Day 14: April 17, 2014
I woke up in the morning realizing that I had slept through the entire night. It felt amazing! It was set to be a good day, as we were scheduled to round in the malnutrition wards, which meant a less stressful morning for me personally. As long as my stomach held up, I figured things would be fine. Also, it was the last day before the long weekend, and it was HOLY THURSDAY for cryin' out loud.
Though I had slept through the night, as soon as I woke up my stomach reminded me that it still wasn't quite completely finished being on the mend. Nonetheless, I was able to get dressed and ready in time to leave for work at a reasonable hour, and took the long walk to the clinic without any worry. If I could make it through hours and hours of sleep, I figured, I should be able to make it to the clinic, which I did.
As I got to work in the morning, I blogged a little bit and then saw an email from Ali saying that we had an offer on our house, which was rather exciting. It was beginning to become customary to have good news in the morning before work. After a couple more emails it was time for rounds. Jason and I discussed how I was feeling, and he recommended continuing cipro for at least another few days. As I had taken my last of the twice daily doses the night prior, I told him I would run across the street to Kissa Pharmacy and meet them at the ward in a jiffy.
At the pharmacy, I was given two options for cipro, one which was made in a place that I couldn't identify by looking at the box, and the other in Germany. I'm sure it was far more expensive, but I chose the German brand to be as safe as possible. I stopped at the stand next to the pharmacy and grabbed the same chocolate sandwich cookies for breakfast, and was on my way, stuffing cookies in my mouth as I walked and throwing in a cipro somewhere in there.
Once I got to the ward and met the others, we had to wait a few minutes because Thursday was "deep clean" day, where the ward was scrubbed down as thoroughly as possible (which I still wouldn't be comfortable with were it me.
The empty ward, post "deep clean"
After everything was dried, however, it was time for rounds and things were looking good, at least for the kiddos who still were in the ward. Unfortunately the very ill young girl from last week had died the night she was admitted, of what we'll not ever know for sure. Truly, there wasn't much more that could have been done for her, sadly.
On the brighter side of things, all of the kiddos still in the ward seemed to be doing quite well. Of the 18 patients in the ward, 8 were sent for appetite testing (meaning they had been rehabilitated enough to go the the clinic to try to prove that they could and would eat the nutritional supplement (Plumpy-Nut) that would be provided to them until they were no longer as malnourished. That was an amazing number! In addition, Winfrida, or "Winnie", the girl who was so swollen we couldn't see here eyes, looked AMAZING. Her face was still somewhat swollen, as were her feet, but her eyes were clearly visible, she was looking around and playing with her mom, and we even got a reluctant smile out of her. She was the feel good story of the day.
Rounds were efficient, and we actually finished between 12 and 1. At the time, Jason got a call from clinic asking if we would go back and help with patients as it was swamped (due to the upcoming holiday weekend and four successive days of clinic closure). We obliged and headed back over. Along the way, in the clinic driveway, a few kiddos were kicking around a soccer ball. I joined in with my poor attempt at soccer ability, and showed it when I kicked the ball with one foot and had the ball bounce back and hit a water bottle I was carrying, causing me to jerk suddenly and drop the book I was holding under one arm. The kids found it rather hilarious, as did I.
I did my best to help out in clinic, and saw a couple of patients in the first 45 minutes or so I was there. But about 2 PM ish I ran into translator issues again. My translator went to lunch, as did another, and for about 30 minutes I sat about with nothing to do. We had just gotten there to help out, so I didn't feel like I should be going for lunch while the clinic was so busy. I really couldn't do much else though.
At about 2:45 my translator was still at lunch, and as Carmelle's went to lunch as well, it was official...lunch time. We had Carmelle's presentation and then our special thank you gift for the clinic workers to follow at 3:30, so we hurried down to town. Carmelle's translator Mumba showed us the way to Vic's (or Victoria Creek Cafe), a little establishment just off a side road right across the street from the clinic. It had a little covered eating area and kitchen and then a small green outdoor space right next to Victoria Creek (hence the name). After hearing about the food they had, I decided to go with the eggs/chips/nyama dish. We sat outside in the sun and waited for our food.
It started to take a while for the food, so our lunch was becoming more and more rushed as time went by. Finally, after we asked about the option of carrying the food out, the food arrived. It was essentially an omelette/quiche with the potatoes and chunks of beef mixed in, on a plate with little divided areas for the condiments of salt, salsa, and tomatoes. It was very nice looking, but there were no utensils! Shortly after I realized this, a waiter came up and brought a pitcher of water which he poured for me to rinse my hands with. I appreciated the gesture, but quickly asked Carmelle to borrow some hand sanitizer after the man walked away. Then I was ready to eat. We scarfed down the foot quickly, but I really enjoyed it no less. All in all, my food was under two bucks, and so despite some of the small inconveniences, I think I'll have to return soon (with my own spoon and hand sanitizer, of course).
Chips maiai with nyama (spelling could be WAY off)
We ran back across the street just in time to make it to the clinic by 3:30, only to find out the presentation was moved back to 4 since the clinic was so busy. This kinda turned into 4:10, and by the time I had finished acting out retractions, heavy breathing, an unresponsive/normal/minimally responsive child and Carmelle had finished her presentation, it was 4:30. We all went down to the break room for the surprise of...cake and samosas! Carmelle said her goodbyes as it was her last day, and we all enjoyed the savory samosas and sweet cake (which, though nice, was a bit gritty and dry, to be honest). Everyone sure appreciated it though.
Cake and Goodbyes!
As normal, I called home after finishing up with the cake, and though a bit later, was still able to talk to everyone. Ali told me that the house showing well still and that we hadn't heard anything back on our counter offer. However, someone in her dad's neighborhood saw my old car that we had been storing out in Pinewood and offered to pay list price for whatever it was listed at in the Blue book or whatever. Now, I was out of the country, not helping with any of my three kids, and my wife was actively selling our house and my car...not sure if I should feel guilty or nervous as heck!
As I started the call about 5 PM, I heard the church bells ringing as if for start of Mass. I thought it not possible as that would be far to early to start Mass on Holy Thursday (which was, after all, a weekday). About 5:25, Ali decided that we should hang up in case I was missing Mass (somehow I had still not managed to ask anyone at the clinic what the schedule was). I hung up and quickly packed and headed out across the street to the Cathedral.
Sure enough, Mass had started at 5:00 PM. I had made it just in time to see everyone sit down at the end of the Gospel and listen to a homily I couldn't possibly understand, but given by a kind looking old Bishop. However, the Church was PACKED, and I ended up standing out the steps outside the front door, looking over the rows of people in front of me to see the front of the Cathedral. Though it was crowded and I had no seat, I was invigorated by the large crowd, those who stood for the Mass even outside the church, and how they still insisted on standing, kneeling, etc as usual on the hard (and somewhat wet in places) tile floor.
The only thing that bothered me really was that people kept going in and out CONSTANTLY. As if there were no protocol or manners, exactly, they just walked out, walked in, forced their way into the building through the crowd if they felt like they needed to be in or heard music that made them think there was something worth seeing, etc.
Still, that was minor, and though the Mass still lasted until 7 PM despite a 5 PM start, the choir was again amazing, and I made a mental note of how awesome it was to walk up for Holy Eucharist as the choir harmonized and belted out to glorify God as if an angel choir.
As the Mass "ended", or at least the Holy Thursday portion of the Triduum concluded, the priests and Bishop processed about the Church with the Body of Christ, and such reverence flowed both in the preceding altar boys (with candles and constant incensing by the thurifer) and those whom the procession passed, who genuflected, knelt, and bowed all very solemnly. Finally the procession came to a side area of the church to the left of the Sanctuary where a side altar had been set up per Holy Thursday custom. As they went there, the congregation FLOODED the area as well the sanctuary. As many as could fit crowded in, and the remainder of the crowd left for home. I fought the flow of people headed out and made my way up the right side of the Cathedral so as to try to see what I could of the left side at an angle. I stood for a while toward the front of the Church, then sat/knelt. As a nun passed me by, she pointed toward the side-altar and said simply "Go there."
"Go there!" So I did
So I did! As the space between us grew, I realized that she spoke this to me in English and the idea dawned that maybe I could ask her the Mass schedule for the next few days, which I still hadn't cracked. By the time I realized this, she was out the door, and I wasn't about to go chasing her down. I did as she told me and went toward the side altar. The set up was simple but really appropriate and pretty. This area typically was used for additional seating as it was literally just off to the right of the Sanctuary (if you imagine the church as a cross shape with the center of the cross being the Sanctuary/altar area, it was the little square off to the left). However, they had closed and locked the doors on that side, covered the wall with white lace and a trim of bright flowers, and turned the pews to face the small tabernacle that sat on a table draped in white and was flanked by two small white candles. There within the tabernacle, with doors open and a veil keeping one from a full view, reposed the Body of our Savior. It was a great little "Gethsemane, where the faithful could keep watch with the Lord for as long as time would allow.
After about 15 minutes, some of the nuns in the area were leaving, so I followed them out hoping they spoke English. I quietly asked one of the sisters after we had reached outside if she spoke English, which she did a little. I asked about Mass times, and I think she was able to tell me what time Mass was the previous day, but neither one of us seemed entirely confident that the message was being relayed correctly. I thanked her and she walked away. As I stood in the courtyard outside the church, a man walked by and said "Good evening" to me. It took a split second to recognize the English again, but then I followed him and asked if he spoke English. He hesitated a bit and then said "A little."
I then asked, probably pretty desperately, if he could tell me what the schedule for Mass for the weekend was. He responded affirmatively, saying "There is a timetable posted over here." He took me to a small covered entryway and pointed out on a bulletin board there the same piece of paper posted at the back of the church that I was SURE wasn't a schedule. Written all in Swahili, and with times listed as Swahili time (which is essentially six hours ahead of local "English" time), he went on to decode the paper for me, and suddenly it all made sense!
"Good Friday: at 15:00, or 9 in the morning, I'm not sure what it's called, there is a history of the Cross where we process to different Stations."
"Yes, then at 1900 or 3 in the afternoon is Good Friday Passion."
"And Saturday night at 0400 in the morning or 8 at night is the Vigil Mass."
(By this point in time I got it, so I corrected his math as a question)
"You mean 0400 so it's at 10PM?"
"Yes, vigil at 10 PM."
I was thrilled! I thanked him so much, told him I was just in town for a few weeks, and told him my name. I don't think he quite understood, so he never gave me his, but he said "You are most welcome, see you tomorrow" as he walked away with my multiple enthusiastic "Thank you!"s following him. I've named him "Good Evening" since I never caught his name.
The Code....can you crack it? "Good evening" did!
I went back into the Church for another 15 minutes or so to pray a bit more, and enjoyed the singing and prayers being offered in a language I didn't quite get, but felt the fervor no less. I thanked God for sending me some help, for allowing me some quiet time with him, and kinda wished I could have stayed all night.
However, it was late, and we had already made plans to go to Metro for dinner, and I was uber late. I walked out and back across town, and even though it was only 8, the people and shops of the day were closed and it was a bit eerie. As soon as I got back to the house, we headed out to metro, where I was told we could get good food without waiting an hour.
On the way there, we took the main road down around the stadium, and dealt with traffic passing in the poorly lit street. We finally turned off the main road, and I had decided we would be taking the smaller street that paralleled the main road on the way back. I had no interest in dying by being run over by a dalla that couldn't see my in the dim light.
Finally we came upon Metro, which I would likely have missed had I not been with someone who had been there before. We went in the front door and up some stairs to a nice looking eating area with a log-ceiling (yes, logs for a ceiling). We sat down and IMMEDIATELY had a menu from the English-fluent owner, a Kenyan farmer living in Tanzania. He spent much of his time working the restaurant he owned, and other of his time farming and bringing in fresh ingredients for his menu. We were able to ask him questions, get clear answers, and just talk with him. It was awesome! Finally after debating, I settled on the burger and fries I had originally wanted before we left. In under twenty minutes, the food was ready and I DEMOLISHED my burger (with well seasoned meat and a homemade bun...yum!) and fries...which were actually somewhat close to being fries. We paid the bill and made our way home by way of the stadium road, which was less busy but still dark and a little creepy with all the closed and dark shops on either side.
Not exactly an A1 Thick & Hearty Burger meal at Whataburger, but a burger and fries no less!
On arriving home, it was late, but the next day was a day off. I took what was just about a perfect shower. Then, I got in bed happily. I knew I didn't need to be up early as my decoded schedule (which I took a picture of just so as to not forget) told me Stations were at 9 AM! The Triduum had begun, and though at little late getting started, I was ready to go full force into the next two days of Liturgy!