Monday, June 10, 2013

Home

One week ago my feet landed on American soil. I was greeted by my parents and engulfed by eagerly awaited hugs. Upon arriving at my parent's home, I was ambushed by Aiden and Heidi.  How sweet it is to be reunited with family and friends.


Heidi was sitting on my lap rubbing my arms and said,"You're turning darker... must be because you've been around dark people."  I replied, "Oh really, Is that how it works!"

Last evening we celebrated Cassidy's 4th Birthday and I was privileged to be the one that she picked to sit beside her. Oh how I've missed moments like these.

I was also greeted warmly by my congregation at Ridgeway Mennonite Church, and enjoyed sitting under my dad's preaching again.

So, now that I'm home you may be wondering what's next for me. Or, you may be curious as to how long I'm going to be home. The plan is for me to return to Bundibugyo, Uganda for a 5 year term (pending approval by WHM in 2 weeks). Once given approval, I will begin support raising.  My tentative goal is to raise support in 1 year.

I will keep you posted as things progress. As for now, feel free to email me (risserad@gmail.com), call me, facebook me, or knock on my door. I would love to share with you what I've been doing in Uganda, and how God's been working.

For all you Georgia and Florida people; I'll hopefully be visiting you soon!


Friday, May 3, 2013

God’s Promises



But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 
Psalm 13:5


A testimony of God’s faithfulness…

It’s been over a week now, but I still cannot shake the image of a rainbow painted across the sky, the sun shining from behind me as I look up in awe. The majestic Rwensori Mountains stand boldly in the background, as the clouds roll over the peaks sending a warning of a storm approaching. Time seemed to stand still for me, barely breathing, taking in every inch of the panoramic view. I dare not move the slightest bit in fear it will all disappear. Though life continues on around me, a constant buzz of activity not affected by this masterpiece,

A few days prior to this experience, I had been praying fervently over a certain situation. Actually, I have been praying over this for several years now without seeing much change or movement. In desperation, a heart cry to God, I prayed, “Remind me of your promises… remind me that you hear my prayers.”

Later that evening, I was cooking with a friend in the community. We were sitting outside on a bench cutting up some greens that we were preparing for our meal. I hear a faint rumble of thunder which initiated me turning my head to look over my shoulder. That’s the moment God revealed to me this beautiful answer to prayer which has now been imprinted on my mind.

The time was about 6 pm, which is 11 am Eastern Standard Time, which is exactly the time a meeting was taking place in which I had been praying about. I was fighting back the tears as I realized this. I felt as if God had placed the bow in the sky just for me. As a reminder of his faithfulness.

I am thankful for a God that is so big, so powerful, and so holy, yet so tender, so loving, and so personal. Great is the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.

Tonight our team had an evening of prayer and worship. One of the songs we sang was called; “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” The third verse in particular seemed to wedge itself in my heart, as if God was reminding me again to continue to trust even in the pain. He was tapping at my heart and whispering his love over me as we sang...

"O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be."


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lord, Dissolve My Frozen Heart

Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; 
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 


Lord, Dissolve My Frozen Heart
Red Mountain Music

Lord, dissolve my frozen heart
By the beams of Love Divine;
This alone can warmth impart
To dissolve a heart like mine.

O that love, how vast it is!
Vast, it seems, though known in part;
Strange indeed, if love like this
Should not melt the frozen heart.

The love of Christ passes knowledge.
The Love of Christ eases fear.
The love of Christ hits a man’s heart;
It pierces him like a spear.

Savior, let thy love be felt,
Let it’s power be felt by me,
Then my frozen heart shall melt,
Melt in love, o Lord to thee.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ms. Reedy's 2nd grade class


My dear friend, Amy Reedy, teaches 2nd grade at Linville-Edom Elementary School. During one of her diversity lessons, she discussed how children's lives are different all over the world; how they live in different houses and eat different foods. She also discussed that even though all children are different, they all still have the same feelings and needs. All children laugh, cry, smile, and play. She told them about how I am in Uganda helping children who do not have enough nutritious food to eat, and that many are malnourished. She showed several pictures from my blog to compare and contrast life in Uganda vs. Virginia.  Her students insisted on drawing "Get Well Soon" pictures for the children here at the Nyahuka Health Center.  I was very touched by their thoughtfulness, and today I had the privilege of passing out these pictures along with some stickers, coloring sheets and crayons for the kids. 

Thank you Ms. Reedy's 2nd grade class! 












Tuesday, April 9, 2013

19

We currently have 19 patients at the health center admitted for severe malnutrition. Typically we fluctuate from 8-10 patients.  Right now I have to admit that I don't even know them all by name. Right now I'm too focused on just making sure they all get weighed and that they're tolerating F100.... Right now I worry that if these children don't gain weight fast enough that their mother will run away with them before their treatment is complete.  Then I have little chance of ever seeing them again, and no chance for follow-up, unless they get desperate.

We have a large percentage of patients that "default", meaning they leave before the doctor discharges them. Typically the mother needs to return to their village so that she can care for her other children, or so she can tend to her garden, or so she can go sell produce at the market to earn some money.  It's a constant struggle.  How do you tell a mother to stay at the hospital to care for her malnourished child when she has 5 others at home demanding her attention too? How do I tell a mother that she needs to stay until her child has reached 15% weight gain, but he's been here  2 weeks with barely a 5% weight gain? How do I tell the mother that if she takes the child home that chances are the child won't survive?  Even when I do say these things, how does a mother decide what to do? is there a right or a wrong answer?

Please pray for the children at the health center:
-pray for weight gain and for healing.
-pray that they gain weight quickly.
-pray that the mothers will desire to see their child recover completely, even if that means staying several weeks.


Monday, April 1, 2013

More Photos


These photos are courtesy of Ashley and Kaitlyn. They are physician assistant students who helped out at the health center for 3 weeks.  









A sweet SAM patient who has severe edema, improving ever so slowly

Out patient program (BundiNutrition)-- taking weights

MUAC- Mid Upper Arm Circumference
...and lengths. We use weight for heights and MUAC's to determine if  a child is Moderately Malnourished,
or Severely Malnourished.  If Severe, they are admitted into the pediatric ward for aggressive nutrition therapy. If they are moderately malnourished then we enroll them in our outpatient nutrition program to boost their weight and prevent them from becoming severe.





some photos of the community



cocoa harvesting









Photos


The past two months have been a constant ebb and flow of interns and visitors coming and going. It seems like we're always in transition. Meeting new people and saying good-bye.  Most of the time they've accumulated quite a few photos during their time here, and are willing to let me use them!

These photos were taken by Varina Hart, you can follow her blog at http://ahartsdesire.wordpress.com/



traditional food: beans, rice with peanut sauce,
sombe (cassava leaves), matooke (similar to plantain) and kahunga.


Cash crop: cocoa beans being dried in the sun. 


market day

Adrona selling onions

various beans, rice, and peanuts

tomatoes, matooke and cabbage

Traditional Fabric called kitangy, made in Congo

roasted bananas







Photo of Varina with Rachel. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Airport Stories



In light of being a short term missionary I am at the mercy of being a “tourist”.  So, every three months I have to leave the country and re-enter in order to stay “legal” (Hence the need for a week of vacation in another country). Customs intimidates me. Seems like I get harassed every time—especially in September when at the London airport the lady told me that “I don’t trust you in my country”…Seriously?! I was just wanting to tour London for a few hours since I had a 10 hour layover before my flight to Uganda. Anyways, in December I also had a difficult time renewing my tourist visa and ended up with a 2 week pass with instructions to go to the immigration office. Thankfully after a significant amount of money was paid and several days later, they issued me a 3 month visa. Needless to say, I was nervous about returning from vacation and re-entering Uganda. I had spent a lot of time praying about it and also had many other people praying for me too. On the plane I kept praying, I think I was trying to give myself a sense of “calm”. All the while I sense God saying --
God: “Do you trust me?”
Me: “of course God, but don’t you remember what happened last time?”
God: “Don’t you trust me?”
So, I keep praying—for wisdom, for courage, and for removal of fear. Maybe somewhere along the line I accept that God has heard me and I should stop worrying… which lasted for about 5 minutes because now I’m walking off the plane and filling out the custom’s form and writing that I intend to stay for 2 ½ more months. I’m standing in line, heart pounding, hands trembling. At last it’s my turn, and I approach the counter, smile, and greet the man.  He responds “You are looking very beautiful today!” I grin, flashing another smile at him and politely say, “Thank you”. He responds with “Ah!  I wish you was my girlfriend.” Again I smile at him, amused at the situation, and thanking God that he isn’t going to question me and that he doesn’t seem to mind stamping my passport for another 3 months.  He replies again “I will miss your face.” Yet again, I smile, thank him for his kind words, take my passport and proceed to pick up my bag from the baggage claim; all the while praising God for allowing me a simple hassle free entry back into Uganda!  Guess I could have saved myself some worrying if I would have trusted God from the beginning. 

It’s hard to believe that I am almost at my 6 month mark with only 3 months left.  Today I presented a lecture on malnutrition to two P.A. students – not that I really feel qualified yet to be teaching, but amazed at how much I have learned over the past 6 months. I continue to pray for wisdom, knowledge and grace; as I continue to learn, treat patients and also make many mistakes. 

Enjoying some Mexican food in Kampala before the long drive
 back to Bundibugyo the next day
(with Jess and Chrissy)

Re-fueled.


Vacation is always a welcomed visit. I am very thankful for a time of rest, relaxation, and renewal. I was able to be filled up so that I can continue to pour out again. 









Friday, February 22, 2013

S.A.M. Program



Severe Acute Malnutrition Program
Nyahuka Health Center





The children pictured above are just a few of my SAM kids. Thankfully they are all showing signs of hope. They are responding positively to their nutrition therapy.  Many have been at the health center raging from 5 days to 3 weeks. They are all close to reaching their 15% weight gain which is needed  in order to be discharged. 




Ronex (above) is another victim of malnutrition. We treated him for about a week, but he never responded to the nutrition therapy. He was positive for both HIV and TB. His body just wasn't strong enough to fight for life. Yesterday upon arriving at the health center I noticed that his bed was bare and there was no evidence left behind. After inquiring the details from the other mothers, they informed me that he passed away during the night. The mother has lost her husband to AIDS and has now lost her son. This is common...  Too common. 




Fatama  (left) is the aunt of Lowrence (above). These two precious babies are only 2 weeks apart. Fatama's mother is about 35 years old and her oldest daughter was 15 years old. Both Her and her daughter were pregnant at the same time. Unfortunately her daughter died a few weeks after giving birth to Lowrence whom is now 5 1/2 months old. Fatama at 6 months old is only 3.925 kg (8 1/2 lbs) and Lowrence, 3.8 kg.  The mother of Fatama/grandmother of Lowrence is now taking care of them both, like twins.  I have been spending some extra time with these beauties. Please pray with me that they continue to gain weight and continue to grow. Also pray that Christ will reveal himself to the mother, who is a Muslim. We have shared the gospel with her, but she will not accept it.