Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fun times around the house

I haven't posted about the cats recently but I'm enjoying being back in the house with them.  Today, Mustard carried a live lizard in the house and proceeded to play with it for a while and then it eat it. I allowed this behavior because she seemed to be teaching Trouble how to hunt. ( I also allowed it because I really didn't know how to convince them to all go back outside without actually picking up the maimed lizard).
So here is Mustard with the lizzard. (Sorry mom, that is the rug you gave Beckie.) Trouble wasn't as excited about it as you might think so I don't have any pictures of her with it.
But it entertained the big cat for hours.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Christian Veterinary Mission

In my past posts I made reference to Dr. Val. She is a veterinarian and missionary with Christian Veterinary Mission. She is an amazing woman and has worked in Uganda for about 18 years. Here is her May 2010 newsletter that explains a little about her and a tiny little bit of the work she does in Karamoja. Hi Everybody,
Sometimes on the brink of success, you stumble. Sometimes on the brink of disaster, you soar. I often seem to live on those brinks. Looking back over the last 10 years or so in Karamoja, this year is destined to be remarkable. It holds the most promise that we have ever seen for the people, for their survival, their future peace and stability and their spiritual growth. As an agricultural society, the Karamojong depend on their farm crops for their own food as well as for income. Most people have no other job, only their 1-3 acres of land that they hoe every year, dropping some seeds down sometimes in rows, sometimes randomly, and then pray for God to provide rain in its due time. The last 3 years have been disasters on the farms, with drought, floods or insecurity preventing people from digging their land. When there is insecurity, warriors with sub-machine guns roam through the land looking to steal cattle or other personal properties from unsuspecting villagers. When a woman and her children hike out to their gardens and chance to meet these armed warriors on the way, there is a strong likelihood that they will not all return back home, but will either be killed, hurt or kidnapped on the way. This year, praise God, is looking good, however. Things are much better in our peace villages, which have become sanctuaries or safe havens for many of the people. On the fringes, there is still danger, but little by little we see improvement. The soil of the Peace Villages is fertile, with plenty of rainfall this year (thanks for praying!!!) and everyone is excited to get into the gardens and plant their seeds. Many spiritual seeds are also beginning to sprout in the villages, and we are gearing up our discipleship programme this year. With all this hope in the air, we launched into the year with excitement, ready to see the Lord’s hand at work in us and through us to minister to the people of Karamoja. In order to give an opportunity to involve you all, my friends from US, in the lives of the people here, I started a small seed collection scheme, modeled after an unusual source. There’s this game called Farmville. It’s one of those virtual worlds on the internet networking site, Facebook. I saw many of my friends playing, so I went ahead and joined. You can invite your real-life friends to be your virtual neighbors, then begin buying seed, planting and harvesting virtual crops. Your neighbors can help you on your farm; you succeed much more quickly if you have many neighbors to work together with. (Warning: Facebook can become a real time-waster if you are not careful, or can be only a needed diversion on a stressful day). With this game in mind, I set out to make a real-life “Farmville of Uganda”. I sent out a note to many friends asking to help on our farms here in Uganda and we had a wonderful response, with hundreds of seed packet being sent! We have 40-50 farmers, ready to plant vegetable crops to feed their families. The Uganda Farmville neighbors have now become partners with the Karamojong farmers, to grow crops as a step towards driving away World Hunger, in a practical way. What I love is that the Uganda Farmville is for real, villagers depend on their farm for their very existence. Without these crops, the families could starve. We need to be in prayer, however, since if their crops wither, the people will have no food to eat. (there is no purchasing an “unwither” in real-life Farmville). Without jobs and no savings, they only survive by subsistence farming, which means they eat only what they can grow. Now our Uganda Farmville’s USA neighbors could make a difference in the lives of hundreds of people, as we plant real crops together, and pray for God to bring in the harvest. We were so thankful for everyone being willing to share their resources and efforts for this intervention. In the midst of our excitement, however, things started to go bad. The vehicles all broke down, we fixed them, then they broke down again, and again. While riding the bus, since the vehicles were in various states of disrepair, my phone was stolen, with all of my contact information. Without a vehicle, I also have limited access to communication, as I need to charge my computer through the cigarette lighter receptacle of the vehicle in order to use the internet, so I began to lose track of everything and everyone. During this time,we also saw an increase in political and religious wrangles over the land in the peace villages, to the point that we and our community members and staff were being threatened. Some staff began to experience burn-out from the heavy workload and psychological stress. We then entered into a significant “ebb” in the ebb and flow of our funding, as joint community visits and vehicle repairs overextended our resources. All of these challenges weighed heavily on our backs and our hearts, with no clear end in sight. We were all set up for an Emotional Nose Dive.
At that point, my “Uganda Farmville” stalled in mid-air. Frustrated, I couldn’t get to the villages to deliver the seeds or to plant them with the people. The rains were perfect, the seeds were high quality, the people were waiting, but I couldn’t get there. What do we do when we are frustrated? Here are some options that I worked through, most of which were of limited value!
a. Try to figure out a “Plan B”, then C, D, E…
b. Seek alternative resources or opportunities.
c. Put the pressure on everyone else to solve the problems.
d. Get emotional, upset, cranky or maybe a little teary eyed.
e. Spin my wheels in frustration and resignation.
f. Ask God a lot of questions.
g. Wait silently for God to bring His resolution to the situation.
Steps a.-c. were totally useless. There was really no solution available, only continual disappointments and frustrations. Things went from bad to worse as I found myself hitchhiking along the road several times. My heart then got stuck in steps d. and e. for some time. Wallowing in futility, without any clear place to seek refuge or consolation. I ended up getting sucked into a cycle of impossible dead ends, blinding me to the hope that is within me. Crying out, blaming others, blaming myself, frantically trying to “fix things” so my security and confidence could return, all to no avail. As my confidence was resting solely in my own ability and ingenuity, when I came to the end of “me”, I lost my bearings and couldn’t see any way out. Finally, step f. brought me quickly to g. When serious God-questions only bring silence, only in that very silence can His Voice be discerned. Only in His presence, there is peace, where no outside influence can break in, or destroy. I found it there, in quietness and rest my confidence grew, with His truths as my foundation and His presence as my promise. Please keep praying for us here, as the challenges are many and our hearts can tremble at times, but our God is able, and loves us so much.  Thanks for joining in the harvest, be it vegetables or souls. Jesusis Alive!

Yours in Him,

Dr. Val Shean

What I'm reading...

I'm learing so much about prayer right now and I was reading a book by O. Hallesby while traveling and this passage really struck me as I was overwhelmed by the people and needs around me. I'm sharing it here and I pray that it really speaks to you too.

When Jesus took leave of the eleven apostles at the ascension, He entrusted them a superhuman task. He charged them to go mad make Christ-worshipers of all the nations.

They were to begin in Jerusalem, He had said. That was not far away. The city lay at the foot of Mt. Olivet, and they could see it from where they were standing. In the city were the executioners of Jesus, His innocent blood upon their hands, ready to annihilate every one who dared to mention the name of the Nazarene publicly. And even though the eleven should be fortunate enough to escape these murderers, what did they have to preach? A crucified Messiah, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks.

As they looked westward from Mt. Olivet beyond the Mediterranean Sea toward Rome, the center of the world, the outlook appeared no brighter. There they would be confronted by the strongest empire which had ever been welded together, the mightest culture and the richest intellectual life which the world has known to this day.

It was almost irony to send out from Galilee eleven common laborers to win this mighty cultural empire for Christ. True, their number was later augmented by an acdemically trained co-laborer, Paul; but he, too, said that he was determined not to know anything or to preach anything, even in the great cultural centers, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

But He who sent them knew what he was doing. He had equipped them for their superhuman task in a twofold manner.

Objectively, He had equipped them with the Messianic gift itself, the Holy Spirit, through whom the powers of the whole supra-mundane world were put at the disposal of the little Christain congregation.

Subjectively, He had equipped them with prayer, the means by which all of these objective, supra-mundane powers are imparted to the individual believer and to the congregation.

We get a vivid impression of how highly He Himself evaluated this equipment when we read a few of his statements about it.
Matt 17:20 “He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matt 18:19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”

Paul, who had the opportunity to make use of this throughout a whole lifetime of work and sacrifice says of it, “ Phil 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

He who had sent them knew that this weapon, this piece of equipment, would make them invincible. “Nothing shall be impossible for you” were His words. When at His ascension He took leave of His friends as far as His physical presence was concerned, He extended His almighty arm so far don that we insignificant and sinful people can reach it every time we bend our knees in prayer.

Whenever we touch His almighty arm, some of His omnipotence streams in upon us, into our souls and into our bodies. And not only that, but, through us, it streams out to others.

This power is so rich and so mobile that all we have to do when we pray is to point to the persons or things to which we desire to have this power applied, and He, the Lord of this power, will direct the necessary power to the desired place at once.

This weapon is the more valuable to the friends of Jesus, because it is not possible for the enemies of Jesus to make use of it. True, His enemies can lay hands on the weapon; but the moment they grasp it in earnest they are transformed from enemies to friends of Jesus.

Here, too, we see divine grace and wisdom. How terrible this weapon would become if it could be used by anybody and everybody for purposes of revenge and destruction. Instead He has decreed that only His own friends can establish contact with these inexhaustible sources of power. In fact, the means of contact has been devised so carefully that the connection is automatically cut off, as soon as we try to employ this power in ways contrary to the will and purpose of Jesus. It is only when we pray for something according to the will of God that we have the promise of being heard and answered.

It is our Lord's will that we who have received access to these powers through prayer should go through this world transmitting heavenly power to every corner of a world which needs it sorely. Our love should be, according to our Lord's plans, quiet but steadily flowing streams of blessing, which through our prayers and intercessions should reach our whole environment.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I'm amazed by how many have told me that they were led to pray for me during the last three weeks. Thank you all so much for being faithful. I have a sense that this trip is going to prove to be life changing with my work here in Uganda. Please keep praying! God is astonishing!!  I'm in awe at how many He called to prayer when I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I know there was spiritual warfare all around us (a big part of the sickness that I'm fighting?) but we were safe and some amazing things took place. Prayer is an amazing tool...

Friday, August 27, 2010


So where to even begin? I guess I'm just going to run through the past two weeks like a narrative supplementing from my journal- here goes nothing...

8/11 I've been told by the CLIDE staff (Community Livestock Integraged Development Consultancy)
that we will catch the noon bus that runs between Soroti and Moroto. (See the map on the previous post) I would be traveling with Dr. Moses and Ann, two CLIDE staff members. We heard that the bus that left just before we arrived was too packed to get a single other person on. As we waited for the next bus to come more and more people kept arriving at the bus park. Finally the bus arrived and people began to get on. As the only white person in the crowd around the bus doors I stood out so the people who's job it is to load the bus grabbed me and pulled me around to the driver's door. I realized what was happening and said I wouldn't get on until the other two I was traveling with were also on. Some how we were physically crammed in. There was another person holding Ann's 9 month old son so after she was on he was passed through the window to her. There were several other children who were passed though windows and even an adult or two. The bus was fuller than I would have ever thought possible. And there were still others outside. So a cattle car was obtained and followed the bus with the extra luggage and people. The bus was supposed to seat 67 (so the worn paint on the outside said) but I counted easily 120.The ride is about 4 hours by car on single lane poorly maintained dirt roads. On the bus it proved to be more than 8 hours.We left Soroti around 3pm and arrived after 11:30. I was standing in the aisle for most of those hours- though a Karamojong man took mercy on me about an hour from our destination and gave me his seat. The bus was hot and packed to say the least and it was quite a challenge. Early on I dropped my water bottle and we were too packed together for me to get it again. When we arrived in Moroto (exhausted) we hopped on a boda to a small guest house just outside of town. Our room had a bed and a mosquito net so Ann, her son and I crawled in a fell quickly asleep.

8/12 In the morning I discovered the one gender neutral bathroom down the hall didn't have any plumbing but did have big drums of water you could scoop out of to flush the toilet and pour into a basin to bathe. Ann and I prayed together thanking God for a safe place to rest, safety in travel, strength and a new day. Dr. Moses, Ann and I walked into Moroto town for breakfast (We had not eaten since before we arrived at the bus station at noon the day before.) Around 9am we walked up to the CLIDE office and I got the meet the staff there. Judith, Moses, and Victor would also be traveling with the group to the peace villages.

A little bit about CLIDE at this point. Their mission is to empower local people to for sustainable socioeconomic transformation and holistic healing. Dr. Val is a veterinary doctor who started CLIDE several years ago and has turned the primary running of the organization over to several great Ugandans who are doing amazing work throughout Karamoja district. Karamoja is an area of great conflict between warring sub-tribes. CLIDE conducts peace talks between opposing warriors and has established two peace villages. God is doing some amazing things through their work. Because of the struggles, floods and drought there is much poverty in the region which leads to cycles of despair and hopelessness. (I'll post Dr. Val's most recent newsletter which explains a little more later on).

Anyway, back to Thursday. The CLIDE staff, with several area pastors, spent the whole day in meetings preparing for the upcoming mission. I began to feel a little sick and had a headache that just wouldn't let up, but it was a really low key day for me to just sit and listen to their planning while praying for their decisions. (CLIDE had a plan for the team to live and conduct trainings and medical clinics right in the villages where the village health workers were, but the roads had become impassable due to heavy rains and increasing insecurity so the original plan had to be almost completely scrapped and a new one made with new places to stay, new places to work and ways to get the locals to where we were going to be.)

8/13 Friday morning. Woke up feeling almost non-functional. But things to do and with no desire to stay at the guest house any more than I had to I continued to tag along with Dr. Moses and Ann with their preparations. By mid morning I had vomited several times and felt really lightheaded with the headache that persisted. I should have told someone (the CLIDE staff were wonderful but were working so hard to get things together that I just really didn't want to be more of a burden so I kept quiet. Stupid pride.) I had finally decided to walk back to the guest house and rest for a while when the American team landed on a little 8 seater plane. Dr. Bob and Dr. Will, two American doctors, accompanied by Janelle and Susan, two American nurses had arrived in Uganda the day before and that morning flew to Moroto (to avoid the 11 hour drive from the international airport). I decided, I really wanted to get to know them and for the sake of team unity, I could buck up and hang on a little longer (by then I had stopped vomiting) so joined them for a walk through town. We had only walked about 20 minutes and had stopped to pray when I passed out. Oops. So, once the fog cleared I found myself in bed doing some aggressive re-hydration for the afternoon. At least the medical team had arrived and were well supplied. They didn't seem to mind that I was their first patient.

8/14 Woke feeling only slightly better, still wiped out with that kicking headache but mostly able to eat and could stand upright without difficulty. Discussed figuring out how to get home, but wasn't up to another bus ride and really had no other way. Which turned out well and I'm glad I hung in there. Dr. Val arrived in Moroto so we spent the day as a whole team preparing. We talked about culture, safety, the plan for the time, and pretty much spent the whole day getting to know each other. One other team member, Heidi, arrived with Dr. Val from Kampala (after driving straight through-yuck!). She had also just arrived in the country and is a vet student that will be “interning” with Dr. Val for the next 7 months. She was a great addition to the team. The plan was to send an advance team of CLIDE members to Iriri, the village that would be our home base through the training time with supplies, to get the huts set up, cooks arranged etc. However, the driver who had picked up the American team at the airport and brought them to the little MAF plane had not yet arrived in Moroto. That was the advance team's transport. So when he finally arrived late afternoon (we learned that he had car problems) it was decided that the “advance team” idea needed to be scrapped because the car couldn't make it there with them and still have time to come back for the rest of us. So I, Dr. Moses, Ann, Judith, John (the driver), Anyakun and two pastors all piled in the land rover with tents, medical supplies, food and bags strapped on top. We arrived in Iriri after midnight, unloaded, strung up some mosquito nets in the huts and fell asleep.
"Down-town" Iriri
8/15 A bright new morning. The only problem- still that persistent headache but now I was so light sensitive that I couldn't really keep my eyes open. My back hurt so badly (from falling when I passed out maybe?) But able to eat and push on. I felt really bad that I did almost nothing to help set up “camp” (Four cinder-block huts in a fenced compound with an outdoor cooking area and a pit latrine and shower area for each gender- much nicer than Moroto) but instead I watched Ann's baby while she worked. Then headed to church with the local pastors. About mid-morning the American half of the team with Dr Val arrived and joined us in church.

Spend the afternoon sorting medical supplies and teaching supplies and walking around Iriri. (picture)  In the evening we fired up the generator to see if we could show the Jesus film later in the week and discovered that we were going to have several difficulties. (picture) On a whim I plugged my phone into the generator and called my brother Nick. He was able to help us get the projector to work with the computer. THANKS NICK!! ( I owe you a few $$ for that phone call I'm sure). It was fun to talk briefly to him in the middle of no-where.

The system we set up to show the film
8/16 Up at 6:30 am feeling great!! Thank you Lord! Morning devotions with the whole team. Breakfast. Shortly after that a man who had gotten badly burned a few weeks ago arrived and we debrieded the wounds redressed. (picture) Then walked over the the church for the first day of teaching. There is a group of people who have gathered- VHTs, village health teachers. These people have been selected from their villages to receive training to provide basic health care in their communities. The idea is that we can come in and do several days of medical treatment but there will be nothing until next year before the team comes again. So half of our time is to be spent teaching basic information to these that will remain in the community. Most of our topics are about prevention and public health- the use of latrines, hand washing, malaria prevention, nutrition, clean drinking water, etc...

We also covered some diseases like TB, HIV, measles, chicken pox, brucellosis, pneumonia, and a few others. And also basic first aid for wounds, fevers, broken bones, dehydration, etc... Really a lot of material was covered from Monday to Wednesday.
Burn dressing applied by Dr. Will

In the evening we had supper together and then Dr. Val arrived with a young man in the back of her pickup truck who had been shot. He is a raider named Mariko. He was shot (probably by the Ugandan Army) in a botched raid but he escaped and was in hiding in the bush. Church members found him in as his wound is now septic and his leg is rotting. He refuses to speak and clearly has been beaten on his back, the backs of his legs cained, his ankles and bottoms of his feet beaten to keep him from running away. Our doctors did what they could to dress it and we gave some IM meds and sent Dr. Val and him on to the hospital a few hours away. While she was driving back to Iriri she met some army men who may have been looking for the wounded warrior. They had been tracking the raiders (more than 40 miles through the bush) and manage to recapture the stolen cows. Val gave them a ride back to the barracks in the back of her truck- 12 soldiers with AK47's, 2 machine guns, and a rocket propelled grenade launcher.
Dr. Will with several of the VHTs

Susan teaching and being translated by Victor
For those of us not having that adventure, after dark we spend some time singing and hanging out with the VHT's. They are not all christians but seem to really like singing. Also, there are some language barriers but several of the young men speak a little English so we can get to know each other at least a little.

8/17 I'm really enjoying getting to know the CLIDE team. They are a great group of Ugandan's who are clearly passionate about the work they are doing and the people they are serving. Another day of teaching. (picture) Everything seems to take longer to teach when it has to pass through a translator and be explained more simply than we are. We showed the Jesus film after dark with the VHT's in nakaramojung (the local language) but I have seen it several times (never in English though) and so called it a night without seeing the end. (Don't tell me, it will spoil the surprise).

VHTs with their certificates
8/18 Last day of teaching in Iriri (picture). The VHT's will all head home today to hopefully be there before tomorrow (they all have to walk) so that they will be there when we head to the first peace village. Praying that the roads will be clear enough to pass. Wrapped up our teaching, in the afternoon the doctors saw most of the VHT's who also want medical care and medications.

John and Dr. Will packing the truck

8/19 (picture) Packed up our medical supplies and headed to Nakayot to see sick people. Nakayot is a village of about 1,000 families that was created as a peace village. Those living there agree not to have cattle to reduce fighting. They are encouraged to plant crops and a borehole is put in for them. This was a really challenging day. There has been no medical care here and people's intense desire for help translated itself into very strong emotions and demanding in addition to physical violence and hurtful behaviors. We tried to see as many people as possible but there just weren't enough hours in the day. We were not going to spend the night there due to security reasons so before dark we had to pack up and get back on the road. Really though the team pulled together really well. Heidi (the vet student) and John (the driver) served as our pharmacists filling the scripts that the doctors wrote. We sorted out people with wounds and ear complaints. I cleaned dressed wounds and Janelle spent hours looking in ears and giving antibiotics. The pastors worked as translators and prayed with many patients while the VHT's taught the things they learned from us about prevention and sanitation. The VHT's also counted and packed pills, washed wounds and generally provided crowd control. The day was challenging and a bit of a struggle with things like leaving with so many not seen and the shoving and demands for medications but some things went really well. On the way back we went out to the hospital to visit Mariko. He is still not speaking but we get the report that his leg is doing much better. The roads were really rough and ee were all pretty tired by the time we got back to Iriri that night. A few of the CLIDE staff had not spent the day with us but instead when on ahead to Nabwal to set up camp for us there. A pit latrine needed to be dug, land cleared for our tents and an area to see patients arranged.

Crazy road and the people watching us attempt it.
8/20 Packed up camp and headed out to Nabwal. It is about an hour drive (only 12 miles but very challenging none the less). Val had left some of the staff there and had come back to pick us up so we could go with two vehicles. The road had dried quite a bit but was still crazy. (pictures) We arrived mid-morning and began to see patients right away. Again everyone pitched in. There were many more patients (Nabwal is a peace village of 11,000 families) but we had a lot more help too as the CLIDE staff was almost all there. I had two patients with leprosy, got really good at removing chiggers from feet (a flee that lives and lays eggs under the skin), a teenager who had a broken ankle for several weeks and pneumonia in far too many babies. There were many patients we had not seen when it started to get dark but we assured them that we would see more tomorrow and they left peacefully.
Small side note- Dr. Val has put these horns on the front of her
car to identify her so that she doesn't get shot at.

People waiting to be seen
Dr. Bob seeing patients
As the sun set I mixed some crystal light into my water bottle and dug out of the bottom of my backpack a tiny container of pringles that Claudia gave me (THANKS CLAUDIA!!) and sat just a little ways away from camp. (Still within the line of sight of our armed guards though). It felt surreal. I wrote in my journal “end of the day, exhausted again, but a weird sense of peace. Feels a bit like we were going through the motions, antibiotics and meds for so many but this is still like putting a bandaid on a festering wound. I'm trying to teach the VHTs as I go but language is a problem as most of the translators are tied up with the doctors or teaching the people. We gave them a little knowledge but it is just the tip of the iceberg for what they really need to know to help their communities. I really hope they feel valued. At least the people we much less demanding today. And double the support staff and Val doing a lot of the coordination with the local leaders is making a huge difference. ”

Dancing in the evening
After dark the local pastors began singing and so many from the community joined. I'm sure some of it was because we were the best entertainment in miles around but some really joined in the singing and many joined in the dancing. It was an amazing time. I know God was honored by what took place. Ann shared her heart with those around who were listening and several wanted to give their lives to Christ. One told us she was a local witchdoctor but wanted to be done with that. She was encouraged to return in the morning.

The remains of the witch doctor's artifacts
6/21 Woke up to a group forming already waiting to be seen by the doctors. But other business first. The woman who said she wanted to renounce what she had been doing arrived with all of her ritual materials. She was one of our VHT's!! Publicly she shared the change in her heart and her pots were broken and things destroyed and then lit on fire. (picture) We sang songs of worship while we prayed with her and for her. Two small kids were pulled out of the “audience” who had been anointed in ritual last night and I went over to the side with them to wash off the stuff that had been smeared on them. I'm pretty sure that they had no idea what was going on so I ask that you continue to pray for them (both were less than 8 years old).

Dr. Val's truck had half of the team, some supplies, these
extra people and the little boy with the femur fracture.
We began to see patients and quickly got into a routine. Over the course of the day it was estimated we saw 1200 people though we really didn't have a good way to keep track and lost count at 943 when we ran out of paper. A 5 year old with a femur fracture (happened that am) was brought to me. We took off a splint that was doing no good and tried to immobilize his pelvis and knee and control his pain a little. A woman with meningitis was also brought. I think I did blood draws for malaria tests on at least 40 people while dispensing IM meds. Around 4 pm half of the team packed up and Dr. Bob, Janelle and Susan with Dr. Val and a few CLIDE staff headed back to Iriri for the night (picture) so that they could go to the church in Nakyote in the morning. They also took with them the child with the femur fracture. (picture on yesterday's post) The rest of us stayed behind and saw a few more patients then as it got dark wrapped it up. We still had not seen everyone but once again reassured that we would have more time on Sunday afternoon.

We really wanted to show the Jesus film again but had a lot of problems with the generator and projector and DVD and computer. We showed possibly 2/3 of it with many stops and then it started to rain and the people left quickly so we had to quick pack up the whole set up. Satan merely prolonged his defeat on that front.
Pt missing all of his toes and most of his fingers to leprosy
VHTs dressing wounds
Dr. Bob seeing patients with our camp site in the background.

* By this point in the trip my camera battery was finished but others on the team have pictures so more will follow evenutally
8/22 Worshiped with the tiny Nabwal church in the morning. They had a building but the roof caved in due to the heavy rains so because everyone knew where we were staying we just held church in the open field there. Dr. Will preached. Many children and women but also some warriors (though I think there were just there to see what was going on) attended. We again pulled out our medications, though by now it was slim pickings. It was immediately obvious that Dr. Will was never going to be able to see all who were left to be seen so I began to see patients also leaving the VHT's to do all the wound care and driver John and Heidi to pass meds. They were very good, catching errors and making substitutions where things were gone. I guess hours of practice.... I was supposed to be seeing mostly easy stuff and passing the more complicated kids over to Dr. Will but these were by far the sickest kids we had seen yet. Word had gone out to the farther villages that we were there and the sickest had worked hard to arrive. It was really hard. Early afternoon we had to finish but the crowd had just kept getting bigger. We passed out parasite meds for everyone and quick packed up the last of the tents and supplies. We also had 4 soldiers left from our armed guard (two had traveled with Val's car when she left the day before) in addition to all of us from the team who were left. It was a little crowded to say the least. Add to that the rain from the night before and the car was just too heavy to manage the mud and bad road. About five minutes into the drive we all unloaded again and let John go on ahead with the supplies to wait for us where the road became more passable. After walking roughly 20 kilometers, a few hours later we met back up with them and loaded back up to drive the last little bit. A couple of us said we would just finish walking but the soldier escort said this region was just too unsafe and we had to get back in and they rode on top. We spent the night back in Iriri and besides my feet from hurting from the skin that I had walked, off slept great. That is until 1:30am when we were roused back out of bed. One of the soldiers who had been a part of our escort had been shot. Dr. Bob and I quickly packed all of the medical equipment that we thought we might need and prepared to jump into Val's truck. Then word came over the radio that he had just died. Dr. Bob and Val and a few others went anyway to transport the body back to the barracks.

8/23 Morning came quickly. We spent the day seeing patients from around Iriri who had medical needs. Then early afternoon we packed up all of the last of our things and loaded the first land rover leaving half of the stuff for the Val's truck when she returned to take the rest of the team. We headed back to Moroto but were only about an hour into the trip when Val call to say she got a flat and both of her spares were bad. So we turned around. Then in the dark John changed the tire and put his spare on her truck. We all went to Iriri together and as the thunder rumbled and lightening cracked we raced to get all of the remaining things loaded and tied under tarps. Then we began the several hour trip. The rain held off thankfully because the roads were still bad even dry. We stopped at Val's home in Kangole and unloaded some things around 11pm. Then on to Moroto to the CLIDE office to unload other things and then to the guest house to unload the visitors and their bags. We had a cup of tea there and some oreo cookies for dinner and then Heidi, Val and I loaded into her truck one more time and headed back to Kangole. It was quite the adventure but the bad news is I was starting to feel ill again. By the time we had tossed our mattresses on the floor of Heidi's grass thatched hut we were out cold.

8/24 Once we managed to drag ourselves out of bed we had a little hot water to wash up in. (nice!) Then back on the road to meet the visitors back in Moroto and debrief and plan for the future. A lot of brain storming and looking at what it would take to get some more permanent things in these areas. Sorted and repacked the last of the medical supplies. A meal in downtown Moroto. A day to catch our breaths a little bit again. Heidi, Dr. Val and I all headed to back to Kangole to sleep at their place.

8/25 For a change of pace I spent much of the day hanging out with the US military guys who work in Moroto. They do a lot of work with Dr. Val and CLIDE does some consulting for them. Got to see a little of the work that Val does when she isn't hanging out with a bunch of foreigners. I have really enjoyed my time with her and would love to be able to continue to learn from her and work with her in the future. It is amazing what she has been through and her stories but also what God has done with the sacrifices she has been willing to make.

8/26 Up early one more time to get back to Moroto to catch John and the others from the CLIDE office in Soroti who were headed back. Dr. Val was going to get the Drs and nurses on the plane in Moroto and John had to get all the way back to Kampala in time to pick them up on that end to get them from the MAF plane to the international plane. We were planning on leaving town about 8am for the 5 hour drive back but by the time we loaded the car it was closer to 9. The truck was running rough and John wanted to stop on our way out of town to check some things. That turned into about an hour stop but we finally pulled out. Only to drive about 20 minutes only to decide we still were having vehicle issues and that we needed to go back. That stop turned into another hour as the carburetor was taken off but after “lunch” we were finally on the road again. The roads were rough but tolerable so we made it back to Soroti by about 5pm. What an adventure.


I wanted to find a map that included the places that I'm about to write about and it looks like google maps is the best bet. Up in northern Uganda, near to the Kenyan border you can see Moroto at the base of the mountian. South and west of that you can follow the yellow line to Soroti. That may look like a road but it is really little more than a single lane dirt path in most places. If you zoom in and look down the road from Moroto you will find Kangole and Iriri the places that I spent most of my nights. Nabwal and Nakayot, the peace villages where we treated patients are not on there and I'm honestly not exactually sure where they are.


Our team had the chance to go on a retreat a few weeks ago to Narobi Kenya. It was a great time of rest and being together.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I'm back in Soroti- about two hours now. I have some serious processing to do before I write but here are just a few pictures until I have time to shower, sleep, eat, then write (in that order).
Femur fracture in a five year old.

View from the place where we were staying in Iriiri

Evening tea with the Village Health Workers/ local Midwives
They're Land Rovers- this road will be no problem.

Dr. Val (and Heidi) hard at work as always
A few notes of prayer too- I've been sicker these past two weeks than all of my time in Uganda. I have a hard time admitting weakness so this has really been a struggle for me. Also, this trip opened my eyes to some places that God is working. I really want to join Him in this work. Will you pray for clarity how to do that? I know that in many of my past few blogs I've given prayer requests and have not done a good job telling about how God has answered those prayers. I promise to do that in a soon coming blog. OK- stories to follow soon but I really need to sleep first.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Headed up north

Oh my... I leave for the deep north Uganda, Karamoja region, in less than 12 hours. It was kind of a last minute plan so I'm not quite as prepared as I'd like and am a little nervous. I'll be there for two weeks and am really looking forward to it but don't really know what I'm getting myself into.  I'll be joining some American doctors and a few others. They will be flying up shortly after they land in the capital and I'll meet them in Moroto.  We're doing two weeks of medical clinics and teaching for one of the least reached people groups in Uganda.  At least that is what I think we're doing. We are staying in tents and it should be an adventure.

More stories to come....

"Corner past the mango tree into the place that is somehow bushy." (A direct quote from yesterday's adveture).  Today I met a child with leprosy and discovered that one the my favorite handicapped kids has yellow fever. (another adventure.)  I have a few posts in the works but have been without internet and now I'm without time. You will have to wait (with baited breath of course) for my return. I'm sure I'll have stories from my time up north also.  

Unrelated: I love it when a cute guy stares deep into my eyes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Claudia is here!

So a quick thanks to all of you who pointed out that you read my posts to the end no matter how much I ramble. Sometimes, I don't know what to write about so if you have questions or topic suggestions fire away. I'm not as depressed as some of my last posts sound. This is the medium that I process on and well, life here is hard and occasionally frequently it carries through into my writing and I wrestle with things.
Anyway, our friend Claudia is here!! She is on her way to work in the middle east and is spending a few days with us out in Soroti (only a slight detour). It is really fun to have a friend here who can experience life as we live it. She also brought some nice new clothes, deodorant and cheese which makes me appreciate her even more! :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Today's funeral was... well... a funeral. A huge, African funeral with lots of long winded preachers and a few long winded politicians. (This is campaign season and evidently funerals are an audience that you don't have to pay to get them to come.) A few funny things- they managed to beat yesterdays record of number of people that can be crammed into the RAV4. I figure that as long as I'm the only person in the driver's seat and there is no one on the roof, then I'll let them keep piling in. I still have to figure out what I'm going to do it they do start tying things, like goats or chickens, to the roof but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I fell asleep at one point (so did at least 100 other people so don't judge!) and woke up when I felt little hands on my back and discovered the kids behind me were holding me up so I didn't fall off the bench. All of the other women get to sit on the ground so they could just lay down or lean on each other when they got sleepy but I had to spend from noon, when we arrived to 5, when they finally wrapped it up, on a really low bench with no back. So, thanks little kids for holding me up. I appreciate it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Watch out- I ramble

Some quick updates are in order I think. I'm feeling pretty down so I'm not sure if I'll keep this one to my self or put it up but it is getting late and I haven't posted in a few days so I'm afraid I'll just get to the end and hit publish. I hate it when that happens but for some reason occasionally I do that. Wow, I'm rambling too. This could be interesting. Focus kragt....

Update #1: AnnaGrace passed away early last night. I got a call around 7:30 this morning. I expressed my condolences but explained that I wouldn't come now-now but would see them soon. I figured I should ask if there was anything I could do for them but honestly I just didn't want to sit with the body and all the grieving women in the dirt in her tiny hut... So I went to church where I was having a hard time entering into worship. And my phone rang again “Could I come to transport the body back to where it will be buried?” I felt convicted that it was a more honest worship to make this sacrifice than to stay in church. So, bad news (good news?) the coffin didn't fit in my car. We rented a truck and loaded it up with the body, enough posho and beans for more than 100, and at least 15 people. Somehow they crammed 8 more people in my car (9 including me but as the driver I'm glad to say I was the only person in my seat though that can't be said about any other spot- it is a 5 seater car). We set off for a more distant village than the one we were already in. There were many women there already grieving which only got more intense with the unloading of the coffin. Anyway, eventually I greeted all who I needed to and promised many that I would return the following day for the actual burial. Left the church around 9am and returned to my house around 3pm. Not what I expected my Sunday to be. And honestly I'm really not looking forward to more of the same tomorrow....

Whoa, too long for a simple update. I'll do better with this one.
Update #2: I was planning on spending all week meeting the needs of handicapped kids but it looks like that just isn't going to happen. I have one more doctor in Soroti that I'm trying to connect with, a pediatrician, who I hope to be able to work with. I have at least 3 kids that need to see her but she is crazy busy and doesn't have appointments or even set “office” hours. You just wait and if she is finishes at the hospital she will see people at the clinic. But I've been told she also takes frequent trips to see patients in Kampala (she can make better $ there, I'm sure) so she isn't always here. I wanted to connect at least one of these kids with her this week but don't feel like I have hours to just sit and wait for her to come. Also, I have not taken the kids I enrolled in the Cerebral Palsy clinic back to Kumi in 3 weeks. They are supposed to go every week! I feel really guilty about that. The team assures me that Ugandans are used to waiting so this isn't a big deal but these kids are really missing out. They really need the therapy and the parents really need the frequent encouragement. Some of the kids I haven't seen since the first day that I met them and I need to get back out there to follow up. It is just that EVERYTHING takes SO LONG!

O.K. Was that even an update or am I just unloading?
Update#3: Claudia is coming this week! She is an IT-missionary who Beckie and I trained with, and is now on her way to the middle east to work. She is spending a week with us before she starts her two year commitment. We will leave Wednesday to pick her up and be back in Soroti Thursday. So there goes two more days this week. I'm really looking forward to having her here but I'm worried as I'm already feeling guilty about not getting stuff done but I want to be able to spend time with her.

Yeah, that really wasn't an update.
Update #4: No monitor lizard spotings in a long time. Does that mean he has moved out and it is safe to get chickens?  I think possibly.
I need to call it a night. I'm sure there are other things going on that I could update about but I'm about done rambling for this session. Thanks Aunt Pat for reading this because I'm pretty sure you are the only one who made it all the way to the end. Until later....