Sweet & Sour

March 31, 2004

Hello my friend,

DSC01696 (Small)  We brought 2 new babies here yesterday.  After a confusing delay and a much too long wait for dear little Sophie–she is finally here!  Our doctor at SOS is not at all convinced that she is suffering from TB.  He says that the x-ray that he viewed of her chest was of such poor quality that he may recommend a better one.DSC01872 (Small)

He also wants to see her next treatment report from Mengo hospital where she has been getting TB treatments.  In his opinion, he says he would label Sophie as a child who has “failure to survive” complex but believes that that will end when she is eating and sleeping properly.  We were so encouraged by his words.

Sophie will go to cottage #1 where she will be cared for by Auntie Janet.  Mama Jennipher has left the village and not returned. DSC01682 (Small) She left the care of these children in order to take care of a crisis with her own daughter. This is becoming more routine than I can say — any family crisis presses these women to make a choice between Rafiki,  where they are committed to live full time, and their own homes where things are never stable or smooth running.  I know we need a policy that will allow the women some more freedom to come and go so that we can hold on to them over the long haul.  Since I have been here, we have lost 4 mothers!

Auntie Janet has been exceptional in this latest AWOL episode.  She has moved in to cottage #1 and is making the care of these children her top priority. DSC01678 (Small)The presence of babies in the village has lifted all our hearts and made us fix our eyes on the goal rather than all the problems in arriving there!  The children in cottage #1 are fascinated with this cute tyke with the extraordinary eye lashes. Janet is completely besotted as well–it is unusual to see African women display such outward affection.  We have also been waiting on William the one I call our little “Buddah Boy” and he too has arrived to live at Rafiki.    He is taller and his stomach is not as distended — he loves the dining hall and is relishing all the attention he is getting from his new mother– Mama Robinah.

Easter Morning

Jane, we had a tragic thing happen here this weekend.  One of our most trusted guards James Okwir  (O-quill) was on duty Friday night. DSC00282 (Small) James was a Rafiki guard and also worked as a personal gardener for Mike and I and another ROS couple here.  Our hearts were so tender to this wonderful man who tried every way he could to support not only his own family but children who had been orphaned in his extended family.  He would work all night as  guard and then spend several more hours washing cars, replanting and keeping the weeds out of the flower beds around our houses.

Anyway, the generator went off at 10:00 on Friday night and in the darkness he took a 5 gallon can of paint from Rafiki, left the village and went across the road to store it in a house of someone who lives close by.  Since we also pay outside community guards to keep watch at night, one of them saw him stealing and reported it.

James knew he had been caught and that sweet man was so shamed that he went home,  swallowed rat poison and killed himself.  I cannot even begin to describe the heartache this has caused for us  and the nationals who work here.  I found myself of despairing of being any kind of a help to these people when what we bring and build is so tempting to them.  Mike eating sugar cane James was in many ways one of our “success” stories.   He had fled the north where the war is going on rather than be impressed into service with the rebels.  He found work here–he found Christ here and was the most dependable worker.  How horrid that his escape from certain death in the north ended with this– to flee here to supposed safety only to face such temptation and shame that he ended up taking his own life.  The heartache does not stop with him–he left a mentally unstable pregnant wife and extended family who wailed and wondered who would support them now.  Mike commented that CEO’s can steal millions and experience no remorse or shame but this man could not face the world after stealing what would amount to about $50.

Jane, this is the resurrection day of our Lord.  My hope rests in the truth of this day.  I am convinced that James is right now as alive as Jesus and is enjoying perfect fellowship with him.  I am convinced that the truth of Romans 8:31-39 does not mock him because of his sin but has been fulfilled in him because of what Christ did in spite of his sin.  I didn’t expect to appreciate the truth of resurrection in this horrible way but it is more real and precious to me this year than ever before.  He is Alive!  He is Alive indeed!

With heavy, hopeful heart,


We forget…He does not.

March 25, 2004

Dear Jane,

Psalm 78 reminds us that we are consistent in our forgetfulness of the great works of our God–but he remembers His covenant forever.  That is good good news!

Mike downtown (Small) Casey is off from school today and so after the meeting to train mamas, we are going into Kampala to get haircuts. This is one of those times that brings such remembered pleasure to our days.  Mike has headed to Entebbe to pick up some mini missionaries who are making a second visit to Uganda.  We have had 3 flat tires in the past couple of weeks so I am praying that the patched tires will hold up for the journey.  Yesterday was full and busy.  We had a second interview with a woman that we hoped would be a mama in training. Effective interviewing is so difficult–the women are so desperate for the position that they will often tell us whatever they think we want to hear.  I don’t blame them.  MatatuMeetsCustomer (Small)This dear woman revealed under closer questioning that she is a single woman with an 8 year old child who is living here with her child instead of the child being in Kumi with her mother as she had told us on the first interview.  I praised God for her honesty and was thankful that we did not offer her a job that would make an orphan of her own child!

We also went to Nsambya Babies Home and saw 2 children that we hope can come live here in cottage #4. Over the past week, I’ve spent several hours with our new housemother Robinah Nafuna.   She is a treasure with depth of knowledge, both of people and of faith. She made me laugh so hard when she shared a story with me.  I had invited her to my home for a follow up interview.  Robinah&William (Custom) She got there around the lunch hour and since I knew that her journey on the matatu had been long and hard, I offered her a bowl of bean soup and some tea or water.  She asked for water probably so that she would not cause me extra preparation time.  I felt her eyes watching me quietly as I prepared her meal.  I noticed that she did not drink the glass of water and just assumed that like many Ugandans that drinking water was not her habit.  These folks have to walk long distances to streams and carry the water they need in large plastic “gerry” cans.  Since the water comes with contamination, they must boil all water for drinking and cooking.  I think as a result, they must think of drinking water as a costly extravagance.  DSC00223 (Small) Well, I had drawn her water right from the faucet, and when she saw that I did not “cook” it she was convinced I was a misguided mzungu trying to make her ill!  As she shared what she was thinking about me and these crazy foreigners in the village, I rolled with laughter.  What she did not know then and what will be a great treat for her as she lives here, is that here in the village we have a deep bore well.  The water comes up uncontaminated and immediately suitable for drinking!

Sophie I don’t know if I have shared that we heard that baby Sophie, who we are waiting to bring to Rafiki, was recently hospitalized.  We are not sure what is going on but we did stop by Sanyu while in town to check on things with her.  Joyce met us and took us into the lunch room where the children sit in those little chairs around the edge of the wall to drink their porridge. We saw Sophie but she looked so much smaller and weak.  As Carolyn talked with Joyce, I noticed a sign above her high chair that said “TB use own spoon and cup only!”  Things began to make sense about why Joyce had not released Sophie to us.  We had heard through the grapevine that there has been an outbreak of TB at Sanyu and we had been wondering if any of our children are infected.  They all had passed the TB serology tests but evidently they discovered through chest X-rays that some Sanyu children had the disease.  This throws many things up in the air for us–Carolyn is e-mailing the Rafiki pediatrician in Nairobi to see what we should do now. Well girlfriend, I need to move away from the laptop and get my mind ready for the mamas to come for training today.

gratefully yours,


P.S. Dr. Dan in Nairobi told us to bring Sophie as soon as possible so that we can get her treated for the disease. The treatment can take up to a year.  He told us not to panic about the other children that he would test them all when he visits in April or May and not to worry about it.   That was very encouraging.