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.