November Prayer Letter

Dear Prayer Partners,

There are days when I can’t even believe what the Lord allows me to experience! Wednesday was one of those days.

CJI has the most incredible staff on the ground in Uganda! They work hard, have to deal with heart breaking stories, love and care for the children we serve, and care for each other. Meredith and I love to surprise them every Christmas with a small gift from the US, but this year we came up with a different plan. We treated them to a trip to the zoo and bought them lunch on the way home.

What an amazing day watching so many of them experience going to the zoo, and to a mall for the first time! We took two vehicles so our group waited at the mall for the other group to arrive. We walked in and the staff were like kids in a candy store. They were so excited - taking selfies on every floor, riding in an elevator for the first time - pushing the buttons and giggling like school children as the doors closed and the elevator moved. There was a fountain with a little fish pond on the bottom floor and as we looked down on it from the first floor, one of the staff said, “Jajja, are those real fish?!” I told her they were (they were about six inch goldfish) and she said, “Can you eat them?” I said you probably could and with great intensity she said, “I could never eat orange fish!!”

They absolutely loved every part of the zoo. As we were leaving they saw donkeys you could ride. The donkeys were in a little pen and just walked around in a circle with the trainer beside them. Several of the staff had never seen donkeys before and were beyond excited - and a little frightened - to get to ride them.

There are so many privileges I have had all of my life that I just take for granted. Spending a day at the zoo watching the wonder and excitement of my dear friends experiencing things for the first time, made me stop and thank the Lord for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful day.

The story below was written by Dr. Ray who served with us in Uganda for three years. He is now in America, but is very involved with the medical community here. Gloria lives in a slum not far from us and her story is a reminder that our God is still a God of miracles!!

“Gloria is a 9-year-old girl who is part of our church community. About two months ago she accidentally ‘swallowed’ a piece of plastic. Her family is very poor and was unable to take her for medical care, so they began giving her awful things to drink to get her to ‘throw up’ the object. Because of the complications of language and the Ugandan medical system it wasn’t until almost a month later that we realized she had actually inhaled the plastic and that it was stuck in her airway. By this time she had grown very weak, being unable to eat and coughing all the time. We got her to a lung specialist who tried to remove it through a scope down her airway but it was too far down and they didn’t have proper equipment. The only other way to get it out was to put her under general anesthesia, cut open her chest and remove the affected part of lung. We were very concerned that she would not survive the surgery or the time on the ventilator afterwards. But in surgery once the plastic was removed the remaining lung looked so healthy that the surgeon decided not to remove it! She recovered so quickly that the nurses were amazed. Within a week she was back home running around with her friends. This was truly a miracle and merciful act of God and we are so thankful for his goodness to her! What we thought would end in death instead resulted in a new life!”

It was truly a blessing to have Bob and Ginny Pahl, my daughter’s in-laws, with us for a week. They hit the ground running and helped love on the children and the staff of every facility where we work as well as the CJI staff and my church family in Bwerenga. I think they left part of their hearts in Uganda!

Meredith and I fly to the USA on November 21st. We are so excited to be reunited with our families and friends, but it’s hard to leave the kids we work with here. We know some of them will be resettled by the time we return, and while that is the goal, it’s sad to think about never seeing them again. We thank the Lord that he never loses sight of them!

Thank you for your continued love and support of the work here. I look forward to being able to thank many of you in person very soon!!

Love,

Ava