Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jamming with the Jernigans

I mentioned in the last blog that we had visitors recently. Our church in Tallahassee has come up with these cool partnerships, which they call 'Barnabas partners'. For every missionary on the field, there is a Barnabas partner in the church who supports and encourages them. Our Barnabas partners (and long-time friends) are Doug & Lisa Jernigan. We first met them a month after we got married in 2005 when we both went on a medical mission trip to Peru. The friendship stuck and has kept growing since then. 

This was their second trip to Uganda to encourage us and walk alongside us in any way they could. And encourage us they did! The time together was so meaningful, and we walked away with a better grasp of what each others' lives are like. It was true fellowship, not to be taken for granted. 
 Soon after they arrived, we started the long journey north. We didn't do the 15 hours all in one day, but stretched the drive out over three days. We took two days of holiday along the way. First we visited Jinja and stayed at a lovely eco-lodge right on the Nile river. The next day we drove up to Sipi Falls on Mt. Elgon (eastern Uganda).
Our girls made friends quickly. 
Hornbills near the Nile.
 When we finally got to Timu, we went to work. Two new nurse friends from the Baptist team in Kaabong came up to Timu for a few days of training under Dr. Lisa. They were SO grateful for this time together and getting a feel for the medical needs of our district. And we were SO grateful for the company and assistance that Amanda and Jillian provided as we visited/treated the Ik. Jiggers is still a huge problem along our ridge, so we went looking for those who could use our help.
 It's been cold and rainy for the past nearly two months, meaning that many children presented with colds/flus. It was wonderful to have a doctor around! I can't tell you how much more security I feel when working with colleagues.
 Some evenings we would walk to our near-by neighbor's villages, looking for the sick.
 While we were out and about dealing with community health issues, Terrill & Doug were at home and attending to some fun projects. First, they put up a zipline. Our kids spend A LOT of time outside...hours every day. They make their own fun with sand, sticks, water, and leaves....but we wanted to add to their fun (and that of the community children) with some new toys. It was and is a hit.
 Okay....it's not just for children....I was, uh, testing the weight limitations.
 This week we found this older girl riding on the zipline with a baby strapped to her back. She was pretty desperate to try that thing out. I'm just thankful she didn't fall off and land on the baby.
 Another project they worked on was building a picnic table and setting it up in a lovely, scenic location for outdoor lunches. So thankful for Doug's handy wood-working skills!
 And then Doug helped Terrill finish a tree house. They put rails up and crafted a ladder for easy access. The girls have already been setting up house and 'cooking' in their tree.
 Our girls were thoroughly spoiled that week. We had requested that the Jernigan's bring roller skates, which they did. Our girls are now learning to skate and balance on wheels. We figured that it would help with their coordination, and provide a rainy-day activity where they could expend energy. Do I hear an 'Amen' from you moms out there?
 Some of our best times together were spent around the ukelele. Doug & Lisa blessed us through group worship, and times of spontaneously breaking into fun songs.
They left us last week and we've been getting back to our routines in Timu. This is how you find us...in a cloud (for missing our friends), and literally in a cloud as rainy season continues upon us.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A jiggery jig

Hi friends! Happy Autumn to you. While the leaves are changing there, it's pouring down rain here. Our second rainy season has begun. We're thankful for the water to fill our tanks and give people a second chance at planting crops. 

It's been a long while since our last photo update. We spent most of September and nearly all of October in Timu. It was a peaceful number of weeks and we found ourselves content to be here. I've been spending every morning doing Kindergarten with the girls. They are becoming more focused at school, and I'm becoming more patient. Thank God for His sanctifying work done through family relationships! 

Terrill continues to test his dictionary data with three blind, elderly gentlemen. We'd been hoping for the longest time to have doctors come for a visit to Kaabong district to assist people who are partially or fully blind. Well, one morning a truck drove up to our gate with the announcement that they were looking for the blind. An eye surgeon had arrived at Kaabong hospital and was looking for candidates who might need his help. We directed him to those we knew along the ridge and multiple elderly were able to receive care. Our three language assistants were all taken to the hospital and underwent surgery. They came back to Timu with moderate improvement to their vision. Thank God for this provision of eye care to many in Kaabong district this past month!

Now, let me turn your attention to some critters. The girls have been wanting a pet for the longest time, but we travel so much that it would be difficult to care for a pet. Well, we found someone selling two turtles at the beginning of September and decided the girls might be able to keep these little gals (they decided they were girls) for two months until we headed back to Kampala. They enjoyed their pets and released them back into the wild last week. 
Above, Mary is enjoying some banana. Below, Lemu is pushing Allison in her stroller. 

 And since I'm on the subject of critters, let me bring up the jigger problem in Timu. It's actually not limited to Timu, but problematic all over our district. Some money was donated towards shoes for those who are suffering with jiggers. If a person is wearing shoes, it's less likely that their feet will have exposure to the sand fleas that want to burrow under their skin. So, we've been making village visits in the evenings to find where the worst jigger problems are along our ridge. People gathered around and tried to convince me that they had jiggers in an attempt to gain a pair of shoes. I inspected many feet and at least half of those we saw did indeed have them.
 After we found those in need, we gave them soap, vaseline, safety pins, and pain medicine to take care of their jigger problem. We returned a week later to assess the situation. If they had removed jiggers, they were given a pair of shoes. The old ladies were the most delighted to receive the shoes, dancing with joy and blessing us.
Janet & Terrill have both had jiggers that I've had to work on recently. It's hard to avoid jiggers when so many people have them and are spreading the problem.

Starting in August, the gardens of Timu were ready to be harvested. Since our employees (day guard/gardener and house helper) are frequently working for us during daytime hours, we decided to help with the transport of their harvest (maize) from their gardens to their villages. This required loading vast amounts of maize into the back of our vehicle and driving it up a steep hill. But, we were happy to do our part in the harvest.

In an effort to give our girls more outdoor activities, Terrill had started the construction of a tree house. Here he is working with our friend, Adam, to get the wood cut properly and a platform up in a tree. Such a handy guy to have around, and a good dad too!
I celebrated my birthday in Timu this year and was completely content to be there...a gift from God. Sometimes I long to be other places during important days. But this year, it didn't matter. I was with people I love, and they gave me chocolate. ;-)

On October 8th, we had a family meeting with the relatives of the girls. We discussed many things, including us possibly adopting the girls. The family believed it to be in the interest of the girls that they stay with us and we were given the 'green light' to pursue adoption in Uganda. We've hired a lawyer who is currently processing paperwork and trying to get us a court date in December. The only concern of the family is that we keep in touch with them no matter where we end up. That is a request we intended to fulfill anyway, as we want to keep the girls' heritage and biological family alive in their minds. We don't see this as taking them away from their Ik/Karamojong family, but as us joining two families together....cementing our relationship with these dear Ik/KJ friends.
The girls always enjoy visiting their Ik/KJ cousins in Kaabong.
They also enjoy visiting their Texan friends living in Kaabong. They were pretending to be animals with tails.
We just hosted some friends from Tallahassee, FL for ten days and can't wait to tell you about the great time we had together...but that will have to wait for another blog.