Today we head out for our medical work! The team had breakfast at 5:30am and left a little after 6a for the small airport in Kampala. Upon arriving, we were told our carry on bags could only weigh 1kg. That was not going to be good because the team that was not staying for safari had all their clothes and everything for the week in their carry on. They left their big bags at the mission house because if they wouldn’t have, the bags would not have been back in time for the airport the day they fly out. Thankfully, Joanne found this out before our drivers left and they were able to wait. At the airport they searched our bags and had us go through a metal detector before weighing our bags and us. My bag was 10kg as it had snacks, clothes, daily use items, my Bible, notebook, all my liquid IV, electronics/power cords and adapters. After weighing everyone, the divided us into two planes to even out the weight. Not long before we were able to go to the planes, Joanne was able to let our drivers leave as they did not need to take our bags or items from bags. The airport decided to accept the weight. I was on the plane with Dr Dave (who got to be the co pilot), Jen, Elena, Tony, Neil, Joanne, Algena, Lany, David, and Hector. Our pilots name is Rembrandt and he is from the Netherlands. Before we took off, Rembrandt gave us instructions and prayed for us and the flight. I was so happy to have a window seat! Everything was so beautiful!
Once we landed we all stopped for a bathroom break at the airport before driving to our hotel. Joanne gave us our room assignments and I roomed with Jen. We had a queen size bed with a little room to walk and put our bags. The bathroom has the toilet, sink and shower all together, so when you shower, the toilet gets wet. There was also no door or shower curtain. After we dropped off everything, we went to the area that clinic was held at. It is held on about 5 acres of land. There were soooo many people there! As we pulled in, the kids came running to our vehicles. They surrounded us and followed us everywhere. The kids quickly wiped their hands against us or poked us at first. As time went on and they were more bold, they would full on rub our arms, hold our hands, and pull our arms to them and hug them. One of the Karamoja people made the kids move away so we could unload all the supplies and put them in the rooms they would be used at. We were in the school rooms that were on the grounds for that. Once everything was unloaded, Joanne had our medical group stay and everyone else head down to the church (tents at the time as their church blew down. As we walked, each of us were surrounded by kids again. I had about five hands in each of my at one point. When we were almost to the church, this lady came toward us saying she needed one of us. I just assumed she wanted to hold a hand to, so I grabbed her hand since I was the closest. She pulled me away from where my group was going. I had no idea what to do, but kept an eye on my team until she stopped me were some other ladies were waiting. She asked me if I love Karamoja. I said, “Yes!!!” She proceeded to pull out one of their traditional blanket/cloaks and asked if she could give it to me. She ended up giving me a different one than she pulled out at first. Next she tried to tie it going over my head, but finally decided across my shoulder (like a sash) and she gave me a beaded necklace before another lady gave me a medal necklace. Then they took me to where the rest of the group was and pulled me in front of everyone where she had me dance (jump up and down) with the other ladies. I really didn’t want to, but could not say no to these ladies. It went completely against my personality, but it was such a blessing to and from them. At some point during that Spencer was also pulled out too. They gave me another gift of a stool and gave Spencer a stool as well and a beautiful walking stick. Hector said, I hope they aren’t married now. Once they were done, we started a service. This is where everyone will start before seeing a doctor. We feel it is more important to introduce them to the Great Physician and for them to be with him than our temporary care is. Yes, our care is important, but God is the most important. Tony started off the service with a testimony, then he asked if they wanted to know Jesus and prayed with those people, he also asked if they wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit (gift of tongues), then he had people who wanted prayer come up and we prayed for them. Those people were then sent to the next stop at the mommy and me class and the hygiene class that was mainly about the menstrual cycle. The men and women were both interested in what was said. At the first stop, they got a packet with salt, sugar, antibiotic ointment, bandaid, and soap. At the second stop, the women who were on their cycle or pregnant got a packet with cloth sanitary napkins.
I was at the church and had the privilege of hearing Tony, Algena, David, and part of Rachel M’s testimonies. It was so exciting to see the people truly listening to them and deciding to accept Christ and the gift of tongues. I left part way through Rachel M’s testimony to help Spenser and Ross with the kids. There were probably 400 or more kids. They had seen the need to distract the kids and decided to take them away from the adults to help entertain them where they would not interrupt the adults. When I got over there, a couple Karamoja women were helping and doing some repeating chanting. This is where they would say something while doing a motion and then the kids would repeat it. The kids were circled around us. As time when on that circle closed in a lot and there was hardly room to move. After a while I did have to get out so I could look through my bag for sunscreen and not spray it in their faces while putting it on. That did not help! The instant I was out of the circle, I was surrounded by kids again. The women had us move to under tree shade as it was really hot with the cloud cover gone. After I walked the kids there they were touching my arms and shoulders again. A couple started stroking my hair too. When I bent down to let one of the little kids reach my hair, a full out head rub came from all of them. I was thinking, “I guess I don’t need hair, so this is fine.” Not long after, Spencer came back and checked on me. He gave me a bottle of water and sent me to the clinic area so I could take the time to drink and spray sunscreen. On my walk up some of the teenage boys said something to me, I looked back at them and waved. They all started laughing as did a small group of girls in front of me. Joanne asked me to help go through the sanitary napkin kits to reduce what was in each bag so we would have more to give to the ladies. Rachel Y set me up in the pharmacy and Destanie came and helped. When we were done they sent us for lunch break.
After lunch break we waited for our next duties. While waiting, Ssepuuya introduced me to pastor and told him to teach me about the area. He is the regional pastor. I believe he said the church here in Moroto is where he pastors. Then he told me about the school on the grounds. There are 480 kids that attend, but not all are sponsored. So they are learning, but not getting credit. Most, if not all, of the kids are waiting for their sponsors through compassion. Pastor also told me within the next year they would like to start building dorms. He then was pulled away to do some interpreting. I then met Yunice. She asked me if I knew the meaning of the metal necklace I was given. I told her that I didn’t. She then proceeded to tell me it means I am married. Hector was standing there, laughed really hard and walked away. She told me that normally you have 3-5 showing you are married. When you have them, no man is aloud to touch you otherwise they have to explain why they did and be forgiven for touching the woman to not be in trouble. It shows you are now a woman. The necklace also gives you the right to speak up at meetings. If you are a female and don’t have one, you have to sit quite and listen. She then got pulled away as well. There were no other plans for the non medical team for the next few hours as they finished with patients, so we just hung out. Once again the kids were all over us. Some of them called me auntie RaeAnn. It made me miss my niece very much! I showed them pictures of my family and they loved it! I told them I want my brother to visit next year and maybe I could visit again too. At one point I had a boy, I assume age 14 due to ages I learned earlier, propose to me. He was not going to take no for an answer. I rejected him and he asked a couple more times. He finally gave up for now, but we will see what tomorrow brings. One of the girls sang for me. She told me her parents died and she lives with her grandma. That is when she first informed me she wanted to come home with me. I told her I would love all of them to come home with me, but there is not room. She kept asking a few times in the next couple hours. When it was time to leave, Destanie and I had to get free from the kids. We did and got on the bus, but the rest of the team was still out talking. I had to stand guard at the door to keep them all from coming in. I tried to close the door, but they are smart and one kid leaned on it. Thankfully, when the rest of the team came, they moved and did not try to climb in. We brought the interpreters with us so we could drop them off in “town.” On our way back there was a crazy singing party! We saw 199 people today.
When we arrived at the hotel we showered and headed down to dinner. The food was good after a long, but amazing day. We did a quick meeting to see how everything went and if we needed to adjust the clinic plan for the next day before we headed to bed.