Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sheep don't normally survive in the presence of wolves!

Matthew 10:16-18 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.
Karaomjung sheep
This isn't exactly one of Jesus' promises that we learn as little kids or one of those promised that we cling to as adults. But I'm trying to do a better job seeing Jesus' words without the lens of what I "want" to see.  I don't really want to think of myself as a sheep with a promise of persecution. But the fact is Jesus gave this as a promise to his disciples. Of which I strive to be one. I am to be like a sheep. But this seems not very good for the sheep, uncomfortable and possibly dangerous actually. I'd like to cling to the promise from Jesus that once we decide to follow him it is all comfortable. But if I'm honest, I can't find that one. The opposite seem true actually. Repeatedly, He seems to promise that impending persecution isn't merely a possibility but for those that obey, a certainty. If I'm striving for comfort, am I actually being disobedient?!  What if the command to be as sheep among wolves is to be the calling of every person who is a real disciple?  Is there a way to be faithful and comfortable at the same time? Can  we be both obedient and safe?  If the answer to these last two are no, does that mean that those who are comfortable and safe are not true disciples?
As much as I don't like the conclusion I'm coming to I have to judge based on Jesus' life and I think we see that suffering and persecution and sacrifice are necessary parts of His ultimate strategy. The fact is that God does not reward obedience with success and security. When I think of all the big characters in the bible, like Moses or Paul, the more obedient they were, the harder life seemed to get for them!!

Well, this isn't exactly an encouraging and uplifting post.  But that is what I'm wrestling with this week. Let me know if you have any insight.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Prayer Request

If you have a moment will you pray for Betty and I?  It seems that she has been threatening suicide and self harm. I'm going to go to her home tonight to talk with her mother and see what can be done to help. There is a chance that she will come to live with me for a few weeks but I'm not yet sure that is the wisest route. She is really struggling with lots of things, one of which is a possible rape several years ago but she has a history of lies so it is hard to know that is true and what is manipulation to get sympathy and support from westerners. Will you pray for her that she know, really know, God's love and promises for her?  Will you pray that I can be loving and supportive?  Please pray for Godly wisdom to do what is best for her.  Thank you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I'm just hanging out in Soroti these days waiting for rainy season to let up. Here are a few pictures showing the Soroti-Moroto or Mbale-Nakapiripirit Highways. 

 There are a few places where it isn't the mud that has closed the roads. Like here:
This is entertaining to read if you know the area: 
Be informed that the road conditions in Karamoja region continue to deteriorate.
Today at around 1200 UNDSS Karamoja team together with WFP conducted another road assessment to determine the extent of road damage caused by the heavy downpours.
  • Moroto-Nakapiripirit road remains closed, drivers are advised to use the alternative route of Kangole-Lotome and Lorengdwat.
  • Nakapiripirit-Namalu-Mbale road is inaccessible. All vehicles to use Mbale-Soroti-Lotome-Lorengdwat to Nakapiripirit.
  • Soroti-Moroto road is accessible although with bad spots with trucks getting stuck around Olilim, Iriiri, Alekileke, and Nakicumet. Drivers to be extra caution while on this road.  (This is my route. I only have to worry about getting stuck in 4 places.)
  • Moroto-Lopei-Kotido road is completely inaccessible, the rains have destroyed culverts along that route.
  • The Lopei bridge remains flooded and a threat to both pedestrians and motorists.
  • Lopei T/C to Matany hospital is also inaccessible.
  • Lion Bridge and Akodokodwe Bridge in Nyakwae -Abim road are also inaccessible due to flooding. Vehicles are stuck in that area.
  • Amuria road to Abim is muddy and slippery and the road is very bad.
  • Lopei-Matany road completely cutoff. Lopei bridge completed submerged by water
  • Culverts heavily damaged on Moroto- Kotido road.  Heavy trucks cannot access this route

All drivers intending to travel to and from Karamoja region should avoid these routes.(There are no routes are left!) Ensure that vehicles have good working radios both VHF and HF, and have all recovery tools. Regular contact with radio room for updates.
Stay safe.
Road update as of 8th Sept 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Push!! No no, don't push!!

I felt like I was in a movie. A low budget, confusing, irritating movie, but a movie none the less. Here is how the story begins. I had planned on checking in on the VHWs (village health workers) in Nakayot and dropping august's meds off to them but after spending the night in Lormoruchbae listening to it rain for hours I knew my plan might be changing. I packed up the truck and headed out with several guys from the village to just see if it was possible to get out there anyway. Well... we made it 2/3 of the way before I miscalculated and slid down into some bad ruts where the mud was just too deep. After more than an hour of slogging around in the mud, sweating, digging it out from around the tires, cutting branches and piling stones and a lot of good natured pushing we got unstuck. After a brief discussion the decision was made to continue on. It was mid morning and the sun looked like it was going to really dry things out so we'd head on to Nakoyot, spend a few hours there and then we should be able to make it back through later in the day. That was the plan at least. Until we got stuck again 5 minutes later.  Two guys headed into the bush at a jog and it was explained to me that Nakayot was only a few km "through the bush" (translation: as the crow flies) so they were going to recruit more man power. They came back with several more guys. At this point I suggested we just unload the meds, and they carry them into the village and we just leave the vehicle until the mud was less muddy but no one except me seemed to think this was a good plan. And as I wasn't the one pushing I didn't fight with them. They pushed the truck out a lot faster than the first mud hole and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. After we got into the village I set off to the home of one of the VHWs but had not even gotten there when some women came running up to me. There was a woman in labor and would I take them to the hospital?  (But if you are still trying to picture this as a movie you need to have in your mind several women yelling at me in a language I don't really understand in the middle of a very remote village, covered in mud, struggling to figure out what their crisis was.)  They led me to the home where in a dark, smokey hut a woman girl was laying on the ground. At this point one of the VHWs found me (but they don't do birth as they are all men and that is NOT a man's thing here) and translated for me that she'd been in labor for three days and the women were sure something was wrong. The girl looked exhausted, pale and was clearly dehydrated.  After listening for fetal heart tones and getting numbers persistently 180+ I decided that was all the exam I needed to do and we were going to brave the terrible road about 6 hours earlier than I wanted to. The patient, her mother, mother-in-law, sister and daughters to the sister all piled back into my truck together with a basin, blankets, a jug of sour milk and 10 kg of sorghum (to pay the hospital fees) and we set off again. Very shortly we got to the place in the road where we'd been stuck before. I got out and walked it first to see if there was a better way through. But the road was just too slippery and I couldn't keep the wheels out of the deep mud. The women all hopped out. I did have to give them a lesson on how we needed to rock the vehicle but once they got that I had to just shake my head that the women were clearly far stronger then the men that had been pushing 30 minutes before. We made it though quickly and everyone scrapped the mud off their bare feet and legs and piled back in and we set off once more. I was trying to watch the patient and had to ask "Is she pushing?!". “Of course” is the answer I got back. “You tell her to stop pushing!” It was at this point that we hit the initial muddy place where we'd been stuck so long before. I had been praying pretty hard by this point and there were all the branches and stones we'd already put there and the sun had been drying things out for a bit and these women took their vehicle pushing very seriously so we managed that .2km in less than 25 minutes! I did take a few minutes when we were stopped the second time to throw in a line and hang some NS as the patient wasn't even keeping down sips of water (or sips of the sour milk which is what the mother-in-law kept insisting on but I over ruled and told them they had to use water instead) but then we were on our way to the hospital and got there in less than 2 hours. And by 6 pm she had a little girl. It was determined the mother had a bad case of malaria and there was a lot of meconium at birth so I'm really glad for the sake of both the mother and baby we made it to the hospital. And by 10 am the following day she was already back at home.  And they all lived happily ever after. The end.It was at the point where I was leaning out the window yelling “push!!” and then looking over my shoulder into the back seat saying “But not you. Don’t you push!” that I felt like it was the script for a bad comedy. All we needed was a sound track. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Not in Karamoja

Was it really last month that I last posted?!
I guess that is what I get for mentioning in the last post that life has been a bit less adventurous lately. I'll never do that again.
I was supposed to be in Karamoja tonight but I spent a few hours today trying to get up there but the road is REALLY bad so in order to ensure that I didn't spend the night in a wet muddy tent next to my truck stuck up to its axles in mud I turned around and came back. Both Nakayot and Lormoruchbae have called begging me to bring malaria treatments so I feel really bad for not making it but I'll try again if we can get two days in a row without rain. On Monday I was getting stuff across the street from the beer depot and some guys recognized me (or my truck) from last rainy season when their 18 wheeler blocked the road and prevented me (and 20+ other vehicles) from getting through. They strongly suggested on Monday that I shouldn't go and it seems like it has done little but rain since then so I really should have known I was going to make it.
Anyway, enough about the terrible road. What else has been going on?
While you all are doing the back to school thing we are just beginning third and shortest term and getting read to wrap up the school year. "My" kids are keeping me plenty busy with correcting their practice exams and other end of year stuff.
It seems I've had more patients lately too. An old woman came to Obule church last week asking for help. She is a widow and all of her children were killed. She thinks she is 100+ years old but I estimate her closer to 80. She has several significant health issues so I spent several hours with her getting some blood work and other diagnostics. She seems to have very advanced breast cancer. But even with this bad news she was a pleasure to be with and so appreciative of the help. I've gone out to visit her and now that I'm not in Karamoja I plan to see her again tomorrow to make sure we've still got her pain under control and that she has some help around her house.