Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ode to Christmas Lights, part two

Oh Christmas lights, why do you insist on hanging on for so long?
I thought you got the hint last year.

I dissed your green cords.
I dissed your dim bulbs.

In all honesty, I did like the homey light that you shed during the holidays.
You certainly made it easy for folks to find our home at our Christmas party.

Yes, I know that it has rained often since the new year.
Yes, I know that it is dangerous to get the ladder out when it is muddy.

But it is time for your to find your way back into the Christmas stuff. 
Like I said last year, how can we miss you if you won't go away?

We Got Pie!

 Thursday night I got to host my woman's service club at my home for a pie social.
We are always looking for something fun to do as a group.
We have done day trips together, evenings out, and museum trips but sometimes it is nice just to stay in and enjoy each other's company over something sweet.

Besides, it gave me an excuse to break out my grandmother's china.

I love this delicate china.

Not to mention that our club flower is a pink rose.

I had everything set for the gathering.

I even set out some non-sweet snacks for munching on. 

We had a very enjoyable evening laughing, talking, and enjoying some very tasty pies.

We might have to plan something similar to this next year.
Maybe a bring your favorite cake party!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

President's Day Weekend

Bruce started talking about going to Columbus, Georgia over 
the long President's Day weekend while I was in full Uganda planning mode.  
I told him to plan away because I didn't have time to think about another trip at that point.  

Well, shortly after I got back from my trip I received an email from Bruce 
with a proposed itinerary for the trip.  
(Gotta love engineers!)
It looked fine to me.
Definitely a hoo-rah weekend.

We had plans to see several military sights including
The Infantry Museum
Andersonville Civil War prison site and the Prisoner of War museum
The National Civil War Naval Museum.

I have a husband and two kids that like history very much.
My guys are crazy for military history. 
It is hard for it not to become a little contagious.

As it turns out we didn't have time to make it to the National Civil War Museum because 
we spent too much time at the Infantry Museum.  
It was that good.  

The facade of the infantry museum was fitting 
a museum of such an important part of our military.

You can't help but be proud and thankful for these brave men and women 
who have served our country over the years.  

This museum was fantastic!
The displays were very creative and engaging...

like this video display of a paratrooper landing projected into an open parachute.

We also found out that there were no mannequins used in this museum.  
All of displays use wax castings of active duty service men and women.
Cool, huh?

Very moving tributes everywhere you look. 

 There was another video being displayed inside this helicopter.  
The sights and sounds really make you feel part of the action.

Very brave words.

The trip to Andersonville and the POW museum was equally moving.  
Going through the POW museum I couldn't help but empathize for the families at home waiting for their family members what were being held as prisoners of war.  
I couldn't imagine being put in the position of being held as a prisoner of war. 

I came away being very humbled and proud of our military families. 

The film at the visitor's center and the driving tour around the Andersonville grounds 
illustrated very well this low point in our nation's history.  

Before this weekend I had never given Columbus, Georgia much thought.  
I knew it as the home of Ft. Benning but not much else.

After this weekend I am thinking that we need to go back and see the things that we missed 
and maybe repeat a few of the things we did!
Good trip.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Uganda - Congregation Share Meeting

Our mission team had the opportunity to share our experience with our congregation. 

We each had a chance to get up and tell something about our role on the trip or a meaningful experience.

We had a wonderful turn out of about 125 people who came to hear our stories.  
It was wonderful to get a chance to share our experiences with the very folks 
who had spent time praying for us during our trip.

Heidi talked about her experiences including her time in triage.

Brenda talked primarily about her time working in evangelism.

Patricia talked about worship with the Africans and evangelism.

Mary and I talked about the medical aspects of the trip.

We each had about 5 minutes to talk.  
Considering that talking before crowds is not anywhere near my comfort zone, 
the time went really fast.  
In fact when I was done and had returned to my seat I had several things that 
I wished I had time to talk about.  

Like the African fossil.
Like how we ended clinic.

We have felt so supported by this sweet congregation.  
Their prayers really helped us stay well, safe, and focused on our trip.

I can't wait to go back!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Uganda - Reentry

We have been home for a full week now.  It has been a busy week of getting gear unpacked and cleaned, restoring routines, and preparing to share our experiences with our church family.  I have made my family's favorite dinner and have had lots of hugs and kisses.  Getting my Uganda blog posts edited and published this week has been an enjoyable distraction.  It was fun to relive my memories and spend time looking at my pictures.  But I gotta tell you, I miss being in Uganda, my team, and the Africans.  After 12 days of experiencing such an amazing time and feeling like I was fulfilling God's desire for me, coming home is a little confusing.  Please don't mistake my words here, love and enjoy my family and friends.  But after such a mountain top experience I feel a little like I am left dangling in space.  There is still work to be done - mission trip wrap-up tasks and the usual routine that is my life - but I feel just a little like I am wandering.

I wonder how long this feeling will last.

(photo by Heidi Meadows)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Uganda - Our Fearless Cat Herder

Behind the success of every trip is a good leader.

Well, we have Mark.

He has many traits of a good leader. 
Let's review:

He has that finger pointing thing down.  
It adds a sense of "listen to what I say - I am important!" to whatever he says. 

See, here is the finger in action.  See how we are all captivated?

And when the finger isn't being utilized he employs the eyebrows.  

Here I am receiving the combination of finger and eyebrows.  
He must be telling me something REALLY important.
(sorry for the blurry picture.  I was laughing too much to hold the camera still.)

Yes Mark, I totally agree!

Here he is showing Harrison the finer points of redistribution/repurposing of water bottles.

Here he is having his coloring break.  Today he chose the red sharpie marker.  
(OK, he really is counting the patient slips for the patients that we saw that day.  But I think he really enjoys the coloring aspect of this job.)

Also, having two pair of glasses on makes him look like he is very intelligent.
Or goofy, you decide.

He held lunch-and-learn classes on how to stack stuff on sleeping teens.

He may be overqualified to teach these classes.

He did a wonderful job leading communion.
(Well, that isn't funny, but it is true.)

He is a friend to the Here's Life and MedReach guys.
(ok, that isn't funny either)

I really wanted to catch a hippo yawning but never did. 
Mark was happy to oblige as my stand-in hippo.  
Thanks Mark.

It was a pleasure to serve with you Mark.  
You are the perfect combination of fearless leader and goofball.

When's the next trip?

Airplane Prophesy

Bear with me on this posting.  It is very different from my usual musings.  

I had a very unusual experience on the Amsterdam to Entebbe flight.  We were several hours into the flight and I had just come back to my seat after making a bathroom visit.  A middle-aged British gentleman came to my seat to say that he had noticed me on the flight and had received a prophesy from God that he needed to share with me if I wanted to hear it.  Well, when someone tells you they have a message from God what are you going to say, right?  I am paraphrasing, but he said, "God is going to lift the shackles of my life on this trip.  Any perceived limitations will be lifted and something amazing is in store for us on this trip."  Wow. 

I have to tell you that his words really spoke to me.  I had been worried concerned about the medications that I ordered for this trip.  I worked with Mary and one of the physicians from last year's trip, Amy Stucky, on the medication order.  I had ordered triage equipment.  I was responsible for making medical decisions for this trip having never been on this trip before.  In regards to what we could bring, there were concerns about weight and volume of supplies due to airline restrictions. I had told myself and some other members of the mission team that we would pack just what God needed for us to have on this trip, but did I really believe it?   I had very real doubts about my nursing ability to be able to be a valid asset to the team.  I have been on two previous medical mission trips to Haiti before but did I have real skills that would be beneficial to see such a volume of people as we were likely to see?  

I must tell you that all of my doubts, my "shackles", about my nursing abilities melted away as soon as I got to work.  It felt very natural to be working as we did.  I got into a rhythm of seeing patients that clicked for me.  I was hot and sweaty during those clinic days but very content to be doing just what the Lord would have me do at that moment.  By all rights I should have been a walking zombie - having had so little real sleep since the night before leaving home, but I felt great!  

As far as the medications go, we didn't bring all that we needed.  We had prepared for 1700-2000 patients but saw 2125!  We had no way to know what diagnosis we would be seeing.  When Dr. Jeff Jones and Pharmacist Penny Pickering joined us they brought medications from the previous clinic with them.  It was exactly what we needed to compliment what we brought.  By the time we finished clinic after the 5th day we had depleted just about everything that was brought by us and by Penny and Jeff.  God had provided just what we were going to need.  Our "perceived limitations" were indeed lifted.  

Something amazing was indeed in store for us on our trip.  We went to Uganda to be a blessing to the people that we served but we were the ones who walked away having been given blessing after blessing by the Africans we served and the Africans with whom we had the pleasure to serve.  God is good!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Uganda - Heading Home

What is it about heading home from a long trip that just wears a body out?  We have had an outstanding trip - we managed to help provide the gospel and some much needed medical help to a village in the Kiryandongo district.  We had some seriously fun decompression time in the the game reserve staying at the Paraa Safari Lodge.  But, honestly, this heading home business is for the birds.  We packed up at the crack of dawn to get to the car ferry to cross the Nile.  We got there early to assure a place on the ferry and then got to witness a beautiful sunrise reflected in the River Nile. 

Another straight-out-of-the-camera photo.  
No editing needed for this morning that the Lord has made!

 We stopped to say a prayer of thanksgiving for the wonderful trip chock full of blessings given and received.  Then with the beautiful light of the sunrise we got together for a group picture with Heidi's camera.  After the car ferry we settled in for a very long, very bumpy ride.  I had heard of the expression "40 miles of bad road" but today we got to experience it first hand.  The road until we left the game reserve (2+ hours) was all washboard dirt road.  The scenery however was wonderful and we saw dozens of baboons and other animals.  I was surprised at how much the terrain in Uganda changes.  We go from the Nile River Basin to the African plains to the jungle mountainous areas. 

We stopped briefly at the park gate to check out of the reserve and to shop briefly at the craft stand.  On our way back to Kampala we stopped in the Here's Life coordinator, Fredrick's home town of Masindi to have a little more shopping time.  This day was a whole lot of hot!  Full sun and only fairly cool sodas and bottled water to be sold.  We managed to pick up a few trinkets but mostly this stop was just hot.  

After Masindi we continued our journey (finally on paved roads) to Kampala to a hotel for a chance for everyone to get a shower, cool off, and have something to drink before heading to the airport.  

The airport experience was just as easy going out as it was coming in thankfully.  It was still light when we arrived so we were able to get into our trunks to be checked in and add any souvenirs that we didn't need to hand carry.  Steve Hudson had a portable luggage scale with him so we were able to make sure our trunks were not heavier than 50 pounds.  We skated through the initial security checkpoint, breezed through check in and immigration, and then had a chance to shop some more and get something to eat before it was time to board the plane.  

This pretty much brings me up to where we are now.  I am writing this on the Amsterdam to Detroit flight.  We have another couple of hours to go until we leave for the US.  It will be so nice to actually get home and see my family.  

USA update:
We are back on US soil after 44 hours of traveling!  As nice as it is to be home, I think I left just a little bit of my heart in Uganda and I will most definitely be looking at the world that I live in just a little bit differently.  

I can see how the Africans think we are blessed.  We travel to them bringing more stuff with us than many of them own - nicer clothing and shoes, having received regular medical and dental care, with cell phones, cameras, tons of medicine and medical equipment.  We go to them to try to be a blessing to them.  To provide them with a little medical care and kindness - to be the hands and face of Christ to them.  But honestly, the Africans who work for Here's Life and MedReach are the real heroes of this story.  These guys are so fervent and open with their faith.  They are fearless in their proclamation of the gospel.  They have, by their actions and their words, challenged us to take that fearlessness back home with us.  I don't think I can be the same again.  How could I be?