Thursday, June 28, 2012

You Captured My Heart!

I have been remiss in not telling you about some special friends of mine in Uganda.  I like to call them the “Cardiac Kids”!  The amazing part about these kids is that we identified them all in the last few weeks that we were in Uganda.  Most of their care was coordinated before we left, but a majority of their work up has been accomplished since we have been gone.  Our work in Uganda is not finished!  We are working through our local friends to continue medical clinics and TOP care for our special friends.  Our team was actually in Rakai, on a road trip, for medical clinics this past week.  They will be in Gaba for more clinics next week.  Please keep them in your prayers.  

Now let me tell you about the first two “Cardiac Kids”.

The first of these “That One Persons” is Kenneth.

 He is a 9 year old boy from Rushere.  We saw him in our community clinic that we did there about 5-6 weeks ago.  He had a very loud murmur and was quite small for his age.  He and his mother complained that he could not run and play, like his friends, because he would get too tired.  The team from Riverpoint in Houston arranged for him to go to Mbarara, to get an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and see the cardiologist.  He subsequently was seen at Mulago by the pediatric cardiologist.  He has a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), or a hole in between the two ventricles.  This allows blood to flow through his heart in an abnormal manner, allowing oxygenated blood to mix with unoxygenated blood.  This requires an increased workload on the heart.  In addition to the VSD, he has a PDA (patent ductus arteriosis).  This is a hole between the left and right atrium.  This too allows blood to mix, when it should not.  He was told in Mbarara that the repair of these two problems, in combination, could not be done in Uganda.  At Mulago, he was told that it can be done and he is scheduled for surgery on August the 20th.  The heart problems have not cause long term damage to his heart at this point.  He is a good candidate for a full recovery and to catch up with his peers.  The cost of his hospitalization, surgery, travel and family care at the hospital will be right around $6,000 USD.  That is a lot of money, but almost seems ridiculously cheap for open heart surgery that could save a 9 year old boy’s life!  Please pray for Kenneth.  If you feel God leading you to help with his care, please let me know.

The second of the cardiac kids is Lydia. 

Lydia is an 8 year old girl that also comes from Rushere.  She was presented to us by Dr. Abdul in Rushere.  He knew that we had sent Kenneth to Mbarara to see the cardiologist.  In fact, Dr. Abdul had taken time out of his schedule to ride the bus with Kenneth and his family to Mbarara to make sure that everything was taken care of and understood.  Lydia came into the hospital in Rushere because she was short of breath.  She was having some congestive heart failure and had a loud murmur.  Dr. Abdul asked if we could “sponsor” Lydia to send her to see the cardiologist also.  We agreed and she made the trip to Mbarara with Dr. Abdul also.  She was found to have a PDA and some pulmonary hypertension.  She had to go to Mulago by ambulance and be admitted to the hospital to see the pediatric cardiologist.  She needs and emergency surgery to fix the PDA.  This does not have a scheduled date, but we are praying that she will stabilize where she can have this surgery soon.  She must be more stable to survive the surgery.  She has some dilation of her heart, but this would hopefully normalize after correcting the PDA.  Her surgery, hospitalization, medications and family care will cost about $1,500 USD.  Please pray for Lydia to stabilize where she can have the surgery.  If you feel called to help with her expenses, please let me know.

Can you imagine how these kids and their families will feel God’s love if we are able to provide resources to save their lives?  These numbers of dollars seem cheap for heart surgery, to us.  But to these families, that amount of money is not even imaginable.  Simply stated, these kids will die barring a miracle or a successful operation.  I feel blessed to have met them and to have a chance to work on God’s team to make a difference for them.   I will profile the next two cardiac kids in the next couple of days.  You can contact me at

Thank you for your continued prayers and support of the Due Unto Others team in Uganda.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Post surgical Celebration!

We are celebrating the fact that Jill's dad, Herb is doing well this morning.  He is still in the ICU but recovering well. 

He is awake and "communicating" non-verbally.

He seems to be in good spirits and looks good medically.  To celebrate the medical successes so far, we are releasing our next video that is titled "God is Able".  We recorded the video and audio for this in the last couple of days before we left.  Thanks to our friend David for the good video work.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Herb and Jill's family.  Please continue to pray for the team that we have been working with in Uganda.  They are in Rakai doing a medical clinic this week (without us :(    ).  The medical work and the starfish care continues even though we are in Oklahoma!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Reasons to return

We have been back home in Oklahoma for a little over a week now.  It has been difficult, at times, as we struggle with unpacking and finding where to put things, while our team continues to do medical work in Uganda.  Jay will talk more about this in a blog this week.  Our mission in Uganda is not over.  Our team has 2 more road trips that it is making without us.  Then they will be running clinics in Gaba in early July.  Faith, Joseph, David, and Dr. Martin are helping us by watching after some of our starfish, to make sure that their care is completed. 

When we left Uganda early, we felt comfortable that we should return home to be a support for my parents as my father is scheduled to have an operation, in the morning,  at 7am in OKC.  As Jay has mentioned before, we had gotten accustomed to looking for “That One Person”, each day, while we were in Uganda.  We knew  that being home for my dad was our “that one person” for a few weeks.  We had let our guard down and were not looking for other “one persons” to show God’s love to on a consistent basis.  That being said, I think that God had us to come home early for more than my dad’s illness.

While we were in Uganda, my mom’s sister, Joyce, suffered a severe stroke.  This left her with trouble walking, left sided weakness and trouble with her speech.  Shortly after this happened, her son, who was 6 years older than me, died earlier than expected, from renal cancer.   Joyce had been living in a nursing home and was not making a lot of progress with her physical therapy.   This week, Joyce was admitted to the geriatric psych unit at Duncan Regional to try to regulate her medications some.  On Wednesday, my mom let me know that we could only visit her from 5:30 to 6:30pm, while in this unit.  When we arrived, I had no idea of the rules and regulations of this part of the hospital.  I was informed that all visitors must be 18 years of age, and I not only had our three kids under that age with us, but one of Jayne’s friends as well.  They were gracious and rolled her right outside the unit into a conference room where we could have a family visit.  I was shocked at her physical state.  She just weighed a little over 70 pounds.   We took a few pictures and she was interested to see them. 

 The next morning, I realized that I had to go see my “Auntie Joyce” during  visiting hours.  It was a prompting within my heart by the Holy Spirit.  If not for her, for me.  I do not want to have regrets and I am learning to make choices so I don’t have them.  My Mom and I were headed to a brunch and on the way we received a call from the hospital that we needed to come soon as her vitals were not stable.  Joyce had not been eating and drinking well and seemed to be overwhelmed with all of her medical problems.  She seemed to have given up.  When she was checked into the hospital, her labs were pretty normal except for the fact that she was dehydrated.  Joyce was living in chronic pain and was not interested in having an IV started in the hospital.  We discussed this choice with her in several ways, and she absolutely did not want an IV. 

I asked if I could go in to see her before we had a consultation with the doctor that had called in the family.  This was allowed.  She was very coherent, just very lethargic.  I told her, as tears began to flow, how much I loved her, and that  I would always be her Lucy.  (That was what she called me.)  She has led a very wayward life.  I know she has heard the Gospel, but I had to make sure she had one last opportunity to accept it for herself.  She is the first person I have ever been bold enough to ask this question.  I asked her if I could pray with her.  As I was praying, the doctor arrived in the room.  I finished and told her I’d be back soon.  It was decided, as a family, that she had made her wishes clear and she would have to be “all in” to make the huge strides it would take to have any quality of life.  Since the conclusion was determined by the medical staff and our family that she was not willing to be “all in” we believed we should respect her wishes. 

Mom and I returned to her room.  It was easy to understand her if you asked her a yes or no question.  But, when she tried to speak, it was very difficult to understand her.  She was so weak, and it took every bit of energy she had to try to get the word out.  She began saying a word that began with the letter J.  She was turned away from me facing my mom.  Mom went through all of our names to see who she wanted.  She shook her head no.  Mom asked me to come to that side to see if I could understand her.  She continued to work at what she wanted to say with diligence.  I heard Jees.  I asked her are you saying Jesus?  She shook her head yes.  I asked her if she wanted to be sure that she knew, without a doubt, that she had received Him into her heart personally as her Lord and Savior.  She again shook her head yes.  I held her hands and asked her to pray in her heart as I prayed aloud. 

After we finished this prayer, I told Joyce that I was jealous of all of the family members that she was going to get to see before me.  I told her how while in Uganda, I had so many memories of my Nanny and Papa (her mom and dad) and had felt very close to them.  I told her that she was going to be met by my Papa (her father) and Josh (her grandson who died who had been murdered at the age of 3 by his father, her daughter’s ex-husband.)  I asked her to give Nanny and PaPa a hug from me. 

Later that evening, she peacefully stopped breathing and went home to be with Jesus.  After spending much of her life alone, she passed away holding my mom’s hand, and was greeted by a throng of angels.  It turns out, there was more than one reason for coming home early.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pray without seizing?

Sometimes my kids catch me off guard with something they say, and really make me laugh.  It seems that my boys are really the best at doing this.  Most of their jokes I have heard before, or even taught them to the whipper-snappers.  They will catch me with a known joke in a different context or in an especially funny scenario.  A few weeks back, Jared got me in church and I had to proceed with a “church laugh” until I could get over it.  We were in Watoto church, and the guy in front of us “collapsed” during a prayer time.  This was a little unnerving, and Jill was elbowing me to employ my doctor skills to check on the fellow.  I did nothing, as his wife did not seem to be concerned, so I surmised it was part of his “prayer routine”?  Jared got me laughing, because he said, “In the bible, it says to pray without seizing”!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 
16 Rejoice always; 17 Pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

The more I think about this scenario, the more I think about how it is difficult to make jokes about prayer.  Prayer is a serious subject and I am just starting to grasp a small fraction of its power.  My prayer life has definitely broadened as we have been in Uganda.  We have seen the power of prayer in many ways, but especially in what I would consider miraculous healing.  There are frequent reminders of prayer while in Uganda.  Several times per day, we would here a “call to prayer” that comes over the loud speaker from the local Mosque.  Muslim businesses shut down, as life grinds to a halt for followers of allah, when it is time to pray.  Devote muslims are known to develop bruises or callouses on their forehead from being on their knees with their head on the floor for so many hours in a day.  These prayer “bumps” are called zebibahs.

This has started to bother me.  Where is my zebibah?  I have access to the living God with the power to change lives and save people, but I don’t have a zebibah.  Our God tells us to pray without ceasing (or seizing), not just 5 times per day like Islam.  Yet I don’t have so much as thickened skin on my knees.  This is embarrassing!

I am ready to take my prayer life to another level.  We have been praying that God would heal my father-in-law from his laryngeal cancer.  Herb has been having some pain in his throat, and I have been praying that this pain is God resecting that cancer.  Some members of our church prayed over Herb on Sunday calling on God to remove his cancer, not just help him through the surgery.  I am going out on a limb by announcing to you that this is what I am praying.  God is ultimately in control, and He may not take away the cancer, and Herb may have the surgery as planned, but I know that God can do it, and I am calling on Him to make His power seen through another miracle.  I am going to ask Herb’s surgeon to take a look with a scope, to make sure that the tumor is still there, before beginning the surgery.  We are believing that the surgery may not happen.

Please join me, as I attempt to deepen my prayer life.  I don’t need an external lesion to prove that I am praying.  This is a personal matter between me and my God.  May my prayer life be reflected in my “walk” and not in my “wounds’.

Thank you for praying specifically for healing in Herb too.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Where the heart is.

I have always heard that “Home is where the heart is”.  I really never gave that statement much thought.  Growing up, our family had been geographically stable, living in Duncan for almost all of my first 18 years.  Then, even though Jill and I lived outside of Duncan for the next 11 years, both of our families lived in Duncan.  So any time I heard the word “home”, I would think of the same small town in Southern Oklahoma.  Then, just to insure that my mind new where to go for home, we lived in Duncan from March of 2000 until February  2nd, of 2012.  We have been in Uganda for the past 4-5 months, and I will have to admit, that we have poured a lot of our hearts out in that beautiful country.

So why am I bringing up “Home” at this point?  In the midst of all of the medical clinics, new experiences, and meeting multiple “that one persons”, we have received important information from back in the US.  Jill’s father, Herb Lang, has been diagnosed with stage 4 laryngeal cancer.  When we left for Uganda, we knew that Herb had been dealing with a hoarse voice, but it was thought to be related to allergies or a sinus infection of some sort.  You know, the usual causes of having your throat  to be hoarse.  Over the next couple of months, and several tests later, it was determined that there was a mass adjacent to his left vocal cord.  He saw an ENT doctor, and then his Oncologist.  After these consultations, he was seen by an ENT-Oncology specialist at OU medical center.  After some debate and discussion between experts, it was felt Herb’s best chance for cure was to undergo a complete laryngectomy.  This will leave him without a voice box and he will be required to breathe through a stoma on his neck.  He will be required to explore new ways to talk and communicate.  More than many other “cancer surgeries”, this one causes ongoing life adjustments. 

Our flights home from Uganda have been scheduled for July 26th, since we booked them last Fall.  Herb’s surgery is scheduled for June 26th.  When we thought that Herb might “only” require some radiation treatments or “only” some chemo, we felt like we could complete our plans in Uganda and then return in late July to help out where we could.  But with this big surgery now scheduled, we were torn about where our family should be on June 26th.  How could we leave early?  We have so many things, “important things”, going on in Uganda.  We have about 10 kids that we are still organizing special projects/health care for in Uganda.  Who would finish these projects?  It would just not be right to give these families hope of a medical cure and then drop the ball.  How would that show Christ’s love to them?  We have completed about 70% of the student screenings for all of Africa Renewal Ministries, and we had planned to see 100% of the kids for them while in Uganda.

Eventually, the decision was easy to make, but difficult to wrap our brains around.  There was no doubt that we needed to be in Duncan, and then in OKC for his surgery and recovery.  We switched our tickets to return home on June 14th, and then scrambled to try to finish what we could in Uganda, before heading back to Oklahoma.  We still had a 6 day swing to NE Uganda and we needed to say goodbye to many people and secure treatment plans for our “That One Persons”/starfish.  The sneaky part of this plan was the fact that we did not tell anyone in Duncan, except for my parents.  We had recently seen them in Uganda, so we cooked up the idea that they would pick us up from the airport and we would then surprise Jill’s parents by returning early.  We chose to come home a week before the surgery so that we could spend a week with Herb, before he lost his voice.  We left Uganda on Thursday night, and arrived in Duncan on Friday evening.  Herb and Doris had chosen to leave town to go to Tulsa with some friends and did not get home until Saturday afternoon.  When we knew that they were home, we took my dad’s suburban, covertly parked down the street, and then we walked up to their front door and rang the doorbell.  Below is the video the surprise that ensued. 

Family is important.  There are times that family needs to trump our plans and progress.  As I wrote in this blog several months ago, God does not need us in Uganda.  He was just graciously allowing us to be a part of what he is doing there.  Being back in Oklahoma has been a bit of a shock.  We left quicker than our minds were preparing for.  The air conditioning makes us feel cold when we are inside.  The first stop was Braums, to get some good ice cream.  We have had a “Real Hamburger” and some homemade ice cream on Saturday as well.  Our sleep clocks are about to complete their readjustment to Central Daylight Time. 

I have to come back to “Home is where your heart is”.  Is it possible that you can have a second home?  Not a “vacation home” or a “lake house”.  I am talking about truly having a second home.  Duncan is home for us, but how can Duncan be “home” when so much of my heart is spilled all over the people, bumpy roads, the underfunded hospitals and mud huts of Uganda.  How can I be missing those things, much less within 48 hours of leaving them?  I am still grappling with the riddle of home.  So far, my answer is that my heart and home reside in Oklahoma, but my heart has a huge hole carved out of the center of it that looks like a map of Uganda!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

 I’ve been told that a blog should never be too long or it will lose the interest of its readers.  Taking this advice into consideration, this blog may become a series over the next few days to come.  First, as I consider Father’s Day, I hope we all give our devotion to Our Heavenly Father!  Over the last months, I’ve been pondering the things I believe He is teaching me.  He is God, the Great I Am, He alone is Able.  He is the Great Healer, and He chooses to invite us along for the journey through relationship with Him.

Second, I’d like to wish Jay, the true “due unto others” blogger a very Happy Father’s Day!  I am blessed to be able to tell you because of Jay and the Leadership of the Holy Spirit, I am able to spend this Father’s Day with all of the Father’s in my life.  The two mentioned above, as well as, my dad, Herb Lang, and Jay’s dad, Jerry Gregston.  How could this be?  We have been called back to Duncan a little sooner than we had thought we would be, just as we had been called to Uganda. 

My dad has been diagnosed with stage 4 laryngeal cancer.  At first we thought it was not to this stage and some specific radiation therapy would be used to take care of this issue.  Upon further investigations, it has been determined that, at this point, on June 26th, they will perform surgery to remove his voice box as well as what ever is deemed necessary during the operation.  If lymph nodes return back to be negative, this will be all that has to occur.  If not, radiation will follow the surgery. 

Our Heavenly Father is so very trustworthy.  After sitting still, praying, and waiting, we determined He was calling us home to be with my family during this life changing time.  He was also calling us home to have a week to be with my dad, before his voice box is removed.  One of the neat things about this bittersweet time, is that we were able to surprise my parents yesterday because they had no idea of our return.  You can see this surprise by checking out this video.

I will write the next part of this blog in the next day or so, as time allows.  I am so blessed this Father’s Day! Please join us as we are praying to see miraculous healing in my dad by Our Heavenly Father! 

In Him,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Positive outlook for James!

I am excited to tell you about a young man with a heart the size of the continent he lives on, and a smile to match.  Our family has had the pleasure of developing, an almost non-verbal friendship with a boy named James.  We first told you about James in the first month that we were in Uganda.  We originally met James (but did not realize it) when we were in Mubende in February.  He was a part of a large school screening that we did at Jabez primary school there.  We found out a couple of weeks later that James had been run over by a car.  He had been taken to the hospital in Mubende.  The doctors there noted that he had a broken right femur and his left leg was so badly mangled that it had to be amputated above the knee.  James is a sponsored student through African Renewal Ministries, it was arranged for him to come to Wentz Medical Center in Gaba to receive his remaining care.  Initially, it was thought that his right femur could be surgically repaired so that he could get up and around quickly.  I am unsure what happened with that plan, but it turned out that he was in traction for a couple of weeks, then put into a cast that looked almost like a pair of pants, waist and all.  He slowly graduated from flat on his back, to a wheel chair.  Through all of this, James always had a smile on his face and an upbeat attitude.

I had mentioned that most of our friendship with James was developed in a non-verbal fashion.  He does not speak English yet, while we don’t speak Luganda yet.  When we first learned of his predicament and that he was laying on his back for so long, we took him a gift basket with some books, puzzle books, handheld electronic games and a cool fighter jet that blinked and made a lot of noise!  From that point on, he would light up when he saw us and give us hugs.  As he got better, he would throw a ball around with our kids from his wheelchair.  We don’t know who it was, but someone had told him that his leg was being held for him at a different location, almost giving him hope that he would have it back at some point.  One of the ministries associated with ARM is Father’s Heart.   They are distributing free wheelchairs, to people in need of them. They are cool, almost like a plastic lawn chair with a cushion, then off road wheels on the back.  These wheels are almost like a mountain bike tire, allowing them to go on many of the terrains encountered in Uganda.   A man named Francis heads up this program.  He is an adult, but has been in a wheel chair all his life, due to a birth defect.  He frequently does counseling with the distribution of these wheelchairs, as many of the recipients have recently suffered an injury requiring the device.  He brought a wheel chair to James and explained to him that he would never get his leg back.  James’ heart is so big and his smile so infectious, that Francis says that James ended up counseling him before their conversation was over.

James was in Wentz Medical Center for about 3 months.  His mom and sister stayed with him there, about a 3 hour drive from their home in Mubende.  We are happy that he got to go home and return to school, but we miss his smile and happy disposition.  He has a wheel chair and some crutches that he can use for now.  His left leg stump must continue to heal and toughen for another 4 months or so, then he is a candidate for a prosthetic leg.  I did some checking into these with a local orthopedic doctor.  It looks like we can get him fitted for one and then purchased for around $500 USD.  They don’t do it often, but I think that we can get one that can be adjusted in length as he grows.  Again, this is a specific opportunity for a Due Unto supporter to make a difference in a child’s life.  I am here to tell you, this is not just any kid.  He has spunk, resolve, charisma and a million dollar smile.  It would not surprise me if he is president of Uganda some day!  Please email me at if you would like to help purchase his prosthetic.

Thanks again for your prayers for us and for the starfish like James.  Your support is making a difference, one person at a time!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reaching TOP - Jamil

Hello to all of our Due Unto supporters, friends and family.  I write this blog on my way home from Palissa.  We have spent the last 6 days working in Mayuge, Soroti and then the last two days in Palissa.  Palissa is not a part of Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM) or the Renewal Health Network, but they graciously allowed us to add this stop onto our trip to NE Uganda.  We wanted to stop there, because this is the home of our good buddy Jamil.  As you probably recall, Jamil is a young man that your support and prayers has allowed to recover from a very large tumor behind his right eye.

When we arrived in Palissa yesterday, Pastor Fred led us back into Nat Geo nowhere, where we found Jamil’s home.  Jamil lives with his grandparents, and his Uncle Joseph’s family.  They were all waiting for us.  They had tied flowers to the trees and were lined up to great us, like royalty, when we arrived.  They had a mat and chairs set out for us.  Jamil’s grandparents each got on their knees and thanked us and you profusely for the help that had been afforded to Jamil.  They talked about how many people, especially children, around the village avoided him because they did not want to look at his eye.  The amount of money needed for his care was unobtainable for them, so they had pretty much written him off as dead.  Now that is changing.   Jamil is gaining self-confidence and has been cleared to start school.  He is 10, but will start in the first grade.  He is small for 10 and seems very bright, so I have no doubt that he will progress quickly to catch up with his peers.  The family brought us bananas, mangos, fresh eggs and 2 live chickens (I kid you not.  They had their legs tied together and laid them in front us panting and frightened).  Jamil’s grandmother was so happy that she started screaming and dancing.

It almost made me blush as Jamil’s grandfather joined in!   We had this group photo made with Jamil’s family and the Due Unto team. 

We gave Jamil a Due Unto Others t-shirt and a pair of shoes that our friend Craig at OK Runner Norman donated for us.

Today, during the clinic, Jamil hung out around my station quite a bit.  He learned how to use an otoscope and a stethoscope.  He also got good at demanding that the children open their mouths for me.  Through Due Unto support, we were able to pay for Jamil’s school, boarding and supplies through the end of 2012!  I challenged him and told him that we saw greatness in him and that we expected he would study hard and live up to his ability.  Tears welled up in both of our eyes when I had Fred translate to Jamil that we probably would not see him again until next year.  His next doctor’s appointment is in August, and we will be gone by then.   Jamil is a good kid and his life has been changed because we were able to identify “That One Person” that needed something special. 

I am going to start a new slogan and possibly some t-shirts that say: “My mission is: Reaching TOP for Jesus”!  TOP stands for That One Person, and hopefully people will ask me what it stands for.  Every day that I am in Uganda, I feel more convinced that this is how we are to reach a lost world.  We are to be searching for TOP!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shakib is getting special attention

The next “starfish” that I would like to tell you about is Shakib.  We detailed his story in this blog from early last week.  Shakib is a 3 year old boy that was burned in a house fire 3 months ago.  His mother was having him sporadically cared for in the garage of a “shade tree burn doctor” in Mukono.  His burn involves his face, abdomen, pelvis, and left hand.  His left hand already has severe contractures and his knees are starting to be contracted also.

Shakib’s mother, Teddy, made a bold choice and decided to go with us from Mukono to Gaba, so that Shakib could be cared for at Wentz Medical Center.  This was brave because Teddy’s mother, who is the bread winner in their family, told Teddy that if she left, not to come back.  While at Wentz Medical Center, we are providing Shakib with aggressive burn care, physical therapy to improve his contractures, and the medicines that he needs.  We are making arrangements to find Teddy a house, and then pay her rent until Shakib is well.  We are paying food expenses for Teddy, Shakib, and Teddy’s daughter Sheila.  We are making arrangements for Sheila to attend school in Gaba.  She had actually not been in school in Mukono, because she did not have the needed school fees. 

We are already seeing improvement in Shakib’s burns and even more miraculously, we are seeing improved range of motion in the contracted knees.  The physical therapist sees hope that we can get Shakib’s knees mobile again, so that he can walk in the future.  When Shakib’s burns are healed and physical therapy has allowed his joints to make maximal improvement, we will help Shakib to get surgeries to help his mobility, if needed.

Here is where we need your help.  The total cost for 3 months of food, lodging, medical care, physical therapy and school fees will be about $600.  Future orthopedic surgeries could cost another $500.  I have committed Due Unto Others to cover these expenses (approximately $1,100) for this beautiful boy and his brave mother.  Jill and I feel that this family needs to feel God’s love in a special way and that Shakib needs to have his best chance at healing.  Shakib was born to a Muslim father, but he is no longer around.  We think that Teddy needs Christ, and we intend to take every opportunity to show Christ to her, in a tangible way.  If you would like to help with Shakib and his care, please email me at

We are in Soroti, about 6 hours NE of Kampala for the weekend and plan to be home on Monday night.  This is the 31st location that we have traveled to during our time in Uganda.  I plan to tell you of the “Cardiac kids”, as I have time, in the next couple of days.

We said goodbye to Will and Marilyn Hugon today as we parted ways in Jinja.  They went with our friend Jonathan back to Kampala, then Entebbe to the airport.  We went further out to Soroti.  It was a blessing to have them work with us this past week and get a taste for what God is doing in Uganda. 

Thanks to all of you for your continued prayers and support.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

These kids are out of the Box!

Jake, Jared and Jayne acting goofy at Intanda Falls.

I wanted to take a moment to commend my kids on their behavior and growth over the past 6 months.  Their whole lives have been turned upside down, even before we came to Uganda.  They had to say goodbye to family, pets, friends and teachers.  We sold our home, in Duncan, and we will have another change when we get home in July.  While in Uganda, each of them has had some bad days, but for the most part, they have been positive and upbeat.  They each interact with Uganda in different ways, but they have definitely made a positive impact on those that they have met. 
Jake and Moses squaring off!  I think the loser is going to be the little red car that Jake is sitting on!

Jared singing and dancing with Elijah at the baby's home.

Jayne making visits at the hospital.

Living in Uganda has really moved us out of our box.  We moved from a nice “box” on Timbercreek, in Duncan, to Uganda, where we live in a small apartment and spend many days staying in small motels and eating things like “unidentified meat” and goat stew.  These kids have not complained or offended their hosts by not eating.  They have each lost some weight, but I think this is more related to their increased activity and fewer processed foods.  Everyone has surprised me and even eaten exotic things like white ants (Enswa) and fried grasshoppers (nsenene).  We’ve gone from a GMC Denali with leather seats and DVD player, to a 1994 Toyota van that beats along the dusty roads in Uganda.   We have white water rafted and the boys have bungee jumped over the River Nile.  We have loaded up on a public bus and traveled to Rwanda, pushing our comfort level, in multiple ways.  While in Rwanda, the kids stared evil in the face, as we visited the genocide memorials, and learned about how life can be under valued.  They have learned many things about a new culture and a new language.  They have opened their hearts to ill children and loved them through surgeries, chemotherapy and even in death.  This vulnerability to heartache has surprised me, and it happens over and over, despite previous pain. 

This week, while in Jinja, I saw some maturity in Jake that made me proud.  We were closing our devotional time on Wednesday morning and I had offered to close the group in prayer and start us into our day.  I prayed for several things, but one thing that I always (either corporately or individually) try to pray for, before we go out to a clinic, is that God would open our eyes to that “one person” that needs a special touch.  The kid that needs special medical care.  The boy that needs to beat a mzungu in soccer.  The girl that needs a hug and a baby doll that a girl in Oklahoma made for her.  As I was praying that we all would be able to identify that “one person” today, I became overwhelmed.  I started thinking of the blessings that we have received by God allowing us to see and attend to so many “one persons”.   I also started to think of how many “one persons” that we may have missed because we got distracted by something that was not important.  Our group was standing and holding hands for this prayer.  I could no longer speak out loud because I could not control my emotions.  I sat down and began to cry.  Jake was standing next to me, so he reached over and put his hand on my shoulder.  After silence in the group for a minute or two, Jake began to pray out loud.  This is not something that he chooses to do very often, but he “finished” my prayer with almost the exact words that I had been thinking. 

I have no doubt that when we return home, Jake, Jared and Jayne will be more mature, emotionally and spiritually, than when we left Oklahoma.  They have a better perspective of what and who is important in this life.  They see a purpose for education and job training, so they can provide for and serve others through God in the future.  To be honest, I hear conversations about our kids missing friends and family, but I also hear many conversations about not wanting to leave Uganda and when we are going to return to Uganda.  You might not recognize these children of mine, when we arrive at the airport.  I hope that you are as pleased as I am with the Gregston kids, sans boxes!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A special need for a special boy!

In a break from our normal blogging style, I would like to take a few consecutive days to profile some of our special friends, the “Starfish”, and how you might contribute to the Due Unto Others support of each of them.

As I prepare to tell you about the first one of these, I would like to call your attention to Matthew 8:5-13.  In this passage, Jesus encounters a centurion who has overwhelming faith and compassion.  The centurion gets his “chance”.  He is standing right in front of Jesus and has Jesus’ attention.  I can think of many questions or requests that I might bring up to God in the flesh.  But what does this centurion do?  He makes a request on the behalf of his servant.  How humble and compassionate is that?  He burns his one chance in front of Jesus by asking for healing of someone that is considered “lower” than him in this life.  I heard a pastor, here in Uganda, say recently that compassion seeks to understand someone else and their situation.  Compassion seeks out others to help, without waiting until they ask for help.  Compassion speaks out for or gives a voice to others!  Try putting yourself in the shoes of some of the kids that I am going to mention over the next few days, or even the shoes of their parents.  I have been told that when we walk in someone else’s shoes, they are always uncomfortable! 

Today, I would like to remind you of my buddy Joseph.  We were made aware of Joseph and his medical problems by a team of short term missionaries from New York.  We were staying at a hotel in Mytiana, when we were out working in Namatumba.  This New York team was staying at the same hotel, while putting on a medical clinic in Mytiana.  They had come across Joseph the day before, but were unsure of what to do for him.  They heard that I was a doctor and wondered if I might look at Joseph and give them a recommendation.  We had worked two long clinic days on Monday and Tuesday, but really did not have much planned for Wednesday, the day that they told me about Joseph.  We had even wondered why we had spent an extra night, just to go to Namatumba and do a little health education with the parents of the kids that we had seen the two days before.  Before we left to come back to Kampala, we knew why God had us stay the extra night.  We made a deal with the New York team.  We would go do our health education talks in Namatumba, and they would find Joseph and bring him to the clinic that they were hosting.  Our team would stop there on our way back through Mytiana, heading to Kampala.  With one look at Joseph, I could tell the he had a tumor on both sides of his face, under his chin and around his eyes.  We had one seat left in our van, so we made arrangements to take Joseph, and his father Ellya, back with us to Kampala.  When we arrived in Kampala, we went straight to an imaging center and had a CT of his head and face done.  Their senior radiologist came to talk to me about the results.  It is never good when a late 50’s year old radiologist says that he has never seen anything like this before!  We got Joseph seen by an ENT doctor and subsequently admitted for a biopsy.  The procedure showed that he had a rhabdomyosarcoma.  We had hoped that it would be a Burkitt’s lymphoma, because these are more responsive to chemo therapy.  If it had been Burkitt’s, we were told that his chance of cure was 20%.  With it being rhabdomyosarcoma, we could not get a straight answer on his chances for cure, but it must be somewhat less than 20%.  I think that I mentioned on the blog before, that one day, I was trying to explain everything to Joseph’s father, but I was getting nowhere because I speak little Luganda and he speaks little English.  Out of nowhere, a man (possibly angel) showed up and spoke perfect English, helping me to tell him everything that needed to be said.  When we went to see Joseph last week (while getting his second round of chemo), Peter mysteriously showed up again.  We did not think of it until later, but we wished that we had tried to touch him and see if he was for sure human.

As I had mentioned, Joseph has started on his chemo therapy.  He is to have 6 rounds of therapy, where he receives IV chemo for 4 consecutive days, then is allowed to go home for 3 weeks to “recover”.  I don’t know if you believe in miracles, but I would like for you to look at these three pictures. 
Joseph the first day that we took him to Mulago.

Joseph on the second day of his first round of chemo.

Joseph 3 weeks later before starting his second round of chemo!

We need your help to pay for his travel and medications.  Each trip to Kampala is costing about 100,000 ($40USD) shillings.  He has at least 4 more trips to make.  We have already spent about 800,000 shillings on his CT, procedures and medications.  So this leaves his total expenses at 1,200,000 shillings or right around $500.  We feel that much of our help with Joseph has been to show God’s love to his father, Ellya.  We are not sure that he knows Jesus.  We’d like to help Ellya pay for his other 3 children’s school fees.  This will add another $100 to get them to next January.  At that time, they should be able to attend a school that is associated with Pastor Robert, that lead the team from New York.  So we need about $600 and loads of prayer to finish the care for Joseph.

If you have been looking for a specific way to help the Due Unto Others team, this is a good one.  Please email me if you would like more information on how to send the money.

I challenge you to investigate to find someone’s problems.  Seek to understand them.  Seek to help and speak out for others.  Look at that person and think that this could be Jesus in disguise!
Matthew 25:35-40 says:
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Thanks for your prayers and support.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ticket Validation

When our family felt God calling us to Uganda, it was often difficult to explain to others why we had fallen in love with a group of people and a country on the other side of the globe.  We did not necessarily need anyone’s approval, as we had all felt that God had given us a “ticket” to come to Uganda.  We had pictures and stories of things that we had seen and done in Uganda, but you can’t really get a feel for this place unless you experience it for yourself.  We have been supported by almost everyone that we know, but especially by close friends, our church, our small group and to an even greater degree by our family.  For nearly all of these people, it is a “blind support”, as almost none of them have been to Uganda before. 

My parents, Jerry and Tana Gregston, flew to Uganda, late last week, to visit us.  They wanted to visit us, sure, but they also wanted to see what we have been doing and get a feel for what has drawn us to Uganda.  I had felt a little anxious, as the time for their arrival neared.  I wanted them to have the best experience possible, so that they would have a positive experience and possibly understand why we left home for so long to work with medical teams here.  I wanted to try to cram good experiences of Uganda into their 6 day stay here.  I told myself that we needed to go slow and not wear them out, or everything would seem negative.  They arrived very late on Saturday night.  Actually, it was early Sunday morning.  I told them, on the way home from the airport, that if they felt up to it, we could go to Jinja on Sunday.  To me, most of the beauty of Uganda is in the rural areas, along the Nile River (Jinja), and in the mountains of SW Uganda.  If we just stayed in Kampala, all they would get to see is congestion, traffic jams and big city life.  We had clinics scheduled on Monday-Thursday, so Sunday or Friday were our only days to “site see”.  They both thought that if they were in Uganda, they had to go see the Nile.  So after a short night on Saturday night, we went to church on Sunday morning.  After church, we drove to Jinja.  We had lunch, then we drove about an hour out of Jinja to Intanda Falls.  The roads are very bumpy and all dirt.  By the time we got back to Jinja, had dinner, and drove back to Kampala, it was about 10:30 Sunday night.  So in the 24 hours that my parents had been in Uganda, we had been in our 1994 Toyota van for 7-8 hours.  I was worn out, and they were the ones that just switched continents and barely slept for the previous 30 hours.  I had failed in the “go slow” plan.  I was again worried that they might not understand what we see in Uganda. 

God gave us a ticket to come to Uganda, for an extended time.  Why do I feel like I need to have it validated by my parents?  To quote the great American philosopher Mike Gundy, “I’m a man!  I’m forty (actually 41)”!  I should not need my parents’ approval for what I am doing!  For better or worse, I grew up wanting to make my parents proud.  I, unfortunately, grew up knowing a God that I was afraid to let down because of a fear of punishment.  As far as my parents were concerned, I tried to do the right thing because I did not want to disappoint them, not because I was afraid of a punishment.  My relationship with Christ has grown over the past 10 years to a point that I don’t want to disappoint Him either.  The Grace that I have been given, won’t be taken away, but I sure would like God’s approval of what I am doing.  We feel that what we are doing has purpose, but I think that your calling has more purpose when someone you respect understands where you are coming from.

I write this blog as we are driving my parents back to the airport.  This week has flown by.  They have worked side by side with us in medical clinics and have gone with us to Mulago to visit Starfish friends.  They have met Tendo and Nakiganda, who are special friends of our family.  They both have said that they have enjoyed the trip.  My dad even told Dr. Martin last night that the trip had been “interesting”.  I don’t know if they will ever come to Uganda again.  I don’t know if they see Uganda through the same eyes that we do.  I don’t know if they think that we are more “crazy” than they did before they came to experience Uganda.  I am not really sure what I wanted them to think or say about their time here.  We really enjoyed seeing them and getting to catch up on the 4 months that we have been away.  We know that God has “validated” our ticket to Uganda.  We have seen too much of Him here to think that we “misread” the ticket.  I have been blessed with wonderful parents and it was awesome that they took the time to come all the way here to get a glimpse of Uganda, whether they love it or not!

Jill’s parents, Herb and Doris Lang, have been unable to come to visit Uganda.  Although they really wanted to, health problems have limited their ability to leave home and travel.  Please keep the two of them in your prayers.  Doris has had back and leg pain that would have made it hard to travel such a long distance.  Herb has recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 laryngeal cancer.  We have been looking for a reason for his hoarse voice since early January.  He will have a laryngectomy on June 26th in Oklahoma City.  This will leave him without a voice box and several new things to get accustomed to.  They have always been very supportive of us and it is difficult to support them from such a distance.  Please help us to support them by praying and checking on them to see where you can help in the days to come.