This afternoon we send off two of our own to Uganda. We begin a step which has been a long time coming. As we get serious about planning for the 12th medical mission in Bombo, we launch something new. Something with huge potential for change, because we have learned something over this last decade.

Health education is a huge need in Bombo and in the month ahead we will discover the scope of that need. We are sending a team over to assess the level of health education in the Bombo community. They have put together a survey which will be conducted by a rather large team in about a week. And then, they’ve put together some educational materials to teach the people how to teach each other about hypertension and feminine hygiene. This is our pilot program.  It’s an experiment. It’s not all that different from that first medical mission in 2008.

This last decade in Uganda has been a huge learning curve for us as a church family. And your support along the way has been what’s kept this adventure moving forward. That first year, I think we permanently damaged Karen Garland’s fingers as she manually took all the blood pressure measurements. She must have squeezed that bulb thousands of times, which wears the skin off your fingers. It was quite painful by the end of the week. Last year, we had probably 10 automatic sphygmomanometers (see, even I learned something).

We pulled off that first clinic in one space. Triage alone now has a couple of tents. The doctors have spread out over six large classrooms. The lab and vision have their own rooms. It’s quite a production — managed by the church in Bombo. Not us.

The clinic has grown in its sophistication. It has grown in the specialties offered. But through all this growth the long-term impact will be dramatically increased as we pursue this new venture, Health Together. And that begins when that flight takes off this afternoon.

We are still doing the annual clinic. It is still all about relationships. It is still all about the Gospel. But it is also about teaching them to make long-term adjustments in diet and exercise that will help shrink the patient load at annual clinic (in a good way).

Of course, at this point, it will all become about compliance, right? Which is exactly your issue each doctor visit. Will we do what the doctor tells us to do? Does he really know best? Compliance. Ask any doctor and that’s the big challenge with any patient.

Ask any spiritual leader, well, even ask the Chief Shepherd. Compliance is a big issue. Are we willing to listen to the Shepherd and do what He says? But spiritually, we want a deeper motivation to our compliance. We want our love for Jesus to motivate us. The goal is not just to legalistically do stuff, but to teach our senses to discern between good and evil. To grow up in Christ.  To please Him in everything. That is no easy task.

Health Together is no easy task either. But we really don’t have much of a choice. Lives are at stake. As is eternity.