Written by Dr. Bridget Hurry, Otino Waa Co-Director
Someone recently said to me, “It sounds like you are grieving.”
Her comment was appreciated but it also seemed so very obvious.I had just passed the third anniversary of my mom, dad, and aunt’s unexpected deaths.I was sitting next to my dear friend who had lost her husband just 8 months previously.I was sitting in the basement of my home church for the few hours of shared space- before I got back on a plane to serve in Africa and they continued to live life as I had known it here in USA.
“No, no, no. I am not talking about any of that Bridget.It sounds to me like you are grieving medicine.”
It sounded so bizarre echoing off the church’s folding chairs and paneling…and yet I knew it was true.
I loved the study of medicine and devoured my books and assignments at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine.I advanced to the Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program at Indiana University and although I can’t say I loved those years, I did survive them.It was here in Indiana where I met my now husband, got rooted into a great home church, and started exploring the world of international missions alongside my ever-growing private practice.
If you asked me then what I wanted to do with my life, it was to be the hands and feet of Jesus ANYWHERE He asked me to go.I was a present day Isaiah and I was committed and ready to go wherever He asked.
“Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, ‘Whom shall I send?And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I.Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)
I didn’t answer naively either.By the time my family and I moved to Northern Uganda in 2012, I had served in a short term capacity in over a dozen countries.I had painted churches in Honduras, built homes in Mexico, treated leprosy in Uganda, dysentery in Haiti, and fibroids in Bolivia.I had even met the fullness of God’s majesty and His all-consuming peace face to face in Kenya—as a grown woman died with her head in my lap on our way to the hospital.I could make NO sense of this seemingly wasteful tragedy as I revisited all of my training, studies, or previous experiences. But I knew God was good and God was God and He ministered to me in a way I had never experienced before.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.
It was soon after my time living in Kenya that I knew I would one day return to the African continent.I didn’t know it would be with my amazing husband and two cute kids, but He did and His plans are truly perfect.He knew we would oversee one the best ministries on the planet (biased, maybe), homeschool, teach, preach, and everything else that is required in a day in the life at Otino Waa Ministries.And He knew we could do it… because He is good and He is God.
He also knew things I never saw coming.He knew I couldn’t know about them just yet… or I might not have ever followed Him here in obedience.
- He knew I would sleep on the floor of a 7 y/o Ugandan child who I loved as my own with a 104F fever, malaria, and seizures.God would hear my pleas to not take this one, not tonight, not yet.
- He knew I would hold a month old baby in the morgue of an international hospital and cry out in pain that erupted from my core.God would breathe His comfort on me and cry alongside me in that cold, cold room.
- He knew I would treat a 23 year old HIV+ mother with stage IV cervical cancer and hold her mother’s hand just 6 months later as they returned from her burial.God would use me as an advocate for other mothers with cervical cancer to stop the terminal cycle of this disease in our community.
- He knew I would deliver a baby Bridget, a baby Clark, a baby Paul, and a baby Doctor Bridget.God would have them smile, spit, and pee on me to remind me that life can be messy but it is always worth the mess.
- He knew I would see the smiles of a recovering student after his treatment for a serious heart condition.God would orchestrate the professional collaboration for successful heart surgery to take place here in Uganda.
- He knew I would hold back the floodgate of tears as I said goodbye to another student who died suddenly after her battle with a serious health condition.God would gently remind me of the “borrowed time” she had, pain-free, from His love, care, and provision she experienced through my obedience to be His hands and feet.
Truth be told, I did like practicing medicine in America better.There were days that were challenging, and it had its own share of complicated cases, but it was also fun.If there was a surgery that had intraoperative challenges, I knew I could call a subspecialist.If the patient’s complicated case wouldn’t respond to the usual treatment regimens, we always had consultants we could call upon.And no matter how close I became to my patient, they never captivated my heart as my children, “otino waa”, have managed to do here.
So, what is one to do when you observe a grief brewing in your heart?I think it’s best to do what has always worked for me in the past.Call upon the LORD.Obey.Trust.And wait… wait in the grief that He alone can redeem. After all, God is good and God is God, amen?
We are so amazed at what God is doing through the ministry of Otino Waa and we are grateful for the hundreds of people who’ve come alongside the ministry with the common goal of rescuing more kids in northern Uganda. The 2017 Banquet in Bend, OR was a fantastic night with over 330 individuals in attendance. We heard from Otino Waa’s executive director, Ty Denney; in country director, Dr. Bridget Hurry; administrative assistant, Otem Moses and transportation officer and head bee keeper, Pastor Omara Douglas.
In total, $104,744 was raised for Otino Waa through donations, a dollar for dollar matching fund and child sponsorships! Praise God! Thank you for your support, participation and prayers. We are excited to partner with you to bring desperately needed resources and care to orphaned and vulnerable children in northern Uganda!
Otino Waa is proud to share that one of our very own students, Patrick Hamza Okello, recently competed in the Inaugural FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) Global Robotics Challenge in Washington D.C., USA. Students from around the world gathered to compete, learn and partner at this amazing event. 157 countries from 6 continents were represented and a total of 163 teams participated in the competition, demonstrating what FIRST referred to as “gracious professionalism” with the goal of helping each other learn and grow in the field of robotics.
The founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen, has a vision that today’s youth could be the first generation working together around the globe with the common goal to make the world a better place. The goal of FIRST is to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in schools to prepare the upcoming generation to solve the problems of tomorrow. Patrick and his team are the first to represent the nation of Uganda in an International Robotics Competition. Patrick is a beacon of hope and inspiration to all of us who are connected to Otino Waa, and especially to the Otino Waa Children.
Did you know that Otino Waa is one of only 15 legally licensed children’s homes in Uganda?
An article published by the Daily Monitor in Uganda recently reported that of the hundreds of orphanages in Uganda, only 15 organizations are legally licensed as of 2017.
Knowing this, we are thankful for God’s continued provision and favor on this ministry. We believe the work God is doing through Otino Waa is not only improving the life of each child that comes to us – but is also blessing the community around us and creating a ripple effect throughout Lira and Kole district.
We are also very thankful for our Ugandan staff. Without their dedication, Otino Waa would not be what it is today.
And we are so proud of our kids! They are overcoming so many trials, they are choosing forgiveness and they are being healed in the process. It is such a privilege to witness broken lives made new. The glory goes to Jesus Christ, our Savior, who is the fixer of broken things and can redeem any situation.
As we continue to do the work laid out before us, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and provision, and so we are encouraged. If God is with us, there is nothing we cannot accomplish for his kingdom.
Otino Waa is hosting a concert on May 19 in Bend, Oregon to raise funds for the kids at Otino Waa. But why a concert you ask? There are so many other ways to fundraise right? Well, to be honest, it’s not just about fundraising. Yes, we absolutely want to have all our children fully sponsored – but we also really want to hang out with you and meet some new people!
Think back to how you heard about Otino Waa. Was it through church, Facebook, an event? We really love our Otino Waa family and want it to grow, but sometimes it’s hard to meet new people and branch out. We thought it would be a great idea to gather up so many you – our dedicated supporters – and host a fun event that would be easy to invite your friends to. We want to make it exciting, simple and fun for you to share why you love Otino Waa with the rest of your world.
So let’s talk about the bands. This year we have The Gambler and the Thief opening the night. Have you heard them? They’re amazing! Tim and Vanessa have lived and sang all over the USA but decided to land in Bend and call it home for a while. Their singer-songwriter, Americana folk sound is complex, harmonic and down right beautiful. Their songs are filled with pieces of their story and when you’re at their show, it’s like you’ve been invited to get an authentic glimpse into their lives.
Next we’re turning up the energy with the High Street Band. Fun. Colorful. Energetic. Get your dancing shoes on because this band will have you tapping your toes – if not tearing up the dance floor – to some swing and jazz. High Street’s classy Zoot suits, big band sound and ability to transport you back to the 40’s and 50’s will be something you don’t want to pass up. We’re even taking out the first few rows on seats to make room for everyone to dance (thanks Tower Theatre!)
We know you’re going to have a blast – and we really hope you to invite your friends. Why not spend your Friday night in downtown Bend listening to some fantastic music – while helping to feed, clothe and educate orphan kids in Uganda? It’s a win-win. So come on out, invite your people, May 19 at 7:30p at the Tower Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the Tower’s website by clicking here.
We’ll see you there!
The following is an interview with Sedrick Otolo speaking on behalf of the Inspiration Club at Otino Waa Children’s Village. Sedrick graduated from the OTW Senior 4 program in December of 2016. He is a strong student leader and one of the founders of the Otino Waa Inspiration Club.
The Inspiration Club was started in 2014 after a group of young men attended a Leadership Camp in Gulu. The Leadership Camp trained young men in Uganda to have Leadership Development. The students were taught ways to build character, be a good leader and train up others in a positive way. The camp inspired the attendees to bring the ideas back to OTW and create a similar leadership program in their school. They learned the importance of involving all of the kids to train them up and create a positive change in their community.
The Inspiration Club works at building the talents of kids by challenging them to create a positive change in their lives, their schools and their community. The students work to improve the general cleanliness of the orphanage and surrounding community. The students will go out into the community and help to clean areas that are not well prepared as well as clean boreholes and well areas to make sure that the water sources are kept clean. The leaders of the club inspire the kids with scripture and encouraging words, helping them to be aware of what they want to achieve in life and to remind them of the situation that God picked them from and where they are now at this moment.
A very important component of being a part of this club is participating in preaching the gospel in outreach to the community and by going to other schools and churches with Reverend Dickens. The students feel strongly about this calling. The club members share the Word of Christ for the sake of the gospel and strive to unite the kids and staff at OTW together in an orderly way. Last term some of the members of the Inspiration Club went to Dr. Obote College with Reverend Dickens. After Rev Dickens sermon, over 100 students were born again and received Jesus Christ as their personal savior. The Inspiration Club has also partnered with their sister school in Lira called St. Mary’s Primary school, where they have started a similar club that is following the same model and foundation of the ideas of the Inspiration Club at OTW.
Another important component of being an Inspiration Club member is by contributing positive ideas. The students created a closed group on Facebook called Inspiration Club #OtinoWaa. The mission statement posted on the home page reads “This group is focused on uniting all people who passed through Otino Waa and creating a source of inspiration in the hearts of students at Otino Waa. We, as the kids of this place and the former students thought twice to see that we get a way of being united as a family.” Students and staff can go to this Facebook page and post scripture, prayers and encouraging words to support each other. The club believes in utilizing the talents of the students through creating poems, making skits, as well as creating videos and movies that will inspire others and help them to learn more things and become more curious about life. Awhile back some visitors came to OTW and donated a good camera which has allowed the team to start creating these videos and movies. Before Sedrick left for the holidays, after his graduation from OTW, he completed two very important projects for the students and community. One of the projects was a beautiful video he compiled of photos set to Christian music that featured OTW students and guests that had come to celebrate the Christmas party and year end events at OTW. The second project was a screen play that was written and directed by the team leaders, filmed and made into a movie that was just released on DVD at the end of 2016. The movie is called “Protected” and is currently available for purchase at the OTW Cafe. A trailer of the movie will be released soon on Facebook #ProtectedTheInspirationClubMovie.
Sedrick believes that the club will do more and continue to grow and reach more people. The club is made up of different departments such as: Communication; Language; Talent; and Internal Affairs. There are 15 Leaders in the club but the Inspiration club is general and for everyone in the orphanage. Sedrick believes the perspective is widening and growing in the club as new ideas come and they begin to branch out to do more things.
Currently, Sedrick is waiting for his final exam results which should arrive in mid-January 2017. His goals are to go to A level, which is Advanced Level, Senior 5 & 6, where he wants to study to be a pastor and do the works of God, which he believes is the greatest commission that God has placed before him. He also wants to become an Engineer.
Sedrick has been given hope through the sponsors and loving support that he has received for the past 10 years at OTW. He is excited about his future but knows it will be difficult to leave this safe, secure and loving support system. Sedrick wants to express his special thanks to the sponsors and all of those who have participated in being a part of Otino Waa. He says, “What you are doing at Otino Waa, no one could do it, it is only by the help of God and the Holy Spirit that came upon you and made you to help us. Because we had no hopes in life, me personally I had no hope in life, but right now I can see there is something that God is preparing for me and something that is He has put ahead of me with your support. I pray that may the living God bless you and give you everything you need in life.”
My Comforter Amidst the Confusion
Written 4 January 2017 by Anne Marie Boelter, Otino Waa Intern
When I heard Gods voice calling me back to Uganda I knew that He had great plans for my life. I made a commitment to leave the comforts of my life in the US behind and fully embrace life in Uganda. I wanted to know what it was like to live like my children in Uganda have lived. I opened myself to whatever the cultural differences were and came willing to experience, learn and adapt. I have had the peace from God within me that passes all understanding.
Over the holiday break for the students in Uganda I made plans to go visit my sponsored children in Uganda. I visited my son in Kapchorwa and my daughter in Kawempe. I lived with a pastor that was a spiritual parent to my daughter Patience and my son Ronald. The pastors name is Eddie Baligonzaki Mwesigwa. Eddie and his wife Jane took me into their family and made me feel like a member of the family instead of just a visiting guest. I made it clear to them that in order to stay for an extended period of time that I would need to participate in the daily activities and chores of the household.
The highlight of the holidays for most Ugandan families is to return to the villages of your family and where you grew up. So, we had plans to go to Hoima for an extended stay. Hoima is the village that Eddie and his Mwesigwa family come from. The family was really excited and did all of the preparations to be there until February. Eddie is a full-time pastor, so a few of us had planned to go with the family and return a few days later. Eddie and Jane have five children. Eddie and Jane married when they were young and suffered a tragic accident with their first born son who died from severe burns after an accident with boiling water. After the loss of their first born son, Jane delivered a second child, this time a daughter. They named her Comforter, because Eddie and Jane believed that God brought them their daughter to “comfort” them through their loss of their first child. Because Eddie is a pastor and his life purpose is to win souls to Christ, the enemy comes at him from many different angles. Unknown to me, their daughter Comforter had been having some health battles with some unexplained seizures, possibly epilepsy. The night before we left for Hoima, Comforter had returned from a few days of prayer and deliverance that she went to attend to be delivered from her health struggles and other battles that she faced. Comforter stayed up late doing chores, packing, ironing and preparing for her month away in the village. I came into the kitchen and found her sitting on the floor, staring at the wall. I asked if she was okay and she looked right through me. I thought I had interrupted her prayers, so I apologized and left her to pray. The next day we packed the car and I sat in the back seat between Comforter and Zubeedah. Soon after we left Kawempe, Comforter turned to me and looked right through me again. All of the sudden her body was all contracted and I could tell that she was going into a seizure. Zubeedah tried to switch places with me, but God told me to stay where I was and help Comforter. I held her close to me and supported her head as she fell deep asleep after her seizure. This repeated a number of times on our travel to Hoima. Sometimes the seizures were so extreme that Eddie pulled over to the side of the road and the family prayed over Comforter asking God for their daughter to be healed and the enemy rebuked. However, not once did the family stop for medical care. I was not scared to be with Comforter, but I begin to become very worried about her needing medical care and expressed my concerns to her parents. I placed my FitBit watch on her wrist and was monitoring her heart rate. During the seizures it would go up over 165 bpm. At rest if was in the 90’s sometimes around 120. The day was hot, the sun was streaming in and Comforter had really never been conscience since we left Kawempe. I began to worry about dehydration, what her blood pressure might be and how her heart was withstanding all of this stress to her body.
Many hours after we left Kawempe, we arrived in Hoima and Eddie and I had discussed getting Comforter evaluated at a medical clinic. We parked the vehicle outside a medical clinic. We sat there in the hot sun. Eddie was on the phone with someone and very conflicted about what he should do. I was urging him to get Comforter medical care, but no one got out of the car to take her there. I started to get this anger and anxiety inside of me, wondering why nothing was happening. Then a woman and man arrived and came to Comforter. They asked me to help get her out of the car. As I thought we were going to walk into the clinic, these two people placed Comforter in the back seat of their car. I kind of started to argue with Eddie and this woman who I didn’t know, I was adamant that we get Comforter medical care. Eddie told me how conflicted he was about what he should do. I was informed that Comforter was being taken for prayer. I totally believe in prayer and that God is the greatest physician in the universe. I also know that there are times when people need to use the gifts that God has given our medical teams to save the lives of His children. I was informed that this couple were cousins of Eddie’s, the woman asked me to trust her and told me that “you will see.” I was asked to go on to the house with the family while Zubeedah went with Comforter and Eddie’s cousins to receive prayer. I refused to leave Comforter and requested that I go with her. I am CPR and First Aid trained and I wanted to be wherever Comforter was going. We drove in the hot sun on bumpy roads out into the country and ended up at a church with an adjacent compound. The woman in the car had forgotten that that day was a day of counsel at the church and people were lined up and waiting outside the church for the pastors counsel. So, since we would have to wait, the woman lied a mat on the ground and we removed Comforters lethargic and somewhat lifeless body on the mat in the shade. Then we just sat there waiting and the enemy came into my mind. I had to pray so hard to seriously not go crazy. My anger could almost not be contained, my doubt in what was happening consumed me. I felt so helpless. Nothing was happening. I was confused and upset with Eddie and Jane, that they had allowed their daughter to be sent off with others who were demanding she receive prayer. I had so many conflictions. I was worried about what it would be like if Comforter died and I hadn’t intervened to stop what I felt was utter nonsense. I could not find my peace of mind. I was kind of rude, because I was angry about the decisions that were being made for Comforter. I had to continue praying and debriefing with Zubeedah to calm my mind and anger. Then the overwhelming sadness and tears came. I was helpless and had to realize that there was nothing I could do to change the circumstances and that the only thing I could do was to hand Comforter over to God and believe that He would make everything okay. We sat and we waited. Finally we were asked to bring Comforter to a large empty room in the compound that had a tarp on the floor. She was laid in the middle of the floor. I sat down beside her and held her in my arms. The room started to fill with strangers that all gathered around Comforter. The pastor came into the room. He was a very young man and I didn’t know that he was the pastor that had come to pray over Comforter. When he shook my hand I looked him directly in his eyes and squeezed his hand as hard as I could. I was so angry. He looked at me startled and returned the firm hand shake and laughed. I was asked to step away from Comforter, to not touch her and back-up. The situation was reaching a level of intensity that I almost could not bear. I wanted to scream at everyone in the room and tell them how ridiculous this was and that we needed to get Comforter to the hospital. Then the praying began. The room filled with voices of praise and prayer and speaking in tongues. I lifted my hands to heaven and surrendered. Then a spirit was cast out of Comforter into the body of another woman in the room. I had never witnessed such an event. The woman shared insights of what was taken out of Comforter and took on the seizures and condition that Comforter had had. As the pastor was praying over this woman, Comforter began to regain her health. Then another part of Comforters spirit was cast out into the body of a man that had a similar reaction that the woman had had. Once again seizing and screaming and revealing things unknown to anyone else. I stood there in awe and wonder. The room was filled with praying and these two individuals screaming and convulsing and sharing insights to all that were there to witness. Every word was spoken in Luganda and I had no idea what was being said, but I knew it was powerful and all of the sudden everything stopped. The individuals regained their composure back to their previous selves. Comforter opened her eyes, sat up and came into consciousness for the first time since we had left Kawempe. She didn’t know where she was, but she had no fear. Everyone exited the room except for Comforter, Zubeedah and I. Then Comforter went back to sleep and rested and recovered and never had another seizure. After a couple days of rest, Comforter was back to laughing, smiling, eating, mopping, cooking, cleaning and all the normal activities she had done prior to our car trip to Hoima. We went back to that church two days later for a prayer service that they do ever Thursday night. We sat on the floor and packed the church for almost 7 hours… praying, worshipping and witnessing people being delivered. I felt so much peace and was honored to be there.
Receiving Prayer in Hoima
I was able to apologize to Eddie and his family for doubting their decisions and for having so much anger that day. I was confused and afraid for Comforters life. I was told that had Comforter been taken to the medical clinic she probably wouldn’t have been seen by any doctor before the time that she had been delivered and healed by the pastor. I was also told that we could have waited at the clinic all day in the hot sun and then when she finally would have been seen by the doctors, that they might have turned her away because seizures might are thought of as a curse. The doctors might not have treated her. So, I had asked God to allow me to experience Uganda and not intervene with my US knowledge and ways… I failed this day. However, I was reminded that God is the ultimate physician and that we should always put our faith and trust in Him.
The next day in Hoima with the Mwesigwa family.
Humbled. Amazed. Energized.
These are just a few words that describe our feelings about this year’s Otino Waa Benefit Banquet. We are so humbled by God’s continued faithfulness to the ministry and the children at Otino Waa. His faithfulness was tangibly shown through the hundreds of people who attended the banquet, gave of their talents, resources and volunteer time.
Almost 400 people attended the banquet and many more participated by donating online to the banquet. We were blessed to have a $50,000 matching fund challenge and we are excited to report that it was fully matched! In total, $141,000 was raised for the ministry and 80 people signed up to become sponsors that night, praise God!
By God’s provision, three of our Ugandan nationals were able to come to the US and speak. Rev. Dickens Anyati, administrator of Otino Waa, has been with the ministry since the beginning and we were blessed to spend time with him in the US. Assistant administrator, Otem Moses also spoke at the banquet. He grew up in northern Uganda during the LRA conflict and when he was young, he was part of a child sponsorship program. He has seen first hand the impact sponsorship can have on a life. Our third Ugandan guest was Otino Waa child, Adong Edith, a gifted speaker, singer and leader. We also heard from in-country directors, Steve and Bridget Hurry. They gave a report on what has happened at Otino Waa during the past year and shared vision for the year to come.
Thank you so much to everyone who attended, volunteered and gave – together we are changing lives in northern Uganda!
Thomas Friesen Raises Funds for Otino Waa Children’s Village
Written by Dwayne Friesen 07/25/2016 (Thomas’ grandfather)
Thomas Friesen is the 9-year-old son of Aaron and Heather Friesen. Their family has been supporting an Otino Waa orphan, Andrew Odango, for about two years. Thomas and his two younger brothers and sister (Andrew, Harrison and Clara) have enjoyed writing to Andrew and hearing from Andrew about life at Otino Waa as well as how much Otino Waa and our Lord’s grace has meant to Andrew and changed his life.
A few months ago, Thomas decided he wanted to do more to help the children of Otino Waa. He decided he would begin raising funds to send to Otino Waa. He started by talking to his 3rd grade teacher at McCornack Elementary School in Eugene, Miss Mertz. Miss Mertz thought this sounded like a great cause, but thought they would need permission from the principal. They scheduled a meeting with the principal, Londa Rochholz, for Thomas to present what he knew about Otino Waa. Thomas and his friend Sammy worked together to prepare a presentation. They spent their Saturday afternoon before the meeting reading and collecting information from the Otino Waa website to learn about Otino Waa, the children that live there and how they are helped.
After their presentation to Ms. Rochholz, she gave Thomas permission to make presentations to both 3rd grade classes at their school and allow Thomas to accept collections on behalf of Otino Waa. Ms. Rochholz and her husband were so impressed by Thomas and Otino Waa that they donated as well. A total of $158 was collected through Thomas’ presentations to the classes.
Thomas, his parents, and the schoolchildren that donated then talked about how best to give to Otino Waa and they remembered reading about the poultry project. McCornack School has a garden with two chickens that the students help care for and also collect and share the eggs. Therefore, Thomas and his friends that donated decided to give the money raised toward the poultry project. They particularly liked that the children of Otino Waa would have eggs to eat and would learn how to help care for the chickens. They also were happy that their donation would be doubled through a matching grant.
Thomas was so happy that he could help Andrew and the other children of Otino Waa.
This week kicked off a brand new school year at Otino Waa. The entire village gathered to pray over the upcoming year and ask that God would accomplish all that he has planned for the kids this year. For 20 young children, this is their first week of school at Otino Waa and they have a lot to learn and adjust to as their lives have just changed drastically. Would you join us in praying for the whole village as they begin afresh?