Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Center Day

As I finished off yesterday.. I mentioned Center Day. Center Day is a big deal at COTN. The kids plan dances and songs to perform for their guests (us) and their families/guardians and the town. It is also a pretty big deal because they are able to feed 400-500 kids plus their families a meal of chicken, rice, beans and potatoes and juice! I also mentioned that I was supposed to spend the night at the children's home but was relieved that I did not. I just have to tell you - being completely candid and perhaps a bit too forthcoming - but you really haven't been sick until you've been sick in a third world country.. and you really can't appreciate how lucky we are with indoor plumbing and toilet paper that you can flush... until you've had to use a squatty potty.. aka a hole in the ground..  with limited toilet paper... It's an experience to say the least. So needless to say I wasn't feeling too hot on saturday - the one day that we were spending all day outside on probably one of the hottest days we were there. I couldn't help but push aside how I was feeling though to see how excited all the kids were made me excited!

I just had to throw this in here first. I think I mentioned that the little ones were afraid of us lighter skinned people so finding a small child that would let you love on them was a little hard. This was Jimmy's son and he is around two and he is one of those such children that would just look at us and cry. Luckily for me I caught him while he was asleep! Tricky, I know... So I was able to hold him and love on him while he was asleep. I'm not going to lie I was afraid that when he woke up, he might think he was in a nightmare and I was going to traumatize him.. BUT he was fine when he woke up in my arms AND I even got a smile out of him!!

The kids were already hard at work preparing for the meal - getting all the beans sorted.

I was able to do a little wound care.. my first aid kit came in handy!

Me and Britt and Meghan ready for center day! Representing Market Colors in Uganda!

This just happens to be one of my favorite pictures ever!

Those kids know us Americans so well and know that all we want to do is hold them and love on them.. so we happily did!

Let center day begin!!

Courtesy of the Klepacki's - I LOVE this photo. They pray with such passion. 

I missed out on the native dancing because of my tummy problems BUT they can shake it.. and I plan to participate next time!

After the activities we were able to feed the children -

I have this uncanny ability to do what I need to do without actually thinking about what I'm doing - I thank/blame life in the NICU because I wouldn't be able to take care of a sick infant knowing that I was trying to save someone's son/daughter, sister/brother, grandson/granddaughter etc... and I had to do that while handing out juice. Just looking at their faces, seeing how well behaved they were waiting, yet knowing this might be their only meal that day or for the whole weekend. If you really looked and really thought about it, you'd lose it. And I know that once I lost it, I wouldn't be able to get it back. So I just prayed and focused on the task at hand and was so thankful that we were given the opportunity to hand out food to these precious faces. 

I have to say that while handing out the food and passing the heat may have gotten to a few of us.. and things might have gotten a little weird. But always keeping things fun!

It was a super hot day, and a super long day, and I was squeezing my cheeks for most of it... (don't worry three imodium and a cipro later I was feeling MUCH better) But oh how great is our God. To celebrate with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ halfway across the world was a wonderful experience. And I am so grateful for the chance to see how excited they were to share this day with us.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Psalms 150

Monday, April 29, 2013

We made it to Friday

After 3 days of travel, 2 down-ish days, and 1 day of well child check ups we made it the weekend! It went by so fast - we still had a whole week to go!

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good. 
1 Peter 3: 8-13

We had devotions right after breakfast, which is what we did every morning. It was a wonderful routine! I think I've mentioned it already but there was no time frame for anything in Uganda and when we worshipping Jesus in the morning no one was looking at their watch to see what time it was or thinking about what we had to do next. After devotions, one of the COTN staff members shared his story with us. He was a little boy when the LRA began wreaking havoc on Northern Uganda. He was six years old when he saw his father killed by the LRA. He then had to run from the LRA. He was eventually taken in by an uncle that brought him to Kampala and sponsored him so that he could go to school. He went to school for the first time at the age of 9. He is now in his 30s and is working with COTN and the town of Lira to get children sponsored for COTN. I love the verse from 1 Peter and how it so applies to so many of those with stories like this one in Uganda. That they turned from evil when it would have been so easy to join in and it would mean that they were protected and taken care of as children when today so many of these men and women are doing good and influencing the young men and women of Lira today. I am so blessed to have seen and heard such a small part of it. 

It was Ellie and Mama Jeans birthday while we were there so the staff surprised them with a cake for us all to celebrate! I thought it was so super sweet because birthdays aren't really a big deal because a lot of the children at the children's home are unsure of their exact birthday. But they know that we all like to make a super big deal out of our day of birth - so they happily let us!

Jimmy being a goof!

We spent the afternoon at the Children's home where we changed our set up which in turn changed the flow BIG TIME. I think we saw triple the kids we saw in just a couple hours on Friday than we did most of the day Thursday. We were all doing the same jobs, just in a different spot - and what a difference! I hope that we will be able to help future teams as the Uganda "clinic" is still in its infant stages of development and everything is trial and error. 

Oseana doing a little bit of wound care

More vitals.. 

This is Elizabeth, she wants to be a nurse when she grows up! So naturally, we let her practice. The kids really got a kick out of listening to heart beats and bowel sounds! Who doesn't love to listen to bowel sounds... 

I know you were all a little curious about the bugs and wax and dirt that came out of ears.. 

So happy with their smile packs!

Some of the group spent the night at the children's home. I hear it is a super cool experience, you get to bunk in one of the houses with the girls and you wake up with them when they do chores with the sun. I was supposed to but my throat was starting to hurt  - which it does on the right side - when I am beyond tired and my body is done (and by saturday morning there was more than just a sore throat - which I was very glad I had decided to stay home). And as much fun as I was having - I was tired. The jet lag, and this night nurse is so not used to having days that start at 7am and end at 10pm... that's like what normal people do... So I knew I needed a really good (perhaps drug induced) nights sleep because I had to be ready for Center day the next day!

Getting to the check-ups... Finally

So... I have decided to at least finish posting about my trip to Uganda! I apparently am really good about pushing this little blog into the corner of the blog world and my life and just forgetting all about it! Until my sweet Paw-Paw brought it up while I was visiting Florida a couple of weeks ago. He said that he kept coming back to check for updates and thought that maybe he was doing something wrong and missing all these updates.. he was doing it 100% correctly and was not missing a thing! So to keep my Paw-Paw up to date, I've decided to tell you about the rest of my trip!!

Day 5

Today we finally were able to open the doors to the little clinic and start seeing the children! Our patients. It was so cute - the nurse's "office" was behind one of the classrooms - they consisted of 4-7 year olds and were some of the most well behaved students I have ever seen! They were learning to brush their teeth, in class! And after everything the teacher told them they would say "Thank you teacher" and they would kiss their brain and thank their brain... Oh it was too cute! 

They also called toothpaste - Colgate - talk about brand representation. They had no clue what toothpaste was, but they knew Colgate was for your teeth!

Once they went outside we were able to set up our areas. Now keep in mind that we were only the second medial team ever to visit the children's village. When the children are sick they can receive medical attention but it is very expensive and well child check ups are just not in the budget, so what a blessing for us to come in and offer a tid bit of our medical knowledge and provide free head to toe assessments. But any who, since we were only the second medical team to come in and it was our first day "on the job" there was really no direction for us and we were kind of just flying by the seat of our pants. In theory our set up was okay, but it ended up being a little stressful. All the children were interested in what we were doing and the little ones had just gotten out of class so they were peeking in and watching. And it was a bit chaotic. We only saw about 10 kids, but we were doing some thorough head to toe assessments. In a medical point of view, we had a check in station, and a station for vital signs and snellen eye chart exams (surprisingly they all had REALLY good vision!), then they would sit and wait to go in for their assessments where they would get looked over by one of the Nurse Practitioners and then head over to either get wound care or ear care then they'd get a smile pack and be on their merry way. Some of the biggest issues were their ears! A lot of wax and dirt and a few creepy crawlers!!

Michelle and I setting up for vital signs..

In action... I wasn't used to heart beats being so slow! In the NICU our babies' heart beats usually run 140-180!

Amber and Mama Jean checking the kids in and making sure our charts were in order.

Performing the eye exams - I loved it because instead of heart they said "love" and instead of plus they said "cross"- it made my heart happy. 

Stephany - our head NP doing some paperwork!

The organizing queens!! I obviously stayed out of the way!

More head to toe assessments

Brittany our unofficial "water girl" - she made sure all the kids waiting were well hydrated!

Lunch everyday - rice and beans and some green and pineapple and usually avocado! It was actually so good and kept you really full! 

Shelby and Meghan playing with the kids

Some ear cleaning...

After the kids made it through all the stations we handed out smile packs that we had collected supplies for and made for the children. The smile packs included - wash cloths, soap, tooth brush, tooth paste, hand towel, brush, shampoo and stickers and pencils. It was a good "gift" at the end - especially for the ones that had to get their ears cleaned out!! That looked a little painful!

Playing with the kids - they love the "tickle monster" and hand slapping. They think the Muno's are nuts!

Nurse Betty and Jamie. Nurse Betty is the COTN "school nurse" - she volunteers part time with COTN as she has a full time job working nights at the hospital in Lira. She works something crazy like 8 days on and 8 days off... 8 night shifts in a row - I can barely make 4 in a row without entering a coma at the end of it! But she really loves the children and takes great care of them!

The educational station - learning to brush their teeth and wash their hands!

Mama Jeans on her birthday in the special fairy birthday top! Getting some love. 

After a long day of school and after a few well child check ups - a game of soccer was on the agenda... they play barefoot!

It was a great day, despite the stress and chaos of the day - we still had fun!

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, "it is more blessed to give than to receive." 
Acts 20:35