Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Right before we went on furlough, a team from our church came to visit. Our pastor, Tim Lampley, spoke at a village crusade and Norah listened to him speak although she was not feeling well. When she got home that night, she asked to speak to Pastor Tim and Mark. After talking briefly, she gave her life to Christ! A teen who, many would say, has little or no hope found her hope in Jesus. We praise God for this change in her life!
Unfortunately, she had another change in her life while we were on furlough. She contracted toxioplasmosis, which is a parasite that has paralyzed her right arm and leg. We were saddened by the news but grateful to hear that she seemed to be taking it well. She is now in a wheelchair, but can briefly stand and take a few steps.
Since we arrived back at GSF, Norah's hemoglobin count has been very low and she has had to receive two blood transfusions. It has also been determined that she must start the stage 2 HIV medications because the stage 1 medications are no longer working.
Due to her condition, Norah was not able to go with the rest of our teenagers on a retreat to a mountainous area. Because of this, we all decided that Norah would get a shopping trip to town.
Mark, Megan and I took her to town yesterday to shop for a specific pair of sandals she wanted and to have lunch. Mark did well to maneuver the wheelchair over the broken and uneven sidewalks. We went to many stores before we finally found the exact sandals - the ones covered with goat skin! Please pray for Norah to grow in both physical and spiritual strength.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Today started out with a miscalculation. As a result, I had to drive to town to get some cash out of our own bank account to send with our teens for their two-day retreat. Having no cash in my own pocket, I took both of our ATM cards so I could get money for the retreat and for ourselves. Neither of the ATM cards worked today. No money and no access to cash – that’s how most Ugandans spend their days.
Having had a small lunch today, I was ready for dinner early. But I had to take a child to the hospital in the evening and the place was full and the doctors weren’t around. So it was quite late before I got back home for dinner. Hunger (only a little bit on my part) – that’s what many Ugandans face every day.
The child I took to the hospital has had malaria, she has palsy, she is on anti-seizure medicine, and she was having an allergic reaction to something in that mix. The hospital was overcrowded and Tiny Rose had to share a bed with another child in the Pediatric Ward. The Ward has 23 beds in one large room and every child has to have a mother or someone staying with them. Other beds were shared; some children were on the floor – not to mention all the mothers crammed in the room with nowhere to sleep. I get to sleep in my own bed tonight – Most Ugandans share a bedroom, but have no bed in their 1- or 2-room houses.
While at the hospital, I was talking to one of our nurses on the phone. I ran out of airtime (which has to be prepaid here) in the middle of the conversation. No airtime – that is a standard way of life for most Ugandans, even though they may have a cell phone.
No money; little food; no bed for a child; no airtime – these are all basics of life for the masses of people all around us. For me they were only temporary inconveniences. Such is life in Uganda.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Here is a God-story that is still developing…
While on furlough, our kids’ previous school, SBEC, asked for a list of supplies they could gather to send back for the orphanage. We told the 2nd and 7th grade classes that they could collect Gatorade powder (which is good for hydrating sick children, but is unavailable here) and children’s gummy multivitamins (to improve overall health of the children). The students collected enough Gatorade to make about 400 liters – that should last quite a while! They also collected over 30 bottles of vitamins – fabulous. But God had bigger plans from this great group of students…
At the end of November we got a call to inform us that one of the student’s parents had organized a donation of vitamins from a pharmaceutical company. They were shipping TWO PALLETS of children’s vitamins to the school for Good Shepherd’s Fold! We were blown away by a gift that is literally “more than we could have asked or thought possible.”
When the pallets arrived at SBEC, we took a picture with some of the 7th graders and more than 250 boxes of vitamins in the school lobby. In total, there are 3,108 bottles of children’s multivitamins. Praise the Lord! They literally donated “a ton” of vitamins as the total weight is over 1,930 pounds.
Being unable to pack that much in our luggage, we began looking for shipping options with the help of a few friends. One person offered to donate the cost. Another friend in the shipping business looked up shipping rates for us. Someone else contacted their FedEx international shipping rep to inquire about a charitable discount. Meanwhile, we headed back to Uganda, waiting for more information. The offer from FedEx was the best rate and we were grateful for their generosity; yet the cost was still almost $4,000. FedEx was offering a HUGE discount, but it was still more than we felt we could responsibly pay. Customs fees can also be huge on incoming shipments. We turned to the Lord, grateful for the miracle of the vitamins and asked for another miracle to get them to GSF.
That is where the story is still unfolding. We asked the 7th graders to be praying – the students at SBEC have a daily reminder to pray, because the pallets are still sitting in their lobby. I can’t give too much information regarding a plan that hasn’t come together, but… We have contacted a large team of people who are coming to Uganda in March. They are not coming to work with GSF, but we had already discussed ways we could connect while they are here. They have told us “not to worry” and a plan is being developed whereby they may be able to bring all 3,108 bottles of vitamins to us. Please pray with us and stay tuned. God is not finished with this miracle just yet!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
While on furlough, we were often asked, “What is a typical day like at GSF?” After we stopped laughing, we would respond, “There is no such thing!”
Saturday began as a fairly typical day. Amy was trying to move past a migraine while I was temporarily feeling better from a sinus infection. Our three visitors came for lunch and then we began to investigate the resources available for them to operate Kids Camp for the children here as they are off school until February. We went to the pavilion where many supplies are stored. It was a total mess – books, videos and games were strewn all over the floor and that was only part of it. I called for the teenagers to come clean it up.
Chandler (an intern from Liberty University) opened one of the storage tubs to find the game/play parachutes. However, he quickly closed the lid and had a wide-eyed look on his face. We took another peek and found that a colony of small ants had taken over that tub! There were multiple thousands of ants and their larvae in there. So we turned from the large task of cleaning the pavilion to the specific task of removing the ants.
Pulling the container out into the yard, we opened it up, carefully grabbed a corner of the parachutes and started spreading them out in the grass. They had not been dried before packing them away months earlier, so the damp conditions apparently made a wonderful home for the ants. The critters scurried everywhere, carrying thousands of larvae with them.
As we were spreading the parachutes in the grass, I stepped in a big mud puddle. Yuck! Looking down, I noticed that the water was moving. This wasn’t just a mud hole from the morning rain; something was leaking underground. As the teenagers showed up to take over the task of cleaning the pavilion, the rest of us now turned our attention to the water coming out of the ground. We began digging with a hoe to follow the water flow. So many problems, but we had not yet discovered them all.
As we took turns digging, we kept running into a different colony of ants – this time they were vicious Safari Ants. Safari ants have huge pincers and they actually drew blood on two people that were bitten. When one of us would end up in the ants, the stinging would begin and we would run screaming to the pavilion to strip off shoes, socks or sandals. Their stings are painful!
We continued digging from the other side of the hole in order to avoid the safari ants. Eventually we found a pipe valve that was the culprit and we sealed it as best we could until the plumber could come replace the valve on Monday. Meanwhile the teens did a great job of cleaning the pavilion, the parachutes were dried out, the ants all returned to their respective homes and we all headed to the houses to shower before dinner. We were a muddy, dusty mess!
One mess leads to another. Just another typical day.