Saturday, May 19, 2012

a hop of joy

As I walked into the room, I heard Travis ask someone on the phone, "Well, is he cute? Then, no problem, we can come and pick you up."

When I learned that it was teammate Miss Pamela that had called to request for us to pick her up in our car at the market, I became even more curious. The market is in close walking distance. Who had she met? Why did she want a ride? And with a cute male? Was this all a ploy to enjoy our newly fixed air conditioning?

When Travis returned with the kids, Pamela, her mysterious cute male, I just had to go and meet....


Late last Friday night, Baby Bunny Anna passed on. Amidst many Saturday morning tears, Lilli asked if we could get another bunny.

So today, when Pamela spied a young boy carrying two bunnies by the ears, she knew the answer to Lilli's question!

Meet RMS's newest pet, Clover. We just hope that Clover is, indeed, a male and not a pregnant female!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bizarre and Rain

I woke up this morning with an odd, but comforting feeling. As I sat up, I knew that the Presence of God was with me. I am glad for that one intense, yet peaceful moment as the rest of the day has proved to be more than bizarre.

The cow Truffle in the next door pasture, mooed all night, keeping me awake despite earplugs and a pillow over my head.

During this morning's walk with the kids to school, I had great difficulty getting into the schoolyard as the cow Oreo pushed against the gate in hopes of an escape from the mud and hundreds of biting flies that were on her. She then jumped over the barbed wire fence in frustration or fly craziness. Really, the cow jumped over the fence?!

As I was walking back, I saw that Ngonzi the mission worker held a 6-7 foot fat and dead cobra on his mpanga (knife for cutting grass). He said that he did not kill it, the dogs did. It was Josh that then asked where was Jessie, the dog who has killed at least 8 cobras in the past. Sadly, this cobra killed her.  As Pat said, “She died valiantly.”

Bizarre continued as we had to mediate a dispute about a land boundary and neighbors that reportedly bribed mission workers to move our boundary lines.

Travis walked into the health center to see almost a hundred people huddled around a small child and a wailing mother as that child has just died. The overnight nurse had not reported to work last night and the child perished. The ward continued to fill with 2 more measles cases today. One child is so covered with the boils that his skin is completely swollen. Two CSB grads are volunteering to map out which villages these cases come from in order to plead to the District Health Officer of Bundibugyo to send vaccinations to these areas.

Meanwhile, we are in process of purchasing a small parcel of land from our next door neighbor as he needs money to get his brother out of jail. But the bank ATM (that is 45 minutes from here) has had at least 50 people in line for the last week and has inconsistently given or not given money out.

And we just received a phone call about a question about land WHM owns in Fort Portal.

And our house and the VIA (visitor, intern, apprentice) house are mysteriously not connected to the grid electricity…for 4 days now.  Thankful for solar electricity at our house, but concerned as we have visitors coming in a few weeks to a house that does not have solar electricity.

And the cell phone company that we use either sends the same message repeatedly or not at all. Bizarre.

All of this is happening as I hear the thunder rumbles of a rainy season storm approaching. A large part of me wants for a huge rain to come and wash away all of the bizarre, messy and sad parts of life here. But that is not how life works. Rains come, provide temporary relief and a pause, but they also end. Today, I am grateful for the Presence of God in the midst of the bizarre and in the provision of His sweet rain.

Miracle Math

As we walked home, I congratulated Lilli for sitting for four hours of church today. It is always good to worship alongside our neighbors, brothers, and sisters, but today’s service leaves me both befuddled and amazed.

Typically, there are numerous announcements, most of which I do not understand with my limited Lebwisi. Today, 25 youth (ages 13 to 35) stood proud to announce that they had completed slashing the WHM airstrip by hand and were paid for their work. That payment went to “electrifying” the Community Center where the Church meets on Sundays. From my seat, I could see new places where chunks of brick were knocked out and wires were now attached to the building. The next announcement came from a man who called himself a “pioneer of the mission” and who now works for the government. With current rebel activity in the DRC and refugees flooding into southwestern Uganda and Rwanda, he announced that searches for “people who do not belong here” will be occurring. While those first two announcements may befuddle me as they are outside of my range of “typical church announcements”, the last announcement is what still amazes me.

Two weeks ago, a letter arrived at our house from a local councilman describing a person in his village. Irene is a girl from Gulu (northern Uganda…far from here) stranded in Bundibugyo.  Her mother had moved here from Gulu to wed Irene's father and when her father decided to take another wife, her mother returned home to Gulu. As children are considered belonging to the father, she lived with her father and new stepmother. Recently, her father died and her step mother no longer wanted her. The letter detailed that she needed to get back to Gulu to her mother as she now had no home and the councilman was afraid that she would be forced to survive by "means of a bad life.”

A week ago, a crying girl came to our house and as I sat and tried to understand who this girl is and why she was at our house, I remembered the letter about a stranded girl named Irene. We receive a lot (!) of requests for assistance for various needs. While we would love to help everyone who asks, it would not be good for them or for us. So, after talking about this need and praying with this girl, Travis approached New Life Bundimalinga Presbyterian Church’s elder Shem with this girl’s need.

So today, I sat a amazed when a chair was set up in the front of the church with a small table and a basket on it. An elder read the letter from the local councilman about Irene and her need and then the deacon asked Irene to come forward to the chair. She was crying and did not want to move. The sweet wife of another elder came to her and talked with her, then talked to the congregation, and then helped Irene to the chair. Two youth stood beside her so she would not be alone. As we all sang, church members walked to the front to place money in the basket. When the song was over, the elder and the deacon counted the money out loud, and then prayed over Irene. With money in hand, she tearfully walked back to her seat. When I turned around to smile at her, for the first time I saw, where tears had been, a smile.

After the service, Shem and another elder brought Irene to our house. He was concerned that she needed more money to get to Gulu. Together, we figured out that to take public transportation from Nyahuka to Fort Portal to Gulu would be 57,000 Ug Shilllings and from Gulu to her village would be another 3,000 Ug Sh.

The total need she had EXACTLY MATCHED, to the 50 shilling piece she held, the AMOUNT THAT THE CHURCH RAISED!

As Lilli so appropriately said, “That is Miracle Math!”

Now we pray for Irene as she makes her way across Uganda and back to her mother.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Snapshots of the past weeks

 Lilli hosted a tea party and even invited her two dolls
 A father at the Nyahuka Health Center feeds his premie with a syringe; a much too common occurrance
 Dr Terry Johnson (aka Poppy) teaches area health workers about Diabetes
 RMS Field Day begins with the traditional egg on a spoon race
 Bobbing for green oranges (all oranges here are green; not sure why we don't call them "greens")
 Truffle the Cow even participated in Field Day
 A Dress Up Poppy and Josh game was so fun!
Field Day Mud Pit
Miss Pamela and Lilli
Anyone know these people?
 Patton and Miss Anna enjoy a moment before the Pizza Luau Farewell Party 
A send off prayer ended the night of tribute, video, puppet show and gifts for Anna

 A visit with our friends Michael and Amanda who are doing an amazing work in Masindi with PMI
 Nothing is better than a safari with grandkids!
This was the closest we have ever been (and hope to be!) to a group of lions!

 Pointing to Uganda on the ferry's globe in Murchison
After the farewell to the grands, both Lilli and Travis became very ill, thus, changing our plans in Kampala to become a day of rest (and chicken noodle soup and Sprite)
Nyahuka's new young Dr Sam is so proud of the ambulance that received from a grant!
 Aidan gets his first big boy haircut at a barber shop.
Patton did not like the name of the barbershop/salon is called "Sparkles" so he renamed it "Jet" if your a boy and get a haircut there!

New haircuts!

Though we were thrilled that a restaurant in Kampala had a playground, we were a bit hesitant when the playhouse was 40 feet in the air with no back railing and the end of the slide was 4 feet from the ground!
Lilli and Miss Anna the Bunny
CSB Girls before their first win at the Uganda Girls National Championship 

Lilli has been growing her hair long with the intention to cut it for Locks of Love.

A bit surprised after the cut!
A snapshot of a neighbor cutting dead fronds off a palm tree.