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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Goodbye to Angelina

Yesterday afternoon I arrived at the hospital, trying to search for my friend Angelina.  She had been transferred to the Soroti Main hospital on Sunday and I really wanted to visit with her.  I looked into the women's surgical ward, but didn't see her.  But her family members saw me and quickly led me to her bedside.  With just enough room for me to squeeze in beside her bed, I held her hand and was shocked at the severity of her condition.  Angelina was extremely small, could no longer talk, was hooked up to an IV and a feeding tube, and had huge open wounds, or bed sores on her lower back.  I could see that she was in pain, especially when we moved the blankets and skirt in order to see where to put the iodine and cream. 

I went with her grandson to the pharmacy and bought medication, gloves, and IV antibiotics (you have to purchase those things before a doctor or nurse administers them).  Coming back I was in awe of how things work in the surgical ward.  Around 20 women are crammed into a small room, with their attendants standing with them - who are family members or friends who are their to bring/cook food, change sheets, bath them, etc.  Some women are breastfeeding while others are writhing in pain over broken bones and mixed up x-rays.  Two ladies had their legs tied to a 3kg water weight hanging off the end of the bed.  No privacy.  And as I stood there I thanked God for my good health and prayed that I would never have to be admitted there. 

The doctors had told the family to feed Angelina a cup of milk 3 times a day because she was severely malnourished and weak.  It was hard for me to watch a lot of milk being syringed into a feeding tube because it seemed too much at once.  As Angelina was holding my  hand, I could feel and see her twisting in pain.  When they also added water to clean the tube, she softly started screaming out.  I leaned down and whispered into her ear.  I prayed that God would be her Rock of Peace.  I told her that I was sorry that she had absolutely no control over what people were doing to her body.  And I reminded her that our Great Shepherd is holding her in the palm of His hand.  She kept squeezing my hand during that time.  I knew that she had heard and believed!! 

This morning at 8 am I opened the door to find two of her grandchildren there.  With tears streaming down their face, they told me that Angelina had passed away at 7 this morning.  I held the grand-daughter as she wept aloud.  My neighbours knew that I had lost a friend today.  I went with them to the hospital and watched as her small body was shifted over to the mortuary. Burial will be tomorrow in Katikwe if they can get a casket and food in time.  (Which I'm sure they will... I love seeing how communities gather together to make a big event take place.) 

At 9:30 am I brought many family members back home and then drove over to the Anglican church offices for another long planning meeting for the Youth Conference.  At least we now have the speakers, topics, and workshops all lined up.

I'm glad that Angelina has found peace.  I'm rejoicing that she is SEEing Jesus now!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Back in Bululu

Pius, a long time friend of mine, once again made a request that I go back to Bululu.  A new church has been planted and the leaders wanted some guidance in children's ministry. 
 Of course I'm up for the task!
 Pius taught some Biblical background on the importance of training children.
 Explaining Scripture passages
 Setting the basics for a fun and relational kids program
 Story telling!! I love acting out Bible characters.
 One friend who came with for the training asked me, "Karen, do you have a book where you get all your stories from?" I said, "Yes, the Bible!"  We both laughed because he knew he had been stumped and I knew he was looking for some sort of script book, but honestly, I only use the Bible and I thank God for giving me the words and courage and joy to teach.
 The kids were colouring book marks.
 I made the adults do a puzzle...
 It took 13 minutes and 5 men to finish a 16 piece puzzle.  I'm glad I made them do it, or they will never be able to teach their children during a relay race or other activities.
 Explaining the "ONE HOPE - 17 STORIES" curriculum
After the training we drove to the landing site for fisherman.  A beautiful way to finish a productive day.  Happy to serve!!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Shelling Gnuts and Lesson Planning

Dropping off a bag of freshly harvested g-nuts, a friend said they were a gift for me.  I was grateful for a huge bag, but also knew it would be a lot of work for me to de-shell and roast.  (G-nuts are Groundnuts here in Uganda, known as Peanuts in the west.)  I was supposed to have a training planning meeting at 10 am, so at 9:45am I sat down on the front steps and started working on this great snack.  My thumb was getting a good workout, removing the nuts from the shell.

Of course, many things do not start on time here, so it was almost 10:30am before the guys showed up.  I was ready to pack up my bag and go inside to plan for the Children's Ministry training that is taking place tomorrow.  Well, these three men saw me hard at work, and asked if they could help.  It made the workload so much lighter and enjoyable!!  We chatted, organized, munched a few, and decreased the pile. 

I'm grateful and I'm looking forward to going to the village with these hard-working saints tomorrow.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Noah What?!

The rains poured throughout the night, which of course means that kids delay their departure for school.  For some reason it's harder to get out of bed and bathe when the skies are grey and puddles cover the roads.  :) But that can't stop me from being at school by 7:30 on a Monday morning.

It is a great privilege to stand on the verandah outside the office of a private school, with 250 kids standing in their class line-ups.  Today I shared the story of Noah's ark, but I believe the children learned a few new things!!
1. Noah was 600 years old - WHAT!!
2. He was told to bring 7 of every kind of clean animal - WHAT!! Yep, used to sacrifice when the journey was finished.
3. He was on the boat for almost 1 year - WHAT!! Yep - it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, but it took almost 10 months for the rain to settle back into dry land.

I love how God's Word is new and fresh every day.  Yes! God is faithful and He loves us so much!

Losing Copper

"Auntie Karen, today I am just not myself."
"Why Victor, what's wrong?"
"Copper isn't here!"
Copper passed away last week after experiencing some major night-time war wounds.  We enjoyed having this faithful dog as a pet in the compound for the past two and a half years and he is greatly missed.  Victor is only half alive, he says, until we get another puppy.

Copper Dog, I miss you!

Weeks Gone By... Happy Thanksgiving

I am in my sitting room, with six children running around - laughing, singing, and playing.  I'm struggling to find a good time to write a few stories and fill you in on my life.  Rains come more often now days, which really disturb power supply, and the other day my internet package expired, so I had to wait a few days. 
The past two weeks have been a crazy journey of government paperwork.  Two Monday's ago I took the bus to Kampala and spent the whole next day sitting in the Revenue office... because my file is so messed up and all of my information is incorrect... and the government thinks I own a car dealership in Kampala and they want me to pay income tax.  We started the process of cleaning my file, and the rest, they said, could be done on-line or in the Soroti office.  Then I went over to immigration office and picked up the form for renewing my work permit.  Wednesday, I took the bus back to Soroti - in time to have a great Bible study with Oil of Gladness. 
This past Monday, I again had to go back to Kampala because the online process is not user friendly and the Soroti office said they were unable to help.  Tuesday, by 10 am I was in the revenue office and it took a meeting with 6 different people before I got to a place where I feel like my paperwork is straightened up.  I really want to have a clean file with the government here.  I respect their authority and laws, and so I want to make sure that everything is legally correct.  The paperwork now states that I am a volunteer missionary and I think my old income tax files have been cleared.
From there I went back to Immigration, but first I had to bring my thick file to the NGO board.  It took another 3 hours, but I was finally handed a slip of paper to say that they would accept my file.  As soon as it is approved I can bring it to the immigration office to apply for a work permit renewal.  My permit expires on November 14th - please pray for a government approval/blessing!!
I have been having fun sharing God's Word at Grace Hill Nursery and Primary School.  Even parents stay for the morning assembly to hear a Bible story and I pray that the stories and their meanings sink deep in to their hearts.
Yesterday I sat with 18 leaders from the local Anglican church, and I was the secretary for the meeting, as we started planning the youth conference for December.  It will be a lot of work and officially I will be the treasurer for the conference. I'm super pumped to be a part of the ministry again this year.
Today my family in Canada will be gathering for Canadian Thanksgiving and I'm going to miss the celebration.  It has honestly been a hard year for me, so I'm not even throwing any kind of celebration, but I do want to thank the Lord for the many blessings and lessons of this past year.
I am thankful for:
  • having great friends here in Soroti
  • seeing kids ministry shape and grow here in Teso
  • being able to know my Grandpa Lubbers for 38 years and I'm grateful that I could be home with the family during his funeral
  • saying good-bye to International Teams after 5 years of awesome support and encouragement
  • signing on with Global Outreach Mission and getting to know their diligent staff
  • experiencing financial struggles - it's a gentle reminder that I still have more than many of the people I live and work with here in Uganda
  • donors who continue to support me through finances, prayers, packages, and love
  • enemies who help me hold on to the robes of Jesus
  • God's Word - as it's a Light unto my Path
  • being pruned
  • the opportunity to fly
  • internet, power, running water - even if there are times they are not working :)
  • food - and the ability to teach others how to bake, make pizza, and enjoy smoothies
  • my awesome neighbours
  • for God's grace and mercy
  • a voice to speak and sing
  • a vehicle to carry people
  • a computer - to communicate with loved ones everywhere
  • children - who brighten my day
  • and so much more
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!!