Rested.Refreshed.Ready.

As today draws to a close this will just be a quick update.

This morning I worshiped with an estimated 1200 others in a large church here in Kampala. The energy and enthusiasm were high and the message excellent. But I will admit that I missed being at my home church where my church family knows me and the hugs are abundant. They are wonderful people!

This afternoon I had the opportunity to meet an amazing young man that I plan to work with on a research project. He is from Colorado, here on a fellowship. We met at a great little coffee shop not too far from where I am staying. One of the amazing changes in Kampala is the rapid growth of coffee shops! No Starbucks, yet….

I am rested, refreshed and ready for the adventures the next week brings.

Mosquitoes.Malaria.Meds.

So I have my first mosquito bite. The mosquitoes greet me warmly each time I visit Uganda. Even with unscented lotion and bug repellent I still seem to be a favorite. But I take for granted that the prescription malaria medicine I dutifully down each morning with my breakfast will do its magic and keep me safe from malaria. It has been troubling to read of the spread of the Zika virus, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito first discovered in a very dense forest in 1947 not far from here between Kampala and Entebbe.

Yesterday I spent some time at Kikandwa Health Centre. I will share more about the centre and their good work as the weeks progress but it was good to see that all is well. Our students, in partnership with some amazing others here in Uganda and in the US, brought to life 1 1/2 years ago the dream of the village elders. Isaac and his team have developed a sustainable model that is proving quite effective in treating dreaded diseases such as malaria, typhoid and yellow fever. We went with them in the afternoon to an outpost where they were conducting HIV tests.

We will be back soon for an antenatal (prenatal for my American friends) clinic and I will get to help pass out Mama Kits. (Thanks Scott, Emily and Shining City Foundation!!). Our students have begun working hard on raising funds for the much-needed next phase of the health center, a maternity ward with overnight housing for the staff. Mamas and babies don’t seem to know to arrive during regularly scheduled center hours. If you would like to know more about the work and/or contribute please go to Connect Uganda.

Enjoy the pictures from yesterday at our Kikanwda Health Centre.

Culture.Contrast.Cold

Can they even understand? After ten years of travel to Uganda I take for granted what I will experience upon arrival and the ‘culture shock’ is pretty well gone. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term as “a feeling of confusion, doubt, or nervousness caused by being in a place (such as a foreign country) that is very different from what you are used to”.

This afternoon I met with several of the amazing students that will be heading to my campus late next week. As we talked I wondered how they even begin to anticipate the cold they will face, the dinIMG_2264 (1)ing hall food they will eat, the cultural differences they will encounter or the likely stares they will notice as they move as a group? Our team of students (pictured with those traveling soon) experienced culture shock this past summer but quickly became friends. Can they help minimize  with their Ugandan partners. Can they help minimize the shock?

I want to think that in those in the Midwest heart of America and particularly those on our university campus are open and accommodating with embracing smiles. After all, we continue to be the epicenter of election coverage. But it will be very different for these wonderful young people nevertheless.

Bon voyage to these amazing young people! They have enriched my life in so many ways! If your path crosses theirs, go out of your way to make them feel welcome!! I know you will!!

Mexico. Matooke. Movies.

Perhaps it is an understatement, but Kampala is not what it was ten years ago and my day yesterday was a testament to that! For a decade I have been traveling to Uganda and have watched the country develop. The rural economy has not advanced nearly as rapidly as the urban economy, more on that later. So my day yesterday was very ‘American’. A taco for lunch, and an evening of Star Wars in 3-D and a chicken wrap at KFC… No matooke yet!

Mexico?I remember returning to Uganda in January 2014 to see KFC in the newly constructed Bugolobi Mall.  Interestingly, they had to import the chicken to meet KFC standards. Today a bucket of KFC sells for about $20 (70,000 Uganda shillings) and last evening there were many families enjoying the familiar fried chicken! I believe KFC has grown to six locations here since late 2013. Why am I surprised? I really did see it coming but thought McDonalds would be first. To my knowledge there are still no golden arches in this beautiful country but I expect that will change soon as well.

Oh, by the way, when you are sitting in a movie theater wearing 3-D glasses eating popcorn, you might be in Uganda or the US – you can’t really tell. My new friend (and driver) Denis found great delight in our ‘American’ day. So I guess I would say I can take for granted that I can find the food or movie I want here in my second home town – something I could not say ten years ago. Oh, and yes… I am working.

Summer.Sunshine.Smiles

The adventure has begun. I love being in a land of eternal summer. In a conversation yesterday we discussed heavy coats, boots, mittens, wool hats and how we take for granted in the US mid west that we will need those while here they are only imagined from pictures.

The changing seasons back home present many challenges from the ‘low tire’ light frustration each time the temperature drops, to peeking around snow drifts at intersections. I am in awe of the golden autumn leaves or the daffodils and tulips as first signs of spring. But an escape from the cold is wonderful. I understand those that flee to the warmth of Arizona and Florida this time of year.

I look forward to what today will bring and to sharing what I see. My work has begun and I look forward to the friendly smiles I will encounter today! Blessings.