Friday, June 27, 2014

Uganda - Friday

Uganda Friday

Well we finished up clinics with a very busy day! Some of the highlights were a very difficult lower third molar extraction (hardest one of the week), a woman who brought out her "mammary gland" to feed while extracting her tooth and some fillings that saved a few more teeth. I also learned that each culture has its own translation, for instance, if you call someone "dude", it means "butt". oops :-)

This morning, we were able to attend the "devotional" time with the workers (about 60). Their passion is an inspiration, even at 7:30 am. Not all of the workers are believers, so it is a good outreach. Our ladies have been a great asset to the  ministry in their abilities to minister to the children and teach the ladies. I have been blessed to be a part of this group!

We concluded the day with a service with the kids - awesome!!! Close to the "high" for the week!! Their sincere praise to God was so inspiring. Then the McPhee family came and sang their famous hippo song for us.

 As we finish our "ministry" part of the trip, we are all tired but very content. We look forward to "winding down" in the next few days. There is a safari lodge that we will be taking some tours with, so that is going to be a treat! I hope to be uploading some pictures soon.

RG has a great network of support, volunteers and workers, they all become like family. So there are some tears as we say goodbye.

Thank you for your faithful prayer support

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Uganda - Thursday

Uganda Thursday

Well, today was our last day open to the public, tomorrow we will see a lot of the workers here at RG. Many of them are paid a salary (Ugandans) which affects/supports their families (up to nine in a family). The missionaries that work here are required to find their support from elsewhere (RG does not provide that for them). Most have "home churches" that provide their financial needs.
Today, there was a 4 year old boy that was brought in with his mother, crying before I ever laid a hand on him! It took four to hold him down while I removed a tooth. He and his family will sleep much better tonight.

Today, Shaun (dentist from Waco) helped train David (Ugandan dentist) on how to do molar root canals. Though we have not seen the masses, we are "equipping" the Ugandans to use resources and talents to bring others to Christ and to be served in the love of Jesus.

I would like to recommend another book for you (now that you have read "Radical" :-) ). Here is a little bit about it:
"When Helping hurts"
The average American lives on more than $90/ day, approx 1 billion live on less than $1/!day (that would be Uganda); 2.6 billion (40% of world population) live on less than $2/ day. There is not place in the Bible that indicates that poverty is a desirable state or that material things are evil. The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches that human beings primary purpose is to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever". So what motivates you? Why do you want to help the poor? Is it my "felt need" to accomplish something worthwhile with my life, to be a person of significance, to feel like a pursued noble cause . . to be a bit like God? Sometimes, I unintentionally reduce poor people to objects that I use to fulfill my own need to accomplish something.

Things I have learned,
I do not have to know what the weather is doing every hour
I do not have to be on facebook
I have not missed TV
I have missed my family!
I do miss my hot showers
I will not miss rice and beans for a while
I find that I am not anxious because I "missed" a sports event (like World Cup)
- (I am still interested in it though)
I see God working in other places besides Texas - changing hearts, bringing restoration
I am glad I do not have to mow the grass with a machete

Pray that we finish well, that we can be a "drop in the bucket" and for our families left back home.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Uganda Wednesday

Ok, clinic was on a better flow today, we were able to help a lot of people, doing fillings, extractions and root canals. I removed two 6 year  molars on a nine year old boy this morning who came to see me in a suit (not the tie). It was a big deal to the family. If you go into town, teeth are extracted with an "anvil" and no anesthetic. Getting to know the people who serve here is a treat. Let me tell you of one couple.
Story of Janna and Dave
On the field here, they have 3 children. Last summer, Janna delivered a beautiful girl and they named her Selah. That means to "pause", in the psalms we see it to pause and savor our God is sufficient. Everything was going well. At about 30 days of life, she became ill and was found to be septic. They rushed her to Kampala, and determined that she had a hole in her heart. Selah recieved great care, even was in contact with a specialist pedo cadiologist, who was in Canada. They were getting ready to fly her out for treatment when she experienced a heart attack. The Lord took her home at 34 days of life on this earth. As expected, it rock the whole community of RG. Selah is buried here by the Nile. Her parents are convinced that God is still in control. Dave wrote a song for her and you can look in up on youtube under so thankful by Janna McPhee.

Pam, Susan and Ann went back into Karuma to visit with Sharon and the other ladies. They met in this courtyard to meet about 47 women and 30 children. Ann and Susan had childrens church and Pam taught the ladies about the woman and the well. Some of the impressions were broken hearted at looking at some of the "young girls" and the joy gone from their faces. The rest of the other children had a very engaging time. They talked how Jesus talked about her salvation before confronting her sin. There was talk on how to develop something how to delivered.
The whole discussion among us is the "Sunday school" answer to the question is there always hope in Christ. But many here in Uganda, there is none to be seen! Even at home, many are trapped into hopelessness. The message is still the same at home as it is here- Jesus delivers.
Stay focused my friends
Pray that we finish strong in clinics and ministry and stay sensitive to what God is leading us to do.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Uganda Tuesday

Uganda Tuesday

Another day on the African Nile :-). Lots of ministry still going on. I almost erred in sounding like an Aggie - as soon as the cold water from the shower hits my back, I yell "whoop", it is shocking :-) . We are trying to see how many ways that you can eat rice and beans. (no whining, just informing)

The ladies had a good visit from the ladies from the village last night. One of the ladies was Sharon - a beautiful young lady who was orphaned and then abandoned from her husband with a child and forced to find work to survive. With no job skills, prostitution became her trade. It is not a place she chose nor desired but is trapped and without hope in her eyes. Our ladies shared the hope of Christ, but she still related how to escape from this. So true love would be to accept her and develop a trade skill to have her a "way out". Christ can change her heart, but He can use us to provide avenues to escape.

Something I learned for RADICAL = Will we risk everything - our comfort, our possessions, our safety, our very lives- to make the gospel known among the unreached peoples?
The reward of the American dream is safety, security and success found in more comfort, better stuff and greater prosperity. But the reward of Christ trumps all these things!

Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Pray that we may stay focused on the task. Africa time is like going on the freeway at 80 mph and then they post a "new" limit at 25 mph!! Most of you who know me, a little more for me to learn :-) pray for me!

blessings and may God bless you richly

Monday, June 23, 2014

Uganda Monday

Monday in Uganda
Ok, well prayers are working. Things went pretty smooth (even though I am missing my usual dental team!) We were able to see several patients and pray with them. The clinic is the finest I have ever seen on the mission field, God has truly provided. We have been eating lunch with some of the orphans in their house, what a blessing!! They sing songs for us and I get to teach them "head and shoulders, knees and toes" - oh the benefits of being a grandpa :-). Visited with the head master of the school here and was amazed at how God saved him and the stories from escaping with 9 children for the revolution army (LRA) several years ago. He has started a church and they had 30 professions of faith last week.
The ladies (Pam, Ann and Susan) are going into the nearby town to minister with the commercial sex trade women. They are excited and apprehensive all at once. A new group of 20 youth and sponsors from Waco arrived today and they are excited as well. Also a group from San Antonio arrived (6)

Looks like we will be busy all week at the clinic!
Most of the dorm moms are either widowed or abandoned, so truly we are ministering to the widows and orphans.
So far, our health is holding up great, we miss you all and covet your prayers.
Because of low wifi, unable to send pics. Sorry, but there are some good ones so far :-)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Uganda Sunday

Today, we had a great day. We were able to get a flight from MAF (missionary aviation fellowship) that made the trip so much easier. They are a ministry that has been helping missionaries for years. Our pilot was Dave and has just returned from being on furlough. As we landed, we saw out the plane elephants, giraffes, hippos and lots of monkeys (no I was not looking in the mirror). Tim and Janice McCall picked us up and we made it to Restoration Gateway - amazing. One story is that in the neighboring village, which is basically a truck stop, there are many prostitutes.  A visiting group contacted them and invited them to church. They said that they do not want to continue in that "profession" but feel trapped. Pray that many will come to hear the good news of redemption and that they can be liberated.
RG - has only been here for about 7 years but it has 21 houses for orphans and so much more. They build their own bricks for the houses. It is awesome to see God working here, there are about 20 people (americans) that are ministering here, from OGBYN to facilitators, to teaching. Thank you for your prayers and lifting us up.

We were able to worship with the people here at RG. The lesson was by one of the dorm "moms" who taught on forgiveness. She did a great job. Such a joy to see the people worship The Lord and such a happiness that shows in their faces. We then took a tour with Dr Tim McCall of how God brought RG to being- all started with a vision and provisions. Tim had a vision of 800 acres and todate there is 700 acres, on the Nile River. His initial vision was a medical clinic, but along the way God showed him the need for orphan help. So there are many houses (21)that hold 8 children each but not all are filled yet.
Our lunch was rice and bean (which will be our normal staple for the week) which we ate in one of the orphan houses. Getting to meet them and have fun with them.
Then Dr Jody Yarbro and I went to the dental clinic to start setting up. We spent almost 3 hours doing that and we shall see tomorrow how things will go with the patient care.
Please pray for stamina, for safety, for receptivity to the gospel, for our families back home.
love to all

Friday, June 20, 2014

Saturday - I think

Well, we made it through the toughest day - 24 hours of travel and little sleep. The upside is a great sleep night! I feel like we are ready to "hit" it now. We traveled by plane for 16 hours and 5 hour layover in London. Really, all in all, no problems.
Read David Platt's book - Radical - if you have not read that - I challenge you to get inspired on what the church is doing (or not doing)! We are in a "guest" house and leave later for Restoration Gateway later today.
Thanks for the prayers and keep them coming, God is working here in Uganda just like at home. You do not have to be far from home to encounter people who need Jesus - a purpose for living. But while I am here, I pray that God will reveal how to make a difference in this part of the world. I wish that I could be accompanied by so many of you and miss you!
love to all

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Departure day

Ok, it is finally here and I am excited to see what The Lord has in store this time. I have a feeling that it is going to be much different than other trips that I have been on - however I say that about each of the others as well. So, pray that I will remain flexible and patient and enduring to the culture and to those who have gone before me. It is not my job to change things, but that The Lord word through me.

Here is a little about where I am going, Restoration Gateway - the vision is to develop a Christ-centered model community that will foster God's heart for physical and spiritual restoration among the people of war-torn Uganda. It is on 700 acres of land overlooking the Nile River and has developed into
-=orphan care
= medical and dental care
=empowerment of Ugandans
= ministry to the church of Uganda
and so much more.
It was birthed in 2004 when 7 Ugandan men began meeting to pray under a tree presently held by the project. God answered the call by sending Dr Tim and Janice McCall in early 2005. They moved onto the land in 2007 and God had blessed it ever since.

I am excited to see what God is doing there and joining in for support

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Uganda 2014

Ok, I am practicing my blog writing. So it is Tuesday evening as I write this. My plane leaves for Uganda Thursday afternoon and I am already thinking a bit about packing. I will meet the rest of my team in London and we will fly together to Entebbe, Uganda from there. Please be praying for the following:
safety in travel, team bonding, the patients and people we will be working with, for Jill as I leave her for a while, for Kim as she is left keeping the office (also being 6 months pregnant), for spiritual insight of being on mission for Him there, for good health, for patience in a different culture and for a joy in The Lord that will be contagious.

Thanks for holding all these up
Serving Him together

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Guatemala Photos!

Some of our photos...

Dremel tool we used as a titrilator to shake our composite for a filling. 

Dental Team working hard!

Sunset over the McDonald tomato fields across the road from the hospital/compound. All tomatoes used at McDonald's restaurants in Central America are grown here.

View from the rooftop. Behind the compound (foreground) are some very, very humble homes.

Dr. David with Misael, a 'celebrity' who had come to the U.S. for orthopedic surgery in Dallas.

Our friend Karen, from New York's Long Island.
Guatemalan traditional dress. Last photo is Brenda, who went as part of the dental team
but was drafted to the Operating Room!

Dremel tool to the rescue once again! We were pouring up a model to replace
a missing tooth for our interpreter. 

More to come soon!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Guatemala, Day Eight

I know, I skipped yesterday. :-) Yesterday, we arrived in the beautiful city of Antigua. Antigua means "ancient" and it is. There are cobblestone streets lined with old, old buildings. Lots of cathedrals and ruins, and so many interesting people. 

There are 3 active volcanoes surrounding Antigua. One of them, Volcán de Fuego or "Volcano of Fire" has spit smoke while we were here. Antigua was at one time the capital of Guatemala, but in 1776, after a series of earthquakes, the capital was moved to Guatemala City.

God has blessed us with some incredible weather and scenery, but the greatest blessing we have had has been this whole mission trip. There have been low points, but very few. We've had many, many more highs. We have met some interesting people, and we pray that we have planted some seeds in those who don't know the Lord. 

We cannot wait to see our families. We're thankful for your prayers while we've been gone, and our prayer is that reading about our experiences will encourage you to try a mission trip yourself. 

See you in America!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Guatemala, Day Six

Our last clinic day. It's always a little bittersweet - it has been a great experience and we've helped a lot of people so it's a little sad to see it end, but we are so ready to be home and see our family. And no more communal showers! 

For a mission trip, accommodations have been really nice. We have hot showers (even if there is very little privacy). We sleep in dorm rooms, one for women and one for men. Bunk beds, no a/c or heat but there are ceiling fans and blankets. We've already raved about the food. And there is dessert with both lunch and dinner. 

The hospital where we are working is not your typical American hospital. It is only open when there are groups coming to serve. I've never been in a hospital in a third world country, but this one has sinks that leak, dust all over the place (as in we have to clean off surfaces in the rooms every morning because they have a layer of dirt/dust), lights that spark when you plug them in, no x-ray equipment, no a/c (except in the Operating Room). But people come from miles and miles away to get care when there is a group here. We know of one lady who walked 4 hours with 5 of her neighborhood kids to get dental care. One family drove 8 hours for a member to get surgery.

When a patient has surgery and is unable to return home, they are able to stay overnight. There have been hysterectomies, gall bladder surgeries, hernia repairs, some orthopedic cases, and a burn case.  The work the medical team has done has been amazing.

We had a half-day of clinic today, then packed up our supplies. Tomorrow morning we head to Antigua, an ancient city with ruins and cobblestone streets. And shopping! We're staying in a hotel, and if wif-fi is available I'll try to upload some pictures.

Thanks for following our journey! It has been a trip we've been blessed to be a part of. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guatemala, Day Five

Loooooooong day today! We started at 8:00 this morning, stopped briefly for lunch, then finished up about 6:00.  We saw a total of 53 patients, and several of those were difficult cases.  David is getting some experience as a pediatric oral surgeon - he did another case with the anesthesiologist! This makes 3 total so far. 

We also once again made use of the Dremel tool yesterday. We worked on our interpreter, and he was missing a front tooth so David decided to make him a provisional partial. To make this, you need equipment that shakes the stone you use to make a model. We did not have that, so we improvised with the all-purpose Dremel. Success! This afternoon we needed to make another partial, and the Dremel was not available. So we used the compressor that runs some of the dental equipment. The ability to improvise is a must on the mission field!

When Dr. Mike (an oral surgeon) was planning on coming, he was bringing his two assistants with him. Even though he did not get to come, Jamey and Brenda came with us. Though they are dental, they have both been recruited to the O.R. and we have not seen much of them, they stay so busy in surgery. 

Tomorrow, we have a half-day of clinic, then will begin packing up. It has been interesting seeing the people of Guatemala, and we hope to see more of the country when we leave for Antigua on Friday. God has truly blessed us with new friendships on this trip, and though we have had a great time, it will be good to get back home!

Keep praying for us!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Guatemala, Day Four

Wow, what a day! Once again, there was a line of patients waiting for us. We had quite a few interesting patients today. One of the first patients we saw was a 3 year old girl that needed several extractions. The really good thing about this venue is the availability of anesthesia and operating rooms. The little girl was taken to surgery (after a several-hour wait). This was a first for David - extractions in an operating room! He took out 10 teeth. 

One high point of the day was the huge difference David made in a 13-year old girl's smile. She was missing one of her central incisors, and her lateral (the tooth to the side of the center one) shifted, so she had a side-ways tooth and a big gap. After David finished with her, she looked amazing and was so happy to be smiling! 

We are all healthy, eating *really* well, and sleeping well. Lights are out at 10 PM and on at 6 AM. Breakfast follows, and clinic starts quickly after. Lunch is whenever we can get a break, and then we get going again, stopping around 6. Then we sterilize instruments, have dinner, and visit with others.

Tomorrow, the photojournalism group from Cal State Fullerton is leaving early in the morning. We will miss them - but one thing we will *not* miss is the constant photo-taking while we're trying to work. Now we know how celebrities feel!

Keep praying for us - two more clinic days. Pray as we minister to those we see tomorrow and the next day. We love you! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Guatemala, Day Three

It's been a full day! This morning we hit the ground running. There was a line already formed of patients waiting to be seen. We have all agreed that the high of the day was being able to help a 14 year old who needed a lot of dental work done, but was so scared she started crying when she got in the chair. 

Because we are working with surgeons and a hospital staff, we were able to have an anesthesiologist sedate her so we could work on her. Without the anesthesia, we would not have been able to do much work on her. 

We saw about the same number of patients today that we did yesterday, but it sure seemed as if we saw a LOT more. We started at 7:45 this morning and finished at 6:20, taking a break only for lunch. Long day, but really good!

Patients travel from a long way to be seen here. One patient was 3 hours away. Another patient walked one hour to be seen. Some of them wait almost all day for us to treat them. 

Weather here has been beautiful. Highs in the 70's, lows in the 50's. We don't get to see much of the outside during the day, but get to enjoy the nice breezes coming through the windows. Food has been wonderful, prepared by the same Guatemalan chef that was here last year.  We are enjoying getting to know some of the other volunteers who are serving here. 

Pray for rest for us tonight, and renewed energy and strength tomorrow. We love you!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Guatemala Day Two

First Clinic day!  Our day started out really well because Laverne made it to the compound in time for breakfast. As we ate, we could see several patients already waiting. It took us a few minutes to get our clinic rooms organized and ready to see patients. Since our cases of instruments and supplies had still not arrived, we had to improvise. Several of the patients we treated needed fillings. We needed to mix the filling material, which comes in individual carpules, at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately, the machine we normally use was in one of those crates that we did not have. 

There is a man at the compound named Joe who is responsible for keeping the machines and instruments up and going. He's a Canadian who moved his family to Guatemala several years ago. He's also very ingenious when it comes to fixing things with limited materials. He rigged a Dremel tool to shake our little carpules with the filling material - and it worked! This enabled us to save teeth we would have had to take out if we could not fill them. 

There is a photo-journalism team on this trip from Cal State Fullerton. I don't think any of us have ever been photographed as much as we have been today. It's been interesting, to say the least. The students have also been very helpful, working as interpreters at times. 

The best news of the day? Mid-afternoon, our crates arrived! It was a blessing to get to work with instruments and equipment we were familiar with. We did fillings or extractions on 29 patients and cleaned the teeth on 24. The medical team has been doing surgeries all day long. It is 8 PM as I'm writing this, and there are still 2 patients in the operating room. 

It's been a busy, full day. It is interesting hearing the stories of the people we are working with, who have come from all over the U.S. to serve here. God is blessing us by allowing us to hear many interesting stories, and meeting new friends. 

See you here tomorrow!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Guatemala, Day One

We're here! Well, most of us, anyway. Dr. Mike was not able to come, and one of our team members accidentally grabbed the wrong passport so she is currently still in Houston. She'll be catching a late flight tonight and join us in the morning. 

Two of our trunks also did not make the trip, and will come on the same flight as our missing team member. Those trunks contained all of the instruments we use for extractions (which will probably be the biggest bulk of our work), some of our anesthesia, and the equipment we will be using to clean teeth. It was discouraging - but another example of how God provides, because we found a drawer full of instruments left here from another dental team! It's not everything we need, but will help hold us over until our supplies come. God is so good!

We are staying at the same compound we visited last year, outside the town of San Raymundo. This time, we are traveling with a group called Refuge International. Refuge International provides medical and surgical care to 4 different, remote areas in Guatemala. We are the first dental team they have had with them.  They are excited about us being here, and we are excited about being able to help. There are already patients waiting to be seen, so we will start early tomorrow. 

There have been so many challenges we have faced in preparing for this trip, and for some of us it's been really hard to leave home. With supplies late or not coming in,  a missed flight, luggage missing - it's been easy to get discouraged. But I know those challenges are only going to make us more aware of how God is going to work on this trip.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

We love you, and miss you but we're glad we are here!

PS - Jody Schibi, the duct tape held up.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Guatemala, here we come!

This Saturday we will be leaving Houston and headed to Guatemala! We're taking a dental team of 7 (three from Heights) back to the same compound where we were last March, but this time we will be ministering to the local community instead of the school kids. No worries - the school kids will be taken care of next month when another group comes! 
We'll be blogging daily as long as we have access to the internet! 
As preparations are underway, please be praying that all our supplies come in, that our team remain healthy, and we are able to focus on the ministry we are called for. Several of our team members are leaving loved ones fighting illness and/or preparing for a final trip Home. We will need your prayers to keep our eyes on our mission.
Our team members are Dr. David, Brenda S., Laverne, Dr. Mike, Jamie, Brenda and me, Jody.  Our flight out is Saturday, Feb. 22. Scheduled arrival is about 12 noon in Guatemala City, then an hour and a half bus ride to San Raymundo and the village a little beyond. Pray we clear customs with no problems!