Emma.

This is Joseph. He’s a kindergartener at the Rafiki School.
(Well, actually, now he’s in P1. A new year has started since I left the Rafiki School in Uganda.)

I know I’m not supposed to have favorites, but this kid has my heart.
Well actually, he and at least 101 other kids share pieces of it, if I’m being honest.

He’s a day student. His dad is Emma, short for Emmanuel.
He works as a guard at the Rafiki village gate.
Joseph has a mother and little brother as well as a basically newborn baby sister.
This family lives less than a mile from Rafiki in a room that’s probably 8ft. by 8ft.
But that’s pretty typical.

Okay. So why, almost two months after I’m home (which by the way, where has the time gone?), am I writing about them?

Because I saw God work through modern medicine through this family, and maybe I’ll inspire someone to use their knowledge of medicine to make situations like the one I’m about to describe stop happening.
I’ve been putting off  this story because I’ve been afraid to tell it. Not because it’s bad. But because it’s powerful. And I want to tell it in the best way possible.

So here goes nothing. Details are a little bit fuzzy, but here’s the gist of it.

I had been hearing about Emma being sick for a while through conversations with the missionaries. It started that he had maybe gone home from work sick one day, but, by the time we went to see him, he had been out for more than a week. Because transportation and resources are limited, the average person can’t go into the city for medical treatment when sick. There are local clinics where village doctors, not a witch doctor, practice, but they are often wrong about diagnoses because of limited training. The doctor had diagnosed Emma first with malaria, which is pretty common, and then had added typhoid fever and a urinary tract infection to the list.

Carolyn, ROS and possibly the most incredible woman I’ll ever know, knew I was interested in seeing how people lived in the outside villages, and so she invited me to come with her to see Emma. We had driven by the collection of rooms that many people call home many times as it’s on the dirt road leading away from Rafiki, but I had never been inside. The outside was rough brick, and inside was cement, floors and walls. Emma was laying on a “mattress” (if you can call it that, but it was more like a piece of foam covered in fabric) that took up a little less than half of the room. I remember sweating because of the heat, but Emma shivered under blankets. Joseph and Benjamin, Emma’s two sons, sat at the door of the room with a few other children, watching the mzungu (white) women talk to Emma. As we talked with Emma for a while, he told us of his diagnoses and showed the pills that he had been given to take. There were at least five different pill boxes and bottles for each of the different conditions, and I think he had gotten shots at the clinic. He told us he had not eaten or drank barely anything for a few days as he had no appetite and couldn’t keep anything down. We talked and prayed with him and his sons, but as we walked back to Rafiki after our visit, Carolyn remarked that it wouldn’t surprise her if he didn’t make it through the weekend. She had never seen him that bad off.

But God showed that He wasn’t ready for that yet. On the following Monday, Emma was still alive but had gotten worse. At this point, he had eaten almost nothing for at least a week and had lost a lot of weight. He was still taking the medicines but didn’t see much improvement. Carolyn and Mike have been in Uganda for ten years and have seen most anything that can happen. They didn’t buy the multiple diagnoses and wanted a second opinion. Carolyn drove Emma into Kampala, the capital city about an hour away, to go to the clinic that Rafiki uses for the children. The doctor tested Emma for every possible diagnoses–malaria, typhoid fever, uti, yellow fever, and more–and all of these came back negative. Emma’s biggest fear was that he had AIDS and that it was the real cause of the symptoms, so he praised God when that came back negative. The doctors looked at all of the medicines he had been taking and came to the conclusion that the mix of the medicines inside his body had been poisoning him. Emma, the father of three children, could have died because of the medicine given that was supposed to help him. Although they can’t be sure of what the original cause of the malaria-like symptoms were, it was likely that Emma had the flu, which has symptoms like malaria. Because of the drugs given for malaria, his body reacted in such a way that made the doctors add the other diagnoses. Because he was in a village where testing isn’t done for situations like this because of its expense, Emma was given medicines that instead of helping him might have led to his death.

Emma, the man that we thought might die before the weekend ended, returned to work less than two days after being taken off the medicine. I saw Emma just three days after all of this occured, and it was like I was seeing a different man. He still had to recover further physically, but just knowing that he was healthy renewed his spirit. The joy in his eyes had returned.

Hallie.

Praise the Father, Praise the Son, Praise the Spirit, Three in One.

God is crazy and good.

He is taking my worries and turning them into rejoicing.

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what He has promised. I trust in God so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4

He is taking my doubts and turning them into confidence.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 
Phillipians 4:13

He is taking my love and multiplying it a thousand times more than I’m capable of.

He is INCREDIBLE.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14

There is only so much.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity;
in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry,
both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
–Philippians 4:1

As senior year approaches, I’ve been smashed back into this world where future jobs are discussed and boys are giving diamond rings to precious Godly girls like they’re going to run out of stock (of girls, not rings. we all know “diamonds are forever”.). Lately, change has been the focus. Countless are the hours that have been spent in conversation with the ones I love about the twists and turns that we’d have never expected two years or even two months before. And that’s how life is. In some way. Somehow. That’s life. It’s often praying for exactly what we want, but somehow accepting what comes, because what else is there to do but accept a situation that, in all reality, we have no control over anyway.

And the truth comes only in seeking the Lord. And the rest comes only in seeking the Lord. And the peace comes only in seeking the Lord.Trusting that no matter what will come, He alone is enough. And I’m beginning to understand that I’ve wasted so many years of my life striving for what I wanted most, coming to realize only after I got whatever “it” was that “it” wasn’t enough. That there’s something in the striving that I long for. It’s something in the working towards a goal that I need. There’s something in the running so hard that you fall into bed exhausted, dirty, but content with the work you have done at the end of the day that entices every part of my being.

And sometimes God’s calling is to get physically dirty. But sometime He calls to deal with the nitty gritty. To ask real questions and seek real answers. To not hold back because of fear or timidity, but to speak with boldness that comes only from Him. To love loudly. To be proud of the two trees nailed together on that hill 2,000 years ago. To realize that the most worthwhile of all jobs is not particularly the one that makes seven figures and allows me to live in a pretty brick house in a comfortable, safe neighborhood with 2.5 soccer-playing, A-making kids, and black Tahoe with heated seats, but it’s the one that you hear Him whisper in your ear each day that you are called to do. And maybe if you’re not hearing that whisper, it’s not because He’s not talking. Maybe it’s because you’re not listening.

And I pray hard almost continuously that God will use me. And I pray even harder that He will give me a specific purpose. And I question and seek and wonder. But in the quiet still moments when I finally sit down long enough to hear His voice, instead of running up His heavenly cellphone bill with my own prayers of desires, it’s in those moments that I hear Him say that there is only so much He has asked me to do. That I’m not here to save the world. That He has already saved it. And my job on this planet is to tell people about Him. To make much of the man that died on the cross so that my prideful heart could let go of everything that holds me in this world and run closer to His Kingdom each day. And whether I end up doing that in a quaint counseling office in Ocean Springs, Mississippi or a children’s home in a tiny little village halfway across the world or somewhere in between, it will be right. And I’m learning to be content, wherever I am.
–Hallie


Back in the U.S. of A.

Things are hitting me in different ways than I expected. I find myself sliding easily back into daily life in my actions, while my mind and thoughts race around trying to compensate for the obvious differences in life in America compared to the past couple months of Ugandan life. The past month has found me straightening my hair or putting on makeup and wondering what the point is, looking through my closet overflowing with wonderful clothes and finding nothing to wear, cooking holiday treats and shopping and enjoying time with family and friends, obsessing over silly tv shows and printing pictures of sweet children, writing names so I don’t forget. Because I don’t ever want to forget.
But in reality, I don’t think that will be the problem. Because as I find ways to fit a definitely changed but in many ways the same Hallie back into my normal life, I’m finding more and more discontentment in the way I live. There’s a closet full of clothes that I’ve collected over the years, beautiful clothes that my parents (I’d say I, but come on, that’s a lie.) have spent a lot of money on, and I want nothing more to get rid of it all. I’m stuck in a rut because I want to look cute, and I really do love and appreciate all my things. But at the end of the day, they’re just that, things. And I’ve spent the past three months living in a new different comfortable way without much, but with everything I needed. And now I have to figure out the balance between wearing only t-shirts and long skirts and having enough clothes that I could wear a different outfit everyday for at least three weeks without a repeat.
It’s a paradox that I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to perfect the balance of in some way, but for now, I’m working on living with less. Less stuff, but also less on my plate. Not heaping commitment on top of crazy commitment just for the sake of it, but really digging down deep, seeing where God is leading and slowly getting to a comfortable pace of busyness [busy-ness, not business] . I’m not sure what that will look like. I’m learning to say no, and starting to focus on what’s next. Seeking God’s direction, talking less, and praying and writing more.
Most of all, I miss those sweet kiddos and the wonderful ROS. I’m so thankful to serve a God who gives us not exactly what we want, but exactly what we need, and turns that into exactly what we want. A God who doesn’t always answer our prayers how we ask but changes our dreams, our soul’s deepest longings, and molds our hearts to be more like His.
In the next couple weeks, I’m going to try to write a couple of the experiences that I don’t want to forget, so check back for more. Thank you to everyone who has been reading and for all the wonderful encouragement I’ve gotten as I’ve seen people since I’ve been home. It’s crazy to me that so many people have been reading this! I’m not the best at expressing gratitude in conversation, but Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! It means so much to have so many people who care so much!

–Hallie

*This picture also doesn’t go with the post. (I feel like it’s becoming a trend.) However, it’s funny. And I love my sister. So it’s there. :]