Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday: A typical workday at CURE Uganda

Thursday began by  teaching the scriptures for the CURE Uganda staff
Next, I spent a little time with Miriam. She is going to distribute Thank You pens to the staff. It has been my tradition each visit to bless each staff member with a special pen with a little scripture bookmark.
Pastor Watcha is thrilled to receive the pens as an encouragement for the staff.
I always love to visit the ICU and see how all the dear little children are doing!
Olivia and Rogers are precious nurses who have made me most welcome.
We had two CPR for Family and Friends classes for the auxiliary staff today.

 Some days are exciting, some days are routine. We put one foot in front of the other to do the work that God has called us to do. I am often asked.......What is God's will for my life?  Obedience and faithfulness are two words that come to mind!

Red Sea Rule # 6

When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

So many needs.....!!!

Yesterday and today, I visited two very interesting places.

Yesterday, I visited Bududa, a rural community where Compassion International has a children's project. Apparently there are about 230 children enrolled in the program. The reason for the visit is that our family supports a Compassion Child....we have been doing this for some time and this is my third visit to our dear girl. It was lovely to see how she has grown and how she is maturing as a young woman. It is amazing how she has overcome and is overcoming so many challenges.

Today, I visited a Nutrition Program at the Mbale Regional Hospital. This program has been on my radar screen for some years. I had wanted to visit to see if our support money was being used effectively. In this day and age of so many needs, I believe as Christians we must spend God's money wisely. I am pleased to say that the program is helping many mothers and children is some of the most dire circumstances. How can we preach to hungry bellies? How can we ignore the second to last born that is most vulnerable to malnutrition as the mother pushes them off the breast? What I saw today, broke my heart!! I have been visiting Africa for ten years now and have seen many sad sights.
Slow cooker, Ugandan style!
Perhaps because I like to eat, this touched close to home? Perhaps since we have so much available in the USA, it struck a guilty cord? Perhaps!? What struck me today is that these children have come from families who are within reach of bananas, mangoes, cabbages etc, yet due to family strife, ignorance and multiple health factors (TB, AIDS, malaria etc) they are denied food and neglected.

It was encouraging to see the mothers being taught by the nursing students.
It was encouraging to hear the nurses reports of families who are helped.
It was encouraging to walk in the garden at the project and see the bounty that is available for those who are willing to put in a little sweat equity.
We watched a mother prepare a nutritious meal for the family using potatoes, g-nuts (peanuts), dried fish powder, salt.....It was interesting as the technique is like our slow cooker method. The water, potatoes etc were measured into a single pot which was covered with a lid then banana leaves. This pot was then placed in a bigger pot with water. More banana leaves were tucked around the pot with the food in it. The inner pot with the ingredients was then left to steam for some time while the mother attended to the garden, laundry or other work. The mothers liked the idea of cooking like this as it freed then from stirring and attending a pot over a hot fire. It is sort of like a woman here who puts on her slow cooker before heading out for work or errands for the day.

Both of these visits reminded me of:

Red Sea Rule #5

Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work.

In each of these places, in each of these human lives, there were huge challenges. For my Compassion child, she has financial, economic and social challenges coming from a remote village in the mountains. Sponsorship allows her to go to school and receive some practical training at the project. For these mothers and malnourished children, their challenges are immediate, life threatening and enduring except for intervention.

In each situation, the problems are difficult, complicated and messy!

It will be many days, weeks, months and even years before positive results are seen. So we must stay calm, confident in what we have been called to support, we must do our part trusting the LORD's mercy and grace......and give God time to work!

Yes, there is progress......but there is still much to be done. We must be patient to let the LORD transform individual, families, communities, and nations. It all begins with trusting God to work...beginning with me.....and you.

So many needs......nutrition and love!

Sweet reunion with my dear girl and family that I sponsor!

She is growing into a beautiful young woman who loves the LORD. She is using her gifts to lead others to love and praise God!

Nutrition Center visit with Grace (from CURE) next to me,  followed by Janet and Amina, the nurses who run the feeding program

Dear little one who has edema from malnutrition. The poor little one could hardly walk as his feet and legs had edema too!

The faces of HIV, TB and malnutrition....pitiful!!

This twelve year old girl has never been to school, she has been orphaned and her grandmother has not been able to provide adequate nutrition....see the edema again....this is the face of malnutrition......her poor feet were also swollen.

Grace was encouraging the young mother and little child in the program.

My face is smiling because these dear ones were in my arms and I felt that at least I could hold them for a minute while I was there.....will pray for them for a long time. The girl with the dark dress is called Florence....she wants to be a nurse. She is absolutely precious!! I wanted to bring her home with me!

Mama counting potatoes for the 'Slow cooker' meal

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday in Mbale-The Red Sea Rule #4 PRAY!

Pastor Wilberforce preaching on repentance

Praise Choir singing and dancing joyfully onto the LORD

After church I swam and took a long walk home through the old golf course...beautiful scenery!

I lift up my eyes to the help comes from the LORD the Maker of Heaven and Earth!
The beauty of Uganda makes me lift my heart in praise to the LORD!

I can never get enough of looking at the mountain and cloud helps me forget about my concerns and think about Jesus coming in the clouds......just as He ascended into Heaven in Acts 1:9
The Red Sea Rules were written to help us cope with difficult times. Although I cannot say that I am going through a particularly difficult time, I see the benefit of these principles. Number four is PRAY! How often do I, do you, forget to pray? Often when we are in trouble, the first thing we do is pick up the phone to call someone of complain. Joyce Meyers says...'go to the Throne before you pick up the phone'. I think that is good advice. We should go to the LORD before we go anywhere else. This Sunday in Mbale, I enjoyed the Word of God preached by Pastor Wilberforce. He spoke about Repentance which seems to be a theme around here. The hospital staff are doing a little booklet study on repentance and the morning devotions for this month have this theme. Prayer and repentance go hand in hand. Sometimes when we are going through hard times, we forget the basics!  Some times the difficulties are of our own making. All the more reason to pray for God to help us to get back on track just like the track in the picture above.
We have been talking about confession, renouncing sin and bearing fruits of repentance. The bottom line is that we cannot change ourselves. We must rely on the help of the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking, speaking and relationships.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.   Acts 3:19

Prayer is integral to repentance. Prayer is to play and major role in our lives as believers. Whether the times are good or bad....our fault or someone else's prayer is essential!!

All in all it was a super Sunday!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Enemy: Lonliness--Homesickness!

In all my travels to Africa since 2004, I have rarely experienced homesickness to any great degree. I am a fairly content person. I enjoy solitude after a day's work. My trips are not much longer than 16-24 days. Yet this week, particularly on Thursday and Friday.....I could not believe now homesick I felt. Those of you who know me well, know that I like to be positive and upbeat. Yet, I had a wave of sadness from homesickness. I miss my family very much! From little Teddy, Marie and Zach in Anne on the road interviewing for residency Mark, Shannon, George and Anna Mum at our Lexington home and Dave and Ruth next door etc.  Most of all, I am missing my dear Paul! He is such a good listener and such a great encourager in my work here. Sometimes I just miss being able to hear his voice......of course with my Internet struggles earlier this week, I could not FaceTime or Skype.  Loneliness and homesickness must be such discouragement for missionaries and their families. 
As I tried to make sense of this emotion of homesickness, I was reminded of The Red Sea Rule #3

Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the LORD.

I realized that homesickness and loneliness are normal emotions but they can be the enemy in the assignment that the Lord has called me to at CURE Uganda.  What a huge distraction! Emotions are a part of our make up as humans. My loneliness and homesickness was brought to the LORD for His comfort and encouragement which of course was a huge blessing.  I knew that I had a work to do and most likely the homesickness was related to the death of Pappa, the busy time getting to Uganda etc. It was a great joy that the weekend arrived and the much needed extra sleep and time off hospital property was a huge blessing!

Saturday morning I went to Sipi Falls which is about one hour away from the CURE hospital. I went with two neurosurgeons from Birmingham, Alabama and a man from Wales who is living in the guesthouse too.  I did not hike as much as they did but I did enjoy two wonderful hikes. One hike was to the falls and the other one was to our guide, Sam's home to see coffee being processed.  Wow, what a great diversion from the homesickness! It was lovely to sip a cup of tea in God's Creation and give thanks for the many blessings of being in Uganda! Praise the LORD for His goodness!!

Yes, the enemy of our emotions can mar or obstruct our view of God's goodness and the many kindnesses He provides. I am looking up, looking out to see beauty and looking for ways to count my blessings!!!  Looking to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.....Hebrews12:2 (ASV)
Jesus is the answer! His Creation and His provision of rest and recreation truly helped me today. Praising the LORD for His grace and mercy in my life in so many big and small ways.
Enjoy the pictures of Sipi Falls Park and community!

Climbing towards the falls

The tallest of the 3 falls....this one was more than 100 meters high

A pot of tea and a good book (written by Julie Johnson's dad)

A pause that refreshed me....I could hear the water falls from my deck chair.

More beautiful vistas....we later saw monkeys in the trees!

Beautiful mountainside that we scrabbled down to learn about coffee
Sam, our guide showing us how to grade and sort the green coffee beans before shelling and winnowing.

I am having a turn at pounding the beans before is harder than it looks!
  I can say that I now feel refreshed and refocused....eyes off of my loneliness and homesickness and onto the LORD Jesus Christ, the beautiful world that He has made and the many dear people in it.....who are so in need of a Savior!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Challenges, Changes and Confirmations!

It has been a challenging first week in Mbale, Uganda with respect to blogging. As much as I tried to blog, the WiFi Internet service could not support some of the sites I needed like FaceBook and Blogger. It is easy to get frustrated with things like was a huge challenge as I wanted to communicate. Yet it was a busy week of training and reorienting to this hospital that mean so much to me.
So now that it is Friday and I have been fitted with a better WiFi I am ready to share, what the Lord has been doing in my life so far this week.

There have been many changes in the hospital since I was here three years ago. There are new buildings, new staff, new ways of handling the patient population which is growing......What has not changed is the deep devotion to the mission of bringing the gospel and healing to children born with disabilities. 

This particular hospital is neurosurgical meaning it serves children who are born with or develop hydrocephalus or born with spina bifida or other conditions related to the spine and brain. We serve some children who have brain tumors and so on. It is super specialized! I am not a neurosurgical nurse! Yet, with my nursing background and training, there are some things that are common and basic to all areas of nursing care.

My particular interest is developing each CURE Nursing Department to function with a Christian Worldview. Essentially, I am training nurses to think in a Biblical way. As we think, we speak and we act! We behave what we truly believe. It is a challenge to think God's thoughts and His way because His thoughts and ways are higher than yours and mine.

Today I had the joy of sharing the Christian Worldview of Nursing Seminar with nine very special nurses. We had good discussions all together and in groups. We used the Bible as our resource as we reviewed and discovered important aspects of Christian Character, Values and Perspective that should direct our Nursing Practice.
Exploring the scriptures in groups

Discovering what God values....and so should we!

Clophus sharing what his group discovered regarding Christian Character

Clophus challenging his fellow nurses to practice nursing with Christian Character, Values and Perspective

 It has also been my joy this week to train the auxiliary staff in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). It was a lot of fun! The staff were so excited and enthusiastic........
Grace has been my right hand this week! She is the Assistant Nurse Manager! What a joy!
Learning how to do CPR on infants

That's me getting set for  CPR classes!
All in all it has been a great week even without the Internet access to blogging etc. It is a sweet confirmation from the LORD to speak to staff and hear how helpful the training is to them. Each session various ones share how they enjoy learning and how they are going to put into practice what was learned. 
I am so excited to see how the nurses put into practice the thoughts and ideas they learned about in the CURE Christian Worldview of Nursing Seminar. To God Be the GLORY!!

Red Sea Rule #2 

Be more concerned for God's glory than for your relief.

* I am learning!

Friday, January 10, 2014

On my way to CURE Uganda

I am re-reading Robert J. Morgan's book, The Red Sea Rules. It is a timely read for practically any time of our lives, but particularly when we are in difficult times.

Am I in difficult times?

  • Returned on Wednesday morning from a wild and crazy overnight drive from Montreal
  • Reeling from the loss of our dear Pappa on December 23rd
  • Overwhelmed with the emotions of reunions and finality of Pappa's homecalling
  • Realizing that I had Pappa for 28 years and my Dad for 22....Paul's Dad for 6!
  • Feeling bereft!!
Wondering what I am doing going to Africa right now!


Red Sea Rule # 1  
Realize that God means for you to be where you are!
 Andrew Murray has been attributed to writing in his journal:
Let me say I am here,
  1. By God's appointment
  2. In His keeping
  3. Under His training
  4. For His time 
It is encouraging for me to see that God has a purpose and plan for these 'difficult' times. What amazes me is that each trip to Africa, I get to experience the wonder of God's divine appointments and arrangements.
For example, my son Mark says that it is remarkable that he has been available to take me to the airport the last few trips. Secondly, even though I weighed my bags at home....only one was overweight. It just happened to be the bag with the 48 copies of The Red Sea Rules.  As I scrabbled to move the excess weight to my carry-on, I got into a conversation with the ticket agent. She wanted a copy of the book which I gladly gave her with a quiet prayer that it would bless her. Another agent began to ask me about Africa and CURE International. As I tried to repack the carry-on, I couldn't get one other book in.....I pulled out one of my CURE cards and put in the book and gave it to him.
Yes, I am here by God's appointment. I am in His keeping, safe and trusting in Him. The Lord is always training me to be aware of His divine presence and purposes that are so far above my self-centered concerns. 
Going to Uganda or any CURE assignment as a Nurse Consultant is never about the is always about people......ticket agents, fellow passengers and airport personnel too. My testimony for the LORD must be here at home before I can take it overseas!

   Can't wait to get to Mbale!! This trip has started with God's faithful help and I know I can count on it all the way!