Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nƙwaatikwa ni Ɲeriaŋi ('modern healers')-Part 1

We just had an amazing visit with some friends from our Tallahassee church (Four Oaks). After months & weeks of waiting for them to come, the time had arrived and time usually busily vanished before our eyes in a blur of activity. We did so much in the eleven days together that I have to split the blog up (mostly so I can get more pictures in).

Our visitors, Doug & Lisa Jernigan and Buddy & Louie Doll, had quite the Ugandan adventure. It all started with a ride in a bush plane (thanks to MAF: a missionary flying service). I had told them to bring along medicines for nausea but I might have forgotten to tell them that north-eastern Uganda is one of the windiest places in world (so we've been told). The MAF pilots courageously fight the wind three days a week as they land at the airstrip in Kaabong on a regular basis. The airstrip is a sandy, flat area out in the wilderness some miles from Kaabong town.

I better keep this narrative moving or I'll have a book before I know it. We shared hugs of welcome all around, had a lunch of lentils and then drove up to Timu. It was still dry season when our visitors arrived. The rainy season was late but the weather pleasant. Everyone got settled in, our belongings put away, and then we trekked 100 yards for our first village visit. Our neighbors (Lojore & Esther) are kind enough to welcome our many visitors and expose them to Ik village life. Ik greetings were practiced and exposure was successful.

During our time together, we did a number of activities. First and foremost, we treated people. My clinic days are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9am-1pm. Lisa, Buddy & Louie assisted me in the clinic and helped to expand my knowledge of a good assessment and treatment of illnesses. I learned so much from just sitting beside them and watching. I learned what a healthy & unhealthy ear canal should look like. I learned how to hold a baby still enough to look into their ear. I learned not to put Calamine lotion (for the many cases of chicken pox) on a child under the age of two. I learned that large lymph nodes around the clavicle are a sign of a systemic problem. The list goes on. My friends generously poured their years of wisdom and knowledge into my life. Thank you, Lisa, Buddy & Louie, for this gift.

Meanwhile, Doug was sanding rust off our gates and painting. We were the lucky ones to be inside shelter on those hot days. Poor Doug was working under an African sun and believe me when I say, we European-descended were not created to work under an African sun. It was humble work but Doug did it without complaint. Thank you, Doug, for serving us so selflessly.

On our off days, we decided to explore the Timu mountains a bit and hold a mobile clinic. This is something Terrill & I had wanted to do for awhile since we meet many people from these far-off villages but have never visited them ourselves. I'll expand more on the mobile clinics in the next blog. The child below was a bystander at one of the locations we visited. Many Ik were interested in what we were doing and I'll bet that some of the young children had never seen white faces up close before.
The Ik have well-worn footpaths that they travel every day. As we trekked to a distant village, this man got stuck behind us on the path. He is carrying a dead tree, most likely to be used either for his house or his outer fence.
Some of the best times we had together were when we simply shared life. It was a blessing to have others in the kitchen with me to share the load of cooking and cleaning. I tried to do dishes several times but was consistently shooed away by others who wanted to bless me. Doing dishes was a good excuse to clean our fingernails.
Another project worked on was putting together a solar oven. I must say with some embarrassment that I napped while this oven was put together. But I think the concept was pretty simple. All we needed was a cardboard box, some heavy duty tinfoil and glue. Lisa did bring a special pan to place inside the box. The test was to put water into the pan and see how hot it would get. I believe it got up to 120 degrees F....but that was after only a few hours, not all day. We still have much to learn about this solar oven, but hopefully we can utilize it for cooking & baking some day soon.
Here's Doug neatly painting the fancy spikes on our outer gate.
And this...was me learning to suture on a chicken. Hey...we didn't have any pigs' feet! Buddy graciously killed and plucked this rooster clean. Then Lisa sat with me and patiently went through the steps. It didn't seem that hard at the time, but I think I will sweat more when my first patient comes who needs sutures. I had asked them to teach me this skill because quite a few Ik come to my gate with lacerations of one kind or another. Guess what happened next? We skewered my patient in a teriyaki sauce over an open flame.
It's after hours and almost time for dinner but we couldn't help but give this child (Jacob) attention. He had a painful thorn in his foot. Buddy is looking for the culprit.
And Louie...was flying kites with the kids. Who wouldn't love a woman who shows up with the first kite these kids have ever seen. It had a lizard on it which is a very familiar reptile to the Ik. The past few days we've been back in Timu, the kids have begged to play with that lizard and it's seen more air-time in a few days than most kites do in their lifetimes.
Flying his first kite.
We spent Easter Sunday in the new Pentecostal church. It's a beautiful structure and the first permanent building (besides our houses) to be built in this area. Although the pastor and many of the congregation were gone for the day (visiting another church), a group still gathered. A special part of Easter Sunday was being able to read the Easter story to the kids.
And then a highlight of the trip: Doug brought his ukelele and played for the kids. He gave a concert on Wednesday night and then again on Sunday afternoon. They listened attentively to this new instrument. It was the first time they'd seen a guitar of any sorts. They do have instruments that look like a hand-held harp....but nothing like a ukelele. I know I've pointed out a lot of firsts but I guess that is the nature of things when westerners move into third-world countries. We are often the ones who expose people to those things outside their worldviews. As it happens, the Ik children want to remember the ukelele. I hadn't heard a word from them about it, but just today I saw a piece of wood that had been shaped into a guitar form with strings attached to the front. It was proudly slung over a child's shoulder and they proudly played a tune for me. Only eleven days, but our visitors have left a legacy.

1 comment:

Taylor said...

I'm so glad you guys got to have such awesome visitors! Amber, how great you got to learn suturing and more assessment skills:) What a blessing... I especially love the part where you said a kid had made own homemade ukelele, so precious! Miss you both!