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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Who's Who?

Ever confused by the myriad members of the Bundibugyo Team?
Check out the link on the right hand sidebar to a link to a FlickR set showing the entire Bundibugyo Team roster. Watch the slideshow and sort it out...


Last night we attended the “candidates’ dinner”, a last celebration for the Senior Four (O level) and Senior Six (A level) students who are about to enter into their season of exams.  Since the students have some electives, not all take the same exams, so the finish will be staggered and anti-climactic, hence the “graduation” type meal PRIOR to the beginning of exams.  The students themselves set up the assembly area with desks as tables in a long oblong, a curtain draping the background, some tinsel and balloon remnants of Parents’ Day.  It was dusk, when the shabbiness of reality fades into the romance of candlelight.  Many of the girls were wearing dresses that could have graced a formal dance, garnered from the used clothes piles at the market.  Numerous speeches were interspersed with musical numbers that showcased the fact that hip-hop music videos have penetrated even this sheltered backwater.  In short, it was something like an event anywhere for teenagers who are exploring their way out into the world.  

Scott was expected to come as Chairman of the Board, and Luke as an S4 student.  But I was surprised and pleased to get a very elaborately worded invitation addressed to me as a special guest, signed by two of the boys we have sponsored (one in S4 and one in S6), so we took the bold family step of leaving Caleb home alone in charge of dinner and a video for Julia and Jack.  They were fine, and I was thankful to see this little slice of culture, nostalgic too, that this could be as close as my own son gets to a high school graduation event.  Luke is under the weather with a viral sort of rashy illness but came under duress, once again too young and too different to really fit in as a peer with his class.  Sigh.

The teachers exhorted the students with numerous analogies and Bible verses, emphasizing that they were ready, that they could focus and succeed.  I have come to care about some of these kids a lot, as Luke’s friends, as girls who were in my cell group for years, as boys whom we have known since they were skinny little 8 year olds.  Christ School has given them the best boost for life that is available here.  Will it be enough?  My maternal heart flutters at the thought of all they face, not just exams, but the struggle which continues as they overcome their disadvantaged backgrounds.  But last night in the warm glow of candles and lanterns, their own optimism was infectious, and I had hope.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Links and Racing

Just to remind you that we have links on the side bar to team mates’ blogs.  The James passage I wrote about in my last post includes the image of the crown, which is the laurel wreath rewarding the race finisher. This image carries more meaning for us since Scott Ickes began the cross country team!  The kids ran their hearts out and legs off for Parents’ Day yesterday, but some stumbled near the finish because our “track” us just the rutted grass around the playing field at school.  He’s trying to raise money to level it out and put in a simple gravel/marrum track (another Biblical image, make straight the highway . . .).  See his post if you’re interested.  Annelise writes in hers this weekend about number fatigue, the tension we feel when confronted with too many needy people and question the value of helping even one.  Bethany has a thought provoking piece on change and death and the longing for constancy.  Pamela’s down-loadable prayer letter gives a good overview of the summer, and she writes on the nutrition blog about Makuni’s first smile.  Kim has posted pictures of Juba, the new capital of Southern Sudan.  JD and Ashley both describe some of the less appreciated nature found around our homes.  Last but not least, Scott uploaded a new family picture from our team retreat in Jinja, at the bottom.  It’s a long way to scroll down but worth it if you want to see how much TALLER Luke is than I!!

Thoughts on Joy and Teeth Gritting

“Joy has not to do with the trial itself, but in the use to which God intends to put it. He’s saying set your sights on what going through he trial will add up to (count) because God is in the business of making sure it adds up to our benefit and God’s glory. “

This week the team Bible study leading fell to me, and as always as the leader and preparer I’m sure I got more out of the first chapter of James than I would have just listening. It cuts right to the crux of life. Count it joy, not because life is one fun thing after another, but because suffering exercises our faith, builds our trust, refines and purifies us to be like Jesus. As a team we are plonked down here in a place where suffering abounds. Mostly it is others who suffer more than we do, so we look on with vague guilt and mixed pity, as soon as one child is discharged improved another fills the bed or spot on the floor, scabby and desperate. Sometimes it is our own kids. Savannah had malaria this week, caught early, but she looked tremblingly hot and mentally distant, a feeling I know well from a few weeks ago. Yesterday was Parents’ Day at CSB, a day that celebrates the school, but this year left me mourning the disconnect my kids feel as they try to be part of it but really aren’t fully part of anything. This morning I said goodbye to Karen and Michael on the phone, as they boarded the plane that will take them from Uganda, another hole in the fabric of our life here.

In all this the message I hear is faint, but true: HOLD ON. The lifeline image of the hovering helicopter still vivid. Because joy is not found in removing ourselves from all pain, nor do we hold on by gritting our teeth and stoically marching through. No, we hold on to Jesus’ hand, the one who walked the valley of the shadow of death and now tenderly leads us through it to, to the table of bountiful goodness. More and more I see that the springs are in the desert, the table is in the midst of enemies, the joy is in the context of suffering. Just like we can’t reach the Sabbath rest without the six days of work, we can’t fully grasp joy and peace unless we are in the context of the brokenness of the world.

So we will dance on in the dirt.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

As the World Turns . . .

The soap opera I was vaguely aware of from childhood had a name like that, and sometimes it seems like we’re living in a local African version.  This is our first time through the courtship process as parents . . . And we can laugh at ourselves some days and feel put upon and frustrated other days. Who would have thought that our first sponsored student, who has been such a part of our lives over the years, would fall in love with someone rather out of his league?  An orphan who barely graduated from high school courting one of the few Babwisi women to graduate from university?  As some staff discussing the matter put it, you have to have a “strong family” to “buy a graduate”. . . That is literally how people think of the process of acquiring a wife.  And who would have predicted that the “blood brother” her absent father (who is a high ranking police officer posted in Arua) would appoint to handle the matter would be the Director of District Health services, the very man whose authority we are obligated to professionally respect, yet whose obscure management so often leaves us despairing?  The initial letter of introduction was carried by the prospective fiancee’s aunt to Dr. S. yesterday.  Rumor has it that her reception was positive.  Everything is very indirect, mediated through underlings . . . Stay tuned for the next episode.  

The darker side of the drama exists here too.  We found out yesterday that one of the health center staff, an older lady “H”, was arrested.  She is a wily character who was transferred here some years ago from Bundibugyo hospital, to work as a theatre assistant, dressing wounds and cleaning the operating rooms.  This is the kind of “on the job training” position that is being phased out as real training programs become available, but we still had the old school version.  It seems that she was sometimes using the equipment and theatre after hours to perform illegal abortions, and the whole thing blew up a few days ago when she botched the procedure on a 15 year old girl.  The baby was developed enough to tell the sex (he was a boy) so probably 20 weeks or more, possibly viable.  When the girl developed bleeding complications and had to be admitted later to the hospital the story came out.  We, and Jonah, are incensed.  Dangerous, immoral, and illegal in this country, not to mention a waste of operating theatre scarce resources like gloves and guaze.  AND to make it even worse, corrupt:  H was CHARGING money under the table to do it.  All around a bad scene.  Sadly probably only the tip of the iceberg.  I knew that illegal abortions occurred “in the bush” but hoped they were rare, then to find out it has been happening right under our noses is frightening.

I suppose the two dramas are connected:  without proper family support a girl does not feel valued enough to wait for marriage, a boy does not feel responsible for the consequences of his passions.  And the final outcome is usually not abortion but a neglected and pitiful child, an abusive “marriage”, a string of broken relationships.  Those abound.  But to end on a happier note, Makuni, whose two years have been a hungry misery of just such a situation, is waking up.  The little person that he truly is is finally emerging from the nearly corpse-like shell of his body.  His swelling is gone, his eyes are open, his skin is nearly whole except for the still serious burn-like wound on his foot.  I find him most mornings actually playing with two blocks, or holding his own cup to drink.  But the big news is that today, I saw him smile.  Pamela brought him a little green ball which he loves.  On rounds one of the nurses reached down to play a game with him and the ball and I witnessed the corners of his little mouth spontaneously drawing back and up, a real smile.  I’m hoping his episode will have a happy ending.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Day with Stephanie

. . . Is tiring but worthwhile! We started our day early because Jonah had called an emergency staff meeting, which incredibly dragged on for 2 1/2 hours. The main issues for discussion were: what time should staff be expected to arrive for work, and can we all commit to coming at that time? What should be done about staff who miss shifts consistently, or who are difficult to find when on call? Who decides how the hospital vehicle can be used? And can our underpaid “sweepers” keep this expanding facility clean? Africans are very skilled at discussing, everyone gets their say, and these meetings are an opportunity for nurses to politely and indirectly express their frustration with their superiors, or for those who are shirking their responsibilities to be warned. Meanwhile the staff meeting was occurring in the very spot we hold nutrition clinics on Tuesdays, so Stephanie politely tried to work around it. As soon as the meeting was over she rushed to finish distributing food and I rushed to see the rest of the inpatients so we could spend the afternoon together going to a small health unit for nutrition education.

We biked uphill all the way to Busunga where about twenty people awaited their afternoon of teaching, sitting on benches under a breezy veranda. Some are community health workers like TBAs, others work in the government health center as nursing assitants, while others are volunteers from a local church. First they reported on their homework assignment, counseling a breast feeding mother, dealing with lactation problems and encouraging exclusive breast feeding. Then they reviewed more of their previous teaching before launching into today’s topics: responsive feeding, the idea that the environment and manner of offering food is equally important to the quality of the food offered. Stephanie played a 1 year old in a hilarious skit contrasting two family meal scenes. There were brightly colored learning aids drawn on sugar sacks, on how to make a nutritious porridge. They grappled with some scientific concepts like calories and carbohydrates and frequency distributions for weight for height . . . All translated into very concrete and simple language since some of the older TBA ladies could not even hold a written paper right-side-up, or sign their names to the registry! The last order of business was to sample a nutritious snack of a boiled egg and a banana/cassava pancake.

This is the kind of energy and time intensive public health effort that must be done bit by bit, week after week, with small groups of people, to see real change in community beliefs and behaviours. So Stephanie will continue to slog through the river and pump up the hills, continue to patiently answer questions and creatively design lessons, continue to pray that her efforts translate into healthier children in Bundibugyo.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Real Men Milk Cows

And do about a hundred other things on a weekend. I am the usual voice on this blog, but tonight I’m reviewing Scott’s weekend. We cut out a quote once about the various things every human being should be able to do (build a house, deliver a baby, write a poem, etc.). There is an aspect of missionary life that calls out the creative generalist in all of us, but I think Scott exemplifies this more than anyone I know. Let’s see. Saturday started with Jonah arriving on his motorcycle to ask Scott to assist with a C section at the hospital. Scott gamely zipped down to find that Jonah had decided that he should not assist but rather perform the operation, with only supportive comments over-the-shoulder. This was a complicated surgery due to internal adhesions the mother had from a previous cesarean, but in spite of that and significant bleeding, the mother and baby both pulled through well. Back home to usual Saturday tasks such as tweaking the kerosene wicks and filling the fridges, spraying the cow for ticks, fixing a drain, removing the battery from our non-functioning truck and poring over the owner’s manual to try and get it to start, receiving visitors who have their issues and problems. Then Ndyezika came to talk about his life, and Scott finds himself suddenly the father of the groom, designing a simple house N needs to build and calculating bags of cement and roofing sheets. A couple of hours with a computer based accounting program trying to track the thousands of dollars for projects and work that flows through his hands, and work on a funding proposal for Christ School. Back to the hospital to check on the patients, then he was on grill duty and in spite of tiredness from the exhausting surgical day helping me pull together a lovely candlelight date night (Miss Amy had the kids over!) and movie. Only we haven’t watched a movie in so long the sound was not working, so last but not least he had to trace all the wires and find the loose connection to fix it. Sunday we really do try to set aside as a day of rest, but besides church still involves milking the cow (so our cow caretaker gets his day off), playing soccer with the kids, putting new tires on Ashley's bike, reading a medical journal, washing dishes. Being a missionary is probably as close as people come these days to the do-it-yourself independence our parents and grandparents had on their small farms. Real men milk cows, and deliver babies, and pray, and listen. I’m so thankful to be married to one.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Goodbye Massos . . . .

The Masso family lifted off this afternoon, barely. We actually had a couple of days of sun making their somewhat dicey plan of flying out feasible. But with five people and luggage the little plane did not reach an adequate velocity by the midpoint of the airstrip, so the pilot aborted the lift-off the first pass. That’s the first time a plane actually had to do that here! We thought he would unload some bags . . . But he just taxied to the very last inch and tried again! Whew.

Last night we gathered after pizza and Stephanie put on a slide show of babies, goats, water, team, swims . . . The Massos pour themselves out in food and water and care and technical expertise and planning and organizing and loving and . . The list goes on and on. We then surrounded them and prayed for their trip to the US. We hope to only have to survive without them for a few months (until January). But we know that when they come back to Bundibugyo, it will likely be for less than a year as they prepare to lead a new team into Sudan, pending board approval. This is part of our vision for our team here, to raise up and plant new teams doing holistic ministry among the poor in frontier areas of Africa. But even a good vision can be painful in the realization.

These pictures are from the airstrip today, lots of hugs. It was a very hard moment for Louisa (especially until the Pierces come back), JD (Karen is a very good friend to many of us but she particularly connects frequently and deeply with JD), and Julia (Acacia is the only team girl anywhere near her age). Oh, and Stephanie and me missing the wisdom and work of Karen on nutrition, and Scott who leans on Michael for so many things, we could go on and on. Part of being a community is that we depend upon one another, so we feel the absence of one another sharply.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Following Up

So many people have asked about Ndyezika’s exams, so I just want to assure you that I’ll post something AS SOON AS I know.  We anticipate results within a month.  Meanwhile he’s working at the health center and hoping to get married soon . . . We’re feeling very parental discussing his housing situation and in-law approach and potential wedding plans.

Kabajungu Margaret goes back to Kampala again this coming week for another round of chemotherapy.  She looks GREAT.  I love her smile.  Unfortunately I don’t get any information from Mulago except what is filtered through the father, so while I know she had a lumbar puncture to check for CNS spread I don’t know the result.  I asked him to try and bring back some copies of records.

Little Makuni, the severely malnourished child that was admitted just before we left in August for our retreat, is still hanging in there.  Part of me feels pretty discouraged that he still struggles; part of me can’t believe he’s still alive.  This morning I found him sitting alone in his bed clanking together two blocks Stephanie had given him to play with.  Yes, he was PLAYING.  That is a huge sign of recovery for Kwashiorkor, which leaves kids so lethargic.  He seems to have an appetite, so it’s hard to say if his persistent weakness and swelling are the result of inconsistent care and feeding (probably), his initial severity of disease (probably), or a concurrent infection with TB (possibly).  Pamela has really opened her heart to this child and tried to pray with his family and visit almost daily, plus I’m pushing the nursing staff on point one.  Not much we can do about point two.  And this week it occurred to me that his mother could have died of TB leaving him also infected . . . His labs are consistent with that.  So I started him today on TB medicines.  There is hope.

And speaking of nutrition, we had some bad news and good news this week.  The bad news was that the Stewardship Foundation denied Stephanie’s proposal for sustainability projects.  She had a budget of about 30 thousand dollars for growing g-nuts, supporting our agricultural extension workers, buying more goats for motherless and HIV-exposed babies, training health center staff and community workers about nutrition, and decentralizing our nutrition supplementation to outpatients in three health centers.  This 30 thousand dollars would have been in addition to the 20 thousand dollars (1,600 x 12 months) that we asked blog readers to pledge, for a total BundiNutrition budget of 50K dollars this year.  The good news is . . . .generous people have sent in for the year almost exactly the amount we need, 49K for 2007.  Two small grants, one creative church, and about fifteen individuals or groups!  God is so amazing.  Now, we’d like to know we can count on that next year (2008) since we have to give contracts to the three outreach workers.  Maybe we’ll get news of that . . . Or maybe God will ask us to just keep feeding the hungry and watching him bring in what we need.  Pray that we would be faithful with what we’ve received, and generous, and wise at the same time.

I’m so grateful that people read about Bundibugyo here and on team mates’ blogs, and respond.  Feel free to remind me to follow-up on things that are of interest!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wedding past and not-yet, and Another Funeral

Unlike the popular film ratio, funerals definitely outweigh weddings in our experience here.  Very very few people get “ringed” in the church or make any sort of formal public commitment to their partner, opting instead for tenuous relationships, minimal down payments on bride prices, the ever-present threat of breaking up.  Children belong to the father; the mother is a temporary necessity for creating more descendants.  Sigh.  But one of our sort-of sons, a former student whom we took on as an orphan to sponsor, seems to be taking the bold step of courting a potential wife without living with her until they settle the negotiations with her father and have a ceremony in a church.  If this happens, it would be only the second person I know in Bundibugyo who has done this.  So stay tuned.  I’m finding that our absence during the last three weeks has left lots of loose ends with our students, one of the major down sides of being away, so that several have been eagerly waiting to talk to us about their issues (including financial problems, being in love, and anxiety about sickness).  I also find myself short and impatient with these boys, even though I love them.  Part of the stress of transitioning back and forth.

The funeral of the day was a festive affair celebrating the life of a 70 year old lady, the wife of a well respected Church of Uganda pastor, who had been married to him for 51 years.  Amazing anywhere, particularly here (see above!).  We sponsored her daughter Alice, who is my age, in school for nursing and midwifery, about five years ago.  I think we came back from our MPH as “mature” students ready to pass the favor on to another . . . And Alice, with grown children and about 40, started school only to find herself pregnant. She has a lovely healthy 5 year old boy now, finished school successfully, and works at Nyahuka faithfully.  So when I heard her mother had died I wanted to show my respect and support by attending the burial.  I’ve been to many here, but probably never one quite like this.  For one, no one was wailing.  The choirs were positively exuberant.  I’m sure her husband, children, and grandchildren were saddened, but the tone was definitely one of celebrating her life.  I arrived during the sermon which was based on the theme of building on the Rock of Jesus Christ instead of the sand.  The preacher was passionate!  And unlike the last funeral I attended, when he called for conversions at the end, about ten people raised their hands and prayed line by line a prayer of belief.  A snazzy harmonizing men’s choral and drum group challenged the crowd to BE PREPARED, death can come any time.  I kept getting moved progressively closer to the front of the ceremony which made it a little tricky to slip out at the end of two hours because I had to be home for the kids’ return from school.  But I did.  On the way back I reflected that not everyone can  attend a funeral and get a spectacular rough mountain-bike worthy ride in one shot, and most people don’t look back on the day and count a funeral as the highlight, but it truly was a refreshing look at a life well lived in family and community.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God . . .” (Heb 6)

This verse called to mind the image of helicopters in Switzerland. The area of the alps we visited had few roads, so the Swiss use helicopters trailing long steel cables to lift and move materials from place to place. Caleb was fascinated, and we spent time watching the ground crews attach loads and then watching the helicopters expertly lift them up and away.

Back in Bundibugyo, here we are, the ones who have run for our lives to God, needing to hold onto hope with both hands and not let go. Tomorrow is Monday, and I already know the patients will be lined up expectantly. I know I’ll feel like I’m sinking back into the quagmire. So I’m praying tomorrow that I’ll have a soul sense of the helicopter cable, an unbreakable connection to the presence of God. And I’m praying I’ll have the courage and sense to reach up and hold on, a combination of activism and resting in the rescue.

The Team

Here's "a snap" (as they say in Uganda) of the current Bundibugyo Team (minus the Pierce family who are in America for a couple of months)....double click on the picture to see a larger version...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Meditations on Order, Chaos, and Two Transition Mites

Switzerland:  punctual, spotless, quiet, pristine views, cold snow, flowerboxes bursting, cows chiming, abundance, flawless plumbing, anonymity, peace.
Uganda:  the chaos of real life, smiles, mounds of garbage, infestations at all levels of creeping creatures, hunger, struggle, jolting, unpredictable, color, demand.

It would not be easy to find two places upon this earth with sharper contrast.  Though in both we sit perched on the foothills of famous snow-capped mountain ranges . . . That’s about where the similarity ends.  Yet we can slip from one to the other in a mere ten hours or so of flying, less than a day, and the transition leaves me reeling.  Were the walls of our house always this spotted with grime, our floors this gritty?  Transitioning back and forth with any frequency takes a huge emotional toll, one that never becomes negligible.  Deep breath, yes, that is soot pouring out of the fridge which needs the chimney cleaned and re-lit so that two months of meat does not spoil.  Yes, that was a scorpion Jack gallantly killed for his new-to-Africa teachers in the classroom today.  Yes, the humidity has warped a picture frame until it fell off the wall and broke.  This is no alpine meadow, it is a jungle.  This morning I awoke early, and sat in the middle of mounds of dirty clothes and unwashed vegetables and muddy shoes and thought:  how many more times can I do this?  It’s too much to ask, too hard.

I found my place in Luke, chapter 21.  The widow’s two mites.  This is a story that has in the past, always left me feeling a bit guilty, not connected.  Who am I to complain when people around me cheerfully give and share out of their poverty?  Convicting.  But this morning the Spirit gave me another view.  Transition is my two mites.  It looks like nothing to my Ugandan friends and neighbors.  What’s so hard about living in a house with TWO bedrooms and a cement floor, what’s so hard about buying boxes and boxes of food, what’s so hard about driving over the mountains in our own car?  But to me, it is hard. It takes every ounce of strength of will to enter into this grungy mess once again, to organize this chaos of groceries and trunks, to concentrate and respond in a foreign language.  And God was saying:  this is your sacrificial offering, and I see it, and I know it is valuable, it is more than you can afford.  Transition is my mite, and when I give it again and again, the last I have, God provides the strength to keep going.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Near the Top of the World

We walked on a glacier today!  The Swiss, masters of engineering and determination, tunneled a train to the top of the alps, so that mere mortals such as we can ride up above the snow line and walk out onto a glacier field, amidst the craggy peaks of the Eiger and Jungfrau.  I don’t think I’ve ever been above 10,000 feet before, it was exhilarating.  We wore all our clothes in layers and managed to stay out in the cold for about half an hour.  There was a short sled run for kids, but mostly we just walked a carefully marked “safe” path in the snow and took pictures and gawked at the nearness of the sky.  Caleb’s hat blew off and is now a permanent part of the Alpen snowfield.  We look at the Rwenzoris every day, but somehow the distant Alps are actually more accessible.  I saw a plaque at the observation center perched on the top that quoted a Psalm in French . .. This from Ps 66 in the Message:  Take a good look at God’s wonders—they’ll take your breath away.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

From Switzerland: family, beauty, and unfortunately one parasite

This blog post comes from Wengen (near Interlaken)...a mountainside hamlet of chalets tucked into a craggy alpine valley, with nothing in view but snow-covered peaks, fir-green pines, blazing geranium porch-boxes . . . Truly stunning.  

We successfully hooked up with the rest of the family in the airport as they arrived, and somehow managed to steer 13 of us (age range 4 to 75 years) and about 2 dozen suitcases, backpacks, coats, carry-ons through the punctual Swiss train system.  Connecting to four different trains within four hours for the total journey without losing a kid or even a bag was a minor miracle.  The last leg was on a tiny three-car train that carried us up to our village (at 4100 ft.), then a ten minute walk to our chalet.  The cousins have been delighted to tumble and laugh and run and play together again, which is a relief to see when they’ve been apart for so long.  The order of the day seems to be hikes, with every direction being nothing but spectacular post-card scenery, cowbells tinkling, and the mountain face changing as clouds pass over and the sunlight fades from white to yellow to pink.

The only drawback so far is that after almost 14 years I came down with my first case of malaria, in Switzerland of all places.  Who would have thought.  It was brewing en route and I pretty much collapsed as soon as we made it to our chalet.  Thankfully we had a test and some treatment.  I’m emerging, but the experience has given me new respect for the disease.  I felt like a plug had been opened in my foot and my energy was completely drained out of my body, wearing a fleece and under four layers of down comforter and still chilling.  Not something I want to repeat.  I’m still getting daily injections (we used all the Artenam tablets on a colleague at our retreat in Jinja).

But as Luke likes to say, no matter the weather, our moods, disputes, even illness...we are in Switzerland with family.  God is good.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Seeing Switzerland, the first hours

Switzerland makes an impression even before we land, dipping below the thick cloud cover on our final descent:   orderly, neat rows of roofs, a winding river punctuated by isolated patches of trees.  The airport feels monstrously large after Entebbe, miles of corridor, spotless bathrooms, punctual buses deliver us to a nearby hotel where we are to wait for Scott’s family to arrive tomorrow.  We venture out for breakfast, disrupting traffic as we wait on the road side and yet cars magically stop for us as soon as our toes touch the yellow striped crosswalk.  Heady with the power to stop traffic (this after days in Kampala, dodging death, running and weaving to cross streets . . . .) we briefly consider just spending the day crossing streets for entertainment, but the bakery across the street lures us on with a human-size croissant statue out front.  Inside dozens of people are taking a morning break, confidently pointing to pastries and counting out their francs.  The clerk addresses us in German—oh, we are invisible immigrants at last, not obvious bajungu!  We choose rolls with crusty crackling crusts, flaky buttery croissants, and a pastry that is covered with berries (black, straw, and ras) so vivid and luscious that it does not look real.  Cappuccino please!  Ahhhhh.  The price is a bit concerning, more than we’d spend for DAYS of food in Bundibugyo.  Yet luxuries like chocolate bars are by contrast cheap.  We stroll up and down the street to such foreign and memorable sights as fresh grapes in the market (!), neat cafes, shiny little two-seater Europe-sized cars.  Back to the hotel for HOT WATER showers with INCREDIBLE FLOW, I feel like I’m being pressure washed like the side of a dusty house.  Quietness.  Forget the Alps, we could probably be very entertained within these two blocks of normal Swiss life.  

I wonder how African immigrants adjust, do they miss the life of bustle, color, noise, the richness of smells and human contact pushing and jostling?  I think even I would eventually.  But for today the contrast is refreshing.