It's really cute.

Well, that's it for today's installment of The Lutjens in Kenya. Tune in another time for more photos and stories.

09 September 2009

"Heidi, I want you!" He's blond with blue eyes, has a dimple in his right cheek and a smile that I'm pretty sure could melt the hardest of hearts and bring down the most evil dictatorships in an instant, and it was from his mouth that the above phrase recently came in an exited and emphatic voice...I know, right? How lucky a girl am I?!

So the truth is he's still working on the using the potty thing, and is only 2 1/2 years old, but according to one of the midwives at the health center yesterday, I am looking "somehow younger" these days anyways :) His name is Bryan. We're friends. He comes down to visit me every couple of days with Loren, his mom, and I usually get a "what's going on dude?!" or two, and a big hug/cuddle if I'm lucky. Often we'll sit and eat a piece of pizza together on Thursdays at team pizza and sometimes he'll sit in my lap and we'll sit on the cool tile floor at the Clark house and read a scintillating book about trains.

Just a little tidbit about something that makes me smile, something God uses to lift my head :)

04 September 2009

Nairobi National Park

Mama and Papa - So, I'm posting pictures in descending chronological order...aka, I've started with the end of my 3 weeks of rest, and going backwards...so before Turtle Bay was a week in Nairobi (4 days with my parents, and then 4 days after they left). One of the highlights of the time in Nairobi was our day long safari around Nairobi National Park.
Lutjens' & Streits - My dad's cousin Jim and his wife Bev were our gracious hosts while in Nairobi, during one of the hardest periods of time during their 24 years in Kenya. My mom and I (dad playing photographer) with Bev and Jim.
Mom decked out for safari
You know how there are seasons for babies...lots of people you know having kids all in the same period of time? Well it seems the animals in Nairobi National Park were the same way, there were baby everythings all over the place it seemed...baby g-raffe (as I like to call them in honor of brother Jeff) as seen above...
....and baby zebra to document just a few
We only have zebra in one park in Uganda, and I've not yet been, so it's always really fun to see zebra in Kenya...their stripes are simply stunning...
Because i have to decrease the quality of the picture in order to post with our internet quality, I think this g-raffe gets lost in the color of the terrain, but watching them run is absolutely incredible!
This guy looks like God kinda got confused when he drew on the stripes...ended up with swirlies instead, but it just goes to show ya that each of us is unique, some just more obviously than others :)
I just like this shot of the g-raffe on the horizon...there were so many around the park it was so fun to see them. They also are only in one park in Uganda, where I have not been, so it's a treat to get to see them in Kenya, and so many of them!!!
There were so many g-raffe and so many zebra in the park this time, and most often they were together, and we decided that the spazzy, hyper, anxious zebra like hanging around the calm, peaceful, no-stress, tall g-raffe's for several reasons :)
And because of their obvious calm and seemingly peaceful temperments, my dear mother took quite a likening to these creatures, decided that like the zebra, she and g-raffe could be "splendid friends" :) Here she is trying to befriend one :)
"One Life, One Wife" - These are Crested Cranes, the national bird of Uganda, who interestingly enough mates for life, which makes for a great teaching tool for HIV/AIDS prevention in a polygamous society, a tool which Scott Myhre has taken particular advantage of in his Kwejuna Project marketing :) We have t-shirts from this last year with the picture of a crested crane and the above slogan :)
Like the zebra and g-raffe, rhino's are only in one place in Uganda, a sanctuary with only 8 of them I think, so it's cool to catch a glimpse of one of these monstrous animals even from a distance like this..who would have thought to create such a creature?!?!
Hartabeasts...heartabeasts (sp?)...not something I've seen before this trip.
The huge, oddly shaped antelope-ish animal in the middle is an Eland, also not something I've seen in Uganda. They're HUGE! More pictures will come in stages, there are a lot, so I'm pacing myself :)