Thursday, March 29, 2012

Healthcare Update

We want to take a moment to update you on the two girls we have been trying to specifically help to get medical care in the national referral hospital.  Your support financially and through prayer has been overwhelming. 

For Tendo, she is awaiting her surgery to repair her left diaphragm on May 11th.  We have enough money pledged, to help her local church, to pay for this surgery.  She checks into the hospital on May the 9th, and then the surgery is 2 days later.  We will be returning from a trip to SW Uganda on May the 9th, so we have arranged for a local friend, with a van, to pick up Tendo, her mom and Pastor Shalom on that day.  Jonathan will drive them to Mulago, and make sure that they are checked into the correct location.  He and Pastor Shalom will have the deposit, for the surgery, to pay on that day.  I wish that we could be there when she goes to the hospital, but I like how this scenario will give more of an appearance of the local church organizing this help.  Jonathan will then give us a call and ease our minds that all is well and set up for the surgery two days later.  THANK YOU so much to all of you who have pledged and given towards Tendo’s surgery.  You are an answer to her family’s prayers and have changed, if not saved, her life.  We know of at least one more young boy that may need a life saving surgery too.  I will be seeing him in Jinja next week and will give you an update on him. 

For Nakiganda, we took her to Mulago today. 

We hit some road blocks as our paperwork, referring her to the Endocrinology clinic, was stolen in our losses Sunday night.  Thankfully, Dr. Martin went with us this time to have her looked at.  He ran into a pediatrics senior resident that he already knew.  This pediatrics resident looked at Nakiganda and felt that she should be admitted to the hospital and worked up from every angle, including endocrinology, to determine her baseline problem.  Dr. Martin, and the resident, both feel that this could be chronic malnutrition that has lead to stunted growth.  He offered to admit her today, but since we are leaving to go to Gulu, and Nakiganda had no family with her, we decided that we would make a plan for next Tuesday.  So, unless something changes, Nakiganda will be admitted next Tuesday to figure out if more than chronic malnutrition is going on.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Numbers and Conversions

Since we arrived in Uganda, almost 8 weeks ago, my head has been flooded with numbers and conversions, most of which are quite distressing to me.  Most of you who know me, understand that math is not one of my strong suits.   To me, 34+34=…….West Reno and time to go furniture shopping! (This is a regional joke for those in Oklahoma)  It is fortunate, I guess, that I am married to Jay.  He likes to think about numbers and can do long division and multiplication in his head.  He sometimes will give his answers in his “Rain Man” voice, saying things like, “The answer is One thousand four hundred and thirty seven…Yes, definitely and odd number”!  Jay is the person that has purposefully never done a Soduko puzzle, because he is afraid that once he starts, he might not be able to stop and end up jobless, homeless and on a park bench somewhere!

What are some of these numbers and conversions that have bombarded me?  I am so glad that you asked!

First of all, there is the whole metric to English conversion.  The one of these that I have encountered most often is miles to kilometers.  This has filled my mind and helped me pass time while on the treadmill.  Pacing my workout in KM/hour and getting a total distance has left me as tired mentally as physically when I exit the gym.  Speed limits have not been too much of a problem, as the traffic, pot holes and speed bumps really make speed limits a moot point.  In our clinics, we weigh kids in kilograms and measure them in centimeters.  This is taking some getting accustomed to, as well.

The next conversion that haunts me is the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion.  This is mainly a problem while cooking.  I don’t know how many times that someone in our group has needed to remind me what the conversion formula is.  The worst part about the formula is that once I remember it, I need to plug in numbers and do math.  While in Uganda, I have made the google search for Fahrenheit to Celsius my home page on my phone.   This difference in temperature scales, has not really bothered us as far as weather is concerned.  It is about the same temperature every day.

Another conversion, that has left me frustrated, is the conversion of dollars to shillings.  One thing that makes this even more of a challenge is that the ratio is always changing.  When we got here, one dollar was equal to 2,300 shillings.  Now that number is more like 1 dollar being equivalent to 2,500 shillings.  Jay has told me that this is good for us, as we have our money in dollars, but bad for the Ugandans, as the little money that they do have, is now worth less.  We pay for almost everything in cash.  It is still hard to hear of some of the large numbers that we pay for groceries or dinner.  At home, I would not think twice of paying 50 cents for something.  It seems more painful, however, to shell out 1,250 shillings.  Recently, we smashed 4 bananas while trying to drive out of a market with very small roads.  We had to pay 500 shillings to purchase the bananas.  This seemed like way too much to pay for this accident.  Jay then reminded me that this was about a nickel per banana. 

When it gets very confusing is when multiple conversions collide into a perfect storm of confusion.  One example of this is when we buy fuel.  The fuel is priced and sold in shillings per liter!  So first you have to convert liters to gallons and then shillings to dollars.  Uggh! 

 Jay tells me that this is about $6-$6.25 per gallon.  I am just glad that the price does not differ with temperature!  One thing that we have found disconcerting, in Uganda, is that people tend to tempt fate by driving with their fuel tanks near empty, all of the time.  Many times they drive our whole trip with the low fuel warning light on.  The other alarming thing, related to fuel, is that almost no one turns off their vehicle while fueling!  They just talk on their cell phone while the attendant gives them a small amount of fuel, then they take off.  Diesel is a little cheaper than gasoline here.  This is another difference from home.
One type of conversion that I can’t seem to get enough of, is the conversions of people to Jesus.  Our family has seen more people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, in the last few weeks, then we have seen in most of our lifetimes.  We were blessed to see the production of “Heaven’s gates and hell’s flames” at Watoto, a few weeks back.  The final numbers of this week long crusade were that 50,000 people saw the production, and 10,500 people made professions of faith! 

That is more than 20%!  Then we worked the Saturday clinic in Wankulukuku.  As we had reported previously, we saw 390 patients and 65 of them made professions of faith.  That is 17%!  Then, last week, we went to Namuwongo.  We saw 242 patients in 2 days and saw 41 professions of faith.  That is 17%!  I have never been one to get too caught up in “church numbers”.  In fact, I think that counting church attendance or baptisms often leads to competition between churches.  As we like to tell our kids, when they are fussing with each other, “We are on the same team”!  It is truly amazing to see the Holy Spirit at work in Uganda.  The “numbers” can’t express its power!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What do these things have in common?

I have a riddle for you.  What do 4 laptops, a kindle, 2 ipods, a wallet, a camera, a flip video camera, a multi-tool, and a USB internet modem have in common?

The answer is that they were all stolen from our apartment while we slept on Sunday night.

I sit down to write this blog 24 hours after we awoke to quite a shock and a day of emotions, police statements, prayers, regrets, and resolutions.  I tell you of the details of this event with some trepidation, as I don’t want to make you fearful for us, but more to ask you for prayers and to tell you of the work God is doing in us.

We went to sleep at about 11:00pm on Sunday night, after skyping with Kelly Wilson and our dogs, Molly and Maggie.  As per our routine, we left our computers, electronics and other “stuff” in the living area of our apartment and retired to our bedrooms to sleep.  We all have a bad habit of sleeping with a fan next to our bed that makes noise, helping us sleep.  We had a day off on Monday, so we did not have alarms set and were just going to wake up on our own timing and have the day to get ready for our upcoming trip to Gulu this week.  Jake and Jared got up about 7:30am and briefly sat down in the living room to watch TV.  Jake noticed that Jill’s computer was missing, as he was going to use it to look at something online.  He did not see it, so he thought that she had taken it to her bedroom the night before.  Jake and Jared went out to exercise and did not notice anything else awry at that time.  Jayne got up around 8:00am and noticed that the sliding glass door onto our balcony (more like a porch since we are on the ground floor) was open. 

She looked out onto the balcony and noticed that our backpack that we use to carry cameras, stethoscope, otoscope, hand sanitizer, bug spray and sunscreen in was out under the bushes and all of the stuff was dumped on the ground. 

She came to wake us, thinking appropriately that we had been robbed.  We called the front desk to report the robbery, then we talked to the head of security and then the police.  We subsequently made the list that I mentioned above.  It was a little embarrassing to give the police the extensive list of things that we had with us and available to be stolen.  This list of luxuries was rattled off in a country where so many have so little.  Along with the police, we pieced together the fact that someone likely entered our apartment and pilfered through all of our things in the living room, including digging things out of cabinets in our entertainment center, then left through the sliding glass door.  They dumped out our backpack and picked the things that they wanted out of the bag and left the rest.  Thankfully, phones, visas, passports, credit cards and Jared’s laptop were in the bedrooms and were left with us.
I am not going to pull your leg, when we realized what had happened and that an unknown person was in our house, we were shaken.  Through the day however, we have become more resolved in what we are doing.  You see, we are just now getting some “good traction” in our work that we are doing with God here in Uganda.  So we know what the enemy is up to.  He thinks that he can kick the dirt out from under us and make us lose our “traction” and slide down the slope of panic and fear and retreat from the front line.  What he did not realize is that we are not standing on the sand, we are standing on the “Rock”!  We sang a song Sunday, in church, called “I need you”.  In that song, there is one phrase that struck me.  It says that if we stand on God, we fall on Him.  We stumbled on Monday, but we fell on Him.  We got the breath knocked out of us, but God has picked us up, dusted us off and has encouraged us to shake it off and get back to the Kingdom’s work.

We regret that we had not backed up all of the pictures and other information that were stored on our computers, but we know that all of that was just stuff.  We are also missing the referral papers for Nakiganda to go to the hospital on Wednesday, as they were in a backpack that was stolen.  The police have some suspects and the hotel owner has made multiple security changes.  It has been refreshing that the owner has admitted responsibility because of a gap in security.  The hotel’s insurance is “supposedly” going to reimburse costs of this equipment, but it obviously can’t replace the info on the computers.

We are going to get back to the Kingdom’s work and keep our plans to go to Gulu on Wednesday.  The enemy has no power over us.  In fact, our family collectively is telling the devil that he can take his robber(s) and shove them up his ……… …...................... nose, in Jesus name!  Jake showed great insight yesterday when he said “we must be doing the right thing, because someone from the other team doesn’t like what we are doing”!  Not only is this “someone” from the other team, he is from the losing team!  We are about to go MMA on this “someone”!

In worship on Sunday, we were reminded that we were supposed to pray for our enemies.  So here it goes, Dear God, we pray that, after he pulls his upper body out of the devil’s………nose, that this person will feel convicted, and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.  That he will make things right and ask you for forgiveness.  We hold no hard feelings against this person and we are so thankful that You kept our family safe through this incident!  Amen

Thanks for your prayers

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tendo and Nakiganda

Here is the latest from Uganda.  We took Nakiganda and Tendo back to Mulago (National Referral Hospital) on Thursday.  We arrived at 10:30 and left about 5 hours later.

First let’s talk about Tendo.  Her doctor reviewed her x-ray and formalized her on the schedule for May 11th.  She will have a surgery to repair her diaphragm on the L side and to try to re-inflate the lung.  She has to check in on the 9th and have paid ½ of the 2,300,000 shillings ($900) before the surgery can start.  Then she has to pay the balance after the surgery is complete.  This truly will be a life changing and quite possibly a life saving surgery for her.  We have talked to Pastor Shalom of Word of Truth church in Konge.  This is the church that Tendo’s family attends.  We want to work with him to make sure that the local church and God get the credit for helping Tendo, and not a group of outsiders.  Pastor Shalom told us that Tendo’s family had been trying to save up the 2,300,000 shillings for the last 2 years and really had made no progress.  They came to the pastor with their concerns and he advised them to join him in prayer.  He told them that they serve a BIG God and that He could supply the money for this surgery.  I am not sure when these prayers started, but I think that I know why God laid it on our hearts to help.  How cool is it that the supporters of Due Unto Others get to be an answer to prayer?  The only thing better than answered prayer, is being an answer to prayer.  I have part, but not nearly all, of the money pledged so far.  So if you want to be a part of answered prayer for a girl with a smile the size of Texas, let me know.  I am convinced that God will supply this money.

Now to bring you up to date on Nakiganda.  We had to make a second trip to Konge to get Nakiganda.  David went by to pick she and Tendo up, before picking us up on the way to the hospital.  Nakiganda’s grandmother would not let her go.  When we returned, the school head master had gone down and talked to grandmother for about 30 minutes and she finally agreed to let her come.  We got to her clinic and our hearts sank because they told us that we were supposed to have made an appointment.  David explained to them the situation and that it was very difficult for us to get Nakiganda there because of obstacles from her family.  They graciously worked us in.  As they called her name in the waiting room, there were gasps and snickers from the others waiting.  As I think that I mentioned before, "Na" means girl and "Kiganda" means of her tribe.  So it is like saying Oklahoma girl.  After Jill visited with another mom waiting, the other mom could not believe that Nakiganda was 6.  In fact, this lady let us go ahead of her in line when her name was called.  I was a little disappointed in the “physical exam” done by the neurologist.  He listened to her heart and to what we said and then quickly referred us to the endocrine clinic.  His note clearly says “normal neuro exam” and he never even watched her walk.  My only consolation about getting a 5 minute visit and punt to another clinic is I think that this guy is on the right track.  As I have looked at this and done some research, I think that Nakiganda has a growth hormone deficiency.  This would make sense in that she is proportionally small.  It would actually be good news, to me, if this was the case.  We could try to make arrangements for her to get daily growth hormone injections for her (if we get them given).  We are supposed to take her back for blood tests and an Endocrinology appointment on Wednesday. 
Some, non-medical, things that we are working on with Nakiganda are: 1.) We have talked to Pastor Shalom about getting her into the school that we worked in this week.  She would start with the 2-3 year olds, but this would give her some interaction, intellectual stimulation, love, and a good lunch.  They do not have a formal sponsorship program at this school, so we are looking into how we can make this work.  Sponsorships at other Africa Renewal Schools is $35/month.  So I think that we can make this work, we just need to figure out logistics.  If you are interested in sponsoring Nakiganda in school, let me know. (  2.) The second thing that we are working on is hiring a social worker to live in the home as “hired help”.  They could observe the situation, love and stimulate Nakiganda and make sure that she is getting proper nutrition.  Dr Martin is looking for someone in the local church in Konge to fill this role.  This position, plus supplementing the family’s food budget would likely cost about $70 per month. 
So we are hoping to find a way to help Nakiganda medically, to help academically, and to help socially.
Please keep Nakiganda and her family situation in your prayers.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Child mortality in Uganda

For every 1,000 live births in Uganda, 137 children under the age of five die. To put this into perspective, in the United States, that number is 7.5 children.
Why are so many kids in Uganda not making it to their fifth birthday? The majority of the deaths are caused by malnutrition and disease, both of which are preventable. Many children could be saved with proper nutrition, better hygiene, mosquito nets, and basic vaccinations and antibiotics.
Uganda has a goal of reducing the child mortality rate in the next three years from 137 to 57 (which was the world average in 2010). Many organizations are doing great work to help with this goal. We have had the privilege of working with one such organization called Africa Renewal Ministries. One of the ways they are helping children is through the Early Childhood Development Program in Gaba, which we visited earlier this month. This program is helping give young preschoolers (ages one to three years old) a chance to beat the odds. Africa Renewal searches for the children in the most desperate need in the community and invites them into this program. In addition to learning their ABC’s, these children are receiving the nutrition and health care they need to make it to their fifth birthdays. You can read more about our visit in our prior posts:
Africa Renewal Ministries is providing help and hope for these children. Families are encouraged to pay a small fee to help support the school, but this does not even cover the expenses for their own child. When these children reach the age of three, they will only be able to continue in an Africa Renewal school program if they have a sponsor. At this time, only 6 out of the 50 children in the ECDP have current sponsorship. All of the remaining 44 children in this program are in great need, but after speaking with the teachers, here are a few children who would be at the top of the list.













Sharifa has burns over much of her body that limit many of her movements, but not her smile.  She found a special place in our hearts in the short time that we got to spend with her.

If you are interested in finding out more about sponsorship, please visit the Africa Renewal Ministries website:

Jill and Joline

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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do you have 2,300,000 laying around?

Today has left us exhausted!  We experienced anger, outrage, disgust, joy, excitement, impatience, and LOVE all over a period of 12 hours.  As I told you in my previous blog, we spent our Tuesday in Mulago Hospital (the national referral hospital).  We started our morning early by leaving the apartment at about 6:40am.  We drove to Gaba and picked up our teammates David and Joseph.  While we were doing the pick up, Jill took some clothes to James’ mother who has been staying by his side and is displaced from her home in Mubende.  We then took off for Konge.  This is the slum district that we worked in on Monday and we had plans to pick up two young girls that needed care at Mulago.  One of the girls (Tendo) and her mother were ready to go with all of her medical records in hand.  The other girl (Nakiganda) was no where to be found.  We sent David, Joseph, Lydia (a school teacher) and Tendo’s mother to find Nakiganda (pronounced Nachaganda).  She was found, in her house, alone.  A boy showed up and helped our crew get Nakiganda dressed.  Before they were done, Nakiganda’s grandmother showed up.  She was evidently quite rude and initially argued that the girl was fine and did not need to go anywhere.  After some insistence, the grandmother said, “fine, I really don’t care what you do with her, but I am not going to the hospital”.  So we loaded up the little girl and headed to Mulago. 

Mulago is like a VA hospital, but with much worse facilities.  Everything is slow and people are moved from one clinic to the next.  If you have ever seen the movie, "The Last King of Scotland", your would recognize Mulago.  The hospital scenes for the movie were filmed here.

As I discussed yesterday, Nakiganda is at least 6 years old, but at the hospital today, she weighed 8kg and was 80cm tall.  That is 17.6 lbs and 2’8” tall.  She really looks like she is 2 years old.  We stopped at the store to pick up some diapers for her, so that we didn’t have a surprise during the day!

We signed both girls in to be seen. 
Tendo is bigger and 1 year younger than Nakiganda!

Tendo was signed in to the surgery ward, and Nakiganda was signed in to the pediatrics ward.  Turns out that Nakiganda got to be seen first out of our two, about 2 hours after we arrived.  She saw an older pediatrician, and he feels like she would show a world of improvement with a month of good nutrition, love and stimulation.  He diagnosed her with “Severe Failure to Thrive” and “Malnutrition”.  He referred her to the neurology clinic on Thursday.  I could not get him to admit that this was the smallest 6 year old he had ever seen but he would say her case was “extreme”.  He thinks that she was probably born premature and then has never had adequate nutrition.  He also feels that maternal deprivation has played largely into this.  We were able spend time with her today, giving her juice boxes, roll-eggs, g-nuts and some cookies.  She started the day with no facial expression and making no noise.  By the time we took her home, she had laughed, smiled, talked some and really made progress with just one day of love.  When we took her home, her grandmother accused us of feeding her too much and she was angry that now she was going to “poop” in the bed.  Grandmother didn’t seem to want to know what the doctor said or be interested in the follow up appointment.  Our family would love to take her home and provide that “month” that the pediatrician wanted, but we don’t know what would happen from there.  If we knew of a good solution to her problem, we’d love to be a bridge to help her to that solution.  Please pray for that solution to be found.  We will be investigating the social services aspect tomorrow.
Better news with Tendo.  We waited around until about 2:30pm to see her doctor.  He is a cardio-thoracic surgeon.  I was able to join Tendo and her mother for this appointment.  Dr. Tom ordered a chest x-ray and has her coming back on Thursday to review the chest x-ray and schedule her for surgery.  The date for surgery is tentatively set for May the 11th, as this was the first available.  To review Tendo’s situation, she was run over by a car a little over 2 years ago.  Through this accident, she had a rupture of her diaphragm on the left.  She now gets short of breath and has trouble swallowing.  We stopped at an imaging center to get her chest x-ray done so that she would be ready for Thursday.  This cost us a whopping $20.  So her chest x-ray, today, shows her bowel all up in the left side of her chest.  This caused her heart to push to the R side of her chest.  So her left lung is almost completely collapsed and not functional.  Her esophagus is also pushed to the right side and this makes it hard for her to swallow.  I asked Dr. Tom what this surgery would cost, so that we could try to help the family make arrangements.  Turns out that the surgery, hospital stay and follow up care will cost around 2,300,000 shillings.  This is about $900.  We have to pay half of this when we schedule the surgery (Thursday) and the other half when the surgery is completed.  I am excited that the supporters of Due Unto Others can join together to make a life saving difference in this 5 year old girl’s life.  I would have to guess that if this surgery was done in the US, it would cost about $50,000.  If you would like to donate to this specific cause, please email me at and we will make arrangements.

This day has been emotional for Jill and I, but the kids too.  It is a blessing to see the kid's hearts hurt for what hurts God's heart.

I will keep you updated on Thursday’s appointments.


Lots to catch you up on!

Sorry for my lack of diligence in keeping you updated from Uganda.  We tend to stay busy, even on our “off days”.  On Saturday, the Gregstons and most of the Gashes went to Wankulukuku to help with a free clinic there.  The Medical and Dental Missioners of Uganda, is a group of medical professionals (lab techs, doctors, dentists, clinicians, nurses, etc) that come together on one Saturday per month to put on a free clinic, associated with a church, in Uganda.  Saturday marked the first time that the Renewal Health Network had joined this team for a mission.  We had a great time and saw many people.  Wankulukuku is a slum in the northern part of Kampala.  I got an email tonight from the organizer, and I would like to show you the main part!

Together we treated 390 patients, 28 were dental cases and had extractions, 24 people were Counseled and tested for HIV and the greatest news is that 65 people committed their lives to Christ! Delivered from the enemies Grip and translated to the Kingdom of His dear son... Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (Col 1:13, NKJV)
Sometimes, we start to think that we are tired, but then news like this gets us re-energized!

On Sunday, an “off” day, we went to early church at Watoto Central.  After worship, we met up with our friend Rogers.  We had discussed this day with Rogers about 10 days ago.  He had arranged, through the Watoto office, to take us to the Bbira children’s village.  This is a village that we got the pleasure of touring in July, when we were here with the group from Ardmore.  On that particular visit, we got to eat lunch with Mama Ruth and her family in their home.  After that day, we took the opportunity to sponsor two of the children in that home.  So prior to going out to Bbira, we bought some shoes for our sponsored kids, and we bought some soccer balls, cookies, sodas, pens, etc. for the whole family.  We had been derelict in our duties to write to our kids, even though they had written us, last year before Christmas.  The family kids and Mama Ruth found out that their sponsors were coming, Sunday morning before church.  They thought it might just be me, or just Jill, or just Jill and I.  They were quite surprised to see the whole family.  When we arrived, we found the house empty, as everyone was at worship.  Mama Ruth was the first to get home, and we could see her smile from 100 yards away. 

She came up and called us all by name, even though we had not seen her but one afternoon 8 months ago.  We got to give our gifts and catch up with some old friends/family.  Jemimah, our sponsored girl, had just told Ruth the day before that she felt like her sponsors were coming, because we had not written her!  Then she found out the next morning that we were on our way!
We were trying not to impose or put Ruth out, as we knew that our coming had surprised them, so we tried to leave so that they could get ready for lunch.  Ruth would have NOTHING of it!  She said that she always made extra on Sundays, in case she could invite someone over for lunch.  We had a traditional Ugandan meal.  Mama Ruth kept saying over and over how happy she was that “her family” had come to visit.  We played a game that is very similar to trouble and spent more time in the afternoon. 

After we left Bbira, promising to return more times before we head back to the US in July, we went to visit one of Rogers’ business sites.  He has a brick making business and is developing fish farming and pig farming on the same family land.  I encouraged him and offered him a few suggestions.

We then made our way back to Kampala and stopped at a store to pick up some gifts.  We had found out on Saturday, that a 9 year old boy, named James, was in the Wentz Medical Center.  We had seen James in the Jabez Primary School in Mubende, a few weeks back.  Between our visit to Mubende and this weekend, he had been in a horrible accident.  He had been struck by a car and had suffered a broken right femur and had to have his left leg amputated above the knee.  After the amputation surgery in Mubende, he was brought to Wentz to await an orthopedic surgery to fix the right femur.  The plan in Mubende had been to leave him in traction until the femur healed, but a surgery would get him well faster and likely help control his pain.  We picked up some toys, some paper, pens, colored pencils, crosswords and other things that could help a 9 year old pass time, laying flat on his back!  We took those things to the hospital and got to visit he and his family for a little while. 

We were able to pray for them and commit to continuing to pray for him.  This morning, we took him some balloons.  This serves two purposes.  He gets to have fun with them, but it is also therapeutic for him to take deep breaths and blow the balloons up periodically.

Our clinic for the today (Monday), was in Konge.  Konge is a slum area that is pretty near Gaba, our home base. 

We saw about 100 kids from Shalom Primary school and from the surrounding village.  Most of these kids were in pretty good health.  We did find 2 however, that God impressed on our hearts in a “more specialer” way.  The first of these was a 5 year old girl named Tendo.  She had suffered an “auto accident” some time in the past.  The car had run over her and it was quite fortunate that she did not die.  She had been cared for at the national referral hospital.  Among other injuries, she had been treated for a traumatic diaphragmatic hernia.  Basically, she had a blunt force to her abdomen that was forceful enough to blow a hole in her diaphragm and allow some of her intestines (and other abdominal contents) to push up into her chest.  After healing some, she was allowed to go home and told that she needed to return to have a surgery to patch the hole in her diaphragm at a later date.  This later date has never come, because, even though it is a “government” hospital, she can’t get treatment unless she pays for it.  So she is short of breath most of the time because her lungs don’t have enough space to fully expand.  She can’t eat well, and has to hit her self in the chest to be able to swallow.  Because of her "fixable" problem, she is losing weight and not doing well. 

The other child, Nakiganda, is a 6 year old that weighs 8 kilograms!  For those of you metrically challenged, that is less than 18 pounds.  She is very small and I would have guessed her at 3 years old.  Her story is sketchy, but she lives with her grandmother because her mom was not feeding her and she was severely malnourished.  Even though she is eating now, she is not growing.  She is able to walk, but she is weak and unsteady.   She has really not had any work up for this as the family has not had the money to go to the national referral hospital.
Jill and I felt that God was prodding us to make these girls "our business".  We discussed the issues with our Renewal Healthcare Network/Due Unto Others team and mapped out a plan.  Tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 7:30 am, we will be picking these two girls and a parent up from the school and going to Mulago (the national referral hospital).  We will get triaged and wait in line to see what specialist we can talk our way into seeing for these girls.  By mid day tomorrow, I may have some special requests for funds to try to get the surgery scheduled for Tendo, and the testing done for Nakiganda.  I plan to keep a timed blog of our day and pictures of what we see there in the hospital.  I am praying that the Due Unto Others team of supporters can come up with funds to make a huge difference in the lives of 2 young girls.  Please keep these girls in our prayers as we follow what we feel God wants us to do as his hands, feet, and advocates for these 2 lovely human beings without much voice right now.  We expect this to be a long, frustrating day, but it will all pay off if we can get some medical resolution for these girls.

On our way home today, we stopped in to see our friend Jonathan, the boy that has healed miraculously from the burns on his arms and abdomen.  We were able to get him a pair of shoes that he was sure proud of!

Please continue to pray for Jonathan.  And please add Tendo, Nakiganda, and James to your list.

I will update on our day at the hospital soon.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kawempe update

Today we have completed our third day in Kawempe, a slum on the north side of Kampala.  On Monday and Tuesday, we primarily did health screenings for the students that are sponsored through Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM).  On Tuesday, most all of those kids were in Secondary School (ages 12-17).  They could speak enough English for me to be able to see them without a translator.  On the Secondary School students, the school wanted an HIV test, as part of their health screening.  Jake, Jared, Jayne and Jessica performed HIV tests on about 75 kids without any help. 

Thankfully, all of them were negative.  I was surprised by this at first, but then I started thinking a little more about it.  These early teenagers are really too old to have acquired HIV at birth, and still be alive.  At the same time, most of them are not old enough to participate (in theory) in “risky behaviors” for HIV. 

As part of the screening for all of the students that we interviewed and examined,  I asked them if they slept under a mosquito net.  Right around 50% of the kids do not have one available to them.  This did not feel “right” to me, so my mind started doing the math.  If mosquito nets cost about $3 each and there are 125 kids that need them, it should be a simple, $375 solution.  Surely Due Unto Others could come up with that money to help these kids protect themselves against malaria.  I started asking more questions of the kids that did not have malaria nets.  For most of them, there was a mosquito net in their house, but it was used by their mother/parents.  To quote the great American philosopher Dr Walker (my residency attending), this made me “Madder than an outhouse wasp”!  I don’t have a lot of experience with these insects, (I am getting more acquainted with outhouses) but he always told me that those wasps were never very happy.  Anyway, I could not imagine myself using a mosquito net and letting my kids sleep unprotected.  It would be like all of us starving to death and me taking the last piece of bread.  As I smoldered over this, I started to think about how this might be….logical?  First of all, most of their homes probably only have one bed in them.  The parent(s), and possibly a young infant, normally occupy that bed.  The other children sleep on the floor, on chairs, or where ever they can find to sleep.  This makes the hanging and function of a mosquito net challenging.  Secondly, if your family only has one mosquito net, it might be smart to keep the caretaker healthy.  They can take the kids to the doctor (again in theory), but if the caretaker gets sick, like Paul in Kachungwa, the kids could all end up orphaned.  This seemed almost like the oxygen masks on an airplane.  Adults are supposed to secure theirs first, before helping children.  This seems illogical at first, but then starts to make more sense.  Additional problems with just spending $375 for more mosquito nets, is the fact that the nets tend to be sold, or used for other purposes.  If your family has no money, and your kids are hungry, would you sell your new mosquito net or hang it?  If you could use it for fishing, to supply food for your family, would you hang it?  Now I am not saying that we should not give these kids mosquito nets, I am just saying that it is a little complicated.

On Wednesday, we completed our screenings by seeing the Early Childhood Program kids and many primary school kids.  We saw 188 today to make a total of 360 over 3 days.  It was a “fast paced” day, to say the least.  I met a girl today named Irene.  She is now 10 years old.  I saw her today for chronic pain in her R arm.  She has a significant burn on the R side of her face, on the right side of her chest and all of the way down her right arm.  She actually has no fingers remaining on her R hand.  I asked her how this happened. 

She told me that her stepmother burned her intentionally when she was one year old.  I asked further how this happened, and she told me that her stepmother held her over a kerosene cooker in attempts to kill her.  It really turned my stomach.  I just don’t understand how someone could do this.  I asked her if I could take her picture and ask my friends to pray for her.  So please help me hold up my end of the bargain by praying for Irene.  Pray for her pain to be controlled, for her heart to heal towards the lady that did this, and for her to grow in her relationship with Christ. 

Jayne made friends with a different young girl named Irene.  She gave her one of the dolls that her friends made before we came.  Irene was delighted with her new toy and was grinning from ear to ear.  Jayne has 3 more dolls to give away and is looking for other good candidates.

It has been a great week so far.  What an adventure this has been!


Monday, March 12, 2012

I'm an Excellent driver

It is now Monday afternoon in Uganda.  We are back from Jinja.  I have told you about Thursday and Friday of our trip.  I will give you an update on Saturday and Sunday. 
On Saturday, we went to work with Katie Davis at Amazima's “land” outside of Jinja. 

We were able to attend the bible study and worship service. 

Then we helped to serve the 300 or so Amazima sponsored kids a lunch of beans, rice and chicken.

We got a lot of time playing with and loving on the kids. 

We developed some friendships with some of Katie’s girls.  Katie has a monkey that normally runs around free at this location, but she puts it in a cage on Saturdays, because the kids tend to torment it a little.  She did get it out for Jayne. 

We were there from about 10:30 until 4:00 and we had a good time.  We hope to be able to help Katie again in the future and she has taken my phone number, in case we can help her with any of the fine people with medical difficulties that seem to find her in Jinja.

On Saturday afternoon, we did a little touring of Jinja to see the city and for me to show the family where I stayed with the group from Henderson Hills last January.  We had dinner at a local pizza place that had “real” pepperonis and Dr Pepper!  We see Coke, Fanta, Mt Dew, and Sprite pretty commonly, but this is the first Dr Pepper sighting.

On Sunday, we went to Pastor Henry’s church for worship.  It started at 10:00am and was over about 1:30pm.  We met many people and I was able to recognize many that I had met in January of last year.  One of them was Joyce (girl on the left in the above picture).  She is a little girl who hung out with me quite a bit when I was there before.  She is the "owner" of the hand that is in my hand on our website picture.  The above is an updated picture of our hands.  She was a little surprised when I asked her if she was Joyce!

Our van was not ready to go to Jinja last Thursday.  In fact, it is getting the last of the seats in it today.  Dr Martin was nice enough to send us to Jinja in his personal van.  So I drove from Thursday until this morning, without a Ugandan “proctor”.  To quote the great American philosopher Rain Man, "I'm an excellent driver.  I like to drive slow on the driveway".  Along the roads in Uganda, they have places where the police randomly stop cars for license checks.  I got pulled over once going to Jinja and once after we got back to Kampala yesterday.  I have misplaced my international driver’s license, and could not find it before we left.  So I handed them my Oklahoma Driver’s license and tried to kill them with kindness.  They let me go without any hassle.  Today, I found out from Dr Martin, that he normally only has liability insurance on his van, but when he sent me driving it, he called and increased to full coverage.  It is good to be trusted!

Today, we have worked in a slum area on the north side of Kampala, called Kawempe.  We saw about 100 students, that are sponsored through Africa Renewal Ministries, for health screenings.  We saw one little 1 year old from the community, named Joy, that required IV fluids and some malaria medicine.  Please keep her in your prayers.  We let her go home (still getting use to this) and she will be coming back for a recheck tomorrow, while we are there.

Tonight, we are having dinner with Pastor Peter.  He is the leader of Africa Renewal Minstries and is the pastor of Gaba Community Church.  He will also be hosting our friends, the Gash family, and the rest of the Africa Renewal Ministries team.  We will also be joined by the Fitzpatrick family from Thousand Oaks California.  They are supporters of the Renewal Healthcare Network and are in town for 3 weeks adopting a boy from the baby's home.  We hope to get to know them better and facilitate them meeting the Gash family.  Turns out that their homes are only about 20 miles apart in California.

We will be returning to Kawempe for the next 3 days.  When we have completed the student health screenings, we will go do some home visits in the community.

Thanks for your continued prayers.