Friday, August 29, 2014

Going from a valley to a canyon.

In my last blog, I discussed how we often have to pass through a “valley” before we reach the “mountain top” of our calling.  In that blog, I had mentioned that I felt we had passed through a valley in our journey of our calling with Jamil.  I thought that perhaps we had reached a foothill, but not the mountain top.


I have to let you know that after we crested that foothill, we have hit a canyon.  This week has been very difficult for us.  We had an appointment with his eye surgeon on Tuesday.  This went well.  During that visit, we discussed a game-plan to get Jamil’s surgery done and how that might look.  The doctor sent us for a CT scan, just to make sure that the tumor was still contained in the eye socket and not spread to the brain.  Jamil had a CT scan in June, while we were still in Uganda, and it had specifically said that there was no brain involvement.


When Jamil’s doctor called me on Wednesday, the news he gave me took my breath away.  Not only had the tumor spread, it had moved to the cavernous sinus.  This is a large blood vessel on the bottom side of the brain.  Surgery in this area of the brain has a high risk of stroke and cranial nerve injuries.  Cranial nerves are the nerves that come out of the brain and perform functions like sight, moving your eyes, moving your face, chewing etc.


So now we know that Jamil has an eye tumor and a brain tumor.  What we don’t know at this point is if there is a surgical option.  We will be getting a consultation with a neurosurgeon at Children’s hospital in the coming days.  She will let us know if we have any chance of removing the tumor surgically or if it is inoperable.


At this point, we have not discussed this new information with Jamil.  We are wanting to know if there is a surgical option, so that we can try to explain it to him in a way that will make sense.  Before now, we have shared this news sparingly, as we tried to find out more information and options.  We feel that it is time to share this news more broadly so that more people can begin to pray in earnest for his healing.  If he has a brain surgery, we are not sure about the 6 month time frame that we are dealing with.


We have been discouraged with this new diagnosis, but we know that God will provide the best plan.  Please join us in praying that the meningioma can be removed surgically but a highly skilled neurosurgeon.  Please join us in praying for Jamil’s complete healing.  Please pray for our wisdom as we will be required to make some important decisions in the near future.


This calling has definitely just become more "costly".  I will continue to update this blog as we know more.





Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Your calling could be costly.

Have you ever noticed how easy it can be to accept a “calling” that God has given you, but then realize how difficult it can be to go through trials that it takes to get there?  While we were in Uganda, this summer, I heard a guest pastor, Jose Zayas from Oregon, give a sermon about this.  Since I feel that I have just lived through it, I want to share a few thoughts about what he said, with my spin.


Since we started working, through Due Unto Others, to care for the medical and spiritual needs of Ugandans in 2012, we have treated over 15,000 patients.  Through God’s provision and the support of our partners, we have been able to offer this care and needed medication free of charge.  Through the many clinics and long lines of beautiful people, we have come across about 25 “special” cases that we have called our “That One Persons” (TOPS).   Some of them have received wheelchairs or prosthetic legs.  Some have needed immediate blood transfusions that could only be obtained by midnight drives to Kampala, the capital of Uganda.  Too many children have needed extensive burn care and subsequent plastic surgeries.  Several have needed a delicate “elective” surgery that their families could not afford and that the government did not feel obligated to provide in the “free” health system of Uganda.  We have been saddened as some of these TOPS have passed away after chemotherapy or during open heart surgeries.  I think one of the biggest blessings that our family has received, while serving in Uganda, is the relationships that we have developed with some of these TOPS and their families.  The way these TOP kids light up when they see our kids and want to play a game of soccer or ring around the roses.  They understand that they can play these games because their burn scars have been released or their heart defect has been repaired.  Or the way that their parents light up, because they recognize the love of Christ that donors of Due Unto Others have shown their family.  Due Unto Others has been able to find the needed medical expertise and care for almost all of these patients, here in Uganda.


Around last October, I began to feel that God was preparing us for a slight change from our usual plan of helping our TOPS.  God laid one of those 25 +/- TOPS on my heart.  Jamil has been dealing with a meningioma, behind his right eye, since 2010-2011.  Due Unto Others had helped him to get a surgery to remove the tumor in April of 2012, shortly after meeting him.  In 2013, the tumor had returned.  At that point he had another surgery and subsequent radiation therapy.  Given the recurrent nature of his problem, I felt God calling us to take a different approach, if the tumor again returned.  Jill and I discussed the prospect of bringing Jamil to the USA for more specialized treatment.  Jill began checking into what sort of process we would need to take care of, before going back to Uganda.  I discussed the legal side with some friends and attorneys with experience in this arena.  We had a difficult time getting exact answers because most of the time when a child is leaving Uganda, it is for an adoption or they travel with one of their family members for health care.  So as we headed to Uganda in May, we felt like we had a calling, but not a clear plan. 


When we were reunited with Jamil, we were hopeful that our calling might have just been to see if we were willing.  Jamil seemed to be doing well and his eye looked much more anatomically normal than it did 11 months prior.  As we received Jamil’s CT results, we realized that our calling was now an active project.  As we started the process, on June the 5th, we were rapidly trying to figure out what we were doing while gathering information that we knew that we would need.  We hired an attorney, in Uganda, that had experience with this sort of project in the past.  We made calls to specialized doctors, in the USA, to get their advice and even letters agreeing to provide care in Oklahoma.  We checked with St. Jude’s Hospital, but Jamil's tumor did not fit into any of their current research projects.  We called on our friends to pray with us for Jamil’s healing and resolution of the legal matters.  After approximately a week of many phone calls, attorney meetings, and doctor’s appointments, we “thought” that we knew how the process worked and how it would work out.  We had this hope that we could get all of the needed steps cleared prior to our scheduled departure on July 10.


Then we waited.


After about 4 more weeks, we were finally assigned a court date.  We needed to see the judge because Jill and I needed to obtain temporary custody of Jamil, so that we could travel with him to the USA and then consent to medical procedures that he might need.  Getting custody was  fairly tricky as Jamil is not technically an “orphan”.  His father is dead.  His mother is living, however, but she had abandoned him when he was about a year old and has not participated in his care since.  He has been cared for by his uncle’s family and his grandparents.  So he does not have a traditional family unit, but he does have a family.  So convincing the judge that we couldn’t just take his mother or uncle with us to the USA was part of our insistence.  Initially we were rejected, by the judge, because we needed more evidence that Jamil was “nearly” orphaned.  This was a trying time and required a scavenger hunt across Uganda, looking for evidence.  We felt like we were in a “valley” as nothing seemed to be going right or according to our plan. 


We were temporarily elated as we were awarded custody.  We felt that it was just a matter of time until we could bring Jamil to the USA and get his needed care started.  We hurriedly applied for his Ugandan passport and we were told that it would take “at least” 10 business days to complete.   We still hoped that due to the urgent nature of Jamil’s medical problem, his might move faster.


Then we waited.


After 8 days of sitting and waiting for a phone call, things seemed pretty bleak.  At this point, our kids had been back in the USA, staying by themselves with help from grandparents, for 2 weeks.  We also heard that the USA computer system for visas had crashed, causing delays world-wide.  Jill and I decided to fly home and try to regroup while waiting for the passport to be completed. 


Then we waited.


About a week later, the passport was complete and we applied for a visa appointment with the US embassy in Kampala.  We were graciously given an expedited interview that would take place in about 2 weeks.  So plans were made for me to return to Uganda, wade through the lines to pick up Jamil’s passport and then go for the visa interview.  Through asking a few questions of the US Embassy, it became more clear to Jill and I that getting a visa for Jamil would be a long shot.  The USA does not have a medical visa, so Jamil would have to qualify as a 12 year old “tourist” to the USA.  We knew, from previous experience with our Ugandan friends, that getting tourist visas was difficult, even for adults that had made overseas trips before.  My heart was heavy as I was dreading telling Jamil and our supporters that we had been denied the visa and that we would have to try another route that could take months to complete.  We began to pray even more and Jill started organizing prayer vigils to take place at the exact time as the interview.


As I sat on the tarmac in Oklahoma City, delayed in my flight to Dallas, I saw the seconds passing and it seemed that I would miss my flight to Uganda.  With missing this flight, I would have to reschedule the interview and pay to have my airline tickets adjusted.  This was a low point for me in the valley.  Why would I feel that God called us to do something but then there be so much struggle, frustration, and resistance to reaching the destination?  Through much stress, prayer, and provision, I narrowly made my way to Uganda.


I met up with Jamil and his Uncle Joseph on Sunday night as I arrived in Uganda.  Monday morning we were able to pick up his passport and everything on it seemed to be correct.  Yes!  What a blessing.  I still felt this dread about the next morning.  As the sun came up over Lake Victoria, my Ugandan entourage prepared to go to our 9 am visa interview and friends all over Uganda were praying for this meeting. 
Meanwhile, people all over the USA were staying up late, into the early morning to pray.  Jill gathered with a handful of people, in Duncan, to pray for a favorable decision on Jamil’s visa.  Without saying too much, I truly believe that the Holy Spirit interceded for us, during the interview.  We received the visa and headed to the USA 2 days later.


Here are a few thoughts about how we can be called to do something but have to go through the valley to reach the mountain top on the other side.   Mark 14:32-

·         Jesus was called to take our sins to the cross on Calvary Mountain.  Before he got there, he was in the Valley of Gethsemane.  Gethsemane is actually a valley below Jerusalem.

·         While in the Valley, Jesus suffered while awaiting what he was called to do.

·         Jesus called on his friends.  More specifically he called on his 3 closest friends to join him and help him through the valley.

·         Jesus calls on his Father.  Jesus understood what it is like to be desperate and want to get out of a situation.  He wasn’t trying to get out of his calling, he just knew how difficult it would be.

·         Jesus tells his friends to stay awake and pray.  He wanted them aware of what God was doing.

·         In verse 41, Jesus says “enough, the time has come”.  Enough actually can be translated to “paid in full”.  At this point Jesus gains confidence and is ready to move on to achieve his calling.


So I encourage you, as you go through the “valley” on the way to your calling, to remember a few things.

1.)    If you have a calling, there is a cost.

2.)    Don’t go through the valley alone.  Share what you are going through with your close friends.

3.)    Call on God.  As Christians, we are adopted sons and daughters of God.  (Romans 8:14)  We have shared in Jesus’ suffering, so we can share in His glory.

4.)    Stay on guard and be vigilant for what God has in store.

5.)    The Holy Spirit will keep you “awake” and encourage you with confidence.


He knows what you are going through.  You can make it through your valley.  I do feel like we have come through a valley with Jamil.  I don’t think, however, that we have reached the mountain top.  Perhaps a foothill. 
 I truly believe that the true calling and the true mountain top will be when God has healed Jamil.  There may be more valleys before we get there.




Still Preparing for Due Season.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Humble Request

God woke me early this morning with a blog topic on my heart.  As I lay in bed from 4:30 to 5:00 am, I channeled my inner Due and thought about this topic and how it had meaning in our lives right now.  So I got up and started writing this blog.  I had gotten about half way through my thoughts when the sun came up over Lake Victoria.  I decided to get my running duds and go out for a run before it got too hot and to think about how I would finish my blog.  I started out my run continuing to think about the blog that God had laid on my heart.  Then, somewhere between Phil Wickham and Lecrae, I felt that God wanted me to delay my other blog for a couple of days and post this one.


As I write this, it is 8:15 am on August 21, 2014.  Later tonight, Jamil and I are scheduled to fly out of Uganda and make our way back to Oklahoma City by August 22nd, in the evening.  I feel that I need to pass along some important thoughts about Jamil and his stay with us, but first, I want to remind everyone of Jamil’s life story.


Jamil was born in October of 2001 (at least this is what is newly acquired birth certificate says) to a young mother and a Muslim father.  His parents soon separated and Jamil’s mother abandoned him with her oldest brother, Joseph, who lives in Palissa.  Joseph has 10 kids of his own and makes a meager living.  He has done a great job of caring for Jamil as his own. 


At the age of 10, Jamil remembers having only one set of clothes and no shoes.  His clothes had many holes and he did not have any soap to bathe or wash his clothes with.  About this same time, he began to have a pain in his right eye and that eye began to protrude and cause some significant disfigurement.  As detailed in this testimony blog, Jamil says that he went to a crusade meeting in the fall of 2011 and met an evangelist that noticed his eye.  That evangelist, Jonathan Kabanda, took photos of Jamil and began to pray for him.  We met Jonathan Kabanda early in our trip of 2012.  After a few days of knowing us and learning what our team was doing in Uganda, he asked me if he could tell me about a boy with an “eye problem”.  I said sure and asked Jonathan to email me the photos that he had. 


I was shocked to see the problem that Jamil had with his eye.  It was unlike anything that I had ever seen in my US practice of medicine.  Jonathan, by email, introduced us to Pastor Fred, who is one of the leaders of the Arise and Shine school in Palissa.  Jamil was not currently in school because of his health problem.  In fact, he was shunned by his village, thinking that he was possessed by some evil spirit.  His family fully expected him to die because they could not afford to get him the health care that he needed.


Through emails with Pastor Fred, we arranged a meeting for me to see Jamil and review his records.  Fred drove Jamil two hours, from Palissa to Jinja, where we were currently staying and putting on clinics.  He was supposed to arrive in time to come to our clinic that day, but had been delayed and ended up meeting us at a restaurant that we were eating in that evening.  When Jamil arrived, he was very quiet and likely self-conscious about his appearance.  He had on a Navy blue pin-striped blazer and pink Converse high-tops.  Fred had to continue on to Kampala, but left Jamil with us an adult cousin that would escort him back home.  We were amazed at how much this small boy could eat!  In fact, we were concerned that he might get sick from all of the western food that he consumed.  Since it was so late, we bought an extra room at our hotel and asked Jamil and his cousin to stay the night.


Jamil was from such a small and poor village, we actually had to show Jamil and his cousin how to turn on the lights and how to flush the toilet at the hotel.  I don’t say this to make fun of them in any way.  I just want to give you an idea of where he came from, just 2 years ago.


After seeing Jamil, I called our sponsor, Dr. Martin, and started lining up an ophthalmology appointment the next week.  After his appointment with Dr. Agabba, Jamil was scheduled for surgery in April of 2012.  His surgery was considered a success and after returning to Palissa, he was allowed to start school.  He was 10, but started in P1 (first grade).  When he returned to see Dr. Agabba in June of 2013, his tumor had returned.  This time, it was recommended that he have another surgery followed by 6 weeks of radiation.  By the time he had recovered from surgery and finished his radiation treatments, he had spent 10 weeks in the hospital last summer.  He again resumed his schooling and had progressed to P3 when we returned to Uganda in May of this year.  He had grown taller.  His eye looked better.  He was speaking English.  And he even was translating for me while I was caring for patients in Palissa.  Jamil had declared that he wanted to be a doctor.  What an amazing transformation God was making in his life.  About the first of June, we sent him for a follow up CT scan to make sure that his tumor was eradicated.  The results were sobering, to say the least.  His tumor was returning and now starting to invade the bone of his skull.  My next blog will discuss some of the things leading up to us feeling like we needed to bring Jamil to the USA to try to get his tumor halted for good.


So this, now 12 year old, boy has been through so much and has come from very humble beginnings.  He has come from not knowing how to flush a toilet to operating my iPhone.  He has come from being very shy and self-conscious to jovial and outgoing.


God has laid this on my heart and I hope that it does not offend anyone wishing Jamil well.  God has placed us in the guardianship of Jamil for the next 6 months, and he will forever be a member of our family.  So if this comes across as me being a jerk, I’m sorry, but I feel that it is for his benefit.  He will be living with us for the next 5 months, as we try to expeditiously move him ahead in his education, especially in English and Math.  This, of course, while arranging for him to have all of the healthcare that he desperately needs.  That being said, one thing is for sure:  Jamil has to return to Uganda by February 18, 2015.  He will be returning to start the 2015 school year in a boarding school and the 2015 school year starts around February 1st.  Due Unto Others will be paying for the best school that he can qualify for, at that time.  He will need to perform well and attend a reputable school to be able to be accepted into a medical school, when he has completed the required years of schooling. 


Here is my concern that I share with Jill.  It is probably of our own doing through blogging and facebooking to recruit prayer support, but we are concerned that Jamil will be too much of a “celebrity” when he arrives in Oklahoma.  We want everyone to make him feel welcomed, but it is a delicate balance.  Many people have been praying for him, have seen his progress, and feel like they know him already.  Many of you have expressed an interest in buying him a welcome gift and we feel like we are in a difficult position.  As much as we would like to shower him with the best America has to offer, we already have to start thinking about how he re-enters Uganda, in a boarding school, on the 1st of February.  He won’t be allowed to take belongings with him to school.  Even if he were, there would be a high probability that it would be lost or stolen.  We have already received some hand-me-down clothes and shoes that are in very good condition.  I don’t want him to have received so much “stuff” that he has trouble being content when he returns to Uganda.  I think just doing life with us, as Americans, for 5+ months is going to make it difficult enough.


So please do me a favor and prayerfully consider doing one of these things, if you want to give Jamil a welcome to America gift.

1.)    Give him a picture of you or your family and let him know that you will be praying for his healing and future education.  We will have him keep a collection of these for encouragement when times are tough.

2.)    Commit to earnestly pray that his meningioma will be totally healed during the short time that we have him here.  He has a one-time visa and will not be allowed to return.

3.)    If you feel that you would like to make a monetary contribution, it would be greatly appreciated.  Please make the gift towards his medical care or ongoing education.  You can make a check to:


P.O. Box 694

Duncan, OK 73534   Just put “Uganda-Jamil” in the memo.


We have committed to pay for his healthcare to resolve this tumor.  We are not sure what that will cost. 

He is scheduled to see an excellent Christian surgeon, in Edmond, on this coming Tuesday.  Following that, I suspect that we will be getting an MRI and being set up for surgery.  This physician works out of St. Anthony’s in OKC.  Hopefully we can qualify for some sort of help through a charitable foundation of St. Anthony’s, but we don’t know.  We may have to pay retail for this surgery.  One thing is for sure, the care has to happen, no matter the cost.  This is a special boy with a huge testimony, already, at the age of 12.  I prayed yesterday, when we received his passport back with the visa attached, that his passport would be filled with stamps from places that he has traveled to tell people his testimony and to share the love of Jesus.  I trust that it will.


Thank you for your love for Jamil and for understanding our concern for his well-being.



Monday, August 18, 2014

9,000 Miles Uphill!

I’ll have to admit, my excitement leading up to this trip, to Uganda, has been the least of any thus far.  I don’t know what it was.  Perhaps it was the fact that we just returned to the USA 3 weeks ago?  Perhaps it was because I was going solo, without Jill and the kids?  Perhaps it was because we don’t have any medical clinics scheduled for this trip?  I think though, it was because I was returning with one specific purpose, and the human odds on being successful were pretty low.  My specific purpose for this trip was to pick up Jamil’s passport and then escort him to his Visa interview on Tuesday morning. 


Without going into much detail, for Jamil to qualify for a Visa, he must qualify as a “tourist”.  The USA does not have a “medical visa”.  Evidently tourist Visas can prove difficult to obtain.  So I have flown 9,000 miles, with a significant chance of being severely disappointed.  I am pretty sure that is the reason that I have not been as excited for this trip.


I mentioned the 9,000 mile trip, but I had not mentioned that it was 9,000 miles uphill!  Let me give you a taste.  Normally, we fly out of Dallas, because it is cheaper, fewer flight changes and easier when you return from an international trip to not need to recheck your luggage after customs and immigration.  This trip however, I left from Oklahoma City. 


On Saturday morning, we got up early and loaded our vehicles to take Jake to Weatherford.  It was move in day at SWOSU.  We knew that the dorm opened at 9:00am, so we left home just before 7:00am to make it there around 9.  Things went well as we got Jake moved in, visited some friends on campus, and made a supply trip to Walmart.  We left Weatherford a little before 1:00pm so that we could make it to the OKC airport for my 3:30pm flight.  As Jill, Jared and Jayne dropped me at the curb, we said our goodbyes.  For about the next 90 minutes, it was smooth sailing. 


My official flight to Uganda was on British Airlines and it was booked from DFW in Dallas.  I added a different flight, on American, from Oklahoma City to Dallas.  Despite these two separate bookings, the nice lady at the American Airlines desk was able to check my bags, all the way to Uganda.  That was a bonus, because this way I would not have to pick up the bags, recheck the bags, and then go through TSA again in Dallas.  That made me happy.  I also got a TSA precheck on my boarding pass.  This allowed me to go through TSA without taking out my laptop or taking off my shoes.   I made my way to the gate and happened to sit at a seat with a power plug beside it.  This too made me happy because I could start my trip with a fully charged phone. 


I knew that if my flight to Dallas was interrupted in any way, it would royally mess up my plans.  If I was late for my flight to London, there would be no way for me to get to Uganda in time for Jamil’s appointment on Tuesday morning.  I would have to reschedule the interview and pay to change the tickets.  I decided to take this risk because I really did not want to miss taking Jake to college (one of those “just happens once” moments that I missed too many of while Jake was younger).  So anyway, I was again elated to see that the plane coming to carry me to Dallas arrived in OKC ahead of schedule.  I almost panicked when I heard them come over the speaker, in the terminal, and announce that a flight had been cancelled.  I was so relieved that it was somebody else’s flight.  I considered calling Jill to tell her about this scare, but I am an old baseball player and I can be superstitious about things sometimes, so I said nothing.  Like clockwork, they started boarding the plane exactly on time.  This was awesome, as I would get to Dallas, not worry about bags, eat at Cantina Laredo in DFW, then settle in for a 9 hour flight to London. For the flight to London, I had a seat reserved at the front of the section so that I could stretch out a little and get some sleep.  But first things first.  On this American flight there was another fortunate finding.  At my seat in 9B was a cigarette lighter plug in.  I just so happen to have an adapter and pulled it out so that my phone could continue to charge.  It was like my “Brute Day” or something.


As everyone finished boarding and they shut the door, the captain came on the radio in the cabin.  I thought that he was joking at first because he said “This is your captain speaking, can everyone see me?”  I thought that was strange, but then he went on to tell us that there was a severe thunderstorm near DFW and that we would not be allowed to take off for at least an hour.  UGGGGGGGH!  I immediately started looking at things on my phone.  I looked at the weather radar for Dallas and the options for later British Airways flights to London.  After discovering that the storm looked small on radar, I felt better until I came to realize that the storm seemed to be starting over DFW and spreading east.  Finding that British had no later flights from DFW, I started scanning other airlines.  The only option was an American Airlines flight that left at 8:05pm, instead of the 6:35pm that I was scheduled.  The problem with this later flight would be that I would only have 75 minutes I London, rather than the 3 hours I had before. 


We boarded the plane at 3:00pm in OKC.  It was 6:00pm before we finally pushed back from the gate.  After the storm had passed at DFW, there was a jam of planes trying to get in and out and to find a gate.  So when we finally arrived in DFW it was 7:05pm.  We had been switched to gate C27 rather than D10.  The D terminal would have been much better because that is where my London flight was leaving from. 


Immediately after I got off of the plane, I pulled my best Forrest Gump and started RUNNING.  I ran to the sky train to switch to terminal D.  It seemed to take forever to stop at 5 stops going to the area I needed.  As I exited the train, I started RUNNING to gate D26 to the American Airlines desk.  I flipped out my passport, my boarding pass for the BA flight that left 45 minutes ago and my American Airlines platinum member card (hoping to get some special treatment).  The attendant there helped me jump through the hoops to get me moved from the BA flight to the AA flight as they were finishing the loading.  Whew, I was on the plane.  But I was hot and sweaty and sitting like a sardine in the middle of the row.  As a few people on the plane talked about the weather, a guy in front of me heard of my short time schedule in London.  He had his doubts that I would make it from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 and through security in time to make my flight.  Due to the weather traffic, we left about 10 minutes late from DFW.

As we were nearing our landing in London, the pilot came over the speaker to tell us that due to some sort of “traffic snarl” we had been asked to circle for a while until they had a spot for us.  I was watching the little flight map as we circled once, twice and then a third time.  I was counting off the minutes that I had left.  When we finally landed and got to a gate, I had 50 minutes left.  This was full 25 minutes fewer than the “travel expert” in front of me had doubted me with.  So I hit the door RUNNING again.  Right as I came out of the tunnels, there was a sign and people looking for passengers heading to some 5-6 places and one of them was Entebbe.  So I stopped and identified myself, fully expecting that I was going to receive some sort of extra search, because we got that when we returned from Uganda a few weeks ago.  I absolutely did not have enough time for this!  Instead, they gave me a bright orange “Express Connection” pass. 
The lady told me to show it to everyone as I went.  So I said thanks and took off RUNNING again.  I came to the end of a hall and there was about 30 people in line to get on the bus to drive from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5.  I flashed my orange card at a bunch of passengers that had no idea what the orange card was but I am sure were saying bad words in languages that I could not understand.  I pushed up to the front of the line and this old bus driver cut the line off 3 people in front of me.  I called to him and as he came to me, I showed him my Express Connection Card like Wayne and Garth on Wayne’s World.  He said, “What is that?”  I explained that I now had about 40 minutes to make a flight in terminal 5.  He graciously reopened the door of the bus and squeezed me in.  The next bus would not be arriving for 6-10 minutes.   After the bus ride that seemed like an eternity, I jumped off of the bus and started running through the labyrinth of the terminal 5.  The escalators were broken so I ran up the escalator and down a long haul until I came to a line that had to have 200 people waiting to get into the immigration area.  As I got a little closer, I saw a magical sign that was orange and said “Express Connection”.  There were exactly 2 people going down this line, and they were walking, so they got passed.  I got to the front and the lady checked my boarding pass and passport and pointed me in the right direction while yelling “RUN” like Jenny did for Forrest.  Again I took off and ran up the escalator to the big huge area of the security (TSA-like) area.  No magical orange sign here, but the lady working helped me to find the shortest line.  How is it possible that every time I go through TSA I am behind people that have never traveled before and can’t read?  As I cleared TSA, I had 10 minutes left.  In terminal 5, there is an A, B, and C.  Every time that we have flown through London, we have needed to take a sky train to B or C.  This time, I was in gate A5.  This was almost exactly down stairs from the security area.   I raced to A5 and got there as the last of the passengers boarded.  Take that you doubter in row 16 of the AA flight from DFW to London!  I had brought clothes to take a shower and brush my teeth in London, but instead, I entered the plane hot and sweaty.  Instead of the aisle seat I had reserved (and then lost when I missed my flight in Dallas) I had a middle of the row seat again! 


The plane pushed off on time, but then we waited for 30 minutes, in line to take off.  The flight was uneventful for me. Probably unpleasant for the 2 people next to me.  I had moved Jake into college and run through 2 airports in this shirt and it was not daisy fresh.  We arrived in Uganda 15 minutes late.  As I fully expected, my luggage did not keep up with me and my airport running.  I had to wait until all of the luggage was collected, then had to go to fill out a form for my missing luggage.  The earliest that it could arrive would be late Tuesday night.  My plane was supposed to land at 10:50pm, and I finally got out to meet my friends picking me up at 12:30.


Monday has been better.  We were able to secure Jamil’s passport today!  I have finished putting all of my documents and papers together for the visa interview on Tuesday.  Please join us in praying for that interview.  We really feel that Jamil needs to have a surgery in the US to heal his eye/brain tumor.  The only way that he can come to the US is by getting a visa.  The interview is at 9:00am in Uganda.  That is 1:00 am in Oklahoma.  I am praying for a soft spot in the interviewer’s heart.  That he or she will understand that Jamil really needs this operation and that we will return him to Uganda to live out a happy, healthy life.


After going uphill for 9,000 miles, I pray that tomorrow we get to take a zip line of celebration to make all of that climbing worthwhile!  12 hours until interview time.  Please pray.