Thursday, November 8, 2012

Days 3 & 4

Um I've been planning to update the blog for a while now... but we were away and then I'm not sure if you heard but we kind of had a hurricane hit last week and we lost power and then I had to work and then I'm not if you heard again BUT we kind of had a nor'easter and kind of had some snow... so I've been a tad bit pre-occupied.. No worries I was SO ready for Sandy... after all, I did grow up in Florida!

My mom and dad were a little worried about me, and had been sending me like a million text messages, so I sent them this picture to reassure them that I would be fine! What more do you need then water and granola bars?!

Disclaimer: I'm not exactly feeling creative with the title of this post, and nothing seemed quite right to title the next couple of days that we spent in Lira... Oh yeah and please just know that this is a LONG post.. sorry - I have a lot of thoughts! Grab a cup of coffee or whatever your preference may be and know that there a lot of pictures for you non-readers out there... 

Day #2 in Lira we had morning devotions (which would become our norm) and then a little orientation to the country and about COTN and then we had lunch! It would only take a couple of days to realize that there is no schedule in Africa.. Unless it has to do with worshipping our Jesus! Our lunch consisted of rice and beans.. which would become our main staple for the next two weeks. They always offered avocados or pineapple or a peanut sauce... all of which were absolutely amazing! Oh the peanut sauce.. The avocados are out of this world - I might be slightly disappointed with any that I buy from here on out in the states. After lunch the Nationals took us to a small village that was previously an IDP camp during the war called Barlonyo. Which is now the site of a mass grave from the Nationals that were massacred during an attack by the LRA.

A little background for you about IDP camps in Uganda and Barlonyo - IDP stands for internally displaced person and camps were set up in Northern Uganda for refugees fleeing and/or forced from theirs homes and from the destruction of the LRA. If you don't know much about the LRA or you were living under a rock back in April when the KONY2012 video came out - you can take the time to watch this video and it will explain a little bit about what the people of Uganda lived through. It is an entirely different experience to see it and hear it from the people who lived through this. The LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) wreaked havoc on northern Uganda for well over 20 years. And their wounds are still raw. The LRA more recently resides in the Congo and South Sudan. I don't really need to explain the corruption that is rampant in this part of the world, I'm sure you can imagine. Anywho, Barlonyo, I'm nor sure any of us were really emotionally prepared for what we were about to see and hear. How can you be? In February of 2004 (which really wasn't that long ago y'all...) there were about 500 families living in Barlonyo which is probably close to 4000-5000 people. The LRA surrounded the camp and ambushed the people living there with the main goal of leaving no survivors, killing every living animal and person in the camp. Using guns, machetes and lighting huts on fire. There were a few survivors that were able to escape and run toward Lira. Some of these survivors are living at the COTN children's home. I don't share this to scare you from ever going to Uganda, or thinking that we were in unsafe conditions by any means, I tell you this story to open our eyes, I had never heard of the LRA or Joseph Kony, much less Barlonyo and the massacre there before I made the decision to go on this trip. It is hard to describe the heart break I felt listening to the nationals telling us this story. And to be completely honest, I am good at turning my mind off - thanks to my job. I can't process what I actually do on a daily basis or I wouldn't be able to do it, so whether this helped me or hurt me, I'm not sure. It is hard to process this story of destruction, that people lived through this, and that some of them survived and saw it all, and have to live with those images forever - so I didn't at that time. I couldn't help these people if I felt sorry for them the whole time, and I know they did not want that feeling from me, because if you ever get the chance to meet them, they do not feel sorry for themselves in the least! The beautiful part of this story is that the community is slowly coming back, and they are slowly rebuilding. I know they brought us to Barlonyo so we could grasp an understanding of what these people went through. I will share some pictures from our visit - these children are precious and just needed some love!

Dont worry, she has a home.. I asked, or I definitely would have put her on the bus with us!

They LOVE high fives.. like LOVE it.. and sometimes it hurts! They are strong!

These kids were dirty, some of them were sick, they kind of smelled.. who knew what they had, when the last time they changed clothes or even took a bath was.. but they were happy to see us. And that was all we needed. I think most of us could have stayed all day. I know that some of our group, that is used to the controlled environment of the US had a little trouble connecting and interacting with the kids and wanting to hold or touch them. We are a germophobic people y'all. I know we all had our hand sanitizer out. I think some us had an easier time not thinking about the germs.. I know for me personally - when working with babies I tend to think the best about them, and how could they ever be "dirty" because it's just a sweet little baby (trust me some them are dirty..) and I'll be the first to admit I don't always wear gloves because I find it cold to touch a baby with gloves when at that point in their lives they crave human touch - preferably their mamas but that's not always possible. Anywho, my point is that I wasn't afraid I was going to catch "something". I like to think I have a stellar immune system - me, who as I sit and write this am going through cough drops like its my job, drinking tea, lemon, and honey and choking on my own snot.. but I digress.. In my heart of hearts, I hope and pray that COTN will reach the point one day to mobilize their clinic and go set up and run a day clinic in these outlying communities that desperately need medical attention.. or just a bar of soap. And I kind of hope that I can be a part of it!

We headed over to the Children's village for dinner - it was sobering to think that we were looking at their smiling faces knowing some of them had survived the massacre that we were only just learning about. But it is so awesome to see what COTN is doing in the lives of these children, and providing a new life for them. It was amazing to see that God is working in them and showing them that He is the one true King and He is loving, and He is merciful and best of all He is sovereign. 

The next day, Wednesday, that we were in Lira, we had big plans to start the first day of clinic. We still had a lot of inventory-ing to do first. Our big plan after morning devotions was to go through all of our supplies, eat lunch and then be at the Children's village by 2pm. Oh how our heavenly Father laughs at our plans sometimes. Y'all we had so much stuff. 


I think we were so ready to get started with the assessments and see the all the kids that frustrations were on the rise... You must remember that there was also quite a bit of estrogen present and quite a few type A nurses all in one area.. But I think we did a great job getting everything together. I say "we" loosely because if you know me, I am not exactly the most organized person out there so I personally tried to just stay out of the way! I also think that we were all still very emotional from our experience at Barlonyo, which made organizing and counting very hard to concentrate on. In the end, we were so grateful that we had so many supplies that it took us all day to go through it all. What a blessing!

We also had a few distractions throughout the day...

Sweet Devotion, she was a COTN staff person's daughter. And was so cute, and very used to munos (white people). She was running around the house and we all had to stop and play with her!

Brittany also got so sick on Wednesday morning. Luckily we had Shelby, who is an adult ICU nurse and was able to get an IV in Brittany so we could get her some fluids. I have to be honest and say that my prayer life is mediocre at best. How I talk to God, what I ask from Him, what I expect out of prayer and the relationship that prayer forms.. I've learned so much and I'm still learning! Being in Uganda really showed me that, and made me be honest with myself about this, and this was just one instance in which I was shown just how powerful prayer is while in Uganda. Like I mentioned tensions were a little high and Brittany was so sick and things were just a smidge chaotic - so we stopped and we took a minute as a group to pray for Brittany and for our organizing. And what do you know, we finished praying, and Brittany immediately felt better. She did not throw up again or feel the need to run to the bathroom! It was truly so awesome! 

We also experienced our first Ugandan thunderstorm. They are even better than they are in the south! It rains so hard! And it brought a much needed breeze and a break in the heat and humidity!

Dinner was at the Children's Village again. Where we had an awesome dance party afterward. 

so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create the darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the Lord, do all these things - Isaiah 45:6-7

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. - 1 John 3:17-18

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world - John 16:33


  1. Oh, Holly! Beautiful story and heartbreaking all at the same time. I love the way that you are giving glory to God through all of this. And I love the glimpses of the things that He was/is teaching you.
    Not too long at all- just lovely!

  2. Your pics are fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

    And I'm so happy you guys made it through BOTH storms. Sheesh.