It is becoming routine. Ignoring the early morning rooster, staggering to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, filling up bottles from the water filter, grabbing the protein bar of choice and filing into the Matatu. The scenery is becoming familiar, a stop in Mayuge Town for rice, concrete, order a crib to be made for Baby Robert, feeling the bumps increase as we transition from an asphalt road with potholes to dirt potholes with an occasional stretch of road. The looks of mild panic on our faces as the van tilts to the right scraping the trees then to the left is gone, we now automatically shift our weight from one side to the other without a break in the chatter of morning conversation about the job ahead for the day. We look for the mango tree which marks our last turn on the way to the place and the people we have grown to love as we serve our Lord.
We arrive in Mayuge late this morning because we are driving the newly purchased Matatu and were waiting on insurance confirmation. What a blessing this new vehicle will be for Renee as she ferries babies and mamas back and forth from Manafwa where we are starting a Malnutrition Center. She has been transporting as many as 10 people at a time in her Toyota Land Cruiser and will quickly fill the 14 seats in this new vehicle!!
There are a few women with small children waiting for us and the word is quickly spread that we have arrived and will be teaching about intestinal parasites and passing out deworming pills to everyone. Our translator, Aggra, is waiting to help us talk to the women and they begin to gather around the shade tree, placing grass mats on the ground and sitting while nursing babies and pleasantly chatting in their beautiful language which makes us feel totally inadequate. We must trust the Lord that He will allow us to be clear to them in what we say. As we look at the swollen bellies of so many children (an obvious sign of worms) we are grateful that so many people have generously donated funds that allowed us to purchase the 200 doses of deworming medication that we have brought with us. Thank goodness that we all seem to share a sense of humor as we share information about intestinal parasites and the prevention of infection – some interesting moments for sure!! After distributing the first 100 doses, we talked with the pregnant women about delivery and post partum care – I believe that if Aggra was white he would have blushed several times but he was a great sport!! When the school down the road took a lunch break we were inundated with more children and quickly dispensed the remaining 100 pills with many more needed. Tomorrow we will bring 100 more doses. These women care about their children just like we do – it is a blessing to be able to teach them things that will help them to find better ways to provide for the needs of their families and share the love that God has given us for them. We found today that there is a group of Christians in amongst the predominantly Muslim community – what an encouragement to know that if we have raised questions about the Lord that He has put in place others who will have more answers for these women!
Their lives are so much different than ours but even so we are finding that we understand one another often even without words. We find the same sense of humor, pride in our work, concern for our children and excitement in our progress. The walls of the house are now about 12’ and all work requires scaffolding. Scaffolding is made by punching holes in the brick wall to put support poles through and lash with handmade rope to more poles planted in the ground around the home. Rough cut boards are laid across the horizontal poles and somehow this structure seems to support several grown men! Each time a certain level is reached on one side, the entire scaffolding structure is disassembled and moved to the other side. After rebuilding the structure for about the 5th time, we decided that next time we would spend the addition money to buy more wood to build a scaffold around the entire house one time – we realized that we often value time more than money but here time is the more available commodity! The day is a steady routine of mixing the large pile of concrete and sand on the ground, filling a wheelbarrow with the mixture, adding just enough water from a jerry can and mixing it with a large hoe. It is then ferried to the job site where 15” round pans are filled with the mortar and handed up to the bricklayers on the boards above. Bricks are hand selected and carried to the house where they are placed in small groups on the scaffolding. Since the bricks are all made from mud and air dried, many of them crack and are discarded in the huge brick graveyard near the construction site. Slowly but surely a house is being built along with many lasting friendships. We pray as we lay each brick that this house will be a physical reminder that God is real and that he cares for this community.