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Alternative Giving for Christmas

My older sister and I got into this ridiculous conversation about what to do with $50 I owe her for another sister’s gift: “Just keep it, I don’t need it.” “Well, I owe it to you.” “Then count it as your Christmas gift” … and on and on. Finally, she said, “Why don’t you donate it to the seminary library in Africa?” What a great idea! Now, the next time Kimberly goes to Uganda she will be bringing $50 worth of books with her for the Lutheran Theological College/Seminary of Uganda!

Are your pre-Christmas conversations like those at my home? “What do you want for Christmas?” “Oh, I don’t know. What do you want?” “I don’t need anything.” “Yeah, me neither.” Please consider solving your “what to get for those who have everything” Christmas gift problems by donating to the Lutheran Theological College, Uganda, in your loved-one’s name. If you were at the November congregation meeting or read last month’s newsletter article on the seminary, you know that the Foundation is matching funds up to $5,000 for the LTCU. Thanks to the Board of Human Needs and the Heseders, who have each donated $1,000, we’re looking for individual donations of just $3,000 to meet the match and give a grand total of $10,000 toward the completion of the seminary.

This money will be used at LTCU to complete the inside of the library, complete the sanctuary/multipurpose building, purchase computers for the classrooms, purchase seed for next year’s crops, clear and recycle construction debris, provide meals for the students of the seminary, purchase chickens and goats, paint the interior rooms, floor the buildings and put pews in the sanctuary.

If you choose to do this alternative giving this year, please make your check out to Saint John’s and mark it “Uganda Seminary.” The gift is tax deductible, as always. As an added bonus, if you contact the office and specify the details about the gift, we will give you a gift notification card which you can then send to the gift recipient.

If you want your donation to go toward books instead of one of the above needs, please mark your gift to “Uganda Library.” These gifts will not count toward the matching funds, but will be used to purchase and then personally deliver books to the seminary library in 2018. Kimberly and I brought five new LSB hymnals to the seminary this summer and they were much appreciated!

Happy “shopping”!

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Artisan Fair and Bazaar to Support International Missions

Start your holiday shopping at Saint John’s Lutheran Church, where the work of thirty artists and craftspeople will be available for sale. Well-known local artisans will be selling handmade items including woodcrafts, pottery, jewelry, textiles and fine cuisine. Saint John’s will be selling crafts collected from around the world. Visitors will enjoy door prizes, a bake sale and a silent auction. Concessions (breakfast and lunch) will be available all day.

The booth fees and proceeds from Saint John’s sales will support local and international work and support for those in need around the world, including medical clinic work in the jungle of Peru and villages in eastern Africa, relief work in Haiti, restoration in New Orleans and outreach to our neighbors right here on the Front Range.

Support this important work while enjoying the handiwork of our fantastic vendors. It’s a two-day event you don’t want to miss: Friday, November 10, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Saturday, November 11, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, at Saint John’s. Free admission.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Uganda Medical Mission, Post-Clinic

After a productive week of serving in the Pokot villages, we packed up the bus Saturday morning and began the drive back to Jinja. We were once again able to enjoy the scenic drive and beauty of the Ugandan countryside.

As we approached the city of Jinja, we were able to stop and tour the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Uganda in Magamaga. The site is under construction as fundraising continues, but many of the buildings are in use with great vision for how the property will continue to develop and be utilized. Seminary students recently returned to class for the fall semester. There are four years of education for the seminary students. The first two years are spent in didactic classroom instruction. The third year the students complete a vicarage, and then in the fourth year they are back in the classroom. There are three separate classrooms set up for the three years of teaching. Other buildings on the campus include an administrative building, a space for an e-library in the future that will connect to one of the LCMS seminaries in the United States, a space for a book library, a multipurpose hall to be used for worship and conferences, and dormitories where the students can stay. The seminary can hold 50 students at capacity. Students come from every region or district of the Lutheran Church of Uganda, so all parts of the country are represented. Construction is coming along, and there are some great murals in place for decoration. The potential and vision for the site is inspiring.

At the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Uganda.

Sunday morning we were able to worship at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Jinja where Reverend Enoch Macben is the pastor. The church currently meets in a local school. It was neat to read all of the educational material on the walls in the school as the children appear to be learning English. The church service was in English, and we used a red Lutheran hymnal from 1941 for the service. There was a bit of a Ugandan flare added to the service with the offering song, which added to the cultural worship experience.

Rev. Enoch Macben.

In the evening, our group was able to take a boat cruise on Lake Victoria and to see where the Nile River begins. The time out on the water was relaxing and enjoyable. The evening allowed us to spend time as a group at the home of Mark and Megan Mantey, career LCMS missionaries to Uganda. We enjoyed a meal of Mexican food and were able to try jack fruit, which was quite tasty.

Boat ride on Lake Victoria to see the source of the Nile River.

Monday brought shopping and then a time consuming bus travel journey to the airport in Entebbe. We are all beginning our journeys home excited to see family and friends again and full of memories of time spent together in rural Uganda with the Pokot people.

MMT group following church service.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Uganda Medical Mission, Clinic Day Five

The final morning of clinic began in a more timely fashion here in African time where one often waits to begin waiting. After loading the bus full of people with servant hearts and making the trek to Lopedot, we actually arrived at the clinic site at 10:00 AM. Many Pokot were waiting our arrival. The day began with evangelism, and the local pastors led the crowd in a bit of singing prayer. Several team members then began the task of triaging patients to ensure that those who were truly ill were registered and received medical care. It seems to be very challenging for the Pokot to line up to be assessed and registered. The preferred method by the Pokot seems to be to crowd, push and shove to plead the case for their need for medical treatment. It is daunting just to watch this process and not wonder if we missed a person who truly needs care. However, we pray that God guided us to those who need our help and service the most.

Two lines for triage and evangelism to begin the day.
Mary in nursing triage.
Rachel in nursing triage.
Sarah providing care to a dehydrated woman.
Shara keeping pharmacy organized.

Through this last day of clinic we were able to provide care for 297 people. We had several patients come through very sick with malaria and with temperatures of 104 degrees Farhenheit. Many people presented with allergies and upper respiratory tract infections. Pneumonia, urinary tract infections and fungal skin infections remain as common diagnoses as well. Another child came through today with malnutrition and failure to thrive. Today one patient did return who was minimally responsive and presumed to be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy or incomplete miscarriage. The woman was provided with IV fluids and then transported to the Amudat hospital for further testing and treatment. This patient's presentation led to a pelvic exam, which confirmed the continuing practice of female genital mutilation as a rite of passage and part of the Pokot cultural traditions. Education continues but cultural practices are challenging to break.

Pokot in the village of Lopedot.

At the end of the day the remaining supplies were packed up and sorted. Many supplies were donated to the Amudat hospital for the care and treatment they provide there to these Pokot communities. Other supplies will be inventoried and stored for the next MMT to Uganda.

On the return trip to Nakapiripirit this evening, we were treated to a goat roast at the Lutheran church in Amudat. Many congregation members were there as we arrived, and several women prepared for us a meal of roasted goat, potatoes, rice, matoke (plantains in ground nut sauce) and cabbage. It was a special treat and honor to receive this meal from the congregation.

Goat roast on the grounds of the Amudat Lutheran Church.

The Amudat Lutheran church has actually outgrown their current church building, and they are gathering supplies to build a new, larger church. The Lutheran church of Uganda is the fastest growing church body in this area. Several other parcels of land have been purchased in the area as well for future church development and expansion. It is excellent to see the faith growing and spreading here.

Tomorrow the team will make the return bus trip to Jinja to enjoy a couple of days exploring this portion of Uganda and relaxing in the tourist role. We are all very grateful for a successful and productive week of clinics to share the Gospel and provide medical care. God is good all the time.

The Mercy Medical Team that provided care this week.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

Uganda Medical Mission, Clinic Day Four

The morning bus devotion was very timely and appropriate today. Pastor Dave stayed back at the hotel today for some rest and recovery for a travel bug, so we used a devotion from the Medical Mission Team book as our opening. The theme of the devotion was to stay focused even though we may want to provide more and feel there is more that can be done here in rural east Africa. The writer reminds us that what we and all of the people need most in life is the Savior. This remains the first need and should be the focus. As individuals here to serve we can only do what we are given to do right now. God will lead and provide for how to continue to provide assistance. But in this moment, we need to complete what is set before us.

This message was very poignant on this fourth day of clinic that felt like a first day as we prepared for service at a new site. The morning moved very slowly as plans were made with the district health office for resources and transportation to the Lopedot site. We eventually left Amudat mid-morning in the bus loaded full with supplies and two four-wheel drive vehicles carrying some of the personnel. The full drive from Nakapiripirit to Lopedot takes about an hour and 45 minutes on a dusty, bumpy road. Instead of traveling down the road to the Lutheran church in Lopedot where the bus got stuck in the mud earlier in the week, we set up clinic in the main town area at a school. We were able to have three tents set up to provide additional clinic space in the shade. By the time everything was unpacked and set up, it was midday.

Sarah and Dam triaging patients for registration.

The day began with Pastor Moses providing a Gospel message for the crowd. It was neat to hear them sing together to begin. Then, with our late arrival and the large crowd of people waiting to be seen, we had to be selective in choosing the truly sick patients who would receive care. Sarah, a LCMS career missionary and nurse, and Dama, a Ugandan clinical officer, triaged patients and only allowed those with fevers and true signs of infection to be registered. This was a very challenging and exhausting task for these two women. Those working in vitals spent the majority of the day taking temperatures on children who were very apprehensive to be cared for by a white person. There were lots of tears and crying today. The children do seem to really enjoy receiving a sticker, though, as a small reward.

Katie and Nelly obtaining vital signs.
Lorrie's magic touch weighing patients.
Ted and Katie taking vital signs.
Benjamin and Kimberly in nursing triage.
The pharmacy crew.

Overall, today we were able to provide care for 222 people in our short four-hour time frame. Patients presented with similar symptoms and diagnoses, including malaria, ear infections, sinus problems, allergies, upper respiratory tract infections and generalized body pain. There were many more patients with wounds and burns today. Several children also arrived with IV catheters already placed in their hands or arms. Apparently there is a private health clinic in the area that is providing questionable medical treatment at a high cost. Those who truly need the care have paid the fees, traveled by foot to the clinic and then may have received incorrect treatment. This is an unfortunate use of resources in this area where the need for accessible and accurate healthcare is very high.

Late in the afternoon we packed up all of the supplies and hauled them across the field to store them in the Full Gospel Church (Pentecostal) for the night. We had our late lunch of rice, beans and posho before beginning the return bus ride. The team was able to explore the local Pokot village a bit throughout the day and see the cooking hut where a dik dik (a type of small antelope) that had been killed in the bush was being cooked. The women were also cooking up some donated food for the villagers. We were also able to see the camels that were wandering through the community. These animals seem to belong to local villagers and are not wild.

Tomorrow we will return to this clinic site in Lopedot in hope of seeing many patients. We anticipate a larger crowd in the morning as the Lutheran church congregation members from five kilometers away in the next village over come to be treated. The word will also spread that we are providing care, and additional people will seek treatment. Our hope and plan is to leave a bit earlier in the morning in hopes of arriving to the clinic site, getting set up and beginning to see patients in a timely fashion. The team is feeling disheartened that we are leaving patients without medical care. However, the prayer and hope is that we are pulling out and treating the sickest. Others can certainly benefit from medical care, but our goal is to make sure the critically ill are treated and that all receive spiritual care. We will see what African time brings in the morning!

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?

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