26 November 2010


...full of thanks...

this year it's the little things. little things that are not so little, really.

  • thankful for the opportunity to celebrate a holiday with my family!
  • thankful for food to put on the table. and not just any food, but food in abundant variety.
  • thankful for my "bijuma bia double-color" apron that Nathan gave me for Christmas last year that I sported proudly as I cooked yesterday..."heidi, those look like pills on your apron...why, yes, they are." "Bijuma bia double-color" is how the Babwisi describe the dual colored capsules that are so common in their drug shops and health centers...Amoxicillin or cloxacillin for example. And when they print patterns on cloth, they often use known objects...such as capsules. So I have an apron made from kitenge cloth that has orange/blue capsules all over it that Nathan gave me in honor of my profession...in honor of the number of times that I gave instructions to mothers as to how to administer the capsules to their children..."na, bijuma bia double-color - kachweka mirundi esatu bulikilo." (pardon my spelling...)
  • thankful for friends who are willing to drop by and come hang in the kitchen with me while I cook (with hot cinnamon rolls as a door prize :) and laugh with us along with the craziness of the Lutjens'
  • thankful for finally figuring out a holiday role reversal that leaves everyone in the family much happier: Heidi in the kitchen, mom entertaining guests...
  • thankful for friends to share the abundance of the table with...guests who seemed to enjoy themselves (and even the food!)
  • thankful for a rousing game of speed scrabble with the family to close up the day even though my first hand I had the X, Z, AND Q with only one vowel... needless to say I didn't come out at the top of the winner board at the end of the night...
  • thankful for the dusting of snow we got in the afternoon that added to the festive nature of the day
  • thankful that my brother and I walked to our cars at the same time at the end of the night, because my car doors were frozen shut and Jeff threw his weight around a little bit and with a little teamwork we managed to get them open...my only complaint about my little VW...it happens EVERY winter and I can't figure out how to prevent it...
  • thankful for today - so far it has been the November version of Boxing Day. Love it.
  • thankful for washing machines and dryers...a couple hours later and 3 weeks of dirty laundry now clean!
  • thankful for the things I am missing this Thanksgiving (the sweating up a storm in the kitchen in Bundibugyo as we try to make do with what we have, the discussing and sharing of American traditions and holidays with African friends, the teammates I've celebrated the last several years of holidays with, etc) because that means I am blessed with things worthy of missing!
  • thankful for a God who continues year after year to shower an abundance of blessings on me

24 November 2010

Thanksgiving Eve

So, the "holiday season" is now upon us...

(photo = Thanksgiving 2009, Bundibugyo)

I've had a hard time believing this is the case, even though I'm here in America where everywhere you go, everything you listen to, everyone you talk to is thinking/planning holidays...the little cardboard turkey do-dads in stores, commercials on the radio, sale announcements in the email inbox...it's all pointing that way but somehow I'm in denial...

Funny thing is that I felt this way in Uganda too because the weather was so warm and sunny and such, it never really felt like what I knew to be the "holiday season"...until that day came...the hustle and bustle, cooking and decorating and such...that worked everytime in Uganda and it's proving to be the same case here this year. I'm cooking most of the Lutjens family thanksgiving meal...let's all take a moment and say a prayer that there might be something edible on the table tomorrow around 1pm :) I did the meal planning and list making on Monday night, grocery shopping yesterday, and started the cooking this afternoon. Two pies done. Two vegetable casseroles done. Stuffing to be prepped yet tonight but currently taking a pause. I am finally tracking with the "holiday season." Cooking has done it once again. I miss cooking. Haven't really done any since I came home. Way to decide to jump back in the saddle for the biggest cooking day of the year, Heidi. I'm enjoying it though. Pandora playing from my computer here on the kitchen table, sticking to the usual recipes so as to not capsize the boat in my American debut, a little spiced cider along the way and now a glass of red wine.

observations from the week:

"There is something about orange juice that makes the world seem like a better place." - Heidi
"I feel that way about cold milk with ice in it." - Dad
"I feel that way about red wine." - Mom (as she reaches for my glass :)

People in America talk to themselves a lot. In public. It seems like I'm noticing this phenomenon more often since I've been back. I've been trying to figure out why this is...is it because we don't have other people to talk to? Is it because we're always talking so that dialogue doesn't cease even with there's no second party to dialogue with? I do it all the time, but I didn't know And, well, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm quite silly as I realize that it could be an observation of a technological phenomenon, known as Bluetooth...that would be really silly of me, but I really haven't noticed the little do-dads in people's ears when I've noticed what I thought was someone talking to themselves...oh dear...I'll get back to you on that cultural observation...

I signed back into the online world of the University of Pennsylvania today. I was attempting to request a transcript. When I finally succeeded in signing in, my account brought up all of my old information, like no time at all had passed. In fact it's been almost 10 years (!!!!!) since I roamed the West Philly campus. The first screen had this picture of me...must have been the picture I had on my PennCard or something, one of those you have taken within your first week of school that follows you around for the remainder of your time there. Who knew it would follow you for the rest of your adult life!!! Anyways. I had forgotten my hair could be that straight somedays...when it felt like it...when it was long and heavy...and I look so young! No wonder my patients used to ask me if I was old enough to be catheterizing them or drawing blood or putting an IV in...Well, in any case, I was young. Still am, kinda. And then I looked at my transcript...sheesh...Fall 1999 was NOT the highlight of my collegiate career...the low-light in fact...sheesh. My GPA that semester was a full point and a half below what it was the other 7 semesters I was at Penn...glad to say that it wasn't a trend...I remember it being pretty miserable...I remember struggling to keep my head above water and not really succeeding...glad to say that that semester is behind me, but sobering to think that the struggling to keep my head above water has continued in one way or another ever since!

09 November 2010

phases of this ever unpredictable journey

thursday 4 Nov: hitting the wall of exhaustion

fact: I love to sleep. and am pretty darn good at it, if I do say so myself
fact: the night before I had hardly slept
fact: it is unbelievably insensitive to demand answers about baby clothes and borrowed items from a new mother of twins who hasn't slept for not only one night but the previous 14 nights.
fact: I am guilty of the above.
fact: friends and family of people like me, in this crazy unpredictable journey of cultural adjustment and international movement, have a huge challenge in front of them. I can only speak for myself I suppose, but to try to anticipate my needs/next steps and plan accordingly would be an impossible task...
fact: my newest friend to become a Nalongo (mother of twins) and I have a remarkable amount of similarities in these new stages of our lives...as she says "my new thing is living in the moment, so maybe we'll just wait and see."

saturday 6 Nov: hitting the wall of communication exhaustion

fact: since arriving in the states, I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to people about my time in Uganda and about what's ahead of me in my future
fact: all of my stateside family went to DC this weekend for a wedding.
fact: the best conversations we have as a family often occur over meals shared together.
fact: saturday morning, my mom/brother/sister and I were sitting together at brunch, and conversation shifted to what I was thinking about my future.
fact: in that moment I could NOT do it. I could NOT talk any more about me, even to my family.
fact: it was not wrong of them to ask, but I needed the freedom (and took it) to say, "I can't really go there right now, sorry."

sunday 7 Nov: debriefing me/the last 3 years of my life

fact: a debriefing program is structured to help ME thinking about the last period of MY life and how it has impacted ME thus far and will impact ME in the future (more or less)
fact: just the day before this program started I had come to the realization that I was NOT in a place to talk about ME....
fact: the first two facts don't go very well together...
fact: after dinner I was feeling ready to crawl under my covers and go to bed for the night and my roommate looked at her watch and said, "it's only 6:30pm, we need to keep you awake for at least a little bit longer, don't you think?"

monday 8 Nov: the paradox of life and death

fact: "It was the best of time, it was the worst of times." Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities) describes the last 3 years of my life remarkably well.
fact: I wouldn't change it for the world.
fact: in our discussions of this missionary life phenomenon, tears rolled down my cheeks, for the first time since coming home to the US, in regards to my life in Uganda.
fact: the tears came when I realized the following: that never before in my life had I lived/experienced LIFE and DEATH to their fullest.

tuesday 9 Nov: the paradox of living stress artfully and knowing one's limitations

fact: stress is biblical and to try to live life without it would be fruitless/unfaithful/impossible
fact: knowing one's limitations and attempting to live life within them is a good/healthy goal.
fact: I have no idea what the melding of the above two facts looks like.
tuesday 9 Nov #2: it's SNOWING!!!!!!