I must admit, the last three weeks I was “on edge”. This is the 10th mission. By now I assumed it would be auto pilot. Yet this is the most ambitious Uganda Mission endeavor since its inception. Five teams (3 spine, 1 trauma/joint & 1 plastics team), 28 volunteers, 3 shipments, and shipping containers that I can’t keep count of. This morning came and a new realization came with it, I can’t prepare any more. The mission is now.
After a week of packing, sorting, collecting and re-packing, Lance and his wife came with their minivan to my house to pick up the containers and myself. The rest of the team from Dallas, Skylar, Anthony & Sherri met us at the British Airways check in kiosk. Immediately Anthony set the “smooth” tone for the trip. During the check in process, I think he is hitting on the ticket agent, by claiming to have a tattoo of her name “Lydia” on his arm. To my astonishment he scores the team an extra baggage waiver by lifting his Dr Pepper t-shirt to show the name Lydia tattooed on his arm. It remains to be seen how smooth he is when faced with the overwhelming spine pathology he is soon to witness.
The flight to Heathrow was uneventful, and Heathrow security as non-compliant as ever. We persevered and made it to the rendezvous at Huxley’s pub in terminal 5. There we were joined by Liz, then Tom S., Tom G. & Erica, closely followed by Nur. As security delayed us we really had no time to reacquaint or even meet the new team members.
Just as Heathrow security was unwavering in its reputation, Zvi was too in his arrival. He strolled into Huxley’s, with his duty free bag, with his ever calming demeanor, about 30 seconds after I had made the decision that we can’t wait for him any longer and need to proceed to the boarding gate.
With all team members accounted for, I was no longer on edge and ready for the second nine hour flight.
The arrival at Entebbe was uneventful and on time. As predictable was the fact that one shipping container with the total joint equipment did not show up. Tom S. hustled to the baggage claim attendant while we began loading collecting the bags and containers to load onto the bus. As we exited the terminal I was very much relieved seeing the Mbarara Health Services bus and the remaining team member Joseph. Joseph even had the bottled water and ground nuts I had asked him to procure for the trip to Mbarara. Those nuts were even more flavorful now that the team was intact and we were on our way.
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- Dr. Isador Lieberman