Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Gift of Birthing Kits!

We have been given the great opportunity to partner with a handful of amazing people and give the gift of birthing kits to women in Uganda! Our dear friends, Kami and Jeremy Johnson, are having a baby in May! They had the great idea of showering women in Uganda with love instead of being showered themselves! Here's a bit about them and the project we've all joined together to accomplish.

Jeremy and Kamina are expecting their first child in mid-May. After traveling to Africa 4 times in the last 2 years Kamina had met, seen, and prayed for the women of the countries she visited. Ever since finding out she was pregnant Kamina has thought even more about the women in Africa and how they have little to no access to the basic resources they need to safely grow, deliver, and raise a child. Often times they are hungry and have no food. Thirsty and have no water. In labor and have no sterile supplies or a safe place to deliver their baby. This calling on her heart translated into a vision. Instead of the usual American style "baby shower" with a mile long registry and pile of gifts, why not shower the women in Africa with the basics to safely deliver their child? Kamina and Jeremy are having a party on February 28th at their new house in Fort Collins and inviting friends and family to celebrate the coming of their child. They are asking guests to bring diapers or wipes, and in lieu of other gifts asking for donations to purchase birthing kits for women in Uganda. Why shower one mother with a pile of goodies when we can shower many women in Africa with the blessing of a safe birth of their child? Will you join us in changing the lives of others?

Because Every Mother Matters is sponsoring this event and project. Steffany is providing pictures, information, advice, and pamphlets to help spread the word about how simple birthing kits can save the lives of both mothers and babies in Uganda, Africa. Jeff and I will be ordering the "Basic Mama Kit", as soon as we get the final numbers from Jeremy and Kami, after the baby shower. The kits will be compiled and put on Eagle Air to be delivered to Arua, Northern Uganda. The Birthing Kits cost around $10 each (depending on market values) and contain gauze, cotton, razor blades, tetracycline eye ointment, gloves, umbilical cord tie, soap, pamphlets, polythene sheeting, and a polythene bag for records. We will then distribute them to under-resourced clinics in the "bush" that help deliver babies. Since 2005, Jeff has been working with the health workers of these village clinics. We will do our best at getting photos on our blog and you can also check Kami and Jeremy's website at Future for Orphans.

Jeff and I, as Bridestone missionaries are in partnership with CompassioNet Impact, an amazing non-profit started by our good friends Ric & Joy Lehman in Puerto Vallarta. Online donations will be accepted through Compassionate Impact International. Please enter "Birthing Kits" into the text box that reads "Enter a description below of how you would like your donation used." Donations will be accepted through March 1, 2010. All donations are tax deductible. For only $10 you can buy a birthing kit for a Ugandan mama!

Monday, February 8, 2010

God's Love Playground***

***this is the name Osobie wants to call the playgrounds.

Wow... is it really already February? It seems as if we've been swept up in the New Year and just now finding some time to catch up on things like blogs!! We enjoyed our New Year in Kampala, the capital city, then returned home soon after that. Once home, Jeff, Osobie and I all got sick. We had a bit of a scare with Osobie when he woke up one morning telling us he couldn't breathe and his chest was hurting him. Within 15 minutes we had to make the decision whether or not he and Jeff would get on the morning plane to Kampala. After our bout in the hospital in October we didn't want to take a chance, so they got on the airplane that morning and were in to see the doctor by 1pm. They ran blood tests and listened to his lungs and all seemed to be okay other than he had a virus. They loaded him up on medicines and antibiotics and felt he was fine to travel back to Arua. Looking back we probably were a bit overcautious and overprotective but, after our scare in the States we didn't want to risk it. He kept his cough up until a few days ago but we think it's due to the fact that it's dry season here and dust is flying everywhere! There are many other friends in Arua that can't shake the bad cough either. Thanks to all who prayed for our little man!
Now for the reason I'm writing! We are close to completing the first swingset!!! We met with the elders and youth leaders of Ombachi village church several weekends ago to discuss the idea of a swingset for the church. We gathered in the hut, prayed and started the meeting with Osobie standing before the elders and sharing his heart. Wow! I could have let the tears roll then and there, but I stayed strong and sat still, listening to our son's desire for kids to know that God cares about them. We chatted about the details of the project, and thought through issues of security and supervision of the set during church. We inquired about their choice of color for the paint and they chose Osobie's favorite color, green! Our friend and house worker Jane is the Sunday School teacher at this church and she too is happy that her students will have a place to play!

We decided to use timbers for the poles and Osobie brought seats from the U.S. to complete the swing set. For now we are using rope to attach the swings but we are looking into another option that will last longer. We hired 4 men from Ombachi to level the ground and dig the holes for the poles. A whole Saturday was spent drilling the holes in the timbers which was much more difficult than we anticipated. I think Jeff made at least 5 trips on the boda to town to get a hand drill that actually worked! Where's a Dewalt when you need it?? Meanwhile, Osobie and Fatu played with the kids and waited patiently, praying that we would be able to get the hand drill to work. Finally, it did! Osobie was ecstatic, grinning ear to ear all day! He helped with every part of the work, as best he could. He especially loved using the measuring tape and level! The workers, "Fundi's" as their called in Uganda, poured the cement and we put the swings up!
Osobie took the first swing along with Fatu! There were many children watching and helping with the construction of the swing set. After it was finished the kids were a bit shy and fearful to get on the swing. I asked the elder why the kids didn’t want to jump on, and he said, “They don’t know how to play”. Yeah, unfortunately, we know this too well. When Fatu and Osobie first came home they didn’t know how to play either. It took quite a bit of time as they learned how to play with us, friends, and toys. Many children in Africa and elsewhere don’t have the opportunities to be children and play because their help is needed for the family to survive each day. They have responsibilities, chores, and for some, work to attend to. Osobie remembers this about life in Liberia. He remembers how hard simply surviving was and can be for many families. He is reminded of it almost every day in Uganda. He also now knows the joy of playing and wants to see that joy in the lives of other African children. I mentioned earlier that I held back my tears while Osobie shared with the elders. Honestly, there is nothing I can compare this experience to. Jeff and I’s hearts rejoiced as we sat in awe over God’s goodness to us and Osobie. We have prayed that our kids would know Jesus and walk with him all the days of their lives. I'm blown away that not only does our son love Jesus, but that he is already following after God’s heart at his young age. Two years ago he was living in the orphanage in Liberia, malnourished, sick, abandoned, without much of a hope or a future, and without knowing the One who made him. And to see him today; after all he has been through, sharing his heart of compassion for the children of Uganda, it's a gift that only God could give us. He stood tall and confident that day as he spoke that he wanted to build the swing set to show the kids that God loves them!
Thank you to everyone who has supported Osobie and his dream!
Thank you for your donations to make this project happen! Without your generous giving, we wouldn't be able to build playgrounds for the children of Uganda. YOU have brought FUN and JOY to these children and our hope is to continue spreading joy to any more kids of Uganda! We'll keep you updated on the next one!