It is the third day report, and it was so full I have dozens of blog subjects from it, but I must choose because they won’t give me all day to write, and I know you don’t have all day to read. But I promise to continue writing the stories long after our trip is ended so all of the God moments are richly colored in and shiny for everyone to appreciate. Early in the morning Dr. Don was whisked away by the clinic affiliated with Ggaba church so he could help them with his specialty, anesthesiology. He made me laugh the day before when he said, it would probably only be a couple hours, and then he would join us. He hasn’t experienced how far behind their medical care is, and they could keep him answering questions and helping for weeks if he could give it and still be willing to learn. It was no surprise to me when he called to say he’d be there the whole day, and all of the next morning. He returned in the evening bright eyes and talkative about his many interesting adventures. This is a man who craves learning, and he’s been bit by the African bug and it’s all through his blood. I can’t wait to see what God does with Dr. Don’s first encounter with Africa.
Meanwhile Adams took Craig out for the second day of land shopping. We think we have established number one, and number two. It will be exciting to see where God leads us with this matter. I am so entirely feeling the urgency to get these children fresh country air, room to run and play, and sleeping quarters that are so much better than what they endure now. Cindy has been horrified by how they sleep, and many suffer allergies they must endure because of it. She shook her head and said, “if one comes down with meningitis you could lose all of them because of how they sleep.” My heart nearly stopped. The girls still sleep three to a bed because there’s no more room to put beds. Oh I beg God to work some miracles and help us build quickly so these children can sleep in a dignified and safe way.
Dr. Cindy might cringe at taking leadership, but when it comes to providing medical care to her patients she’s GENIUS and gentle in charge. This makes the two of us an excellent partnership. A few of us can organize the clinic so we know how to move patients in and out quickly, where our supplies are, and how to follow up. She sits ready for the next case and a battery of diagnostic questions on the top of her mind. Her three years experience as a missionary doctor in Nigeria serves her well here, as she doesn’t expect anything to go easily, orderly, or without snags. She fully comprehends that “This Is Africa” (TIA), something we say so many times a day that we jinx each other because there’s always a snag.
So no one can drag me away from her side when she is seeing patients. I know I am missing all the play while Andres leads the children in games but Donny has become eager to know how to use my camera, and he’s doing an excellent job recording the activities where I am not present. His interest in photography kicked in just in time to be really useful to the team. I brought two of my professional cameras, and he’s learning how to use it with my help setting it and my guidance about working with light.
I am learning about the individuals here as Cindy interviews each patient and records it on the home made cards Whitney constructed before we departed. I love to see how she hears the symptoms and her mind cranks and interesting questions fly until she has what she needs to make a decision and either ease their pain, heal a condition, or plan out an action of care. ( I sit quiet and try to guess what she will ask as she is thinking.) She brought a mini pharmacy and we are able to treat many of the conditions here. She taught me how to diagnose anemia, and yesterday I shined the light in Phiona’s eyes, asked the right questions, and prescribed iron pills! That was so much fun. I really hoped she would feel compelled to look at Phiona’s eyes to give a real medical opinion, but she said, no you did it. I will say, I looked at healthy little Jack’s eyes to compare and make sure hers were really without color.
To see Cindy minister to the individuals here who have no hope at all of seeing a doctor, with conditions that really distress them, it is so encouraging for me to see the compassion in her face, the time she spends with each case, and the gentleness and respect she has for them. Nothing she has done has moved me more though than when she has finished her exam made a prescription and says to her friend, “may I pray for you?” She puts her hand on this person and prays not only for their physical ailments, but for their spiritual connection with God, and their social predicaments. Oh, how I wish my own doctor at home would do that for me every time I go for an office visit. She understands that so much of our sickness is coupled with and caused by psychological distress.
I suppose there’s a sad little place in me that wishes I could offer the medical ministry to the people I meet. If I could be a doctor it would be so useful for me in my passion for these people. But, I see that God has given me special partnership with Cindy where I have the connections here with the people, and the ability to organize and lead the effort so she can do what she is best at, provide the medical care. I am so grateful last December when Craig told her about the orphanage we adopted that she began to read the stories about the children and she obeyed the direction God sent her to come here and help them toward wellness. It was Cindy who first said, “let’s do a mission trip and give them medical care”. I said, “Sure! If you are willing to give your skill, I am willing to plan it.” And God sent us all the members of the team that we needed to make this adventure a reality.
I only asked Andres to join us but all of the rest of the team were following the push in their heart placed there by God for the cause of these children. I went after Andres because I knew he wanted to go but would find the financial ability to go a real obstacle, so I wanted to assure him I would help remove that obstacle. For several months he increased all of his work, while going to University, and earned a thousand dollars towards this trip. And he’s been the leader of the youth that I couldn’t ever have predicted. The children LOVE him, and he’s providing them entertainment and interesting games like they’ve never known before. On Wednesday Andres and Emily were prepared to give a teaching about sex education, sexual development, and purity to the boys and girls. We separated the groups where Emily took the girls, and Andres taught the boys. They were so well prepared to teach them about this most important topic, they had prayed so much before stepping before their group that I am sure God worked directly through them. (While they did that teaching I was doing home visits to elderly widows with Cindy)
I received report when I returned that the children were so eager to learn and understand all they had been taught. And the questions and answers flew with speed and intelligence afterwards. I must say this situation was organized by God, and definitely not by me. There were many times I felt the urge to step in front and do this talk myself because it is such a vital thing for the children to know. But I literally felt the hand of God stop me and put me behind them. So before their talks, I shared with the how vital it is for the girls to know what inappropriate touch is, and that no matter what threats are made they will be safe to confide in Elitia or Phiona who will protect them. And I want the boys to be taught the counter cultural truth that casual random sex is not natural, it is forbidden by the bible and leads to HIV. Furthermore the boys need to be taught about self control of powerful urges, and to never touch a girl inappropriately. Then I prayed with Emily and Andres holding their hands, and begging God to give them all the wisdom they needed to guide these precious ones towards understanding and sexual safety.
After we returned from visiting the widows, the two of them were beaming! God did the faithful work of flowing through them as they shared, and the event was more than successful. I could see the wisdom of God’s arrangement because Emily and Andres had invested in playing with the children every minute of their week, so there was relationship established. When they spoke to the children about an important topic, the children were wide open and able to reveal their true feelings and explore their great curiosities. Since we gave the talks in the middle of the week, there is still time for the children to approach Emily and Andres one to one with more personal questions or predicaments. This has been extremely successful in my assessment, and I am so grateful for these two wise young people who were willing to step over uncomfortable boundaries and share life saving information. I am so proud of them.
After visiting six widows in the rural areas of the community, which I will highlight in a separate blog, because it might be the most moving experience of the entire trip, it was time for dinner. Our poor team is weary of the Ugandan cuisine. They basically eat the same foods over and over, and though they might think it is normal to eat the same food at every meal, our American friends don’t think so. We gave them the break with pizza the night before, but from here on out they might have to learn how to eat without expecting so much pleasure from it, and accept food only as a means to sustain the body. I tend to think that part of missionary work is to adapt to the culture without complaining and be thankful for their ways of life rather than critical. This is how a mission trip gets balanced, we share what we have to give, and they teach us about their culture and cause us to change, adapt and become flexible in ways we never knew we were able to do. Every person who connects with the cause of God will be changed. What a gift it is for me to witness each member have their “aha” moments here, especially after a personal struggle with it. No one should ever consider going on a mission trip if they are too settled in having their things the way they want it, their food just right, their comforts in place. There is nothing usual or comfortable about being here, and that is the part of the purpose of experiencing Uganda.
So, I tell you with true amazement that almost all of the children decided on their own to spend the night at the orphanage sleeping on the hard floor in the open church. All of the adults repeatedly asked, are you sure? Do you understand? They were certain they wanted to do it. Personally, I was impressed. Thursday (today) is “a day in the life of Africa” where the children will help with the chores and learn the ways of living here, cooking, milking, and cleaning. How much better will this lesson be taught than if they have spent the night sleeping as the children slept for years and years before we were able to help them? I cannot wait to hear the stories this morning. I know they will be numerous and exciting. I especially can’t wait to hear how they handle having porridge sipped from a cup for breakfast, or how it is to collect grass to feed the cows, or walk up that long hill carrying water three times a day. I myself, plan to do that chore, but only once!
Thank you all for your prayers, and for your love as you follow our stories. We all count it an honor and a great privilege to be here to serve these beautiful people. Each day we fall more in love, and it will only make the parting so much more of a bloody affair. But God has shown us all that we are one under Him, and the distance of being on separate continents is not too much for God to keep the relationships wrapped in love.