We will be leaving on our annual Minnesota-Uganda Dental Mission trip on January 15th (two short weeks from Saturday)!  We have shipped most of our supplies and they have arrived safely (a big hurdle).  The next two weeks will be spent packing for a warm climate which will be a welcome relief from the cold and snow of Minnesota.  I personally am looking forward to spending time with my "Uganda family" of mission trip partners and also to working with and meeting the Ugandan people.

Packing Party !

Planning is well underway and this Sunday we will be gathering for our annual Uganda Packing Party.  We are counting down and are a little over two months from departure.  We are looking forward to another rewarding, trip.

Safe return home.

Today we arrived safely at home in Minnesota, Denver, and Phoenix. We started our journey by traveling to the airport at 7:00PM Uganda time and checking in at the airport. Everything went fairly smooth except that the merger of Northwest and Delta went through while we were in Uganda which caused our seats to get scrambled or needing to be reselected. At the airport we said goodbye to two of our team, Adam and Justin, who were catching a later flight to London and on to Denver. We left Uganda at 10:55PM on our 8 hour plus flight to Amsterdam. At the Amsterdam airport, we said goodbye to Bob, Larry, and Jim who were taking a separate flight to Phoenix and Judy and Tina who flew through Detroit to get back to Minneapolis. After a 5 hour lay over in Amsterdam and another hour delay due to fog, we continued our journey home to Minneapolis via another 8 hour plus flight. During the flights we were able to get caught up on our movie watching, but I at least didn't get any sleep and am looking forward to stretching out in my bed at home. The next few months will be filled with collecting the data from this trip and making plans for next years trip. All in all it was a very successful trip and more importantly a safe trip. Many thanks to all of our sponsors and freinds and family for their support. I will post a few pictures from our mission later this week.

A light Tuesday

Today we saw a light load of Milmay patients totaling 42. We were expecting 91 but that is how it goes sometimes. We were able to give some of the staff at Mildmay much needed dental care to fill out our day. Tomorrow we are scheduled for nearly 100 patients, we will see how it goes. Tonight we are going out to treat ourselves to pizza at Mamamia Pizzeria in downtown Kampala. We are looking forward to it. P.S. Everyone is healthy. We found out today that the change to Delta from Northwest is complete and it screwed up our seats for our flight. We are scrambling to get the information so we can sit together. More later . . .

Back from safari

Today we returned from safari at Paraa Lodge in Murchison Falls Park in northern Uganda. It is about a 6 hour ride in safari vans over pretty good roads for the first 4 hours and the last two hours over washboard roads. We started our safari on Saturday morning leaving Mildmay at 7:00. The roads were much improved from our last visit to Paraa except for a 5 mile stretch where they had recently laid new blacktop with rock topping. To slow down the traffic, they put speed bumps of crushed limestone about 20 feet apart. As you can imagine, this slowed down the traffic considerably. We ate lunch on Saturday at Masindi Hotel in west central Uganda. Continuing on, we drove the remainder of the trip to Murchison Falls Park and stopped at the top of Murchison Falls. Murchison Falls is a waterfalls where the Nile River is compressed into a gorge that is only about 15 feet wide. The water thunders through and is a site to behold. After the falls we continued on to Paraa Lodge which is a short car ferry journey across the Nile. As usual, the lodge provided us with cool wet towels and fresh juice to refresh us after our journey. After a wonderful buffet dinner and swimming in the outdoor pool that overlooks the Nile, we were ready for a good nights sleep. The next day we went on a morning game drive and an afternoon boat cruise on the Nile. We saw many elephants, giraffe, cape buffalo, hartebeast, Cob, and crocodiles. It was a great safari and everyone is recovered from their illnesses. Tomorrow we start back at clinic. Forgot to mention, the weather here has been 90+ degrees! Looking forward to a little cooler weather. In a side note, we were saddened by the departure on Friday by two of our mission friends. Terry found out last week that his father had passed away and he and Pam thought it best to return home. We all wish them the best.

Last day of clinic for the First week

Today was the end of the clinic for the week. We were expecting 40 patients from Mildmay and another 30 from outlying regions. To our surprise, the 30 turned into 70 and we were facing a long day. We were able to reduce the 70 back to 30 and ended the day at 66 patients for a total of 285 for the week. It was a comfortable day and a good week of work. It was a long day for us, but an even longer day for the children from the outlying area. The 70 kids arrived in two vans intended for 15 people each and traveled three hours to get there. Some of our group have gotten sick with illnesses from being in a foreign country but are recovering. My daughter Mackenzie was one of those but with the help of two i.v.s she is recovering and is going on safari with us tomorrow. My wife and I both offered to stay back with her but she is feeling better and wants to go. We leave tomorrow morning at 6:45 and will return late Monday evening. I will right more on our return.

A typical day at Mildmay

Today was a typical day at Mildmay. Mornings start at 7:00 with breakfast followed by chapel at 8:00 with drums and singing. At 8:30 we have our talk about what to expect for the day followed by prayers for safety and strength. Patients start to arrive before we trek up the hill to our clinic. (Their day starts much earlier as some of them come from 3 hours away to attend our clinic.) A good day in clinic will have 60 to 100 hundred patients with 100 patients being our maximum. Today we saw 69 patients for a total of 219 so far. For a treat we had the cooks make us pizza and brownies from supplies we brought from home. It was a treat. Looking forward to the last day of the week for clinic tomorrow. More later . . .

Not your average Wednesday.

Today was not your average Wednesday clinic at Mildmay. We usually have a hard time filling up with patients on Wednesday because the rest of Mildmay clinic is closed on Wednesdays. Because of good scheduling by the staff at Mildmay, we saw 59 patients with the last nine being from a very poor region of Kampala. The last nine patients took three hours + with many extractions, etc.. One girl that we saw (about 8 years of age) had 10 extractions and several fillings. Because of the sugar content of the anti-retroviral drugs that these children take and the lack of a consistent water supply, the tooth decay is rampant. This girl in particular was close to our hearts, she had wood sticks in her pierced ears so we gifted her with earrings from donors back home as a token gift. All in all it was a good day.

A day of Rest ?

Last night we were guests of Paul's sister-in-law Elizabeth in Kampala. It was a wonderful traditional Ugandan meal with rice, potatoes, steak,soda pop, and ice cream. It was a welcome treat. We returned to Mildmay around midnight. This morning we woke at 6:30 to go for a half day trip to Nganza Chimpanzee Sanctuary. It was a relaxing hour boat trip on Lake Victoria (Africa's largest lake and the second largest lake in the world, behind Lake Superior). It was a very informative visit and it was an eye opener to see the Chimpanzees up close in a natural environment. We followed the trip with a good meal at the Botanical gardens and returned to Mildmay by 6:00. We are now ready for three marathon days of 100 or so patients each day. It will be hard work, but that is what we are here for. More later . . .

Boy have we arrived!

We arrived on Friday evening at 9:00 after two very uneventful flights! (Not complaining) After setting up clinic on Saturday, we had Sunday for ourselves to relax and adjust to time change. Some of us decided to go to a resort with a pool, a welcoming relaxation. Monday started with a bang. We usually have a slow ramp up of patients in clinic with our first day being a light day of 50 or so. But this year the staff at Mildmay had prepared for us and we were met with over 90 patients, a very hectic day. We ended our clinic at 8:00, very exhausting. Tonight we are going to Dr. Paul's sister-in-laws so we will have a late night also, but she treats us well. Tomorrow is an off day due to a national holiday. We will have a chance to regroup and do some sightseeing. Some of us are going to the Sese Islands Chimpanzee refuge. More on that later.

Down to the Final Wire

Down to the last week before we go and preparations are winding down. From a personal viewpoint, our luggage is packed and are at the 50# limit. We have Christmas tinsel to tie on everyone's bags so that they stand apart at the airport. Our shipped supplies have arrived safely. We depart Minnesota and Colorado on Thursday and will arrive in Uganda late Friday night. Set up our clinic on the weekend and see our first patients on Tuesday, January 26th. Now one of MY biggest concerns is where to get the Vikings game in Uganda at 2:40AM Monday morning.

GO VIKES ! !! ! !!