rotating header

Friday, February 15, 2019

Abounding with Abundance, Everything that Creeps: Life, Youth, and Calling

Those phrases are from Genesis 1 and nowhere more apparent than the tropical rainforest that is Bundibugyo. When I was growing up in the 70;s, terrariums were popular, and I remember making mine in a glass jar, a mini-ecosystem with moisture and green mosses and transplants from the woods. Now with live in one. Stifling humidity gathers in a haze for days into a pounding downpour, grasses taller than our heads, vines thicker than arms, splashes of color in wildly thorny bougainvillea, ares of cocoa trees. Whirring insects and trilling birds, swooping bats, bleating goats, and all manner of lizards from geckos to massive blue-headed reptiles, tiny ants in the shower and huge biting ants in the yard. Walls and screens are a porous line between indoor and outdoor, easily traversed by all manner of life.  Likewise skin, as insects feed and burrow. Any low point of ground becomes a soup of more life. What would be a puddle in in most places is a cacophonous croaking amphibian habitat here.

And human life in all its messy glory abounds as well, giggling toddlers and self-assured packs of young boys, teens in school uniforms and mothers with basins on their heads, farmers carrying machetes and young women lingering behind roughly made tables piled with tomatoes and matoke and cabbages for sale.

Eden literally means paradise, and Uganda has as good a claim as any to being the steaming fertile incubator of life.

The median age in Africa is 18, compared to 37 in the USA.  In Uganda that is even lower, 15 years, the second youngest country in the world (that means HALF the population is younger than 15 years old . . and we have seen that population more than double in our 25 years on the ground). This is a young continent. I routinely meet women who have 8, 10, more children; plus families care for orphaned nieces and nephews, or grandchildren, or neighbors. Progeny are the most precious goal of life here. All the world over, when survival improves, child spacing and planning for a family's education and future follows suit, and things even out a bit But right now, this generation is booming.

If you are sitting in one of the red/orange countries above, you might think of priorities differently than if you are sitting in a green one.  WE NEED PEOPLE COMMITTED TO THE YOUTH. Teachers, youth pastors, coaches.  Health care workers.  More teachers. School administrators. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, counselors. This generation holds potential, and if people of God, people with kindness and maturity and selflessness and skill do not pay attention to them, unscrupulous people will. The green countries are also recruitment grounds for rebel movements. My former neighbor became a rebel soldier as a youth, trained in Khartoum, took advantage of an amnesty to return to Uganda then became a gun dealer selling to gangs of thieves, and is now in jail. His brother, instead, went to CSB and is now an accountant doing solid honest work. Both were influenced by adults who took interest in their lives, one to exploit and one to empower. Another neighbor girl who grew up with our daughter has now been recruited by one of over 140 firms operating in Uganda to export workers to the Middle East, to countries with abundant oil revenue who want cheap labor in their homes. It's a fine line between jobs and human trafficking. We are torn between being worried for her safety and empathizing with her spirit of courage and adventure.

This is a map where Africa shines. Green is usually the "good" on maps, and red is usually "danger".  Will God's people the world over see this youthful abundance as blessing and opportunity? As strength? As a call for sacrificial investment?

We have a dozen important things that we could use help with here in the valley of biological exuberance. Contact us here to get some ideas!

Friday wrap up: A few photos of the week . . .
We were invited for lunch yesterday to celebrate with old friends Bamparana and Donatina.  Days are full with work, correspondence, calls, mentoring, budgets, meetings . . and then moving about in the community or receiving visitors as we renew friendships.

A rare moment of work intersection, with Dr. Marc and the nutrititon team of Bahati, Jessie, and Alisha, on the Paeds ward.

One of our jobs this week: raising money to replace ALL the wooden dorm bunks with metal beds, for fire safety and improved hygiene. Our supporters already replaced half the beds before school started, and we have had funds come in this week for 20 of the remaining 75 beds. Donate here if you want to help us! (Type in any amount but it's $100/double bunk, and type "beds" in the dedication)

One of our Kule Leadership Scholars, Dr. Kisembo Peter, came with his mother and brother to express thanks for his graduation from medical school (complete with a live rooster and bags of rice!). He's now an intern. His father died in our Bundibugyo Ebola epidemic 11 years ago.

We had a 3-day visit from the LaRochelle family as they returned to DRC. Praying for their wisdom and safety as they continue their work, even as the Ebola epidemic just over our border percolates on.

Mary teaching mothers and children about nutrition at Nyahuka Health Center.

This baby's mother died, but after a week on our inpatient nutrition service the grandmother is re-lactating!

A young family very dear to us, Ndyezika was in the inaugural CSB class and later married Juliet, who taught there for many years.

Scott and CSB staff on an hour-long radio talk show, complete with call-ins and questions! They were promoting the school to boost enrollment.

Sorting the haphazard stack of files on the Paeds ward and weighing every patient . . the ward gets more full every time I go.

A quick visit to our friend Melen's Alpha Kindergarten, some of the 200 tiny people in those classrooms spilling out.
With John and his mothers, feeling thankful.

No comments: