Friday, February 1, 2008

A story from Uganda

Okay, I wrote this blog and then I realized... hmmm...if people don't really know Jeff and I, whoever reads this could think I'm really bragging here about how we say YES to GOD, like we're some super-spiritual amazing Jesus followers....yes we are Jesus followers, but well, what I have to say is,... yes we do say yes to God but believe me there have been many times where we totally screw up and miss what God had planned for us because we didn't say yes to Him. So... I just wanted to clear that up... okay so now I'm just sounding nerdy...
Anyway, this is a great story of.....

What happens when we say YES to God!

So….as much as I want to share every cute and funny detail about our kids, I just have to share this story because it’s so flipping cool how God moves and works in the smallest decisions people make.

Two years ago, my husband had a work project in Northern Uganda, a small city called Arua. It was a 2 month gig, so we packed up our things and headed over to East Africa! This was going to be our second trip to East Africa and we couldn’t wait to get back.

Jeff and his team were out in the bush setting rat traps and collecting rats. (Jeff is an epidemiologist and specializes in plague research- fleas on rats carry plague-the reason for trapping rats, and it’s kind of fun!! I got to help out and come along with the team quite a bit). They worked in the same villages for the 2 month period which enabled them to get to know the people of the village. There was a young boy in one of the villages that would always run after Jeff and his team. Actually, he hobbled after them because he had a bum leg. It was swollen, oozing and in need of some serious medical attention. The boy's family lived miles away from town and would never be able to get him to a clinic or hospital because of lack of time (they were farmers), money and transportation. So, Jeff and his team decided to take the boy and his mom into town to the hospital and skip a half a days work in the field. They picked me up after he had been admitted to the hospital and we went to visit him. Now mind you, a small African hospital is NO place even the sick want to be, so I do not think the mom and boy were very happy about being taken there, even though they knew it was the only way they could get help.

Fred with his cane, bag of food and his new outfit Fred and his family, me and Jeff's coworkers

We found the boy’s (Fred Enchonee) mom, in the cooking area with the rest of the families. (oh, Enchonee means 'God with us' in their language). Family members have to cook and care for their sick loved ones the whole time they are in the hospital which also means they usually sleep on the floor underneath the hospital beds on mats. They have to bath them, care for them and feed them as there is no hospital care given by nurses or staff to anyone. After I met Fred and his mom, Jeff and his team went back into the field and I stayed with them in the hospital. I will never forget the stench of the hospital as I walked in, and never forget that each time I went to the hospital after that first time, I started to fall in love with the smell!!!!!!!!!! Yes, you read that right. I can’t explain it other than the Lord. I remember thinking, Wow GOD you can even do this? Cause me to LOVE the smell that would usually cause of person to want to vomit. It was a stench so strong but somehow it grew to be a stench of love. It was truly a God-thing… that allowed me to be where God wanted me to be to share His love with his hurting children. How is this possible? How could I look forward to spending all day in the most depressing, scary, lonely, and terrifying place in Arua? It was only the Lord. I spent the whole week with Fred, bringing them food from the market and drawing on paper and pencil together. I spent the day in Fred’s room where 2 other little kids were also staying. Florence and little girl named Tuesday had been in a car wreck. Florence, probably about 8 years old lost one of her eyes and Tuesday, 6yrs old, had broken too many bones to count. This wasn’t the worst of it. Tuesday had lost both her parents in the accident and Florence had lost family members as well. So here I sat, day in and day out, trying to bring some joy to these little lives who had experienced more loss and pain than I had in my entire life. I did get smiles from all the kids and a touch of laughter when the pain wasn’t too bad. It’s truly amazing what you can do with paper and pencil. Fred and I drew self portraits and in every picture he drew himself with one regular leg and one fat leg. After a couple trips out of town to another clinic to get x-rays, we finally spoke to the surgeon and the x-rays revealed that Fred had broken his leg probably over a year ago and the tibia was decaying inside his leg. If nothing was done, more than likely he would have lost his leg. He had a serious infection rocking but also had a sliver of new bone growing in the middle of his leg. Unfortunately, our time in Arua was coming to a close so we had to make a plan for Fred to be able to make his surgery within the month. We prepaid for the surgery, all medications, transportation, and food. Would you believe it all cost around $300!! Then we prayed that the men we left in charge would follow through with all the appointments and escorting Fred and his mom to and from the hospital.

Fred's x-ray,...broken bone and the small thin new bone
growing in the middle of the picture

Jeff (hubby), Me, Tim and Fred's family

This was 2 years ago! Well, Jeff made his trip back to Arua this last October. He worked in the same villages. On the first day back to Fred’s village, a not so little boy came running after the work truck. It was Fred!! Without a cane and without a limp!!!!!!!!!

He brought Jeff to his hut to see his family so they could all thank him for what they had done. Ugandan’s are the most hospitable Africans I have met. They danced, celebrated, cheered and cried together! They gave Jeff a chicken to take home. Of course both Jeff and I know that Fred’s family in no way can afford to give away a chicken, but we also learned that the best gift we can give to Ugandans is to accept theirs! Fred pulled on Jeff’s shirt asking, “Where is Katee?”, “Where is Katee?” Jeff realized he was asking for me!! Fred’s mother told Jeff that for several months after we had left for the states, Fred would run to the road waiting for us to come down the road in the work truck. What a special little boy, and what an amazing testimony of God’s love for him. One decision led to a life change for one little boy. If Jeff and his work crew had not taken Fred to the hospital, his life would have looked so different. Without surgery, Fred would have had a bleak future. He wouldn’t have been able to walk to school or work in the fields with his family. Unfortunately there are many young men in Uganda that live a life of laziness, causing trouble, and drinking. Part of the problem is the lack of employment opportunities and when you factor in physical limitations, it could have been a rough road for Fred. But GOD knew the plans he had for Fred, plans for a hope and a future. We are so blessed to have been able to see God’s hand working in the lives of one family in Arua. We feel so privileged that the Lord let us see what happens when we say YES to him and His kingdom!!

Fred- today...without a cane and without a limp!!!! (although his leg is still a little bigger than the other, but works just fine).

Jeff and Fred in all the photos!!

I know Fred looks sad in this photo but he's not...Ugandan's seem to think when you take photos one must always look very serious. I'm sure you can see this in the photos of the family up above.


Life in Fitzville said...

That is SUCH a cool story!

Charity said...

Awesome Katie, just awesome.
He is a beautiful boy!!
And dark!!

Brandi said...

What a great story! God is So good. I can't believe He lets us be a part of His Story in others' lives!

May He Be Glorified!

Scott and Katy said...

Such a God story. Amazing!

Kamina said...

that is just beyond cool. God is great!

livingpurereligion said...

I've been following your blog for quite some time... praying for you when you went through so much trouble to get your kids home... rejoicing with you when you finally brought them home... and learning from you along the way.

I can really relate to this post. When we say yes to God, we get to see Him work in mysterious and wonderful ways. God's way is higher than our own. I would never have chosen the life He is giving me on my own, but praise God that He had dreams higher than my own. Because we said yes to Him, our lives have forever been changed and blessed!

Praise God that He gives good gifts to His children... if only we'll receive them!

Thank you,

Alward Family said...

What a wonderfully uplifting story! Thanks for sharing.


Angela said...

What an amazing story! Awesome!
Just found your blog, through Jennifer's. We're another Colorado family, in process of adopting a sibling group from Ethiopia! And... we're homeschooling our kiddos, too.
Your fam looks so fun!

Lisa G said...

Katie - I always find my faith increased as I hear stories of God's Kingdom breaking in! I realize how great is His love for us. Blessings,

Lisa G said...

Katie, I always find my faith increases when I hear Of God's amazing love, and hear of His Kingdom breaking in!

YEA! God

Lisa G.

amber said...

What a great story, Katie!
Thanks for sharing it (and the pictures.) It IS amazing what God can do through us when we surrender and just say "yes" -- thanks for the very clear reminder.


trmccahan said...

thanks for a great start to my day. I can relate to your weirdness about loving the smell of hospital stench, God gives us such gifts if we just open our hearts and follow his call. To many the developing world is scary,germ infested, dangerous place, but he does not call us there without a reason and he is allways close when we serve, I pray others will experience Gods work. It is the greatest gift.