In the first week of September 2013 we flagged off three young men and three young women, who had committed to serve as missionaries in West Nile and in Busia. All of these had just completed their training courses in various medical fields. Four of them were nurses, one a clinical officer and the other a public health specialist. These young people were all moving to places away from their own homes. Driven by the motivation to make a difference in the lives of individuals, the desire to see positive change happen in communities and the conviction to share the love of Jesus Christ, they embraced the challenges and moved.
For the majority of them this was not an easy decision. They were going to unfamiliar places to live and work in the community and even feed on strange food. When we look back now and think of what has happened in the last one year we are thankful to God for what he has done through this young people and what he has done in their lives. Here below are some highlights of their ministry and service in the various places they were posted.
Right from the word go, when I was sent to my placement at Kuluva School of Nursing, I heed Gillian’s advice, which empowered me vehemently to understand the community. I was apprehensive about fitting in the society, the food, and the new environment. West Nile fascinated me so much and I eventually loved the place and wouldn’t mind returning there for another year or even more. I have learned that it was more of me that God was working on than the community.
Needless to say,” I became more grieved than bereaved! “One of the challenges I had was to face situations where men came to the residence where I was staying to hire lodging, and most of the time I was the only female among them. I could have done anything with these men including sleeping around since no one would have known what was going on. But the Lord sustained me and this meant to me that my being in this community was a survival at the stake that God placed me in.
My integrity was tested to the extreme when I was trusted with money from the students. With my place of work, I had a lot to do with the students; I revived the song-book practice which was in place which not anyone had thought of how important these books can be. They had been just kept in the Library and now trust me, with the little music that my throat can provide; this has changed the choir’s way of singing. This has been also coupled with time keeping that I have inculcated in them. I did also much in reviving, breakfast fellowship…time keeping in church and team work.
The reckon in me still stands quite vivid and I am certain that I have met spiritual needs of the community starting with introducing them to prayers. Students pursue me to meet their spiritual needs. I feel that I have met many of the spiritual needs of the community. I survived at the stake that God placed me in.
I was at Katiyi Clinic in West Nile. I thought of language barrier and wondered if I could pick it up at all, assimilation into society and the friends. I acquired so much knowledge in areas such as HIV/AIDS management. This forced me to learn everything that I could access about every clinical sector at the health facility. It actually came with serious reading and research.
Most importantly I was worried about finding anything to do. But I was still sure of my profession catchment area. The Clinic gave me the soils to start clearing for sawing the seed. The one-year experience has foremost given me a sense of belonging, confidence, and responsibility and administration skills. I have learned so much in the 12 months that I have never learned at the school of nursing. It was just amazing that culture could be brought to the clinic.
This child was suffering from Pneumonia and the mother would never believe this. She knew this was just some kind of witchcraft and so the child needed to be cut across the face. After a persistent prayer of these days and medication the child was healed and now no woman feels like cutting their child anymore! Had lobbied for a microscope but in vein. And now as I speak there is a brand new Microscope at the health center through the grace of God. I was compelled to start a Sunday school program to cater for the spiritual needs of the young ones. I couldn’t do alone since I can’t effectively deal with children, having never done it before. I had to appoint colleagues to help fill the gap.
Hearing of a mission to foreign land meant nothing. My main concern was logistics. I was worried about utensils particularly saucepans, plates, cups, forks and spoons but not the language or even the environment. The so-called stereotypes where nothing to me. However, things worked out unexpectedly and this gave me the opportunity to dwell on starting my mission. All these brought mixed feelings and dreams about community transformation.
It was so great to find myself able to interpret without any help of a medical doctor the many diseases described in the medical manual.
I battled with integrity when we went to a workshop. I was to lead a four man delegation to a workshop at the district headquarters. We were meant to receive the transport refund and they wanted to exploit the situation and inflate the transport fare in order to get a larger sum in compensation. . Only then did I realize how ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ can conflict in a Christian’s life, and how far it could be at stake to me as a leader. I was under pressure between ‘blame’ and ‘truth’. But little did I know God was watching.
I have learned a lot especially at regional levels.
But above all I had huddles to go over like an athlete in an Olympics. I introduced and share Christ with the community. Some of the people in the community accepted Christ but many had spiritual needs and needed spiritual counseling. I allocated time for a patient who had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The scriptures that I had given to her healed a hypertensive patient that I had prayed for more. She actually said, “The scripture you gave me healed me more than the drugs”. I worked outside the church on a door-to-door evangelism and hand in hand with the church. I met many believers with issues and shared the Word and the love of God with them.
Writing a story of my life will be so fascinating especially when it comes to the part of shalom Clinic in Busia. I was so worried and scared of the language barrier, the remoteness of the community and managing the people and especially nurses. I had to reflect on my past and especially my profession and language and how I could juggle the professional ethics, traditional cultures and the mission.
I had issues dealing with children, so I was challenged. Being a teacher who had never taught before and arguing with my innermost being of whether I could do so or not was enjoyable. Thank God I dealt with them. However, at the clinic it was so hard to deal with the people. At times I had to hang up my missionary badge and deal toughly.
Time came when I had to consult the dust bin where I had thrown my books just to be on the safe side because dealing with drug prescriptions needed clinical management of drugs. I had to deal with delivery and hence had confidence to work without supervision. I would never forget that woman delivering from the veranda of the clinic under a strong evening drizzle .But God helped me and I handled this dexterously.
The one-year was a blessing and a well-deserved period in my life. We shared Bible stories like David and Goliath’s story, Samuel’s story, and others. And I am grateful they were able to catch up with the songs in English. Sometimes they had presentations in the main church. I also participated in sharing the word in the main church and the neighboring churches and held prayer sessions with my closest neighbors. This was done every evening from 10pm to 10:45pm. We kept moving from house to house.
Going to Erepi health Center II in Moyo District, Northwest of Uganda, I thought of religious opposition and was particularly worried about Catholicism, the kind of friends. I came over this with the children at hand for me to work with.
Since I was an all rounder, I learned so much about reproductive health, cervical cancer and midwifery services. I managed the pre and postnatal clinic, record keeping and management .and several diagnoses which did a lot in my life. I introduced twenty-minute morning devotion at the health centre. In the course of its existence, I prayed with patients who were depressed and under pressure. And I must say this impacted their lives in one way or another.
However, there were the issues of theft and fraud at the health facility and I dealt with it in a Godly way. I had to share scriptures with the staff on this abnormality and the end result was very positive. People abandoned their hideous ways of theft and it eventually stopped! I love children and therefore had a vision of what I could do with the children in the community. On arrival I started the children ministry and a Bible study class, inspired by the children and the adults making it easy to start working with them hand in hand to maintain the class…
Busia is one of the last places I had in mind. In fact I didn’t think of it. I was worried and frustrated with the idea of going to the East. I had fear of community jettison, my small body and all it came with, the load of work and also thought I would not be welcome. But contrary to all that I received an excellent welcome from the community.
Despite the work left behind, I feel I should have a pat on my back. I have not come back the same from Busia! The many aspects of clinical settings that I had not known are just unthought-of. Dreams of fixing the needs of the communities engulfed me and I did fix needs such as addressing staff commitment, unavailability of services and keeping the health facility running. I did all these to some extent.
The health facility was derelict and out of place. The bushes were up to the doorway, dust and bats everywhere within the facility. I cleared all the bushes and cleaned everywhere. I felt good indeed but I sighed with relief and my heart sunk. There was no clinical nurse at the facility and I had to train some girls as local nurses though this was illegal. I actually made a material of myself!Did GLA expect that of me?
Finally, Busia is Christ like. I prayed for ‘a possessed man’ and he was healed. We resurrected programs that had died for years. These included monthly prayer and fasting, overnight prayers, back to school prayer for the youth.