Monday, August 3, 2009

Back in the Game

For the last 7 months, my world has seemed to "revolve around my heal"...(pun intended)

...and after dozens of doctor and physical therapy appointments, and countless hours in the gym, the pool, on the bike, and most recently jogging on the treadmill (albeit slowly and painfully)...

it works again!

Thanks to the steadfast support of my family, friends, Dr.s, PTs, and the folks at Restore, my recovery has resulted in, (Dr.'s words) "as positive an outcome as I could have hoped for." Thanks guys.

Nana and I enjoying a lunch in Cascade Locks

4th of July with Dad's and Lani's fams~

And now for a crazy story... THE OMEN...

So one of the ways I've kept busy these last few months (other than all that PT activity) has been pet-sitting for family and friends. (As I'm sure you can relate if you've ever experienced a chapter of incapacitation or joblessness- word of your availability gets around quickly!) I actually really enjoyed it, as I'm a softy for furry little friends...

Hangin' at Dan and Molly's with Freddy and Stan the Man

But I had the strangest experience while cleaning out the litter box of Dad and Lani's cat a few months back. I glanced down to find this curious omen:

So I took a closer look......

and I nearly fell over laughing! I was looking at liquid proof that God has a sense of humor- as indeed, the end of my last chapter in Africa was a bit of a pisser!

But...ever the optimist...I decided to assume that perhaps this omen was not only humorous, but also auspicious...

And, lo and behold, the last couple months have seen a myriad of circumstances coalesce into an invitation to return to Africa.

For months, I've been offering little bits of help and expertise to my friend Kristen Hendricks, who started an organization called Purse of Hope, as she has been seeking funding and partnership to begin a home for vulnerable girls in Gulu.

Kristen Hendricks during a visit last fall to Gulu

It has been Kristen's dream and passion to fight against human trafficking, and to care for vulnerable girls who either have been, or are at risk of being caught up this tragic occurrence. Her efforts are bearing fruit, and her dream is taking off, as a passionate and generous group of people from Total Attorneys in Chicago has come alongside in partnership and financial support. Kristen has offered me the position of Uganda Country Director for Purse of Hope, which I have gratefully accepted.

So....I'm off to Uganda again! I'm absolutely stoked to see everyone over there again, and in addition to heading up Purse of Hope, I'll be living and working with John Niemeyer in the same house we were in before, and helping to support him in any way I can as he directs Restore International.

Along with the girl's home in Gulu, we are also working with Robinah Sarah to establish a drop in center in Kampala. She is one of the absolutely amazing group of people we have on the ground in Uganda, to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude. We are incredibly thankful for the groundwork laid by John Niemeyer, Kristen Vogel, and Pauline Amony. It's an honor to be working with them.

I'll be taking off for Chicago on September 1st to join up with Kristen, and meet the team from Total Attorneys. Two days later, we take to the skies for Africa...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Unexpected Return

Well I thought the call over was quick, nothing like the call home!

my new home and companion

So here's how it happened...

One of the most common ways to get around in Africa is as a passenger on the back of boda-bodas (smaller, regular looking motorcycles). On the evening of Monday, Dec. 22, I was riding as a passenger, when I noticed my foot was mistakenly resting on the exhaust pipe, instead of the peg. I moved my foot, and my shoe was caught up (I’m not sure if it was the laces or what) in the spokes of the back wheel, which pulled my foot in and chewed up the back of my heel and Achilles pretty bad (bone and cut-up tendon exposed). The motorcycle came to a stop, I pulled my foot out, they rushed me to the hospital, my friend Kyle ran to my Kampala home and back to grab my passport and a few essentials, and the ambulance took me to the airport to catch the first flight out. Due to the airport closures in Portland, they ended up sending me to Seattle, which turned out to be providential, as my step-mom Lani made arrangements at the best Orthopedic Surgery Hospital in the region, Harborview Hospital in downtown Seattle. It took 31 hours to get home, but fortunately my family made arrangements with Customs so they checked me quickly, and waved me on to the hospital, where I went in for surgery with a great orthopedic team. I stayed 3 days in the hospital, and have been riding couches at my family's places around Portland for the last month. Initially, the pain was okay as long as I kept it elevated, but hurt pretty bad when I had to lower it to move around, which kept me grounded to the couch all day. I'm a little more mobile now, but still have to keep it elevated for good chunks of the day. I’m excited though, to be up and moving around a bit.

Prognosis: No walking for at least 2 months, then physical therapy to slowly gain back range and function until a hopeful mostly-full recovery after 1 year. (So there’s still hope for the Iron Man! - although depending on how the Achilles heals, inflammation from activities like running might be a problem in the future). The days have been filled with catching up with friends, visiting doctors, reading, and working on Uganda projects, so the time has actually passed pretty quickly. As for things in Africa, I was able to call some key on-the-ground people on my way to the airport, so with some initial help from my buddy Kyle, they're keeping things going till early February when the other Country Director, John Niemeyer, arrives. I’ll be helping out as best I can remotely, but I can’t think of a more capable and experienced person than John to take the reigns, and I’ve got a lot of peace about Restore’s activities over there~

I'm very grateful to still have my foot, and I truly am experiencing a lot of peace in knowing that although the path is winding and unpredictable, even the tough stuff (like this) in our lives is redeemed in the larger story being written. Thanks to all you friends and family who have been keeping me in your thoughts and prayers~