Mzungu Memoirs

Archive for November, 2010

Passport Application + Travel Vaccinations = Pizza!

In our preparations to head overseas, there is a lot to be done.  But two of the most important tasks and the two that most directly affect Caleb are getting his passport and getting our travel vaccinations.  In an effort to be efficient with our resources, in this case our time and gas, I scheduled both of these items in the same afternoon.

The first stop was the Passport Application Office, a.k.a the U.S. Post Office.  Unfortunately, you can’t go to just any Post Office.  It has to be one with a Passport Office, and you have to make an appointment.  Fortunately, I was aware of this because I had done some online research.  After diligently filling out the application at home (it took me three tries on the second page), we trekked over to the Post Office.  Unfortunately, the closest one with a Passport Office is in Round Rock 17 1/2 miles way.  And all three of us (Robert, Caleb and I) had to go because both Robert and I had to be present to sign the application in front of the Post Office official.

We arrived for our appointment a little early, but we didn’t have to wait long (at the post office, believe it or not).  When it was our turn, Robert and I had to swear we were who we said we were and had authority to apply for Caleb’s passport.  Yes, we had to raise our right hands and everything.  The whole thing went off without a hitch, and we should be getting Caleb’s passport in four to six weeks.

First task down.  On to the second task, the one I was really dreading.

I had allowed plenty of time to get from the post office to the Travel Health office, and since we were early for our first appointment, we were even earlier for our second.  But we didn’t have to wait too long there either.

We were called back to a nice little office complete with a huge world map.  I mean, it took up an entire wall, floor to ceiling.  It caught Caleb’s attention right away.  We tried to get him to point out Uganda, but because the countries were not distinguished by different colors like they are on his globe, he had a little trouble finding it.  Then he found the snacks, and that kept him busy while Mom and Dad took care of business with the nurse.

We had a wonderful nurse who talked us through all the vaccinations that Caleb and I would need (Robert has all of them already) as well other necessary precautions like spraying against mosquitoes and our malaria medication options.  We even talked about how to wash foods so they can be consumed fresh, as opposed to being cooked or peeled.

Then it came down to actually getting the shots.  The nurse suggested that Caleb go first, “to show Mommy how it is done” (and so he wouldn’t see the needle that Mommy would be getting poked with).  Caleb sat in Daddy’s lap.  Daddy wrapped his arms around Caleb’s, and Mommy held Caleb’s hand.  Unfortunately, with that first poke, Caleb lurched forward and the needle slipped out so the nurse essentially had to poke him again.  Some of the serum came out before the nurse could get the needle back in, but she assured us that she hadn’t lost much so Caleb should be fine.  Then it was Mommy’s turn, and Caleb held Mommy’s hand to help her be brave.

But there were two shots to be given, and Caleb really didn’t like that idea.  We had promised Caleb that if he was a brave boy and got his shots he could get some ice cream afterward.  Since he had to get a second one (and the first one hadn’t gone so well), we threw in pizza as well.  But I think what really helped was trick the nurse taught him.  If you take a big breath in and blow it out really hard like you are blowing out candles on a birthday cake, you don’t feel the prick of the needle.  We set up again with Daddy holding Caleb’s arms and Mommy holding Caleb’s hand.  Caleb was working so hard on taking in a deep enough breath and blowing out those pretend candles that he didn’t even feel the second prick.  Mommy was next but she didn’t try the breathing trick.  Maybe she should next time.

So, since Caleb was such a brave boy, we took him to GattiLand (think Chuck E. Cheese, Texas style) for pizza.  And he forgot all about the ice cream, and hopefully the shots too because we have to go back for two more.

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Garage Sale

My mother has what we affectionately call the Pack Rat Gene.  Now i’m not sure if it is inherent nature or more like a disease, but I do know that it is genetic because I have it too.  But I have found a cure:  commit to a long term mission trip.  And one of the treatments is to have a good old fashioned garage sale.

I had my third round of treatment this past weekend.  It was a joint garage sale with my mother.  We called it an “extended family” garage sale as opposed to the common “multi family” variety.

Now, Robert and I have been sorting and purging all summer long.  A common question in our house has become, “Do we really need to keep this?”  But this was my mother’s first round of treatment in a while and the first one where she took the time to really go through some of the deep dark corners of her house.

It was a tenuous start at first, and of course the bulk of the effort was done at the last minute.  By the time we had finished gathering things together, we had accumulated quite a pile.  It was stuff that my mother had been meaning to go through for a while, and there are still some dark corners that we didn’t get to.  But the reason she hadn’t gotten around to it before was that she didn’t have anyone to encourage her and to sort through all the stuff with her.  It’s the same with any major medical treatment like chemotherapy.  Medical experts say you should have someone to sit with you through it for encouragement and company as well as a larger support network.

It reminds me of this journey we call Christianity.  Whether you are called to be a part of a congregation here in the States or to join the mission field overseas, we don’t have to do it alone.  Jesus created the ultimate support network when he established the church.  Let us always remember to call upon our brothers and sisters when we need someone to help us through the treatments of life so we can all be together in the cure of everlasting life with Christ.

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