Sunday, September 30, 2012

Finger lickin good!?!

Colonel Sanders, is that you?! I didn't know you were here in Uganda! Or that you spoke Korean!  But I'm not picky. I'm so glad you are here! I'd love  a bucket of that secret recipe! 

Oh, wait. Never mind. 

Toilet paper.  I didn't believe my eyes either. Went from genuinely excited to very let down while grocery shopping here in Soroti last week. But bought a roll anyway.  And cried a few tears on the way home. 

Chicken makeover

A few weeks back I had a friend staying with me and she received a chicken as a gift. A live one. She couldn't take it with her so she left it for me. It was a really ugly chicken. Really. I gave it a make over.   

You can't really tell how vulture like this chicken is. But trust me. Her name is Igor. 
It was wonderful. Thank you Caitlin!! 

Ride for Refuge 2012

Resting in the shade at the grave site.
Yesterday was the third annual Ride for Refuge here in Soroti. (In the States and Canada it is well beyond third annual). And it gets bigger and better every year. This year I think we were 50 former child soldiers riding with 20 of us from ITeams and 30 other Ugandans we share ministry with. It was a lovely, scorching day for riding hours in the sun. We rode 12 km out to the mass  grave site where we spent a few hours cleaning it up and had a time of prayer together before riding back. I didn't do a great job taking pictures but here are a few.

Tim, Moses, Ave, Beckie and Jimmy starting the long climb up the hill
The hard work of cleaning up the graves. 
A time of prayer with the former child soldiers 
Tim does a better job explaining than I do. Before the ride. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quick update

Update time....
  • My parents arrive in 18 days! I can't wait!
  • I am quite frustrated that between Soroti and Kangole right now there are missing sections of road and in some places the road is there it is just under 6 feet of water. So I'm sitting tight here for now. But it is frustrating. I've heard that many children are dying of malaria right now out in Nakayote and I just can't get there. But we packed several boxes of meds and 100 pounds of mosquito nets and left them in Lorangachora. The VHTs were contacted and they will come and pick them up and carry them- by foot, the 20 km over the mountains to the village.  

  • I'm learning lots of midwifery out in Obulle these days and am really enjoying it! I can now practically do fundal height measurements with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back. 
  • I've been teaching the HIV/Aids course this past week- a group of pastors and church leaders. It always a bit disconcerting to be taking to a room full of pastors about STDs, mutual monogamy, and the like but you do what you gotta do.

I have a few prayer request:

  • Several teammates are sick and as I realize how stressed that makes me I realize that once again I'm trying to function in my own strength and knowledge.  Nothing here seems straight forward or as I know from working in the States but that is why I don't depend on myself. Why do I keep trying to work independently of God?!?
  • It is so frustrating to not be able to get into Karamoja. Please pray for open roads and also someone to teach me Nakaramojung here in Soroti because at this rate I'll be ready to retire before I can speak the language. 
  • In the next few weeks my visa will expire again and once more I'll have to go for renewal. My work permit papers need to be submitted before then but there have been several holdups. 
I am so richly blessed  so here are some praise items:
  • I was feeling sick with some unknown something for several weeks and my hbg was really low. But that seems to have resolved itself and I'm feeling so much better. 
  • We had a lovely team retreat that wasn't not at all what we planned as the roads out of Soroti were all closed and we couldn't "retreat" but it was still restful and God provided exactly what we needed. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Another day in the life of a missionary nurse (Sunday and Monday) Watch out- it's a long one.

Joyce & I and her elderly grandmother
Several weeks ago I had a friend (Caitlin) staying with me. She was a bit camera happy and I ended up with 400 pictures of myself as she hung out with me for two days. As much as it was annoying, it is a great glimpse into a few days. The photo montage she made begins on Sunday  morning shortly after I got a call to inform me Joyce was sick. We went over to her house, tested and sure enough- positive for malaria. Started her on treatment and tried to encourage her to go lay down but she wanted to go with us. So we piled her and the 9 other kids that I take to church into the truck and headed out to Obule.
The truck is usually pretty full but none of them complain. They generally fight over who gets to sit in "the boot".

Church generally begins at 9:30 and ends around mid-day.  We have several choirs, a few testimonies, an hour sermon and lots of worship.

Because I had a visitor I thought we should have something nice for Sunday dinner. So we stopped in the market on the way home for a (fresh) beef roasts.
Solomon also felt that he should get some lunch and is generally a pest until he gets something to eat. Though he is a pest after he gets something too.

Caitlin sat on the floor and tried to keep the animals occupied while I prepared the meal.

Monday is usually clinic day-  the the week Caitlin was with me was no exception.
I like to start the day out with a run for my mental well being and Caitlin was up for joining even that. Here is the sunrise on our run.

And the road as the sky gradually becomes lighter.

 Only a few miles to go!

Then out to the clinic. Many are waiting for immunizations so we start with their cards- figuring out who needs polio, TB, DPT, measles, etc..  It is not as straight forward as it sounds. Some kids (especially those born at home- which are most!) have had none and are on no schedule whatsoever, then some received the first ones, others came but the needed serum wasn't in stock, it gets exceptionally complicated.

It actually takes far longer to figure out who needs what than it does to actually administer all of the immunizations. On top of that return dates need to be calculated. They can't just come any time. Only when a supply has been recieved. Also we do all the paperwork first, count how many of each we need then mix them so nothing is wasted or warm for too long.

Lots of moms and babies waiting!!

And if anybody arrives to be seen for illness or injury we pause, change rooms and see them. This was a mom with a 1 month old who was really dehydrated with malaria.

 Back to the immunization room. Mixing and administering. NEXT! (Actually you should hear me attempt to call their names out in Ateso. You would think I'd be better at it by now.) 

 This little guy had received almost no immunizations.  I was trying to non-judgmentally ask his mother why she hadn't brought him yet. She told us she was sure he was going to die. But he hasn't yet so figured it was time to bring him. Turns out he has pretty profound cerebral palsy. He was super cute but couldn't even hold his head up. Tried to encourage his mother to love him and take the best care of him that she can. She told me that she still has to tie him on her back as he can't sit or walk but that she has another baby on the way so can't do that anymore. They have a tough road ahead of them.

Trying to decipher some complicated lab results. 

So after a full day in the clinic we had one last stop in Obule village. I'd been told of a woman who had had surgery and needed to be checked on. I agreed but didn't know how to find their house. So our guide would meet us at church. We waited there for a bit. This little girl felt obligated to keep us company but would not talk to us. 

The post-op patient was doing well and her family was appreciative of our coming. (Though I was unable to determine the nature of her abdominal surgery) Here is Caitlin's account of that part of the day:
Jennifer and I were brought to meet with a woman in the village of Obule who had recently undergone surgery. We were brought there by Charles, the pastor of a church nearby. We stayed with the family quite a long time- listening to her speak of her recent surgery, chatting with the daughter and husband and trying our best to encourage the family. We were brought tea and roasted corn to eat while we were there. Jennifer joked that since we were presented with food by the family, she would not need to worry about preparing me (her guest) food in the evening. The family fussed for a bit, but we all laughed and moved on to another topic. Towards the end of our stay, I noticed the husband lean over and grab an ugly little chicken that was poking around where we were sitting outside eating. He tied up the legs and tossed it behind him and I knew, without a doubt, that ugly little chicken would be coming home with us. Sure enough, when we stood to leave, Jennifer was handed a basket of corn and I was handed the very much ALIVE, ugly little chicken! The family said they were providing us with “dinner.” Apparently, I took hold of “dinner” the wrong way because the family laughed as I struggled with the terrified chicken but trying my best to remain calm (as if carrying live chickens was something I did every day). Jennifer and I loaded everything into the car. We stopped off and spent some more time at the Obule church and eventually made our way home. Jennifer lives in a guesthouse behind a house rented by a family with the same organization (International Teams). The family has some chickens and roosters so our hope was that we could slip our ugly little “dinner” in with their bunch. I wish there was a video of my struggle to grab “dinner” from the back of the vehicle while also trying to carry a couple water bottles and my backpack. I eventually had to drop all my other stuff and just grab the chicken all the while laughing at the ridiculous situation we were in. Once in the yard, I placed “dinner” on the ground and was about to go grab my bags when I heard a lot of squawking. There are two roosters on the property and they both went after our ugly little chicken and then all started fighting in a big puff of feathers! First of all, I don’t know anything about chickens and roosters and all that jazz and here I am trying to figure out how to separate three squawking fighting feathered enemies without getting my face pecked off. I just yelled and ran at them clapping and they scattered. Jennifer came out of the house and scooped up “dinner” and took her to a cage where she would be safe until we figured out a plan. We decided to see if Steve, the owner of the other chickens, will be ok with inheriting a new bird. Jennifer kept mentioning that village chickens are good egg layers (an attempt to keep our ugly chicken safe). Steve agreed to give “dinner” a chance with the other hens and went out to take a look at our ugly little chicken. The other chickens on the property have names and since “dinner” is not a good name for a chicken, Steve quickly came up with a new name. Egor.

Finally near the end of the day, time to kick back and put our feet up for a minute. Steve and kids joined us outside in the cooler evening. 

My team

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my team? We are a big group and we don't get together ALL of us so much anymore but we were together last weekend. Right now we are 15 adults and 16 kids. Thank you for continuing to pray for our ministry in and around Soroti!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The makings of a k-jung skirt.

Betty really wants a k-jung skirt so she is going to get one for Christmas. (I'm pretty sure it can stay a secret if I put in on here but help me out with this team!) So Lodem's wife is teaching me how. Or at least is supposed to be but really she is doing all the work.
So step one is finding some wool blankets, the more contrasting the colors the better, and cut them in sections. Then stitch it all back together again. 
Not that hard, really. I got this down. Who else wants a skirt for Christmas? 
 These last two pictures I just wanted to include. Grandma's job is to watch the baby while mom works. The second picture is zoomed in on the first. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Last week I went out to the village with Betty’s mother.  I was so happy when a few months back she proudly told me that she planted a field of ground nuts (same as peanuts) for me to appreciate all that I was doing for their family. She has had a very entitled mindset and is constantly asking (nearly demanding) money, food, rent, medicine, etc…  This was the first sign of a change in attitude and I was really pleased. Until a few weeks later when she told me that my g-nuts needed weeding and I had better go do that. Oh. Not nearly so pleased anymore. I told her I couldn’t weed them as I didn’t have the time to drive the 100+ km out to the field and spend several days weeding a field I didn’t actually want responsibility for.  Well, that is what I tried to tell her but as she doesn’t actually speak English I’m not sure what she got. I didn’t hear of it again until last week I was told that my g-nuts were going to spoil if I didn’t go out and harvest them. Great. I knew I was being manipulated but after pondering it for a day I decided to just embrace it and see what came.  I promised them transport out to the village (which can be costly). I also made it crystal clear I would NOT be staying until the harvest was done. I would work with them for a day and whatever was left they would be harvesting and keeping for themselves. 
The morning I promised to take them I got a call at 6:30am telling me it was time to go. Well, I wasn’t ready. I was still running and was going to have breakfast before spending the day in the village. Honestly, I started off the day with a bad attitude. I was providing free transport- we would go when I said we would. I had told them 8am. I wish I was going to report that the day got better, or at least my attitude improved but I can’t really. It was quite a bit further than they led me to believe and we drove for almost two hours. Then we got to the field and I discovered that it had never been weeded. Ever. The field was really big but the harvest was going to be pretty poor. And the work was going to be hard. We arrived and they all looked at me. So I grabbed a hoe and started up-rooting. They let me do this for a bit before her sons took the hoe from me and assigned me the woman’s work of removing the nuts from the plants. So I pitched my tarp in the shade and gathered all those who rode out with me who weren’t wielding a hoe. Janet- a neighbor girl, Agnes- another girl, Joyce- her youngest daughter, Emmanuel and Benjamin- her younger sons. Philip- her oldest son, was digging. 
We talked while we worked and that time was good. But I was also frustrated when 2 rolled around and all the kids said they were hungry (me too!!) and looked to me instead of their mother. I don’t bring food when I go to the village because they always provide food. But Betty’s mother was nowhere to be found and there was no one cooking food. So Philip started a fire and we roasted g-nuts. Around 4pm rain clouds started to blow up and it looked like a good storm was coming. I started to load my truck up and figure out which kids were staying to work and which ones were going back to Soroti with me. Betty’s mother reappeared and asked if I was leaving. We had done nearly 6 hours of work with a lunch of peanuts, I figured we were done for the day. She didn’t seem so happy. Ask me how she was getting home. I relented and left her $ for transport back and even more $ to hire some people to help her finish the work over the next few days. (2,000 shillings- less than $1- is paid per basin of nuts harvested. I had managed about 1 per hour with several easily distracted kids helping me.)  I was hot, dirty and tired and don’t know if that was the right thing or not. Just today I got a call from her asking me to come back and pick her up. Clearly the money is gone. I don’t know when or how she is going to come back but her daughters are less stressed when she around so maybe she should just stay out there for a while. That is a terrible attitude but I feel so angry at her. 

Betty's mother. 
I guess I need to wrap up this whole post by asking for your prayers. Betty’s mother cares little for her children. They are from several different men who have nothing to do with them. She is with an entirely different man now. I have a hard time having compassion on her. She neglects her kids and leaves them with an abusive, alcoholic grandmother.  But I can’t even begin to put myself in her shoes. What she needed to do to survive. And she needs Christ just as much as everyone else, myself included. So I’m trying to be more intentional with her. She needs love. Please pray for both of us.

Little , 2 year old Benjamin might have been the hardest worker. The rest liked to just sit around. 
The weeds were taller than the boys. 
Philip making the soil soft enough to pull plants.

Pulling the nuts from the plant. 
Fire seared nuts for lunch. 

Building a fire to cook "lunch"