March 23, 2020
Dear friends of the Alliance,
My trip started on March 3rd from California to Benin in West Africa to attend the world conference of the World Organization of the Ovulation Method Billings (WOOMB). There were 200+ attendees from 20+ countries, most of them from Africa. On several occasions, I served as interpreter since I speak the two main languages represented at the conference: French and English. I also attended an advanced extension course for teacher trainers under the best teaching available anywhere on the planet. My teachers were Marie Marshell and Jillian Barker, senior teachers from Australia, the country responsible for the development of the method by the late Drs. John and Evelyn Billings. During the conference, I met wonderful people and witnessed the formation of WOOMB-AFRICA. This is an exciting development which will encourage the teaching and spread of the BOM on the African continent.
I then travelled to Uganda and arrived at the Entebbe Airport at 2 a.m. on March 13. During the previous 10 days, I did not have much contact with the outside world since I was so involved days and evenings with the conference activities. I really had not kept up with the coronavirus pandemic development. In Entebbe, I was received at the airport by a health care worker who sprayed my hands with a disinfectant, took my temperature, asked health questions, and reviewed the health form I had filled out in the plane. This did not alarm me because Uganda is recognized for their aggressive infectious disease control. They have successfully battled the Ebola virus and prevented the spread of SARS in the country beyond a few cases. Uganda was one of the first African countries dealing with the AIDS virus; they learned so much controlling this disease.
Back at the airport: new guidelines starting that day specified that travelers coming from 17 countries, including the US, would not be allowed in the country; however, if they wanted to stay, they may elect to complete a 14-day quarantine set up at the airport and a few other locations. At this time, more than 1800 travelers are quarantined.
The immigration officer said that she needed to discuss my case with her supervisor. She quickly returned and allowed me to enter the country without restrictions. I was still clueless about what was happening in the world and also about the regulations at the airport. My ignorance was bliss. It is only later that I realized how fortunate I was to have been allowed entry, probably because I did not come directly from the US but from Africa. It took a few days for me to reconnect with the world as I had to reactivate my phone and access the internet. It usually takes 24 hours to achieve, but this time it took 3 days. After the weekend, I inquired why my phone was still inactive. I was told they needed a new photo. All the while, the people in Uganda thought I was quarantined somewhere. It was with some consternation, much joy, and thankfulness when they later realized I was in country and ready to work!
When I finally caught up with the world and talked to family members, most of them in a holding pattern somewhere, I realized how fortunate I was to be in Uganda, where not a single case had been reported so far until today: we have a Ugandan coming from Dubai who presented with fever at the airport, was isolated, tested, and provided medical care. Health officials are doing contact tracing. All fellow passengers were quarantined. Schools closed two days ago, handwashing is stressed, and small gatherings enforced. Ugandans are cooperating; they are used to prevention measures and so very creative!
But I am free to work and travel, and under these circumstances, it feels surreal. It reminds me of a Scripture the Lord gave me 3 years ago when I had concerns about traveling access: “The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever” Psalm 121:8.
This gives me great confidence that I’m where I’m supposed to be and that I should take advantage of my freedom and get to work! Even though the door closed to going back to the US at least for the next 30 days, I am not worried. When it’s time to go, the Lord will make a way. I am ready to extend my stay as needed because there is plenty of work to do as we plan to begin construction for the children’s hospital shortly.
I’m concerned about the Church having been sidelined summarily. Churches are inaccessible at a time when they are needed the most. Couldn’t we have small services while observing social distancing? What about the sacraments, a source of great comfort to Catholics? Throughout history, the Church did its greatest work during times of pestilence. The Church is supra-national. It is universal. It is the conscience of the nations. Our societies are quickly becoming secularized and in a profound moral chaos. This pandemic is affecting our national, economic, and personal security. Suddenly, and to our surprise, the states are not able to fix everything: most are still shuttered in their homes, travelers are not able to come home, borders are closed, and unemployment has risen to astronomical proportions, causing great anxiety. And the COVID-19 keeps on spreading, to at least 149 nations so far.
To his credit, President Trump called for a National Day of Prayer. Interesting that our religious leaders were absent and cloistered. But the faithful are rising. In Uganda, everyone is very prayerful. It is truly a Christian nation. A global movement is on the way. Go2020 is just an example. God speaks through His Word and calls us to pray; not any kind of prayer for our needs to be met, but a prayer of repentance on behalf of ourselves and our nation:
“If I close heaven so that there is no rain, if I command the locust to devour the land, if I send pestilence among my people, if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:13-14).
Father Peter from the Bujuni Parish in Kibaale made this the subject of his homily last Sunday as it was broadcast on the radio. And today, Pope Francis called for Christians to recite the Lord’s Prayer on March 25. The Church is awakening slowly. It befalls us, Christians, to assume responsibility for the sinful condition of our nation. Atheists and agnostics will not pray. There is a precedent in the Word:
“If today you turn away from following the Lord, and rebel against the Lord, tomorrow he will be angry against the whole community of Israel….But do not rebel against the Lord, nor involve us in rebellion, by building an altar of your own…When Achan, son of Zerah acted treacherously by violating the ban, was it not upon the entire community of Israel that wrath fell? Though he was but a single man, he did not perish alone for his guilt! (Jos. 22:18-20, emphasis added)”
We shall overcome together on behalf of our nation and all those we love.
As for the Alliance work in Uganda, it is moving on well, although we are also experiencing the pandemic’s limitations. Our pilot program for abstinence education in the schools was scheduled for last weekend in Kibaale but was cancelled due to schools closing.
The St. Raphael Hospital committee is meeting today to discuss the way forward; we are selecting a construction company and preparing the site for the ground-breaking event. It is not scheduled yet. At this time, attendance would be limited to ten. We will wait until the crisis passes.
Thank you for your support. It is needed more than ever. May I encourage you to faithfully support the pregnancy resource center as we care for distressed mothers and their little ones? Are you a St. Raphael Hospital founding member yet? We need you to support the building of the children’s hospital. There is so much need: for example, 38% of Kibaale children suffer from malnutrition. Please go online to: https://www.allianceforlifeint.org/donate
Soon, we will share the hospital’s new website with you. So many exciting things happening!
In the meantime, let’s join the Psalmist:
“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of nations will bow low before him” (Psalm 22:28).
In God, we put our trust,
BOMA-USA provides education and training for The Billings Ovulation Method® which is a natural method of fertility management that teaches you to recognize the body's natural signs of fertility.