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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Caleb (a.k.a., Chipper), our nocturnal child, marks 12 years on this, the final day of February. We will celebrate with three of his Ugandan classmates from Christ School over dinner, cake, and a video.

He is a gift of God to our family. Please pray with us that he would continue to increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Lk 2:52).

PS - The cast comes off the left arm in two weeks.

Post from last week: Glimpse of the way it should be

Stepping back into the struggle:  in some ways invigorating, the month in America now feels like a fog of politeness, a vague memory of general niceness that has been stripped back to the clarity of the battle for this not-yet-right world.  But the struggle also wearies.  In a few hours we will have been on the ground for one week.  Perhaps the biggest loss:  Kyomanuwa, the little boy whose picture I posted because I was fighting for his life against the ravages of rapidly progressive AIDS, sensing the persistence of his caring mother.  I was dreading the news, and thankful to find him alive on my first day back, yet admitted to the hospital.  His skin had healed some, I dared to hope.  But by Friday he had lost ground and needed blood, and died an hour or so before we could get it from Bundibugyo, so that I got the news as I rushed the cooler of units into the hospital.  Being permitted to see him and hope and then having him die I took hard.  Pamela and I biked miles around village paths on Saturday looking for his home, we had a general idea of the village but took a long time to find the actual compound.  By the time we arrived the burial was over and the guests had dispersed, it was only his mom lying on an old mattress on the dirt floor.  We prayed for her heart, for her hope of seeing him in Heaven.  She has only one child left.

But a glimpse yesterday of the way it should be—a baby was admitted with a severe abscess deep in his leg that was cutting off circulation to his foot.  This tiny child may have Down Syndrome, looked weak and floppy and may not live long.  But here is the hopeful thing:  Jonah was there, I brought him in to see the baby, he was ready to take her to the theatre to perform surgery right away.  And one of my students, Birungi, who wants to be a doctor, was doing rounds with me to learn something.  I sent him up the road on my bike to collect a stronger antibiotic we have a small supply of at our house.  It struck me that I was not alone in the way I would have been even a few years ago—here was the doctor we had all (and I mean the prayers of so many in America!!) worked to train, and here was my hope for the next doctor or clinical officer, and we were entering into the struggle for this baby’s life together.   We have far to go, the corruption in the system is still so rampant and blatant and discouraging, injustice abounds.  But a glimpse of the way it should be, and for that I’m thankful.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Trying to see if this will post—my apologies since my last two attempts never showed up on the blog.  We’re alive and well, and if this works I’ll resurrect some news from last week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Quote from NT Wright lecture

You don’t get to share in God’s life and escape without wounds—look at Jesus.

Back in Bundibugyo

After two days of international flights and then a few hours of post-midnight crash-and-revive sleep, the four kids and I flew into Bundibugyo on a small MAF plane yesterday.  Since our family exceeded the 5-person capacity many years ago . . . We haven’t flown for anything except medical emergencies recently.  So it was quite a treat to arrive in one smooth hour of air rather than eight grueling hours on the road.  And we had Garrett who is a very fun pilot and took us high over heather and bamboo mountain ravines, then an abrupt 9,000 foot swooping descent to buzz the airstrip and circle dramatically back around for a landing.  But best of all was to be welcomed back into the arms of our caring team, smiling and hugging.  Since leaving America always involves some tears and loss, it is a sweet moment to land back into community on this side of the ocean.

For a few days the roaches on my toothbrush will startle me, as well as the annoying habit people have of not speaking English as my Lubwisi stutters over my lazy tongue.  Two neighbors have already come to tell us about the two huge snakes that crawled out of our yard and were killed on the road in the last few days.  I’m thankful that our guardian angels were clearing the path for our arrival.  Scott is still in Kampala stocking up on food, so for a couple of days I’m focusing on re-connecting in relationships rather than cooking and cleaning, living off the generosity of the team.  This morning I went to see my neighbor who broke his hip while we were away—bittersweet, he’s my Dad’s age and shares some characteristics that take me back to a year ago.  The delight on his wives’ faces as I opened the door at the hospital made me thankful for the friendships we have here.  Checked in on Melen’s new preschool, and found Jonah seeing all the pediatric patients, other friends on the staff busy with their work.  Luke and Caleb found their new uniforms and classes and were greeted with make-up exams.  Julia and Jack had a happy reunion with Ivan and their team friends.  

I always find the transitions stressful and find myself unenthusiastic about the input of energy that will be required over the next week to organize and resume life, to put away trunks full of American goodies and traveling clothes, to carve out time for the important things in life, to assemble a live-able working and eating and being schedule once again.  It’s good to be home, but perhaps never more apparent that there is no real home on this earth.  

American Blessings

We have been negligent in blogging . . . But full of thanks for many things in our month of travel.  Here are a few:
  • Our main supporting church full of faithful people who love us and pray for us and have stepped behind us and our team in major and sacrificial ways.
  • Our families who bent over backwards to see us and care for us, my mom even driving with us for over a thousand miles and many hours, taking care of our kids while we were in meetings.
  • My niece Emma’s surgery which God in His goodness to us arranged in the exact window of time that allowed me to sit at the hospital with my sister and brother-in-law through the procedure, and be with them in the post-operative period.  Her Marfan syndrome has led to severe scoliosis and back pain necessitating the placement of two long metal rods (and 24 screws) from her shoulder blades to her pelvis, a 6-hour surgery in which she lost a liter of blood.  She will have a long recovery period, but had excellent care and her post-operative xrays look ramrod straight.  
  • Caleb broke his left arm (both bones) when, as he says, the scooter he was riding stopped but he didn’t.  This happened in Charlotte NC, requiring an immediate emergency room visit for a splint and reduction (painful) of the fractured bones back into a straight line, then a cast two days later in Orlando Florida where we went for meetings.  The gracious hosts of the conference hooked us up with an excellent orthopedic surgeon, and Caleb’s arm should be fine after six weeks in the cast.  We’re thankful we could so easily access good care.
  • Scott recovered fully from Dengue Fever, which has an ominous name and rarely a severe or fatal outcome, but in this case was more like a case of mono with a painful rash and several weeks of fatigue.  Our visiting board member Randy Bond suggested the diagnosis which was confirmed by blood tests in the US.  This is useful information to us as we were not previously aware that this infection existed in Bundibugyo.
  • Praying and weeping and singing and laughing with the World Harvest Mission Team Leaders, laboring over goals for our mission, sharing our stories with each other.  
  • Sitting under the teaching of Steve Childers, John Smed, Randy Nabors, Stu and Ruth Ann Batstone,  and others at the Global Church Advancement conference with WHM and a few hundred pastors and church leaders from across America.  Some of the conference did not apply much to missions in Uganda, but much did, and we drank thirstily from the wealth of spiritual input.  
  • A candlelight dinner for two in Orlando’s “most romantic restaurant” one night after the conference sessions were over, a much appreciated time to reconnect in marriage away from the pressures of Bundibugyo.
  • Lots of fresh salads and Java Chip ice cream and crunchy tortilla chips and easy-to-access food!
  • Celebrating Luke’s 14th birthday repeatedly—with my family (they went to a climbing wall, great fun) and with our WHM family.

Well, the list could go on and on.  We are thankful for the month’s travel and ready to settle back into Uganda.  Thanks to many of you who read this blog and were interested and informed and encouraging.  We value the times we could spend face to face and wish those times were longer.  One aspect of Heaven to look forward to. . . . There is a way in which we are made for the fellowship of community, and uprooting causes small deaths, traveling reminds us of those we miss.