Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby Brenda and other stories...

On Tuesday this week Ivan and I took baby Brenda to the hospital in Jinja to try to get her more TB medication before it ran out. We had been referred to the main hospital in Jinja, so went there... but after some time of waiting, we were told to take her instead to the children's hospital... So, to the children's hospital we went... and waited and waited for 3 long hours. When we finally got in to see the doctor he told us to go home and come back the following day as they only treated TB patients on Wednesdays. I wondered why no one else at the hospital seemed to know that who could have sent us home earlier that day! So the next day, Wednesday we returned, waited for another few hours, finally saw the doctor, and then waited again for the prescription only to find out (after 5 hours of waiting), that the hospital was all out of TB medication and for us to come back on Friday to get it! Africa!!!
So Friday came and I went back to the hospital, and the service was much quicker (only 2 hours this time), but at least i didn't have to bring the baby which was good. So, we're set for 2 more weeks of medication... I only hope and pray that the next time we have to get more medication that it won't have to take 3 days to do it! Especially seeing as Brenda has to take the medication for 6 months. I can't complain though, and i don't complain as I was not the only person waiting at the hospital... there were many, many women and children there waiting just as long as I was, and I'm sure many had come from distant villages and this was their only option. It made me to be able to relate just a little bit to what these women face all the time here when their children get sick.

Today is Saturday and i went to visit Emmanuel at his mom's place in Wairaka... correction, not HER place, but the orphanage she volunteers and lives at full time!!! What an incredible woman of God that lady is! She really just shines with the light of Jesus! I thank God for such examples of beauty on this earth.
Rays of Hope bought some necklaces both from Emma's mom (Rebekah) as well as Emma's aunt (Betty) to help them out a bit since they have no income coming in and Emma still needs to be transported back and forth to the clinic every couple of days.
I love using the necklaces to raise funds for Rays of Hope because it really is a way to help people here as well. I was able to buy some from a church youth group today to help with their ministry and have agreed to also buy some from a lady by the name of Sarah who is struggling to raise her children alone. Sarah told us that her husband left for Juba, Sudan some time ago to do business but has stopped calling and hasn't returned. Apparently this is a common occurrence with men going to Juba for business... either they get killed in the process or find a new wife and another life there. We asked her what she does to survive and to feed her 4 children. She told us that she has a small shop but since her husband hasn't returned they have not been doing well and there are less and less things in her shop to sell. So, Sarah makes necklaces in hopes of finding market to supplement her small income in the shop. Sarah told us that her oldest of the four kids is 9 years and the youngest just 6 months. I hope to visit her home in the weeks to come.
Mariam, the other village lady i sometimes buy necklaces from comes by every now and again. It is good to see her doing better than when we first met her. We have encouraged her to use the money she has made from the necklaces we've bought from her to expand her business in selling vegetables and so not to depend entirely on the necklaces themselves. She can always make necklaces as she sits at her booth selling vegetables. Mariam thought it was a good idea to try to do both.
Rosemary is a lady who lives in Jinja town and rents a shop. She is also a supplier of our necklaces, and just last month told me she didn't know how she would have paid her bills if we hadn't bought what we did at that time when i had to send a shipment of them to Canada. She gave the glory to God, as it is due him! I know i always mention this but I am continually amazed, day after day, at how God provides for His people here... When all looks hopeless, God will make a way for these people so close to his heart!
Well, thanks for reading my ramblings.
I love Uganda... hope many of you can come here one day as well, and fall in love with it for yourselves!
Until next time,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The last two weeks have been crazy!
Early last week a friend of mine (Emmanuel - aka Emma), who lives with Francis and his brothers, got into a motorcycle accident and wound up in the hospital. Someone came to my house first thing in the morning, asking me to try to get some money to help him and to come down to the clinic as soon as possible. I went down unsure of what i would find.
It turns out that Emma was riding the motorbike and a huge swarm of bees starting stinging him on the head, under his shirt, everywhere! He would have moved away but a car was coming towards him in the opposite lane and he ended up getting a little mixed up and flying off as the bike hit a post.

He got to the clinic before 8am with Francis and I arrived shortly thereafter. As a good friend, it was so hard to see Emma in so much pain. The bone doctor who works in Jinja happened to be in Kampala at the time (which is usually a couple hours drive away with traffic) and so little was done for Emma until that doctor could come in to see him. We waited and waited and waited as I picked bee stingers out of Emma's back and arms that still remained. Finally, after some X-Rays, and the doctor's arrival we found out that Emma had broken his leg (just below his knee in the front), and his big toe, and the gash in the back of his leg was so deep it almost reached the bone. Emma was stitched up and put in a cast and we were told that he would have to stay for at least 5 days as the wound would have to be attended to. The first two days were the worst for Emma, as the cast was even over top of the wound. After 2 days time they cut a hole in the cast to try to attend to the wound from that time forward. Emma's mom came to stay with him in the clinic and many friends came by to see him. I spent a lot of time running up and down, bringing meals and tea and just spending time visiting (and playing scrabble) with both Emma and his dear sweet mom.

Emma was just this Monday evening released from the clinic and went to stay with his mom until his leg is recovered as she can give him the best attention and care at this time. Please pray for Emma that his leg and toe heal well and that he can be back on his feet once again. We all thanked God that Emma survived the accident with relatively minor injuries (though I'm sure not minor pain).

I think the whole situation really made me think again about true community and how precious it truly is to serve one another in love. It also made me appreciate, once again, the free health care that we enjoy in Canada. I truthfully don't know how people ever survive financially when things like this happen here. I always wonder how people survive, in general, with the cost of things in this country and the minimal jobs, but this situation, even more, made me really consider the harshness and reality of just barely scraping by, the way most Ugandans live day-to-day. I suppose that is why their faith in God is so confident and strong, because they truly see God provide time and time and time again when things seem utterly impossible.

I also have learned something about sacrificial giving... God brings challenges our way at times to see how we will respond I suppose and if we'll be willing to let go, even when it hurts, and trust him. I thank Him for such challenges that stretch my faith.

On another note, I have also made three trips to Kampala in the last week as well. I had to renew my visa once again, and the Lord provided someone to help me run around Kampala on the very day that I needed to get the process started. Taking public transport around Kampala is NOT a simple task so to have someone help out with a car was a HUGE blessing.

I also took a baby from Sonrise Babies Home in to a clinic in Kampala on Monday to get the results from her HIV test that was done a couple weeks before. She came back NEGATIVE, Praise the Lord, however we had her tested for TB that day and just today had to take her in for the results. Well, we found out that she does in fact have it. This poor little girl, less than a year old, with TB! The crazy thing is that she had been to a few doctors before but no one could figure out what was wrong with her, but this doctor, after looking at her X-rays from previous months suspected right away that this little girl had TB. She will have to be on medication for the next 6 months. Please pray for her healing, her name is Brenda. I enjoyed so much just being with this little girl this week though... it reminded me once again of how much I hope to adopt some little ones one day. That desire has always been in me, to take in a couple little orphans as my own. I pray that in time God would allow that to happen. The nurse at the clinic told me that I looked like the mommy to little Brenda, I guess I couldn't help but love her. How can you do anything but love a little one who doesn't have parents?! That is our job as decent human beings, and even more so, as Christians!!! True religion is to take care of orphans and widows in their distress, the book of James talks about, how can we not?

One other blessing from this week is this... I met a muzungu (white) friend who happens to be from Canada. I think even just knowing one white person will be good for me... for those moments when I need a little piece of home, and someone to understand where I come from. I love my many Ugandan friends, but thank God for my one new Canadian friend too.

Well, that is enough of my thoughts for tonight...

Thanks for reading, and staying interested in my life here in Uganda.

Love you all!


Monday, April 5, 2010

New happenings...

A lot has happened since my last post...
Francis and I had the privilege of joining up with a Samaritan's Purse team from Canada in the Kamwenge district of Uganda for two weeks this last month. What a blessing that time was!
I was able to reunite with an old co-worker from Samaritan's Purse. Sarah has been working part-time for SP doing some testing on the bio-sand water filters in Kamwenge. Her and her husband Stuart allowed Francis and I to bunk at their house to keep our costs down so we could join the team with minimal expense. How incredible to see someone from home!!! I didn't realize how much i was missing home and Canada until I met up with Sarah, Stuart and this team.
During those two weeks the team learned a lot about the process of building and installing the bio-sand water filters... we were able to do a couple of hygiene fairs at local primary schools and one day even had an opportunity to vaccinate chickens, de-worm goats and help a man put a grass roof on his cattle shed (all of these people were recipients of projects of Samaritan's Purse). And to their credit I must say how impressive the work of Samaritan's Purse is in the Kamwenge district - they really have made a huge impact on many lives in and around that area by providing households with clean water, and helping many with their livestock projects as well. I hope and pray that Rays of Hope can one day make such a huge difference in the people of Kaberamaido.
For a couple days afterwards we also had the opportunity to go to Queen Elizabeth Park and see some real African wildlife on a game drive. We saw elephants, lions, hippos, kob, waterbuck, water buffalo, and warthogs (I've posted a few of these pics on facebook).
It was sad to say good-bye to the team after spending 2 cozy weeks with them, but life must go on... and so Francis and I returned to Jinja.
The days following my return were difficult, I have never really missed home so much as at that time, and even now still. I think it is especially difficult when i consider the possibility of staying for many years. A few months, a year or two, is not a big deal to give or commit to, but when you start thinking about more than that, the gravity of such a decision is a little scary. One day at a time, that is instead how i must live for now. As for next year... I don't know what is yet to come. I return to Canada in September, the plan is to stay for Christmas, and in January, either return to continue to help Francis with Rays of Hope or stay back and find a job in Canada, and do what i can to help from that end. Time will tell, and i trust that God will lead.
One thing i have come to see, is the struggle it is to have a missionary heart. No matter where you are there always seems to be a pull in two different directions. When i was in Canada my heart was longing to be here, now that I'm here part of me pulls me back to my home. I think i get along really well with the Ugandan people, and yet there are things about me they will never understand as I'm from a place so foreign to them, but then the same thing happens when i go back to Canada, though i am Canadian, the part of me that has been etched by my love of this place can only be understood by those who have spent time here, or are from here. Something to think about the next time you meet a missionary returning from the field, or a person who has just immigrated to Canada, i suppose their feeling is much the same.
Rays of Hope for Uganda, at this point, is still in the process of raising money. I thank everyone who has been helping to sell necklaces and African handbags to help us. Many hands make light work, and we are deeply grateful for all help you've given! Please pray that God would continue to bring in the finances needed to move forward into our next steps. If anyone else would like to help us in any way, please let me know.
Back in Jinja I'm trying to keep busy volunteering at Sonrise Babies home here and there and spending time with many people... my schedule isn't as busy as i'm used to in North America (and that is sometimes a huge struggle as our North American culture is all about the accomplishing of tasks), yet i hope that this time may be helping to develop my character in some way, and that my life here would really be making a difference in some of the lives of others despite what visible, concrete work i see getting done at this time.
Weekly bible study is continuing on at my house and we are learning a lot together.
Life overall is good. God is providing for me month by month for my 'daily bread' so to speak, and i trust He will continue to do so. Thank you to those of you who have been so generous and helped me out financially so i can be here at this time.
Well, that is about all for now. Off to go take out the garbage and feed the chickens.