Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Safe Arrival and Hitting the Ground Running

2009-07-30 It's 9:17 pm Kampala time. (2:17 Roanoke time) I'm sitting in the open-air tiki hut coffee bar at Namirembe Guesthouse, looking out over the city of Kampala. (NOT a Starbucks-type coffee bar. Just plain coffee and bottled sodas.) It's been a great day today. Very productive. But let me backtrack just a bit.

Our two 8-hour long flights were both good. KLM takes good care of their passengers. The only mishap was that something went wrong with the system that runs the toilets on one whole half of the plane, so they were out of order for over half the flight. My only prayer was that the OTHER half of the toilets would stay working! With over 200 passengers and over 4 hours left to our destination it would have been a BIT of a problem if they were ALL out of order. We were still a good 3+ hours from Europe, so there was nowhere to do an emergency landing to change out planes.

As we got closer to Uganda it hit me again how that even if it comes in bits and pieces at times, God DOES still give us the desires of our heart. I felt like I did 2-1/2 years ago when we FIRST came to Uganda...For 25-years it's been a burning passion of mine to go full-time into missions. That door has to open soon...hope deferred makes the heart faint.

We landed at around 8pm last night. Immigration registration took much less time that it might have. All of our luggage showed up, and Joshua was there to pick us up, accompanied by his twin nieces, Ruth & Naomi, bearing bouquets of long-stem roses. Our baggage wouldn't have fit in Joshua's car, so he'd called the guesthouse to send their van for us. The driver arrived in normal "Uganda time" fashion (5min = "oh, maybe an hour or whenever the traffic clears or I decide to get there") and we made our way the hour long ride to Namirembe. Well, we did stop to grab a bite to eat...a Chinese restaurant that Joshua knew of...yummy!

Today Rocky went to scout out availability of supplies for the solar dryer. He's waiting on a call back from a local contact, so we still don't have anything definite there. While Rocky was on a mission to find supplies, Debbie and I were with Pastors Solomon and Doreen Mwesige.
We stopped at a local pharmacy that caters to travelers, and I went "malaria medicine shopping". I hadn't taken anything prophylactically (sp?) due to no insurance and the expensive nature of the medication back home, but here it is cheap (but good quality - mine was Swiss-made), readily available, and requires no prescription. You just walk in and tell them what you want; they show you your available options, and you pay them. I got two-months worth of mefloquine for 39,000 UgSh ($19.50 USD).

After that we headed to the hospital to do the scheduling for each of our particular projects and to meet with the medical staff to determine what types of patients we will be treating next week. "Missions medicine" is a LOT different than practicing medicine in the States. What that means for us is that we as nurses and a respiratory therapist will actually be diagnosing and treating particular diseases like malaria under the guidelines set out by their doctor. We will also be teaching their staff about nutritional factors in healthcare, wound care management, and certain other areas of expertise in which they have not had training.

As we got closer to the hospital, I hardly recognized the area around Life Link Medical Centre due to the growth the area has experienced. The hospital has electricity now, a big improvement from our last mission there. There is still no running water, however. Water must be purchased every day in big Jerry cans. There is a fenced area around the front of the building now for security. They've made some changes in the rooms and now there are actual privacy curtains between the ward beds, a private injection room, and a LOCKED pharmacy room. It was so exciting to see the changes that had been made!

Then we went to the school, which I didn't recognize at first either. The house for which we sent money to purchase to provide additional classroom space (Our 2008 Project) is just a few feet from the back of the long brick building that was already in place on the last visit. It's really big and has allowed the school to expand and add a large number of children.

Next door to King Solomon's Academy and Good News Church, on the left, there is now a High School in what used to be a small row of huts. On the other side of the High School is the huge structure that is being built to house the school, much of which is currently in thatch or open-board walled structures with dirt floors and termite eaten support posts. The new building is approx 160-feet long, 40-ish feet wide, and will eventually be four-stories high. Once completed, the new facility will include flush toilets for the boys and girls on each story and a separate kitchen building. (I'm uploading pictures of the completed first story.)

The top of the completed first story is where we decided that we will build the prototype of the solar dryer and where I'll teach the people how to dehydrate their foods to preserve them for later consumption.

Before we left the compound we got to spend time with some of the school kids. They are great! You can't help but fall in love with them. They get great pleasure gathering around, rubbing our very light-toned arms, chanting "Muzungu! Muzungu!", and giggling loudly. Lol! (For those who don't know Luganda, the language of the area, "muzungu" means "white man".)

We made a stop at the Pastors' house to meet their youngest daughter, Shanna, and were treated to an endless glass of fresh squeezed passion fruit juice. The Mwesige's are a wonderful couple who have such a heart to serve the people to whom they've been sent. They have been given a tremendous vision for the ministries over which they preside (Good News Church, Life Link Medical Centre, and King Solomon's Academy.)

During our recent 2009 FCCI International Ministers/Missions Conference in Roanoke, one of the speakers challenged us to, instead of looking at what we DON'T have, to look at what we do have in our hands to work with and begin thanking God for working with us with what we have. As we are faithful with that, God will begin to bless it and cause it to prosper and grow into what He has called us to eventually step into. Pastors Solomon and Doreen are great examples of that. They started with pretty much nothing, but began to use what they did have and thank God for it. It has grown into a work that touches multiple thousands of people on a regular basis.

When God has someone with a willing heart and an obedient spirit who is not willing to accept failure as an end result, He can change the world!

Well, gotta go for now. More tomorrow...

Happy Anniversary, Pastors Eddie and Debbie Crabtree! We love you!

And Happy 25th Birthday to my Baby Girl, Zipporah! I love you! Thanks for willingly sacrificing "Mom Time" so that I can be here sharing the love of God with the people here. That's good seed in good ground and every seed produces a harvest!

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