Saturday, June 24, 2017

Days For Girls

Kiwanyi is a small village located within the Iganga district of Eastern Uganda about an hour outside of Jinja.  The primary school is located within the main town of the village where seemingly 600 boys and girls attend.  When walking on campus, it was clear that many of the students were overjoyed by our presence at the school.  

The headmaster welcomed us with open arms and separated girls from grades 4, 5, 6, and 7 where we could have a somewhat private conversation with the young ladies.  We started the discussion with some questions (such as: do you know what a period is? Why does a menstruation occur? What happens to your body when you are on your period?), it was very clear that the girls had no idea what we were talking about.  

After some poking and prodding, we realized that it was because they didn't understand our question in English, after expanding in Lusoga, the girls began to open up with their personal experiences and were able to generally explain what was happening to their bodies, though with little context/understanding as to why it was happening. Isaac explained the science behind the menstruation cycle and many girls seemed to comprehend that the period was basically a sign that one is not pregnant.  After there was clear comprehension, we talked about how to maintain proper hygiene while on your period (not using soap on the genitals). At that point, the floor was opened for questions.  One of the girls in  grade 7 asked how to avoid unwanted pregnancies which spurred a conversation about abstinence and the importance of respecting your body.  Isaac was very intentional in telling the girls that each individual is important and does not deserve abuse of any kind.  He explained that the easiest way to live a life without complications (unwanted pregnancies, STDs, or HIV/AIDS) was by saying” no to sex,” particularly with older men and respected adults.  We did our best to make it clear that sex is not something to be used as a bribe or punishment, but it is a form of intimacy between a married couple.  

The girls seemed receptive to the idea of abstinence, however we wanted to cover our bases and expressed other ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies (i.e condoms, birth control pills).  Rachel then passed out 75 Days 4 Girls packages and began explaining how to use them and what each individual piece was for.  The excitement on the girls’ faces were rewarding to say the least, it was clear that each was appreciative of their new gifts and felt comfortable using them in the future.  

Rachel was intentional about explaining to the girls that there was no reason to be embarrassed of coming to school now and that the girls can go through classes without being ashamed.  After saying our goodbyes, the teachers expressed their appreciation and explained that lack of attendance for the female population was a big issue, and now that they were all present during this discussion, hopefully they could encourage the girls to use their pads and create a positive environment for the young women.

Report by: Jordan Kelly

Tree Planting!

Every time we go to village the people ask, "what's happening with the hospital plan?" and we have to say, "we are waiting".

Thanks to the generosity of Rainier Christian School we were able to plant 75 palm trees around the perimeter of the proposed hospital property. (I say proposed because it's not officially ours yet, please join us in prayer as we are hoping for all the paperwork to be in order and government approved by August)
Each year Rainier Christian does a missions fundraiser. We were so happy they approached us and asked what they could do to help. Without the paperwork to build we can't build yet but landscaping is a great thing to do now.

We arrived with the trees and found the village members ready to plant. An older gentleman had organized the people and the process went so quickly.

There was a team measuring and staking the location of the trees, a team digging the holes, and a team of women bringing the trees to each hole. Then once they made the fill circle of the perimeter they went back around and planted the trees in the ground. It was a great to see the locals organize themselves and very professional. We are excited to continue working with those in this community.

The children that were around gathered to see what was happening. One of the Something Deeper Ministries board members went with us and he said, commented that these children don't even know the historical even they just participated with.

We took the time to give the children a chance to plant a few trees and talk about the importance of protecting these trees and making sure they are watered. It is always an overwhelming experience when the next generation join in the work we are doing. I know that these children will be the ones who will use and staff this hospital that is coming.


Being part of something bigger than ourselves is what Something Deeper Ministries is all about. We desire to partner with others to make God's big dreams happen. Thank you again to the generous hearts of those who donated and Rainier Christian School who collected the funds and trusted us with them to change the lives of these people in Kiwanyi village and beyond.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pillowcase Dresses

As a missionary we are constantly faced with the art of generosity. We are faced daily with the needs of the poor, Christ's love for his church, and demands of donors. These thoughts were recently published in a book, "When Helping Hurts." I have yet to read the book but the title itself speaks to this disparity
between the help we want to offer and the help that is really needed. I am constantly second guessing myself when it comes to language, culture, religion and charity. Somedays I feel like my role as "missionary" is harder than I desire it to be. One friend who visited observed that we are living a dual life, missionary (looking out to those around us, accountability to our organization/donors, and then living in the present, our family and friends here). She reminded me that I'm tired for good reason. 
I'm not saying this to complain. I love this work and wouldn't be here if I didn't. As always I've used this blog to share my thoughts and feelings. A place for me to share with those of you that love me and know me what's really happening. If you have happened onto this blog and don't know me, please give me grace as I'm struggling to know and do God's will.
 Pillowcase dresses must be the new thing. Two different groups have sent dresses to us to give away. I must begin with the fact that we love the generosity of people and their handy crafty skills but the act of actually giving things out is complicated. It is one of my least favorite things to do. Many times when giving things away greed shows its ugly head and human nature takes over. Over the years we have learned how to manage this situation and how to avoid the pitfalls.
Two things we like to do with give aways: 1. give the donations to an organization's director and walk away. This allows the director the power to pass items out as he/she feels fit. This also allows us to honor an organization we feel is doing good work. 2. give out items slowly to people/families we see that are in need. ie a neighbor who comes with a need or when we hear someone talking about a need that we have a supply to meet that need.
These dress though didn't fall into those categories this time. We felt that a donation to the poor in the community where we do most of our ministry was necessary. (part of our hesitation is that we don't want people to look to the "white people" as a vending machine, coming to give things. We want people to be able to support themselves and not wait for a hand out). With all of these experiences and philosophies we called on the local leader of the community to help. We asked him to gather 20 girls from the poorest families together so we could give each a dress (we asked for 20 knowing we had about 40 dresses, previous experience gave us this idea) When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised to see only 20 girls sitting with their mothers waiting. 
I said my welcome greeting and then turned to the leader. I told him that he was responsible to call the girls and make sure order was kept. He did a fabulous job. There was no chaos, no pushing, everyone was organized. We had a great time and when the 20 had received he then began calling others who had showed up, due to the noise the crowd was making. At the end he told me to tell the ladies about washing and keeping their dresses well. I also talked about raising girls and how they are the next generation of mothers. Giving out the dresses gave me a platform to share with the mothers about how special their daughters were and how big of a role they as mothers play on society. I was pleased, after all my apprehension of a large donation, that I was able to share truth and encourage life.
I think of James' words, If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

What's happening with you?

I can't believe I've not blogged since Sept! Well I guess I can. There has been so much happening that November just flew by. Also part of my excuse for not blogging is that my computer won't turn on properly. This means that I'm using the old computer to accomplish tasks and a turtle speed. That being said all my photos are also gone for the time being until I can get someone to wake my computer from it's black screen of death :)
So in the meantime I'd love to share what's been happening.
I'm feeling very much like a farmer :) I've been doing research on homesteading and ideas for our new house. I planted some potatoes. I looked into vertical growing and have created my own potato tower out of the trunks of the banana trees after we harvested the bananas. The chicken we have has a new batch of chicks. We've had problems with the neighbor's cat, we lost 3 chicks, so we locked her into the "hen house" until the chicks are old enough to be safe. Her first batch of chicks are almost laying eggs themselves. We sold two off so we are left with 5 hens and one noisy rooster. The boys enjoy throwing food to them and then chasing them around the yard.
Isaac has done a few medical camps with his school. I'll put together a post for that next.
While my parents were here we were able to give out some dresses that were made by two different church groups. The mothers beamed as their daughters put on the dresses. That has too many pictures so that will be a post of it's own as well.
This fall has also been a sad time as we had to say goodbye to three of our good friends. This lovely married couple quickly became friends as we began invading each other's homes, kitchens, and lives. They are back in the US now for a stretch of time but hope that when they return to Uganda that we will live close enough to visit often.
This lovely lady grew up in East Africa. She was my first friend in Uganda. Her work with special education training has been an inspiration and her insight on the East African's way of thinking has truly enlightened me and challenged me. She is always caring not just for me and my family but about my heart. She is on "home" assignment for a year and I dearly miss her.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Missions Trip Within, Challenges of Traveling with Twins

When people talk about going on a missions trip some think of a few weeks in a different culture, seeing new things and meeting new people. Well I would say that is what the Mubezi family did just a few weeks ago.

Isaac went to a hospital he has never been to and worked with internationals at a surgical camp. He worked on a number of different cases and learned some new things. The boys and I went with a missionary friend on her trip to the northeast of Uganda.

Our trip was a whirlwind!!! We stayed in a different town each night (except for the last two nights) for the week. We visited 2-4 schools, centers, or homes each day. We ate what we brought with us or could buy along the way. And we enjoyed the beautiful countryside.

Traveling with twins. Many of you will want to know about how our trip went with the boys. Well there were challenges but the boys did well and the friend we went with was amazing with them. (that's what I get for traveling with another special ed teacher, nothing challenges her)
Keeping sippy cup mouth pieces clean was a challenge, they also fall off the surfaces and boys drop or throw them but an essential task due to the animal dung (chicken, goat, cow) along the road.

Making sure they had enough food was also important. They lived off of bananas this is because snack foods for babies to eat aren't sold in shops in village settings. We also never knew where or when we would eat. This is not because our hosts, at each sight, were not hospitable but because most were and so food was not eaten before so that we could eat and enjoy peoples hospitality.

Traveling in a hot car was also a challenge. But keeping a cloth handy to wet and place on boys when temperatures are unbearable in car seats helped. Also I had a light blanket handy to place in the window to create a shadow so boys don't get too hot or sunburned.

The best part about the trip would be spending time with the locals. The Ugandan people (as a general rule) are so hospitable! They love to take good care of children. They took my children to play in the grass, under a tree, with the animals, fed them well, etc. It was so nice not having to wonder where they were and how they were. I knew they were safe. This gave me a much needed break.

Sleeping a different place each night was my biggest challenge! The boys have gotten used to sleeping alone. This worked to my disadvantage. It would have been so easy to sleep with one boy and have my friend sleep with the other boys (which she was very willing to do and was our original plan). But being the independent boys they are...they needed to sleep alone or nurse from mamma all night! Yikes. I was not ready for that!

The first night was hard. We slept in our tent on an air mattress in someone's front yard. I had the boys sleep on one side of the tent but they weren't into that situation. I'm not sure how many times we woke up to screaming and how long the screaming lasted. We were so happy that the sun came up so we could stop pretending that we were sleeping.

In the nights that followed we worked out a system by trial and error of sleep arrangements. The most difficult part of the sleeping arrangement was the mosquito net. For those of you who don't sleep under nets let me explain what might be obvious, you must not sleep touching the net or the mosquito can still bite you. But remember you're asleep so how would you know you were touching the net, especially if you were a baby! So we had to figure out a system to make sure they didn't roll into the net or off the mattress. This system included a mattress on the ground pushed up against the corner of the wall and placing something on the end and padding the other edge with pillows or anything we could find. At the end of a tiresome day the last thing you want to do is worry about your babies getting malaria. But this is my reality.

The woman who I traveled with kept saying, "You're so responsible". It was the first time I thought about it that way. I was being responsible... maybe that's why I'm always tired. I'm responsible.

Building our own House

It's been quite a culture shock for me with building a house. My experience growing up was walking around the neighborhood in the evenings with my dad going into unfinished houses and guessing which room was which. Dad would teach me about how to tell, plumbing, size of room, window size, etc. I would think about going to one of those open houses, eat the cookies provided and look around the house seeing if it was the one to move into. I never dreamed I would have to design the house and decide where the foundation was put on the land!

People keep asking me what I always dreamed my house would be like. "I have no idea" is my reply. And truly I never thought I'd be building my own house. Little girls in the states dream about their wedding day; about the flowers, the dress, the decorations not houses.

The builder, Crunchy is his nickname, walks me through the house and asks me if everything is where I wanted it. I shake my head...I really don't know and for that matter don't care. I will make do with what has been given, just like I watched my parents do in the house I grew up in. If they didn't like a wall there...take it out. If they wanted something bigger...put it in. I think with the way I was raised I will be fussing with the house even when we designed it ourselves.
What I'm most excited about is my neighborhood. The property is set in the quiet side of "town". When people are in village they say, "I'm going to village" to see our property. Let me explain. The village has a few shops along the main road, a primary school, and a bore hole. When people who live near that "city center" say they are going to go to our property they say "going to village" because compared to that area our house is in village, and I love that! You can hear the cow down the way rustling through the brush, the man on the bicycle coming down the road, and don't forget the baby goat bleating for his mother.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Goat who had a Cow

We saw other organizations doing animal projects to help those in poverty. The idea is that you give an animal instead of money to a person in poverty to help them not spend the money right away. This is a great idea in theory, but what I’m learning from living in Africa with the very poor is that people don’t live in poverty because they lack things. Poverty is deeper than just a lack of items, it’s a mindset. The cure for poverty isn’t just giving items or money, the cure for poverty is quite complex and seems to be different for each person within poverty.
What I’ve seen is that in every community, rich, poor, middle class, there are go getters, there are people who when given a little make it more. Monica is just such woman.
Monica and her husband had 4 children and as the story with many women in her village goes Monica’s husband died. She digs her land to provide food for her family. Any extra food that is left Monica sells to the locals in her community so she can buy things she can’t grow like oil, soap, clothes, and candles.
When we met Monica she had a few chickens and a goat. The problem with keeping animals is that when you are hungry your animals get eaten and are no longer kept. Monica understood this but she also understood that animals give birth to more animals. She had a proposal for us. She asked us if we would front the money and purchase a goat for her, this way she would have two…you understand where I’m going with this. Her proposal didn’t end there. Monica has a business mind and knew that a gift of a goat was a bad idea for the investor. She proposed that the goat we bought for her would remain our goat and the first baby would belong to her as payment for keeping our goat. Then the second baby would be ours and so on every other kid belonging to each other.
You can see where this idea of running an animal project would be beneficial but also take a lot of supervision. Living in the capital city and monitoring the birth of goats 5 hours away in village got overwhelming to us. (we might pick up the concept when we move into the village).
Now on to the title of my post where the goat has a cow. Monica gave it time and her two goats and a few chickens turned into quite a number of goats and chickens. With each batch of chicken Monica would trade them in for a goat. Monica called us with a new proposition. She wanted to take her now herd of goats (who were eating her out of house and home and driving her crazy) and trade them in for a cow. We gave her permission to use our goat to help in the “purchase” to a cow.
When we went last weekend to check on Monica’s cow we found that it wasn’t a cow but a bull. Monica explained to us that there is enough milk in the village but cows needed to give birth to give more milk. Not many people want to keep bulls because there isn’t the instant payoff with milk and calving. So Monica bought a bull for stud. With time she will rent out her bull to all those with milk cows.

This is why I say that poverty is complex because even with all that Monica is capable of doing she still lives in poverty. She is still stuck in the system that permeates her community. Poverty is something that needs to be tackled holistically. But improving one’s situation and in turn changing the community, slowly, slowly. That can help. Jesus said, “there will always be the poor among you”. But removing obstacles for the poor is going in the right direction.

Visiting after 3 Months

Last weekend we went to Kiwanyi for a visit after a 3 month absence. We were amazed at the joy on people’s faces as we drove through. Driving on the backroads is a slow process with no car traffic. There are many stops for crossing chickens, goats, bicycles, etc so we bring the boys in front with us to see what is happening.  It was so cute to watch them use their new founded skill of waving. Ezra’s eyes would light up when the people would wave back at him. (the man is a social butterfly, not sure where he got that)

Once within Kiwanyi we were overwhelmed by the favor that we have in the people’s eyes. We had so many people come to see us and say hello. A few men of the village created an impromptu meeting concerning how the process of the hospital is going. We shared the information we knew and they filled us in with what is happening on the local side. It is great to see that this hospital has become a community project with the people of the village doing research, talking to politicians, and keeping the idea fresh in people’s minds. We thank the Lord that he has given this vision to more than just us to care for.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A House in Paradise

We are in transition.

Isaac has one more year of residency in surgery and then we will be free from obligations to the capital city. No more traffic, busy schedule, and dust.

Oh wait...we're going to the village so I guess there will be dust, and a busy schedule and foot traffic ;)

First phase of transition is the purchase of land, check.

Then there must be a structure on the land. We started with the pit latrine. This is common for an area with no piped water or sewage system.

Next is the house.

We prayed over the plans and the groundbreaking. This area has strongholds with witchcraft and islamic belief systems so the builder specifically asked us to pray over the land publicly so that locals wouldn't "help" us by sacrificing on the land on our behalf.

The design of the house is made to accommodate short term visitors, so the house is bigger than our neighbors expected. It also has a large porch on the front and back to accommodate my white skin that is prone to burning. We hope that the back porch will be screened in to allow mosquito free evening sitting.

I am finally reading the book "The Hole in our Gospel" and I can't help but get excited about the things God has in store us in Kiwanyi. Not that we are going to help the poor, which is true, but that we will learn so much about God's love through living with the poor.

The boys and I watched as the "walls" of our house went up in string.

It was amazing being on the land...this is truly a beautiful place to live. I'm excited with what the future holds.