Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dearest Samuel!

This blog is dedicated to a special woman whose name was Robinah.  She was the Grandmother to very many children, including some orphans.  Samuel was one of them.  Samuel's father died of AIDS when he was around four years of age.  He was brought to HUM by his mother, who was very sick with the virus herself.  She left the children with her mother, Robinah, their Grandmother. 

Robinah has always been active in the women's group at the church and likes singing a lot.  She enjoys studying the Bible and learning more, but her reading is not very good.  She attended every Bible study that she could to learn more.  She enjoyed helping out during crusades with house to house evangelism, and was involved in any way that she could be.  She loved the Lord, Jesus, and it showed in her life.  She had a problem with high blood pressure and heart disease.  The Lord took her home about three weeks ago and now Samuel and the other orphans that were living with her have no one taking care of them.  We asked Samuel's mother to come and take care of them but she has refused to stay there and just takes off and leaves them for days at a time. 

Samuel has given up on even wanting to live until the last few days.  He has become sick with malaria twice since the Grandmother died and has been on an I.V. both times.  He has been refusing to stay at school, does not want to eat, and his CD4 count dropped from 300 down to 15 in the three weeks time.  This is very concerning.  I remember when Junior died his CD4 count was too low. 

One of our staff members, Nancy, has volunteered to help look after him and we have been praying with him and talking with him with hopes that he will gain and come around.  Today I was so happy to see him at the youth Bible group and he even looked so much better.  I ask for your prayers for continued improvement for him and his younger brother (who is also infected), Edigar Francis.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Missionary's Journal

It is a very hot day for this time of year in Eastern Uganda.  It is even unusual and we have had a long dry season compared to other years. There is much rain now, but it is still hot and humid during the day.  Uganda normally has a very mild climate with temperatures reaching around 75 F, but lately the temperatures are around 90 to 100 F.

 There is no electricity and it is hard to sleep.  I praise the Lord that at least I have a bed and a pillow, and it is even clean.   I give thanks for all that the Lord has provided.   I go on my knees and begin to cry out to our Lord for Uganda.  I pray for the government that seems to be unstable.  I pray for the Lord’s touching and direction on the president and all of his workers.  I begin to pray for the people.  My mind then drifts to the children and I begin to cry.  The children.  Who will save the children, oh Lord?  They have little to eat, sleep in the dirt, even many of the houses are made from mud and sticks from the trees and grass on top.  I begin to think of the rain we had in the evening and know that very many of the children have slept another night in a wet area of the mud in their mud hut.  I know some are sick with malaria and have not had any treatment from lack of care or lack of funds.  They get bites all night from ants and other insects.  I have learned the meaning of “Don’t let the bedbugs bite!”

After I pray for some time, I find my way to the kitchen where the children living with me are about to have breakfast.  It is just beginning to get light outside.  We have candles lit and I thank God for the candles.  I know that most just have to stumble in the darkness.  We also have some charged lights that run by batteries that we can charge when the electricity is on, and electricity is rare these days.  I see that my children are smiling and are clean and eating fine.  They even excel in school.  I believe because of good care they excel in most everything.  I give thanks again for the Lord providing. 

The children go off to school and I begin my day after some quiet time with the Lord.  From there I go to the office and my mind is taken by the sounds of a woman screaming and crying from the clinic nearby.  This is the very clinic that HUM helped to build and helps support.   I learn that her child has died from malaria.  She herself is not well.  To make matters worse, her husband has died from AIDS and she has no money.  She will not marry again, for she too is infected.  She has many other children at home.  She delayed to bring the child as she had no money and did not know what to do.  An hour later her brother comes to me in the office and asks me if I can help them with the burial.  They have no money to bury the child and no one to turn to.  Usually children are just wrapped in a cloth and put in a hole in the ground.  Again, I try to find some little money from my own pocket to help them. 

I go back to my room and cry out to God again with many tears asking him why the children have to suffer so much.  I pray for them and ask God to help them and to give me strength and courage and direction. 

A short time later an older woman comes with two younger ones.  She has a hernia and needs an operation but has no money.  I struggle to help them get her into the car and the car will not start.  The car is now six years old and was 10 years old when we bought it.  This is like new to many Ugandans as  few even own cars.  The woman cannot walk, so we have to carry her.  We take her to the hospital in Mbale in the van.  There is no one there to help us.  She is in pain.  We have to wait until a doctor comes on duty and there are no beds available – she will have to lay on the floor.  The hospital does not provide food or sheets or anything.  If you want these things you have to provide for yourself.  There is a nurse on duty but the woman is not seen because there are too many patients.  After a few hours, I have to leave  her there with the two younger women and little money. 

I return home and it is now lunchtime.  I have not done any work in the office today as yet and this afternoon I have a Bible Study to prepare for.  I eat my lunch quickly and go to the office.  A teacher comes to tell me he has a discipline problem with one of our sponsored kids.  We may end up spending over an hour discussing the problems.  By the time I finish dealing with the situation I have only an hour to prepare for my lesson.  After the study, yet another medical problem arises. 

When I am in America people often ask me what a typical day is like.  I am giving you an idea of what a day can be like and every day is different.  I have a hard time explaining, as I may have a schedule, but God has a different one.  There is no typical day in Uganda.  Every day is different.  I give thanks and praise to the Lord for the days that are normal, but they are rare.  You truly learn to give thanks in all circumstances, as you must look for the positive always.  Without the Lord, you cannot manage or make it here when you have been raised, sometimes spoiled, in a country like America.   I give thanks for all the blessings that God has given to fellow friends and people of my country, America.  America the great!

I did not grow up rich.  I have had good parents, and they provided for us and loved us as children, and continue to be supportive and loving to us as adults.  I lost my mother in a car accident when I was 19 years of age.  I have a wonderful stepmother who is very supportive and caring.  I again give thanks and praise to the Lord.  I always had a bed to sleep in and food on the table.  I always had clothes to wear and was able to go to a good school.  There is so much to give thanks for.  I do not ever remember the roof leaking or being eaten by bugs at night.  I had a good bath every day.   Not at all like a child you would find in Uganda.

I look around me here in Uganda and see that the children are not cared for. They are not taught – many never go to school.  Their parents are dying.  Here where I live in the Budaka District at least 1 of every 3 adults is dying of AIDS.  They tell me it is getting better – but it is hard to see.  We have burials every week where children are burying their parents.  What will happen to these children?  We are glad that HUM can help at least some of them.    I continue to pray and believe that only through the Lord, Jesus can we make a difference and give any hope.

I know there are many organizations out there, but I do not see any of them in the Pallisa District of Uganda – the second poorest district in the third poorest country in the world.  A place where the biggest problem is AIDS and children are left alone.  A place that goes beyond we can imagine.  A place that God laid on my heart as a teenager and brought me here eleven years ago and founded HUM in 1999.  A place where you can make a difference together with us.  I pray God touches your heart today. 
God bless you,   Katherine

Just Lovin'

I took in my first kid at the end of September 1995.  His name is David.  He had just turned five that month and is now going on 22 years in September and attending McKerere University.  He is studying computer science and information technology.  David was living with a Grandmother named Mary.  He was tending cows everyday and had a lot of malnutrition.  He looked really tattered in his only set of clothes, but had eyes that would melt any mother's heart, and a great smile to go with it (still has to this day).   I remember him trying to teach me language and trying to learn English from me.  He had never gone to school as yet, but was wanting to learn to communicate with me.  He cried the first day as he did not know what was happening to him.  He would teach me the Lugwere word for frog and I would tell him the English, then a cup, then a pan, etc.  Through love we communicated and have so many wonderful memories.
This is David at five in the beginning, then six, then 18 and above at 21.

The second child I took into my home is Bumba.  He was seven when I first met him and eight when I took him in.  Julius lost both parents by the time he was seven years to the terrible AIDS virus that has claimed so many lives in Africa and all over the world now.  He had made his way to Kamonkoli to look for his relatives and was not sure how to find them.  He had come a long ways to get there on foot.  He finally decided to curl up in the church and sleep in a corner.  That is where he was found and then connected to his Aunt Esther.  His Aunt had just retired that year from teaching primary school and had no income.  Retirement does not come on time or when it is needed and she had little to look after him with.  A woman from Colorado named Shelly came to stay with me a month and do work in missions and fell for Bumba and wanted to take him with her.  She asked me to take him in and I did and have loved him like a son ever since and Shelly has sponsored him monthly ever since.  Today he is 24 years old and studies in his last semester at Ncumba University in Entebbe.  He will have his Bachelor's degree in Business Administration/accounting very soon.  He too is a wonderful young man that is looking forward to working and starting his life.

Altogether I have had 24 children pass through my home, and 20 are there still and I love each of them and thank God for the chance I have had in making a difference for them together with their sponsors.    One child at a time someone told me - love them one child at a time.  we do have 191 children sponsored today and 28 in the orphanage altogether between two homes.  Give thanks to God with a grateful heart for all He does and His great love for us all.  Amen!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's Not to Love!

A little of my story here in Kamonkoli continues - when I returned to live in Uganda in July 1995, I was not really sure what the Lord was going to have me doing.  I just knew it had to do with orphans and children in general.  After seeing the faces of the children the first time I came, I could not sleep or get their images out of my heart or mind. 

I did not have running water the first six years, a vehicle the first four years, electricity has always been off and on! and I was just thankful to have camping like stoves to cook on.  I got my first refridgerator after six years and my first stove.  Somehow, when you love what you are doing, you do not really notice or miss these things much.  My heart was focused on the Lord and the work He had put before me.  I moved on the back of a bicycle for all these years or walked - good for me!  They called the bikes "boda boda" which came about during the time of Idi Amin when people wanted to get out of Uganda and were heading for the border - they would call out in their accents "Border Border" and this became boda boda.  I enjoyed riding on the back to town - it was always refreshing or cooling with the air in my face.  To shop for groceries, I would get empty boxes and fill them with the groceries and then put them on another boda boda to take back to my home in Kamonkoli (about 30 minutes on the back of the bike).

One of the first things I did was to start a Saturday Sunday School to meet with the children and teach them about the love God has for them.  It later became our AWANA Club (now around 600 children).  Finally in 1999 I founded Hines Ugandan Ministries (HUM).  Our mission - to reach out to the orphans, vulnerable children and widows with the love of Christ.  Our goal has never changed to raise of healthy, contributing adults that make a difference to the country and community to the glory of God. 

We started with nine chidlren in the sponsorship program in 1999 and by the end of the year had 51.  Now we keep a continuing 200 children sponsored.  As children finish through University or vocational studies, we add more little ones.  We have had 27 finish University and vocational through the end of last year.  This year we have another 23 finishing.  This is exciting, as most of these children are going to make a difference.

I want to share the story of one child, however, that changed me.  His name was Junior.  Junior had several brothers and two sisters.  One of his sisters, Violet, was taken in by me when she was four years old.  She is still with me today at the age of 17 years.  Junior was a younger brother to Violet.  They had lost both parents to the terrible AIDS virus, as so many of these children have, and before the mother died she was looking for places to put the children.  Their mother's name was Esther.  Esther had come to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior about three years before she died.  She wanted her kids to have the best.  She had put them in relatives homes but did not know what to do with Violet, and begged me (not really!) to take her in.  I really cried when Esther died.  Junior and the youngest son, Derrick, were taken to the capital city, Kampala, to live with an Aunt and Uncle and stayed there for three years.  When Junior was seven years old and Derrick was four they were brought back to the village and put at their Grandfather's home.  Their Grandfather is very poor with no income at all and very old.  He had no place to really put them, so they slept with the goats.  They were brought back, however, because the Uncle thought they were sick with AIDS.  When Violet learned what was happening in their lives, she came asked me to help.  I went to visit the children and discovered that they were not eating anything most of the time.  I took them for testing as the Grandfather said no one had, they just guessed.  Derrick did not have AIDS.  When the Uncle heard he sent him away to boarding school.  Unfortunately, Junior was infected and in bad shape, beyond the help of the medicine available here in Uganda.  The Grandfather kept him and starved him to death.  He felt this was more humane than to allow him to live and suffer with AIDS.  The night before Junior died I was there.  He reached out his arms to me and kept crying "don't leave me here, don't leave me here."  The Grandfather gave me no choice and would not let me interfere any further.  I never cried so hard in my life.  At 4:00 a.m. the next morning I had a knock at my door that Junior had died and they wanted to bury him that day.  The Grandfather was just going to wrap him in a sheet and through him in a hole.  I got what little money I had saved and bought a casket, had a proper grave dug and cemented as they do here, and had him burried properly.  To this day I remember the image of Junior crying out to me with his arms outstretched.  I dedicate the medical clinic we are trying to build to his memory.