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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Progress, learning

In 3 working days plus a weekend we have survived:  4 dentist appointments, 6 eye exams. 2 trips to the DMV (but still no learner's permit for Luke), a dermatology check-up, setting up a bank account for Luke, looking into numerous vehicle options with a promising offer again from someone in the church, checking 13 books out of the library, purchasing two pairs of clearance-rack tennis shoes and about two dozen pairs of socks, cooking dinner for a family group (aunt, uncle, cousins) and a neighbor/friend group, being hosted out to dinner with two dear families from our church, adjusting our time clocks to America, umpteen loads of laundry and dishes and a working understanding of all the machines involved, rehabbing 4 bicycles (Scott's and mine from our residency days 30-plus years ago, and old ones of my mom and dad), effortlessly driving on the right-hand side of the road, clearing out three big bags of ancient clothes to make room in drawers to "move in" to my old room, getting one functional cell phone up and running, sending our first text messages back to our team in Uganda, and baking two pies.  But since we haven't seen a single patient, or been responsible for a meeting, or done any of our "normal" work, so it feels like we've done very little since arrival.

After the first three eye exams were all 100% good news, I thought, maybe we'll be like the Israelites whose clothes did not wear out in 40 years of the desert trek, and our bodies will show no signs of worse-for-wear in spite of years without proper exams.  But alas, after jaw-aching barnacle-scraping teeth cleaning and a few cavities (me still paying for my fluoride-free childhood, and Julia who brushes more than anyone in the family) , and a suspicious mole that ended up needing immediate biopsy (you notice things in bathrooms with mirrors and lights that just don't get attention in Uganda). . . I've settled in to realize that we aren't immune to aging and illness.  

I suppose we're making progress.  Learning that the germ-fighting wipes at the grocery store are for sterilizing the cart handles, with seems laughably obsessive coming from Africa to the land of cleanliness.  Learning the hard way (Jack) that you can't step behind the counter of the music store to look more closely at a guitar, there are spacial rules that should be internalized by the time you're that big (hostile clerk yelled and he retreated outside the store until we were ready to leave).  Learning that the $15-off coupon card really is a chance to get $15 off later, when you come back between Sep 12 and Oct 1, and spend more than X amount, and keep the initial receipt, THEN you'll save money . . because this place has a lot of flashy gimmicks and loopholes.  Learning that the 80% required score on the written driving test means AFTER you get 100% on the road-sign portion, if you miss 1 out of those 10 it's game over for 15 more days (has anyone EVER seen a solid yellow diamond sign with no symbols or writing??). 

But also learning that people can be incredibly gracious, smiling and welcoming, helpful and forgiving, even when we're late, and distracted, and forgetful.

Wishing to be less worried about US, and more aware of others, and hoping that will be part of the progress of learning to live.

1 comment:

Greenbrier Escape said...

Welcome to Obama land! Otherwise known as DC. Sorry for the cultural struggles... its not fun for the natives either...
If you all need help of any sort, let me know! I'd be glad to see you all... still going to Vienna Pres?