Friday, February 23, 2007

Update from the plane

23-02-2007, 11:30 Uganda time, 02-23-06, 03:30 EST

We’re on our way back home. At this time we’re somewhere east of An-Nuhud (according to the map on the 6” screen in front of me.) We’re 6 hours and 22 minutes from our destination. It’s been a good flight so far. A little turbulence at times, but not bad in comparison to many flights I’ve been on in the past. I’m grateful for pastor’s decision to use British Airways. It has been a pleasant experience. Good food. Friendly flight staff. Clean. We didn’t have any problems getting through security at Entebbe, with the exception of one minor thing that was my own fault. I had neglected to check my waist bag to make sure I didn’t have anything sharp in it. When they x-rayed my carry-on the second time, the x-ray showed a pair of scissors…I’d been carrying them while working at the Medical Centre and hadn’t removed them. They were very nice about it as they confiscated them…at least I didn’t get hauled of to some Ugandan jail!

Although it will be nice to get home, there are several of us who have mixed feelings about leaving Uganda. There is so much work here that needs to be done…that could be done…but at least the groundwork has been laid for our future visits. And, I have to remind myself of the question which Pastor Eddie asked me a couple days ago: “Do you want to impact one nation or many nations?” Of course, the answer is: “Many!” But that doesn’t change the fact, though, that I feel like a part of my heart was left behind with the wonderful people whom we befriended so quickly and easily.

Returning from this trip reminds me of how I felt after returning from two months in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina...So intensely aware of how blessed I am, but also how spoiled I as an American have become. During the last week I’ve spent a lot of time observing the people whom we were around. In the area where Life Link Medical Centre is located, most people do not have running water in their homes—or even on their property for that matter. Water is carried in big yellow plastic five gallon jugs from who knows how far away. And even then, it may not be fit to drink. So much of the water is contaminated. Even the Medical Centre is without a water source.

We saw and treated many patients who were sick with Malaria because of the water. Our Pastors’ adopted child, a little four-year-old boy at King Solomon’s Academy was sick when we were there. He had missed school the day before due to illness, and Pastor Solomon had sent someone to the boy’s home to get him so that Pastor Eddie could see him. When Pastor Solomon saw the boy he realized how sick the boy was and took him up the road to Life Link. He was tested for and found to be positive for Malaria. Because Life Link had just moved in close to the school, the boy was able to be treated and is recovering at this time. If it hadn’t been for the clinic (and the fact that Pastor Eddie wanted to see his sponsored child) the boy might have stayed at home and died of Malaria, like the two children in December. One of the two children whom Rocky and Kandra sponsored died in December due to Malaria.

And then there are the “facilities” which many homes don’t have. The lavatory facilities at Life Link Medical Centre were really good for the area in which we worked. The “facilities” there consist of three stalls with concrete floors built over a deep pit. In the floor of each stall is a rectangular hole with what I call a concrete “splashway” in front of it. You squat over the hole and try to aim at either the hole or the splashway (or both, if the need arises…there’s an art to that!) Oh, I forgot to mention that there is a big enough gap around the door that a whole group of children could gather round and watch if they happened to notice the mzungu (white man) head for the outhouse! Smile! You’re on (not so) candid camera!

Life in Uganda is so much slower…what the team calls “Uganda Standard Time” or UST. Things will get done when things get done. ;D No fast-paced, “hurry to get wherever you’re going” kinds of pressure. The tasks of simple survival – obtaining food to eat, water to drink, and so forth are the main focus of many of the people we observed.

Then there are the houses. Many of the homes in the rural areas are made with bricks that were actually made out of the red clay soil that is so prevalent in Uganda. As you look through our pictures you’ll see stacks of bricks in some of them. They are made by hand and fire-cured right there on the spot. In the States if someone can’t afford housing, he or she might rely on someone else to help out. In Uganda the people don’t have that option…they construct a dwelling of whatever materials they can acquire. As you look at the pictures on the Online Albums, you’ll notice many that are made out of the handmade bricks, complete with dirt floors, no water or sewer, and open holes as windows.

My battery is dying, so I’ve got to go…bye!

02-24-2007, 07:24 London Time

We’re up and getting ready to leave for the airport in a few minutes. As I was showering this morning, and watched the last of the red Ugandan soil ran down the drain, I thought about how a few hour flight and a few thousand miles can change one’s perspective. I have a lot to reflect upon on the last leg of the flight. Have to run now.

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