Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cataracts on Spiritual Eyes?

As the sun sets on another day of our 2017 medical mission to Uganda, I can’t help but SEE all of the beauty that this country has to offer. 

Two days ago, we packed up our supplies and drove 3 hours from our “eye home base” of Mbarara to a town called Rukungiri.  Then on Monday and Tuesday we have driven an hour, down dusty roads, to a village called Bwambara.  

This is our third trip to Bwambara, but our first since 2014.  Both the drive to Bwambara and the village are examples of Nat Geo Africa.  The beautiful scenery, the agrarian culture, the wonderful people, and the simple lifestyle are truly unique. 

On the drive in on Monday, we recalled some of our patients that we had found in Bwambara in the past.  One of the most special was Emmanuel.  We were introduced to Emmanuel in 2014 while we were doing our medical clinic, and noticed that he had a problem with his left eye.  We were able to take Emmanuel to Mbarara to Ruharo Eye Hospital.  He was found to have congenital glaucoma and the surgeons actually had to remove his L eye.  You will not believe how well Emmanuel is doing now!  He was there to greet us when we arrived on Monday.
Emmanuel today

Emmanuel initially

Emmanuel after surgery

We also met a new young friend that became a “that one person” on Monday.  I would like for you to meet Phiona.  She is a 6 year old girl that start having a “scar” near her left eyebrow 2 years ago.  Now she has a more prominent knot between her eyebrows and some protruding of her left eye.  

She still has vision in the eye and good light recognition, so hopefully we have caught her problem early enough.  My concern, and that of the eye doctor working with us, is that she might have a rhabdomyosarcoma, which is what our friend Joseph (from Mytiana) had.  Our first step will be to have Phiona travel to Mbarara with the other eye patients to be seen by an eye specialist.

We have scheduled 16 eye patients on Monday and 11 on Tuesday.  This brings us to a total of 78 so far over 6 clinics.  We have two more clinics, this week, before our surgery campaign starts on Sunday.  Please keep all of these people in your prayers as many of them will have to travel long distances to start this process.  The funding for these patients will be significant.

On Monday evening, Pastor Elisha came to our guest house for a visit.  We talked about many things but one of the things that we talked about was how our “spiritual care” part of our clinic was working.  As we discussed the 150-200 patients that have accepted Christ, he talked about something that struck me.  I have heard this term before.  I have even used these terms before, but I saw it in a new way.  He mentioned how we were using the treatment of “physical eyes” to gain access to their “spiritual eyes”.
We are seeing and treating many people, both young and old, with physical cataracts.  But how many people do we pass on the street with cataracts on their spiritual eyes?  They witness a sunset, a baby’s birth, a healing, or a restored relationship, but they fail to “see” God in those things because of the cataracts on their spiritual eyes.  They hear the story of Christ’s birth at Christmas and His death/resurrection at Easter, but they fail to “see” God because of those same spiritual cataracts.  Now, I think that the cataracts on spiritual eyes have something in common to the physical cataracts.  This is that the longer they remain and the older the person gets, the thicker and more dense the cataract becomes.  I pray that all of these people with cataracts on their spiritual eyes have that cataract fall off like the scales from Paul’s eyes in Acts 9:18:

Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,

We have another new prayer request.  Through our cataract clinics, I have made a few contacts in the ophthalmology world of Uganda.  One of the previous medical residents that we have worked with, gave me a contact of a ophthalmologist in Jinja.  I will be meeting with her on June 12 to see if we might be able to expand our eye clinics in to the eastern side of Uganda on our next trip here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What a Terrific Problem!

Wow!  What a blessing Monday and Tuesday were in Ishaka!  We have hosted 2 medical camps in Ishaka in the past, both in Ishaka Community Church.  The church building continues to grow.  When we first came in 2014, the church was a temporary structure.  Now, there is a large building and the church is now requiring 3 worship services on Sundays.

When we arrived, similar to our previous visits, we were greeted by large lines of people that had showed up early to seek medical care.  

Because of our eye emphasis, there seemed to be more older people than most clinics that we have seen in the past.  Over the 2 days of clinic, we saw 500 patients in total.  I don’t have an accurate number from Tuesday, but on Monday, we witnessed 69 people receive Christ!  Of these 69, 3 of them were previously Muslim. 

Our team was delighted to see Crispus come into the church building.

She is a young girl with burns on her foot that we have seen and gotten treatment for on our previous trips to Ishaka.  She is growing and seems to be doing well.  She has a little bit of tightening in the burn scar on her leg, so we will be getting her another evaluation for possible burn treatment/surgery.

Through our treating of these 500 patients, we came across 7 patients that will need a higher level of care.  Three of these are children that will likely need heart surgery.  They all have murmurs and slowed growth.  Two of these are 18 months old and have received some work up in the past but have not been able to afford the surgery (they will need to go to Kampala and Mulago Hospital).

The third we have initiated the work up to diagnose his problem.  From our experience in the past, most of these heart surgeries will carry a price tag of about $1,500 USD. 

Two are patients with burns that will require burn scar treatment.  One is a 1 year old that pulled some hot porridge onto himself 4 months ago.

He has some contractures in the fingers of his R hand and down his R leg.  The other is an 18 year old who has burns to her L hand that are causing some scarring of the back of her hand that restrict her movement.  We will be arranging for their transport to a hospital that has done tremendous work with our friends Kevin and Shakib.

One of the remaining patients caught my eye because of his presenting problem and his name.  His name is Josam, which is suspiciously close to my Uncle Joe Sam.  His presenting problem is a facial swelling, for 6 months, that reminds me of our friend Joseph that we helped get treatment in 2012.

Joseph showed great improvement with chemotherapy treatment for a tumor in his face/sinuses.  He later passed away from an infection due to his decreased immune system after the chemo.  Josam will be sent for a CT scan to evaluate his facial swelling for a possible tumor.

This clinic proved to be a great clinic for teaching.  Ishaka is home to a medical school and many of their students helped us in the clinic.  In addition, Jayne, Kylee, Anna Catherine, Zach, Jared, and Jake are all planning on careers in medicine.

I was able to squeeze in some time to look at some x-rays and review some interesting patients that provided great conversation and debate.  We also got to see our friend Hilary who dropped by to help us both days.

Our new team members, Zach and Kylee, jumped in right away.  Zach helped in pharmacy and Kylee was our lab director!

After all of this, we do have a good problem.  We have 8 days of clinic scheduled prior to our eye surgeries.  The last 4 of these are eye care only.  Eye care only clinics have proven to be more productive of eye surgery patients in our experience.  But after ¼ of the clinics, we have 38 patients signed up for eye surgeries to start on June 5th!  That is a pace to have 152 eye surgery patients, even if the pace in our last 4 clinics does not increase.  So, this is a blessing and an issue at the same time.  We are not sure how many people that we can bring into the eye hospital at one time.  We may have to stagger the patients somehow or even add a week of surgeries, at a later date, that would need to be overseen by our Ugandan team, after we are back in the USA.  With each of these patients, there will be the $55 cost of taking care of their eye surgery.  Please pray with us that we will find a good resolution to this terrific problem.

Today, Wednesday, we had a day off.  There is a small mountain across the street from our hotel.  To get some exercise and training, we all walked to the top, and some of our team made the trip up 3 times.
Jill with the Rocky pose at the top.

We have clinics closer to our hotel on Thursday and Friday and a safari trip planned on Saturday.

Please continue to pray for our team and that God be glorified through all that we do.

If you would like to help financially with any of the special cases I have mentioned, please email me at DueUnto@gmail.com and we could communicate on how to do this or you can give via paypal at DueUnto@gmail.com.

Due-ing what we Due,


Sunday, May 21, 2017

It's Great to Be Back!

It has been 18 months since we hosted a medical camp (clinic) in Uganda.  In some ways it seems like forever, and yet, at other times, it seems like yesterday.  One thing is for sure, we all were excited to hit the road again today.  We packed our trunks and loaded our van and took off for Mbarara this morning (Sunday).  We will be hosting camps in Ishaka each of the next two days.  I wanted to make use of the 5 hours in the ministry machine to catch you up on our trip so far.

The time since we left Dallas on Wednesday morning has been a blur.  We flew to Dubai and had an incredible time in the desert and absorbing some of the local culture.  We rode in vehicles “bashing” the dunes and then some of us sledded or surfed the sand.  Some of us, well me, just fell down while trying to surf the sand.  We then went to a dinner where we were treated to some camel rides, as well as, local food, customs and dances. 

By the time the 15 hour flight and the desert tour were over, we collapsed into our hotel beds on Thursday night.

On Friday, we got up and flew from Dubai to Uganda, where we were greeted by our Ugandan friends and family.  We talked through our mission plans over dinner and then headed to our guest house in Gaba.  Once we arrived in Gaba, we ran into our friends Jesse and Cate and caught up with Jamil (just arriving from his home in Palissa) before we even reached our guest house.

On Saturday, we headed up to Wentz Medical Center to pack our trunks for our 3 week swing through SW Uganda.  When we arrived at Wentz, guess who we ran into!  Our friends Kevin and Nicholas.  It was such a blessing to reunite with these precious boys and their mothers.

Kevin, you may remember, is a young boy that had been severely burned when we ran into him in 2013 in Rushere.  He has undergone multiple surgeries and is doing remarkably well.  He was able to run and play soccer and seemed to be in good spirits.  He was in town because he was supposed to have a plastic surgery done by a visiting American surgeon, but he was found to have Malaria, so he was instead sent to Wentz for treatment.  His next surgery has now been rescheduled to May 23rd.  Due Unto Others supporters have been so gracious to sponsor Kevin’s medical treatment to this point.  Kevin is old enough for school now, so we would like to raise money for his school fees and for continued medical care.

Nicholas is a young man that we met in Itara in 2013.  He had a chronically broken left tibia (shin bone).  We were concerned that he might have osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease).  I think it has been proven that he does not have this disease.  His leg has healed.  It is not completely straight, but he runs and plays like his peers!  Due Unto Others donors have supplied his medical care and God has healed him to a point that he should be able to lead a normal life.

Sunday morning, we attended worship at Gaba Community Church and then returned to our guest house to load up our van to head to Mbarara.  As we were loading our van, I heard a familiar voice saying “Dr. Jay.  Dr. Jay”.  I finally realized it was coming from the other side of the compound gate.  It WAS a familiar voice, it was our good friend Shakib with his sister (Bushira) and his mother (Teddy).  They had come to pay us a visit.  They also brought with them some fresh fruit that they graciously gave to our team. It was good to see them and to see how well Shakib has recovered from his burns that we found him with in 2012.  He is getting tall, is in 1st grade, has great use of his left hand and has a smile that brings joy to those that see it.  We regretted that we were not able to spend more time with them today, but we hope that we can visit with them again before we head home in 5 weeks.

It is great to be back in the ministry machine chugging down the roads of Uganda again. I has been even greater to see God’s handiwork in the healing of the 4 boys we have seen so far (Jamil, Nicholas, Kevin and Shakib).  Please join us in praying that God be glorified in our clinics this week and that we can identify “that one person” that we can make a difference for.
This is what we Due!