Dance Fever

March 7, 2004

Hey Lady,

PasGerMikNCBC (Small) It is the end of the day Sunday and I am trying to get this typed before the generator is cut off at 10:00.  The electricity has been off all around Kampala for most of the day.  We picked two visiting mini-missionaries from Entebbe this morning.   They were not completely exhausted so they agreed to go to church with us. We took them to the church we go to in the city called New City Church.  Pastor Gerald is a fabulous preacher. We are very blessed to have this partner church to attend.  His congregation seems to be mostly young Ugandan college aged folks.    IMG_0080 (Small)

Since we have found out that Sophie’s blood test was clear we have been anxious to go and pick her up. We were told to come pick her up Monday. The magistrate approved her placement with P1010007 (Small)us but Sanyu’s Director has suddenly refused to let her go. When Carolyn called to make an appointment to get her, Joyce said, “You come for her in a month, she is not ready to be released yet.”  We are both in deep confusion, Carolyn pressed a little and emphasized how well the children do here when they begin to balance the diet over 3 meals a day.  The Director could not be budged.  So, with heavy hearts, we wait.

spiritofuganda.jpg Yesterday, Carolyn and I went to Entebbe to the grand opening of the SOS Children’s Village there.  They have 12 cottages built and President Yoweri Museveni was coming to speak and cut the ribbon on one of the cottages.  He was to be there at 2:30 but actually arrived at 4:15.  We did not mind the wait, we sat in plastic lawn chairs under a big canopy tent drinking sodas and watching different groups entertain; it was no hardship to wait.  My favorites were the dance troupes doing native dance. To be in such an entertaining, relaxing environment was a great gift.  49709999._MG_8786

The dearest part of the day was when a group of 12 little seven to eleven year old girls from the war torn Northern area of Gulu danced.   These are little girls who watched their parents be tortured and killed, they are children who wandered aimlessly and Uganda_067were left to fend for themselves until an SOS center was set up to house and care for them.  SOS is a humanitarian organization and I am so grateful for their work.  They are able to tap into big corporate money gifts, mostly from Europe, to help the needy orphans here and all over the world.

Tonight, as I type, there are the familiar all night drums playing again.  49709991._MG_8652  We wonder when Ugandans sleep–they seem to stay up all day and all night.  Pray for us here, there is much community discontent since we had to lay off so many construction workers.  The buildings that were funded to this point have been completed and that means men have no work here. This is hard on everyone as we live among people whose stability has been disrupted by this work completion.  The necessary lay off has left the community outside our gate feeling betrayed and disgruntled.  Girl the lights are going to go so I better too.  00000196-photo

Until later–I love you–lissa

P.S.  Jane, I am asking God to continue to help me be one who can receive help without feeling like a slacker. God uses you to help me release pockets of destructive independency.  Thank you.

Who is Testing Whom?

February 24, 2004


It sounds like DSC01991 (Small)God is up to much there — and yes I have tasted His faithfulness here today as well.  I needed to get Sponsor reports and Quarterly reports done on 6 of our children and so I spent the early morning at the computer putting those together. I actually enjoy writing them,  noting how the children progress over a 3 month time period.  I try to imagine a sponsor reading the report and work to craft it with words that communicate each child’s spirit and personality so that the sponsors feel a personal connection.

At 10:00, I took Teopista and Molly to SOS for Molly’s second immunization shot.  Immunization takes place in a thatched roof, concrete floored gazebo.  The serious and sullen nurses bring out a table and place it in the center of the floor.  They also bring coolers with syringes full of vaccine.  They hang this thing from the ceiling that looks like the canvas seat of a Johnny Jump-Up hooked to a vegetable scale.  Each Mom is supposed to put her child in that to read, remember and report the weight to the nurses when they are ready to begin the clinic.  The mothers and guardians are also responsible to put the vaccination records in a stack on the table as they arrive and then sit on a concrete wall waiting quietly until they are called by the nurses.  That stack order determines when you get called up.

Wisely, the head nurse begins the clinic by turning the stack over so that the first to be called was the first to arrive.  Each time I have been, I have noticed several mothers who come “late” (although I am learning that there is no such thing as “late” in Africa) and who slip their cards on the bottom of the stack.  You can’t believe how my heart battles in those moments!  My mind begins rehearsing, “That’s not fair, I was here first.  Followed by self cesoring thoughts like, “Hey you are missionary you are not supposed to be whining like a baby!” Anyway, I fight the temptation to rearrange the stack and put it in proper order.

In moments like these I do see more clearly what  a product of my culture I am!  We impatient Americans know the value and the fairness in lining up and waiting your turn!  Or at least we know the value in everyone else lining up and waiting their turn.  Well, that is not part of the value system in Uganda!  I am learning to appreciate the differences rather than yielding to the strong desire to do training seminars on cueing up. The saving thought I had was a little voice that seemed to say, “Lissa, I didn’t send you  to teach or transfer your cultural norms– I trusted you to go and spread the fragrance of Christ!”

SophieFull (Small)Today, something new did happen while we were at SOS. Sister Immaculate gave the young mothers a family planning talk — not in English but in Luganda.  I saw Teopista, who is a 45 year old widow, smiling and shaking her head.  I asked her what was going on and she said, “JjaJa, this talk is too late for me and for you too!”  She listened politely, but when Sister finished talking, Teopista took off with rapid fire, passionate Luganda, waving her finger and looking each mother in the eye.  I knew she was up to something because her voice was animated and her faced glowed with joy and she kept saying, “Yeh-soo.”  On the ride home she said, “JjaJa, it has been a great day! I told those young women that they had heard how they could make their own plans about families but I told them that what they really needed to know was the One who has planned all things in the universe!  I told them they needed to meet and trust the plan of Jesus.”

I, didn’t get this e-mail finished yesterday so I am just continuing on.  It has been a full day, while the clock says 8:15 my body says, “missionary midnight!”   DSC01358 (Small)Today, Carolyn and I went to Sanyu to pick up Sophie and William so that we could get their blood tests in Kampala before traveling 45 minutes to Kakiri SOS to get physicals.   Sophie is severely malnourished and somewhere close to 2 years old but looks the size of a 1 year old.  William is an 11 month old who is an active charmer. I’m calling him “Budda Boy” since his distended stomach almost makes his little legs disappear.   He was abandoned with a series of head lacerations which might have come from ritualistic ceremonies done by a witch doctor or just from evil parental abuse.  DSC01383 (Small)The scars are fading and are less noticeable than when I saw him in November.   With the medical tests complete, we had to take them back to Sanyu and wait on results–I hate it when we have to return these children–it feels like betrayal of trust.  Back in the car, we headed to Nguru the government run babies home and picked up 3 1/2 year old Martin to bring him here to live. Our Sharon came from this orphanage too and it is a place that I wished could be emptied immediately.

Martin is a sweet little boy who has a lazy eye due to muscle damage from malaria.  Dr. Musoke thinks it will improve without assistance or treatment.   DSC01412 (Small) Martin had never worn shoes, never ridden in a motor car and had spent all his days behind an iron fence in buildings that make you cry, playing on a concrete porch day after day.  He wailed when we put him in the motorcar but then quieted down and just watched everything all the way to Rafiki.  Upon arrival, we introduced him to Mama Flavia and watched as he played with the children and ate a good supper.  His eyes look at his surroundings as if he cannot believe what he is seeing.  I will never tire of bringing children here and seeing them embrace the gift of being personally cared for. DSC01405 (Small)

If the test on Sophie is clear–and it may very well not be–we  will bring her here Wednesday and place her with big hearted Jenipher making her cottage have 7 children. William will be the only child of our new mama Robinah.  What joy is mine in helping women find jobs that allow them to support themselves and helping children have a promising future of nurture and guaranteed education.

How is the writing going for Luke 19?  I wanted you to know that as I close my evening I am thinking and praying for the day that is still ahead of you.  Teach it dear friend–God will have women who need the words you speak tomorrow right there to hear them.  Thanks again for visiting with me last night.  Your words helped me several times as I spent the whole day in the car being beaten by the roads.

Love to  you dear one,


A New Day, A New Opportunity

January 6, 2004

Dear Friend,

kampala02This morning I am tasting the mercy of God helping me wait for word that James has arrived in the States safely. We left the village early so that we could enjoy a final farewell dinner with him.  Since our arrival in Kampala, he had wanted to try this Indian restaurant that was on the top floor of the “mall” in Kampala. 291576110_2503a25d66  We decided that would be the place to celebrate our time together in Africa and his beginning again at Grove City.   The view was spectacular, and the setting of the restaurant was very festive.  We had the whole restaurant to ourselves since we were eating so early no one else was in the place.  James seemed a little nervous but was intent on being upbeat.  It turned out to be a lovely, lingering time.  The food was excellent but scorching hot– we compensated by ordering the large bottled water to help douse the flames on our tongues!   That was a great idea until we faced the reality of what it would feel like to travel for 40 minutes to Entebbe Airport, over potholed roads, after consuming 2 liters of water!  Casey was seriously uncomfortable on the trip and I think her pain allowed me to forget the unavoidable pain that was ahead for my heart.  We had to make one of those quick good-byes because of the airport security in Entebbe.  uganda3 I longed to be able to sit with him until time to board but it was not to be.  I thought I caught a glimpse of fear in his eyes and I almost grabbed him and said, “Don’t go.”

It killed me to look on that but he pressed on and said he would call as soon as he could.  We didn’t have an international card to give him so I think his plan was to call you and ask you to give us a quick call to let us know he has arrived at Dulles.  We have learned that Mike’s Honda was not starting and so Cindy and her husband are trying to get that repaired before James has to head back to PA.

Jane, James has a very tender fondness and respect for you.  I think he would truly appreciate knowing that someone was thinking about him and willing to give him a call to let him know that. The truth is, I would appreciate knowing that someone closer than me is watching out for him.  This is hard.

As we have shared before, I can be as miserable as I want to be and there are times when I give in and get pretty miserable. More often I am thinking,

“Lissa is God still God?”

“Can He care for James in your absence or not?”

“Can He care for Him better than you can?”

“Is the joy of the Lord my strength or did my joy go with James?”

“Lissa, are you so faithless that you consider yourself mistreated in this separation?”

“Lissa, do you believe that I will never leave you or forsake you?  Do you believe that for James as well?”

I find the rehearsal of truth moves me on and brings to my aching heart strong comfort that I need.  You and I have often talked about how there is no help in sitting around describing the pain–it only gets deeper and worse–I know this is a grace from God and I am thankful.

Today I will go to SOS to get 2 children immunized.  There I will encounter Sister Immaculate.  She is a heavy set Ugandan woman who dresses in the old style white nurse’s uniform.  When I think of my past encounters with her, the words “gruff” and “severe” come to mind. Her way is to sort of bark orders at you but she will smile every now and again if she feels so inclined. I find myself trying to coax a smile from her!   I hope the day at the desk will bear much fruit in lesson preparation my friend.

I love you bunches–lissa

The Misery of Malaria

November 6, 2003

Dear Friend,

DSC00661 (Small) Today is training day and so I will try to grab some desk time to prepare for that.  Chloe did fine with the immunization.  I enjoyed talking with Mama Flavia and preparing her with the news that she might have an eldest son added to her family as soon as Monday. We are planning to place Yoweri in her cottage when the paper work gets completed.  Praise God his blood work was fine.  DSC00546 (Small) When I shared Yoweri’s story with her, she responded sweetly, “I feel that that one is already mine.  It is the plan of God that he should come to my home.”  Can you imagine?  She has only been here a month and has three  3 year olds and a 12 month old and is willing to take on more!

It has not been smooth sailing for her since we brought her the four children from Sanyu.  The longer I am here the more outraged I am by malaria! It is the most awful disease–it grieves me that it does not raise shocked responses in the western world like SARS, mad cow and bird flu do!  Many of our children come to the village already infected.   kato2

The malarial parasites live in the liver but from time to time move out and into the red blood cells rapidly multiplying and making a person very ill.  Kato woke last night delirious and convulsing.  He had to be sponged down and given fever reducer every 3 hours to make it through the night.  Flavia had seen such symptoms before and knew it was malaria.  We did not go to hospital because there is no one there to help you in the middle of the night–you still wait till morning.

This morning we went to SOS clinic and thankfully they responded to his condition “quickly”  and gave him a bed.  The nurse worked with him from 9:40 until 11:00 giving him a fever suppository, a valium shot to relax the seizing activity, syrup to also help reduce the fever, a shot of quinine and a shot of antibacterial something or other.  He wet all over me, bled all over me from a nosebleed and then vomited all over me before we got home.  He was pitiful and the quinine effects are almost worse than the malaria symptoms.  Anyway, on this day I have plead the mercy of Christ for this little one and He inclined His ear and listened.      There is more to share but I am retiring in case things are hopping again tonight.  I love you dear friend and I know that the gathering at the Biltmore was glorious for Christ and His kingdom.

Until later, lissa

November 7, 2003

Greetings again dear friend,
DSC00647 (Small)I remembered you when I awoke and prayed for your teaching time.  May God visit you with much grace and power as you serve the sheep the finest fare from His Word.  I slept very well and Kato did okay through the night.  Part of his take home medication was Phenobarbital to relax his brain from the effects of the malaria and quinine tablets–I am learning much about this disease and none of it is good.

Flavia is doing beautifully in caring for him but I sense the mamas think I am too “soft” with Kato and showing too much concern.   It seems that these African women have a strong cultural predisposition against being soft–or by my standards outwardly affectionate.

I remember reading in American history that when infant mortality figures were high, parents were not as indulgent or inclined to attach too  affectionately to children.  It was a self protective way of coping when a mother was faced with the reality that death might snatch away her precious little one.  Mama Teopista reminded me of that when she said, “JjaJa, if you are too kind to this one, how will he ever want to get well?”  I never stop being fascinated with the threads of cultural norms that I discover here.

I was able to spend some time with the Lord this morning and was grateful for the time then managed a few minutes to get things ordered here at home before heading out to check on the children.   DSC01656 (Small)

We were reminded that we have invaded and only partially civilized the bush as we encountered 2 small snakes at the cottages yesterday.  Any snake is too much for me so I have been walking very much more carefully today!  The mamas laughed when they saw me surveying the ground on my way to and from the cottages.

The folklore of when snakes come out and how dangerous they are occupied our Gazebo conversation.  Pray for mercy!

I hope you arise rested and satisfied in Him and what He did through you last night.  I am off to take Kato more juice–you are to drink plenty of fluids for this malady as well–so if this is spoiling him I am doing it!

With love,

Hot Heads

October 8,  2003

Hey my friend,

What a good prayer you have for commitment to wait as God unfolds “A Call to Prayer”.  You know I have come to realize that as He is William engineering timing He hems us in to wait by withholding what we are anticipating– so He engineers the wait whether we are patient or not!  It is all grace when we can wait without anxious chaffing and I know that is what you desire.  DSC01339 (Small)

I used my American clippers to cut 7 heads of hair yesterday before the clippers refused to continue– so I will haul the rest to “Good Boys” salon in Wakiso Town this afternoon and pay shillings to complete the task.  We shave the boys and girls heads right down to the scalp until their heads glisten in the light.   Recently one of the mamas went into the bush and broke off a leafy plant,   crushed it and rubbed the fresh shaved heads with it. VillageOnTheHill I asked why and she responded, “JjaJa, it can keep the heads from burning and even the insects will stay away!”  African hair is very coarse and the clippers got so hot after the 4th child that it was burning their scalps! DSC02181  DSC02083

This morning I will haul the 4 new ones to SOS clinic to get a blood test to see if they came to us with malaria. We were there the day we brought them to get them checked over and to get all started on antibiotic syrup for upper respiratory infections.  shopfront1.JPG  Flavia, housemother of cottage 3,  is believing that she too is having a relapse so we seek information for wise treatment today. I am completely in love with our new baby Chloe!   She got here on Monday and took her first steps yesterday!  Mama Flavia and I shouted with such delight that we scared her and she sat down and began to cry!  DSC00571  Thank you – thank you for tending to the things you have this week.  The way you have chosen to settle up financially is fine with us.  We are grateful beyond belief.  I am still not sure how we will celebrate but Casey seems okay with whatever comes.

She experienced some significant loneliness over the weekend and it was more painful to watch than to experience for myself.  This place is most fine but there is a point in the evening when you feel the loss of everything familiar.  God comes quickly.     We finally got a family picture taken for our prayer card.

That picture will always make me smile-we look so harmonious but James was mad because I woke him from a nap to take it and he still had sheet creases in his cheek-Casey was put out because she had come home ready to head out and visit and we told her she could not go to Melanie’s to play-I had just been on my back in that dress under a sink trying to tighten the faucet and was sweating up a storm?etc., etc,   DSC00333 The tree behind us was pushed over during construction and was lying side ways and growing ugly and crooked.  A dear guard here who loves trees helped us resurrect it and get it heading skyward again.  I wanted to remember his kind service to us.  Thought you’d appreciate the story behind the shot!
May God sustain you as you wait – the description of how He built excitement for the event when you could share about the information card that folks had received was priceless.  He will do that again and again.
You have my love and His,