By Catherine Furry
I wish I could capture in words what it felt like to look into the eyes of the children who carried in their younger siblings to receive malaria treatment, the dehydrated baby separated from her young mother who was hospitalized with AIDS complications, the elderly grandparents suffering from chronic pain from years of intense physical labor to feed their families . . . and know that we were at least making a little bit of difference. I wish I could share with you the experience of handing out prescriptions in paper bags from our makeshift pharmacy on the bed of a pickup truck that we set up next to a little mud-wall, dirt-floor, straw-roof church (my favorite church ever!) and the grateful smile and “webale” (thank you) in return. To show up at a church in the morning and see a crowd of people already waiting for us, some of whom had walked miles and miles barefoot to get there, was a humbling experience.
The need that remains both in Uganda and world-wide is still great, but each interaction with the people we did encounter was an opportunity for us not only to serve and practice being witnesses of Christ’s love, but also to learn from the people with whom we interacted and build relationships. I think one of the biggest things I learned was the beauty of simplicity. Our operation wasn’t high tech — we set up our clinics in the local Orthodox churches (though open to all faiths), used school benches to perform exams, and filled prescriptions on cardboard boxes – but we were still able to offer a little something of what we could give to several thousand people, and they received it with joy and gratitude, opening their hearts and homes to us. The love with which they welcomed us will always stay with me, and I’ve definitely come home inspired to continue serving both near my US home and hopefully abroad again.