Friday, March 30, 2012

RRC team

I have a list a mile long to accomplish today but I really needed a few minutes to sit quietly and think and  I do that best in this medium so this morning finds me sitting at my computer. I feel like I have so much to write about I don't even know where to begin....
The team from my church in Michigan is here. They are already about half way through their time and it has been crazy busy. There is so much that they want to see and do. Consistently their days begin before 7am and don't end until after 9pm. I find myself rushing home at the end of the day to get ready for the next one then crash into bed and far too quickly drag myself back out of it gather the day's supplies, load the truck and head back to the guest house to pick them up. Today we had breakfast at 6 so they could be on the road in good time. They are headed out to Obalanga to construct a memorial at the mass graves and then going to Morungatuny to meet some of the former child soldiers, to hear their stories and see where they live. (Former child soldiers from the LRA, Kony, etc... this seem familiar?) I stayed back to make some "mazungo" food for them, get ready for the next project and just catch my breath a bit. It has been a whirlwind week. We traveled out to the peace village in Karamoja and stayed a night there. We taught a maternal/child class in the Obule church and a lesson on reconciliation in Pingray. We visited the Sikh temple and spent quite a bit of time talking with the leader of the temple and the others who live with him. (more general information).  Tomorrow we'll spend the morning with the street boys and in the afternoon the youth group that Beckie works with in Kamuda. 
Alright, time to go to market before the day is 100 degrees but I'll try to post again soon! 
Oh wait- a few of you have asked about Solomon, the baby monkey. I'm happy to report that he found his forever family. There is absolutely no way I could have cared for him this week so I'm really happy that the Tiesengas took him. Their kids love him and he has a great home there. (pictures here

Friday, March 23, 2012

More fun than a barrel of... never mind.

So many good things to possibly write about... instead I'm going to post a few pictures of the baby monkey and go to bed. 
Today's to do list has a monkey in the middle of it. 
See why there are no new blog posts? 
One of us was trying to get some dishes done. The other was hindering the process.
Same size as my morning cup of hot caffeinated beverage but a lot more energy. 
(The biggest motivator for posting tonight? So that every blog written by this team tonight was about Solomon!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Soundly asleep in my lap
As if I didn't have enough going on this week, this afternoon I agreed to be responsible for another life besides my own. Solomon is a few day old vervet monkey who will be staying with me until he finds his forever family. His  mother was killed because she was digging up someone's garden and  he needs someone to care for him. I'm anticipating q 4 hour feedings and a few "accidents" to clean up but he is possibly the smartest baby I've ever cared for and this should be interesting.

I've referred you to Amecet's blog before but this has to be a first.

Because my bother asked so nicely here is one more picture, all tucked in his bed for the night with his next "bottle" ready for the 1am feeding. I am NOT waking him up for a picture so you'll just have to wait until tomorrow. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm back in Soroti and as usual have pictures and stories and a bunch of blogs on the back burner. But I'm afraid we are both going to have to have patience as I'm still ridiculously tired and have a number of looming responsibilities that have to be dealt with first. Thanks for your prayers!!

Friday, March 16, 2012


I'm minutes back from Karamoja (literally!) but this thing is weighing heavily on my mind and I want to make you aware. 
The Ugandan government has declared they are going to “resettle” roughly 7,000 Karamojung who have migrated to Kampala and other big cities. There will be a “swoop” in the near future where the police will go through the capital and arrest all the beggers and people living on the streets who are k-jung. Those will be added to the roughly 3,000 k-jung street children who are in jail right now and all packed on cattle cars and moved to a remote site where they can start a new village. If you haven’t already caught my extreme distain for this idea, know this- the majority of those being resettled are widows, prostitutes and children. They fled Karamoja for a variety of reasons- the top two being starvation and conflict and they had hope that working the streets would be safer and fill their bellies. They own practically nothing. Most will have a blanket tied around their shoulders (this is their bed) and some will carry a bottle with a bit of water in it. The places that they are squatting, most likely will be burned down to “encourage” them to agree to the resettlement and not have a reason to come back. They will be transported hours from the cities and then unloaded in a place where there is bore hole. That’s it. Nothing else as far as the eye can see. They will be expected to build homes and start over. There are a few things I’d like to point out to those that think this idea is good, but I can’t bring it up to them so I’ll have to tell you instead: CLIDE suspects that the well will support about 2,000 people. The women and children don’t necessarily go together. (Meaning the prostitutes probably left their children in the village they ran away from and most of the street children are orphans. So just because there is a large collection of women and children it doesn’t mean they are related.) The few men who will be relocated are drunkards or mentally ill. The government has no intention of providing anything besides transportation and land for these people. So that is where I’ve entered this story. The government has announced they are going to do this and sent a letter to 20 key NGOs in the area. The letter, roughly translated, says. “We’re going to resettle these people around March 20th. What are you going to do for them?” CLIDE, as one who has had good success with the peace villages and who is working within 20 km of the new camp location, has received one of these letters. There have been some big key players who received letters also, like UN (UNICEF and UNWFP mostly) and IRC who will dump money on to the issue but it is the little NGOs in the area like CLIDE who will actually be hands and feet on the ground dealing with the huge problems. And these little NGOs are at present few and thinly spread. CLIDE was already feeling maxed out and now are scrambling to sort out their role in this possible humanitarian crisis. Can you please pray? The people being resettled have been through much already. Many have lost husbands, sons, and fathers to raiding. Some of these children have been trafficked to work on the streets and are being very abruptly relocated without their bigger problems being addressed. Everyone will need tools to start working in fields, seeds, food, blankets, cooking pots, mosquito nets, medical treatment, counseling, education… (and I’m not even listing off the things that we could consider essential that they don’t- like beds and mattresses, tents, plates, forks, soap, toilet paper, the list goes on and on!) Please pray also for the CLIDE staff who knows that God has given them the roles that they fill and as busy as they already are, they won’t turn away from this need. And pray also for me. I’ve agreed to continue to partner with CLIDE and provide medical treatment in this new camp. We will be working with people who see life as hopeless and depressing, who’ve had one bad break after another. We will be in position to give hope but the tasks seem prodigious and engulfing. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Comfort vs. Struggle

I can't pray for comfort anymore. I didn't do it blatantly but subtly. Lord, this thing in my life is causing pain, can you take it away? Or Lord, will you provide this thing that will make my life easier? I catch myself doing it now and I have to pause. Do I really actually want to be comfortable? Well, yes. The human part of me does. But the struggling Christian wants to go deeper with God and I know that in comfort I can't. I won't. Being comfortable just begets the desire for more comfort and so I set off seeking that and I loose track of why I'm on this earth.  I have a little scrap of paper in my bible with the prayer of an unknown confederate soldier. It goes like this: 
I asked God for strength that I might achieve.I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.I asked for health that I might do greater things.I was given infirmity that I might do better things.I asked for riches that I might be happy.I was given poverty that I might be wise.I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.I was given life that I might enjoy all things.I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
It reminds me that weakness, infirmity, poverty are all things the world despises but God does not function with man's wisdom.
C. S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” 

I’ve heard it said that before God can use a man greatly, He must first wound him deeply. Oswald Chambers taught, “If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed — you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.” Charles Spurgeon talked of this too when he wrote, “I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.”

Are you busy seeking comfort, health, riches, and power? Or trusting God and embracing your struggles?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Morning Glory in Nakayot

If I've timed the posting of this blog this correctly Kodet (CLIDE staff member) and myself are headed out to the peace village this morning. We are going to follow up on the work the VHTs have been doing but hopefully also encourage church members. As with any new church there is conflict and struggles right now. Will you join us in praying for them today?

Every time we sleep over in the village we start the at around 5:30 am with prayer and worship until after sunrise. The CLIDE staff calls this time "Morning Glory".  I was thinking back to the first time that we had some intercession in Nakayot. Pastor Orono led us in prayer for the uprooting of evil. We have been praying against Satan's presence. Uprooting witchcraft, hopelessness, dependency, alcoholism, anger, fighting, hatred, all those things that are not of God. Now I picture Nakayot as a prepared field! The weeds are being uprooted and the soil is ready. We know we don't want to leave a void because only weeds will spring up.  Lets spend some time praying for what God wants planted.  Ephesians 5:9-11
  • Where witchcraft has been uprooted may there now be a passion for you Father!
  • We've prayed against a spirit of fear, may there now be boldness and courage because they trust in you! (Psalm 27:1) 
  • Where there has been idolatry in lives may people now know you as the LIVING God!
  • Where alcohol has had a powerful grip may it now be the power of the Holy Spirit! (Ephesians 5:18)
  • We've prayed against unrest and the desire for revenge. May there now be peace and compassion for each other. 
  • Please instill love where there was once only hatred or apathy. 
  • Where there was depression and discouragemet may there now be hope and joy!
  • Where satan is trying to plant lies and false beliefs bring the powerful light of you Son to dry them up. (I John 1:5-7) May your TRUTH be powerful in that place!
Thank you Father for the amazing work you are already doing and going to continue to do in that place!! May it be a tremendous testimony to the amazing change that only you can bring around!

Monday, March 12, 2012

KONY 2012

A few of  you have asked me about the KONY video circulating and as I've still not watched it and haven't been following the internet discussions hardly at all I'd like to refer you to my area leader's blog for a good perspective from the Uganda side! His site is here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lots of stuff going on!

A second post today because I've got lots of stuff going on and I'm not sure when I'll post again. I'm headed back up to Karamoja Monday. I've been assured that the hut I'd like to stay in is empty and I'll be able to move in so I've been gathering all the things that one needs to furnish their own hut.  Also we have been asked over and over if we can do HIV testing in Nakayot so I've begun the communication with the government to get permission and enough test kits. And the from my home church arrives in two weeks so there is so much preparation going on for their time here. They hope to build a fish farm for the homeless boys.  And I'm really enjoying the time I spend with the ladies out in Obule.  Wednesday was bible study with them where we discussed what exactly is sin and how it creeps into our lives. I've also begun doing a bit of teaching out there. Taught about pinworms, thread worms, hook worms, whip worms, round worms and tape worms last time. The WHO estimates that more than 90% of people in this country have one type of intestinal parasite or another. Hand washing anyone?  And trying to find time for Betty and Joyce to work on their school work. Betty scored a 35% on her last math test and Joyce still doesn't know the sound a B makes. Life is busy but it is a good busy. Thanks for staying faithful reader!

Getting muddy

I've found myself playing in the mud a bit the past few days. And rainy season hasn't even started yet!  A few days ago I went out into the back yard to discover that a natural spring had developed in the yard. As this seemed highly unlikely I grabbed a hoe (they don’t really believe in shovels here) and discovered that a pipe that ran from the house to the outside tap had ruptured. I absolutely don’t understand the plumbing in this place because I assumed that the pipe was running from the water tank but after climbing the 13 feet up to turn all possible valves on the water tank there was still water spraying from the pipe. I then moved to the valve in the front of the house that has the water meter on it for all the city water coming into the house and closed it.  Still water spraying…. Hummm. Pondered for a bit but couldn’t stand all that good water spraying all over- what a waste. So I grabbed a spare bike tire inner tube and waded into the spray. Eventually I got the crack bound up and called a plumber. 

His first words when I showed him to my muddy hole? “You fixed it already!” He was serious. I explained this wasn’t exactly the caliber fix I was going for and was hoping he could do something better. Also explained to him that I didn’t know how to shut off the water to this particular pipe and he didn’t seem overly surprised and just stripped down before taking a hacksaw to the pipe to replace the bad section.
Out in Obule (the village I spend quite a bit of time in) there is an NGO, Water 4 All, helping people hand digging shallow wells for their homes and communities. There is a lot of comradely but also a bit of hard work. Ronnie and I (wife of Collin, the foreman of the project) took our turn pulling. Over and over again you lift the pipe and “drill bit” and slam it back down into the hole. We were at about 8 meters (or 26 feet) deep already. Water is used to create suction to draw out the dirt/rock/sand that is being cut into. Fascinating really. And this community really needs this well so it if fun to be a part of their excitement. 

I'm glad that not everyone working on this project gets quite this muddy!
The pulling isn't too bad until the pipe gets hung up and all 4 of us jerk forward  at the same time. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Violence in Sudan

Uganda's neighbor to the north, Sudan, has been at war with itself for since 1956. After decades of fighting for independence from the north, southern Sudan seceded last year in July and became the Republic of South Sudan, six months after nearly 99 percent of the region’s voters approved the split in an internationally backed referendum. The south’s departure did not put an end to conflicts though. Both nations face rebel movements within their own borders, and clashes along the new border are constant.
While the two nations continued to "discuss" how to make it work, a spreading rebellion inside Sudan prompted the Sudanese government to accuse the south of providing military support to the rebels.  In November 2011 the president of South Sudan denounced the Sudanese government for threatening what he called a “military invasion” of South Sudan.  He has accused the Sudanese government of bombing the South Sudanese areas  and killing innocents and moving insurgencies on both sides of the border closer to an international conflict.

When South Sudan declared independence, it took billions of dollars’ worth of oil with it, gutting Sudan’s economy. Both sides desperately need the oil to run their governments, feed their people and stamp out insurrections. And theoretically, both sides need each other. The conundrum of the two Sudans is that 75 percent of the oil lies in the south, but the pipeline to export it runs through the north. 

Here are a few more articles if you want more info:
Trying to live in the border between North and South
No longer citizens
On the brink of war
What life is like for Southerners stuck in the North

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LRA update

Sudan has crossed my radar several times in the past several days. And, as this is my journal, now it has crossed your radar. I really thought things were peaceful there after their divide into two separate countries. But between rebel factions, the Sudan army, the South Sudan army and the LRA things are far from peaceful.
The LRA, or Lord's Resistance Army used to be in Uganda but in the last few years they have been pushed out.
Joseph Kony is the leader of the cult-like rebel group responsible for Africa’s longest-running armed conflict. In its current state, the LRA is composed of several bands of fighters that are spread across an area roughly the size of California. Some of these groups are nearly autonomous and have limited contact with one another but ultimately answer to Joseph Kony and the LRA command structure. Due to increased awareness and global efforts to stop him, the entire fighting force of the LRA has been reduced from approximately 1,000 at the end of the Juba peace talks in 2008 to an estimated 300 fighters today, not counting the abducted women and children who are used as “wives” and porters. While their numbers have diminished over the years, their capacity for destruction continues to be disproportionately large.

After being forced out of northern Uganda in 2006, LRA groups are now scattered across the border regions of the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and South Sudan. By traveling in small groups through vast regions of jungle, they are able to attack vulnerable communities for supplies and abduct civilians while avoiding capture. They know how to take advantage of the bush that makes it so difficult for their pursuers to track them, and over the last two decades, the LRA fighters have become experts of survival and evasion.

Based on data collected during 2011, there were 284 reported LRA attacks (that’s an average of more than 5 per week), during which LRA forces reportedly killed 144 civilians and abducted 595 others (that’s 2.1 abductions per attack). Our statistics show a 32% reduction in attacks, killings, and abductions in 2011 compared to 2010, and an astounding 60% decrease in reported attacks between the first and second halves of 2011. Significantly, reports indicate that between July and September of 2011, Kony summoned all of the LRA commanders to rendezvous in CAR. That period roughly corresponds with when the frequency of LRA attacks began to decrease in 2011.

This information gathered and distributed by Invisible Children. For more information

Sunday, March 4, 2012

In which I write an entire blog post about the use of toilets

For the past two days I’ve been traveling with District Health Inspector (this is a fancy title for a big government official who will oversee our tiny little village clinic and the village health workers. I’m practically 100% sure you will hear more of him in future blogs and for now I’ll refer to him as the DHI).  I’d prepared several hours of teaching for the VHTs but he made it very clear he had intentions of doing it and as I’m not one who likes to disagree with government officials here I cheerfully let him. His topic was “Heath and Sanitation” but he could have more descriptively called it “Why to not poop the way you do.” For those of my readers who are not familiar with the villages there is a lot of open defecation. OK, that is an understatement. Everyone just poops where they want without regard for health or smell or anything  (In their defense they truly don’t know the health side of the issue) and no one washes their hands. Ever. So we have been trying to teach. There are between 8,000 and 10,000 people living in the village right now and there are two latrines. Both initiated by the CLIDE staff and used exclusively by the CLIDE staff and their visitors. But it isn’t because the locals aren’t allowed to use them or anything. They just don’t want to. The UN has a reputation for coming into villages like this and just building a bunch of latrines but without investment, input or participation by the locals. And after all that money is poured in the latrines are never used. Besides, the people can easily enough make their own with the same materials they build their homes (and a lot less money!)  So lately, to get more buy in the UN has changed their strategy. They went into a village and encouraged people to make their own and offered each family who had a pit latrine a blanket. I was told by the DHI that the UN considered it very successful and had to give out hundreds of blankets.  So now when you go into these villages that the UN has had some recent influence you have your choice of latrines but it doesn’t matter which you pick because none of them have ever been used. People built them but they still won’t use them.
So back to my two days with the DHI. His strategy? Shame. The gist of his talk was how they are all eating each other’s feces because they are not washing their hands or burying the waste. 
The diagram was like this only with pictures instead of words but I’ll spare you all the graphics. 
He began by asking who had defecated? Many shamelessly raised their hands (they see it as a sign of good health).  He asked who had washed their hands. None. He asked who had buried it. None.  He brought a pile that was near the foot path we had been on between where we were teaching and the village. With it sitting right in front of him he talked of how it is in their fields so gets on the food. How it gets into their water sources. How flies land on it and with their legs carry it onto their food and how most of all, it is always on their hands. It seemed pretty effective. By the end of our second day they had a plan to go through the whole village encouraging people to clean it up and start to dig latrines. I’m slated to follow up on April 10th (the day they picked) to see how their latrines are coming along. At that time I also plan to teach of intestinal worms and deworm all the kids. Hopefully this will continue to drive home the lessons and with the latrines in progress people will start to see that they can change and make healthy choices.

School in Nakayot

2/28 *journal entry
Another great day. Several hours out in the village sitting and talking with the VHTs then the afternoon and evening here in Kangole. Sat with the women from the bakery then managed my own dinner again successfully. Sadly I’m clearly not going to be moving into my own place this time but one step at a time and I’m in Dr. Val’s guest hut for now. It is piled high with vet supplies and meds but it has a matress and room to sleep. It seems rat and snake free at this moment but you will not find me looking deeply into dark non- corners (round hut, no real corners).
My most immediate neighbor is a well-educated mother of two who has a government job. (finances office? What does that mean?) Her kids are young(1 & 3) so in proper Ugandan fashion she has taken  hired two young slaves servants girls who work for her. They fetch water, cook, clean, go to market, watch the children, and tend the livestock and that was only in the short time I spent with them today. The 3 year old is fluent in English (well, as fluent as any 3 year old) but the two older girls speak almost none so the little one was translating. When the mother came home from work they joined me for evening tea and I got her version of the story. She has taken in these two to help them with school once her two are a bit older. Meanwhile, I looked at them. Maybe 11 and 14, clothes far more tattered than their charges, no shoes, not a single year of school yet, working their hind ends off and hours from home and their parents. This working mother is practically guaranteed to have more children and even if she doesn’t the baby is years from being old enough to go to school himself. The woman clearly has no intention of getting these two in school in time for it to make a difference in their lives.  Girls here just rarely get to go to school. But one would think that women like this one- educated, good job of her own, successful, would be the ones to turn the system around. Yet they aren’t. 
Here are the 4 of them outside my hopefully future home
But CLIDE is trying to turn things around. Here are a few pictures of the school they started in the village. In January they “graduated” their first class to the next level and moved half the students up to second grade and allowed 20 more young ones to enter and added another teacher. However, there is still only two classrooms so one class meets outside.  

Do I have to point out that every single one is a boy?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Back from Karamoja

2/27 *journal entry

My inuragral trip to Karamoja is off to a great start. This isn’t really by any stretch my first trip but it feels like a whole new chapter this time. I don’t really know why but I don’t have to because it is my blog and I can call this trip whatever I want. Mostly I consider it to be so successful up to this point because 1.) I’m here and got myself here this time. Those are not easy roads to drive but the truck worked great and took it like a champ. And 2.) I was responsible to organize this trip and nothing here is easy to organize. And 3.) I’ve met with several of the women believers here in Kangole already and possibly the biggest things contributing to my current feelings of success- I’ve started the right things on fire and haven’t started the wrong things on fire (the lantern and my cooker being the former and the grass thatched hut and my dinner being the latter.)  I’m feeling settled in Kangole already tonight. I’m not in my own place but I’m sleeping tonight on the church compound where I plan on living. I’m really excited to discover that the Mother’s Union “bakery” is also on this compound- which means that there is a constant group of women who don’t want me to starve to death and who talk all day long as they work. Who better to learn language from?! I’ll have all the food vocabulary that one person can contain.
In all seriousness though, it has been a wonderful day. God has answered exceedingly and I’m really excited about this next step. And on that note I drove nearly 7 hours today and have at least 4 more hours to drive tomorrow so it’s time to hang a bug net and crawl under it.