Monday, October 18, 2010

Trusting Him with My kids

Last Sunday I had the privilege to visit a church in Bundikuri, a small village about 5 km from our house. I loved it. We met in a small one-room building made of mud and straw. Shawn and Heather Wallace were visiting us with Robert Carr. Robert and Shawn led a seminar on Peace and Reconciliation- a powerful promise from the Gospel. Afterwards, the pastor of the church in Bundikuri asked Shawn to speak for their Sunday service. So I hopped on a boda (motorcycle taxi) with Shawn and tagged along. Because we were guest, the children’s, women’s and church choir all lead us in worship- a beautiful mix of rhythm, color and voice. Shawn gave a great talk about Peter- someone I so often identify with, someone who has lots of big ideas but is scared to death when it’s time to trust Jesus and follow.

After the service, they held a baby christening. Six couples with their baby went to the front to ask for the Lord’s protection, promises and help in raising their children. They all looked so proud of their dressed up child and all looked so nervous about parenting. I could so identify with them. It was really the first time while in Africa that things felt familiar enough that it could have happened at our church in the US. That is until the elder and pastor undressed each child enough to check for charm bracelets and waistbands meant to keep evil spirits and illness away. One by one, each mother shyly pulled it off and gave it to the pastor. The pastor then prayed and parents vowed to raise the child to know Jesus and to trust Jesus with their salvation, future and safety.

I was struck with the profoundness of their act. They had to give up what their culture and families have taught for generations would protect their children. They did this because they were going to trust Jesus to take its place. I began to think of all the things I trust in to protect my children- “perfect” parenting, money, smart- well adjusted- well behaved friends, top education, federally inspected toys, clean floors, organic food, schedules, insurance… It’s a wonder my children can be kids with all of these charms hanging from them. Many of these have been stripped from us by moving to Africa. So, I often feel guilty about not having my children in certain schools or playing with the newest educational toy or while watching Aidan crawl across our bumpy concrete floor, or put anti-itch and anti-biotic cream on their dozens of bug bites. I wish I could take away these feelings as easily as removing a bracelet. But as hard as it is for my new friends here to step out of their culture and trust Jesus, so it is for me. I do trust Him today and pray I can again tomorrow.

Friday, October 15, 2010

On being a man- My other job

A view of Christ School Bundibugyo's Campus

Students praying in Chapel

Best Football Pitch view in Uganda!

Boys Football- District champions-always a joy to watch.

Girls Football- Won the National Award for Best Disciplined Team this year!

2010 Candidate Celebration

As a man, sometimes you don’t do what you want to do. You do what has to be done.

When you tell the Lord, “Whatever. Wherever. Whenever” you had better be ready to do things you never dreamed in places you’ve never heard of and maybe even tomorrow!

The “Whatever” that I never dreamed about as a part of my job is leading Christ School Bundibugyo.

While I still am able to spend time at the health center doing ultrasounds, diagnosing difficult cases, seeing patients in my katubi, and referring/sending patients for more specialized care, much of my time is spent serving as the Chairman of the Board, which means I am the Caretaker of the Budget, the Guider of Strategic Planning, and the Guardian of the School Mission-

To build God’s kingdom by developing servant leadership through a Christ-centered education stressing Christian fellowship, community service and academic excellence”.

I have to say, that even though I had not expected to take on this job (and that we are praying for someone with better expertise than I to come), I count it a blessing to be able to serve Bundibugyo, our 25 staff members and 336 students in this way.

Why? Because this school truly is a mustard seed planted. And as these children grow, they will help make Bundibugyo a place of refuge and peace for the people of the Semiliki Valley. Christ School Bundibugyo was started ten years ago with the vision of raising leaders with a heart for Jesus, a love for people and skills to help. This vision seemed somewhat farfetched 10 years ago, when the people of Bundibugyo were seen as the outcast of Uganda and the students here consistently performed the lowest nationally on exams and the district ranked utterly last in education. Today, Bundibugyo is no longer last in education and Christ School Bundibugyo has ranked in the top third of private schools across the country for the past several years.

The joy for us is the Staff. There are 25 staff here, most of whom are from other places in Uganda. Because of the difficult roads around the mountains, it takes some of them two to three days to reach home. It takes us two to three days to reach back to the US. These teachers feel as isolated as we do, struggling to understand a different culture and language. They also see their position as a calling, just like us. They are truly missionaries with us to this area forgotten by their own people but loved by God. We meet with them every Tuesday night to pray and study scripture together. Sometimes it is noticeable how simple doctrines are just not known. Other times, we are blown away by the profoundness of their understanding of Jesus.

I was especially thankful for them last Saturday night when two of the teachers challenged the candidates (this years graduates). The Deputies of Academics and Administration (our Vice-Principles) told them that they cannot do anything without God. They read Jehosephat’s prayer in 2nd Chronicles and out of Romans. Without Him, we are going to fail. With Him, there is no battle we cannot face. He is our hope, especially when circumstances around us disappoint us. He will make all things good, even failure, for those who love Him. They should not worry about the exams, but be confident in the One they trust and rejoice in the results, no matter what they are.

In Uganda, the National Exams are everything. There is no interview or essay for university admission. The Government takes the top 10% and gives them scholarships to go to university. The rest of the positions in universities are filled with those with the next highest scores. With a low score, you have no hope of continuing your education. Most people see education as their only way out of the poverty in Bundibugyo.

The students are also a great joy. We worship with them regularly at Wednesday afternoon Chapel and often on Sunday morning fellowship. They sing at the top of their lungs praise songs that lift our spirits after a long week’s work. They share prayer request and praises that challenge my understanding of the depth of God’s love and provision. At times, they share profound truths that excite me about the future of Bundibugyo.

There are several graduates who have returned from university to serve in Bundibugyo, and some have even returned to teach at CSB. These young adults seem to understand integrity, want to challenge corruption in the government and are seeking ways to love people here. There are also several students currently in college, studying to by community developers, medical doctors, nurses, accountants and information technologists. There is great hope in these students for this district.

So, right now, though my stethoscope is around my neck, I am up to my elbows in CSB spread sheets, budgets, policies, and meetings with the head teacher and staff.

Please pray for me in this, that I would have energy and wisdom to tackle this job….a job that we did not expect but believe that God has called us to for this season.

Pray for the staff- for courage to press forward.

Pray for the students- that they would excel in the Board Exams this November and would see Jesus as their joy and strength.

AND Pray for someone with academic administrative skills to serve and love this school…and if you know of anyone, let us know!

Medical Update: Ben

Thanks for praying for Baraba Paul. I want to update you on him and another patient named Ben.

Baraba Paul is doing well. He has started chemo and is slowly responding. We are hoping to visit him next week. He is having trouble stomaching food, as anyone on chemo understands. So, his family here scrounged up some money, brought it to us and asked if we could send it to Kampala so Paul could have a soda each day. That is love.

The new patient we would like you to pray for is Ben. Four men carried this 16 years old boy to our katubi two weeks ago, begging us to help his terrible “leg pain.” I was moved because my favorite Bible story is when the four men cut the whole in the roof to gain access to Jesus for their dear friend whose legs did not work. Now, I am not Jesus, and thankfully they did not cut a whole in our roof. Sadly, he did not leave leaping and jumping. But he does need care and we can lift him up in prayer to Jesus.

As his brothers helped to our katubi, it appeared that under his trousers his knee was bulkily wrapped and supported. He grimaced as they moved him to the ground. As this introduction to Ben was at 6pm on Friday evening, Amy graciously postponed dinner and as a family we sat down to care for this young man. His pain began one year ago and his knee has continued to “grow” since that time. He also said he had something growing on his chest and his head. They went to someone for healing 6 months ago. They injected something into his left hip to heal the leg. Instead, his left leg “died” and now he cannot use that one either. He had no other symptoms and the story somewhat mystified me.

Two of the men that brought him were his brothers. They were very tender with their younger brother, but did not have the means to seek medical care. When I asked about their family, I learned that both parents died about 8 years ago. Ben was the youngest of three boys and they had helped take care of each other since that time.

I then asked Ben to remove his trousers so I could examine his leg. I was taken back when I saw that it was not a knee that was wrapped for support, but a knee that was more than 3 times normal size and filled with some sort of tumor. His left leg had no muscle mass. He also had golf ball size tumors on other parts of his body.

I was able to send photos and the story to contacts here in Uganda. It may be a dangerous Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) or horrible case of extra-pulmonary TB. Either way, he needs to be seen. Our friend Andrew Hodges graciously accepted to take him in his hospital, which specializes in orthopedic care. Yesterday, one of our Christ School teachers, who was going home on mid-term break, brought him to Kampala and helped him get settled in the hospital. With your help, we have been able to fund his trip and stay.

So, please continue to pray and we will keep you updated.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

September...the rest of the month

Other snaps of September

Arts and Crafts in the katubi

Anna and Chrissy share marshmallow rats.
Travis masters the brick oven for pizza night.
Visiting WHM Kenya missionary Robert and new teammate Chrissy enjoy making pizza.
Matooke, cabbage and goat...a celebration dinner for CSB students.
Visiting Heather makes her first pizza!

Travis pulls a worm out of the ear of a schoolboy.
Birthday Banana Pudding!
Patton is delighted by his birthday cake pancake.
Bhootu is so thankful that someone remembered him in a care package!
Another beautiful end to the day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Worth a thousand words...a glance at September

Hooray for Care Packages! This one came from Trav's cousin, Lindley, in only one month!
What do you do when the doctor for 300,000 people is injured himself? John flushes out Trav's eye with a saline solution after 24 hours of eye pain and no improvement.
John is truly a Jack-of-all-Trades!
Having a cornial abrasion from an unseen tree branch at night, Travis was forced to keep his eyes closed for 24 hours. A hard thing for a busy man to do!
One afternoon, Lilli grabbed the soccer ball and said she was going out to play with the boys!
Three week old, three kilogram baby Daniel with cleft palate and cleft lip whom we sent to CoRSU in Kampala for surgery.
The mother and father who love their little one.
On a trip into Nyahuka, we were waved down by a group of students seeking a ride. We realized it was our own CSB students returning from a Scripture Union training. They packed into the back and top of our car...we totaled 16 people in and on our car! Their joyful singing was a sweet reminder of why we are here: to impact the future leadership of Uganda with the good news of Jesus!
The road is coming! You can see it cut into the mountains.
At a roadside market, I barter for our vegetables.
Mimi and Papa enjoy the view from Ndali Lodge.
Amazing sunset, happy family.
One of our only dates we've had since we arrived in February (we pretended that we were alone).
Too many obakakoni (no-see-ums_ bites!
Lillli's photos are the best!
Mimi and Papa in front of a crater lake in Fort Portal.
Mimi cherishes holding her grandson.
A chilly swim with Daddy.
Lilli has now learned to swim on her own (but still likes the floaties for the deep end).
Thank you Grammie and Poppy for the Lite Brite Bday gift!
A camera like Lilli's! Just what Patton asked for...for months!
Loren and Bryan take a turn...
Miss Anna is a little off...
Birthday Boy Patton pins the tail on the zebra!
Silly six year old
Birthday Safari Party for Lilli and Patton

Travis and Baraba Paul
Prayer for Paul and his family before they leave for chemotherapy care in Kampala.
Mimi loves giving grandchildren baths...even in Africa!
Snowcapped mountains on the equator, one of the many paradoxes of life here.
Our evening light for the many, many days and nights without electricity in September.

Thanks for your patience with our lack of communication during the electricity outages. We don't take consistent electricity for granted, that is for sure!