Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Good day or bad day?

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014
Three more cases of malaria in the village today.

I can never decide if it is a good day or a bad day when we find new cases. It seems the worse the test results, the greater God’s presence. The more illness, the more God is glorified in the healing. With each new case, a reminder of why God has called us here.
Today, Jonah, a boy who just 3 days ago followed the Healing Faith team for 2 ½ miles as they educated and hung nets, who was showing off his dance moves and entertaining the team as they traveled, walked himself to our area and showed us the worst case of malaria I have seen so far. 3 days ago he was running, laughing and playing. Today, he was wrapped in an old suit coat, shivering violently, crying and weak. His fever was obvious to the touch. His eyes were barely open. I don’t know how far away he lived, but I am so thankful that he knew to come find us. He knew that we could help.
As Jonah lay there on the hard, wooden bench shivering, Jason gave him Tylenol for the fever. We began praying knowing that this was going to be rough. He couldn’t sit up on his own. Jason gave his first dose of malaria treatment, and someone brought him a drink. We helped Jonah sit up to sip the water, and no sooner than he swallowed, all of the medicines came back up. Another symptom, but if he can’t keep the medicines down, then the disease will not be treated. Jason quickly decided that the parasite had come on fast and severe, and this boy needed treatment beyond what we could give him. He needed to get to a clinic where he could receive IV fluids and malaria treatment.
We can’t simply whisk children away to clinics though. We need parents. We need permission.

This sweet boy, in so much pain told us that his JaJa was gone. Gone to market? Gone for good? Gone to where? For how long? We didn’t know. There was a teenage girl near us holding a baby though. She said that she is caring for Jonah, but she cannot go to the clinic because she is caring for other children, too.

Fortunately, Jason has developed a good relationship with the chairman of the village and was able to get permission as well as a recommendation for a trustworthy clinic nearby where Jonah’s family could check in on him.
Before we could gather and head to the clinic though, a group had developed around Jason. Sometimes crowds gather simply because there is something to see, but when a little girl laid her arm on Jason’s leg, he could feel the fever right through his pant leg. Another test, positive for malaria. A few children with cold and flu like symptoms, and then a third child with a positive malaria result. We begin treatment and pray healing over their little bodies.

In the midst of all of this illness and treatment though, there is Jesus. God’s presence can be felt. It is obvious that God is at work in this place in mighty ways.
11-year-old Chloe is leading a group of 5 pre-school aged girls in singing Jesus’ praises. Chloe sat with one of these girls just a week ago crying tears and crying out to God for healing on her behalf.  Today, they were practicing “group hugs”, dancing and playing. A group of older girls came over to hear their singing, and even joined in with Chloe. That would be ministry enough. That fellowship would be enough. But then, a 12 year-old tells Chloe that her little sister has just tested positive for malaria, and asked if Chloe would pray for her. Without skipping a beat, Chloe gathers all of the older girls in a circle, and they begin to pray.

Only by the hand of God. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Q&A With The Interns

We decided to change things up this week and ask the interns a few questions. Hopefully their answers will give a little insight to what life in Uganda is like!

What was your best experience so far?

There are so many different memories that I will forever remember and love from these last few weeks. It is close to impossible to pick a favorite experience, each day has it's own set of challenges and rewards. I absolutely love going into the village but my favorite day was probably last Saturday, when literally nothing went as planned. There was a funeral in the village that we usually go to, and a Visiting Orphans team was scheduled to come. So the night before plans were shuffled around and we ended up taking this team to the village that Healing Faith has served in the past. When I was in Uganda this past January my team had the opportunity to visit, play and deworm in this village and I really bonded with a little boy named Michael. We had not been back to this village all summer, but I have been praying for Michael every day since January. I have no idea what his story was or home life was like but his tinny hands and smile were imprinted on my heart. Saturday I got to spend the majority of the day playing games and having a fun day with the little boy that I have been praying over for so long. He is a huge reason I choose to come back to Healing Faith, although I knew that I would probably not be able to see him this summer. I will never forget the feeling of being able to see him again and his face when I remembered his name. I loved having the opportunity to pray over this child while holding him, which was such a change from the past 6 months. Healing Faith is all about relationships and people and getting to bond with children is so important. This was just a perfect reminder to me as to why and how much of an impact these kids have had on me. We have had a long few weeks with a lot of new visitors and transitions and it was a perfect sign from God that I am exactly where I need to be this summer. I am officially half way through my internship and have fallen in love with so many children, but Michael will always have a special place in my heart and a space in my nightly prayers.

My best experience, as a Healing Faith intern, has been implementing everything
Kari and Jason have taught me so far. One day in the village, I noticed a little girl named Latifa. She looked really fatigued, was running a fever, and something about her just seemed off. I brought her to Jason in order to get tested for malaria. Sure enough, she had the disease. We were able to start her on medication right away! When I saw her the following week, she looked a lot better and her teacher said she was doing great! I know that if God had brought me here just to recognize that one case, then it has been a summer well spent! I am so thankful I was there to care for and love on that little girl.

My favorite experience so far happened the last time we were out in the village. I ran into this 17 year old man named Ron who I had met a few times before. We had become pretty good friends but I never actually got to know him until that moment. We started talking about life, jobs, and school. I soon found out that both his parents died when he was very young leaving his uncle to raise him and his 4 siblings. I’ve realized that this is quite common in this culture. Our conversation continued and we laughed and joked around about random things. Eventually Ron told me his dream was to become a teacher so he could give kids the opportunity to be successful. Even though we hung nets and educated many households on malaria my moment with Ron was my favorite. I got to form a relationship with someone and God used me to show His love towards this young man. That’s what it’s all about!

What have you learned?

Greg, Kellie and the Segner's love Texas, the Spurs, tons of places they claim are so much better than Ohio and especially Texas A&M.

Ok on a serious note I have learned that Malaria treatment and education is an incredibly vital need. As we have gone from house to house there have been maybe two houses where someone in the home understood that malaria is from the bite of a mosquito. Yet, every person with any type sickness, back pain, or cold assumes they have malaria because they don't know and understand the symptoms they should be looking for. This can all be taught in a short education session and the amount of gratitude from families is shocking. However, what actually makes Healing Faith so effective is the relationships they have built. They spent a year getting to know the community before we started any type of malaria prevention program. When we drive into the village there are children yelling Jason's name. When the malaria prevention program started it was never about how many nets we could hang in a day, but taking the time to get to know the people in the homes, educating them and really building relationships. There isn't a strict schedule and as we come upon situations and people, because the Segner's have relationships and a good understanding of the community they can make judgment calls, spend times with those who may be really hurting, and really invest in the lives of those they love. This makes them so much different then someone who walks into the lives of someone handing out nets they are truly getting to know and investing in the people around them.

Throughout my internship, I have learned that the education portion of the malaria program is huge! When we go house to house in Wakisi and begin the education process, the first thing I always ask the people is, "Do you know what causes Malaria?" I've been here for almost six weeks now and I've only met two families who knew that Malaria was caused by a mosquito bite. Isn't that crazy? Malaria kills 600,000 children alone every year, but the people who are mostly affected by it don't even know the cause, signs, symptoms, or how to prevent it. So the education that Healing Faith provides is not only crucial, but could also be life saving.

I could go on for days about things I’ve learned. The first thing I would say is intentionality. Life here is very sneaky! What I mean by sneaky is that even though many of the “first world distractions” aren’t there you still have to be intentional. Whether it’s with your quiet time or with relationships or even just daily tasks. Time will just fly by without you knowing it! Another thing I learned is that people all over the world are still people. You’re probably like “well duh!!” but this is why. Even people in a Ugandan village still like to laugh, feel good about themselves, and to actually feel like they are wanted. Just like you and I. But most importantly, true happiness should never be based on your circumstances!

What kind of advice would you give future Healing Faith interns?

Be ready to leave pieces of your heart everywhere you go. Nothing is going to go exactly as you expect it to but it will all be worth it. Also Miriam knows everything if you have any questions from how to wash clothing, how to cook, how much something in the market should cost or what that weird plant is, Miriam knows!  

BE FLEXIBLE! It sounds simple, but it's been one of the biggest adjustments I've had to make here. There is no typical day in Uganda or a set schedule. If there is a schedule, it will most likely change. Life here has taught me how to be comfortable with the unknown and to just go with the flow. I say this because many plans made weeks in advance often change within hours before we leave. So just be flexible with everything. Your time here in Uganda will be a lot more relaxing that way.

1.    Don’t think you’re going to fix anything!
2.    Rolexes will save your life!

3.    Don’t leave your laundry out at night! Mango flies will lay eggs on them and when they hatch they will burrow into your skin and eventually you will have worms under your skin!

Monday, June 9, 2014

3 Weeks in...Daily Life in the Mission Field

The interns and I are just finishing our third week here in Uganda. It is amazing how fast time has flown by and how quickly Uganda has come to feel like home!  When I steeped off the plane I was not exactly sure what this summer would entail, I only knew Uganda through the eyes of a short term mission trip. I was excited to learn more about what it was like to actually live a life in Uganda, rather than the go, go, go of a short term mission trip. 

What I have learned so far is the two are not comparable at all. My short term trip was amazing, I met some incredible people, was introduced to Uganda and some amazing ministries (including Healing Faith) that I would have never known about or truly understood without being there. Over the course of my short term trip, I fell more and more in love with Uganda and knew that God was calling me to return. I loved getting to visit the different mission organizations and to learn about their philosophies and having the opportunity to love on as many children as possible. 

Not everyone knows that living on the mission field is nothing like being on a short term trip. This internship has done such an awesome job showing us what life in Uganda is really like. As an intern we get to see what happens in every day life in Uganda. What life is like when teams are not here. We do not go to the village everyday, some days the rain keeps us away and life does not even come close to following a well planned
Home School
out day to day schedule. The relationships that we are forming are much longer lasting and have a much different meaning because we are staying for a longer time and have the ability to really invest in the people around us. I love spending time just hearing about the hearts of the Segner Family and really getting to know their children. What you may not know is Kari and Jason are not just investing in the lives of the people they meet in the village, they love on us as interns, the other staff members of Healing Faith, the guards who protect their home and ours every day and night and the community members all around Jinja. They have amazing relationships with shop owners and other Christian ministries around town and live their entire lives as part of their mission field, and somehow have time to raise 5 kids, and supposedly find time to sleep. I love that as interns we have the ability to help out in any way possible. Some days we help with home schooling, some days we make spread sheets, count t-shirts, count malaria supplies and nets. Unlike short term trips not everything we do in in direct service in the village, but we are still spending each day serving Healing Faith, the Segner Family, and most importantly Christ. 

So far I am loving everything about this summer!  It has been so amazing to really understand what life is like and to get to experience all of Uganda, from trying to buy things in the market, having no clue what to buy in our version of a supermarket to make dinner, watching Greg in his safari hat conquer the 10 inch lizards in the kitchen, learning how to make eggs and toast like a boss and to learn how to just go with the flow. My favorite days are still those days that we get to spend in the village, but seeing all of the other work and love that happens outside of the villages makes the village days so much more rewarding. Knowing he story behind specific children and adults in the village makes hearing them respond to "Do you love Jesus?",

with a loud yell of "yes I do!"mean so much more than it ever did before. I lover understanding more and more about the people that we are able to server everyday, and I love that each time I go into the village I come home with new friends and a deeper understanding than what I had the day before. 

Healing Faith is entering a huge summer, with three of us interns, the 8 McMorris Family who arrived a week  ago, a Healing Faith team, a few Visiting Orphans teams and other visitors who are all about to be on their eay over in the next few weeks.  I am so excited to get to witness all of this excitement and growth this summer and know that God has some amazing thing in the works for the future of Healing Faith. It is such a blessing to get to serve here every day and to witness all of the amazing that God is doing on a daily basis. 
I cannot imagine loving being anywhere else more. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Overcoming Fear

As the interns continue their summer with Healing Faith they continue to share their perspective on life here in Uganda and life in the mission field. 

Overcoming Fear- by Kellie James 

For some people, following their call is easy. I know some missionaries who easily dropped everything once they felt called. I, however, didn't jump up, pack my bags, and run out the door. Rather, I fought back. I responded to God's calling by asking, ‘Really God? You want me to go there? How could I possibly help them?” What may have been stubbornness on the outside was my attempt to cover the fear I felt on the inside.

It quickly became clear that God was not going to let it go. Instead of continuing to ask questions, I began to make up excuses. I threw everything I could think of at God. It would be too expensive. It would be too much hard work. People wouldn’t support me. I didn’t have anything to offer. How silly I was to think that God wasn’t big enough to handle my obstacles. It turned out that getting to Africa was expensive, but God provided. It did take a lot of work, but God carried me through it.There were people who didn’t support me. Some of them even walked out on me because of my calling. However, more people than I could ever imagine threw in their support. It became apparent that I wasn’t alone on this journey.

Once everything started to align, my heart became fully committed to my calling. I knew that whatever crazy path God had me on, I would be taken care of. Despite understanding that I was being called, I had no idea why. Why on Earth would God call someone like me half way around the world to a village called Wakisi? I didn’t have any experience in mission work like most others. Just as I began to question God, the answer hit me. It had NOTHING to do with me but, rather, it had everything to do with Him. I may not live, love, or act the same way as the people I was going to meet in Uganda, but we both share Christ. He is our common reality and we are joined together in His life. So what was I so worried about anyway?

In the end, I overcame my fear by completely and wholeheartedly trusting God. Through my time of uncertainty, I sought answers through His word. Isaiah 41:10 brought me a lot of comfort when I felt afraid. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." I gave my entire heart and my whole life over to Him. Not just the part that was easy to trust God with, but also the parts that were hard to give up.This included my life of comfort in the states. He called me to another continent, to a country I’ve never been to, and with people I’ve never met. I can honestly say I'm happy to trust God with all of it.

I know that fear is a normal reaction when it comes to answering the Lord's call. This is especially true if that calling requires you to step really far outside of your comfort zone. It's important to remember that what the enemy uses against you, God uses to lift you up. That's exactly what happened for me. God used my fear and turned it into spiritual growth and development. I'm forever thankful for his patience with me during this incredible journey.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

It's Worth It!

We’re officially going on our third week here in Jinja. Time is flying by! The last week we started the malaria education program in the village, which includes educating on malaria, putting up mosquito nets for everyone, and spraying around their houses.  It’s been nothing short of amazing! Miriam, who’s one of the ladies who works for Healing Faith, helps out with the children’s ministry and because there’s a pretty big language barrier between us and the people in the village she helps translate. If it weren't for her, the malaria education program would be quite difficult. Since Miriam is the only one to translate, she constantly has to go back and forth from person to person. Since she can’t be everywhere at one time there’s plenty of instances where you will be one on one with a person and have absolutely no idea what they’re saying.  

Last Thursday I was in one of those situations, I was with this man who was trying to ask me if I could spray inside his house for mosquitos. I didn't have a clue what he was asking and we both just started to laugh and had to wait for Miriam. I took care of what he asked and with a big grin on his face he shook my hand and thanked me.  A little later I was walking to the next house and I kept on thinking back to that moment. I wished there was some way I could have communicated with him, and I immediately thought back to one of my favorite verses.  

John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

Jesus didn't say some people or even most people, but instead He said ALL people will know! I’m pretty sure all people includes the man who lives in the mud hut in the middle of Uganda that couldn't understand a word I was saying. But he could understand at least one thing, love. I hope and pray that Christ’s love can be seen through all of us, because regardless of the language barrier we can all love on people!

Working with the Segner Family has been a great learning experience. Watching how they selflessly love on everyone in the village just makes you want to step your game up! It’s not only how they love but also seeing how the people love them in return. I don’t think there has been a trip to the village where they weren't given some kind of gift; they even got a rabbit one time! Going back to the verse in John, Christ is seen just by the way they love people. And I know for a fact that it works, last week when we were hanging nets in the village there was this one 12 year old boy named Alex. As soon as we parked and loaded the wagon with nets and supplies Alex ran and made sure he was the one to pull it for us, and he did the entire day! At the end of the day while I was waiting on everyone else to finish up and say their goodbyes, I overheard Alex talking with another boy. I’m not sure what the whole conversation was a about but I heard him say, “Jesus loves me!” I quickly turned around and smiled at him and he gave me a thumbs up. 
(That’s right, I’m already training Aggies over here!). 

That right there is why Healing Faith is here. Yes they fight malaria, help the sick, take care of pregnant women, but the real reason is to make sure they know that Jesus loves them! In my eyes, if Alex is the only one to know this it will still be worth it! All the nets, all the time, all the money, and all the issues and struggles that come with running a ministry in Africa, it is ALL worth it. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

A word from Katie

There is nothing like the joy of a child. Their laughter squeals of delight and carefree nature can't help but make you want to join in the fun and forget all of your worries. The children in the village that we are serving in have probably seen more heartache, pain, trials, and corruption then most of us will ever see in a lifetime. Yet, they come running to the van each time we arrive with such trust, hope, and joy. They praise Jesus with everything they have; they don't let go of our hands and for some reason trust that we are telling them the truth. 

When the Segner's begin to sing songs every child face lights up with a joy that is so hard to explain but so genuine. These children are present in the moment they appreciate what they have, they long for our relationships and to learn. The children in the village listen intently to the bible stories that are read every week and are able to summarize stories from weeks past with no review. This week one of my favorite moments was that two guest came to visit us and brought some bubbles. The kids laughter and squeals of delight were endless regardless of age, it was so was so contagious. I wanted to run, jump and dance along with them. The simple joys of childhood are the same across cultures and lines of poverty. Children want to laugh and have fun and they deserve to, no child should live in fear of what the next day holds or that a small bug could make them so ill.

My favorite part of what Healing Faith believes is how important each individual child is, it's not all about numbers. They want a relationship with every single one of them. They want to teach them about the love, joy and hope that they can have in Christ. With these relationships that the Segner's have been building for almost a year we officially began the malaria education program this week!!! 

Over the course of the next few months Healing Faith and those who partner with them will be able to use the relationships they have formed to teach everyone in the village about Malaria and provided them with the protection of a net. Healing Faith’s relationships make them so much more trustworthy and highly increases the likelihood that these nets will be used in a correct way! All of these precious children will now have a safer place to sleep each night and homes that have been prayed over from people that they know and love. Education of how these nets work and how malaria is spread are key components in making sure that nets are used consistently and properly, as well as these nets being hung by people that they know and love. 

This week we spent three days in the village, two of which we spent education families at their homes about malaria, hanging nets and spraying. The first day Kellie and I watched as Kari Segner did the
teaching and we helped spray and handed out packets for the kids at each of their homes to color. This day was a great way to see how everything ran. We met a lot of families and had the privilege of seeing how much they appreciated and understood what we were doing. I loved having the opportunity to pray over every household and this really opened my eyes to where the children we had been loving on had come from. 

The second day Kari stayed home to do some paper work and get ready for the arrival of the McMorris's (we are so excited for you to be here!!!). This meant that Kellie and I would be leading the
entire teaching section at each home. On the way to the village I was a little bit nervous but I found that with the help of God my nerves were calm, Kellie and I taught, and everything seemed to go so well. Having such a vital part in the role of the day was rewarding and terrifying, but hearing the response and questions of each family that we educated was amazing. Some of the situations that we walked into were hard to see and a little more challenging then other but everyone needs Christ love and Grace and the opportunity to pray over these situations is wonderful. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Two Weeks- A Word from Kellie

We have officially been in Uganda for two whole weeks now! I am in disbelief at how fast the time flies here!

I feel like the best way to illustrate my experience here is to take you through our first village visit. Every few days, we leave Jinja to visit a village about 30 min away called Wakisi. As soon as we first drove into the village, the local kids became ecstatic! They ran after the van and some of them even held onto it until we got to school.  I was honestly surprised by how welcoming everyone was. After we unloaded, we went out to a big field to sing, dance, and play games with the children. It was during my first set of songs that the reality of their life hit me. They were singing this song about how its okay to love Jesus because the "future looks better than it does right now." The truth of those lyrics constantly 
reminded me that this life is just our temporary home. There will be a time when they won't have to go to school in a place similar to a goat shed, live in a mud hut, have malaria, or wonder where their next meal is coming from. Even though the kids in the village have a harder life than most could ever imagine, they are still living out God's word. 2 Corinthians 4:18 came to mind when I heard their song, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

After singing and dancing, Jason gathered all of the children around him for a bible story.The kids were so attentive and eager to learn. They loved looking at the pictures! While the bible story was being told, the women and children who needed medical care began to line up. There weren't that many on Tuesday, but what we did see was heartbreaking. We tested a couple people and a seven month old for malaria.Thankfully, no one tested positive. We saw several babies around 5-7 months old that were clearly very sick. One baby, in particular, was crying and had wounds all over him. It was an amazing experience to watch and learn from Jason as he went from woman to woman, to baby to baby, caring for each one the best he could. After treatment, we gathered around them and prayed over each of them.

We kicked off our malaria education in Wakisi this week. Let me just say that I knew coming into this internship what Healing Faith was all about, but it brought me to tears seeing it all come together. Since Jason and Kari work so hard to establish relationships with the people in the village, we were able to go from home to home in the village and educate them about malaria including the cause, signs, symptoms,
who's at risk, and prevention. Then we went inside and hung mosquito nets over each sleeping area. Next, we treated the outside, doors, and windows with pesticide. Lastly, we asked the families if we could pray over them, because even though we are the ones physically helping them fight malaria,the Lord sent us. Everything we do here is in His name. My prayer and hope is that each family that we meet sees the love of Jesus through our work. This is just the first week of our malaria education, but on Tuesday, our team was able to hang 21 nets. That covered 18 adults and 57 children! On Thursday afternoon, we went back out to the village to continue our fight against malaria. That afternoon, we were able to hang 15 nets, which covered 14 adults and 22 children! That's 111 people who are sleeping safely at night now thanks to Healing Faith!

 God is SO GOOD!

So far, I have absolutely loved my time here. The people are beautiful, the kids are full of life, the culture is amazing, and I've never felt God's presence more than I have here. I love knowing that I'm exactly where God intended me to be and I can't wait to see what he has planned for the rest of my internship.