Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ from Walukuba, Uganda! May the Lord grant you peace and grace. He has been so faithful!
My time in Uganda has been short but fruitful. After developing a terrible flu/cold/rash on the plane and battling that during the majority of my time here, I think I am finally on the mend. It is a good reminder of how His grace is sufficient, and His power works mightily in our weakness.
I spent 3 days with the Global Outreach (GOI) missionaries at their retreat at King Fisher Resort. My time there was spent with teens in the mornings on Friday (11 in the group) and Saturday (10 in the group). It is amazing how sufficient God's strength is when mine is nearly gone, because I had just one hour of sleep and was feeling miserable the night before the first day of the retreat.
The first day, we talked about our foundation and identity being in the Lord, and the difficult aspects of transition. The second day, we discussed loss and grief and had fun playing with homemade play dough. Several of them were very vulnerable Friday and it was an honor to hear them open up and to share with them. I also had the unexpected blessing of talking with adults and youth about resiliency and received encouraging feedback. There is nothing quite like the Lord using you as a vessel to impact these precious lives.
As a result of the retreat, I then took a day to go to Good Shepherd’s Fold where there are 79 orphans, many with special needs, and a lot of outreach going on in the community. My time spent there was with the Ugandan social workers. One of them, Panina, talked with me about the need to equip and empower the house moms. Because when these moms are supported, her job is much easier as she interacts with the kids. I love where her heart is in seeing the value in equipping them to make a difference.
I got to spend time with some of their other social workers, Audrine, Penlope, and Loiyce (spelling names phonetically). We spent a lot of time discussing secondary trauma and how common it is in social work. Each one shared their struggles and how trauma has impacted their lives. Hearing that there is a name for what they are experiencing was very validating. They were so vulnerable in sharing their experiences and challenges these kids have faced. My heart ached for them when I left. They extended me an open invitation to come back and teach on secondary trauma. I look forward to seeing how God provides that opportunity in the future.
Some side conversations really convicted me of the need to better care for missionaries and the challenges they face. Any doubt I had about taking a step of faith and pursuing this mission has been quickly wiped out in a few short days!!
The rest of my time was spent at the Jinja Pregnancy Care Center (JPCC) where their focus is to care for pregnant women and mothers with babies, no matter what their backgrounds or circumstances are. They strive to walk with them through their pregnancy and parenting journey to ensure they are equipped to raise a healthy baby. They offer Bible classes (our Scripture this week was 1st John 2:15-18), health and nutrition counseling, help with life skills, prayer, a food program, home visits, and more.
The health lesson for the week was focused on cervical and breast cancer. We had 5 women with their babies (the youngest just being 4 days old!) on Tuesday, 3 women on Wednesday, and 5 on Thursday. They have their set days of when they come each week. My job was very important-I got to hold those precious babies!
At lunch, we went to the regional hospital to deliver lunch to patients who have no one caring for them and would otherwise not receive food. These daily visits will be seared into my memory for a long time. Imagine the smell of urine hitting upon arrival, 4 ‘beds’ to a cube that has a partial wall, family members of patients sleeping on the floor near their bed, procedures such as cleaning serious wounds going on right as you walk by, etc.
Please keep ward 9 in prayer. The patients in ward 9 we visited, prayed with, and fed were: Moses, who is badly burned on his arms and legs but is starting to heal, Scovia who is HIV positive and has large open sores on her legs and is not doing well, her sons Obadiah (age 7) and Kevin (age 4), and Yihiwah, who has been badly beaten and his face is very swollen.
On a lighter note, I learned how to get around Jinja with a Boda-their common form of transport. It was very scary at first but I had two very cautious Boda drivers!
One final unexpected meeting occurred where I am reminded God is the Best Networker. There is a South African family serving here in Uganda with YWAM (Youth with a Mission). They have family that was seriously injured in a head-on collision in South Africa. There have been 4 deaths so far, including their 8-year-old niece. Her 11-year-old sister is starting to regain consciousness but their mother is still very critical with internal bleeding and swelling in her brain. Only a handful of people have my Ugandan number but it is the right people when God is involved.
The father contacted me at the beginning of the week via text message and after trying to connect the dots as to how he knew I was in town, I agreed to meet with him and his 3 oldest children (11, 9, and 6) at the pregnancy center on my last day to talk about grief and loss. We talked about how they can cope as a family especially since they will be unable to attend the services. They also wanted to know how they can continue to reach out to their family over the course of the next year and what might be ways they can be of encouragement to them. Please keep Heather (the mom) and Tyla (the sister) in prayer as they continue their recovery from their physical injuries and then learn to cope with the loss of Jesse.
Next time you hear from me, it will be from Zimbabwe!
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Misty Bodkins has a Master's degree in clinical psychology. She has worked both stateside and internationally doing counseling, training, teaching, and research. Her passion is working with people who are in crisis.