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Africa Inland Mission
July 13, 2013 6:36 am

We’re back from the bush! Well technically from Gulu, but we did spend our days out in the villages. But I am already ahead of myself. This will be a longish update so grab some chai and a biscuit and settle in.

Thursday July 4th

We have invented baseball. Sort of. I think technically we invented flip-flop ball. Also the bat was a tree limb that we whittled a handle in. The ball was newspaper wrapped in duct tape and the score was 9 to 8 and the end of the second inning. Because soccer (football) is the dominant sport here, catching is not necessarily in the basic skill set. However, the men we played with are genuine athletes. Steven hit a grand slam on his second at bat. That night we made hamburgers and noodle salad. It was just like being home! To cap it all off we made bottle rockets out of baking soda and vinegar in empty water bottles. Yay America.

Friday July 5th

On a more missionary-ish note, Emmy, Ethan, Debbie, and I shared our testimonies at a “Crusade” that Charles’ (the Ugandan Physiotherapist) church put on. They built a stage on the roadside in a small village called Kasala. The minister jumped up on the stage, turned the amps up to 11 and started praying for the community and the residents. The overwhelming power of the speakers and the limited size of the community meant that every single resident must have heard that cry. Then the singing began. These men and women praised God with their whole voice, in front of a crowd that was not overly friendly.

The four of us stood up to share our testimonies and Ethan gave a good message about the importance of relying on God’s providence and accepting his offer of grace and mercy. The other speakers shared brief testimonies and messages on the importance of not letting the opportunity to be saved pass by. This was only one night of a 3 day event, but Charles told us later that over the course of the weekend more than 60 people came forward to be saved. Even better, the attendance at his church on Sunday was up by about 20 people! I hope Emmy and I will get a chance to visit his church again soon!

Saturday July 6th

BABY ELEPHANT

BABY ELEPHANT

Emmy fighting a baby elephant

Emmy fighting a baby elephant

So no big deal, but we pet a BABY ELEPHANT. Today we went to the Entebbe Zoo with Johnson (Ugandan Orthopedic Officer (Who has never seen a Lion?!)) and Samuel Mutumba (Africare Field Director of ACHERU) The zoo was smaller than most American zoos, but the rules are a little more relaxed. For instance, if the keepers need to move a baby elephant; they take out a section of fence, grab a stick and move the elephant. Then if a group of muzungu tourists walk up, they let them pet the BABY ELEPHANT and take pictures with it! Later if the same group walks up while the keeper is feeding the giraffes they invite you into the feeding area and hand you bunches of greens to give to the Giraffes. Not to mention, this zoo happens to be on the shore of Lake Victoria.

Sunday July 7th

Our feet at the source of the Nile

Our feet at the source of the Nile

Today we got to go to church as a team! We went to the Church of Uganda (Anglican) service at Uganda Christian University in Mukono. From there, Samuel took us to the source of the Nile. There used to be a water fall from Lake Victoria that met with an underground stream to form the River Nile. However, There is now a dam further downstream creating a very large, but very underwater, waterfall. This is not particularly interesting from the surface. We took a short boat ride and stood in the shallows at the 0 kilometer mark for the start of the Nile. We drove a ways downstream and saw some really cool rapids though! Thus ended our touring weekend before our trip to Gulu.

July 9th – July 12th

ACHERU in Minkalu

ACHERU in Minkalu

We left at 7 am and drove north until we reached the center in Minkalu, just south of Gulu, around 5 pm. This center is more of an outpost for Afaayo. They have an orthopedic officer and a physiotherapist, but they only do outpatient work. They serve a huge area with many remote communities. Our trip was geared towards raising awareness in these villages. Over the past few months, Samuel has been working with various clinics or other health facilities in the outlying areas to set up gatherings of disabled children who need services.

Clinic under a tree!

Clinic under a tree!

We did one clinic on Wednesday and one on Thursday. Each time we saw about 35 children and their families. On both days we were able to apply plaster

casts and begin the process of correcting some of the deformities. (To treat clubbed feet here they manipulate the foot into alignment and apply a cast. They do this progressively, changing alignments and casts every 2 weeks until the foot is corrected) One concern when treating children in outlying areas is the difficulty of ensuring regular follow up. The first village we visited was a 2 hour bike ride away from the clinic. The second was 2 hours away by car, so follow up might be impossible for some families. We identified many children who will require service at the hospital in Kampala and lengthy stays at ACHERU here in Kabembe.

Sticker Ministry!

Sticker Ministry!

During the clinics our team observed the work of the Ugandan professionals and had awesome opportunities to interact with the children in the community. We sang songs with them and played games. One of the best parts of the work for us is the chance to talk to the mothers and their children. Disabled children and their families experience significant stigmatization, especially in the less developed outlying areas. This limits the opportunities for the families to seek service because the children are often hidden away. However, we get a chance to encourage the families who have come out for service. Each one of the children has a beautiful smile, and even better, a small amount of physiotherapy (5 weeks) is usually enough to enable children who have never walked to stand!

Friday morning we departed around 9am for our journey home with a stop at Murchinson Falls. After some confusion and turning down a wrong path in the national park, we finally arrived at the Top of Murchinson Falls. The rapids were beautiful and powerful! We only wished we had more time to head downstream to see the waterfall! But, we had a very long drive still ahead of us. We did see A LOT of wild animals in to and out of the park: Giraffes, water buffalo, wart hogs, deer of all sorts, monkeys/baboons, birds, and killer biting flies… which we didn’t appreciate very much.  We didn’t arrive back at ACHERU until 11:15pm with our only stops being at the falls for an hour, potty breaks, getting gas, and picking up the new nurse, Tom. We experienced a legitimate African traffic jam for at least an hour or two. Some of our American criticism of rude drivers came to light here. But, we arrived back safely, happy to be at our African home!

Thoughts in Closing

Gulu is in the northern part of Uganda, which is traditionally viewed as less developed than the central region. Outside of the city, this may actually be the case. In a week we will travel to Karamonja with J, this area is extremely arid and even poorer. Famine and water shortages are common.

Through all of these trips and experiences we get to see the way God blesses people who have very little. Seeing all of the difficult circumstances that the people live with, day in and day out, it makes the phrase “daily bread” mean something new. We are blessed with so much and often lean on our own perceived ability to support our own existence. Here this illusion is blown away. The people depend on their community and their God for support in all things. When the family has a disabled child they often get put out of the community. Without this local support, the child often falls behind developmentally. I think this will be the core of our work here.

When we travel with J in the coming months, much of what we do will involve educating parents and families on the importance of treatment at an early age. Above all else we will seek to show the families how much God loves every child. We want to be the hands and feet of Christ in the lives of the children we meet. We pray that the families would be open to seeking treatment and to the idea that disabilities are not a curse or evil occurrence. The love of Christ is the only thing that can really save anyone. The whole world experiences the brokenness of sin; the veneer of wealth is just pulled back in this place. We cannot heal every child in Uganda. Even those we treat may not be healed completely. But if the love of Christ is evident in our words and actions, a seed of something much deeper and truer than physical health is planted. Our last prayer then is that souls would be saved and Christ would be loved by all the earth. Please pray with us for this.

-A.B. & E.B.

One Response to “Copang-yio? Co-pe!”

  1. Connie Plocher Says:

    Loving your commentary and pics! I can see in your faces how you love your work and your surroundings in the here and now.

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