After returning to Kampala last Saturday (July 16th), we had a movie night in my room. The evening started off eventful, as Lauren’s bed broke while a few people were sitting on it. Several of them then moved to sit on the floor to watch. About a quarter of the way into the movie, a large rat ran into the middle of our room! Before I knew it, both Lauren and Katlyn had jumped onto my lap, and everyone from the floor had clawed their way onto the nearest bed. We may have been tired before that, but the adrenaline rush helped boost our energy! The rat ran back out soon afterward, but it made for an interesting night!
On Sunday we had the English service, I taught Sunday School, and then taught the youth Bible study. After lunch, we began preparations for the medical camp. We first unpacked all of the suitcases the medical team had brought with them, then sorted the medicines into alphabetical order and placed them on tables in the pharmacy. Next, we measured out dosages of medications into thousands of little bags and labeled each with the name and dosage. I primarily worked on Ibuprofen (which would be in high demand) with Mariah and Elissa. Although repetitive, it was fun work and allowed ample opportunity to engage in conversation with the new team. I had expected that the team would be composed of doctors and nurses, but in reality there was only one nurse (Sherry), and the rest were willing volunteers who have led the medical camp for years. The doctors who came were all Ugandan physicians, as well as several Ugandan nurses. Elissa and her father, David, came from America, and I learned that he had sponsored Wilson (the founder of EAC) throughout his school years. They lost contact for 11 years, and then reunited when Wilson traveled to the U.S. in search of David and his wife. Years later, the family continues to pour into EAC and Wilson. There was also a minister, Rex, and his wife Kathy who helped in the medical camp when they weren’t serving in churches or planning their upcoming conference for Kampala pastors. On Sunday evening, we said goodbye to Katlyn and Lauren. I think they had more buckets of water poured on them than anyone else this summer! We had grown so close the previous 2 months, and I was so sad to see them go. My trip would not have been the same without them here! Although I knew I would miss them terribly, I was somewhat comforted by the fact that I would see them again in a couple months for Lauren’s wedding.
On Monday we had a meeting to receive our assignments for the camp, and I was placed in First Aid/Emergency as well as Spiritual Health. We continued packaging medications for most of the day. At around 11:00 PM, we finished packaging the medicine, organizing it all on the tables, and writing the names of each of the available medicines on the boards of each doctors’ room. It was a long day, but it made me all the more excited for the medical camp.
On Tuesday we arose around 6 AM, set up each area of the medical camp, had an early breakfast and devotions, and dove right in! By 8 AM we already had over 500 people waiting to be seen. First Aid was placed alongside Triage, so throughout the morning I assisted with taking blood pressure, temperatures, and weights of patients. However, I soon realized that it took a lot longer for the doctors to see each patient than it did for the triage team to finish with each. The only “emergency” cases that were brought to me were patients who needed to see the doctors immediately, so all that was needed was to push them to the front of the line. I began to assist in the pharmacy section when we had finished with the people waiting, and quickly came to the conclusion that I would be of much more use there. I made the switch partway through the morning, and was so glad I did! It involved, much like you would expect, taking each prescription and gathering the meds into a bowl with the paper, then handing the bowls to the translators, who would explain to each patient the dosage written on the bags. Although the doctors were to stick to the pre-planned dosages for each age group that we had bagged, they often didn’t. That meant a lot of making new bags for individuals, which was more time consuming. Most patients had around four different medications prescribed to them, and on that first day I was still learning how to decipher the doctors’ handwriting (still bad, even in Uganda) and where all of the medications were placed on our tables. All of the walking and standing was hard on everyone’s feet, so I was always somewhat relieved when I had to sit and fill more bags of a popular medication. We took turns running to grab lunch or go on potty breaks, and the doctors generously decided to continue past our official closing time and see every single patient that was waiting. We worked until after 8:00 PM, but found out at devotions that evening that the camp saw over 500 patients (not including kids from the school). All in all, a wonderful start to the camp.
Wednesday I jumped right back into pharmacy, where the prescriptions quickly piled up. Whenever the pace would slow, I would walk around to the waiting areas before the doctors’ rooms and in triage. There I would play with kids, talk in limited Luganda to adults, and pray over people as they sat and waited. I enjoyed the opportunities to connect more to the patients, but those times seemed few and far between. The quick-paced nature of pharmacy kept me busy, which was good, as it kept me from thinking about my aching feet or tired body. I had been praying that God would sustain us all and keep us working even when our bodies didn’t want to, and He did! Day 2 was wonderful–I had great conversations with the pharmacy team, and the process went much smoother for me once I knew where each of the medications were. Fairly regularly, people would come to assist from other sections, like women’s health or the dentist, which was very helpful. I was so excited to see Harriet and her family waiting to see the doctors! I went and greeted them, but the growing pile of prescriptions called me back into the pharmacy, and I was unable to see them leave. Once again, we saw every single patient and finished around 9:00 PM before dinner and devotions.
Thursday was the final day of the medical camp. It went so smoothly! There was a steady stream of patients, and we saw more than on either of the previous 2 days. The pharmacy had begun to run out of medications, but for many there were alternatives available. Rex taught us about the importance of maintaining proper posture while working long hours, and training your body to continue to do so naturally. He had started a contest that morning during devotions to see who could give the most shoulder and back rubs during the day, which was an AWESOME idea! It felt so good to loosen up throughout the day when working 12+ hours. That evening we finished the quickest we had all week, and took a picture while there was still daylight. We found out that we helped 1,820 people over the course of 3 days–a record at EAC! It was one of the most exhausting, incredible, and rewarding experiences of my time here. That night, we had a bonfire and enjoyed relaxing and bonding during devotions. I tried some goat meat for the first time, which was surprisingly delicious!
On Friday morning, Mariah and I were charged with organizing and moving all the remaining medications in the pharmacy. Although the task seemed daunting at first, we finished relatively quickly and then packed up and left for Kampala!
We had the whole day off on Saturday to recuperate from the long week, and we all enjoyed the much-needed rest.
On Sunday, we left to return home to Zirobwe early in the morning. We didn’t have the English service, but I taught my normal Pastors’ class (5-6 year-olds) as well as the Sheep (babies-4 year-olds). It was interesting trying to adapt the lesson, which was over Jesus and the little children, to make it understandable and applicable to the wider range of kids. For the first time, Harriet and her family came to church, and Harriet came to Sunday School. She is looking healthier already, probably largely due to the PediaSure she’s been drinking and whatever medicine the doctor prescribed. After church, I taught the youth Bible study over John 5. I had been praying for the class, as there usually wasn’t much participation in discussion, and I felt like it wasn’t having much impact. But this week, almost everyone participated and asked questions! Praise God! We had some excellent discussion, and decided to pair everyone up with a partner to meet with at some point during the week to read through the next chapter and come up with questions. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store! On Sunday afternoon, we said goodbye to Caragh, which brought our team down to 3 for the remainder of the day. It still surprises me how few of us are left, especially when I recall the craziness of having 40+ people around.
On Monday, we had personal ministry. Mariah returned from safari, and we went on a walk in the afternoon–headed nowhere in particular. We stopped at Ismael’s house, a 6-year-old boy I worked with when Brittany was here. He has cerebral palsy, and although he was recently sponsored, he does not yet attend school (although he is very intelligent). When we approached his house, his brothers had him seated at a desk and were helping him to write. They had come up with a matching pictures game, and were guiding him to draw the lines connecting the identical pictures. It was so heartwarming to see how much effort they put into helping him, and his beautiful smile when he got one right. After a little while, we continued our walk to Mama Dorothy’s house, so that Mariah could see the kitchen we had built. No one was home, but as we left to return to the compound, Mama Dorothy was headed home on the same path. She gave us big hugs, then grabbed my hand and dragged/walked me back to her house. We sat with her in her home for a while, but without a way to properly communicate to one another, there wasn’t much point in staying long. I tried to ask if we could help her with various chores, but my bad miming didn’t help her understand any more than my English. Eventually, I prayed for her and we left.
Tuesday we went to visit Harriet and bring food for her family. When we arrived, no one was around, so we sent a boy who lived nearby to go fetch the family. We waited for about 40 minutes while amusing ourselves, and then Harriet and her father and sister arrived. Harriet walked right up to each of us and greeted us, which she hasn’t done before. We were told that the medicine the doctors prescribed her at the medical camp has ridden her of the heart pain she had been experiencing. Her father also told us that Harriet was the reason the family went to church on Sunday–that she asks to go there every day, and prays for hours each night. She apparently stays up after the rest of the family has gone to sleep to pray, even until midnight! What an encouragement that was to hear. They were happy to receive the food, and I got to see her laugh and smile for the first time after we prayed. Our God is good! Harriet’s physical journey to better health and deliverance from the spirits is a visual representation of how I see God’s work in the lives of all Christians. He frees us from our bondage and begins to heal us from the inside out, drawing us closer to Him. What a wonderful reminder Harriet is of God’s great transforming power.
**Harriet’so family isn’t really into smiling in photos.
After walking back from Harriet’s home, we visited Mama Frank’s house. I have heard so many great things about her, but haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet. After just 5 minutes spent with Mama Frank and her sister, I could see why everyone loves them! They are so joyful and loving, immediately making us all feel at home. They showered us with hugs and kisses, and cut up a pineapple to share with us. As we talked, I learned that joy must sound an awful lot like Mama Frank’s laugh–it was contagious! She told us that everyone in the village calls her jaja, and doesn’t go past her house without saying hello. Shortly after we arrived, Mama Frank’s daughter Viola joined us and was burning up with a fever. Delaney and I took her back to the compound to get her medicine, water, and a cool rag for her head. When she seemed a little more lively and upbeat, we returned and joined the others at Mama Frank’s house. She showed us a photo album with pictures of her family, and we talked for a little while more before going back to the compound.
On Wednesday, we went to jaja Sovario’s home. He was the man I visited my first week in Uganda, when we prayed for his sick wife and helped him dig in the garden. This time, we went to reinforce his kitchen, which was falling apart. As on previous kitchens, we began by digging a pit of dirt, mixing mud, throwing it at the walls, and smoothing it out. I was concerned about how hot it was when we set out for Sovario’s house, and prayed for shade and a breeze. As small of a request as it was, God heard and provided! There was a nice breeze, the kitchen was in the shade and the mud felt pleasantly cool. When we finished, it was already almost time to return to Kampala. We washed our feet and arms as best we could, packed and ate lunch, then piled into the taxi and headed out.
Today is Natalie’s birthday, which began in EAC style at midnight, when Sandra and Christine poured water on her in bed. What a way to start your birthday! Mariah, Natalie, Delaney and I went to the craft market after lunch, but got caught in a downpour on the way back to the house. Mariah and my boda driver stopped under a gas station overhang along with about 20 other drivers. We ended up having a conversation with a security guard, and had the opportunity to share the Gospel while we waited in the rain. It is so neat to see the strange situations that God uses for His glory! Tonight, we went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant to celebrate Natalie’s birthday, where I saw Kansas City barbecued steak on the menu. What a strange experience it was to see a bit of home in a Mexican restaurant in Uganda!
My last month here is already flying by so quickly! Thank you to everyone who remembers me in their prayers–I greatly appreciate it. As I face my last 2 weeks here, please pray that God would continue to use me and teach me. After Monday, only Delaney and I will remain as MST’s, so pray that though we are few in number, we would continue to effectively minister to the community in Zirobwe. Please also pray for my upcoming transition back to life in the States, and that God will multiply my time in the few days I have with family before moving back in to college.