As we are in Uganda longer, we find ourselves having to refocus frequently. It is easy to become distracted by the need while trying to address it. I guess that seems complicated but we find that as we become physically tired from providing needed medical care, it is easy to get overwhelmed by how much we see that needs to be done. It would be easy to just throw our hands in the air and decide that there is no way that we can even make a dent in the need. A budget the size of the US government could not solve the physical ills of sub-Saharan Africa, so how can one family from Oklahoma? We have to remind each other, frequently, that God is in control and that we can only do what he empowers us to do. It is a fine line between thinking that some of what we see is acceptable and not letting it drive us crazy.
On our toughest day yet, last week in Mubende, we were driving in the van from Kachungwa to Mubende with a project director from Kachungwa. We were headed to the hospital in Mubende to check on the sick little girl that we had rushed there earlier. Dr Martin asked this director what usually happens with kids in Kachungwa when they are sick and can’t travel to or afford health care. He said very matter-of-factly, “They just die”. That caught me off guard. It made me feel uncomfortable. And looking back, I am glad that it did.
This past July, when we were working the medical clinic with Watoto, we saw JN. JN made my sick kid radar start sounding very loudly! Myself, and the other medical people from Oklahoma, were worried for his life, but the staff from the local clinic were moving around like business as usual. I don’t want to get desensitized to what we see, but it is hard to soak it in and not allow it to break you down. How do we keep that fresh sense of life and death need without being overwhelmed?
God has shown us, through prayer and wise counsel, that we have to address the need one person at a time. Like the starfish story, that our friends the Gash family named their website after, we really must not look at all of the starfish on the miles of beach. We must help one of them at a time.
We have to stop the van to help the kids like Jonathan, without being overwhelmed by the kids stacked in the “ward” at the government hospital.
We have to help the widows like the Ja Ja in Bethany village, without getting avalanched by the physical need of the millions of fine people that could lead more normal lives with something that we would consider a routine surgery in the US.
We have to risk our hearts in helping kids like Eddy, without worrying that our hearts will be broken when one of those kids dies, like the young girl in Mubende.
So a prayer request, for our family, is that we continue to be “disturbed” by what is wrong with what we see in Uganda, but that God gives us the ability to understand what we can do to help. We pray that He will bring starfish into our path that we can help individually, and that He make our arms strong enough to toss them to the water!