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Friday, 10 August 2012

Life back home

I have been home four weeks already and thought it was about time I posted a little update on how I am. Everyone I see keeps asking how I am. Every De-Brief I have had and each Re-Entry book I have recently read has warned me about the difficulties of the transition I may face and struggle with going from a developing country to one of wealth and luxury. As I write this I am actually feeling ok. Of course, it feels a little strange to be back and I have moments where I struggle to understand the huge and very unfair differences that exist between the UK and Uganda. I have questioned the harshness of life that my friends are living in Africa while I sit in my comfortable existence here. I still take a gasp of horror and shake my head as I walk into Tescos and peer at the 2 large aisle's of bread and bakery related products when all I need is a simple loaf! However, I am doing ok!  I actually find it quite strange how easily I am slipping back into the fast pace of life and the world around me. Some days it feels like I never even went away and that the last year could have been a dream. How surreal it feels some days - maybe it's just that right now I am in my honeymoon period as the realities of work and daily pressures are not fully upon me yet!

What I do think of every day is the faces of the children who I have spent the last year with. The wonderful little characters and personalities that have blessed me, taught me so much and shaped who I have become over the last 12 months. I miss them desperately. I miss their laughter, the fun they brought to my day and I really miss their huge hugs and love that they would pour into me from early morning until last thing at  night. 

I learnt to live in a different way whilst being in Uganda. Some of these adjustments were difficult and some were fine. Adjusting to fit into your environment and culture was something that surprised me in how easily one can adapt. My daily life I was living there became my normal and my expectations adjusted so that what we had was enough. I grew to love so many things about Uganda and of course totally missed so many things about home. Here are a few of my thoughts on those;

Things I am loving about being home:
My totally wonderful and comfy bed
Not having to wash the staining, red soil off my feet every night 
Eating strawberries
Reliable and fast internet
Clothes that smell amazing - a year away from good fabric conditioner really makes it more wonderful than ever!!
Being able to drive
Having friends and family so close by
The light evenings - what a treat to be out and about in the evenings without panicking about getting home before it gets dark
Constant electricity
Calm, ordered road ways where all drivers follow the rules of the road!

Things I am missing:
The sound of children's laughter, singing and playing at all times of the day
The friends I made over the last year who became so precious to me
The simplicity of life
Phillip - I miss him every moment of every day :(
Working in my clinic
Eating fresh mangos, pineapple and avocado each day
Being called "Muzungu" and "Nurse Katie" 
Evenings spent playing Telephone Pictionary, Dutch Blitz or just hanging out with other missionaries
Spending feel good time in the baby and toddler house at least once a day
The beautiful scenery and of course the weather!

Being back home I can see how much I have available to me. I am adjusting to living in a familiar culture again that I will have to make my norm. It's wonderful to have so much available and so many options open to me every day. This place is not a lot better its just a lot different. Being away gave me the opportunity to see life in a new way. I got to experience what normal is for other people. The daily challenges they face day to day compared to mine. I got to witness the things that excite them and the best thing was that I got to live alongside them and experience these frustrations and joys with them as well. I had to watch young boys fighting over my rubbish bags, I attended a burial and watched a family grieve the loss of their precious baby. I celebrated birthdays, weddings, good school reports and job promotions. I played, laughed, cried, played jokes and delighted in the pure mischievousness of children that surpasses any ethnicity or culture. 

I have learned to adjust to living without electricity and without 'mod-cons'. I adjusted to not having bagels for lunch and not always getting hot showers. This year helped me to learn that living without 'stuff' is ok. I am praying that as I settle back into life that I remember what it has been like to live with just enough. In Uganda I had all that I needed. I discovered that I didn't need a hectic schedule or a t-shirt in every colour - 'just in case'. Or the latest phone, things in my home, an array of bakery products - bagels and waffles and half brown & half white loaves and cheese topped bread & multi seeded bread!!! Life was good and I was given all that I was needed. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Goodbye seems to be the hardest word

This is going to be my last blog from Uganda and it is going to be a blog about goodbyes. After almost a year away, sadly the time has come to say goodbye and it is something I have been dreading for a while. The last 11 months have gone by so quickly that it almost feels like it's been a dream. As I sit here writing this in my hotel room it all feels quite surreal.

Over the last few weeks I have been handing over my medical duties to Nurse Ruth and Nurse Claire (a student nurse who has joined us as an intern for 8 weeks), preparing myself for today and as the end of my time serving here at GSF has been looming closer.
It already started about a month ago when I attended the HIV clinic with some of our children. Walking away from the hospital after having been there so many times, I thanked the doctor for all of her support to me over the last year. As I walked away it was difficult and I was more emotional about it than I had expected. I have found it hard to nurse these special children during their illnesses and in the reality that they have HIV, but what I guess has been equally hard has been knowing that when these kids are sick they don't have mum's and dad's to love them while they are suffering. I am reassured and am able to move on from here knowing that they will continue to get good medical care with the new nurses here at GSF and that there are lots of people here who can give them hugs and as much love as they need. Although I will miss being able to be one of the people that can hold, support and love on these children, they certainly won't be left short of hugs and TLC when I go. 

At times throughout the last year I have felt as though I am in the middle of a comic relief advert where all around me is despair and heartache with too many problems and too few answers. However, during the moments I have felt this I have been so grateful to remember GSF and what an amazing place it is. A place that God is using to reach out to the orphans and destitute children in Uganda. As I say goodbye to the wonderful children, missionaries and staff here that I have become so close to I thank God for having moved my heart to desire to serve Him here this year. For giving me compassion, patience, a strong resilience and a tender heart so that I was able to nurse those I was called to. 
I admit that some days it has been tough and I have wondered if I had been taking any steps forward amongst the many I felt that I would be taking backwards amongst the difficulties of trying to nurse in a developing country but one story that frequently came to mind during my year away has been about the boy and the starfish;

"An old man was walking along a deserted beach one morning. A huge storm had washed millions of starfish onto the sandy beach the night before.  As the sun rose the starfish started to dry out and die.  As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking a starfish up and throwing it back into the water. Time and time again he kept throwing them back into the sea. As the old man approached he asked the boy what he was doing. The boy replied, explaining that if he didn't put the starfish back in the sea they would die. "But", the man said, "You can't possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach". The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied, “Well, I made a difference for that one.’’
Author Unknown

One of the challenges of working here has been trying to work out how much if any impact I could and have had on the children and adults I have met. It has been hard to know how much I could do in a very short space of time, a year really isn't all that long!! I have learned to listen to God's call on my life and the reasons he brought me here, about just trying to make a difference to the ones who's paths cross with mine. As I have been paying a little more attention to all the small moments the last few weeks and as I have contemplated how much I am going to miss the children I have come to realise that if I have made half as much impact on their little lives as they have made on mine then I have probably done ok!

On Wednesday I said those final goodbyes. It was harder than I ever could have imagined. Africa and so many of the people here have stolen my heart!! As the hour drew closer to me having to drive away I went around the site and stole as many last hugs, held as many hands, took as many last photos as I was able and gave as many kisses as I possibly could in my limited amount of time that was left. It was an emotional morning and it felt like everywhere I looked someone else was crying and saying goodbye to me. I had enjoyed a wonderful few days of saying goodbye to as many people as I could. The missionaries on Tuesday night had thrown me a small goodbye supper and the missionary children sang the most beautiful song to me (see lyrics below). At the Tuesday morning house mothers meeting they sang me a song which they had written themselves which again had amazing, thoughtful and such personal words. I had been approached through the week by many members of staff and children at GSF who had given me letters to say goodbye and brought me small gifts from their well earnt money. The sunset and star filled sky on Tuesday night was one of the nicest I have seen in my year here so it was a wonderful walk home from the missionary party and time to contemplate all God has blessed me with this year. The clear night sky was met by an equally glorious sunrise on my final morning, Africa really is so beautiful and it was making itself very clear about that in my last few hours at GSF! 
What really tipped me over the edge Wednesday morning was when precious Phillip who I have become so close to this year started to cry. I gave him a hug and I made him give me one of his wonderful smiles before I walked him to school and waved to him as he ran to his class. Oh, how my heart aches.....

Now it's time for us to say, Good-bye for just a while, 
and until that day we'll meet again, may God's love make you smile,

And we'll be friends forever, Jesus and you and me, 
He joins our hearts together and friends we'll always be.

Now when you see the sun, you'll know, I see the same one too,
and when you see the stars, they'll say 'hello' from me to you,

And we'll be friends forever, Jesus and you and me, 
He joins our hearts together and friends we'll always be.

May the Lord bless you and take care of you, 
may the Lord be kind and gracious to you, 
may the Lord look on you with favour and give you peace, Amen.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Teddy and Leticia


A couple of weeks ago we welcomed baby Teddy to GSF (in Uganda, Teddy is a girls name). Teddy is 3 months old and came to us as she is malnourished and is needing care that her grandmother can no longer provide for her. Her mother is very young and left Teddy with her grandmother to care for her. The grandmother has been trying hard to care for Teddy even going to the lengths of breastfeeding her (the grandmother is 75 years old) as she didn't have enough money to buy formula. Teddy came to us weighing 3.5kgs which is the weight of a newborn baby so we are hoping to build her up and make her very chubby! Teddy's grandmother came to visit her on Tuesday and it is wonderful to hear that she longs to continue a relationship with this sweet girl.


Last week Leticia's mother carried her to the gate of GSF and asked to come in as she had heard that she might be able to get some help here. Leticia is 9 months old and when weighed by the Social Worker and Nurse Claire only weighed 3 kgs (that's less than the average weight of a new born baby). Claire told me that they weighed her three times as they didn't believe the reading on the scales! Leticia was taken to the nearest hospital and admitted and treated for malnutrition.

A few days ago Leticia's mother returned to GSF with Leticia and the hospital discharge papers and it was on this occasion that I got to meet them. I picked up Leticia and couldn't believe how under nourished she was. I could feel all of her bones and could visibly see all of her ribs. She literally felt like a 'bag of bones'. It's hard to describe what holding her felt like as she was so fragile but then in contrast her head felt heavy and strong on top of this tiny frame. GSF plan to admit Leticia and her mother to the new babies home which opens this month. This will enable her mother to remain with her while Leticia grows stronger and her mother learns some new skills and is supported in caring for her.

Please continue to pray for Teddy and her grandmother, Leticia and her mother and all of the families that GSF have dealings with each week from the surrounding communities. Today I read a scary statistic that 1 in 4 households in Uganda is caring for at least one orphan. In a society where the average annual income is only £250 that adds a huge burden on those families. 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Special People - GSF Missionaries

My last 'Special People' blog is on a group of people who have been my family throughout this year. As you know I have been serving at Good Shepherd's Fold Orphanage over the last 11 months. During this time my team mates and fellow missionaries have become very special to me. 

For a reminder......
(and just because Robb's blog about GSF was so amazing I have stolen (with permission!) part of his recent blog which can be found here if you'd like to read more of his stories... is a snapshot of GSF, who we are, what we do and why these special people are so dear to me.

Setting: Good Shepherd's Fold: 120 acres filled with a farm (pigs, cows, goats and occasionally monkeys), a school and six orphan homes surrounded by sugar cane fields and one of the larger rain forests in Uganda in one direction and Lake Victoria (the second largest lake in the world) in the other direction. Only 30 minutes from the source of the Nile.

The Cast:

Claudia -  lady from Colombia, South America who has lived and served at GSF for 14 years. She has adopted three Ugandan kids already and has four others that stay with her. She handles all the adoptions for Good Shepherd's Fold and does much of our accounting.

Mark & Amy - A couple with three kids who have previously worked with international schools in South Korea and Singapore. They have been serving at GSF for 4 years and handle all the farm management, child care, house mothers (ladies who stay with and take care of the orphans), maintenance team and handle the intake of orphans.
Robb & Sheila - They have been here since April and have three kids. Robb directs education for GSF, heads up Mercy Ministry for GSF and deals with all the older students whether in high school or university. Sheila will help with organization at the school and donor communications. 

The Interns - GSF currently have 4 American University students serving here for the summer. Emily (post grad), Janie, Claire and Ashley will be here for 8 weeks and will help out in various ministries here.

Focus: Good Shepherd's Fold started out solely as an orphanage to deal with the AIDS crisis. A veteran from Vietnam who lost his legs saw the orphan crisis created by AIDS. He opened up his home and started caring for the kids. However as it matured he thought if we provided care for certain destitute mothers or fathers their kids might not end up in an orphanage. Mercy ministry and Social Work have therefore become bigger focuses at GSF. We constantly walk a fine line between trying to empower a local community to care for their own destitute and realizing that many of the communities we are dealing with are so poor that they simply cannot provide all that is needed to even meet basic needs. We therefore offer a feeding program for mothers with young children (and the elderly) that are malnourished so that their children do not end up at GSF because the mother cannot feed them. 
Additional examples of these sorts of situations that we have dealt with in the last two weeks are:
  1.  A father who was recently paralyzed (see my recent blog last month about taking this man to the hospital) by a stroke and cannot move 1/3rd of his bodies but has four children under eleven. The eleven year old takes care of his father and cooks for all the kids. His wife left him after he had the stroke and at that point he bought poison to kill himself and his children as he thought they would starve to death anyway. Fortunately, some community members brought him to church and a pastor helped to give him hope through faith in Christ. While trying to encourage the community to do what they can GSF is providing medical assistance to see if the father's condition can improve and hopefully the kids can stay with their father.
  2. A mentally insane mother who locked herself and her children into their mud hut. She was found still covered with blood from childbirth several weeks after giving birth and human waste all over the floor. The children have been taken to GSF while counseling services and mental health experts attempt to treat the mother.
  3. A grandmother who is attempting to take care of her abandoned grandchild in her tiny mud hut but has a problem with rats continually biting their feet at night. We have yet to come up with a solution.
I have been blessed this year to have been able to serve alongside this group of people. They have taught me all of their American ways (including inviting me to a wonderful Thanksgiving party, teaching me new recipes, new words and amazing ways on how to pronounce the 'A' sound in a variety of words!), loved me, fed me, driven me around, encouraged me and been a spiritual and emotional support through all the ups and downs that we have faced in this journey that we have been on this last year. They have taught me about living in Africa, about what it means to be a missionary, how to cope/manage and pray through good and tough times. They are incredibly hard working, dedicated, honourable, kind, loving and great examples to the GSF kids. 

As I prepare to leave GSF please continue to pray for these guys and all of the hard situations they face including the difficult decisions they have to  address each week. Just the above 3 examples show what tricky decisions have to be made each week in order to serve the community in the best way that GSF is able. 

Mark & Amy, Claudia, Robb & Sheila - all very special people, with a very special place in my heart who have become a huge part of my daily life.  I will miss seeing each of them every day.
Thank you guys for everything. 

L-R: Amelia, Hope, Claudia, Anna, Bobby, Emma, Maggie
Back L-R: Titus, Megan. Front: Amy, Caralina, Mark
L-R: Teddy, Avery, Avalyn, Sheila, Hayden, Robb

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Baptist Times Interview

This week an interview I had with Africa Inland Mission has been published in The Baptist Times on line. If you would like to read about it please click on this link to read the whole thing!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Stubborn Days and Big Miracles - Part 2

Big Miracles

Despite my lamentations and depressing thoughts that I blogged about in the last entry I also know that some days here just leave me full of joy and wonder. I recently went on a hospital trip with 4 different people and at the end of the day sat back and thought about how special it is that on these journeys I get to experience the wonderful gift of giving hope and life to those we are serving here. Part of GSF's ministry is to serve those in the local community and part of this is through medical assistance. I have been blessed to have been seeing this on the front line in working for GSF as they minister to these special people with the donations they have been given.

Here is a little information about 3 of these 4 people we had taken to hospital recently;

The first guy is around 40 years old. He lives in the village and has 4 children under 12 years old. He is known to GSF through their Mercy Ministry programme and GSF have been trying to assist him in his recent difficulties. About a year ago this man had what we presume is a stroke and became paralysed down the left side of his body. At this time his wife left him - He had never 'officially' married her so when he became sick her father came and took her back to her home village. In Uganda if an official marriage hasn't taken place where a dowry has been paid for the bride then she does not belong to the husband but still belongs to her parents. When her parents heard he had become sick they came to take her away leaving this man and his 4 children to fend for themselves (in Uganda the children are cared for and belong to the paternal side which is why the children do not always remain with the mother). This man struggled for months to support his children until last month when a neighbour approached GSF as they felt that he was not coping anymore. When our Social Worker arrived to assess his situation she found a bottle of Sulphur in the house which he explained that he had just purchased that week as he wanted to poison himself and his children. He could no-longer see how he could continue to survive each day and thought that they would all be better off if he poisoned them and they were all dead. Our Social Worker discarded the poison and registered him into the programme offering assistance with food supplies, clothing and money to pay the rent. Another way that she offered to help was by funding through the Mercy Ministry programme to get him some medical assistance. That's where I got to meet this gentle, kind spirited, humble and amazing man. We arranged to take him to a good rehabilitation hospital in Kampala and got him in to see the physiotherapist there. After an hour or two of assessments and exercise programmes the man appeared to be developing a new lease on life. He had changed from a bent over, shy, broken man to someone with hope, determination, joy and a future. He got a new crutch to assist him with walking and the physiotherapist gave him lots of exercises to try and help regain some of the muscle tone in his arm and leg. On our drive home I sat next to him and sat smiling and watching this man who spent the whole two hour drive home doing his exercises and watching out of the window asking questions about the capital, Kampala which he had never been to before. He also spent the journey looking up to thank us for all we had done. I always feel embarrassed in these situations as really I have done nothing. I have just been privileged to have escorted these people to the hospital where I have represented GSF and been able to use donations to bless others in God's work. 

The second patient that we escorted to that same hospital was a mother with her 3 week old baby. She was also known to GSF via the Mercy Ministry programme. She lives in the local village and when her baby was born with a cleft lip and palate she came here to look for help. GSF have an amazing ministry both within the orphanage and in this area where they are able to help so many. We took the baby with us and booked them into the hospital where they provide free medical care for cleft palate operations. This baby will have an operation to repair the lip and palate and all the medical bills, hospital stay and food will be paid for by this charity at the hospital. It was amazing to be sitting on the journey to Kampala with this lady and watching her expressions. Despite it being a journey that I do each week, to have walked through it with both the paralysed man and this lady who have never even been to Kampala before or even a good, large hospital was wonderful. It made me realise actually what a big deal this journey was for them. I am so used to escorting our children to the city for medical appointments it made me see that it is actually something that people in the villages don't ever experience like these two adults have never. It was amazing to be watching the world through their eyes.

Our third man was a 26 year old guy that works for us here at GSF. He was involved in an accident 9 years ago in a cement factory. His friend was reversing the cement truck and ran over him which amputated both of his legs at the knees. Since then this guy has moved around in his wheelchair and has done an amazing job of moving around the village and back and forth to work at GSF where the terrain is not often kind to those who have mobilisation difficulties. A sponsor from America had offered some money for him to have prosthetic limbs so we took him along to see if this was a possibility. We had a consultation with the head trauma surgeon and then met with the Physiotherapist and started to discuss about the limbs that he could have. The great news was that it is very possible that he may walk again after some intense rehabilitation and training on how to use the prosthetics. This guy was amazed and was already making plans on how he will walk up to the front of the church when he has his new legs to show his church how faithful God is. He says that those in the village have told him that he would need a miracle to walk again and now God is showing them that he does perform miracles! He was very excited about the prospect of walking and on the journey was showing us his favourite Psalms and discussing with his friend (our driver) how he will go on the local radio to tell everyone the Good News of Jesus.

It is on trips like this that I can't fail to see the Greatness of God in the daily situations I am involved in while serving here in this ministry. The great works that He does and the faithfulness he shows in the stories of people around us.

Psalm 145 v 1- 13
"I will exalt you, my God the King: I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no-one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. 
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations".

Stubborn Days and Big Miracles - Part 1

Stubborn Days

On a recent journey home from a local hospital where we had spent the day waiting and experiencing third world medicine I still couldnt believe quite how different things are here and how much they continue to take me by surprise. During the drive home I began thinking how after nearly a year living here I still sometimes sit down at the end of the day shocked/upset/confused and often just simply baffled by just how very different two cultures can be from one another.

Let me give you just a few examples of some of the cultural differences that I have noticed in just the last two weeks that still take me aback;

- Last week on a boda drive home from a hospital we passed a mob of men holding tree branches and thrashing them to the ground. It was quite scary watching them chanting, shouting and bashing the leaves and branches on the floor and I couldn't quite see what it was they were looking at in the middle of their group, I was presuming it was a fight. When my boda trip had finished I felt relived to be out of the noise and uncertainty in the mood/purpose of the group. Feeling safe again I asked the driver what was happening. He explained that Male circumcision (carried out here when the boy turns into a teenager) is a huge part of culture and tradition in the area we were in. A teenage boy had run away because he didn't want to be circumcised. He was later on found and  held/tied down so the circumcision could be carried out. However, he had been found in the town centre so the group of men who had been searching for him began to circumcise him on the pavement in the middle of the street and that's when we drove past on the bikes. I honestly couldn't believe that it was just happening in the street in the middle of the town and spent a long time on the remainder of my journey home thinking about the trauma that boy will have gone through.

- In the past I have been walking through the taxi park holding one of our babies when somebody takes the baby from my arms. In my mind I panic and automatically think that they are taking the baby from me but culturally thay just want to help or to hold the baby. It's a very different concept to get used to coming from the West where we wouldn't let a stranger hold our child and are constantly teaching children about 'stranger danger'!

- Recently on a bus journey back to Jinja a man got on at one of the bus stops and then began selling medication throughout the journey. He stood in the aisle and told everyone about each drug he was selling 'i.e; "this antibiotic will help you if you get a bad flu or a dry cough". He then would wander up and down the bus as people brought a few tablets of whatever it was that he was selling. He did this with a number of antibiotics and some other items. Again I was shocked and frustrated at this culture in its mis-use of important drugs and the lack of education people have around the use of medication.

- This morning we found out about 3 children in the local village who had died last night in a house fire. The father had left the hut to go to the store leaving the children sleeping. On his return he found the hut on fire. The neighbours had heard the children's scream but initially thought they were just being disciplined so hadn't gone straight to the hut until it was too late. The children were buried the same day and there will be no investigations into the cause of the fire (which is thought to be from a candle falling over) and possibly no thoughts or actions as to how this could be prevented in other huts in the village in the future.

- Last week I rode into Jinja with one of the families here at GSF. In town they stopped at the skip to empty their trash. We sat in shock as 3 street boys rushed over jumped into the skip and literally started fist fighting each other over the items of rubbish in the carrier bag. 
- During a recent medical emergency at GSF we rushed an unconscious man to the local hospital. After running into the ward and placing him on the bed I stood back in horror as.....nothing happened. I asked for some assistance and was told that the doctor was coming. A nurse then came into the room to take the mans temperature but there appeared to be no sense of urgency to treat the man immediately. I suggested to the nurse that we lay him on his side as he was struggling to breathe. When the doctor did come in he said that there were too many people in the room taking the air which was why the man was struggling for oxygen. I walked away upset thinking how different this situation would be if the man had been rushed into an Emergency Department in England.

These are just a handful of examples as to why I still find it so difficult living in another culture. I find watching life go on here as an observer so hard, raw and sometimes so merciless. Obviously I have just mentioned a few 'hard to swallow' moments and of course there are many, many moments I see things here where I think, "Wow, this culture does it so right!" and I often think about what a better place England could be if we were more like those here in Uganda. The things I have just shared with you are just to show you that even after a year living here I still struggle and sit down at the end of a 'stubborn day' (as a difficult day would be called here) trying to work it all out. 

One of the lessons I guess that I have learnt after my time here is that no-matter how hard I try I just can't figure it all out. Life, death, pain, joy, hope, suffering, poverty......these are just a few of the things that I will never fully understand. I don't understand... 
Why life is just so hard here?
Why I am so rich but the ones I treat have so little? 
Why even though the beautiful people I have spent this year with experience much suffering and have so little they can be so joyful and so full of hope.? 
Why 3 small children should die in a terrible accident but others are given life? 

All I can do at the end of a 'stubborn' day here is to give my worries, fears, and lack of understanding to my God. He is Sovereign over all and despite my human failings and lack of faith on some days I know that He is in control. He is the one in who these people I have talked about also go to when they are having hard days. He is where they find their love, hope and strength for each day....and where I have to remember to go when I don't understand why. I have to remember that He is the One who who is holding me and is my strength through stubborn days despite my human weaknesses.

Psalm 73 v 23-26 

"Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, 
and afterwards you will take me into glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever".