Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monty What? This is NOT a British comedy!

When getting ready to post the next e-mail update we made from Uganda, I realized it was everyone's favorite story. Now I look back and laugh, but at the time it was so NOT funny.

Then while checking out the news online this morning, I saw this story that has to do with someone else's not so fun experience.

Which brought to mind what happened shortly after we left Uganda. Several of the single Ugandan ladies on staff moved into our old house and one of them had tethered a baby goat to the porch. They heard some serious bleating and ran out to find said baby goat being swallowed by a big ole python. This happened AT OUR HOUSE, as in WHERE WE LIVED for almost a year!

So for those with serious snake phobias, read no further. For the following is a disturbing account of my up-close-and-personal encounter with the biggest slithery creature to ever cross my path. Literally.

August 10, 2001
I was in a hurry, so I took the car instead of walking over to secondary side to see Steve and Sally. I’d just turned onto the drive that leads back to their house when I saw a log across the road.

You know how sometimes one thought is followed by another and another, so rapidly you’re left reeling?

In the course of about ten seconds, I see this log but then immediately think, “Boy, it’s a funny color for a log.” And that was followed by, “The log is moving!” And finally the realization, “Oh my goodness, it’s a SNAKE!!!”

A really BIG snake. The head was already in the bushes on the right hand side of the road and the tail still in the bushes on the left. Now the road is probably 14-16 feet wide so you do the math! And the beast was at least 10” around.

I just stopped the car, in shock, heart racing faster than I thought possible. Boy, was I ever glad I was IN MY CAR and not walking. The python quickly slithered across and disappeared into the dense bush. Shaking in my Reboks, I released the brake and gunned the car forward, kicking up some serious dust.

I raced back home, ran in to tell Ivan and Tina about my scary experience, expecting some modicum of comfort. But did I find any? NO! Ivan wanted to rush out and hunt it down. Tina couldn’t understand why I didn’t just run it over. (Duh! I didn’t want to hurt the car – after all, it isn’t even ours. And that snake was a big sucker. I’m sure it would have bent something on the car if I’d tried to run it over. After all, doesn't she remember hearing about Chondia and the python? Chondia's the strongest person we know; he can carry a 30 gallon container of water, for goodness sake! And he hit a python as hard as he could with a metal hoe and the hoe simply bounced off the snake's back without even making a dent!) Both of them were upset that they didn’t get to see it, and neither of them expressed any concern over my tender feelings!

And it didn’t make me feel any better when I learned that it was probably a pregnant python because of its size (normal pythons are apparently only 4” around). Oh goody, that means there will soon be even more pythons slithering around on secondary side.

Less than two months in Africa and my first snake sighting. Hope it’s my last!

So this isn't the python I saw, but it could definitely be its cousin!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Love Writing Thank Yous!

Today I caught up on thank yous.

For over three years we used the extremely nice cards from our mission agency with their very cool logo done in tone-on-tone gray. Simple but elegant.

Then a fellow missionary appointee showed me the cards she makes on the computer, using pictures from the country where they'll be working. What a great idea! Hubby thought so, too, and he spent a lot of time looking for beautiful scenic shots.

I've always enjoyed writing thank yous, but now it's even more fun. Every time I print a card to use, seeing the city of Carlos Paz on the front makes me smile. Every time :-)

'Cause the thank yous are to people who are helping us get closer to Carlos Paz. Every card is for someone who has given and prayed for the ministry. And that's why I love writing thank yous!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Continuing Saga of Our Year in Uganda

I was up late working on a small wall quilt that will be a housewarming gift to dear friends. Using a technique from Simply Quilts on HGTV, it was sort of like putting a puzzle together. Also got a little more done on the African memory quilt for my daughter. Really enjoyed my quiet weekend at home even if I am sick :-)

It's been almost three weeks since I posted one of my old e-mail updates from Uganda. Too busy following the current Uganda posts by the Compassion bloggers! I've especially enjoyed their videos and the chance to hear again the African cadence in the way the Ugandans speak and sing. I'd forgotten the way they say "Cali, cali" with such frequency and that particular, steady beat of drums to all the music.

But now I'm ready to resume the e-mail updates. At this point we had been in Uganda just over a month and this was our 4th e-mail update:

August 2001
This past week just flew by! There was so much going on...
On Friday the Hillsdale team arrived with our suitcase and medicine. We were happy to see them! I used my cookbook right away and the chocolate chips came in handy on Monday when I made cookies for a dessert buffet/going away party for the Kilgores.

When I paid my laundry helper on Friday she went and got a young boy to translate for her. First she asked for an advance because her children were sick. I didn't have any extra to give her, and had also been warned that wasn't a good idea. I told her she could go to the office and ask for some help, because they set aside part of their budget to help people in the community. The money must be repaid, but there's no interest. Then she said she wanted a raise. I said I would talk to my husband. Ivan and I asked Gertrude, the pastor's wife, what to do. She oversees the workers and mediates whenever there are problems. She said not to give a raise. They have problems when the muzungus (whites) pay too much and the Ugandan staff cannot pay as much and have a hard time finding help. When Isa arrived for work on Monday I told her that we would not be giving a raise and she seemed okay with that. I think she was just seeing if we could be "squeezed" for more. No harm in trying!

There was a baptism on Saturday. Dozens of us walked or rode about a mile to the dairy farm, and the baptism was held in one of the cow ponds. About halfway through the service, the cows decided to head back to the barn. We were in their path, but they just meandered around us. Part of the pastor's prayer was that none of the participants would be affected (or infected?) by anything in the pond. I'm sure those involved added hearty "amens!" to that :-) Over 40 were baptised.

Sunday we had a heavy thunderstorm in the afternoon. Ivan and Tina had gone to the guest house to visit with the Hillsdale team while lunch was cooking and they came back soaked. I thought they'd gotten caught in the rain, but learned they had indulged in a massive water fight instead.

I've already mentioned the goodbye party for Kilgores. That was so much fun! About 50 of us crowded into a not-so-big space. We enjoyed a wonderful dessert buffet with cookies, cakes, pies, sweet breads and plenty of soda to drink (although it was room temperature and not cold). Then Bill, who is from North Dakota, sang a few country gospel songs. The Ugandan staff loved it! And then they launched into some Lugandan and English choruses, accompanied by plenty of clapping and stomping since we didn't have drums. We ended with an "appreciation" time, which is common here, an opportunity to tell departing workers what their ministry has meant.

Tina spent all day Monday and Tuesday in Kiwoko with missionary kids who wanted to get their hair done in those itty bitty braids before leaving on furlough. The girl with really short hair decided to get hair extensions. It took 9 hours on Monday and another 4 on Tuesday to finish hers! I don't think I'd be patient enough. The other girl's hair was long enough to do alone and they added beads to hers. Tina decided to get hers done as well, but didn't like it at all and took it out when she got home. BUT I got a picture of her first!

They traveled back and forth on boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) and bought chipotis and Cokes for snacks in town. (By the way, have you ever ridden a motorcycle side saddle? It's necessary here since we always wear dresses.) The beauty salon is actually just a cement shack of sorts, with no running water or any of the usual salon accompaniments we think are necessary in America. Tina described how one lady who had come in to get her hair relaxed had to get on her hands and knees with her head over a basin while they poured a bucket of water over her head to rinse out the solution.

Babies typically go naked the first few years, except maybe a belt of beads. Tina loves kids, of course, and played with the beautician's little girl. Unfortunately for Tina, potty training is also not done until they're much older either, so little Gloria kept soo-sooing (the Ugandan phrase for going potty) on Tina. Taking a shower was the first thing on Tina's agenda when she got home :-)

With an unhealthy diet of chipotis (fried bread) and Cokes, I wasn't too surprised when Tina got sick Tuesday night. But when her temperature shot up, I was concerned and spoke to the nurse. She recommended we get a malaria test just to be on the safe side. Thankfully, the test came back negative but it did give us our first experience at Kiwoko Hospital. By Ugandan standards, the hospital is really quite impressive, with a full lab where any number of tests can be run, and an operating theatre, maternity ward as well as small houses where women from far away can come and stay until they deliver, a TB ward... The hospital was started by Dr. Ian Clarke, who wrote about his adventures -- and misadventures -- in a book called "The Man with the Key Has Gone!" The book does a wonderful job of describing the people and place, and is really a fun book to read.

We arrived at the same time as a team from Iowa, who spent one week here before going on to additional work projects in other parts of Uganda. We had thought it would be nice to buy several of their solar shower bags, but didn't think it would be possible since they would need them for the remainder of their time here. But Wednesday the leader of the team showed up, and we learned he's staying another month. And he had heard that we would like some of the shower bags, so he gave us three! I danced a jig I was so happy :-) I think I mentioned that while we have indoor running cold water, we don't have hot. The water does warm up some in its tank in the attic, but not that much. As Tina says, the showers aren't bad once you catch your breath -- about the time you're finishing! So we count it a special blessing to have received these solar bags.

Yesterday was an interesting day. Ivan and Mark left at 3:30 a.m. along with Jonah, Haji and Rukundo. This was the third or fourth trip they've made, trying to help Jonah get a VISA for England. He's been invited to go for a month of specialized training by a company that builds boats. If you think U.S. bureaucracy is bad!... they have nothing on the British. It is necessary to be in line by 5:00 a.m. even though the Embassy doesn't open until 8:00. But, at least this time Jonah actually got to talk with someone, turn in all his paperwork, and get an appointment to finalize the VISA. He had to go back this morning, but this should be the last trip (we hope). Haji and Rukundo just went along for the ride.

Bill took a bunch of us into Kampala later in the morning. We dropped off shopping lists and visited the Arts & Crafts Village. As we turned into the shopping district, the clutch on Bill's vehicle went out. He got it going enough to get to the Arts & Crafts Village, where we met up with the Ivan and the others and they diagnosed the problem. Of course we didn't have any of the necessary tools. We ended up spending almost three hours there while they fixed the car in the parking area. Then we were able to drive the Kilgores to Entebbe for their flight to the U.S.

But that wasn't the end of our "adventure". We're using the Kilgore's vehicle while they're on furlough. Not long ago they got some bad diesel that had water in it. It was causing the car to sputter to a stop periodically and we'd have to pull over and wait a while. This happened about 4 times from Entebbe to Kampala. Once Ivan tried bleeding the water out of the fuel filter, but that didn't really help. The fun part was getting through Kampala during rush hour traffic. Sure enough, the car stalled in the middle of the one busiest roundabouts, causing frustration on our part and many others! But we eventually made it through town, stopping long enough to pick up the groceries, and made it home right as dark was settling, with about 7 sputtering stops along the way. At least we got home in one piece! While Bill is in Kampala today with Jonah, he is going to get the part Ivan thinks we need to take care of the problem. And the Kilgores had already arranged for Setuba to do some work on it as well.

Ivan is trying to get oriented today while he still has his foreman, Willy, to help him. Willy leaves for England tomorrow and will be gone a month. This evening and tomorrow we will be moving into our house across the way. It will be very good to be settled into our own place, where we can unpack everything. By the end of the month we'll have three solar panels (brought one, borrowed one, buying another) and Ivan has invested in three deep cell batteries to store the power. It is going to be SO nice to have enough light to read after dark (which occurs at 7:00 p.m. since we're on the equator).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Caught between the promise and what I know"

Yes, home on Sunday. 'Cause I'm sick. Just thankful that I got sick on a weekend we didn't have meetings scheduled. Hubby's re-visiting some churches we've been to before but it isn't so critical that I be along. Good thing since I'm probably highly contagious at this point.

So I'm sitting at home, tissues and cough drops by my side, snuggled up with my blanket and laptop. A link over at Rocks In My Dryer led me to youtube videos by Sara Groves. Can't sing for coughing myself, but am sure enjoying listening to Sara! My own private little worship service :-) The song that really touched my heart and made me cry was this one:

That's often how I feel, "caught between the promise and what I know" while understanding that "the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I've learned, and those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned".

Scary place, right at the edge of making a major life change. Sara sings that "familiar things are never easy to discard". How totally true!

And I love, love, love how she ends the song. "Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?"

In this song Sara has encapsulated what I feel. And this morning I am blessed, chastened and challenged as I listen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Memory Quilt Progressing

This memory quilt business is stretching me! Not being the most creative person, I am most comfortable following patterns or someone else's directions. But now I am "flying by the seat of my pants".

Because of this, I'm finishing up a secondary smaller memory quilt for my daughter. Because I still haven't figured out how I want to do the background and after several false starts I decided to finish off one of the attempts but on a smaller scale. Hence, a quilt for my daughter (who'd been lobbying for one anyway).

I still don't know how hers is going to end up either. I'm playing with ideas. What I do know: (1) She'll have a small African continent made from woven bark cloth and green fabric; (2) She'll have a stylized African woman in black silhouette; (3) She'll have several 3" to 4" batiks pieced into the background; (4) Her background is very colorful with oddly shaped strips of rich jewel-tone fabrics; and (5) There will be dimensional objects -- I'm just not sure what they'll be!

I'm having a lot of fun but admit it's kinda stressful doing this without a master plan. But I've spent six years paralyzed by indecision over this! I knew when we came back from Uganda that I wanted to do a memory quilt. But I just haven't been able to decide on a design. Finally I realized it was necessary to DO MORE THAN ONE! What a concept :-)

The bloggers who went to Uganda with Compassion have inspired me with their stories, photos and videos. I'd started working on the quilt before, but I think it's progressing a lot faster because of what I've been viewing online in the past week.

And my quilting buddies have helped, too, as we brainstorm possibilities each Tuesday. I really appreciate that they join me on days as cold as it was today! We're all working on different projects and it's just fun hanging out while we work. These ladies are such a HUGE blessing!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Beef & Rice Good Stuff

It's time for Saturday Stirrings over at It Coulda' Been Worse. Since I'm all about haute cuisine, this week I'm going to offer "Beef & Rice Good Stuff". It's a family favorite and EASY to make! This is not a fussy recipe at all. It goes together pretty quick and with a salad makes a meal. And if your kids won't eat salad? Try apple sauce as a side.

Beef & Rice Good Stuff

1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1/3 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 16 oz can peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 c. long grain rice
2-1/2 c. chicken or beef broth (we prefer the beef)
salt and pepper to taste
In large skillet, combine beef, onions and garlic. Cook until beef is no longer pink, stirring to break up the meat. Drain any accumulated fat (we use really lean beef so there isn't any).
Add peppers and mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce and tomatoes and cook until most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in rice and broth. Simmer, partially covered until liquid is absorbed and rice is soft, stirring occasionally, about 20-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

*** Now my kids liked vegetables but for those whose kids balk when seeing bits of vegetables, you can omit the mushrooms and peppers. You're losing some flavor but it will still be good. And you can substitute an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce in place of the chunkier peeled tomatoes. Obviously, using tomato sauce will mean you don't have to cook very long before adding the rice and broth. ***

Friday, February 15, 2008

How Our Hearts Are Enlarged

Following the Compassion bloggers in Uganda has become the highlight of my day. Today I read Shannon's post and then hopped over to Carlos's blog and watched the video footage he'd taken of Shannon meeting Dissan. Oh.My.Goodness. If you can watch that without needing a wad of tissues, there's something wrong with you.

And this picture or the one found here of Sophie holding her Compassion child. Well, what can you say except Thank You Jesus?!

The stories, the pictures, evoke strong feelings in me. Brings back so many memories of children at Kasana Children's Center. I had a picture collage of some of the children on my wall for years but when daughter moved to Indiana last month, she took the collage with her. But I can close my eyes and see the children clearly.

This picture immediately brought to mind Sammy, the second child to come to Hope House. I loved holding him just like Sophie is holding Sharon. He was a snuggler and an absolute sweety. Abandoned by the side of a busy road, Sammy was rescued from crawling into traffic by a jajja (grandmother). During our last couple months in Uganda, Sammy was the only baby at Hope House and I spent a good amount of time over there. If Uganda didn't have such tough adoption rules (you must live in the country for three years first), I would have wanted to bring Sammy home with us. So I totally got it when Heather posted "She Will Fit In My Suitcase."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hope House

Oh my goodness, if you aren't already following the Ugandan adventures of BooMama and Shannon from Rocks In My Dryer, please start!

I can't begin to describe how my heart pounds as I read their stories and look at their pictures. I don't know if I'll ever get to go back myself, but I'm returning to Uganda vicariously through them. I know what they're feeling. It is so overwhelming to see the extreme poverty and the needs everywhere you look. Kids dumpster diving for food. Adults maimed in the civil war begging on the street. But then you see good things that are happening, and see the smiles on the children's faces, and you know that Uganda is a place of HOPE!

And it reminded me of a picture of my daughter at Hope House when she went back for a visit after graduating from high school in 2005. Kasana Children's Center is caring for close to 500 children and a few of them benefit from the first building my hubby worked on while we were there: Hope House. A home dedicated to caring for infants and toddlers who have been abandoned.

We just called it "The Baby House" while it was being built. Then we got our first baby. A little girl who was about 10 months old but weighed less then 8 pounds. The second-born twin of a woman who died in childbirth, blamed by her village for that death, this helpless little baby had been starved, neglected and abused. Bouts with viral meningitis, cerebral malaria, and who knows what else plus numerous seizures had left her limbs permanently stiff and unwieldy. Someone from her village had finally dropped her off at Kiwoko Hospital. They did what they could but that wasn't much. She was too far gone. They asked New Hope Uganda Ministries to take this little girl "home" for the short remainder of her life. We named her Nakato Hope and she lived not quite two weeks after coming to Kasana. I'm sure that during those few days she was held and loved on more than in the whole first ten months of her life. Staff and older orphans lined up to help care for our first baby.

And when she died we mourned. Even though we knew it was inevitable when we got her, it was still really hard. But I wrote at the time what encouragement I found in Philippians 3:20-21: “Our citizenship is in heaven. We eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” [emphasis mine]

Then someone suggested that we christen the building Hope House after the little girl who lived such a short time but had a huge impact on so many lives. And if you look closely at the picture, you'll see painted on the wall the verse from Isaiah 40:31 and the words "Welcome to Hope House: In loving memory of Nakato Hope".

Monday, February 11, 2008

Warm Towels Fresh From the Dryer

We got home about 1 a.m. this morning after a VERY LONG Sunday of traveling to a couple different churches. We were in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and finally back to Michigan. And it was SO COLD! We shivered during the entire five hours of drive time. Once home I heated up one of those bean baggy things in the microwave but it was just too small. Tried the heating pad but it wasn't hot enough. Finally threw some towels in the dryer for 10 minutes, then we wrapped them around our feet. Ahhhhh, a little bit of heaven :-)

Our car didn't want to start when we prepared to leave the church last night around 11 p.m. Hubby opened the hood and fiddled with a few things and it finally started. He's thinking it might be the starter but can't get it into the shop until Thursday. It did start this afternoon without a problem so we're thankful for that!

I'm very excited about sewing with my friends tomorrow! Still trying to figure out how to do the background on the African memory quilt. I'm trying one idea on a smaller scale that I'll give to my daughter 'cause she wants a memory quilt, too.

Busy week but mostly at home for which I'm thankful. I'm just a wee bit tired of all the traveling :-) And with it being so cold, I don't plan on leaving the house until I have to on Wednesday. Being home a good part of the week will give me a chance to try some of those yummy sounding recipes from the Saturday Stirrings!

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Deedee over at It Coulda' Been Worse is hosting "Saturday Stirrings -- With Friends". Here's my contribution. It's very quick (about 15 minutes to prepare) and easy to make and ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!! Comfort food at its best. Something I often made when my kids were sick and had sore throats. But also a great dessert...or snack...or first course if you're having an all chocolate meal :-)

Best Chocolate Pudding Ever

3 egg yolks (you can save the whites to make chocolate meringues!)
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 cups of milk at room temperature*
3 Tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips**

Beat egg yolks in heavy saucepan. Add cornstarch, sugar and salt and mix until well blended. Slowly add milk, whisking so there are no lumps. On medium low heat cook mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbles start to appear in center of pan -- about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla, stirring to dissolve butter. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted and creamy. Pour into dessert glasses. You can eat this hot (my favorite way) or chill until cold (my hubby's favorite).
* I am always in too much of a hurry to wait for the milk to reach room temperature so I just heat one cup of milk in the microwave for a minute and add the other 2 cups of cold milk and it's just about right for room temperature :-)
** You can eliminate the chocolate (although who would want to do that?!) and have really good vanilla pudding.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wabale Nyo Jesu

[Wabale Nyo Jesu means "Thank You Very Much Jesus" in Luganda, the tribal language in the area where we lived in Uganda.]

When we got home Monday our monthly statement from the mission was waiting. What a blessing to read of the special gifts folks sent in last month! All are greatly appreciated, but one really touched my heart. It was from an MK from Uganda we met at a church we visited a few months ago. She's waiting to get into Moody Bible Institute and I know she's missing her family back in Africa. She's working to save money for school and yet she gave generously to help us get to Argentina. How humbling to see how God provides, and WHO he uses!

And now it's time for the next e-mail from Uganda:

July 2001

What a week! Always so much going on. The Annual Day of Thanksgiving at Kasana was Wednesday, Ivan went to Kampala twice, I made my first trip to Kampala, Tina's been caught in the rain twice...

Yes, I've taught my children to come in out of the rain, but it helps if someone is home and the door is unlocked! Yesterday Ivan and I took a couple to Kiwoko Hospital and were waiting for them. Tina went to the library that’s on the secondary side and got caught in the downpour. But we were thankful for the rain! We're in the dry season now and don't get rain too often. What we got yesterday helped add to the cisterns on which we all depend.

Last Saturday I went into Kampala with two other missionaries, Nancy and "jajja" Joan. Nancy is single and has been here 3 1/2 years, teaching in the secondary school and helping with one of the family groups. Joan is a widow from Idaho and arrived in January. She helps in the office and is jajja (old grandmother) to a different family group.

We hired Setuba to take us. Setuba is an industrious fellow since he has many mouths to feed: two wives and twelve children (nine of his own, three extended family he took in after their parents died). Setuba is quite the mechanic, too, and is sometimes hired to fix mission vehicles. Setuba has an old, rather derelict van (but still functioning, no doubt due to his mechanical skills) that can seat up to 8 people -- or, in our case, the four of us plus lots of goods purchased in the city. Setuba not only shuttles us from store to store, but remains with the van so no one can steal what we've already bought. Thieves are a real problem there. You can't leave a vehicle unattended.

My adventure of the day came when I went into a cafe to get something to drink and saw they had milkshakes on the menu. I'd been warned that the Ugandan idea of a milkshake is what we would call chocolate milk. So I asked how they made it, and the woman said they used "real" milk (as opposed to milk powder), chocolate syrup and ice cream. "Wonderful!" I said, "I'll take one." I received a chocolate milk with a scoop of ice cream! Oh, well.

The final stop of the day was at Your Choice Meats. Not only do they have the best quality and price of meats, but there's also a little restaurant tucked away behind the busy street that is a favorite place for lunch. They serve American burgers, but we ordered from the Indian side of the menu. There are a lot of Indians and Asians in the country, filtering back after having been booted out during the reign of Idi Amin.

I returned home to find Ivan had been buying some meat as well. He got two kilos of fresh pork from a young man who had butchered a pig that morning. Fresh yes, quality -- questionable. It was hard to tell with all the dirt, pebbles and hairy fat covering it. They just butcher on the ground, maybe on top of some banana leaves (which are also dirty) and they have no idea of the anatomy of the pig, they just whack at it with a big knife called a ponga that looks like a machete. So the butcher has no idea what part of the pig he's selling you - and we sure couldn't tell from the looks of it, either.

One of the missionary wives came and showed us how to cut away the hairy fat and to clean it as best we could. Ivan took over the job -- I just wasn't up to it. :-( Then we rinsed it a few times and baked it with lots of garlic and some carrots. The carrots were really good! Neither of us could eat the pork, although it was probably just in our minds. The next day I chopped it all up, taking off as much of the fat as I could (it was riddled with fat) and made barbeque pork sandwiches. It may be a while before we buy fresh pork.

Wednesday was the Day of Thanksgiving here at Kasana, when we took time to thank God for His provision and blessings over the years. In the morning everyone met at the church for posho (cooked cornmeal -- sort of a porridge). Then they showed the Kasana video, filmed in '93 with more added in '99. Some of the kids are still here and had a good laugh at themselves. Then began the praise and worship time - several hours worth! Afterwards they planted royal palm trees along the entrance road, as a memorial. They are tiny now, but in years to come they will grow and serve as a reminder of God's faithfulness. By this time everyone was hungry and ready to dig into a traditional Ugandan meal of rice, peanut sauce and meat. This gave everyone the strength to participate in games pitting the staff against the students. All in all, it was a very good day.

There are odd little things we're still getting used to...Like having someone suddenly talking right outside the bedroom window late at night. It turns out people think this house is a good location for making calls on their cell phones because they think they get better reception here. But it can be disconcerting!

Or being surrounded by street kids in the city, all trying to sell you something. Those with clothes to sell eye you critically and ask what size you might be -- and chances are they'll have just the size you need. Or at least they'll try to convince you they do. Sometimes you can get a good deal -- like Bugle Boy pants for 4000 Ugandan shillings (about $2.50) but you have to be careful about pulling out money to pay, or you're likely to get robbed. You get used to having just a small amount in your pocket and keeping the rest hidden.

Tina enjoys going to the village market held every other Thursday in Kabubu (about a 10 minute walk) where you can get everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to clothing to plastic pails -- or even a fresh pig head...sort of like a flea market. She's getting the hang of bargaining, too, although she wishes she'd gone even lower on her bid for a tie-dyed purple sheet. They were asking 6000 Ushillings and she offered 4000 and the lady immediately agreed.

So far we've avoided contact with the wild animals, and we hope to keep it that way! Sally, who lives on secondary side, was unpleasantly surprised to find a rat sharing her space last week. She chased it around her house with a broom before stunning it enough to throw it outside. Her usually ferocious watch dogs were absolutely useless in that situation, she said. Our main visitors, besides the inevitable insects, are lizards, which we don't mind so much.

A group from Hillsdale College will be arriving today, with a suitcase for us. Ivan looks forward to having some of his tools, while Tina and I know the ten pounds of chocolate chips and my cookbook are much more important :-) Of equal value to all of us will be the additional supply of malaria medication.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Long Road Home

It's the wee hours of Monday morning and we are finally back at my in-laws. What should have been a two hour trip back from the church where we spoke Sunday night turned into a four hour plus ordeal through heavy snow and then freezing rain. NOT FUN!

But praise God for nice straight, flat roads the whole trip. Can't imagine what it would have been like if the road had been winding or hilly! Also very thankful we didn't have to drive all the way home -- that would have taken all night at the rate we were going. Which was 35 mph. The. Whole. Way.

Now we're cozy and tucked up in bed, trying to unwind, unkink our shoulders (talk about tense!) and relax enough to get some sleep. Ahhhhh.

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QUESTION: Why does my blog say it's 9:49 pm on Sunday when it's 12:49 am on Monday?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fatigued, Tired, Whooped...

However you say it, that's how I felt yesterday. I was in bed by 7:30 last night! Like the Giant Energy Vacuum came along and just sucked out every ounce. Whew. I HATE feeling like that.

We're at my in-laws for the weekend since the churches we're visiting this week are in northwestern Indiana. This puts us two hours closer to our destination, which means two hours less driving time on Sunday -- a very good thing.

Before moving to Indiana, our daughter worked with the youth at church, and she'd invited her high school girls to visit this weekend. So we brought the four who were able to come. Even though our Crown Vic is pretty roomy, because the heater doesn't really work we kept our winter coats on and that meant we were like six giant marshmallows crammed into the car. Very cozy :-) One of the girls is ADHD so we stopped halfway into the two hour drive and made like a Chinese fire drill.

Interesting to listen to them chatter. Was I ever that young? Maybe that's what made me so tired. Realizing that I am now THREE TIMES THEIR AGE. I look in the mirror and see this older lady's face. I wake up in the morning and feel the aches and pains that come with age. But inside I do not feel much older than these girls. I need the attitude, "I'm not old, merely older." Yeah, just gotta keep telling myself that.

This is my first post on the new computer. :-) Enjoying it, except it did crash the first time I tried using it this morning. Hubby isn't sure why it happened, and hopefully it's an isolated event. Our son gave us "homework" to do on the computer so we can start getting used to it. I'm going to help our daughter design a flyer for the housecleaning business she wants to start. I'm used to PageMaker which I bought fifteen years ago. Apparently PageMaker was bought and the name changed some years ago so Jon wants me to try the Pages program that comes with the Mac software we're buying. I like WYSIWYG and he says Pages also has that so we'll see. Trying to have a good attitude but it's hard to change when you've been using something so long. Isn't dislike of C.H.A.N.G.E. indicative of old age? Oh dear.

Well, you don't get change bigger than a mid-life career switch and moving to another continent. And I seem to be handling that sort of, kind of, well maybe somewhat okay. It hasn't been too traumatic getting rid of all our furniture. Or starting to prepare for the actual move in a few months. But guess we'll have to wait and see how I do with the actual move.

Hmmm. So maybe this smaller change of switching to a different desktop publishing program is just one of those baby steps God gives on the way to bigger steps.