23 November 2009


“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


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


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...