Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another weekly recap

I couldn't help but start this update with some pretty pictures. The above picture is at sunset. We've had small amounts of rain lately and these are always followed by small flowers popping up all over.

A couple of Ik women were hired for three days to put mud walls around the poles in our storage room. These same mud walls are what they put in their own houses. They actually pour water into dirt to make mud and then plaster it to the other steps. And the best part about this work is that you can rock your baby to sleep at the same time.
The mud seeps through the gaps between the poles and stays there. We'll probably have to 'remud' every so often.
After the storage room was finished last Thursday, we used it as a cooking hut immediately. We had a celebration last Friday to reward the men for the work that's been done so far. They'd reached 10,000 words, although many of those words were duplicates. We won't have a final word count until Terrill cleans up the list and only counts every word once. But, we still celebrated. We bought three roosters, let the Ik prepare them and made them into stew. It was quite tasty. People can do a lot with oil and salt. We also added rice and lentils to the mix. In the above picture, Pastors Jacob & Vincent are cutting the chickens for the stew. Esther (the wife of another Ik helper) then put the chickens into the pot and fried them up. We served over 20 people, mostly those who work for us but also some stragglers who smelled the food.
Lojore's village is coming along and will soon be ready for inhabitants. yesterday he was working on the grass roof of his house. He wanted to make it look nice to prove to us that the Ik know how to install quality grass roofs and that they'd like to repair ours in the future. They haven't forgotten that we hired men from another town to come and put our grass roof in place. I presented Lojore with a housewarming gift of an orange tree and a lemon tree. Actually, they're still small plants right now, but they have potential to bare fruit if not trampled or eaten by animals. I've been attempting to germinate fruit trees from seeds that I'd saved and it's been a slow process. So far, we've gotten papaya, avocado, lemon & orange trees started. I'm still an amateur at this but I figure that I can't go wrong by introducing more fruits and vegetables into the Ik/Karimojong diets. Below Lojore is planting his orange tree. He says to cover the dirt around the tree with dried grasses in order to keep the dirt moist and protected from the sun. He also planted the lemon tree right away. As far as I know, these are new trees for the Lokinene community. I'm sure they've heard of them but not sure they've ever had them growing in their midst.

It was chilly one day while Terrill & his group of Ik collected words, so they went to sit on the rocks in the sun. We tried to provide chai and a snack for the men. Terrill prefers this type of work environment instead of an office setting. I think he's in the right job.
On that same day, I was sitting right outside our house and seeing sick people. I agreed to let three people come in at one time to hurry the process along. As you can see, they didn't abide by my rules. I'm still working on maintaining rules. The health problems that plague the Ik are mostly respiratory infections, different types of diarrhea & generalized pains.
Philip, who is our main language informant, was working with a group of men in the tent. Hillary, Daniel & Sire are now good friends of ours.
Another group of Ik was working under the carport with Ron. Simon Peter is writing while Gabriel, Fideli, Francis & Joseph shout out words.
After work, Terrill & Ron like to do 'fix-it' projects. Here they are laying some cement near the walkway to our house.
We're not the only ones to appreciate the Timu sunsets. Our dogs are quite content to live here. They get to roam across the mountainside and then come home to be fed.
Before logging off, I must write of one more experience. Today I had two women visit from a distant village (45 min. away). They told me that their sister was pregnant and had been bleeding for three days. I just happened to have been hosting the local midwife this morning and she immediately hurried off to check on the woman. I followed behind soon after to find out what was happening. The walk down the mountain into the valley where the Ik woman lived was the easy part. When I arrived, I found the midwife and her assistant preparing the woman for delivery. She had been having contractions for three days and had not called anyone until today. The women of the compound pushed me into the little hut where six other women were crouching. I crouched down beside them for the next hour and a half. The midwife felt the mother's belly and showed me where the shoulders and knees were located. Then she showed me where the head was descending down the birth canal...only there was a problem. She could feel the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby's neck. For the next hour, the midwife massaged the woman's abdomen and eventually got the cord unwrapped. During that time, people came and went from the little hut...and they began to do the most interesting ritual. They would hold half of a gourd in their hands. The gourd was filled with water. The person would drink some of the water, swish it around their mouth, wash their face and then spit the water back into the gourd. Then, they flung the water in the direction of the pregnant woman, usually splashing it directly on her body. She was having contractions during this time and bracing herself for the pain, but would still jump when hit with water. It happened at least ten times during that hour. The women tried to make me splash water on the pregnant woman and I did a little but I mostly said prayers for her. The midwife saw me doing this and said a prayer of her own, while crossing herself like a good Catholic. Also during that hour, a man came into the hut with a gourd of colored water (from clay?) and smeared it over the women's head, neck, back & stomach. I never did find out what this ritual meant. Another woman walked into the hut, pulled off her sandal and wiped the dusty sandal down the side of the pregnant woman's face and abdomen. During this whole time, the women chattered away to me in Icetod and I just smiled that smile which says I don't understand anything. Something else I noted was that six women were supporting the pregnant woman while she had her contractions in preparation for delivery. Three sat behind her and supported her at a 45 degree angle. Two other women pulled her arms from the front. The midwife sat facing the woman with her feet in the creases of the woman's thighs. It was like an interesting acrobatic act. I eventually had to leave and had been spit on enough. They were aiming at the pregnant woman, but somehow everyone in the house got wet. When I got outside the house, I found that they were splashing water on the outside of the house as well. I later learned that this woman had been causing some trouble in the community. By splashing her with water, the community members were saying that all was forgiven and that they wished her well. I'm not sure if the water had a spiritual meaning as well. The walk back to our compound nearly killed me. This time I was going up the moutain and the altitude suddenly hit me. My walking partner was gracious enough to wait as I caught my breath and glimpsed the beautiful mountainous landscape before me. When closer to the compound, an oribi crossed our path. A small Ik boy who was with us described the animal as an eagle soaring through the grass. It was a hot day and I made it back to our compound a little after noon. By 4:30 pm, the midwife and her assistant were at the gate again. By the way, did I mention that the midwife is an animated 70 year old woman? They reported that a healthy baby boy was born at 2pm. I praise God for his mercy in saving this child as the mother had lost three babies previous to this one. At the end of the day, I'm feeling privileged to having been able to peer into the lives of the Ik women.


Tammy On the Go said...

wow! that is all I can say

Annie said...

Great job on the blog, Amber! It's wonderful to see you and Terrill 'in action'. Praise the LORD for all you are doing there! I get reports on you from Grace once in a while, but this is so much better - I'll be praying -

velma said...

so very interesting! thanks.

Janice said...

Gorgeous flowers. . .and thanks for taking time to share pics and stories!!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog. We pray for your safety and work.

Mary Jane said...

By the way,I'm not anonymous = I'm your old aunt that must have hit the wrong button!

Travis & Kelsey said...

Great to hear about your day! It would have been fun to be there :) Ya'll are in our prayers.