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,
lissa

O Sing to the Lord a New Song

October 19, 2003

Good morning friend.  Today I am staying on site with Cottage #1 while the others have been transported to church.  There has been a new willingness from the staff to assist in transporting children and mamas to “morning prayers”—we can be changed–praise God.  We all have surrendered much to get here and yet are still quick to draw lines and raise boundaries over which we will not yield– DSC00318 as though to say, “This is as far as I am willing to go.”  The curious thing is that we think we are choosing the good when we say that–it is the pathway to some new misery!

This morning I will go down to the gazebo and pray with the children and share the story of Jonah and Auntie Janet and I will sing as many hymns as we can.  She loves to sing and we trust as the children mill around and play that their spirits are absorbing profound truths of the faith.   Robert One day as Robert and I walked hand in hand to the dining hall he began singing with such fervor “Great is Thy Faithfulness“.   It melted my heart to hear that precious African accent and wonderful pitch remember and sing that song with such gusto.  What do you think God will do with a boy with such a heart?

Mike made it to the Post Office yesterday and they had a note in our box that said there was a package waiting to be picked up.  Of course when he went to the package pick up spot it was closed.  We will have to paDSC00326y some shillings (about 50 cents worth)to the Post Office because they have been kind enough to hold the box!  Things are so different here–every service performed is seen as an opportunity to raise revenue–since there is almost no taxation on individuals it makes sense to recoup business expenses this way. I will let you know about the package after Mike retrieves it tomorrow.

DSC00575 I trust that you are worshipping well to day–I listened to Jeff’s sermon on Jesus as Physician for our souls and was wowed by the boldness of that Word.  How would we be blessed if we believed the sufficiency of our God?

I am grateful for these hours alone in the house–drinking coffee–listening to praise songs and eating toast with cranberry jam.  Talk about refreshment of soul–this is it!  I do not miss things much at all–but privacy and being alone at times is a longing that about knocks me down.  As with the leaves there in Asheville–I did not know the magnificence of alone time when I had it in abundance!  I savor this like the finest treat…it is.  I join the psalmist and “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.”
Love to you,
lissa

October 21, 2003

Dear Girlfriend,

DSC01331 Today the housemothers and I will be discussing the 6th chapter of John–I’ll be re-teaching the lessons that I learned from you in that passage years ago about whether we want Jesus as Bread King or as He is –the King of the Universe.  Tomorrow we head out to Jinja and our boxes are supposed to arrive and be delivered by the time of our return Friday.

It cost another $500 to get those things through the customs maze–they open each box and if you have too many towels or sheets, or new things they charge you as though you are a business bringing in things to sell.

We are being helped so much by a Ugandan agent who will usher our things through and try to advocate for us.     Jane–I wish you could have seen Casey’s face as she opened the box from you yesterday.  She was as thrilled as could be and immediately rushed next door to share her good fortune with the Coiner girls.  Lisa immediately requested to borrow “A Knight’s Tale” and Casey allowed her to have first viewing.  She loved the bracelet –it looks so much like Casey and she had it on going to school this morning.

For me–I soaked off the red mud in a bath and climbed into bed on my heating pad with a book and don’t remember waking or wincing with joint pain last night!  Thank you,thank you my friend!

I pray that we both will grow more and more like David who had learned to despise sin in himself and in those around him. He longed for holiness–he was longing for heaven!  I hope your eyes rest on the faithful in this second day of ACTP.

Love to you,
lissa

Suspended Animation

October 5, 2003

Dear friend,

  The Preschool has finally opened.  Until the school building is completed,  DSC00213 we have set up the school in the unused portion of the Dining Hall.  We have been preparing the 3 and 4 year old children for this big day and had an orientation/welcome event so the children could become familiar with this new program.

Since school always means “uniforms” here, the mamas are asking what colors the school uniforms will be. I told our housekeeper Flavia that we muzungus did not usually wear uniforms to school.  She looked startled and responded, “JjaJa, how would anyone know who you were if you were struck by a car footing home?”  I looked puzzled by that and she explained that people are often identified following an accident by tracing the uniform worn to the school the child attended.  Personal identification cards have not infiltrated this culture!dsc01778.JPG

These first days since opening are going pretty well.  DSC00244Our Headmistress decided that disobedient children would be handled by facing suspension.  She thought that would whip these kids into shape quickly if they were forced to stay at home and do chores rather than getting to come to school.  

Well, this week we have suspended the suspension policy since so many were being suspended we couldn’t keep track of who could go to school and who had to stay home!  Carolyn and I should be ashamed of how we are taking such delight in watching our precocious preschoolers change the program that Joanne had in place to whip these kids into shape!  She said to me, “Lissa, I cannot physically move these children – they must listen and obey verbal commands.”  I said, “Joanne, they do listen — but the problem is they rejected what they heard!  I have found that physically move a child to where I want them to be progresses us both!”  FirstDayOfSchoolwithDirectorCarolyn&TeacherMarshaDay after day she is carrying a young one home from school who is refusing to obey! She is a very committed woman but one who has not had experience working with young children and she has very high expectations at the moment.

Joanne’s understanding of preschool bladder control issues is another area where there is a huge learning curve.  To maximize their classroom teaching time and not spend all morning lined up at the bathroom,  the children were allowed only one potty break.   After a couple of days of accidents, Joanne asked that all children have a back up set of clothes.  That will mean I need to make another trip to Owino Market to buy a set of clothes for the children and keep them lying in wait in a cubbie hole at school.  Extra clothes is a new concept to people who are blessed to have just what is needed.  At this point, I am greeted each day with what I have called “The Daily Urine Report.  The Headmistress lets me know who has spoiled their clothes and how many times.  I am wondering if that will become a new category on the school report card!DSC00263

Well, the 1 potty break rule got suspended yesterday, in fact, Joanne gave them 3 breaks.  This seemed like real wisdom since I had given the children a Mebendazole de-worming treatment with breakfast!  She has discovered that she needs a school motto, school colors and a school song to be accredited by the Ugandan educational system.  After the first week, we have suggested the motto might be “Don’t Hit!”, the colors should be black and blue and the perfect school song would be, “Trust and Obey!”.   Joanne is good natured about our teasing! 

On the home front, we are expecting two sofas to be completed by Wednesday.  The chairs here are huge and look out of proportion so we decided to get 2 sofas for everyone to have a place to sit and be comfortable.  I am planning to be all over them at the end of the day when I use them for stretching out.  It is strange to walk into a shop and pick out a fabric and then describe the style and dimensions to be custom made.  Ready made is not the way here–custom made is!  Mike requested that the sofas  be 6 feet long on the inside of the arms-I’m thinking they will look long but I am so “longing” for something with a cushion!  The Indian furniture man calls cushions “sponges”. Lissa & Sophie

If I am remembering where we are in the Psalms correctly I smiled when it was time to read Psalm 82 yesterday and came across vs. 3.  Do you remember how God used that Psalm and Boice’s commentary to give me permission to pray specifically that we go to Romania?  Here we are in Uganda-His re-directions keep our eyes pealed on Him don’t they?  Well, I look forward to news about your trip and will be praying for you in the meantime. 

Love you bunches,
lissa

The Fountain of God’s Mercy

cove

Mike and I just returned from a trip to The Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina.   I had looked forward to this trip since September when I first heard that John Piper would be teaching Romans 12-13.covetrees He began teaching chapters from Romans starting in the summer of 2001 with “The Great Eight–Romans 8”  and then  “God’s Word has not Fallen–Romans 9-11”.  It would be impossible to overstate the impact that these teachings have had on my own thinking and teaching.  This seminar entitled The Mercies of God and the Transformed Christian Mind” was stunning!  I came away awed by the mercy of God to the church of our day–to allow us to have a Paul like thinker in our own time–how marvelous!  It was an immeasurable Piperprivilege to sit under the passionate exposition of God’s Word by Dr. John Piper–that five hours of teaching left me hungering for more!  There were about 500 of us gathered in the beautiful mountain retreat and the teaching bathed us all in the richest — most hope filled truths of Scripture.    CAW9W7JD

Here is a sprinkling of the heart provoking teaching and questions that were addressed in this wonderful get away weekend:

  • What is wrong with the human mind that it needs to be renewed?
  • When did God become completely and totally for me?
  • God’s words do not just declare something they constitute something.
  • Christianity is not a will power religion–it is a passionate relationship.
  • When God calls, no one says, “No!”
  • Our bodies were not intended to be used to impress others with how we look they were intended to be used to make God look good!
  • Our bodies were not made to show off muscles–they were made to show off mercy!
  • Let your body show what you think about God!
  • “Good” and “Evil” are objective realities that exist apart from my preferences.
  • The inner life of our preferences is to be brought into conformity with external objective truth not vice versa!
  • Mercy in my life toward the undeserving is the best way to show the world that my God is Mercy!
  • What is acceptable to God?  Himself!
  • I was created to show something to the world–the world is not impressed with seeing mirrors of themselves–we will seize the day when we stop showing the mean – spirited judgmental face of law driven religion and begin to show the world our tears.
  • When you take a log out or your own eye–it hurts and tears begin to flow–the world needs to see our tears.
  • The main feature of a renewed mind is that it is radically Christ centered.
  • Faith looks away from itself to another.
  • Our worth consists in treasuring the worth of Christ–our significance consists in savoring the significance of Christ
  • Faith is a gift given to obliterate pride!

the Cove May these words and others not be just type marks on a page–may God write them deeply in my heart and mind so that being transformed, the world may see how great is the mercy of my God!

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers,

in view of God’s mercy

to offer your bodies as

living sacrifices, holy

and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of

worship.”  Romans 12:1