Tuesday, January 24, 2012

be careful what you wish for

Well, the grid electricity is on...

So is the bar in Nyahuka town with the MEGA LOUDSPEAKER which has played in order the following music at FULL BLAST:
Dolly Parton
Aaron Neville
Congo Dance Music
Baby Laughing Song
Don't Worry Be Happy
Farting Song
Amen Hallelujiah Song

It is almost midnight, the party is just getting started there, Aidan is now awake and crying from the blaring music, Ugandans are known to play music all night (sometimes for fun, sometimes to keep bad spirits away), and there is no such thing as enforced noise ordinances, we are now praying for the electricity TO GO BACK OUT!

visitors, puppies, and plumeria

Due to "road work" we have been without power for the past 5 days so our internet (run on solar or generator) has been sparse. We are happy to share photos of our current visitors who are considering missionary service here in Bundibugyo, Lauren G with Lauren and Derek W. Ann, the new VIA VIA (Visitor Intern Apprentice Very Important Administrator) has done a remarkable job of organizing their trip, preparing for their arrival, and coordinating the many experiences of their vision visit. The team has graciously hosted them for meals, taken them to market and the health center, and shared about life here in Bundi.
Ann with Lauren, Lauren and Derek
Travis hands over the keys of USS (the mission property management and employer of 20 Ugandans) to the new Captain USS Josh!
Happy Birthday Josh! We had a fun pizza party, chocolate chocolate cake, gifts, and dance party. Aidan decided that it was his party and he could cry if he wanted to! Lilli and Patton had just been stung by wasps and are a bit swollen in this picture.
Travis and Josh prepare the dough for the pizza.
Lesley, Finch, and Michael Stevens arrived on Monday night! We are SOOOO happy that they are here and are settling into their new home. They are pictured here with their many duffle bags.
Lauren and Derek look over the valley and river to the DRC.
Finch and Aidan share a moment of reading books. They are the future of RMS!
We finally screened in our back porch (which allows for bug free eating!) to host our visitors for an evening of Ugandan food.
Our kids already love Finch!
Yes, you are seeing an ultrasound being done on our female dog, Bella. We are happy to announce that we may soon be the parents to seven labrador puppies!
Lilli with her chameleon, KymKym
The kids had fun playing "Guess which trunk" and then jumping out.
Peek A Boo!
It is dry season which means the plumeria are in bloom. Here, Lilli holds a special six petaled flower.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas child

Three mothers and their children sharing a meal together
at the Health Center over Christmas week

Every year something seems to remind me of the significance of God becoming a helpless baby so that even the least of us can know him.

Last week (the week of Christmas), a 7 week old infant was brought to the hospital with pneumonia and in respiratory distress. This was her second admission in her short little life. She previously was here for two weeks suffering from neonatal sepsis and possible meningitis. She was not much better off this time.

Now that she was a few weeks older, a few more characteristics revealed that she probably also has congenital rubella syndrome caused by a virus her mother contracted while she was pregnant. Her eyes are clouded with cataracts and here heart whooshes instead of thumps because of some significant defect. Seeing her size, her defects, and current condition and knowing the resources available in Uganda for someone like her, I sighed thinking her life will not be long. We gave her some antibiotics, and I moved on to the next patient.

A few minutes later, the mother came to me with a distressed look. The baby was seizing. We gave her a dose of diazepam, which stopped the seizing. The child was breathing rapidly and I knew she needed oxygen. Giving oxygen to a patient is a complex process of identifying a power source (solar, hydro power from grid or gasoline generator) finding the appropriate machine or power converter to match the machine electricity needs with the source and finding a bed close enough to a working outlet. If all those pieces come together in time, there is also the commitment of watching the baby and monitoring the petrol levels in the generator (grid power was out) because the staff is not trained to monitor patients on Oxygen and the fatalism of the society would mean they would not refill the machine if it ran out fuel even if it meant saving the child's life.

We had started rounding on the patients one and half hours late because the staff did not come until then. I looked at my watch and around at the 20 more patients I had yet to examine and treat. I was hungry, hot and had a list of 20 things to do when I got home. I did not want to spend the hour needed to get fuel, generator and oxygenator together and running. I looked at the child, pitiful, struggling for breath and cursed with blindness and a dysfunctional heart. I thought about the other children who died over the past couple weeks despite our best efforts. Was it worth it?

Maybe I should not put such a question in print. Of course it is. But pause and think about it. A child with significant defects, in the middle of Africa, in a place where average income is less than $2 a day. A child who has already struggled for life twice in its short 7 weeks of life. A child who cannot see. A child whose heart can barely circulate her blood. Her 1 year chance of survival is near zero. Do we waste resources on her? Do we spend time even thinking about her?

Yet, she is a real human being, a person with the finger prints of God all over her. She is struggling for her next breath and for life. Should I not deny my pride and push back my seemingly important to do list to enter into her world and struggle with her. Should I love this little child, even if she seems unloveable?

Not every patient throws me into such a tailspin of thoughts. Yet, I confess the short but arduous internal struggle I had. As I wrestled through the value of the life of this little child, I felt as if Jesus put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I too was a helpless child, in a poor place, without a home, and laying in a feeding trough. I became insignificant so that she would have significance."

We did find everything needed for some oxygen. We adjusted her medical regimen. We prayed. She is alive still today. She might not be tomorrow. Still we praise God for each day of life given to her and for the value added for each us because of humility he took on himself.

Merry Christmas. Thanks for praying with us and for us each day so we can love a few of these children that most of the world overlooks.

Location:Nyahuka Health center

Thursday, January 12, 2012

sight to the blind...

...or at least reading glasses to the old

Since there are no LensCrafters or even an opthomologist within 9 hours of here, eye care is not much of an option in Bundibugyo...unless you are friends with Pat Abbott.

For years, Pat has ministered to the elderly by providing reading glasses at a very minimal cost (and then she gives that money to BundiNutrition). As she and her friend Maureen were here for a visit, she announced on the community radio and organized at the community center a Glasses Distribution. Four hundred reading glasses were donated by a dear friend and given out today.

Maureen said it best: "You know when the glasses are the right fit because a huge smile reaches across their face. Wait for the smile. Then you know they can see."


After 4 hours of errands in Fort Portal, we finally hit the road to Bundibugyo. We are so very happy to report road progress! Though the road that now bypasses one of the two major mountain "curves" is not officially open, that does not stop us from using it! After all, even in its unfinished shape, it is much better than the old road.

The construction of the road is contracted by a Chinese firm, so the foremen are Chinese, a rare sight in rural mountainous Uganda. As we drive by them, we greet them with the two words we remember from our visit to China, "Nehow" "ShayShay" (however they are spelled). They usually laugh and wave back.

We often wonder how these communities will change once this major road comes through as a thoroughfare through Congo and onwards. More jobs? More opportunities? More exchange of ideas? Even a bit of interchange between cultures?

It may already be happening as on this drive, when one of the Ugandans working on the road saw us, he yelled out to us "ShayShay". I guess it is true that all white people look alike.

It is never easy to re-enter Bundibugyo. When we walked in our house to find no electricity (thus no internet or refrigeration), no water (or toilet flushing), no propane in the tank (or dinner cooking), and a big dead rat decomposing on our one rug, it was almost enough to make me walk right back out and drive that really bad road again!

However, my heroic husband removed the rat, the electricity soon returned, Travis changed the propane tank, and in the middle of the night, God brought a huge rainstorm to fill our water reserve tank.

Today was filled with unpacking, greeting friends, watching the kids play with their new pet chameleons, participating in the reading glasses distribution, putting 14 days of laundry on the line to dry (and bringing them back in), organizing receipts (scraps of paper are my enemy!) and enjoying a peaceful sunset dinner with Pat Abbott, Lydia, and visiting friend Maureen.

Its good to be back.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

Thanks for walking through 2011 with us. Celebrate with us now as you watch the video montage. 2011 is a year that we are grateful for and grateful that it has past. So much happened from our children learning to walk, talk, ride a bike, swim, read, etc. to reorganizing leadership at CSB, restarting ministries at the health center and welcoming in 5 new teammates. Through it all God has sustained us in a mighty way and we have great hope for 2012!

In the montage you will see the Aidan’s first steps, the Grace Community Team VBS in the villages, our dear friends Pat and the Clarks who finished their terms in Bundibugyo and moved to new ministries. You will see our interns Alyson, Sarah and Olvie and our apprentice Chrissy.There is our "flight" to Kenya when our visa was not renewed. You will see our time with the Herrons and the Myhres, the Manarins, Scott Will and many others who came to visit and love on us. You will see many faces of our friends in Bundi as we celebrate holidays, show films, visit villages or play in our front yard. You will see Christ School including Isingoma and Christine who we are so thankful for with their new leadership. You will see the first homecoming and the Alumn proudly wearing their University Cap and Gowns. You will see the members of the newly formed and Ugandan ran Community Dairy Goat project. There is also the expansion of CSB Farms as it seeks to provide a sustainable income for the school as well as provide nutritional education for the students and community (webale Alex and John). There is our travel to the US to see family and have surgery (webale JD and Roy and all the staff). You will see our health center (I am so thankful to Jessica and Scott Will for helping re-establish those ministries.)You will see us skyping in Bundi for the first time! You will also meet Jessica, Pamela, Josh and Ann who all joined our team as longterm partners in Bundibugyo and have infused us with great joy for the coming year! Mostly, you will see life here- thank you for being apart of it!