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Friday, March 05, 2010

On banging one's head repeatedly against the wall, and noting a slight budge

The last ten days have not been easy.  I have found myself in tears more than once.  And exhausted.  And stretched.  And wondering.  But looking back, I told our team during prayer time yesterday, that I think this month is a spiritually significant and intense one, and this is just what it feels like to be in the middle of what God is doing.

Because suddenly, yesterday, it started to dawn on me that a lot is coming together. The HIV-testing kits that we've made so many calls about:  a thousand delivered.  The medicines which have been out of stock for months:  delivered.  The entire murky non-functional supply chain that plagues us, we talked to UNICEF about supporting months ago . . . suddenly a competent qualified doctor showed up out of the blue, explained all the forms to Assusi and a few others, explained the schedule and procedure, and we have hope.  The F75 (medicinal milk powder for malnutrition) that we had not received . . located in a district store and handed over to my truck yesterday.  The gas cylinder for the fridge for vaccines:  here.  The immunization program:  resumed.  The blood for transfusions:  arrived.  The ward:  full.  The five-year-old who has struggled to survive his entire life and seemed for a full month to be on the brink of death:  turned a sudden corner, gaining weight like gangbusters, smiling, throwing a ball.  I wrote a few days ago about push, and how tiring it is.  And it is.  But then sometimes we see that God is really the one doing the pushing, and things suddenly start to happen.

This came to me in the Chief Administrator's Office.  At a low point this week, when I was being asked for money to buy SOAP so the midwives could wash their hands, and just tired of the constant little and big things that don't work and don't happen, I made phone calls about the lack of Primary Health Care funds that had been released this year.  I was frustrated.   We're in the third quarter of the fiscal year, and have received one quarter's money (about fifteen hundred dollars total to run a hospital from July to March, absurd).  So I went to the top.  The CAO is the highest position in local government in some ways. He is not elected, but appointed by the central government.  He controls the money.  So that's pretty key.  Someone else that was tired of being bugged by me gave me his phone number.  "Come to my office" he said.  So I did, drove to town after seeing patients, a bit tired by the ward and several procedures and new malnutrition cases and not too hopeful.  When I greeted him I realized we didn't know each other.  That's because our old CAO had been transferred, and this guy had been sent here 15 days ago.  

Well, it was one of those bizarre half hours that pop up in our lives.  The CAO told me straight up about changes he was making that were making him, shall we say, less than popular with some sectors as he refuses to pay out ridiculous requests, so he didn't know how long he'd last here.  He told someone to call in the DHO, the senior government health official, from a meeting down the hall, which did not make me too popular either, as it looked like I was trying to get him in trouble.  But we all talked together about the budget, about the procedures, about health, amicably.  People who stand against corruption fear for their safety.  At the end, I told the CAO that God had not forgotten Bundibugyo, that his appointment here was not a mistake, and that if God wanted him here no one could harm him.  Then I asked if I could pray for him, right there.  There were just the three of us in the office, and the DHO immediately said "Pray for me too!"  These are senior politicians, men who are older and more responsible and experienced and WAY more powerful than I am.  But I prayed for them both, asking God to give them strength to do the right thing, and to serve the people.

Between the entire World Food Program anti-Hunger campaign, the shake-up in district administration, the signs of break-through in supplies . . . not to mention the arrival of a fantastically servant-hearted and competent new family, the Johnsons, I am coming out of this ten days of struggle convinced that we are watching God move in.

So in our staff meeting this morning, I talked about prayer from Psalm 46.  Hundreds of people died in Uganda this week in a mudslide in the East.  Hundreds more died in Chile's 8.8 earthquake.  Rebel rumors swirl in Congo, as they do from time to time.  All of this, raging waters and shaking earth and war, is mentioned in Psalm 46.  But in the Psalm we see that God is in the midst of the trouble.  And God's presence transforms the trouble to blessing.  The chaotic waters become rivers of joy and healing for the nations.  So our little Nyahuka Health Center staff prayed big prayers for God's presence in their life troubles (one man's house had fallen in because of the rain, a few have not been able to get on the payroll due to horrible bureaucracy and corruption in spite of years of work, others mentioned anger over conflicts, desperate need for school fees, worries about their kids, sicknesses in their families, anxiety about safety, discouragement when they don't have medical supplies they need to do their work).  We turned to God as our refuge and strength and asked Him to come into the midst of all this mess, as He has been doing so clearly over these past ten days, and to do something big and transforming and good.

The wall is budging.  Slightly.  Keep praying.


Tricia said...

"I am coming out of this ten days of struggle convinced that we are watching God move in" What a wonderful place to be. I will keep praying for you and those who work with you. Blessings.

harryk said...

Wonderful combination of God's mercies and providences!! Sometimes in my own life, I think He lines his mercies up so that, dull as I very much am, I can finally see His hand at work. May God protect and eternally bless the CAO and DHO and, if He wills, use them to aid you all again. For some reason it reminds me of the townclerk of Ephesus who rescued Paul’s companions from the mob by his clear and undeniable appeal to logic and justice.