Thursday, March 22, 2012

500 Yards

500 yards.  That seems like a short distance to me.   500 yards is a little over a quarter of a mile.  500 yards is 10 laps in a pool.  500 yards is good par 5 golf hole.  500 yards is 5 times down the football field.  I am slow, but I could run 500 yards in 2 minutes.  But today, 500 yards was a world away. 

While in Uganda, we are living in a district called Bugolobi.  It is a subsection of Kampala.  Bugolobi is one of the nicer districts and many government officials live in the area.  Like Bugolobi, there are many small districts that make up the big city.  Our apartment backs up to a swampy area, that seems to be a fertile haven for mosquito production.  I am pretty sure that I would not cross the swamp on a dare, because I am also sure that there are more than mosquitoes living in there!  The swamp is about 500 yards across, and we can see the city on the other side of the swamp.  Today we hosted a free clinic for the sick children in Namuwongo.  Namuwongo is the slum that we can see on the other side of the swamp. 

Looking from Namuwongo to our apartment in the distance.

View from our apartments toward Namuwongo

On our blog in the past couple of months, I have told you about “slums” that we have worked in.  So perhaps I should come up with a new word to describe Namuwongo.  This is definitely in a class that has separated itself from the other poor areas, that we have seen, in Uganda.  There are tiny homes on top of tinier homes. 

There is trash and “biologic waste” all over the place. 

Water runs through streams filled with trash. 

The church that we worked in was about a 20x20 foot building that was formerly a “bath house” in the village.  It had no formal roof, but had an orange tarp covering the top. 

Remember this all sits 500 yards from our apartment complex that has bedrooms with air conditioning, a swimming pool, and an exercise room. 

The people in Namuwongo were amazing!  

They were happy, content, and very appreciative.  We saw about 100 children today.  It was striking how many of them had complaints of diarrhea.  I am convinced that this ubiquitous problem is related to the lack of clean water in the area.  The only good thing about this is that this is usually a treatable problem that can be cured with medication.  All of the kids received deworming pills also.  I am sure that this will help some of their GI symptoms as well.

We normally have several stations set up at each of our clinics.  People receive a number when they arrive at the location.  Then, as their number is called, they come to the check in station.  Their name is recorded , they receive a deworming pill, they are weighed, given an encounter form and placed in line to see the doctor.  After they see the doctor, they move to the pharmacy station to receive their medications.  After, getting their medication, they leave the clinic.  Today, we added an extra station, borrowing an idea from the team that we joined on Saturday.  Today, we asked the local pastor, Abbey, to talk to each family as they left and find out if they knew Jesus.  I am elated to tell you, that we saw 19 people make a decision to follow Jesus today!  The pastor recorded their names and phone numbers (if they had one) so that he can follow up with them to involve them in the church and disciple them as new believers.

We pass by Namuwongo everyday on our way to Gaba.  It is on our left as we make our way to our home base each morning.  We never turn left, we turn right and go over “tank hill” to the other side of the city.  I hope to be involved in more clinics in Namuwongo before we leave.  One thing is for sure, as we drive to work in the morning, I will be turning “right”, but thinking “left”.  Are there some "lefts" in your life that you have been passing by without addressing like you should?
Our team has a second day in the Namuwongo church on Thursday.  I have a replacement for me, and the Gash family will fill in for the rest of the Gregston family as we will be going to take Nakiganda and Tendo to the hospital for their follow up appointments.  I will give you some updates on these two young girls when I know more information tomorrow.

Thanks again for your continued prayers and support of what God is doing in Uganda.  It is truly amazing to see and I just hope that I can explain it in even a decent way.


  1. Greetings again from the Canby team! We have been praying for your team and the work you are doing for God and the people of Uganda - it is truly inspiring.

    I noticed in your post today that you mention the local pastor - Alex. Is that by the chance Pastor Alex from Luzira Community Church? If it is, please give him a hug for us and tell him we love and miss him. You see, it was Alex and Pastor Peter who God used to get us to Uganda and connected us there. Alex graduated from a bible college in Oregon (where Canby is located) and has also been back and preached at our church!

    In one of the recent posts on our blog, I used a quote by Mother Theresa: "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world". Please know that God is using the words in your blog to touch the world and using you to touch His children in amazing ways.

  2. We all have lefts in our world that we need to be aware of and involved in more- and not always on the right and about us- thank you for sharing that and bringing it to my realization- I will be sure and not ignore the lefts I may have been overlooking. ;)

  3. Alicia, thanks for broadening the point on left and right. I am changing the original post to add a challenge for others to look left more often too.

    Dave, I am correcting the name of the pastor in Namuwongo. It is Pastor Abbey, not Alex. We do, however, get to go to Luzira while we are here and I will be sure to pass on your greetings.