Dying to Dancing

Meet my friend, Deni. She is a 42 year old woman and lives far from town in the village of Bubare. One Saturday before OVC (orphans and vulnerable children), a group of volunteers took us to visit this lady and assess the condition she was in. She was found laying in the corner of a dark room on an old mattress with no sheets. The house was dirty and unkempt with one wall about to collapse. Deni appeared very weak and barely spoke nor moved while we were there. The group visiting her brought some essentials, such as soap, beans, rice and posho (a Ugandan staple). However, we were uncertain if her children would sell it and use the money for food. They were in survival mode and did not care for their mom like they should. Their mom, like every mom, continued to do everything she could to provide for her kids. The youngest is a 13 year old female and the middle child is a 20 year old male. The oldest is unknown and in Kampala. A caring neighbor would bring Deni porridge every morning, but she would often save it for her children, and therefore, was not eating.

Deni is living with HIV/AIDS and stopped treatment 4 years ago in 2014. Her husband died (date unknown), which left her alone to care for her family. She was also the second wife and was looked down upon in the community. When food became scarce, she stopped her ARV (anti-retroviral) meds because the side effects were too much. These meds are very strong and should be taken on a full stomach. So for 4 years Deni has been wasting away alone.
Pictured on the left is one of the many volunteers that
go out into the communities to love their neighbors. Because
villages are far from town, they bridge the members at the church
to these villages and help identify those who are vulnerable
and in need of care

After visiting her, God continued to place this lady on my heart and I could not stop thinking about her. Before every meal I would picture this lady who was starving in a house that could fall any moment (especially in this extreme rainy season). So, after talking to my friend who’s also a nurse, we decided it was time to admit her. Our original plan of getting plumpy nut (highly nutritious packet with high calories) failed because the patients have to be present to receive their portion. The only option left was to bring her in. However, unlike hospitals in the US, a family member is required to be present with the patient while admitted. Families are the ones who clean the patients, turn them, feed them and go out to buy medical supplies and medications. So admitting her would mean we would have to be by her side. There was no other option at this point. 

Transportation in Uganda is always the most difficult part because only a handful of people have cars. Then, if you do find a car to use the fuel is expensive. If you happen to find a car and can afford the fuel, you have to face the roads, which are terrible. (Free African massages anyone?). Finding a car and a driver wasn’t too hard thanks to some amazing friends. Also, affording transport and supplies for this lady was reasonable thanks to the many supporters who donated financially to God’s mission of having me here (you know who you are… thanks again!). 

Deni's home in the village, Bubare. The back wall is caving in
and is in need of repair. We also hope to help her start a garden
to get some income.
After coordinating transport, we set out to pick up our friend. She had never been in a car before (nor a boda motorcycle) so imagine this journey to town. She could barely walk and hadn’t been outside for years, but God was with us through every step on the way. 

We faced many challenges at the hospital, like not finding a wheelchair or having the patient’s book with her history of meds she was taking, which is crucial to know for someone living with HIV. The machines that test for TB were down and the wards were full, but we did not give up. Deni received counseling and was given a month’s supply of plumpy nut. In the end, we could not admit a patient just for hunger, but we did not want to send her back to her home with no care. So we decided to bring her to our home, which she agreed knowing someone would watch her kids.

Deni came this past Wednesday afternoon and is currently still with us. The changes we have witnessed in her are remarkable. All glory goes to God! She is eating and drinking on her own and is even bathing herself and carrying the water basin. The first thing she does in the morning is smile and show us how strong her legs are becoming (and even ran a short distance yesterday). She is singing and praying with us at night and is now wanting to go back home, which she will soon. 

There is no greater joy than to see God transform her life… and there is no greater joy than to be used by God. May His will be done!

Healthy food, sunshine and laughter is the
best medicine 
I thought to myself the other day how I would respond if she asked us why we were caring for her like this. My response would be simple… “We love you because God loves you.” For the Word states in John 14 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because i am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it” (John 14:12-14). 

I’ve been learning two very important lessons while living here in Kabale. First off, God has been reminding me to give Him my burdens. There are needy people everywhere and I hear story after story that breaks my heart. I hate seeing brokenness and I like to be a problem solver and “fix” situations. However, “fixing” these situations would cause more harm than good and would be like putting a bandaid on a broken bone. So instead of carrying the hurt with me, I’m learning to give the hurt to God because He already knows and is in full control. The second lesson God has been teaching me is how to pray. Whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus He not only hears, but answers. So I’m training myself to pray with boldness and fervor, knowing that what I ask will be done. This is the type of faith that moves mountains. Come, let’s move mountains together. 

Please be joining me in prayer for our friend, Deni. May God completely heal her from HIV/AIDS. May He continue to give her strength so she can work and give glory to Him. May He provide for all of her and her family's needs. Most importantly, may the love shown to her bring her closer to our Abba who is longing to have his daughter near.


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