Sunday, November 26, 2006

Last post before we´re Canada-bound!

Well, this is our last weekend before we leave. Maybe. Well, I
suppose it all really depends on whether the weekly TAAG flight
actually arrives and goes out this Thursday. (There are many amusing
acronyms for that airline, one being Think Again About Going).
Apparently we were rather lucky in having our plane on time in coming
here (on time = same day). It´s crazy to see how fast the time has
flown by. When I think back on all We´ve gotten to experience here, I
can´t help but feel so blessed. Not only have I gotten to see and
help out with countless different surgeries, sit in on medical
consults (including one in English!), experience (& help a bit in)
what it takes to get a hospital going, and learn about a lot of
different medical equipment by both inventorying it and trying to get
it working, but we´ve gotten to know how great people are here in
Lubango (who would have ever guessed that we´d come here!), learn some
Portuguese and Spanish, be presented with many (fun) challenges in
finding out how to make do & make things work with what we have and
meet lots of other missionaries that we´d love to meet up with again
in the future.

I think Julia was quite success full in getting Africa under my skin
(although not so much Botswanna - it was a bit too hot for me).
Already, we can´t wait for the opportunity to return when I´m finished
medical school (& residency) to see where things are at then, & help
out with whatever my specialty turns out to be (likely some kind of
surgery, I think), possibly letting one of the hard-working doctors
here take some much-needed time off. One thing I do know is we have a
LOT of Portuguese to learn before then.

Here´s something that will surprise a lot of you who know Julia - last
Wednesday she asked to and did come to the OR to watch a surgery! Not
only did she come and watch, but she stayed right through the more
gruesome bits, leaving to sit down only after we started wrapping
things up. I´m particularly impressed, as this was for a toe
amputation that had the patient jumping under the electro-cauter (he
was only under a partially-effective local anesthetic) and making
enough noise to make Robert (operating in the next room) curious as to
what was happening. After this, she STILL hung around a bit to see
some bits and pieces of other surgeries that were going on, before she
left to prepare for her English class. Way-to-go Julia! Maybe there
is some hope for her in our future dinner conversations! (for some
reason, though, she still doesn´t want to go into surgery herself).

Thanks a lot to all our generous supporters and intercessors who
helped make this part of our lives possible and successful, and we
look forward to seeing many of you soon!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Going to the market

I do the grocery shopping, as Ben said, and have had to learn my
numbers, at least, so I know how much I'm paying.. let me elaborate.

What we call the "fish market" is two blocks away. To get there I have
to cross a busy road, of which there is no crosswalk/traffic lights,
and vehicles have the right of way, so I often wait until there is a
group of people waiting to cross before I dart between the blue
mini-bus taxis that dart around the other cars and pot holes that make
up the roads here. (if it's a really big pot hole, can you call it a

The "fish" market itself is a store, that sells, well, fish, as well
as cheese and a variety of other things. I don't really know any more
than "how much is this" in Portuguese, so my shopping conversations
are limited to pointing and my one question. Outside of the store
spills streams of ladies, surrounded by brightly coloured plastic bins
of veggies, baskets of tomatoes, and stacks of oranges and apples.
Walking through brings on a gauntlet of "Amiga, Amiga" (friend,
friend), as women, clutching their babies and half naked toddlers show
off their produce.

I usually walk through and look, go into the store, buy my cheese, and
then purchase my veggies on the way out. (I haven't actually bought
fish there yet, but you can buy HUGE lobsters there, along with other
shell fish brought in from the coast, 3 hours away) The women have
gotten used to me, and I have learned more numbers, so our
question-answer sessions for prices is going smoother than it used to.
At first, I would ask how much it is, then they would tell me. Then I
would give them a blank, puzzled look, and try to guess, showing with
my hands what I thought they said. They would look at my hands with a
blank, puzzled look and tell me again. Finally, they would untie the
ever-present multi-coloured cloth wrap, and pull from within the knot
their money and show me which bills to give them.

Among the veggie women are boys selling eggs, in clear plastic bags,
as well as anything else you can imagine. People walk around carrying
shoes, suits, car mats, toilet paper, toys, and just about anything
else, to sell on the street. The nice thing is they're not really
pushy, so after saying "I don't want it, thank-you" (my other
Portuguese phrase) they usually leave you alone.

As I was in bed all week with the latest bug, I even was able to buy
fruit as women came to the door, with the generic plastic tub balanced
on their head, filled with cabbages, carrots, and our current
favourite, plums. (Mom(s), can you email me a pluma plauts (sp?)
recipe? thanks!)

That's what I do at least once a week. Thanks for reading! enjoy your
"veggie section" in your local supermarket on your next trip!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Portuguese and buying carrots

Well, time has been zipping by, and itºs strange to think that we only have just over 2 weeks left here. While we did always go into this not really expecting to speak much in Portuguese, Julia and I have sort-of branched out into different areas. Because she has the mornings free, she often is the one to go shopping, and thus she is very good at buying carrots (yes, she does buy other things - weºve just had a lot of carrots lately!). I, on the other hand, have gotten very good at saying excuse me (as I squeeze past people to get through a crowd at a doorway) and Sorry (as Iºm causing someone a lot of pain - we donºt have much in the way of pain medication here - no narcotics yet, meaning just ibuprophin and Tylenol (not Tylenol 3!). We do apparently have a recent connection with a guy that has a narcotics liscence to import to some hospitals up in Luanda, and is interested in supplying CEML in Lubango, so we may soon have something better to offer.

Iºm not sure how much of our schedule Iºve communicated here already (sending these posts in via email makes looking back a bit more complicated), so Iºll outline it a bit here.

I usually leave at 6:45 for the hospital, getting back anywhere between 6 and 8 PM, depending on how things go. Mondays and Thursdays, there arenºt any general surgeries, so those days are usually more predictable. I also usually take a good chunk of those days as ´project´ days, where I try and help out with an area that needs it. Today I was in a container all day, so I think Iºll wait another week before I tackle that particular elephant again (I almost got a whole one inventoried . It was useful too, as some of the stuff I found will be used in some surgeries tomorrow.

Julia has her first English Class at 11 every day, then one at the hospital at 4:30. In between, she manages to keep herself busy with a myriad of things that Iºve only been vaguely aware of. When at the hospital, sheºs been a great help in getting a number of my ºprojectsº done that were a bit too big for the time I had.
Weekends have been quite erratic, with no ºregularº yet. Last weekend, we went to Namib (a costal town, not Namibia) with the local missionaries for a relaxing time getting battered around by huge waves. As you can probably imagine, I, at least, was loving it.

All of our Nihon no Tomodachi would love to hear that there are scads of snack bars here. In fact, we even have a picture of a place with the name "Snack Bar Central". I will leave it up to you to figure out what that means here.

Unfortunately, we had all been getting our hopes up for the new sattelite modem arriving and being successfully installed only to have them dashed. As it turns out, 2 people got to use the internet while it briefly was up, and weºre blaming the last one for using it all up. Coincidentally, there was a really close strike of lightning around the same time that Peggy used up the last of the internet, but that probably had nothing to do with it.

If there are any lightning experts out there, with some experience in protecting sensitive electronics, I know youºd be more than welcome here. This was the second modem that has been fried (the first was possibly not from lightning, but this second one makes it seem if that was what happened to the first). There are surge protectors on pretty much everything, and the local ºexpertsº have set up a lightning-rod network that was supposed to keep us safe. The funny thing is that nothing else was damaged in a hospital full of sensitive electronic equiptment (aside from this time, the switch that was hooked up to the satelite modem fried on the port the modem was connected to). Does anyone know if you can set up surge protection along a coaxial cable (the send and recieve to the sattelite itself are the only ones that arenºt surge protected. All the network cables between buildings are protected, and all modems and switches are on surge-protected UPSs.

Anyway, it looks as if Iºm out of time here, so more later.

Até logo!