Village of Hope

The medical hut at Village of Hope

The medical hut at Village of Hope

A number of photos from Village of Hope, Uganda, came in over the weekend and we thought this might be a good way to share them.

Mike and Janelle, on the left, oversee Village of Hope.

Mike and Janelle, on the left, oversee Village of Hope.

Mike and Janelle run Village of Hope. They manage the 200+ children, their homes, and everything else including farming, water, latrines, piggery, corn shucking, tractor driving, mango planting, hosting visitors, Beads of Hope jewelry project, budgeting, and ordering the medicine.

Wendy has really enjoyed meeting the children and learning their stories.

Wendy and Scovia

Wendy and Scovia

This is Scovia. Wrote Wendy, “Scovia is sweet and very smart. Her mother died when she was young and her father was killed by the LRA. We are staying in a hut like the one behind us.”

The children danced a special tribal dance for the Bjurstroms. Here they are doing their Acholi dance.

Children doing the Acholi dance

Children doing the Acholi dance

The Acholi dance

The Acholi dance

Stina has been happily helping Dr. Mac and Nurse Susan in the clinic.

Stina and Nurse Susan hug. That's Dr. Mac in the background.

Stina and Nurse Susan hug. That’s Dr. Mac in the background.

A boy named Fred broke a bone in his elbow. Wendy wrote, “14 year old Fred (with brace on his arm) had broken a bone in his elbow. The girls were very worried about him and came into the clinic to pray for him. The girls prayed and sang and cried for him for 15 minutes. After Dr. Mac put a splint on his arm, his house mom, Beatrice, went with him on the back of a motorcycle (with the driver) to Kiryandongo, about a 40 minute drive on a mostly dirt (bumpy) road, to get an X-ray. He will have to go back to get it in a cast after the swelling goes down.”

CompassioNow and Compassion Tea Company are thrilled to be supporting the work of this clinic!

Fred leaves with Beatrice for the 40 mile ride to the closest x-ray machine.

Fred leaves with Beatrice for the 40 mile ride to the closest x-ray machine.

Fred, in blue, being prayed over by his friends.

Fred, in blue, being prayed over by his friends.

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Technology… Who Needs It?

I have a tween in the house and the other day she greeted me at the school gate with these words, ”Mom, I am like the only person in the fifth grade who doesn’t have an iPod or a phone of my own. I so need one.” Something about the tone simultaneously made my toes curl and my heels dig deep as if they were growing roots right there on the school sidewalk. Need? You NEED an iPod or a phone? Whatever for? NEED, like water, air, safety, love? NEED? We have radio, CDs, computers, and an iPad. She has a Kindle all her own. I am rarely more than 10 minutes away from her vicinity and when I am she is with trustworthy adults who are armed with cell phones. I made her write a paper explaining her needs. She needs technology so she can do research. Well, we have technology already available. No. There really is no reason at this point in time that my tweener needs more technology, except maybe to feel cool for the 2.5 seconds a material possession will bring happiness. I am that mom.

In the middle of this ongoing discussion, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Your iPhone Upgrade Is Good for the Poor.” The article, written by Daniel Fletcher, professor of bioengineering and biophysics at the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley, explains how Fletcher and his students are repurposing smartphones. Such repurposed phones are now able to capture images of human cells to look for malaria parasites and tuberculosis causing bacteria. These repurposed phones are able to screen for parasitic worm infections, to scan the eye for retinal diseases, to scan for oral cancer. Fletcher tells how other researchers have been able to create a cellphone stethoscope and a portable ultrasound system. Says Fletcher, “But with smartphones capable of providing basic primary-care services and diagnostic work, and with expanding wireless services that allow doctors to interpret results and recommend treatments remotely, many of the services we enjoy at the doctor’s office will be available in the field – anywhere in the world.”

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Geoff and Nelle of Mission Medic Air hold the portable dental chair.

Isn’t that beautiful! It reminds me of the portable dental chair Wendy and Stina Bjurstrom just delivered to Mission Medic Air in Zambia. The chair is lightweight enough that it can easily fit in their airplane and can be worn as a backpack. It comes with a drill that is solar powered and it will make dental clinics in the bush both easier and more productive. The article also reminds me of the medical kits just delivered to the Community Caregivers at 1000 Hill Clinic in South Africa. Each medical kit has a brand new stethoscope donated by MDF instruments and basic health care items donated by Giving Children Hope and CompassioNow.

Community Caregivers with their new medical kits

Community Caregivers with their new medical kits

These kits will go with the caregivers into the villages surrounding the clinic serving some 20,000 people. The caregivers are the front line for the clinic, assessing patients at home, assessing needs, providing basic health care and education. Imagine if they were armed with smartphones capable of scanning for parasites or infections!

When Anne and Lee Kennedy returned from Tanzania in July, they noted that since their last visit to Africa, what had changed the most, what they found to be the most shocking change, was the prevalence of cell phones. People in Arusha had more than one phone, were calling each other frequently. In fact, cell phone coverage was better than the roads. One day when they were trying to find a particular clinic, Anne and Lee called Wendy back in the United States to get directions. The locals didn’t know where the clinic was, but through the use of technology, Anne and Lee were able to find the remote spot. Lee commented then on the changes this increase in technology will bring to the remoter parts of the world, parts of the world where healthcare is so scarce. Hospitals and clinics and transportation providers will be able to communicate more effectively. Doctors in the cities may be able to diagnose complaints over the phone for patients far out in the bush. Or better yet, doctors will be able to provide ever more sophisticated tests and treatments while in the bush.

And yet, we must remember that technology has its limitations. A beautiful x-ray machine sits at the clinic at Lily of the Valley Medical Centre in South Africa, useless because someone stole the computers back in May. Similarly, Danny and Nancy Smelser at Tanzania Christian Clinic have been praying for months for a trained technician to come operate their newly donated x-ray machine. People are still needed… to carry and use and protect the technology, to provide the healthcare.

This past week, Wendy sent daily photos, videos, and updates from her smartphone… updates that told the stories of the 1000 Hills Clinic in South Africa. How marvelous it was to open my inbox and see these pictures, to hear the joy and gratitude, to read the heartbreaking stories, and to know that it was all happening in real time, on the other side of the world, but it felt so close, so accessible. Yes, technology is making the world smaller, bringing communities together, advancing new methods of providing healthcare to parts of the world where healthcare is scarce, teaching us about our neighbors on the other side of the world. As we search for ever better reception, pixels, platforms, functionality, as our affluence demands higher quality, we are helping the poor.

Perhaps if my tweener had written that last line as the reason for her need of further technology, I might have caved. A little. Perhaps.

A Clinic Day….

We’re here; they’re there. We’re asleep and their day is underway. What happens in tandem with our busy lives, what happens on the other side of the world? What goes into the Thursday clinic at 1000 Hills, what goes on, who is helped, and who is loved?

Wendy and Stina arrive at the clinic at 7 AM this morning ready to serve. Dawn, founder of 1000 Hills Clinic, has been there since 5. Even before she arrives, patients begin lining up outside the gate. Karin, Dawn’s daughter, opens the gate and allows people into the waiting room. 0-19Before the other doctors and nurses arrive, Karin begins to triage the patients, running tests and determining who needs a doctor and who could benefit from a nurse’s touch. 0-41One of the first patients is this 12 boy. He lost his mother in March and is now cared for by his gogo (grandmother). Yesterday, he burned his leg while trying to cook an egg. He is taken to the treatment room to be bandaged.0-42

8:30ish: One of the health workers starts singing a hymn. Almost all of the waiting patients join in. Then, they begin praying their individual prayers out loud. 0-46While waiting for the healing of this world, it makes sense to pray to the Great Physician. We are thrilled that His love and salvation are shared with every bandage, pill, and check-up!

Nurse Joyce and pharmacists Jimmy (82 years old) and Peter arrive to man the pharmacy.0-47

9 AM: There are no seats left inside the clinic. Patients arriving now must wait outside in the muggy weather. 0-35Dr. Kirstie (chief doctor) and 2 volunteer doctors from the UK are now here too. 0-33Over at the kitchen, it is time for morning porridge and for the bread line. 0-31Many of the patients line up outside the kitchen to receive two loaves of day old bread which would otherwise have been thrown away. 0-32Also, local school students are asked to bring an extra sandwich to give to the less fortunate. These are also distributed through the bread line.

Time is awash now. So many people need treatment and the day is creeping, scampering, fleeting. Next patient… 14 month baby Thando. Thando was badly burned on Saturday when she was scalded by boiling water at her aunt’s house. There are many burns in the clinic because most of the cooking is done on the ground. Thando was taken to hospital but, like so many people who can’t pay, was released way too early, before the wounds can begin to heal. Her mom needs the bandages changed. Infection is a fear. Wendy explains, “The mom and health worker were trying to get the bandages off with warm water. It was a long process and we all cried with little Thando.”0-43 0-44 0-45

Stina treats a woman with an ear infection.1234546_10151600495771791_842250301_n

Patients continue to pour in. Scabies-like rashes, coughs, lung infections, stomach ulcers are common complaints. People needing TB treatments also arrive. 8 year old Spellilli has an abscess on his tummy that needs drained. His courage during the process earns him some stickers Wendy brought with her. 0-37The pharmacy hums with busyness.0-39

Wendy takes a break and heads to the nursery to check on Zowakha, a one month old who was brought to Dawn. “You’re lucky I didn’t chuck him in the toilet. Here’s one for you,” said his mother.  1045059_10151597323681791_89119693_nHe has gone to hospital for a thorough exam. When he returns, a new infant is in the nursery. Okuhle, an girl, has been brought by her mother this morning. “I can’t take care of her any longer.” A third infant wails nearby. Asiphile, Zowakha, and Okuhle will spend their days in the nursery and their nights with caregivers… for now.0-34

Back in the clinic, another line forms. Each person is given two pieces of fruit. In another line, patients can pick out items of used clothing. Dawn hands out condoms.

110 patients today. 0-36110 stories of strife, deprivation, injury, hardship. 110 opportunities to heal, help, share. While we slept on the other side of the world. Simultaneously.

1000 Hills

I just got another video from Wendy. In response, I asked her how she was holding up. Were it me, I’d be repeatedly excusing myself to go have a good cry in the loo. This is the week that Wendy and Stina Bjurstrom are spending at 1000 Hill Community Helpers in South Africa. Stina is acting as a nurse and Wendy is proving to be chief photographer, videographer, baby holder, and encourager. I’d like very much to share a few of the photos Wendy has sent on as well as a bit about the clinic.

Dawn Leppan, founder of 1000 Hills Community Helpers... giving proper credit where credit is due

Dawn Leppan, founder of 1000 Hills Community Helpers… giving proper credit where credit is due

From the 1000 Hills website: “The 1000 Hills Community Helpers project was established in 1989 by starting up a community feeding program.

In response to the needs of the community, we constructed our own community care centre in 2008 comprising a health and wellness clinic, children’s infirmary, education and development facility.This centre was named by the local community members as “Ikhaya Lo Thando” (“Home of Love”) that would cater for the needs of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, supporting them with food and clothing.

Dawn’s eyes were opened to the political strife and devastation of families in the local community of the Valley of 1000 Hills caused by political unrest. In 1989 this heart breaking scenario inspired Alan Paton and herself to start up a community feeding program. This was first held in the open under the trees in the Inchanga area, then moving from there into St. Theresa’s Catholic Church

In 1990 it was realized that community members were in need of medical assistance due to the impact of HIV/Aids related illnesses. It was then decided to start up a basic clinic followed by an infant nutritional program. Medical volunteers were then sourced to assist in carrying this burden. We were blessed with having a Paediatrician join us as well as 5 registered nursing sisters.

Sister Dlimani, Community Caregivers, Dawn's daughter Karin, and Stina take time for tea.

Sister Dlimani, Community Caregivers, Dawn’s daughter Karin, and Stina take time for tea.

From that first project, this vision has grown from strength to strength to provide essential services to the people in the form of health care, education, infant care and HIV/AIDS awareness, henceforth, the 1000 Hills Community Helpers community centre.”

Some of the happy faces coming to day care.

Some of the happy faces coming to day care.

I'm a 1000 HIlls Kid -- it is so good to belong!

I’m a 1000 HIlls Kid — it is so good to belong!

CompassioNow first met Dawn in that abandoned Catholic church when she was feeding people and dreaming about expanding services. To see the amazing growth and outreach of this community since then is inspiring, wordless joy, inexpressible amazement, and something that contracts the heart, rearranges the insides, and yes, sends the likes of me running to the loo for a good cry. Because the work is so far from done.

Wendy explains, "This precious baby boy was brought to Dawn Leppan at Thousand Hills Community Helpers one month ago. The mother put him on Dawn's desk and said, 'You're lucky I didn't chuck him in the toilet. Here's one for you.' So thankful for the life saving work being done here every day!"

Wendy explains, “This precious baby boy was brought to Dawn Leppan at Thousand Hills Community Helpers one month ago. The mother put him on Dawn’s desk and said, ‘You’re lucky I didn’t chuck him in the toilet. Here’s one for you.’ So thankful for the life saving work being done here every day!”

Simultaneously

tea, tears, stethoscopes, AIDS… compassion

compassiontea

As if my stuffy nose wasn’t bad enough already, here I am sobbing in joy and sorrow simultaneously over the photos and videos coming out of South Africa across the miles and the miracle of the internet to my inbox. Good heavens.

Ever since I started reading William Faulkner in high school, I’ve been intrigued by the notion of parallel time. In the immortal words from the Lone Ranger, repeated beyond measure by my high school American History teacher, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch….” There’s this going on here and in the next house down the block, there’s that. Simultaneously. And around the world there’s this and across town there’s that. Simultaneously. I’m thinking this thought and you’re thinking that thought and somewhere it might intersect. This morning, I’m guzzling Compassion Tea Genmaicha Yamasakj (popcorn tea if you aren’t familiar) like an addict and simultaneously, Wendy’s in South Africa downloading…

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Simultaneously

As if my stuffy nose wasn’t bad enough already, here I am sobbing in joy and sorrow simultaneously over the photos and videos coming out of South Africa across the miles and the miracle of the internet to my inbox. Good heavens.

Ever since I started reading William Faulkner in high school, I’ve been intrigued by the notion of parallel time. In the immortal words from the Lone Ranger, repeated beyond measure by my high school American History teacher, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch….” There’s this going on here and in the next house down the block, there’s that. Simultaneously. And around the world there’s this and across town there’s that. Simultaneously. I’m thinking this thought and you’re thinking that thought and somewhere it might intersect. This morning, I’m guzzling Compassion Tea Genmaicha Yamasakj (popcorn tea if you aren’t familiar) like an addict and simultaneously, Wendy’s in South Africa downloading photos from her day.

So far, she’s sent a video of the caregivers at 1000 Hills Community Helpers singing at their Monday morning meeting (check out our Facebook page to see the video) and photos of them receiving their medical kits.

Community Caregivers with their new medical kits

Community Caregivers with their new medical kits

Each kit has a stethoscope and other medical care supplies so that they can go into the community around 1000 Hills and check on people who are home-bound or who are in the more remote villages.

Wendy and Dawn Leppan get ready to distribute the kits.

Wendy and Dawn Leppan get ready to distribute the kits.

They’ve been taught basic medical care; they can assess a situation and determine if they can treat it with a band-aid or if it needs the medical attention of the clinic.

Stina teaches the Community Caregivers how to use their new stethoscopes

Stina teaches the Community Caregivers how to use their new stethoscopes

These men and women are so beautiful and I’m so thrilled that everything made it safely across the pond, through security and customs, and into the loving hands of these people on the front lines of serving the least served. I want to hug them all for their commitment to serving each other. Joy!

Next came a photo of Elphus, a man in the community with end stage AIDS.

Elphus in his tiny room

Elphus in his tiny room

He has a caregiver who keeps everything clean for him. Her photo came next.

Elphus' caretaker

Elphus’ caretaker

Beautiful. Poignant. God’s creation, His creative design. Another photo just popped up, this time of Elphus’ room.

Where Elphus lives

Where Elphus lives

There is story here, simultaneous events, threads unraveling and threads being woven together. I don’t know the story but the photos speak volumes. What do they say to you?

Yesterday in church we sang the hymn Ancient Words. Listen here.
Ancient words… ever true, changing me, changing you. We have come with open hearts. Oh let the ancient words impart. Holy words of our faith, handed down to this age, came to us through sacrifice. Oh heed the faithful words of Christ. Holy words long preserved, for our walk in this world. They resound with God’s own heart. Oh let the ancient words impart.

Do you see the connection? Ancient words spoken, divinely inspired, written in haste by vision and Spirit, devoured by the famished, held in the death grip of the beleaguered, fortress for the weak, battle-cry for the oppressed, peace and solace for the ending, words of hope. Think of the millions of voices raised in reading these words then and then and then, there and there and there. Simultaneously spoken here, shouted there, whispered in the basement or under the cover of night. These words of the ancients are so real and important today. For Elphus and his lady caregiver and they are the words in the song of the Community Helpers. Did you hear the hallelujah? It echoes my own quiet, stuffy nosed hallelujah here, half a world away, washed down with a cup of Compassion Tea.

View from the Dentist’s Chair

(To be read with a southern twang)

Just went to the dentist. Generally, I don’t mind so much. But today I think the technician took several layers of gum tissue off with her scraper thingy. And I’m pretty sure she flung some red toothpaste into my hair although on further investigation I don’t see it. My teeth kind of feel abused, like they’ve been pushed into another time zone. And all the Chapstick in the world won’t repair the damage my lips suffered.

Nevertheless, we had a lovely chat covering visits to the fair over the summer, today’s politics, school news and events, and the joys of being female. Well, she chatted away glibly and I answered in grunts and grins while full on sentences of wit and wisdom percolated in my head. Then came the inevitable question… are you flossing regularly? Define regularly… like once every full moon or every fortnight or on special holidays or the week before my next dental appointment because if that qualifies as regularly than yes I can honestly say yes. I hate flossing my teeth. It just seems so… gross. Threading string through your teeth, wrapping the wet parts around your fingers, trying to extricate your fingers from the tight, tourniquet of floss, and then finding that the dog is licking the floss out of the garbage bin next to the toilet… GROSS.

Ahhh, the dentist office… the only place in town with 20 year old posters on the ceiling staring down at you and with 70s folk rock playing in the background. White lights, plastic on everything, people walking around in gloves and funny glasses and masks – these seem to define a dentist office. It’s the only place where sucking on a straw is encouraged, where drooling is appropriate, and where adults get to wear bibs guilt free. And yet, this modern day torture parlor is so glamorous and so posh and so readily available.

In the coming week, our second CompassioNow/Compassion Tea team will be heading to Africa and with them they will be taking a portable dentist chair. 0-8The chair folds up and can be carried on one’s back. It has a solar panel so that when the dentist is hiking through the bush to the next clinic, he or she can also be charging the portable dental drill attached to the chair. Because there aren’t dentist’s offices in the bush and because most people in the bush of Africa don’t go to the dentist for a general cleaning. They would (if they could) go because they need a tooth extracted, because they’ve been in pain for months with toothache, because they don’t brush regularly let alone floss. No, the dentist has to come to them, in an airplane because there are no drivable ways to get to them. And the dentist comes about as regularly as I floss. There are so many villages in the bush, so many crooked smiles, so many teeth to extract, so much pain to relieve.

Which reminds me of my daughter who over the weekend got in the truck as we headed out for the day’s camping adventure and realized she hadn’t brushed her teeth. A solid 15 minutes of complaining, wailing, pleading for gum no one had ensued. It’s so good to be so pampered.

Love Hurts

Sometimes love hurts. It’s a common saying in our house. Like the time I walked the floorboards from 2 to 5 am with her screaming little body heaving in my arms because nothing could cajole her to sleep. And the time after that and after that and after that. Or the time I pinned her body while the ER doctor took his mile long tweezers and extracted the bean she had shoved up her nose. Or the time I left him crying with his teacher after the bee sting, after the threat of allergic reaction was past, because he really would find school better than sobbing on my lap all morning. Or the time I heard him ask another little child, “Wanna be my friend,” and the little punk said, “No.” Sometimes love hurts. Like the times they tackle me, wrestle me, want to be hugged a little tighter and a little longer and my body just can’t hold that position but these are precious moments not to be wasted and so the muscles stretch and strain and with the pain is the gain.IMG_0426IMG_0429IMG_0431IMG_0432

Sometimes love hurts and it looks like rejection. “Go to your room” feels painful but we all need that time out, away from the situation, time for the emotions to flare on their own and then to smolder and eventually snuff out. And it hurts when they say, “Why don’t you love me anymore” and you know that this is grounding and based on love, love that loves so deeply that it wants to shape and mold and instruct and protect and it isn’t at all about not loving but about maintaining relationship and building character and someday they’ll understand.

Little Miss has always been a why person, expecting detailed explanations for everything. As she gets older, the answers are more complicated. Like the time driving home from church and her questions about the puppies in Milo and Otis showed great curiosity and eventually led us down the road to a little tale about the birds and the bees. Why this? Why that? Why can’t I tell my friends all about this, and by the way, how gross. And she’s the one throwing out the “why don’t you love me anymore” – her tweenness becoming more and more apparent by the second. How do I explain? There is nothing she could do, nothing that her brother could do, that would keep me from loving her. I may not always agree with her decisions and while she is under my roof I reserve the right to correct poor decisions in the hopes of avoiding further, more costly (and by costly I am not merely referring to monetary) poor decisions down the road. But no matter what, love is at the base of it. Which reminds us both that we have a heavenly Father who feels exactly the same way about us but more. In the middle of our mess, in the middle of our poor decisions gone hopelessly awry, in the middle of our impatience, anger, frustration, temper tantrums because we should call our forty year old emotional outbursts exactly what they are, in the middle of all that, He loves us. Watching it hurts, disciplining it hurts, paying for it on the cross hurt, waiting until just the right moment to bring it all to completion hurts. Yes, love hurts.

My children don’t know rejection, not well, and I pray with God’s grace they won’t know it intimately, certainly not from me. No, I worked too hard to carry them into this world, to carry them through the night and the morning and the afternoon nap, to bring them into contact with God’s amazing creation and people and experiences. Much has been given up, dreams have faded, desires quelched, because a diaper needs changed or someone needs to spend the afternoon snuggling or right now a knee needs a band-aid or a wounded heart needs to hear that the mean girl doesn’t know what she is talking about and that you are beautiful and fun to be around and said mean girl has no idea what she is missing by running away from you on the playground. I can’t imagine my life in any other way. Because even though love sometimes hurts, it is worth the loving.

But I think about Jennifer who was abducted by men, stolen from her family, her body used and abused and discarded when it carried the results of their abuse. At a very tender age, she became a “wife” to an army, not by any choice, not by any action on her part, but because in Uganda evil walks the ground in human form with a name and a face and an army behind it. And when Jennifer came limping home, pregnant and weary, wary of every moving shadow, skittish at night, afraid of further abuse, she must have placed great hope in returning to love, to family. Instead, she met rejection. “You carry the enemy’s baby,” she heard. “You are not welcome here. Go.” Flat, monotone, the voices of hate and disgust where there should have been love and doting and “Here, love, what have you gone through? Let me wipe your feet, dry your tears, carry some of that burden with you.” Who am I to judge their response, except that as a mother I can’t fathom. She was lost but now she’s found! Why isn’t that good enough?

Jennifer moved on away from family, started her own feeble family of two, and eventually heard the words she so longed to hear… from Him. He led her to Village of Hope Uganda who took her in and began singing His love song in her ear. You are loved, beloved, tender and dear, beautiful and sacred and worth a son, bride of my heart. The people at Village of Hope Uganda invested in Jennifer and her child, taught her a skill, gave her hope and purpose and love. Today, she leads up the bead making enterprise for the orphanage. In this case, out of hurt came love. Because saving lives isn’t just about medicine and medical care. It’s also about saving the broken parts we can’t see, the parts that hurt, ache, scar beneath the surface, the parts that need the healing only a Redeemer, a sacred Lover can offer. He can take the hurt and tear it down, He can replant the soil and start all over, He can bring the garden of love and beauty.jennifer

Or there’s Vicki who grew up knowing that her father valued her very little because she was born that cursed kind of creature, a female. Unable to carry on the family name or lead the family in dad’s old age, she had no value and certainly did not deserve an education. When the soldiers came demanding payment, her father gave Vicki to them rather than pay the money they requested. “Here, take her. I’m not gonna pay you. She is not that valuable to me. But my money is.” Rejected by her father and handed into the arms of evil. Like Jennifer, Vicki’s value lay completely in how men could use her body. We’re spending a lot of time here in the US debating Miley Cyrus’ use of her body recently at the Video Music Awards, bemoaning the lost innocence of Hannah Montana, berating our society for its depravity, rising up in indignation and promising to raise our daughters and sons better than that. At the heart of it, I think we’re all just a little shocked that a woman would make the choices Miley made, would value herself so poorly. When halfway around the world there are much smaller, much more innocent girls with no choice in the matter at all, for whom the lesson learned is that they have no value beyond what their bodies can offer men. Valued as much as we value a tissue… plucked, used, discarded. But Vicki was brought to Village of Hope Uganda after she escaped from the army. She shares a room with a fellow sister retrieved from the evil walking Uganda and together they have found comradery, value, importance… simply because they are beautiful daughters of God. And Vicki is going to school. On the webpage for Village of Hope Uganda, Vicki says, “Village of Hope Uganda staff love me. I feel like I am worth something for the first time in my life I feel valued for being a girl.”

Love hurts because of the value of the beloved. Where there is no value, there is no love. Where there are degrees of value, there are degrees of love. But not with God. All valued, all beloved, all called… can we hear His love song? He sings it over it all. This beautiful ballade born of love, redeemed by love, sanctified by love, bought by love, demands a chorus, amplified by voices angelic and earthly. Yes, love hurts. Not loving hurts more. And even though love sometimes hurts, it is worth the loving.