Internet! And a pool!

Suzanne and I are at Emin Pasha, a lovely hotel we’ve spent a good bit of time enjoying over the years. We’re doing a “spa day” which bascially means we paid 60,000 shillings for lunch, a pedicure, and the ability to use the hotel and pool all day. Plus power for charging things and the internet! Not too bad! Here’s where we’re sitting:

I'm under that shelter typing away right now. This pic was this morning. It's now quite sunny and HOT

I’m under that shelter typing away right now. This pic was this morning. It’s now quite sunny and HOT

The last few days were challenging and very exhausting. I’ll start with Monday.

MONDAY

We left for Bukaleba at 10:30 and got there in about an hour. We went first to the primary school and visited each of the 3 classes, P1-P3. They all did their “Welcome Visitor” recitation for us, which is pretty funny. Here are the classes.

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P3 doesn't have any tables, but I was able to leave money for those!

P3 doesn’t have any tables, but I was able to leave money for those!

IMG_4211After this, we went to the babies home. There is a brand new manager, who was thrown into the fire because the former manager never showed up to train her. So she (Sarah) is doing her best to figure things out as she goes. The main concern is that the babies aren’t doing well, including Marvin (who isn’t technically a “baby” but is still with the babies because of his development). The former manager had set the menu to give these children (all about 10 mos – 18 mos) cow’s milk and porridge only, and they aren’t thriving (for obvious reasons). Godfrey was going to pick up some of the high protein mash in Kampala and get formula from a woman in Jinja who specializes in malnourished children. If Marvin and two of the three triplets that we met last May don’t seem improved in a week, Godfrey will take them to that lady for nursing.

IMG_4212 IMG_4213 IMG_4214It was hard to get photos because they were all in a narrow room. But in this last picture, the baby on the left looks EXACTLY the same as she did last May. She’s one of the triplets. She’s at least 14 mos old, if not more. Her sister, in the middle is in the same situation, although she’s a bit healthier. The other triplet is doing better. Jacob, with the bat, looks good. He’s the baby that I got to name, that was found in a trash can. Marvin is the one standing in the top picture. He’s at least 4… He was extremely malnourished when he got to the babies home, and still is having trouble. He also had malaria at our visit so he wasn’t well.

We ate lunch and visited the new office, then went to the secondary school, visiting some of the classrooms, the new dorms, and talking with the headmaster. They have about 165 boarding students there now, and it’s going well. We got back to the guesthouse at about 5:30 (no internet).

TUESDAY

At 8am on Tuesday, James, the driver for Hospice Jinja, picked me and all my stuff and we went to the office. After worship, prayer and a meeting, I set out with Dr. Patricia (one of the married, retired Irish doctors who come spend a month twice a year volunteering at hospice), Beatrice, Metrice, and Esther and James took us out into Luuka district. WAY out… We were far. We saw over dozen patients, both in their homes and at clinics. I also got to experience my first “mad man.” I don’t like to take many pictures of hospice patients – I wouldn’t want people to take pictures of me! – but I have a few. I’ll caption them.

And old report, but you can see how big a problem malaria is

And old report, but you can see how big a problem malaria is

I don't think you can see them, but this woman's foot and lower leg are covered wtih Karposy's Sarcoma... It's almost always HIV/AIDS related. Hers is getting better with ARVs.

I don’t think you can see them, but this woman’s foot and lower leg are covered wtih Karposy’s Sarcoma… It’s almost always HIV/AIDS related. Hers is getting better with ARVs.

This is where the young man with HIV was, being cared for by his mother. Until ARVs he was in bed unable to move. He is now sitting and getting some strength back.

This is where the young man with HIV was, being cared for by his mother. Until ARVs he was in bed unable to move. He is now sitting and getting some strength back.

"Dry gangrene" causes body part to dry up and break off. Most of the top of this grandmother's foot is gone. Unlike "wet" gangrene, it doesn't get in the blood, but without amputation it will spread

“Dry gangrene” causes body part to dry up and break off. Most of the top of this grandmother’s foot is gone. Unlike “wet” gangrene, it doesn’t get in the blood, but without amputation it will spread

The home of the lady with dry gangrene in her foot

The home of the lady with dry gangrene in her foot

Dr Patricia talks to a patient (far right) who is HIV+

Dr Patricia talks to a patient (far right) who is HIV+

Your tax dollars at work - this condom distribution thing was in all the clinics.

Your tax dollars at work – this condom distribution thing was in all the clinics.

The road back to Jinja was ENDLESS, bumpy and hot. We hadn’t had lunch or any bathroom breaks, and everyone was exhausted. We got back to the office at 4:20, and at 4:30 James and I left for Tororo. The 1 1/2 hr drive took 2 1/2, thanks to road construction, but we got there, dropped my stuff, and I had a nice dinner with Rinty, who runs Hospice Tororo. I crashed after a freezing cold shower!

WEDNESDAY

No power, and it was dark when I woke, but I had a nice breakfast and tea with Michaella at the guesthouse before the 3 of us walked to the hospital, where Hospice Tororo is. I have no pictures from there, as I didn’t want to walk around the hospital taking pictures. We saw three patients on the wards in the morning: a very emaciated woman with HIV (next to her was an old woman that couldn’t have weighed 70 lb… she looked like the old pictures of Ethiopia); a middle aged woman with HIV; and an old man dying of prostate cancer. He was about 80 lb, and had horrible bedsores. His grandson has been caring for him and is doing a great job, and he has a private room, which is helfpul. There are about 40 people per ward, otherwise, and it’s very grim. Honestly, to me, it looked like half the people there should be in hospice!

We had a good and very cheap lunch at the hospital (2000 shilling, or about 70 cents, for a full plate of beans, rice, chapati and greens). The driver was 1 1/2 hrs late getting to Tororo, so we left at 2:30 instead of 1pm, got our stuff, and headed back. We dropped Rinty in Jinja, and then kept going to Kampala. The “4 hour” drive took 6 hr and 15 min, was hot, frustrating and way too long! And I didn’t get dinner… I got back to Fathers House at 8:45, had tea, and crashed. No power, there, either, but there had been for about 2 hrs earlier so at least the shower was lukewarm.

So that’s my week! Emotionally and mentally, not to mention physically, it’s been quite challenging, so I’m very glad for this day off. Tomorrow I meet a new friend for coffee, then go to Ray of Hope to review the women we met last week and go over business plans. Saturday is the party, then Sunday I head back! Hard to believe!

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers!

My first real TIA day

My friend Suzanne, who lives here, says TIA a lot. It means, “This is Africa,” and it is used to explain the inexplicable and often contradictory things that happen here. And those things are many!

Today, I was supposed to head out to Bukaleba after lunch, spend time with the kids in the babies home, and stay the night out in the lovely guest house. I saw Godfrey at breakfast, and we agreed we’d go after lunch. I said, “Lunch there or here?” He said here. Then he left with a team that’s here from Austin, TX for church, and I got some work done, since I’d be busy all afternoon.

The power was out this morning, and my laptop battery got pretty low, so at noon I came out to the dining area to read and wait for the team to return and lunch. By 2pm, neither of those things had happened. By 2:30, I was starving but didn’t know when Godfrey would return, so I didn’t want to go to town. I had a bowl of pineapple and watermelon and then went to my room and had Nabs. At 3:30, Godfrey came to my room and asked if I was ready to go… BUT, I couldn’t stay out there because the water isn’t working at the guest house. Which would mean we’d drive 2 hours or more round trip to spend an hour there… Not a smart idea.

So. I said that seemed like a waste of fuel, and suggested we just go tomorrow morning. He agreed (I think he was relieved, as he has been very very busy with the team, not returning from Mbale last night until after 8pm, and heading out again early this morning). What that meant was that I didn’t get lunch and had a lazy day. Not that there’s anything wrong with a lazy day, but it’s usually better if you know it’s going to be one ahead of time, rather than after it’s mostly over with! (I also discovered that my laptop hadn’t been charging because the converter had partially pulled out of the outlet… Yeah, that kind of day!)

I’m doing some work now, writing more blog posts for the two blog tours I have coming up. We’re leaving in the morning after breakfast and will be gone all day, so I won’t get any work done tomorrow, then I’m going out with hospice and going to Tororo afterwards, so no work Tuesday either. I’ve still got about 25 blog posts to write, so I’m just taking advantage of the time (now that I know I have it!).

That’s all I have to report! I’ll try to get a post in tomorrow, with some pictures from the school and babies home. It should be a good, long and probably hot day, but I love going out there, so I’m still excited. Have a good, lazy Sunday!

Taking tea in Jinja

I love Jinja. If I lived in Uganda, this is where I’d live. It’s on the Nile, so water isn’t the problem it is in Kampala, and it’s smaller, cleaner, has decent roads, plus there’s a lot to do here since it’s becoming an adventure tourism destination. Here are some pics from other visits, just so you can see how lovely it is around here.

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The drive here was crazy – approximately 100 km took 3 1/2 hours. Traffic… nuts. But I got fish and chips at Ozzie’s, our favorite Jinja restaurant, plus a cinnamon to have for a snack this afternoon, and did some shopping. I arrived at the Arise Africa guest house at 2pm and got a wonderful hot shower. In Kampala in the dry season, Fathers House has to have water trucked up to the cisterns, so I’m always very conscious about my water usage. But here, it’s no problem, so while I didn’t pretend I was at a spa, I did enjoy the water (and water pressure) immensely!

Now, I’m enjoying the faster internet along with some tea. I don’t have to do anything this afternoon, so I’m going to enjoy it! (I’ll probably work on writing stuff, but at least that’s here on the porch in the shade with some breeze!

Here are some pics I couldn’t get to load from yesterday. I may not be able to post until Monday evening, as I’m going out to Bukaleba tomorrow and there’s no internet. (But there’s really good food!)

The rain on Wednesday over Lake Victoria

The rain on Wednesday over Lake Victoria

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Days 3, 4 and 5 – Hot, Rain, Hot

(NOTE: the photos quit uploading, so I’ll add those when I can!)

WEDNESDAY:

We went down into the community, visiting new families. This took me back to our first visits down in the slums, before we began doing the micro-business grants. The families we visited on Wednesday were in dire straights, their needs really overwhelming. I didn’t realize quite how much better off our ladies were now than when we met them until Wednesday. Some of what we encountered:

The children whose homes we visited Wednesday

The children whose homes we visited Wednesday

We visited the home of one of the new first year boys at the Ray of Hope school. He lives with his elderly grandparents, as his parents have died. The grandfather is in his 90’s, the grandmother in her 70’s. They currently have no income at all, and are eating only because a neighbor has been sharing food. Their rent is only 30,000 shillings a month, but they are going to have to move because the landlord wants to renovate. If you could see this place, you would know what a joke that is — it needs to be razed and rebuilt! Their options for making money are extremely limited by their age, but they don’t want to go back to their village, where they could have more food and more help. Emily and Christine are going to keep working on that option, as their prospects in Namuwongo are really quite limited.

IMG_4191Another family had been abandoned by the husband and evicted from their home for not paying rent. They were living in a church. The 16 year old daughter had been working as a maid but was raped by the man in the house and is now pregnant. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon, and is virtually never prosecuted. We are going to pay 3 months rent somewhere so they can get out of the church, and work with her on what business she can start.

The last family we visited is the one that is really sticking with me (we visited 8 families that day). The mother is somewhat lame but works in a quarry pounding rocks into gravel with a sledgehammer. Her children, ages 7, 8 and 10, also work in the quarry. They make about 1,500 shillings a wheelbarrow full… No child should work in a quarry.

THURSDAY:

I had a very bad migraine Wednesday night, so didn’t go down on Thursday. I rested and slept in the morning, then, feeling better, worked on writing in the afternoon. We had a lot of rain and wind, so it wouldn’t have been a good day to visit the slums anyway.

FRIDAY (today):

First we visited Ebenezer Secondary School, where 15 of our sponsored kids are now going. We spoke with the headmaster, Mr. Mali, for quite a long time. I was impressed at how much he has learned about the kids just since the start of the term (about 2 weeks). The school did very well on the national exams last year, including having one of the top scoring students in both chemistry and math (both girls, surprisingly!). Our kids are adjusting well, and we saw some of them as we toured the facility.

We visited another student’s home, not down in the slums but in a “nicer” area that doesn’t floor. (Nicer is a relative term, but it did smell a lot better and it doesn’t flood.) The grandmother is supporting 6 grandchildren and her daughter, who is quite ill with HIV. (I suspect she has full-blown AIDS, as she is very malnourished, so we are going to look into a hospice referral.) The grandmother has been working in a coffee bean factory for 1,500 shillings a day, but it is not the season now, and the owner has also brought in a lot of machinery to replace the workers, so there is little work. We are going to look into her renting a stand and selling matoke; there is a another lady in the program doing this who can advise her.

We went WAY far down the tracks, in the opposite direction than I’ve been before. This is an even poorer area, although it doesn’t flood. The houses are even more inexpensive than the central part of the slums (25,000 instead of 40-50,000 for the same size place), but there is little opportunity to have a small business. We visited two families here. Both were abandoned by their husbands. One has to move because the landlord is going to raze the home. The mother works 7 days a week for an Indian family doing laundry, and makes 50,000 shillings a month (about $35). We talked to her about selling something cooked in the evenings near her home, since her children are small, and she said she could cook casava and pancakes. The other woman had remarried, but the husband won’t take care of her first daughter (almost 7 years old) because she is “not his,” so the child suffers from that. The mom used to hawk bras and things but lost her capital when the baby was sick and she had to pay medical fees. We’ll look into restocking her, as she is young and healthy and could do that to earn money.

Finally, we visited an Acholi family in another part of the slums I’d never been to. The husband “went mad” a year or so ago and returned to the village with 3 of the children, leaving the mother in Kampala with the younger 3. She has cancer and has been receiving free treatment at a government hospital here, so going back to the village, where she’d have to pay, is not really an option. I’m not sure what she can do for income – communication was difficult as we had no Acholi translator, and she is also weak from her treatments. She’s going to go to the Ray of Hope office to try to figure that out during the next week.

So, overall, it’s been challenging these last few days. We don’t have as much to invest in micro-business grants as we’ve had in the past, and yet the need is as great as ever. As always, I don’t want to say no to everyone, and yet taking on new commitments isn’t possible this year. So we’ll be meeting next Friday to discuss all the proposals and see who we can help and with how much. That is always so hard… When you see how they live, it is almost impossible to say no. But facts are facts, and we have a finite amount of money. I covet your prayers to allocate it properly!

Day 2 – and it’s HOT!

This is my seventh trip to Uganda, and only one was really hot. Usually jeans are fine, and I wear a sweatshirt in the morning and evening. Not this time, at least so far. It’s hot and dry and there’s red dust everywhere. Just down the hill from Father’s House they are burning, and the house is filled with smoke. Stephen and Bosco are outside to make sure the fire doesn’t jump to the property, as one did last year on the other side of the house.

I had a good – and speedy! – day in Namuwongo today. One of the ladies, Isha (pronounced Eye-sha) led us around after we visited her house, and she knew all the faster ways to get to the other women’s homes. Consequently we were done an hour earlier than usual! This was great since it was so hot. Some of those rooms and houses were like ovens, too, my goodness. I don’t know how they take it.

Morette May 2012

Morette May 2012

We visited about eight women today. The first was Morette, since she has a little stand near Ray of Hope where she cooks and sells beans. I guess it’s technically a “restaurant”, but it’s one pot on a charcoal stove, homemade benches and a picnic-type table, and a tarp strung up for shade. But she gave a very generous helping and she had a half a dozen enjoying her food, so that was great.

Isha May 2012

Isha May 2012

Isha found us after this, so we went to her house next. Her kids (a 14 month old and a 4 year old) were fascinated by this mzungu in their house (that’s what they call white people — but most of the time they mean it nicely!) and both sat on my lap. A tad problematic since they don’t wear diapers… but no harm done! Isha has a stand similar to Florence, but she only sells food at night, starting at 6pm and going until about 10pm. We actually met her husband, which is amazing.

Next we visited Miriam. Miriam sells second-hand bras and shoes. She hawks the bras around to businesses and homes nearby, and then sells the shoes at the railroad tracks when she gets tired. I know her husband is a boda driver, and they must be doing pretty well. They’d just build a one-room house when I met her last year, and they’ve added a room, with an actual window, since.

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Next we saw Joyce, a grandmother with 1 son still in primary and 4 grandchildren she cares for (their parents died of HIV/AIDS). Last May we gave her a grant for a little store, which her son was helping her with. She’s settled now, and has avocado and other veggies, lovely greens (called gobe’ and dodo, they’re delicious!), a huge sack of silverfish, and a nice safe interior to store her goods when she’s closed. She had a stall before, but her things were getting stolen, so now she’s doing better.

Rosemary May 2012

Rosemary May 2012

Rosemary was home on our second pass and is doing well. She is going from market to market hawking second-hand bras and other undergarments. She’s finding that she does better going to the markets, although she has to travel some each day. She had been at the Oweno market last year, but it burned down in April. I’m not sure if it’s been rebuild, but she seems to have decided that going to different ones each day is more profitable. She looks great, though. When I first met her a couple of years ago, she was really struggling with her ARVs, which she takes for HIV, and was exhausting herself by walking long distances hawking. Now she is doing less walking, and is on a different medication, so she’s doing great.

We met a new lady who has just started with Nawezakana named Fererri. Her husband has abandoned her and she was evicted from her place for not paying rent, so she and her children are currently living in a church. (Don’t picture your own church – this is a room with some rough wooden benches and a makeshift podium, and no glass in the windows.) Her 16 year old daughter was there doing laundry. The daughter had been working as a maid and was raped by someone in the home and is now pregnant. These cases are virtually impossible to prosecute, as the employer has money to pay bribes while the servants have no one to fight for them. It is, unfortunately, not at all uncommon. Anyway, we’re going to help her find a place to rent for 50,000 shillings and leave 3 months rent, and help her with some capital to start a business so by the time she needs to pay the rent, she can.

We saw several other ladies quite quickly. One likes to dig… Yep, she LIKES to DIG. Her daughter is at university studying micro-finance.

Nulu, March 2011

Nulu, March 2011

Finally, we got to Nulu’s stall, which is the farthest away we go. Her husband was working there (the second husband, a minor miracle!) but Nulu wasn’t there. She’s taken a job cleaning the community for the government, a dirty, nasty job that she seems to like. (She has got a ton of energy, that woman!) And her husband likes working the stall, which is amazing, since he’s been unemployed for probably 10 years, so I guess that’s working out for them. The husband texted her and she came running down the railroad tracks to meet us, so we did get to see her. Her stall is, as always, doing great. She’s on a super busy corner — we almost got run over by a half dozen bodas!

This photo is from March 2011, the first time we made the long walk to Jennifer's. It's waaayyyyyy down - you can't even see it yet, and this is at least halfway there.

March 2011. This railroad track is the boundary of the slums. To the right are pretty nice homes, to the left are the slums. This was far at the end, so it’s not bad.

So that was the morning, and while it was very hot, we did get through quickly. Tomorrow we’ll visit some new ladies that I haven’t met yet, and go to a secondary school where some of our kids go. I’m not sure what I’ll do after — I guess I’ll see what time we’re done. There’s a place down at Quality that makes really good pizza…. hmmmm…

 

Day 1 in Namuwongo

Today I took video, not photos, so I don’t have anything to upload. But I had a good day!

I headed down to Namuwongo at 9am, arriving there a little before 10am. We headed down into the community and talked to a number of the ladies from Nawezakana in either their homes or at their stalls where they sell produce or cooked food.

Mary, May 2012

Mary, May 2012

Mary, who we have helped since the beginning, is doing great. Her son Festo is in his first year at university, studying law; Festo has been one of our sponsored kids for 3 years. Mary had just gotten back from Nakawa market so we watched her unpack her huge bushel bag of tomatoes, the dried silverfish, and the the various other long-lasting vegetables onto her small stand. Mary also sews for Ray of Hope.

Caroline May 2012

Caroline May 2012

We visited Caroline, who was not doing well when I was here in May, 2012. We began then to provide her with milk every day, and she looked so great! I had been worried that she wouldn’t make it, but she really looks well. The paper bead jewelry isn’t selling anymore, so we discussed some other things she and the other ladies could do that would be unique. We’re still noodling that one!

Doreen, the other of our elderly ladies, welcomed us with her little adorable kitten. The social workers have been talking to her about relocating back to her village in the north where she has land, and she is very excited to do that. Ray of Hope is going to send a staff member with Doreen and a couple of other ladies who are willing to go back to their villages to make sure their land deeds are in order, and then we are going to try to help them build a simple house and get settled. These families all moved to Kampala years ago when Joseph Kony and the LRA were wreaking havoc up in the Acholi territories, but many own land. With some help, they can move back and have a much better life than their current ones in the slums, so I’m excited that most of them are willing to do that.

Agnes, May 2012

Agnes, May 2012

Agnes and her daughter were in her stand on the main “road” along the top border of the slums. Her stand isn’t doing very well. The market is glutted with people all selling the same things – tomatoes, onions, bananas, and the like. She is a good seamstress, but the jewelry purses that were doing so well in the market are not doing well anymore. Other groups are making poor quality imitations and selling them much cheaper, so the Nawezakana bags are getting squeezed out. Again, we’re trying to come up with some alternatives. (It’s frustrating, because the ladies work so hard, and yet their efforts at the market are going so poorly!)

Prossy, her mom and brother in front of their home

Prossy, her mom and brother in front of their home

We visited several other women, mostly ones who we helped for the first time last May. They are all doing well, and several have moved from temporary stalls to permanent ones. The biggest success story of these was Prossy’s mom, whom we met for the first time in 2012. The family of 7 was living on 100,000 shillings a month that Prossy brought in. Now her mom has a permanent stall selling vegetables and bananas, charcoal, sugar cane and fresh made kabalagala (pancakes). I didn’t even recognize her – she’s gained weight back and looked wonderful! (Prossy started teaching school last fall and is doing great, too!)

Nulu, March 2011

Nulu, March 2011

Tomorrow we’ll head to the “Nulu side” of the slums – the side where one of our oldest friends in Kampala (and an amazing businesswoman) has her stand. Nulu has an amazing head for business and has done so well that she’s been able to buy some land, so I’m excited to see her and find out her newest successes. Later in the week we will visit several schools, including a Senior/Secondary school where several of our sponsored kids are going. I’ll try to take pictures tomorrow so that I can upload some for you!

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!

Five days to go. Is it time to panic?

Dont-Panic

I’m leaving on Friday. My flight’s at 2:45, so I’m pretty much done with whatever I’m doing by noon. Today is Sunday, and my to-do list is as long as my arm, including editing a 100,000+ word book before I go. At some point, I guess you just have to laugh. I’m not quite there yet, though!

So what’s going on this week?

First, I need to start packing. I get 2 suitcases of up to 50lb each, so I’m probably taking one of our super-light rollers and a duffel bag. Traveling with 50lb duffel bags is a pain, but since I always come home with a lot less than I leave with, it’s great to stuff the duffel in the suitcase and only have 1 bag for the return journey. I’m taking over a lot of stuff, although not as much as usual since Suzanne has just been in New Zealand as she got a lot of things for the kids. But a friend of ours is pregnant and needs some baby stuff, another friend is moving to the US with her baby and needs some warm clothes for their arrival in NYC, and another asked for a few things as a graduation present from grad school. Plus I always take candy and glow sticks and fun things for the kids. Oh, and don’t forget the laptop, tablet and 2 iPhones for another friend, all of which I have to carry in my carry-on.

Make sure my video camera is charged, and figure out what lenses I’m taking for my camera. I want to do some interviews this trip and put together a 3-5 min video for my website. I’m terrible at interviewing people, but I’m going to ask my husband to help — he’s much better at it! I’m not going on safari so I don’t need the huge 500mm lens, and since I have to carry all the electronics and be able to heave that bag up into the overhead bins, I have to be discriminating.

Laundry. This isn’t too bad when we do a spring trip, because most of what I’m packing, I haven’t been wearing. The weather there is about 84 in the day, 68 at night, so I do need jeans and a sweatshirt or two, but mostly shorts and light tops. Still… there are the essentials, right?

Editing. 100k+ words. Enough said.

Errands. I need to go to Petsmart, Costco, Target, the grocery… There will be three men here while I’m gone, so I need to bring in the victuals!

Finish the “fix the house” list. A friend of ours is coming today to do all the things that need to be done to get our house ready to sell. We’ve got a Pod in our driveway, and I need to get stuff moved out there. (I need to not think about the fact that I’ll only have a month after I get back before we list it!) I think he’ll never be able to leave, actually…

Get cash. You can only exchange $100 bills that are 2006 or newer, with no rips, creases or marks. Theoretically it can be 2002 or newer, but you can’t find bills that old that are acceptable. I don’t need much this trip, as everyone is paying me for their goodies in shillings, but we’re doing the big party on March 2, and I’ll need to pay the caterer a deposit early in the trip. Of course, I could always use the ATM there and not worry about it… We’ll see how my time goes!

That’s not a complete list, but it’s making me tired… Here’s the more important thing — the prayer request list.

  • Safe travels both in the air and on the ground.
  • Health and energy, especially since I’ll have very little down time this trip.
  • To see everyone God wants me to see, and to bring His love and blessings.
  • That my family will be safe, healthy and happy here while I’m gone. Since ALL my family is getting left behind this time, I feel more burdened.

That’s it for now. More panicking will follow, I’m sure.

now_panic_and_freak_out__by_jweinstock-d3hvgoz