Saturday, November 22, 2008

The other side of the world

On our way to the introduction, we reached the other side of the world so to speak in that we crossed the equator.

We went to the introduction and safari with a missionary friend of ours, Claudia. She has adopted three girls, Maggie, Hope and Emma.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Introduction

The pastor of the orphanage chapel is getting married in several weeks. While the wedding is important, in Ugandan culture it is not as important as the Introduction. We were invited to go to Pastor Michael's introduction. As we were told more and more about it, we began to realize it would be also an "introduction" for our family into another aspect of Ugandan culture. The Introduction is the time when the bride and groom bring their family and friends together to meet one another. It is also the time when the groom "pays" for his wife, typically with livestock, household goods and whatever the bride's family requests according to her value. In this case, Pastor brought seventeen gift baskets (with an assortment of breads, fresh produce, tubs of butter, etc), a live chicken, money for a goat, a sofa set (in lieu of the cow), and bags of sugar, salt and rice. He also brought a suitcase for his bride to use in moving with him and gift bags for all the many family members.

Here are some pictures of our time there:

We got the kids outfits made for the occasion and the girls even got their hair done. Unfortunately, things were too crazy to get a family picture that night.

Mark was asked to be the best man for the groom. Mark had originally declined, saying he needed to be with his family for such a new experience, but when we got there we discovered he was still expected to be the best man. Here is a picture of him and our pastor, the groom. (Ugandans typically look away with a straight face as a sign of humility - he really is happy!)

The kids were getting restless, so when we saw some people getting up to get some of the gifts, Claudia and I sent our kids out to help. Titus choose to go sit with his dad but the girls and Claudia's 3 girls carried gift baskets in on their heads.

Some of the men trying out the new sofa set.

Titus came to join Mark and Pastor.

Have to include a beautiful picture of the bride, "Precious Rita" as Pastor Michael calls her.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Priceless smile

Mary is smiling and cooing so much now. We had to share a picture!

All in a day's work

My cell phone reveals a glimpse of the kind of morning we had today. This text was sent by Mark to my phone at 5:45 this morning:
"Had to come to Nyenga. She delivered the baby outside on the sidewalk then the doctor came. All seems well now I think. Keep praying. Love you!"
Now I will let Mark explain. . .

At 4:30 a.m. one of our guards, Paul, called through our open window, "Uncle Mark, we have some problem." That's not exactly what you want to hear from the guard at 4:30 a.m.! It turns out that the wife of another guard, Michael, was in labor over at staff housing. They needed someone to take her to the doctor. Why didn't they call her husband? Well...

Michael had gone to town with their 3-year-old the day before. He had malaria and needed treatment. Later in the morning, their 4-year-old was brought to our house with a broken arm. (Our house has become the hot spot for such injuries since Titus broke his arm in June.) We called the mother and she went to town with the broken arm boy. Michael was contacted and he joined them at the clinic after getting treatment for the malaria child. The broken arm was complicated, so Michael stayed the night with that son at another clinic while his wife returned to GSF with the 3-year-old. That night is when she went into labor, so Michael wasn't around.

... So I hopped in the car with Paul (the guard who woke me up), we picked up the mother at staff housing and sped off to the hospital. The nurse in the nearest village wasn't around, so we proceeded to a hospital about 15 minutes away. Now, hospitals in Uganda generally consist of a complex of single-level buildings for the different wards (TB, maternity, children, etc.). We drove up to the gate about 5:00 a.m. and the guard pointed us in the direction of the wards. Not knowing which one was the maternity ward, we drove toward the center of the complex, then got out to search for a doctor and/or the maternity ward. Paul ran here and there checking the various buildings while I waited with Michael's wife on the broken sidewalk. She was in pain and I was praying for her as she paced back and forth.

Then she squatted down on the sidewalk and I heard a splash - yes, her water had broken. She speaks little English, so all I could do was pray, not knowing exactly how soon the baby might come. Paul couldn't find the right ward, nor did he find a doctor right away. Then I heard a thump on the sidewalk as I was standing there in the dark with my hand on her shoulder - still praying. The "thump" was the baby coming out. She had just delivered while squatting right there on the sidewalk!!!

I wasn't "helping", just "observing" - but I told her in English to turn the baby over so the stuff would come out of its mouth. She had apparently already done that when she picked up the baby, because it started crying off and on. I knew that was a good sign. I hollered at Paul, "The baby is here!" What I didn't know was that, in the midst of rushing around the compound in the dark, he had tripped in a concrete drainage ditch and skinned his knee. It was a minor accident, but it slowed him down. So I stood there with the squatting lady as she held her baby, umbilical cord still attached and the occasional cry to let us know that the air passages were clear. What a strong woman! This was her fifth child.

Finally Paul showed up with a doctor and two nurses shortly behind. They clamped and cut the cord, wrapped up the baby and picked up the placenta from off the sidewalk. Yuck! Off we went to the maternity ward, being careful not to step in the pool of blood remaining on the concrete. I called Michael on the phone and congratulated him with the news that his wife had given birth while he was at a clinic in town with the broken-arm son. Mother and baby are both doing well. Oh, by the way... It's a Girl!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pictures of our house

Several have asked to see pictures of our house, which is one side of a duplex here at the orphanage.
This is looking in at the kitchen and dining room; the sink is on the right:

This is taken standing at the island (in the middle of the kitchen and dining room)looking at the living room. The schoolroom is beyond the wall.

Our schoolroom. The bathroom is the first door to the left of the schoolroom and the master bedroom is the second one to the left and the kids room at the end.

The bathroom/laundry room; there is a door going to the master bedroom on the right

Our master bedroom

The kids' room

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A get-away

Mark and I felt the need for each of our kids to have a special night. Megan who has been the most homesick of the the three kids got to spend time with friends while Titus was aching for some boy time (as Mark mentioned in a previous message). Caralina and I got to get away at a resort for the night (costing us $30 for the room and $12 for the food). Caralina loves to take pictures so I thought I would add some for you to enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

update on Mary

I am trying to restrain myself from using lots of exclamation points but we are thrilled today to let everyone know that Mary is HIV negative !!!!!! (opps I did it :)). For those new to our blog, Mary was born on Aug. 4th, her mother died on Aug. 17th and she was brought to the orphanage on Aug. 19th weighing in at 2KG (4.4lbs). We have been alternating with Claudia, another missionary here at the orphanage, and keeping her every other week.
Claudia took her to the clinic today to get her 2nd round of vaccinations and to find out the results. We are all thrilled to find out she is HIV negative and weighs 5KG (11 lbs)!
Praise God with us on this wonderful news! We continue to pray for Mary's future and what God has in store for her.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"How life is in Uganda"

Friday was "boys night." Caralina and Amy were having a special night out and Megan was staying with a friend, so Titus and I headed to town for a few errands and dinner together. It's impossible to leave the orphanage without multiple interferences and delays, so we were off to a typical late start. Instead of running a few errands, we found ourselves simply trying to reach the computer repair shop before they closed, because my laptop has a problem with its power system. We were heading toward Jinja when my window came completely off the track and clunked to the bottom of the door. Leaving your car with a window down in town is most certainly NOT a good idea, so we altered our plans and headed to the mechanic's shop before they closed instead. After sitting for an hour and seeing the window successfully repaired, we went directly to the market to pick up some supplies for an upcoming event. We did well there and at a corner supermarket (Don't think WalMart - it's like the size of a convenience store in the states), but it was already late, due to the aforementioned delays.

We went to a favorite restaurant for pizza (again, don't be fooled into thinking Pizza Hut or Papa Johns, or even Little Caesar's)... and we played a round of pool while waiting for our pizza. Returning to our table, we discovered someone else was sitting there as we had vacated, so we had to wait for another table. They were short-staffed and our main waiter was a Trainee. it was still good and we got home about 9 p.m. So much for watching a movie together when we got back.

Titus is adjusting well to life here in Africa and he summed up the evening appropriately. At one point he sighed, smiled and said, "This is just how life is in Uganda." Ha, ha - very true, my son. Very true!