Friday, March 22, 2013

Hope restored

I mentioned before that Mandella is walking again but I wanted to expound on how far he's come. 

When I first saw him in August of 2011, he was sitting in his village against a fence and just watching us. My friend, Kate, and I had gone to do an oral interview with an old woman in that village. Throughout our interview, I would glance at the boy and I came to the conclusion that he looked pretty hopeless. Right before leaving that place, I asked what was wrong with him. The family told me he'd had an accident and had hurt his hips, making him unable to walk. I was immediately interested in finding him help. I asked the father to come get our wheelbarrow so he could bring the boy to our compound and we could take him to the Kaabong hospital. He came to get the wheelbarrow but the boy never returned. We waited...and waited...and waited. 

We saw the father several more times and always asked about the boy but never got a good answer about why he wasn't bringing him. Finally in January of 2012, the father came to the clinic to get medicine for his headache. As questionable as this might be, I refused him medicine until he brought his crippled son. The boy showed up that weekend. We took him to Kaabong hospital and were told that they couldn't help him because their X-ray machine doesn't work. So, we decided to take him with us on our trip to Kampala a few weeks later. We took him to a good British doctor who examined him and knew right away that he had spinal TB. The TB just happened to manifest itself at the same time Mandella got an injury from being shoved through a hole in a mud house. This is why the family believed him to be suffering from the injury. And, praise be to God, the Kaabong hospital carries TB medications and distributes them for free to the community. 

Mandella started his medicine right away and took a full six-months of treatment. When we left him in August of 2012, his back pain was gone and he had regained control of his urination. He could prop himself up on a stick to stand but could not walk yet.

This is the boy we came back to. 
 He comes almost every evening with his friend, Atum, and after we do his exercises, he hunts lizards for us. The lizards live in our grass roofs and wouldn't be a problem normally...but they've been prolifically producing and overrunning the place.
Although he is walking again, he is not yet fully healed. He has a weak right knee that hurts when he straightens it, so he walks with his knees bent. We've been doing some exercises and he's been practicing walking straight with a walker, but only time will tell if he is fully restored. I pray for God's hand to be on Mandella because life in Timu can be tough if you have a handicap. 
 Mandella has been living with his cousin, a Pentecostal pastor in our area while he's here doing exercises with me. Our prayer is that he'll be exposed to the gospel and discover where true hope comes from.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's a generational thing

Before we get too far away from furlough, I want to look back at some of the most meaningful times during furlough: time spent with grandparents. If I haven't mentioned before just how much we adore and enjoy our grandparents, let me mention it now. They pray for us, spoil us when we're around, share years of wisdom and experience, and have helped to shape the people we've become. 
Terrill, his mom (Velma) and his maternal grandmother (Anna Weber) pose after a lovely visit in Atmore, Alabama.
Terrill with his dad (Arlin) and paternal grandma, Glennys Schrock Shank, in grandma's old upholstery shop in Blountstown, Florida. Grandma Schrock always has a glass of mint tea and a listening ear ready for us. She's great at filling us in on the happenings of the family. I appreciate her positive attitude and faith in God's provision.
Terrill with both grandmas in Blountstown.
One way that our grandmas have equipped us to live in Africa is by modeling generosity and care for the needy. Even today, grandma Anna continues to quilt beautiful blankets to be donated to the Ik. When distributing them, we think of her and know that much prayer has been put into them. Since I have an affinity for the Ik elderly (and since their skin is thinner), they are the happy recipients of these quilts. Alice (above) had been asking for a blanket since last year. When she saw me pull this beautiful creation out, she hugged it tight and said a prayer of thanks to God. Then, while we sat and talked to her son around the fire, she wrapped herself up. It was no small gift. 
My dad's parents (Vernon & Donna Gingerich) came to visit us several times in Tallahassee.  One thing I appreciate about them is their ability to have good, meaningful conversations and encourage us to live a righteous life. Although life has not always been easy for them, they've used the lessons they've learned to encourage their family. How dear to have grandparents who want to invest in us!
Here I am with my maternal grandma (Doris Stutzman) on my right and my grandma Donna on my left. Recently, grandma Doris has uprooted from Berlin, Ohio for a move to a warmer climate in Tallahassee, Fl where my parents live.
 It was special to have her around for the holidays after living 1000 miles apart for the past 20 years. Here I'm sitting with mom and grandma at Christmas. Now that she is closer, I had much more time during this furlough to 'hang out' with grandma Doris. She always had a meal prepared when we stopped by her house and she never turned down a game of cards. Grandma Doris has been a shining example of love and devotion to her family. If a need arises, she doesn't hesitate to help out. Since she grew up with a big family on a farm, she's taught me much about being a pioneering woman. 
 One way that grandma Doris has helped us out while we've lived in to do internet research for me when my internet is not fast enough. Do you remember the story of Chilla Mandella? He was the 12-year old with TB of the spine who we transported to Kampala last February. At that time, he could not walk and could not control his urination. When we left him in August, he was just standing up and leaning on a stick. When we met up with him again in February, this is what we found (above in the back). He has taught himself to walk again. He's not completely well yet as his legs need therapy, but praise God for his walking again! Grandma Doris found me some strengthening exercises online and  now every evening Mandella comes over to do his exercises.

Grandparents. I could say much more but I'll leave you with this. Terrill & I both have wonderful parents who've poured much love & wisdom into our lives. But, others (like our grandparents) have influenced us as well. We're thankful for the many people who have invested in us.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Need to Feed

You've heard the expression: "You are what you eat." On one level, we're like, "Yeah, I get that. If I eat a lot of junk food, I'm not going to be healthy (I'll be junky). And if I eat a lot of healthy food, I'll be, well, healthy." But on another level, the expression is obviously not true. I mean, if you eat a lot of Little Debbie's snacks, you don't literally become a walking Little Debbie snack (at least I hope not!). And if you eat tons of fried chicken, you don't actually become fried chicken.

But, on a much more literal level, you really do become what you eat. Everything you are right now physically, you ate or drank at some point. It started when you were conceived and began taking nutrients from your mother's blood supply. After you were born, you continued ingesting basic elements through milk. And ever since then you've been eating and drinking things that your body digests and either absorbs or discards. Your body is a living collection of basic chemicals and minerals that you've taken in through your mouth and into your stomach throughout your lifetime.

As with the body, so with the spirit. You are also what you eat spiritually. In your spirit, feed on Jesus Christ. He said "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." At the last supper with his disciples, Jesus broke off a piece of bread and said, "Take this and eat, for this is my body." Feed on Jesus. He used physical bread as a picture of what spiritual nourishment and life his death and resurrection would give us.

We all need to feed. Feeding on food is one of the few, most basic activities of all biological life. Without food, our bodies would not exist. If starved of food, our bodies will shrivel up and die. Our spirits also need to feed. And God has already provided the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. We feed on him by believing that he was the Son of God and is the Savior of the world. When we welcome him into our hearts, we are eating him, spiritually speaking. But it's not a one-time feast. We must continually eat of the Bread of Life. How do you do that? Well, we're still learning ourselves.

Friday, March 1, 2013

My own food management

Speaking of food management (in the last blog), I've found that I truly enjoy canning food and it's become a hobby. Not that I can do it much because I'm limited by the number of jars that I have over here. But, when I have empty jars, I can whatever the Ik are bringing me.

This week, the Ik learned that they can barter with me for goods and services with their produce. I just happened to have a suitcase full of clothes, and as is my way, I made each person exchange something with me. If they know that they have something I want, it gives them some leverage in our little Timu economy and our transactions become reciprocating. This is all in an effort to decrease dependency and increase independency. 

Well, the first to find out that I had clothes to exchange were...the children. They came in droves with a handful of onions or a cup of tomatoes. They lined up at the door, dropped their produce in a basin and proudly walked into my clinic to choose their item of exchange. How could I deny children who appeared so hopeful to get a new shirt without holes in it? The closest shop that sells clothes is an 8-hour walk for them. 
They waited patiently for about 4 hours and eventually they were all seen. Sadly enough for everyone else, the clothes got finished on the very first day and I had to turn many other children away.
When the exchanging was all said and done, I walked away with 10 pumpkins, 14 lbs. of tomatoes, 20 lbs. of onions and 25 lbs. of beans. 
Not one to let produce spoil, I decided on salsa. It didn't use up all my onions and tomatoes...but it put a dent in my supplies. Two days later, I stewed the rest of the tomatoes and canned them as well.
There's nothing better than seeing jars filled with food that won't spoil. I know I may be over-the-top about how excited I get over canning...but hey...I can't help myself! A big thanks to Conrad & Leslie Weber & their kids for the clothing donations! You helped to clothe countless Ik children and you put salsa on our shelves.