Day 3 – Ogoloi CarePoint
This morning started on African time, so we were an hour late for church.
But you come to learn quickly that things work differently here. I once asked a pastor what time church started and he told me “When da peepool come”. So we (the people) came an hour late….but the church was waiting patiently for us.
Church was quite an affair.
Apart from the usual spirit filled worship (see video below), we also had the privilege of leading the Sunday school classes (under the various mango trees) and I got roped into “bringing a word”…in other words- they expected me to deliver an African style sermon. Ally also had the opportunity to lead the church for a couple of worship songs, one of which involved putting the devil in a little black box and punching him in the face. Pastor Moses got a huge kick out of this one.
Church in Africa can go on for some time, but it was actually a great experience this time around. I’m not sure how the local church leadership in Ames/Des Moines will feel about this, but I am considering calling the Ogoloi church my “local church” 🙂
We spent the afternoon hosting a small clinic with a local doctor and Jess (who I am told was a nursing rock star). We only managed to run a few of the kids through the line, but in the brief time we had we diagnosed several cases of Epilepsy and at least 4 strongly suspected cases of HIV that we were not previously aware of. There was also a great need for de-worming. We will be picking up the worm medicine tomorrow on the way to the CarePoint for all the kids, and will be directing the kids with likely HIV infection to get tested. The CHC team is also looking into medication for all of the epilepsy cases.
All in all this was a very successful endeavor, and we are extremely grateful to Doctor Peter, who gave up his Sunday to see the kids.
3pm was lunch time
(Again, African time is different)
We invited the entire community over (unsponsored kids and their families etc). We had around 400 people there. The meal included the usual posho and beans but also some meat, and we had juices for the kids. Both great delicacies.
This was followed by a meeting (as usual, under the mango tree) with the local church leadership and the Childrens Hope Chest team. The relationship between the local church community and Hope Chest is fascinating, because CHC works very hard to include the community (in this case the church) in decision making and development. The philosophy of partnering with the local people and getting their “buy in” is imperative if our approach to changing the future of this village is to work. It was immensely fun to watch the church leaders interact with us on the issues they are facing, and have them challenged (both by us, and the elders among them) to take more personal responsibility for the orphans among them.
Towards the end of the meeting, Jen and I were thanked for the work we had done this far for the CarePoint and the people. It was incredibly touching, and although everyone clearly recognized that behind everything was a sovereign God who was getting things done, it was very emotional and humbling to be thanked by these leaders in this way. Yeah, Jen cried crocodile tears…and I admit I had to wipe my eyes once (it was the dust)
When the meeting was over, we knew something was going on because a bunch of kids and adults had begun to congregate near our “board room”. When we were done, they came over and presented us with gifts that we know they cant afford, and yet know we cant refuse. Also very touching. There was a huge bag of Ground Nuts (grown in the village), a large bag of Oranges (they are green in Uganda so we call them greens), several eggs, and a bunch of woven baskets etc.
….oh, and did I mention that Matt got a chicken…. from the family of the kid he sponsors.
Yeah, only in Uganda.
Oh, and did I mention that we ate it for dinner tonight?
The majority of the day for Jen and I was getting video footage of the kids for their sponsors. Its tedious work but also fantastic to get to learn more about each of the kids stories. Its interesting…we dont really feel like we sponsor any one particular kid but rather that they are all ours. As usual, there were some heartbreaking tales.
Paul, who is actually sponsored by Caeden (our 5 year old – before you laugh, know that he raised 100% of the funds selling lemonade all by himself) is living near the CarePoint with his parents, both of which are HIV positive. He more than likely has the disease, as evidenced by some marks on his skin that he and his sister share. Paul has not been tested yet, but we are arranging for testing so that we can know if he needs medication. He is incredibly cute, and knows that he has a 5 year old friend in America. I look forward to Caeden meeting him.
And Michael, who has a very sad story. Both of his parents passed away a few months apart, and he was abandoned while he was in Jinja (about 5 hours away). He was discovered living there alone months later. He was brought back to Ogoloi to live with some extended family but was kept from school to tend the animals and badly mistreated and beaten. Unfortunately this story is all too common. He is happy at the CarePoint though, and it was fun to see his big smile as he played and ate.
Here are a couple more…
All in all it was a great day.
Tomorrow we present to the kids their brand new school shoes. I took many pictures of their feet over the last few days, recognizing that many of them have never actually owned a pair of shoes. We also have mosquito nets, toothbrushes and toothpaste, as well as underwear and sanitary pads for the girls. We will also be handing them their photo albums from their sponsors at this time (don’t worry, we made sure that everyone will get something)
Tomorrow will also be sad, as we send them home with their gifts knowing that we wont see them again for a while. We will return one more night to the TCON house in Soroti before moving on to Bukedea where there is much work to be done. Our visit there is of a different nature altogether. We have around 200 children to find sponsors for in Bukedea, so we will be working hard to document their respective stories while getting to know them and understanding their needs.
One more thing.
It is fun to see our small team grow, even after just a few short days. Tyra is already in love with the kids and would likely want to take them all home, Matt has been an absolute champion and has basically been the backbone of keeping these hyperactive kids running and playing all day, Jess really shone today with the opportunity to use the talents that God has given her, Ally could release an album in Africa tomorrow and sell millions of copies (assuming payment can be made in nuts or green oranges) and Jen became a movie star today, interviewing dozens of kids in front of the camera despite her obvious desire not to. Rock stars.
There is another saying in Africa among Christians….
God is Good.
All the time.