Saturday, January 31, 2009
(Captions added for clarity)
So we arrived in Soroti Sunday without difficulty. Tara, a Ugandan friend who works for SM had a friend of his bring us to Lugogo mall where we met Tim and Angie (missionaries who work with International Teams), loaded our stuff and rode about 5 hours up-country. We are staying in the "guest house", which is the other half of Tim and Angie's house. It is very nice, no AC or pool like last week but we'll adjust. In the evening we went to Amecet and joined the staff for evening worship and got a brief tour. We we introduced to their newest two babies who are both newborns and premature. Both are getting tube feedings every two hours and meds frequently.
Monday morning we got a more in depth orientation. We met all of the children- a room full of babies- two to a crib an all under two months old, a room full of "toddlers", who are the right age to qualify but all developmentally behind and the youngest two who are still not doing well. Oh and 3 "preschool aged"kids- two girls who live here all the time and one boy who is just here until he is healthy again. For that many to care for there is a schedule and Els runs a very tight ship but it seems good. We got our schedule, for the first two shifts Cree and I are together but from there on out we are on different shifts. It will be a challenge but I'm, sure we are up for it.
Monday afternoon we went to the market because Angie has been cooking for us but we will cook for ourselves shortly. The market is unlike anything you are picturing right now. (Unless you have been to a 3rd world country of course.) It was great and when we go back next week we will be sure to get pictures. It is the only way you would understand.
Monday night just after we were wrapping up with supper we got word that some visitors of International Teams, who were coming from Kenya, were in a bad wreck. They were just outside Soroti when the front axle of their truck broke at 100 km/hr and it flipped several times before hitting a tree. They were brought to Tim and Angie's house. The first that I talked to was complaining of sever rib and shoulder pain and said that we was riding with his arm resting outside the vehicle just before the accident. He also remembered hitting his head and had a bad headache. The second also had multiple abrasions and pain, also hit his head- no LOC though. The driver was the worst. He was dragged from the vehicle and was unconscious for at least 30 minutes and very confused when he came around. He had at least 3 lacerations to different placed on his head and his right hand was smashed up. He had battle sign bruising around both ears but was alert and oriented by the time I saw him. Soroti hospital had little to offer them and Kampala was the nearest but 5 hours and on dark roads..... The decision was made to put them in the guest house for the night. I did neuro checks and other care like pain meds q 2 though the night and they all did just fine. But to add to the challenge it was Cree and my first shift at Amecet at 7 am. We arrived nearly on time and fed several of the toddlers breakfast. Because they are sick and malnourished they are developmentally behind and only one feeds himself. We jumped from there to giving infant bottles. Several of those guys are very little and feeding them is a challenge too.
We both got to laugh at ourselves though when we needed to be taught how to change diapers (not "simple"disposable by a long shot, not even "easy" rubber pants, these things have to be tied on!) Each baby needs a different amount at a different time. Just when you get one to stop crying two more start. When you aren't handling the infants, the little bit older ones need all the attention you can give. (picture 8 pound 10 month olds).
By the time our shift ended at 3pm we were about done in. Ben did a great job helping out too. He is also, maybe more importantly, working on fixing the washing machine. 20 kids in diapers is a lot of wash by hand. So in one 24 hour period I got to be an ED triage nurse, a neuro intensive care nurse, a NICU nurse and a peds AIDS nurse.... I'm in over my head! But really starting to like it....
Friday, January 30, 2009
I'm not sure where to start... we are obviously in Soroti and doing great. Loving it out here. We are staying the the other half of Tim and Angie's house and they are taking good care of us. We are working at Amecet 6 days a week. (This is day 5 so we are finally getting the hang of it. If you want more information on Amecet see the post labeled "we are out of here"- Els the director did a great job describing this place in that letter.) When we arrived there were 12 babies and 6 toddlers. A few have gotten to go "home" so we are down to 14 total. Only me and another girl are on right now though so I really should get back to work. Hang on, I really will post about our first couple of day's challenges eventually but in the meantime we are all doing well, really enjoying it here and working hard-well, most of the time.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Are you like me and picture a meek and mild mannered young man? This time of year especially do you picture a beautiful, quiet baby?
How about this for a paradigm shift? Jesus was a dangerous man!! In revelation He is referred to as a LION. (Rev 5:5) The men of his day, the ones who had him killed, were not really upset about an empty grave...they were upset that HE WAS LOOSE! Nothing could contain him and he was out! An empty grave is really not much to get upset about. It was what was in the grave that is no longer there that makes us think. They didn't actually capture Jesus like they had thought they did. So that LION is out among us now!
Just food for thought today. Something to ponder..... our leader is a powerful man. Jehovah, mighty in battle (Psalm 24:8) and mighty commander (Isa 55:4). Whose side are we fighting on today?
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It was really hard to say goodbye to the kids today at the orphanage- harder than I thought it would be. We have only known them for 9 days but they really get into your heart.
For those of you who are praying for us we have some requests: Benji is feeling slightly under the weather and we have a long day of travel ahead of us. We don't really know what is in store but we want to follow God's leading and bring glory to him in whatever comes our way.
Thanks for continuing to follow our story. Until next time...
By the way sometimes I don't know what to write so if you have any questions feel free to ask and I'll try to answer.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
(Nick when you get my memory chip will you post some Nile and lake Victoria pictures here? Thanks! )
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Yesterday we went out to Kalete (sp?) where Show Mercy's new property is. Our purpose was just to continue to build relationships with villagers in the area and lay the ground work for Show Mercy staff being out there all the time. We had the opportunity to minister to about 40 physically handicapped individuals. And Kalete is not actually "handicapped accessible." These folks lead a hard life. After that we headed back to the orphanage where we heard about 12 of the kids tell their "stories." One told of her father killing her mother before killing himself, another told of both of her parents dieing so she became a "housemaid" (read: slave) to earn a living but didn't do a good enough job so was beaten daily. The terrible stories go on and on and the kids struggled to share but Pastor Prossy (the women who cares for them) encourages them for the sake of healing and remembering where they were. This morning we spent several hours handing out blankets in the children's cancer wards. I have some serious emotional fatigue going on and I think I need to process a little more before I talk much about it. But on a more positive note our plans are firmed up and Sunday at 9am we head out of the city! Tomorrow we head to Victoria falls to take a much needed day off.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
A few of these kids that we are working with have been hurt pretty badly- abuse, abandonment, whatever but they don't like being touched. They especially don't like being hugged (I can completely relate but I'm working on it and that is a different problem and a different post.) Anyway, one of the girls looked forlorne as we walked together so I reached down and gave her a hug. She went rigid. She was impossible to hug and I won't try it again right away. Later in the day a filthy, ragged little boy was sitting in the dust but he put his arms up to me and I couldn't help but pick him up. He was easy to hug!
In that moment God said to me- sometimes thats you. I know you are covered in your own filty but you are easy to hug...except when you are stiff and rigid with your barriers up! I've come to an understanding that I'm guilty as sin. My "rightesousness is as filthy rags". I can not come into the presence of God the way that I am. But I'm getting what I don't deserve! Stop putting your barriers up! I'm covered in grace! If I stop dwelling on how I can't be good enough for God and just accept what He has given me....
Don't misunderstand me- I have to face the stuff for which I need to be forgiven and I know that I deserve the wrath of an angry God.... but he isn't!
So, today I'm just one filthy, dirty kid telling another that God is God and that HE LOVES US!
So, where to begin- It feels like we have done so much already. On Saturday we took all of the Hope kids to an "amusement park". I put that in quotes because it is NOT what you are picturing. But the kids loved it- all 98 of them. (That by the way is a lot of kids- I'm drawing from my camp counselor bag of tricks more than I would have thought possible.) Yesterday we spoke at several churches, delivered food and soap to the jail and had time to talk with the inmates. They are all where they are until they have their sentencing but some may be there for months. After dark we went back to Hope and showed a movie to the kids and village adults. (mike brought a projector so it was "big screen") I'm running out of time! I'll post again Tues.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
My biggest struggle right now is that we are too comfortable! We are staying in a 5 star hotel (By Ugandan standards- so like 3.5 for us but still!) My room is air conditioned (my house isn't), I have a fridge in it and a pool! I am working with the world's poorest and yet here I sit totally separated from it. I'll be working through this for a while. Anyway, I'm posting again because I have the time (and enough shillings for now). We had a great day at Village of Hope. We met all of their kids and passed out their Christmas presents. Great fun! We played games and made crafts. Nick will have to put up some of the pictures here when I mail him my memory chip but for now that is all your going to get.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The first flight was not bad. There was plenty of extra room to spread out though there was quite a bit of turbulence and the flight left Chicago a little late (due to ice?) but not too bad. We had asked when we checked in if our connection was going to be a problem. We were assured that it was not. That proved to be a false assurance. With about 3 hours remaining in the flight it became clear that we were going to be cutting it very close. The flight attendant told us if we hurry we could possibly make it. So they moved us up to the exit row and had us off the plane before the jet way was fully connected. And we ran. No small feat at 11AM in one of the biggest airports in the world. We managed to find our gate, get through security and have our boarding passes scanned before (barely before) they closed the gate. Only to be told that we couldn't board because our luggage wasn't even off of the last plane. I guess it is a security thing to not be on the same flight as your baggage now. So close and so frustrating! What a let down. So we went back through the airport (at a much slower pace) to find somewhere to get a different connection. After standing in line for nearly 45 minutes we were informed that there is only 1 flight a day to Uganda. Strange. Anyway, we were to go to Kenya then get another flight into Uganda. But our flight wasn't until 9pm. We started the challenge of communicating to the rest of the team that we what happened and when we would need to be picked up from Entebbe to get to Kampala. We didn't know our hotel name so really couldn't get ourselves there. We couldn't reach Mike on his US phone because he wouldn't be able to get the message and his Uganda phone was off because they were on the flight that we were supposed to be. We ended up calling Cree's mom so she could call Mike when they arrived. (Thanks Marybeth!)
Then we had 8 more hours to kill in Amsterdam. But we decided that we were too tired to go into the city. Besides missing on flight per trip seems like enough. We didn't want to risk another.
So we wandered, tried to get some sleep, ate some junk food and wandered some more. Finally we departed. But we didn't have our nice KLM flight anymore. Now we were on Kenya Air. It was the longest, most crowded flight I've ever been on. Needless to say we didn't get much sleep that leg. We put down in Kenya around 8am. Right continent, wrong country but we were getting closer. No difficulties with security but it was amazing that we were able to get our boarding passes for the next flight. We were never issues paper tickets for the change, we were just supposed to go to the transfer desk and they would print the boarding passes for the next when we arrived. But "This is Africa" (TIA- you will hear me say that again, I'm sure) and it couldn't just be that easy. It finally worked out fine but for a brief time we thought we were leaving Cree in Nairobi. Anyway, we now had 5 more hours to kill. We did not have Visas and couldn't do customs here so we didn't leave that airport either. It was hot and crowded but we managed to get a few more minutes of sleep. on the upside we ate 5 of the best semosas I've had in several years (with fanta orange of course).
We felt like zombies by the time we were boarding the last time. As they herded us across the asphalt to our plane (Kenya doesn't believe in jetwalks- why bring the plane closer when you can just bring the people to the plane?) It was a pretty small plane but we were only on it for an hour or so. Uganda's airport is lovely, mostly because we were finally where we wanted to be. We were actually shuttled around customs instead of through- I have no idea why but I'm glad because I had the mental functioning of a goldfish by then. We immediately started looking for someone from SM.... and nothing. We had to get some shillings (I'm sure I didn't get the best exchange rate) and tried to find a phone with no success. I finally ended up using the personal cell phone of the person at the information desk (pretty sure I paid way too much for that too) but we did reach Mike and he connected us with the guy who was taking us to Kampala. I'd love to tell you all about the beautiful ride along lake Victoria in the heart of "the pearl of Africa" but to be honest I passed out just before we arrived an hour later. We met the team, had dinner showered and then slept for more than 12 hours. I feel much better now.
It was 45 hours of travel with our best sleep being 2 hours at a time in a crowded plane. Anyway, it is all behind us now. It is time for breakfast and we have a busy day ahead of us. We are headed out to Village of hope to meet the kids. I'll try to post every other day. More stories to follow!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
- For those that want the general details: We will be in Soroti starting Jan 25th working with Amecet n'ainapakin (Shelter of Peace) who is a part of YWAM.
- For those that want more details: Here is an excerpt of the e-mail we got yesterday from Amecet.
Our project is mainly for children infected/affected with HIV/AIDS. The majority of the children that we work with are total orphans, whose parents have died of AIDS. Amecet isn't a orphanage in the conventional sense of the word. Children come for a short term stay of 2-3 months and then they go back to their village to be cared for by the family. We believe the best place for the children is with their families and not in a home. During their stay in Amecet the children receive good medical care, treatment and plenty of good food. Once a child has returned to the village we closely monitor them through home visits and encourage/advise the families in the care of the children. A lot of children we work with have also been diagnosed with TB, so they continue medication at home, monitored by us.
For some children Amecet is the place where they come in their final stages of their disease, so there are children that have died here. We believe that that is also part of what God has given to us to do, as painful as it is. For some children Amecet is a doorway to heaven. When we began in December 2001 we were with 3 fulltime staff, at the moment we have 9 fulltime staff, but we have 3 fulltime helpers, who also live here, and 3 other fulltime helpers, who come in during the days to help. Then we have people who help us with the cooking, cleaning, laundry and the garden. We have mostly around 18 children here, but the highest number has been 21. The eldest child we've had was 13 years old and the youngest was 3 hours old! So there is diversity!
We are a short term help house, but we have seen that when the children go back to their families, they are much better cared for. We have had also quite a number of children who were proved to be HIV-, even both parents had died from AIDS. Those children were also sickly due to the lack of care and the relatives all thought that they had the same sickness as the parents. When we bring them back with the good news, they are very happy and we know that those children have a chance now to live.
Recently we have got several older children (age 6-12) who had AIDS, some have been very sick, close to death. When we were able to get them a bit fair, we realised that Anti viral drugs is the only chance for them to live. But it is important to take those medicins on the right time. Most of those older children were not welcome in the families of the relatives, or old grandmothers care for them. They can't give the medicines. That made us to buy another plot of land, nearby our present house. There we built ‘Amecet n’amun’ (shelter of hope) a house for the older children who are on the ARVs but can't go home. Since July 2006 there live 10 children as a family. It is such a joy to see children who were so close to death, now running around, go to school and enjoy the fact that they are alive!!
We also get newborn babies, their mother died after the delivery and the family doesn't know what to do with those very vulnerable little ones. Some of the mothers die shortly after the birth, because of HIV/AIDS. The babies are often also infected and doing very poorly. We have almost always sick children and a child can just get sick very fast.
We have 8 hour shifts and we work 6 days a week. We do make long days, that why it is important that you love children and that you have a commitment towards the work. As a volunteer you will be working together with our Ugandan staff and be involved in the care for the children. We always have a lot of babies, so bathing, feeding and changing diapers will be a big part of the work. Also playing with the toddlers, who are mostly very behind in their development. There is also a possibility to go with us on home visits in the villages.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Our connecting flights in Europe are going to be VERY tight and hard to manage. My mom has said several times that it will be a miracle if our bags and us arrive in Africa at the same time. Will you join my mom in praying for a miracle?
The other thing that has been heavy on our hearts is that we really want to be able to serve the missionaries already stationed there (in addition to the kids and nationals of course). It can be really hard to have extra people there as we need their precious time and create more work on top of all the responsibilities that they already have. May we have opportunities to refresh and encourage and not be a burden in anyway especially if we end up way out in Soroti.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I think my pre trip anxiety is hanging out. I'm sorry to anyone that has to deal with me before we leave, especially that lady at Meijer who was really trying to find luggage tags for me even though you really didn't know what luggage tags were. (Who doesn't know what luggage tags are!?! It's not that hard- really!! I described it to you several times!)
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
So look at this :
- I started reading a family's blog after a co-worker who knew them told me about it. They live and work in Uganda and tell great stories. (This was before we were even thinking about SM, I was still on IIU) When I switched to Urgent care and mentioned going to Uganda a new co-worker mentioned she knew someone her church supports who works in Ugana. Turned out to be the blog that I was reading already. At church two weeks ago, after the service that they comissioned us, a lady there came up to me and was telling me about her neice who lives in Uganda but is here in GR because she is due shortly. The church lady gave me their phone number. So... you guessed it...same family. Too many coencidences so I called them up. She gave me a ton of good information about staying in Kampala and answered all of my questions. But then she mentioned that because their house is empty we could possibly stay there. She gave me the contact information of her brother-in-law who is currently there.....we are in the process of figuring all of that out .
- Two people from our church stepped forward (without knowing anything had changed) and offered more funds that 48 hours ago we didn't know we needed. So the money we thought we were going to be short is already be covered.
- A shift at work that I needed off at the last minute to get all of our ducks in a row because of the changes was covered without a problem.
- My sister-in-law didn't melt down nearly as badly as I did! Christina you are awesome!
I just needed to confess my dependance and God took over all of the problems that we didn't even really have. But I still can't help but worry about the details that we still don't have ironed out. Why do we have such a hard time trusting?!
Monday, January 5, 2009
Today in my journal I wrote "Lord, I confess my dependence on you! I lay all of this at your feet." But as I was re-reading my writing I couldn't help but pause- how is this any different than any other minute of my life. I dependant on Him for every breath, ALL that I have. Here I just feel like I've got Meijer backing me up. But it is all God. All that other "stuff" could be gone in a second. So we are about to learn some lessons in depending on God.
Please be praying for us and what God is directing us to for that second half of our trip! Pray for our faith, our dependence and God's leading. Maybe He is going to use this to do something amazing.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
The current exchange rate is $1= 2,000 ugandan shillings
(Or for those of you who want it exactly- 1 US Dollar = 1,976.00 Uganda Shilling
1 Uganda Shilling (UGX) = 0.0005061 US Dollar (USD) Interbank rate +/- 0%)
The weather yesterday in Uganda was sunny with a high of 85 degrees and a low of 68 degrees. Today is supposed to be the same as well as the entire rest of the month.