25 January 2010

Shabbat Shalom

...the greeting during the Sabbath amongst Jews that I learned while studying abroad in Jerusalem (10 years ago!!! Yikes I’m getting old).

Yesterday was a REAL Sabbath rest….the first real rest I’ve had in months I think…the way a Sunday should be.

In the Lutjens household, we have a habit of what we call a “heavy sigh.” It started when we were small and mom would be overwhelmed with one thing or another, or there was something weighing heavy on her heart, and she would snap back into reality with what us kids deemed a “heavy sigh.” I’m not sure how you spell the heavy sigh, so I’ll leave it up to your imagination. However you spell it, that’s what our little remnant of a team here in BGO experienced yesterday I think. Staying home, watching movies, reading, writing, talking, listening, eating.

Anna and I sent the Pierces off with bellies full of pancakes and bacon…sent them off…for real…that’s the heavy part of the sigh that was yesterday’s Shabbat…we said tearful (on my part) goodbyes with big hugs and know that there is for sure a bond we share in these 2 years my path has crossed with theirs’…a bond of “cabbage salads” and transitions and change, and laughs over G&T’s, and tears, and well, yeah, I’ll miss them, we’ll miss them.

So, saying goodbye makes a sigh heavy, but I can’t wait to see what God has next for them and for us here. It’s been a crazy several months…really crazy…but a good Sabbath’s rest (Annelise prayed before we dove into our pancakes, that we would have good rest and boy did God answer!) has left me hopeful for what is to come, and hopeful for more rests like it ☺

18 January 2010

news from the duplex

  • Last week I was sitting outside my front door…a stoop of sorts…and Naume and I were talking about each others’ shirts. My red t-shirt has a train of small camels on it, and I asked her if she knew “camel”…she didn’t… “do you know desert?” …nope…so I tried to explain what the desert is…that place in northern Africa where there is only sand and no water and where it is very hot… “I think you can die there” she said. I agreed. “and I think if you had a nanca nah…if you had a small ka-swamp you could sell that water?...” she looked at me inquisitively…I laughed and agreed again. “You are so right, if you had a small ka-swamp in the desert you could most certainly sell the water!” Naume Afisa, always the entrepreneur, and with such meager resources as a small ka-swamp…
  • And, last week, Anna and I were trying to pick out a movie (you know how THAT goes!) and I was verbalizing all of the options but I totally pulled an Ashley and added the following movie to our list of options…“Whoopie Act, Sister Two”…sheesh
  • The blooming night jasmine bush is getting wonderfully huge and has almost overgrown the "phone rock" that sits in its shade…but it seems criminal to cut such a scrumptiously fragrant bush back in such a place as this.
  • we made a few bad decisions about the use of christmas lights...yep, remember those seizure inducing christmas lights I mentioned several posts back?...those ones...anyways, they weren't *quite* the right voltage, but they lit up when you plugged them in so we used them with an adapter but no transformer...seems to have been a mistake...David Pierce, our resident Electrical Engineer, says they shouldn't have caused damage to our solar batteries, but it seems they may have...anyways, in hopes they will recover we have turned our inverter off for a few days...that means candles for lights and computer charging elsewhere (like now, at Myhre's internet cafe)...we'll see. I may need to buy new batteries, but it seems it might be time for that soon anyways...and the grid is here, so I'm supposed to be designing grid electricity points for the duplex...I hardly think that any electrical design should be left to me, but it's fun to try new things, right? of course right.
  • *****biggest news of the week***** There was a concert in nyahuka yesterday...right in our own community center. Ask my mom, she called my cell phone in the middle of it and I answered with the booming afro-pop in the background just to tell her I couldn't talk (there wasn't really an easy way out any of the doors). Anyways the Send Me Band is a Christian band from Bundibugyo Town that has a few CD's recorded, and they came to raise money for instruments. 2,000 Ush for admission, mats were placed in the windows to prevent the ever present peeping toms that try to look in the windows and catch the show for free. There was a bit of singing, but mostly lip synching (sp?) to their cd and dancing that was fun to watch. The party didn't really get started until the hip thrusts got going...the hip thrusts and gyrations that were accompanied by the signs of the cross...(maybe the sign of the cross will cover sketchy dance moves?)...pretty funny, but a blast to watch, and to catch glimpses of scott will and anna gettin' their dance on with the kids. Even Scott Myhre busted a few moves as he went up to give his contribution (much to the crowd's delight :) during a song the leader seemed to dedicate to the "World Harvest Mission team" (or at least gave us some sort of a shout out before starting into it) - "Pray without ceasing!" We should take note, Christians in Bundibugyo encouraging us to Pray without ceasing!

14 January 2010

Requests: Truth AND Dare


- My resentment of people who come to me with requests stems from an expectation that I have a right to spheres of my life that don’t include requests.

- Life, work, the world, revolve around requests, it’s just how it goes, no matter what country you live in or what kind of work you do.

- Receiving and meeting the requests of any given life can be exhausting.

- I can find everything I need to meet the requests that God sees fit to send my way, in Him.

- To live EVERYDAY like I believe this is true.

09 January 2010

Arrest (Part 5: Friday)

da girls :) (these are a bit out of order, forgive me)
coffeeing up - did you know Carrie likes to drink coffee?
The river above the falls - the point in the lower left hand corner is the top of the falls, so the water from the whole width of the river funnels down to that small point and what power!
That small point - the top of the falls
the middle of the falls - can you hear me? "please carrie jo - don't get any closer!"
The bottom of the falls.

Friday 1 January 2010 - 6am alarm goes off and we climb out of bed and head to brush our teeth. the camp still quiet but starting to wake up as people head out for game drives and such. The post with the sunrise picture from this last week - the photo was from this morning. Quite a way to start the year, and quite a way for God to respond to my discouraged heart the night before. We drove out of the camp about 6:45am or so, headed for the top of the falls where you can hike and see the falls from several view points. Not sure how long it would take us, we headed out early and got there with only one other car parked in the lot. There are not really any railings on the rocks...one could just walk to the edge and fall or jump off and be toast...but I love the thundering of the water through the rocks, the wild uncontrollable nature of the water - reminds me of the coast of Maine when I was a kid. The water is anything but arresting actually, but I was indeed arrested in awe. We were there early enough that we avoided the $10 cost of the short hike and on the way out ate our pineapple that we got to go from Red Chili.

Next stop, sister Claris. The district where she lives and works is Luwero which we pass through on the way back to Kampala. She's been trying to talk me into visiting for as long as I've known her and I thought this was the best opportunity I would have, and better yet that my sister visiting from India was here. After "bush, bush, bush" we found her quiet, beautifully kept compound with convent and health center. Probably the cleanest health facility I've ever seen here in Uganda - not at all suprising though, she runs a pretty tight ship. "The impossible has happened!" she exclaimed as she came out of the gate to greet us! She fed us lunch even though we arranged that we would eat along the way, we laughed, she gave me a hard time for saying "sorry" so much, and after a few hours we got on our way to Kampala. Sweet time.

After an early dinner at Lotus (complete with mojitos and margaritas) we headed to maf for the night. A great day for starting the new year.

08 January 2010

Arrest (Part 4: Thursday)

What's that?! on the horizon?! It's the zoolander...yes, it's still in one piece.
Crazy close!
Those eyes!
Safari sky
girls on the boat
carrie birding
the bee eater ( if you can see them)
croc - who knew they sit with their mouths open for ventilation purposes...not me...but makes for great picture taking :)
beware! The sign in the place where you get off the boat and hike to the falls (we didn't have anyone to drive our car there for us so we did the short-ish hike the next morning)
the falls in the background - the Nile spattered with foam created by the power of the water at the bottom of the falls that spends the rest of the day floating downstream.

Thursday 31 Dec. 2009 – 5:50am – alarm rings and we crawl out of bed. The first thing I hear out of Carrie’s mouth as Anna is crawling out of her mosquito net is (in groggy morning voice) “Anna! Watch out, there were hippos outside on the porch!” I wasn’t quite sure if she was talking in her sleep or if she was actually away, but it turns out she spent most of the night awake due to the crunching of hippos that were right outside the window and apparently on the porch outside our relatively flimsy door! She had just learned the day before that the hippo kills more people than any other animal in Africa...! In any case, we were all in one piece and made it in time to be the 2nd vehicle in line for the ferry, and as the sun came up we ventured across the river and found our guide, beginning our drive with a few more resources at our disposal than the evening before, namely the 3 hours of experience the night before, and more importantly the input of someone who actually knows what they’re doing, imagine that!! It was a spectacular drive, the light of the beginning of the day, the clouds, the blue sky. The highlight? 2 Lioness’ basking in the morning sun, and because we had a guide we could drive right up to them! Such magnificent creatures! Again, arresting beauty! A relaxing lunch, followed by the 2pm boat launch up the Nile to Murchison Falls. It was a great way to spend the afternoon, gazing at the wonders of creation with absolutely NO EFFORT REQUIRED! We had a ranger guide for the ride who has been a ranger for longer than I’ve been alive I’m pretty sure. He spent most of the trip snoozing, Carrie almost reaching for him a few times as he leaned out of the boat, dangerously close to the crocodile infested waters. His name was George and he would occasionally announce particularly exciting wildlife sightings by yelling loudly in an arresting fashion “CROC ON A ROCK!” or other such humorous things. Highlights: crocs for sure, TONS of them, and in one place a monitor lizard waiting strategically to pounce on a croc egg when the time was right (unfortunately my photographic skills are far too slow and I failed to capture it on film), and Carrie’s amazement at the birds of Uganda despite her self proclaimed dislike of birds…the bee eater was particularly brilliant…not too rare I don’t think, but brilliant nonetheless. We didn’t catch a glimpse of the spoonbill which is supposedly Murchison’s pride and joy, but it was a beautiful day and what an afternoon for a boatride! The sun was hot, but the water and breeze as we moved along was cool. So nice. Another relaxing dinner followed by drinks until it was possibly late enough that we could go to bed ☺ Anna managed to turn a pick up move by an Aussie into a conversation about faith and religion – I admire her skills ☺ 2009 closed as we went to bed at 10:30pm, and hoped for a good night of sleep before another early morning and long day of driving.

Arrest (Part 3: Wednesday)

resident warthogs fighting at Red Chili Rest Camp
the girls on the ferry awaiting our first game drive...at this juncture they had no idea it would be so hair-raising-ly exciting!
Murchison at dusk!
pair of g-raffes
heartabeast...what a funny lookin' fellow, eh? not something we see in our usual QENP trips, so a fun sighting.

Wednesday 30 December 2009 – We took our time, slept in, sat and enjoyed our breakfast, then tried to iron out directions that were as clear as absolutely possible. We reached the park without a problem, settled in at the Red Chili Rest Camp in our small but clean banda, ate lunch and rested a bit before heading to the ferry to cross to the other side of the Nile for an evening game drive. After purchasing a map of the park, we got on the 4pm ferry with the Zoolander, and after crossing headed west into the area which is known for the best game sighting.

Carrie and Anna climbed to the roof rack with instructions to bang on the roof if they saw something and wanted to stop. This was Carrie’s first safari experience, so we took it slow, stopping to admire everything along the way…the cob, the heartabeast, the buffalo, the giraffes…God’s imagination arresting in it’s beauty and creativity. The first buffalo we saw was a loser, off by himself, caked with dry mud from his wallowing that morning, right by the road he stopped to stare the vehicle down, and then putting his head down and shaking it a bit, he took a couple quick steps towards us – seeming to be charging the Zoolander, I put my foot on the gas…he then quickly changed directions and ran off into the grasses…phew…a bit later a big hawk dove out of a tree on the side of the road coming within inches of the girls’ heads as they sat perched on the roof…Carrie’s self stated dislike of birds came a bit closer to home!...a bit further along, in a bit of a gulley, I noticed a big green UWA Land Rover vehicle approaching on the narrow road, and in order to make room for it to pass, I pulled off the road to the left…CLUNK!!!!… with a capital A!...we were stuck in a ditch that was hidden by the tall grasses at the side of the road…the front left tire of the car in the ditch, the right tire trying to support the vehicle and perched at an angle I wasn’t sure it would ever recover from, God knew we were sunk…the back of the UWA vehicle was packed with people and all of the men hopped out and after the driver of the vehicle wisely asked me to let him maneuver our vehicle of the ditch from the driver’s seat, the men literally hoisted the front left corner of the Zoolander out of the ditch! Phew! All I had to offer them was my handshake, but they seemed to appreciate it and then we were on our way. Poor Carrie never quite recovered from the incident as it was her corner than went down as she sat on the roof rack…for the rest of the trip, she would hold onto the door for dear life and look at me with that “what in the world do you think you’re doing!?!” look whenever we moved over to the side of the road to allow someone to pass in the park ☺ Before long it was approaching 6pm and we needed to make the 7pm ferry back to the other side of the river to return to our camp, but we were still heading away from the ferry after 2 hours of driving…hmmm…so we decided we needed to turn around and go back the way we came because the map scale seemed to be off and we had no idea how much further we had to go to reach the next branch back towards the ferry. So, turn around we did, and, well, lets just say we made pretty good time. I was scared to death we were going to hit an animal or another ditch, but God was merciful and we made it to the ferry with 15 min. to spare. And don’t worry, I don’t plan on repeating this part of the adventure anytime, ever. Not only did we reach the ferry but reached the ferry with a herd of elephants right next to the river at the ferry crossing – so close!, and a pod of hippos splashing around in the water including two little hippos wrestling/playing tag – so cute.

Returning to camp we ordered dinner, showered in, well, showers…you know the kind you kind of pray during because you’re standing in inch deep water because the drain doesn’t quite work properly and you have no idea who preceded you in said shower…but it felt great otherwise ☺ For dinner, Carrie and Anna got a really great pumpkin gnut stew with rice that I was quite covetous of. In planning for the coming day, we tried making reservations for an early morning game drive with one of the outfitters that books there at the camp, but there was no room. Instead, we booked a park ranger as a guide and planned to be the first to the ferry. Feeling good about the plans for the next day (morning game drive and afternoon boat launch) we headed to bed. Finally, my body, arrested of sorts, in sleep. It was only about 10 pm but I was exhausted!

Arrest (Part 2: Tuesday)

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Masindi Hotel porch

note: sorry there are only 2 photos...we spent the rest of the day driving willy nilly all over uganda...

why isn't there a monday you ask? because I spent most of monday online at the ARA being productive - which means there weren't many exciting adventures to be had...sometimes there are just days like that, you know? Even in Africa...moving on to tuesday:

Tuesday 29 December 2009 – Carrie, Anna, and I depart Kampala for destination: Murchison Falls National Park in northern Uganda. Stopping along the way at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary we caught a glimpse of an endangered species in Uganda. In a reserve with space for up to 40 rhino's there are only 11 currently on the premises I think, with lots of international wildlife conservation community support (eg. gift from Disney's Animal Kingdom of 3-4 rhinos several years ago) and visitors fees, there are rangers that stay with the rhino's 24 hours a day to protect them from poachers. Would you believe that these monstrous creatures (weighing in at 2.5 tons) can move at a speed of 45 km/hr??!?! I was flabbergasted...Anyways, we got a filling and tasty lunch in their cafe and moved on to Masindi.

Filling up with fuel in Masindi we set out for the park, as the rain began to fall we planned to reach before dark. 2 ½ hours later we should have been reaching the park gates, but instead we were crossing over Karuma Falls...WAY out of the way…as it turns out, about 2 ½ hours beyond where we should have turned towards the park…the rain continued to fall and dark was fast approaching. We turned around…plan arrested…not at all sure where we had gone wrong with our maps…finally stopping at a gas station where we asked for directions back to Masindi…I knew there was a decent hotel there and at least we knew we could get back on track somehow and start afresh the next morning. Dark had come and the rain continued to fall...the road had arrested my focus completely…women riding on the back of bicycles in the pitch black of night in the rain with no headlights or reflectors, people meandering down the middle of the road on their way to who knows where…cows, goats…it took everything in me to not hit someone or something…not sure if we had missed the road we saw a couple traffic cops in their white uniforms with umbrellas and blue ponchos so I pulled over…for some reason, everyone we stopped to ask for directions felt the need to cross over to the driver’s side of the car, and due to the rain my window was up, and remember what putting my window down requires?! Right, fiddling around to find the crank handle in the ash tray or wherever it had fallen to, and putting it back in it’s proper position on the door, and then putting the squealing window down as the person stands there in the rain…anyways, the policeman in the white uniform…he was so smiley and had a kind face that put my fears of being lost in northern Uganda in the dark and rain momentarily to rest. He was happy to assure me that the turn towards Masindi was just ahead, past 2 sets of “umps”… “umps, umps…plural umpires?…what in the world is he talking about…oh right, humps! The old silent “h” trick…” I thought to myself. It’s why everyone prefers to call me Aidah. Even though there is a name Saidi that is closer in my opinion (albeit a male name), they have a hard time starting a word with “h”, so Aidah and umps it is ☺ So, we said goodbye to mr. smiley and continued on our way, asking a couple more times just to make sure we were going the right way. At 9:30pm we reached the Masindi Hotel.

...oh, I forgot to tell you about the windshield wiper fluid…right about the time we realized we were dreadfully lost, the rain had paused so my wipers were off…but then of their own accord they decided to turn on, and the wiper fluid started to spray…and spray some more…and didn’t stop until the reservoir was dry…no matter what I did, they paid no attention, having a mind of their own, all I could do was laugh ☺

…back to the Masindi Hotel...not only a hotel, but a historic hotel. Ernest Hemingway, Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart were patrons in their day…plantation porch, 4 poster beds and tile floors, good food, and a hot shower…what more could we have asked for?! We were VERY road weary and dirty from dust and mud and looked a wreck, and appropriately they stuck us in the table behind the pillar when we went to the dining room to eat dinner, so as not to lower the impression of the status of their clientele...if they put us behind the pillar maybe no one would see us looking like vagabonds...oh dear...

...there was also very funny before-bed pillow talk about smelly linens and a great uncle who very possibly doesn't have any hands?!?! ask Carrie...

Arrest (Part 1: Sunday)

Arrest (verb): stop or check; attract the attention of

Trying to come up with a word to describe the last week, and this is the best I can come up with. Let’s see if I can say a little bit more about that…

Sunday 27 December 2009 – Carrie, Anna, Pat and I depart Bundibugyo for Kampala. Pat had a flight to catch that night for London so we were on a time sensitive mission…Pat had a tearful but hopeful departure with several well wishers under our driveway mango tree, and climbed into her blue Patrol with 3 passengers to be dropped in Fort Portal. After dropping them and coffeeing up at the Gardens, Anna joined her in the blue Patrol, Carrie and I continuing on in the Zoolander. A couple hours later after tooling through Mubende without stopping for any chicken-on-a-stick, my phone rang and it was Anna saying that they were having “power” issues and to stay tuned. A few minutes later the phone rang again… “power” issues had turned into total absence of power – ie. they were stopped. We agreed I should turn around and find them to somehow track down some mechanical assistance…mission arrested… long story made somehow short, the PATROL had been filled with PETROL instead of diesel in Mubende – one mechanic became about 7, fuel tank removed and entire fuel system flushed and refilled and then we were on our way again. We successfully delivered Pat to the airport in Entebbe with plenty of time to catch her flight shortly after midnight.

02 January 2010


This is how 2010 began.

I closed out 2009 by going to bed early, anticipating an early morning and long day of driving. My heart was a bit heavy and discouraged as I lay my head down.

Up at 6 on New Years’ Day, I got dressed and stumbled across the camp to the bathrooms to brush my teeth. A bit more awake, I meandered back to our banda, and through a small clearing in the bushes to my left I got a glimpse of this spectacular sight! I am rarely awake and outside in a position to see the sunrise, so what a gift this was! What better way to start 2010?! It was a reminder to me of the hope that I have in Jesus Christ. As the sun creeped up the sky, as the reds, oranges and yellows changed moment by moment, I was reminded of who I am because of what He has done on my behalf, of His love for me, His faithfulness to me, and was given hope for what is to come this year. I'm not sure what will happen, not sure where God will take me, what He will do, but I do know that He has what's best for me in mind - can't wait to find out what that might be!

I read this Psalm this morning and it seemed to resonate with my heart and how I seem to be heading into the next year - aware of the challenges facing me and hopeful and believing that I will in fact see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, that He will lift my head and make me sing songs of joy, and praying to be grounded in the truth that He is my salvation.

Psalm 27
(Of David)

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, "Seek my face."My heart says to you,
"Your face, LORD, do I seek."

Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.

Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!