Digesting Life...

May 16, 2017 .... Teaching in Lusaka

I actually found out that I would be teaching in the Department of Psychiatry in the teaching university in Lusaka on a morning walk with Dr. Snyder on this same date. Understand that during my first visit to the hospital yesterday, I was challenged with the condition of the premises and the need in the hospital – for everything. Navigating my way was a concern and Dr. Snyder was most gracious to lead me one way and then made me lead her to assure I knew my way. God had a hand in my teaching today as we showed up a day earlier and before we left the building, I remembered I left my sweater in the department. I was going to just leave it there but my decision to return to pick up the sweater allowed me to meet and interact with five of the most gracious students for a session focused on developing their capstone topics.

We visited an orphanage in the afternoon to speak to the “mamas” who live with the children in the different buildings. These women usually have families of their own that they leave in the care of their husbands or other family members for months at a time. We had a group style meeting and were well received as we processed how stressed they become as well as parenting challenges. Ahhh another God directive as I was able to share parenting strategies as well as ways they can cope. We are returning next week at their request for more help. There is also an opportunity to provide “train the trainers” conferences to help teach the workers different ways they can interact with the children as well as manage their own stress. This facility operates over 100 such locations throughout Africa.

… and the children were slow to warm up but after they did – well I can tell you that I have never experienced so much love in one place. They are Zambia’s future and they do not have to grow up as victims.

May 13, 2017.... I am here

All the bars show but I can’t get into the internet. So different than I am used to. I have arrived in Lusaka – the airport experience was different – no tunnels to walk through, only stairs. Very small airport.

Again, some challenges as my luggage did not travel with me. So no products or clothes other than what I brought for an overnight. There was no anger on my part as if I expected that “check engine light” to come on. It also helped that the Emerites representative was kind. They later sent an overnight bag to the place I am staying – packed with men’s products – sleeping clothes and a polo shirt. Surely a statement of what they think of women but appreciated anyway. I am definitely challenged by not having my clothes – a big comment on how important those material things are to me. I had to purchase a piece of material to use as a wrap around shirt in order to wear it to church. I’m comforted by the fact that the luggage has been located – but I understand that vanity is really not a good thing as I work that out of my life.

The visual is very different here. Besides the usual driving on the wrong side of the street there is a great diversity in the construction of buildings, roads, and accommodations. I didn’t freak out at the cockroach I spied scampering across the table in my room. As I was toasting my bread at breakfast, it must have gotten too hot for the roach who fled the toaster. It’s not like I have never lived in places where bugs coexisted.

We went to church this morning – a huge facility – that also houses a bank. Not certain of the significance. The inside was painted a lovely lavender – a color that I have adopted as my favorite many years ago. So favorite that I painted the inside of my office door lavender. I am searching for any connections to my life prior to this trip that speak to preparation for this trip.

Today one of our companions has an upset stomach so I volunteered to stay with them.What better way to spend mother’s day than with someone I can mother.

May 12 2017 .... Nothing is a coincidence

I must combine the 11th and 12th as I couldn’t manage the internet connection until now. It all started when Dr. Snyder received a text that our flight was going to be delayed by 2 hours which directly would affect the connecting flight out of New York. I didn’t receive that text but it was valid. Using my brain, the only thing to do was to call the agent I used to see what they could do in the event the delay caused problems. First, I didn’t know that Expeida and Travelocity are one and the same – handled out of the same outsource for problem solving. So I fell prey to staying on the phone for 2 hours with an agent who was attentive with apologies but ended up with no plan. Ah the use of psychology and my way of figuring things out. There was talk of rearranging our connecting flight which would have cost not only a change fee of over $200 but also another charge for the difference in the price to obtain a ticket now. There was mention of it costing at least $700. The thought actually crossed my mind, and I verbalized that I just could not take the chance and have to pay almost $1,000 more when I got to New York. We were the last two to check in and they advised us to rush to the gate, which we did so I did not give in to the fact that I could not pay the extra fee. Telling myself to trust that God will work it out moved me to complete the ticket process.

The arrival time was such that we were able to get our luggage and walk to the international terminal to check on the departing flight. That was no coincidence as we were told by more then one person that the flight probably would not make it in time. Traveling between terminals, I was given the opportunity to push the luggage cart and jog. The exercise actually revitalize me. There was no line at the ticket counter which was good because we were in a hurry but the reason was that the flight was boarding. The agent processed us onto the flight, did not charge me for my overweight luggage (that I had to pay $125 for in San Diego) and personally escorted us through TSA (pre-check) and all the way to the gate. My first assigned seat was the last one in a most large plane, by the window and bathroom, which I was very satisfied with. However, I was then changed to a seat over the wing, by the window, and with plenty of room as there were only two of us in the row instead of three. And now, as I write this, I am on the third leg of flights and I have that same window seat but this time I have the entire row to myself.

I share all of this detail because if you were praying for me at this time, God gave me more than I could have expected – which is always the case as my thoughts are so limited. Thank you.

May 10 2017 .... Almost Africa

So in spite of all of the potential imagined problems, I had no side effects from the first Malaria pill installment - ingested the second and I believe I will be ok. Today was full of busyness as I had to complete emergency projects. Now I sit at home with too many things to put in my suitcase and I swore that I would keep it simple. It's the products, the comforts that I am not convinced I cannot live without. By the time I am done I will have convinced myself - through force - that I do not need this and that and it will work out. So imagine me at 5:45 am tomorrow, walking to the train station with my bags - I guarantee the sight will be funny as I am loaded down and stumbling with the weight. Overwhelmed is the word of the day for me. If you are one of my prayer warriors that would be the focus right now. God Bless.

Africa … two days before…

I am leaving for Africa on May 11, returning to the US on June 1, back in the office on June 5.

I plan on providing a play by play report of my experiences while working with the African people. I chose to start this blog two days before leaving because today is the day that I have to swallow the first malaria pill. I chose to take the pills instead of taking a shot – not because of a shot fear – but my thinking is that I can stop the pills if the side effects surface. So you must understand that swallowing that pill about a half minute ago was really a big deal to me because of the horror stories I have heard about what I might experience. Exposing my own concerns (fears) is going to help me take the next pill tomorrow. So I’m praying that I do not have those vivid dreams, nausea, hallucinations, and whatever else might occur and I am certain that the many people I have asked to pray for me were well informed that they should pray for the pill taking part of my journey. Thank you to Chris who carefully advised me to take the dose with food – today oatmeal, tomorrow I’ll try the banana.

Today will be a working day for me as I see clients and put my office in order before taking off. I am not completely convinced that I am leaving yet – that will kick in when I pack – which I am reserving for tomorrow. I have made the arrangements for the care of Bob my dog who is enjoying family life with Elias and Jenn. I am realizing that having an animal in my daily life provides another dimension to my existence. Not having him around these last two days I find myself looking for him and “hearing” the click of his paws on the floor (no it isn’t the malaria meds acting up). I still have to engage someone to water my plants - a little late - so they survive three weeks. Already this journey is teaching me how blessed I am. This will definitely stretch me more than ever – for that I thank you God.