Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blown Eggs

We have been without internet for over a week, so I'm sorry for the delay in writing.

Just a short snippet today, and when I get the rest of my email read, I'll write some more about what has been going on.

Today, I took the kids to their weekly Bible study, but I took something with us that was new for all of us...

Blown eggs.

I'm pretty sure I remember blowing eggs with my mom when I was little, but to be at a party where everyone brought trays of blown eggs, was so interesting. I don't know if there was more than one reason for not hard-boiling them (like lack of refrigeration for some), but the reason we were asked to was because of the hostess. She makes egg-mobiles every year of her kids' egg artwork, and keeps them.

You can't do that with hard-boiled eggs. Eeew!

Anyway, I only saw one egg get broken during the whole process with 16 children, and the only downside I can see is that all of us will be having omelets for a week or more to use up all the "innards" that are stored in tupperware at our homes.

By the way, if you want to try it, wikipedia gives very simple instructions, and it was pretty easy. And in America, you get the added benefit of NOT having to scrub the chicken poo off before you put your mouth to it :)

Bleach is a great thing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pierced Ears

Parents have all sorts of reasons for piercing or not piercing their daughter's ears when they are born, but I'll bet you've never had a reason like my friend Alice.

I went to her house again today (Sunday, March 21) because I had been gone a few days to Murchison Falls, and I wanted to check in with her and see if she needed anything. She did, in fact, need a couple of things, and I was glad to take them to her. She lives about a 15-minute walk from here up the hill behind my house, so the girls and I went after Doug got back from his 5 and a half hour bike ride this morning. As a side note, Doug is going to be ready to ride with Lance Armstrong after all this "training."

As a side note, he and three guys went out to far-away villages to talk to people who weren't in church today. They had great success finding people who were very interested in what they had to share (testimonies and Bible stories), and they plan on returning next week. One boy who saw Doug was afraid. Through an interpreter, Doug discovered that the boys there (and maybe in all villages?) had been told that white people eat children (as an old wives' tale passed down), and Doug was the first white person he had seen up-close.

Back to the ear piercing…

Alice had pierced Sarah's ears the day before with a needle and run a thread through the hole. There was now a small loop of thread tied in each ear.

My girls were curious and were asking "why the string?" After they ran off to play, Alice told me that babies are stolen here in Arua for sacrifices, but "they" won't take a baby that has its ears pierced because "blood has already been drawn from it, and it no longer has fresh blood."

So basically, her reasons for piercing Sarah's ears had to do with life and death. Interesting, huh?

Speaking of life and death…

On my way to town this afternoon, after visiting Alice, I stopped and talked with our LC (I don't know what that stands for, but she is an elected official for the area I live in). We chatted and talked about the day and the upcoming storm (which I did NOT beat, by the way, on my trip to get groceries).

As I was leaving, she said, "Oh, by the way, I am going to be coming door-to-door again asking for a 5000 shilling donation ($2.50) for a night patrol I have hired. I guess you have been hearing the gun shots?"

"Huh, no."

"Oh, yes, there have been gun shots and much thievery. We have buried 6 or 7 people in the last month."

"Oh?" I'm sure my face was not hiding my thoughts at this point.

"Anyway, I am paying a patrol to walk our streets, and I am asking for contributions."

"Here you go. I've got 5000 shillings right here. Thank you so much. (Awadifo!)"

About Nursing

>A couple of thoughts.

When we went to see Alice in the hospital, a friend with me was trying to convince Alice about the benefits of letting the baby latch on before the milk comes in. Of course, Alice had never heard of colostrum, but she took my friends advice and let Sarah latch on.

I was told by another friend that as soon as we left, Alive promptly took the baby off, and said, "That hurts. I will wait until the milk comes in." It makes me appreciate the lactation specialists in the States all the more, and I wish there was one here for these ladies. All the ladies in the maternity ward here let their babies cry while waiting for their milk to come in.

The second enlightenment I had came two days after the baby was born when I made a home visit to see Alice. She was talking to me about wanting to nurse a lot so her stomach would go down again. And she does nurse a lot. Anytime the baby makes a noise, she "gives" her milk.

I empathized with her, and told her I was still trying to get my stomach down. There are just some things that are totally cross-cultural!

Anyway, she told me, "You should drink the lemons off your tree."

I said, "Lemon water?"

She said, "You know, lemon in the water with the sugar."

I said, "Lemonade?"

She said, "Yes. I worked with another mundu before, and after she had her baby, she drank lemonade and she got very skinny."

I'm thinking, "Since when does lemonade make you skinny?"

So I asked another person about this lady that Alice used to work for, and apparently, she was one of those very blessed American women with good genes who lose the baby weight and are down to a size 2 three weeks after the baby is born.

Alice based here theory about lemonade off of this woman and she believed it!

Imagine ladies! Drinking lemonade can make you skinny.

Two days later I had my watchman pick four lemons off my tree and I made lemonade. I'm thinning up already…or could it be that I walk a mile to town to do my grocery shopping. You decide.

Murchison Falls

Before I begin on these short descriptions, let me say that I loaded these pictures up in a different way, and I didn't know what order they would come out in. So if they seem disjointed, it's because they are...

One of many beautiful acacia trees (above).

The kids hopped off the boat so I could get a picture of them with the Falls behind them.

Just a picture of my "wild animals" with the Nile behind them.

I showed this picture to some Lugbara people, and they laughed and laughed. First of all, many of the people here have never seen the beautiful animals of their country, so the pictures I showed them were incredible to them. The ladies I showed this to got the biggest kick because the baboon carries her baby on her back just like the ladies here do. They loved seeing it.

Emmanuel let all three of my kids help him drive the boat on our two hour boat trip down the Nile.

Murchison Falls coming down in a zig zag through the rocks.

So many! These are Rothschild Giraffes. The males get darker and darker as they get older. You can see the male pretty clearly here. Below is a picture, albeit far away, of a male who is almost totally black with gray hair by his ears! Can you squint to see him? He was pretty far off, but he looked cool in the binoculars!

I think there are more hippos in the park than anything. She is just one of MANY!

Kylie taking her turn at the helm.

And Karis..

People rarely see lions in the park, and we were blessed to see one male and 4 females the first day and this beautiful lioness up close the second morning. Amazing creatures!

A tiny deer called an oribi. I have more pictures but they are on Doug's computer, and I haven't gotten them off yet. Maybe I'll post more later. It was a lot of fun, and the kids had a blast.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Laboring in Africa

This post is not about what you think.

It’s truly about laboring…as in woman in labor, having child.

My house worker called last Sunday to say she was having much pain and was in the hospital. Doug had biked 20 miles to church, and I didn’t expect him until 4pm, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to drag three kids into a maternity ward in Africa.

After waiting a few hours, I decided to go…kids and all.

For the first time ever, for me, I rode on a piki (motorcycle) with three children. So if you can picture this, Caleb in front, Karis behind him, then the driver (God bless that man), then Kylie straddled, then me, straddled in a dress because I couldn’t fit side-saddle.

We made it to the hospital, and I paid him well over the “going rate.”
Out in the yard of the hospital were many people, friends and families of patients. They come and stay at the hospital with their admitted loved ones. They bring them sheets, food, water, mosquito nets (only sometimes), and anything else the patient might need because the hospital provides nothing but the medical care, and THAT leaves something to be desired, as well.

So out in the yard, we found the husband who spoke English and the grandmother who didn’t. The husband told us the nurses were being quite forceful about people going in, so he said he would text when the baby came.

No problem.

We walked to a nearby “cafĂ©,” and had chips (French fries) and bottled drinks to wait for the text.

After much time, I texted the woman in labor, Alice, to tell her I spoke with her husband and that we would go home, wait for the call, and come back when the baby was born.

Alice called me in what I’m sure was the middle of a contraction and she told me to come see her.

When I returned, there was no one to leave the kids with in the hospital yard, so the husband led me and all three kids into the hospital.

The rooms to my right and left, as we walked in, were beds filled with women who had already given birth and were sitting around topless waiting for the next feeding. Lovely.

We weaved our way back into “labor and delivery.”

It was a big open room with green curtains along the right and left walls. Horrible noises were coming from both sides. In the middle of the room were mats with people sitting on them. Again, these were family members sitting, waiting, and watching all their belongs and food that they had brought.

The grandmother who spoke no Engish, motioned for me to sit on the mat beside her and wait.

So here we are sitting in a cold, cement room with a Lugbara-speaking grandmother, a smiling new father-to-be and several other people waiting on different loved ones. No one is saying a word, and all you can hear are screams and groans.

I can only imagine what was going on in my childrens’ heads.

Out from one of the curtains came Alice. Sweaty, not smiling, and looking rough – most of you know what I’m talking about.

She wanted me to pray for her because “I am paining much,” she said.

I prayed a very direct and short prayer because I didn’t know when another contraction might hit.

It must have been right around the corner because when I said, “Amen,” she turned and headed back for the curtain.

I hurried the children back out into the yard, and after wishing the husband well, I stopped under a tree to de-brief the children.

I wondered if they had questions, concerns, etc.

That was a pretty quick conversation, and then we got on a piki, all four of us again (different guy), and headed home.

Shortly before 4, Alice herself called to say that she had a baby girl. I told her I would come as soon as Doug got home.

Doug arrived soon, and as I was heading out, all the kids said they wanted to come, too. I didn’t mind. Doug looked like he could use some rest after his 20 mile ride, so we walked to a friend’s house, got another adult, and we headed back to the hospital. This time we split up the kids with two adults on two pikis.

I know this story is long, so instead of giving all the other particulars (which are good, mind you), I’ll just cut to the chase.

We got to see Alice in her “private room.” She had paid extra NOT to stay in the big open room with all the women (picture youth camp sleeping conditions, but more flesh showing). My friend asked about the room rates, and Alice said it was 5000 shillings! People of America, that is about $2.50 for a PRIVATE room!

I only wanted to make you jealous for a minute, but don’t be!

The room had a twin bed, a small window not letting in any air, room on the floor for a mat for her grandmother to sleep on, and that is IT! It was smaller than prison cells you see on TV. There was 2 feet on either end of the twin bed, which had one of its long sides up against one wall, and only 4 feet of space between the bed and the other wall. It was basically a hot box, but I don’t blame her for paying for it. I would have taken that over “camp” conditions any day.

The nursing story will have to wait for another day, but I promise not to forget.

We are headed to Murchison Falls on a safari for 2 days, but I will write when we return.

Crunchy Breakfast

This morning, we were eating hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, and to my left I heard a loud crunching noise. It struck me as odd, since hard-boiled eggs are about the quietest thing you can eat for breakfast, so I turned to look.

Yep, my son was chewing on egg shells, and smiling the whole time he was doing it because he liked the sound.

I said, “Please spit those out into the bowl.”

He said, “Why?”

I said, “Because they came out of a chicken’s rear end.”

Come to think of it, is there any better reason than that?

Can egg shells be good for you if they are appropriately cleaned?

THAT, my friend, is a question for my dad, the veterinarian.

Sowing Seeds

Going to town today, I got to practice a lot of my language. I paid the electric bill, water bill, bought chapattis, purchased food in the market only using Lugbara, shopped in the grocery store, and …
I finally made it to the seed store. I bought seeds for tomatoes, green peppers, lettuce, cabbage, okra, zucchini, onion, and cucumber. So maybe when we get back from 40/40, I won’t be making as many trips to the market each week (although I do like talking with the ladies there)!

Now all we need is for my mom to send us some jalapeno seeds, and we’ll be set.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Murchison Falls, Take 1

Well, we were blessed in a different way this week.

We were supposed to take our two days away this Thursday and Friday and travel to Murchison Falls to the game reserve, but a blessing fell from the sky…literally.

Some of our leadership visited Arua last week, and after a visit to our home and seeing some improvements that could be made, offered the help of a fellow “handyman” missionary who lives in southern Uganda.

Today (Wednesday) this gentleman flew to Arua, and he is taking our list of to-do’s for the house, and knocking them out one-by-one. He will be here until Saturday. So I am gladly going to reschedule our two days away for another time.

I think I am getting a shelf and towel racks in the kitchen; towel racks (they have to be made and then hung) for both bathrooms; a shower curtain rod for my shower (also has to be made) and something at the base of the shower that will keep the water from getting all over the bathroom floor when I use it (my watchman is breaking up rocks so that we can mix it with concrete for the job); a work bench and storage shelves in the garage; shelves in the newly finished laundry room; and a make-over for some book shelves that are here.

I’m guessing we will run the generator so that tools can be used. That means fans can be used and the water heater can be turned on!! Although my kids won’t notice. They will be out catching termites, playing capture the flag, or making crafts with sticks, flowers, and leaves.

Nevertheless, the elephants and lions will have to wait.


Now, back to the no electricity story. It’s Wednesday, and still no fuel truck from Mombasa. So still no power.

Remember my refrigerator is electric, so basically, we are eating food quickly or losing it. Running the generator three hours at night is just enough to save the freezer, not the fridge.

What I realized yesterday is that we aren’t eating the food fast enough. I pulled out zucchini last night to use up the end of it, and liquid ran down my skirt. Eeeww.

If that wasn’t enough, I decided to cut off the “runny” end, and worms were everywhere inside, having a feast. The cold would have at least slowed them down, but the hot box made great feasting for them.

I think the rest of the leftovers in the fridge will automatically see the trash pile out back without a glance. Goodbye watermelon! So long, guacamole!

“Everybody hates me. Nobody likes me. I’m gonna eat some worms. Big fat juicy ones, long, skinny, slimy ones…” (I forgot the end of the song, but it was just to make you smile anyway).

National Woman’s Day

Monday, March 8th, was National Woman’s Day in Uganda.

Our language tutor texted 10 minutes before class to let us know she wasn’t coming. The holiday was calling her name, apparently.

There was a big parade in town. Schools were closed, and…no electricity came on. I was thinking the “guys” at the electric facility decided to take “Woman’s” Day off. I didn’t find out until Tuesday that the power plant had run out of fuel again, and instead of having an order en route preparing for when they would run out. They ran out first, and THEN ordered more from…Mombasa, Kenya. A good three days or more away ☺ (I’m smiling through gritted teeth, if you can’t tell).

Back to Woman’s Day.

Our watchman took off early to go cook dinner for his wife. That is apparently one of the “benefits” of Woman’s Day – the husbands cook dinner for their wives. My house worker also told me that if your husband beats you on National Woman’s Day, you can report him to the police, and he will get in VERY bad trouble. Apparently, the rest of the year, you are out of luck.

I can’t believe it!

I was hearing the “termite song” last Sunday, only to realize it was coming from my front yard!

My children decided THEY would sing the termite song, set traps, and catch termites.

Thankfully, that’s where it stopped.

After they caught them, they took them outside the gate and gave them to the boys outside who had their own traps set.

Whew! That was close. I thought my three were going to have an afternoon snack.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A sampling of what got me questioned...

Wanna play a round of golf?

I walked to town today instead of taking a piki, and I'm so glad I did. I had my camera, so I decided to take pictures of the golf course. I've wanted to do this for a long time, but there was no way I was taking my hand off the back of the motorcycle each time to snap some photos.

The golf course makes me smile. I did actually see someone playing one time, but these pictures show you what I see nearly every day. The first picture, if you look closely at the top third of the photo, you can see the end of a "cattle drive" across the course. Some boys were taking their cows to a different "pasture."

Also, since this nice little stream runs through it, there are women washing clothes here EVERYDAY and "hanging" them out to dry on the grass. The grass is tall and thick enough for them to lay out a lot of clothes, which they usually do. Which brings the question: How could you find a golf ball in grass like that?

The last golf course picture was taken just to prove that someone does cut some of the grass shorter in places. I guess this has to be a tee box or a green. On second thought, someone could have just tethered a goat in the center and let him eat the surface area. It does look kind of circular...

This was my view as I walked into town, and the last picture I took before I got questioned...

I'm sure the police officer wanted to know what was so special about these pictures.

Why would an American girl take a picture of a golf course or a city road? Don't they have those in America? If he only knew...


I walked to town today, and on the way, I decided to take some pictures for you and my family, so you could see small parts of Arua.

Thankfully, I still have them on my camera, and I will post them although I know you don't believe me because I never got the termite video loaded (but I am going to visit a high-speed internet connection one day).

Anyway, walking down main street, I took a couple of photos of people on the side of the road and on the road. All of a sudden, to my left, a policeman touched my arm and asked me to follow him. We turned back up the street and entered a gated area.

Inside the gated area, I was asked to sit in a chair that was by a desk in a little watch tower while another guy padlocked the gated area shut. He wanted to know what I was taking pictures of, so I told them I was taking pictures for my mom so she could see where I lived. He wanted to see.

I showed him the golf course, the scenery, the people, and then I said, "I did not take a picture of your police station." He said, "This is not a police station. This is a bank. The bank of Uganda."

I assured him I didn't take any pictures of the bank, and after seeing all the proof, he said I could go. I thanked him in Lugbara, and all the men (the four who had gathered around my digital) laughed. I then answered some more of their questions in Lugbara, and they were thrilled. So they quickly took the padlock off and let me go.

I walked like nothing had happened down to the Chinese grocery store to buy some milk, water bottles and a bar of soap. On the way home, I walked to the woman's ward of the hospital and I handed out water and prayed with everyone in the room. All the beds were full, and there was not a nurse in sight caring for anyone. In case you've never seen a "hospital room" in Africa, it is one large room with as many beds as they can fit. This room had about 20. I ran out of water before I made it around the room, so I just prayed with the ones that were left. I would ask their name and speak what little Lugbara I know.

One lady who spoke English knew I had no more water but she wanted something else from my market bag. I told her I had milk, and she said she would take it (of course). Then I walked to a lady and prayed with her. She started telling me something, but I didn't understand. Another translated with one word: soap.

She wanted soap.

I told her that God had me buy soap just for her, and even though she didn't understand me, I had to say it out loud because I was so overjoyed.

What are the chances that my son would have accidentally knocked my washing soap bar down the toilet earlier that week?

What are the chances I would have soap in my bag?

Pretty good, I'd say.

I had asked God to meet people's needs through me today, and I had asked Him to lead me where He wanted me to go.

It was a good morning. I'll take being questioned by the police any day as long as it can end up like this one.

I saw you this week

Yes, I saw everyone of you.

I was in the used clothes market in downtown Arua.

Clothes are shipped here in bundles (tied up like a square bale of hay) from the States and Europe, and they are all from Goodwill-type outlets. I saw every football team imaginable represented, even local high school teams. There was "First Baptist this" and "Such and such Recognized Elementary school for "here"; there were tons of dresses, skirts, pants, and all the ring-around-the collar business shirts you could want. There was even a Texas A&M Football shirt.

I could see all of you hanging up all over the market, and it made me smile.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Did I mention?

**Did I mention we get “2 days away” each month, but I don’t know where we would go. Congo? Sudan? The nearest decent city in Uganda is 8 hours away.

We are planning our first “2 days away” for next week. We are going to Murchison Falls Game Reserve. It is only 2 hours away, but it can be very expensive. It caters to tourists who have the money to spend on safaris. Anyway, we figured that while we are in Africa, we should see some animals, so we are going to bite the bullet this time, and then next month, we might just stay at our home and tell people we are “away.”

**Did I mention that our crate is officially in-route. This is good news, although I don’t know if that means “Atlantic Ocean in-route” or “Houston ship channel in-route.” I’ll keep you updated.

**Did I mention that on April 20th, we will be leaving Arua and not returning until June 7th. It is really going to hurt our language training process, but it is unavoidable.

We will be attending a safari-type training called 40/40 in Lusaka, Zambia, for 30 something of those days. Then we will take a quick 3 or 4-day jaunt down to Victoria Falls. We figured since we were close, we should see it before flying back to Uganda.

Once we return to Uganda, we have some medical appointments in Kampala for Caleb (his four-year old shots) and some immunization updates for Doug and me plus we will re-stock for Arua.

But wait…there’s more. We will stay in Kampala until June 3rd, which is when our sub-cluster’s prayer retreat starts in Jinja.

All of that is to say, if you need communication during that time, it will be nearly impossible until I return to Kampala, and more than likely, I will not be able to facebook or tell anyone “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary” during that time except my daughter, who will be with me on her special day.

**Did I mention we got a package?

Our first package!!

My sister-in-law, Courtney, was really on the ball, and she sent out a package for Valentine’s Day. It left the US on February 8th and arrived in my hands on March 3rd. Not bad! It may have even been here sooner…let me explain.

One of our college guys, Evan, went to the post office today to mail something, and the man there said, “I think you have packages.” (Our whole team of 19 shares the same post office box). The man looked in several places and kept finding packages. When all was said and done, Evan walked out with NINE packages. No telling how long some had been there, and unless you think we hadn’t been in a while, that is not the case. I believe someone checks every day.

The sad part for some is that they are still waiting on Christmas presents that have not arrived. There were a few boxes mailed in November that have YET to make it. I’ve heard that bubble envelopes or the pre-set priority mail-boxes get here quickest, but I have no proof.

My kids each quickly picked out a flavor to put in their Nalgene bottle and had fun trying the different ones. They also had fun seeing their homemade Valentine cards from cousins, Bryce and Mia. Thanks guys. Your cards did make it to Africa!

The pipe cleaners disappeared to be made into “experiments,” and I quickly confiscated the scotch tape, so I could pass out “healthy portions” when needed. It’s okay here to scotch tape things to the walls (I imagine you sucking in huge amounts of air here). Now that we have tape, Kylie and Karis decided to decorate their rooms today. They did a fine job, and I still think we have tape left.

Things like scotch tape and zip lock bags will not be taken for granted anymore. I wash zip locks every day to be re-used and shed a tear when they get too worn to use anymore. Thankfully, I have more coming in the crate…