Friday, May 16, 2014

Hernias & Cow Gut

I feel so behind on my posts when I look at photos that haven't been shared. Please forgive me!

What Isaac sees and what I see are very different things. Isaac is looking at this cow intestine as something to learn a new technique to repairing someone. All I see is a gross pile of pink that is making my nose uncomfortable!

Hernias are very common in Uganda but even more in Isaac's tribe. The local hospital put together a training for the surgeons. Isaac was able to attend and learned lots of new techniques

While Isaac was busy learning I stared out the window and spotted this kind man. I had to check out his ride.
He was the nicest man. He was deformed by polio but that doesn't keep him down. He was born in a Muslim family but was cared for by Christians and now goes around the hospital giving people hope by sharing his story. He says that he tells people to keep going even though the situation looks bad. He hasn't stopped yet.

After playing with the cow intestines Isaac observed a new way of repairing a hernia. Most of the patients were prisoners from the local prison.

Friends & the Uganda Zoo

Working in East Africa as missionaries it is hard for us to justify taking a vacation or spoiling ourselves so it was great having fellow missionaries around.

It's great having visitors who live in Africa too. During their spring vacation a few teachers I worked with in Burundi came to our house for vacation. We didn't waste time, first day we went to the zoo.

We spent a good 45 min just watching the chimps. They are on an island. The care takers told us that they fear the water. While we were there they fed them by throwing the fruit and veggies at the island from the opposite bank. Some of the food fell into the water and the chimps would use sticks to "fish" for the floating food.

Liz found a friend in a deer. The deer allowed Liz to scratch behind it's ears for a long time. Olive gathered the courage to touch the deer as well.

This zoo is very different from what I expected. It is an educational center and so their goal isn't tourism. Their exhibits were large and there was plenty of land for the animals to run and live.

We did do some ministry while Liz was here. We took her to village to see the people that the hospital will serve. It was amazing going into village with someone else, someone who was newer than I was.
Isaac went to talk to the elders of the community about the hospital project and the need for official documentation concerning the donated land. Liz and I spent time with the children and women of the village. The women hidden by the child in the front of the photo is the mother of the boy I'm holding. His name is Yakut, he has Down Syndrome. Isaac and I have done some counseling on heath care and general care of Yakut to keep him a fun loving part of the community. The mother has done a great job with him even though she doesn't have resources. 

What can I do?

When my cousin and I first went to Africa we were confronted by things that were so different, many call it culture shock, and our only remedy for it was to “blog it out” which meant to write a blog story to get our thoughts into order and down on “paper”. This also helped others better understand what we were going through. It’s been a while since I’ve needed to “blog it out” but today I need to “blog it out”!

Please forgive me if this seems judgmental or harsh.

Living in a village setting Isaac and I get to see real life. There is no hiding your true self from your neighbors when people live and work mostly outdoors. In Uganda the average mother has 7.2 children. Now many people I know have 2 or 3 children, which means to get that average that many women have more than 7, can you imagine. I have heard of many women having their first baby at 13! In a place where so many children live you are bound to hear a cry every now and again, some child being disciplined, or someone getting hurt. I am a very good listener. I have learned which children make which cries. I know there is a screamer that lives behind us on the downhill side. She will scream if her mother goes to get water without her. The child will follow the mother and scream as the mother walks down the hill and leaves her behind. This scream I know is no because the child is hurt but because she loves her mother and wants to follow. We have a boy who lives in the front of our house again on the downhill side, he is a very stubborn boy and when his mother needs to discipline him he will make a few shouts. But the sound I heard this morning was not a normal one and not at a normal time of the day.
I was on skype with my mother, we were having a good time chatting about my recent visit to Isaac’s village. All of a sudden I heard the cries and shouts of a child in serious trouble. It was from the direction of the screamer so I waited. The cry didn’t sound correct. I told my mom I had to investigate. I looked out the front window and saw the neighbor children all looking in the same direction. Their faces were troubled. I raced to the back door. Normally a child will console themselves and the crying will become less and less. As I got closer to the edge of my property the cries got louder and louder. From the corner edge of my property I saw a group of women, differing in ages. They seemed to be a family. The women were washing their clothing. The mother had a stick in her hand and was beating a small girl with all her strength. I called to her and asked what the problem was. She stopped what she was doing and looked for a bigger stick. While she did that I asked the neighbor man, who had come when he heard my call, what was happening. In his broken English he told me that, “you know mother in Africa”. I hate that phrase, “This is Africa” I hear it all the time in different situations. It is as if their excuse for acting lazy, bad, corrupt, etc is because there are in Africa. Isaac likes to say “Who is Africa? It is us. If we act differently then Africa will look different”. My neighbor had nothing more to say so I moved to the mother herself. I assumed she didn’t speak English. I could have been wrong but I simplified my English nonetheless. “What did baby do?” I asked. Finding out at the same time from the teenager present that she is only 4 years old. The teenager also informed me that this four year old abused someone. I hear the word abuse often and normally it is referring to a verbal disagreement. I showed the mother that beating again and again is not ok. I asked the child to come and see me. She was hesitant to come to me. She probably had been told in the past that the white lady would eat her (a common thing mothers in East Africa tell their children, it’s like our boogie monster in the states). This four year old with snot and tears running down her face walked to me and I saw welts on her neck and back. I examined her bottom and welts from the stick were there too. I hung my head in shame and looked at the mother and pointed out the welts. She didn’t know what to say. What was I to do then? I informed the mother that she should use her words to correct the child and then I picked up the stick. I motioned that I was hitting an imaginary child and counted with each stroke, “one, two, finish”. I put the stick down when I said finish for emphasis. Hit the child twice and be done. I said, “baby will understand”. Then I walked away.

I get so …I don’t even know, angry, mad, sad, hurt, by these mothers that use threats and beatings to correct their children. The beatings last from 30seconds to 5 mins as with this one. I normally don’t intervene because I’m new here and I don’t know the whole story of what the child did. But this mother was laughing and had been beating for far too long. I want to do parenting classes. I feel for these mothers. They are very young when they marry. Many times the husband either has work far away or has multiple wives, or both. They are left with children many times more than they know how to care for with no parenting skills and no way to acquire them. They do the best they know how, most of the time what they remember their mother doing. I have much respect for these women who make it work despite all the odds, but I would like to make the odds better. I would like to offer support. Lord give me wisdom on how to help these poor mothers who are doing the best they know how.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Monkeys are So Loud!

It is not common for me to hear stomping on the metal roof but here in Buluba (a village set on the shore of Lake Victoria located east of Kampala) the presence of vervent monkeys makes that sound a common one. I’m amazed at the animals in this place! I understand being in a village setting that there are chickens and goats but there was a cow in my front yard yesterday. On the way to church we saw a tortoise crossing the road. Last night was a flood of white ants, they are flying ants that are attracted to the light. Then in the morning you find their wings all over the ground, they drop them and crawl off somewhere to hide. The people of this region eat them. The house we are staying in is no exception to fact that this place has lots of animals. We have a rat in our kitchen. The little bugger is fast and has an opening to the outside he escapes to as Isaac beats at him with my tennis shoe. We know when he comes because he takes 2-3 bites out of our tomatoes and green peppers. He also leaves muddy footprints wherever he travels. We also have ant, little ones all over the place. I put the bag of sugar down on the living room bookshelf knowing that the kitchen was infested with ants. Not ten minutes later the bag of sugar had ants all over it. They are harmless but annoying. We also have geckos and a praying mantis flew into our living room yesterday night, it was a big one, about 3 inches long.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Building a Hospital

Sometimes when I think about my life I get a little overwhelmed. I think about my growing up years, my dreams and aspirations and how my life isn’t what I thought it would be.
How did I get to this point? Didn’t I progress day by day just like everyone else. Didn’t I make decisions along the way to direct each day just like everyone else? Then why am I here in the middle of Africa working on plans for a modern hospital placed in the middle of nowhere?
I never studied hospitals, village work, living in another culture, or speaking a different language. But here I am doing all of that. It’s amazing how God’s grace is sufficient and his strength is shown in my weakness. Not that it isn’t good to prepare and that God can’t blow your socks off if you are knowledgeable in those things he has you do, but that’s not where I am.
As we sit around the table at a local coffee shop Isaac, Andrew (the architect) and I discuss how many chairs should be in the waiting room, where the toilets should be, how many beds are needed in the patient’s ward and where the nurses’ station should be. It’s funny because at times Andrew and I look at each other wondering what Dr. Isaac is meaning. Then other times Andrew just sits there as I tease out of Isaac what he is really talking about. Most of our meetings consist of interruptions by phone calls and I just sit back and think about how crazy this is. Isaac and Andrew are in their early thirties and I’m 28 yet we are the ones who are putting together this hospital. I can’t help but wonder isn’t there someone more qualified, older and with more experience in these things? Why hasn’t someone already done this task? Then I resign that this is my task for this time.
I’m learning that life comes in short stents. I always used to think that things that were done needed to be for always. Growing up mom would put together a great chore chart or a cleaning schedule that would work for a month or so. I thought that it must be a bad program since it didn’t last a long time, but I’m learning that short burst of things is how things seem to work. You do something until it doesn’t work anymore and then you do something else. I guess the bible talks about that as seasons. There is a time for everything. Now is my hospital building season.
Living in East Africa for the last four years and Isaac traveling around East Africa being introduced to different things we have observed that some missionary projects don’t last after missionaries leave or international funding stops. We have seen good things fall apart. Isaac and I are planning for that. We know that a modern hospital is something that is a good thing, and something that will last. Our plan is for retirement. I know we are young but we are already thinking about retiring from our work at this hospital. Going into this project we plan on leaving it someday. We want this hospital to be run by nationals, funded by itself, and have a good upkeep/maintenance plan. We know that to get the hospital up and running it will need funding from outside itself and our direction in running it but our goal is always in focus. We are leaving it someday.

When I get overwhelmed by it all I find comfort in the fact that this is just a season. We are only here for as long as God desires. Then on to a new thing. Perhaps we will take this vision to other villages, perhaps we will focus more on special education, perhaps we will do something else. We never know what God is up to. All we can do is follow him each day, not worrying about what he will do tomorrow, not worrying about what our next moves are. We just can rest in the fact that all we need to do is follow for today. And that makes living today much easier.

Friday, May 2, 2014

We've had Visitors :)

It's been a busy 5 weeks of visitors coming to stay at our place. God blessed us with people who surrounded us during a time we needed it the most!
Palm Sunday we were greeted by these friend :)

So great sharing home and visions with friends

A week before Elijah's birth Burundi friends came for a great visit.

Isaac's birthday, a week after Elijah's birth Simon came for the party

Alfred and Rose came and gave us a good birthday party for Isaac

A week before Elijah's birth Ladd came from Burundi to visit!

A few days before Elijah's birth Naomi came to visit, she's from Haiti