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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week-in-Review . . .

Saturday, the friendly American-suburb buzz of the Clark's lawn mower, glad to have our neighbors back from their trip to the USA, the thud of a football as Jack and a friend kick around outside, the hum of insects, bright sun, a slight breeze.  End of the week of coming home, and finally all unpacked.  Earlier today we helped haul a truck-load of Pierce give-away items to various mission homes (not ours, we have PLENTY, though I did snag a box of precious ziplock bags).  Annelise has now opened, organized, and closed two homes here, which is no small feat in three-plus years.  We are thankful for their willingness to sift and sort through a decade or more of accumulated junk they inherited (or more accurately bought sight unseen), a process I dread.  They look tired, and I feel both their good-bye weariness and the anticipation of our own.  Between the lawnmower and the yard-sale aspect of the clear-out, and Scott working on financial aid documents for college due soon, it feels peculiarly un-Africa today.

A few memories of the last few days . . 

The eclipse Friday was rather a let-down for us in Bundi.  We were in the path of the spectacular annular eclipse, where the moon blocks the center of the sun and leaves a ring of fire, a once-in-a-millenium event, and I'm sure it did happen right on our early morning mountain-fringed horizon.  But the sky was so occluded by oppressive grey clouds that I sat out in the yard with the kids peering at the theoretical dawn and sipping coffee, waiting, as it passed by nearly unnoticed.  Friends later said they knew the moon was fighting with the sun (the local phraseology for such an event) but I highly suspected them of hearing it on the radio.  The dim morning perhaps deepened slightly dimmer, and a flock of six horn-bills did land rather apocalyptically in our tree, but that was about it.  Luke and Caleb had better views in Kenya.

More exciting, the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in Angola.  Friday evening I let the word out that we'd be watching Ghana-Ivory Coast, and sure enough most of our sponsored student - friends, about 7 boys, showed up for a pleasant dinner, conversation, and viewing.  Mostly I liked the atmosphere, watching Africans play in Africa with African boys who are avid fans and players themselves, particularly the inspiring advertisements on our South African Supersport cable channel, creative and proud, touting the glories of African football.  It is not often that we see positive images of Africa in the media.  I was pulling for Ghana, recognizing some of the brave young men who took the under-20 World Cup trophy earlier this year, but alas they lost to the heavily professional Ivory Coast team.  All in all, though, very fun.

The ward, as always, a mix of tragedy and triumph.  Greeted by little Bhitigale, whom I never expected to see live, now round-faced and smiley with his cantankerous grandmother.  Picked up a chart on a new patient and saw my handwriting going back to 2005, when we diagnosed sickle cell, and now this baby was a thriving ready-for-nursery-school age girl.  But the same morning another infant died within a few hours of arrival, too little too late as the parents had been trying various treatments at home.  The pile-up of kids whom I've not seen for the last two weeks plus Christmas, the inevitable struggles, phone calls, advocacy.  News of a nation-wide blood shortage as malarial levels increase in the unseasonable dampness and the usual donor source (schools) is closed for holidays.

Thankful for our younger two, who sang praise songs all the way home, waving, content, happy to be back.  Thankful for our cows, our dog . . . and today the gift of a rooster, a rather impressive fellow, who will become dinner sometime this week.  

Battling roaches, Julia and I vigorously clean out two shelves of tupperware and find one of their hiding places in dark, nested lids.  Yuck.  Welcome home.

Jack and Julia are having a blast at Rwenzori Adventure Training School, i.e. RATS, the January-term for RMS.  I worried about over-taxing Miss Anna, but she has been delightfully creative and energetic.  They learned about cocoa processing locally, went to the river, caught fruit flies on a ripe papaya, and are keeping nature journals.  Sort of science and entertainment wrapped into one.  

Long walk with Heidi, reconnecting, friendship, team.  And particularly an evening with Scott Will and one of our med students Baluku Morris.  I declared the dinner conversation topic to be memories of family, so that Scott could talk about a dear aunt who died last week in the US, a heavy loss for him, here with no one to share it.  Baluku talked about his hard-working grandfather who managed to send his kids to good schools by raising CABBAGES, which must have been a lot of cabbage, because they are cheap.  And I got to share stories about my Dad, in a good and thankful way.  It was a holy evening to share food and acknowledge the many ancestors who have brought us to this point, made us who we are.

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