Friday, November 29, 2013

Update on Fatiya

I had asked for prayer for this little girl who was scheduled for heart surgery.  Following a series of tests before the surgery, the surgical team decided not to proceed with the operation.  The doctors were concerned that they would not be able to control her breathing both before and after her surgery and that the risks were too high.  After a CT scan the doctors determined that the facial cranial surgery should be completed first.  The neurosurgeons haven't had much experience with Aperts Syndrome so the way forward is not clear.  Please continue to pray for this little girl and her mother who was understandably very shaken by these developments.  Pray too for our staff who are faced with the emotional strain of seeking what is best for these children.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nakakooza Fatiyah

 A few months ago I attended one of the community outreach days organised by our Special Needs staff and met a special little girl named Nankakooza Fatiyah.   Fatiyah was born with Apert Syndrome a congenital deformity that has significantly affected the development of her skull.  She also has a heart defect and needs to have that repaired before she can have surgery on her skull. The high pressure in her brain affects her eyes and compromises the development of her brain.  Through the generous donations of many, including our local community, Fatiyah will be undergoing heart surgery tomorrow.  The operation will be risky so we would ask that you would pray for the surgeon and family of this little girl.  When I first met Fatiyah I was moved by the deep love in her mother's eyes for her little girl.  In a society where children such as these are often marginalized it has been wonderful to watch how this mother has been supported and encouraged by our community here at New Hope. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Small Things

This past week the children in our last year of primary school finished their national exams.  These exams determine the educational future for these children and are taken very seriously.  To celebrate the completion of this landmark in their lives, our P7's have been enjoying some fun activities.

On Thursday afternoon a group of them came to our house to do some baking.  We decided to add some extra fun by blind-folding some of them and sending them off to collect lemons from our enterprise farm to use in our lemon bread.  It was fun watching them try to direct their friends to the trees and judging from the giggles they enjoyed it too.  Cooking in Uganda doesn't often involve precise measurements (a bit of this, a lot of that) so we had to do a quick lesson on measuring dry ingredients.

 We also narrowly averted baking disaster when someone tried to put in 1/4 cup of baking powder
instead of 1/4 teaspoon!

 Once we got the measuring straightened out, all went according to plan and we produced scrumptious lemon loaves which were enjoyed at their evening banquet. They all posed for a picture before heading off to prepare for their evening event.

The next day one of the girls from the group dropped by our house.  As she came in the door I saw tears glistening in her eyes and I asked what was wrong.  She told us she was leaving today to return home to her mom and that she appreciated our kindness to her.  The girls had played games with her a few times and I had often greeted her and said a few words but we had no idea that these small gestures had meant so much to her.  It's little moments like these that remind us to be faithful in the 'small things.'

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dirty Feet

As many of you know Catriona broke her foot two months ago stepping off the porch of the house we were staying in.  She loves living in Uganda primarily because she loves to be out and about.  Whether it was helping in the Special Needs class, walking with the toddlers in Hope Family, or baking bread with David family, Catriona was always busy.  The last two months have been hard.  As I watched my girl struggle to take a step I knew how difficult it was for her to be stuck at home.  Slowly, slowly (as they say here) the foot is starting to improve.  The bone has healed and now we wait for the tendons.  One day soon I hope to see these very dirty feet again but for now Catriona is learning the secret of contentment and so is her Mom.

Shouts of Joy

Yesterday our family group celebrated the graduation of Sarah from nursing school.  Sarah lived at New Hope several years ago and is fondly remembered by many staff and children here.  She has overcome many challenges to reach where she is at and so we gathered to give thanks for God's work in her life. 

Preparations for the event began early in the morning.  David helped put up tents which will feature later in the account, Christina helped with the decorations and I got the unenviable job of shedding cabbage.  Aunt Lucy, our family mother, cooked matoke and chicken in giant pots over an open fire.  At 11:00 we all rushed off to bathe and get ready for the event.

By 12:00 we had gathered and after a few opening remarks we began feasting on the meal prepared by David family.  Pictured here is the rice, cabbage, matoke (steamed banana) covered in g-nut sauce (which is perhaps our favourite Ugandan food), and chicken in 'soup.'  When we first arrived we found it challenging to eat this much food at one sitting but now we all polish it off in record time. 
Then it was time for the musical entertainment.  Just as the songs began, the heavens opened and rain began to pour down.  The wind picked up, the tents began to sway and everyone rushed to take cover.  In the midst of all the turmoil one of our staff members collapsed and David rushed off to find a nurse.  He managed to track her down, drive a car to the entrance of the tent, carry the patient to the car and then drive her off to the clinic to be admitted.  (She is now recovering at home).

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the way Ugandans take such interruptions to planned events in their stride.  Everyone just hunkers down and waits it out.  Eventually the rain slowed down and proceedings resumed.  Several people made speeches and Sarah shared some of her own story.  My favourite part of her speech was her description of her brother teaching her to write her name in the dirt before she started school.  It was also moving to hear from Sarah's mother who was so thankful for the people who had cared for her children when her husband died.  As Sarah's mom raised her hands and broke into song I thought of words from Psalm 126.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter; and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."  The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. 
A day filled with the unexpected but finished with a 'shout of joy.'

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Washers and Dryers

Laundry again; it may not be exciting but it does feature prominently in my life in Uganda.  The lady who usually helps with our wash has been gone the last two days and so our wash is piling up.  Just before lunch Christina and I decided to tackle it ourselves.  Haul the water from the cistern, fill the basins, add the soap and we're in business.  The sun warms our backs and we feel rather smug that we're doing this ourselves.  As the last piece for today gets pinned on the line there's a knock on the door.  Two girls from the secondary school, who have finished their exams, want to know if I have any jobs.  Glancing down at my splattered skirt I chuckle to myself.  Wouldn't you know it.  "Not today," I smile "but try again tomorrow."  The afternoons wears on and as the girls and I carry on with school we hear a pitter-patter on the roof which quickly escalates to a serious drumming. "The clothes!" we wail.  Oh well tomorrow's another day. Thankfully living in Uganda has taught us that there are much more important things in life than front-load washers and spin dryers; today though I wouldn't have minded one.