Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Big Adventure

Well, finally, I get to write on my own blog. Momma names the thing after me and then never even lets me use it. She seems to think I can’t type with my big ol’ puppy paws. Duh, Mom, they don’t call me the wonder dog for nothin’.

So, since Mom is taking a break from telling her life stories (boring!), I got some internet time and here I am to tell you about my big adventure. Mom and Dad took me camping up north! They call it the U.P., but –hello – just call it up, like I can’t spell or something.

We stayed in this cool campground where there were 100 other dogs, and way more people than that. Or that’s what it seemed like coz some dog and their people were walking by our trailer like every five minutes. And Mom or Dad would tell me to be quiet. But it’s like, why can they say “hi” to everyone and I can’t?

Where we stayed they don’t let dogs on the beach. I don’t get why, but you know Mom and Dad – always having to follow the rules. But just a couple miles down the road there was a really cool park and we went to it every day. And I got to run in the water and get chased by waves. It was so awesome. I pretended the waves were a really big mean kitty. And I let them get as close to me as I could and then I ran back to shore. But the waves still always caught me and got me all wet. It was awesome.

We rode around in the truck a lot. I don’t know what Mom and Dad were so fascinated about, but they seemed to really like looking at the big lake. I’m kind of thinking, if I can’t play in it, I sure don’t want to just look at it.

Yesterday I met a few new friends. One girl had been in an accident and lost her leg, so her people got rid of her coz she couldn’t herd sheep anymore, so now she lives with this nice lady who gives mine tours. The nice lady said that I could go with on the mine tour, but Mom and Dad decided not to go. The lady also has a baby skunk, but Dad wouldn’t let me meet him.

We walked around outside the mine, and I met another new friend, but I don’t think she wanted to be friends with me. Momma said she was a goat and that she didn’t want to play with me coz she thought I wanted to hurt her babies. Her babies were about my size and I thought they would be great fun to play with. They seemed to want to check me out too, but you know how moms are.

We also took a couple walks in the woods every day. Mom and Dad seemed to be looking for something all the time. We would walk for a while and then we would have to turn around. Dad said it is because Mom’s back hurts so she can’t walk as far as she would like. Poor Mom, I wish I could make her feel better. Sometimes she acts so old.

I was very happy to finally be home today. I really liked the long trip, but I like it in my own backyard too. I can’t wait to sleep all day long tomorrow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Tribute to Bam-Bam

"A Tribute to Bam-Bam"

1993. Not a good year. I got divorced, my dad died and my sister Pat was diagnosed with cancer. The single truly positive thing that happened was two small furry additions to the family.
Shortly after Dad died the end of April, Pat’s cat had kittens. Four little bundles of fun; one calico and three black and white. It was easy for my kids to pick out one of them – the calico had beautiful markings and fluffy fur. The brother that we picked had a black spot just under the nose on his white face; it made him look like George Hamilton.
At six weeks old we brought them home. Nick, eight years old, and Val, three years old, naturally wanted to name them. We already had a dog, a shepherd-mix named Muffins, and an all –black inside cat, Keisha. I always wanted to name my pets - and my kids for that matter – with a theme. You know, name them after the Brady Bunch or all their names begin with the letter “M”. Luckily for my kids, their dad prevailed in naming them. But I thought, how much psychological pain can I inflict on cats and dogs??
From somewhere, the kids came up with Pebbles and Bam-Bam for the kittens. Pebbles was perfect for the calico with her tan and black spots. Bam-Bam just plain seemed to fit her brother.
The plan for the new kittens was for them to live in the garage and be mousers. And at that they excelled. It was actually kind of cruel, at times, to watch them tag-teaming on their prey, an innocent mouse or chipmunk. And we never had any birds around the house. Every spring they seemed to find rabbit nests and would bring a few dead babies up to my step.
Over time, Keisha died and we gave away Muffins. A new man, Himey, came into our lives, and he brought two black cocker spaniels into the mix – Shadow and Pepper. Well, that shot down my theme idea. In time, though, we brought home another kitten and named him Fred.
Both cockers died tragically within a month of each other. At first, I thought, the cats will be pets enough, they don’t tie you down like dogs do. But after a few months, we had to go to the humane society to see what they had.
The mutt we found there became the world-famous Dino the wonder dog.
In the winter of 2008, Pebbles got sick. The vet thought she had some kind of tumor and naturally wanted to run a bunch of tests, but I said, “no, she is 15 years old, let’s just keep her comfortable”. The following Monday, when she was still in the same sorry shape, I sent Himey in to have her put to sleep.
I was crushed by her passing. For the entire outside world, I put on a face. She was just a cat, cats are disposable and so easy to replace. But Pebbles had been special. She had such a beautiful coat, thick and soft, with those awesome calico markings. She never asked for anything. On the coldest winter nights, we offered to let her and Bam in the house. He would flop on the floor as if to say, “about time you appreciated me.” Pebbles though would take a tour of the house and then cry at the door to go back outside.
What hurt me the most was that we had gotten them from Pat. Cancer had taken her life in 1999. It seemed such a waste; my sister had so much to offer this world. She was so incredibly smart, tough as nails, and kind beyond words. I have so many memories of her, so many pieces of her in my life.
But the two kittens we had gotten from her were living and breathing. She hadn’t had any kids of her own, but these cats were life, a life that would go on living when Pat no longer could.
And then Pebbles was gone.
That summer we picked up two new kittens from our friend Phyllis. Easy to name, another brother and sister, Barney and Betty.
Bam-Bam was starting to slow down by then. To spite us all, though, the weekend after we brought the newcomers home he brought home a dead baby bunny. It was as if he were saying, “don’t think you’re going to replace me. I am still the king.”
And king he was. He would lay in the yard, surveying his domain, just as if he were Simba on the Serengeti. His walk had purpose, slow and methodical, but always with pride. He was a cat you had to respect, and the other animals knew it. They played with him and teased him, but at the end of the day, they knew he was the boss.
Barney was with us for less than a year before he got lost in the woods – a long story that I won’t embarrass Val by repeating here.
Betty, the sweet little killer she was, bonded with Bam, sleeping with him on the deck at night and picking up his hunter’s skills. It was getting harder for him to eat dry cat food, so we started feeding him canned food everyday, splitting it with Fred and Betty.
Saturday morning, I had a meeting in Green Bay. Himey, being the wonderful guy he is, offered to drive me down and drive me home. Per the morning routine, he took a can of cat food out to the garage. Betty and Fred came running as usual. Bam came to the corner of the house and lay down. He got up and went a few more feet before lying down again.
“What’s wrong with him?” Himey asked.
“Oh, he’s fine.” My Bam-Bam is invincible, I wanted to add.
We got home around four that afternoon. Dino was happy to see us, full of his usual energy and puppy-like glee. Betty and Fred made their presence known, but no Bam. We didn’t think too much of it; in his youth he would go on occasion “walk-abouts”, showing up weeks later with a fat belly and smelling of wood-smoke.
My mom had come out mid-morning that day to let Dino out of the house and commented that night that she hadn’t seen Bammer either, but that Dino seemed to be interested in something on the back side of his doghouse.
Sunday, still no Bam-Bam. Our only concern was that we had heard coyote’s howling in the night. What if they had gotten him?
In the afternoon, I went in Dino’s pen to shake out the nasty old towel left there for him to lie on. I heard a hum of flies. And I knew what that meant.
I walked out of the pen and around the corner to the south side of his doghouse. There was my brave, brave boy, black and white and beautiful. Just asleep, the eternal kind.
In our backyard, years before, we had built a slide for the kids. Instead of a ladder, there was a ramp to the top, and at that top were two platforms, a place for the kids to pretend they were swashbucklers on a ship or a prince and a princess in the castle tower. Bam-Bam spent many hours laying on the top platform. A perfect place to survey his domain. Unlike Nick and Val, though, he wasn’t pretending, he had indeed been master of his domain. And we laid him to rest under that throne.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

“My Final Thoughts”

The night before we had left to go on safari, we had a debriefing session. We went around the room and each shared some of our high points and low points. We all agreed that we wished we would have done more, made more of a contribution to the lives of the Kenyans we met. Jen and Dave both just nodded to this unanimous concern, as if they had seen it coming, but they had nothing to say about it.

Then Nate turned on some music, and we all just chilled to it, lost in our thoughts and experiences. I sat back, closed my eyes and let the music move me.

Suddenly – boom - I was no longer Chris, meek and mild, from Wisconsin, I was Dorothy from Kansas.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire and if it isn’t right here in my own backyard, well, then I never really lost it.”

For how many years had I been thinking that a third world country was the only place to make a difference. But then – boom – I closed my eyes again and I was in my hallway at the clinic. Everyday in one way or another I make a difference in the lives of my patients and of my co-workers. And maybe this trip will help me to do that even more. To not despair over the little things at work, to give me the strength to keep my head and heart up and serve all people. A long way to come to figure that out, but just like Dorothy no one could tell me that. I had to learn it for myself.

This was taken pretty much word for word from the journal I kept while on our mission’s trip. I should have been reading that page every day for the past seven months, instead of just rediscovering it now. But God works in mysterious ways and we will make these discoveries when He wants us to.

And so, for now, I end my story of Kenya. My plan is to go back over it, revising and editing it. And who knows, maybe someday it will show up again somewhere. In the meantime, God bless.

(And keep checking back, coz even though this is it from Africa, it doesn’t mean I am quitting my blog. You’ll just have to be surprised by what I come up with next.)

A Final Leap of Faith

       Just a few days before we flew home from our first trip to Nairobi in 2006, there was a security breach at the airport in London. 21 potential terrorists with a plot to detonate liquid explosives were arrested for attempting to board planes destined for the United States. Security at all airports went into overdrive. It was probably the safest time ever to fly; nothing - and I mean nothing- was going to get through security.
       All our team members in Kenya had a different take on this. Some went ahead and packed their back pack or carry-on and just made sure there was nothing with liquid, gel, cream, etc. in it.
       Val and I, all of our belongings spread about my room, made the ultimate decision. We would check everything, taking only the clothes on our backs, a little bit of cash and our passports with us. This would have been no big deal had we been traveling cross country. But we were flying half way around the world, for over 24 hours and with two long layovers. It was our final leap of faith for the trip. God would get us home with no baggage hanging on our arms.
       And He did. Kari, Val and I stepped off the plane in Appleton on schedule. My husband and Kari’s mom were waiting for us. All of our luggage arrived, too. Val and I had gone from a total of four checked suitcases, two carry-on suitcases and two backpacks full of stuff on the way to Kenya down to three checked suitcases. Had we really taken that many donated supplies with us? Had we really left that many clothes and other personal items behind? I guess so. It kind of shows how much stuff we have and how much stuff we really need.
       I never imagined that I would ever return to Kenya, with extra stuff to take along or not. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

"A Last Visit to the Orphanage"

Monday, our last day in Kenya. We had thought we had some rough days throughout our adventure in Kenya, but didn’t realize how difficult the last day would be. The good-byes were going to be hard enough, but we never saw the experience at our last trip to Brydges Orphanage coming.

The kids there had prepared a show for us; they entertained us with their singing, dancing and skits. Being the oblivious Americans that we were, we didn’t get it at first, as we watched their presentations. This wasn’t just a play, this was their story.

In one skit, the young girl had lost her parents to AIDS. She was taken in by an uncle, who abused her. She ran away and lived on the streets, quickly meeting up with people who pretended to be her friends. Instead, they forced her into prostitution in exchange for a place to live and just enough food to keep her physically healthy. But where was her mental and emotional health. She was dying on the inside. A Christian social worker finally discovered her, cold and alone in the slums of Nairobi, and took her to Brydges.

The stories of the boys weren’t any better, finding only gangs, violence and drugs when there was no family to take them in.

Here, though, at the orphanage, the boys and girls were able to laugh and play. They looked forward to their futures with bright hope. Brydges was just beginning to establish a scholarship fund so that the kids graduating from high school would be able to go on to technical schools, learn a trade and never have to look back. But with the love surrounding them at Brydges, I am sure that was a part of their life they wouldn’t want to forget.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Just more pictures from the fantastic Masa Mara game reserve
We got to see the famous wildebeest migration. We saw thousands of them thundering across the plain. This was one of the few times they were standing still.

Mom and the kids


Cheetahs eating a recent kill. Kind of graphic but also very beautiful to see the Circle of Life that up close.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Now for something totally different"

Wednesday morning we headed back to the HEART compound in Nairobi, arriving home by mid-afternoon. We unpacked, threw clothes in the wash and took desperately needed showers. Thursday we unpacked the rest of the supplies, putting away everything we had dragged into the Bush. Some of us also took a ride with Dave to the other end of Nairobi to buy some tickets. And then we packed again, but this time for a much shorter trip. The tickets we had picked up were for a safari.

We left HEART at seven am Friday morning. The roads were the same as always - horrible. Instead of being packed into one bus, we split up into three vans for the ride to Masa Mara. And still one of those vans broke down along the way and one got a flat tire. This is driving in Kenya.

Also we took another couple along with us. It is the tradition for each HEART team to take a member of the HEART staff with on safari. Charles, one of the HEART drivers, and his wife Jane had never been on safari and had never seen the wildlife Kenya is known for. They were such a sweet couple; they left their two-year old home with grandma for the first time ever and they were expecting another baby in four or five months.

But enough about us. Here are just a few animals we saw.

punda milia


This was supposed to be an easy post, but there are just too many pictures to choose from.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kari, Brie, Amanda and Val head into the church to begin talking to the Maasai girls about some tough subjects.

The girls from Najile look so much the same. But what a different life they lead, what a different culture they come from. Yet - they still really all are the same, all God's children.

“The Most Difficult Topic”

If you want to skip this entire discussion, I don’t blame you. I’d like to skip this topic, but after a lot of thought, I decided to just put it out there. In two words, “female circumcision”.

It’s something that those of us who have lived in North America our whole lives cannot hardly comprehend. The fact is that an incredibly large number of tribes around the world practice it, in varying degrees. If you want to learn more about it (or have never even heard of it), search the internet. Sorry, but I am not going to give you any description here.

The reality though is that many, many girls between the ages of four and eleven are being subjected to this by their parents. It is the tradition of their culture and they have never questioned it. Outside organizations attempting to end the practice have met with stanch resistance.

While we were in Najile, Jen shared that a young girl at Mosiro knew that her “procedure” was coming up. She chose to run away rather than be subjected to it. Now, running away in the wilds of Kenya is a little different from running away in Middle America. There are no runaway shelters, no 1-800 numbers to call for help and if you meet some kindly local female stranger she will more than likely turn you in instead of bucking the deep-seeded tradition. Of course, none of that matters because the wild animals would probably get you first.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Youth Gathering"

Tuesday morning, after my stirring devotion and after we had all eaten breakfast, we wandered over to Pastor Joseph’s church. Originally there was supposed to be a huge meeting of all of the area tribal leaders; 100 men had been expected. We were going to share with them the disease prevention we had taught at Mosiro. However, something had come up and if I can recall correctly the leaders all went to a nearby city for their conference. Remember this was Kenya; it wasn’t like anyone had booked the hotel months in advance and put down a deposit.

Within days of this change of events, Pastor Joseph and those working with him had spread the word among the area youth asking them to come and hear our teaching. The turnout was nearly 50 kids, ranging in age from 12 to 18. With no other buildings in sight, these teenagers came walking from miles around, in pairs and small groups.

It was amazing getting to know them. Some of the young men had plans to attend the university in Nairobi. The young women too had dreams for their futures, futures that they hoped would differ greatly from their mothers. We showed the older kids a graphic video demonstrating various STDs and what the consequences of them would be. Several members of our team then shared their own personal experiences. Finally we answered all of their questions.

Here these young people are living half way across the world but they are still so much like American kids. “If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend will he break up with me?” “Can I get pregnant the first time I have sex?” “Can you transmit HIV by oral sex?” I kid you not, these kids could have been living in the US just as easily as Kenya.

At the end of the day, we passed out the purity necklaces and accompanying covenant. Way back the winter before, Val and I had made several dozens necklaces; I had my Sunday school students making them too. With each necklace came a card, signed by the person who had made it, with a statement that the person who had created the necklace would pray for the recipient, praying that they would stay pure until marriage. When each African youth received their necklace, they signed the card also, vowing that they would abstain from intercourse until married.


This is Kari with Helen, Jacquelyn and Frederick, all sporting their purity necklaces. I don't know why, but I just love this picture. Something about how innocent they are.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My devotion continued (taken from Ecclesiastes chapter 3)

A time to lose, and a time to find. The day we took the kids from Brydges Orphanage to the park Paradise Lost, there wasn’t much that we lost. Mostly we found a group of young friends who just wanted to spend the day with us in the fresh air.

A time to keep, and a time to cast away. While we were at Mosiro, our team members and the local Maasai took bucket after bucket of nasty river water and turned it pure, by using the PUR water packets. When the purification process was complete, the remaining dirt and waste was cast away.

A time to speak, and a time to be silent. At Mosiro, we had the privilege to participate in the first confirmation ever for the Maasai of the area. We listened in silent awe as the pastor welcomed these people into the House of the Lord.

A time to love, and a time to hate. There was so much love everywhere we went, in everyone we met. During the baptisms at Mosiro, we felt most of all the love that Jesus Christ has for us all.

A time for war, and a time for peace. Back in the Mathare slum, a lifetime away, school children we met only wanted us to shake their hands, touch their heads. They believe that our touch alone would bless them. I pray for this group of children daily, pray that with their tummies full of nutritious food and arms of a loving family around them, that they come to know the peace of having Christ Jesus as their Savior.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Devotion Continued

A time to break down, and a time to build up. Driving around the streets of Nairobi, there were so many vacant buildings. I could never tell if they were being built or waiting to be torn down.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh. The day we spent with Kari’s Compassion child, Wuzungu, was filled with laughter.

A time to mourn, and a time to dance. While in the Mathare slum, some members of the team will never forget the children from the Eljoy School. After these team members shared simple Bible stories, the children sang and danced. I can still hear their angelic voices singing, “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” as they danced around their tiny classroom.

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together. While at Mosiro, we taught the Maasai about disease prevention. They gathered a group of stones to sit on while we talked. And if one of our team members was in the crowd, standing, the Maasai would insist that we sit on their stone as they stood.

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. In a culture where men rule and are given free-rein to have sex with just about any female they choose to, it was a daunting task for us to teach the young people in Najile about the importance of abstaining from intercourse until marriage. At the end of a stressful morning dealing with this culture clash, Sara gets a hug from Jen and Dave.

(Devotion to be continued next time)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

“My Devotion”

Tuesday morning dawned early for me as usual. But instead of having nothing to look forward to in those first hours of waking, that morning, for the first time in four days, I got to take a shower. OK, I only used two pitchers full of water, but it is indescribable how refreshing just that much clean, cold water can feel being poured over your bare skin. It was also one of those many times in my life when I appreciated my short hair. I didn’t want to use even one extra drop of H2O on my hair when it could run over my body instead.

Well, that probably wasn’t the picture you wanted, so let me move on.

That morning it was my turn for devotions. Months before, in anticipation, I had found a Bible passage discussing orphans and thought it would fit perfectly. Unfortunately, when we were packing for our week away from Nairobi, I had forgotten to slip my Bible into my bag. The night before I had pulled out Val’s Bible and opened it to Ecclesiastes 3. Every line from that chapter of the Bible reminded me of something we had witnessed so far on our trip. Perfect, I thought, absolutely perfect.

I already wrote a book – a very short one – about what I had to say that morning and here it is reprinted for you (in several parts).

For everything there is a season and a time to every matter under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die. While in Nairobi’s Mathare Slum, our team members met many victims of AIDS. This young mother, Eunice, was too weak to get out of bed the day some of our team members visited. Whatever food she was able to obtain, she gave to her baby or her two other children.

A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what was planted. Pastor Joseph had just the day before been sharing his irrigation system and gardening techniques with us. He also was teaching them to the local Maasai. Up until this time, the Maasai had been letting their cattle and goats graze free-range, which destroys the eco-system. It also means that the Maasai are not making a balanced diet available to themselves. The ability to farm will help them to become healthier and more self-sufficient.

And a time to heal. While in Mosiro, we spent two days holding a medical clinic. Most of the Maasai had never seen a doctor before. Some of the most common ailments were upper respiratory infections, skin infections, and eye infections; everyone got treated for intestinal parasites.

(continued next time)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pastor Joseph's Farm

There were so many more events which took place while we were in Mosiro, you will have to wait until I publish the book on the whole story to learn about them all. In the meantime, you’ll just have to know that Monday morning came way too soon. We packed up our camp and loaded the bus. We had one last prayer circle and then started saying our good-byes. The elderly female leader from the day before gave each of us a hug and a blessing. And a heart-felt thank you.

We finally piled back unto the bus and started our journey back up the road. As usual the bus broke down several times and our amazing driver, Willie, fixed it each time without any great concern. By early afternoon, we had arrived at our new destination. Najile.

I don’t know if I was homesick by now or if the desolation of Mosiro had worn on me more than I realized or if it was just plain true. But Najile was paradise, a heaven on earth. When we got off the bus in the yard of Pastor Joseph, it felt as if I had come home.

Here in the dryness of the Rift Valley, Pastor Joseph had started a farm. Up until his arrival, the Maasai of the area had allowed their cattle and goats to graze wherever they pleased, destroying what vegetation could grow in the sandy soil. Pastor Joseph, however, was teaching them how simple it was to fence off portions of their land to grow gardens and how to collect rain water to give their plants moisture.

There were tomatoes and corn and kohlrabi and cabbage. There was green grass growing between the patches of garden. It was all green and thriving. And the one who thrived the most was Pastor Joseph. He was a slight man, only in his twenties, single but getting married soon. But to have him point out all the crops, to hear him talk about the gardens he had built and explain his future plans, his excitement was contagious. What a blessing from God he was to the Maasai of the area.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

“River Baptism”

On Sunday morning, the Maasai began gathering for church. The year before, when the first HEART team had traveled to Mosiro, the new pastor there started a confirmation class. That Sunday was to be their confirmation followed by baptism in the river.
A wizened ancient Maasai woman (certainly not more than sixty years old) seemed to be the leader in song. We couldn’t understand a word they said, but they sang easily for an hour, standing together under the tree where we had held health education seminars the day before. Finally they let Dave Bell speak. When he was finished, their pastor preached for an hour.

It was a wonderful experience, something everyone in America should sit through, after they have been watching their watch during their own pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning. If there is anything I wish I had been able to take home with me it would have to be the incredible patience of the Maasai. Except that I don’t know if it is really patience; it is more the total feeling of being at ease with the way in which they live their lives.

After a ceremony during which the confirmands recited their statements of belief, everyone tromped down to the river for the baptism. All the new church members got to take a dunk in the muddy river. It was actually pretty moving and for a change, the Maasai moved right along and all 40 men, women, children and babies were baptized in what felt like only a few minutes.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I still am stuck on what stories to share next. I think because so many small things happened while we were in Mosiro that I'm having difficulty pulling them all together. So, for today, you just get pictures again.
Our daily dinner. Every day one of the goats would disappear and reappear in a stew. The boys from our team watched them die one day and then ate raw kidneys with the Maasai - a delicacy and supposed to make you manly or something. Didn't really work for Nate, Carson or Brandon.
Catch from the river one day. The Maasai say they don't fish because they don't like the taste. Hmm? But raw goat guts is a delicacy?
Random view of where we were camped.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

“The Medical Clinic”

Saturday and Sunday while we were in Mosiro, we hosted medical clinics. The Maasai came from all around, having heard via word of mouth that we would be there.

Michelle, Jen and several others worked in triage, taking vital signs and medical history on the patients. Each patient got a number then and would wait for hours to see the one doctor we had with us – Cathy, the OB/GYN from Indiana. The two nurses from Nairobi, Andrew and Naphtali, worked with us.

I started out with Val and a couple other girls in the pharmacy. Andrew told us what to write on the little pocket envelopes and how many of which pills to put in each one. The girls would look at me then and ask, “What does he mean?” The prescription jargon such as QID or gtts meant nothing to them. So I translated it into English for them.

We saw such a blur of patients.

The most memorable was the young man who had been in a knife fight in Nairobi. He actually had been treated at the time, getting stitches in the deep three inch laceration on his arm. Problem was he didn’t take care of it after that. He never had the sutures taken out and the whole thing got infected. Cathy opened it up and drained it, put on a clean dressing and ordered a shot of penicillin. Every one was pretty grossed out by it (and I was afraid you would be too, so I didn’t post the pictures of it), but it didn’t look worse than some of the stuff I’d seen in outpatient surgery back home.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

“The Happy Dance”

So what did we really do while we were at Mosiro? I mean what did we DO the entire two days we were there? You’re probably thinking, oh, no, she’s going to tell us EVERYTHING right down to every time she went to the bathroom.

Well, as long as you asked, I’ll get the bathroom discussion out of the way right away.

From talking to friends, family and patients that I have waited on, I’m going to tell you something that you probably already know. Whenever you travel anywhere, even in the best of circumstances, it throws off your bowels. I don’t care if you are staying at the nicest hotel in London or at your best friend’s apartment in New York City or in a tent in the middle of nowhere, when you are out of your element, your body is suddenly too shy to do its daily duty. Or as my mom called it when we were little – doing your job.

When I used to go camping with my sister Pat, we would both be constipated. During one such camping trip, after she had had success, she came out of the outhouse dancing. It immediately became known as the happy dance.

Many years and many happy dances later, I took it to Africa. Soon everyone on the team was hoping to be the next to do the happy dance. Rather a challenge when squatting over a hole in a crude canvas structure without a door.

Of course, before the trip was over just about the entire team was doing a dance all right. But it wasn’t a happy one.