Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 10:00 AM
- Showering. Here in Banga, if there is power (+/- running water), I will take a bucket sponge bath every other morning. The reason for the power is that I prefer to use one kettle full of boiling water. Both the shampoo and the kettle are from a Chinese store here in the capital, and it takes a special adapter to plug it into the wall here. The soap is Burundian.
- Brushing teeth. Tooth care is culturally interesting, and I have come to believe that no one prioritizes it like Americans. We have a Colgate "herbal" flavored toothpaste we got in Kenya. The toothbrush is American. I have a stockpile of American floss that a friend brought out. Good luck finding reasonably-priced dental floss anywhere else, including Europe.
- Deodorant. Another very cultural thing. Unthinkable in many parts of the world. In Kenya, I once found a roll-on stick made by Umbro, the soccer-shorts people, but it didn't last long. In France, I tried a spray, but the scent left something to be desired (per Rachel). I thought I would go back to stockpiling American stuff, but found a French store with a good option just before leaving, and that's what I have here in Burundi.
- Shaving. Though shaving cream is hard to come by in Burundi, normally this is not a hard one. I have cream and razors from France, as well as a set of 220V clippers from France.
- Meds. My allergies flare up in setting of blooming green foliage, which is most of the time here in the equatorial highlands of Africa. When I got to Kenya, I asked the pharmacy to order some nasal steroids, so I have a stash from Kenya. A visiting eye doc got me some allergy eye drops, and I'm not sure where they are from, but a lot of there stuff is manufactured in India.
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 9:37 AM
Yes, we like books.
Yes, we moved to rural Africa (again).
So, what does one do in that setting?
Well, really there are several options. One can fill a container with books that you got free at a rockin' venue in Baltimore, called the Baltimore Book Thing. You can also load your Kindle with every free book (published before 1923) that you've ever wanted to read. Lastly, you can raid the personal library of every anglophone family you encounter.
And we have done all those things.
Yet, there are a few holes. We like to read some more obscure books, hard to find at cast-off library sales. And then there are new books.
And then the eBook world met up with the public library world. All you need is a library card, and you can download library books from the comfort of your own home. Even if your home is in Burundi.
And part of the beauty of this is that Kindle books are amazingly small, usually less than 500kb, making them downloadable even with really slow connections. Suddenly new books by favorite authors are available to us. The latest Newbery winners are available to us. In short, we have shifted from "what is around to read?" to "what would we like to read?" Whoa.
Maggie is loving her preschool (with Micah and Abi) and was recently featured in a play about David Livingstone healing a chief's daughter of appendicitis. She was the tribal chief and was (in my humble opinion) awesome. Deadpan delivery, didn't forget any lines, classic. "If she dies, you will die." I see a future.
And just for fun, our kiddos loved a friend's slip and slide this weekend in Buja. It was so hot and sticky, an afternoon in the water was perfect! Even Toby stuck his feet in.
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 2:00 PM
Who would have thought that I would ever say this, but I sure will miss Kenyan internet. :) We leave for Burundi tomorrow AM and have been frantically using the faster (or even present) bandwidth before we enter the next three months of unknown but possibly absent internet. Our last chances to skype, download files, post pictures...you get the idea. So, the last of our Kenya photos for your viewing enjoyment (we realize Toby got the short end of the stick in the Tenwek photo blog since he was napping most of the time that Mags and Ben were out playing).
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 1:37 PM
Maggie and Ben are constantly asking us to tell them stories. We do our best, but they admittedly can wear us down at times. Ben asked for one today, and I didn't really know it, so I suggested they tell me. Maggie busted out an incredible recitation. It's called "The Night Kitchen", an old Maurice Sendak story that we have an animated version of. She can't have seen it more than six times, but she went on for minutes, reciting it perfectly.
Never has my brain felt so old.
Throughout my medical training, I often would think back to my undergraduate self, sitting in class, no notes to be found anywhere, soaking in what was being said with rapt attention.
Then I'd shake myself back to the lecture already in progress, and realize that, despite my concession to take notes, I wasn't going to take away much from this hour of listening. It's not a dramatic shift, and my overall capacity for learning is fine, but the change feels real.
And so now Maggie's brain, my college brain, and my current brain seem to be points on a straight line, of which the slope is not positive.
Not really. It depends on what I'm trying to steer my mind towards, but the crux of the matter is that I'm finally learning that not everything is equally worth knowing.
"Here in the information age, what is it exactly that we are so incredibly well-informed about?" A quote passed on from James Paternoster.
Some things are very worth knowing. Given my life, the French language and the Kirundi language are two of them. Scores of medical concepts are worth knowing. But not all of them.
I've had years of devouring books, going from a lecture at work to an NPR article in the car to an evening of reading. I'm thankful for these things, but there is much vanity here, and I'm pretty sure many of us run a risk in the digital age of being reduced to info-mongering.
What is worth knowing?
"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."
If my brain is gradually slowing down, but that which I know is more apt, more useful, more true, more beautiful, have I just gotten a consolation prize? Or is it a trade only a self-centered info-mongerer would turn down?
I'm glad for the stories. I'm glad for the wisdom of so many that I've gained from. And yet it may just be that a few minutes of solitude would express something more worth knowing.
By the way, rural Africa should be a pretty good place to learn this lesson, but there is still a choice to be made.
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 8:13 PM
The chai ritual! A great part of Kenyan life is the daily chai break, at home and at the hospital. Rose, our beloved househelper who watched Maggie when I was at work, is working for another family here but they just happened to be on vacation during our month long stay. So she agreed to come and help us out! It is so great to see her again, and of course she makes awesome chai. The kids can't get enough (since it's mostly milk and sugar).
The giggle tree: We are staying at the guesthouse, not our old house down in the "lower compound." It has its plusses and minuses. One of the plusses is this tree. Even Ben can climb up on the lowest branches, which are less than a foot off the ground. There is also a trampoline and swing at the house next door to us, so there are lots of fun things to do all day outside. And since the weather is perfect...
The treehouse: When we lived here before, a missionary kid and his grandpa built a treehouse right in front of the apartment building we stayed in. In fact, it's more of a tree fortress and required supporting pillars under the tree branches. Nice to see it's alive and well and being loved by many kids.
The guesthouse: We never spent much time here during our previous stay, since it's just short termers who stay here. But it's been fun this time to meet people (new visitors come almost daily), use the porch swing, play in the activity room, and run up and down all the stairs.
Jolly Green: Our great McCropder van is still around! We had sold it to another missionary family, who decided they were looking for something different, and sold it to a Kenyan pastor from Kericho. He just happened to be taking some folks on a mission trip to Bomet and stopped by Tenwek to wash the van. Looks like he has taken very good care of it. John Cropsey's name is still clearly stenciled by the driver's side door. :)
Bethesda worship: The regular worship leaders wasted no time in enlisting Eric and Jason to help lead worship. Even though Eric didn't have a voice the first Sunday due to an unfortunate bout of laryngitis, he still played piano and guitar. It has been wonderful to sing all our favorite Swahili songs again. A careful observer will note the drummer, Asante Musyoka, all of about 6 yrs old. He's actually quite good.
More of Bethesda...Maggie and Ben went to Sunday school last week, which was led by a short term missions team from Indiana. They loved the puppet show and then got to help act out the story of Noah. Lots of little Kenyan kiddos and my two blondies, sitting in the back.
New friends! There is a Urologist and his family here for 2 yrs, staying just down the sidewalk from us. Their 3 yr old daughter Ivey has become fast friends with both Ben and Maggie. Here they are playing in our kitchen cupboard (staying in the guesthouse means lots of empty cupboards for playing in, since we don't have anything to PUT in the cupboards!).
Learning some African drumming skills!
So, all in all we're having a great time! We'll be here until August 2, then head back to Nairobi for a few days before leaving for Burundi August 5. It's been a perfect transition for our family between France and Burundi.
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 2:16 PM
|Our friend Hudson at the top of the take-off area. Lake behind him.|
|Eric after lift-off.|
|Lac d'Annecy in the background.|
|The two of us after safe landings for both of us.|
Posted by The Drs. McLaughlin at 3:04 PM