Join Me in India 2015!

20140801_damoh_0967Photo Credit: The amazing Gary S. Chapman

In March, I had the amazing honor of serving Sole Hope in Uganda alongside 10 amazing Story Tellers. Kari Gibson was on that team and quickly became a friend. We share a similar heart for justice, the poor, missions, the Holy Spirit and dogs. Before our Ugandan adventure was over, she mentioned that she wanted to co-lead a team in India in the future…and…it’s happening this November!

feet 1photo credit: Gary S. Chapman

I’m excited to announce that I will be co-leading a team to India, November 2-12 2015. This will be my 3rd trip to India and I can’t wait to get back! Our trip will include serving orphans in the slums of Delhi, as well as ministering to students in their local schools.

This trip will stretch you in every way possible. You will see the Kingdom of God manifested amongst the poor, your heart will break for the things that break God’s heart, and you will develop compassion for the vulnerable in the world.

The trip is first come, first serve (24 slots available), so please prayerfully consider signing up and paying your deposit ASAP to secure your spot on the team. Once the team is established, we will communicate about our pre-trip meetings, Q&A, and details for the trips.

“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”

– David Platt

This quote sums up the primary reason why Kari and I are leading a team to India. For more details + to reserve your spot with a deposit, click here.

 

Getting Schooled in Buwenge

Our fluorescent green Land Rovers drove onto the property for our jigger clinic, causing neighbors to gather and wonder. We were an hour from Jinja in the remote area of Buwenge to visit the site of a school, where we treated over 150 children and elderly for jiggers.

It was fitting to go to a school today, because that’s exactly where the Lord took me. One of the highest honors in the courts of heaven is humility and settings like Buwenge serve as labs where we learn it here on earth.

One of the highest honors in the courts of heaven is humility

When we arrived, most of the children were in their classrooms while a few of the village children looked on with curiosity. It didn’t take long for school to dismiss and loads of children to pour into a field singing and dancing. It quickly became more like “Ringling Brothers” than a mobile “Jigger Clinic”. There was loud music playing from the Sole Hope vehicles, kids were singing in unison under the vibrant direction of Dixon, and everyone was having a blast.

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We were so honored to be serving today alongside the artisans of African Style and Noonday Collection. Our mission for the day: to wash feet, remove jiggers and place shoes on feet. We were all motivated by the love of God for those suffering from the devastating effects of jiggers. The cheers were eventually silenced and some lines began to form behind the intake tables. It was go time!

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I was sitting next to Kari on the old wooden school bench as children were brought to our brightly colored buckets. We looked at each other, grabbed the scrub brush in one hand and dirty little feet in the other.

I once heard a great definition of humility that has stuck with me, “The Noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself.” This is what Sole Hope “Storytellers” is all about.

Every time I make the choice to humble myself, I learn something new about the heart of God and about me. Washing someone’s feet is a humbling experience. We are all different, but long for the same things in life don’t we? Hope, peace and a better life for our children than what we’ve had for ourselves. As I patted the leg, indicating that my child could be carried to the jigger removal station, I prayed a silent prayer, “Lord, break off deferred hope.”

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Jesus spent three years teaching his disciples to “think like a child and act like a servant.” I have a long way to go, and the 3 hours I spent washing feet today reminded me that you don’t just stumble into humility.

The Pain was Worth It

I sat in front of Isaac, while Faisal picked, cut and dug out over 60 jiggers from his 12 year old feet. There was no anesthesia for numbing, just a “sweet sweet” (sucker) to distract him from the excrutiating pain. Isaac, like each patient today, was assigned a jigger remover, a “foot-note” taker, and a comforter.

I signed up to take foot-notes so that I could be in the thick of it all. We were not allowed to remove jiggers until we had shadowed someone else for a day. I sat on a turquoise picnic table, armed with a sharpie and a clipboard. My only job was to take the name and age of the child in front of me and place a small dot on the silhouette of the foot where the jigger had been removed.

 This simple task quickly turned into one of my most difficult jobs to date.

Isaac was at clinic alone today. No parents, siblings or friends were there to console or support him. I don’t know his story, but what I witnessed was a 12 yr. old boy weathered by a life filled with the pain of jiggers.

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Kayla wrapped her arms around his chest as his crusty feet soaked in the water bucket. He was stoic and didn’t even acknowledge the arms around his chest. Every few minutes, he hunched over to scrub his heals with the brush left at the bottom of the bucket. Once they had soaked for a while, Faisal grabbed his feet and drew them to his lap and began to inspect. He looked up at me and said in a thick Lugandan accent, “This is a terrible case.”

The first prick of the safety pin into the infected area triggered a whence from Isaac that rivaled an electric shock. Kayla squeezed him tightly as he whimpered. He did not cry like you would think. It was more of a groan, followed by a slow stream of tears that flowed down his face.

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All I could whisper was, “Just a little while longer Isaac… you are so brave… hang in there…we’re almost done.”

He couldn’t understand me of course, but it was nourishment to my soul. I had to remind myself that the pain he was enduring was necessary in order to receive the healing that he so desperately needed.

Isaac had learned to tolerate the pain of jiggers, along with overcompensating his walking pattern to avoid the rotten sections of his heals which caused him great discomfort.

Towards the very end, Isaac’s moan synchronized with the screams of the younger children. I started to feel panicky, to be honest, when these sounds came together. I even envisioned leaping off of the picnic table with my hands in the air, shouting, “This is just way too much!” But I focused as the last few jiggers were removed from Isaacs hands and feet.

Ninety minutes had come and gone just like that. Isaac’s feet were now #jiggerfree cleaned with peroxide and coated with antibiotic ointment before being covered by a fresh pair of socks.

He exhaled loudly when the socks went on his feet and then lightly slumped down onto his seat. He was exhausted! BUT he was done! We clapped and cheered for him as a volunteer knelt down to put his VERY FIRST PAIR OF SHOES on his feet.

Isaac Blog shoes

Isaac will be treated, educated on remaining # jiggerfree, and resettled back into his community very soon! As our team left the Sole Hope Outreach House, I peered up to the porch where I saw Isaac eating lunch and laughing with his new friends. The pain was worth it!

Photos by: garyschapman.com

Rescued As a Family

A mother sits with her children watching as they receive their very first shower…EVER. One at a time, her boys get up walking carefully to the shower stall to get assistance with scrubbing the caked on dirt from their tiny bodies.

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A group of mostly children, wait patiently for the shower sound to stop, so they could take their turn. Looking on felt like crashing a Christmas day celebration as children opened their gifts from Santa. They were eager to be clean and get their new clothes!

Once they exited the stall, wearing nothing but a towel, they were handed a fresh pair of super hero underwear, a t-shirt and shorts. They were proud! Aren’t all kids proud that moment they put on their first pair of super hero themed undies?! My son Mac thinks he is the Sheriff of the house when he slips his on.

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Each kid stood as cocoa butter was lathered over their dry skin bringing back the sheen of their beautifully darkened skin. They were clean and they were thrilled about it! Socks were then placed on their swollen, jigger infested feet, as they prepare for removal clinic the next day.

I was blown away by the resilience and strength of this mom as she solemnly held her infant daughter in one arm and guarded her boys in the other. Her daughter was wearing just an oversized t-shirt and a smile, but played on the dirt covered floor like every other kid would have.

They were being rescued as a family by perfect strangers compelled by the love of God. Dignity came crashing back into this family as they sat back down on the grass cloth as a FAMILY…bodies clean, fresh clothes and hope for the future.

They were being rescued as a family by perfect strangers  compelled by the love of God.

Biblical hope is the expectation that God is going to be good to me in the future. I realized today that it comes in a variety of packages. A future without the pain of jiggers and the resettlement of a family unit with new shoes, new clothes and a new outlook on tomorrow is SOLE HOPE.

 

This is the Way Walk in It

Last night our team shared an amazing meal at a local hangout called All Friends and it was fantastic in every way: food, conversation and ambiance. Dru and Asher shared the story of how Sole Hope got started. It was inspiring to say the least.

As I listened to them share, I imagined what I would have done with the same information and resources. I like to have all my ducks in a row before I start to move forward with most things. I’m realizing that part of this is how God hard-wired me. However, the more I follow Jesus, the more I am realizing that He wants to lead me through His voice, not my natural inclinations.

My Pastor shared with me a word He had recently received from God and it resonated with me. He said, “I like it when God stands out in front waving me towards Him like a Father encouraging his son to walk for the first time. Yet, often times, He stands behind us whispering in our ear, “This is the way, walk in it.”

“This is the way, walk in it.”

 Dru and Asher’s story is one of courage, faith and compassion. They saw a preventable problem, felt the weight of God’s compassion for the people of Uganda, and then developed a plan…all while hearing, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Before there were shoe-cutting parties, jigger removal clinics and local shoe-makers, there was an awareness and a prayer. Dru kept saying at dinner, “I can’t believe that our family is here…and for jiggers?!

Jiggers were just the need, but a deep love for people, partnered with a willingness to DO SOMETHING is what drove a young family from North Carolina to Uganda. The result has been God’s glory and much relief to Ugandan families.

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So what ‘s a jigger? Good question. I had no clue until about 6 months ago. The short version: Jiggers are sand flees that burrow under the skin, feed off of blood and cause severe pain. Much like flees on our dogs in the US, they multiply in droves, taking a simple problem and making it more complex. Some kids can have a few to over a 1000 jiggers at one time.

Removal, education and shoes are the cure!

Many Ugandans feel that jiggers are the result of a curse, so they are hesitant to admit they have them, learning to bear the pain for fear of being shamed by society. Sole Hope works tirelessly to fix, prevent and crush the stigma related to the problem of jiggers.

As I have met people from Uganda and listened to their stories, I can’t help but imagine the whisper, “this is the way, walk in it” that Dru and Asher heard as they set out on this journey called Sole Hope. I know countless families are glad they obeyed!