Category Archives: Africa

Density and Vitamin D

I am dense enough. 

I was scanned and I measure up to a normal female of my age I guess – bone wise.  In fact the lovely doctor said I had good bone structure.  That is good.  Some compensation for not fitting into the skinny little thing catagory. 

I also found out some things that I didn’t know.

Well, not that I didn’t know them but I didn’t "know" them in the sort of way that made me take the sort of action that I guess I need to take. 

I don’t want to become less dense – in bone terms.  Therefore, in order to protect my nice thick bones I need to be taking calcium and Vitamin D. 

The good doctor said that those of us that live in the northern parts need Vitamin D.  We start to lose energy by about Feb or March since by then we have depleted our stores that we saved up by exposing ourselves to the summer sun – if we have been out in the sun each day without sunblock for about 20 minutes.  The angle of the sun is so low that he said, "Even lying out under the sun for the whole day from Oct to April won’t raise the levels of Vitamin D enough to measure." 

I was thinking that frostbite might get one before the lack of Vitamin D.

But I will start to take the stuff diligently.  Calcium too since I am not a milk drinker.  In the hope of maintaining my present density.

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That's talking

Can you imagine being a six year old boy in the middle of rural Congo being handed a cell phone and being asked to talk to your father on it?  


That is what Massa and his son Joseph were doing via my phone at 5:30 am our time.  Massa said his son did not quite understand the phone.  He could tell the people there what he heard but talking back was a bit beyond him.  But Massa talked to the boy’s mother and she is in agreement that it is best for Joseph to join Massa and has signed all the necessary papers transferring custody to him.  If Canadian immigration has any heart at all, Joseph should be joining Massa within the year.


It is impossible to do things like this without Jacques’ help.  What a wonderful man he is – to travel to Karawa, find the mother and son, make this phone call, take care of the paperwork, and all this in the wake of his own disappointment.  He has been denied a visa to visit his own children in Canada.  Jacques hasn’t seen Christian for about 4 years, Patrick went out to visit him a year ago.  But Canadian immigration deems Jacques a risk to come and visit his sons at Christmastime.  To imagine that he would want to stay here in this snow?  What is worse is that he travels often to the states and is granted visas without problem.  


The Canadian immigration system treats everyone as if they are asylum seekers.  There is a huge problem here.

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Voting is going on in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today.  With the time change they are likely half done by now.

Patrick and I were discussing this last evening.  He says it is hard to choose between a liar and a thief.  So much is just about the pursuit of power rather than the best interest of the country. 

Pray for the people of that country and that God will cause something good to come of these elections.  Pray above all for peace and stability.

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At last!

At last!  Kamu (aka Yaunde) has just walked through my door.  First order of business – he is taking a shower.  The trip is long.  He left Cameroon on Monday evening and has been travelling since, except for last night somewhere in Toronto.  And his bag was left in Paris – didn’t make the plane for some reason.  It will come but he is tall – 36 inch leg and no one in our house has legs that long for sure.  So we’ll do some laundry and he’ll be set till we make a Value Village run and see what we can pick up.

It is so good to see him.  So good that the long wait is done.

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Today is going to be a big day – grad and all that entails; ceremonies, special meals, friends, gowns, pictures, and parties. 

Friends – they can last for a lifetime, those friends formed during the growing up years.  I think I envy my children their enduring friendships – something I was not good at establishing in those growing up years.  I protected myself too often from relationships I knew would be broken by moving away, from the inevitable changes of life.  It took me a long time to realize how I had guarded myself by holding huge parts of me back from my friends.  I am glad I finally learned to trust some of the people around me so that now I can say I have good friends, friends I can lean on in tough times.

Yesterday, Eric got news that the second of the guys our church is sponsoring as refugees will be on his way soon.  Yaunde will arrive Sept 5 or 6.  He, Massa and Yaunde(sp?) were the best of friends and that friendship has endured the test of separation and the waiting through the whole refugee process.  Now they will be reunited.  Hope come to fruition.  Eric is pretty elated.

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Merci Nzambe

I came home tonight pretty tired.  It was a long and busy day and the days lately have been too full – work, taking care of my aunt’s move, wrapping up loose ends, kids and their stuff, sick grandson and having to call his mom in sick to be excused from classes.  Lots of little busy details that I have to remember to take care of.  Glad for my PDA that helps me keep organized. 

So, arriving home tired, I sat down at the computer to quickly check my e-mail before making supper.

I never expected the news I read – Massa is coming.  Not just a notice of the positive decision to send him here but dates and flight numbers of the plane he is coming on. 

Waiting.  It has been 8 long years of waiting, paperwork, waiting, repeating the paperwork, waiting.  Praying.  Reminding ourselves that God had led them to the place they were at.  Praying and waiting.

I haven’t seen these guys since we left the Congo in a hurry back in 1991.  They were Eric’s best friends, like brothers.  They were always around.  The cement cooking stand on my back porch made a good seat when there was no charcoal fire burning there.  Someone was always hanging out there and these guys were often there.  All young guys like chocolate cake or just a drink of water after a soccer game.  There were always soccer games.  And there were the spoils after hunts or fishing trips and I had a freezer. 

There are so many memories.  Having Massa arrive will be like having one of my own boys come home after being apart for 15 years.  It will be so good. 

But we still wait.  We have good news about Massa but there is still Younde waiting in Cameroun. 

Bring him home too, God.  Merci Nzambe.  Na motindo na yo, yaka na ye awa noki.

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A few days ago, Randall was flying.  I know he will admit to certain tensions associated with flying, because he has said so.  So, his admission to kissing the ground of the Calgary airport upon landing isn’t too surprising. 


I wonder why we become apprehensive – OK, downright scared – of specific modes of travel.  I know of several people who have been killed or turned into quadriplegics while riding their bicycles – struck by passing vehicles.  I know of many people who have died in traffic accidents.  I have had people close to me die in motorbike accidents.  People die in boating accidents.    I personally don’t know anyone who has been injured in an airplane crash.  


Maybe it is the fact that while flying, another person is in control of the plane and we are rendered dependant on their abilities to do that well.  If something happens, we are unable by our own actions to get to safety. 


I guess that flying has never made me that frightened so maybe it is not fair of me to tell my story of learning to fly without great fear.  Maybe I should tell instead of my fears of small boats.  But that is another story.


In the Congo, one has to fly.  I guess there are ways to get there and to travel around the country without flying but life would be a whole lot more complicated without air travel in Africa. 


Leo and I flew south to Pimu, a little mission station in British Baptist territory.  Leo went down to teach the nurses about Leprosy and TB.  I went to do dental work.  Following our week there, we parted company.  Leo went on his way to another hospital to teach again.  I was to head home, back to the kids and my regular work.  The pilot came down, picked Leo up and flew him farther south then came back for me and the visitor travelling with us from American Leprosy Mission to return us to Karawa. 


We took off from Pimu into a sky full of storm clouds.  MAF has some of the best pilots and we learned that they were so trustworthy that we generally relaxed as they flew.  If there is danger, they don’t take chances.  But we took off into this bad weather.  I think there may have been some pressure to get the visitor back to Karawa to catch his plane back to the US.  The pilot began to weave his way through the clouds to the north.  But the storms kept moving in around us.  Tropical storms can be extremely violent.  The winds that accompany them come suddenly and tear at whatever is in their way.  So it was that day. 


I have never felt as if the wings could be torn off the plane by the sheering force of the wind either before or after that day.  You can imagine some of the things going around inside my head as we were buffeted by the storms, hitting air pockets that plunged the plane suddenly downwards.  If this plane went down, who would break the news to the kids?  Who would go and get Leo?  Would they ever find the plane in the thick forest below?


I realized that I had no choice but to trust.  If God wanted me around to be the one that cared for my children, he would care for me and get me home.  God was in charge and I was completely at his mercy.


I know I prayed that afternoon.  What began as prayer prayed in fear of what might happen ended in a prayer, at least semi-confident, of placing my trust in a God who loved me and my family; a God that was totally trustworthy; a God that was in control of the plane, as well as the weather and what happened to us in it. 


I have flown many times since.  Every time, I am reminded of that day, that small plane, that storm and of getting home safely.  God is good.  I might as well relax and enjoy the flight. 


And I don’t have to go around kissing dirty airport floors!

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