Saturday, May 29, 2010

From the Archives

Saturday's are a special day for me as of late. I do a little something I call "Uganda Saturdays." It's a time that I spend looking at pictures, watching videos, and reading my trip journals. It's been so helpful in getting me through this illness. I look forward to the time I spend replaying the stories in my memory.

Today I want to share a story from this last trip. Anyone who has heard us speak recently may have heard my mom's version of this story, but I'd like to give you mine. So ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Wow your hair smells good!

We were in Bugongi. Oh, Bugongi. With it's rolling green hills and plentiful banana plantations. We had been there for about 5 days and were taking a much needed break after working with AMG kids at the Saturday morning program. We had a little bit of time after we ate to just relax, so I decided it would be a good time to bathe. When the team had woke up that morning there was no water (the country was experiencing a drought and often the water and electricity would be shut off without notice).

Our "shower" was a spigot about 2 feet off the ground. So washing my hair involved being fully clothed, kneeling down and holding my head, face down, under the spigot.

Which doesn't really sound so hard, but when you add in there that we must avoid getting water in our eyes, nose, and mouth, it complicates things.

So I turned on the water, wet my hair, then turned the water off again while I lathered it up with shampoo...

With my soapy head under the fawcet, I reached my left hand up to turn the nob. I turned it. Nothing. So I turned it more. And then a little more, and a little more. Still nothing.

"Are you kidding me?!"

And since the walls in the office building we were staying in didn't go all the way up to the ceiling my teammates heard this, and asked what was wrong.

"There's no water, and there's shampoo in my hair, so..."

But our team...we're like the boyscouts, and we were prepared for such a problem. Someone had kindly filled a blue bucket with water. And luckily I have the sweetest roommate (a girl I met on the trip in 2007 and who has become a great friend), who came in and dumped the blue bucket of water on my head.

Problem solved!

Or was it?

A few days later I found out that two of our teammates who had just recently joined us had awakened very late the night before my hairwashing incident with the need to...use the facilities.
Now before I go on I have to explain that the office building we were staying in is where our bathing facilities were, but the toilet was in the medical building which was a bit of a walk and not always easy to make in the dark when you're still half asleep.

So wanting to avoid the trek to the toilet, they looked around and thought, "There's a bucket. That'll do."

Anyone want to venture a guess at what color that bucket was?

Now just for the record, that was water in the bucket when my roommate poured it on my head.
But the best part of this story is that after washing my hair with that bucket, I went to sit with some of my team and one of them walks over to me, sniffs my wet hair and says,

"Wow, your hair smells good!"

- Aly

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Livin' on a Prayer

Ooohhh we're halfway there....It's been one week since I started this no carbs, no sugar, no fun diet. Why anyone would purposely do this to themselves is beyond me! And food is EVERYWHERE! I don't know how many times I've heard about s'mores this week. Mmmm. Yummy, delicious s'mores all gooey and warm and chocolatey...Excuse me while I lick the pretend gooeyness off my fingers...

Anyway, Monday I had an appointment with an Herbologist. He did something called bio-energetic testing, which uses computer software to detect problems in the body. It was amazing and a little weird. He could tell me things about myself that I hadn't said anything about.

When we first started, he handed me a short stick which I held in my left hand and was connected by a wire to a computer. He then used a pen-like instrument on the acupuncture points on my right hand. It made the computer make all sorts of sounds, and as he did the test he was able to detect imbalances in my system. For example, the very first round of tests he did he said that he couldn't get past some problems in my throat. He asked if I had a history of sore throats, which I do. He also pinpointed minor problems with asthma and my sinuses.

He asked a few different questions as the test continued, and in the end was able to give us his best guess. Unfortunately this isn't a "tell-all" and couldn't magically diagnose my problem. Also, he doesn't have a specific program for African illnesses, but found a close match to a South American program he wrote (this guy was brilliant!).

As best he can tell, he feels that this is a virus that invaded my body (which is not that much more information than we had already, but is still good to know). He also said that people with my blood type often have problems fighting off illness because the immune system doesn't recognize that anything is wrong.

He is sending me some herbal supplements to try out for a while, in the hopes that they will boost the things that need a little nudge and get rid of the things that shouldn't be there.

So that's what is happening here. Tomorrow morning I'll go to have some IV vitamins and Monday I'll have another Triple-Oxygen Treatment, and we'll see how it goes.

I can't tell if it's helping yet. I was starting to feel better for a few days (have more energy, not as achy). But I've lived with this illness long enough to know that those can be short-lived. It's the nature of the beast, so to speak. So I enjoy it while I have it. The flu-like achiness returned tonight leaving me somewhat restless. But I know it's not likely that I'll wake up some morning and be all better. It'll take time. I look forward to having more treatments, starting the herbal supplements, and hopefully noticing an improvement. I'll just continue to take it day by day.

The Lord has sent me these angels to bring me strength.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go have a glass of water and some celery and imagine it's milk and s'mores.

- Aly

Friday, May 14, 2010

Aly's Update (Alternately Titled: 'What I Wouldn't Give for a Cookie')

Things have been a little crazy around here lately, with doctor's appointments, tests, and whatnot. To say it's been draining would be a huge understatement. The past 8 months has been one of the longest and probably most difficult of my life. But it's also been a time of major spiritual growth.

A month ago, I had a spinal tap done. I was very nervous about it and had tried to avoid it as much as possible. In fact, I was scheduled to have one in December, but the doctor didn't think we'd find much of anything, and after praying about it I decided not to go through with it. But part of that decision was also that if it came up again that I'd do it. Well, it came up again, and I found myself in a brightly lit, white room with a doctor clutching a massive needle.

I spent the next few days going between laying flat on my back to avoid headaches and laying on my side to relieve the pain in my back from the test.

After a few days, the doctor gave me a whoopie! and a but. "Whoopie! your preliminary results came back completely normal (all protein, white and red blood cell counts). BUT those special African tests they wanted to have run...yeah we don't know where to send those out."

What's that you ask? Why didn't they figure that out before they ran the test? Well that, my friend, would cause my story to end there, and my God has a sense of humor and knows I love me a good story so He's giving me one.

Cut to this past Monday. After weeks of calling the doctors, trying to keep on them about finding out where to send the test, the neurologist calls me and says, "Well, I did some research and...funny thing...turns out that 3 of the tests we wanted to run are actually done better with blood. And guess what?! It gets better! The one test that we can do with the spinal fluid would be super easy but, heh here's where you'll laugh...our lovely friends who were holding onto your fluid threw it away." (Note: He may not have used those exact words...)

So blah blah blah. I didn't catch the rest of the conversation because I was trying to decide if I should be screaming at the top of my lungs or crying hysterically (by the way, I chose the latter).

It's hard when God's plan doesn't meet our expectations. But in the midst of this bottom-of-the-valley moment, God brought a glimmer of hope.

I went to a local Preventive Medicine and Wellness Clinic for a consult. My chiropractor (the only helpful doctor through all this) had suggested I check out a treatment that they do there. And after going we may almost, sort of, kind of, possibly have a teeny bit of an answer:


Ew, right? Well, she actually said it might be a fungus or a virus or a parasite. But none of those sound any better really. She started me on a whole bunch of nutritional supplements to help boost my immune system. Also, she did a treatment where they took out a little bit of my blood, injected ozone gas in it, shook up the bag, and put it all back into my bloodstream. The ozone gas is really just oxygen which, when introduced into the blood, is supposed to help kill off the fungus/virus/parasite. They said I might end up feeling flulike for a few days (not a big change from normal) but that was a good thing because it means we're onto something. (This isn't a one-time quick fix. This has been running rampant in my body for so long that it'll take weeks to know if we're headed anywhere with it).

Last night I felt horrible. And I've never been happier about it in my life!

EXCEPT she also put me on a new high-protein diet. That means no carbs, no sugars, no processed foods, and no dairy. So basically she just took out about 90% of my diet.

One all beef patty, little sauce, pickles, on a...lettuce leaf. Not exactly a Big Mac, but if it'll make me better I'll do it. (I look so thrilled...)

And it's only for 2 weeeks. We're calling it our 2 weeks for 4 plan. Because we're in full planning mode for spending 4 weeks in Uganda this summer. This sickness won't slow me down! And I fully intend on being able to run around with the kids while I'm there.

Some people might say to me, "But Aly, you've been laying around looking and feeling awful for the past 8 months. How will you do it?"

I won't. Even if I were healed today, I still have a long road to being back to my normal strength. But I trust, with all that I have, that God's going to provide the strength I need. Some of the greatest work God calls us to do involve talents, materials, and strength that we just don't have on our own. Does that mean we shouldn't do them? Of course not! That proves that God is the one who makes it all work. The Lord is working up something big for my family this summer, and I can't wait to take part in it.

I'm glad you're along with us for the ride.

And if in the next 2 weeks, you find yourself eating a yummy cookie, or piece of chocolate, please savor a bite for me. - Aly

Monday, May 3, 2010


Three years ago we started out on an adventure to Uganda with AMG International, and we've never looked back. We've enjoyed every bit of this journey, both the ups and downs and feel so blessed as God continues to show us His amazing power.

There are always so many stories to share about our trips, and when we do presentations at churches and other organizations we only get to share a few. We are hoping that this blog will allow our supporters and prayer partners (that's you!) a chance to be an even bigger part of our team. You'll get a "behind the scenes look" at what's happening as we prepare for our next trip in July 2010. And we are hoping to be able to post updates while we are in Uganda to give you a chance to experience the ministry along with us (but I have to remind you it is Uganda so internet time may not be easy to find). We'll share with you some of the crazy things that happen to us along the way, while also sharing our thoughts about our experiences and the things that break our hearts.

So we want to welcome you to our blog and thank you for joining us on this journey!