Friday, November 15, 2013

Sibyangu! (see-bee-yan-goo)

I ran out of words twice yesterday.  Most people who know me, even a little bit, tend to know that I'm a "talker."  I can usually hold my own in a verbal sparring match, even in this foreign environment.  Maybe I'm even more capable with that here than back in the States.

But ... yesterday ... wow.  I ran out of words.

Fortunately there are other ways to communicate. Running out of words only indicates that they are sometimes insufficient.  God used the written word to communicate that He loves humanity. But, it wasn't enough.  He demonstrated His great love for us by the gift of His Firstborn Son.

Lyzette & friend pray for Olivia prior to surgery
Olivia was more than willing to make yet another trip to the International Hospital Kampala with us the day before yesterday. But, when the surgeon was instructing the pre-op doctor and her nurse to prepare for the amputation of her right foot the reality began to disturb her.  As Lyzette and a friend attempted to console and encourage her, I joined them.  But, in a very short time I simply ran out of words.  "You have two good arms," I told Olivia, "put one around my neck."  All I could do is hug her.

Soon I was running off and paying the cashier for the lab work to verify Olivia's blood type.  Next I was paying for an X-ray of her "sepsis right foot."  Then Peter and I were traveling across town back to Ray of Hope Clinic.  Then purchasing baby bottles and milk as Olivia was in the operating room and baby Edward was hungry.  Finally we took Pharidah and the two babies to the home of our gracious friends, Dale and Daurelle Chapman, of Kampala, were they would spend the night.

Pre-op doctor prepares foot for amputation
All of these responsibilities distracted me for the rest of the afternoon and keep the reality of what was happening in that operating room a good distance from my thoughts.  It was after 9:30 PM by the time we got Olivia checked into her ward where she was being given another blood transfusion.

After the activity came to rest and the evening glow of low light provided an environment that was still and quiet, this young teenage girl nearly whispered, "Papa?  Where did they cut my foot?"  I had noticed she keep looking at her feet, but they were covered by her bed clothes.  I took a deep breath, lifted my sandaled foot, and ran my hand across the arch of my own foot.

"Why, papa?" she whispered as a tear slowly escaped her eye.

After surgery reality
As best I could I explained that the infection and exposed bone of her foot threatened her very life at the worst and her right leg at best ... if this radical step had not been taken.  I told her that her six month old son, Edward, needed to grow with his mother.  She seemed satisfied.  But also empty and victimized and sad ... very sad.

Peter began to speak to her.  He encouraged her to not look at the circumstances, but to trust the Lord for her life and her future.  I ran out of words.  I leaned over her bed and put my arms around her head and held her tight.

Peter, our infamous driver, has been my primary language teacher.  Last week he gave me a new word.  Sibyangu.  Translated into English it is actually three words.  It's not easy.


  1. Thank you Paul for being there to be Jesus' arms for her. May God grant us all his peace.

  2. What an amazing Heart u have dad!!!!!!!!!! U touch many people's lives ! bless ya!

  3. A very sad situation indeed. You were there to show the love of Christ and made the right decision. She would have never known how dangerous that situation was, until it was too late. She has another chance now. Without you and those that care, she would have been another of the faceless, nameless casualties and Edward would have been an orphan. Life is cheap in East Africa. We need to change that. There are too many orphans. Strong work my friend. See you soon.

  4. Thank you papa, for being there. I needed someone else to do that with Olivia. God bless you you

  5. I thank Abba Father that you allowed Him to counsel, comfort, provide, and hug through you. I disagree with your take on the inability to speak. This comes to mind: "Be still and know that I am God" -Realize He has walked in the world through you is overwhelming and exhausting. - Knowing He has reached through us to touch another is humbling. Lyzette has expressed a huge truth. Because you were there, He was able to speak to others you may never know about. Let His grace fall gently on your heart as you reflect our Father's character and compassion.


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