Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Life's mishaps

Our internet has been unreliable lately, so we're a few weeks behind on blogs. 

At the beginning of December (while we were in Kampala, thankfully), Janet broke her right arm. We were at our usual guest house and we had neighbors with kids. One of the boys was Janet's age. Together they climbed up a four ft. wall and jumped off. Since Janet was holding the boy's right hand with her left hand, she braced her fall with her right hand. It cracked her radius bone. It was a Friday evening at 7pm. She walked into the room where I was sitting with a sad look on her face and said, "My arm broke." I saw it hanging limply and made a sling. At this point, the arm didn't hurt much. Terrill arrived home and we started out for a hospital which was a 10 minute drive from where we were staying. 

IHK (International Hospital Kampala) was not busy that night. We found the ER easy enough and she was seen by a doctor in a matter of minutes. We waited a little for the x-ray, but that was also done pretty quickly according to any hospital's standards. The x-ray showed a break and we were taken to a treatment room (below), where the doctor realigned her arm and casted her. This was the painful part. But our brave girl sat there without fighting. Big tears rolled down her cheeks as they set the bone and casted her arm. Within minutes, it was done. And the total cost: $70. I was pretty impressed with IHK's emergency room and I would recommend this facility to anyone in Uganda. 

Here we are three weeks later, having survived the holidays and Janet's 5th birthday with a heavy cast. But God has been gracious to our family and we've managed to work around it. In a little over a week, she's due to have the cast cut off. Please pray with us for healing of her bone and restored use of her arm. She's eager to get back to playing as roughly as ever!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Banda Island

Prior to Calvin & Mary Jane leaving Uganda, we took a two-day holiday out to one of the Ssesse islands. There are approximately 84 islands that make up Ssesse islands, in the middle of Lake Victoria. We stayed on a smallish one known as Banda island. 

We departed from Kasenyi docks (near Entebbe) at 2pm in the afternoon. Saying it was chaos as we boarded would be an understatement. Porters met us at the water's edge and carried us to the boat so we wouldn't get wet in the dirty water. We expected the boat to look like a ferry with nice seating and an awning. What it turned out to be was a cargo boat that happened to carry people as well. Once on the boat, we were told to make our way to the front, stepping over numerous people on the way. The other passengers seemed to be used to this type of travel and leaned over as we walked on boards near their heads. Finally, we found our seats, which turned out to be less than two inches wide. The ride wasn't bad at first and the waves were mild, but after four hours on the boat, our backsides were numb. We were so thankful for the cloudy day and comfortable temperatures. It made traveling more pleasant. 

At some point, we asked a drunk passenger near by how much he had paid for the fare. We didn't think this many other passengers could afford what the captain was charging us mzungus (white people). It was only $8 per head for the ride, but that seemed a lot for the Ugandan economy. The passenger responded that he paid $2.25 for his ride. We tried talking to the captain about this discrepancy, but the issue was never resolved. It seems that they charge the passengers according to what they think we can afford. 
Halfway through the ride, another boat pulled up next to us to hand over a passenger.
Lemu & Janet both took nice long naps during the trip.
At the next dock, we transferred to another boat and sped towards Banda island to beat the rain clouds that were quickly surrounding us.
This is the sight that welcomed us on shore: a building that is used as a 'mess hall' to feed people. The beach had rocky sand, but didn't hurt the feet to walk on. The water near shore was crystal clear. An area for a bonfire was situated in the sand.
Our cabins were made of rock and had tin roofs. Very rustic but with character. One thing we would have liked was if the staff might have cleaned the place better. Spiders were our main complaint. It almost felt like Timu.
Terrill & the girls are taking a run along the beach that first evening. The girls were living in a dream because they could play with all the water they wanted to for 48 hours. In Timu, we have to reserve our water because it's so precious. On Banda, water was abundant and the girls did not waste their opportunity to play.
The stretch of beach near our campsite.
Bats hung from the ceiling in the mess hall.
The bird life was plentiful. I believe around 20 species live on the island.
Early the next morning, the girls were in swimsuits and exploring. I advocate for suits with tush ruffles as it's just too cute!
Their faces say it all. They've never encountered a body of water this big before.
Swimming with daddy, Lemu holds on tight....
...while Janet prefers to be daring.
Water bottles have never been so much fun.
Sisters on the beach. They played for hours and slept well that night.
Terrill was also daring and swam 300 meters out to a small island. When he returned from his trip breathless, he decided that the island was farther than it had looked from shore.
Banda also offered small boats that we could borrow. Terrill took us out twice.
Mama with her girls on the water at sunset.
On the return trip to Entebbe, we chartered our own boat for a more comfortable ride. It turned out to be two hours quicker as well. Banda island is in the background.
Once again, the girls fell fast asleep. Uncle Calvin's lap had never been so soft.
We had talked with the girls the evening prior that Calvin & Mary Jane would be leaving us. It was a difficult evening for Janet especially as she processed that people come and go in her life. What we had to convince her of was that her losing these people was not permanent. She's seen too much death for a five year old. Two months together and both girls had become attached to our wonderful relatives.
Mary Jane being carried ashore from our chartered boat.
Terrill being carried ashore. It was an odd feeling to be hoisted unexpectedly onto someone's shoulders.
It was a wonderful holiday with people we love!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Back in April when we first got Janet and Lemu, we were overwhelmed by the changes and challenges. Life was bleak, and the future looked bleaker. So we put out a little cry for help. My mother, Velma, was the first to answer, coming over for a month in Aug-Sept. The second answer came from Amber's twin brothers Justin & Josh, and the third from Calvin & Mary Jane (Velma's older sister) Schrock. Calvin and Mary Jane had come over last year with my parents for two weeks. When we were back in the US last year, they mentioned a time or two they might consider coming back if we wanted them to. Be careful what you say to us!

While they were with us from October to December, together we listened to a few chapters of David Platt's book Radical. I remember after the first chapter I was thinking, "Calvin and Mary Jane are pretty darn radical themselves!" Coming over here in their retirement, sacrificing time in their comfortable routines for both mind-numbing mundanity and extreme ambiguity; sacrificing time with their own children and grandchildren to be with a nephew and his family; sacrificing all sorts of comforts and conveniences for the lack thereof on this side of the Atlantic. And doing it all with an amazing attitude of servanthood and service, kindness, and flexibility. We were impressed time and time again with how well they did, how much they blessed us, and how faithful they were in their obvious mission: to minister to us and to the Ik.

Let me just say it publicly: Calvin and Mary Jane, you are model retirees and Christians, still using your gifts, talents, and resources to bless the world instead of hoarding them for yourselves. We commend you for that and thank you for all you did for us!

They came at just the right time. Of course God would know that. We were missing my mom and Amber's brothers. We were finishing up our house and needed to move soon. We were faced with many tasks beyond our ability to do alone. The rest of this post is just a photo journey through the two months they stayed with us. Keep in mind that though I try to capture many of their contributions in these photos, they did way more than these!


The girls playing with 'Sister Grandma's' hair:

Calvin (on left) helping us raise the water tower (and not kill anybody in the process...):

Mary Jane and the girls riding on our mattress all the way from Kaabong to Timu:

Calving getting a little 'help' from Lemu in fitting our hardwood doors:

Calvin did ALL our plumbing which was a huge relief to us:

Mary Jane cooked a lot of good food for us, including this scrumptious pizza:

After work in the evening, Calvin would often sit and watch something with the girls. They sure appreciated the grandpa time!

Mary Jane was a tremendous blessing in the kitchen, here making dinner:

Mary Jane brought a hand-cranked Singer sewing machine, sewed a bunch of stuff with it, and taught Amber how to use it as well (now she can fix my 'holey' garments):

We had quite a bit of lumber leftover from the construction, so Calvin made good use of it for several projects. Here he's putting together a swing-set for the girls:

In the concrete around the swing-set legs, Calvin helped the girls make impressions of their hands:

Mary Jane hiked with Amber and the girls to pay a medical visit to one of the Ik villages:

Aunt Mary Jane making a rug, by hand, out of old curtains and socks!

Mary Jane and Alice, the happy recipient of some of her clothes:

Having a rest on the benches Calvin made for the local Ik church:

The wonderful wacky cake Mary Jane cooked for us every Sunday (now a tradition!):

How many hundreds, if not thousands of dishes did she do???

Our gardeners, Simon (pictured here) and Emma, enjoyed spending time with Calvin (while Terrill slaved away in his office). It was good for them to see a man 'of a certain age' working actively, especially one eager to discuss spiritual matters when he had the opportunity:

Calvin spent a couple of days working on the community grinding mill:

On Thanksgiving, we invited Janet and Lemu's uncle Lojere's family over. It was the first time we had them all to our new home and the first time we celebrated a major holiday with the Ik (instead of being somewhere else with expatriates). Here's the food our ladies prepared:

In halting Ik, I tried to explain why we celebrate Thanksgiving. I hope I got the message across:

Mary Jane had the dubious privilege of getting to see a birth in progress in less than ideal conditions:

After we moved to our new house, Calvin and Mary Jane remained in our former compound. They occupied one hut, and John Mark Lomeri (see previous post), occupied the other. I know they enjoyed each other's company:

Janet taking advantage of Grandpa Calvin's affection on our boat trip out to the Ssesse Islands (a little vacation before they departed):

Wind-blown, tired...but happy:

From the top of a castle on Banda Island:

Sticking close to Sister Grandma just before we have to say goodbye:

We know they were ready to get back to their lives at home, and we were glad to be a little family of four again...but what a blessing-saturated time we had together. Thanks, Calvin and Mary Jane, and you know you're welcome back any time (there's always the hot water heater to get going!)