Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Raging River of Death and other stories.

Hello Everyone!

So in my last blog I told y’all that you wounldn’t hear from me for two weeks because I was going to Kapchorwa for ten days. Well, I went to Kapchorwa, and I met the family that I would be living with for a week, and they were great! So excited to have me in their home and so eager to feed me and love me! They are farmers that grow bananas to make matoke, maize (a kind of corn), coffee, and dairy cows. It was going to be a great week to work with them and really learn about rural lifestyle.

However, as you know I have been waging war against parasitic armies for the past week or so. Well, I thought I was winning… but then I started to feel very sick while I was with my family in Kapchorwa. By the time we got to eating dinner (around 8 that night) all the food they had graciously fed me just came right back out. And I mean all of it. I felt defeated. “The parasites have won,” I was thinking to myself. My family let me go to bed and I spent a restless night crying and praying and hoping my stomach would magically be healed by the morning and I could go on with the week. But that didn’t work. I woke up at dawn, journeyed to the pit-latrine (an unsuccessful venture as my body wasn’t given anything to digest the day before), and then came back to room and threw up again. Not that there was anything left in me to actually throw up.

So throughout the day my program directors came a few times to check on my and try and figure out what to do. But in my heart I knew I needed to leave and go get healthy somewhere! By late afternoon I was packed up and in the van, heading to the hotel where my directors were staying. The next day I journeyed back to Mukono to see a doctor and let my body rest for the week.

The good news of all of this is that the parasites are all dead! Hurray! However, the medication I was taking was so strong that it hurt my digestive system. That combined with not really eating all last week (due to the nausea I experienced from the medication) made me physically and emotionally crapped out. So I have been in Mukono since Sunday night, and am finally able to eat normally again and actually felt energetic this morning! I feel a little bit wimpy for leaving, but then I remind myself that it is important for me to be healthy in body and soul, and I am finally feeling that! Praise be to God!

So that’s the story for all who wanted it! Please keep praying that I will continue to get strong and healthy, and that parasites flee at the sight of me!!

Here are more pictures of what I have done by myself in Mukono, and to reassure you all that I really am alive and well.

This is the juice I found. I thought it might somehow make me more me again :)

It rained really hard yesterday. This is outside of the building (IMME Quarters) where I spend most of my time,

It was scary!!!!!

That's all for now!

Love to y'all!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Catching up on Photos

Here are some pictures! I will write an actual blog tomorrow to let y'all know why I am home and not in Kapchorwa as I told you. But do not fear, I am eating Cashews in safety and peace!

Left to right: Manny, Sam, Jill, Isaiah, and me. At the beginning of our voyage to Ssese. Happy, healthy, excited, and clean.

The men playing soccer...er....Football with a group of kids. So much fun. Later they jumped rope too!

So we wandered around the island that day and cam upon a school. And then we found this sign. it says "Mestration is a normal body activity." The men supported this notion :)

Lake Victoria and Ssese Island. Beautiful! The picture does not do it justice.

Brian, myself, and Manny, watching the sunset over Lake Victoria. My face is sunburned. Oops!

I forgot to mention Belleville in my blog! Belleville greeted us right off the ferry. It looked like he had been hit by a Boda Boda (Motorcycle) as some point because his head wasn't all there (literally speaking only). He got his name because that night we played a pirated version of monopoly (pictured above). One of the Chance cards said "Go Back Belleville." Yeah, that's all it said. And I don't think there was a Belleville on the board! So the next day when this dog was following us around we just kept saying "Go back, Belleville!" The name stuck, as did the dog. He was great, I think!

Tea...er....coffee and sodas and chips (aka french fries) on the shore of Lake Victoria. Very British, eh?

The meeting between my feet and Lake Victoria. Also the last picture taken before I was struck with illness!

On our way to Kapchorwa! Moose was waving at the people and trying to give his mom a heart attack!

This was in Luweero a couple weeks ago at a Compassion International Center. We played in the dirt :)

That's all I got for now. Love y'all! Have a good day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Hello Everyone!

This will probably be a long blog because the past several days have been so eventful! So be ready! Also I still haven't gotten pictures to post with this, so you will just have to trust that this is me and not some creeper who stole my identity on blogspot.

Ok, so this past weekend I took a trip that horror movies have been based on. 5 friends and I went to Ssese Island. Ssese is an island in Lake Victoria, kind of close to the Tanzanian border, but still in Uganda. We left Friday morning: Joy, Jill, Isaiah, Sam, Brian, and Manny. We took a taxi (i.e. a Ugandan “bus”) to Kampala where we got some food for the journey before meeting out private hire (i.e. an American taxi). Already we were all enjoying our trip and the moral was high. We passed around chocolate cereal and “fun-sized” bananas; Isaiah awkwardly offered food to the driver and we laughed at him.
When we got to the ferry station it dawned on us that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. We bought our 2nd class tickets and wondered if we would be sitting with the goats on the ferry. But it saved us 10,000 shillings (about $5) so we decided it was worth it. While we waited for the ferry the flat screen TV in the waiting room was showing American music videos. And let me tell you, American culture is sick. I was glad to board the ferry when it finally got there because I was just feeling awkward about Madonna making love on the TV to some young punks. Isn’t she an old woman now?

So the ferry; we didn’t sit with goats, we just sat on unpadded benches. We were all still super excited about our weekend trip and being on the water for 3 hours. The ferry ride passed with lots of reading and talking and laughing. Good times. When the ferry finally landed at Ssese Island our first goal was to find a place to stay. This was actually harder than we thought it would be. But we eventually found a man who said he would show us a place with rooms to stay in. So we followed him. This is when the horror movie would have started playing creepy music. We walked into this campsite with oddly colorful buildings randomly placed throughout, and weird polka music sounding from a randomly placed counter (maybe the bar?) where a white rasta man was rocking out to it. Then a strange looking polish lady who loved monopoly greeted us, along with her huge black Great Dane which looked like it had saddle sore on it’s back. You would think at this point we would have fled the scene, but we didn’t. She showed us a rooming option that we could afford and we were all thinking “Ok.” All except Manny. Manny was already walking away saying, “I am not staying here! The black guy always dies first!” We had agreed already that we wanted to stay together, so we politely told the polish lady that we might come back. The look she gave us was a combination of icicles and arrows on fire, and I’m pretty sure she attempted to curse us as we walked away. Luckily we all have the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, and Angles, and Manny to talk some sense into us.

So we wandered across the street to another resort-type place that looked way more normal. We even managed to convince them to give us a family sized room (enough beds for four people, and we would just squeeze in the other two) for $7.50 a night each. This also included breakfast! And Manny agreed that this place was ok. We were still convinced, however, that we were in a horror movie.

We fell asleep that night to Isaiah reading us some scripture, and then some of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. I fell asleep during that part, but I hear they then played the word association game until everyone fell asleep.

The next day we explored the island. We just walked around most of the day. In the late morning we ran into some kids playing football (i.e. soccer) and the four boys joined in the game while Jill and I chatted awkwardly with some of the girls. The football game evolved into a jump roping game, which was hilarious. And then we said goodbye to go hunt down some grub! On our way to find food we found a sign that said, “Menstruation is a normal body activity” and couldn’t help but get pictures with it.

We eventually found food, and then we wandered back to our room. Jill and I napped, bathed, and read for a while. Who knows what the boys were doing during this time. But we did meet up later and had chips (i.e. French fries), coffee and sodas while we watched the sun set over the island.

It was about an hour later, when it was dark, that we realized we needed dinner and our hotel place wasn’t going to be serving any dinner that night. “Well, I guess we have to go off-campus” someone said. So we did. Slowly and cautiously we wandered across a field to the nearby “town.” We walked into the first dinner place we could find, sat down and ordered up. Matoke and Gnut sauce (a staple food item anywhere in Uganda). We were all kinda freaked out, however, because it was dark and creepy. So we ate and then hurried back to our room. Or we would have it it wasn’t for the fireflies! I have never seen fireflied before, so we stopped in the field to look at them. And then Jill taught us a really fun game called “star-tripping” or star tipping, or star-spinning (whatever). What you do is you star at a star above you and spin for about 30 seconds, then someone shines a flashlight in your face and you fall over. Literally, you cannot stand up because you feel like the ground is going to hit you, or that you are going to be run over by a truck. It was funny. Siblings of mine, you should try this. So we were enjoying this and having fun when Brian stops us and says, “There’s a hippo over there.” We had been talking all weekend about how dangerous hippos are. So we took off running across the field towards the resort place. When we got there we all laughed and mentioned horror movies again.

Then some of us were tired (mainly Brian and I... we must be getting old). So we headed up to go to bed. I got ready for bed for a little bit when suddenly I needed to puke. It was sudden, and it was terrible. I made it to the toilet and up came all my dinner. When my stomach was empty and lay in my bed and started shivering with a fever. It was literally one moment I was fine and the next I wasn’t. All night I shivered with fever, sometimes sleeping, but most of the time awake. In the morning we had to catch the ferry at 8am. When I woke up Jill asked me how I felt. I answered, “Like I have to puke.” Then I got up and puked. Jill said she almost started laughing because it was so matter-of-fact when I said it.

Walking to the ferry was a challenge. I walked slowly and the others carried my stuff. We got to the ferry and claimed a table in first class (this means the seats were padded and there was a T.V. to watch). I was wearing 3 coats (everyone else was in t-shirts) and still shivering a shaking. I probably looked rather pathetic. An hour into the boat ride I was in the same state, so I asked Brian to call one of our program directors because I knew something was wrong. It was arranged that I would meet someone at The Surgery (not to have surgery, it’s just the name of the doctors office we go to in Kampala). The boat ride passed with me shivering, and everyone else watching Shema (look it up, one of the most amusingly bad movies ever made).

So by the time I got to the doctor’s office my fever had broken and I was doing a little better. I even drank a juice box! At the doctor they felt my tummy and asked awkward doctor questions, then they wanted some of my poop. The doctor handed me the smallest plastic tube with a little ice-cream spoon attached to the lid. I thought, “How am supposed to aim for that?” Also hoping I would have some poop in me. I went to the bathroom and managed to squeeze some out, and then I carefully used the ice-cream spoon to scoop it into the little container. I felt victorious to say the least! After about 20 minutes the doctor called me in again and announced, “You have parasites.” What? “Two of them. Giardia and Amoebas.” What? I know about Giardia, it is bad. You don’t want it. But I didn’t have any of the symptoms for it yet. But amoebas are also bad. Basically, don’t get parasites. Stay away from them.

I got the medication to kill the little buggers and then went home. I slept for a while, talked to my mom (Hi Mom!) and tried to eat a little dinner. But I still felt like shit (oops, sorry). Threw up some more before bed and my poor roommate Holly was kind enough to clean it up for me. It was bad. The next day I felt a little better and didn’t throw up my medication, so called for a ride to school. Probably a bad idea, but who can ever tell if an idea is a good one? Plus there was no one at home to talk me out of it and I was lonely. So I went, and basically lay on the couch all day and slept here and there. I waited around until evening time when I could get a ride home. But I started to deteriorate and ended up throwing up the 7 crackers I had kept down that day. I just told people to get me home. When I got home I went straight to bed and took some Dramamine to help me sleep. It doubled in the program because it also settled my stomach! I didn’t really get up until 1 the next afternoon. About 15 hours of sleep did wonders! I ate some rice and bananas and tea, and then I bathed. And then I was tired so I read for a while. But since then I have been doing pretty good! I think I am in the clear, finally, and hopefully most of the parasites are dead now.

K, that was a really long story. I totally understand if you didn’t want to read it all. But if you did congrats!

In other news, I am leaving this Friday to stay with a family in rural Uganda –Capachurwa (I don’t know how to spell it). So you won’t be hearing from me for another two weeks, probably. But I am sure I will have lots to tell y’all. Until then, have a great rest of October!

Love to all!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kids and Catholics and God is Good!

Hello Everyone!

Sorry this is a day later than usual. Sometimes life just happens.

This weekend I was in Luweero, a town in Uganda. On Saturday we got to go to a Compassion International center and play with 280 kids! At one point I was in a small room absolutely packed with little kids signing and dancing and basically making a mosh pit. Insane! But so fun!! We were in the room because it was raining hippos and elephants outside. I think we could have taken a shower in the downpour and been thoroughly cleaned be end, minus the red mud that would have been all over our feet.

The next day we went to a Catholic Mass. I have never been to a catholic church before, so I was really excited to get to go to one. I have been attending an Anglican church here in Mukono, which has been a very different experience. So I was expecting the Catholic church to feel a little similar (liturgical and formal etc.) but it was way different! First of all, the whole service was in Luganda, so I didn’t understand any of it. But the music was joyful and enthusiastic, and the bible readings were done by lots of different congregational members, from the old to the young. And the Priest who leads the church gave a sermon that was moving and engaging, though I didn’t understand the words. Overall, I loved this church experience. The people were also very welcoming and excited to have us there with them.

This week is going to be full of reading and writing papers (it already has been, in fact) so I need to keep this one short so I can get going on more of that stuff.

Keep up the prayers! And I love getting facebook comments or e-mails or whatever. Snail mail is really really slow, so I don’t recommend it.

Love to all!

Oh, and I will post pictures later. They are on my friends computer and the internet is kinda slow right now.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekend at the Nile

Greetings to All!

Well, it is another Monday in Africa and I am at school researching the reasons why Catholics and Protestants have bad relations. I am also sitting the open-air dinning hall drinking Milk-Tea and listening to Misty Edwards “Relentless” album.

Last week was a much better week than the two weeks before it. I think this was for a couple of reasons. The first being that I realized I was really tired of learning about Africa all the time, and I was really wanting to escape it somehow. I love Africa and love learning about it, but enough is enough and I needed a break. So I looked under my bed and lo and behold a copy of The Return of the King (3rd book of the Lord of the Rings series) was sitting there, asking to be read. So I have spent the last week in Middle Earth fighting against Sauron and his orcs. I also made the decision to not be stressed out about school any more. I was spending so much of my time figuring out what I was supposed to be learning and reading, and then trying to read it all, that I was always stressed and overwhelmed with it all. So I also stopped doing a lot of the readings for classes and instead have been reading for pleasure, and being available to be with people at school. And this has been fantastic! Because I feel more relaxed, less worried, and like I am really getting to know people. Hopefully at the end of this semester when I get my transcript I will still think this was a good idea.
(Brian and Manny)

Last Friday afternoon I traveled into Kampala with my friends Brian and Manny (pictured above) to go to a local artists studio and look at African paintings. I was a little nervous about this adventure, as I really don’t like big cities and often get left behind or lost, but Brain and Manny are probably some of the best people to be in a big city with. And I never felt left behind or lost or even like a burden. I just enjoyed the afternoon. I think, though, that by the end of the day I was pretty dehydrated because I was feeling bad. My body felt tired and just like it wasn’t working very well. I also hadn’t been eating well that day, or enough, so that could also have had to do with whatever was going on. When I got home I ate dinner and then went to bed, after downing a bottle of water, hoping sleep would cure whatever was ailing me. The next day we were leaving early to go white-water rafting on the Nile.

(A local artist painting a really cool elephant)

When I woke up in the morning I knew something was wrong because I sat up and immediately needed to puke. “Oh shoot, this will be a long day,” I thought to myself. I somehow made it to the bus that was taking us to Jinja, and then tried to sleep the rest of the ride there, hoping the sickness would pass and I could still go rafting. But it didn’t. And while everyone was getting ready to go out, I decided to not go and instead rest and sleep the day away at the resort where we were staying. This turned out to be the best decision I could have made, as after I heard about the rafting adventure I knew I would have hated it. The trip took people over class 4 and 5 rapids (the highest level is 6, I believe) and rafts often flipped and people would get sucked under the water for a while. No one got badly hurt, and it was actually pretty safe, but I would have hated it. Instead I spent the day reading and chatting with Kristin, a friend who also didn’t want to go rafting. So I had a really great weekend and just enjoyed the people I was with and the stories I got to hear about other people rafting.

(This is a grade 1 rapid, and it was a little scary looking to me)

(People also went bungee jumping... but I didn't)

We got home Sunday evening and now I am at school, working hard when I have to, and otherwise taking time to really invest in the people I am with. The Lord continues to reveal more of the reasons I am here, and continues to bless me and care for me when I am sick or tired. So thanks be to God!

(Look everyone, I am still alive!!!)

Prayer requests this week: that I will be attentive to what God has for me and enjoy it to it’s fullest, that I will continue to be open to friendships here, and that my body will continue to be healthy and in working order.

Love to all!