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Saturday, June 23, 2012

On the shores of Lake Victoria

From Carissa DeAngelis..... on Tuesday's work....

In the morning we went to the pharmacies to load up on meds.  As Lynsay & Deb talked to one of the pharmacists, one of the other pharmacists behind the counter asked to see the pictures in my camera.  People here love to look at pictures...so I showed her pictures from African Hearts.  I explained to her the ministry, that these were street children.  She looked at the picture of several girls dancing in uniforms, with smiles on their faces and said emphatically, “These aren’t street children.”  I said they were and she shook her head.   It reminded me of Lutaya’s talk on Monday, how people always tell street children they aren’t worth anything now and will never amount to anything.  Yes!  These children are on a completely new path, to the glory of God! 

The trek to Lake Victoria was indeed a trek.  Maneuvering around stuck taxis after torrential rains along a rutty dirt road takes awhile.  Sometimes we were flying down the dirt road, which is why most of my pictures are blurry glimpses of life in rural Uganda.  I am keeping them anyway.  Rural life is quieter and beautiful fields of rice and other unknown crops would suddenly appear and then suddenly disappear as the tall grasses shielded our view alongside the road.  We saw coffee trees and banana trees, huge 4-feet tall ant hills (white ants that come out at night to catch and eat), and many beautiful flowers dotting the landscape.  We saw poverty.  Babies sitting in the dirt in rags.  Boys with swollen tummies.  Simple shacks practically falling over, people sitting outside the front door observing the lonely road.  Chickens, goats and cows meandering about.

I think it took over three hours to reach the shore.  Once we arrived, our first collective thought was “bugs!”  There would be lots of them.  We saw lots of them.   So we piled out of the van and reapplied deet...deet spray, deet wipes.  We smelled lovely.  The locals must have thought we were nuts.  In actuality, the bugs weren’t so bad. 

Along the lake there’s a tiny town of sorts.  I still am not sure of the name.  It’s not really a town, more like an undefined area that’s part road, part farm stand, part hangout.  And then you see a couple buildings in a row.  One is just a three-sided room lined with people waiting.  The other has a tiny 4’ x 7’ room, our pharmacy.  And a larger room, room for our three docs, a Ugandan doc, and their patients.  We prayed and jumped in.  The pastors and people from True Vine translated for us, which was really nice. 

The day was crazy.  Maybe because I was in the teeny-tiny room, maybe because it was super loud outside, kids running around with the teenagers and playing games and the lines were long, many, many people seeking medical treatment.   We probably saw a couple hundred patients.  I explained many, many times how to administer medicine with a syringe.  If I dosed them right then and there, I had to tell them to close their mouth around the syringe while I pushed the medicine into their mouth.  They had no idea how to do this.  That amazed me!  Our babies receive medicine like this practically out of the womb.  It’s so normal.  Not here.  I had to show them how to draw the med up..they did not know how to do this.  The translators were wonderfully helpful.  It was a long day for them. 

The teens did intake and dispensed deworming pillows and put ginsen violet on fungal infections...with gloves.  They played with the children, blowing bubbles, singing songs, playing games and -- but only if you’re Ethan -- wielded the handy-dandy pocket knife.  I didn’t see Ethan much.  I was inside, he was out.  Sometimes I heard “Where’s Ethan?” His pocket knife has really come in handy.   We all call him to open various things, split packs of pills, split the pills themselves, etc.  Glad he insisted on getting a pocket knife for this trip.

Someone brought us chicken at the end of the day, and we had a quick picnic before the long drive home.  I think this day was hard, but rewarding in a way that’s hard to put into words.  It was incessant, intense.   It was sweat and heat in a small room with sick people, but there was no room to process this, no time to think.  The poverty was breathtaking at times.  Sometimes it was not pretty.  But I feel God used us there.  He changed our hearts along the shores of Lake Victoria,  in the remotest place I’ve ever been.  When you see an old woman smiling at you, beaming at you, full of life and joy, those are the moments that are life changing.  You marvel at how she made it this far.  I marveled at the smile lines on her face.  Her smiled and twinkling eyes told volumes about a life lived in the shadow of the Most High God.  I knew she knew Him in the most intimate way.   I think I could have prayed with her forever.  I want THAT when I am 90.

One sweet woman kneeled after I prayed for her, in thanks.  She was so thankful for the doctors, the meds, the prayer.  How can that not impact me forever? Lynsay, one of our amazing docs, said that she would ask patients why they didn’t get meds at the nearest hospital.  They said the hospital does not have any medicine.   What?!  It is incomprehensible.   She saw a couple babies who she thought would probably not make it much longer. 

The car ride home was pretty quiet, most people slept.  I talked with the driver.  He and I  mostly asked each other questions.   Stuff like “What do you think about my English” to “Do people own land out here” to “If you served one thing when I came to visit America, what food would it be?”  It was fun.  I learned a lot about Uganda and its culture, and he learned about the four seasons and that I do, in fact, have a washer and dryer (he doesn’t). 

I saw many people, mostly girls and women, carrying the ubiquitous yellow water jug on their heads.  Deo (our driver) told me they were walking back from the well.  Which was miles away.  I asked him if the well had clean water.  He said no, it’s dirty.   Ugh.

We saw kids in uniforms walking home from school, high school age.  He said they got out of school at 4:15.  It was 6:30.  Things I can’t fathom at every turn and I am sure I am forgetting many of them already.

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