We began this morning with breakfast and a devotional led by Rudy. He reminded us of the woman who knew that if she could just touch Jesus' garment she would be healed… She longed to be closer to Jesus. Rudy encouraged us to draw nearer to Jesus and long to touch His garment. Rudy challenged us with the question, "How much more useful could we be if our only focus was to draw nearer to our God?"
A few of our team went to the orphanage here in Lira, but the majority, including myself, went to the hospital to set up and start seeing patients. When we arrived, the people waiting in the yard were singing and praising God. "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" There were two men - each speaking in a different Ugandan dialects - preaching simultaneously. The people were very excited to see us. We started unloading supplies and setting up the pharmacy and patient rooms immediately. Shortly after our arrival, the doctors were able to start seeing patients.
I started my day with Doug and his Ugandan medical officer and translator, Jimmy. Doug's first patient was a 78-year-old man. He had heart disease, heart failure, and heart irregularity. This man's age is of relative significance because I haven't noticed many elderly people here. I was told that the AIDS rate in Uganda was in the 30th percentile but has recently dropped down to 10%. AIDS has taken a heavy toll on the population, leaving many children behind, some of whom are HIV positive. The average Ugandan will only live into his or her 40's. Doug wrote a prescription for some new heart medication and prayed with the man for God's healing.
Doug was also handing out coins today that had a verse written on it. Just a small gift and a prayer brought huge smiles to the faces of some of these people.
Later I slipped into Dave's office. He was seeing a patient who started having weakness in his legs 5 months ago. This man had crutches, but his legs had gotten so weak that he would often fall and sustain new injuries. His right leg didn't even respond to Dave's reflex testing. He really needed a CT scan to see what was going on with his spine and hips, but there isn't one available here. We were able to give him a wheel chair so that he wouldn't fall anymore, but he needed more tests before Dave could treat him further. This man didn't know his age, but knew what year he was born, 1953. He's a cobbler and mends shoes for a living.
Melissa was running triage for these two doctors, taking vitals, checking patients in and organizing the waiting area. She did the work of an entire office staff and kept things moving as smoothly as possible. Melissa has an incredible work ethic, in Uganda and at home. She has an incredibly kind and gentle spirit and that spirit is definitely amplified in these conditions!
Jason, Rudy, Smokey, and Gavin were assigned to empty a storage room and prepare it for conversion into a ward. This turned out to be a huge task, with hundreds of boxes of supplies and various pieces of equipment needing to be sorted and moved in less than two days. They quickly recruited Danielle to assist and help lead the sorting effort. They found a lot of useful equipment, including canes, walkers, a scale and operating tools which the doctors were able to put to use immediately. There were many items that would not be useful to the staff at this hospital, but these items will hopefully be distributed to other area hospitals and clinics. (This group had a little fun on behalf of a certain photographer who took a ride on a rolling hospital bed which was being used to transport some of the boxes from the large room to a smaller storage area outside the complex. Keep your eye out for some amazing footage of this awesome ride.)
Today Craig was able to see many of the hospital staff and perform tooth extractions, with Sarah as his assistant. There was no one to check the dental patients in. They would walk in, show the doctor where the pain was, lay down and prepare for an extraction (if needed). They saw over 20 patients today, many of them with more than one tooth that needed to be pulled. Thankfully Craig had local anesthetic ready and the procedure was relatively painless. One woman was so thankful that as soon as she was done she hugged both Sarah and Craig. She was so glad the pain was gone. Sarah spent most of her downtime today learning the language from patients and hospital nurses. I think she'll have the best understanding of the language by the end of our two weeks.
Near the end of the day, there was a little girl who was carried in by her uncles. She was listless and her stomach was distended. Doug carried her to a bed and someone got her IV started. Danielle and Sandy stayed with her. Awhile later, Danielle carried her to the ultrasound room for an exam to help with diagnosing her illness. She's only 9 years old and seriously sick. Her name is Esther if you'd like to pray for her by name.
I could write for hours about the different people who were seen and treated today. There are so many stories I didn't tell, and even more I didn't get to document. I can't wait to tell you about the folks in the vision and physical therapy clinics. But I will have to save that for another day.
Until then... I leave you with my Obligatory Cute Kid Photo of the Day!!!
Please keep the people of Uganda and our team members in prayer, especially our Beth, who wasn't feeling well today. May we continue to reach out for the garment of Jesus, and allow Him to work His will through our lives.