Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love Kampala...

This past weekend I had the privilege of being part of the Love Kampala Festival. The festival is hosted my Andre Palau, an international evangelist. His organization host’s a festival every year in a different African nation. The festival is preceded by a season of service. This is a time to encourage local churches to engage & serve their communities.

My friend Scott helped organize the children’s stage. He did an amazing job. There were bouncy castles, balloon races, soccer (futbol) demonstrations, face painting, & lots of amazing music. Notably, Barbara Kayaga and the African Children’s Choir.

I met Barbara on a previous visit to Uganda. She was a member of the African Children’s Choir and grew up in the program. She is an amazing woman with a truly incredible story. Barbara helps run an orphanage, has adopted two precious boys, trains choirs all over Eastern Africa, and she can SING!

In preparing for the festival, the committee thought it would be great to have a theme song…something about Kampala. Scott suggested it to Barbara and within 72 hours she had written and recorded a hit!! It was fantastic!!

Barbara had the opportunity to perform her song along with the African Children’s Choir during the festival. She was on the stage with Uganda’s top artists & international favorites as well. It was a great weekend full of worship, music, & fun.

You may have never been to Uganda or Africa for that matter. But that’s ok, just take a listen to our Sweet Barbara and you can say… I Love Kampala too!!

Who needs ACL?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meet Baby Cathyline...

About 2 weeks ago, life here changed. I met Baby Cathyline.

My sweet friend Kristi Ray was here in Uganda for an unanticipated 5 months. She was waiting for Visa’s to take her adopted daughters back to Austin. Two days prior to her departure she stopped at the bank to get some cash. As she was walking up to the ATM she saw a young woman with a bundle in her lap. She felt like the Lord said to her “the baby”. She went on with her task ignoring the prompting, but as she was walking out of the ATM she heard it again, “the baby”.

Earlier that day, in our bible study, we had been discussing the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit. A place like Uganda can be so overwhelming. There is so much need, so much! But you can’t help everyone…so you just pray daily for discernment and try to listen to the Spirit. In her attempt to listen to the prompting, Kristi walked up to the young lady and said, “The Baby?”

When they young woman opened the bundle Kristi saw a beautiful little baby girl. But she could tell something was wrong, and when she took a closer look; she saw that the baby’s right leg was black & shriveled. Kristi immediately scooped up Cathyline, her mom Betty, & the Jjajja (grandmother) and headed to the hospital. She called me from the car & asked me to meet them there. That was the day I met Baby Cathyline.

Side note: When Kristi found them they were on the way to a witchdoctor for a “healing”. This baby would have been dead within a week. Or another child’s life would have been sacrificed in the process. The Lord is sovereign!!

To make a long story not so long, this sweet baby was/is SICK! Her leg was black from dry gangrene, thought to be from some vasculitis. She was terribly infected & malnourished when we found her. Her body started consuming her own blood products as a result of the infection. And without a doubt her leg would have to be amputated- Week 1

Last week the surgeon took Cathyline to the OR to clean her leg. After the surgery he felt he would only have to amputate her foot, what an amazing praise!! We were so thankful! On Friday, however, the doctor wanted to talk to me about a CT scan. The CT revealed that Cathyline has a vascular bundle called an AVM in her brain & has an area of stroke nearby. –Week 2

Healthcare in Africa is quite an amusing institution. I know many of you might say the same about healthcare in America as well. I get it; I’ve been on both sides on the examination table. But at home, I can assure you that there is a method to their madness. Here in Uganda…it’s just madness.

Just today, I was asked to drive from the hospital where Cathyline is admitted to another hospital across town so that I may personally book the baby’s ultrasound for tomorrow, because her hospital doesn’t provide that extensive of services. (And the other hospital is not answering their phone) So when I finally make it, after a few wrong turns, I can’t book the appointment because the radiologist that is “really good” at this particular study is out of the country. And the backup radiologist that is “ok” with the study has turned off her cell phone at 4pm on a workday. Uganda!

All that being said, I feel pretty comfortable with the care Cathyline is receiving. I have been able to talk with the doctors daily. They have taken my concerns seriously & have acted as swiftly as any African institution can…which is pretty slow. But I am thankful that we have her in a good place.

It’s so funny to me, God’s personal story he has written for each of our lives. I drive to the hospital everyday for 10 years to take care of kids. I get burnt out & need a break. I leave my job. I move halfway around the world to do something different. And I drive to the hospital everyday to take care of a kid. Who knew?!?

I truly have enjoyed so much of this time. Betty is so grateful and we are becoming sweet friends. I have prayed with her, talked her through difficult diagnosis, and giggled like a little girl with her these past few weeks. And sweet baby Cathyline is just that, a beautiful, sweet, and precious child. They both have more strength than I could ever possess. Our lives will forever be connected & I am thankful for all they have taught me.

I also have to be honest with you and tell you that much of this time has been difficult as well. I take care of people; that’s who I am, that’s what I do. But I am discovering more and more everyday that my heart, mind, & soul were so much more depleted that I could have even imagined. So some days, that compassion that usually flows so naturally from me is nowhere to be found. And I don’t want to drive to the hospital everyday and take care of a kid.

I am slowly beginning to believe in what everyone else around me seemed to always know. The Lord brought me to Uganda to be with Him. Period. I am here to be with Him, to rest in Him, to fall more in love with Him, and to be refilled by Him. He has literally emptied me of everything I could possibly give and put me in the middle of a place where need abounds. And “my take care of people” spirit has no choice but to rest. It was always Him in me anyway.

I ask that you pray for Baby Cathyline & Betty in the weeks to come. It is going to be a long road. She is having her amputation today. Pray for protection! Pray for healing! I ask that you pray for me as well, that the Lord will give me compassion when I need compassion. That the Lord will give me patience when I need patience. And that I will continue to be drawn to Him daily…..

International Hospital Kampala, Pediatric Ward

Baby Cathyline, 1 year

Her sweet little feet

Betty, Mother & Friend

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Village Life...

I just realized that I never introduced you to my village! In Africa, villages are usually outside of town… that is if the country you live in actually has a town. All the extended family lives there. Most villages have a church & a school, maybe a “healer”, & a local councilman. All the food is grown there. The village is always very rural, no electricity or running water. (To mix things up a bit, they now have cell phone coverage) It’s the Village!

Well, my village is not quite like that! While oftentimes there is no power or water, we have most basic amenities. My village is actually a compound in the middle of Kampala (the city). But what is important about my village is the plethora of people that live there…and I do mean plethora. There is no shortage of activity in our village; it’s a pretty fun place to be. I would like to introduce you to the people.

Sarah & Scott Lambie,
My dear friends from Austin that so graciously are allowing me to be part of their family while I am here in Uganda!

Andrew Lambie, 12 years

Cory Raach, 7 years, The Lambie's nephew

Noah Lambie, 5 years

Agnes, 14 years, a Ugandan girl that is being adopted to a family from North Carolina in November

Joyce, our housekeeper
The GREATEST woman in the World!

Joyce's Girls: Patricia, 14 years; Fortunate, 10 years; & Diana, 7 years (who was in the middle of a beauty treatment when this photo was taken)

Yoas, our night guard

Fred, our gardener

Hope, 15 years, a Sudanese refugee that the Lambie's rescued last year when she was pregnant. SHe visits often, but lives outside of town for safety reasons.

Baby Andrew, Hope's Baby

***We also have 2 dogs (Indie & Rachel), 2 chickens (Lucy& Sheeba), 2 Rabbits (Bear & Doodles), and Pigeon!!

Thus far I feel fairly settled here in Uganda. Living here feels totally normal. I can navigate the pothole ridden red dirt roads & kamikaze boda boda motorcycle) drivers. I know how to tuck my mosquito net in properly. And everyone brushes their teeth with water that has been boiled for 3 minutes, right?

I know without at doubt that the Lord carved this time out for me to be here NOW. I have complete clarity on that. What I have no clue about is why? Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing? Should I be volunteering here or there? What is my purpose in this time? What is God’s purpose for me in this time?

Lately, people keep suggesting that maybe I wasn’t sent to Uganda to do anything. Maybe I was sent to just rest, and to be with God. I have to say that sounds tempting, but I have a hard time reconciling that I would be sent to a third world country (with my skill set) to chill!

Last week I actually started volunteering for a group called Watoto. They have a clinic about 25k outside of Kampala called Suubi. They need someone to work with the Doctors & Clinical Officers to create guidelines for their clinic. Many of them don’t even examine their patients; they just give them a pill. This “method” is a poor use of resources and poor medicine. This project has the potential to be sustainable, which l love.

I also have had no shortage of patients. There was one waiting at the gate when I arrived from the airport. Weekly I am seeing someone at the house for wound care, going to the hospital to check out someone’s brand new baby, or spending the entire week at the hospital with a mom & her child that my friend found on the street!

This has been my prayer over the past few weeks:

“ Test me, O Lord, and try me,

examine my heart and my mind;

for your love is ever before me,

and I walk continually in your truth.”

- Psalm 26:2

I am here for whatever the Lord has for this time. Be it rest, be it work, or be it both, I ask that you pray my friends, that I will have peace in this time, however it unfolds. I am praying for you too!