Why Educate Girls?

0507Nigeria1Living in the West this seems like a ridiculous question–one that was settled long ago.

However, after living in Uganda, my eyes were opened to the truth that much of the world does not see the value in educating their girls.

John Piper in a post entitled Why We Educate Our Girls does a great job of explaining from a biblical world view.

World Malaria Day 2012

images

For half the world, a simple mosquito bite can have deadly consequences: Every year, malaria kills approximately 655,000 people, mostly pregnant women and children under the age of five.

We can stop this. Since 2000, malaria deaths have been reduced by up to 33% in sub-Saharan Africa, but there is so much more we can do. This World Malaria Day, join ONE members from many different faith backgrounds to advocate for full funding of effective malaria-fighting programs like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria.

ONE is partnering with important faith-based malaria initiatives to Shine A Light on Malaria, including: Faiths Act, Islamic Relief, Lutheran Malaria Initiative, Union for Reform Judaism, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Episcopal Relief & Development. Together, we can show that people of all faiths care about our neighbors suffering from malaria, and provide the lifesaving resources required to eliminate malaria deaths. Join us to mobilize your faith community to “Shine A Light on Malaria” and take action to save lives. Sign-up now to download your action guide and get started today!

Fallen

I continue to be drawn to the blog site paradoxuganda written by Doctors Scott and Jennifer Myhre.  Here are two entries that compel me to see the news of an epidemic as more than cold abstract statistics.  When I read her words, this story of ebola is no longer vague and distant–I am drawn in to pray and be involved in heart and mind–the words become flesh.  I am struck again by the power of the word–they communicate more than information– behind and underneath what is written you can sense love and compassion–pain and sorrow–weeping and persevering. It is a Christmas story.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Last Words of Dr. Jonah

 838128536_4831332e37 “Scott was speaking today to one of the World Health Organization visitors who related information from the MSF doctors who cared for Jonah at the end. It was spine-tingling to hear Jonah speak from beyond the veil….

Tuesday afternoon, he was still walking and talking, and said to them “I have seen these patients die, and I know that I am dying”. I don’t think they believed him, and I wonder now if that is why he was determined to call us though his efforts were not successful. Moments before he died he said “I am going to die now. And I pray that no one should ever have to die of this disease again.”
2091489524_9dac38f4aa_s Right to his last moment he was thinking like the compassionate doctor he was, looking beyond himself to others.

Tomorrow his body will arrive, having been carefully decontaminated (as far as possible) and enclosed. His family was still en route when I last talked to them a couple of hours ago. Whenever we speak of him again to someone who cared about him, the tears come freely. We have seen some men here cry like we never saw men cry before. 2090712775_c7176b4552I think Jonah was perceived as a resource, a gift, to the whole district, everyone feels bereaved and robbed of their man, their doctor, the one they could trust and count on. When we see his family, we will have the complication that they are now contacts too like we are, and we should not be touching each other. So we have to go to the burial of our dear friend without any hugging, comfort his wife and children without touch. That feels harsh.
My mind keeps reaching back to some words of the Psalms which I can’t place, though a thousand have fallen at my side, yet I will trust.

2107135275_13e641ae45
We feel the falling of Jonah so acutely, we were both on the same front line of the same battle fighting side by side, yet he went down and we have not.
I know I can’t trust in anything other than God . . . Certainly not in not dying, which is not guaranteed, as Jonah shows. If we make it through this then what about the next tragedy?

Safety is not the basis of trust. Instead our trust needs to be in God, inexplicable God, dangerous God, other-than-us God, who does not order this world according to our will, but knows more than we do and loves more deeply.”

Posted by DrsMyhre at 11:08 AM
 

Monday, December 03, 2007

Explaining Ebola

“This afternoon seven of the eight boys who are my kids’ close friends hung out playing cards.  I tried to explain ebola, most of these boys are CSB students 1901042719_76059f2626 whom we sponsor.  They asked good questions, but one got me thinking:  Is this disease only in Africa, or is it in other parts of the world?  I felt disloyal, or sad, to admit that all the major outbreaks had occurred relatively close (on a global scale) to where we now sit, in eastern Congo, southern Sudan, northern Uganda.  Almost the only time the filovirus has been found elsewhere was when it was inadvertently transported out in monkeys from Uganda.  I could see the world-wide image of Africa, the continent of disease, being reinforced once again.  And it is not just a matter of how uninformed or prejudiced westerners view Africa, the assumptions are so powerful they trickle down into the minds of these boys.  It seems unfair that Bundibugyo only gets the five minutes of world attention because of yet another disease.”

Posted by DrsMyhre at 7:54 AM

Would You Go Back?

Ever since our return from the mission field, friends have asked, "Will you ever go back?"

That question stirs so many emotions.

My mind races with remembrances and I think, "It was a call not a decision when we went DSC00345 (Small)before and I would expect it to happen that way again if God intends us to go anywhere."

I say to the Lord what I have been saying, "Lord, here I am…yours…wherever you can use me."  DSC00344 (Small)

These thoughts were brought forward in my mind  this morning when I was meditating on Acts 17:16.  Luke is describing the inward thoughts of Paul when he arrived in Athens, "His spirit was stirred when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry."  I was taken by this poem by Eva Doerksen in light of this verse:

"If you had been to heathen lands,

Where weary ones with eager hands

Still plead, yet no one understand,

Would you go back?  Would you? 

 

If you had seen them in despair,

Beat on the breast, pull out the hair,

While demon powers filled the air,

Would you go back?  Would you?

 

If you had seen the glorious sight,

When heathen people, long in night,

Are brought from darkness into light,

Would you go back?  Would you?

 

Yet still they wait, a weary throng,

They’ve waited, some so very long,

When shall despair be turned to song,

I’m going back! Would you?

I am thinking again this morning after being blessed by the trusting faith that lived powerfully in the hearts of many Ugandans; perhaps the Lord is helping me see "who" the real heathens are.  When I saw what faith looked like in the lives of Africans who had "nothing" but God and He was completely sufficient– I knew the heathen was me!  For now,  I might be in God’s intended mission field.

May He turn our eyes to see the light of Christ and give us a new song! 

Back in the Saddle Again

August 7, 2004

Dear Friend Jane,

Well my friend, I have spent two birthdays in Africa now. On our return trip we had an eventful time in London.  Our flight to Entebbe was delayed 5 hours so DSC 074 (Small) we spent the day walking around London streets.  DSC 072 (Small) We took the train into the city and managed to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

I slept on the plane ride to London but Mike and Casey were unable to and were pretty beat when we got back to Heathrow.  As we were boarding the plane for Entebbe they discovered that they had double booked our seats so we were upgraded to Business Class –oh, what a great grace that was!  The recliner seats allowed us to sleep on this 8 hour leg of the journey and get prepared for the work that awaited in Uganda.

Would you believe that I left my pocket book on the American flight that we took from Richmond to Boston?

Picture 067 (Small)Shirlene, the Rafiki Girls Center Director, met with me the day we returned and asked me to begin the next day observing the classes that I would teach: Music, Cooking & Nutrition and Sewing.  Procuring the groceries needed to prepare the noon time meals, making menus and gathering recipes, teaching the recorder, teaching the girls to make a dress on treadle machines and supervising in the Weaving Room on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be some of the pieces of my new assignment.  Picture 075 (Small)Uganda 018 (Small)

Shirlene seems most anxious for me to take over the sewing class even though I don’t know a bias from a facing!  I am ready and observing to beat the band to get up to speed.

The Mamas and Aunties are expressing much confusion about my status in the village since my return.  The truth is it is as difficult for me as for them right now. Auntie Edith invited me to come to her home for a visit on her off day yesterday so I went after work.  She had cooked 5 traditional foods over charcoal each was wrapped in banana leaves and she wanted to share them with me.  Jane the extravagance of this gift will astound me forever–she cooked the equivalent of a holiday meal for me and her children were sitting and watching me eat…I can only hope that they tasted some of this when I was gone.

I said, “Edith you don’t eat this early.”  She smiled that sweet smile and said, “Jja Jja, I wanted to share food with you and to pray for what has happened.  I want this meeting and our words to be Christian and honoring.”  That was her way of saying she was not asking me to gossip and she knew that being Christian meant our language needed to be different from that of the unbelieving world.

DSC02777 (Small)With tears she thanked me for making her feel valued as a person and for speaking to the women of Rafiki as though they were as important as anyone  else.  She said, “Jja Jja, my heart felt like it had been put in a cold box when Mommy told us you had asked to go to the RGC.  I thought, ‘What has happened? I know Jja Jja loves us.’  Then I thought you would come back and sit us down and explain to us all the reasons that there were so many changes because you always tell us everything.  What I find is that you walk by with only a wave now.”

I did spend some time explaining things to Edith and assuring her that my help to her family would continue no matter how things were different within the gate.  I asked her to trust God that the changes would help the running of things in the village and we would wait and watch how things went.  We clasped hands and spent a long time in imploring prayer–I will never forget what happened in that hut.

You of all people know how that meeting affected my heart.

I do want you to know I am seeing God and am sustained by Him in all this.  In fact, I am so grateful to be with the girls at the center in morning devotions each day. God broke out in all our hearts while we were praying today.  For devotion time we were looking at the attribute of God’s Impartiality.  Later, during the time of confession one girl asked God to forgive her because she often suspected that He favored others more than He did her–she went on to say that she wanted to believe what the Word said rather than her feelings.  Picture 034 (Small)

The girls sing beautifully and I am most blessed to stand among them during hymn time.  Later, the first term girls completed their first blouse project and were thrilled to think they were allowed to take them home to show family–they kept saying to Shirlene, “God Bless you Miss Shirlene–for assisting us.”

It has been a great morning. I haven’t read our Psalm for the day but am even now rehearsing the truths that are there in Psalm 91 (that is the one right?) through my head. DSC 079 (Small)
We will have mini missionaries for dinner tonight and hope that they are made to feel welcome–Jane, I am glad that God saw fit to knit our hearts together–I miss you daily and am helped and remember to say, “God thank you for e-mail, phones and yearly chances to sit and sip coffee with Jane.”  What would I do without a friend with whom I can talk about any and every thing!”

love-lissa

What’s better than life?

I began my morning reading the Mission Network News report.  As I scanned the stories, this one from Africa caught my eye.  The study of Acts has tenderized my heart once again to the truth that the spread of the good news of Christ comes at great cost.  Therefore, it is news of great worth!

Two Christians killed in Northern Nigeria

Nigeria (MNN) — Voice of the Martyrs Canada reports the deaths of two young Christian men in Nigeria. According to a Compass Direct report, the pair died at the hands of Muslims militants in Kaduna state. Local Christians believe these two murders are an effort to wipe out Christianity from northern Nigeria and stop ministry growth. Although the government is trying to initiate dialogue between the two faith groups, their efforts have been undermined by the wave of violent attacks on Christians.

Full story: http://www.MNNonline.org/article/10522

My mind considered the stories of Stephen who was the first Christian martyr and James who was beheaded for his faith in Christ.  These saints and others seemed to understand what the Psalmist meant when he penned the words, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” (Ps. 63:3)

The martyrs all believed Christ was worth more than life, more than falling in love, more than marrying and having children, more than seeing their children grow up, more than making a name for themselves, more than having the dream spouse, the dream house, and the dream cruise.  Christ to them was worth more than all their plans and dreams.  They all said, “It is better to be cut off in the midst of my dreams, if I might gain Christ.” ((John Piper, “Life’s Blood,” Tabletalk December 2001, p. 53))

Christ is the treasure that is better than life!  He is real life.

Training the Palate

February 5, 2004

Greetings My Friend,

One of the goals we have here at the village is to train the children’s palate’s to enjoy a variety of foods.  In their culture, there are several staple foods, but beyond that many never have the opportunity to explore.   In the dining hall, the lunch meal consists of national food that the mamas and children really enjoy.  When posho (like very stiff grits) is served, the mamas smile and say it will make a good nap for the cottages.

DSC00362 (Small) Trying to plan menus that are filling, healthy and enjoyable has presented us with somewhat of a challenge. Carolyn was very excited recently because she had figured out a way to make macaroni and cheese to be served at our evening meal.  The cooks did a great job of preparing it and we expected everyone to really enjoy this new treat–after all, who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese?  DSC00361 (Small)

Well, we heard nothing about the new dish from the mamas or from the children.  A few days later I was hauling some of the aunties who work during the day helping the mamas back to their village.  On the ride, I asked, “How did you and the children enjoy the macaroni and cheese?”  There was not an immediate response so I turned to Auntie Janet and asked her again.  You need to know that Ugandans are always eager to be polite and to please, so Janet turned to me with a big smile and a lift in her voice,  “Oh JjaJa, I think we have enjoyed it very much, only one has vomited!”  I thought I would never stop laughing at that and I almost ran the Prado up the side of a bank before I regained control.   Now, when Yoweri finds out that we are having macaroni he whines, “JjaJa, not the maca-ronees!”DSC00614 (Small) (2)

Well, I dropped Janet off at her place and proceeded to take another helper to her home.  As we traveled she said, “JjaJa, I am wondering if you would give me the advice (pronounced add-vice)?”  DSC01113 (Small)That was her way of saying, I want to speak to you privately for counsel.  I told her that I was willing to help if I could.  She is a precious friend and I have come to love her dearly.  She shared with me that her husband who had abandoned the family about six months ago, had returned the night before.  She said he was very apologetic and asked for forgiveness for wanting to flee from the crushing that poverty had made to his sense of manhood.  He despaired when daily faced with his inability to raise school fees for his children or to feed them adequately.  He felt trapped and unable to break out of the hopeless circumstance.  The pressure to provide when it was impossible to find a job took its toll and he ran. During all the months he was gone, Pastor Fred and his wife Susan stepped in and provided for this family.

DSC02371 (Small)Now it seems, he is ready to return home and she is more than willing to receive him.  Her dilemma was that he wanted to resume physical intimacy with her.  She remembered talks that Pastor’s wife had given about the way HIV is spread, so she had refused him and explained to him that she was not going to allow that until he had had a blood test to determine his status. She asked me if it was true that the virus could be passed between husband and wife that way.  I told her that Susan had given her true advice and that she had done the right thing. Her husband proclaimed his fidelity and said there had been no women in the six months, but this dear woman bravely resisted.  Jane, she was thinking rightly but the truth is she has no resources to carry out this plan.  Like everyone here, she struggles financially–there is never enough money to cover just the bare bones basics of life.  Her sons and daughters have not been able to attend secondary school this semester because she has no money for school fees.  When I dropped her off earlier this week, there was no food in the home.  I stupidly asked why she didn’t get fresh vegetables since they are so plentiful and cheap.  She responded,  “JjaJa, what difference does it make what the price is if I have no money at all?”    She added, “JjaJa, a meal of eggplant and tomatoes does not fill a hungry stomach through the night and day.”  The custom here is to drink a cup of chai in the morning and wait until very late in the evening to eat one meal that will hold you through the night and next day.  DSC01128 (Small)

Since it has been my job to take people to Ebenezer Lab, I knew that a reliable blood test costs more than this little family could ever raise or justify.   How could she come up with 9,000 shillings (at least 3 days wages) for blood testing when she has children who are not getting enough to eat?  It is through difficult choices like this that AIDS has claimed Africa.  DSC02373 (Small)Anyway, I told her that I would transport she and her husband to the lab and pay for the testing and praised her for her wisdom and for standing up in a gentle but firm way.  It takes one day to get the results, so I trust God will protect her until this is settled.  Friend, you are on my mind and in my heart–may He help renew your heart today as you prepare for prayer tomorrow.

With love,
lissa