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small space.

September 26, 2011

I’ve been thinking about this idea of how very large things can feel so small. Uganda has been one of those small spaces. In my final hours here in Kampala, I just experienced again, how small it can be.

After standing in line for security and my boarding pass at the Entebbe Airport, I came to sit down in the lounge, to enjoy a last cold coke from a glass bottle, and check if the internet was there. As I opened my computer, a man dressed very similar to how my own dad would dress; glasses, blue button down dress shirt tucked into relaxed fit, medium wash jeans, walked over and said with a smile on his face, “Are you Hannah?”

 “Yeah… I am…” I must have sounded skeptical, because immediately my new friend Fred added in, “Sean’s friend from Gulu, right?” And if there is one place in Uganda that I don’t stand out, it’s in the airport… full of europeans, americans and those of us with pale skin and blonde hair.

So he had credentials at least, my guard immediately dropped. Apparently, Sean had called Fred asking him to keep an eye out for me at the airport and low and behold, he found me! Fred and his wife Rebecca are long time friends of Sean, and so Fred lent me his phone, so I could speak one last time to Sean before flying out.

I can’t say how many times life has felt small here. The world is big… but not too big anymore. My friend Sadie from SPU, just arrived in Gulu this week, and I got to see her yesterday. Again, life and experiences colliding in a new space.

I’m curious how home will feel. I remember my roommate Bekah posing this question to me this spring, “What do you wonder about?” Tonight I’m wondering about a lot of things. I’m wondering what my body looks like on the inside? I’m wondering, when do I get to come back? I’m wondering, how can I make sure to not forget? I wonder things because life can become too plain if wondering stops.

I wonder where life will feel small again? I seem to think I see Jesus showing up when this big world God created suddenly collapses into a small space. A conversation between two people, flying to Amsterdam, on the way to a new story.

Thank you Jesus for the small spaces Uganda has given me. It’s been said that small spaces forces one to be creative… and God has been and will be the most creative of us all!

peace and joy on you all.

hannah kristine.


prayer of blessing.

September 22, 2011

About a year ago, a good friend Deb gave me this prayer of blessing to meditate on during a silent retreat. I brought it with me to Uganda and carry in my purse always. This week while I’ve been in Kampala, I have no clue how many times I’ve read it. Thank you Deb for putting this in my hands a year ago.

Be A Sojourner

Come along with me
as a sojourner of faith.
Bring along
a sense of expectancy
a vision of high hopes
a glimpse of future possibility
a vivid imagination.
For God’s creation is not done.

We are called to pioneer
a future yet unnamed.
As we venture forward,
we leave behind our desire for
a no-risk life
worldly accumulations
certainty of answers.

Let us travel light
in the spirit of faith and expectations
toward the God of our hopes and dreams.
May we be witnesses
to God’s future breaking in.

Come along with me
as a sojourner of faith
secure in the knowledge
that we never travel alone.

– Susan Gregg-Schroeder

peace and joy on you all.

hannah kristine.

always in the 2%; kampala, the surgery, and shigella continues.

September 17, 2011





Just a quick update… as if this sickness hasn’t lasted long enough already.

I was still having horrible stomach cramps yesterday, so I went back to Stockley. The Shigella was fading but now yeast was overgrowing in my gut. He told me hang around another day, come back tomorrow to get tested. He gave me some pills for the yeast, to add to my pill regimen. I’m now taking pills 5 times a day (caught up will fellow intern Jocelyn!)

Hung around town for a bit yesterday and loaded up on yogurt.

All night was super sick again.

Took a hot shower (a great blessing!) this morning. Headed back to The Surgery, 3rd day in a row. Got tested, yeast was gone, but Shigella is back more than before! Ergh… I feel like it’s never going to leave! He gave me more pills, and a longer treatment. He thinks I should stick around Kampala until we know it’s completely gone, so who knows really when I’ll head back North.

I feel like this falling into the medical minority is a trend in my life. Back when I had toe problems, my orthopedic doctor would say, this surgery won’t take in 1 in 300 people… well, about 7 tries of the surgery later, I gave up on fixing my toe.

When I had my ankle surgery, Vicodin wouldn’t do a thing, so they brought on the big narcotics.

Getting into my veins has been more than a trick.

And now, the Shigella is holding out.

I wish I had brought more things to read/draw on, etc with me. Often I find myself in bed around 5 just because it’s the only way I’m comfortable. Last night I resorted to reading the Ugandan phone book. It’s one book… for the whole country. As I was reading it, I wondered… how many people resort to reading phone books because they are so bored? Well, you can count me as one. (I also read all of the packaging on every bottle/product I had with me. For some reason, I’ve always found it interesting.)

Miss you all back in Gulu!

peace and joy on you all.

hannah kristine.

it’s Shigella.

September 16, 2011

Yesterday afternoon I arrived here in Kampala after a long bus ride.

I was coming down to see the famous Dr. Stockley whom everyone raves about around here. I was expecting a warm British guy, who loved to joke, but when my name was called all I heard was “Down to room 1” in a charming accent, but no acknowledgment that he actually saw me walk past and down the hall.

His office did fit the charming doctor I imagined him to be… everything he’d need. A large sunlight room, desk covered in all sort of doctor-like trinkets, chairs, examination table without that horrible crinkly parchment paper, but a nice deep blue cloth… skeletal models, and tucked away behind cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol was a triptych of early christian icons. I felt I was in good hands.

He blew through the door and inquired, “What’s the problem?” in a matter of fact way. I went on to tell the story of my tenacious illness and the trials and errors of being diagnosed. Stockley gave me a hard time about trying Gulu Independent Hospital, saying “they give toddlers scalpels there… you’re better off with common sense.” I then moved over to the examination table, had my tummy tapped on and then was sent away for another stool sample.

Stockley was surprised at the result.. something he hadn’t anticipated. A particularly nasty case of Shigella. But he said it was easy to treat for most. He popped out two pills from his drawer, poured me a glass of water and said “98% of the people who take this one dose feel 100% better in 12-24 hours.” I asked if I needed to hang around Kampala then, and he said yes, just in case. Told me to relax and have a cold one.

So longer story made short, I’m enjoying my day in Kampala. After a week without water in Gulu, I took a hot shower this morning. I’ve been coming into town, enjoying great food. Check out my Strawberry Banana smoothie below! (fresh strawberries… a pure delight.) Seriously, after being in Gulu for 2 and a half months now, Kampala feels like the closest thing to America. Future trips down may need to happen.

I’m still feeling kinda queazy, and was sick over the night, but am feeling the recovery, I think! I might pop back to the Surgery this afternoon just to make sure, cause I don’t want to get back to Gulu and not be all cleared up.

So, thanks for the prayers!

peace and joy and health on all of you!

hannah kristine.

on the mend… or not.

September 14, 2011

As my last post stated, it seemed to me that I would be on the mend. Apparently, that has not been the case. Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Kampala to go to Dr. Stockley at a hospital called The Surgery (it’s pictured below).

Be praying for safe travel, a comfortable trip (aka. minimal stomach pains), and a good treatment for whatever the findings are.

Being sick is taxing. Being sick is exhausting. Not to mention, we haven’t had running water here in almost 7 days now. No water makes sickness especially not fun. However, I did enjoy my pseudo shower this morning… boiled a hot pot of water to dump over myself… the heat felt so good.

So, here’s to the next part of the adventure.

peace and joy on you all.

hannah kristine.


September 11, 2011

Growing up, I remember my Mom and Dad talking about where they were when JFK was shot. Last night, Carlie and I were sitting in our candle lit living room talking about where we were when 9/11 happened.

I was 12 years old, just beginning the 7th grade. I remember going to wood shop class that morning, and Mr. Rossetter saying to the class, “Today is a sad day for America” and feeling really confused. Maybe today is a holiday I forgot about, is what passed through my head. I then had my history class with Mrs. Hudak. She had the tv on, and at first glance I thought a movie was playing. Soon, our class became clued into what the reality was. We watched all period, transfixed. As a 12 year old, I had no clue what the implications were, but I’m sure Mrs. Hudak knew this was going to be a long haul.

I don’t think a day has gone by in these 10 years that I haven’t briefly thought or spoken about 9/11. That morning really has defined so much of my generation in a similar way Kennedy being shot did for my parents.

I think I’ve written or shared about StoryCorps on here before… StoryCorps has been collecting stories of those lost on 9/11. Below are a couple incredible tributes to some people lost that day.


peace and joy on you all.

hannah kristine.

on the mend.

September 10, 2011


dinner party with the boys from work this week. (thanks for the photo jocelyn!)


I’m alive! I’m here! Sorry for the absence, my friends. If I’d have to label any period of my time here in Gulu as trying, it would be the last two weeks. I knew coming here that getting sick would probably be part of the experience, but little did I know how bad I could feel. No need for me to recount the past half month for you in detail, but let me at least paint a little picture for you.

Over the last two weeks…

  1. It began with chills

  2. I couldn’t leave the bathroom for more than 5-10 minutes at a time

  3. I fought myself in the middle of the night to take Cipro (a pretty harsh antibiotic my doc sent with me “in case”)

  4. I wanted to board the next flight home just so mom could take care of me

  5. I shivered through hot showers

  6. I sweat through multiple nightgowns

  7. I could hardly walk to the kitchen for water without passing out.

That was the first stint of sickness. I remember saying to my mom on the phone, “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel healthy again”my body had forgotten what normal was like. But by the end of the Cipro round, I thought I was cured. I was feeling good for about 2 days before it came back. By this time, feeling sick was my new normal, so I was going to work, but dragging through the day. This past wednesday, I had the day off and I was convinced to head over to Gulu Independent Hospital to get tested for what it could be. The hospital experience was really affecting. As I sat waiting to get my blood pressure and temperature taken, I watched a man about 5 feet away in emergency surgery die. It became uncomfortable to sit in a waiting room seeking medical attention for something that is so common here. That afternoon in the hospital was the most blatant way I have experienced my own privilege. I don’t really know what to do with it right now.

From my blood work they could tell I had some bacteria, and I’d have to wait another 3 days to get the culture results of exactly what it was. Last night after work, I headed back to Gulu Independent and learned I have E.Coli, which was resistant to Cipro (among a whole host of other antibiotics). I started my new meds last night and can already tell a difference. I even ate a real breakfast this morning!

This is all to say, thank you all for your continued prayers for my safety and health while here. Please remember those around me in your prayers too. Similar to when I did Urban Plunge freshman year of college, I knew I had a end date to being “homeless”; here, I also have a return date to a comfortable American life, while the people I work with every day deal with these hardships from birth until death. I feel blessed daily by the joy and love they show me, and I’m sure that’s what keeps me going on hard days. I thank God so much for the new eyes I am seeing from, and I ask that you make sure I remember them when I return home. That every time I turn on the faucet, I remember the times of dry taps in Gulu. That every time I get my finger poked and a bandaid placed over, I remember the times of dead bugs in the rubbing alcohol and no bandaids. That every time I switch a light, I remember candlelit nights.

Thank you for being my community. For caring about words that I write on occasion, and pictures I post. As I’m on the mend, know I think of you all often, and thank the Lord for you in my life.

On the thread of seeing things anew. I was catching up on friends’ blogs this morning and came across this remake of Sufjan’s Chicago on Lara’s tumblr. It was a highlight of my morning to just listen to it 4 times in a row. Just listen.

peace and joy on you all.

hannah kristine