Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I learned something today. Adults that are buried in their village are buried outside of the clan compounds. Children and babies however are buried "within the home" meaning inside the circle of homes that makes up the family compound. 
To go with that, here is a statistic I also learned today- 15% of children born in Uganda  never reach their 5th birthday. Just meaningless numbers? Try this picture. 

7 little graves in this family's yard. Some are a few years old and the family couldn't afford cement. In 2007 they added the first cement one and today they added two more.


Trying to get my dad to walk me through how to fix our inverter so I can again charge my computer from my car battery. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chocolate Cake?!?

I don't like to brag.   O.K., I like to brag once in a while. And I'm sure you wont find this nearly as exciting as I do. But I'm going to post it anyway. I made this chocolate cake. It is awesome. I had to substitute several ingredients and fudge a few others but it still turned out.  And it is the best cake I've ever made. I REALLY needed some chocolate this week. You can't get good chocolate here.  No chocolate chips or chocolate sauce, or chocolate candies- you know: melt in your mouth not in your hand. So I don't satisfy my craving nearly often enough. But for about then next 2.5 days I'm all set. If I can make it last that long....
Oh well, I tried. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Best parts

This is all that is left of a chicken that I cooked. Literally. All that is left.  A few years ago I would have cooked a whole chicken but then thrown away the skin, organs, tendons, you know, all those bits we just don't eat.  Even a year ago I cooked the whole bird but then fed everything I didn't deem to be "meat" to the cats and dog. But this time I was picking the meat off the carcass while listening to the kids running in the yard. So I tossed everything that I didn't want- heart, feet, liver, bones, connective tissue etc... back into the pot and boiled it with an onion and a bullion cube. Then the next time the kids came over I gave them the "soup" and they ate it all over rice. All of it. These bones are even cracked open so they could suck the marrow out. Kidneys, neck, everything. Gone. And then they thanked me for saving the best parts for them. No problem kids. I'm glad you enjoyed. 

Friday, August 26, 2011


There is a really sick little one at Amecet tonight. The Dutch nurse and I had our heads together for a while this evening and we just have no idea.  The child is nearly 18 months and weights about 6 kg. (13.2 lbs) She has had a high fever (up wards of 39.7 C or 103.4 F)  for more than 6 days. When she first spiked the temp they tested her for malaria and it was negative. The doctor treated her for it anyway. 3 days into treatment still no change. So they stopped the malaria meds and tested her urine- UTI (though that dx is dicey because they ALWAYS find stuff in urine here.) So she was put on amox.  No change.  So they changed her to IV ceftriaxone- a huge dose for a kid her size, after another negative malaria test. She has been on those IV antibiotics for 2 days. I saw her for the first time tonight. Her fever is still continuous, she is lethargic.  No vomiting or diarrhea but her abdomen terribly distended. However, this is normal in these kids that come in so malnourished so I don't that that is significant. Now her breathing is pretty rapid and tonight lungs sound pretty crackly but no cough and the ceftriaxone should still be addressing that right?  Am I missing something? No rash so I don't think it is measles or dengue fever. I can't find any enlarged nodes so I don't think it is mumps. Nothing indicates meningitis and we both think we can rule out typhoid.  I think the next step will be try to get a chest x-ray. Anybody want to jump into this discussion?
She has a sock on her hand to keep her from pulling her IV out. 
I'm happy to report her fever is down to 37.7 C (99.8 F) this morning. Still lethargic but continues to drink so we will continue to just watch her and wait.
Oh, by the way, I'm not in Karamoja. Transport was an issue so I'm still in Soroti.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nearly 75% of the bible can be labeled narrative. I had the chance to join a workshop on telling the stories of the bible for the past few days. The focus was telling this majority of the bible to oral (illiterate) people so they can study it the same way we do when reading.
God's timing is cool because last week and (hopefully!) again this weekend we are spending time with young church leaders in Karamoja who are learning these stories for themselves with the intent of sharing with others.  I hope to be able to apply what I've learned to what we are doing with the new believers up north. 
On that note I'd like to ask for prayer again. It has been a really full week with visitors living with us for that workshop. I had not yet unpacked from before and now I'm packing stuff again to head back up. I'm planning on leaving in a few hours and I'm not sure when I'll be back.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why don't I go more often to prayer?

An old one but a good one:
What a friend I have in Jesus
All my sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
What peace I often forfeit!
What needless pain I often bear?
All because I do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have I trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
I should never be discouraged,
If I take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can I find a friend so faithful?
Who will all my sorrows share?
Jesus knows my every weakness.
Why don't I more often go to prayer?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tim is sick

Many of you followed my blog when teammate Tim was so sick with septic arthritis and ostemylitis. (A few of those posts here and  here ). Right now he and his family are in the states on home assignment. He has been in the emergency room since Saturday with infection in the opposite knee and they have been told it is spreading. He been on IV abx and isn’t improving so is now getting admitted and will be seen by an infectious disease doc.  
Selfishly, I can't even tell you how happy I am that this is happening while they are there. The thought of treating a teammate for sepsis again here is enough to make me want to pack my bags. But on the other side I feel really bad that they are going through all of this again. Please pray. They have already been in the states longer than they wanted to be and want to be ready to come back here soon. Please pray for their kids who are feeling unsettled. Please pray for Tim who is an otherwise healthy active guy and being stuck in a hospital bed isn't fun for anyone. Please pray for Angie too. Answers and a fast (complete!!) recovery would be wonderful. 
Right then, one last post about this last trip north before I move on to new topics. A random assortment of things I want to talk about:

    A picture of the kitchen so as not put any wrong ideas in your head.
  • A few interesting critters joined us this time. A little black snake was found slithering around our “kitchen” at breakfast time the first morning. I’m proud to say I was part of the killing of the snake. (If being a spectator counts as being part.  At least I didn’t run out like a few of the others.) It was determined postmortem that it was a venomous type and beaten a few more times for good measure. There was also found a venomous (with fangs possibly!) centipede in our sleeping quarters. It was not successfully killed so we are still on the lookout for it. This cat was trapped just a few days ago not too far from Nakayot.

  • I just like this picture of Lowoke sitting with these kids in our camp.  He is one of the CLIDE guys. He is maintenance man, translator, driver and anything else that needs doing. Like loading and unloading hundreds of pounds of stuff and people into and out of vehicles, getting us unstuck on really muddy roads. Speaking of roads here are just a few pictures to give you just a little glimpse of trying to drive out to the villages during the rainy season.

I think this is Val stuck in the mud. I'm not sure because I don't really believe my eyes. I'm still not convinced it is possible. 

We are headed into that?!
  • Want to write a minute about the hospital in Matany too. It is an Italian Catholic run hospital. It is easily the best in Karamoja (in most of Uganda I think) but it is out in the middle of nowhere- which is the middle of where the people who need it most are, I guess. At 5 in the morning we headed straight to pediatrics and were directed to a big room situated right between the two large wards. The room had a long table running the length of the room with 3 nurses working with about 10 babies (and their mothers) at the table. We added our baby to the table where the nurses put in her line and drew blood. As we tied up two nurses for several minutes the number of mothers and babies waiting kept increasing. I suspect it was morning meds and all of these babies were getting IV meds.  There were maybe 40 multidose vials on the tables and the 3rd nurse keep drawing from various ones, mixing and diluting as she tried to keep up with all those who kept handing her their charts. While we were waiting for the doctor to arrive I took a quick walk through the wards. One was clearly new. There were 20 stainless steel metal cribs (all but one was occupied) and 14 beds (all full). Mothers and grandmothers were sleeping on the floor on mats.  The room was very clean but all cement. The cribs and beds were broken up into sections divided by chest high walls. So you could look across the whole big ward and see everything but if you were laying down there was a little privacy. The older ward was almost exactly the same but more kids per bed. Many  had  two children in each bed and most had blood or fluids hanging. Two beds had big old oxygen concentrators next to them. I counted about 6 nurses (or medical staff of some sort) and more than 70 pediatric patients in the two wards. But it was clean. The staff was quick and took us seriously. The doctor arrived shortly after the nurses called him. I really think his diagnosis is crap (oh yeah, the reason I was at Matany is here) but he didn’t know what was wrong with the child and needed to save face with us and his staff. But I pray as labs come back and as time passes the real cause will become clear or not and she'll recover without any known cause.
  •  We stopped at a road side accident on the way back to Soroti somewhere between Iriri and Katakwi. I think everyone was speaking Ateso so we most likely were on this side of the border. I’d considered stopping at accidents several times in the past, however I usually had a good reason not to.  But this time I offered to help as I had lots of folks in the car that could assist and I knew right where my medical bag was. A woman was kneeling on the side of the road blood running off her head and face and dripping on the ground. She still had her crying baby tied on and was looking dazed and mumbling incoherently.  While the other CLIDE members joined the large crowd forming, trying to figure out what had happened, I started to clear away the blood to figure out that I was looking at. We took the baby off (who seemed fine thankfully!) and decided she just had a couple of superficial scalp lacs and some facial abrasions that we all bleeding quite a bit. However, she was as drunk as a skunk. Made it hard to rule out head injury but did make me feel much better about the altered mental status. I guess an oncoming car had forced the bike off the road. The woman was sitting on the back. The car was long gone and the driver of the bike was almost as drunk as the woman but only had minor abrasions on his hands. We helped the woman clean up her head and face, scrubbing dirt out and cutting off some hair but there was nothing so deep that it needed suturing and with a little pressure the bleeding stopped. I considered encouraging them to head to a clinic but to what ends? There would be no one there who could do anything about a potential head injury, no more complete assessment that what I could do and certainly no radiology.  I chuckled a little to myself as the thought of a c-collar then passed out some Motrin and prayed for the best.
I have to see how my week is going to pan out but there is a slim chance I’ll head back up to Karamoja this coming weekend. I’d love to go but I feel like I have a few things on my plate and I don’t want to neglect other responsibilities. Speaking of neglecting other responsibilities, that was far more writing than I was going to do today. Signing off….

Sunday, August 21, 2011


So the purpose of the trip to Karamoja this time was to follow up with all of those new believers from the outreach. But as there are more than 500 of them and our desire is to form an indigenous church (not just followers of a bunch of mazungos/foreigners) it was planned to start a bunch of local discipleship groups. The village selected a few to take leadership. We had those few pick a partner  and they were trained in leading a group through old testament stories. They themselves don't really know the stories so have been equipped with small solar powered speakers that have them recorded.
These girls are learning how to use their players. 
They were also each given a fabric sheet with one picture from all the stories on it and taught the old testament progression up to the life then death of Jesus.A few can read so they were also given a little book that goes along with the stories they are listening to with a few questions to encourage some discussion in their listening groups.
So under the shade of a tree they learned the old testament stories, talked about being a disciple of Jesus and were encouraged to keep learning and fellowshiping and to bring their neighbors along with them on their journey.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


The Nakayot United Warriors played their debut soccer (called futbol here) game yesterday against Lorangachora. United Warriors is a great name for them as these young men would be warriors if they were not living in the peace village. And they are united as they are from two tribes that 5 years ago would have been killing each other. Pretty cool.  Our guys were a little lacking in the skills department but they made up for it in heart.
It's uniforms vs. none. The home team is wearing any jersey in what ever color they could get. Our team is just glad they have shorts and shirts. That is the ref in white and khaki. 

Everyone in bare feet. 

I love this. We needed to pause midway into the first half  to re inflate the ball. At least the guys from each team are working together!!

Friday, August 19, 2011


This blog post has been stuck in my craw since around 3 am so even though I need to be going to bed so badly that it is almost painful I’m sitting here writing….
Put yourself in these shoes for a minute… you wake up to a funny sound around 2 am. Your 2 year old is fussing. Strange, she doesn’t usually do that. You can see her moving in her bed. You scoop her up and take her outside where there is a little light from the moon. She really doesn’t look right. Gasping for breath, stiff in your arms, eyes rolled back in her head. You holler for your husband to wake up. As he starts to stir up the fire for light you are trying to think. What are you doing to do?!? Phone! You don’t have a phone. Neither do 500 of your nearest neighbors. Your baby isn’t responding at all. You are calling her name but she isn’t even opening her eyes. The village health workers?  They never have any medicine and besides they don’t even know what to do for joint aches. Car? There is no transport for miles around! Besides it is the middle of the night. These roads aren’t good in the light, dangerous in the dark. Your baby girl is going to die! She isn’t breathing at all. You have no idea what is wrong. She was fine before supper. Didn’t want to eat much and fell asleep earlier than usual but you didn’t think twice about it. Your neighbors have heard you yelling and came over. One grabs the baby and starts to rub her hard.  The other is holding her mouth open. You just can’t even think, she is going to die and there is nothing you can do….
Unfortunately, this is life for those that live in the villages of Karamoja. This is also where I entered the story. One of the neighbors remembers that Dr. Val is sleeping in the village tonight. The woman rubbing the baby carries her and they come up to the hut where we are asleep. They are yelling her name and several are talking at once. We pull on skirts and step out of our hut to see a bit of a crowd. Val yells for one of the guys to come translate for us. A man is still holding the baby’s mouth open while another is rubbing her belly and chest hard. I’m still trying to clear the sleep from my brain and figure out what is going on when I see this this kid who pretty clearly isn’t moving any air on her own.  Pulse? Nothing in the extremities, skin’s cold, I can find a heart rate in the neck but its thready, irregular and crap.  It is apparent quickly that this person rubbing the baby is generating some type of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. In my head I’m yelling for a crash cart and calling a code. In real life I’m still squatting on the ground with my flash light in my hand listening to a mother cry in a language I don’t understand over the obvious, pending death of her little girl. Can someone put in an airway and start bagging? Put in a line and leave it wide open, be sure to get a rainbow of tubes for lab. Lets draw some ABG’s and get radiology to do some stat chest films. Crap! I’m still kneeling on the ground with only a flashlight in my hands. Then she seizes. Grand mal, rigid, seems to last forever. Val has her driver warming up the truck. We are translating to the family that we will leave for the hospital right now. Pt’s father was here but now is gone and pt’s mother cries, that she can’t leave, she has a younger baby at home that is still breast feeding. The father comes running back pretty quickly carrying the younger baby and we all pile into the truck. We pause so that Pastor John can pray for the child and the journey and then we are off. The mud is more than a foot thick in places, standing water in other places, long grass, wet, really dark and pretty treacherous, especially at 60 kilometers per hour. 
(Here is a picture of the road several hours later after the sun has dried things out a little.)
We finally reach the hospital. 2 hours and 15 minutes later. Miraculously the child is still alive when we arrive. She has had at least 6 more seizures in the car (though I suspect that she was status epilepticus almost our entire ride- is that even possible?!?) and she still looks like she is barely staving off death but we headed straight into the pediatric ward and got immediate attention. (Walking into this ward needs to be experienced to be believed but I’ll attempt to address it in a coming post.) The nurses put in a line, drew blood and checked her sugar. It was the best response I’ve seen in any situation yet in this country.
Unfortunately this is where this story ends. I wish this story has a happy ending but we have to keep praying. We left the baby and her parents there at the hospital. The seizures seems to have stopped but the child was unresponsive to pain and deep stimulation. She still had a pulse but it wasn’t good. She was breathing on her own which was a plus as this hospital doesn’t have the means to intubate. She has a crap diagnosis of cerebral malaria (Which it is not!!!) and they are running in quinine (Poison!!!)  but at least she is in the best place in all of Karamoja and we managed to communicate to the family that we cared and were willing to try. From start to finish I found the whole thing frustrating. I guess that is why I’m still awake nearly 20 hours after the fact processing. Frustrated with the crummy situation the Karamojung find themselves in. Frustrated that the nearest reasonable hospital is more than 2 hours away. Frustrated with myself for not being more equipped and able to help. Frustrated with the hospital for not being able to offer better treatment. Maybe frustrated most of all with this: My teaching today for the training of the village health workers was on the limitations of medicine and medication and how we have to rely on God. Yet I still want to rely on what I’ve been taught, my skills, medicines and that prayer is a pause I take before jumping in the truck with a sick baby.  How do I balance medicine and good care as God given gifts yet turn first to the One that I know gives life and healing? 
I'm just tired. I need to call it a night before I fall off this chair. But I'm back in Soroti. More posts to follow soon. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Prayer request

This is the time of day when I roll out of bed, make myself a hot caffeinated drink, wander around feeding all of the various animals then settle down with my computer to journal. But not today.  About 18 hours ago the CLIDE folks decided they were going to head up to Karamoja today so I'm dropping everything and joining them. I feel a little unprepared (again!) and I really need to pack and write a few notes on some topics I want to talk with the VHTS about and gather some medications and refill/repack my medical bag and find my tent and make some food to bring along and....
And I need to pause and spend some time with God because that is the most important.
I'll be back in a few days!

Monday, August 15, 2011


I need to complain just for a second- I AM SICK OF THIS LOAD SHEDDING AND THESE ROLLING BLACK OUTS!!!!  For more than 6 weeks now every other night the power goes out around sunset and every other day the power goes off an hour or two after sunrise. You can see why it might be a little frustrating. We have to constantly be aware when it is on to be charging everything we'll need (phones, computers, batteries, etc) and doing the things we need to with power on. Our poor fridge/freezer isn't holding up well and I've had a lot of stuff spoil in the last few weeks. (I even served us green meat one night because I couldn't bring myself to throw out a beautiful Kampala steak-but no one got sick and it only tasted a little funny.) The news is reporting that this won't change until at least November, if at all.

O.K., I'm done complaining. I'm happy we have power when we have it and that I don't have to run a generator or make do without ALL the time. I'm happy that practically every day is sunny and I don't have things like a TV, curling iron, washing machine, air conditioner, blow dryer or blender to use anyway. I'm happy that I can predict (mostly) when there isn't going to be power so I can be a little prepared.
On that note I need to get off the computer to conserve the little battery I have left just in case it doesn't come back on tomorrow morning.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

School holiday is in full swing. That means at time 20+ kids in our yard, wandering around bored, looking for things to do.  Yesterday a bunch of the girls were here asking for my "saucepans". This means any empty containers, spoons and dishes I'm willing to let them pretend with. They play house often and recently they have added playing restaurant. Yesterday they were playing quietly  but then asked if I had any thing to "cut-cut".  This means things that need preparing. Often we use their help to cut vegetables, clean pineapple, grate carrots,  juice passion fruit, etc. Well, I had sweet potatoes to peel, egg plant and tomato to dice and onion to chop.  So I set them to work. Then they asked if they could start a fire to cook it. Their game of pretend quickly turned into the real thing as the boys soon showed up hungry. (During school time the kids often get a meal at school. Just because they are home doesn't mean their parents are any more able to provide that second meal of the day so most of them just eat once a day when school is on break.) I couldn't help but wonder if the parents of 3rd graders in the states are letting them build fires and cook lunch for their siblings in the front yard in the summer.....     
Now, I'm wondering if I shouldn't have been supervising them more. But this is life for these kids. There were no knife injuries, no burns and they were all quite happy to eat what they had prepared. There was no wasted food (no leftovers!) and they even happily did their dishes under the tap outside.     

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I’ve heard some complaints that I haven’t posted in over a week. I hadn’t even realized that much time had passed. It has been a very full couple of days. Lacy’s last days here have been busy with last things that we wanted to show her and have her experience. Then seeing a little bit of Uganda as we traveled and yesterday morning dropping her off at the airport. We drove ALL DAY yesterday to get back to Soroti and I (hopefully!) will have time to catch up on the blog soon. 

Well, in a strange turn of events I guess I'll be blogging today. I slipped and managed to break a toe.  I've been hobbling around most of the morning but it feels better elevated with frozen hot dogs on it so I guess I'll write for a while...

Betty and Abella's trip

Breakfast in Entebee
 Betty and Abella are the two 12 year old girls that seem to be found at our house most days of the week. They have just started school holiday and we invited them to come along with us on our most recent trip to Kampala. These two have only traveled outside of Soroti one other time (to the swimming pool in Mbale with Shaardas) and haven't had opportunity to travel like this before. We left Soroti on Wednesday morning and drove a few hours then stopped for a picnic lunch and an hour of swimming at the pool in Mbale. This was their second time ever swimming.
With 0% body fat if they tread water frantically they could keep their heads above water long enough for me to take this picture.  
Then we packed back in the car and headed on to Siysi Falls, a water fall where we camped for the night.  They had never seen anything as lush and beautiful before. Betty told me "I didn't know Uganda looked like this!"
We slept at the bottom and hiked to the top.

Trying to get to get up.

Amazing view once you get there. 
The following morning we trekked up to the top of the waterfall- a very wet, slippery climb this time! We then came back down, enjoyed breakfast and packed back into the car and headed to Jinja and lake Victoria. We briefly showed the girls Owen Falls Dam, the country's Hydroelectric power station, which provides all of this country with electricity near the source of the Nile. We quickly moved on as we wanted to reach Entebee before dark. We had rented a banda at the zoo for the night and still needed to have supper.

We got up early to take Lacy to the airport where we wanted to show the girls the planes coming and going but there were no big flights there yet (the one Lacy was to leave on had not yet arrived).  So we  looked at the empty runway for a few minutes then headed out to find breakfast. We went back to the zoo to pack up and spend a few hours. It was really nice as it wasn't actually open yet. The animals were up and around because it was early and the girls seemed really impressed.  We stopped beside Lake Victoria to let the girls put their feet in then began the long drive back to Soroti. After stopping in Kampala for some much needed groceries of course.  Even groceries stores seemed to impress the girls. (One is like a small Walmart and was far more than they had ever experienced before.) We even had to hit the mall for a few adapters. We may have overwhelmed them a little. I would love to hear what they are going to tell their siblings when they recount everything they have seen and experienced.  

Standing in Lake Victoria. 

Family Planning- Take 2

I traveled last week with Charles and Martin (a couple of pastors we have worked with in the past) out to Serere (Pingire) to teach on family planning again. Overall, there were few hitches. Lunch at 4pm was a little lame and right off the bat Charles promised them that I would answer all of their questions, even the hard ones (I can’t make this stuff up! I hate answering questions because I have to keep a straight face and some of them I don’t even know where to begin and a few seem so far in left field and I’m pretty sure that Josh told Charles to say that before he left) but overall it went really well.
Charles and Martin were cracking me up. Martin put on the “pregnant backpack” between every person and he made every guy there wear it and then carry a full jerry can of water, sweep, pick weeds, wash clothes, gather and carry firewood, etc… One guy tried to refuse and Martin asked him if he had a wife. “Has she been afflicted with pregnancy? You put this on then and think about her!” He lectured them on loving their wives and to not mistreat them when they are pregnant. He even made several of the secondary school (high school) girls put it on for a few minutes. The women were rolling on the floor laughing.
My part was much improved because I had a better idea of what women needed to learn about and how to communicate it in an easier to understand way and was more educated about NFP.
We talked about what abortion is and how family planning is not abortion. We spent quite a bit of time in prayer and confession for those that had taken part in abortion. Then we talked about what the bible says about planning our families.  There were pastors from 4 other area churches and all were very interested. We were speaking to at least 11 married men, 2 single guys, 13 married women and 20 or more teenaged girls. All were very engaged with the topics discussed.  It was pretty late by the time I reached back to Soroti but it felt like a day well spent. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Good news!!

I'm so happy to report that I found Immaculate and she is doing really well!! Tabatha spent a few hours with me yesterday locating them. We started at her former home and found a neighbor who thought she knew where she was living now. We all got back in the car and headed to a different village and then wandered around asking for her. It didn't take too long to get to the correct hut. Immaculate and her baby were taken in by an older woman who needed help around her house. I asked if the woman was related and I'm pretty sure she isn't but all three seem very happy together. They said there isn't much food to go around but the place looked well cared for and felt much more peaceful than the home Immaculate was kicked out of. I'm going to go so far as to say that this place is a much better situation. 
Look at this precious baby!!
On a completely unrelated note several of them practically laughed themselves off their chairs when I carried this bag of cassava from the car to their hut on my head. They begged me to let them take a picture. I don't see what is so funny.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lacy's account of the medical outreach

*Lacy is a visitor from MI who is living with us for 5 short weeks. We have really enjoyed having her stay with us and I was really glad she was willing to join us in Karamoja (not that I gave her much choice!) even though she had only been in Uganda two days before we headed out there. Here is her account of some of our adventures....

            Karamoja was definitely one of the greatest adventures I have ever been on.  I felt like I had been dropped into a cover of National Geographic, with the mud huts and village women in their pleaded skirts and beads.  It was amazing, the land and mountains are beautiful.  Out there, there can be no doubt in your mind that God exists and that He is an awesome creator.  The day we left was a long day and definitely gave me a taste for how the rest of the two weeks were going to go and how I was really going to have to practice patience and flexibility.
              My first night was spent in a mud hut with Jennifer and then every night after that was in our tent where a lot of debriefing occurred.  The things you would think would be difficult I got used to pretty quickly like using pit latrine, showering with a cup, and 2nd degree sun burns.  What wasn't as easy to get used to was the staring by every member of the village, eating posho and beans two times a day and waking up at 5:30am to clap and sing in a circle. 
Our latrine

Our shower- there are 3 stalls  in this amazing piece of construction

Making posho for 70 people- yum!!
            The first day we walked into the middle of town every eye was on Jennifer and I. Then a crowd formed around us and people were pulling at us and were asking for food.  We quickly left and went back up to our camp.  I loved our tent camp.  In the mornings while the medical team taught the VHTs I would stay up at the camp and sit and talk with the CLIDE staff.  They are some of the most amazing men and women I have ever met.  They truly love God and love serving people.  They are always joking around and having fun with one another.  I usually talked with  James, who was nicknamed the padlock because he was in charge of everything being stored,  Matthew , who was the key since he was always getting the food out of the store because he was in charge of cooking all of our meals. Richard, who was a driver hired for the trip, Julius who did most of the technical work, and  Anne who helped with the planning and evangelism. My mornings spent with them were some of my favorite times up there. 
            Then in the afternoons I would help with clinic.  I helped with the pharmacy which was definitely a learning experience....very frustrating at times...but rewarding as well.  One CLIDE member that helped me a lot was Moses a CLIDE staff member who is Karamojung himself and therefore knew the language and was my interpreter for many of the clinics.  He is quiet, but I can tell He has a big heart for the people and the Lord.  It was his calmness that helped me get through many of the clinics. 
Richard and Moses at the pharmacy tables keeping things under control. 
         There was one clinic where it started to pour and everyone was trying to fit under a few tarps we had up.  It was an awesome moment where we all had to just stop and wait and watch the rain pour down around us and the ground became thick and muddy under us.  You would think things would become chaotic in this situation, but everyone remained calm and children played in the rain and we waited.  Everything comes to a stand still when it rains.  It is almost like God's way of telling us to stop and relax and take a break from the day and prepare for whats next. 
            You could definitely feel the Holy Spirit's presence in Nakayot.  Every morning we would begin the day with singing and praying and asking the Lord to help us with the day ahead.  Though it was difficult for me to get up so early when it was still dark to clap and sing, it was still so important that we gave the day into God's hands.  So many amazing things happened throughout the two weeks I was there and it wasn't because of us, it was ALL God.  It is hard to believe that there are still people who have not heard about Jesus before like the people of Nakayot.  It is awesome that there is now over 500  new believers and thousands more who now know the story of Jesus.
            CLIDE showed the Jesus story the first couple nights in the middle of the village by way of projector and sheet.  Then there was a request by the people to see it again the last night.  So they played the whole movie for three hours and it was estimated that 3000 people from the village and surrounding villages came to watch.  I went down for the last hour of the movie and it was something I'm sure I will never see again.   Hundreds of people sitting in front of a sheet many of them watching a moving picture for the first time.  There were many people crying during the crucifixion of Christ and then when He arose again everyone cheered.  It was pretty awesome.  The whole trip was amazing and I really hope I can return someday and see the continual growth of the village and the new church of Nakayot.                     
Crowd waiting for the start of the movie.

Setting up the projector midst a mass of people.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Playing in the sandbox

These pictures were taken a few weeks back.  The neighbor kids (of both nationalities) were making a city in my "sand box".  Having all these kids around all the time can be a tremendous challenge but I don't think I'd give it up if offered the opportunity.
The Shaardas are in the states on furlough right now.  I'm thinking of you guys and praying for you today!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Walking with the suffering

These past few days have, for Beckie, Lacy and I, been all about spending time with those who are suffering. On Saturday it was attending the burial of a 4 year old girl. We also got reports that Dorcus (the child’s sister and a young woman were trying to help) had stolen a large amount of money, took off to somewhere else in the country and can’t be reached.  Sunday found us sitting with hurting friends- a young mother who is burying her second baby, lost to a late pregnancy miscarriage and another who is trying to hold her marriage together after her husband cheated on her and isn’t accepting any responsibility.  I was reminded again on Sunday how none of the kids that come to play in our yard have fathers. The kids were with us for several hours without telling their caregivers where they were and no one missed them.  Monday we were at Amecet, holding the most neglected and abandoned babies.   Moses is a great little guy with huge dimples who was left in a pig stall wrapped in a plastic bag with the placenta still attached. He is still at Amecet because no one is willing to accept responsibility for him. Today I wanted to check up on Immaculate (13 year old handicapped kid raped by her "father") and learned that her mother sent her away. She and her baby were kicked out of the house because the new boyfriend didn't want them around. Now no one seems to know where they are living or how they are surviving. It will be tomorrow's project to find her. 
I've got to be honest. I'm sick of all of this suffering. I know that this is what I'm here for. To share the hope that I have. But some weeks it is harder than others. 

Monday, August 1, 2011


While we were in Karamoja water issues were a big part of our daily struggles. We constantly heard from the people how the bore hole didn’t supply enough for them so how they had to go into the mountains to springs that were often fouled up by baboons or other animals.  We ourselves often wondered if we would be able to transport enough for the day. We spent lots of time filtering to make it clean enough to drink. We occasionally went without washing up because there was only enough left for cooking and drinking. Then there were the challenges of water in the form of rain. We were all staying in old tents that were far from rain proof. Constantly there were sleeping bags and sleeping mats piled outside waiting for the sun to come out and dry them.  The rain made the roads tricky and travel interesting.  So with thoughts of water still in the back of my mind I was asked to preach this Sunday here in Soroti. I  often decline but God brought some verses to mind  and it all suddenly came together in my head during worship.

Jeremiah 2:13 "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."

The K-jongs are often forced to choose between dirty water and no water. But this past trip we brought living water! And we offered it free. And still some chose to get it from their dirty cisterns. They would rather have witchcraft and alcoholism and anger and fear because that is the way it has always been.  And the same is true of us. We choose dirty water over what God is offering. We look to things like entertainment or money or relationships or possessions to satisfy our thirst. But Jesus is saying don’t drink that crap! I’m offering LIVING WATER!
I’m feeling challenged to evaluate what I’m consuming to satisfy my thirst. Am I forsaking the things of God and trying to build my own cistern? Are you?