Monday, July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016

Difficult to imagine that just a year ago I was standing out there in that room. We are going to expand by quite a number this year. Seems impossible to imagine this many new people joining us. I will always miss "my group" but look forward to welcoming the new. I'm still in Colorado, working on my house, cleaning the garage is a nightmare. Always has been, always will be. I'm "letting go of stuff though, I watched George Carlin, again and he posted about stuff. It feels a little scary to imagine that we will be doubling our numbers in Uganda but hopefully with many of us extending the transition will be okay. 

Today Seed Global Health and Peace Corps Response launched the 2016-2017 class of #GHSPVolunteers! Almost 60 physicians, nurses, and midwives have come together in Washington D.C. to prepare for their year of service! Peace Corps The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)

Monday, July 04, 2016

Stopover in UK

4th of July

Back in Colorado for the holiday, the family will come over soon. On the way back for my month holiday I stopped off in UK to see Preya and Med. What a lovely holiday and what a change of pace. We went out to see Med preform with his band, great voice, and to a play on the cliffs. Beautiful is all that I can say. I took the bus back to Heathrow on my own and passed through many small towns.
With my baby Preya

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The closer of service for our GHSP service was offered at a lovely resort in Tanzania. Quite exciting to see another country in Africa, and to be honest one that seemed very much more developed, fortunately we didn't visit hospitals so I cannot say that it was advanced but certainly seemed that way. Saying good-bye was tough. Instead we decided to have a reunion in Viet Nam sometime next year and began saying "See you in Viet Nam" vs goodbye. It worked out well and hopefully we will. We were offered drinks on the jetty several night but which I experienced once, it was fun. Just to see everyone relax and kick back. It was cute how we stayed with our own little groups more often or not, here is the Uganda table, the Tanzania and Malawi tables. When we started this journey we were just a group of volunteers sitting around in DC going our separate ways. The general opinion was that we all had learned so much. Saying good-bye or even see you in Viet Nam, not fun. Thought I could upload our final good-bye video but the file is too large for blogger..... brings back so many memories!

Team Uganda
Nice Hug from Vanessa
The Entire Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda group with Peace Corps and Seed staff from DC 

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Final post of the current GHSP Year. Wow, time does fly. The months have gone so quickly and here we are back at Kolping for our final goodbye party. We all depart for Tanzania in about an hour. Genevieve will be coming back to Uganda for some weeks and Lisa will be on her way back to home in Pennsylvania as Janet gets started on an entire new posting with GHSP. Wow! I will miss them and I am extending for what I know will be an interesting and productive year.

Despite the usual problems that are to be expected we have had a productive year, each in our own way. This year in Africa has changed me forever, in ways that I did not believe as an international traveler, someone who has spent most of their life abroad, could possibly change. I am humbled and impressed by the people that I work with and sometimes a bit frustrated.

In April we had a wound care conference that took most of my time leading up to it, just running about booking every room in the hotels in Lira that we could use. The conference came out well and we were proud that Lira was able to do this for our students, for the community and hopefully we have advanced some of our concerns on wound care as it isn't always taken as a priority.

Of the single greatest success story for me, personally. In May I made a very quick trip to the US and Mexico City to watch my lovely granddaughters graduate, so proud of them. I came back for a donor visit from the US which involved 5 airports and 6 stops to arrive in time to greet the guests following my trip back. I knew that I was going to have some rather quiet times as the students had completed final exams. Fortunately I was actually able to get more done than usual. We visited the hospital almost every day and I was able to actually put my Quality Improvement grant into place and to find staff who were not so busy with students to set things up. I've posted before about the enormous amounts of supplies that I brought back. I used one grant that Seed had provided to purchase a nursing kit for each of my students. This included what most of us in the US would think of as necessary and needed supplies but items my students did not have, simple things, a stethoscope, bp cuff, and thermometer. Agnes invited me to go out with her on a trip to a very small health care enter and with road construction and all it took us nearly three hours to get to the centre. We had placed students there for an internship during the summer months and wanted to check on them and to also see another place. I have visited these centres in the past and knew that they have very little supplies, no way to do a proper prenatal exam because of not even having a thermometer. We arrived in early afternoon and found 4 mothers waiting to be seen by my students. The complete joy I felt, and pride in my students as I saw them busy at work with the kits that I had brought from the US taking Bp's and getting vital signs on the first visits. These small gifts are their property, theirs to take forward and do good, and already within the short time that has passed since I distributed them my actual dream was in action. Miles from Lira in understaffed and over populated areas the things I struggled so hard to purchase and get over here were actually being utilised for the people who surely needed it the most. We even came across a very young woman who was very hypotensive and were able to help make arrangements to have her seen at a better centre. If that is the right way of putting it. That group of students, "my" group, inspire me and have taught me to be more grateful for the things I have. They have taught me how to make do with very little and have been a great help in me settling in for another year in Lira.

Much more to say but the bus will be arriving soon taking us off to meet up with the group that we started out in DC with. That should be a very interesting experience. When we first gathered in DC we were three groups of Drs. and Nurse Educator's going to three countries. We ended up just finding our way into the room and sat at tables with others from different sites and I have lost contact with all of them. It will be very interesting to hear of what they have experienced in this past year. Feeling very Excited, and happy.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Still Here!

Where have I been you ask? 

A Family 
Reaching With Supplies! 
Baby Cherie and Baby Xavier Clark 
I've had a few friends write to say that they have checked up on my blog and are wondering if I am still in Uganda! I have no excuse for not writing, and in fact did write at length a few weeks back. Just never had enough electricity, data, or energy to actually put this up on line as I want to share pictures as well. Things are going well. I'm healthy and happy and busy with ......busy work. We are preparing for a major GHSP conference here in Lira and I find that running about haggling over the price of a bottle of water have somehow consume me. I will post what I wrote and then try to catch up!

A Few Clarks At Christmas
Long time no write! So much has happened since I last posted and I have not really had the motivation to sit down and make a summary of it all in any kind of a written format that I could put out there in cyber space. Coming back to Lira felt like coming home, along with all the joy and the nuts and bolts that “home” implies. Not always an easy place to be, no matter where it is. I was blessed that my son Nam made the trip back with me and that was a tremendous boost.

Fun and Games Christmas
The holidays in Colorado with family were as always a precious time. We treasured the time we had together and missed those family members who couldn’t be present. It was a great season and for me somewhat sweeter as I thought I would be taking off to return to Uganda shortly after we welcomed in 2016.  The upsides were plenty with some major snow storms that even caused the schools to close and time with family that I will always cherish. Some of it surrounded watching the Bronco’s and yelling at the TV set and other were quiet times with family members. Tushar and Shauna were able to come visit so that was great but just having most of my kids with me doesn’t make up for the fact that I start missing those who are not there so much more.  Who doesn’t know that feeling? Cherish them when they are young and noisy as they all grow up fast and if you raise them internationally then all head off to distant shores.

Fortunately, while back in Colorado I was able to complete all of the final paperwork for my Ph D In Nursing Education and with the help of many new and good friends I can officially say, I did it. This is now Dr. Cherie Clark. I honestly can’t say “what next” but I will keep finding something to study or research or go back for some other kind of degree, engineering? Ha! Couldn’t be any harder then studying Arabic. I am happy that both Nam and Beth are taking more classes and achieving higher degrees among my children and of the grandchildren, wow! We have lots of them graduating this year from high school and others at University or getting ready to start. I have 3 grand daughters graduating in May and I fear I am probably going to miss them all. Initially  Agnes felt that I would have my final exams in early May and might be free but the elections have probably made that impossible. Khazana has been longing for me to come to see her graduate in Mexcio City and has written about it often and they already have my ticket but since she was the one who actually brought up the idea of the Peace Corps I think she will understand if I just don’t make it back. She casually mentioned one day that after University she was thinking of joining the PC. I was simply staring at her, listening intently and then thought of Lillian Carter, next thing I know I was online and submitting my application and here I am now waiting for the electricity to come back on in Lira in no time at all. I do not want to miss this important occasion but it doesn’t look possible but I will be with them in spirit and I know that all three have great things in store for them, boo hoo.

Being in Colorado was a time of reflection for me and I could see Uganda in a different light, perhaps with a rosy glow but much of what seemed so difficult in December started to seem a bit trivial. I missed my students every day, they are bright and fun and so eager to learn. I kept busy with ordering supplies, researching a shipment, and with the help of friends and a SEED grant purchasing items that are so desperately needed here. I am forever grateful to family and friends who helped me gather the supplies to equip my 2nd year students as I had vowed to do with a nursing kit. There were times when it seemed impossible but with help from my friends I achieved my goal and arrived back in Uganda with hundreds of pounds of luggage. 
My car with the supplies getting loaded in! 

Not long into my visit at home Agnes informed me that school would not reopen until after elections and that I could come back around Feb. 22nd. Wow, That felt impossibly far away but I cannot kid myself about Lira, it is a tough place to live at times and what keeps me sane is just going to class. If the students were not coming back I really could not imagine what I would do with my time, at all. It just was not worth it for me to come over and sit and do nothing but wait for elections. I did some work with United and my mileage points and managed to get a seat back arriving the day before Nam, considering that we were brining in so many supplies I was somewhat worried about being on two different flights but Nam could not change his ticket without paying a hefty fee. We settled in with our idea of traveling over here on Feb. 3rd and 4th and I shipped a 70 pound suitcase out for him to divide into two bags and bring over. Once we settled into that idea and started making our plans I began working on a shipment as well as purchasing a piece of medical equipment for one of the surgeon’s here in Lira that I had incredibly grateful to.. Talk about frustrating. I imagine that I have contacted everyone in the US and Africa regarding purchasing equipment from Bard. Good luck with that. I managed at last to secure it but felt like I had moved a mountain but with trying to get a shipment for the Hospital that the University plans to open, that was another entirely different story. I did end up making a few good contacts and remain determined to help Lira get what they need to keep grow and improve. Nothing is easy about shipping here and sadly most of the problems appear to come from brining things into Uganda. Just as I found that purchasing a simply piece of medical equipment from Bard would be far more expensive in Africa then the US I also began to see how complicated brining even the most basic supplies in can become. Way too much for a blog post I fear.

We were pretty much snowed in so staying focused on my big plans for Uganda just kept me wanting to return all the more. I took a deep dive into using Amazon Prime to brush up on modern American hospitals and watched all 12 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I am very new to watching TV programs except Game of Thrones which is a close 2nd in my life to the Bronco’s (of maybe not) but without commercials the episodes went pretty fast. I actually enjoyed the storyline and my daughter Joanna walked in one day to find me sobbing because one of the lead characters had died. We laughed so hard and I still laugh when I think of it. Yes, it was time to get back to real life and again, Lira saved me. An email arrived saying that had decided not to delay the opening of the school until Feb. 22nd but would be opening on January 30th. Why be surprised?

I looked into changing my seat, again and much to my joy couldn’t get a seat back earlier but could get a seat on the flight with Nam. Considering that the students had not arrived back, that the school actually hasn’t started that worked out rather well.

We met up in Brussels and my “original” driver Adam met up with us. He certainly knows his way around Kampala and that was a boost. We visited the PC, picked up my malaria meds and headed up to Lira on the 5th. I was able to meet Rebecca who is a new GHSP volunteer here in Uganda, she has previously served in Tanzania and she was having her swearing in ceremony while we were there and preparing to join me in Lira. I have to admit that the idea of having a room mate at my age has been a huge fear for me since I first learned of this place in Lira, it seemed that the other volunteers here with GHSP do have their own private spaces and I was having a hard time envisioning my somewhat crazy life suiting another adult. The PC Volunteers in the locality have been hanging out here quite a bit of late and this place gets a bit crazy on the weekends and in particular because I found some football fans, I even adore a Patriot’s fan Anna who I have written of before. Imagine having guests almost every weekend and then add to that the fact that the games are at about 2 in the morning! It feels a bit like a Clark house where anything goes and usually does. 
PCV's and Nam doing some cooking, Anna back in the kitchen, of course

I had fretted about having a roomy long enough and was pleased to meet Rebecca and had the highest of hopes that we could share our living apace which is huge by Ugandan standards (I have five bedrooms and 3 baths) but a bit like an American ranch style home where we would share the living area (often filled with bodies lying about on mattresses) and we would share the fridge and kitchen. It was pure joy to reach Lira and to start pointing things out to Nam. I had told him to be very surprised about Uganda, it is lush, it is green and it has great big Colorado Blue Skies. The Uganda we passed through is hotter then hell and the lush green is crispy brown now, oops wrong season. Lira looked different under this sun and my garden which I frequently refer to as a Garden of Eden, is wilted and brown. However Nam is a forward looking guy and got a glimpse of some of what I was trying to tell him it had looked like when I left in December. We arrived home and I felt overjoyed to be here. We un piled all of those precious bags and of course was greeted by the caretaker Douglas who was busy cleaning one of the back cottages here on our compound. Cleaning it for who? Rebecca. No one had mentioned at any point that there had been a slight change in plans. This slight change involved Rebecca living in a cozy one bedroom apartment next to Douglas and me still with spare bedrooms. It just seems like with all of the emails going back and forth that someone might have mentioned this to me! I spent so much time pondering this, anticipating it, worrying and fretting over something that never happened, which is a summary of most of life in general. I am getting a little bit better with all things Lira these days and the attitude of “oh well this will all work out.” Nam knew that I would be busy with my classes but down to the real stuff first. We had purchased two bottles of very nice champagne because this was after all my son Ron’s birthday and Super Bowl Sunday all rolled into one big night. The PCV joined up early in the evening and we had Chinese/Indian food and got ready for the game to start at about 2:30 am. We had a few guest, slept a bit, and then…….. I could not get logged on. Talk about all dressed up and no where to go. Finally we managed to get the internet to come on and watched our boys bring it home.  Forget getting a Ph.D. a Super Bowl victory? This doesn’t happen often in life. It was so much fun sharing that with Nam as well as texting endlessly with my kids who were quite scattered about the world. 
WE WON THE SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!!!!!! the normal tension was increased by the fact we couldn't get the internet on until the Bronco's had scored 3 points! But we made it, Dab, Dab 

I will cherish those texts always and have gone back to read them a number of times. On Ron’s 50th birthday my beloved Bronco’s won the ir 3rd Super Bowl title and made us proud. Love those guys, all of them. We even made Superman fly! I happen to really like Cam Newton but when they hit the turf against my Bronco’s, well, that’s enough. Left the crowd who were beginning to wake up and have Mimosa’s and headed out to the University. We had a very large as well as a quite long faculty meeting. They announced that quite a number of our Lira Nursing faculty had been awarded 5scholarships and were going to be heading to Kampala the following day for formalities and therefore we most likely we would not have classes. Oh?  Grateful we rushed up for that!

Considering that I had been up all night, considering that I was in an absolutely orange cloud of joy that sounded okay to me and I returned home and Nam and I set out on a task to find a place to head off to so that he could see some wildlife. We ended up back at Chobe which is over priced, has pretty poor service, but has lovely Giraffes. Nam’s pictures of our trip are just beautiful. Nothing but lovely sights. I remained on half/ Colorado time most of the time and then we headed down to take him back for his departure on Thursday. WOW that was a short trip and it was so hard to suddenly have him just here, then gone. I think he got a good glimpse of Uganda on his first trip to Africa and he seemed to have a good time playing tourist and being a great son. I love spending time with him.

Bronco Pride 
We more or less rushed back up to Lira, this is a great deal of miles on my old car/body and settled in so that I could begin classes yesterday, I was again blessed to have Monday. Oops, no classes would be held, or only a few until after elections that will come this Thursday the 22nd. In reality the projected date to open the university that I initially had heard seems to be right on time. Rebecca had her first class yesterday and we had a very long but productive meeting with Professor Jasper who is my hero and an inspiration. I was able to fill him in on our plans for the GHSP conference here in April in a more complete manner and he seems very excited. He suggested that we form a committee. Considering that we GHSP volunteers already have a committee this is going to be a every expanding committee within a committee but we will focus on housing about 150 guests for the conference which has really been pushed along by one of the volunteers Jill. It was gracious on their part to help us to have it in Lira but most of the planning has been on their side. Our committee is going to concentrate on making sure we get the best price possible and looks like we will also have a cultural show. Thankfully someone else was in charge of that because I probably would have just set up the projector to show a rewind of the Bronco’s winning the Super Bowl so best that there are others in charge of entertainment. 
POWER's ON? Let me charge a few things! 

I was busy with meetings when the students met with Lecturer Anna Grace so I had her distribute their supplies. I have an odd feeling about being Santa Claus so the students carried the box in to the room and she distributed the supplies. I made the promise to them at the beginning of our semester that we would obtain nursing kits for them, something that any American student would expect to have, and we did it. We actually did it. I could never have done this on my own but I know that these supplies will benefit my 40 students for a very long time in the future. It felt so wonderful to see them again in briefly and to get lots of hugs, even from the guys. These students were my introduction to Uganda, they were the students who taught me as much as I ever can imagine that I taught them. They watched me go through the crazy first semester just trying to get my footing in this distant land and I will forever be grateful to them for the humor, the fun, the lessons and I am quite certain that I could present most of them with the same final exam today that I gave in December and that they would remember most of it. Good Kids. VERY good kids.  My students do not have an easy time of it. They have families, they have responsibilities and they are working very hard to manage under difficult situations. If I helped ease that just a bit, yeah. Let’s move forward.

Uganda’s elections will take place Thursday and there seem to be sporadic disturbances but our students are given the option to go back to their local region to vote or to stay in Lira so there isn’t too much going on for me in the way of work, just planning for the conference and working on a proposal for the shipment and attempting to have some kind of a rough idea what my schedule might look like this semester, I still as of now am not quite sure what I am going to be teaching. With most of the nursing faculty heading down to Kampala to further their studies I don’t know much more then anyone else. I know that Agnes is looking for someone to teach Med-Surg, not me!  I watched way too much Grey’s Anatomy for that. I would be yelling for the crash cart while hoping to find a thermometer. Speaking of which, I brought back a total of 72 thermometers and hope never to find myself on a ward again without one.

Life is good. I am happy to be back. I fantasize about a better internet connection but for now am satisfied that the University is trying to get a better connection going and have formed a what? A committee of course. They sent me a copy of the findings of the committee yesterday and I made it through about 10 pages of the proposal which correctly sums up that we rarely have internet and it is slow and that we have several proposals from alternative carriers. Yeah.

I missed Ron’s birthday last week but my son finds so much joy in his family and his Bronco’s that I know how very happy he was. It was great seeing pictures of them drinking the champagne that I bought for the Super Bowl two years ago (that we lost) and so they were finally able to toast this win. I am missing Beth’s birthday today but see that she was gifted a great Super Bowl Manning jersey and she shares my passion and love for our team, for nursing, and for Viet Nam. (India too) I need to get her over to Africa to help her find a new cause.

Three months of my life in less then 4 pages. Not bad!

Giraffe Looking over Nam's shoulder 

Peace Corps volunteers with Nam fixing food, I was busy sitting in the living room worried about the game! 
Meet Baby Cherie, Mom was my student last semester
A million fans turn out to welcome our Bronco's Home!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Home Sweet Home

Speaking of Football? Anyone lose their Brady Jersey, Can't believe what we went through to get this picture! But it is original. The guy probably thought I was stalking him! 
Bronco Stickers on my car, Giraffes in the background, life is good

Uganda got BIG blue skies, and Elephants, Kobes, Giraffes and other not cute creatures
Look at the TUSK on this Elephant! 

Made it back to Colorado and have been here about 48 hours researching textbooks, supplies, and in general getting ready to go back to Lira loaded with assessment tools. Where to begin? Surely not with my trip out of Lira, that got crazy. I began starting to "lose" it a bit the last days, after Thanksgiving, pushing up the date for the final, having United make a mess of my ticketing. Things just started to feel uncertain in general. I also realised that I wasn't feeling "very well." Not hungry, not sleeping, worried about things that weren't even worth worrying about. Finally after some kind advise from the good people of SEED and PC I realised that my mission was accomplished and it was probably time for me to take a quick break from life in Liraville and I had gathered up the information for the grants, graded my final exams (my students rocked those exams) So proud of them. I spoke, they listened, we learned, they passed! With that accomplished it seemed best that I take off and spend a few days in Kampala waiting for my flight. My driver situation isn't any better. Walter can drive around in Lira but Kampala absolutely not so I was worried about that. There really isn't any reason that anyone should be able to drive in Kampala to be honest, that traffic is crazy!
Here is a stack of some of my final exams, the black threads are NOT a good sign. I gave 8 essay questions but I specifically said that they would penalised if they "over answered" many managed with the extra space and paper in the 13 page final but others found it necessary to attach a booklet where they further wrote on nearly convincing me that if they could use every word they ever heard me say then maybe? just maybe? I would believe that they knew the answer to the question, it didn't help, but I can say that most did well and I can see some evolution in the general thought process that goes into this class, there was progress. One paper was so outstanding it left me thinking I should let him co-teach with me next time! 

Okay, thanks to some incredibly help I stopped off for a final farewell to Chobe, this time we even ran into an elephant herd! Saw plenty of Giraffes and in general enjoyed a night by the Nile, with a Nile. Anna, Janet and Walter can be seen in some of the following pictures. How that all came about is a story best told by someone else. Not me, not this time! Not here! 

I cannot drive Walter and Anna on the Nile

Anna, Janet, Giraffes 

Made it to Kampala, met the good folks at PC there and Seed and was there as they were having their annual Christmas party, everyone looked pretty happy to be getting some time off, they will probably also be happy that some of us are out of country for a time so less drama, with about 190 volunteers in country something always has to be going on somewhere.

Walter seems to enjoy riding in the back seat just a little too much for me! I hired another Post Grad student who is a friend of a friend who took us on a ride the the airport. Many of you know me from Viet Nam, India, Cairo, I mean seriously this ride? It was an hour plus of swerving, near swiping, wildness through parts of Kampala I don't want to see again. All with the driver chatting and Walter probably thinking why does she get so antsy when I drive? The fact that he drove into the Mall and consistently only drove in the opposite direction of where the yellow arrows were pointing was one reason and the fact that he backed into another car and had the driver out screaming at us is another.  Not sure that this driver was a step up but he is a Kampala guy who knew his way. He also told me his tribe. I had a great time chatting with him, thinking half the time it would probably be my last chat with anyone, but do I seriously need to know his 'tribe'. I remembered it and filed it under stuff I might need. Anyway, off we went. The traffic was terrible, it was an hour long drive and all along I was clutching the print out of my 100 percent confirmed printed out United ticket that was not showing up in my United app at all. Half of my last post was about my stress over this ticket and the ticket agent cancelling my flight, me on the phone with her for well over an hour and yet she told me it was confirmed and I had it printed out so why wouldn't it be okay? Better yet, why wasn't it in the system? We reached the airport 5 hours early. Janet was wearing her new dress and new shoes that are some clunky thing that Goodwill donated to Africa that she can't walk in but been through similar things with teenage girls, she thinks that this is a right of passage, her first real grown up shoes, the downside being that they are about two sizes too large and an inch too high for her to walk in. Her first trip ever to the airport didn't seem to help her get past any sadness over saying good bye to "mommy." It was time for a scene at the airport moment with her nearly wailing and collapsing to the ground wondering how to survive without me, we just met a few months back! I love this kid dearly, about half the time but after sharing a room with her for about a week and having to remind her to GO TAKE A BATH I was not as sad to say goodbye as I would have been if we hadn't been in such close company.  I've also have to ask Walter to do the same so I am getting used to it. I made a crazy decision and had Sue send him over a Bronco's shirt and he now wears it every single day. I finally told him that it was bad luck for the Bronco's to wear their shirt on any day but game day, so he now just wears it half the time as he never really is sure of when game day is since it is the middle of the night and I don't invite him. He did say that he was quite sure that he could "beat up any of those guys" he is very strong. Read and Weep CJ, Walter thinks he can outrun you. Actually Walter is not strong at all and one of my major complaints, the lists is so long, is that he refuses to lift a water can, a bucket, or a bag if he can get Janet or any other female to carry it, he even looks over at me. Culturally he finds it quite demeaning to have to lift anything so I don't think the Bronco's are going to need him on the D line or that they need fear coming over here. I'm quite sure that he has some endearing qualities and there is some positive sides to have someone who can decapitate ten chickens by 8 in the morning and not leave a feather in my car for parties and ..... some other good things. With Janet, I do care about her, and I spend more time with her then any other person but half the time when she talks to me she feels she has to be pulling at my hair, holding my hand, that kind of stuff and for me all I could think of was my ticket and if my car and Janet would make it back to Lira safely. I emptied out every shilling I had for gas and their return journey and handed it to Walter and told him that both him and Janet were in charge.

As we made our way toward the terminal with Walter looking rather upset about having to carry a bag (not far) I found a cart and it didn't have much in it except an empty suitcase and a few stuffed giraffes he started whispering something to me, gravel under foot I kept trying to ask what, finally I got the message that he wanted me to buy him a bicycle. Wait. I'm leaving the country, I've handed you the last shilling in my pocket and have told you I am under unbearable stress and at this moment you have decided to think of a bicycle. I think my return look was enough to persuade him not to comment further. Poor guy, he is a passenger in the car he drives, his pocket is filled with gas money, he is carrying a bag and Janet is not carrying anything (in part due to trying to stay balanced on the shoes) the new guy was looking at our happy little "family" like the Beverly Hillbilly's had arrived. Having arrived with my entourage to the airport so early I told them that the only reason I had hired (and paid well) for two drivers is that they could NOT leave until I figured out what was going on with my ticket. My computer was showing me one thing, the print out in my hand the other. 45 minutes later after having gone through the first of many security checks I was calling them to say, "No luck" I have to go to another building with my bags, can't leave them here, there is a problem with my ticket. Crickets. Where are you? Oh we are almost back in Kampala. Say what? I told all three of you at least 30 times on the way to the airport that your one task was to wait for me to call and let you know about my ticket. They said, "you didn't call" ..... that was because I was working on my ticket! No way with rush hour traffic to get them back so I managed to lug stuff around, I think half of the weight of my carry on bag is chargers. I arrived flustered, hair even worse then it usually is and me sweating into an air conditioned room with about 10 Belgium airway personnel looking at me like, "look what was drug in" ........ To say that the woman who seemed most in charge was not helpful is an understatement, her best advise was that I make it to the arrivals lounge and log on (but most of the time the internet doesn't work) to try to call United. No United office in Uganda. ...... After 4 hours, after hearing my flight being announced, they finally put me on the flight. The fact that I had a confirmed ticket in my hand doesn't mean much when you are not in a United land country, so much for "Star Alliance" and my ticket was purchased with points, that didn't help. Anyway, I made it on the flight and survived it. I had a window seat on the side and when the passenger got up next to me (two seats) I took this picture of the Belgium passengers near to me, four rows of people all stretched out and sleeping. The aircraft was nearly empty. The fact that my points had been in business class and they seated me in economy was easier to take because at least I was seated.

Sleep baby sleep

Made a stop in Kigali and then to Belgium. The Belgium airport was very deserted except........ we had to pass through immigration to get to Lufthansa and I ended up just as a 747 had landed with some tourist, everyone else seemed to have an EU passport and then there was me and this group that looked far more like I had landed in Taipei. It literally took an hour to get through this then rush to the gate. Along the way I kept seeing a man with an African partner who appeared to be a wife, or a very friendly colleague.

We ended up at Security together and were taking off our shoes, someone had stolen my clogs so I had just a pair of sandals in Belgium, in winter, no problem, I also had to go to Germany. As it was that familiar red clay on my shoes caused the guy who "looked familiar" to strike up a conversation, OH MY this was Alberto, someone who has lived in Lira for 7 years with his wife and who is returning to Spain for a time. I bought his toaster when he left but we didn't get to meet! Well finally we did. We were able to have a brief chat and I learned so much about Lira from him in that time. Great couple and I wish them so much happiness. Alberto has lived in Africa for 20 years, a stronger man then me I think.

This story just keeps moving forward to then I went through another Security Check Airport, and airport and then got on Lufthansa to Denver. Set down next to the nicest guy, a German who was on his way to the US to spend the holidays with his family. Nicest guy, we had the greatest conversations, went to sleep and woke up about the time we were landing in my Denver Colorado. My friend was quiet and looked uncomfortable. Finally he turned to me and said, "I'm really sick" ..... he was pale, clammy, rapid pulse, and complaining of left arm pain. I got the flight attendant and moved over so she could sit near to him. I advised her to get paramedics to meet us at the gate, she took that fairly seriously but that was the end of that long flight. I wish him well, he is a delightful person and I hope this was just a little scare but never a dull moment it seems.

Sue picked me up, I was terrified I would need at least ten coats and a blanket but Colorado never lets me down it was perfect weather and we had a great drive home with me just talking, and talking, and talking. Oddly enough Sue just doesn't want to come to Africa, hope it isn't anything I said! I did try to say some positive things, honest. She just isn't feeling the tug. Got home and had family waiting, the house is beautifully decorated with three trees in the living room! Santa is everywhere, I'm happy to be home. We talked (I talked) for hours and hours and hours and went to sleep at a decent time but woke up with a terrible sore throat and a slight touch of airplanitis that has now resolved. It is so dry here so wet there and so many planes and a great deal of stress.

The Internet connection is probably what seems the greatest thing to me, the meter isn't running, I don't have to have heart failure about how much data I have used and the football game is on live on our local channel! We are dedicated Raider Haters around here so they are coming at the right time, I'm back. I spent hours yesterday researching materials with our Lippincott connection who grated instructor access to some awesome teaching materials, now I am working on next semester, then I got into SUPPLIES. Look what one of our adoptive parents from Viet Nam, Renee Maxwell has collected!!!!!!!!!!

That BP machine has a home already going to male medical

She put out the word to nurses at West Point where her and her husband reside and they donated all kinds of incredibly useful things. There is just no way to explain how cool this stuff looks to me. I spend so much time frustrated and not happy with NO BP cuffs, or thermometers. We are on a mission now to get more. SEED has given a grant and I have already ordered and received three boxes full of stuff. Think that trip over here was bad, imagine going back with all of these things. Anyway, I will. I have to save out some moola for an extra bag or two but I am taking these things where they need to be. This looks like heaven to me and there is more. 

So that's it, I"m home in Colorado. Brian just brought me breakfast in bed, my cold is gone, I am so happy to be here, so blessed to have so much love and support. Lira feels a little bit like a distant dream. Was I really there? Underneath that net waiting endlessly for the power to come on, just a hint of wind blowing seemed like a much needed dream. Anyway, life goes on. Can't wait to see how much I can manage to get back to Uganda without any customs drama. Poor Nam, he is coming to visit, little does he know what will be in his bags :)