They say a picture is worth a thousand words...and these are a lot of pictures...27 to be exact...you do the math.
Rainy season is upon us, and there have been big pushes to dig and plant in gardens ALL over the place. Everybody's got a garden or several...every church has a garden or several...and so I went with Larissa to a Saturday digging party that our church had in their garden. Of course there was food...
and kabbittzing - complete with hooting and hollering and outbursts into song as motivation...here's some of the crew before we wrapped up for the day.
like gold, these seeds are, especially as food prices are sky rocketing ... kept from last year's harvests for this year's planting...
now, before you think I've gone all farmer on you, which wouldn't be bad, it just would be shocking and a far cry from the truth, you need to remember that I've been struggling big time with language learning and I will jump at pretty much any reason to spend my time doing something else :) So, when Larissa said she could use some help getting some of her veggies in the ground, I jumped at the chance. So, there I am, without a clue what I'm doing, but I follow directions well so she put me to work.
under that dried grass there in front of Caleb and I is sweet corn...YUM! Pray for rain!
Tifo. Cuteness. Need I say more?! We've been to greet Margaret and her family a few times, one of the families Larissa did a home stay with. They've taken several of us in as part of the family :) Tifo and her brothers Edward and Caleb (our Caleb's namesake) live with their mom, Nadi, and their grandmother on this compound.
Larissa and Awani - he may or may not be her favorite child on the face of the earth :) I'm kinda surprised his smile was caught on film (nice job Mel) - he usually plays the shy card
Melissa getting her baby fix...it's like therapy actually, just a lot cheaper and WAY more accessible here in Africa :)
After partying it up with Caleb a bit, and LOTS of errand running, we got our party on with a couple of the WHM Bundibugyo girls, Pamela (blue sombrero) and Chrissy (red sombrero on the right) at a new Mexican place someone recommended to us called The Little Donkey. Good, but not quite our Lotus Mexicana.
Larissa and I flew back to Juba after our week in Kampala was up and from Juba we boarded the illustrious Mundri Express, pictured here. Note that this photo was taken before we boarded in Juba, before the jarring road experience began, thus a smile still graces my face.
Here's a shot from the inside...Not sure if you can tell from these shots, but this "bus" is in fact a truck, carrying a bus carriage - which you may be able to tell was pretty much hand welded together from old scrap metal I'm pretty sure, and then loaded with seats, which it turned out, were not actually attached to the frame of the "bus" very well...sometimes tied into place...often moving as we bumped and jumped for 7 hours along the road that took us 4 hours in our own vehicle...I should have also taken a photo of Larissa at the end - there was some sort of exhaust issue which meant the exhaust poured into the open windows (which she was sitting next to) and left her COVERED in black soot...she looked like she had rad goth eye make up for the next 3 days at least. I had a splitting headache for a WEEK following our journey, that may or may not have been concussive, and which sent sharp pains down the front and back of my head into my neck with every step I took...it was quite the ride...but we arrived each in one piece (more or less) in the cold rain of course, but so glad to be home!
we had two days to settle in post travel and then thursday June 7th our team welcomed 4 visitors to Mundri each with varied durations of stay. Justin came for a 5 day "vision trip" to attempt to decipher whether this is a place he would like to pursue coming long term, Grace is a PA and friend of Scott's who was here for about a month to work in the health center and experience life in Africa (she unfortunately left Mundri this morning already!), Kanesa is a Counseling student in the US and is here to do a counseling internship for 2 months working mostly with Bethany, and Andrew is a writer and handyman and a 6 month "Michael's Deputy" intern here until about Christmas time I suppose. It's fascinating to see the variety of people God brings to this little place in the middle of South Sudan...and we're honored to be a part of it :)
sometime in their first week here, Bethany had a sick friend go to Lui Hospital (a 30 - 45 minute drive away or so) so several of us went along for the ride and to see what the Hospital is like. Above we are gathered in the middle of the compound, the building closest to us houses the inpatient wards (male/female/pediatrics) and the while buildings behind us house things like the Ultrasound and Xray machines and Operating Theatres and so forth. Scott and Grace and I got an unofficial tour of the place from a former co-worker of Scott's from Mundri. I was quite impressed.
The X-Ray "suite"...aka metal shipping container housing the xray machine (left) and a bed.
The Ultrasound machine, complete with squirty Ultrasound gel and everything. Scott and Grace looking happy to see it :)
Melissa and I also took Kanesa to visit Mary (left) who laughs at and with us, graciously serves us tea and kindly speaks elementary Moru and Arabic with us. She was leading prayers the next day at church and got out her Bible so she could read the portions of scripture to us...so cute with her spiffy glasses and all (even though the lens proceeded to pop out a few minutes later - they get the job done I guess :) Martin and Foto and Cecilia (? maybe?) were very curious to see what I had in my bag (otherwise known as my "suitcase" by teammates who will go unnamed...ahem Anna and Scott....) and when I pulled out my camera they obliged me with a few great smiles and grins. Precious, eh?!
With Grace in town, Scott and I decided to do a few health outreaches in the community...my first foray into healthcare here thus far, and I had no idea pulling out a stethescope and putting it to use could make me that happy! Nurse through and through I suppose. It meant getting my hands on some super cute kids and weighing and measuring them to check for growth issues and just in general smiling at them and letting them know they matter and doing a bit of teaching about growth and good nutrition with their parents while also checking their parents' weight and blood pressure and general health. The first outreach was at my church and we saw about 175 patients in about 4 hours (we finally had to shut the doors in order to get away for something to eat at 2pm!)
The second outreach was a blood pressure screening in the Mundri market and again, putting the stethescope to use did my heart a world of good! Again, about 175 patients, this time in about 2 hours or so and got to use my simple Arabic and look a lot of people in the eye, smile, and let them know they matter...it's the little things in life, you know? I loved every minute.
Then there was mudding. Homes here are mostly made of wood and mud. Larissa had a couple of these huts built to house her Agriculture supplies and eventually a flock of ducks. But the mudding was left to her. We had extra hands available with these visitors around and all, so she decided to put us all to work and we were happy to help. Now, my dad always taught me that with a wheelbarrow, it's best to make good use of the right tool by taking the barrow all the way to the site of your work..."right tool for the right job" he always said. But, what do you do when the right tool doesn't fit inside the house where you need to drop the dirt? You dump it out outside and shovel the dirt in :) TIA, you know?
Abao, the masterful mud mixer, was our instructor for the day. The woman can WORK.
My daddy taught me a little somethin' somethin' about workin' too :)
Abao's beautiful grin :)
We don't give visitors much time before we put them to work :)
This whole blog formatting thing is gonna drive me to drink, so I best go ahead and just post this before I totally lose it. Makes me remember why I struggle to post pictures...Enjoy :)