16 September 2010

last week

so, I had a nice, cute, post written about last week in Bundibugyo, but it got lost in cyberspace when I thought I posted it, so instead you get just the photos :) sorry, but a picture speaks louder than words anyways, right?

11 September 2010

where my heart finds rest these days...first for Bundibugyo and then for me

"as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised." ~ Romans 4:17-21

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD..."
~ Jeremiah 29: 11-14a

06 September 2010

run of writing...

3 new posts follow...read as you feel so led...

"Mortality rates are high"

So, nothing like a discouraging email to wrap up one’s time…from Dr. Fred, our primary contact at UNICEF in the Kampala office:

A team from UNICEF, including myself, visited the district last week and noticed a number of technical challenges at Nyahuka HC IV with the Inpatient care management [of malnutrition]; protocols don't seem to be followed and health workers there seem not to be knowledgeable on what they are doing, mortality rate is quite high. We would like to come and support the staff directly by having an on site refresher training on key elements of management of acute malnutrition.

Please inform the hospital and Nyahuka HC IV staff about our visit.

I was pretty bummed when I saw these observations in print. Some of it is the truth and some is not the whole truth...not surprising from a huge organization who made such judgements on a visit of an hour or two in length, but it does accurately reflect my discouragement most of the time with the state of things…it just hurt to see it in print from someone who matters, who makes decisions on whether or not to continue to help us help Bundibugyo…
So, starting tomorrow Monday 6 September and extending throughout this week, UNICEF takes on Bundibugyo pediatric malnutrition firsthand. What you don’t see from the email portion taken from above is that in addition to their onsite training at Nyahuka, they also hope to use this week to encourage/support the initiation of an inpatient pediatric malnutrition unit at the district Hospital in Bundibugyo. This will benefit all of us in Bundibugyo, hopefully lightening the burden of disease at Nyahuka and extending access of care to people on the other end of the district who may not have previously had access as easily to care.
“They are welcome. They will find us here” said Mr. Biguye, the in charge clinical officer at Nyahuka when I told him yesterday of the upcoming visit. “If they are coming to train us, they are most welcome.” Thankful for the staff’s welcome of information and training, I pray that staff will in fact be found there and active and ready and willing to learn and act on what they learn. This is another opportunity for handover of responsibility from World Harvest to the district health staff and the one most directly involving me sphere of influence, so what happens this week and more importantly what happens as a result of what happens this week, is very near and dear to my heart. How will Bundibugyo continue to provide for it’s own? Please pray with me.

Photos, Observations and Reflections on 5 days in Sudan

Sudanese girl who followed us around the health center from afar
from the air
ECS (Episcopal Church of Sudan)
I think I like the choice of kitenge better than the toilet paper for decorating
Christine, Kim and Larissa chillin' by the river
Gaby showin' off his mad kayaking skills!
...and his chivalrous side by rescuing Miss Anna
stunning color grown in Scott's garden and cut for our enjoyment
dinner out on the town
ful, addis and kebob (too bad the pita didn't make it in the photo, bad move Heidi!)
Larissa the chef in the team house kitchen (homemade "hint of lime" tortilla chips with fresh black bean and corn salsa on the menu - scrumptious!)
safari tent (where the guys sleep when they're staying at the compound instead of at their place in town)

The Dukul (2 bedrooms and sitting room - this one belonging to Larissa/Christine)
The team house (living room and kitchen and library)
and last but not least, the choo!!!!!! (combined with shower rooms)


• People are tall and black
• Smiles are readily offered
• Land is very flat aside from the random hills/mountain-esque highlands that seem to pop out of no where from the air
• It does in fact get cool and green during rainy season
• Roofs of homes are almost exclusively thatched (instead of tin sheets)
• Compounds are open, spread out, and often built around a central tree
• Military presence is prominent
• Churches are decorated with scraps of kitenge fabric instead of toilet paper
• Food has a lot of arab influence (pita, ful, lentils, etc)
• Partnerships seem to succeed (NGO & Gov’t, NGO & NGO, NGO & church, etc)
• people have settled in Mundri from all over the place
• family units are usually severed in one or more ways
• people are well traveled both in southern sudan and internationally (Uganda, Kenya, etc)
• town is quite spread out
• people keep relatively to themselves
• there are several restaurants and guesthouses in town
• while I didn’t stay long enough to discuss politics there was no presence of anything that suggested that anyone wants to remain part of a united Sudan while there were a lot of strongly stated posters/t-shirts re. unity = death.
• Dance involves a lot of small shuffle-type steps
• Men are forward and marriage proposals are frequent and in English
• “Mikado” which I think is both a question and the answer to the same question re. are you okay/good; I am okay/good in Moru (one of the local tribes/the name of their language)…isn’t it also the name of an opera? (mind you, I know nothing about opera)
• people are in fact familiar with the notion of a line/queue and in fact had to usher me into my proper position in said formation
• first missionary on record arrived in Mundri in 1912, yes, almost 100 years ago and Mr. Kenneth I-can’t-remember-his-last-name is very highly regarded and spoken of frequently
• hibiscus tea is very lovely, very red, and very sweet
• Shani soda is akin to the Mirinda fruity of Uganda and slightly akin to the Cream Soda of the US
• The traditional African high pitched “ai yi yi yi yi” exclamation by women is very loud and very prominent in large gatherings
• People are quick to offer their help with endeavors they feel are valuable to them and their community
• Community and church groups are very organized and active
• Things are expensive to buy
• Limes and guavas are in plenty
• Health center had nurses/clinical officers/midwives/eye nurses/dressing changers/VCT counselors AND patients present and active but only a few lab supplies and meds available
• Critters such as scorpions and skinks are super sized


After a crazy summer of coming and going in Bundibugyo we were hesitant to impose on our sister team, but they were so very gracious and excited to have us, telling us we weren’t visitors, but more like family. And family they were for us as well. They know where we come from and know the people we know, love the people we love, know what to ask and how to take our responses with a grain of salt given who we are. We were invested in Mundri before we even arrived because we love them, they are invested in Bundibugyo even they no longer live here because they love us and love the people here. We know them and respect them and it was so fun to see their new home and their new lives with our own eyes…

There was a fabulous mix of doing nothing and a bit of exploring and getting the lay of the land…trepsing around town and the market with Scott, seeing Larissa with her hands dirty in the soil in the Bible College garden, shuffling around a circle in the dark on the football pitch in town with drum accompaniment while trying out a bit of local dance with the added bonus of having guys around to watch our backs when we needed it, biking what I was told after the fact was about 10 miles round trip with Larissa to her Arabic/Moru speaking church and rebelling by refusing to go and sit in the front by myself as the visitor, watching movies, dance party in the drizzling evening rain including everything from eastern European line dancing to the Macarena, eating delicious food and even being given the chance to cook once for them – the least we could do in light of their gracious hospitality, biking by the health center with Christine and Anna who patiently accompanied me on a tour given by one of the clinical officers on duty, enjoying meals of ful and addis with fluffly pita bread at a roadside restaurant as the sun sets on Mundri town, sleeping in during morning prayer because, well, I could, killing super chubby scorpions on the wall of the shower, kayaking on the river nearby, watching the Masso kids star in their latest movie adventure filmed while one staycation the week before we arrived, also delving back into WHM East Africa archives by watching “Scott and the Dragon” produced in Bundibugyo by Annelise and Scotticus in honor of the birthday of Scott Myhre several year back, driving 2.5 hours to the next closest airstrip because of bad weather and chatting about reubens and childhood vocabulary lessons along the way…it was an all around good time.

There was however one glaring piece of the puzzle missing, Miss Bethany Ferguson ☺ Bethany is a peer, colleague, and friend currently on break in the US but usually a present member of WHM Sudan. You know how people reflect their surroundings differently based on their gifts and talents and passions? Well, we missed out on “Sudan according to Bethany,” and while Anna was able to sleep in her empty bed, her presence was dearly missed. We’ll catch ya on the flipside, friend!

If you are of the praying variety, please do keep our brothers and sisters in Mundri in your prayers as they move forward in uncharted territory as a new team in a new field in a relatively unsettled political situation. It was so encouraging to see their gifts at work in creative ways and their growing love for their new home. Might God be glorified by his Kingdom being furthered in Southern Sudan!

Bad Juju

Recently Pat wrote me a text that said “you are having a very long stretch of bad juju.” I’m not really sure how to define “juju” but in my mind it’s kind of an onomatopoeia…rhyming with “voodoo” I guess, and similar to me in feeling…bad juju is like bad vibes, combined with bad luck/curses/and the like…kind of the same kind of phrase as a “black cloud” which I was often noted to have over my head relatively frequently during my shifts at St. Louis Children’s Hospital…everything that could go wrong, did go wrong (which is not usually what you want in a nurse come to think of it ☺). Not really what you want in a travel companion either…poor Anna.

So, you’re familiar with the fuel tank incident, following the next night by the infamous theft…so when Anna and I left Bundibugyo two weeks ago for some R&R, we were hard up for just that…rest and relaxation. We decided to take Kalita, the bus, because I was not in favor of driving the Zoolander that had just lost the fuel tank to Kampala and back while in search of rest…so 2 Friday’s ago, Travis ever so kindly drove us to Bundibugyo town at 4:15am and we got on the bus with our friends Musafara and Bahati. Between Fort Portal and Kampala the bus blew a tire and we stopped by the side of the road for a half hour or so while the tire was changed and then we were back on the road. Not a big deal, but big enough that I was glad I wasn’t driving and having to change the tire myself.

Moving the story along…Monday evening we were sitting at Café Java’s, I had just closed my computer after using their wireless internet and rifling through my wallet to pay the bill and then: HUGE explosive noise coming from the parking garage below…then 2 gun shots….EVERYBODY at the café hit the deck, staff, customers, EVERYONE. In a city which not a month previous had seen almost 80 people die in bomb attacks in 2 locations across the city, you could tell what was on people’s minds…it turns out the little rent-a-cops in the vicinity said it was thieves in the parking garage that the police shot at…shady in several ways (first of all it doesn’t explain the super loud explosive noise and second, since when do police SHOOT at thieves?!) anyways, TIA. Never a dull moment.

Then we fly to sudan. Another post entirely but JUST what Anna and I needed.

Monday night at the dinner table, I asked Michael how often they have MAF flights cancelled or postponed due to the airstrip being too wet or storms during rainy season… “So far, we’ve never had a flight cancelled” was his response. Well, you guessed it, the next morning we (Anna and I along with Kim, Larissa and Scott from the team there) were scheduled to fly out around 11 or so, and it rained ALL morning…Michael spent a good part of the morning assessing the weather and communicating with MAF and surrounding airstrips about the feasibility of landing in Mundri vs. Maridi… persistent rain and low lying cloud cover meant: 11am and everyone save Karen, Liana, and Gaby piled into the super snazzy new LandCruiser for a road trip to Maridi (2.5 hours away). Scott had an international flight to catch the next day, so the wait it out with the possibility of cancellation was not really a possibility…Nonetheless, it was a fun ride with typical road trip type chatter and complete with snacks (delicious chocolate chip cookies thanks to Phil and John!) and police stops and 4 wheel drive opportunities ☺. Like I said, never a dull moment.

Two days later Anna and I head to the bus park in Kampala, arriving at 7:30am for what we thought was a 9am bus so that we would be able to choose a good seat and have enough space to store all of our crap (suitcases, trunks, coolers, etc) underneath the bus…the bus didn’t leave until noon…soooooo, after waiting in the bus park for 4.5 hours, we got on the road. 2 hours to Mityana because of the status of the road, then another hour to Mubende. Anna scouted out 2 very nice pieces of chicken muchomo (chicken roasted on a stick) and roasted gonja and we ate well. 15 min. later another explosive noise followed by several windows shattering and a thump-thump-thump from under the bus…we stopped and a tire on our side of the bus had blown, along with something that looked to me like a wheel well cracking into 2-3 pieces…still not sure how or why the windows on the opposite side of the bus shattered leaving huge shards of glass in passengers’ laps just across the isle from us…this part of the story ends in us getting out in Fort Portal instead of staying on while they fixed the tire more completely and started over the mountains after dark…

So, yeah, that, ladies and gentlemen, is a long stretch of bad juju.

I’m not quite ready to discuss the theological implications of bad juju…so don’t ask, but in a place where the spiritual world is quite readily acknowledged to be a reality, bad juju is very much a reality. I am ready, however, to agree with the line that followed in Pat’s text though, “Praise God that He’s powerful over bad juju!”