I tell of two moms

The ululations echoed back through the walls of the house. They had received the gift and so the ceremony could proceed. This is how I was introduced to the concept, ba Mama or the mothers. Among the Baganda, your mother’s sisters are your mother. All of them combined are your mother. Your mother remained invisible even during your traditional marriage ceremonies, tucked away in the house. Her voice though remains loudest, and so if she rejects the gifts from the prospective in-laws, hang their heads in shame and leave immediately.

As far back as I could remember, my mum and her sister were always together. They fondly referred to each other as, My sister. My earliest memory was her bar on DeWinton Road, Canton Bar and Restaurant. It is from this bar, that we named her, so we hear, Auntie Canton. It was later in life as teenagers that we were calmly corrected that her name was Elsie pronounced as EL-ay-see by the Bakiga. A bit too late, I think. She will always be Auntie Canton. This restaurant with it’s multi colored, multi diamond shaped mural at the front, well polished wood floors and huge orange booth chairs, became our favorite place. The bar man, PK had such an amazing speed of service. All the waiters decked out in white shirts and black well pressed trousers, operated like high speed robots. They added bow ties when there were formal occasions. The kitchen was so huge, so huge. And the backyard opened into an even larger parking lot and an entrance to flats with so many playmates. When Bimbo Ice Cream finally opened on the opposite side, we were set for life. We watched all the Kampala rallies from the verandah of Canton and crossed over to meet the Rally drivers at Bimbo when they came to rejuvenate. For those readers who were not born by then, the first rally race courses were through the streets of Kampala.

My aunt run this establishment with impeccable standards, I am yet to find a kebab that tantalises my taste buds like the ones served at Canton. The drinks were always cold, it did not matter what time of day or night. Those drinks were always chilled to exactly the same temperature. The wooden floors shone so much, that when the sunlight hit the entrance, you could make out your reflection in the floor. The door had a glass partition but never once were there finger print marks on them or single layer of dust. Her glasses were always sparkling, you did not hold a glass from the rim and you most certainly did not bring a client stained or wet glass.

She celebrated her birthday with a ball. We all dressed up, and my cousin Pamela and I were privileged to be flower girls at her party. How glamorous. We were welcomed by Uncle Rukampena, the Master of Ceremonies in his white dinner jacket. He had such a rich baritone, it was a real ball. They had dances like waltz, fox trot. Well, my feet are both left so I could not keep up. It was beautiful to watch the adults glide across the dance floor.

St. Francis Chapel. 4.1.2003

In 1986, this establishment was shut down and my auntie lived in Makerere with us for a while. As an adult, with hindsight, I now recognize this as a difficult season in her life. As a child, I thought this was one long conversation with her sister. Oh my, those sisters could talk. We always wondered if we would talk like them when we grew older. Because they started talking in the morning at breakfast, through lunch, through tea, after supper, they camped at the dining table and continued talking. In the morning, we would find them at the table in the same positions, we bade them good night. Her staying over in my mind, was to attempt to finish this conversation that never ended.

As difficult a season as it was, she did not bow out. She started a retail outlet for ladies’ clothes, enlisted my brothers to go and advertise in the ladies’ halls. She got a steady stream of customers, but she did not settle. Her next target was the ladies in the banks. Did I mention her ironing and sewing skills? She had this ability to turn any garment into as good as new. She leveraged this skill to turn second hand blouses into almost new, and sold them as what we now call first class.

I was privileged to share a room with her, everyone says we are alike. I don’t think so. She was so neat and orderly. She had this ability to sit on a bed and leave it neither dented nor creased.

Whenever we visited Kabale, my dad would point out her home. It looked so forlorn and abandoned for a long time. When she finally returned and we visited, what a transformation. The impeccable gardens, alive with flowers and bees. The grass was well trimmed and looked like a golf course. The wooden floors again, sparkling. The same neatness and orderliness. It became our favorite stop over.

As part of completing a bachelor’s, I needed to conduct research and submit a dissertation. I had no qualms about going to Kabale because my auntie Canton was there. True to form, she welcomed me with open arms. She spared no effort in making me very comfortable. There was a fire every evening when I returned because she knew how cold I got. The meals were ready like clockwork. She ensured my cousins sought a very trustworthy boda boda guy, she said she could not trust those Bakiga men with her niece. And indeed Sadayo proved to be very helpful and resourceful in asking the questions and finding respondents.

She spared no effort in teaching me everything she knew. Every moment was a teaching moment. She found me ironing one time, or should I say attempting to iron. She took over the iron and showed me exactly how to get a crease free ironing everytime. My mother was never too far away from her sister, she always reminded me how privileged I was and to pay attention because I was learning from the best.

On my wedding day, she was unwell but there was no missing embaga ya Kemirimo. She had given my cousin, very strict instructions about her outfit. She came to the wedding dressed like the Queen Mother but she had strained herself to come and had to go back home to rest before the official photos. I don’t have her in the pictures outside the Church.

My auntie Canton, how she loved me so. It was such a humbling gesture.

On 28th April 2011, I received a phone call and my dear Auntie Canton had passed on. On 28th August 2014, I received a phone call and my dear mum had passed on. Even in death, they remained, sisters.

The Perfect Bow

The Myth of Retirement. Part III

I love neat bows. They appeal to the perfectionist in me, everything appears to come together when a bow is neatly done. Also, to achieve a neat bow, usually the packaging is neatly done. It takes time, effort and precision to get it just right.

Credit: Pinterest

I learnt to tie a bow in nursery school, it was a coming of age milestone. No longer would I have to wait for an adult to do my shoe laces, I could them all by myself. How exciting this was! I quickly realized that the bow was simply a small part of the process. Some of my caretakers were not as careful with bows as I was and they simply did the bare minimum to ensure the shoe did not slip off my foot. I was horrified to find that the two ends of the bow were uneven, not once, not twice, but most of the time. That right there was not good. So my bow was always lopsided.

How did one go about correcting this. I observed how laces were put in the shoes and practiced, over and over till I got it. This was in the time when we all wore BATA and shoe laces were made out of cotton. Cotton has the amazing ability to do what it is expected. Nylon, polyester and all other forms synthetic fabrics do not always perform to par. So the bow is always lopsided.

As a young person, you are usually given a linear path expectation. You start off in Nursery, then join primary, secondary and later university and get a job. This path loops very perfectly like a neat bow till you get a job. Sometimes it doesn’t, you fail a major exam and cannot complete that section of school. Or you are too ill to attend regular school. Or maybe you lose a guardian or parent and you are unable to pay the school fees. Or you are not admitted to the school of your choice. Or you do not get the subjects of your choice. Whatever it is, the path is not linear. And so your bow is lopsided.

This same false hope is cultivated when you start work, a linear path. You find yourself in a holding pattern, waiting for the Control Tower to confirm that your plane may land. When I finish this set of qualifications, I shall leave this job. When I have this amount of money saved up, I shall retire. When I am done with this project, I shall embark on this and that. The holding pattern begins, because life is not linear. It’s all fine and dandy till you curve balls and bends are littered along your path. And so your bow shall be lopsided.

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

John 19:30 NKJV

Jesus says this on the cross-one of his dying phrases. His redeeming work is complete and He dies. What a way to die, He even finished His work. And said last words. Such a neat bow. Only that three days later, He resurrects and on Ascension day gives His disciples instructions to make disciples of all the nations and take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

The laces are undone.

What just happened?’Didn’t He say it is finished?’ ‘Shouldn’t we be chilling in paradise with nojitos?‘ ‘Never ending sunsets?’ Apparently, not, Jesus is still working. We still have work to do. When your laces come undone, get on one knee, re-do the bow, get back to work.

A celebration of my midwife: Sorry, I didn’t get your name

My gynaecologist, Dr Biryabarema had given instructions that I should check in on 7th November, whether or not I was in labour. Both my sons, as described by my brother, seemed to enjoy 1st class facilities in my womb and they never arrived on their due dates. This was the case that morning.

We arrived to a very quiet Ward 5&6, at Mulago Hospital. This was rare but there we were. I plonked myself on the bench and waited for the doctor. She came sweeping in a few minutes later, she never walks, she kind of glides through that hospital. She saw me, paused, greeted us mid-glide and off she went to begin admissions.

The ward was full so I was taken directly into the labour room as we waited for a bed or room. My things would have to remain in the car, I had my little (light enough to fit in aircraft hand luggage) emergency bag, so I had all I needed until the baby arrived. Triage. Bed next to window. No more eating. Only black tea. You know the drill. Aye, aye, Captain.

The midwife, burst in and started to check on the patients. I could not see her but I could hear her frenzied movements. One of the ladies was having a difficult labour, she needed to be prepped for theatre. The one next to me was progressing well. Nothing was happening on my side, so I was to be induced, no use being in the labour ward doing nothing. This is not a resort. With such swift efficiency, she had identified the vein (usually takes about 20 minutes for any vein to show up on my arm) and connected it to the line. Off she went.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

When she returned, a few minutes later with a colleague from another ward. She gave her instructions on what to do while she prepped herself for theatre. Apparently, the other nurses and midwives had not shown up for duty and she was on duty alone. I was not a risk, she was to keep checking on how the contractions were progressing. She was to monitor the lady next to me keenly to ensure that nothing went wrong. Right? Right? Scrubs on. She moved to surgery with the lady opposite me.

My faithful labour ward companion showed up and the stories started. Laughter and jokes. Catching up on the news. She remembered she had an Auntie who was a nurse. She left to go check on her. On their return, they found the fill in nurse and both agreed I was still far from active labour. I should take it easy, drink more black tea and rest if I felt tired. It was starting to sound like a resort after all.

The mid wife came back, this time she is on phone checking on how far her child is in the queue to see the doctor. She had left her baby with the maid in a queue in the Paediatric clinic. Her maid also needed to go queue up in the eye clinic before it closed. She ceased to be the midwife and became a mother, a wife, a woman to me. Well, she didn’t have time for that, my neighbor had to be rushed for an emergency C-section. Back to theatre.

My mum came in, and another round of stories started and more jokes. I had some slight pain but not discomforting and neither was it electrifying. Our auntie Sister passes by and finds me laughing with everyone, ‘you are still laughing, you are not about!’ She smiles and leaves.

‘Madam, you were not feeling the baby’s head?’, the midwife asked after taking a peak in between my legs. Is that what it was? I thought to myself. ‘Eh, your baby is ready to come out, prepare to bear down,’ she exclaims as she snaps on a fresh pair of gloves. ‘What does bear down mean again? I wonder. ‘Wama, mummy ono jangu omuyambe aterere, tugenda kuzala kati, omutwe gwa baby guguno’. My mum, woke up as if from slumber, gave quick instructions and at once l was ready. Did I mention my mother gave birth to my baby brother at home by herself? So there we are, from smiling to active labour. My husband and faithful companion had gone to bring up the luggage, we had found a room. Boy, were they in for the shock of their lives.

‘Ok, on the count of three, push’. I pushed. ‘Ok hold it, there is something obstructing the baby:. I thank God that at this time, the nerves go on some vacation and it’s only the contractions that I could feel. Her hands go in and out comes my baby.

The cord had been wrapped round his neck, she had unwound it. I pushed and out he came with such force and a loud cry. She quickly rushed him off. Following closely at her heels, was my mother aka Kaaka to my son, Baby Joe. She run the APGAR assessment and he scored highly. Ever the calm baby, he cried a bit and slept off.

She returned for what we describe as the second labour. The delivery of the placenta. The placenta had been severed from my baby but not from me. Now it had to be torn from my womb. With a few twists and turns, it started to severe and finally it was out. She put it away and cleaned up all the blood. Within micro seconds, the room was back to normal. No bloody mess, just one exhausted mum. My faithful companion walks in to let me know that the room had been allocated and was ready. She inquired, ‘how far?’ lol. I asked her whether she hadn’t seen my mum with a baby. :Eeehhh’, she exclaimed!

I don’t remember the name of my midwife. I will remember the waiter with the tag. I will remember the boda boda guy who told me his name. But I will not remember the name of the lady who saved me and my baby. Maybe I should have been more conscious of others than I was of my pain. For all the what ifs, I still did not get her name and for that I am sorry.

Thank you dear midwives for your care and love.

Shattered glass

Butter fingers. Soft, tender and dreamily melting in the mouth butter. It started with a cabbage that literally flew like a missile out of my hands into next stall, knocked over a bowl (katasa) of tomatoes, rolled into the peppers then somersaulted into the carrots. The drama of that cabbage.🙄 The stall owner totally unamused, narrowed her eyes and gave me THE LOOK! (For shame). But Jesus took my shame. I quickly gathered my fingers and wits, apologised profusely and rescued the errant cabbage.

This morning I broke a glass. Well, I wouldn’t quite say that I broke it. That would imply malice and aforethought. It slipped out of my fingers. Well, not quite slipped either. Let’s say, it bounced on and off my fingers, danced onto my finger tips and as we were just getting the hang of this waltz, it slipped off. And slid to the floor, where it made the most earth shattering noise! What had been a very quiet morning, was rudely interrupted by the crash and subsequent splattering of glass everywhere. Ssshhhhh

Photo credit: Pinterest

Why can’t glass keep silent as it shatters? Why does it have to spread every where? Why are the pieces so tiny? How do the pieces get into all those hard to reach crevices and nooks? Why is glass transparent?

The Quiet returns. But my mind was undulated as all these thoughts and more started to race through it. I quickly run to sweep up the glass shards. I had to do it quickly and swiftly. Because my once happy go to glass, was now a danger to anyone who came near it. Like porcupine quills, it’s shards keep everyone far away.

I sweep the debris into the dustpan. Sweep again to get any remaining pieces . Sweep again, this time, further away, shards do fly! The last sweep brings no glass. We are done with the cleanup. I get back to putting away the other glasses.

In that moment, I realized I could vow to never touch a glass again. I could make it public. I could even get accountability partners. I could give away all the glasses I have and replace them with all this trendy almost but not glass things. I could even sit my children, nieces and nephews down and lecture them on the dangers of glass and implore them to stay away from glass. Why? Because glass is dangerous. It shatters.

But then who sits and wails over a broken glass. Who calls their friend for comfort over a broken glass? A broken glass is replaceable and life it goes on.

Well, my dear reader, so it is with every other failure. Yes, it may seem like the world is coming to an end. It may seem like without this opportunity, you have reached the end of your road. Shame. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Not so.

Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it, is what makes the difference.

Virginia Satir

Because you carry around a mental image of a picture perfect life, failure will rattle you to your core. Take time to mourn your broken glass. Gather up the shards so you are not bleeding on people who didn’t hurt you. Pick the lesson and dispose of the debris. Soul debris takes a while to unravel, like pieces of glass hidden in the crevices, you keep finding bits you didn’t know we’re there. Trust the process.

When you are ready, put the rest of the glasses away. Or better yet, pour your favorite drink and savor the taste of goodness.

Vanilla Essence

Or maybe I should call it The myth of retirement. Part 1. All through school, we always heard about and planned for retirement at some ripe old age. It was the utopian idea that at this age, one would have time to take all those holidays they missed, take a cruise around the world, run a farm and maybe play golf all day. Getting into the fast and furious rat race, I quickly realized this was too good to be true. There was just no one around me who lived like this. The only pensioners I knew were in their homes, in Kabale, where my parents grew up. And they were still very active in the political and economic life of Kigezi. Plus, the only reason I knew they were pensioners was because they were always coming to Kampala to fill out some forms to enable them to get their pension. This journey is about 500kms and because the roads were worse for wear, it took almost 24 hrs. All of my life. 😏

So what was retirement then? Did it simply mean that I was too old for formal employment? Not everyone is was formally employed, some were self employed. There, lived around the periphery of Makerere University, a group of elderly Batooro men who peddled anything and everything. One of the peddled recycled bottles, he collected glass bottles from our households, at that time everything was bottled in glass. He cleaned them up and sold them off. Would he retire? When would he retire? My nanny, was so old, Maria, bless her heart. She plucked out all my milk teeth, never needed a dentist. Would she retire as well? When would she retire?

Then came the Structural Adjustment Programs that saw the massive layoffs of public servants. They were given severance pay and overnight, they were no longer civil servants. Were they retired? Apparently, they were. But they were too young for cruises and yet too old for their former jobs. They reinvented the wheel. Early retirement became an option.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is a description of the buzz around me when I decided to retire. Nevertheless, when I opted to retire, time took on an elastic quality. I would have all the time to do everything, I had wanted to do. So I bought vanilla essence. I was going to be baking fresh muffins for breakfast and desserts for my family, so they could also live the life. I have a very sweet tooth.  It did not help matters that one of my retirement gifts was a desserts recipe book.  I would like to take a moment here and laugh 😂🤣 at this plan. Four years down the road, the essence is a running joke among my sons. I never baked a cake or dessert or any such thing.

…Life it goes on

Robert Frost

School schedules remained the same. Traffic jam remained the same. The earth still orbited the sun for 24 hrs. The dry and rainy seasons still remained. The visa application process for those long boat cruises remained just as rigorous if not more. Morning routines remained. Meal times remained.

And so it was that I found myself grappling with the word retirement and its meaning. Would it vanish like Santa and the tooth fairy? Only to reappear when my own children were learning about milk teeth and Christmas gifts. Would it be deleted from my word bank? Would it take on a new meaning? The Jews had been waiting for the Messiah, there were prophecies by great famous prophets like Elijah and Isaiah and little known ones like Micah and Joel. This Jesus who had just fed over five thousand of them with two fish and five loaves, might be the one. They followed Jesus in small boats across the Sea of Tiberius to Capernaum. After all, Moses had fed their forefathers with manna, surely Jesus could do better. Maybe He could even show them how He did it.

Jesus answered, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.”
John 6:29 AMP

Surely, it could not be that simple. There should be a miracle he could perform. But, just like it was for me, the realisation that life is the journey of believing and trusting in Jesus is the ultimate mythbuster. Many of them walked away that day. Ultimately, the goal of life is not retirement but to believe in Jesus. Totally blew my sails out! This was not what I was expecting but it was how I had always lived. So if I had lived this way, was living this way, surely I should continue to live like so?

The essence of life is to believe in Jesus, the One sent by God. The Bread of life that satisfies my hungry soul.

A tale of how salary conspired against me.

It all began a long time ago; once a upon a December, I received a call asking me to pick my appointment letter. My parents were very excited, I was working, finally! My linear progression scale also agreed- kindergarten- check, primary school-check, O’level-check, A’level-check, bachelor’s degree-check. All checked. I picked my letter with a litany of requirements, one of them was opening a bank account. My dad wrote my reference to his bankers and it should have been easy, only this was a long time ago. I needed to explain why I wanted to open the account and what the purpose of the account was. And so began the games that salary would play with me. Each account had charges, minimum bank balances and an insy, winsy bit of interest. I selected the one that only required one letter of reference, it had no interest and required an immediate deposit for it to be opened. I was already indebted to myself, or was it the bank, before I even started working. Never forget salary.

Do not wait till your first job, start saving on all monies you receive.

Moral. ⚠

The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7 NKJV

And with that sorted, we started work. Salary was sometimes late, sometimes early, sometimes just on time. Salary and time were clearly having issues. I decided to work with time, because well, time was more predictable. Salary’s mood swings were legendary, every one complained about her, whenever we were with time. Which was always.

Your most constant resource is time. If you manage your time well, money shall follow.

Moral ⚠

So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes.
Ephesians 5:15‭-‬16 TPT

It was not long before I was introduced to advance. The office grape vine always has a vine dedicated to options that are available to maintain your current and dream lifestyle. So advance, had limits and could be contained within your salary for one month. Well, that did not sound too bad. Let us try this advance. And advance😀 was always on time. Advance was always in a good mood, it was easier than accounts opening. You even received a phone call when advance was paid. Wow. Advance became my new best friend, goodbye salary! But Advance was jealous, very jealous. I had so many conversations about my relationship with salary, and told advance it was nothing personal but I owed salary alot in life. Well, that did not go down well, advance started to sabotage my dreams. The more, I pursued advance, the less I had to spend on my lifestyle. Salary was constantly complaining because the bills were piling up and we could not keep up.

Advance is debt. Stay away from advance on your salary. Choose contentment.

Moral ⚠

Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.
Proverbs 21:17 NLT

With the ‘millennium bug’, came new innovations. The first one being a salary account, all one needed was a letter of reference ans, voila you had an account. It had no minimum balance and minimal charges on withdrawal. Little did we know, this was a setup.

Not all that glitters is gold. Read the fine print. Read the times.

Word to the wise ⚠

The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5 NKJV

In they came, trip trapping on our bridges, unmoved by our troll nature. They walked in, all suave and kempt, high heeled and polished. They spoke English English, a bit accented and their words rolled off their tongues like it was their mother tongue. Once in a while, they switched to their mother tongue, fluidity just. The latest crop of banking relationship managers ushered in by the ‘millennium bug’ and the Great Recession aka the Crash of 2008. They sold us salary loans. If you had a salary account, it was easy peasy. Sign here, sign here, and voila, within four days, you could be a millionaire! If you did not, it might take slightly longer, more signatures, but you too could join the club. ✒️? So it was, that within a few months, we were all millionaires. It took us a few years to catch on that interest rate, the one in tiny letters that you could not read, was not our friend. By then, most of us were so indebted, even advance would not pick our calls. We had mortgaged our future. And we still had to live in it.

Salary loans are an overdrawn future. Walk away from debt.

Moral ⚠

A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
Proverbs 22:3 MSG

Promotion and an adjusted salary structure brought great reprieve. The same relationship manager who once ruthlessly sold loans to beat targets advised to defer gratification and save over time to achieve my goals. He gave the illustration of the cumulative effect of saving over the same period vis a vis paying off a loan. And without the interest component, wow. It looked doable. I could also wait, even with inflation, the cost was so much lower. That’s how I started saving.

Never spend your money before you have it

Thomas Jefferson ⚠

The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.
Proverbs 21:20 NLT

So there is this series being run by Worship Harvest Ministries, catch it here if you have not yet watched it.

TGIF

I hated Mondays, dreaded Mondays. There was just something about Mondays that was dreary- the jam was too heavy, the tea was cold, and the alarm never ever sounded when it should have-I always arrived in office in a huff! Thursdays were always brilliant days, it was the day before Friday- such a lovely day, Friday. I got to do the things I loved after Friday- that is until I met a group of people who lived for Mondays.

Joining the work force, my script read ‘I hate Mondays,’ it even came with a t-shirt. My role was to carry a scowl on Monday that would slowly transform into a brilliant smile by Friday. I was born for this role. I loved it.

Some where in the vague memory of my kindergarten years, even in my foggiest part, this song will play. I sang it and performed it for my parents, gleefully with all the actions. Ad nauseum.

Slave, Slave in America

Working day-,day and night,

Planting sugar-,sugar and tea,

When I was in America.

Later, in life, I wonder why we sang this song at all and its sum total value, but I was way past my formative years and it was clear, there would be no America for me.

Even though America was deleted as an option for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,- working day and night became equal to slavery. The pursuit of happiness was what my 8-5 work week was, I went through the drudgery of work to enjoy by blissful weekends.

THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY!

That is until I met a group of people who loved Mondays. These people were high on something, all excited and uppity on a Monday. They had big plans for the week and high hopes. They were go-getters. My bosses who always saw things in me that I didn’t, placed me in this team.

Oh my, it was harrowing at first. At first, and then it got a bit exciting. Just a bit.

The team leader had a right fit mentality, she placed people where they fit best for team and for their competencies. She was quick to catch on my love for data and systems, the last person had gone on leave. I was immediately placed in her role. Big shoes to fill because this was the year BC, Before Computers. Everything was calculated manually first and then you lined up for the few computers. Did I mention that this team loved their work? Getting to a computer was a hustle, however, I had a window of opportunity, each time they went to the field, I had the computer to myself. Life was good.

Not only did these guys love Mondays, they loved Fridays. The goal was to have all reports in by midday, Friday. Friday afternoons in office were ghostly, yes, with skeleton staff. These guys partied hard. My kinda people. So we worked hard and we partied hard, Monday morning, we all appeared fresh and pimped for the week. If you are looking for the leaves we were chewing, check out @living la vida loca.

As a testimony to Newton’s 3rd law of motion, the party extended across borders. I would board Akamba for Nairobi on Friday and be back, Sunday evening. For all the energy I was expending at work, I needed an equivalent amount or even more happiness to replenish it. Nairobi, it was.

TGIF reloaded.

True to Ricky Martin’s lyrics, she wore me out. You cannot keep those wheels on the bus running, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. This was slave, slave, slave all over again. I gave Ricky Martin back his leaves, lyrics and t-shirt. I picked up Kenny Roger’s The Gambler, I knew when to walk away.

There is a series running at Worship Harvest called #somekamoney. Check it out here,no more slave, slave, slave.

Working the works of God

Jesus was speaking to some Jews, according to John, who asked Him this question that always struck me as strange, odd even. It always seemed so out of context. I thought well, Jesus, who is graciousness personified, was being gracious to the askers. What did they mean by working the works of God?

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, ” This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

John 6:28-29 NKJV

So there is this series at Worship Harvest #SomeKaMoney, started this August 2020. If you have not listened to it, you can start right here.

Sunday morning, keenly paying attention to the sermon and boom! It hits me that to the Jews, work was their way of extending the kingdom of God. It is why they ask Jesus after he has miraculously fed them, all five thousand of them, how they can work it? Their response to the miraculous was wonder and desire to replicate.

One of my history classes had very inquisitive minds. They did not accept regular answers and always asked why? The lessons were filled with so many seemingly unconnected whys. I decided rather than waste this opportunity, let us delve into the theory of evolution. At which point, of course, with the many whys, they became the several theories of evolution. In order to prepare for the lesson, I also had to really delve so as to sufficiently answer each child’s questions. I read about Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos islands and his journal entries and drawings of the finches. Suddenly, my world was filled with wonder at the magnificence and greatness and forethought of God.

These finches were spoken into being, (Genesis 1:20-23) on the fifth day. Not only were they distinguished from eagles, parrots, hens and humming birds by the Word of God. They carried within themselves, the ability to adapt and survive in their different environments. Darwin spent five years observing them, it must have been such a wondrous thing to behold. His observation led him to write his paper, The Origin of Species, which to date has caused quite a stir.

Source: Pinterest

In both instances, Darwin’s and the Jews, the wonder of creation created a desire that got them working. It created a passion that caused them to create. Why then do we separate, our wonder from our work? It is not possible. All work begins with wonder, the possibility of greatness. The possibility of bringing happiness to a soul.

Have you paused to think about why you work? Well Genesis 1, tells us that God paused at the end of each day and saw that His work was good. Is it any wonder then that Peter says of Jesus ‘he went about doing good..’ while speaking at the house of Cornelius. (Acts 10:38). Paul writing to the Ephesians exhorts them and us to remember that we are ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works’. Paul also writing to the Philippians encourages them that ‘it is God who works in you both to will and to do. God worked because He is good and loves to do good.

Why do you work? And why should you work? Work is our response to the greatness of God. Like the heavens, David writes about, declare the glory of God. (Psalm 19:1). Our work declares the glory of God.

Fully known

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Psalms 139:13‭-‬15 NKJV

I made up my mind, that I was in a waiting space and when the time was right, like Elizabeth, my sons would come. Of course, everyone is asking how do you know they will be boys? Or inviting me to more prayers for the barren. I simply told them, I am not barren. This was the promise God made to those who obeyed Him, there shall be none barren among you.( Exodus 23:26) Loads of eyes rolling and angst because these conversations tired me. For crying out loud, I had done it all. Alllll! I even had notes.

I got into a space where random people would walk up to me and tell me how they dreamt that I was pregnant. Or they would see me holding a baby. I had been there, done that so I didn’t find it as fascinating as I should have. I would get into prayer meetings and they would pray for me. I would visit someone and it would end up being a prayer meeting. I was like Jacob, the Lord was in this place and I knew it not. God has jokes.

One Friday, I purposed to go to Rubaga Miracle Centre for the overnight. I had spent many overnights there while still a university student. I missed the fire and the noise and just being in a space where believers expected miracles. So I went. It was awesome, never to disappoint. The prayer time. The praise and worship, wooow. The testimonies. Pastor Robert Kayanja came on started ministering to several categories of people, and he called up women who had been told by doctors that they would not give birth. He went on to affirm that as Christians, we are not barren because the Bible says they shall be none barren among you. I knew this was the mother of all setups, so I walked to the front. I just need you to know that if for any reason he had said those words in a different way, I was not leaving my seat. He was not in a hurry, for some reason that overnight was live streaming so we were on cameras. He tells us to imagine we are holding our babies in our hands and rock them to sleep, sing to them. This was like for eternity. He invited the rest of the church not to spectate but to pray. So there we are with our arms cradling babies, we have called forth. Then he says, you have received your expectation, you may go. And back we went to our seats. Only we were received like conquering heroes, there was a loud cheer. A friend of mine, I didn’t know was at the overnight, came running to hug me. Wooowww!

Photo Credit: Pintrest

I took to spending Saturday mornings or afternoons with my mother in town. There were always errands to run in Kampala and home was a convenient stop over. My mother loved my company and I hers, so it worked for both of us. This one Saturday, I decided to head to Nakasero market first, because it could get really crowded. However, I could not get in at my usual 5am because I needed to get Mpafu, a type of fig, from the lower market which did not open till later. By the time, I got there it was crowded. Oh well. Off to see mummy. I spent a whole day there, hoping the traffic will ease so I get in at about 5 pm. My mum asks me what it is I must buy from the market that I could not get in another market. I tell her mpafu, she laughed and told me how I was becoming like her. When she was expecting me, she used to go to that same lady, early in the morning to get mpafu. Hahaha.

I went to the market, picked my mpafu and debated whether to take a pregnancy test. I decided, if not, why not? Headed to SAS clinic and did the test. The waiting was of, real butterflies, my hands were shaking literally. I started shivering but I was determined to maintain composure. Thankfully, the clinic traffic was low. I was the only client in the lab. It was a short wait. The test was positive.

I can’t hear youuuu, louder doctor. Did you say positive? Whenever I receive news that I didn’t anticipate, my ears get a humming sound and all sound is like an echo or buzzing. I was going through that.

I could see the doctor smiling and going on about something. It’s positive. All my years of waiting had ended. Just like that. The doctor recommended a scan to confirm and I am like, sure. Scans are good things. I was at peace with the world. All things were good. I have no problem.

Elated. Out onto the street. Excited. Up the stairs. Exhilarating. Onto the bed. Cold gel. Experience loading.

There he was. My baby. Just a bleep. Such a beautiful, black and white bleep. 7 weeks. God bless the creator of scans.

Through a glass darkly

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV

This week, we celebrate National Fertility Awareness Week. My story has been long in coming, here we are.

Photocredit: Pintrest

Where does one start this story, I guess from the onset of my menses. I was 12 years old, on my way to cookery classes, it was raining. I thought this is really an odd place for rain to drip through. When I got to my cousin’s apartment, right next to the cookery school, I rushed to the bathroom, checked and there was the dreaded red stain. The stain that made girls wear sweaters around their waists all through class. The stain that caused giggles among boys and attracted stares during lunchtime.

I thanked God, there were no stares. Only the privacy of my cousin’s bathroom. I cleaned up and used a makeshift pad from toilet paper. I was not sure how to tell my cousin, we had never talked about these things. Strange now that I think about it. I just needed to get through the day and tell mummy. And so it was, mummy was so excited. I, on the other hand, I am perplexed about what she is going on all about. My parents took us out for Chinese lunch, we did this every Saturday, this time though it was a celebration of my becoming a woman. There I am marveling, wow, who knew this came through that stain. I should be shouting it on the rooftops, like some sort of trophy.

They set me on the coolest path. I decided this would be the heritage for my daughters. No fear. No shame. Just a celebration of womanhood.

Celebrate it was until I got into an all-girls boarding school and the drudgery began. We had pit latrines but because pads do not decompose, the pits would fill up. It was expensive and dangerous to empty them frequently. So it was decided that we get pad bins, and use the incinerators to burn them up. Walking with a smelly, bloody pad from the latrine to the bin. The smell when they burnt…..not cool. Not cool at all. My mum totally unfazed, did not blink as I lamented and suggested tampons. And it was bliss once again. I still had to live with the smell of burning pads but c’est la vie!

Most of my peers had very predictable patterns, they knew when their menses started and ended. They also knew when they were ovulating. It was fascinating to watch them, like little examples in textbooks.

I, on the other hand, never to be bothered. When they came, we called her, Auntie Flow. When auntie Flow visited, she was well received. If she did not visit, there were all manner of reasons; stress, anxiety, diet, too much exercise, not enough exercise…or just phew…I had run out of tampons anyway. This went on till I met a guy.

He came from a family with so many girls, so many aunts, so many female cousins. He was all too familiar with the cycles. He thought it was not normal. I was like, tell me something, I don’t know. He says, gynecologists, fix this. The last time I had visited a gyn, had been about hemorrhoids and he had done a great job relieving my pain and I didn’t have them anymore.

Let’s. I said and off we went to visit a young but very good gyn. Dr. Pius Okongo. He had an awesome bed side manner. It was like this could be resolved by drinking water. Such a great person to meet. He asks me to chart my cycle, apparently it was something I should have done. Who knew. I take the chart home and start. Hahaha. I don’t know what that was, over six months, nothing looked like the other. I thought, well he is the expert, he will make sense of it.

You are laying eggs, was the easiest way he could explain what was going on. In his estimation, it was a miracle, I even had menses because not only did the eggs have a mind of their own. The two hormones were not talking to each other. I wish I had paid more attention in Biology. Maybe studied medicine. This would be so easy to understand. The good news was there were options to try to correct all his. He says all these things like he is telling you to go get water from the dispenser. How I wish.

Hormonal therapy is a nightmare. I got all the symptoms, I was a walking diary of a mad black woman, Godzilla, and sullen Sally. I gained weight and proceeded to shed it all off, I went from a size 16 to a size 8. My skin broke out and I darkened. As you can imagine, the jury was out. What is happening to you? Are you well? Urm, yes, just hormonal. Eventually, the guy could not take it, I think and out he walked. At this point, I am on some injection that is imported specifically for me. I get a prescription from Dr. Pius and head off to National Medical Stores, buy it and go back to the clinic to be injected. I had crazy hot flushes for over two years, after stopping the injection. I had to change my diet, I became allergic to chocolate. Dairy caused bloating. I love dairy, it makes me so happy to stuff myself with all manner of cheese. I could only look at it wistfully. No more chocolate, no more cake, no more ice cream.

What is life to me without thee?

Dr Pius, asked me, whether we were trying for a baby? I am looking at him like, we who is we? I am here to correct a cycle. He advised that I did not need to have a text book cycle but rather regular pattern. And it changes all the time, so the best time to come would be when trying for a baby. I thank God for Dr. Pius. I walked out a liberated woman. There would be no more hormone therapy for me.