Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nairobi and then back home.

This past week I was in Nairobi, Kenya. I could write for days about what I did in Nairobi but I won't. I just will give a brief summary:

1. Nairobi is just like America. It was a weird feeling to know that I was still in Africa, but had most of the conveniences of America. Coffee shops to relax in, tv to watch at night, shopping malls, free wi-fi fast food, and American candy. As nice as it was to have all these things it made me really appreciate where I live in Uganda. I get to live without all these things and it is actually really nice.

2. The giraffe center and the elephant orphanage are probably the two coolest places I have ever been. I mean….who doesn't love hanging out with giraffes and baby elephants? 

3. Lastly, I ate at a restaurant called Carnivore. For those of you who know, this is kind of ironic considering I was a vegetarian for 6 years. What an experience! Meat upon meat until you "surrender" by putting your flag down. Until then men come around carving all sorts of meat onto your plate. I can now say that I have tried Ostrich and Crocodile. Oddly enough both were really good! 

Look at all that meat!

As always it is the most amazing feeling to return back to Acheru. It makes me realize how much I have grown to love the people here, and how much they love me in return. The moment they can see me walking up the road I hear my name shouted, children come running out to help me carry my bags. mothers come running out of their beds to hug me, and the staff have the biggest smiles on their face as they welcome me back. Ugandans are some of the most loving and welcoming people one will ever meet. In fact, as I was walking to town this afternoon I was talking with my roommate about how when you first see a Ugandan they seem so hard and cold, but the moment you say hello their face lights up and they genuinely welcome you. 

When I was gone some of the children left. It is always a bit sad when you know they are gone, but you also know that it is good thing. It means they are healed. The two that left when I was gone this time have both been here for over a year. They have been away from friends and family for over a year as they heal. 

Lubowa was the first child I met here at Acheru. He came to Acheru with a horrible case of Osteomylitius. When he came he was wheelchair bound. After a year he is running and walking around as if nothing had happened. 

Fiona was the next to leave. Fiona is a typical teenage girl. Loves her fashion, loves her boys, and loves her makeup. I'm not exactly sure of Fiona's backstory, but she has had one of her legs amputated and was here at Acheru healing from bed sores and an open wound on her other leg. As much as I will miss her I am so excited that she gets to return back to her family.

I am also excited because I get to spend a lot of time here at Acheru. I have no plans to go anywhere until the end of next month. I really miss this place when I am gone. It has become my Ugandan home.

Teddy and Okello also went home

We took the staff swimming one day. 

My class right now :) Learning how to recognize their names.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fearfully and Wonderfully made

For this post I wanted to highlight some of the kids that have come through Acheru the past three months I have been here. Some of these children were here before I arrived and some came during my time here and have already left for home. 


Jemimah is a bright and bubbly young girl. You'd never imagine that she has suffered multiple burns on her both of her legs. Jemimah and her mother were in a taxi accident that left Jemimah severely burned in both her legs. At the young age of 6/7 Jemimah has undergone multiple skin grafts and fixators in order to correct her legs. Her story is an amazing testimony to God's protection and healing. Every morning I can guarantee to have a huge welcoming smile and "emmmillllyyyy" come from Jemimah.  Jemimah is now doing exercises daily to work on being able to walk again.



Lillian was one of the first girls that I met here at Acheru. She is a girl that I made a point to visit daily. Being a teenage girl here she loved the same thing any teenage girl would love. She loved her nail polish, her fashion, her friends, and her crushes. I always knew I could count on Lillian to bring laughter to my day. She is a brilliant young girl who aspires to become a nurse when she grows up. Lillian came to Acheru with Osteomylitus in her leg, but recently left Acheru to return home. She has been completely healed!

Mildred, aka My Best Friend

Mildred was a spunky 4/5 year old girl here. Mildred suffered from burns on her hand. This burn had webbed her fingers together. After surgery her fingers become apart but she still suffered from muscle damage in the fingers. Every morning it was guaranteed that Mildred would be waiting for us to come out and play. She has this little smirk that she will give you when you come to greet her and than she would run straight into my arms. I spent a lot of time just hanging out with Mildred on our porch. Even though she spoke close to zero English, we always seemed to entertain ourselves. Mildred recently left Acheru and my morning has lost a special piece to it.      


Kevin was another mischievous but innocent 6/7 year old here. Kevin came to Acheru with a severe contraction in her knee. She had been severely burnt on her leg and her knee contracted into a bent position. After a long stint of having a fixator and then cast, Kevin has gone home and is now learning how to walk on her leg again. Kevin was one of my students that I saw tremendous progress in. When I first took hold of the class she was a quiet girl who struggled with her academics. After a couple of weeks she really did a 180. Kevin was motivated to come to school, she consistently wanted to answer the questions, and would talk non-stop. She was always the first kid to come and greet me when returning home from a trip.

Okello Allan

Okello is…..wow how do I even describe Okello? He is the most charismatic child here at Acheru. He loves to cuddle and is always seen running and jumping from person to person. Okello is still here at Acheru healing from Osteomylitus on his leg. Before coming to Acheru, Okello had never been in school before. I wasn't even sure how I would work with him because he was so far behind the other students. His attention was nonexistent and he rarely could sit still long enough to be in class. Within the past 2 weeks Okello has wowed me. He is the one student who comes to class every day and will stay up until I tell him he can go. He used to not know how to form any letters when writing, and now he can write his name nearly perfectly (he sometimes still messes his N up but will correct when I show him). This week he perfected how to count to 10 without missing any numbers. I couldn't be more proud of this little boy.

These are just a few of the kids that I live with on a daily basis. This past week during our Wednesday night service I realized how much of a blessing each one of these children have been in my life the past 3 months. They have been my family here at Acheru. Even though they may come into my life for a few days or a few months, they have blessed every day. I always say you would never know what these kids have been through or what pain they are in, because joy just comes pouring out of them. Excitement for life is evident in their days here. Each one of the kids here at Acheru has made this place an amazing home for me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pain and Peace.

" For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness"
                              -Hebrews 12:11

Majority of my time here comes very easily to me. I wake up, do some teaching, eat lunch, do chores, spend time playing with kids or talking to adults, help fix dinner, and end the day spending time with my 4 roommates. Other days I miss home, I miss structure, I miss the chances of being by myself and not having to entertain, and silly enough..I miss fast food. Those days it is harder to be here. It's harder to get up in the morning and be ready to entertain for the next 10 hours. There are days when you hear stories that just rip your heart apart and you're not sure if you can handle hearing anymore. There are days when you feel completely helpless add useless when people are coming to you for  help for a child in their village who needs immediate medical attention, but it seems there is nothing I can do. There are days you see a child who appears so traumatized from her past that all she can repeat is "leave me alone, move, don't pinch me, don't hit me".  These kind of days it is hard to see the joy and the peace. They are more painful and heart breaking. 

It's during these days that I have to remind myself that this is not the end. God has not finished his work here. He might not even finish his work in my life time and some of this suffering may end in pain. But there is a time when He will finish His work and there will be joy. There will be life. There will be love. There will be peace. Does this make the painful days less unbearable? Not always. Does this mean I can understand the reason for it? Not even close. 

So what can I do? What should I do? The only thing I can….love. Love the kids who drive me crazy during the school day, love and listen to their stories, love them well during their suffering, love them well during my suffering. 

This past week most of my roommates were gone. It was just Luke and me here at Acheru for a couple days. It was a special time for me as I spend most of my time out with the mothers. I no longer had the comfort of fellow "americans" at home. I was forced to spend time out of the house. I got to know some of the people here better in those two days than I have in the past 2 months. I was actually sad to leave them for a few days when I headed to GSF. 

I spent the rest of my week at GSF with Julie. We checked in on all the kids with special needs there. I was amazed to hear that one little boy who I worked a lot with last summer in school (he has always had troubling in school, behaviorally and acadmecially ), had made amazing progress. The teacher was actually bragging on how well he works in class, how well he can sit in class and not disturb, and how he has taken on the responsibility of making sure others are doing the right thing as well! I could have cried right then and there! 

Personally I knew it was a good time to go to GSF. I needed the distraction and needed a comfort of home. I also know when I get to spend time with Kenny I am overwhelmed with a sense of peace and calmness. That little boy brings so much joy to my heart. He teaches me more about God, more about love than he would ever possibly know. 

In two more weeks I will have hit the 3 month mark here. Can you even believe that? 

They killed our chicken for us...and then we ate it.

Emmy and I decided to have craft day with the kids during the holiday. Can you see the wreaths behind us?

Two cuties. Charlotte and Julian.

Kenny and Solo. Love these boys.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Change of scenery..

This past week I went up to Gulu (northern part of Uganda) to visit the Acheru outpatient center. A lot of the patients that we have here come from around the Gulu area. Before they come to us here in Mukono they go to this Gulu center for treatment. If their case is severe enough where they need to come to Kampala for surgery they will come to us for preparation and then back to us for care and rehabilitation after their surgery. 

It was interesting for me to drive through where so many of these kids come from. It's hard not to notice a complete change in scenery when driving from Central Uganda to Northern Uganda. If you know anything about Uganda's history, you have probably heard of Idi Amin or Joseph Kony. Both of these men terrorized Uganda, especially Northern Uganda.  Driving from the luscious land of Central Uganda, where there is vegetation everywhere, people out and about, town centers lined with buildings and homes, life happening….to driving to Northern Uganda where there is a clear lack of vegetation, people are sparse, and mud huts are found lining the streets. Although, Gulu is an established town with many people around the land surrounding Gulu is a much different story. It reminded me a lot of Mukono, but the stretch I had no idea how poor some of these patients are or what it was like in their home town. It never ceases to amaze me how much joy they have in life. From my american mind-set we think we need things..we need this and that to have joy, but in reality we need nothing apart from Christ. I'm taught over and over again how much joy one can have in life even when you may have just 1 pair of clothes to your name. 

Some of the things we did when in Northern Uganda:
1. Distributed two wheelchairs to an older women and a teenage boy. The teenage boy, Dennis, was 16 and had to drop out of school when he was in P6 (Sixth grade) because he could no longer get to school. Dennis had his legs amputated when he was 4 years old due to being severely burned. Now with his chair Dennis is hoping to finish P7 and then go into vocational training. 

2. We dropped by a school and passed out re-usable pads to the girls. It was such an experience for me to watch training on how to take care of these pads. To us it seemed something so small and silly, but for these girls it meant the ability to go to school during this time. It meant not having to feel embarrassed about wrapping up in towels or old clothes.  Again, something so simple that we take for granted in America...disposable pads/tampons. 

I am now back at Acheru and my class size has grown! I now have around 8 students in my class. I had to divide it up into two smaller groups due to the different levels that the kids were at. I now have my kindergarten class and my first grade class. It leads to very hectic days as I'm constantly hearing "teacher! Teacher! Teacher!". In the states I could easily tell them to hold on one second, but here where I have only learned to say wait in one language (Len-da-co Na-Way) it makes it hard to express that to those who don't speak Luganda. 

Prayer Points:

1. Continual patience within the classroom. As much as I enjoy being in the classroom it is still very different and difficult for me somedays.

2. Our team here at the guest house is growing. We just got a new physical therapist who will be here for 8 months. That we will continue to have good communication and unity.

3. For the children here. Many will be going home soon and this is sometimes a joyous time for them and other times they don't want to go. 
This was the first wheelchair we dropped off. 

Dennis and his new chair!

This is what the road was like getting to Dennis's house.

The baboon that stole our bread straight from our car!

Kids at the school.


Aren't they lovely?

Murchison Falls. We climbed up to the top of that.