Who Am I?


My mom graciously reminded me that it’s time for another blog, so here it is! Time is flying here in Kabale and the days are becoming blurred together, but I will do my best to recap some of the highlights/lowlights.

The surgical ward at Kabale Referral Hospital 
This week marks my third week working at Kabale Referral hospital (which is on top of a hill that overlooks beautiful Kabale). It took many months to become certified to work as a Registered Nurse by the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council, but the wait was well worth it. I have been working on the surgical ward, which has around 40 beds (20M & 20F). This ward has a variety of patients, from a 6-month baby boy with burns on his arm to a 90-year-old woman with stage 3 pressure injuries on her hips. There are also many patients in tractions from motor vehicle accidents (or boda accidents). To be honest, the first week was rough and I often thought to myself “what am I doing here??” It felt like I was a nursing student all over again and I found myself standing around not at the patient’s bedside due to the lack of communication, organization and supplies. All of the procedures are “sterile” so if gauze or cotton is not prepared the day before, it has to be done in the morning, which means dressing changes don’t get done until early afternoon or the next day.

With my dear friend/sister
In America, patients are assigned to a doctor or nurse and have an entire health care team to provide holistic, quality care. Here, there are many interns and nursing students that are in charge of every patient on the ward. During that first week during rounds, there was report on a 40 year-old woman who developed diabetic ulcers on her foot. Instead of debriding the wound or trying to manage the complications, it was decided to amputate her leg above the knee because they said it was just going to get worse. This is one case out of many when it’s hard to look at the situation through American lenses because the interventions and outcomes are so different between the two countries. What would be an easy fix in the U.S. is not a possibility here. I often leave with a shattered heart, but then am reminded who the ultimate doctor is. God designed our bodies in such a way where it can heal by itself with time (or just by the Holy Spirit’s power). We can only treat, but the Lord heals. The days when it feels like I don’t “do” much are the days I pray harder and more fervently (because it’s the only thing that I can do at times).

*Happy note: the woman with the amputated leg just started walking today with crutches and even gave a smile! Her incision is clean and without complication. Mukama asiimwe. Praise God.

Another story: There’s a 15 year-old girl who had a seizure and fell into a fire that burned her entire lower leg. A skin graft procedure was performed over a month ago and the leg was not looking good. It became infected and she turned septic. However, I was so happy to see that today her leg looked a hundred times better and the infection was clearing! God is doing miracles in that ward and it is a privilege to witness Him at work.

Carrying my nephew, JJ. Not pictured: heavy rain
that came two seconds after pic was taken. 
Which reminds me… I became very sick a few weeks ago and had to visit a hospital myself to receive care. It was ironic because I ended up being a patient in Uganda before I was allowed to be a nurse. I was very weak, could barely walk and was not keeping any fluids in me. A friend of mine encouraged that I get checked, but I did not want to leave my bed. He would not take no for an answer and literally showed up at my house with a car and practically carried me throughout the hospital. An hour or so later, I’m sitting in a room full of my friends caring for me. So many people laid hands on me and prayed for healing, which worked. Being sick away from home (and let’s be honest… your mom) sucks. However, I was reminded how grateful I am to have so many wonderful friends who are like family to me here.

While talking to some loved ones back at home, I’ve explained to them that I often feel like I’m an onion here in Uganda. Now let me explain this metaphor. Back in So Cal, it was easy to become identified with things around me. For example, I sometimes identified myself by my job as a geriatrics nurse, or as a Tanis with 100% Dutch blood, a crossfitter, the girl in a yellow VW bug…. the list can go on. However, now I am stripped away from everything that I once identified myself with and it is as if God is peeling away layer by layer of my onion skin and getting to the core of who I am. And who am I? A child of God. That is the core of my being and I am finding joy in rediscovering my roots and my true identity. Here in Uganda I am called many names: Lianna (or Rianna because L’s and R’s are switched), nyakato (means twin), muzungu (all day every day), li, doctor (because I’m white), a scientist (because I studied science), and sister (which actually means nurse). Yes, that’s a lot of names. But again, who am I? Read this beautiful story that my grandma shared with me years ago:

While praying one day a woman asked, “Who are you, Lord?” He Answered, “I Am.” But, who is I Am?” She said. And he replied… “I am love, I am peace, I am grace, I am joy, I am the way, truth and the light. I am the comforter, I am strength, I am safety, I am shelter, I Am power, I Am the creator, I am the beginning and the end, I am the most high” The girl with tears in her eyes looked toward heaven and said, “Now I understand. But Lord, who am I? Then God tenderly wiped the tears from her eyes and whispered, “You are mine.”

I hope you are reminded as I am that you belong to God and that He belongs to you. Nothing else matters in this world. When you keep that in mind, the things of this world will fade and you will realize that life on earth is but a breath and is a place where we don’t belong.

Praises:
·      I’m able to work at the hospital and continue my career as a nurse
·      I haven’t chopped off any fingers from all the cutting/preparing meals
·      God is revealing more of Himself to me (even in dreams!)
·      I am surrounded by a community of believers who are bringing me closer to God every day. How? In prayer, meaningful conversations, encouragement to evangelize and be intentional in every moment…
·      God is keeping me safe on the road. I know it’s been close to two months, but I still forget that they drive on the left side of the road instead of the right side. Therefore, I like walking on the right side, but cars and bodas come flying on their left.

Prayer Requests:
We are often asked if we are sisters :) 
·      Allyson (my muzungu friend/other volunteer) is leaving in a short two weeks and I am dreading the “see you later.” I spend a lot of time with her and our Ugandan sister (and even keep a toothbrush at their house from all the sleepovers). Please pray for Allyson as she transitions back to life in the States and as she takes the next step in her college career. Also, please pray for her Ugandan sister, S, as it will be a transition for the both of them to be a part. Check out Allyson's blog for more stories: https://pagchurchuganda.blogspot.ug
·      I find myself way more tired than usual even though I sleep very well at night. It could be from the different foods (hello carb overload) and all the interaction with people and me trying to blend in and become an African (a guy last week sincerely asked if I was Ugandan… I couldn’t hold back my laughter). Please pray for more energy during the day or for clarity of when I need to rest.


A couple weeks ago, Allyson and I visited our Ugandan sister's home village (pictured above). Look at the beauty in this place! 

(Trying) to make chapati. Each round is getting better and better, and I am thankful my friend came and rescued the first batch.

Pastor Dickson's "see you later" gathering before he went back to school. We miss him in Kabale! He will return in 4 weeks. 


International Woman's Day (March 8) is a national holiday in Uganda. Many people did not go to work and it is celebrated very seriously. During small group, the guys graciously served us tea (and even knelt down like they do in Kampala). 

We celebrated woman's day with pedicures, movies and shopping! It was a very fun and relaxing day with a bunch of girlfriends. 

I thought rope climbs hurt the forearms, but try washing your jeans :p 

Thank you for your continued love and support and prayers!

Sending love from Uganda,

Li  









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