Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Deepening roots....

It's Tuesday night and I just wanted to hop on to say hello to you all.  It's about 8:55 PM and my day is nearly over.  For most of you who read this, your day is somehow halfway over. It's been a full day and a day full of odds and ends.  Work, meetings, messages, and family group time.  Rubbing the head of a young child sick with malaria and speaking truth to another.  Getting the hang of spotting those little malaria parasites and realizing all the same, there is always more to learn.  Realizing that I am finding complete satisfaction in a fruit smoothie in the same way that I used to find in a whopper sandwich from Burger King.  Oh the time is whizzing by and my roots in this place are growing.   My days are full.  Right now, it feels a little extra busy.  Time in the clinic, meetings, and phone calls. Hanging with children and cleaning wounds.  Yes, this is the life.  This is the life that God has led me to and it is a life that I am so thankful for. I suspect with an increasing awareness that I will be here for a period longer than two years.  And while I would love to say how long I feel I will be here, the truth is, I have no idea. I will keep clinging to the hand, to the pinky, of the One who has led me here.  To the One who is currently right here with me.  To the One who will be with me very step of my life.  And while most of the steps that I have taken over the last 8 months have been pretty easy, there have been steps that have been challenging.  It's challenging to learn the language. Most days, I feel that it's something I will never achieve.  Many of you have heard my not so "on key" voice.  Most of you have heard me say an expression wrong.  Yep,  you would most definitely find yourself chuckling listening to me speak a language that is tonal and quite different in language structure than English.  Humorous at many levels; frustrating when you desperately want to communicate clearly.  I've put my foot in my mouth. I have felt the weight of long days and facing medical situations that are COMPLETELY out of my league.  And the list of "I have" could continue... but even as I type them out and acknowledge them to you and to myself, I smile.  The language has come. I can speak more than I could last week.  I have definitely put my foot in my mouth.... but, by His grace, He has allowed the foot in the mouth to be made known thus allowing healing to happen.  Some days, there is that awkward pause of "what's next" or "I am so not sure of how to proceed" and in those moments of uncertainty... sometimes coupled with tears and/or  a variety of emotions, I am reminded that I am not alone and that I am being led.  Sometimes, it's a sweet email, a warm greeting on the way back home, or sitting down with a friend and sharing at a heart level.  And other times, it's having a pep talk with myself... a reminder to walk in faith.  He, who has led me here, is with me leading and guiding me.  He sometimes whispers loud enough for me to hear, sometimes it's about standing in faith, and at other times, He brings others to encourage me along the path.  Whichever way, He remains faithful.  And so I rest in that.... and in the process I get to enjoy the many blessings of life here.
This little man is not so sure... but the wounds got to be cleaned! 

My little buddies Brian and Sharon after a little volleyball with Lindley ( c : 

U. Eric and little Shakira.  

My little pal.  Shakira has gained 1 kg since she was started on plumpy nut.
She is going to Mulago this week and we are hoping to schedule her heart surgery!  She will make 4 years old... and is currently wearing size 3-6 month old clothing!  Don't let her small size fool you... she is FULL of spunk!

Thank you to each one of you who are journeying with me.  I am so thankful for each of you and am looking forward to seeing many of you in December/January.  I'll be back in the states for about 5 weeks before returning back to Uganda mid-January.   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Four Little Girls. Four Serious Heart Problems

Four girls. Four serious heart problems. Only God knows the future for these girls, but there is an opportunity for all of us to participate in it . . .
Several months back, I found myself at Kiwoko hospital. I was waiting outside of the lab with a child and another staff member for some results. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Boda Boda drive by. A Boda Boda is a motorcycle with an extended back. It’s used in multiple ways including, but not limited to, transporting food, coffins, animals, and people. It’s economical and convenient… in most situations. I am not sure what exactly caught my eye. It seemed at quick glance to be a normal situation. A driver and two men sitting directly behind him. But I quickly realized that something was not ok with the man in the middle. He was visibly weak and wobbly. The man behind him was holding him up as the weakened man leaned against the driver. The Boda Boda was leaving the hospital. This man visibly ill and weak was leaving the hospital. And instead of leaving in the comfort of an ambulance or the backseat of a car, he was leaving on the back of the Boda Boda. At first, my heart did a few hiccups. No, maybe they were stronger than a few hiccups. My heart felt the pang of sadness for a man leaving a hospital weak and on the back of a motorcycle. And almost as quickly as the seemingly injustice of it surfaced, so did the realization of the picture of pure brotherhood. Two men holding up the frame of a weakened man. That man was able to rest literally in the arms and against the frame of two men who were committed to his journey home. There would undoubtably be bumps and obstacles on their way home. That’s not a presumption, it’s a reality. Roads in Uganda are well, to keep it simple, bumpy. But that man didn’t haver to worry about them. He could (and he did) close his eyes and rest. My throat burned with the emotion of seeing something absolutely beautiful. And I knew that my God had averted my eyes. He had wanted me to see this stunning picture of brotherhood…. of community.
And even today as I bring fingers to keyboard and share about four little girls each unique, but all facing significant heart conditions, I rest in knowing that God has these little girls. The picture of community that God showed me months back is an encouragement for today. These girls are surrounded by community, they are surrounded by a God who loves them immensely and has His best in mind for them. No matter their outcome, I rest in knowing that He is with them. And in the meantime, I am committed, as I believe we all are, to loving them well and facilitating to the best of our ability the spiritual, physical, and emotional care that they need. Let me introduce you to these little girls.
Namukwaya Shakira
Age: She will make 4 years this month (August 2013)
Weight: 7 kg (expected weight for a child her age: a minimum of 18 kg)
Condition: Shakira had an echo in April of this year. The results showed that she has a large secundum ASD (hole between the atriums of the heart) with a Left to Right Shunt. She has dilated right heart chambers and has mild Pulmonary Hypertension which is a complication to her heart condition
Need for surgery: Urgent. Shakira’s overall strength has decreased over the last several months. About two weeks ago, she was started on a high calorie, high protein supplement and this has resulted in an increase in energy. It is the hope that this supplement will give her body the calories that it needs to maintain her and help her body in the coming weeks/months before surgery
Cost for surgery: approximately $6,000 dollars.

Adong Betty
Age: 10 years
Weight: 18 kg (expected weight for her age: approximately 35 kg)
Condition: Large PDA (hole in the heart)
Need for surgery: Urgent: Scheduled for closure of PDA in the Cath lab at Mulago Hospital sometime in October
Cost for all care: estimated at approximately $600 dollars (this mainly goes
towards testing, medications, transportation to/from medical appointments, procedure cost)
Nakakooza Fatiyah
Age: 1 1/2 years
Weight: Stable
Condition: Fatiyah was born with Aperts Syndrome a congenital deformity that has significantly affected the development of her skull. Faitya has a large sinus venous defect of her heart with a left to right shunt.
Need for Surgery: Urgent. Fatiyah needs her heart defect repaired before she can have the surgery on her skull. The high pressure in her brain affects her eyes and compromises the development of her brain. After she has the repair of her heart, she will be able to have surgery on her skull.
Cost for surgery: approximately $6000 dollars for the heart surgery. Surgery on her skull has not yet been approximated.

Esther (no picture available):
Esther came into the clinic a few months back with an unrelated health issue. During a listen to her chest, an abnormality was heard. She was subsequently taken to Mulago hospital for further assessment. A hole in her heart was identified.
Age: 4 years (approx.)
Weight: appropriate for age.
Need for Surgery: At this point, doctor’s are wanting to give her heart time and see if the hole will reduce in size and/or close.
Cost of Surgery: unknown at this time.
Plan: Ensure that Esther will be closely monitored by a doctor and follow his recommendations.
We don’t know what God has planned for these little girls. But no matter the outcome, I know that His ultimate desire for them, is that they would know Him and that He would be glorified through their lives. If you feel led to pray for these little young girls, thank you. If you feel led to give financially towards the needs of these young girls, please follow the link below.  Other opportunities to come alongside others facing other life-challenging medical conditions will undoubtably arise. If you feel led to support a general medical fund for such medical situations, please feel free to follow the link. Our God is all about holding His children up. He is the ultimate sustainer. I rest in that for myself. I rest in that for these young girls. I rest in that for each one whose eyes fall upon these words.
To donate towards the needs of the these four girls please click here: DONATE FOR HEART SURGERIES(then follow the instruction to give). Please write what the gift is for in the comments section.
To donate towards the New Hope General Medical fund, please click here: DONATE FOR GENERAL MEDICAL FUND  (then follow the instruction to give). Please write what the gift is for in the comments section.
Thank you!
Kimberly White
Nurse at New Hope Uganda Kasana Children’s Centre

Thursday, August 1, 2013

All sorts of fun things...

Today has been probably one of the coldest days since I have arrived into Uganda.  The thought of a crackling fire and some Russian Tea is more than an appealing thought.  It's a desire.  Instead of listening to the crackles of a fire, I am listening to the chirping of many birds outside my window.  Maybe their chirping is a way of keeping warm themselves.  I don't know. I just know one thing.  It is chilly here.  K, now that I have verbalized that, I can move on in my writing.  Instead of Russian Tea, I will think about heating up some hot chocolate.  The warmth will do me some good.  ( c  :  It's been nearly a month since I have brought my fingers to the keyboard to write an update.  It's been a VERY full month and it's hard to realize that I have been here for 7 months! Where to even begin? 
Yesterday morning as I was making my 60 second commute to work, I looked to my right and saw two oxen plowing the land directly beside my house and as I furthered myself on the commute, I spotted a goat blocking my path.  Seeing me, he made a little hop off the path and we just sorta watched each other as I walked by.  Goats are pretty benign and a common sight here.  The infrequent night commute to the clinic is slightly humorous... after the fact.  In the moment, it's shining a light on the path watching ever so closely (or not so closely) for the slithering snake.  Oh, if you could be a mosquito on the banana tree.... you would see me dancing a little as I dodge snakes that aren't even there.  But in all seriousness, this last month has been stretching, full, fun, and sweet.   I'll run you through some of the highlights of the last month and then end with heart reflections.  Here goes... 

The Neebes came to visit! 

We painted together.... 

                                                                               Sanding down the table

                                                                                  And the painting begins..

                                                           You best watch out Mukisa.. the brush may slip! 
                      Well Done Worcester Family! 

       The somehow finished project.... finishing touches to come

Well Done Little Dan
A little Volleyball with Lindley, Brian, and Sharon. 
And then there was the Nile.  Oh, was it a LOT of fun! Thank you to so many of you who highly encouraged me to go.  I was hesitant at first.... for sure thought I was going to be swallowed by a croc or bit by some crazy underwater snake.  The rapids were awesome and the beauty around me breathtaking.  Good times with Good peeps.  Good memories and Awesome scenery.  

Our last supper.  ( c :  before the Big Raft! 
The Morning of....

Getting ready to begin our journey.... 
Wait for it.... 

Wait for it.... 

And Here it is! 

There is no Burger King.... but there is "Chicken in your face" Delightful with a Coke and good company of course! 

And after a fun-filled weekend, it's back to work.  Life in the clinic continues.  We are entering the rainy season and with the rain comes malaria season.  Most individuals can be treated with oral tablets. But, for those who struggle to keep the tablets down or who have high levels of malaria, the treatment is either a shot or an IV.  IV quinine is given. It's a four hour drip.  This boy had a stubborn case of malaria.  After failed improvement on oral medications, he was started on a drip.

Yes, being here is a gift.  An opportunity to love on and to care for so many.  I am slowly learning the language (SLOWLY) and while I can only talk a little with those around me in Luganda and often (which is probably not too much of a surprise for many of you) I royally mess up what I am wanting to say.  It's an adventure.  I was going to upload a few more pictures, but the computer is refusing to upload em.  There are multiple things swirling around inside of my heart.  We are in the process of organizing and fundraising for four little girls to have life-saving surgery. Trusting in God to provide our EVERY need and THEIR every need.  Shakira has been eating her plumpy nut and her energy level has improved.  This little girl is a CHARACTER and we have become good little buddies. I don't know how much of it is because she is drawn to me or how much she likes the special peanut butter paste that I give her.  Either way, it's been neat loving on her and watching both her, her sister, and her mom warming up to those around her.  Community.  It's a simple word and yet, it's completely loaded. 
It's being free to smile when your soul is happy and to be honest when it's heavy.  It's about giving and receiving.  Carrying the load of those around you and allowing others to carry your load.  It can feel intimidating and yet, it is so freeing.  So thankful for community here and community back home.  May we all rest in the arms of our God and His immense love for each of us.