Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pray for Isaac

Keep Isaac in your prayers.  Yesterday we had to take him in to be seen at the Jinja Hospital, but it took some convincing for him to go.  I came home from running some errands in town around 10:30 or 11:00 and we realized Isaac had not come over; he was still in his room in bed.  When I went to check on him he was in a lot of pain and seemed very weak.  He was having abdominal pain and had been vomiting.  I gave him some pain medication and nausea medication and told him to rest.  As we checked on him throughout the day he continued to deteriorate. Meme finally convinced him that he needed to go to the hospital and that we would be with him every step of the way.

God was again surrounding us with the right people.  As we were checking on Isaac his landlord came to see what was going on.  As it turns out she is a nurse at the Jinja Hospital.  First, she was upset because she did not know he was sick, second, she went into nurse mode and started getting Isaac taken care of.  She put on her uniform, loaded in our van and took us to the hospital.  She took us right into the hospital, did an assessment and wrote a report for him to have an X-ray and ultrasound of his abdomen. By the time the report and assessment were complete the radiology department was closed. Rose was determined that they were going to open back up for her.  She said “I am in uniform they can’t refuse me.”  After much debate between Rose and the radiology staff she lost this battle, but this would be the only battle she lost.  We went to a clinic down the road that had X-ray and ultrasound capability.  When we got into the clinic there were 5 people waiting for X-rays, Rose pushed to the front and said this boy is very urgent.  We got to the front of the line and the X-ray Technician was nowhere to be found.  Rose went and found the man, who was taking a break, and had him come back to take an X-ray of Isaac’s abdomen.  Once we were done with the X-ray we went to the waiting area for an ultrasound.  Upon arrival we found at least 20 people waiting for an ultrasound.  This just wouldn’t do.  Rose went to the front of the line, went into the doctor’s office and told the doctor Isaac needed to be seen immediately.  Once again Rose got her way and Isaac was seen next.   

We took Isaac back to the Jinja Hospital where she had a bed waiting for Issace and Rose had the doctor come see him immediately.  He was diagnosed with adhesions (fibrous bands that form between tissues and organs, often as a result of injury during surgery) from a previous appendix surgery 4 years earlier.  The adhesions have caused an obstruction of the small bowels. The doctors have started him on IV antibiotics in hopes it will reduce the inflammation.  They are also trying to keep him comfortable with pain medication. If the antibiotics do not take affect by tomorrow they will consider taking him in for surgery.

Please continue to pray for him and that his health returns so that we can all see that infectious smile that you all fell in love with.

Friday, July 27, 2012


As I began writing I was still riding an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows and my mind is still trying to process the images and conditions I experienced that day.  The events of the day, the favor and support we received and seeing God’s hand in every step of the way has forever changed my life and the true perspective of this world that we live in.

Monday was scheduled as a day of rest for the team and a “fun day” with some shopping in town and a trip to the source of the Nile.  I planned on using the time the team was shopping as some much needed down time to recharge and get ready for the days ahead.  However, I received a phone call from the Mafubiri Village that a young burn victim we had been trying to treat needed her bandages changed.  This poor child had been burned by hot cooking oil over 80% of her body with second and third degree burns. The burns covered half of her stomach, half of her back, one entire leg, most of one arm and part of her face. It was by far the worst burn victim I have seen in person and it is a miracle she was still alive.

Once we arrived I knew this was an issue that I was no longer capable of handling.  I could smell the infection as soon as I walked in the room, even before I removed the dressings to check the wounds. As I began assessing the wounds I knew we needed to get this child to a hospital capable of handling burn victims. I am trained to handle burns for a short time but not the longer term healing process.  We made the decision to get her to a clinic to better assess her wounds and get her the treatment she needed.  We took her to a local clinic where they were able to clean and dress the wounds.  However, they were not equipped to handle the severity of the case and she needed to go to Kampala.  My wife in her infinite wisdom knew that I was in not condition emotionally or physically to make the two hour drive to Kampala.  She hired a driver to take us to the Malago Hospital in Kampala which is a government hopspital. 

At this point I started to become aware of the fact God was, and had been, working in this situation. Without hesitation two amazing men, Jonathan Stark and Dawson Skow, made the decision that I was not going on this journey alone.  They set aside there plans for the day to help this child and her mother.  Our amazingly strong wives, Kari Segner and Michelle Skow, stayed behind to handle the kids and continue on with the team.  As we began our journey, the mother held the burned child and Dawson held the infant who had to come with mom due to breastfeeding, God was already doing His thing.  We had to stop for fuel before heading for Kampala, the gas gauge was below empty and the first station had no petrol.  The second station again had no petrol.  As we turned around and headed down the highway the driver suddenly began swerving back and forth. After my initial alarm I asked what in the world he was doing. Jonathan informed me he was swerving to “slosh” the remaining gas around in the tank so that we could make it to the gas station.  As we coasted into the third gas station, with literally no gas left, we were relieved to see a petrol tanker truck filling up the tanks at the station.

Our journey to Kampala was as smooth as a trip to Kampala can be, and the child was thankfully able to rest and even sleep for some of the trip.  She did not even cry out until about 5 minutes from the hospital.  God also provided peace for the young infant who was absolutely mesmerized by Dawson and his goatee.

Once we arrived at the hospital we began searching for the right place for the baby to receive treatment. We were directed to the completely wrong end of the complex and we ended up turning around and heading right back to the place we started.  Momma was exhausted and was struggling to carry her poor child.  As we were walking a doctor saw the child’s leg and began asking questions and led us to the exact spot we needed to be.  When we entered the waiting area it was unlike any scene I had ever seen.  Words and even images cannot begin to describe the shear about of people waiting to be seen and the dire conditions some of the people were in.  We found favor once again and were taken in to see the triage doctor immediately.  Again the scene was unlike anything I have ever seen.  We were taken to a room with multiple patients, but it was the environment around me that shocked me.  There were hundreds of people lining the hallways waiting for treatment, blood on the floor, and the atmosphere of despair. The scene looked like something from a Hollywood movie set.  Only there were no cameras and no movie stars, it was real life. This hospital would make any under funded county hospital in America look like a pristine, state of the art facility.

 The doctor began examining this little girl in the midst of this chaos, the man next to us had been beaten so severely his eyes were completely swollen shut and blood was trickling down his face.  The woman across from us had a severely broken leg.  Yet among all this chaos God was there and was whisking this little girl through to get treatment. We arrived in a room with about 45 beds lining the walls and walkways, this was the area she was to receive more long term treatment.  Again, the scene was unlike anything I could begin to describe. There were people with all types of ailments and conditions in this small cramped room.  I was amazed at how the people came together to help each other.  Kobasinja had been wrapped in her mother’s shawl, but as soon as her mother unwrapped her and her wounds were revealed, the people in the room joined together to help out.  One Jaja (grandmother) took the infant and changed her diaper, another woman laid out sheets to make the bed for Kobasinja to lay on and yet another woman brought soup for the child to eat.  It was amazing to see all the people join together to help this mother and her children.  The doctors came in to start their rounds and I did not wait for them to make their way over to us.  I went and grabbed one of the doctors and told him this child was burned very badly.  He immediately came over to access her wounds.  He got IV antibiotics flowing and fluids for re-hydration and began a plan for long term care.   

The hardest part of the trip was the ride home…. The adrenaline stopped pumping and the reality and emotions all came crashing down.  To make matters worse we learned from our driver the true story of what really happened to Kobasinja. The story that her mother told us was that the cooking oil spilled onto her.  However, she told the driver that the co-mother, the second wife of her husband had a disagreement. The two wives had been fighting a lot since the husband had recently been killed in an accident.  The co-mother ended the argument by intentionally dumping boiling cooking oil onto the child.  The co-wife then ran away and authorities are still searching for her. It was so hard to hear that so much evil exists in this world that someone would intentionally burn an innocent child.

However, God even had a plan for our trip home.  We had received a recommendation for a guest house, which first of all we could not find in the dark.  Second, once we did find the guest house, it looked liked an abandoned warehouse. Once we saw the place and the surrounding, Jonathan said “to Jinja.” We drove in the dark back to Jinja which was an adventure in its self and is about a 2-2.5 hour trip. On the way home we were able to talk to our driver, David, about Jesus and his relationship with Christ.  David is on the brink of accepting Christ, he knows all about the Bible, the story of Jesus and that He is the only way to salvation.  However, he has not yet accepted Christ, but he is close.  So it was awesome to be able to talk with David and to hear his story and to share our stories as well.

God moved that day in a big big way.  It is a reminder that we serve a very big God.  The images and experiences from this day have forever changed me as a person and my perspective.

*Update on Kobasinja’s conditions:  She was taken in to surgery to have wound debridement (the removal of unhealthy tissue).  She had been put on an NG tube for feeding, but that has been recently removed.  She was taken today into surgery for skin graphs. She came through the surgery fine but she still has a long recovery process. Please continue to keep this young child and her mother in your prayers.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Encouraging Week

We have had a really encouraging week and God is really presenting Healing Faith with some great opportunities to serve. We met with a ministry called Welcome Home this past week.  It started as a place for the kids to visit on “Field Trip Fridays”.  Kari came up with the idea of taking the kids on field trips on Fridays since they have home school Monday through Thursday. We visited an orphanage called Welcome Home.  This led to a meeting with the Ugandan Director of the ministry which led to a meeting with the American Director who happened to be in Uganda this month. She shared her heart and her vision with Kari and I and we did the same. This led to an opportunity for us to provide medical care to the villages they already have relationships with and minister to.  This is exactly the vision Kari and I have for Healing Faith.  We want to come alongside already established ministries to help provide medical care and alleviate medical expenses for those ministries.  We are not here because we want to start another orphanage or children’s home, we want to help fill a a void of  medical need in those  that already exist.  God is really providing us with great  relationships
I was able to go into a couple of villages deep in the sugar cane fields with a “Village Team” from Welcome Home.  They have teams already assembled that have relationships formed with the villagers and they provide Bible lessons. This will be one of the areas we work with the team that is coming from Brazos Fellowship.  Our goal, deworm a mere 600 kids and check for jiggers. It was really encouraging when we visited the second village.  There was a malnourished baby in the village and the director of Welcome Home took matters into her own hands.  She asked the villagers which one of them owned chickens.  At first nobody raised their hands, but after some persistence she found one man who stepped forward.  She asked him if he wanted Jesus to bless him, to which he answered yes.  She told him that in order to be blessed he needed to bless this child.  She told him to bring the mother one egg a week for the child for two months.  She told him she would be back to check with the mother and to check with him to make sure he followed through. It was great to see how she got the fellow villagers involved instead of just  giving hand outs.

We also had the opportunity to do a follow up visit on two of the malnourished babies from the village team with Arise Africa.  Baby Aminia was the only one who was at the meeting but praise God she looked much better. She had more life in her eyes, her face was fattened up,  her skin was not sagging nearly as much and she was able to sit up on her own.
Follow up 2 weeks later
Original photo 2 weeks ago

The only down side was that her belly was infested with parasites, however we are planning on getting medicine back to her village.  We did find one little boy with a severe rash that he has had for two years.  I am planning on doing some research on his condition and going back for a follow up.  There was also a child with a large half dollar sized wound on her leg that was severely infected.  I was able to clean it, wrap it and send her home with materials to keep it clean and dry. We  will have to return with medication since there was such severe infection.   It was encouraging to see the improvements in some of the kids we had visited at the end of June, the power of prayer is at work in their village. It was also encouraging to see the children more welcoming.  The first visit they were very afraid of me and cried when we I was assessing them.  This time they only cried when Megan was around, she seems to have a knack for that in this village.

Here are some pictures of the children we are treating.

Playing futbol with the kids. Their ball is made of plastic bags tied together with a banana fiber.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wakisi Village

We started the day by driving into theWakisiVillage, traveling deep into the village on nothing more than a dirt walking path.  At times it was questionable if there was enough room for the vehicle to make it down the “road”.  The surroundings were amazing, with the village just at the edge of the Nile River. The area could not have been more beautiful.  When we arrived we were met by a large group of kids eager to greet us and to sing and dance with some welcome songs they had prepared.  Most of the songs were upbeat and welcoming; however there was one song that was really sobering.  The song’s lyrics were as follows:
“We are the younger generation
We arise from our elders
AIDS AIDS have killed more people everyday
Maybe from your advice we’ll see what shall we do”

After the songs we began the process of beginning our medical clinic. As we started assembling our medical supplies and setting up stations, I realized how big the line was that had gathered.  We started with the elders and began assessing their needs. The biggest thing we found was that jiggers had infested the feet of the villagers. Jiggers are small flea like insects that live in dirt; they burrow into your skin and lay eggs.  The only way to get them out is to “dig” them out with a strong needle.  The process starts by washing and soaking the feet, then the removal process can begin. Once the jiggers have been removed the area is cleansed with iodine and bandaged. Kari and Megan did an amazing job and just jumped right in to help. Luffafa Emanuel (Emma) and Kari set up a jigger removal station and Megan and I had a medical assessment station. I looked up after about an hour or an hour and a half and the line had grown instead of getting smaller. There was a storm rolling in over the river and the hills in the distance.  We kept watching as the storm crept closer and closer and the thunder got louder and louder.  Finally the storm let lose and we were forced to move inside into a building made of sticks and mud with a tin roof.  Once we got inside and set things back up, I realized our numbers had once again grown. I also realized how tough it was to listen to lungs sounds through a stethoscope with rain pounding on the tin rood.  We saw many cases of jigger infestation, malaria, respiratory infections, open wounds, parasite infestations, TB and people requesting HIV tests. The worst of the cases was an emaciated old man that was severely malnourished and a woman with severe abdominal ascites, which is fluid in the abdominal area.  By far the worst case of the day was a 10 month old baby that had such severe malaria she vomited every time we tried to give her medication. We got her temperature down by bathing her and we will have to return with malaria medication for infants.  Amidst all the sickness and despair there was some humor as well.  One of the men asked if he could buy Megan for his son.  I was able to negotiate for 5 meat goats and one dairy goat. Afterwards, I learned I should have held out for cows…..oh the learning curve.  Next time I will be more prepared!
The line began forming for medical care
One of the elders in the village who needed some serious care

Kari at work washing feet and removing jiggers
The rain forced us indoors to continue medical care

The team began working at 10am and we did not stop until 4pm, none of us wanted to stop until we had seen everyone that had been waiting.  Finally, we resounded to the fact that we were physically and mentally exhausted and our medications were almost depleted as well. We are planning on going back next week to finish our treatments.
After we had packed up the last of our medical supplies they brought us a dish of posho, beans and roasted maize.  It was the first time our team of 4 had stopped for food or rest.  I am not normally a big posho fan (see former post “Culture Club” about my opinions of Posho http://www.healingfaithuganda.org/stories-from-uganda/culture-club/) however today I ate a large serving of posho, all my beans and an ear and a half of roasted maize. While we were eating five more people showed up seeking medical care that we had to tell to come back next week.
Dirty and exhausted we loaded back into the van and headed back down the foot path. I was so very proud of Kari and our intern Megan, they jumped right in and began working to remove jiggers. Having Emma there to work by our side was an amazing blessing. It was the most exhausting day physically and mentally since we have arrived in Jinja, but it was one of the most fulfilling days.  It was so exciting to see God in action and see the impact of the work being done in the WakisiVillage.
You can see more images from the day on our Healing Faith Facebook page:
*some of the images and medical conditions are a bit graphic*