Monday, June 27, 2011

All for the sake of a nice mexican dinner.

Occasionally I feel guilty over having house help and a gardener/guard. But not today. I would get NOTHING else done if they didn’t do their jobs. Here is a glimpse of the day:
I had invited teammates over for dinner, this meant meal prep for 10 people.
*Funny side note- Teammates gave us a rooster (named Jose) a few months ago and he has served his purpose and has three hens sitting on eggs (and we are sick of his crowing at 5:30am) so today’s dinner was chicken enchiladas which seemed most fitting as the main dishes’ name was Jose.
Anyway, starting at 8am I pointed out the hen and roster that were destined for dinner to our gardener. When I arrived back home around noon I boiled some water and we plucked them and gutted them. They then went into the stock pot from 1 to 2. Meanwhile our house help Helen made 40 tortillas and cleaned and sorted the rocks and sand from of a pot of beans. Then she started them soaking and eventually boiling (un-canned beans are lots of work to make them digestible). She also cleaned the stones from a kilo of rice. Those little stones are torment in your teeth.   Around 3 pm Helen went home but first she mopped the floor and did the dishes. Later in the afternoon I cut 2 kg of tomatoes, green peppers and onions to make salsa. I’d planted cilantro a while back so went out to the garden and cut and cleaned a few handfuls. The beans were finally soft enough to toss in the blender for bean dip. The chickens needed to have all of the meat picked off the bones and a white sauce made from scratch. I also wanted to do peanut butter cookies for dessert. (Our peanut butter was grown, harvested then ground by hand between two rocks by Helen.) The enchiladas needed to be assembled, the salsa cooked, the rice boiled and the cookies mixed up and baked. This part finally felt like dinner prep. But between the three of us we’d already spent nearly 10 hours getting this one meal ready!  Next time you grab a can of salsa or bean dip, a package of tortillas or peanut butter cookies, a bag of frozen chicken breasts or better yet a ready to cook pan of chicken enchiladas feel free to think of me.  

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I know that some will think less of me for this post (mostly my brother Nick who thinks cats are best with a little BBQ sauce) but I'm going to post anyway. 

Cats seem to have a short life span here in Uganda. Beckie and I have had 4 cats over the past year, now we have only one. A few weeks ago Cow Pea disappeared and I've been holding out hope that he would show up again.  His antics, more than the other three, were a source of amusement for me but it's time to let go.
Rest In Peace 
Cow Pea

Late night hunting with me.
Sleeping in the hen house. The chickens loved that. 
Taking care of a few babies. 
Always social. 


On that sad note, here is a more positive one. We have added another animal to our collection. I hope this one lasts longer than the others. (Overall, I think we have had more than 30 animals of 6 species, now only one has reached it's first birthday here. Not great odds.)
His name is Palindrome, Pal for short though the neighbor kids call him Pally.
He isn't much of a watchdog yet but we are working on it. He still weights less than 6 pounds so we've got to get a little meat on him to make him a little more fierce!

Family Planning

*June 20th*
I'm a bit behind on the blogging and Mandy wrote about Family Planning day in Obule already so I'm going to openly steal her work. Here is her account:

Monday Josh and Jennifer taught all day in Obule. The topic – family planning. Josh likes to say I roped him into it, which I guess I did. Last month when Jennifer and I were out there teaching the ladies how to make mango fruit roll ups they asked if we could teach them about family planning – a hot topic here because the church has wrong information about it and most of these ladies have seven children and are tired! So we thought that was a great idea and began brain storming. But we needed Josh’s help to teach the men and to bring in the Biblical teaching on the subject. The good thing is Josh usually thanks me later for my good idea and for encouraging him to teach something needed– which he did this time too.

We arrived at about 10:30 and we were happy to see people were already gathered, but we couldn’t start before they gave us tea and roasted peanuts. (Obule is hospitable almost to a fault. They cannot let guests come without feeding them – everytime! When will we not be guests anymore? I know they love us and are so thankful, but it takes so much time.) After tea we began with singing and then a little fun. Jennifer and I decided that the husbands needed know what it felt like to be pregnant so we brought a backpack with 25 pounds of flour in it for the men to wear on their bellies. What a hoot! The guys really acted pregnant with the backpack on and the women loved it. The first guy I had lay on a mat to feel what it was like for his wife to sleep at night. It was quite fun watching him struggle to roll over and get up again. The next guy had to take off his shoes and put them back on again. He couldn’t tie them with the “baby” on so his wife had mercy and helped him. The next man had to go some sweeping bending over with the “baby” on board. The women laughed and laughed watching the men struggle to do their task while “pregnant”. All of the men also had to wear it during a session while sitting on a bench. All of them complained of back, knee, and leg pains from carrying the extra weight. I think they got the point. They were really good sports. Even Josh got a turn, reluctantly. Hey, his wife was pregnant three times too.

I think Charles now has more sympathy for his wife!

Josh did a great job teaching about what God has to say about life, children, and families. It is not an easy topic to teach on. He started out talking about when life begins, then how family planning is not abortion, and onto what is our responsibility as parents. I love how he opens God’s Word and asks the right questions for the people to figure out the answer according to what God says. There was a very special time where we looked at abortion and how it is murder and a stronghold the devil has here. We took time to pray, confess, and allow God to heal. We prayed this from ourselves if we have had any involvement, our forefathers, for our nation, and the church. I know the Spirit was there. I could see it in the room around me. People where lifting their hands, lying out before the Lord, crying… I had goose bumps. I prayed for our nation and church. Abortions are happening everyday – in the church too. Birth control we take that aborts pregnancy, left over babies from invetro fertilization destroyed… God forgive us! I know we did spiritual battle in those moments and God gave us the victory – freedom from that stronghold. We ended the prayer time worshiping.

Jennifer taught on the medical side of family planning and the option that are available here. There were lots of questions and the women seemed to really want to know about themselves and what they could do.  
Of course child care was provided. It was a school day so those not old enough to go to school took care of the babies. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lots of irons in the fire....

Whoa! Who said life in Africa was slower than life in the states?!  My desk is piled high and my list of things to do just keeps growing. I’m still here and have several posts bouncing around in my head. I need a few good runs to sort them out and get them written.  Last week I was teaching pastors on HIV in Katakwi.  Then this week Monday, I had a chance to do an afternoon with Josh and Mandy on family planning in Obule. (That one has some great pictures!)  Then I tossed some clothes in a bag and headed for Karamoja with Dr. Val for a few days. The roads between Kangoli, Moroto, Iriri and Nakyote were muddy, dusty, rutted and pretty interesting in more than a few places making travel an adventure as usual. But it was good to be planning and preparing for a big medical outreach next month.  

All these stories and more on the way soon! Oh, and we have a new addition to the menagerie here in Soroti.  On top of the usual life stuff, the team has a group of high school students from Grand Rapids here for a very few, but very full days, lots more planning and preparation for the medical outreach in Karamoja, and other irons in the fire so my journaling time is suffering. Also I still feel like I need more rest than usual and find myself a little short tempered so I know I need to slow down a bit. Thank you all for your continued prayers!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!

Dad- I thought of you a few times this week. I successfully put a crib back together and also fixed my car. Both times I was so appreciative of the skills that you taught me. But I'm thankful for so many more things from you than just carpentry and mechanical skills. Thank you for your godly example of a servant's heart. For your ceaseless patience.  For your quiet communication that you will always be there for me.
Happy Father's Day Dad!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Renewing the Visa again!

Today deserves a post for sure. Highlights:
7am this morning we discovered the car wasn’t working.  We need to make the trek somewhere to renew our passports again and we opted for Lira. It is more remote and we don’t really know the place but we have had so much trouble with immigration in Mbale and the road is terrible. Anyway, we needed to go a few hundred kilometers. Car: clearly not working. We opened the hood and laughed because what are we going to do but stare at the engine? But amazing!! A few minutes later, with  two pliers, a hammer and a rag we managed to start the car!  (Dad, you would be so proud of us. We’ve learned a few things about repairing things here- start with something you can strike things with.)

Beckie had spoken with the Immigration Officer in Lira a few days ago and she told us to come at 8. She arrived in her office at 10 am. But she stamped both of us for two months without hesitation. So at least we don’t have to worry about that for a while again.

We had heard of several pools and soft serve ice cream in Lira so needless to say we figured if we were driving all the way we may as well make it enjoyable. Well….. not a single one of the pools were open for various reasons. And we hunted and hunted for the restaurant with the ice cream.  Nearly 20 km later and turning around twice we finally found it! But they didn’t have any power so no ice cream.

We came home sometime after 4 so all the school kids who regularly come over were waiting at our gate. After riding in the car all day some activity seemed nice so Beckie and I brought out a ball and a pretty rocking game of handball commenced. We were all soaked in sweat by the time we called it a tie. Some of these kids get lunch at school but some don’t so I brought out a plate of muffins- somehow they managed to eat 3 dozen in a matter of minutes. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I have this great up-beat, positive blog post half written about spending several hours yesterday morning planning with the CLIDE staff for their annual medical outreach in the peace village. I was writing about how excited I am to think and plan about what we’ll be doing out there in just a few short weeks. About how we’ll be staying in tents in very rural Uganda while serving the poorest of the poor with a big team, all people who are passionate about making an eternal difference in the lives of hurting people. It was going to be a nice post.
But then in the afternoon Mandy called about a 13 year old girl in the jail with a newborn baby she had just heard about.  We headed out to find her and see if there was anything we could do.  So now I have to blog about this poor kid who was raped by her father and is pretty sick with a postpartum infection.  Immaculate, the 13 year old mother, now has a newborn and no support. Her own mother seems to be an alcoholic with no job or source of income and the baby’s father is on his way to prison. When we went to her home we found several other malnourished children who should be attending school but aren’t.  The whole situation is ugly and feels so hopeless.   We got Immaculate and Christine (the newborn) medical care and things to meet their immediate needs. But it feels like we barely scratched the surface. Father God, we are not able to restore hope and bring something good out of this despair. But you are. We plead with you to touch this young girl and her newborn. Wrap your arms of love around them and show your power in a supernatural way. Amen

Mandy did a great job and posted a bunch more details and pictures than I did. Her blog is here.  And follow up that she did a few days later in the middle of this post.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Onyaki village

I had to admit to myself yesterday that I’m still not back to normal. When the late afternoon finally rolled around the thought of anything that didn’t involve being prone seemed pretty overwhelming but it was a good day- worth the exhaustion, I think.

cutting and peeling
Onyaki is a village I’m spending more and more time at as I get to know people out there. Yesterday, Rebecca  (who is in Uganda for a few months with Youth With a Mission) and I headed out there to teach how to preserve mangoes. 
Also, I discovered the pastor of the church we were meeting at announced on Sunday that I’m a nurse so a large group arrived for medical care. 
The mango part started late as everyone was in their gardens because of the rain in the night but by 10:45 they had made two big pots of mango sauce and were spreading it in the sun to dry. They were excited about trying something new and I heard several of them say they would be doing it again in their homes.
Then we headed inside the church followed by a huge group of mothers with young kids that wanted medicine. 
This is the part that becomes overwhelming to me. I want so badly to help but often there is so little I can really do. I give out deworming meds and cream for ring worm knowing that both of these conditions will be back in such a short time. I try to teach about how kids get viral infections sometimes and they don’t always need an antibiotic but in the back of my head is the fear that there is something I’m missing and this child does actually need more than rest and fluids. I tested 6 kids for malaria and had 4 positives so that at least felt good. I knew the kids that actually needed malaria meds got them and I wasn’t guessing on the rest. I went through 2 bottles of children’s tylenol with the number of kids that had temps. Taught mothers about dehydration (one really dehydrated one who actually probably needed a line) and saw far too much obvious malnutrition.  Found one little one with pneumonia and many others who were healthy but just had concerned mothers. Lanced a few boils and packed a few other infected wounds.
The skin on her face was peeling from malnutrition.
This infection was gross.
Hearing a long, complicated health history.
I’m estimating that I saw 35 kids and 12 adults. And that was only half the crowd. I knew I was running out of energy (and was mostly out of meds) and had to put my foot down and say we were done. A few got angry and it got a little tense for a minute or two but the pastor (my translator) assured them I was coming back so I would help another time. At least no one left too upset but I’m a little afraid to go to church Sunday and I don't know when that "another time" will be.
Elda, the mother of the twins, had made me promise I would come to her house for lunch after, so around 2 pm we put our stuff back in the car ready to head home but to turn down an invitation to visit is a horrible insult. So Rebecca and  I climbed in the car, then the pastor and his wife, then 4 other women. It is only a 5 seater and I had to tell two others no but, for better or worse, when I'm hot and tired I say no much easier.   We headed into the bush and piled back out at her house. The twins are looking really healthy and really growing. 
Lunch was nearly ready (I had told here we would be there around 12 and it was past 2) so we chatted a little with the ladies who had accompanied us, saw a few more patients, played with the twins then the food arrived. Poso, atapa and chicken freshly killed. Around 3:30 I was really dragging and felt like enough time had passed that we could politely leave.  Most of us piled back in the car and we brought the pastor back to the church. One old woman stayed in the car. Ummmm…. "You want a ride to town?" “ No, you come to my house.” Alright then, not optional.  She directed us back into the bush, down some foot paths and I realized how thankful I was that I had decided to use the car instead of  my bike for the day. We arrived at her place and she introduced me to her mother who was “sick”. In her 80’s I’m guessing, though it is hard to tell and she didn’t know her age. That is really old around here so needless to say she had some aches and pains. Tylenol arthritis, multivitamins and cipro for a bladder infection. At this point unfortunately I was getting downright rude and declined to sit in the chairs that they have brought us and set in the shade. I was putting my medical bag back in the car one more time and was focused on getting home when they brought a chicken and a container of fresh milk. These are very nice gifts and I was being so self-focused. We promised to see them again on Sunday.  4:30 and only the two of us in the car so we headed for home.  The thought briefly passed through my mind how nice it would be to stop and pick up some fast food dinner on the way and I realized that we kind of did. There was a chicken on the back seat…..

Friday, June 3, 2011

Boring update

So I know that I need to update....
I'm feeling 110% better than last week at this time. I'm pretty sure I'm over the worst of whatever that was. Still having a few symptoms but they are mostly bothersome, not life threatening :-). I can still manage to sleep 8+ hours at night and take a nap or two during the day but at least I'm getting lots of rest. I pretty much get up, figure out what to eat, work on the computer, read a little, possibly eat again, sleep, more computer work, some research, eat again and go back to bed.  (I had to include that daily rundown- See mom?! I'm doing what you told me. Nothing that requires lifting, no running, nothing that takes much energy- just resting. I haven't even let the kids in for more than a few minutes at a time since we got back)  For a few more days I intend to keep this schedule. Then I'm going to go crazy.  So that is life right now. Bed time.