Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week 64

P: We had  wonderful experiences this week visiting with three charitable organizations.  One  we'll tell you about now, and the other two next weekend.  On Wednesday we visited the main office of  Hope for Humans here in Gulu (  It was established by two San Antonio TX doctors, Suzanne Gazda and  Sally Baynton, to help children who suffer from Nodding Disease - only in NORTHERN Uganda (some cases in So. Sudan and in '60s in Tanzania)!  Scientists from around the world have been puzzled by this disease and unable to determine its cause.  It also has no known cure.      It affects the brains and nervous system of children, primarily between the ages of 5-15.  The children in early stages look normal, but appear sleepy and seem to "nod off"; they are actually experiencing seizures, often many throughout the day.  During the seizure the child or teenager cannot control body movement and are prone to wander off -- sometimes falling into fires or drowning in bodies of water.  For those reasons - and the frequency of the seizures, parents are forced to tie them to a tree to keep them safe.  Strangely, food often triggers the seizures and the children become severely malnourished, dying from secondary causes.

 Last year the humanitarian service missionaries in Uganda told us about the dramatic difference the our church's supplemental porridge, ATMIT, has made in the lives of these children.  One member of Uganda's Parliament testified of the many, many lives that had been saved by this porridge.  Unfortunately the shipping costs have made it prohibitive to ship to around the world, but the church is working to find a way to have it manufactured in Africa.    My brother and our sons have been able to bring two  50 lb bags when they have come as part of their luggage.  Although it is a drop in the bucket.  The administrators are soooooo appreciative and are in hopes something can be worked out so when they are traveling to Kampala they can bring ATMIT with them as part of their luggage.  Although food often triggers the seizures, amazingly ATMIT does not have this affect.   

Tuesday’s country plod.  
“Plodding” will never be the same when I return home.  It is just so beautiful here – lush green plants everywhere, ethereal, blue sky, occasionally seeing the moon at mid-day.  It is my time for refreshing reflection.  

Tuesday on my “plod” home, as I approached Gulu University, suddenly there was an enormous amount of noise that sounded like cheering at a sports event.  It seemed very strange that it was coming from inside the university rather than at their football (soccer) field.  Then as I was approaching the main entrance close to a thousand students came running out.  They didn’t look frightened – in fact a lot of them were laughing.  I thought, perhaps they were all told they didn’t have to take an exam or class was dismissed early,  but seemed like too many for that. 

A Ugandan man about my age stopped me and told me to turn around and go back where I had come from.  He was obviously concerned about my safety.  I said my home was straight ahead.  He said, “well then, hurry and take a boda out of here.”  (Hmmm, a boda will be saferNot on my life would I take a boda; besides, it’s against mission rules. :).  Turned out the outbreak was because it was exam week.  These students were upper classmen soon to graduate who had paid their exam fees, but the teachers had gone on strike so the students weren’t allowed to take their exams.  They were all upset.  Anticipating the students’ reaction, security had allegedly released some tear gas.  Actually for a demonstration, it was all very peaceful.  Students may have been angry but they were totally civil and respectful.  Those in America could learn good citizenship from the students’ here.

Just then, a church member I hadn’t seen in quite a while tagged me and said for me to come to her “hotel” (restaurant).  It was so good to see her – not because of the happenings outside, just that I had missed her and her husband.  Her husband is the one we’ve called Nixon who had cerebral malaria and when he wasn’t taken his medicine flipped out burning down some huts.  It had been several months since I had seen him but he was back from Kampala and looked really terrific.  He was faithfully taking his medication and you could tell that he was doing very well – except for enduring threats from his uncle who says he will kill him.  It was wonderful to see him and his wife together and happy.

As I started plodding again, there were still hundreds of students around the road and entrance.  Even though this is my normal route, the majority had never seen me.  Now there was a new wave of laughter; everywhere students were laughing; I gave up learning their language, but it was obvious what the laughter was about as they looked at me, then talked with others – an old, overweight, juja (grandma) trying to jog! Most of them can WALK faster than I jog – sometimes they’ll mock me demonstrating how their walk is faster.  My thoughts turn to the mocking from the large and spacious building in 1st Nephi, but quickly realize these people really  are not being rude.  I’m a novelty as well as a source of entertainment for them.  I usually just smile or wave back at them.  They laugh harder, but in time those that see me regularly compliment me for my efforts.  They are good people.  I love them and will miss their laughter.

About a mile from home a bright green snake, as green as the tall blades of grass, slithers from the road into the brush.  Later I ask others about the green snakes.  Whether true or not, they all tell me green snakes are very poisonous.  Hmmm, I wonder, could it have been the infamous green mamba?  As much as I love looking at the different animals and insects, I’m not about to go off-road for any reason.  Even I have my limits! 


B: In Kampala, my doctor, who founded the clinic he is also running, decided against hacking on my head again to remove any missed basil cell.  He couldn't see any remaining on my forehead under a magnifying glass and suggested since it is a slow grower anyway, watch it carefully and as soon as I see a speck of it, come back down and he will freeze it off.  Thank goodness....I was not looking forward to the pain.

Pam saw him too.  A bad neck.  Probably all the banging and juggling through the pot holes .  They put her in neck traction for  20 minutes.  Doctor said muscle relaxants are now considered "out" for proper treatment so gave her some Valium to take at night to help relax her muscles. She took as prescribed and was almost literally climbing into bed 20 minutes later. Went back for more traction the next day.  She didn't like the way the valium made her feel.  That was enough for more Valium.  She's back on muscle relaxant and feeling good.

If any of our Church friends are planning on a mission, do it while you're doesn't get any easier with age.  Young or old, missions are a wonderful experience.

 Drying out the grain and g-nuts in the sun.
 During the start of the heavy rainy season we get swarms of ants on our front porch, obviously attracted by our front port light.  This was the next day's findings on the porch itself..  The ants, I guess, have crawled off leaving their large wing as evidence.  The wings look more like little baby minnows in the picture.
 Just another fellow trying to make a go of it selling shoes tied over his back....walking the streets looking for customers.

Different size brooms at the market.  The owner of these brooms began yelling at me, "I want money", for me taking the picture of her brooms.  I thought to myself, "Who doesn't?".
                                      Little Nellie...such a cutie.  You have met her before.  Pam loves holding her during Sacrament Meeting,
 Nellie and her sisters moved with her mom to a smaller place but much cleaner and closer to her work.  Real pride of ownership in this neighborhood.  Nighty, the mom, had purchased these turkeys.  The large one will be sold for about 80,000 shillings.  I just hope she didn't pay anymore for it than that.  Much of the time, their businesses lack the basics... as in net sales less the cost of goods sold.  This is why her soap business failed.  Often they don't compute whether or not the selling price covers actual expenses.  Many times it doesn't.  

I still don't get the big deal about hunting turkeys in the states.  These guys love to have their pictures taken.  It's not like you have to wait hours and hours for them while you are crouched down in some uncomfortable position with the temps registering "fowl" weather.  

Kids at General Conference broadcast between DVD sessions on Sunday.

Our Relief Society President's son with cerebral palsy.  He moves along very well on his knees when not in his wheelchair.  Just a great, great guy and very, very smart.
Uganda's version of  "Two Men and a Truck"

 We are getting used to fried ants.  Thinking of having a "BYOA" party at our place when we return...not anticipating too many will show up.
 This only looks top-heavy.  It's just an illusion.  Ofttimes there will be people hitching a ride on the top of these trucks, holding on for dear life.
 Grinding maize into flour.
Preparing the innards for dinner. These can serve as our dessert for our BYO Ant Party.

A lady at the outdoor market selling her this case...dried fish.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the following experience he had with a righteous priesthood leader dying of a terminal disease:
“My friend came to accept the phrase ‘Thy will be done’ as he faced his own poignant trials and tribulations. As a faithful member of the Church, he was now confronted with some sobering concerns. Particularly touching were his questions, ‘Have I done all that I need to do to faithfully to endure to the end?’ ‘What will death be like?’ ‘Will my family be prepared to stand in faith and be self-reliant when I am gone?’
“We had the opportunity to discuss all three questions. They are clearly answered in the doctrine taught to us by our Savior. We discussed how he had spent his life striving to be faithful, to do what God asked of him, to be honest in his dealings with his fellowmen and all others, to care for and love his family. Isn’t that what is meant by enduring to the end? We talked about what happens immediately after death, about what God has taught us about the world of spirits. It is a place of paradise and happiness for those who have lived righteous lives. It is not something to fear.
“After our conversation, he called together his wife and the extended family—children and grandchildren—to teach them again the doctrine of the Atonement that all will be resurrected. Everyone came to understand that just as the Lord has said, while there will be mourning at the temporary separation, there is no sorrow for those who die in the Lord (see Revelation 14:13; D&C 42:46). His blessing promised him comfort and reassurance that all would be well, that he would not have pain, that he would have additional time to prepare his family for his departure, and even that he would know the time of his departure. The family related to me that on the night before he passed away, he said he would go on the morrow. He passed away the next afternoon at peace, with all his family at his side. This is the solace and comfort that comes to us when we understand the gospel plan and know that families are forever.
“Contrast these events with an incident which happened to me when I was a young man in my early twenties. While serving in the Air Force, one of the pilots in my squadron crashed on a training mission and was killed. I was assigned to accompany my fallen comrade on his final journey home to be buried in Brooklyn. I had the honor of standing by his family during the viewing and funeral services and of representing our government in presenting the flag to his grieving widow at the graveside. The funeral service was dark and dismal. No mention was made of his goodness or his accomplishments. His name was never mentioned. At the conclusion of the services, his widow turned to me and asked, ‘Bob, what is really going to happen to Don?’
“I was then able to give her the sweet doctrine of the Resurrection and the reality that, if baptized and sealed in the temple for time and all eternity, they could be together eternally. The clergyman standing next to her said, ‘That is the most beautiful doctrine I have ever heard’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 88–89; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 66).

1 comment:

  1. it was great to scan your blog, read your comments and see your pictures! what a great service you are offering. a great family, the Evans, recently moved into your old house here in Bountiful. But we still miss you being our neighbors.sincerely, ron gardner