Africa again–Uganda this time

noel at monique'sI’ve traveled to Africa 10 times–I think. (I’m better at going than counting.) Liberia, Cameroon (several times), Guinea, Senegal, Kenya, Egypt, South Africa. The last trip was 5 years ago, so it’s time, and it’ll be Uganda.

I’m part of a team from our church that will be working under the leadership of Francis Mugwanya, founder and director of  Father’s Heart Mobility Ministry. He and his colleagues work to mobilize Ugandan churches to reach out to people with disabilities and enfold them in the Body of Christ.

woman bent over

She will do whatever it takes to move around, even using her hand as a foot while the disabled foot drags behind.

In many parts of Uganda, therapy and appropriate equipment are not available to those who need them. Or if such are available, people can’t afford them. In addition, stigma is attached to disability. If a person can’t walk, and must drag himself along the ground, he is looked down upon, both figuratively and literally. I think most of us can’t imagine what it means to be lifted from the ground and placed in a chair that allows a person to launch into  the world face forward.


Anxiety--strange people, unfamiliar language. What will they do to me?

Anxiety–strange people, unfamiliar language. What will they do to me?

That is what we will be doing, using wheelchairs provided by Free Wheelchair Mission to Father’s Heart Mobility Ministry. In Busia, we will work alongside volunteers from local churches who have received disability awareness training through Father’s Heart.

This will be the third wheelchair mission I’ve been part of. Each time Bob Horning has been the team leader. And each time he reminds us that wheelchairs will change lives, but none of them will last forever. We bring Jesus, and he is the one who will never leave or forsake the ones who trust him.

Her face begins to show hope.

Her face begins to show hope, as one of our team’s physical therapists eases her into position in the chair that will be hers.

The pictures here are from Cameroon, 2009. I expect similar encounters in Uganda.

I hope you will check out the websites of Father’s Heart Mobility Ministry and Free Wheelchair Mission. Both are doing amazing things in Jesus’ Name. There is a tab for making a donation on each home page.

I expect my role to be as photographer, gofer, one-on-one conversations, encouraging the missionaries we’ll see and learning about their lives there. Also, Bob insists that I won’t have fulfilled my duties unless I get a wrench in my hand and assemble a wheelchair–despite all my protestations about not being able to line a screw up straight in its hole. If you feel inclined to connect with our team through prayer and/or a gift, Bethlehem Baptist’s Short Term Ministry Committee offers suggestions and instructions. We leave October 16.

Over and over, we saw anxiety begin to glimmer with hope and finally to shine with joy.


We will find ourselves both exhilarated and exhausted. So I will be thankful for your prayers for our team, for the people who are receiving chairs, for their caregivers, and for the people of the church and town who may be seeing for the first time people touching, showing love toward people they may have considered untouchable. We want all of them to see Jesus’ hands at work.



Your comments are an encouragement. The comment link is just under the title at the top of the post. Let the team and me know you’re praying. And pass on any thoughts you have about Uganda.


Holiday trips for kids, via vehicle or armchair

by St. Paul'sTalitha’s been a traveler since before she can remember.

In the earlier days, I was the one searching Lonely Planet guides for details about our destinations. And both of us loved the great photos in Eyewitness Guides — almost as good as being there.

If the Christian Focus’s Adventure series had been available when she was younger, I think she would have enjoyed them. I know I would have, for both physical and armchair travel.

Catherine MacKenzie describes the 15 books in the series as “a mix of geography, nature, history and mission . . . a really good read for children age 8-12.” Read the rest of her post–Christian Travel Books for Kids— at her blog, Hurrah4Books.

A leisurely and (almost) free afternoon in Knoxville

After worshiping this morning at Christ Church, we had a Fathers Day yummy Mexican meal at La Fiesta, a good illustration that the proof is in the cooking, not in their low prices and the unimpressive strip mall setting.

Then came the (almost) free touristy afternoon.

We headed over to the World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. We wandered a bit before we found parking–we should have used the map at their website, but we finally found free parking in the municipal ramp on 11th at Cumberland.

The park is large and beautifully landscaped with a small lake and fountains of various sorts, including one designed for water play. I expect we’ll see more of the park another time, including perhaps the Knoxville Museum of Art, a gathering at the Knoxville Convention Center, or a concert at the Amphitheater in the park.


playing in fountainThis time our goal was the Sunsphere–Knoxville’s sunsphereiconic golden tower, built for that 1982 World’s Fair. The 4th floor within the globe is a 360-degree observation deck from which you can see much of Knoxville (with a golden glow) and far off into the mountains. We think we figured out which was the mountain we see from our front porch. Access to the elevator and the deck is free–always free.

(In case someone else needs to know, I believe the nearest rest rooms are outside the Sunsphere–walk under the Clinch Avenue overpass and to the left.)

A few blocks away is Market Square. We were hot and decided to drive, which was fine, because there wasn’t really anything to see or do until we arrived at Market Square, where there’s a pleasant park and a couple of blocks of pedestrian plaza with specialty shops and cafes housed in the old buildings of this part of old Knoxville and another fountain to play in. There are a couple of parking ramps nearby, but we parked on the street, where meters are free on the weekends.

fountain in market square market square market square

snake oil foot pump dentist drill see rock cityAfter we’d strolled the square, we discovered the East Tennessee History Center  on the other side of the park from the pedestrian plaza. Admission is inexpensive all the days of the week except on Sundays, when it’s free for everyone. Children 16 and under are always free.

This is an impressive one-level museum which walks you through eras of East Tennessee history, starting with the earliest Native American residents. My photos here don’t give any idea of the breadth and detail there. You can spend as little or as much time as you (or your children or your lower back) wish. We were there about an hour and a half, and look forward to returning again for more.

fathers daySo we spent about 3 hours starting to get familiar with Knoxville and the only thing that cost anything was a couple of Cokes.

Not a bad way to hang out on Fathers Day with a husband who’s glad for every occasion not to spend.

Hey, y’all!

golden porch









Here we are for a year in the land of:

  • grits
  • cornbread
  • the best biscuits in the world
  • blackeye peas
  • pimiento cheese sandwiches with potato chips squished in
  • peanuts in your Coke bottle
  • slow talking
  • story-telling as conversation
  • chatty salesclerks. . . 

and where:

  • y’all is the non-ambiguous second person plural
  • all soft drinks are called coke
  • if you order tea in a restaurant, you get sweet tea automatically, unless you specify “unsweet tea” (“Yankee tea,” I’ve heard it called)
  • dogs belong outside
  • barbecue is what you put on a bun, not what you do on a grill in the back yard
  • pepper sauce is a keep-on-the-table condiment (“pepper vinegar” to some of y’all), that lasts forever because you just keep adding vinegar
  • even towns that are no more than post office and a few homes are overlooked by a giant First Baptist
  • the prairies with their windowpane road pattern is a land far far away–here the ground bulges into mountains where ancient paths of least resistance have grown into roads, though some are still only half-grown

Help me, you Southern friends. What am I forgetting?

This week was the family goodbye supper [evening meal] for my cousin. The menu on my aunt’s kitchen island included field peas (blackeye peas’ colors condensed into one), cornbread with crispy crust and tender insides because it was baked in cast iron skillet, turnip greens with the option of the aforementioned pepper sauce, and wild turkey thanks to one of the hunters in the family. Goodbye dinner? Way to make a fellow want to say hello instead of goodbye.

This is not a foreign land for me. I’ve just been away for a while. I grew up only 5 hours away, in the rolling landscape that’s the piedmont –foot of the mountains–of where we are now.

As I sit in my rocking chair on the front porch writing to you, Bob’s familiar voice is calling–old bobwhite, that is. I haven’t heard him in a long time. He must be calling to the towhee who is insisting that he “drINK your teeEEA.”

Tea. Yes. Sweet tea. In the fridge . . .

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Japanese lessons–of culture or humor?

I should be packing for our one-year move to Tennessee. So naturally, I’m on my computer instead–acting as if I’m preparing for a trip to Japan.

It started when a Chinese-American friend posted this escalatingly funny Japanese video with chopsticks instruction.

This sent me searching for others in the “Japanese Tradition” series. I’ve learned so much today about:

  • The Japanese Tradition–apologizing
    “Ojigi: The rudimentary apology for upstanding citizens. . .  back bent to 45 degrees. Common mistake: 35 degrees is a greeting.”
  • The Japanese Tradition–origami
    “A showdown between rival masters is traditionally called a ‘fold-off.’ . . . [When there is a tie], this is called “folding the match.'”
  • The Japanese Tradition–sushi
    “Sushi is served on Japanese sandals called ‘geta.’ The geta is sterilized first so it safe to eat from. Some people then wear them home.”

Hmmm. I’m thinking I’ll need additional lessons before I decide to go to Japan again.

How about it, Japanese friends and those who’ve been there? Anything to add?

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China then and now–Children

Recently Joann and I talked about the Esther Expedition at the monthly gathering of the China Outreach Ministries near the University of Minnesota. We’ve told our story several times to different groups, but this was the first time to a mainly Chinese audience.

We included a few slides of then-and-now photos– shots we took trying to duplicate pictures in Esther Nelson’s albums, 1924-1951.

Afterward, one Chinese student asked if we could show more of those. I promised him I’d post some. For today, I’ve gather some shots of children.

In the early 1930s, Esther wrote home asking if someone could send designs for a kiddie car that she could give a local woodworker. In December 1936, she wrote: I do have so much enjoyment at Christmas time in making things and giving to the children. I knit a couple of suits for two children, had two kiddie cars made for others . . . 

 nelson kiddie car









Here are a couple of kiddie cars in 2012:


Nelson Kiddie car








In Esther’s day, baskets carried many things, including babies. Today too.

nelson baby basket





Nelson baby basket IMG_9574








Baskets also weren’t and aren’t bad for keeping tabs on baby on the ground too.

Nelson baby basket









Little boys in every generation seem to be unsmiling about dressing up.

1940s. Photo by George Cole, colleague of Esther Nelson

1940s. Photo by George Cole, colleague of Esther Nelson












In cold weather, you still can see toddlers dressed in thick quilted clothes, chin to toe. And that’s indoors too where it may be as cold as outdoors. At this point, I’m going to mention something that will seem perfectly normal to most of my Chinese readers, and quite the opposite to most of the rest of you. Look at the red pants of the modern-day little girl. There’s a gap in the middle. She’s in church, so there’s cloth (the white center section) wadded in there, but otherwise, there’d be nothing–just an open middle from front waist to back waist, as you can see in last photo, taken last year.

Nelson quilted toddlers IMG_1229









Nelson toddler pants






Well, that’s all there is for today, so I guess there’s just one thing left to say:

The End.

Turning our backs on the Abbey & Big Ben

Florence Nightingale: Gods Servant at the Battlefield (The Sowers)Several years ago, Talitha was interested in Florence Nightingale after reading her biography. So having the homeschooling mother’s determination to take advantage of every opportunity, I searched my travel guidebooks and the Internet to see what we might find in London.

In St. Thomas’ Hospital is the Florence Nightingale Museum. Appropriate place, because St. Thomas’ was where Miss Nightingale worked, struggling for reformation in nursing care, after her return from the Crimea.

Big churches and fine buildings have their places, but we were tired of them at the moment, so we turned our backs on Westminster Abbey and the tower of Big Ben to stroll across the Westminster Bridge. Couldn’t help noticing the rosy red cheeks of the little children, but none of the bobbies were on bicycles two by two. (Sorry, Roger Miller, I got carried away.)

Anyway, just on the other side of the Thames was the museum. It was the kind of place I can really enjoy. I wouldn’t have come to London just to visit the Florence Nightingale museum, but it was a small treasure worth seeing while I was there already.

Since then, it’s been renovated and what I read about it looks wonderful. Here’s a description of what you’ll find there now–better organization of exhibits, interactive experiences for both adults and children, digital opportunities to pursue topics more deeply, and the museum is physically accessible.

If you have the London Pass, the museum’s entrance fee is covered. Visit the museum’s website for closest public transportation.

Now, unless you’re in London at the moment, it’ll be a while before you go to the museum. So in the meantime, you can get a biography of Florence Nightingale (vol. 1 and vol. 2) and Notes on Nursing, What It Is, and What It Is Not, by Miss Nightingale, all free for Kindle.

One more thing. At the Florence Nightingale Museum I made a discovery that’s relevant this month, Black History month. You can read about it at my general blog,

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Reading while I travel

I told you earlier why I love my Kindle. I’m sad to report that I arrived home without it after a trip a few months ago. Phone calls to all the places I might have left it didn’t recover it.

So since then, I’ve limped along with the Kindle app on my phone–until our anniversary when my husband blessed me with a Kindle Fire.

Imagine my surprise to discover that a Kindle isn’t necessarily a Kindle. I still love Kindle, but only the ones that suit my needs.

You can read about it at my other blog,, especially if you’re considering a Kindle purchase.


Lost no more (mostly)

Aging brain. ADHD. Distractions. Emergencies. I have no idea any more what mixture I can use as the reason for losing things. Losing stuff is especially disturbing, distracting, distressing when I’m traveling. There are so many places I might have left my keys or journal or Kindle , and it holds everybody up when someone has to make a trip back to the hotel to get the camera I left on the bedside table.

It took me decades of Where’s-my-_____? before it sunk in that I need to be more attached to my possessions.

I realize my husband preaches against attachment to worldly goods, but I’ll justify myself this way: If I physically attach myself to whatever gets lost most frequently, then I don’t have to think about the phone, the keys, the eyeglasses, so therefore I’m not letting myself be overly attached to them, not letting them monopolize my mind and attention.

Canon Metal Neck Strap 1 for All Elph Cameras, 34Therefore, when I’m traveling or at an event, I wear my camera around my neck like an accessory. For security, I like the Canon Neck Strap that’s a metal chain enclosed in clear plastic. I tell myself it’s like I’m wearing a silver necklace.


Pacsafe Luggage Metrosafe 200 Gii Shoulder BagI’ve worked to make a habit of hanging my keys on a carabiner and hanging the carabiner on a handy loop on my purse, a shoulder bag, so that too hangs on me.  ( I always use the same purse with just the right arrangement of pockets, so I can reach in without looking and grab what I want. Phooey on fashion–changing purses is a surefire way to leave behind something I’ll need.)

As I’ve mentioned before, I usually wear my glasses hanging around my neck if they’re not on my face. After a year and a half, they’re hardly scratched and I usually know where they are.

519BsGDm4PL._SS400_What’s the item that’s most often lost, whether on the road or at home? My phone. Too many women’s clothes don’t have pockets, so I can’t keep it on me that way. I always have my neck with me, so that’s where the phone needs to hang. Up till now I’ve made do by stringing a lanyard through some opening on a regular case, but even if it sort of works, still the phone is hanging from just one point, and therefore is rotating free when I lean forward.

If you’re wanting the same thing, I hope my hours of searching online can serve for you too. Yesterday my Lanskin Case arrived. Yes! It’s all I’d been hoping for. The case is soft, but not the mushy kind of soft that stretches out in a few weeks. The surface is not slippery. The adjustable lanyard is of the same material and is built into the case, projecting from either side of the bottom of the case, so the phone hangs upside down. That way, you don’t have to flip it around to see it right side up. I wouldn’t mind if it came in purple, but the basic black (or white) is great. It’s available for iPhone and iPod.

iphone 4/4s Case with Adjustable & Detachable Neck Lanyard BlackIf you’d rather have colors for iphone 4 or 4S, here’s one that looks really good. I was really tempted, but in the end preferred not to have the metal clips. But purple . . .   You can follow on FaceBook to know when the Liberty Case colors and/0r bling are out for iPhone 5.


I wish I could say I never lose anything anymore–that’s why mostly is in the title. But it’s lots better these days.

Related Posts:

Stocking Stuffers for the ADDer You Love

More ADD Gift Ideas

Gift Ideas for the Traveler You Love


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Gift ideas for the traveler you love

Here are a few things I use regularly and recommend highly for a traveler–either someone you’re buying for or for your own wish list:

Eagle Creek Pack-It Custom Travel Bottle SetQuart-sized zipper bag (with travel bottles). I write bottles in parenthesis because it’s not them I use. The bag might seem expensive, but it’s worth it. I keep my liquids packed, ready to go anytime. This bag is sturdy plastic with a real zipper, so it can be closed on more items the quart-size from the kitchen cabinet, and it won’t pop open under pressure. This is especially good because as Mom, I’m the one with the extra stuff, like itch medicine and first aid cream.


Travelon 1st Class SleeperFirst Class sleeper cushion. I felt really self-conscious the first time I slid this behind me and inflated it. But after using it one time . . . who cares what anybody else thinks? Now I don’t ever want to fly a long flight without this. Used as directed, it has the effect of letting you stretch out like flat in bed, even though you’re diagonal. It puts me in a position for my legs to be straight with my feet under the seat in front, without bumping my knees of the seat in front of me, so while I’m trying to sleep it doesn’t matter how much the seat in front of me is reclined. If I inflate it less, I can fold it in half for a lower back cushion.


No-Jet-Lag - 32 - TabletNo Jet Lag. This is another must when I’m crossing more than 2 time zones. Chew one pill (pleasantly sweet) taking off, then every 2 hours, and when landing. I admit that even without No Jet Lag, I don’t get hit as hard as some by the effects of jet lag. But with the pills, it’s even less.


Voltage Valet Dual Voltage Beverage Heater

Dual-voltage beverage heater. Dual voltage means I can use it in the US and internationally where the voltage is 220. I pack this with a non-breakable mug from home and whatever hot beverage mix we’ll want.


Platypus SoftBottle with Push-Pull Cap

Collapsible water bottle. When it’s empty, it rolls up small. After I go through security in places where water is safe to drink, I fill it at a water fountain–lots less expensive than buying bottled water. When I’m in countries where water needs to be filtered. I might need to go ahead and buy bottled, but sometimes there’ll be a large filter container I can use to fill the bottle.


Energizer 3 LED Headlight

Headlamp. I can’t say enough good things about my headlamp. In places where there often are blackouts, I wear it like a necklace after dark, so I have it ready immediately with my hands totally free for serving, eating, mending, etc. On Joni and Friends wheelchair missions, our mechanics used headlamps regularly in the low lighting of the hall where we worked. For a long time I’ve kept a flashlight in my purse, even at home. Now I just keep my headlamp there instead.


Bandanas by the Dozen (12 units per pack, 100% cotton)

Bandannas. Even when I’m not traveling, I always have a bandanna folded up in my purse (unless I forget to replace one that’s in the laundry). When I’m on the road, I have several. They’re one of my best multi-purpose tools. Napkin. Hand towel. Mop up spills. Sweat wiper. Neck sun protection. Washcloth (and even bath towel in a pinch). Cooler (saturate and wear around neck). Impromptu kid’s game (bandit mask, pirate headgear, cowboy kerchief , peekaboo with a baby . .).


Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6

 Kindle. I never have to wonder which books to pack or whether I have enough baggage weight allowance. On my Kindle, I  have hundreds of books with me, including sometimes tour guides for the place I’m visiting.


Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 16GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive(DTSE9H/16GBZ)

Flash drive (with more memory than you think you’ll need). I often need one of these, especially for transferring files to someone else’s computer–maybe for printing a document or giving the other person photos I’ve taken of them. The one that’s pictured isn’t one I have, but I like that there’s no cap to lose and that there’s a ring so I can fasten it to my bag (one less thing to wonder where it is.)


2 Pc. Set Grounding Adapters- Convert 3 prongs to 2

Three-prong adaptor. You never know when you’ll run into a socket that only takes 2 prongs. Then what do you do about recharging your laptop? I keep one of these in my everyday computer bag as well as in my travel electronics bag.


Axis 45504 3 Outlet Indoor Extension Cord, 8 Feet (Brown)

Extension cord. This is another way to add spaces to plug at least 3 more electric items. And often, even in nice places, the closest socket is across the room, so the extension cord brings electricity to where you need it.


Monster 4 Outlet Mini Power Strip

Dual voltage power strip. This is the kind I have. There’s space enough between the sockets to allow for those bulky boxes on some of my electronics. Don’t assume that just any power strip you have at home will work internationally. I embarrassed myself by blowing the fuse twice in a guesthouse in Germany before I figured out that it mattered.


Simran SM-60 110V-250V Universal 3 Outlet Power Strip/Surge Protector for Worldwide Travel with Overload Protection, Black

But I just saw this other travel power strip and I love it that it accommodates almost all the different international plugs.


Travel Smart by Conair M-500E Polarized Adapter Plug Set

 International plug adaptors. Even with a cool power strip like the one above, I’d want to take plug adaptors for plugging something in on the other side of the room, for example.


Household Essentials Hanging Cosmetic and Grooming Travel Bag, Black

Electronics bag. At first glance, you might think this is a cosmetics or jewelry case, but you’d be wrong–at least about mine. Each little compartments is labeled with the electronic device or charger that goes into it, so I know at a glance if anything’s missing before I finish packing.


Travelon Packing Squares - Set of 3

Packing cubes. I used to think these would be a waste of money, till I traveled with someone who used them. Then I was sold. I love the way they fill up the suitcase to the corners and compact stuff just enough so it’s not overflowing the edges of the case. And when I arrive, I pull out all the blouses at one time, or all the trousers, or whatever. It’s a time saver, and I don’t arrive home and say when I’m unpacking, “Oh there’s that scarf. I thought it was in there somewhere!”


Tripods & Heads-Sunpak Mini Spider Tripod

Mini camera tripod. This is another of those items that’s in my purse at home as well as with me when I’m traveling. With the flexible legs, it can adapt to uneven surfaces or wrap around a tree branch. My most common times for using the tripod are when I’m setting up for a self-timed photo or for a video.


What are other things you must have when you’re traveling?

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If you make a purchase after you click on some of the product links in a post or after you use an on-line shopping link in the sidebar, I receive a small commission, which costs you nothing extra. I recommend only items that I think will be of interest to my readers and that I probably have used personally or wish I had.
I hope you’ll also visit my other blog–