Kate at New Hope Uganda

Kate at New Hope Uganda

Friday, 18 April 2014

Waiting, Waiting and MORE Waiting!

I am good at making people wait for my blog posts, I am always telling my kids to 'Linda ko' (wait a bit in Luganda) but am not so good at waiting myself.......
The reason I have taken so very long to update my blog is because I have been doing some serious waiting!
Firstly, as I shared in my last post, I was waiting to hear clearly from God to make sure that I was moving forward in the right direction. And then, when I was confident that I had heard from Him, I continued to wait, this time for the decision of a committee that met last wednesday.....and then for a little person to be told what they had decided :)


I think the only reason that I have survived through this whole waiting process is because of a lesson I learnt some time back, a lesson that we all need to learn. We need to wait not on people, or on something to happen or for something to change but to wait on HIM! If I had been waiting on people or even for my heart`s desire to be given to me, then I would have been in a state of extreme anxiety and got my knickers well and truly in a twist.......but whenever I felt the smallest pull towards doing this, I felt the Holy Spirit just reminding me that I should wait and trust only in God. After all, he is the one who is in control of all things and who knows better than I know myself what is best for me. In HIM, whatever happens in life (and death!), I will always be loved and satisfied. I was reminded over and over again that our strength is renewed when we trust and wait on Him. If I had chosen to believe I was waiting on anyone or anything other than God then my strength would have vanished and I would have been a wreck.
Just as well I have learnt this lesson as I know I have lots more waiting to do.........
The Fostering and Adoption committee here at Kasana decided last week that I could move forward in fostering and adopting a very gorgeous 3 year old girl called Nakidde Mary from Hope Family (our baby home.) Many of you may remember how she had begun transitioning into my home back in 2012 but sadly things didn`t work out. However, these issues have now been resolved and over the next few weeks Mary will be transitioning into her new family.

The precious moment yesterday when one of the 'Father Figures' in Hope Family brought Mary to me after telling her that I am going to be her Mummy made all the waiting in the world worthwhile! She has known me as her Auntie Katie for a long time now so remembering to say Mummy instead will probably take a while but as we shared with the other children in Hope Family that I am now 'Mama Mary', she proudly held my hand and beamed! I know there will be many challenges ahead for both of us and I know I will never be the perfect Mum but I am so grateful for the privilege of being given the honor of guiding her through her first 20 or so years of life and being the one who hopefully she will always feel she can turn to for encouragement, prayers, love and cuddles.

I am very blessed to have been given 3 months of maternity leave so that I can devote my time totally to Mary to ensure that we make a strong bond and that she settles well into her new family. We would really appreciate your prayers.
Adopting a child here is not an easy process and there are many, many papers to get stamped, signed, copied, approved etc. There are many very busy people to chase and get appointments with (Local Chairmen, Police Officers, Probation Officers, Lawyers, Judges etc.) And then there are family members in the bush with no address other than 'beyond the mango tree.....' But God has gone before us and he keeps reminding me of the scripture in Isaiah 57 v 14 where God is saying 'Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.' God will make a way and will make things happen in his perfect timing.
Already I have lots to be thankful for as since I wrote the first draft of this post, I have managed to get the probation officer to come and do my 'Home Study,' I have managed to get a birth certificate for Mary, a police check for myself and several letters of recommendation. This may sound straight forward to you but I can assure you it is not! Several of my friends who have gone before me in adopting children here have warned me that it is anything BUT straightforward and every step needs lots of prayer, patience and grace!

On the same day that the committee approved my application to adopt Mary, I also received a wedding invitation from my brother and his fiance. Their wedding is on September 6th and although I don`t want to get my hopes up, I want to have faith that God can make it possible for Mary and I to travel to England together for this special day. If not, then I trust God has a better plan and we will remain in Uganda and celebrate with them in spirit; maybe we`ll have to treat ourselves to a day at the pool so we can skype with family before / after the wedding!
I am sure many of you have questions and even opinions about my decision to adopt, especially as a single person who is volunteering in a foreign country! Hopefully, if time permits then in the future I will write some more about how I came to this rather alternative and massive, life changing decision. It hasn`t been easy and it isn`t one that I have made on my own! All I will say here is that when God asks you to do something, sometimes it seems crazy and unwise to many people around you and even to yourself, but if He wants you to do it, he will make it so clear and give you all the courage, strength and peace of mind that you need to take the next step forward...........
After all, Jesus told us that we should be willing to give up EVERYTHING for Him........after all, he gave up even his LIFE for us; a good thing to remember on GOOD FRIDAY!
I will finish this post by sharing one other area in which I managed to trust God this last few months........
Many of you who know me well will know that I am somewhat a little scared of cows and have been since I was a baby. So it is with great pride that I can tell you I managed not to wet myself when I went rhino trekking with the crazy American girlies last month. CHECK US OUT with BIG RHINO AND BABY RHINO only metres away!



Thanks for sharing this adventure with us!
lots of love from Kate & Mary x x x x 

p.s. Many photos STOLEN from Wesley Steebs as my hard drive has crashed :(

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Living, Loving and Listening.


So I`ve come away from Kasana, leaving all my lovely kiddies behind with the wonderful staff team that God has provided…..and I`ve realised that I haven`t written anything on my personal blog since OCTOBER; Shame on me! But then babies and blogging don`t really go together. Since baby Stella came to stay just after I last wrote, I haven`t really had much time to myself. I can`t remember the last time I got to read a book or watch a movie. But I`m not complaining; Stella is a precious little girl who has won my heart BIG TIME!
Hopefully most of you will have seen and read about Stella`s progress on FACEBOOK but if you haven`t then here it is:


God has transformed a starved, distressed, wounded and abandoned baby girl into a content chubba wubba who loves stuffing her face with porridge, ‘swimming’ in the paddling pool/boat, having cuddles with her new family, sleeping all day but not so much at night and is not so keen on the physio that she has to do to make her stronger!

Stella enjoying a swim with Tom & Sam.

As well as caring for Stella, the last 5 months have involved lots of Christmas parties, hospital visits, staff envisioning, moving into our amazing new classroom with 4 new children, a short break away over new year with my Kiwoko hospital chums, finishing the Esther bible study with Justine and Annet, recruiting and training new staff (including Stella`s Auntie!) and not a lot of sleep!
Meet our 4 new children who have joined ‘The Treasures Class’:

Wilson (12 years) seen here helping at Hope Family.

Nakakinze Lydia (5 years)
Nandujja Ruth (5 years)


Shakira (4 years) who had heart surgery in November 


So a few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to take some time out to re-energise , to pray and to seek God`s guidance. For a while, since a trip to Estonia in July to visit my lovely friends the Heaths, I have felt that God was calling me on a new adventure, bringing me into a new season but in the midst of all the activity at Kasana it was hard to actually sit still for long enough to listen to what He was saying; why do children always decide they need your attention just at the moment you sit down with a nice cup of tea to pray, read your bible or just simply to relax?

                                                  Hassan on Christmas Day                                                                       


Allen & Carol preparing for a swim.



                         Some of the SUPER DUPER (but slightly crazy) Special Needs Staff.


                                                  Becca, Natasha and I on Boxing Day.
And so on Saturday, after a trip to Sparkles (a nice cheap spa in Kampala) to have all the dust and dirt of the past few months scrubbed off my feet and my toe nails painted, I went to stay at a lovely little guest house in Entebbe (where the airport is) and relaxed………………..
I enjoyed an afternoon chill out, a little trip to the local market where I found a few bargains (including a nice MONSOON top for less than a quid!), an evening watching Downton Abbey series 4 (thanks to my lovely friend Natasha,) followed by a FULL NIGHT`S SLEEP! On Sunday I went off to the Botanical gardens where I found a spot in the shade to sit, listen and write down all that God had and was speaking to me whilst watching a family of monkeys playing and pulling leaves off the tree and eagles swooping around! I enjoyed skyping with the Dendys who have recently gone back to the UK for their ‘Home Assignment’. And then later in the afternoon I caught a rather packed ‘Matatu’ (public taxi) to the Lake Victoria Hotel pool and burnt my back and legs (one problem of alone time was not having anyone to put suncream on my back but I have no excuse for my legs!).

On Monday, after a leisurely breakfast at the guest house and more time with God, I caught a bodaup to the Lake Vic again and enjoyed a quiet morning by the pool until my friends the Browns arrived to liven things up J
I am now enjoying time at their house in Kampala, continuing to seek God but doing fun things too (I have just finished making Jam tarts with their youngest son Silas.)
Later this week, or perhaps after my return home to Kasana I promise to write again and tell you more about the next step of my adventure with God.
For now, I will leave you a verse that I read this morning which I sense I need to memorise to encourage me in the months ahead……
'It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. 
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He causes me to stand on the heights.'
Psalm 18 vs 32 & 33.

























Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Rubbish@blogging.com




Shakira`s relationship with Bubbly is similar to mine with the internet LOVE/HATE!
As I sit down to write this, motivated by seeing how many of my neighbours are blogging regularly (girls you put me to SHAME!) I don`t know where to start or what to include. This is one of many reasons why I fail so often to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard!) So much happens here in each and every moment and it`s hard to know what people elsewhere want to hear and sometimes what they will understand. Then there is the fact that most of what happens in life leaves me rather tired so by the time I get to the evening and sit down either I fall asleep on the sofa or the internet signal is once again NOT AVAILABLE AT THE MOMENT and I have run out of patience to persevere.
But I am not complaining as I LOVE MY LIFE HERE and although I miss my family on the otherside of the globe (and friends too!) I wouldn`t swap the family I have here for anything.
Celebrating Hassan`s 11th birthday!
Today I am having a day off but also preparing for a little baby girl called Stella who will be moving into our house tomorrow. She was brought to us by her Grandmother 3 weeks back having been abandoned by her Mother in a very bad way. She was barely 5kg, had horrible pressure sores on her back and looked as though she wouldn`t last much longer. We sent her back to the hospital and she was readmitted and we are thankful that she is now doing a little better. As well as her severe malnourishment she has severe brain damage. Her home situation is not good and so we have decided that she will come to live here at Kasana although we are not quite sure where yet as Hassan`s House is too full already! I think it is safe to say that his little 2 bedroomed house is a bit of a squash and a squeeze with Hassan, Carol, Allen, Kakulu and Brian plus all their wheelchairs and other equipment, and staff! And then there is dear Kakande who although he has his own bedroom, is rather good at leaving his growing collection of boots and shoes everywhere for people to trip over J Just as well he spends half his life over at our house sipping tea like a true English gentleman! He is very excited at the moment by the fact that his favourite family the Brittons are returning from America soon AND that he has got to go to Kampala for an EEG at Mulago hospital.
At a recent David Family movie night on a rainy evening!
On Sunday afternoons I have been enjoying doing the Beth Moore bible study on the book of Esther with 2 of the girls from David Family and our new staff member Grace. Each week she talks about how it`s TOUGH BEING A WOMAN in a certain scenario. This week it was IN A MEAN WORLD. How true is that! Recently we have been confronted with several cases of women and even severely disabled girls being raped in our community! But I was reminded this morning that God sees EVERYTHING and he will hold all of us to account for the things that we do here on earth. Those evil men who do these things will not get away with it! Several of us here at Kasana have also been praying about and putting together a proposal for a refuge for vulnerable mothers so that we can help and protect women with either Special Needs or Mental Health Issues in the future. Please pray that this proposal is accepted and the project gets off the ground soon.
Brian and Julia enjoying a farewell hug.
I can`t finish this post without boasting about how amazing God has been recently in providing for our building project. When I came back from the UK I was amazed how quickly our new classroom had gone up......but then very disappointed and concerned when I heard that we needed $18,000 to complete the first phase and make it useable before the next school year. After several long meetings to discuss quotes etc. I finally put together a blog post for the New Hope website to appeal for donations. But God had already gone before us and answered our prayers. Before I even posted the blog a couple from America wrote and told me that they had recently inherited some money and wanted to give $20,000 to our project. So we can not only complete the first phase but begin the second too!
Our new classroom (half completed!)

Inspecting the inside....
I`ll finish there as I want to go on check on baby Vianna who was our first house guest upon my return. His parents have really taken up the challenge to care for him but unfortunately it`s not easy caring for sick children out in the bush and where they live really IS in the bush!

Vianna finished up my supply of Pom Bears whilst staying in August!

For those of you who have asked if you can send anything then we would LOVE to receive any of the following:
1. Marmite2. Chocolate3. Redbush tea.4. Nappy Liners.5. Baby girl clothes (3 - 12mths.)6. Fun activity books for 3-6 year olds7. Boys clothes (age 6 - 10)and anything else you can think of.......SEND TOKate TolhurstP.O.Box 16,LuweroUganda.




 THANK YOU FROM ALL OF US!




Thursday, 1 August 2013

Link to my Update video

Update from Feb 2012 - May 2013
 Please note that the date shown at the start of the video is WRONG......it should be May 2013! Enjoy watching :)

Friday, 29 March 2013

Miracles and Struggles.

 

 
 I`m so glad that there is more to Easter than eating chocolate eggs (although I do quite fancy eating one right now!) If there wasn`t, I think I would have given up long ago.....
 


Here is a lovely photo of Allen`s family which I took last year in August when I visited their home.
Allen has been staying with us full time this year as we were concerned about her lack of weight gain and her general state of health. Even after she came to live with us, she continued to have daily ‘explosions’, a very swollen stomach, regular fevers and other symptoms. We took her to see a Doctor in Kampala and she was diagnosed with TB which she was then given medicine for.

Since then, she has gained 4kg and is blossoming! She can now drink independently and is learning to feed herself with a spoon. When I look at her chubby thighs I praise God for the amazing miracle he has done and is continuing to do in her life J
 
However, things are not so positive for her baby brother Vianna (above) who was born last March. He spent his first month and a half in the intensive care unit at the local hospital. Ever since then he has struggled with a bad cough and a couple of weeks ago when his Mum came along with him to the Community Outreach, she told us that he had been having ‘seizures’ since December. He is also a little delayed and has only just started to sit independently. Initially I tried to get the family to take responsibility for their child but this was clearly not going to happen so eventually I got involved and we ‘enabled’ Mama Allen to go first to Kiwoko hospital and then for a CT scan and consultations in Kampala. After 2 appointments with a paediatrician and much money spent, we still don`t know what is wrong but it seems like little Vianna is possibly having some kind of Asthma attack which then results in fits. Please pray for God`s protection around this precious boy (who  lives far from running water and electricity,) and that we would be able to get the correct diagnosis and treatment soon. According to his Mum, she can tell a day before he is going to have a fit so she has promised to bring him straight to us the next time it is going to happen! We will also visit them soon with an assortment of high calorie foods and multi vitamins to try and boost Vianna`s immune system and bulk him out a bit......let us all pray that at least some of it goes in his tummy and doesn`t all get divided between all the other brothers and sisters.

On a lighter and much needed note, I have enjoyed a lovely week away from Kampala staying at the Brown`s house. It has been a mixture of seeing friends, checking out some other Special Needs Ministries, chatting with the many IY students who stay here, chilling out with Kathryn Brown (we even treated ourselves to a massage!), reading, studying my Luganda (I`ve managed about an hour!), watching movies, skyping, facebooking and catching up with this blog!
 

Happy Easter everyone! This evening I am all alone in a big house as the Brown`s have gone camping and all the IY students have gone back to Kasana for the long weekend. Perhaps I will take time to remember what Jesus did for me and for everyone of us. Because of Him, there is HOPE for Vianna, for Allen, for me, for all of us!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Where There Is No Doctor, should we use fire?!?!?!



Uncle Norman feeding Carol in her tummy tube.


Life recently has been the usual crazy mixture of caring for the children who stay with us on site (Hassan, Carol, Allen, Kakulu...and the big man Kakande,) visiting or taking children to various hospitals, holding our community outreach meetings, attending many meetings (not my favourite job!), shopping for supplies in Kampala, attending burials, covering staff who are attending burials, teaching class, having David family over for movies, having language lessons etc.etc.


Brian was admitted in Kiwoko hospital for 3 weeks after surgery on a reoccurring pressure sore but is now back at Kasana staying in our clinic as it continues to heal.



Annet & Jonnie visiting Ivan who was admitted for over a month with his legs in traction after he broke his thigh bone. 


A Squash and a squeeze at our Community Outreach

Meet some of the ‘new recruits’ who have begun attending our community outreach sessions:
Selawooza Faruk
 
Nakiridde Shanita
 
Semata Simon
 
Something new which I have come across recently as we have been interviewing and assessing new children is that several tribes who live locally genuinely believe and continue to practise the use of ‘burning’ in order to cure certain medical problems or conditions.
In January, a Grandmother brought her twins to us. Both had been born prematurely and one was continuing to be slightly delayed. As well as begging us to take the twins as she couldn`t cope with them anymore, she also informed us that the way she got her grandchild to finally sit was by repeatedly burning her back!
 In March a Father brought his son to us and told the story of how his son had suffered from fevers and head swelling as a baby. Their solution was to take him to a local lady who then burned his head to stop the swelling!
Another Mum has also recently told us how they use this practise of burning at home; her son recently had a boil on his leg which was ‘cured’ by burning. And she was also treated with a hot poker when her breast got infected and full of pus!

As you can imagine, I am a little concerned when I hear such stories and try to persuade the parents not to burn their children again but to take them to the local hospital when they suffer from such ailments. However, I am also aware that for many of them who live deep out in the bush and who often don`t have the money to hop on a boda (motorbike taxi) to get to the hospital, they have to try what is available to them in the bush!
Mbabazi Peace
 
 Sadly, this month we also lost one of our newest community children. When she came to our community outreach suffering from a severe skin condition that made it appear like she had been burnt all over her body, we immediately sent her back to the local hospital to get medical help. She was HIV positive but sadly her Mother had not taken her to the clinic so she was not on any medication. She had also been referred to specialist Doctors in Kampala but sadly her Mother had not had the money to take her. She was only 3 years old and had already experienced so much suffering! Having such a disability wherever you live is difficult but here in Uganda when you live out in the bush and your Mother has no money?!?!? Why God? Why? And perhaps that is why God decided it was time to take her to be with him? On her way home from the hospital, she died. When Christine and I attended the burial the following day, my head was swirling with questions; why did the hospital not even admit her? Why did God bring her to us (her chance to get help) and then allow her to die the very same day? I can`t answer these questions but I know that my Father in heaven can, and that for now I must be content in knowing that Peace, Dissan, Lydia, Nalubega and all the other children I have known and lost, are with him in a much better place where there is no pain or suffering..........
I will do another update shortly whilst I have some internet signal and tell you about another little chap in need of your prayers who has significant medical problems but lives in the back and beyond WHERE THERE IS NO DOCTOR!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Into the new house and the first quarter or 2013.

 
 
 
 
The first quarter of the year has already passed and I can`t believe I haven`t done a blog update yet. Much has been going on including moving into the new house which many of you helped to pay for; THANK YOU SO MUCH! It is a real blessing not just for me and Christine who live in it at the moment, but also to all our frequent visitors........The Special Needs Class come for cookery sessions every fortnight, David family come for Movies/Games nights and then of course there are all the lovely little peeps who wander in regularly to play playdough, watch a cartoon or just to drink 'chai' and have a cuddle with Auntie Tate.
Sorry it has taken me so long to upload some photos but the internet has been somewhat useless recently at Kasana and my camera has got problems too. So apologies for the poor quality pics but here they are anyway.
 

The Living Room

The Mistress of the House.....BUBBLY THE BLACK LAB

A busy & messy living area!
 
 


 According to my compound worker Musinze, our bathroom is 'Heaven' and he has been telling all the villagers that I have glass all over the walls (I guess he must mean the tiling in the shower area!


My bedroom is lovely and breezy with 3 windows and lovely purple curtains that Liz made while she was here.
Christine`s Room
The Kitchen with it`s concrete worktops. It is awaiting some cupboard doors and shelves but is so lovely and spacious!
My most frequent visitor, often referred to as Auntie Tate`s body guard is Jonnie. Here he is with dear Dorcas who comes to play every Saturday.
The Store Room which is currently home to a small rat which I hope and pray the boys will catch soon!

Our Spare Room ready for visitors (and for our new Special Needs Helper to stay in from September.)


Bubbly being given a bath by Judah, Jonnie, Dorcas and Kiwewa.
 
I promise to do another blog post shortly with some more pics and news of what I`ve been up to........but it won`t be long until I am back in the UK (I arrive May 20th.)
May the weather warm up before then!