Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Uganda is good for... COFFEE!!

Uganda is known for many things, but one of the great things is Arabica coffee. About a year ago Starbucks even got ahold of some of the wonderful coffee grown on the cliffs of Mt. Wanale at Sipi Falls. This is practically my backyard! 

Daily my morning starts with delicious Masaba coffee that is grown and roast right here near Mbale. But I never knew how much went into getting my coffee from a fruit on a tree to the deliciousness in my mouth. 

I was able to visit a village church with two of my friends. We drove about an hour and through many pot-holed roads until we reached the Pastor's home. We were warmly and joyfully welcomed and led inside to this delicious spread.

Chappati (like a tortilla but more delicious because it is fried), avocado, and freshly roasted and ground "African" coffee (meaning it is mostly made with milk)

Again, I said we were joyously welcomed. Uganda has such a great culture of hospitality!

After finishing our breakfast, we proceeded next door to the local church to join them for Sunday "prayers". We were seated at the front of the church, as guests of honor. And my friend, Eric, was the guest preacher, but not before many wonderful songs led by the church choir.

I love that you often see produce or chickens given as an offering in the village.

Just as the sermon was ending, a torrential downpour came.

Since the rain didn't seem to be letting up anytime soon and the ladies and children of the church were playing drums, singing praises, and dancing to pass the time, I suggested to my friend, Malinda, that we should join them in the dancing. Everyone went wild to see two mzungus dancing (Mzungu is what I am called on a daily basis- meaning white person). They loved it and many others joined in with us.

Once the rains subsided, church was released and our coffee tour began. 

Step 1: Harvest the red beans from the coffee trees

Step 2: Pour the beans into a machine that separates the parchment from the actual coffee bean.

Step 3: Turn the wheel because this is all done locally with manual labor.

The end result is a slimy coffee bean. But this is by far not the end of the process.

Step 4: (not pictured) Soak the slimy coffee beans for 24 hours in a basin of water to allow for the "fermentation" process. This gets off the slimy coat.

Step 5: (not pictured) Lay the new non-slimy beans in the sun (on a tarp) for about three days, unless it is rainy season- then you will need longer for them to dry out.

Step 6: Pound your dry beans to remove an outer "husk" that is on the beans.

Step 7: Winnow the beans to remove the chaff.

This photo shows the difference between the beans before being pounded and winnowed (in the Ugandan's hand) and the beans after pounding and winnowing (in my hand).

Step 8: Time for roasting!! Heat up the saucepan and pour in the ready beans.

Stir constantly while roasting so the beans don't burn.

Almost there. You want it to be a beautiful dark color and 
start having the aroma's of your morning brew.

Step 9: Winnow one more time to assure that any chaff that was loosened by roasting is not in your beans.

Mmm... and there it is. Delicious Arabica coffee grown in Uganda. But there is still one more step, the tenth step to make the process complete.

Step 10: Pounding the beans into very fine grounds.
Step 11: Enjoy.

We actually drank the coffee that we had roasted. It has never tasted so good. 
As we left the village after a wonderful day, we were given some parting gifts. 
(Not only are Ugandans extremely hospitable, they are also extremely generous).
Apple bananas, a hen, and a bag of avocados

And we drove off from a wonderful day in the village with beautiful brother and sisters in Christ (and more knowledge and appreciation for my daily cup of joe).

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mbale Main Hospital

Most of life in Uganda is fairly the same as life in America, maybe just with a different backdrop or social norms. Everyone wants the most for their family, works hard for daily provisions, and seeks out a deeper meaning of life, on top of the daily things like eat, work, socialize, and sleep. But there are other things that are just so drastically different from the American standard, for example- medical care. Medical care is provided free from the government in Uganda. But this statement sounds a lot better than the actual deal. Though services are free, often you have to come with your own bedsheets, mosquito net, and medical supplies and purchase your own drugs for nurses to administer. Hospitals are not sterile, white walled environments with strict HIPA protocol, but instead often look like this:

Open air hallways from one ward to the next. Everyone must bring their own attendant (maybe a mother or sibling or auntie) that will prepare and serve you food, help you, and even sleep on a reed mat by your bed your whole hospital stay. 

Personally, the conditions are still a bit shocking whenever I visit Main Hospital. Medical personnel are stretched thin caring alone for multiple people per ward. And adding to the shock is the fact that I can just wander into the hospital and patients will share freely what their ailment is and how I can pray for them. (There was one time I was visiting an Auntie from LCH that had a minor operation and her IV had run out of fluids but we had not seen a nurse since we had arrived an hour ago. Someone finally went to find one to come help and when she arrived at the bed she looked at me, handed me a new IV fluid, and said very seriously, "Here, start this new IV." To which I responded, "Madame, I am not a medical professional. I don't know how."

I have visited Mbale Main Hospital twice recently. 

My friend Nambozo had her second baby. The last time we talked on the phone she had told me, "Natalie, expect a call from me anytime that I have produced." Sure enough, about one week later I got a call around 8:30am. I asked if she had good news for me and she proudly announced that she had delivered a healthy baby boy, James. I got to the hospital around 9am to visit her and to my surprise I found her outside in the corridor, waiting in line for the baby's first immunizations. 

Nambozo with her mom (behind her) and her neighbor who had cared for her throughout the night during labor pains

Mamas in line waiting for immunizations.

To my surprise, I learned that Nambozo had held off pushing throughout the night, though labor pains were intense, until the morning sun rose and she was able to find and sit on a boda (a motorcycle taxi) and get to the hospital. She arrived at 7am, was given a bed, and then heard the cry of her baby by 8am. Now it was 9am and she had been discharged! What?!! She explained that it had been a normal delivery and there were other people needing her bed in the ward so the doctor discharged her. 

Praise God that He is the Maker, Creator, Life Giver, Protector, and Sustainer. And praise God for baby James. What a privilege to hold him in his first hour of life and to pray the Lord's blessings over him. 

Baby James
April 28, 2016

The second visit to Main Hospital was when I was escorting one of my dear friends, Favour, to see her "auntie" that had been her care-giver and attendant last year when Favour underwent major surgery. This was my first time to meet Auntie Janet, but I wanted to thank her for caring for my friend when she was sick and return the blessing of visiting her while she was bedridden until her hip set (due to car accident she was in). Culturally, it is important to visit family and friends when they are "sick".

I am not sure why I expected this auntie to be in her own room (you can get a private room if you can pay for it), but she was not and was in a ward for people with broken legs... car accidents, falling out of a tree, getting "knocked" (hit) by a boda on the way to school.

Auntie Janet

Auntie Janet's mother who was caring for her.

Lord bless these people. My heart went out to them. Since their legs are in traction until they are set properly, they are bedridden for weeks on end. How BORING!!! And there is not even a dream of having a television in every room. So literally they just lay there or sit up all day and do almost nothing. I can't even imagine how bored I would be.

Before Favour and I left that day we prayed for Auntie Janet and the other four children in the room. We ended our visit by singing Jesus Loves Me and the children came to life. Huge smiles wrapped  across their faces and waist up - arm swaying - dance moves were seen from every bed. I knew I had to go back and I knew just the person to ask to come with me... Lilly (the Palmer's daughter). 

Lilly got busy right away packing a bag of dolls and books and other things to give to the children and do while we were there and could barely wait for the next day when we were meant to go. (She has such a heart of gold... so sweet). We went to the market and supermarket to bring some food items, fruit, soda, and cookies to share with them. We also stopped by the stationary store to buy colored pencils and an art book for everyone to have.

Expecting only Auntie Janet and the four children, we were surprised to find two additional children there (and many of their caretakers). Lilly shared that she too had fallen out of a mango tree and broken her leg, but that God is the Healer and she can now move fine.

We read a story to the children and made sure each of them could see the pictures well.

We also played pictionary (of sorts) and let each child draw and then showed it to all the rest to guess what it was. They loved drawing and could have continued for hours.

If but only for a couple of hours, I hope that we brightened the day of all who were in the ward (and maybe gave them a few ideas of how to pass the time).

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Time flies... two.5 months back...

I really can't believe how time flies by. I can't believe it is already the middle of June. I can't believe that LCH has already hosted two of the six summer visitors. 

I arrived back in Uganda on April 7 and felt right back at home. This is my home. Nine years is no short time. I love the life I have here in Uganda. I love my friends, Ugandan and expats. I love my little house that God has provided and I love hosting people in my house. I love the work that I get to do and that no two days are similar. And most of all I love these kiddos. 

I was barely able to get out of the car when I first arrived back at Lulwanda after my sabbatical. 
"Teacha, welcome back! How is America? How are the home people?"

The children were in the middle of their first term when I returned. But I tried to make the most of their time out of class. 

They love "painting" their faces with sidewalk chalk. 
Some of the older children have gotten quite artistic in their designs.

April showers bring May flowers. 
This is true for Uganda's rainy season. 
But April showers also allow for some old fashioned fun, our own permanent slip-n-slide.

I love that daily there are little friends at my desk, either greeting me during their time for break or looking to "help" me once they are released from class.
(Kevin Matsukuni and Mary Namari- two of the children that joined our Lulwanda family last year.)

Ian helping me with sponsor letters.

But since it was the middle of school term, I did not get to see most of the secondary children, who are away at boarding school, until they returned for holiday in May. But I was very happy to see my friends at St. Paul's College (in Mbale town) for their visitation day. 

Lulwanda Primary School participated in inter-house and sub-county track and field competitions. Daily children were in the field practicing their laps and speed to be ready for the big day. 

The finish line made from banana fibers tied together: TIA (this is Africa)

Head Master William sporting his awesome hat and telling the runners we are ready for them.

Hellen (in the peach shirt) running the race through the crowds of people.

There were also other happenings within this time, some at Lulwanda and some with my friends in town. More posts about some of those happenings to come soon.

Milton, one of our newest children in the middle (with the pink jacket) surrounded by his friends.

One of my tasks as the Program Coordinator is to write a monthly report and take photos of the happenings at Lulwanda. You can find these reports posted on the GICF website HERE.

As I was moving around for photos of the children in school, I came across the nursery classes celebrating the birthday of one of the community children (their parent had brought soda and cake for everyone). I guess I was at the right place at the right time and had fun celebrating with them. Once they opened their sodas partially, the carbonation was making a noise out of the bottle and all the children were fascinated, "Teacha, the bottle is singing." (I love the things that little kids say!)