Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The week in review

Lake Bunyonyi So the Peace Corps has these rules about staying at your sight for the first 3 months of your service. It’s all about community integration and all that jazz. The point is they don’t want you traipsing all over Africa while the neighborhood village people don’t know if you’re a tourist or a doctor that carries firearms. (see Nathan Epp’s blog for an explanation). Sometimes however, you have to just get away (how often we get away, maybe I’ll save that for when I’m done w/ the PC ;) So a group of us spent the weekend at a beautiful lake in the mountains near Kabale called Lake Bunyonyi! (the names in the following story have been changed to protect the innocent, but the pictures pretty much give us all away)

Lake Bunyonyi is possibly the 2nd deepest lake in Africa. It has 29 islands including one called Punishment Island where local villagers, many years ago, would take girls who had become pregnant before getting married and tie them to a tree there. Now this island isn’t big enough for the Skipper, let alone the rest of the cast of Giligan’s Island. And it only has 1 tree on it. The story also goes that if you were a man and hadn’t found a wife, you could go to this island and get a girl there. As Nat put it, “Cool! That’s like buying a used car.” I have no comment on that.

We arrived at the lake and eagerly jumped into a couple of dugout canoes and headed for our lodgings. We wound up staying at a cottage located on one of the small islands. They had several options to choose from for housing from a dorm room to a log cabin to a geo dome which was an open, thatched roofed hut that faced the lake. We took the geo dome due to the coolness factor. We sat around that evening and swapped our Peace Corps stories long into the evening. Volunteers go through some tough times but the stories they tell afterwards are truly priceless. We laughed and were astonished long into the African night.

The next morning we woke up early and jumped into the canoes to do some geocaching!! Now, if you’re not familiar w/ geocaching, it’s like a scavenger hunt with a GPS device. This device tells you your exact location on the earth using satellites overhead. You can also program into it coordinates that someone has posted on the web of a surprise they’ve left for other people to find. Usually it’s an ammunition box with key chains, business cards and the like. We paddled for about an hour and finally arrived at an island. Now we were at an altitude of over 6,000 feet and some freakish cold front had moved in the past couple of days and wouldn’t you know it, as we’re searching this island it starts to rain. Now the GPS is accurate within about 30 feet or so but we couldn’t for the life of us find this geocache, so we huddled under a tree until we were soaked enough we figured we might as well be making headway back to shelter rather than just standing around. Needless to say a lot of jokes were made about ‘It’ll be a cold day in Africa when I…” So it was raining and cold in African in the MIDDLE of the dry season… felt more like the ever-changing Indiana weather to me…

We finally got back and it was time to settle our bill and head for the mainland, only there was a slight problem. Two of us had been robbed. A significant amount of money was missing from the girls bags, and they were FURIOUS! And rightfully so. We were the only ones on the island aside from the employees. There were no other guests staying there that night. Now there were a handful of other people that lived on the island (and they reared cattle, which I thought was a strange hobby on an island. How did they even get there??) but they were on a completely opposite side of the island, separated by only a thin strip of land. The manager was acting dumbfounded that there was any money ‘lost’ as he put it and one of the girls was insisting on calling the police (which…I’m not sure what that would have been like in Uganda). Now, let me take a moment to really give my take on all of this… The girl who had the most money stolen had left her money in her camera bag which she left in an open aired dining hut the entire night… and the other girl (along w/ myself and 3 others) left her things in the open aired geo-dome while we went canoeing. Now, in a perfect world, perfect employees wouldn’t steal from the rich white people… however… when we all leave the island on a canoe for a 3 hour tour and leave our nice expensive backpacks and wallets and money bags in the open… Chalk that up to pure stupidity, on all our parts. And I don’t even think we have a right to be angry w/ anyone but ourselves. And to ‘expect’ justice or to be compensated in ANY way shape or form from the hotel…?? Why is it that as Americans when we’ve been wronged we ‘expect’ to be taken care of. ‘I’ve been wronged so give me something… government, insurance, society.’ Just take your whippin’, it’s your own fault and quit thinking that you’re owed something! We’re only lucky that they didn’t take more!

Breakfast of Champions So on a happier note, Jacob made some fantastic French toast the other day with this awesome cinnamon, banana topping! Wow! Have I mentioned how nice it is to have him living half a block away! The guy can cook!

Tell your people in America that we Love them. On the way up the hill to my house I passed a bunch of little kids playing soccer off to the side of the soccer field where they big boys were playing. And they were playing, not with a real soccer ball, but with a rolled up ball of plastic bags. They crowded around me and to my surprise, one of the little guys knew an awful lot of English. He was this little fearless leader who just took charge and proudly displayed his grasp of my native tongue. He was asking all kinds of the usual questions “what’s your name?”, “where are you from?”, “how do you like the climate?”, “is the climate in America like this?” Of which I was answering him in Runyankore to the laughter of all the other kids. After this short time, we had exchanged our little bit we were going to exchange and I headed on up the hill, upon which he replied in somewhat broken English, “When you go back, tell the people of America we love them.”

I should have asked why. I wanted to later, about half way up the hill. I wanted to hear why he ‘loved them’. But at the same time, I’m sure the answer wouldn’t have been as lingering as his last statement. “…tell the people of America that we love them.”

Rain Rain Rain Whoever back home that has been praying so hard for rain here can ease up a bit!!! It’s done nothing but rain here for the past 4 days!! And this in the middle of the dry season! It’s actually been so good for the people here. So many of them are peasant farmers, share croppers if you will. They only eat what food they grow on their land and then sell the rest, which is exactly what everyone else does so you have everyone selling the same food to everyone else. Can you really imagine only eating what you can grow in your front yard?? And you thought you didn’t want to eat Italian today because you had it 3 days ago…

Disturbance in the force I left my room the other morning and ran up to the Compassion building to grab a piece of paper I needed to finish something I was working on at my computer. When I got back my door was wide open. I hadn’t locked it and it was laundry day so I figured Jacob had come in to hang out, which he’s apt to doing, so I snuck up and jumped into the doorway and yelled loud enough to make anyone jump out of their skin. Much to my absolute astonishment I didn’t find Jacob standing 3 feet in front of me, but a tall skinny Ugandan looking rather sheepish and off guard.

“Uh… can I help you? Are you looking for something?” I asked.

“The outlet isn’t working in the other room so I was looking for power here.”

Now I did know who he was and I had seen him before. He was back from the University on holidays and was staying in one of the offices within my building w/ his brother, and I figured he was the Cannon’s nephew or son or something, but STILL…to find him in my room caught me completely off guard. So I put on my teacher voice, which means I got really upset and tried to sound like Mr Geise and told him, “Look, I don’t care what you were looking for, you are NEVER to come into my place if I’m not here. I don’t care if the door is locked, unlocked or wide open. Do you understand me? Now if one thing is missing from this room then there’s only one person I’ve seen in here and that’s you, and regardless of why you say you’re in here, it doesn’t look good. Am I making myself clear?”

Nothing was missing that I could see. My laptop was sitting open on my desk, my small change was right there on the corner of the desk, but still I needed to make the point very clear. It’s a Ugandan thing that if the door is open you just go right on it, I kid you not! I’ve had my door open on several occasions and people just walk right on in, sit down and just don’t even talk, they just…occupy space, and it drives me CRAZY!! So anyway, nothing has turned up missing I eventually helped them run an extension out into the hallway and then also told the Cannon what had happened.

Home Visits Lastly, Alice the nurse and I did about 20 home visits last week. Some of these kids actually live in really nice houses and I wonder how in the world they got into the compassion program! OK, so maybe their father died but he left behind a wife who has a nice job, a nice paid for house and a housemaid! The housemaid is what really gets me. I almost thing that if you can afford a housemaid then you shouldn’t be in the Compassion program, but that’s just me. Truth is that hiring a housemaid that works all day, every day at your house probably only costs about $15 a month.

I did see the worst living conditions I’ve seen here however, though I know there’s even worse than this though. I’ve included a picture as well. This one home we visited belongs to a little boy named Collins. He lives with his mother, grandmother and 2 siblings. They all live in a room that is 6ft by 6ft. One room. 6ft by 6ft. There is 1 bed. 3 mattresses. One probably goes under the bed and the other occupies a very small space on the floor by the trunks and cooking pots. And if that wasn’t bad enough, this boy bought chickens with the ‘gift’ money his sponsor gave him and the chickens sleep under the bed, and because it was a gift he doesn’t want to sell them! The mother told us that her husband was killed as a soldier, and I wouldn’t expect the Ugandan government to pretend to pay anything to the family for this travesty they have suffered. The thing that impressed me, however, was how organized everything was. They weren’t living as slobs, they had enough things, clothes, etc for a very small house, but it was neatly organized into this room they were renting. That’s what really got me too. I felt like if this woman were given a chance, some land and a house, she could take care of it and of her family the way she had kept up her tiny little room/house.

And here’s the cycle that happens and I don’t remember if I mentioned this in my last post or not but it’s now like this: this woman earns $10 a month from her job. In this country the man is the bread winner, so if a single woman needs support for her family, she finds a man. And what is it that men want?? Sex. And what is it that is a byproduct of sex, among other things? Kids. Which requires more money to support them. It’s a vicious cycle that repeats itself throughout this country.

This isn’t how the other side of the world lives, it’s how the majority of the world lives.

So my project right now is this family. I can write to the board members here in town asking for a new home and land for them. Compassion has done things like this in the past, build homes and buy land for people. I believe that it would cost between $500 and $1,000 for land and a house and it would be like Total Makeover, Home Edition for this family.

I cry when I watch that show. Almost every time, and here’s why. These families receive an overwhelming gift. One they cannot comprehend and could never pay back, only with the words, ‘thank you’ and with tears. Tears of joy, new hope …and relief. That their life of debt and struggle has taken a new term. And it’s a Jesus thing. Maybe the closest Jesus thing that I can tangibly understand. An overwhelming gift (real love and forgiving grace) that was undeserved, unasked for and incomprehensible.

So that’s what life in Uganda has been like the past week. Thanks to Jill for the care package!! It came just in time and I have enjoyed every morsel thus far!! Thanks to everyone for their prayers and cards! I’m getting ready to send out a wave of letters and postcards so brace yourselves!

Lots of love to you from the dark continent!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Call me Muhwezi

Call me Muhwezi! Ok, so it doesn’t have the same ring as the opening line to Moby Dick, but regardless, I have an African name – Muhwezi! It means ‘helper’ and it was given to me by my organization and people are starting to call me that. They say names here differently than we do. For example my name would be Dunn Brian (or Muhwezi Brian) here.

40 days and 40 nights. That’s how long it’s been since it’s rained here. Not a drop. Not a drizzle. No mist or even any rain clouds even. This once lush, green, Ireland looking country has turned brown, crusty and DUSTY! Grass, trees and plants along the roads are brown because they’re covered w/ dust, and people who are walking have to have handkerchiefs to cover their faces as cars, trucks and buses fly by leaving in their wake the masses to struggle for oxygen in the midst of the dust storm. And an observation I’ve made, the larger the vehicle, the faster they drive. Seriously, the mopeds reach about 30 or so, but the buses have no speed limit, which is strange because this is a walking culture, so there are people all along the road, including kids, and these buses are doing 70+ mph through these villages and along these pothole covered roads. It’s amazing!

I want to retell these stories I’ve heard recently, in part because it’s become my theme. It’s that motto that I hang over my doorway to remind myself why I’m here and what my job really is.

The first one I just read this evening. It’s by Rob Bell from his book Velvet Elvis (which is turning out to be a super super book). In it he’s talking about jumping on a trampoline w/ his kids. Now, I LOVE trampolines! I used to tell an old girlfriend that they first thing I was going to buy when I got my house was a trampoline…it turned out, instead, to be a couch that she picked out, but I digress. So Rob is talking about this trampoline and how he can time his jumps to launch his kids like, miles up in the air (don’t worry, it’s the ones w/ the nets so they don’t go head first into the flower bed). Well, he goes into describing how the springs of this trampoline are like words that describe God. Scripture, literature, things people say in Sunday School but also in movies and in every day life. They aren’t absolutes because they change constantly by stretching, contracting and moving all around. These ‘springs’ aren’t God, they aren’t Jesus. They’re words, and they serve their own purpose. And if you LOVE to trampoline, like I love to trampoline then you LOVE to invite people to trampoline w/ you. You don’t spend time arguing and debating about the mechanics of the springs or to convince people why to trampoline, you just want them to DO IT! Now Rob says it better, but I just felt like that was an adequate explanation of both the joy I have in knowing and studying Jesus and inviting people to share in what I’ve found in Him.

The second story I heard from Jeff Krajewski at Common Ground, but I think he got it from the West Wing or something. It is about a man who fell into a hole. Try as he might he couldn’t get out, so he waited. Finally a man came along and saw him in this hole. The man told him he could help him out so he gathered up some paper and drew him a map of a ladder and how to make it and he threw the paper down into the hole. Frustrated, the man in the hole sat again and waited again. Shortly after, another man wearing priestly attire came by and upon seeing the man in the hole he took a piece of paper and wrote on it some scripture on dealing with hardships in difficult times and threw it into the hole. Again the man sat and waited. Along came a third man who upon seeing this man down in the hole, immediately jumped into the hole with him. “What are you doing??!! Can’t you see I’m stuck here?” “Yes I can. But do you know what? I’ve been in this hole before and I know the way out.”

So that’s become my prayer, to jump in the hole rather than to preach the way out from the top.

Did some home visits yesterday. My love/hate thing continues with them. It’s such a unique thing to do, too. If you were to come and visit Uganda, sure, you could go visit some orphanages, no problem. And you’d of course see poor people on the streets, but to go into their houses, see where the live, sleep, cook, eat and exist. It’s the real thing, I tell you. And the thing I’m finding is that it’s like an iceberg. In fact so much of what I encounter on a daily basis could fall under this category. And what I mean is that only 10% of it is what is seen. There’s another 90% that’s underwater… We visited the home of these 2 adorable little sisters in our program. These girls seem like such happy, pleasant girls. Bright smiles and friendly greetings when they see you… but then you go to their home, and it’s ok. Their parents are believed to have dies from AIDS. They stay w/ their grandparents and there are other family members that have houses there on the land. The house the girls sleep in is the size of my little ‘studio apartment’ room and they are sleeping 8 in that house and 2 to a bed. The grandparents also have told us that the kids are stubborn and refuse to do work around the premises and it shows. There are areas that are unkempt and untidy around the yard, to which you’d think, ‘it’s their yard, so what?’ In this country, the front yard is the living room. It’s where they spend their evenings up until they go to bed, so it is important. They sweep the dirt clean each morning if that means anything. And so, Alice the Nurse and I visited their school and sat them down and told them what we expected of them (when I say Alice and I, what I mean is that she talked in Runyankole and I sat there looking stern).

We also visited with Justine the Wash Lady who does my and Jacob’s laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. She’s a really nice lady who surprised everyone when she wound up speaking to me at length in English. Her neighbors were surprised she new any English… I found out only a day or two ago that her daughter in the program has HIV, to which I also learned that Justine also has HIV. Caroline (the daughter), her father passed away from AIDS. Now Justine is very poor. She fits under the category of ‘extreme poverty’ meaning that she earns less than a dollar a day. Now Jacob and I pay her about $15 a month for laundry which we’ve been told is a lot, but that’s one reason why we do it. She also earns an income by renting out some rooms to families. These rooms are made of mud and sticks with dirt floors and she gets $5 per month from both families. Other than that she sells some tea on the side. Now she also has 2 other younger children all from different fathers. Japheth, our Project Director at Compassion, explained to me that in all likelihood she isn’t being a promiscuous for the same reasons that a 20yr old college girl is, but rather, she gets money and food from these men she sleeps with and that provides the means for her family. Now…we’re going to test these younger kids for HIV, but the flip side of this coin is that these men she has slept with perhaps have wives who they have now possibly given HIV to. Also, if these men slept w/ her then who’s to say they’re not sleeping with others, thus further spreading this ridiculous, frustrating disease. So, indirectly she could be responsible for maybe 10 people or more getting AIDS… So… my idea is this, the next time she’s washing I’ll try and talk to her about AIDS. It’s possible she doesn’t know the facts about the disease. I’ve also decided that I’m going to put some condoms in w/ the wash for her from time to time. Condoms here are like $0.10 for 3, and with money being as tight as it is my fear is that she can’t afford them. Now, I am a firm believer that abstinence and faithfulness are the two #1 preventers of HIV/AIDS, but immediately following that is condom use. I even heard that the local hospital in a nearby town will supply you w/ a free box of condoms if you ask.

I did visit Nicholas also. His balance has not improved, but he did look well and in good spirits. He’s got the biggest smile. I took a picture and I kept telling him to smile, which of course he was, but I kept saying it and saying it and then tickling him. The poor kid has to stay in bed all day so I just try to cheer him up when I do get a chance to see him. At the project they’re saying he’s my brother because I love him so much. That doesn’t bother me one bit.

I think Shelly said it best when she stated, “People look at your bike like you’re riding a space ship!” Everyone has bikes, but they’re more like the bike your grandmother rides, so to see a mountain bike must be like seeing a hot rod or a space ship…

I saw Marshal Faulk this evening. Well, so maybe it wasn’t the real former Indianapolis Colt, but he had the jersey. I love seeing that jersey because I’m a HUGE HUGE HUGE Colts fan and I used to have that same jersey. They had a track meet for the local high school kids here. It was a pretty typical track meet I suppose, except for the obvious differences. The track was a loop around the soccer field and the lines were made in the ground by pouring oil down. There were 8 lanes because 8 schools were supposed to come, I think maybe only 6 did. There were many people there to spectate as you could imagine. I rationalized that it was what it was like when my dad was in school when the schools event was still big news in the community. They had 100m for boys then girls. 200m. 1800m (which I thought strange). High jump, triple jump, shot put. Now how can you have a track meet w/ out someone on a blow horn 24/7? They had music going and a megaphone all hooked up to a car battery. Also, most of the runners were racing barefoot. I timed them going around 1 loop and I’m going to go to the track tomorrow to see what my time is compared to theirs.

Lastly, I’m still working on getting some pictures taken. Inside my place, the people I work with, the large hill directly behind my house w/ 1 tree on top (which we’ve named 1 tree hill), better pictures of Shelly, Jacob and Bruno. Maybe even of Joseph and Israel, the 2 old Israeli men we hang out with from time to time.

I climbed today. Out my back door and exactly 1 mile away is One Tree Hill (or mt marcus). It’s a steep, grassy hill where cattle are occasionally seen grazing. It’s a few hundred feet higher than it is here and it gives you a view of the town and the surrounding mountains. It takes me less than 30 minutes to climb it and I was in a mood to just get a way from people for a while, so I went. Took along my book, Velvet Elvis, and just went up there to read, cry, feel, think, and pray. Not because I’m lonely, homesick, feeling bad or anything. I’m not stressed out, mom, so don’t worry about me… it’s none of that. I just went up there to be. And I was. And it was beautiful.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The AIDS Count... Reduced

I’m in a sentimental mood. Sitting here typing on my laptop before I go to bed, listening to James Taylor sing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I’m getting nostalgic and missing a Christmas that hasn’t yet even arrived… Music does that to you. It sets a mood, an overtone. It can enhance or even force a mood that isn’t really there.

Fasten your seatbelt, this is the latest shocking news… As I’ve stated before, the reason I’ve been placed here by the Ankole Diocese is due to the large number of HIV/AIDS orphans that are at this particular Compassion project. Of the 295 kids we support, 49 of them have tested positive for HIV/AIDS. Until recently… Now I don’t know what you know about HIV/AIDS but the basic principle is this: once you get it, you have it until you eventually die. Usually from something like malaria, the flu, or diarrhea. Alice, our new nurse (she’s even more of a newbie than I am), is really on the ball. She’s been throwing out expired medicines that was in the health office and ordering a ton of new drugs and supplies. She’s also having all of the HIV/AIDS children retested. She recently took 32 of the children to Mbarara for re-testing. The result… only 2 of them were actually positive! ‘You’re joking!’ she told them. ‘Test them again!’ So the tested them with another method. Same result. Only 2 of the 32 she took were in fact positive. The rest whom had tested positive about a year earlier where ALL negative! Alice still didn’t believe the results so she had them try a 3rd test… same results. 30 were negative and 2 positive. One boy, upon learning the results, leapt up and danced around the room as you could imagine.

So how does this happen? Faulty testing? Contaminated samples? Incompetent people running the tests? Who knows? I mean, can you imagine what this would be like if it happened in the States? The malpractice suits alone… And what does this have to be like for these kids and their caregivers. Now not all of them know their status. We don’t tell the kids until they’re about 12 or so, mature enough to handle such life jarring news. What would it be like for a medical doctor to hand you a death certificate with your name on it and then one year later rip it up and tell you, ‘woops… I might have made a mistake. Sorry.’ One doctor in Kampala was so outraged upon hearing this the he demanded that the doctors that delivered this diagnosis be tried in a criminal court!! And why not? Some of these kids have been placed on ARVs which have adverse and strong side effects. One of the kids to test Negative was Nicholas whom I’ve been visiting in the Kampala Hospital. The doctors now believe that it was the ARVs that were causing his loss of balance and within a month he should be back to normal. We’ll keep praying and hoping for a speedy recovery for him.

So we’re in the process of testing the rest of the children and just sorting out this utter mayhem. It’s not like it would be back home though, I’m telling you. There aren’t parents/caregivers demanding lawsuits or compensation.

I did finally get a check to Marcel and his orphanage. It’s called a Money Gram if anyone’s interested in knowing. I tried and tried to get that money here but I couldn’t find a bank that could help me and to try to take it through the ATM would have cost me an arm and a leg. I was happy to see that he had recently received a donation from a woman who had donated some money before to have a dorm room built. This time they were building a dining hall/study room with a kitchen area and some additional sleeping rooms. In the 2 pictures I have of Marcel, both are taken where the kids currently eat. Under what I would call a picnic shelter, so if it’s cold out or windy or rainy they’re out in it. Marcel invited me back in a few months to give me some pictures of the new beds once they’re purchased. Unfortunately the kids were in school when I arrived, but Marcel was certainly pleased.

So my current project is to work as the local Olin Mills guy at Compassion. I’m taking digital pictures of all the kids to make a better display of all our kids with their names and their project numbers. I have to tell you, taking 300 pictures of kids in one day can really wear you out! Plus you have to try to get these kids to smile, which they aren’t accustomed to doing in photos. Have you ever seen those pictures of people in the early 20th century where they just stand there in all their nostalgia, refusing to smile. It’s the same here typically. So I had to tell them, in Runyankole, to ‘laugh’ and to say Cheese, and then I had to wait for just the right time to take their picture. Sometimes they would laugh and turn away to look at their friends, or just stand there not knowing what to do or what the heck I really said in my thick Midwest accent. I’ve included a few of what I consider the highlights.

Jesus = Food. Let me touch on this topic. At church here they did this drama. It was in Runyankole but I had a translator. The gist of it was this: there was a poor family. The father was a drunk, the 2 teenage kids were filthy and disrespectful to their mother who was by this time desperate to find any food at all for her family. A knock on the door. 2 Christians to bring the gospel. They gather together with the family, minus the father, pray together and also bring food for the family to eat. (mind you that I think this entire thing was done w/o a written script and it was performed very very well) So they eat the food, pray together and miraculously the kids are now dressed very well, are super well behaved and the father returns home after being out drinking to proclaim to be a changed man! All because of Jesus! How perfect! Prior to seeing this, Jacob was telling me about an old South Park episode where after watching missionaries do their thing the come to the conclusion that ‘Jesus equals food’. Now this really bothered me and here’s why. I CERTAINLY don’t want to dismiss the power of God or the power of prayer. I believe so deeply in both, however, I also believe in difficulties, sufferings and hardships that Christians endure. Paul talks extensively about this. I believe in hardships not because God doesn’t love, but for many reasons which aren’t necessarily nice or pleasant but are there nonetheless: to build character, to rely on and trust in Him more. So what happens when this family accepts Jesus, prays, shares the food, comes to church… and the kids don’t become respectful and the husband doesn’t come home? What happens then? Do these people cease to believe??? I guess I get sort of critical at times when it comes to church. I want it to be real and to make sense most of the time, so when I have disagreements I get fired up and want to do something about it. It’s the same reason I do theater from time to time. I don’t love to do theater, it’s hard work, but I do it because I see bad theater and I know I can do it better. Not in a bragging, look at me, way, but in a way that promotes theater as art, as a craft that is molded and shaped and taken care of. I think I’ve also been influenced by a book I’ve been reading lately called Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller. Normally it takes me about a month to read a book, but this one I couldn’t put down. Finished it in 4 days. It’s about ‘non religious thoughts on Christian spirituality’. I call it more of an interweaving of Truth, doubt, life and everything in between. Check it out if you need something to read this summer.

So… things are going well. Moral is high and Compassion is keeping me busy. I’m still running every day, but I do miss my broken iPod. I think I’ve lost about 5 pounds since arriving, which is NOTHING. Don has lost over 40 pounds in part due to sickness, but also because guys tend to lose weight in the PC.

Jacob is doing well, working on some interesting reports for Africare that are occurring deep in the villages. I’ll try to hit those up in a future blog.

Thanks for the letters! I truly truly feel blessed to have the support from so many people back home!!! I will write back to all who have written me! Promise!

Happy Birthday wishes to Ella!! Until next time…