Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Measure of Grace

Few Have Been Given
May 12, 2011

Peter, hired to drive for us yesterday, told me that it seems like when he is with me we always have an adventure and sometimes we are used to help save a life.

Pastor Daniel & his wife from Singapore
We took visitors from Singapore to Bukeeka yesterday morning.  The husband pastors people living in Singapore who have come from all over Africa.  But, he has never forgotten the village from which he came.  He comes back "home" every year and helps to make an impact there for the glory of God.  One of our associates told him about the solar water system at Fountain of Hope Schools and he wanted to see it in order to consider it as a possibility for his village.  Robert hobbled around on his painful and bleeding foot, amazing Pastor Daniel with his vision and faith.

Joshua ... age 13
The afternoon found us moving around town, finding mattresses, sheets, pillow cases, school shoes and clothes for David and Ashiruf, the newest members of Sera's Caring Place family, due to the generosity of Matt and Kristi Bellamy.  It was a lighthearted and enjoyable afternoon.  Finishing around 4:30 PM we decided that we would grab Joshua and Pascal and take them to Masese to visit Joshua's sick mother.

Both of these boys came from this ghetto called Masese.  It is the poorest and most hopeless place I know of in all of Jinja.  For those of you familiar with my blog you have read about it in the past.  It is full of homemade alcohol that is used by even the small children.  Few of the men have jobs due to their daily drunkenness.  Many are passed out before midday.  Children are sent to the streets in Jinja to beg or fetch fire wood and water ... if they are not part of the brewing industry.  As I walked with Joshua (13) and Pascal (15) through Masese I asked them if they were just like the four and five your old boys who were running circles around us and chattering nonstop.

Pascal ... age 15
Indeed, this was the life they came from and which put them on the streets for Sera to find three years ago.  It was hard for me to imagine them in that context as they are clean, educated, disciplined, and maturing young men.  The residents of this ghetto live as perpetual campers, with disease, drunkenness and death as common as the dust and mud.  But, I was totally unprepared for lay just behind the door of a six foot by six foot structure of a mud room.

As Joshua removed the door to his mother's "house" I found the skin and bones body of the woman who had brought him into this world. Her dry lips and mouth was partly open, both arms and feet were laid out on the dirt floor.  She was covered with the dirtiest blanket imaginable.  I was stunned by what appeared to be a corpse.  I followed Joshua inside and stood awkwardly in silence beside him until Sera joined us.  I whispered my obvious question to her, "Is she still alive?"  She nodded as the three of us stood staring down at this barely alive woman.  The rest of our team peered in from the doorway.

What was our next move?  Do we pray and leave this woman neglected like she had obviously been by the villages living just a few feet from her?  Do we arrange for someone to pick her body after her imminent death?  Does anyone have a burial for someone who dies in such a condition?

It was obvious no one had given her food or water in the past couple of days.  Joshua had been to visit her on Monday since he had discovered she was sick.  Now she was dying.  I told him, in a rather clumsy manner, "I'm sure glad this woman gave birth to you.  I love you so much," as I put my arm around him.

We soon left Joshua's mother and stood outside.  Villagers had been gathering since white people had been spotted.  Now, it appeared, they wanted to do something.  Sera had attempted to get some water through the parted lips and now someone was bringing porridge to give to an unconscious woman.

Within a few moments we decided that we would NOT leave this woman whose physical condition was so bad that no one really wanted to touch her without rubber gloves on.  The road had been closed due to construction and so we had parked a five minute walk away from the village.  Peter and I, along with a villager who spoke English, took that walk to retrieve the van and bring it from a road we knew nothing about.  As we drove through Bugembe the young man with us said, "There is her husband!"  I knew nothing about this individual except he had been described as "a pretty good drunkard" who had not been seen for awhile.  We parked across the highway and Peter went to collect him.  He was dirty, smelly, and drunk ... which we all expected.

Moments later we were back in the village surrounded by dozens of children, drunks of all ages, and trying to make way for four woman who had gathered Joshua's mother in a bed sheet and carried her to the van.  Joshua held his mother's head in his lap while the young man who had taken initiative to help us sat behind the front seat and held her legs.  She was in deplorable condition as she had been unable to leave her "house" for days and was oozing the obvious consequences of giving off body waste.

Minutes later we were at Jinja General Hospital, which turn out to be unfruitful.  Although a government facility, once the ward nurse discovered a white person was involved the demands for resources, including money, began.  Sera and the young man stayed with Joshua's mother while the rest of us returned home to share a late meal with guests who had arrived a hour before we did.

Many phone calls were exchanged between Peter, Sera, and me and in frustration Joshua's mother was removed, from her gurney in the hallway where she had been neglected, and taken across town to Alshafa Medical Clinic.  There the doctors worked on her and before midnight she was conscious, talking, and drinking juice!  Unfortunately, she had had an "accident" in transport to the better, private facility and Peter will be taking our "new" vehicle to the washing bay for a thorough cleaning of the inside of the van.  Sera refused a ride home in it due to the pungent order captured within it.

Blair offers comfort to Joshua
While in the emergency room at the hospital, Joshua had begun to shake.  I put my arm around him.  Blair came over and asked, "Joshua, may I hug you?" and he nearly collapsed in her arms.  When I put my arm around Joshua, before we had our late dinner together, he felt very hot and perhaps feverish.  After our prayer Pam confirmed that he must have a fever.  He was tested at the medical clinic and it was discovered that he had typhoid fever!  Both he and his mother remained overnight for treatment and care.

I would have never had this experience along with our team had it not been for the heart the Lord has given Sera Kasonga.  Few young women of 25 could take 20 boys off the street and provide them with a home.  It was because of our relationship with her that we found ourselves in Masese.  She loves each of her boys so much.  Tears dropped from her eyes as she attempted to get some water into Joshua's dying mother.  She went without food and sleep as she followed the woman from the filthy confines of her "house" to the sanitary hope of the medical clinic.  We all have a measure of grace for various callings in life.  It is fascinating to observe it in others.

Blair and I dropped Peter in town so he could get home by taxi just before midnight.  I couldn't sleep beyond 5:30 this morning and decided I would attempt to share one more "adventure" with you rather than respond to the emails that are beginning to fill my inbox.  I didn't take any photos during this adventure.  It never occurred to me to capture some of it on camera.  But, I may be able to get a couple from Robyn and/or Kristi before I post.  Then ... it's off to Bukeeka for another day of painting!
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
Ephesians 4:7

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