Friday, September 9, 2011

God of Our Healing

Ok, so clearly it has been awhile since I've blogged. It's not that I haven't wanted to, I just have struggled with finding the time. And the words.

With a quick 4 weeks spent in Kampala serving at Baby Watoto {which I LOVED} shortly after my family was here, followed by my move back to Jinja and quite possibly the busiest and most intense four weeks I have experienced since being here, time to blog has been a bit limited. But here I am, back again, with an update on the last little bit of life.

The main ways I have spent my last month has been loving on sick kids...the illnesses vary, the intensity and prognoses may be different, but the heart and reality are the same: God has put some beautiful, sweet littles in my life here who are battling with some yucky stuff and He has asked me to help be a part of their healing.

For a few nights, this meant staying up with AR and E, some of the cutest little babies who I get the sweet opportunity of sharing a home with. They both caught some sort of weird bug which led to long nights of many diapers and IVs being run to rehydrate and throw up being cleaned up. All of us took shifts with them to make sure all was well throughout the night. We had some long nights, but it was fun to stay up and get to know my new roommates in the silly bonding late night hours can bring.  And man, aren't these smiles worth it?

photo courtesy of Mandie Joy

Then there's this little boy named Ajuma. He is the most serious child I have ever met. I have NEVER been able to get him to smile. Part of that might be due to his personality, but I think a lot of it is due to his circumstances. You see, Ajuma's kidneys are failing. And due to this, he has had to spend more time in hospitals than any 9 year old should ever have to. His family got connected with my friend Kelsey through the Malaria Treatment Fund, which I wrote about a while back. When Kelsey returned to the US for school, she asked me to take over Ajuma's case. So here we are.

After his malaria was treated, it was clear from the swelling in his body that something much more serious was going on. After a number of tests here and in Kampala (the capital city), it became clear that he had acute chronic renal, his kidneys are failing. He went into pretty urgent dialysis at the national hospital...the only place to get dialysis in this entire country. He finished one round of dialysis, spending three months at the hospital, and is now back and forth between check ups and home (home is an island 7+ hours from the capital, 5+hours from me). He is waiting on a transplant, possibly from his dad. But problem is, it isn't possible to get a transplant in Uganda. And it isn't possible to even get properly cross checked to confirm if a donor and recipient are good matches for a kidney donation. So I have had the challenge of navigating the system of hospitals and testing here and have (with the help of dear friends) successfully gotten 4 different types of testing done to cross-check and cross-type and fly blood to South Africa so that we can confirm if this precious father who is willing to give one of his kidneys to his sweet son is going to work. And now we wait. And I try not to worry about how the transplant will be paid for. Or where it will happen. Or how we will get them there. Or if Ajuma will make it. I bring it back to Him and lay it at the cross. "Cast all your cares on me, for I care for you, I care for you"

This last week God handed to me part of the responsibility for this sweet baby Shamim who is part of Ekisa. She is a unique part, not an orphan, having a mom who loves her dearly and is living at Ekisa with her. And who is fighting for her baby girl. Oh does this mama bear, Mama Shamim, fight in her strong, quiet, persistent way. And she works...she serves Ekisa beautifully and loves her sick baby girl with joy. Shamim is fighting TB and HIV, along with this nasty ear infection that has caused brain damage. She was doing pretty well until this last weekend, when her ear infection rared up and she fought a new infection, one so common here: malaria. With Emily W home in America and Emily H in Kenya with one of our Ekisa kiddos on an emergency surgery, looking after Shamim (and the rest of Ekisa) became my responsibility for a few days. What a huge thing to be entrusted with! And to feel like I know enough to keep things going...or at least not falling apart : )

But when t came to Shamim, I had NO idea what to do. At the ENT's urging on Saturday, we sent her quickly to Kampala for him to examine. This led to an emergency surgery to drain her infected ear. And then more high fevers for her. And then desperately needing a blood transfusion with no blood to be found. And many calls back and forth to nurses and doctors as I tried to figure out what was going on and what we needed to do. Our rockstar Ekisa volunteer Jessica took a trip to Kampala Monday help figure it out while I held down the fort with our 15 kids and our 8 month pregnant teenager at Ekisa. And then that night I left for Kampala with my phenomenal friend and roommate Mandie because the blood this little girl had needed all day long and that they had continually assured me was coming still had not come. As we pulled into Kampala at almost 1 AM, I got a call confirming that they had finally run her first part of her transfusion. We went to check on little Shamim and to see the second unit of blood get started. And then we turned around and headed back to Jinja after our late night jaunt to capital city. Three days late, Shamim is still fighting. God has provided the blood and provided some amazing doctors here to care for her. We're not sure where this is going to go. Her little 21 month old undernourished body might not be able to handle much more.

But we know the Jehovah Rapha, and so I am believing Him for healing...whether it looks like healing on this side of Heaven or wholeness with Him forerver. And I know my God has bigger plans than I can ever imagine or even seek. And so I walk in trust. In the midst of circumstances that often threaten to overwhelm, I reach out my shaking hand to grasp tight to His. My only sure foundation. The only One who knows the beggining and the end and everything in between. The One who whispers truth when my ears are filled with lies telling me to give up and stop helping. The One who holds AR and E and Ajuma and Shamim in His hands and who loves them more deeply than I can ever imagine. And the one who holds me.

He is the One leading this. He has called me to follow Him into the hard places, to help be a restorer of broken places and people and an extenson of His love and healing. And so I respond in the only way I can, with all of me, ventured wholly on all of Him. And I know He is working it all together for good. And so I choose trust. I choose it today, for this moment, and I pray He helps me choose it tomorrow again, as I awaken and in each moment. I want to choose to abide in His presence, and to walk in it each day. And so I run to the hard places as much as i shrink back these places lead me into the throne room face down so much more often throughout the day than on the days where most is well. And so these days, I live in the hard places. And I cry out for Him in it. And He is good and faithful to answer and to not only enter into my miry pit, but to pull me out with Him, leading me to glory. I live on my knees in this place....

update: I wrote this last night as I continued on my knees for sweet Shamim. This morning she took her last breath on this earth and went to live in wholeness and peace with our sweet Jesus. She's no longer in pain. She's no longer suffering. Man I wish I could be there for that party! I imagine she's dancing in the throne room this night. We love you Shamim. I can't wait to dance alongside you one day beautiful girl!

beautiful Shamim...
photo courtesy of Mckenzie Baird