Thursday, March 29, 2018

East African Tour

In the last blog we shared about this being the 'year of travel'. You only need to count the number of countries we have already travelled too since the new year to realize that for most people that title has already come true and its only been three months.  We are so thankful that we both love traveling and have jobs that allow us to live overseas and travel to new and old places. Thank you all for taking the time to read our blogs and your continued prayers and encouragement.

Mbale, Uganda: Andrew’s Work Trip                    02-12-18 

Walking around the hospital property I came across a massive ugly fruit hanging from a tree. A day later I came across some of the maintenance guys hacking one apart with a machete, washing it, and eating the stringy but soft inside.  I heard them tell me that it was 'duck' fruit and offered me some, which I was happy to try.  It had a nice sweetened cantaloupe flavor.  Later when I tried to Google details about it, I discovered that I had misheard the name of the fruit, which is actually the 'jack' fruit (I may want to get my hearing checked at our ENT clinic at our hospital here in Zambia).


I got to spend a week at CURE's hospital in Mbale, Uganda which is a long six to seven hour drive from the Entebbe airport (near the capital city, Kampala).  Landing in Uganda in the early morning was amazing because the Entebbe airport is right on Lake Victoria (Largest lake, by area, on the continent).  Uganda is a beautiful country, and even though the six or so hour drive to the hospital was long and a bit tiring after flying all night, I am thankful I got to see so much of the country during such a short trip.

CURE's hospital in Mbale is different than the other CURE hospitals that I have visited because it is not an orthopedics hospital.  It is an specialized neurosurgery children's hospital.  This hospital is a global-leader in shuntless treatment of hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Because of this, the majority of the patients are young babies.  The care and attention that all the patients and family receive is one of the many joys of getting to travel around the CURE network. It is also a great encouragement for me as I continue to support the main ministries at CURE through facilities, construction, and other technical services.

The main focus of my trip to Uganda was to provide some additional oversight to the master site planning that was being undertaken by eMi.  It was really helpful working with a handful of architects and engineers that were representing eMi on this project.

I wish Danielle and I could have travelled to Uganda together, but I look forward to planning a trip when we can see even more of the beautiful country together.

Nairobi, Kenya: Danielle’s Work Trip                   02-19-18 
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Nairobi, Kenya for a CURE clubfoot regional meeting. This was a particularly exciting week for me, because it marked the (official) start of the project I am working on! This was a meeting of the minds as we had our regional team from Africa, who traveled from Niger, Rwanda, and Zambia, as well as the regional directors for the US and Latin America. This concentrated time together allowed us to make some crucial decisions about how to proceed with the Clubfoot Early Detection and Adherence (CEDA, for short) project.

This was the second time I have visited Kenya, but the last time being when I was 14, so this was definitely a different experience. This week was spent mostly in the office, but it was nice to have a new set of places to eat and explore. Nairobi is certainly much bigger than Lusaka, but they are pretty similar in the items they offer- this truly stands out to me, when comparing it to living in Addis. Any time someone traveled to Nairobi, it was a treat to be able to go shopping at the grocery store and bring back all the things we didn’t have in Ethiopia, like different kinds of cheese and chocolate, even the random American snack. The most precious thing I brought back this time was coffee!

My favorite takeaway from this trip was the new relationships with our regional team members. This was the first time I had met most of them in person, so it was nice to feel “officially” a part of the team. I look forward to many more times of connecting with them over the next couple years of this project!

Kigali, Rwanda: Visiting Friends and Seeing Somewhere New          03-08-18 
One thing that we have loved about being back on this side of the world is the chance to travel to other African countries and experience more of this beautiful continent. We took advantage of a recent long holiday weekend to visit Kigali, Rwanda. I have wanted to visit Rwanda for a long time, but the particular draw this time was our friends, Caroline and Will Swartz. Caroline and I were middle school best friends, both attending Bingham Academy, when our families lived in Ethiopia. Thankfully, we have been able to keep up over the years, but now that we are both working overseas again (and both high school English teachers and both married), it’s a fun time to reconnect!

Will and Caroline were such gracious hosts and planned so many fun and wonderful things to do. In the city, we visited the Rwanda Genocide Memorial museum, an intense and powerful experience, found some lovely cafes (with bagels! and paninis! and delicious coffee!), and enjoyed doing things that we don’t get to in Lusaka (visiting a really cool distillery). They let us tag along to their small group meeting on Thursday night and their Sunday church service. They planned a lovely getaway for an overnight stay at Lake Ruhondo, which is surrounded by a few dormant volcanoes and close to the borders of DRC and Uganda. No matter where we were in Rwanda, it truly lived up to its name “Land of A Thousand Hills!” There were so many hills!! Compared to relatively flat Lusaka, we very much enjoyed the change in elevation and as Andrew kept saying over the weekend, “everywhere you look is a beautiful view!”

One highlight for me was to be able to visit the school where Caroline and Will work, Kigali International Community School (KICS). There were a lot of similarities to Bingham, but really I just realized how much I miss being in the school setting (at times... this whole not having to grade papers is not so bad). I am grateful for this time to take advantage of other opportunities, but it’s good to know teaching still makes me happy.

It was such a wonderful weekend in Rwanda- thank you Caroline and Will for having us!

Lusaka, Zambia: Embracing Another Place We Call 'Home'          03-25-18 
The more we get to travel, the more we look forward to returning back to our new home.  We are so thankful for the community that we are slowly getting to grow deeper with and choosing to invest our time in specific areas outside of work.  One of those is our church Lusaka Community Church (LCC).  As we have mentioned previously we are helping with the Youth Ministry which connects a handful of churches and schools in the Lusaka area once a month for a youth event.  We are continuing to be on the rotation for Sunday morning tech team (set-up, sound, and projection). Recently, we shared that we are on the Pastor Call Committee that is looking for a full time pastor for LCC.  As I write down all these things, it seems like a lot, but we find a lot of joy in serving and we are so thankful that we get to serve in all these different areas together.  As I look back on the last few months of serving together, I can see why God chose to join us together.  We really do balance each other and sharpen one another in a lot of ways.  This does not mean that we don't have our disagreements or frustrations because we both are very stubborn, but it does mean that we are able to push back on each other for a better outcome.

This past Sunday, I got to preach for the first time at LCC.  I had requested to have an opportunity to preach a sermon on some of the topics that the youth have been learning this year in our monthly meetings.  Since LCC currently has a rotation for preaching, I was able to be added in for one Sunday.  Again, I am thankful for Danielle, who was gracious in hearing me practice throughout the week leading up to Sunday. She even took the time to review and make a few edits as I was preparing. I had a basic PowerPoint to go with the sermon which she ran.  All in all I was thankful for having her continued support.  
The sermon was based off of the Andy Stanley sermon series, "Just Ask It" which we have been using with the youth group. The focus of the series is to just ask, 
"What is the wise thing for me to do, in light of my past experiences, present circumstances, and future hopes and dreams."
 I focused on Proverbs chapter one in the Bible looking at what it has to say about the wise person, simple person, fool, and mocker.  From this chapter, I highlighted that the wise person who "fears the Lord" (stands in awe, adoration, humbled, and obedient), "takes counsel of others", and "mentorship".  I focused on mentorship and challenged the church to be intentional about being involved in our youths lives and making themselves be available to mentor others. In the words of Danielle, "it did my heart good" getting to preach and sharing some of joy of youth ministry.  If you are interested in checking out this great series by Andy Stanley on making 'wise-choices', it is available on-line for free at (Andy Stanley does a great job with this series to speak to people that attend church or those that don't - and so if you are just looking to make better choices that will help you achieve your hopes and dreams check it out).

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our lives. We would love to hear from you as well, so if you read something you found interesting or have questions, please message us. Plus we love hearing about how you all are doing as well!

-- Danielle & Andrew

PS:  A quick update on grad school- I have started my second class and though it's very different than the first, I am still enjoying being back in a world of academia. This class is studying Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, which is a new title to me. Along with the novel, I am also excited about the chance to study the Harlem Renaissance, an era I have not had the opportunity to study in-depth before.

PPS: In the last two months I have gotten to have some of the best Mexican food I have ever had on the continent of Africa - first on my trip to Uganda at Java House (both in Jinja and in the Nairobi airport). And then in Rwanda we got to have lunch with Caroline at Meze Fresh which was pretty close to a Chipotle!
Java House

 Meze Fresh!

 PPPS:   We had our grand opening ceremony for the new Training Centre at the Beit CURE Hospital here in Zambia which was a huge success.  Here is a great video from our CURE Kids coordinator which is posted on "Beit CURE Hospital of Zambia" Facebook page Video tour of the new Beit CURE Hospital Training Centre

PPPPS: We loved seeing all of the hills in Rwanda! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so very much for sharing these inspiring stories.