Sunday, January 27, 2013

Can you hear me now?

The other night our team watched the movie "The Great Debaters".  The movie brings to light some of the injustices of the 1930's, where Jim Crow Laws and lynching were common.  Many of the debates were on bringing equality to African Americans.  After the movie was over a visiting missionary addressed the question, "What are some of the injustices here that you fight for?" Immediately I replied: "Babies dying of starvation"... Here in Bundibugyo we have many injustices and much need for change.

I am not a debater and I am terrible with creating arguments [probably since I try to avoid them]. I am also terrible at raising my voice. I'll talk to people who are willing and interested in listening, but I'm not going to shout to make you hear me... This realization made me wonder if maybe I need get better at raising my voice so that you can hear me--


Do you hear me now?

              ...How about now?

What are you going to do about it?  You can exit out of the website if this makes you uncomfortable, you can close your laptop... turn it off it you want. But that STILL won't get rid of the issue.  African Americans didn't wait for their freedom to be granted. They fought for their freedom until equality was not only made law, but fought until the law was implemented.

I'm still not convinced that yelling or raising my voice is the answer [maybe it's my Mennonite roots].  I am still contemplating making the font size a bit smaller so it doesn't come across too harsh.  Yet I'm struggling with not changing the font size because that's why this issue is still here-- people aren't speaking up. I do believe however that I cannot sit and watch babies starve. I can't keep quiet.  I'm going to fight for their freedom.  I'm going to be a voice where there is no voice. 

Well, since you're still reading, you obviously haven't been too offended by my words. I'm half tempted to apologize again for maybe being too harsh. Hopefully you have picked up on the passion I have for helping these little ones.  God has definitely, without a doubt, called me here.  

You should also know that I have decided to extend my term for 5 years.  Once my 9 month internship has completed, I will return home in June to begin support raising again.  I would like to ask you to begin praying about financially partnering with me on a monthly basis. Thank you for your continued support, prayers and encouragement.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nyahuka Health Center

Pediatric Ward

Dr. Jessica and her translator, Clovis, starting the day with a smile!

Dr. Nancy taking a baby's weight

My translator (Jennifer) and I talking to some women during our Wednesday morning
Bible lesson and Nutrition education time. 

Dr. Jessica listening to a child's lungs. 

Children are often left to care for their siblings
 while their mother's are  cooking or washing clothes

Mattresses are placed wherever they can find room.

Mosquito nets hang above the beds.

A mother waiting for her child's turn to see the doctor. 

A few months ago, Angela graduated from the
Severe Acute Malnutrition program.

Who can resist those eyes! :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rats, Bats, Ants, and the Bible

A view of life in the past 24 hours… 

I’ve been spending time sitting on my front porch and letting some of the children read from the Story Book Bible. It has provided a functional and purposeful interaction with them.  It also brings forth sweet conversations that make me smile. Yesterday afternoon one kid said, “Aresha, I think you are a daughter of God.” Ah, yes indeed!  To which I replied, “And you, a son of God”.  Even with the frustrations of living in a developing country without many conveniences that we know in America, I never cease to see God daily and be filled with his joy.   He reveals himself in so many ways. Maybe it is because there are fewer distractions, maybe it is I that I have my eyes open to look for Him,  maybe it alone is God’s graciousness which He so freely reveals himself…  or maybe he knows I need plenty of Him in order to live with the critters that inhabit the same space as me.

Last night I drenched my house with a hearty sprinkling of rat poison. The rats seem to be too smart for traps, and I am tired of my heart getting a large dose of adrenaline every time I get a visit from them.  This also happens with the bats which have now found shelter by my back door—just hanging out.  I've been reassured by my teammate, Ann, that they shouldn't cause any problems… Let’s hope not, otherwise I may need to start recruiting some men to come to my rescue!

This morning I started a Bible story time at the Health Center along with an educational topic.  I have been planning and developing the lessons over the past 2 months, and was thankful to implement lesson one! I initially thought I’d focus on the mothers with children who are severely malnourished… but why limit sharing the Word or limit who receives education? (Especially since the pediatric ward is packed full of over 50 patients.) So, this morning I gathered anyone who was willing to listen.  To my surprise almost all the mothers were sitting in front of me, maybe by choice, or maybe out of boredom.  Regardless of the reason, my translator (Jennifer) and I stumbled through a rough version of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), explained the story, and gave them some simple take home points.  Afterwards, Jennifer and I walked around and prayed with people: for malnourished children to gain weight, for coughs to be healed, for a woman with nightmares, and other various sicknesses. I’m thankful that God can use me— even with all my flaws and imperfections. I realize that it’s not in HOW we share the gospel, but that we are WILLING to share the gospel.  

While I was preparing lunch today, I realized that there was a significant amount of ants streaming through a crack in the window frame. I glanced outside and realized that the ground outside of the window was crawling with millions of tiny impali ants… Thank God for Kerosene!  I immediately grabbed my rain boots, and a bucket.  I began splashing the outside of the house with diluted kerosene which is used to deter impali ants from invading our houses (they won’t cross over the kerosene and turn in a different direction).  Just another example of my unpredictable life here in Bundibugyo.  

Now it’s time for our team Bible study on 2 Timothy.

Rats, Bats, Ants, and the Bible...seems to sum up the last 24 hours perfectly. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pain and Suffering

“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all. The opposite of love’s indifference.”
 –The Lumineers

Some things we cannot live a life without, such as a life void of pain and suffering.  We can be blind to the sufferings of this world and naive to the pain that people are carrying around with them, but once we open our eyes to it, you realize that it is all around: encircling and consuming.  I feel like I have been thrown down and smothered with all the suffering that is present here in Bundibugyo.  I could tell an endless line of stories of hurt and loss yet not even begin to scratch the surface. When you enter into friendships with others, you also enter into their sufferings. 

How do you begin to determine who is worthy of your time and of your resources? How do you turn someone away who is in need? How do you know you’re not getting manipulated? How do I begin to alleviate their suffering? How do I make sure that I don’t become desensitized?

On Christmas day Mary Musinguzi passed away.  She was the wife of an elder in the church.  She was also 7 months pregnant. I don’t have clear details but something about high blood pressure mixed with anxiety and the need for an emergency c-section once she passed away to save the baby.  Christmas day turned from a joyful feast to heartbreak and tears.  Weeping and wailing could be heard in the streets.  The baby girl weighs in at 1.32 kg (just under 3 lbs).  Born 2 months early and now motherless aren’t good odds, though thankfully her heart is still beating strong.

Two weeks ago, a boy named Richard lost his grandmother.  As I was sitting with him one evening he said, “I used to not consider myself an orphan because I still had my grandmother.  But now… now I am a real orphan.  I have no one to guide me."  He is only 12 years old… no mother, no father, and now no grandmother.

There are endless requests for food, for work, and for money.  For many there is an emotional attachment that grips at my heart and I find myself aching with them in their suffering.  I am also starting to notice a calloused view towards a few of the others.   My fear is that my heart will become hardened with the overwhelming amount of requests for help. That I will be desensitized to pain and suffering and begin to think that it is normal. Day after day, hour after hour, there is always a knock at the door. It seems like it would be easier to shut the door and block out the pain and the suffering. It takes more energy for me to keep my door open than to keep it shut. But, as much as it hurts at times, I need to keep my door open and also my heart.