Thursday, December 31, 2009

Along with Christmas comes gifts right? I mean that’s what all the hype is about, that’s why you can’t be in any store at last a week before Christmas if you’re closterfobic in the least, or why stores make over double their profits in the months of November and December. Well here things are a little different… the gift part of Christmas is not as much of a big deal, though we did receive an extraordinary gift over the “holiday season”; a blessing in the form of a beautiful, itty bitty little girl (literally)!!! Meet Nusula. Nusula came to my house with her Mom at the beginning of the week, and the moment I saw my heart hurt, I knew she was a VERY sick little girl… Nusula’s family is new here in Masese, and has essentially nothing. When her Dad died in a piki ascendant this past summer they lost everything they had, which was not much. And now their family of 5 lives on a little under $25 a month. Can you imagine? When she and her Mom came knocking on my gate this past Monday she was a lifeless, sick little baby, but today she is smiling, laughing, and playing! Only because of God’s AMAZING GRACE!

Monday, just after her arrival

As you look at this picture you might think that “she doesn’t look that bad”, but I would like to inform you that this 11 pound girl who looks to be about 9 months of age is actually in fact a year and a half old. I know; crazy. She has made huge improvements in just the past few days, but she has a long way to go… For a child that is as severely malnourished as she is it will take months of hard work for a full recovery to take place, and even then her little body will never be the same. Aside from the sickness she is currently facing, she will be forced to fight everyday to keep her life… Yes, Nusula is one of the 24.5 MILLION people in Africa that suffer from a disease called, AIDS. But despite what a large portion of the population here says, her life IS incredibly valuable, and worth FIGHTING for!!! My Jesus thought it was, as He was beaten, mocked and hung on a cross, when He gave up His life, He thought that even the babies with a deadly, and socially shameful disease were worth dying for!

So, here we go giving it another attempt; again, going on a great adventure-trusting that the Lord, the Great Healer will take the lead, and work a miracle in the life of a small girl, in a little village in Africa.

Tonight after dinner..eating chocoalte cake!

P.S I ask for your prayers for not only Nusula, but for me as well. Last Monday I was bitten by what is believed to be a Brown Recluse spider. As this can be deadly, I pray that the Lord will protect my body, and that my immune system will not eat away at the tissue around the bit in an attempt to get rid of the venom. Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas morning: wake up incredibly to early, open our stockings, tromp outside in the snow wearing PJ’s and boots to feed the horses, and of course give them all a candy cane, come back inside, and worm up while smelling something delicious coming from the kitchen! Then the most important part of our families Christmas morning… Each year no matter where we were, or who was there, we read the Christmas story!!! We all sit near as my Dad opens his tattered bible and begins to read... “In those days Caesar Augustus made a decree…”Even from the time we were babies that’s how Christmas morning began in our home! My parents were always very intentional about keeping the TRUE meaning of Christmas the center of our festivities!

Well, this year is going to be a little different, I won’t be participating in my families traditions, or eating any of my Mom’s fabulous food, I won’t go to dinner at my grandparents house, or sit around talking after we’ve stuffed ourselves, and because of that it may not even feel much like Christmas. That thought hurts my heart a little bit… BUT, because my parents we’re always so diligent in teaching me the real meaning of Christmas , though I won’t open stocking or presents, drink hot apple cider, or most importantly be with my family, I will be having a mighty celebration in my heart because December 25th is the birthday of a king, the one true king! As I celebrate the birth of my Savior this Christmas season here in Uganda I pray that I will not forget, that I will not forget about that baby who lay in a manger over 2,000 years ago, and that I would remember to worship HIM in the same way that those dirty Shepherd’s came, and the wise man bowed down!

This is what I will be reading to my children Christmas morning!

But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "Let it be unto me as you have said." Then the angel left her. Luke 1:30-38

So, Mary, the mother of Jesus was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Matthew :18-24

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:1-21

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."
So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." Matthew 2:1-23

Mom and Dad,
thank you for being incredible parents, the BEST ever! Thank you for instilling Christ in my heart, and for teaching me to love HIM with everything in me. Thank you for being such a great example of a father’s love for their child, and for intruding me to my heavenly father! Thanks for teaching me the real meaning of Christmas; I hope to one day do the same for my children. Know that I am missing you terribly this Christmas, but remembering, and celebrating the birth of our Savior! Lots of love.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Well I do believe the Christmas season is upon us, and I’m finally going to attempt to fill you in on life here, and bring you up to date. I’m telling you, I can just never seem to get to blogging, and for that I’m very sorry.

Most of you are probably experiencing the weather change to cold! Maybe some of you look out your window and see snow, have so melt ice off your cars before you leave for work in the morning, or shovel your sidewalk.
Well, I am experiencing the sun get hotter, and more intense. Yes, the rainy season in over and the hottest months of the year here in Uganda are coming… I can’t really say I miss the cold of winter, I was never a fan of being freezing, but I wouldn’t mind not getting scorched every time I walked out of my house. Its ok, people just say I am becoming black like them!

It is a bit strange to think that in America right now everything is all about Christmas! When you walk into to a store you get bombarded... you are greeted by singing Christmas cards, red & green, big blow up Santa’s, and fake snow “The reason for the season”, even Barbie has a special outfit on! Here, 3 weeks before Christmas when I walk into the supermarket they try to sell me a new kind of soap for washing clothes. That’s the Christmas excitement around here. Weird that is can be so different...But to all of you back in the States who are already celebrating the Christmas holiday
Have a very Merry Christmas!!

This is something I want to share with you guys, so you can be praying along with us! It’s a long story, but I’ll try to just hit the highlights! A couple weeks back the Lord planted an idea in my head, and on my heart. I didn’t really tell anyone because I tend to get lots of crazy ideas, and that’s all they are, ideas. But 2 Saturdays ago Heidi and I were sitting in the children’s hospital waiting for the night shift Dr to show up. We had a little girl with a protruding rectum, and it needed to be pushed back in. We had been too many hospitals, but continued to be sent to other medical facilities because no one wanted to deal with her.
So there we sat in the dirtiest, grosses hospital I have ever been in, just waiting for the Doctor to feel inclined to come to work. We were getting board, and that doesn’t happen often, so I started to tell Heidi my “idea”. In a nut shell this is what it is: it’s to basically start a malnutrition rehab center of sorts. Kind of what we’ve done for a couple of the kids here in Masese: Faith, Allafat, Chakool… We would most likely work with a hospital for referrals-a lot of times kids with severe malnutrition don’t necessarily need to be in a full blown medical facility, and being in a government hospital is most of the time more detrimental to their survival than if they would have just stayed at home. Only 30% of children admitted with severe malnutrition come out alive. Those aren’t very good odds.
So, we would probably get most of the kids from poor quality government hospitals. And we would “rehabilitate” them, but with the intention of being able to integrate the children back into their homes with their families! But while the child is in our program we’d be using that time to work very closely with the parents/guardian to teach and mentor them! We don’t end up back in the same situation in a few months. The hope would be to have a large garden that could mostly sustain the household of maybe 10 to 15 children, and the parents would be required to help “dig” and work in the garden with the SHC staff. We would really kill 2 birds with one stone because they would be giving back to their child’s recovery, not just getting a free hand out, and learning at the same time! The goal being that we would be able to help them start their own garden once their child is able to go home! The parents will also be required to take health classes among other educational courses in attempt to better the chances that the child will not have to be admitted to a medical facility for malnourishment reasons again. We pray that in working closely with the parents we will have the opportunity to share the gospel and tell them about the Love of our Savior! Because that is our heart more than anything else; to bring hearts into the kingdom! Also, since we will be working closely with the whole family, we’ll be able to conduct follow up visits to ensure that the child is being properly cared for. That’s the basic idea!

So, not 2 minutes after I told Heidi about all this a lady (white lady) walks by with an African Man and Woman; she waves, and keeps walking. It’s very rare that you would see other white people in that particular hospital, so we were a little curious. A while later they come back and sat down, the white lady walked over and says “hi my name is Linda; I’m starting a nutrition ward here. What are you guys doing?” We got to talking, and then she had to leave for a meeting with the head nutritionist of the hospital. A few minutes later when she was still waiting; she came back over and said “come here, I want you to meet this lady, Molly, I think she would be a good connection for you in your line of work here.” Well, we weren’t doing anything but waiting, so we went over… Long story short-Molly is working with the minister of health in Kampala to start a new program to work on eliminating the malnutrition problem in the Jinja/Kampala area! While talking to her she said how important it was to actually teach the parents because the problem really stems for them, not the child. Heidi and I just looked at each other, and she said “Renee you have to tell her!” So I explained what we do now, and then went out on a limb and told her briefly, like in 2 sentences what this new idea was, and she was super excited! She said that’s exactly what they need here in Uganda-someone who will work with the parents to teach them, not just feed their children. We exchanged phone numbers, and she asked if we could get together in a week or so and talk more about the idea, and how she could help us get it started!

Not long after we talked with Molly, we left because one of the nurses told me that we should have never come, that we were sent to the wrong place, and we needed to go back to the main hospital (the place we had just come from). There was no reason for us to have ever been there at all. It was a divine appointment!!!

Well, last Tuesday Heidi and I went to Kampala to meet with Molly, talk about different possibilities, and get her thoughts and advice. We discussed so many things; she has a wealth of knowledge! Molly is very excited for the possibility of this program, and is willing to help in any way she can to get it up off the ground! Her job for the past oh 15 year or so has been to start community programs, to make all the government connections, help set up policies, and then move on to the next project. WOW! Working with the government here is not my favorite thing in the world, I mean I don’t even like to work with the government in America. Having someone just offer to help with getting all of the government stuff done was incredible! Thank you Lord!

Right now we are still very much in the thinking and praying stages of everything. We want to take things slowly and wait for the Lord’s perfect timing to really “start”! We are still running normal programs, and going about life here in Masese as usual, that will remain the same. So I’m not sharing this with you just to tell you about a new program that's not even running yet, but to ask for your prayers! There is so much to decide… so much to do… and I’m asking that you would join us; that you would come along with us on this new adventure!

Lastly, but most certainly NOT least, I want to say a very special THANK YOU to Heidi Elliott! Heidi has been volunteering with SHC for the past 4 months. She left last night, and is greatly missed even after just a day.

Heidi, you are an incredible servant, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with you! Thank you for not only serving the people of Uganda with your whole heart, but for also serving me during your time here. You are such an encouragement to my heart, while at the same time being an example with your own. Thank you for following the Lord, and for following Him HERE; you have made an impact on countless lives, my own included. We miss you so, so much already, and pray that one day the Lord will call you back to our corner of the world! THANK YOU FOR HELPING BE THE HANDS AND FEET OF OUR LORD! It’s been a joy! Love you lots Sister Friend!