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,