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Surviving Off the Grid in Uganda with Jessica Ankney – Episode 100

We have the perception that if we make all the right arrangements and have all our supplies and preparations in place, that no matter what happens—whether it’s a biological attack, a terrorist attack, economic collapse, an EMP burst, or whatever—that we’ll be able to continue life as we know it and it’ll be just a minor inconvenience.

We really don’t have a clue what living “off the grid” really means or entails.

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Off The Grid Radio
Ep 100
Released: May 4th, 2012

Bill:                  And welcome everybody. It’s Bill Heid with yet another episode of Off the Grid Radio. In fact, Abe, it is our 100th episode, so I’ve got my friend and co-worker here, Abe Chacko.

Abe:                 Congratulations!

Bill:                  Well thank you very much. It’s been great doing this show and this is our 100th episode. We have got a very exciting episode today. We have got a lot of our staff in the studio, which is something that we do not do normally and our guest today is my wife Kim’s cousin, Jessica Ankney, from Lena, Illinois. Jessica, Doctor Ankney, has been on the mission field for quite a while and we would like to tell a lot of you who were very fond of our Haiti story and some of the things that are going on in Haiti and just what we’ve done and how we’ve interacted with Haiti—but, this is another story, another adventure. As you guys can see I’ve got my safari shirt on. Is this what they wear in Uganda?  Jessica, something like this?

Jessica:            Yes, it is the color.

Bill:                  Does it have any sweat attached to it yet.

Jessica:            No.

Bill:                  I’ll be sweating shortly, or one of these guys will dump some coffee on me or something to get me going.

Jessica You still smell good.

Bill:                  I still smell good! Thanks so much for being with us today and we appreciate everything that you have done. Being a doctor, it would be pretty easy for you to roll your required wisdom and knowledge into a Mercedes and a very nice life style.  You have chosen something else. You have chosen to serve our Lord Jesus Christ and in that capacity in Uganda, I kind of wanted you to tell us a little bit about just how that went. I was looking at your bio; we can talk about your bio a little bit. I went to Wartburg as well, I don’t know if you knew that.

Jessica:            I didn’t know that.

Bill:                  Yes, so those, all those long drive out there.

Jessica:            Yeah.

Bill:                  I decided at some point, Judy, you will appreciate this. I decided at some point I was more interested in Kim, my wife, than I was in Wartburg, so I surrendered, retreated, and came back across the river to Illinois and got married. That is kind of catch-up. I loved Wartburg College and I was excited to see that you went there as well. So, congratulations on that! Do you ever go back there?

Jessica:            I’ve been back a few times since I graduated, but, mostly I’ve been busy with medical school and residency and now not living very close so I’ve only been back a couple of times.

Bill:                  You don’t have a lot of time do you?

Jessica:            No, but I’ve been getting together with the eight other girls that were my roommates in college and even on this trip back to visit family and friends, I’m going to catch up with them in Minneapolis.

Bill:                  Sure, great. So, let’s go backwards again a little bit. You went to Wartburg, you went to Lena, not too far from here, Lena, IL, one of our rivals, one of Stockton’s rivals in football and basketball and everything, and, and then you decided to go to Wartburg and then you went to Medical College and did some residency. Where did you do your residency work?

Jessica:            I did my residency in Hendersonville, NC.

Bill:                  Okay.

Jessica:            At a family practice program there. Hendersonville is also small. That’s near Asheville in western North Carolina.

Bill:                  Okay, beautiful country.

Jessica:            It’s very beautiful.

Bill:                  Hard to leave that area and travel.

Jessica:            Yeah, I missed my family though, so I moved back to the Midwest.

Bill:                  See, we all want to get back to home on some level, don’t we? So, you first got this tug–you decided that you would like to serve God on the mission field. Tell us a little bit about you know, lay a little bit of a foundation about, how does someone get a call like that? How did you feel called? This is probably a lifetime of accumulated–you know what you’ve been trained–up at home how to think, and how to do and so we give your parents a lot of credit for the way you think as well. But, how, did this all come about?

Jessica:            I definitely give my mom a lot of credit for teaching us kids about the Lord ever since we were little and bringing me to church and giving me that Christian education. When I was about 18, I felt like God was calling me to be a missionary. I didn’t really understand it at the time. No one had ever really talked to me about being called and it was just this feeling in my heart, like knowing that I was supposed to be a missionary; but, I didn’t know any missionaries and I had barely traveled outside of a 16 mile radius from home.

Bill:                  Sure, yes.

Jessica:            I thought that someday maybe I could marry a pastor and that’s how I could be a missionary; but, since I’m still single that obviously didn’t work out.  As I went to college and on to medical school I’ve learned more possibilities and as I felt God calling me to be a doctor, I realized that there were a lot of open doors to serve as a missionary through medicine as well.

Bill:                  Okay. So you’re still single. So this is kind of a call out to anybody that has–sort of, is this like an advertisement. Can we turn this into an advertisement too?

Jessica:            I guess it could be an alternative to online dating.

Bill:                  Our subscribers, or our listeners and subscribers are a pretty good bunch, so maybe somebody will say… I’d like to at least here what you, before we go on, here’s what you can do. You can follow Jessica’s blog. This will be the advertisement for this. Your blog is Jessankney.wordpress.com. Right, is that the?

Jessica:            Yes, that’s Jessankney.wordpress.com.

Bill:                  So, if anybody wants to follow what you are doing and just kind of see what’s going on while you are in Uganda, now your back home; but, I’m saying your long-term perspective is Uganda based.

Jessica:            Yes.

Bill:                  That’s where you want to be, from what I understand.

Jessica:            Yes.

Bill:                  It’s pretty exciting!

Jessica:            With the call to the mission field, it was something that I had felt for many years and just always had this strange desire to go to Africa. Even as a child, I grew up during the time of the famine in Ethiopia and I always wanted my family to sponsor a child. When I was about five or six, I decided that I had a great solution to world hunger. Santa Claus, instead of bringing presents to the kids, he could bring food to the kids…

Bill:                  Wow!

Jessica:            Then they would not be hungry anymore and that’s when my mother had to tell me there wasn’t a Santa Claus.

Bill:                  Oh, Judy, how could you do that to this poor girl?

Jessica:            Which was really depressing.

Bill:                  Terrible.

Jessica:            I had done some short term missions, things in West Africa, during college and then during medical school and had kind of a hard experience in Niger or Niger, West Africa,  about a third of the children die before the age of five there. It’s a really hard place and it was really hard for me to deal with so many kids dying. In the U.S., being a doctor, children don’t die very often. I was just really unprepared to deal with that and after having that experience in medical school, I still felt that God was calling me to be a missionary; but, I thought that I never wanted to go back to Africa again and began praying about other options.

I did a couple of short term things in China during residency and then after residency. I really enjoyed being in China and felt like it was a good fit. I think it was in 2008 that I really felt God pushing me out of the nest, that it was time to move forward onto the long term missions. I began pursuing opportunities to go to China long term and had applied with a certain organization and the organization wasn’t communicating with me very well. Then, their contact with China, their relationship with the organization they partnered with in China, was breaking apart and so it didn’t seem like that was going to work out. I got really frustrated because, here it was already later in my life than I had anticipated for going to the mission field. I thought I would go right after residency and now it had been—I guess three years after residency…two years or something like that. I just began praying again about where I should go. At that time I was working in Indianapolis. I took care of a lot of Burmese refugees and so I thought, well maybe I’ll go to Southeast Asia somewhere; because, I really enjoyed working with the people from Burma. I prayed about it over several weeks and one night before I was going to bed I was praying again about the situation with missions, where I should go and just asking God to give me direction. It was, one of those really cool God moments where He clearly spoke to my heart and said, “Go to Uganda with Travis and Amy.”

Bill:                  That’s pretty strong stuff.

Jessica:            Yes.

Bill:                  Pretty direct.

Jessica:            I didn’t know exactly where in Africa Uganda was, but I did know Travis and Amy, so that was helpful. I just felt this huge weight lift off my chest and just started crying. I just felt overwhelmed with joy and with peace. I mean, this was an answer to prayer starting from the age of 18 where I felt like God was calling me to do missions and to finally have a clear answer as to where I should go. I also thought that, again, I would have my own family by this point in my life and so it was kind of scary to go to the mission field as a single person. I felt really blessed that God provided this family, my friends, Travis and Amy, to go with me. Travis and I were in residency together and Amy, his wife, was also my friend and I could not sleep for hours because I was just filled with so much joy. I wished that I had that amazing high like this overwhelming joy like this…

Bill:                  All the time. Yeah.

Jessica:            Yeah, definitely, and I called them up early the next morning and I hadn’t talked to them in about six months. They were living in North Carolina still. I said “You guys still going to Uganda?” and they said “Yeah, do you want to come with us?” My guess is they had been really praying for someone to go with them as well, because they didn’t want to go by themselves either. Our organization, World Harvest Mission, really wanted them to build more of a team. To have someone who could be a friend for Amy and someone who could be a medical partner for Travis. It was really awesome to be an answer to someone’s prayer and to have my prayer answered.

Bill:                  What’s interesting too about your story–I think that God’s probably done something similar to everybody in this room—but just because you wanted to take that step forward, it wasn’t necessarily a smooth transition to everything that you wanted. In other words, I think that the normal thought for a lot of people is, “Well God, I’ve decided to do this stuff for You.” so now make my life easy. Your life clearly wasn’t easy from the point of your saying, “Hey, how can I be of service?” It actually got a little frustrating for you, perhaps, at certain times right before you finally got shuffled into this thing that was a fit.

Jessica:            Yes, definitely. There was a hard situation with the church; there were struggles with issues of singleness. Going through the support raising process was really difficult and even on the mission field there have been a lot of struggles. I do think that for some reason I thought, and I really don’t know why I thought that, but following Christ and His path for my life was going to make life easier somehow. It is easier in the sense that I feel God’s peace about the direction in my life; but, there still are a lot of obstacles in the way and again, I really don’t know why I thought that because all of the disciples and people in the Bible who were following Christ actually had really horrible things happen to them, so I don’t know why I necessarily thought that it would be this smooth road.

Bill:                  Yeah, well, I think a lot of our listeners want to know about off-the-grid experiences so there is a couple different ways—if you are listening to this show right now—that you can look at it from the standpoint of—we want to talk a little bit about life in Uganda and we want to talk about what undergirds that spiritually. There are two different ways to listen to this if you are listening. One of them is, what is life like when the amenities of western culture are sort of taken apart. So, you can look at this and listen to this rather from the standpoint of what’s it like if you lose some tears of civilization? How do people respond? I think we are all curious about that as well. The other side is how can one person be of service to another human being? I think if we are going to rebuild civilization, it doesn’t really come from top down. It comes from people doing one thing at a time, one family at a time, helping one child to live at a time, doing your best—one thing at a time. All of us, everybody in this room and all of our listeners can certainly participate in these things, because, someone has to do something. We had our guest, Phillip Telfar, on. You guys know Phillip. He just thought one day, I’m going to go do this. You had that same moment. He made a movie, Captivated, and you do the same thing—I’m going to go do this and so there is a motivational call for this as another aspect of listening to this as well.

Take us to Uganda if you could a little bit. We now follow you in the blog and some of these stories I’ve actually had tears in my eyes as I’ve checked your blog, because, these aren’t always pretty nice things. Life’s not made out of two by fours and certainly in this country and it’s even worse in Uganda. Life is messy. We’ve got time for a few stories.

You get there and I remember your first thing when you were driving and driving and driving to get there. You landed in Uganda and you are not even close yet to where you are going.

Jessica:            Yes, we land in Entebbe, which is where the airport is. Entebbe means “chair” in the two languages that are around in that area in Uganda. It was actually the political chair there which is why it has that name.

Bill:                  Okay, that’s Tubi? So that is the capitol?

Jessica:            Entebbe.

Abe:                 Entebbe.

Jessica:            Entebbe.

Bill:                  Oh, Entebbe, Entebbe, that’s right.

Jessica:            That about one hour away from the capital Kampala and so Kampala is king of like the hub of where we go periodically to buy supplies and groceries, that sort of thing. From Kampala, it’s about an eight or nine hour drive to get to Bundibugyo district where I lived.

Bill:                  Say that again.

Jessica:            Well…

Bill:                  What’s the town, what’s the district?

Jessica:            It’s pronounced Bundibugyo.

Bill:                  Bundibugyo. Abe, you want to try that?

Abe:                 Bundibugyo.

Bill:                  Okay, you got it. You did!

Jessica:            That was pretty good.

Abe:                 That was an Indian accent.

Bill:                  I was hoping for something crazy to come out of that. You did well. All right.

Jessica:            The last three hours of the journey are the most difficult ones, because, you have to drive through the mountain range. It’s really only 75 kilometers from the one side of the mountain range to the other. It takes about three hours because the road is mostly dirt with a lot of big holes and there are lanes and switch backs.

Bill:                  Just like your trip from Leno over here today.

Jessica:            Not exactly, but…

Bill:                  The roads are pretty rough there, yeah?

Jessica:            Yes, I have to say that I definitely appreciate the public service and stuff of the U.S. way more than I do—I guess I’m getting off track with things I take for granted.

Bill:                  No, hey, that’s the point that I think some of the folks that listen to the show are interested in. There is a big jump here and civilization—we do ratchet up our level of expectations. Right—and then when it’s not there it’s like “whoa!”

Jessica:            Yeah.

Bill:                  What is this world?

Jessica:            Definitely, you know coming back and appreciating things. I think my mom was a little bit afraid of either my driving or the gravel roads that we did drive on to get here.

Bill:                  So, did you take the same driving skills that you learned in Uganda and then bring them back here?

Jessica:            Well, I’m trying to be a little bit more civilized about my driving. I feel a lot less scared of say “bad roads”, if you want to call a bad road in America.

Bill:                  Sure, because you just make do. Right?

Jessica:            Right, I did not even have to avoid any goats or people, so that was nice too.

Bill:                  Did you use your horn on the way over at all?

Jessica:            No, I didn’t.

Bill:                  But, like in China—I’m familiar with life in China a little bit because I like China as well as it sounds like you do. One thing that I noticed about China—the horn is something that—you get into your car and the first thing you do is get ready to honk at somebody to tell them I’m coming through or whatever. What’s life like in Uganda with respect to the horn?

Jessica:            Oh, definitely, you have to use your horn. It’s very important.

Bill:                  Okay.

Jessica:            People use their blinker more to signal to the other vehicle. They will signal to the right which is towards the center line in Uganda. That means that you are telling the other person to get to their own side.

Bill:                  Okay.

Jessica:            But the horn is very valuable. The place where I live, because it is mountainous and hilly, we have a lot of blind curves and really tall grass along the side of the road so you can’t see what’s ahead. You keep driving and honk your horn as a warning and hope the other person will honk back or slow down.

Bill:                  So, you don’t have your Bose headphones, your noise-muting headphones on as you are driving?

Jessica:            Oh, definitely not.

Bill:                  You are very alert and ready to take on anything that is coming. You need all of your senses when you drive. Again, it’s a little different than here.

Jessica:            It’s hard to hear a lot of stuff from the rattling of the car on the really bumpy road.

Bill:                  So you have noise—it’s not noise suppression but it’s noise aggression.

Jessica:            Right. I actually bought a horn to put on my bike for Uganda because sometimes I need to alert people that I’m coming.

Bill:                  Hey, I’m coming and I’m on a bike.

Jessica:            No. Yes. Now I can have a horn for my bike.

Bill:                  Okay, so your, Wow! So you are driving a long way and you finally get this when you first get there, to this is the place and you are with your fellow travelers…

Jessica:            Yes.

Bill:                  You are arriving, it’s three hours, how are you feeling as you are driving—what’s your heart saying to you? Are you backing out at any point in your mind or are you still gung ho at this point.

Jessica:            Definitely, I’ve been there for a year and my term with World Harvest is for five years.

Bill:                  Yeah.

Jessica:            I’m there basically until…

Bill:                  No, I meant the first trip when you got there.

Jessica:            Yeah, and that’s what I need to clarify.

Bill:                  So you are driving there and you are thinking, “I don’t know about this.”  Like after you had got on the bad roads.

Jessica:            Yeah, well I thought this was a really horrible trip. I’m never, ever leaving the district again is what I initially thought.

Bill:                  Got you.

Jessica:            Because I didn’t want to take the drive again.

Bill:                  Yeah.

Jessica:            But, I remember walking into the house and thinking—I live in a shack—and feeling really sad about it. My first evening there was a little bit eventful.  I’m not really big on various critters like bugs, rats, and such, as probably most Americans aren’t and I needed to unpack my things and my roommate, Anna, she was looking for something in the pantry and I heard her scream and I ran out of my bedroom to see what she was screaming about and there was a rat in the pantry. I’m like, ooh, rat in the pantry wall. I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to do about that and she’s like “Go and get the baseball bat.” So I find the baseball bat and her plan of attack for the rats is a little more aggressive than mine would be.

Bill:                  “You want to chase the rat out?” she said.

Jessica:            Yes, she wants to chase to rat out and try to bludgeon it.

Bill:                  Bludgeon it.

Jessica:            She gets the baseball bat and tries to like hit it in the pantry; but, she misses and the rat ran out and ran across my foot.   Which of course involves screaming and some sort of dancing and I was not happy about that.

Bill:                  So the rat got away?

Jessica:            That rat got away, but, we eventually get all of them.

Bill:                  They come back don’t they? They like what they found there so they come back.

Jessica:            Definitely, so then I continued to unpack my things and I found some little turds of something in my room and I was like, “I think there is rat poop in my room!” Anna came back to look at it, she had been there for about a year and a half so she was experienced. She was like, “Oh, that’s not rat poop, that’s lizard poop because it has a little bit of white on it.” She’s like, “rat poop looks more like this.”

Bill:                  Wow, so you get good at differentiating the critters pretty quick to.

Jessica:            She’s like, “Well, there might be some noises in the ceiling.” She taps her fingers on the desk and “if it’s more like this noise it is probably just lizards, but if it is like this scratching noise, that’s more of a rats sound.” At some point in the evening there had also been some big millipede, like maybe four inches, which they move slowly so that decreases their creepiness factor I decided. Still they’re big and with a lot of legs and I don’t like them. I killed it, but I wasn’t ready to deal with picking it up.

Bill:                  Did you feel bad about killing the millipede?

Jessica:            No, I didn’t, but it was kind of juicy.

Bill:                  No. Okay. Juicy.

Jessica:            I didn’t want to clean it up right away. I decided I would just keep on unpacking and like within an hour I happened to walk by that millipede again and I noticed that it was gone. I was like, how can it be gone? It was clearly dead. I mentioned this to Anna, oh my gosh, this big millipede that I had killed is now gone. She’s like, “Well, the ants in the house usually just carry those things away. Sometimes we don’t clean up the dead bugs.”

Bill:                  So, you got maid service basically.

Jessica:            Yes.

Bill:                  Do you pay extra for maid service?

Jessica:            No.

Bill:                  Okay.

Jessica:            I was not happy about finding out about the new eco system that was living in my house of various bugs and critters and nasty things.

Bill:                  What’s your floor like there? Is it wood?

Jessica:            The floor is cement or concrete I guess.

Bill:                  Concrete, Okay.

Jessica:            They make the floor sort of like a smooth concrete like a garage floor and then they paint them to make it look better. I think painting really only lasts for a couple of months because then it starts chipping off and starts looking worse.

Bill:                  The ants and the rats wear it down?

Jessica:            Maybe. Yes.

Bill:                  You can see the trails, maybe where the ants and the rats are. The point I guess I’m taking from this, and those are funny things, but they are not things that Americans are used to dealing with. But, you didn’t die! Right?

Jessica:            No.

Bill:                  I mean, a lot of people think well, I could never take this, but that’s not true. You can take that and you grew up in a nice house.

Jessica:            Yeah.

Bill:                  You grew up in a nice community, but you didn’t die.

Jessica:            No and I’m certainly not excited about living with rats, snakes, bugs and not having a toilet. We don’t realize how much the things we have in the U.S. are luxuries compared to most of the world. I didn’t die and taking cold showers hasn’t killed me either, but warm showers are certainly more pleasant.

Bill:                  Do you get warm showers there at all or mostly just cold showers?

Jessica:            At first it was cold showers. I ended up buying a solar water heater.

Bill:                  Oh, very nice.

Jessica:            So now I have warm showers. It works so well that the water is really hot and I have to add cold water to it.

Bill:                  The sun! You got good sun there in Uganda.

Jessica:            The sun is amazing. Use the sun. We also have solar electricity that is enough to run a couple light bulbs. No, it’s not like every creature comfort that I would like, but it’s fine, and definitely after being there for a year now, I don’t think of the house as a shack anymore.

Bill:                  It’s your home.

Jessica:            Yeah, and it’s so much nicer that what the people in Uganda live in too. I think just having that daily reminder of just complaining about things like a cold shower or sometimes our water might be a little bit dirty if there was a lot of rain. Our water that we use for our indoor plumbing is rainwater or piped in from a water fall if there’s not enough rain water. Sometimes it would be a little dirty and I think, well even though it’s dirty, and I’m not happy about that, at least I didn’t have to load up my jerry cans and walk with my kids down to a tap or down to a river to fill it up with water.

Bill:                  Yeah.

Jessica:            It helps to take other peoples conditions into mind.

Bill:                  Exactly, I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but you’ve tapped into something here that I wanted to make available to our listeners. You have to take your perspective and your ultimacies have to be resorted. If something happens in this country and you lose your power, if you don’t have all that you need to eat, what spiritual advice, because you do have to gird yourself up here. You have to say, wow, I’m going to reprioritize and re-shift what I think are the single most important things in life. What kind of spiritual advice would you give people? Let’s say there’s a break down in this country. You have to deal with it. Right. You obviously didn’t die but, something went on in your mind that allowed you to survive. William Carey’s wife didn’t do so well in that situation, she went nuts. Right? We all know the story of William Carey and he had to chain her to a bed for how many years? I don’t even remember. Anyway, you didn’t go nuts. You look really healthy. What would you say to an American about the idea of them maybe losing their power for a week or something compared to this? How do you get through that?

Jessica:            Well, I think trying to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. The Bible does tell us to be thankful in all circumstances and whether we have electricity or running water there are still many blessings that we have in our lives that we need to be thankful for. I think for me it’s been something that, counting my blessings helps get me through the hard times. Even though it’s really nice to have running water, electricity, etc., those aren’t the most important things in life.  I think that everybody would agree that when they think about it that their relationships with family and friends and knowing Christ as their Savior and things like that are way more important than having nice things in your house.

Bill:                  So, just cultivating this idea of grace and letting that kind of sweep through your being and comprehensively through your life allows you to move forward.

Jessica:            Yeah. I think it’s been definitely a lesson for me since being in Uganda. Like the places where I might normally turn to for the things that I enjoy or for comfort, like having things like TV or chocolate or…

Bill:                  Chocolate, there you go.

Jessica:            Which hasn’t been too hard from the chocolate perspective due to nice care packages from people. Looking on the internet or just being able to talk to my mom, my sister or a friend. It’s made me rely on the Lord more during the hard times and try to find my joy from Him and not just from His gifts.

Bill:                  Sure.

Jessica:            It was sort of surprising and hard as I dealt with the loss of some of the things in my life that I enjoyed. To realize that I often want God’s blessings and His gifts more than I actually wanted Him.

Bill:                  Wow!

Jessica:            God calls us to be in a relationship with Him and that should be our biggest priority and the source of our biggest joy and not just because He gives us things that we will like.

Bill:                  It’s easy to get those things messed up sometimes. That’s a great perspective, Jessica. Let’s talk about the ultimacies. Let’s talk about the most important things and it’s a great segue, we got time for a couple stories. I think one of the ones on your blog that kept me awake was you have to make decisions all the time and you had two children and you have to because your resources are finite and limited. You had to make a decision about who got what care. That was a tough situation. That was a tough blog. Do you remember the one that you were talking about that you actually lost somebody?

Jessica:            I think it was maybe with the oxygen situation.

Bill:                  Yes.

Jessica:            Yeah, we had several children or two children that needed oxygen and we were using a generator because at that time the hospitals electricity was not on. We had a generator to run the one oxygen compressor and I put oxygen on the first child that came in that was really sick and he… a lot of times these kids will come in and they come in too late and there’s just the gut feeling of knowing the child probably isn’t going to make it because they are just so sick by the time they actually come in, but still we try to do our best to try and act quickly and give the child the proper care that it needs. Pray, and hope for a miracle. I had put oxygen on that child and then I was still continuing to round and see other hospitalized patients and another admission came in and this child also needed oxygen, so, it was hard to decide which child needed the oxygen the most, and so I just decided that we would share the oxygen and put the oxygen on one child for a little while and then on the other child for a while. The second child that came in, he definitely needed the oxygen, but, I thought had a better chance of surviving and actually by the time I had finished rounding so probably within two hours, the first child that came in in spite of getting multiple medications and being started on a blood transfusion and the oxygen, he ended up dying and so the other child got to have to oxygen. It’s hard, I had never experienced in the U.S. like seeing a child just die before my eyes.

Bill:                  It’s tough for me to read about. I can only imagine what it’s like for you under those circumstances, just to deal with it on a daily level.

Jessica:            It’s hard. I think that Ugandan staff has been helpful to me from that regard. You know in the U.S. the expectation is that children don’t die. In Uganda, that’s not really the case. The reality is that children die and actually in the area where we live about 20-25 percent of the children die before the age of five. The Ugandan staff is a lot more familiar with death than I am and I remember one time there was a child that it was I think a baby that was less than a week old. It had been born at home and I think it had pneumonia and was premature and I had seen the baby and it wasn’t looking that great but continued the treatment for that child. Then a couple of hours later while I was still rounding the mother came to get me and said, via the nurse, that the baby wasn’t doing very well, or that the baby was worsening and so I went back to look at the child and, well the child was dead and I didn’t know what to do. In the U.S., I would try to resuscitate the baby and intubate the baby here and run code, but we don’t even have the medicines for that and even if I intubated the baby we don’t have any sort of ventilator situation to keep that going. It was just hard to say that there wasn’t anything more that we could do and the Ugandan nurse was just like the baby is dead and like Okay, let’s move on and it was really hard for me to just move on because it was, you know, it was tragic that this little life was lost, but for them it’s routine. It’s just hard that that’s the reality.

Bill:                  Sure.

Jessica:            Definitely having more experience with that, I would say probably maybe about one child dies per week. So there are a lot more that we help and they get good medical care and they live.

Bill:                  And life goes on even though you lose a few. I wanted to see if we have some questions here in a bit but you have a recent story of you where you had–this is one of those hope moments where you had cared for a patient–cared for a young child, and then were able to see that child a little later and receive the gratitude of the parents, or at least of the mother, I think. You were given a gift. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Jessica:            Yes. This is a really rewarding experience. In June of last year, about six weeks after I had been in Uganda, a baby came in on a Saturday and also was a neonate, I think she was six days old and was really struggling to breathe to the point that she didn’t have enough respiratory drive, like she just wasn’t breathing. She was turning blue from lack of oxygen. I ran and got a bag mask ventilator where you can just puff air into someone and tried to resuscitate the baby with that and like push air into the baby. It would end up stimulating her to keep breathing, but that would only last for a minute and then she would stop breathing again and so I had to do this multiple times until we could bring the small generator to the hospital, get the fuel and start oxygen for the child. I sent out an update on Facebook asking people to pray for the baby. I thought that she was going to die. I felt really scared for her. She ended up surviving.

The oxygen really made a difference and it was so hard when I was doing the resuscitation and then the baby would stop breathing again and the mom would just start like grabbing onto my arm and start wailing. Like, “the baby is not dead yet, like let’s keep trying.” Anyway this child ended up living and after a week of being in the hospital she got to go home. We don’t have a follow-up clinic where we just see people back routinely because we don’t have the medical staff to do routine follow-up visits.

So, a lot of times, I don’t know what happens to the kids after they are discharged from the hospital. While I had gone to Kenya for about two months in the Fall to learn how to do C-sections and when I came back a local pastor said that there was a woman who goes to his church that she says that I saved her baby’s life and she’s really thankful and now she considers me to be a part of her family and she wants me to come and visit. I couldn’t believe it. It was so nice that she would say that and I believe that God is the one who saved the baby’s life, but, I’m thankful that He allowed me to intervene with the help of medicine so the child could live. There were some issues with me having some flat tires on my vehicle and then trying to coordinate my schedule with the pastors to be able to go visit this woman. She lived about a 30 minute drive away, but you have to drive through a small river to get there and so I didn’t want to go when both of my spare tires were on the car.

Anyway, just in March I was able to go and it was just a really wonderful experience. The baby’s name is Jennifer and she is nine or ten months old at the time and very cute and sweet. The whole family was there and we talked for a while, you may know with the semi-awkward conversation involving translation and went for a short walk. They live a little bit farther up in the mountains, you can see the Democratic Republic of Congo from where they live and we just went for a walk in the beautiful country side and the family fixed a meal for us, rice and something called g-nut sauce (ground nuts), their something kind of like peanuts. It’s actually pretty good.

Bill:                  Is it good?

Jessica:            Yeah, I like it. I brought some ground nuts home to make the sauce for my family if they are willing to try it. It was just really thoughtful that this family would serve a meal and especially the time that we came was like ten in the morning, so it wasn’t even a normal meal time. They just wanted to really do something special to show their appreciation and before we left we took some pictures and they wanted to give me a gift. They gave me a gift of a live chicken, which is a really thoughtful and wonderful gift there. Well, I guess I had held a chicken one other time in Ghana, back when I was in college but I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with a chicken.

Bill:                  What did you do with the chicken? I can’t remember, did you blog about that? I can’t remember what you did with the chicken.

Jessica:            Well, No, I didn’t really talk about the fate of the chicken.

Bill:                  Okay.

Jessica:            The chicken was very nice. Chickens are surprisingly soft if you hold them.

Bill:                  Sure.

Jessica:            It was this nice brown chicken and they had tied the feet together and I put it in the back of my 1996 beat up SUV and we drove the bumpy roads back into the town where I lived. Then, I didn’t know what to do with it when I was at home.

Bill:                  At least it made the trip.  Right.

Jessica:            It made the trip. I have two women that works for me, one person does some house cleaning like once a week and the other person washes my laundry by hand, which I’m really appreciative to both of them. They were there that day and so I’m like “What do I do with this chicken?” One of them untied the chicken’s feet and then tied one foot to a chair in my front room and gave the chicken some water and rice in case it wanted to eat or drink. The whole time I was thinking, “What am I going to do with this chicken.” It was a really wonderful gift, but now that I have held the chicken and know what the chicken looks like and kind of like the chicken, I don’t want to eat it. I certainly don’t want to be involved in killing it because I am very wimpy about that sort of thing.

Bill:                  Sure.

Jessica:            I didn’t want to seem like I was insulting to the culture to re-gift the chicken. I couldn’t put it in my yard because I have two dogs and I know that they would kill the chicken in just a few seconds, because they have already gotten out and killed a neighbors chicken.

Bill:                  Aha Oh, Old Yellow. Right.

Jessica:            Yes. So the chicken lived in my front room for a few hours and apparently chickens go to the bathroom about every hour.

Bill:                  They do. Yeah.

Jessica:            This chicken cannot live here very much longer. I decided to gift the chicken to my house workers. One of the house workers speaks English, Okay, sometimes we have communication barriers and the lady that washes my laundry, and she doesn’t speak English. I’m telling the lady that speaks English that I would like to give the chicken to them both. I didn’t want to give it to just one and show favoritism. I thought that they could share the chicken. They could go home and share the chicken meat. The one house worker, she is super excited about getting this chicken and I hear her talking to the other lady who is in in the kitchen, we are going to have this chicken, whatever. I turn around and looked and Susanna, the lady that does my laundry, had gotten out a large pot and large knife in my kitchen. I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. I meant you need to take the chicken home and share it there. There will be no killing of the chicken in my backyard or in my presence. I don’t want to see it. I prefer to buy those anonymous, boneless, skinless, hunks of meat. Anyway, they killed the chicken at home and shared it that way.

Bill:                  Well good, so it all worked out well for everybody.

Jessica:            It did.

Bill:                  The family that gave it to you, what would have been there expectations? Like, if you give someone a chicken and you must have a vision for what that outcome or endgame looks like. Would there be a vision in their minds of that chicken just walking around in your yard or something? Would they think of you as eating that chicken?

Jessica:            They would think that I ate the chicken.

Bill:                  Okay.

Jessica:            So…

Bill:                  So somebody ate the chicken is all that matters?

Jessica:            Yes, I was very appreciative of the gift and then my house workers were also very appreciative.

Bill:                  So you did your best to accommodate, on every level, in that culture.

Jessica:            Yes.

Bill:                  All right. We are kind of running out of time. I don’t know if we have any questions. I’m sure Seth has a question, but is there anybody other than Seth that has any questions. Do you have any questions? You don’t have anything? You know, I was thinking just how hard it would be for any of us just sitting here to go do what you are doing. I wanted to know, well Abe and I actually wanted to know…Abe and I were talking a little bit this morning before, in terms of just trying to apply principles, biblical principles to our lives and some principles may be especially Old Testament principles. Abe, we were talking about some of the gleaning laws, weren’t we.

Abe:                 What Leviticus 19 and in Deuteronomy 24, it talks about how to care for the women, the orphaned, and the widow and how these people in Uganda need to be cared for and we are so blessed in how our gleanings can help them.

Bill:                  Right and so we would say to anybody about the specifics and people would call us on our hermeneutic there and say, well you can’t take that law and apply it and I guess the answer is, Yes we can. We can take that law and apply it in principle.

Abe:                 Paul uses that over again in 1st Corinthians.   He uses the same principle from the Old Testament. So, it’s applicable.

Bill:                  We talk about the gleaning laws and being, these are laws, these are things that we feel compelled to do because God asks us to do these things. Jessica, what we wanted to do is thank you for your work, your decisions. Thank your mother. Judy, “Thank you for being covenantly faithful in raising your daughter up; because, you never know how these things are going to work.” You don’t know how God’s going to use us. But, if we are faithful, we just put it in God’s hands. Right? It’s back to Stonewall Jackson, duty is ours, consequences are God’s. We’re covenantly faithful and then God sorts it out because the second half of that transaction is beyond our pay grade. We don’t know the outcomes, we just try our best. When you purchase something from Solutions From Science, your part of this whole mind set and part of this whole zeitgeist of the gleaning laws and we think that those laws are true and so we take your money and sure we pay our help, there’s a lot of people here in this room that all get a check every week and just so you guys know, we’re going to give chickens out this year as bonuses instead of money. You don’t have to eat them, you can give them to a friend and they can eat them. On behalf of all of our customers who participate in buying things from Solutions from Science, we take some of that money and we try to tithe some of that money back as associated with this gleaning law. Also, from our staff, the people that you see sitting here and others, we would like to present a check to the Bundi Nutritional Fund, to you Jessica, for $5,000 dollars.

Jessica:            That’s awesome. Thank you.

Bill:                  Just to say thank you and then we would also just like to give our listeners the opportunity. There’s ways they can help and do you want to kind of direct them? When we asked for help for Haiti, we were astonished. Some people get mad at us for asking for help, but I’m using the fact that you are Kim’s cousin and we know you, we don’t like to suggest that people give randomly to charities that they don’t know. We know you. We know what it costs you and where your heart is. Now our listeners know you, so we’re asking people to help you out. When we did the Haiti thing we asked people to just write checks and some of them were pretty big checks. So here we go, we would like to see you get helped and see some of these kids get helped. What’s the best way they can actually make this happen?

Jessica:            The best way to be able to support would be to support the Bundi Nutrition Fund, which is actually, thank you, what you have donated to. I’m in the process of developing a nutrition program to help tackle the malnutrition situation in our area. About 50 percent of the kids are growth stunted from malnutrition and we see so many that are just little skeletons in the hospital or those that are just full of swelling from not having enough protein in our diet. So the nutrition program is going to help us with supplemental feeding and education to the families so that there can be community change and not just change for the individuals. That’s where the money is most needed at this time. If you go to my blog, that is again, jessankney.wordpress.com. There’s a link there to donate to the Bundi Nutrition Fund. That would be the easiest way to donate. If you want to write a check, I don’t exactly know at this time, I don’t know the specific account number.

Bill:                  Can we get some information somehow and make that part of (Jeremy can we do that and put that as a link so people can go figure it out?)

Jessica:            Yes.

Bill:                  We will get with you and make that work out so that if people want to write a check out that they can do that as well and that they know how to do that and know how to follow you. That’s the most important part too, that they can follow your work. When are you going to be back in Uganda?

Jessica:            I’ve been home for about two weeks now and I will be back in Uganda on June 4th.  I just wanted to encourage you as well as a way to help is to actually pray for our ministry team or find another missionary or some organization that’s doing things that you support and prayerfully support them as well. I definitely believe that God works through prayer and there are so many hard decisions to make and we need wisdom and direction on ways to help. Just pray for missionaries to be sustained there. You know it is difficult and pray for God to continue to sustain us and give us that spiritual food that we need and bless us with relationships within the culture so we can share God’s Word.

Bill:                  Well said. Is there anybody else that has any other, Abe, you look like you had something to say, you always have something to say.

Abe:                 Well, how can, are there other opportunities like short term missions, so people can be exposed to missionary work?

Jessica:            At this time, we’re kind of a new team on our field. There had been people there for like 17 years, but they’ve been called to a different season of their life and so we are a pretty new mission team. When I got there a year ago, there was only one family and their teacher and myself and now we have two families and five single people. We’re kind of growing and adjusting to life there and there are not really a whole lot of short term mission opportunities in our field right now, but I know there are many opportunities through peoples’ churches or even through World Harvest Mission my sending organization, they do have other opportunities that people might be interested in. I guess I will put one call out there. Travis, my medical partner, he and his family are going to be back in the U.S. for six months from next December to June and it would be really great if there would be another doctor or physician assistant or nurse practitioner that likes to work with pediatrics who would like to come out for 3-6 months.

Bill:                  Oh boy. Here we go. Let’s see, here’s the challenge. Do our listeners know of someone or you yourself or do you know somebody that would be willing to, what is it about a 6 month thing that you are saying?

Jessica:            Yes. But, even two people for three months. That could work as well.

Bill:                 Okay. We will try to funnel those calls if we can make something like that work, if the listeners can make that work and you are qualified. That would be an amazing thing if something like that could happen. You never know. You never know. “You raise a little girl up,” Judy, “and you never know what’s going to happen.” You never know and if you put the word out as you say Jessica, you never know what’s going to happen. Any other parting comments?

Jessica:            Oh, I did want to say, I’m sorry to say that we don’t have a lot of short term opportunities where we are. One thing that we do regularly have is a summer intern program both where we are. There are, I think three, college age kids. I shouldn’t say kids. Sorry, that makes me feel old.  There are college age people who are coming this summer and there are various sites with World Harvest, with us and with CDN that takes those interns each summer, so that is an opportunity for people.

Bill:                  Great opportunity. Okay. Well, Jeremy, if you want to bring music up I guess this is a great way…Thank you again, Jessica. Thanks for everybody being here in the studio with us today, we did something a little unusual; but, why not? It was our 100th episode. Thanks again for listening. We know your time is valuable and we certainly appreciate it. Thank you again.

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