Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crocidile Hunter....Not!!!!

Today was our "Dickie-adventure day"...

Boda (motorbike) for 40  minutes to a boat launch,  take a boat over to Entebbe,  secure transport to the Kampala Snake park once we actually know where it is....and after that....see how the day goes.  Boy...did it go!

We ended up NOT at the snake park but at a Reptile park in Entebbe instead....and the snakes were still sweet!

Before I continue....Let's establish something right off off the start: I'm an idiot (Scott typing!)

Having established this will find it no surprise that I considered it a good idea to hold...or attempt to hold... a somewhat tiny (3-3.5 feet) Nile Crocodile today.

My attempt to hold one of God's great creatures was cut short by a series of unfortunate events:

1.  I grabbed the tail of the above-mentioned croc while the guide held it's head
2.  The guide released the head as I was moving into position to secure that same head
3.  Upon the release of it's head....and prior to my hand securing above mentioned head...the croc decided to let me know what he thought about my plans.
4.  He did this by securing his teeth into my right-hand that was holding it's tail.

(Information break:  Turns out crocs...particularly young ones...have terribly sharp teeth.  I have verified this fact just back to the series of unfortunate events...)

5.  Upon seeing a croc secured to my hand by it's teeth....I panicked...flung my hand in the air, thereby releasing the croc (good) but tearing a significant gash into my hand below the thumb (bad).  The croc landed on it's head and I did my patented Ninja back role (otherwise known as a trip) to avoid the now-free croc who decided to make a bolt for freedom.
6.  Bleeding profusely, I assured my traumatized kids (and wife!) that I was 'fine'...and then Brent and I walked briskly up the hill to get the fastest boda to get me to the nearest clinic.
7.  I arrived.  I got lots of freezing, got internal stitches and then outside stitches with something akin to rope back home,  got a new tetanus shot, some antibiotics, pain killers....and sent back to Mpigi with a great story....and sincere thanks that my foolishness did not amount to something more serious like the loss of a thumb.

The day lived up to our declaration: "Dickie Adventure day"....but just a bit different than we had envisioned!

I'm doing fine...sore hand (amazing how swollen it is because of his hard 'clamp' on my hand)....and feeling just slightly embarrassed at my now-obviously-poor-choice (ahhhh.....hindsight....)

Can't type anymore....turns out I use my right-hand for a lot of things!

Pics will have to be viewed at Tracey's facebook at a later date.

Grace & Peace to all....


Friday, June 24, 2011

Good News, Bad News

The past fews days have left me with various pieces of "news", some good, others not so good.  Let me share:

The good news is that Nigel will live;  The bad news is he spent 4 different days seeing Dr.'s.

The good news is that Jovia told me I am getting "strong";  The bad news is Pastor Geoffrey weighs only 2 kgs more than me (and we aren't talking about a really short man).

The good news is I have access to dental care in Canada;  The bad news is that today a crown (and part of a tooth) fell out.

The good news is that today the Mama's paid me a huge compliment when we were doing laundry by saying "You Ave Learned!!";  The bad news is that it has taken me 4 yrs, 16 weeks in Uganda and who knows how many articles of clothing that weren't properly washed to learn this!!

What can I say.....I love this place!!!!

A Lesson in Bilharzia

One of the friendships that I have enjoyed developing during our various times in Uganda has been with Rose, Pastor Geoffrey's wife.  Maybe it is the instant bond that those of us married to Pastors seem to have,  but regardless, we share a bond.   My heart has gone out to Rose as she has struggled with her health for the past two years.  She has been to various doctors who have most commonly diagnosed her with Peptic Ulcers.  We were able to help her get treatment for her condition last year, so when we arrived this year to find her feeling even worse I began to wonder if she was being properly diagnosed.  She was having to spend most days in bed with a fever, severe stomach pain, mouth and throat ulcers and body aches.   Yesterday at noon we decided it was time to take her to The Surgery (a British Hospital popular with ex-pats).   Pastor Geoffrey insisted I be with Rose throughout her examination, which proved to be a very informative time!!  Rose was seen by a British Dr. who has been practicing medicine in Uganda for 31 years.  Right away I knew she was in good hands.  He had me explain her symptoms, looked her over and then abruptly asked if she had spent time in any lakes.  Geoffrey explained that in fact they had lived on an Island for 2 yrs surrounded by Lake Victoria.  Right away this somewhat cynical man began to laugh.  He was sure that what she was suffering from was Bilharzia as she presented with every symptom.  He went on to inform me about life in Uganda for at least 10 minutes, which although extremely informative was not what we had come for.  After a number of hours and many pokes in poor Roses arms and hands trying to obtain blood from her collapsed veins we were  back on the road heading to Mpigi with treatment for 2 different parasites and instructions that if she was not well in 10 days to bring her back and he would continue the testing.  We are praying that Rose is now on her way to health and no more visits will be necessary.  It was humbling to see their gratitude at obtaining medical care that on their own they would never have received.  I know that for myself I feel I am entitled to good medical care and have taken this luxury for granted.  I know there are some who may not agree with us taking them to The Surgery however, there is no way for me to reconcile within myself that somehow we are deserving of the best medical care while our Uganda friends should be sent elsewhere after enduring an illness for the past two years.   I even had the thought yesterday that if I am ever really sick I may request Scott bring me to Uganda to see Dr. Stokely:)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Boy Moves Out


At six years of age, Owen decided he wanted to sleep downstairs by himself...a full two stories below the rest of the family.  At the time, we weren't sure if he would be as confident when it came to night-time....but alas, Owen has spent the last 5 years downstairs by himself.

So it didn't come as much of a surprise when Owen announced, after the team departed, that he wanted to sleep in one of the tents in the medical clinic (another building only about 30 feet from the Guesthouse).  Once again, we weren't sure how he would do....but we agreed and Owen moved into a tent with Lauren for the past two nights (there was a divider....don't worry!).  Last night, we put Owen to bed at 9:30pm all alone in the medical clinic as the other three adults were still up at the Guesthouse.  At 10:15pm he came up to the Guesthouse and we thought, "Hmmm....too scary for him all allone".....but no...he was just coming up for mom's watch so he can know what time it is during the night....and then back down he goes!

Two good things about not having a vivid imagination (like Owen):  You can watch scary movies at a young age and not be too affected by them...and you can go sleep by yourself in Uganda without weirding out!

Something tells me he'll be leaving home at an early age!


Has learned to shoot his arrows!  I made a target for the boys to practice and the other day Beckham got 15 points with four arrows standing about 20 feet away (which equals 2 inner rings right next to the bulls-eye and an outer-ring).  Beck continues to think that Brent is going to take them hunting for Monkeys (which I've never seen around here) and he doesn't want to miss his chance to bring one down! 

Beck continues to squeeze every drop from every day and usually ends up in bed exhausted because they have begged to go visit one of the Children's Homes for a while prior to bedtime which equals late bedtimes for our kids...but the genuine friendships they are making with the Ugandan kids makes it all worth while.


Paisley is our house keeper.  As I write she is sweeping the guesthouse and has just finished washing the counters.  She regularly cleans the small stove we have and is often found arranging our shoes so they are lined up neatly.

We've just started Pais on some anitbiotics as her persistent cough has gone into her chest.  All of us have colds to varying we're pumping lots of vitamins into us....but Paisley is certainly the hardest hit.  Doesn't slow her down much though....just gives her a slightly shorter 'fuse' which has taken a bit more 'managing' on Tracey's part (I'm a bit impatient!).  

When she's not cleaning, Paisley is singing worship songs that the Ugandan kids sing....usually teaching them to her imaginary classroom that she sets up in front of the guesthouse.  Once the Ugandan kids get home....she's off!

All of our children really enjoyed having the team here (Tracey and I did too).  With the team's departure, we are now moving into our vacation time which will initially be a bit more of a 'quiet' week with just Nigel and Brent here with us.  

We're looking forward to Nigel's family joining him this coming Monday...

Until then, I am meeting with the Pastors today and Friday to do some Pastoral teaching, and we're meeting with a Environmental group on Friday to get their assessment on the quality of our agricultural projects on the 10 acres.  We've also got two meetings scheduled with the Ugandan man who overseas the project and I'll need to prepare a sermon for, come to think of it, it's not that quiet of a week after all!

Thanks for your continued interest and, for you praying types....for your prayers.  We appreciate your support!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Farewell to the PPAC Team

As I write I am sitting in the dark of our room in Jinja as our children sleep.  Today we said farewell to the team we have been with for the past two weeks - it was hard to see our time together come to an end as it has been such a great group of people.  It is amazing how bonded you can become living in such close quarters and serving in such a unique culture together.

One of the highlights of our time together came just hours before they were to depart as all 13 of us hired a boat driver and set out to find an appropriate (ie semi-clean) place to Baptize three of the people on the team in Lake Victoria.  After a bit of searching, the perfect spot was found right at the soure of the Nile River.   The "Do not Urinate" sign gave us that little bit of confidence that this would be a nice clean piece of water!!  Well, not really, but there we stood and listened to three people talk about why they wanted to be baptized at this particular time in their lives - It truly was the perfect end to the trip!!

We saw everyone off and then settled in to spend one last night here in Jinja as a family, which we realized is the first time we have been just the 5 of us ever in Uganda.  We've had a fun night!!  My only wish is that our bed didn't smell like something died in it!!  I have learned to sleep on my back in order to keep my nose as far away from the mattress as possible!

We continue to feel incredibly thankful for the chance to be in this country that we have grown to love so much.  Tomorrow we will meet up with Brent and Nigel in Kampala to get some supplies and then head back to Mpigi.  As fun as it is to get away for a couple of days, we can't wait to get back to what feels like 'home' here and to be with our friends.  Scott and I will begin to spend a greater amount of time teaching, we will continue to do some care and compassion visits in the community, and of course we will simply "be" with the community, whatever that may look like from day to day.

Thank you for your prayers - we have been blessed with health and safety thus far (apart from insect bites, lots of scrapes from falls, and a more pronounced cheek bone for me as a result of a paddle to the face during rafting).  Yes, I rafted the Nile - so much fun!!!  Thanks to a few 20 year olds that convinced me this would be a good thing to do:) I must say that our guide 'Juma' kept us quite entertained throughout the day!  Besides doing his best to make sure we were afraid for our lives most of the time, he also taught us many things, such as what a 'Badonkadonk' is!!  He would like a wife with a large one!!   Scott and the kids did a 'Family Raft' which was great fun for them.  Owen would have liked some bigger rapids, but he did get to go down some Class 2's in a life jacket so that was fun for him!  He can't wait to be 16 so he can raft and bungee jump with everyone else!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Thunder Storm and A Gift

As I write I am listening to the second worst storm I have ever experienced!!  The worst was a few days ago!!  Thunder, lightening and rain like we don't get in Canada, or at least on the west coast.  Nigel has just made a run for it to the medical clinic where the team is sleeping!   As well, there is no power so the only light is that of a small lantern - lets just say I am happy not to be alone here tonight as I watch the sky light up every few minutes followed by thunder that does a good job of getting my heart rate up!

The past few days have been very full as we have run a VBS Program at the Kid Care School down the road.  Entertaining 200+ kids for the day, some as young as 3 or 4 years old is not a small job for 4-5 people so we were thankful that our kids came to our rescue.  All three were a big help - Paisley must have organized the tables and chairs in the classrooms I don't know how many times.  The children at the school were beyond excited to have a group of Mzungu's around to touch and wonder about.  It was good to be out in the community as it gives us a broader sense of the realities of life here in Africa.  To see the conditions that these children attend school everyday is hard to grasp as I compare it to where my own children attend.  I find myself repeatedly wondering "why?" - Why are we so blessed in Canada while the people here suffer so much?  These people do not deserve the suffering they endure, and truly it is relentless, even in our somewhat sheltered little community here.  Yesterday our driver (and friend) Jonny showed up in the morning only to tell me that it had been a difficult weekend as his friend lost his wife and child during childbirth.  And yet life must go on and they must all go to work the next day.  I feel I have more questions than ever this year as the contrast between the lives we lead in Canada and the lives of our friends here finds no meeting place, and I am in the center of this.  I don't know how to respond when tonight my new friend Jovia finds me and slips a bracelet onto my wrist that she has been given only hours earlier by a lady visiting the property.  This is a girl who has worn the same ripped shirt and skirt since we arrived almost 2 weeks ago, yet she has chosen to give me this one possession.  Everything in me is refusing to take this gift, and yet I know I must, so I let her slip it onto my wrist and tell her how very very thankful I am for it and that as I wear it in Canada I will be reminded of her and will pray for her.  I have to admit I have yet to understand the kind of generousity this young child has shown me. I have much to learn.

On a lighter note, we went to the Girl's Home this evening for a great time of being entertained by their singing and dancing!  One of the highlights was of course their "Wedding Dance" where half are boys and half girls and the boys choose a wife.  The women are free to either accept or deny, which had us doubled over as at the end Owen, Scott and Brent were all turned down - so in came Nigel with some dance moves the likes of which have not before been seen!!  Mama Sophie was laughing so hard she was holding her stomach, and Nigel, well, he took a bride!!!  So much fun it is to be with those girls - they truly are just the happiest, sweetest bunch!!!

Tomorrow we have a few things to accomplish, including painting some termite 'stuff' on the church in Mpigi to prevent the wood from being eaten, as well as a few of the team are teaching at a local school.  I am sad that it will be our last day with the team here in Mpigi:(  I have loved getting to know each of them and will miss them as they begin to head home soon.  We will all be spending a couple of days in Jinja for a team debrief before they fly out on Sunday.  A few of them are going White Water Rafting on the Nile.  Scott went last year, so it is my turn........I am a bit nervous after seeing his video of last year and knowing you can't get through it without being dumped a least a couple of times....We shall see.......

The storm continues to rage on....the good new is the house is cool, the bad news is I just had a few drops land on my arm - hhhhmmmmmm

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Life and Ponderings

It has been a full week for us here in Uganda.  Paisley and I (Tracey) went to a couple houses on Care and Compassion with the team.  It was Paisley’s first time to be out visiting families in the community and she did great, going as far as extending her hand as she was introduced to one of the Patriarchs of the home.  I feel so grateful for the experience our children are getting of such a different culture simply as a by-product of our ministry.  My hope is that their experiences will open up the options they see for their futures and that they will have a worldview that extends beyond what they are drawing from their North American upbringing.

We had quite the drive home from Kampala last night in the dark – we sat in one crazy intersection as we watched cars try to maneuver their way around other vehicles, holding our breath as they would come within an inch of our van, and watching as right ahead of us two vehicles gently collided.  It was entertaining, hot, and a challenge for anyone who might be prone to clausterphobia!!

Thursday was a great day as we spent the entire day with the kids!!  We took them to the Equator where many had never been before, did some crafts, served them hotdogs and chips for lunch (some were not too fond of the hotdogs, while others ate up to 5!!)  The buns with ketchup were a hit however!   We ended the day by going for a hike to the top of a nearby hill where we played soccer and just hung out!!  It was great to see them all enjoying themselves so much.  

As I observed the children on Thursday I had the thought that although they may not be rich materially, they are extremely rich relationally and spiritually.  The way that they love and care for each other is like nothing I have experienced in Canada.   Being the relational person that I am, I cannot help but be in awe of the friendships the people here share, which I think is one of the things that continues to draw me back.    While it is a privilege to be able to help them out by providing food, clothing, backpacks, medical care and the likes, I cannot help but be aware of all the ways in which they are teaching us.

People have often asked/questioned the safety of us bringing our kids to Africa and I can say without reservation that I have not once felt any concern for their safety.  In fact it is the opposite, as the Ugandans here usually are more aware of where my children our and what they are up to than I am.  I feel as though we are surrounded by people young and old who watch out for us at every turn.

It has also been a lot of fun to be here with the team from Peace Portal.  They are a great group of people who seem to be enjoying all the various aspects of life in Uganda.  It is always fun to see it all through the eyes of those taking it all in for the first time.  Of course I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Paisley has attached herself to a few of the girls on the team which has basically given us a week long break from parenting her – she has communicated that she plans to also go home with them!!! 

As I type my boys are trying out their new bow and arrows.  The intelligence of this purchase is still up for debate, but for two boys, they are in their glory!!!  The purchases came out of Brent offering to take them Monkey hunting – should be interesting, especially since Beck thinks they will then bring them home to eat!!!

Another treat for our family has been to have Ross with us for a few days.   He is busy teaching for 8 hours a day, a task only he could take on with such ease, but has been joining us for meals which has be great.  It is the first time we have been together in Uganda so we are enjoying the experience and the kids of course were happy to have “Uncle Ross” arrive.

The temperature this year seems somehow warmer than in the past so I am always looking for a patch of shade to hide in – but needless to say our farmer’s tans are in full bloom!!! 

The kids will arrive home from school shortly which will allow some time for play and to help them with their chores.  The way these children work without complaint is unimaginable.   The kids in P7 are often at school for over 12 hours a day.  Can you imagine the complaining in North America if we tried to do that???  I can’t help but wonder at times if we are missing the boat at times in how we are raising our children.  I have much to think about and here I feel I actually have time to do so!!