Uganda has been good to me. Here I sit on the top bunk (I have about six to choose from) with Gregory Alan Isakov playing in one ear and the sound of falling rain in the other. This music makes me feel like I’m somehow sitting back in Nashville, but the smell of the rain and the sticky heat I’m sitting in quickly remind me that I’m halfway around the world in a country that is still very foreign to me. Sometimes being surrounded by familiar people creates the feeling of normalcy, when really just beyond the gate is a whole culture that is completely different than anything I have ever experienced.
Saturday proved to be a very quick reminder that I am completely out of my normal surroundings. We made the fairly short drive to a surrounding village where Drü and Asher have previous connections. This was the location where most of us would experience our first jigger removal clinic. (Go to http://www.solehope.com/who-we-are/our-story/ for more information about jiggers and the importance of prevention/removal.) It was thought that this would be a fairly short clinic day where we would visit several families who were known to be suffering from jiggers. About three hours after our anticipated completion time, we found ourselves having to call it quits. While I’m sure we could have found many more hours of work, we had to finish somewhere. However, it did allow the Sole Hope team to determine that this area was more affected by jiggers than previously thought, and will allow them to plan more clinics in the area.
That, in a very tiny nutshell, was my first jigger removal clinic. It was one of the best experiences that I’ve had so far in Uganda, but it was one of the most challenging. While the living conditions and smell brought me right back to my time in Cambodia, this experience was completely different and overwhelming. The sights, the smell, the people, and the consistent flood of children wanting to hold your hand lead to a sensory overload. While I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it, there were too many things going on for my brain to even begin processing pieces of it. While the medical aspect of it was not completely foreign to me, the nature of the issue was hard to grasp. These tiny children, some less than a year old, were so severely affected by something that can be easily prevented and treated. These little kiddos are being put through such pain and can have so many health issues stemming from something that can be removed and treated in a matter of minutes. It was heartbreaking.
It is completely different hearing about the “jigger issue” in Africa, knowing that it’s such a large problem, encouraging people to be a part of the Sole Hope mission, and then physically being able to see how people are so personally affected by such a little bug. Everything completely changes when you see the face that is paired with that infected foot, which cries tears of pain, but does not pull away the foot that is being poked and prodded. It suddenly goes from being a statistic or picture, to being a person.
A person with a story.
A person with a family.
A person whose life is valued by our Creator.
This person who was so beautifully and wonderfully made is suffering. They’re suffering and there is something I can do about it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt completely helpless, yet incredibly motivated. There is something I can do.
I know that I was put in this situation for a specific reason. At this point, I still don’t completely know what that reason is. However, this is something I can do while I’m here. This may be one of the reasons that I’m here. This may be the reason that I’m here. This may be a small step in my journey to something leading in an entirely different direction. Right now, I can only be here. I can use the resources and situations I am given to make Him greater. That is my goal. Being a broken human, I know it won’t turn out as perfectly as I would like it to. It probably won’t be efficient. It probably won’t be pretty to watch. I’m trying to “be” right where He has me placed. I’m physically here and I’m trying to align my mind with my physical presence. He knows what He’s doing, and I hope to SEE even a glimpse of what that vision is.