31 December 2008

Thinking about war

Ever have one of those moments where you realize just how ugly you really are? It's like now, as the snow melts, and you begin to see where it's been scraped off the roads and lies in blackened piles along the sides of the roads. I had to think of my own heart as I was walking the other day, how much I'd love for my life to be like those beautiful, unbroken fields of snow from last week, but it's more like the snow that's been polluted by the world and is uglier for that corruption than if it had never been snow at all. This is the story of one of those piles of black snow in my life.

Growing up out in the country in a very pacifist state in the United States hasn't given me much personal experience toward living through violence, but I work with people in one of the most politically unstable regions of the world, as was very painfully evidenced one year ago when Kenya erupted into sustained mob violence following their presidential elections.

As I was in the airport returning to the States from this last trip, I was in conversation with Lisa Bevere, a Christian author and speaker from the States. She'd been in Uganda speaking at women's events, and was mentioning how impacted she had been by some victims of the LRA in northern Uganda. I immediately fell into what I now call the "suffering game". It's something that seems to come naturally to me, and probably to other aid workers, where we play a game of "oneupsmanship". Basically, the people who I work with always suffer more than the people anyone else works with, and I have to pull out the worst cases I work with as evidence thereof. It's extremely ugly, but, unfortunately, I think it's pretty common.

So in talking to Lisa Bevere, I lapsed into the "suffering game", and started talking about how northern Uganda had been at war for twenty some years, but Southern Sudan had been at war far longer, and would probably be going to war again in 2011 after Southern Sudan votes to secede from Sudan.

I hope you are as appalled as I am at how flippantly I threw that out there, but if you're not, just wait.

I began building on that picture of impending war by talking about how friends of mine who work for our partner orphanages would probably out in the bush fighting, and, if that's not bad enough, many of the boys who have been growing up in those orphanages would be just the right age to be soldiers and would probably get sucked into the war also.

Fortunately for my humanity the plane began to board and I wasn't able to deprave myself any further, but if I'd taken that picture to its natural conclusion, I would have been painting the pictures of my beautiful brothers dying in the bush and their sisters, mothers, and wives watching for bombs from the air, for landmines in the ground, and for young men who might never come home.

Don't think I'm totally insensitive. I was very emotional during that conversation, as I am now in writing about it, but I am very aware of how far I am from really sharing in the suffering of my family in East Africa if I could use their pain to win a pissing match.

Please pray for me, as I pray for myself, and let us all pray for peace in East Africa. Not peace as some obscure concept that we splash on our Christmas cards, but let us pray for the tangible peace that saves the lives of men, women, and children, the difficult peace that requires sacrifice from ourselves, the essential peace that is impossible on this earth without our blessed Savior.

22 December 2008

Still needing a Christmas gift?

Since we're all snowed in, you may still need a gift for someone in your family. Please consider giving a relational present - like a sponsorship of a child in East Africa.

Currently I have six Sudanese children needing sponsorship at $30 per month, and 20 children in Tanzania in need of sponsorship at $12 per month. These Tanzanian sponsorships are very important because these children cannot begin the school year in February without the tuition money that sponsorship provides.

Speaking personally, I have really appreciated the relationship I've developed with my sponsored children in Tanzania. I have really come to consider them like my brother and sisters, and always look forward to their letters and drawings.

If you are interested in sponsorship this Christmas (or any time after), please email me at ladams@lahash.net for more information about starting the sponsorship. If you'd like to give it as a Christmas gift, just mention that, and I'll email you the child's profile to print.

Merry Christmas, friends.

21 December 2008

Christmas greetings from overseas

In case you hadn't heard, the Portland area has been getting a load of snow this past week. There's also been a bit of ice, and, much to the chagrin of anyone who moved here from the Midwest or East Coast, the city has been panicking. I freely admit that I'm not a big "driving in the snow" person, so I didn't make it to the Lahash office until Friday. On Friday I went to work with my dad and caught the Max out to the office. When time came for me to return to Beaverton, Dan dropped me at the Lloyd Center Max station, where a train was conveniently waiting. Or maybe not so conveniently waiting.

After waiting about a minute without the doors opening, the Max driver announced "Sorry folks, I can't open the doors to let you on or off. The Portland police have advised that there are armed gunmen fleeing in this direction." Upon hearing that, I began to look around and finally noticed the multiple police cars on each corner, and the uniformed officers approaching the Max platform. All the passengers on the platform began looking askance at each other, and some unfortunately close young black men were subjected to intense scrutiny from many onlookers, both those looking to make an arrest and those looking to make a citizens' arrest. Here's the news story I found when I got home.

I called Dan and Erin, who were close by still, and they took me to another Max stop, so I made it home sans bullets, much to relief of my grandma, who believes that NE Portland is all gangstas and prostitutes.

Anyway, I had a packet of Christmas letters from the kids in Uganda for their sponsors, so Dan and I were working on an update letter for those sponsors, hoping to get it out before Christmas. Then, with about an hour before I had to leave, the mail arrived with a huge packet of Christmas letters from Tanzania! That effectively doubled my work load, which I spent last night and this morning preparing for the mail.

So if you sponsor a child through Lahash, you should have Christmas greetings winging their way toward you, just in time for Christmas!

17 December 2008

Christmas in Portland

My friend Jose from Miami was in town this week working with us at Lahash. Jose lived in Sudan for a year, and I got to hang out with him twice in Uganda and Sudan. He returned to the States early in November, and came out to Portland to do some speaking engagements. Friday night after a great speaking event Mandi and I took Jose out for a beer Portland style. (Portland style beer equals organic, brewed on site, with espresso in it)


Saturday morning I had breakfast with my great friend Anna. We started this "tradition" back when I lived downtown, and we planned her wedding over a series of breakfasts at the Stepping Stone Cafe in NW Portland. Now that I'm back in Newberg we have to arrange other accomodations, so we went to Fat Albert's in Sellwood. When we left we saw a true sign of Christmas: Santa making a withdrawal.

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12 December 2008

Here I am, send me

My mom sent me this video that they watched in the ethics class she's taking. It's about ten and a half minutes of a beautiful, moving spoken-word film project. I'm really interested if you all find it as striking as I did.

10 December 2008

Photo update

I'm back in the States now, with such awesome internet connection that I'm going to update you with some photos.
This is Christine Mwende, Edwin's wife, and I on the ferry across the Nile. Lexie and Jeremy are the white people behind me. It was really special to have Christine on this whole trip, although it was difficult for her physically. She and Edwin have been very important people in my life.

Here's a picture of all (but one) of my wonderful kids at Amazing Grace Orphanage. I told them to act like gangstas for the photo. I got to know these children particularly well over the course of my trip, spending about four of the eight weeks at this orphanage. They are such talented, intelligent, affectionate kids, and by the end of the trip we'd built a great relationship. I miss them immensely.

This is me in Kajo Keji, at St. Bartholomew's Orphanage. These two boys, Duku and Mak Wei, are sweet, special boys who are so rough and tumble during the day that they are just wiped by the end of the day. When it was time for them to go to bed, I picked up Duku and carried him to his bed without him ever waking up.

Those who know me well will be somewhat astonished to hear that this photo was taken at approximately six fifteen in the morning. This girl, Guo Betty, was doing her morning chore of sweeping in the compound. I was much better about taking photos and being aware of good photo opportunities, and I was very pleased with how this turned out.
Don't be too impressed. I wasn't at all good at carrying things on my head, but I think I have decent potential. "Strong neck, eyes forward!"
This photo was taken the night we took questions from the girls about their bodies and sexuality and all that. They had such great questions for us, and it was an awesome night. I love them so much.
This is little Juan Minikaya at the Kampala House. She was still my friend even though I had to punish her at one point in the trip for disobeying and being stubborn. She told one of the staff that she just wanted to go with me wherever I was going, even if it was the States. I mimed putting her in my pocket and carrying her around with me, and she got excited, although she told them that she knew she couldn't really go.

It was so hard to leave, and it's not easy to be back. There are so many things to think about and work on and process, and I miss the kids and the staff and my friends so much. It has been great to see my family and the Lahash people, though, which makes life a little easier. Even more fun is that Jose Nunez, who has been living in Sudan and Uganda for the past year and who I've met twice in East Africa, is in Portland this week. It's been great to process with him, and helpful for both us, I think.

Anyway, I'm going to be continuing to update this blog over the next nine months and more. In September of 2009 I'll be moving to Tanzania in my work for Lahash, and in the meantime I'll be raising support and preparing to leave. I'll be updating this blog as I continue along that path, and I hope you'll continue to follow along.

03 December 2008

Sorry for the delay!

I've not had much internet access the past two weeks, so sorry for the lack of communication.

Here's a rundown of impacting events for me since my last update:
* On our last day at St. Bartholomew's Orphanage Mommy Susan called Lexie and I to meet one of the new cooks at the orphanage. She is a single mother who drunkard husband left her with four children. The woman was holding a small child, her son, who I took to be about ten months old. I was shocked to find out that the boy was actually four years old. His name is Leju Julius, and seems to have a litany of mental and physical disabilities, as well as malnutrition. He cannot speak, doesn't seem to be able to hear, and cannot see more than light and dark. Lexie examined him, as did Annet Gune, the IWASSRU nurse, and during their poking and prodding, the only response he gave was moaning a bit when they hit a sore spot. His stomach and probably liver are so distended that his ribs are displaced. His arms and legs have no muscle development, and he cannot support himself even to sit. His hands are tightly curled into fists and he drools constantly. Annet thinks that with good nutrition, vitamins, and physical therapy Leju might be able to gain strength in his limbs. For now Mommy Susan has moved the mother and her children into one of the staff tukels on St. Bartholomew's land and arranged for Leju to spend the days at the Babies' Home while the mother is working, which will free his other primary caretaker, his six-year-old sister, to go to school. This was the only time on this trip that I felt completely unable to process what I was seeing and feeling. My heart went out to this mother and baby so much, and they've been consistently in my prayers ever since.

* That same day, we left SBO, and it was the first time I had to say goodbye to friends on this trip. Until that time I had always been coming back in a week or two, so I didn't have to actually say goodbye. I'll try to upload the photo of our last moment there, saying goodbye to some thirty people all at once, not to mention the children who had become very special to me.

* We returned to Amazing Grace, my favorite place to be, which took the edge off of the goodbyes. We were joined by Mommy Susan, Annet the nurse, and Sokiri the child sponsorship director a few days later. I got to go with Susan and Sokiri and all of the children to purchase new clothes and shoes for every child, courtesy of the Lahash Christmas program. It was so special to these kids to get new clothes, especially ones that were not second hand and that they got to pick out themselves. It was an extremely long day, but really rewarding to see the delight over picking out patterns for dresses and the satisfaction of finding the right belt with the right trousers. I loved getting to "mother" the little boys, helping them adjust the trousers and pick out shirts, and we got to throw away one pair of trousers that a boy had been wearing. He was wearing a huge shirt because the zipper area of the trousers had been totally destroyed and was just open. They're saving the new clothes for Christmas, and I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of them all in their new outfits.

* For the stories of our "American" Thanksgiving and our African Thanksgiving, check out the Lahash blog: www.hopeisalive.com. I also got to talk to my parents, my grandma and grandpa, my uncle, and my best friend, and leave a voicemail for my brother, so that was special also.

*We continued interviews with the kids, and I did eight girls' interviews on Sunday afternoon. It was fun to be asking them questions and getting to know them better, but I was infinitely more blessed by the opportunity that they were giving me. The girls are pretty shy as a group, and one month ago they would never have given me the chance to sit on the floor of their tukul, eating cookies and chatting about their dreams for their futures while they tease each other and me. It was really special.

* We stayed in Adjumani one extra day as a result of Annet's medical exams. Lexie did a great job of administering the medicines for scabies, ringworm, flu, UTIs, and oral thrush, and she taught the kids how to treat cuts and scrapes on themselves and others. She trained the watchman, Father Wani, and several of the kids how to continue diagnosing and treated their illnesses. We talked to the kids again about hygiene, and on Monday we did a massive cleaning of their tukuls. They pulled out all of their mattresses, all of their sheets, all of their clothes and other belongings, and we paid a couple of dollars each to the older kids to wash everything for them. Their mattresses got thoroughly dried out in the sun while the covers were washed, and their sheets and mosquito nets were washed, dried, and repaired. While that was happening, Jeremy and I took insecticide and "bombed" each of their tukuls. The boys got a huge kick out of going in twenty minutes later to see how many cockroaches, mosquitoes, spiders, and other bugs we'd killed and killing the ones that weren't quite dead yet. Through the generosity of my parents, I was able to buy new bags for each of the kids to keep their belongings in, so there are no more piles of clothes for insects and rodents to hide in. We also bought them a big box of medicated soap and individual soap dishes to keep it in. It was adorable to see how proud they were of going to bathe with their individual plastic soap dish.

* Edwin, Christine, Jeremy, Lexie, and I did two nights worth of "adolescent issues" discussion. We talked about personal hygiene, the differences between boys and girls, the way bodies change as they are becoming adults, and respecting one another through those changes all as a combined group on the first night. Their homework was to come up with questions for separate discussions the second night, and the girls came through in a big way. They had a ton of great questions, ranging from HIV to pregnancy to the biology of their bodies to traditional beliefs about infertility. Both nights were phenomenal, and made me even more sad to leave them.

* The best thing out of this entire trip was a compliment from our friend Jaclyn Karkner, a mid-term missionary who has been doing Bible lessons with the kids since February. She said that she could tell that we were doing something right because the kids were acting like themselves around us, not super formally or reserved, and that she could see so many positive changes happening at the orphanage even in the past four months. Those positive changes have so much to do with the prayers and support of you friends back at home. Thank you for caring about these beautiful kids, and being willing to support Lahash and IWASSRU as we care for them.

* I got to chat with my friend Lisa in South Africa one day, and she asked me if I was missing home at all. When I thought about it, I realized that each time I come to Africa, the concept of home gets a bit more distant and obscure for me. My language has started changing from talking about going "home" at the end of a trip to going "back to the States". Every time I've come to Africa one of my good friends has unexpectedly and suddenly moved away, whether temporarily or permanently, and because my focus has been so much on living here in Africa, I've spent less and less time maintaining and growing friendships at home. Of course I miss my family and I miss my Home Community, but when I'm not here I miss my family here and the communities of staff and children who are so special to me. I'm realizing that "home" will probably be a complicated concept for me for the rest of my life, but I think that's a blessing: having so much home that it can't be relegated to one location, or even one continent.

So all that is a recap to say that I'm blessed and thankful and sad and sorry. I'm especially blessed to say that God is good and faithful and the same yesterday, today, and forever, even in Africa.

I'll be arriving in Portland on Monday, December 8th, at 7:13pm. It would be awesome to see some of you then, or in the next few days.

Best to you...Leisha

13 November 2008

I'm back at Amazing Grace Orphanage

Hey everyone! We made it to Adjumani in one piece, and it only took sixteen hours. (Note: the “only” was sarcastic) Read the Lahash blog for that story, and the story of distributing the gifts that people donated for the children here.

An addendum to that story is how after we distributed the gifts, and the children disbursed to prepare for bed, I was standing outside the girls’ room, and was grabbed and pulled into the room with the words “we need some help”. When my eyes adjusted to the dim light inside, the girls removed their shirts to demonstrate the problem. The bras that we gave them had removable straps, and the girls had gotten the bras on, but had no idea how to attach the straps. We laughed a lot as we began attaching the straps and adjusting them, and they were teasing the girls who were too shy to show off their bras to the other girls. After we finished with the bras, I explained the quizzing function and solar power of her calculator to Piting and explained the paint-included paint brushes that a few of the girls had received.

After the chaos in the girls’ room, I asked Edwin to see what was going on in the boys’ room. He found them diligently assembling their model racecars, airplanes, and yachts. Some had even reached the painting stage, but when Edwin looked up, Sekwait (say “Say-quat”) was laying in his bed just staring at his calculator, still in its package. Edwin asked if he was planning to get any sleep that night. Without even looking away from the calculator he just shook his head no.

I’ve been having a really great time with Jeremy and Lexie and Edwin and Christine. Between card games, late night laughing sessions, and prayer requests that get sidetracked into long personal anecdotes leaving us crying from laughing too hard, I am having a tremendously fun time with them. Right now, as I write this blog post, we’re sitting in the center tukul listening to some 1960’s love songs and Lexie is making friends with one of the more persistent flies. She’s named him “Ernest”, and got mad at Jeremy when he tried to chase Ernest away. Highly enjoyable.

Thanks for your support and love and prayers. Thanks for reading this blog.

09 November 2008

It's late, so this will be brief

We're leaving at 5:00AM tomorrow morning for a 5:30AM check in time for our bus to Adjumani, which might not get all the way there, but will only take 14 hours, if we're luck. Read the Lahash blog for more details about that.

I still haven't packed, so I need to be brief, but I'll let you know one personal update from me. If you look closely at the photos on the Lahash blog, you might notice my hair looks a little funny. I got my hair braided by the women here at the house on Friday night. It feels a bit weird to me to have all these tiny braids all over my head, and I'm pretty sure I got my scalp sunburned this afternoon, but the kids keep telling me I look smart (aka I look nice or sharp), and it'll be nice for traveling. I slept with my head wrapped up in a scarf like a turban Friday night so that they wouldn't fall out. My scrub pants and t-shirt I wear for pajamas were being washed, so I was wearing a tank top and a wrap skirt, and looked awesome. I'll probably be destroying that photo. (Either that or posting it to this blog at a later date...y'know, one or the other.)

Seems like there was something more important than the braids to tell you all about, but I can't think of what that was, so read the Lahash blog, and pray for safe travels for us, and I'll update you in a few days!


P.S. Annie, I finished Twilight in like twenty-four hours. After reading Crime and Punishment it was like eating cotton candy after a seven-course gourmet meal, but sometimes cotton candy hits the spot! I'm very excited to read the sequel when I get back slash see the movie.

P.P.S Jeannie, I had to hide the peanut M&Ms from myself so that they would actually make it past Kampala. Bless you, my sister.

06 November 2008

Second team (and their luggage) is here

Lexie and Jeremy arrived Tuesday night, and I have to admit I was super excited to receive them. I had spent the weekend sleeping late, taking naps, reading Crime and Punishment on Dana and Erin’s recommendation (I loved it!), watching movies, and having long chats with Jose. Jose and I also went to church at Kampala Pentecostal Church, a pretty awesome, English language church that is doing crazy cool, community-based work. Over all it was a really relaxing schedule, and very little was expected of me. Can anyone blame me for wanting to put off the resumption of work?

The Warner Pacific friends arrived quite late in the evening, so yesterday was our “getting used to each other” day. I can unreservedly say that I am super excited to travel with these two. I feel completely energized having them around, and we had a great conversation about the sponsorship project that they’ll be helping me with, developing detailed personality-based profiles of each child in the IWASSRU sponsorship program over green salad and mushroom pizza at Mamba Point, courtesy of Mama Susan. Then, last night after the tickle war, we played a three-handed game of hearts and laughed until tears came to our eyes. It made me miss you friends at home, because I’d forgotten how fun it is to share that natural banter (and “TWSS” jokes).

I fully admit that I sprang upon the trunks that they brought with them, tossing clothing to all sides until I came upon the bag of peanut M&Ms and note from Jeannie and the box of granola bars from Dan and Erin. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Also, huge thank you to Jeannie and Mike, Lyla, and other friends who organized quickly enough to get me the calculators, some blankets, and some ointments for the people with leprosy. Even though those things aren’t for me, I felt like it was a care package from the States, and I was practically giddy looking at all the items (of course it was like one in the morning, but still!).

I’m going out to the Government of Southern Sudan offices for visas to Sudan today, and I will finally call my friend Ian, who I promised to get in touch with like a week ago, before I entered the black hole of the weekend.

Please continue to prayerfully consider donating some funds to Lahash for the care of those people with leprosy or for the “maxi” fund for the girls in Adjumani. Is there a women’s Bible study out there that would be willing to take a collection for these beautiful girls-becoming-women? Can I ask my Home Community if Batman might be interested in the people with leprosy?

Thank you all for your prayers. I know it’s because of your prayers that I’m feeling so strong and encouraged. God bless you.


P.S. Annie, I’m starting to read the book you gave me.

01 November 2008

On the blog again

Sorry for the long delay in writing! Internet access has been a bit non-existent lately.

Quick recap of the week plus since I last wrote:
We were in Kajo Keji for some five days, and it was a really relaxing time for me. I had my own tukul (say “too-kull”), and got some much needed alone time. I got to see my very favorite baby, Sarah, who is walking now (is a sponsorship director allowed to have favorites? Well, I do.), and one night had the great privilege of sitting outside a tukul watching a tremendous lightning storm while stroking the heads of small children as they fell asleep in my lap. On Sunday I had a brief malaria scare (NOT pregnancy scare!) when I threw up after church, but I eventually determined that I had thrown up because I didn’t eat breakfast when I took my malaria medicine, so the medicine made me sick. Once I threw up I felt totally fine, but I used it as an excuse to go lie down for much of the day with a little baby asleep on my chest.

On Monday we went to the community of people with leprosy in a place called Mogiri. There were about twenty-five of them there, representing the nearly two thousand who have been identified in the surrounding districts. Of those two thousand, thirty-five have been classified as “pure disabled”, meaning that they’ve perhaps lost all their fingers or are unable to walk or have lost their sight. The tragedy is that leprosy is totally treatable. It’s not even existent in the West, because the medicine is readily available, but there are a bevy of reasons why these people have not received those drugs. We brought them some supplies of cassava flour, beans, washing soap, and salt, and after preparing special bags for those pure disabled, we left the rest for the somewhat self-appointed aid workers to distribute the remainder. One of my team members had a difficult time believing that we were doing a good thing, since there was a certain amount of desperate greed present – we had to specifically measure out the same number of cups of flour into each of the bags rather than estimating, because those who were receiving wanted to be assured that every person got exactly the same amount. Our friend Jose was adamant that it was a good thing, and pointed out that that kind of greed is ugly and that it should make us uncomfortable to be around people who are reduced to fighting over half an inch in a bag of flour, but that doesn’t mean that we’re wrong for doing what we’re doing! Sometimes it is more important for us to see that ugliness to shock us out of our comfort zone.

We returned to Adjumani on Tuesday, and I got a call on our way back to Adjumani that the kids were really excited to see me. I was, of course, thrilled to see them, and immediately started checking the wounds that I’d treated the week before, especially Korsuk’s leg (see pictures in last blog post) and Seme’s foot, which had a hole in the heel that wasn’t healing. I was hoping for clean scabs with no pus, but both boys have new skin there! They’re nearly healed, and they all assured me that the boys I left in charge of the supplies had been changing the band-aids every day. I can’t tell you how gratifying and encouraging that was! We also measured all the girls for bras, since they told us last time that they don’t own bras (and they should). While I measured the girls with a piece of fabric, then measured the fabric on a twelve-inch ruler to find their sizes, they began discussing things, and when we finished I asked if there was anything else they needed or wanted to ask. One of the girls said “well, we don’t have any panties….” I nearly started crying, especially for those older girls who are menstruating. Fortunately the Berean team decided to bless the kids by purchasing two panties, a slip and a bra for each girl and a pair of boxer shorts for each boy when we returned here to Kampala.

So, long story wrapping up, we’re now in Kampala, and have purchased all the necessary items. I’m embroidering their names on the slips and the shorts at the request of the staff here so that they won’t get mixed up in the washing. (Five slips down so far, six to go, in addition to the eleven pairs of boxer shorts.) My team leaves tonight, and I’ll have three days off before the Warner Pacific duo arrives on Tuesday evening. I’m planning to meet some friends for pizza, meet with Jose to discuss some sponsorship stuff, and meet with Annet the nurse about some health things for Amazing Grace. I’ll also read a lot, watch a lot of movies, and finish my embroidery.

I’ve been hearing that a lot of people are reading this blog now, and I’d like to make an appeal to you. Would you consider getting involved in one of the following needs?
- The team coming doesn’t have the funds to purchase supplies for the people with leprosy, and I’d like to buy blankets and/or petroleum jelly, things they expressed a need for. Obviously we’ll buy as many as possible with the funds that come in, but I’d like to raise at least $250 to purchase at least for the pure disabled.

- The girls at Amazing Grace are going to run out of the sanitary napkins we brought within a few months, and I’d like to make sure that they’re set up for at least six to twelve months before I leave. That would be about $50.

- It’s a small thing, but if anyone would have a chance to get twelve small, simple solar-powered calculators to Dan Holcomb at the Lahash office, there are several kids entering exams who have asked for calculators, and there are no solar-powered ones here that I can find. Please email dholcomb@lahash.net to arrange for a transfer before Sunday night so that the team who is coming can carry them to me. (And if that same person wants to send me some peanut M&Ms, I’d be grateful!)

To donate to any of these causes, you can go to www.lahash.net and go to our online donation page. Just mention my name and the thing you are donating to in the "Other:" box, and I'll be able to access that money.

Thanks for your continued prayers. Please pray for some rest for me this weekend! (The picture at right is me with a kid called Mak Wei at St. Bartholomew's Orphanage. The man at right is the child sponsorship director for IWASSRU, Sokiri Benjamin.)

Blessings to you all,


24 October 2008

We’ve arrived now at St. Bartholomew’s in Kajo Keji, but last night as I was lying in bed listening to the rain, I was thinking about the children at Amazing Grace Orphanage. The past few days that we were at Amazing Grace were really special and really difficult days for me.

Since my last visit here to Amazing Grace, I’ve been really focused on the children of Amazing Grace, knowing that I’d be going back shortly. I made it a priority to learn the names of each of the 22 children, and it paid off. I feel like I made huge strides in developing deeper relationships with the children, who have become so close to my heart that I was moved to tears last night as I prayed for them.

I observed a couple of needs that the children had that I could meet, so the first afternoon I pulled out my sewing kit and began mending school uniforms and play clothes. One little boy, Bojo, was running around each afternoon in trousers that had a hole ripped clear up his butt, like those old-fashioned footie pajamas with the flap over the butt that detaches. I found some jeans for him to wear while I cut the pockets out to make patches for his play trousers (not pants, pants are underwear here…a mistake I made when I asked one of the boys if he wanted me to buy him pants with the money his sponsor had sent for clothing…I got a long stare). I also ran out of black and blue thread repairing torn sleeves in school uniforms and tears in skirts. There was only one pair of shorts that I couldn’t do anything with, they were nearly shredded, so I had to admit defeat on that front, but I told Waran that I’d try to bring him some new shorts when I return from Kampala in a few weeks.

The Berean team had collected a number of supplies from the members of their church and other communities, including some first aid type medical supplies. I had noticed one of the boys, Seme (say “Sehm-me”), was limping, and I asked him to show me his foot. He had a sore on the back of his foot that had probably started as a mosquito bite but he’d scratched it until the skin broke and it became infected. As we were sitting looking as his foot, he had to practically hit the flies to keep them off of the wound. It’s no wonder, between the dirt and the flies, that it had become infected. I’m concerned that the infection has gone even to the bone, but I did what I could. I showed his brother, Sule (say “Soo-lay”), how to apply antibacterial ointment and bandages to his foot, and wrap it in athletic tape to keep the bandage in place. Once I’d bandaged Seme’s foot, many of the other boys started coming to show me their wounds. It seemed that nearly everyone had some kind of cut or sore on their legs or feet that had become infected. One boy, Korsuk (say “Kor-sook”), had such a bad leg that I couldn’t use band-aids. I felt like some kind of field medic trimming a bandana to use as a bandage for his leg.

We showed them how to use salt in warm water to clean their wounds, and gave antibacterial soap to each of them for cleaning the wounds each day. I instructed the two oldest boys in how to clean and bandage, and gave them all of the supplies. We did a little lesson that night on keeping bodies, clothes, and bedding clean in order to keep mites and bedbugs away, and I explained about getting hydrocortisone for things that itch and antibacterial ointment for things that break the skin. I asked them to change their bandages every day while I was away, and when I go back on Tuesday, we’ll see how they did!

Teresa, Rita, Christine, and I had a small meeting with the girls who’ve begun menstruating. We had asked for sanitary napkins for the girls, and some were donated, so we distributed those, and answered the questions that they had about PMS, how often to change the maxi pad, and the questions they began to ask about sexual activity. One girl shared that a friend of hers at school had been advised by a doctor to have sex in order to bring regularity to her cycle, and they were wondering if that was good advice. We shared with them that sex is a beautiful thing created by God for a husband and a wife to enjoy within the commitment of marriage, and that no matter what a doctor may say about the physical benefits of having sex before marriage, they did not account for what God has said about waiting for marriage or for the emotional and spiritual impact that sexual activity has on a woman. It was a beautiful time, and although they were very shy, I think they were encouraged. I know I was.

This blog post is long enough now, but please pray for the following things:
* People with a heart to give for the medical needs at Amazing Grace Orphanage.
* Sponsors for the remaining children at Amazing Grace (contact me at ladams@lahash.net to find out more)
* Grace and strength for me as a team leader. We’ve hit some rough patches, and I’ve questioned my ability to lead this team. It’s been discouraging and frustrating, and I’m still having a difficult time.

Blessings to all of you. Thank you for your prayers.

Oh, and I almost forgot my biggest accomplishment of the trip so far! Killing this thing!

18 October 2008

Final post from this leg of the trip

I'm literally falling asleep in front of the computer waiting for pictures to load, and I've got packing to do before our 5:30am departure for northern Uganda tomorrow morning, so if you want information, check the Lahash blog that I just updated: www.hopeisalive.com.

Meanwhile, apparently I have a secret skill of shelling ground nuts unusually well for a visitor. Unfortunately, I do not have a skill, secret or otherwise, of good posture.

17 October 2008

Persistence in Prayer

This morning we were led in devotions by Christine from Matthew 15:21-28 about the Canaanite woman who persisted in asking Jesus to heal her daughter. We discussed what faith is and how long we are to persist in asking God for things.

I was very convicted that because so many things in my life have come easily to me, I'm not good at persisting in prayer for the things that do not come easily. The example that came to my mind during our devotions was our friend Lyla and the people with leprosy. (Lyla and the Lepers would be a good band name if it weren't politically incorrect.) I've been really blessed at Lyla's persistence in seeking medicine for our friends living with leprosy in Sudan. Leprosy, which most people have heard of, is a disease that has been totally wiped out in the Western world because medicine exists to treat it (much like malaria, another disease that kills millions in Africa each year). The medicine for leprosy is available for free, but due to many logistical, political, and religious factors, the people in Mogiri have not had this medicine for many, many years. When Lyla first met them in late 2006, she was so affected by this situation that she's spent the last two years emailing, calling, and visiting anyone she hears of who might have information or be able to help. I'm sure she must have been frustrated at times, or ready to give up, but she hasn't.

I shudder to think of the things that I treat lightly because they don't come easily to me. I should learn from the many times in the Gospels that Jesus tells parables about people persisting in their requests.

In the practical world, we've been waiting around here in Kampala, hanging out with the kids, checking things off of lists, and packing and repacking the supplies that we brought over. Tonight will be a night to play and watch movies with the kids, since they don't have school tomorrow. We are going to be blessed by a party with our friends here in Kampala tomorrow evening, so Lewis is preparing to share a little message and we're debating if or which song we will be singing. I'll try to update one last time before we go up to Adjumani with spotty email access.

Blessings to all of you.

15 October 2008

We've arrived!

So we arrived last night in Entebbe, Uganda. We were met by Edwin, and hauled our eight items of luggage and eight carried on items out to the taxi for the one hour ride to Kampala.

Overall the flights went well, although I averted near tragedy twice on the last leg of the trip. As soon as the plane was in the air, we were served beverages, as usual. The girl sitting next to me got orange juice, and within approximately two point five minutes of drinking her orange juice, she vomited. Everywhere. Fortunately for me she aimed toward the aisle, to the great misfortune of the man sitting across the aisle from us. Also fortunately there were plenty of empty seats, so the flight attendant relocated me to avoid the vomit and cleaner smell.

I became aware of my second near miss when I woke from a nap to find several flight attendants talking to the man behind me. Apparently he had been drinking before the flight, then chased the alcohol with a sleeping pill. He was slurring his words and not making much sense. Then he got up and started wandering the aisles, generally getting a little too touchy with some of the female passengers, but he avoided me for the most part. He kept asking for alcohol and they kept bringing coffee, so that by the time we arrived in Entebbe, he was only staggering a bit.

Anyway, we're here now, safe and sound. This was the fastest turnaround between trips to Africa, only three months, and I hadn't worked up quite the same level of missing Africa that I had on previous trips. Also, this is my first trip since Bealy and I broke up (which was a really good thing, and we're still friends), and that changes a few dynamics of the trip. All that being said, I didn't have quite the same level of giddiness that I usually have, and I was worried about that.

I have to say, though, that as I exited the plane in Entebbe, walking through the tunnel to the airport, smelling and feeling Africa again, I almost teared up. I felt home again. All the Africans on the flight who had been speaking English seemed to feel the same and started speaking Swahili immediately, and there was a Dinka man from Sudan on the flight who seemed to be coming home to his family after a long absence, and their welcome of him made me feel privileged and intrusive at the same time. All the sights and sounds and smells were infinitely comforting to my heart. I was totally revived before I'd even reached the outside of the terminal.

Now we're here, and having spent some time catching up with Edwin and Christine and seeing Mama Susan and our friend Esther Basa and Betty and the wonderful children here, I'm so happy. Soon Lasu is coming, one of the most random, funny guys I've ever met, and Edwin and I will be going into Kampala on boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.

12 October 2008

Leisha to Africa, again

Hey everyone,

I'm off to Africa again, and this time I promise to update this blog more frequently! Hope you follow it and leave me comments.

I'm leaving on Monday morning, October 13th, and returning to Portland on December 8th.

Along with Edwin Angote and his wife, Christine, good friends of mine, I'll be leading two teams. The first team is from Berean Baptist Church here in Portland. The relationship between Berean Baptist and Lahash International is based on the advocacy of Betty Jones and Lyla Peterson. The church sponsors one of the precious girls at Kampala House, and they are looking forward to meeting Poni Gloria! Lewis works as a chaplain for Multnomah County jails, so we're trying to arrange for him to do some prison ministry in Kajo Keji, Sudan. Teresa works at a women's shelter in Portland, and has a background in childcare, and is really interested in the Charlotte Babies' Home at St. Bartholomew's Orphanage in Sudan. Rita has already traveled to Uganda with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), and is excited for the Berean Baptist community to be expanding into more international cross-cultural ministry.
After the Berean Baptist team leaves (in time to get home and vote!), I'll have a day or two off, then the second team arrives! The second team is two people who are friends from their time at Warner Pacific College, where my brother, Roy, currently attends. They have spent several years learning about Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda. They have both traveled, and will be helping me with some interviews for the sponsorship program. I'll write more about their roles when we get a little closer to their arrival in early November.

25 June 2008

Oops, it's been a while

So I realized yesterday that it’s been about three weeks since I updated my blog. I was thinking about why that might be, and, aside from the busy-ness, I realized something. During my first trip I was absolutely wide-eyed and gaping at everything. All around me were new sounds, sights, smells, and stories, and I wanted to hold onto everything, so I wrote long novels of email updates. On the second trip that newness had worn off a bit, and my emails were shorter and less frequent. On this trip, that dynamic is intensified. The things I’m learning and thinking about are pretty abstract and personal, not leaving loads to email home about. However, in the interest of communication, I have come up with a few (hopefully) interesting things to tell you about.

Since last update:

1. Dodoma, Tanzania I love, love, love these people, and I was, again, blessed to be in community with them. I was there with the team from Portland’s Vibrant Church, and went on home visits to some of the clients of Grace and Healing Ministry of Dodoma. We took about twenty of the kids from the sponsorship program to go “Bible camping”, which was a really special time hanging out with the kids.This is Emmanuel Anderson, Michael Gere, and Stewart Mboya. (Michael in the middle still needs a sponsor!)

Part of our experience was staying with families in their homes, rather than staying at a hotel. I stayed with Mama Neema, the accountant at the church. She was so hospitable, and I really enjoyed spending more time with Mama Neema and her daughters, Saada and Neema. Their home does not have electricity, so I got to practice using a kerosene lantern to get ready for bed. It was a really valuable experience, and I loved hanging out with them! Here's a photo I took in the courtyard of their home.

We went to Dar es Salaam (a much faster trip than my reverse journey), and saw the Vibrant team off back to Portland, minus Dan. Dan, Edwin, and I returned to Nairobi the next day. I'd write an update about our brief stopover in Nairobi last week, except that pretty much all that happened was lots of meetings and lots of being cold. (It's their winter here.)

Dan, Edwin, Bealy, and I had good travels to Kampala, Uganda on Saturday night/Sunday morning, and our friend Mandi from Lahash met us here on Monday. It was really nice to have another girl around to answer those crucial questions like "What's the see-through factor of this skirt?" Y'know, those little things that are so important, but only garner blank stares from guys.

Right now we're preparing to leave Kampala for Adjumani on the bus tomorrow, so I'm excited to see Rick and Faye Meyer in only a very short time! We probably won't have much internet access until returning to Kampala in early July, at which time I'll update about all the stuff at Kampala House, Amazing Grace Orphanage, and St. Bartholomew's Orphanage, and all the adorable kids there!

Thanks for being faithful readers and prayers. Please pray for my energy level right now, which is flagging. I love you all!

05 June 2008

Arrived in Tanzania

I arrived in Dodoma, Tanzania last night after more than the usual brutal transportation. Ordinarily the journey from Nairobi to Dodoma is a two day event: the first day is 12 to 14 hours from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, then the second day should be a comparatively easy 6 to 7 hours from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. (If you look at a map, you'll realize that the route seems illogical, because it is not a direct line by any stretch, but the roads are so bad that it's necessary to go through Dar es Salaam.)

Unfortunately for me, out of all the potential buses, I chose the single slowest one from Dar to Dodoma. It took nine hours, without any breakdowns or traffic or anything. It was just slow and stopped for something like two hours for lunch. Apparently the driver must live in that town and decided to go home for lunch or something.

Buses are the standard mode of transport both within and between cities in East Africa. When I was in Nairobi, we'd catch the bus into downtown every few days. Bealy insisted on sitting up front whenever possible, because the back of the bus tends to take the bumps and turns a bit harder than the front of the bus. The side effect of sitting in the very front of the bus is a heart-gripping fear for your life! The driver has two spots next to him in the cab, and since the engine is under the cab, it's a flat front. The way Nairobi bus drivers drive, that means that, on average, there are only probably 12 to 18 inches between my feet and the bumper of the car in front of the bus. You think I'm exaggerating, but I assure you, it's true. I got good practice in having peace in situations outside my control, that's for certain. The speed at which we barrelled down windy hills took my breath away at times. Add in pedestrians leaping off the curbs and cars sticking their noses into heavy traffic to force traffic to make room, and you've got a crazy situation!

Anyway, the internet access here at the Kanisa ya Mennonite (Mennonite Church) is good enough that I can upload a few photos in a day or two.

29 May 2008

No more news

Sorry this update's been so long in coming. I only have a quick minute, so wanted to update you all that all is the same. : )

Things are going really well, and I'll be leaving on Monday for Dodoma, at which point the interesting posts will begin.

Thanks for your prayers and comments and emails.


22 May 2008

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to drop you all a quick note to let you all know that I’ve arrived! The flights were not delayed, although on the longest leg from Detroit to Amsterdam, there was a baby screaming for the entire last two hours of the flight (thanks for wishing that on me, Annie!). I didn’t get nearly so much sleep on that leg as I had hoped, but the eight hour Amsterdam to Nairobi leg was only half full, so I got an entire row to myself! I arrived in Nairobi at around 7:10pm on Tuesday night. Bealy, Edwin, and Edwin’s fiancĂ©e Christine were at the airport to pick me up, and I can’t tell you how good it was to see them all.

I’m staying at the Kenya Bush House, a kind of hostel/home which is very nice. Yesterday Bealy and I just stayed around here and relaxed. There is a French man here called Thierry, and we chatted with him a bit. Edwin and Christine came by yesterday afternoon for a bit after their pre-marital counseling, where Edwin, and consequently Bealy, learned that when the husband thinks that he is the master, really he is the servant to his wife because the one who is first shall be last. Christine had taken notes, though, as Edwin pointed out, not when the pastor was talking about the wife being submitted to her husband, but only during the “sweet” part when the pastor began exhorting the husband to be the servant of his wife.

Last night was the championship game for English soccer between Manchester United and Chelsea, so we watched that match. It was a close battle, going into two rounds of penalty shots before Manchester United pulled out the win, much to the elation of Bealy, Thierry, and two of the men who work here who were watching the match. I have to admit I wussed out after the end of regulation time, but I got all the highlights in detail when the game was over. I’ve been informed that in order to be Bealy’s girl, I must support Man U, not Chelsea or Arsenal, and we don’t even mention Liverpool. (oops!) :)

Today, in addition to a trip to the cyber shop to let you all know that I’m alive and arrived safely, we’re going to Kibera to spend some more time with Edwin and Christine. We’re still sorting out our plans for the next week, but if every day of the next week is like yesterday, I’ll be a happy girl.

Bealy just practiced serving me by bringing me breakfast, so I’m going to end this to eat crepes and drink tea. What a difficult life I lead!

19 May 2008

And I'm off!

I'm sitting in the Portland airport, enjoying their free wifi!

I'm off to Africa for two whole months:
  • May 20th - June 4th = "vacation" aka hanging out with my boyfriend, Bealy, and other friends and African family
  • June 5th - June 15th = Team from Vibrant Church comes to work with our partner, Grace Healing Ministry of Dodoma. I'll be working on updates to the Tanzanian sponsorship program. (Adorable, wonderful kids needing sponsors - only $12 per month!)
  • June 15th - approx. June 24th = wrapping up in Dodoma, traveling with Dan, Bealy, and Edwin to Nairobi for a couple of days to meet with our partner there
  • approx. June 24th - July 11th = traveling in Uganda and Sudan to visit the orphanages and update the sponsorship program there, visiting with the Thiesens and Meyers from Imago Dei, and Megan Espinoza from Imago Dei/Horizon Christian. (Adorable, wonderful kids needing sponsors - only $30 per month!)
  • July 11th - July 15th = Bealy and I will take a quick trip to Kigali, Rwanda to visit Pastor Benjamin Nkusi and the Butlers from Imago Dei, then back to Nairobi for me to fly back to the States.
  • July 16th = Arrive in Portland.

They're about to board, and I still have to send an email inviting you all to this blog! Leave me messages or send me emails at ladams at lahash dot net or leishlin at gmail dot com.

Thanks everyone for the wonderful sendoffs. sorry to those of you I couldn't get called back before I left. Love you all, and see some of you soon in Africa!