This is a long entry but I ask you to please take the time to read it and please pray for Judith that God would heal her and spare her life. Thank you.
This past week has been a hard but also a very insightful week. One that shows me the blessings I have had being born and raised in a developed country of know doings of my own, the beauty of it and the things that we miss. I also have witnessed life in a new way here as I experience first hand the beauty of the developing country of Uganda and the brokeness of this still developing country. My heart was compelled to tears for both joy and sorrow this week, something I am learning will be pretty common as we stay here to serve God for this time.
It all started with a phone call from one of my dearest friends that I met in 2016 when we lived here for the year. She is as sweet as the come and she loves Jesus with everything she has. She combats the culture on her knees and prays for the salvation of her husband and children every day. Marriages here are hard because of the acceptance of having multiple wives but this momma prays for her husband fiercly that he will one day love and serve Jesus with His life and will be one that will help to transform this cultural belief. We pray along side her. She has four children whom she loves dearly and each one is such a blessing to her.
When I arrived in Uganda in November I went to visit her and she surprised me with showing me the sweetest little girl asleep in her bed. She had had a baby and kept her a secret for over a year so she could surprise me when I came. I was surprised to say the least.
Her life started off with a fight. She was born early and taken by c-section because the ambilical cord had gotten pinched and she was slowly starving to death in the womb. She was born very small and weak and her fight began. She is now seven months old and has had to start another battle and this one again for her life. I received a phone call from Susan aka:Mama Kan Kan. She explained that her daughter was admitted to the hospital for a high fever and had been there two days and she wasn’t doing okay.
I immediately headed to the hospital. Upon walking in I saw this little baby on a bed, skin and bones, with a swollen belly. I was thinking when I saw him that he must be starving to death because his parents cannot afford to buy food. I kept walking because I had to get to Mama Kan. I spent the afternoon at the hospital and took notice that little Judith was not doing well.No answers, just guesses and they just put her on an antibiotic because they had no idea what was wrong. . She hadn’t nursed in days, they had given her no i.v. fluids, they weren’t’ monitoring her temperature or oxygen and they had run very few tests. I was infuriated. So I started asking so many questions only to be met with such passivity that I could barely maintain my frustration. I didn’t stay frustrated for long. I found when you are living in a culture where death and sickness occur so frequently , it just becomes “normal”. I don’t like that kind of normal. It hurts my heart so much.
As sat there i couldn’t stop thinking about that starving baby that I had walked past. I decided to ask Mama Kan to go with me to talk to the family and find out what is wrong. I decided that if it was that they didn’t have money for food I would make sure that we got them food for their children. We walked up, there is his momma holding him so carefully on her lap, rubbing his deteriorating body with a damp cloth to try to sooth his pain, fever, I don’t know what but she was doing her best to love her baby.
I found out that the child is seven months old, a baby boy, who has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. They had been in that bed since the beginning of October. He is staying in the “general ward” which is just a huge room stacked with beds and there is one kid per bed. On one side of the bed you will find a grass mat that the family can sleep on during the night. The area for sleeping on the concrete floor is about 4 feet wide and the length of the bed. In that area they keep everything they need. Any supplies, clothes, wash basins, soap, food. Here you supply everything you need because the hospitals can’t afford to just give things out for free. Here you bring it or you don’t get it. You also have to pay for your medical treatment before you can get treated. Something that has caused thousands of deaths because people cannot afford extensive care because of the cost so they just stay home and die. It is so heartbreaking.
This beautiful family, doing all they can to save their sons life, yet it won’t be enough. He is so emancipated. His momma explains to be that they were referred to take him to the government hospital in the capital city for cancer treatment. She explained that they can’t even afford the but ticket to the city let alone cancer treatment. Their option, love, hold and rub this child with a damp cloth until he dies. Then go home and bury him and continue to do life because there is nothing else they can do.
I had to go home. I walked out and drove home my heart wrenching at the injustice in life. I walked in the door and just cried. I don’t like having to up close and personal to these kinds of situations. In the United States we watch commercials, here guest speakers at church or we hear stories or read news letters from missionaries who spend their lives on the front lines. It moves us and we get sad, but we keep living life. When you are thrust into program, sermon, newsletter, ad, or commercial and you are now the one sitting there holding the child, while the mother tells her heartbreaking story, it takes the life out of your heart. You see the pain on her face as she talks, the helplessness, hopelessness, she knows how this story will end and just waits it out as she loves her son to his passing into Jesus arms. It’s so hard to hear, so hard to watch. I pick him up and caress his little body and pray over him and ask God for a miracle to heal his little body. It is his only hope. God can do miracles and I will keep praying!
The next morning I get another call from Mama Kan that Judith isn’t doing well and I need to come. She had a seizure the during the night at 11pm. She had laid unconscious until noon, when I got there. Her eyes were unresponsive and she laid lifeless on the bed. She is in another room in a “general ward”. I was so angry. No doctors anywhere to be found. The come in around 6-8 in the morning and you don’t see them again until 8-10 at night. So we weren’t getting any help even if we needed it. Still no tests, no i.v. fluids, no medicine, no temperature checks, no oxygen readings, just a little girl lying unconscience in a bed. My heart screams. I am ready to take her to another hospital so she can get better care, but I know we will have to pay for it, they would never be able to get the care their daughter needs to live. After deciding with Todd that we will do whatever it takes to save her life, we try to talk to the family to have her transported to a different hospital. They refuse. Wait for a few days, she will be fine. In this culture when they believe a child is going to die they “give” the child to their parents and they now decide what happens with the child. The Jaja, grandma, refused to let us take her to the other hospital, she was not moving that the child shall remain where she is. So I couldn’t do anything, but sit there and watch this little girl. I started to pray that God would do something to change the heart of jaja so we could leave.
The babies father, papa Kan, also did not want the child to go anywhere else. I begged them explaining that if we didn’t move her she would die and still they would not budge. Finally I got papa Kan to release her if we could get discharge papers from the doctor. Its 1pm and the doctors don’t come in for another 7-9 hours. There is not time, but he refuses to let us go without the papers. I can’t do anything. I pray: “God you have to make a move if this girl is gonna live”. I was helpless but I knew she didn’t have much time.
We sit there all day, then around 8:10, mama Kan, frantically grabs my attention, her sweet Judith, was having another seizure and this one was bad. I picked up her little body and ran her to the doctor, who was sitting at small desk, in the middle of the main open area. There were two doctors sitting at this desk and they were each on the phone, laughing and talking to someone. I run up to them with this girls seizing body and try to get their attention. Upon them turning to me, I explain that Judith is having a surgery. The one doctor closest to me waves his hand in the air and tells me to go away. I didn’t know what to do. Then I noticed a room behind me with two nurses in it, I ran as fast as I could to them, and explained what was happening. They gave her tylenol and a some sugar water in a vein and sent us back to the room with this convulsing child. I couldn’t take it, I had to do everything I could to not grab her and run out of the hospital.
Then, Mama Kan looked at me and said, “get the car, lets go”. Her and jaja were so angry about the doctors response that they were both on board to get her out. It would take some planning as, they have guards at the gate that check the paperwork when you leave and you have to have discharge papers before they will let you leave. We wouldn’t be able to get the papers. It was now dark out so we had that in our favor. I decided on my way to the car to talk to the guard and explain that I was taking some friends out with me but I would be coming back. I knew I was lying, I just didn’t have time to come up a better plan and so she said it was okay. Now she knows my face so she won’t check the car when I leave.
I pull the car right up to the sidewalk that is enclosed between to buildings. I turn the car off, and turn off all the lights. The windows are tinted. I am thankful. Mama Kan, quickly get’s in the back seat and keeps Judith down where she can’t be seen. Jaja gets in the front with me and is told to not say anything to the guard when we pull up, but the remain completely silent. We pray. We need to get through.
I pull up to the gate and roll my window down, stick my head part way out of the window, so she can see it is is me. She opens the gate, waves, tells me to have a good night and out we drove. We were on our way!
Upon arriving at the hospital the doctor knew it was us, I had been trying to get their help to get her discharged but they had even failed to be able to help. They were so happy we had made it there. We had six doctors on Judiths case. All free hands were called to help try to stabilize her. They couldn’t get the i.v. line in because she was too dehydrated. So they called in an anithesiaologist and they came in and put one in her temple. They took blood, spinal fluid, put her on oxygen and the heart monitor immediately. Her oxygen level was 50-58. It was dangerously low.
The results of the tests showed, a bacteria infection in the blood, severe pneumonia, and infection in the spinal/brain fluid. Not great news but atleast we now knew what we were up against. So we settled in for what we knew would be a long ride. I stayed the night the first two nights. She was having seizures more frequently now and they were lasting longer, but they were milder. They started lasting around 1.5 hours each. They tried to control them with medicine but nothing worked. One doctor wanted to put her under local anesthesia but he said we may not get her back if he does, so we decided against it.
The decision was to send her to the capital by ambulance to have an MRI done of her brain to check for brain damage, potentially caused by the seizures. So today they went to Kampala and had the MRI done. We are now waiting for the results. They put a feeding tube in because she is still unconscious. The seizures come and go as we just watch helplessly because there is nothing we can do, and there is nothing more the doctors can do, until they get the results of the MRI. It is so painful.
The bill so far is more than they would have made in their lifetime. Mama Kan, cried as she watched her daughter lay there, she just looked at me and said,”it was the best I could do, it is all I could afford, I could do anything more to help her.” My heart just broke. Her pain is real, raw and sadly far too common. I realized that God has brought me here for such a time as this. He has taught me that sometimes we are on the receiving end of a blessing and sometimes we are the ones he uses to bless others with what He has first given us.
I know without a doubt that if we weren’t here this child would have passed away. She was receiving no treatment for any of the infections she had, and she would have laid there, until she died, unless God would have chosen to miraculously save her life which He could easily do. Yet, here we are waiting now to see what the course of action is, but we will not receive any bad news as our Father is wonder working God and nothing is too hard for him.
We are asking that you would join us in lifting baby Judith up to the Lord, that He would spare her life, that we would find what is causing the seizures so she can be treated, but more than that, that God would touch and heal her body, her mind and all infections and that she would have a complete recovery. And be watchful for how we can bless those who God places around us, we never know when something will cross our paths and we get to be the answer to someones prayers.
Thank you for taking the time to read her story and we are believing for a miraculous move of God.