Sunday, September 25, 2016

Foot update

Way the heck back in May I stress fractured my foot. Either caused or exacerbated by plantar fasciitis. It has been persistently bothering me since then.  I cut way back on running but I didn't actually change my activity level other than that. All floors here are cement and between the clinic, walking a lot and just life here it just was not getting better. Until a few weeks ago. I have finally turned the corner on the pain.  (Possibly because I spent practically a solid eight days doing NOTHING because of malaria). I've been to a doctor in Kampala twice who has been very helpful but this last follow up appointment, which I had lots of hope for because I feel so much better, was discouraging. The doctor says she didn't see enough healing on the x-ray to make her happy. She said absolutely no running and I have to continue to be off it as much as possible. I've worked with a physiotherapist who was very helpful and also painfully blunt ("Lose 10 kg and most of your foot problems will go away".) They talked together briefly after this last appointment and even tossed around the idea of surgery. I'm nowhere near ready to discuss that yet and want to just ask for more prayer. I thank God that it feels so much better and I trust that He  will heal it the rest of the way.
I've seen through this that I really miss running. It keeps my head screwed on straight. It keeps me from getting depressed and helps me stay much more content with life and even keel with the people I interact with. (And there is lots of science and testimony out there that I'm not the only one. I recommend it for anyone.)  I'm really ready to be running again!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Benjamin and Christina are back!

Benjamin and Christina are back in Uganda which means my niece and nephew are too!! They wrote a great blog post about why they left Uganda quickly the second week of July. Their blog is here. 
I picked them up from the airport and helped them get back to Jinja on their first day in country.  Honestly, it was a bit of a rough day as Uganda did not ease them back in gently. Within 30 minutes of our arrival at the guest house from the airport (well after 11pm) the power went out so on top of their jet lag they had to figure out how to bathe and settle their exhausted kids in a very dark, unfamiliar room. Then, after less than 5 hours of sleep we packed up, attempted (unsuccessfully) to get breakfast from the guesthouse (No coffee?!?) and try to get through Kampala before the morning traffic jam (also unsuccessfully). For points of reference here are two intersections we spent significant time waiting in. (not my pictures) 
In the roundabout in the second picture I was hit by a blue car (lots of blue paint still on my truck)  who was trying to squeeze into a third lane. Earlier in the morning I'd been hit hard while turning by someone who was passing on the inside at 120km per hour. He knew he was at fault so didn't really stop. Parts from my truck were picked up out of the road and we continued on. 

 Anyway, after hours of driving we finally got back to Jinja, unpacked all their stuff and got them settled back in. I hung out in the tree house with Izaac while everyone else took a nap. 

Now, I'm back in Soroti, already planning my next trip up to Jinja!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sponsored Kids

The Ugandan kids are currently out of school again, second term holiday. They head back to their final term next week so we have been school shopping and prepping for their yearly finals. I know I don't write about these kids that I (which means you through me!) sponsor much so it seems about time for an update on all of them. This is Emmanuel.  He is currently a first year, secondary school student (Like a high school freshman). He is doing very well, especially in maths and every time we are together he asks me to let him drive. I caved once and that was enough. 
This is Tony. He is a primary student, fourth year. (Like a 3rd grader) he really struggles with reading and will have some real challenges ahead of him but he is tough. 

 This is Vicky Imalingat. She is struggling also to finish primary school but I'm sure she will do it this year. The challenge will be what to do next year. She isn't a great student and secondary school is expensive. She could be a candidate for a trade school so we are praying about it.

This is Ken. He is very stubborn and wouldn't let me take a picture so I had to do it while he wasn't paying attention. He is also a first year, secondary school student (like a high school freshman). His grades aren't bad but he has some major anger issues. (I've set broken bones twice with him after hitting things.) More on that in a second. 
This is Joyce. She is in her final year of primary school so she will be taking PLE (Primary Leaving Exams) next month. These will determine if she can go to secondary school, which she would really like to do. She reads well but struggles in other subjects. 

This is Vicky Akello. She is in her second year of secondary school (equivalent of a sophomore). She is very quiet but very bright. She would like to be a doctor and I'm pretty sure she can do it. I'm still trying to convince her she would rather be a nurse though! 

This is Janet. Of the whole bunch she struggles the most. She should be in secondary school by now but she has never mastered reading. I'm sure she has significant learning disabilities and I've tried a couple of times to help her read but I'm not a teacher by any stretch of the imagination. Please pray for us as I have no idea what to do with her. 
This is Opio. He is also very bright. He is also in his final primary year and will be taking PLE. I had to give him the bad news that as I have so many secondary students now I can't sponsor him next year. However, I know he is bright enough to get a scholarship if he really tries. There were  lots of tears when I broke the news but I'm not worried for him. 

Hopefully, you noticed that one more sponsored kid is missing. The first one I started with, Betty. Oh boy, please pray for this situation. Betty is (again) in her first year of secondary school and has always struggled with grades. Last term her mother took all of the money I'd given for school so no school fees were paid. Betty was kicked out mid term. She begged and cajoled her way through most of her classes but, no surprise, did very poorly. She is not allowed to receive her grades until she pays all the money she owes so we don't know exactly how she did. I just don't know what to do. At the start of this year (after failing last year) I told her I had to stop paying for school if she didn't show me she was serious about school and picked up her grades. She promised over and over. No boys, no distractions. She would read and study and apply herself and show me she could do it. Well, I saw no proof that any of these promises were true. Now, I owe double (for last term and this term) for her to even finish this year. On top of that she has moved out of her home (which is close to school) into the home of friends and has told me she would need a bike to get to school each day. No way. I told her she would just have to move home. But she fights with her mother incessantly on top of the fact that an alcoholic grandmother and five other siblings are all squeezed into a two room shack with no power or water.  I'm aware that it isn't actually a good place to go home to in the evening and attempt to study. But many children in this country overcome that. I just don't know how to do it correctly. 

Another prayer point, four of the above children are all "siblings". Ken, Vicky, Janet and Tony. 

However, follow me on this one, the four of them have two different mothers and three different fathers. I actually had to draw a diagram when they explained it to me. Ken and Vicky share the same mother but different fathers. Vicky and Janet share the same father and Tony has a different father than any of the other three but the same mother as Janet. One of their mothers abandoned Ken and Vicky when Vicky was just a few months old and hasn't been seen again. They currently (sort of) live with Tony and Janet's mother but she leaves them for weeks at a time when she has work in the village and they are expected to fend for themselves. And she resents that she was stuck with some children who are not hers. The kids report that she is always angry and they actually like it better when they are alone at home.  Ken's father is a soldier (currently stationed in Congo, he thinks) and he sees him once or twice a year. Father number three is around occasionally and seems to actually care about Tony but beats all four of them and is known to take food and money from them. They say he crashes in their house if he knows Tony's mother is out in the village but when she gets back "she drives him away." Father number two, the one who donated sperm for Janet and Vicky hasn't been seen in years and they weren't even sure of his name. Is it any wonder that Ken has anger issues, that Janet is 15 years old and can't read and that Vicky has never been successful in school?! Please pray for them and me as I navigate how to best help them to be successful in this life and not repeat the same mistakes as their parents.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Praying for the Batwa

Let me just write a little about my time down in western Uganda. First just a bit of background. Fuel Uganda, the organization I work for, does community development down there also. They work with a marginalized people group called the Batwa (also called Pygmies). I wrote a little about them two years ago. Here. They are encouraged and supported in rabbit raising as both income generation and a good protein source.  I headed there with some other missionaries to follow up on ministry. We visited about ten homes and I'd like to ask you to be praying for three specifically:
This is Karen and two of her children. She received a rabbit loan a while back to help support and feed her family. We sat with her and talked for a bit. She seemed discouraged and didn't want to talk much. On our way out we asked if she had any prayer needs.  She ask that we would pray that she would become saved. I paused as I realized we needed to talk about what it meant to be saved (you don't need to ask someone else to pray that you will be!)  I talked with her for several minutes and realized that she has been told that because she drinks alcohol she can’t be saved.  We talked more about being born again and prayed together. After that she was willing to share that she used to have 5 children but one died recently to “bewitching”.  She believes someone cursed her child and they died because of it. It has to be a terrible thing to live with. I wish she didn't live three days travel from me as she really needs someone to visit and encourage her. 

 Please pray that the Body of Christ, the Church near her, will rise up and meet her spiritual needs. We can also pray that God meets her physical needs as it was obvious the family has some serious struggles. Their rabbits aren't doing as well as they could be because Karen fears thieves will steal them (which is a legitimate fear in this area) and so she isn't taking great care of them because why bother if someone will just take the result of her work? Please pray the desire to escape from problems into alcohol will be replaced by a saving hope in God!

Next is this old man. We didn't even get his name. He lives in a shack built of trash in the front yard of one of the rabbit recipients.  He has no idea how old he is but he knows there was no president when he was a young boy.  (He also insisted there is no president now, so take that with a grain of salt. I suspect he is in his late seventies at least which is double the life expectancy of the average man here). His nephew has started building him a "real house" (on his right) though it will still be made with sticks and mud. May he know the peace and contentment that can only come from God.

Lastly is Innocent’s wife, Allen.  Innocent had received rabbits in the loan program but Allen told us her husband has left her and she has been without him for several months. She had several rabbits and all of them were stolen.  She has seven children and her house is very damaged. When she was moved out of the slums several years ago they received this house but termites have gotten into the wall and it is crumbling. Please pray that she would know God as her provider.

Please pray also for us, that we would know the best way to help and encourage without creating dependency. We want people to be empowered to care for themselves, rather than sitting and waiting for someone else to come in and help them. We also don't want to provide only physical help while neglecting people's emotional and spiritual needs.

Holy Spirit, this job is way too big for us. Please show us the way to love people as best we can. Jesus, these are your children, struggling and hurting. Please show yourself faithful to them. Let them see you at work in their lives. Father God, may we all be more faithful to the calling you have given us. Amen. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Malaria and necessary friends

Well, my last post mentioned how sick I was of traveling, turns out I meant it literally. Since Sunday I'd been feeling like I was on the verge of vomiting but as we were traveling all day through the mountains in Western Uganda I just blamed it on being tired and car sick. Well, I'm an idiot. I finally got back to Soroti late Tuesday afternoon still feeling extremely car sick, carried my bags through the door and literally collapsed into bed thinking I'd just rest a bit then feel well enough to open up the house, unpack etc... (I'd been gone 10 days). Well, sometime after dark I woke up enough to go the the bathroom and give myself a panic attack. My urine looked all wrong and suddenly it hit me. I had malaria.  I went to grab a rapid test and treatment pack and discovered I locked my med room when I packed up and I couldn't remember where the key was. I called my good friend Rachel before I realized how late it was. But she called back and happily came over with a rapids test and poked me. It took less than two minutes for it to come back positive. Oops. Started treatment and fell back into bed. I did have the presence of mind to set an alarm for the second dose. I got up and took it but sometime in the night I started vomiting and I'm pretty sure I didn't retain much of that dose.

Tuesday Rachel came back to check on me, which was a good thing as I thought it was still morning but turns out it was late afternoon. I also thought I'd been taking fluids because my mom had been bringing them to me but upon trying to explain that to Rachel I realized that it was probably pretty unrealistic and most likely I'd not been out of bed at all except to vomit in almost 24 hours. She gave me my next dose of meds which I think I waited a whole four minutes to throw back up. So, wonderful friend that she is she didn't really give me a choice, packed me some clean clothes and took me to her house. My vet (her husband) gave me a liter of fluids and but unfortunately I still couldn't stop vomiting and didn't keep down Wednesday morning's dose of Lumartem either. So (despite my protests) Rachel took me to the hospital where it took them three blasted hours to put a new line in and give me a single dose of IV malaria meds. I convinced them I could keep getting fluids at home and if they would send me with a dose of promethazine I would be able to switch back to oral meds and take care of myself. Thankfully, they know me there so they gave in.  But there was no way Rachel was actually letting me go home. So back to her house where I did nothing but sleep and get more IV fluids for another 24 hours.  Anyway, here it is Saturday and I've been discharged from Rachel's house. I still feel exhausted and have one more day of Lumartem ahead of me but I'm feeling human again.
Thank you Rachel, that even thought I'm stubborn and not easy to care for you persisted. You're a great friend and I'll happily return the favor if you need it.  Oh, appreciation also to Daniel who was willing to poke me five times to get lines in. Thanks, I think. And also mixing meds and running to the pharmacy repeatedly. Thank you.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Headed home....

Have started the several day journey back to Soroti.... am more than sick of being on these Ugandan roads but had a good time in western Uganda.
 You might get a blog post someday......