Last Tuesday our friend Fred, who stays at Pastor James’ place, went to the orthopedic hospital to have his casts removed and get some therapy for is legs. They put removable braces on his legs for this visit. I arrived there with one agenda: get Fred admitted as a resident of this place. The few times I visited at James place Fred was outcasted, soiled, and looking depressed. I don’t think anyone helps him at all. And with full casts on both legs I can’t imagine how he used the pit latrine without some help. It made me both mad and distraught all at once.
Fred has a medical sponsor who donated the funds for him to get the best care. So I asked the doctor to admit him and told him what his living conditions were like and he agreed except there has to be someone here to take care of him full time. Hospitals here don’t have nurses. A family member or friend has to be with them all day every day. Since Rebecca was there with him on that Tuesday I asked her if she could stay. She smiled wide and nodded and then frowned, “but Pastor…” She called him and they had a fight about it. He doesn’t like it that she’s favored by me, he wanted his sister who is lazy to come be with Fred, and I refused her. He was so angry that I had to go to his church, find him, sit down and ask him directly to let Rebecca nurse Fred for a month. He won’t get angry with me. He said she could go.
There was another obstacle. The hospital will provide food and bed but that’s all. We went to the Netete market place (a busy stinky noisy street) We purchased clothing for Fred, two wash basins, plates, cups, forks, a flask, sheets, blankets, a mattress for Rebecca to sleep on the floor, and mosquito nets. We brought all of it to the hospital for Fred, got them settled in, and left them there late in the evening.
He will get therapy every day now for a month. I’m hoping we can get him to stay another month. I’ll approach that topic with Pastor when we deliver the food on the 30th to his place. We’ll make a fair trade, food for Rebecca’s nursing. I especially hope when Fred is released Pastor will sign him over into our care so Fred can live at our house with our kids so he can get better help. I’m praying for that!
Yesterday five team members were scheduled to fly out at 8p.m. so they packed up in the morning for the airport and we went straight to the orthopedic hospital to visit Fred and all the children. We brought some fun for everyone, of course. It’s a strange sight for sure to all the residents to see a dozen mzungus arrive and visit one person! Fred was a celebrity on the spot. We gathered to the grassy playground and began to organize ourselves. There were children with bandages everywhere on the body, burn victims, babies with cleft palates being held by their mamas, kids in wheelchairs, toddlers with casts, small children with prosthetic limbs, and they all gathered near us, watching with wide eyes and eager to see what we would do.
We began to blow up punching balloons and hand them out to the children. Oh my goodness! It has been a long time since I’ve seen such joy erupt from such troubled sad little faces. We all had so much fun watching the children punch the balloons with such glee. I brought a few bottles of nail polish and set it on a table where the women gathered. Immediately they began to paint their fingers and toes. Their faces turned bright and happy. I handed out decks of playing cards to the men who sat around, and oh my, they acted like they had just won a car.
The manager of the hostel came to greet me, “are you the one in charge here?” Yes. “This is good work you are doing. I saw all the balloons from my office window and I had to come see what was happening. We chatted a while about Kirabo Seeds. I asked if we could bring the other team back to visit for some more bible lessons and play and she said, definitely. I gave her some legos for her play room and some baby blankets for those who come and don’t have one for their baby. I gave her some bible story coloring books too. I really liked her and look forward to bringing people there as often as I can.
Once the children had settled down our team prepared to act out a couple of bible stories for them. We had an audience why not? The kids liked our silly characters as the walls of Jericho fell down, and David beat Goliath. Afterwards, Phiona questioned the children to make sure they understood the moral of the stories. She used these lessons to remind them that God is powerful and he can help them recover from their physical problems with the same power that little David had to beat the giant.
Robert, who is a family friend of Phiona and has been our driver this week has a degree in social science. He’s going to be working for us! I asked Phiona to preach the gospel to the children, and she said, “I will, but this guy is much better at it!” So Robert happily agreed to share Jesus with the children there using a language they could understand. It was a definite HIGH moment for me to watch them all pray with him afterwards. We distributed sweets to the children and went to Fred’s room to speak to him privately.
I had packed some activities for Fred to do with all his idle time. I made sure that Rebecca was reading the bible aloud to Fred every day and she said yes she was already doing that. He likes to make Friendship bracelets with thread so we brought a kit for him. I asked him to make me one and I will wear it always, he smiled a wide shy smile. We gave him a box of legos and he nearly choked. He was so excited to have them to play with. I said he could share, but they belonged to him. There was a deck of uno cards in there too and I hope he will make a friend there.
As we left the hospital we all felt so much joy. I explained to the group the difference between coming here and giving fun gifts and sweets and going to our children’s home or Jame’s. With groups that we constantly work with and have long term relationships with we must be very careful with material resources. But for an event like this, a one time meeting with people, it is ok. I reminded them in case they missed the importance of it, that we should never give material things without sharing the spiritual gifts God wants every person to have.