Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Today I took food away from a starving child…

View of our Pediatric Ward
One of our Malnutrition Children

Famine has hit East Africa. Food prices across the world are near record highs. Though Bundibugyo is not in famine, the resultant increased food prices combined with the seasonal decrease in harvest has brought over a dozen starving children to our pediatric ward these past 2 weeks.

Today, I took food away from Birra, one of these children. It felt very counterintuitive, mean, rude and even crazy. This 2 year-old child, who weighs 10 pounds, was eating a local banana type fruit called matoke. Her eyelids, hands and feet are swollen from the edema caused by lack of protein and a liver reaction to her slow wasting by starvation. Her mother stared at me in disbelief. Was she not doing the right thing? My friend, the nurse Charles, helped me explain to her that the food the child needed was the formula provided by UNICEF. The formula had all the nutrients she needed. It was also portioned out to help her body adjust to the intake of nutrition and prevent her heart from going into failure. Eating the matoke would fill her body with empty calories and keep her from drinking the not as tasty formula. For her to survive, we had to take the matoke away- until she returned to normal health.

Similarly, last week at our team meeting we discussed the hardship of living here. Sure, it is difficult living here, but what really makes it hard is the inability to sooth the hardship with our normal comforts. If we want to goad each other, we just mention “Breyers Ice Cream,” or “Chic-Fil-A” or “DQ Blizzard” or any other number of unattainable commodities and therefore forbidden words in our house. Beyond delicious foods, we also lack restaurants for dates or time of quietness. People with needs often knock at our door at 7am and we listen, serve, pray with people in desperate situations all day long. Jogs, bike rides and visits to the market are heralded with a cacophony of children’s voices yelling Majungu (white person.) It is hard to get away. Hot showers, let alone baths are not always available. Electricity providing light and internet is not consistent and are reliant on forces outside our control such as sunlight or the government. Yesterday, two phones ran out of charge during an interrupted monthly conversation with my brother. This makes it difficult to escape the troubles and needs that are constantly pressing on us.

Interestingly, David, in Psalms 73 speaks about such a thing. He compares himself to those around him. He sees them as without troubles, swollen fat with indulgences and doing only what they care to do. He, however, feels stuck, probably longing to be a simple shepherd again on the hillside instead of being in charge of a kingdom. He indicates all the normal comforts of his had been stripped away. Nevertheless, God is still with him. He concludes that God is his desire and there is nothing in heaven or earth that he desires more.

I long for Breyers Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream, or a Wendy’s Frosty and large fry. However, not being able to seek solace with these precious commodities is forcing me to learn how to seek comfort from Jesus. He has taken away my matoke that I may feast from the table he has prepared for me.

A bit of an update...

In the one year and four months that WHM houses have had grid electricity, we have been without it for at least half of that time. A month ago, our transformer blew out again (maybe the 5th time?). The electricity man no longer answers my frequent phone calls. When Travis called him, he promised that the transformer was sent to Kampala (3 weeks after it went out!) and that we would have electricity soon. Practically speaking, that means that we light our fridges (propane or kerosene), transfer all our cold or frozen goods, try to remember to charge electronics in the day when the sun is abundantly charging the solar powered batteries, use the generator for an hour for internet on cloudy days, and are very careful with the amount of lights we use in the evening. This also means that any blogging to be done when the kids are asleep does not happen. So, in this somewhat quiet and sunny moment, I will attempt to display through photos the activities of the past weeks. What a few weeks it has been!

RMS celebrated "Teacher Appreciation Week" and it is obvious
that RMS students love their teacher, Miss Anna!
Aidan is now old enough to be interested in playing with cars
so it is a joy to see my two boys play together.
Aidan loves to play "hide and seek" and making his mom laugh!
After CSB Sunday Fellowship, Lilli, Aidan, Olvie and the
Minister of Spiritual Development played drums together.
Farewell, "Grandfather" Kevin Party in our backyard
The OGs (Female Alumni) do a dance presentation for the Homecoming
The OB/OG (old boys/old girls...alumni) Homecoming Celebration Evening Gathering included speeches, dances, more speeches, and more speeches.
Kevin and the Board of Governors for CSB watch the OB v CSB student football match.
While our kids are troopers, they are not always smiles when the day has been long, their tummies are hungry, it is hot out, and they are ready to go home!
The OB v CSB match ended (thankfully!) in a last minute tie.
The OBs and OGs cheered on their fellow OBs on the field.
The line up for the game.
Bwampu Steven, the "son" of Tata Kevin joins hands with Kevin
for a walk to the middle of the filed for kick-off.
Walking around campus
Tim and Trisha Manarin and their 3 kids, friends from Kampala, visited us for the weekend and were good sports about joining in all of the festivities. This included tubing down the river, meeting people at CSB, watching the match, shopping at the market, and eating pork muchomo. We are so grateful that they braved the road here and joined us for some friendship.

When they arrived, Patton pulled me aside and whispered, "Mom, while they are here, I am going to pretend they are my brothers." He loved time with the boys!

As sickness floated around our house for a week, my friend Sharifa called to see if she could come over. When I told her of the sickness, she immediately said she was going to her garden to bring me bananas. And she did! Beautiful bananas from a beautiful friend.

Kevin shares and challenges us all at the CSB Staff Fellowship on Tuesday nights.
I was grateful to see my dear friend Christine as she came to visit her husband Edward. She brought beautiful crafts made by the ladies of her church's "Self-Help" group that meets weekly for friendship, Bible Study, and craft together. If anyone needs some paper bead necklaces, I have a few (hundred)...
Every week, we try to spend a little bit of time in the back yard, creating a playspace. So far, we have a sandless sandbox and the beginnings of a pirate ship. Pictured here are the kids decorating the inside of what one day will be their own playground!