Wednesday, October 29, 2014

a Holy shirt, A Cancer Free Declaration, Some Wet Cement, and a Solid Rock....

I probably should have a lot of deep thoughts to write about.  Instead I start out this blog post with seemingly mundane.  About two weeks back, I did some laundry and placed my wet clothes out on the line.  Before I knew it, several days had passed.  And by several,  I mean nearly a week.  The clothes were flapping in the wind..... all except for my new white shirt that had somehow come off the line and was laying in a ball on the ground.  It was wet and dirty.  What I didn't realize right away was that the fact that my new white shirt was wet and dirty was the least of my problems.  The shirt wasn't really a shirt anymore.... the termites had found it and had consumed well over half of it.  It was no longer wearable.... by any standards.  And all I could do was smile.  Glad that the termites enjoyed my new shirt.  Just a few days back, I was hanging some more laundry up on the line when I saw the top of the termite hill. It had just sprung up.  And it seemed that someone had kicked it.  Thankful for that. Those little termites were creative or smart in where they set up their house.  Hopefully, I will outsmart em.  For all the animal lovers out there, I am sorry... but I am planing on having someone put a little poison down their hole.  Hoping this works and no more clothes are lost to the hungry little termites!  ( c :  

It's been a hard few weeks.  Hard and hopeful all smashed together.  To be honest, it's been more leaning towards hard.  And today as I thought about writing a blog post, I found myself wanting to share some of my favorites from the last couple of months.  

Making pizza with my girls.  Looking forward to being with them again more intently during the first few days of their upcoming break.  Both Phionah and Lindah are neat young ladies and I have the honor of walking alongside them.  

These two pictures  may be two of my favorite pictures of the year.  A. Ketty and I with the giraffe.  A. Ketty was all nervous nilly around them (can't say I was all calm, cool, and collected myself) and we did a LOT of laughing that day.  On Friday evening, I received a phone call that shook me to the core.  A. Ketty had had a CT scan and the findings were absolutely unexpected.... on multiple levels.  There was/is no evidence of cancer on her scans!!!!  I can't believe how amazing this is.  The type of cancer that Ketty had was both aggressive and came with a 80-90% mortality rate.  To flip the coin, the survival rate for this cancer is 10-20%.  Just about 6 months after treatment was started, the cancer is no longer detectable on the scans.  For me personally, this came as a huge encouragement.  God is powerful.  He can do whatever He wants, however He wants, and Where-ever He wants. His timing was no mistake. It has only been a little over 48 hours since we had buried Wizeye.  Due to all the rain, I don't even think the cement had fully dried.  And a strong reminder that nothing is a mistake from God.  God is not defined by location, situation, or anything else.  His plans prevail.  For A. Ketty it was physical healing coupled with deeper relationship with her God.  For Wizeye, the ultimate healing.  His going home and being with His Daddy.   I mourn his absence from this earth... the gift of interacting with him regularly.... but also smile at the thought that He is in heaven.  
Surrounded by those who loved him.  

Just a handful of days before he left this earth.  

 And while we were saying goodbye and see you later to Wizeye over here on this side of the ocean, my sweet grams was also finishing up her time here on earth.  Monday afternoon, my gram breathed her last and entered into eternity.  My grams was spicy and fun.  We had lots of laughs over the years along with deep conversations.  I am thankful that she was my grams.  Love you grams.  I'll see you soon! 

This picture is a few years old.... ( c :  
On Sunday, I left New Hope and headed to the capital.  The plan was for a few days of rest.  And what started as a few days has turned into multiple days.  My heart was really feeling the pull of the last couple of weeks.  I came tired and hurting.  And in the quietness of the last several days, I have found not only rest.... but sweet and much needed time with my God.  This afternoon, I was led to a passage in Isaiah.  And it was food for my soul.  

Isaiah 26:3-4
"You keep him in perfect peace who mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock.  

Thank you to all of you who have prayed, encouraged, and journeyed with me this last month.  Communicating via email and Facebook has been a struggle due in part to poor internet and limited time. Thank you for your patience and I hope to get caught up on emails and Facebook messages in the next couple of days.

Thankful to each of you and your presence on this journey.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An end of one chapter and the beginning of many, many more.

There aren't a ton of words right now.  The last couple of days have been somehow a blur.  A mixture of immensely rich moments coupled with the intensity of strong emotion.  This morning, I opted out of driving to the other side of New Hope and instead chose to walk.  I was teary in the beginning of the walk, but as I walked the pangs of emotions only intensified.  It was a walk where the tears did the mourning.  I didn't have a bunch of words.  Just the emotions.  The pain.  It was only yesterday that I held Wizeye's hand and told him that it was ok to go home.  I assured him that God would take care of his family.  Wizeye told me that he was going.  And a little over an hour later, he did.  One minute he was there... the next he was gone.  Gone, but not forgotten.  Gone.  I talked with him one moment as I stretched out his arms.  I stepped away from his bedside to grab a quick bite.  And in those few minutes, he took his last breath.  Gone.  But not totally GONE.  What remains are the memory of a young man full of grace.  I've come to know him well over the last year plus.  We have had hard talks and easy ones.  We have laughed and we have cried.  My first memory of him is the time he was brought to the clinic late at night.  He had a huge cut on his head that needing suturing.  The clippers used to shave his head jammed and he was left with a haircut that was absolutely ridiculous.  He could have been angry.... could have been frustrated.... but instead, he was so gracious.  Who would have known that that interaction was the beginning of many.  Countless days, he came in for blood pressure and medication monitoring.  There were doctor visits, urgent trips to the hospital, and multiple opportunities to chat.  Over the last couple of months, his physical condition has deteriorated.  It has stretched me... challenged me... and stretched me some more.  Hard questions to be asked and even harder ones to decide.  None have been answered alone.  God has led. And the peace of God has followed.  Wizeye left this world yesterday peaceful.  He left it ready.   And truth be told, it has been a day full of tears and many emotions.  But tucked underneath it, is a hope that has foundationally secured the day.... the last couple of weeks..  Wizeye you will be missed.  But we will see you again. For me, I say Sula Bulungi.  But for you, my friend, I say Good Day.  Thank you for walking in faith and for finishing the race so well.

And as Wizeye settles into Heaven.... my grams, thousands of miles away, is also preparing to go home to heaven.   Thankful for each of them and the impact that both of them have had on my life.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Great is THY Faithfulness!

Friends visiting at Kiwoko Hospital. 
I've been wanting to write this blog for several days now... but the internet has been struggling.   It's a little after 10 PM and I am in the clinic.  Wizeye, our young man with serious kidney issues, has been in Kampala seeing a doctor.  I am not sure what is taking them so long to get back, but am trusting that at any moment, he will arrive at the clinic with his mom.  Wizeye's health has taken a turn in the last several weeks.  A hard turn.  His kidney function has continued to deteriorate.  He was admitted to Kiwoko hospital early this week in fluid overload.  Today, we prepared a room for him at the clinic.  It's cozy and ready for him and his mom.  It is also ready for the many friends that will undoubtably find their way to him.  Some wanting to chat.  Others wanting to be.  All, undoubtably, wanting to connect.  This past Tuesday, I sat with Wizeye at the hospital and we talked.  We talked about living.  We talked about dying.  And lots in between.  It was a hard conversation.  As I told Wizeye the other day, we don't know how his story will end.  We don't.  But what we do know is that Wizeye is not alone.  Not in the physical form and definitely not in the unseen.  His God is with him just as there are many, many others who are walking this journey with him.  Some physically.  Some in prayer.  Each different, but each so important.  I ask you to pray for Wizeye in these coming days.  For his heart.  For his kidneys.  For a deeper trust in His God. 


And my goodness, there is so much to report from this past week.  I received a message on Saturday morning letting me know that U. Ronald had been trying to get a hold of me.  Rebecca had a sweet baby girl! oh MY! I just KNEW it was going to be a girl and had joked on and off that they would name her Chimberly. Just in case you are wondering.... I was naming her after myself.  How selfish eh?  K's here are often pronounced with a "Ch" sound.  Hence, the Chimberly.  Well, her name is NOT Chimberly... but rather Alice Isabel Kwagala.  What a joy to sit with this couple and to hold their sweet baby girl.  I am sure that her Big Brother Frank is surely looking down from heaven smiling at his baby sister.  God is good! 

Mom, Dad, aunties, and sweet baby Alice.  

Alice Isabel Kwagala
On Sunday, A. Ketty came to church.  This is her first time at church since, I believe, March.  She is doing well and just a few hours ago, finished another round of chemo.  So great  She has strength, she has smiled, and she has spice!   (c : She is already a walking miracle.  The type of cancer that she has is VERY aggressive and the fact that she is up walking, eating, and laughing is testimony to the power of her God.  

Just over a month ago, I received an email from my tenant.  He had just gotten a new job and need to move ASAP.  He was moved out within 4 days.  I think even less.  The house had a lot of work that needed to be done.  A lot.  I put the humble request out to my friends in the area and before I knew it.... friends were stepping up and working on my house.  People I didn't even know also joined the project.  My tenant had offered to pay the rent for September.  And by the end of September, I had new tenants.  What a blessing! So many to be exact.  Those who cleaned. scrubbed.  painted.  gave.  repaired.  organized.  E.A.C.H. A. G.I.F.T!  

And so it's now well after 11:30 PM.  Wizeye just arrived a short while with his mom.  It's been a long day fort them.  And it be most wise for me to bring this to an end.  The morning comes quickly.  My heart is doing pretty well.  A week full of varying emotions.  Processing through on next steps for a young man and greeting a little baby girl just starting her journey of life.  Tucked into these were connecting with the family group.... listening to a few share from their hearts..... eating chocolate and drinking tea... diving into Luganda Lessons.... and practicing those words with the patients who came into the clinic.  There were lungs to listen to and rashes to examine.  And so, it's another week of life here.... a life I am so thankful for.  And so dear friends... near and far.  These fingers will hopefully find sleep shortly.  For each set of eyes that find their way to this blog page.  Thank you.  Thank you for journeying along with me....It is a GIFT!