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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

I was catching up on my Africa posts, and realized that it was one year ago today that I experienced what I consider to be one of the greatest moments of my life. I reposted it on the Africa page, but I thought I would put it here again. I don’t want to give too much away, but read below for the full story. You won’t regret it!
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Africa Day 25

Oh my gosh. We are SO sorry for the lack of updates. Our internet here has had MAJOR issues all week. We do have lots to tell you, but we will just break it into little updates so you don’t pass out from the excitement.
SUNDAY: We had mass today and it was actually only 90 minutes long. Pretty nice change of pace. It was all business as usual, we sat in between the school age girls who were like junior high aged. Church was really spiced up this week; because I got passed a note by one of the school girls!!! I about died laughing, but didn’t want to embarass her at all. Mom and I just tried to keep our heads staring straight without giggling too much. We opened up her note and it said “You are very beautiful. I would like to be your friend. Please respond to my note. Love, Salima” Now isn’t that just one of the cutest things you’ve ever heard? Mom and I just giggled (yes we were 7th graders again and it was AWESOME). Don’t worry; I wrote back to her note telling her she was very kind and that I’m sure she’s a great friend to the girls here in Uwemba. It was right at the end of mass; (and we were sitting near the sisters; didn’t want to get scolded) so I slipped her the note back just as she was leaving mass. She ran outside with it and we saw her with about 3 friends all giggling while reading it.  Pretty funny; it definitely made my day.
So now…..the biggest update of all updates (well worth the wait)
MONDAY:
MOM AND I DELIVERED A BABY LAST NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, it is all caps because it is that un-fricken believable! At the hospital, Mom has been minutes too late to see at least 3-4 deliveries. It was one of her goals while she was here to see and assist with one. The nursing staff was a bit swamped yesterday and they actually had 2 women in labor all day. Mom kept checking in on them, but the day came and went with no babies. We left to go have dinner and Mom said she was going back there that night and would sleep at the hospital if it meant she could finally see a delivery. Well, I missed my mommy, so I wanted to go with her. Little did I know that I would be a lamaze coach for the evening.
We went back after dinner; well prepped to sleep there if needed. We got there around 730 pm and she had already been in labor since that morning. It was the woman’s 4th child, so she was incredibly tough and calm about everything. About 930 pm, there was still no baby, and its heartrate was slowly dropping-her contractions were also coming less frequently. Apparently this is no good. She was fully dialated, but there was just no progress. The nurse finally decided to give her an injection of Pitocin that would help her contractions come a bit more often. Mom’s expression was slowly turning a bit more concerned, so I just stood there with my gloves on, ready to help whenever she told me to do anything. Less than 5 minutes after we had given momma the shot, she all of a sudden rolled over on her back and started pushing. The nurse had stepped away for a minute and it was just mom and I. So mom just jumped right into action. Let it be known that if I am ever about to deliver a baby by myself somewhere, I will channel a little of my momma to get me through it!
One push from momma, and the baby’s head had already come out into mom and my hands. Mom just took charge and jumped right into nurse-mode. (PS; still no hospital nurse in sight!) She made sure that I caught the baby’s head, but the shoulders and body still weren’t out yet. Also, the baby wasn’t really breathing very well and we were TERRIFIED that we were going to lose him. (We didn’t discuss this until walking back to our room later, but we both had the exact same fears when that baby came out.) Mom told me to stay and catch the baby while she pulled double-duty. She had one hand on momma’s tummy trying to help her push the rest of the baby out; and she’d propped the woman up with her other arm so that momma wouldn’t give up and keep pushing. We had been speaking to the patient in Swahili all night, but when the baby was coming, all mom said was “PUSH MOMMA PUSH!” Meanwhile, I’m just freaking out like a wide-receiver at the Super Bowl, only the football is a small little baby and this is a pretty big catch. Baby came out with one more push and we just started rubbing his back and feet, praying for some activity. He was a slightly scary shade of blue and wasn’t really making any movements. All of a sudden we heard his little whimpering cry and that turned into allout baby cries. HE MADE IT! Just craziness. Mom and I then helped the nurse (who finally decided to show up) get momma all cleaned up; she was exhausted from pushing all day and was shivering, almost seemed a little in shock. Maybe that’s just how everyone looks after they’ve had a baby though, who knows.  Little baby is fine and healthy; he weighs less than six pounds and is just beautiful. He also has a full head of hair and was sucking his little thumb right away.
Momma and baby

Holding baby Fred; who I helped bring into the world!

It was the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life. This woman had no pain medication at all, and honestly it seemed like just another day at the office for her. She sneezed and then baby came out; shocking! I seriously didn’t hear one scream or anything; she was just exhausted, but wow was it worth it!
We don’t have any other updates today, but hopefully this will hold all of you off for a bit. Give us a break; we’re saving lives here.
SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY…….Courtney Stowe who sent me a lovely package with some trashy gossip mags in it. God is good. Also; thanks to my husband for sending Mom and I some cool bracelets since we had to leave all our jewelry at home. We love you 🙂

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**(written by Mom!)
It has been an interesting week for Jessi and I.  It started off on Monday with an emergency trip to another hospital for a young lady who had severe anemia and needed a blood transfusion STAT!! Her hemoglobin lab value was 4.3 which is critically low. So, we started an IV and loaded her into the back of our truck and ‘flew’ to the nearest facility. It was like a scene right out of the MASH TV shows.
Jessi worked with Sr. Dorothy at the orphanage and did a ‘clean sweep’ of her office. There were a variety of items that had been living in her office for ages (such as rice, books, potatoes, clothes, soap and more). She also helped to get 7 new cribs set up for the kids. Several of them have learned to stand-up or crawl out of their cribs since Jessi’s arrival, so they are really growing up fast.
Later that day while we were out reading in the sun; the strangest thing happened. All the birds in the nearby trees started to fly away and we heard a super loud BUZZZZZZZZ. A huge swarm of wasps flew over our heads and went to the bell tower of the nearby church. I mean it was like you would envision the plauge or locusts or something. It really creeped us out for awhile and now every time we walk by the church we look up and you can still see them flying around.
Tuesday/Wednesday we went to outreach clinics with Esther, the public health nurse. It was a really fun time and we saw over 300 kids in 2 days! We started out by weighing all of them. They are put into a hand-made bag of sorts (looks a bit like overalls) and then their hung up by the straps onto a large hook (similar to what you would see hanging in a meat market). Then the moms all lined up and gave Jessi their child’s medical record to document their weights. Jessi got really good at Swahili numbers so the mommas could report directly to her. Then after graphing all that information, we lined them up and started giving them their oral polio and any other vaccines they needed. All the moms would turn their heads and not watch as I poked their beautiful babies. It’s a free service that provides healthcare at various sites once/month and is actually kind of a “playdate” for the village. The moms sit and socialize together long after we leave and the children all get to play as well.
Children being weighed at the clinic


Mom giving vaccinations


Practicing my Swahili with Esther

I went to the Ash Wednesday service yesterday and the parishoners were 90% students, 9% parents/adults and 1% white woman. It would’ve made a really cool picture; kind of like Where’s Waldo but you’re looking for me.
We have had some technical difficulties on our end so we haven’t been able to blog as often as we’ve liked. Jessi took the night off from blogging so this edition won’t be as entertaining as the previous ones. Please stay tuned for her return in the very near future.
Shout out of the day goes to……..Kristin Krosschell for sending the entire list of Oscar winners to Jessi for her viewing pleasure. An added benefit: the commentary on celebrity fashion and behind the scenes drama. A sure ticket to Jessi’s heart. Way to go Kristin!

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Don’t forget! Revisit the awesomeness that is Africa. Click here to see 6 entries from last year’s amazing month-long journey to Tanzania. Great pictures added!

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Just one year ago….

A little over  a year ago I was at the very beginning of starting down an unforgettable journey. I was on my way to Tanzania, Africa where I would spend the next five weeks of my life. This time last year I was standing in the Minneapolis airport, bawling into my husband’s arms as he dropped me off. We had only been married five months and I was leaving him to embark on this adventure. It was an incredibly rough, emotional moment for us. I struggled so much with the decision to leave, and looking back now we would both say that it was one of the best decisions of my life.

I was lucky enough to travel with my amazing mother. The trip was actually her idea, and I think I surprised her a bit by wanting to accompany her. While we were there, we wanted a way to keep in touch with our friends and family here in the US. Five weeks was a long time, and I knew without staying in touch I would get incredibly homesick. This was the beginning of my very first blog. A joint-effort between both my mom and I as we documented our experiences serving the people of Africa. That blog has since expired somehow through google, but smart me (thank goodness) saved a copy of every entry in Microsoft word. I thought it would be cool to document my story again on this blog. I will keep the dates and entries exactly the same as they were written one year ago, only this time you will have pictures that will help share our story.

I’m dying to relive this experience and thought this would be another way to create awareness of the struggles that other people in the world are facing, and also document my memories once more. All the posts will be tagged “Africa”, and if you subscribe in a reader you should be able to see them easily as well.

I hope you’re all as excited as I am to revisit this amazing memory with me. Don’t worry, the regular posts will still come, but this will be an added bonus :o) And a teaser just to get you excited?

That’s right guys; you’ll want to read this. Can’t wait to share! Click here for post #1.

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Africa Day 28:

It’s update time! We finally have the tail-end of our trip figured out and we’re just wrapping up our last week with our work here. Today was my last day at the orphanage and the kids were just angels today. Noone hit each other, pushed each other off bikes, or bit anyone so it was a success in my eyes. Target friends: I gave out the stuffed dogs today and the kids just LOVED them! Blessing (she’s one who clings to me each day) got her Target dog (dressed in a little sweater/skirt and kept saying “schuler? schuler?” which means school in Swahili. The dog’s outfit looks very similar to the school uniforms here in Uwemba. She just started going to the Montessori school since she’s turned 3 and now she has a little dog that is her new best friend. They also called the dogs “toto” which means baby. Many of the little girls put them on their backs just like the moms carry babies here. Pretty adorable stuff; I’ll show you all pictures when I get home!
With Dynas

Handing out the Target Dogs to all the kids.
Today we also tackled a secret mission for my cousin (mom’s godson/nephew) Joe McCarville. His 1st grade class in Iowa allows each student to take a journal with them for a bit, and then record their experiences. He is sending his journal to us here in Africa so his class can see all about our experiences. For our contribution, we decided to visit the 1st grade class in the village and took many pictures of the classroom there. They were SOOO excited! When we came in the room they all stood up and said “Welcome madams, thank you for coming” all in perfect english. There are well over 40 children in the first grade class; with one teacher. 3-4 share one desk and they’re pretty crowded! So Joe; just so you know we are thinking of you and your classmates here and mom and I are taking our “homework” very seriously!

The children at the local school


Inside one of the classrooms

Earlier in the week, we went and checked in on the little baby that we helped bring into the world. Momma was packing up her things and doing her wash while little baby was sleeping. She named him Fred and we both got to snuggle with him for a bit. She was so thankful to mom and I and told mom that we were welcome to their home anytime. She was so beautiful and you couldn’t even tell she’d just had a baby the day before!
Now it’s our last day here in Uwemba and we will begin the final leg of our journey tomorrow AM. We will be driving 4 hours southwest to Peramiho, a much larger town (outside of Songea if anyone has a map, or has a clue what I’m talking about) where the mission has it’s own (much larger) hospital and school. We will only get to spend about 2 days there before we drive the 14 hours back to Dar es Salaam. Then we spend 1 night in Dar before flying back to the US. We were just told that when we go to Peramiho in the morning, we will be bringing with us one of the orphans whose family is ready to take her back. Her name is Addie and she just turned 2 years old. Her mother had gone blind shortly after she was born and that’s why she came to the orphanage. Now her aunt is willing to raise her so she will be returning to her family. Her mother will still be very involved in raising her but obviously she cannot do it all on her own. That should be an interesting experience!
Little Miss Addie

While in Peramiho; I’m going to be pretty busy working on a website for Sr.Rosann and the mission. Hopefully we will have internet connection, but I’m sure it will be scarce as it is here. Anyway, we will try to update as often as possible. See you all soon! 

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Oh my gosh. We are SO sorry for the lack of updates. Our internet here has had MAJOR issues all week. We do have lots to tell you, but we will just break it into little updates so you don’t pass out from the excitement.
SUNDAY: We had mass today and it was actually only 90 minutes long. Pretty nice change of pace. It was all business as usual, we sat in between the school age girls who were like junior high aged. Church was really spiced up this week; because I got passed a note by one of the school girls!!! I about died laughing, but didn’t want to embarass her at all. Mom and I just tried to keep our heads staring straight without giggling too much. We opened up her note and it said “You are very beautiful. I would like to be your friend. Please respond to my note. Love, Salima” Now isn’t that just one of the cutest things you’ve ever heard? Mom and I just giggled (yes we were 7th graders again and it was AWESOME). Don’t worry; I wrote back to her note telling her she was very kind and that I’m sure she’s a great friend to the girls here in Uwemba. It was right at the end of mass; (and we were sitting near the sisters; didn’t want to get scolded) so I slipped her the note back just as she was leaving mass. She ran outside with it and we saw her with about 3 friends all giggling while reading it.  Pretty funny; it definitely made my day.
So now…..the biggest update of all updates (well worth the wait)
MONDAY:
MOM AND I DELIVERED A BABY LAST NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, it is all caps because it is that un-fricken believable! At the hospital, Mom has been minutes too late to see at least 3-4 deliveries. It was one of her goals while she was here to see and assist with one. The nursing staff was a bit swamped yesterday and they actually had 2 women in labor all day. Mom kept checking in on them, but the day came and went with no babies. We left to go have dinner and Mom said she was going back there that night and would sleep at the hospital if it meant she could finally see a delivery. Well, I missed my mommy, so I wanted to go with her. Little did I know that I would be a lamaze coach for the evening.
We went back after dinner; well prepped to sleep there if needed. We got there around 730 pm and she had already been in labor since that morning. It was the woman’s 4th child, so she was incredibly tough and calm about everything. About 930 pm, there was still no baby, and its heartrate was slowly dropping-her contractions were also coming less frequently. Apparently this is no good. She was fully dialated, but there was just no progress. The nurse finally decided to give her an injection of Pitocin that would help her contractions come a bit more often. Mom’s expression was slowly turning a bit more concerned, so I just stood there with my gloves on, ready to help whenever she told me to do anything. Less than 5 minutes after we had given momma the shot, she all of a sudden rolled over on her back and started pushing. The nurse had stepped away for a minute and it was just mom and I. So mom just jumped right into action. Let it be known that if I am ever about to deliver a baby by myself somewhere, I will channel a little of my momma to get me through it!
One push from momma, and the baby’s head had already come out into mom and my hands. Mom just took charge and jumped right into nurse-mode. (PS; still no hospital nurse in sight!) She made sure that I caught the baby’s head, but the shoulders and body still weren’t out yet. Also, the baby wasn’t really breathing very well and we were TERRIFIED that we were going to lose him. (We didn’t discuss this until walking back to our room later, but we both had the exact same fears when that baby came out.) Mom told me to stay and catch the baby while she pulled double-duty. She had one hand on momma’s tummy trying to help her push the rest of the baby out; and she’d propped the woman up with her other arm so that momma wouldn’t give up and keep pushing. We had been speaking to the patient in Swahili all night, but when the baby was coming, all mom said was “PUSH MOMMA PUSH!” Meanwhile, I’m just freaking out like a wide-receiver at the Super Bowl, only the football is a small little baby and this is a pretty big catch. Baby came out with one more push and we just started rubbing his back and feet, praying for some activity. He was a slightly scary shade of blue and wasn’t really making any movements. All of a sudden we heard his little whimpering cry and that turned into allout baby cries. HE MADE IT! Just craziness. Mom and I then helped the nurse (who finally decided to show up) get momma all cleaned up; she was exhausted from pushing all day and was shivering, almost seemed a little in shock. Maybe that’s just how everyone looks after they’ve had a baby though, who knows.  Little baby is fine and healthy; he weighs less than six pounds and is just beautiful. He also has a full head of hair and was sucking his little thumb right away.
Momma and baby

Holding baby Fred; who I helped bring into the world!

It was the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life. This woman had no pain medication at all, and honestly it seemed like just another day at the office for her. She sneezed and then baby came out; shocking! I seriously didn’t hear one scream or anything; she was just exhausted, but wow was it worth it!
We don’t have any other updates today, but hopefully this will hold all of you off for a bit. Give us a break; we’re saving lives here.
SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY…….Courtney Stowe who sent me a lovely package with some trashy gossip mags in it. God is good. Also; thanks to my husband for sending Mom and I some cool bracelets since we had to leave all our jewelry at home. We love you 🙂

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Today has been deemed blog-worthy. You’re welcome.

Today we started out at our weekly 2 hour long mass. After 1 hour of a homily in Swahili; I will tell you; I feel the Lord (because my knees hurt, and my back hurts, and I’m praying to just understand one sentence; that’s all!) At mass they announced that mom and Mardy would be hosting the 1st ever “Free Blood Pressure Clinic” in Uwemba. (Get the tee-shirts printed; this is going to be huge!) It actually was a huge success. They checked 45 people and over 12 required follow-up or medication. One patient was a 15 year old boy who looked a bit small for his age. He ended up having a very irregular heartbeat that could be problematic if not looked at. I helped out with checking in patients and got to try out my Swahili a bit with the patients which was fun. Mom was really really happy with the turnout and they’re going to have it again next Sunday because they know that word will spread after such a great turnout today. They actually ended up turning people away so we could close up; this could be a great monthly event for the village.
Another exciting event today; we had CHICKEN!!!!! I’ve never been so excited in my life. We’ve been eating straight pork for 2 weeks now; (anyway they slice it; season it, or boil it; it’s still pork). So we had some chicken breast today and it was amazing. Chicken is really expensive here (even though I see 5 or 6 every day that I could take off their hands for a small price) so they don’t use it as often. Bummer for us; great news for the chicken.
After that I had a great treat and spent the afternoon horseback riding in the field. They have 9 or 10 horses so “Flora” and I enjoyed a nice little afternoon together. In the corral with us was the Momma horse and the baby horse so that was really cool to watch too. Another worker was riding the momma and baby just was running all around trying to keep up. He’s changed so much in a week! Not so good; mom got attacked by psycho red ants while she was being a good mommy taking pictures. I think I did hear a cuss word or two so now we’re even for my scalding incident. Nothing a little penicillin won’t cure right?

Yesterday, the worker in our guest house (Thomas) asked mom and I if we would work with him on his English every night. We of course were so excited and jumped at the opportunity. He kept messing up blue and green today so after mom did a little color-blind test we realized that wasn’t the case; he just didn’t get it. By the end of the lesson though, he was counting, knew his colors, and also knew items around the kitchen. We figured this was a good place to start since most of his work is serving the meals and setting the tables up. He wants to learn more, more, more so we’re trying to think of things to introduce him to (other than the Michael Jackson that he already knows and loves.)

We’re a little upset because the forces are not aligning for our technology here. I almost electrocuted myself last night trying to recharge my batteries in the wall, and now I think I brought the wrong camera cord with me. (Please remember that I also imploded my laptop on Day 2 in Uwemba; AWESOME). Then, Mom’s camera cord somehow disappeared on our first crazy-ass trip to Njombe (the one where we had to listen to HORRIBLE music and watch our taxi driver duct tape the axel back together three times). We got back and it was gone. So please just try to visualize these awesome experiences we’re having because somebody doesn’t want us to share this with America apparently.
Ok; we’re done. Also, mom killed me at Phase 10 tonight. She’s now a worthy Phase 10 player and we will continue our challenges tomorrow. We were screaming at each other so loud that the workers came inside to make sure we were ok. What can I say; I was a little upset.
Today’s shout out goes to………Goon Tram! (he’s our swahili driver.) Today he visited us again because he was bringing people back from Peramiho. He’s our favorite driver ever and he always laughs at us and says we’re crazy Americans. Can’t really argue considering some Germans showed up for dinner tonight (seriously a group of 3) and we are WAY more fun than them.  :o)
Ok; all of a sudden we are feeling creative. Here are the top 10 reasons you know you’re in Uwemba.
1. You will have pork 3 times a day, possibly looking different, but it’s still pork. You will also have eggs every morning for breakfast, and potatoes twice a day. Deal.
2. All music will be played at 7 Million decibals, and it will remind you of Ricky Martin, The Backstreet Boys, and George Michael all combined. It’s horrid. (mom says write “except church music, that’s beautiful.” I burst out laughing and she doesn’t know why; I love it. Funniest comment I’ve heard all day.)
3. It will rain every day. Even if you think it might not; it will rain. And not just a little; thunder/lightning/the whole works.
4. EVERYONE will look at you funny because you’re a white girl. They will smile if you throw out some Swahili their way; but inside their still laughing. Because you still TALK like a white girl; and smile way too much.

5. Livestock (goats/cows/horses/pigs) could at any time wander into your path. Just know that you are at all times surrounded by 20 pounds of manure, so your steps must be strategically planned. Also, the goats are NOT that afraid of humans. They could eat you for breakfast.

6. Every bus driver is trying to rip you off. Every one of them. One guy tells you 2 dollars; and his buddy in the front seat says 3. They have no clue; and it’s best to just take what they say; divide it in half and try your best swahili argument to barter. If they just scowl at you; pay the 3 bucks and get over it.

7. Every child will ask you for candy. So far; mom and I have failed miserably at this. They call it “pepe” and hold their hands out whenever we walk by. We forgot to bring some so they just flip us off when we walk by instead (just kidding; making sure you’re still reading).
8. Teenage girls giggle uncontrollably here; especially if you take their picture and then show it to them. They are always in large groups; and the just giggle constantly. They might be embarassed or shy; but I don’t think their used to that kind of attention. It’s really funny so Mom and I always show them their pictures afterwards.
9. You may die everytime you get into a car. If it’s public transportation, the floor of the vehicle could just fall out from underneath you. If it’s with a driver, sometimes their on the left side, sometimes the right, sometimes their avoiding cows/bicycles/humans/take your pick. Just know that if you value your life; you’ll get a good pair of sneakers and just hoof it. However; if you’re wild and crazy like mom and I; you will just know that your trips to town will be insane.
10. Brain fart; we can’t think of a 10th. sorry! (you can’t have a top 9; it’s just not right.)
Ok; see you all later. (Badai in Swahili)

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