New Year’s Day was beyond freezing for this girl from Africa, but we went walking anyway—along the boardwalk at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. Beautiful...but COLD! ☺ Back home we played more board games to wrap up a lovely New Year’s together!
Games were probably the highlight gifts that were exchanged by our family this year. Pandemic, Ticket to Ride Netherlands, and Settlers Cities and Knights are the favorites. We’ve been playing a game just about every night since! Each game is a challenge in its own way. Pandemic is an interactive game with all of us playing against the game. It changes your strategy when you’re playing as a team instead of against each other. ;-)
I flew from Mobile to Seattle without a hitch. I’d never flown during the busy Christmas season since we always drove to our grandparents’, but flying wasn't as crazy as I thought it’d be. We went straight from the airport to my dad's family’s early Christmas get-together. So nice to see everyone again! Then on to the house my sister and I own together. Good to be home in my house, home with family. I’ll do some last minute Christmas shopping, but most of my gifts I’d brought from Africa or bought online so they were already in my closet, waiting to be wrapped. Then I have two weeks of vacation to recover from my fun, but busy time in Alabama!!
My first week in Alabama I stayed with Jamie, but now I’m with a doctor and his wife who’ve been to Kibogora. It’s a slower paced week...thank goodness! We went back to New Orleans to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra performance. Wow, amazing show! So glad I didn't have to go to work the next day since I didn't get to bed until 3:00 a.m.!
My first day off since I landed in Alabama, but don't worry, I won't be relaxing any! We’re off on a road trip to New Orleans. I’ve never been there, but Jamie knows all the good places to see…and most importantly, all the foods to try! ☺
I landed in Alabama at 4:00 p.m. and hit the ground running! We drove straight to RiteAid where I got a flu shot, to a shoe store to buy close-toed shoes for working in the hospital, and then to my friend Jamie's house for a shower after the long trip. But we didn't stay long enough for me to put my feet up! Dinner with friends and finally I crashed at 9:00. Out the door the next morning at 6:15, heading for my first day of shadowing in the NICU in Alabama. I did two 12-hour shifts in a row, so by Wednesday, I had completely switched time zones as I was so tired at the end of the day, I had no difficulty sleeping! On Wednesday Santa visited the NICU, a sure sign I wasn’t in Rwanda anymore! But then I know I’m not in Rwanda when I see 300 gram babies being saved at this hospital. In Rwanda they have no chance. I watched deliveries and saw how the team of NICU nurses worked with the respiratory therapists on term babies and premature ones. I learned from the nurses, doctors, respiratory therapist, physical therapist, nutritionists, and more. We don't have specialists in Kibogora’s NICU, but I can take little bits and pieces of what I learned from them and use the knowledge to work with our babies.
Flying from Rwanda, the next stop was Amsterdam. Reality hit quickly when the temperature was drastically cold in the jetway bridge leading up to the airport. Suddenly I knew I wasn’t in Africa anymore!! My two hour layover was the perfect length for stretching my legs and charging all my electronic devices. Then off to Alabama! But when I enter the USA, they’ll ask, “Have you been in Africa in the last 21 days?” I’m wondering what they’ll do when I say, “Yes.” Is ebola still an issue?
In the USA there’s the stereotype of car salesmen being quite pushy. Well, in Rwanda our experience was the exact opposite! Sheia's church had given money for a new car for her work in Rwanda, so in November we went to the Toyota dealership. We wandered around looking at the cars, but the salesman sitting behind his desk didn’t move a bit. We finally had to ask, but he didn’t give any more information than what we asked for. I'm in Kigali now, ready to fly to the USA, but have to drop off the last of the paperwork to buy the car. So again, I walk into the store, have to go to the salesman, show him the paperwork, and ask multiple times if this is all he needs. Is everything okay, can I leave Rwanda and someone else pick up the car? Wow, I didn't know buying a car was so much work! Hope it all goes well and the new car is at Kibogora when I return!!
With every vacation there’s more to do before you leave than if you weren't going anywhere! That’s what I'm doing right now—finishing my to-do list, cleaning my house to leave for two months, and saying good-bye to friends. I leave for Kigali on December 4th and fly to the USA on the 5th. In the meantime, I have lots to do because people will be living in my house while I'm gone. Can’t leave the place a mess! ;-)