Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What a day…and it is only noon.

CSB boys’ football team plays 2 matches against local schools, but not at CSB due to local politics…so students miss a few classes and are escorted by teachers to a football pitch on the other side of the river. We pray for safety of the students and for a fairly refereed game so that the sidelines will be peaceful.

A memorial service for Chris Kanoble’s boy who died last week of sickle cell anemia was held this morning. Scott Will shared that this little guy was brought back from the brink of death numerous times by Jennifer, Heidi, and himself over the years. At church on Sunday, prayer for the family was asked as “this boy who sang in the front of the church was to be a future leader of this community has died too young.”

After arranging for the cow fence to be fixed again, Travis set out on his bicycle for a day of doing ultrasounds at the health center. As he went by the police station, a motorcycle passed him from behind. However, there was a motorcycle also coming towards him. As there was no room to swerve, the motorcycle hit him head-on. The next thing he remembers it that he was standing on the side of the road with his bicycle completely intact in his hands and the motorcycle was smashed up with both of the passengers injured. How did Travis and his bicycle fare better than a motorcycle and its passengers? Not sure, but we are thankful.

Then he continued to the health center to do ultrasounds on 25 pregnant women. Last night, after CSB teacher Bible study, we spent time with the wife of a CSB teacher who was in great pain. It was confirmed today that she miscarried shortly after we left. Medical intern Alyson was able to learn obstetrics-African style today as she partnered with Travis in doing “scans.”

I heard some screams and yells from the katubi and looked out to see three of our neighbors making quite a commotion. What unfolded was that the eldest of the three little girls playing there had seen a snake, grabbed the baby and yelled for her parents. When the parents heard “njuka” they came running as the possibility of being bitten by a snake here is not small thing. No snake has since appeared and it seems that we have less visitors to the katubi. Maybe the word is out…

And tonight, we will have late night conversations with folks in America who are interested in joining us here in Bundibugyo. Maybe I should not post this until after we talk. They may reconsider such a lifestyle…one that by noon one has had enough adventures to last a week.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Load Work

Once I called the electricity people to ask why our electricity was out. I heard them reply, "The Load Work." Assuming that we were now a part of electricity load sharing, I told the team that was the reason. Later it hit me that the R sound and the L sound are interchangeable here, so it was not "Load Work" rather "Road Work."

The load, I mean, road is coming to Bundi. "When?" we ask. 6-9 months. 69 months?

Here are some pics of the most recent "Road Work."

Bundibugyo Gazette Headlines

Rainy season has begun: Clothes hung on line to dry will take days to dry now

Physician Assistant Alyson begins her internship at Nyahuka Health Center, cares for 12 very sick children on pediatric ward

Lack of medicines continue at Nyahuka Health Center

Lilli looses bottom tooth during parent-teacher conference

All night music blared through local loudspeakers try to keep spirits away after numerous deaths

CSB Parent Day held on Sunday was a success

Cows Truffle and Oreo bust through newly erected barbed wire fence in pursuit of corn planted by Miss Anna and her students in the new RMS garden

Largest package ever from incoming teacher Miss Pamela arrives

Cocoa investor reports desire to invest in CSB farm, student vocational classes, and cocoa farmers in Nyahuka and Bundibugyo


Wife of local councilman and CSB Board of Governors dies from hemorrhaging while she waits 12 hours for surgery to have baby. Baby also dies.

Elder Brother of Neighbor Salo dies.

Young Son of local councilman dies of Sickle Cell.

Love Column:

Night Guard gives advice to missionary wife for her busy husband: "You go comfort that one."

Sports Column:

BundiDoc leads ESPN March Madness Bracket Poll though he has not seen a single game this entire year

Next Issue: Restaurant Critique

Chef Scott Will opens local restaurant featuring afternoon smoothies, coffee and cookies for all in Bundimalinga village area. Will they be a success in an area that only will eat matoke and drink tea?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kids...and I don't mean my own.

Our house often smells stinky...
Our house is noisy with the bleatings of kids...
My flowers are eaten on a constant basis...
Our side yard is overgrown with fodder food...
...because the goats for the Matiti Give-A-Goat are housed in our yard.

But when I think of all the motherless infants who will benefit from the milk produced by these goats, I don't mind so much. And when I get to hold a baby goat who is one day old, I am glad for those stinky, noisy, munching...and cute goats.


The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,

and he makes known to them his covenant. Ps 25.14

Kindness is a fruit of the spirit. Yet according to Tim Keller, this word is so much more. It could be translated as compassion, honesty, vulnerability or trustworthiness. In fact, the word is so deep, it really cannot be defined by a word at all. It can only be defined as a relationship- friendship. The sermon was very powerful for me and really caught me by surprise today in two ways.

First, it exposed in my heart a huge area of rawness. I miss my friends, I long for friends and I am thankful for friends. I miss all of the friends we left behind and feel so removed from life, conversation, and being travel partners together in life. I miss the dreams we had with a few close friends to be overseas together, sharing about the hope of Christ and bringing transformational development. I often sit around and think- if only so and so were here- he would love this person or be great at engaging the community in this way. I know it, I love that part of him. I know that the Great Shepherd leads us on different paths, but it does not make my longing for their daily companionship any less. I truly miss you guys and am thankful for you and how God has used you give me hope, encouragement and laughter. I also am so thankful for those of you who constantly pursue our friendship even with my poor communication back by email or phone calls. Your emails reminds me that we can walk together even if we are not in the same place.

Secondly, it gave me a new definition of friendship, and a new hope. Friendship is something that is discovered and not made. Friendship is something that has to be worked on. Friendship is something worthy of pursuing. Friendship is not about having a friend but pursuing a common love and objective together in a way that brings joy to each other. Though the world would say it has to be with people of the same education, same social class, same race, etc, it does not. In the Gospel give a driving passion that can and should unite people across any barrier (Ephesians 2:14). Most importantly, the vulnerability, self-sacrificing, compassion and loyalty of friendship were most demonstrated by Jesus for me. He is not only God, but He is a God that is a friend. The scriptures are filled with verses on friends with God, from Genesis to Revelations! My favorite is in John 17 where Jesus tells the Father that He wants me to be where He is! In my loneliness here, I can and should enjoy this great hope in the Gospel. In doing so, it also frees my heart to seek friendship and risk vulnerability to new friends.

This sermon hit me where I think most of us struggle. We long for life-long friends with whom we laugh, work, pray, cry and enjoy life. Our team has now dwindled down to our family and Anna. Saying all these good byes does make us feel abandoned- even if it is not true. So we must hope that God does have plans to meet our needs and desires. The Gospel says he does. Pray that we can trust this hope. Pray that we will open our hearts to new friendships here. Pray also that God would send friends to with whom to partner. Pray that He would send some that will be new friends and pray that He would send some that are old friends.

"The lions are not at home...they are at a conference"

Ready to see Tree-Climbing Lions!
We saw topi.
We saw kob.
We saw hippo.

But after 8 hours of looking, this is the only lion that we saw!

Queen Elizabeth Kingfisher

In great anticipation of seeing the tree-climbing lions, we all crammed into our vehicle to trek to Ishasha at Queen Elizabeth National Park. On the way, we stayed at the Kingfisher, enjoying peaceful meals, amazing panoramic views, and even school for the kids!

Fort Photos

Monday morning, we prayed for Pat and Chrissy and then they headed down the road to Kampala. Chrissy will be in America for a short time for some medical evaluations. While we miss her, we are glad for the ability to fly to America for such needs. I once read that early missionaries would pack their belongings in a coffin to be shipped overseas as that was their expectation in which they would return to their home country. My, how things change!

Fort Portal is the home of the Toro people, a fertile land at an altitude of about 5,000 ft above sea level. It has about 3 western-style places to eat and a few stores in which to buy items like cheese, yogurt, brown sugar, ketchup and even a few frozen meats. To me, Fort is a place of peace. Not many bugs. Cool enough for long sleeves. Tea fields in which to run. While our car was in the shop, we anchored ourselves there for two days, welcoming our new medical intern Alyson, having RMS, and resting our hearts after the last goodbyes of a long year.

A tea break in the tea fields with Miss Anna
Planting a bottlebrush tree at Pat's new house
The Little Captain
David, our favorite driver and good friend, joins us for lunch.

Anna and Patton with a chameleon at Gardens Restaurant.

Kyaninga Lodge

Our first view of Kyaninga Lodge took our breaths away!
The food was delicious, the view spectacular, and the company was first rate!
After 6 years of hard work, Steven and Asha have created a gorgeous lodge that looks over a crater lake. This same lake is the fabled lake that Michael Masso searched for, found, and then built a boat upon which to sail.
We had a Girls-Only Hike with newcomer medical intern Alyson.

Anna and I found Michael's boat, "Milembe" and give it thumbs-up. The staff of Kyaninga say that it is still seaworthy, but as it was locked up, we just took their word for it.

A last farewell

On Saturday, Pat packed up the last of her trunks and loaded Chrissy and Anna into the front of her vehicle. Dear friends came to give one last hug and bid Pat farewell from Bundibugyo. Pat will be in America for the next 5-6 months and then return to her new home in Fort Portal, Uganda. She will be working with local women in discipleship and teaching textile art through "Women of the Proverbs Project." We look forward to seeing God work in and through Pat in Fort just as He has here in Bundbugyo.
Aidan says, "Aunt Pat, what will I do without you?"
Ugandan confetti popper to celebrate Pat!
Amy receives Pat's keys, Ugandan style. We now have 28 key rings, each holding about 5 keys. And one big key ring with over one hundred keys that no one knows what they go to...
Pat leaves in disguise...

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Dance for Pat

Today, Pat Abbott, missionary for 17 years in Bundibugyo danced.

Western time and African time collided when our friend Tume said that the celebration would be at 4 o'clock. So, all of our team made plans to be there at 4 pm in the afternoon. However, Ugandans start the day at 6am, so 4 o'clock is four hours from 6 am. It is 10 am. So, the Ugandans showed up at 10 am and the Mzungu showed up at 4pm. Nonetheless, we all had a special time together, eating rice and sauce and sipping sodas in the grass outside the Bubandi Church. The fact that Ugandans gathered in celebration for 6 hours waiting on Pat shows that she is, indeed, loved dearly.

The ever-entertaining Mugisa Musa was the emcee for the event which consisted of 10 agenda items that included greetings from local leaders, a choir, words from Pat's best friend Joyce, a dance, sharing of scripture from Pastor Tume, words of encouragement from Travis, and Pat's thoughts on her life here, friendships, and how she desires all to glorify God.

While we all gathered to celebrate Pat's life in Uganda, I am sure that Lord was certainly smiling...and probably dancing too!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


“People are not palm nuts, self-contained.” Ugandan Proverb

“People are nuts.” Johnson Proverb

In addition to being doctor, CSB chairman, teamleader, dad, and husband, Travis has been spending hours upon hours doing paperwork to allow for WHM to remain a non-governmental organization in Uganda. Today, Travis had to find 4 different local leaders to get their signatures on various papers promising that we really are WHM and we really are in the community doing good. Finding these men was not much different than if Don Quixote chased windmills in Uganda.

These are some of the comments from our friend who helped Travis search for these various leaders in the community:

“Part of the problem is that we are starting at 9am. People are not working at 9am, they are already done for the day.”

Trek through gardens and creeks, they found the Local Leader A (LLA). Check!

In pursuit of Local Leader B (LLB), they went on a newly carved dirt road.

“THIS is development, doctor.”

After he was not at his house, our friend suggested going to the LLB’s other house. When Travis asked how many houses the LLB has, our friend replied “I think he has three as he has three wives. We should check all of them.” Upon not finding him at any, we wonder if there is a wife #4. LLB? No check.

Upon reaching LLC’s house, the deputy and four council members were there waiting on the absent LLC. The deputy cheerfully said “I would love to sign it for you, but I have lost my key to the office.” LLC? No check.

After giving up on the signature of the LLC for the time, a 45 minute drive to Bundibugyo Town took them to the office of the Head Security Leader (HSL). Travis and friend sat for two hours on the wooden bench greeting people who came in and then asking them for the number of the HSL. One of those people was the Chief of Police. Surely, the chief of police would have the phone number of the head security leader right?

“No, that one does not give out his number to us. Otherwise, we would call him.”

Walking around, Travis and friend found the LLC. Joy! Travis presented him with the papers for his signature. Upon seeing that the LLB had not yet signed the paper, he said that he would not sign it as “You see, doctor, in Uganda, there is protocol.”

Well, can you help me find the HSL? “No, I have to sign it first” But of course wouldn’t due to lack of LLB’s signature.

Determined to not to leave town until they had a signature, Travis and friend walked to do an errand, to buy motor oil. Not at the gas station. Not at the second gas station. Not at the hardware store.

“Doctor, why is it that everywhere we go, we are bouncing?”

After praying for something to work out, they found motor oil at the little shop that sold paint, stationary, and oil.

Then more sitting at the office of the HSL. Finally, they located someone who had his number. When they called him, he was cheerful and polite, but not around. He said that he could come next week. When Travis told him of the urgency, he said that he could have someone sign it on his behalf.

Travis: “Like your deputy?”

DSO: “No, but he is a good friend.”

The friend came. Signature! Celebration Sodas at the Hotel Vanilla.

“This is an executive place!”

“And you are my executive officer.”

“In that case, doctor, I will have a Fanta Orange.”

And then they came home…to find those other signatures tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Faces of this Week

Walk to Market

Sights: uneven road forcing walkers to choose muddy gutter or risk of being hit by zooming motorcycles; schoolchildren with blue, maroon, or yellow walking shorts returning from their lunch break to classes; 2 year old child walking behind mother and carrying blade of mpanga (knife); stares at my legs reminding me that even shin-length skirts are not long enough; BundiNutrition demonstration garden fruitful with papaya, moringa, bagonja, cassava; men sitting in shade; women with bundles on their heads; a car with backseat full of bakery bread selling it to whomever walks by; man making chapatti; children outside the gate and men gathered within gate of Nyahuka Town Council around something; blood spilling out on the road as the “something” was a goat being slaughtered; a father swoop up his naked little son who is walking in the nearby garden

Smells: pungent sour smell of fermenting cocoa beans spread out on tarps to dry in the sun; stench of mud and litter muddled together in the entrance to the market; overwhelming smell of dried or blackened fish heaped on tables waiting to be bought; smell of burned petrol from the boda bodas that drive off with paying passengers; fragrant gardenia outside my kitchen window

Sounds: shrill giggle of neighbor girl in my katubi; bleat of neighbor’s baby goat that is close by her mother tied up to Pat’s fence; chorus of “mzungu” as pass by; counting in Lebwisi as I communicate mostly through charades that I want 4 heaps of tomatoes; loud African techno that comes from a group of market-dwellers’ battery operated radio; Aidan’s cries as I come home; consistent sound of a small fan in the office that tells me we have electricity

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Almost American Saturday

At our recent Rwenzori Mission School PTA meeting, as the head RMS Room Mother (ok, I am the only RMS mother), I decided that we needed a RMS Work Day. The Head Teacher (ok, the only teacher) agreed.

So, the WHM team gathered together with some neighbor boys to paint the gate, hoe the gardens, fix the screens, reinstall the slide (the cows had sat upon it), organized the "craft room" (room where we store old anythings, like tp rolls, that can be used for craft projects), and clean out a storage closet.

To celebrate a job well done, we treated the team along with Christine and Edward Isingoma with son Timothy and friend, to pork muchomo at Wilson's Restaurant in Nyahuka. It was fun to hear stories of the "old days in Bundi" such as when they delivered one of their children at the house that is now where Anna and Chrissy live. Lilli and I then braved the sweltering heat of the equatorial dry season sun to do some market shopping. I was delighted to find small bread loafs that looked like hot dog buns! With our peppers and gnuts in hand, we headed home to find that a crew of kids was hanging out at our katubi. So, I grabbed a baseball and a stick and taught our neighborhood kids to play baseball. While the rules were a bit muddled, we all had a good time!

A work day at our local elementary school, lunch out with friends, a pick up game of baseball, and then a dinner of hot dogs on real buns and homemade french fries...quite an All-American Saturday in the mountain jungle of Africa!