Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Travels update

We've just finished our absolutely fantastic vacation in Paris and are now in Nairobi for the week for some medical checkups. I have so much to write about and many pictures to share, but I'm on my iPhone, which makes it a little difficult to write good posts. Plus, my Flickr app is acting up so in having trouble posting pictures there too. 

Paris was more wonderful than I could've imagined. We got some great quality time with Chris's sister, Erica, and her husband, Fuzzy. We also saw in A TON of sites (the Louvre, the Arc de Triumph, Musee d' Orsey, the Eiffel Tower, cafes galore, Notre Dame, Saint Chepelle, the Concierge, boat trip on the Siene, Versailles). I may have forgotten some stuff in there because by the end I felt a little like a zombie and barely able to keep up. But it was all great! Paris is a beautiful, laid back and friendly city. I could absolutely see myself living there. The people are beautiful, the kids so cute and the dogs quirky. Loved it all!
On top of the Arc de Triumph

Now on to Nairobi. We've been here 1 1/2 days and have mostly spent our time in various doctors offices. We came here once before in our 2006 trip but this time around things are so different because of our experience in Tanzania for the past 1 1/2 years. I said to Chris today that if there was any doubt that Tanzania is in need if aid, just compare it to Nairobi. Granted, Nairobi is one of the largest cities in Africa, but still. There is such a major difference between here and there and u can't ever imagine Mwanza coming even close to this. It also makes me feel better about our struggles because I better understand why things are so hard there. Also, after catching a public bus today and trying (successfully!) to find a doctors office, I realized that I may just be prepared for almost anywhere. It was all such a breeze. 

Anyways, more thoughts and pictures soon. I'll leave you with this glorious shot of my husband as he was coming out of anesthesia after his endoscopy today. Ah, Reids and your weird ailments. 

Chris says, "Nairobi hospitals are really nice. And not only because I like these drugs."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Busy Weeks

The past few weeks have been flying by for two main reasons.

1) There's just a lot of stuff going on! It seems like the longer we're here, the more people we know and the more requests we get, the more visitors stop by, and the more busy our lives become. This is all a good thing, but it definitely makes things interesting and...well...busy.

2) We're leaving for vacation in less than a week!!* We've been planning for this vacation for almost a year and now it's right upon us. There's a lot to do in preparation for leaving for 3 weeks so our pace has picked up and I think it'll continue until we leave.

Here are just a few pictures of what we've been up to:

Over the past few weeks it's become a common practice that every Saturday and Sunday at around 4PM the kids who live on the other side of house come over to visit. They will just sit there quietly without doing anything, so we decided to introduce them to Chris's favorite game, Connect 4. They love it! Games that involve critical thinking and strategy are rare here, so we hope we're adding some developmental value to their play time. But they enjoy it immensely so that's great too!

Neighbor kids playing Connect 4 in our yard
Regina challenges her brother Arnold while the eldest, Adipus, watches.

Last week we picked up the baton for another missioner who returned to the states for their vacation and Chris and I helped with a "project" that David and Caitlin have been working on. (I hate to call a little girl a "project." She's a human being, so I kinda flinch at writing that. But at the same time, it's an undertaking what they've been doing, namely to help her walk. So I'll use that word despite myself.) A month or so ago, Caitlin and David helped a little girl from David's school for disabled children to get a surgery that will hopefully fix her deformed legs. The surgery required followup one month after they put her braces on. Unfortunately, Caitlin and David had already planned a trip to the states for that time so Chris and I agreed to help her and her mom get to the hospital to see how the healing process is going and to see if it was time for her braces to come off.

This process is quite involved because Helena and her mother Happiness live up a very steep hill. After her first surgery, David and a friend fashioned a carrier that Helena could sit in, which would support her legs without moving them. Carrying her down the steep hill while she sits propped in the chair is the first of many challenges.

Carrying Helena down her steep hill
Her mom is a pro at this, I think.

The process at the hospital is the other hurdle. It requires a lot of patience and advocacy on behalf of our client. Helena's mom is getting good at understanding the system and I'm happy that she was a great advocate to her child (something that is counter cultural to some TZians, who tend to just take whatever they get, even if it's sub-par). Still, we spent a lot of time just waiting in one hall or another. Luckily, I had my iPhone so Helena had a good time playing the games and taking pictures, much to the surprise of the other clients who were sitting alongside us.

Helena playing with my phone at hospital
Helena's infectious smile.

The good news is that the Doc was happy with Helena's progress. The bones that were broken in the surgery to straighten her legs are showing signs of healing and he thinks she'll have no problem walking in the future. Her bones heal slowly so the braces will be left on another month or more in order to allow more time to heal. By that time the Rossers will be back from their vacation so they'll help her again in the next round.

Helena sees the doctor
The doctor checking out the braces.

Helena is a beautiful little girl and her story is inspiring. To read more about her and the help the Rossers have been providing her, check out their blog here.

*We're so so so excited to be meeting Chris's sister Erica and her husband Fuzzy in France so we can all attend the wedding of a long-time friend of Chris's. There's so much to look forward to and the trip will go by so fast (really, only a week?) that I'm trying to slow things down in my mind before I blink and miss it all. After France we'll spend a few days in Nairobi because the medical care there is so much better than here in TZ. There's nothing particularly wrong with us (finally!) but we think a mid-contract checkup is a good idea. Then, we're off to Rwanda to meet my dad and step-mom. We'll be tracking gorillas, monkeys, birds and other animals as well as seeing the sites before they (dad and Holly, not the animals) return with us back to Tanzania for a few weeks. This'll make our second set of visitors since we've arrived. Now that we've tested our tour-guiding skills on these guys, we're getting better at this. Who will be next to come?