Day 19: April 22, 2014
Forgive any spelling errors...I frankly don't have time to write AND read all this over again...and the spellchecker is broken...
I really pushed it this morning. My alarm went off at 6 AM, and I convinced myself that I could hit the snooze button. Then I did it again, and then it was 6:20 and I was just getting out of bed, trying to decide whether or not to attempt to get dressed and to the Cathedral by 6:45. After going back and forth, I started getting ready as fast as possible. I was dressed, hair combed, teeth brushed, whatever things I thought I needed for the day in my pockets, and hopping over the gate at about 6:40 (they really gotta get visitors a key to the small side gate).
Along the way, I started my trip's daily Rosary, and walked through the gate of the Cathedral just after 6:50. In my mind, I had a built in cushion, as I figured if I was late I could at the very worst read over the readings while a brief Swahili homily was being given. Fortunately enough for me, Tanzanians are seldom on time, and so I walked through the front doors of the Cathedral as the priest was making the Sign of the Cross. I made my way up the left aisle so as to discreetly find a seat toward the front where I could see the tabernacle and the altar (at least, as discreetly as the only melanin-challenged person in a Cathedral full of native Tanzanians can).
I took my seat as Father gave what sounded like a miniature homily right after the Sign of the Cross. There were a lot of words, and a lot of "Jesu Christo"s in there, and after a couple minutes he proceeded with the Mass. I really love whenever the penitential rite includes the Confiteor, and this morning it did. And during the Rite, people here kneel...and I like that! Following the opening prayer, we sat and I followed along with the readings just as soon as my phone could download them. iBreviary is a wonderful thing. Today's Gospel was from John and in it the Risen Christ is recognized by Mary Magdalene just after He calls her by name....I've really loved this Gospel ever since talking about it on a retreat back in 2008 with Father Brian McMaster from St. Mary's.
After feeling nostalgic for a moment, the Gospel was over and I realized that Father was proceeding directly passed the homily and to the Preparation of the Gifts (so much for my built in cushion). As he did, a smaller version of the collection box was brought out for any of the dozens of people present who wanted to give an offering. Then we quickly proceeded through the remainder of the Mass, and we were all receiving Jesus by about 7:20. I must comment, though, about the Sanctus. This version, in Swahili, must have taken 2 minutes...and I say this because the Hosannah was soooooo long. They must have repeated singing the word about 50 times each time it came up, and I know that each round of Hosannah's was about 40 seconds long (it was so remarkable the first time around that I made an effort to time it the second time).
After Holy Communion, the priest gave us our final blessing and dismissed the faithful. I stayed a few minutes after for what seemed to be a short community prayer and then to take some pictures of the Church decorated all pretty for Easter (I didn't feel like sticking around after the 4 hour Vigil). Then I walked out of the Church and sought out some food.
The inside of the Cathedral all pretty-fied
Any UCLA alum would approve of these Easter docorations
Choir loft...as per usual, not used by the choir.
From the back of the Cathedral.
I was thinking about getting chapati again (can't get those darn things off the mind), but after stopping at the pharmacy to try to pick up some hand sanitizer and buying an orange Fanta, it was about quarter till, and we had a guest coming to the clinic to give a lecture at 8. I abandoned my search for breakfast and made my mind up to get lunch later and make up for it then.
At the clinic, I waited a couple minutes before the site director, Bertha, arrived and unlocked the building. It turns out she is the person that people kept trying to refer me to with questions about the Cathedral. She attends daily Mass, and she said she had seen me at church over the weekend and this morning. Somehow we missed each other on the first day I was at the clinic when I met about a billion people. We talked for a few moments about the Vigil, about how I followed along with the Mass in English on my phone (to which Bertha said, "Oh! That's clever!"), and how the Cathedral is working on an English Mass. Per Bertha, usually all the English speakers just go to the Anglican Church while in town as they don't speak Swahili. "Oh, but it's not the same," I said, to which she replied, "No, it's not."
NO, IT'S NOT.
After a few minutes checking emails, it was time for our lecture from one of the oncologists at the BIPAI clinic in Gaborone, Botswana. Before his talk started, I was able to ask him how Gabs was, and found out that it's been growing. Apparently there are 2 or three new malls since I left, the city is further expanding, and as Dr. Slone put it, "It's really a suburb of Jo-burg." It sounds like it is a FAR cry from Mbeya, where a supermarket is one that is about 400 square feet instead of under 200. Dr. Slone gave his first of a few lectures on pediatric cancers and diagnosis, but then it was time for rounds in the wards at Mbeya Referral Hospital.
Jason and I left the others to sit in their comfortable chairs and learn more from Dr. Slone, while we headed to the malnutrition ward. Rounds went rather smoothly today, with only 18 patients in the ward. There were a fair number of new faces, some of whom were having some pretty significant respiratory distress and who are kind of iffy, but the rest of the kiddos seemed to be doing well. Seven of our 8 appetite test patients had passed on Thursday! In addition, we sent 5 more for the test today, and one of them was Winfrida! She looked amazing...and I almost would not have believed that she was the same child. She still wouldn't smile at me, but it was because she was playing (I saw her play with Mom while my back was turned). As she was one of the kiddos I remembered most from my first day rounding in the wards, it was great to come full circle and see her have the chance to go home. I'm not sure if she passed the test (which essentially consists of going to the clinic and having the nutritionist watch you eat or not eat a determined amount of Plumpy-Nut nutritional supplement), but I am going to assume that she did as it makes for better closure. Plus if she didn't, she looks amazing and I imagine will be home by the time I am!
After finishing rounds, I said goodbye and thanks to Dr. Rajeb, the intern who had been working with us for the time I was here, and then we headed back over to the Clinic. The doctors had been in a session from 10-12 with Dr. Slone, so it appeared that not much had happened while we were gone. I was under the impression that the clinic was only open for urgent appointments and a small amount of scheduled follow-ups, but somehow we still got up to about 70 patients for the day. When we got back, the stack was at about #30ish. Needless to say, there was work to do.
I grabbed an empty room and started seeing patients, trying to get through a couple hours and caving to my growing hunger. I saw a few patients with one of the translators, who then disappeared off somewhere. Fortunately, as I'm really the only one who was totally clueless with regard to Swahili in the clinic, another of the translators was available. A few patients later, though, she was breaking for lunch. As it was about 2 PM, I decided so was I. There were still patients in the stack and in the triage pile as well, but I had to eat.
And so I DID. I took the decent walk down to Deluxe (yes, I knew I had sworn it off, but I was going to dine in, and I wanted to eat somewhere where I could have a spoon and some chips). I had set my mind on eating. I ordered my normal Pilau Nyama, and then asked for some Chips Maya, remembering how much I liked them at Vic's a few days before. After I said what I wanted, the waitress asked, "Both??" kind of incredulously. I confirmed twice that I wanted both. I thought I could eat it...I was famished.
In a few short minutes, I had my Pilau Nyama, and I started tearing into it, trying to save some of the meat for my chips. About a third of the way through, the man outside who was making dishes with chips brought in my dish of Chips Mayai, and on seeing me said,
"No, for here."
"No no, for here, it's fine."
"YES I HAVE THE FATS NOW GIVE ME MY CHIPS MAYAI BEFORE I FREAK OUT!" (actually I just said "Yes."
Anybody remember that SNL skit with Chris Farley dressed up as a woman on a supposed diet?
At least the view on the walk back was nice?
The enormity of my meal dawned on me about halfway through. It was doable, but probably with some discomfort if I ate EVERYTHING. I added some salt to my chips dish, and went to town, dipping it in some of the chili sauce and beans to mix things all up. I decided I didn't need to eat absolutely everything when I wasn't positively sure that the scrambled eggs were cooked all the way (it could have just been grease, but I needed an excuse to pick out some of the food and not eat it all anyway). When all was said and done, I had eaten probably 80% of the chips dish and all of the pilau nyama. Washed down with a diet pepsi, I had stuffed myself for just under $4. I felt a little guilty...but my stomach was very happy.
I headed back to the clinic much heavier than I came, and there were still a few charts left in the stack. I grabbed the next one and a translator and saw who ended up being my last of the day, as he was a kiddo with poor adherence to medications, potential TB, and who had just restarted anti-TB therapy. In addition, his chart was kind of a mess due to some less than optimal documentation and some back and forth in the past few visits on when/if he was going to be treated for TB or not. Regardless, we got him taken care of, but it took me a while.
By this time, it was 3:45 or so, and the clinic day was over for me. I read over one of the lectures that we are supposed to either hear or read on our own while we are hear, and then headed upstairs to call home. I was so happy to see my two babies, Ali and Mary-Teresa, on the call home. The boys were still staying with Pawpaw in Sour Lake until later this morning, so it was just the three of us. Mary-Teresa is becoming much more animated and talkative (though her words are certainly not comprehensible), and growing so fast. I told Ali how maybe the worst part of a trip is when you are just ready to go home but have just a couple days left. That's where I am, and though I want to make the most of my last couple days at the clinic, I want to be at home more and more each day.
Also, we have BEES. Apparently during the inspection of our home a large hive of bees was discovered in our attic, and so Ali told me how she had arranged for a terminator to come out and handle the situation. I was just glad that the bees weren't in the house, and that the inspection went well otherwise. It sounds like our buyers really like the house.
After we hung up, I caught up on putting some of my journal days on the internet for the first time in about a week. The past week has been crazy, with being sick, climbing a mountain, and the Triduum. Journaling took a bit of a hit priority-wise. Then about 5:30, it was time to head home, and I made my way through the light rain back to the house, noting how it was one of the last times I'll look out over the valley on the walk back from work.
I dropped some stuff off at home and dressed a little more comfortably before finishing up a crossword from earlier. Then after sitting on the front steps looking at the cloud-covered valley, I finally decided to go grab food for dinner at Metro. I threw my shoes on and headed out, not wanting to make it any later than my indecision had already made it.
I walked down our road and hopped across the main road, through the shops and down the stadium road to the now familiar location. I walked upstairs and grabbed a table, debated between a few different things, and then settled on a margerita pizza. I ordered the large with plans to save half for lunch the next day. That almost exactly worked out, as I at one extra piece of the plate-sized pizza and saved the remaining 37.5%. (Actually, as I type right now, I'm having to restrain myself from grabbing a piece out of the fridge right now!) Grabbed my leftovers wrapped in foil and headed out. It was drizzling, and I had not brought my umbrella, so I made my way quickly through the street and into and out of the shops leading to the main road. I thought the area was a bit intimidating at dark, but it's a bit worse even when it's dark AND raining.
Yes, another picture of food.
I made it back to the house relatively unscathed and only mildly moist. I put down my things and was working on another crossword when Amelia asked if I wanted to play Bananagrams again. I obliged, and proceeded to play two LONG games. I was getting TERRIBLE letters, X's and J's and Z's and Q's....I was wondering where all the good letters were. I lost both games, but essentially finished my puzzle at the same time as Amelia the second time around, and given the letters I had, I pretty much considered it a win-win.
After that, it was bedtime-ish. I grabbed a hot shower and put on some freshly laundered night clothes, and now it's journal time before finishing up the day with Evening Prayer. It's really hard to believe that in only 3 days I'll be on a plane to Amsterdam and well on my way home. I am ready to see my family, but certainly will miss the beautiful scenery and kind people here.