Friday, December 28, 2007
Last night Mama Lois invited us to her house for supper so me and beth went over there at 6pm for some good home cooking. We even ate matoke- the only ugandan food we dont like- and it was good! Everyone at home should be very proud at the leaps and bounds i'm making in becoming less picky. I eat a plateful of beans (they look like kidney beans) multiple times a week and have even been seen eating green beans! No more microscope mom! WE hung out with Mama Lois and her daughter steffi for a few hours and had a blast. Steffi is hilarious and was saying the cutest things in her very limited english. Mama Lois is going for her surgery hopefully the last week in January which means that we'll both be here to visit her in the hospital and take good good care of her.
Our days are spent at the babies home and our nights at home, with rachel and arielle, with seasons 2 and 3 of the office which we have become obsessed with. the babies home feels empty because so many kids have been fostered or adopted and there are only around 40 left there. We went to STAO today and got a list of all the kids there and after much confusion, we finally got a full list of the kids and their ages. We're putting together Christmas packages for each of the 60 kids which will include their own bathing basin, towel, soap, tooth brush, tooth paste, underwear and cookies. We're also bringing a bunch of food and having a big party for them. Its really hard to know what to do for some places because the temptation to keep some of the stuff for the staff is huge. We have some other ideas in mind too and will post them as soon as the plans are finalized.
Today is a very exciting day for us because its one we've been waiting for since August 10th. Tonight, our bestie Michelle comes in from San Fransisco and will be greeted at the airport by her very confused boyfriend Raoul. He thinks he's been sent to pick a package up for Katie, but really its to pick up Shelly! She thinks we are picking her up and will be surprising Raoul at his house tonight so its a double surprise! We're pretty pumped. Shes coming with a suitcase and a half of goodies for me beth rachel arielle and herself.
Tomorrow morning we are being picked up by our friend Pauline who works at a little vendor shop on main street. Its her introduction tomorrow and we are acting as her "sisters". We are going to Mama's place now (davids mom) to borrow some gomesi, which is the traditional wear for introductions. Its gonna be a good time. Phin and HOpe are also coming and as we don't see much of them lately, it'll be so much fun.
After the introduction, we've planned a party for our friends. Every so often we invite everyone over to our house and play games and listen to music and dance and hang out. They are a big hit so we thought it was high time we had another.
until next time.
p.s we are consolidating our photos onto one computer here at the cafe and then burning cd's for eachother and so far, with a 2 gb mem card and 256'er to go, we have 1300 photos and about 100 videos.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Christina (aka, mama beanie, teenie beanie, rice and beanies) and Auntie Emmy hanging out on Christmas morning eating christmas treats!
Melody rockin her new sunglasses with her christmas stocking gifts beside her! Each kid got a stocking, even the preemies, and we put the toddlers on their beds and they ran in for a christmas morning surprise. Everyone's favorite presents were the blower things, the long green thing beside mels right leg. i have no idea what they are called.
My sophie looking oh so cute with her christmas goodies. 15 mins after this was taken she threw a royal fit because she did NOT want to put her stuff away and eat lunch.
Emily talking on her new pretend cell phone! Each toddler got a cell phone, coloring book, box of crayons, sticker set, car- for boys, and rings for girls, mango, orange, and lots of candy!
This is what greeted me on Christmas morning! ADORABLE Amberly (formerly Olga!) in a super star mood with baby 2'ers Hannah in the background, and Christoper to the right.
Brian saw me (amy) and started jumping up and down saying mummy mummy mummy! (he does that to everyone though;) Christoper is behind him.
Arnold and Melody enjoying some Christmas "diarhea" breakfast as Rachel called it because this much cake and cookies in the morning is a sure fire way to have some blowouts in fine form a few hours later! Me Beth Rach and Air made cinamon pull-a-parts, renamed Jesus Bread that was a big hit!
Junior and Emily pumped that its Jesus's Birthday!
Dan, Marvin and Teenie Beanie (christina) also pumped for Jesus' Birthday and christmas breakfast treats
Christopher, Jospeh, Hunter, Katie, Amberly, Sharon, Priscilla(katy) Jeremiah, Ruthie, Holly and Brian.
Me Rach and Air took these 11 kids to town in matching Amani Baby cottage t's, and bucket hats in the "vehicles" as ppl here call stollers! 11 kids fit in 6 seats!
Besties, Amy and Bethany at Jp's brothers wedding to Maddie's cousin! It was BEAUTIFUL
Christoper and Brian hanging out in the diaper bag section of one of the vehicles nicnamed the Rav 4
This was at the mama's christmas party, all 36 amani employee's in their new tee's we made them! They LOVED them. It was an even bigger hit that we imagined.
Auntiekate, Auntie Emmy, Mama Santa, Auntie Aireo, Mama Doreen, Auntie Waycho, baby Katie, and Auntie Feffany!
Ruthie enjoying a mouth full of icing at the mama's party. She is getting very fat!
Hope was sick with a bacterial infection last week so me and Beth babysat this big guy one morning and we had a lovely reunion! Its Phin!
check out www.jdcuganda.org....Its our CHURCH! with a photo of bethany and the choir on the about page!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Yesturday we felt the need to get into the Christmas spirit so Beth and I went with JP Andrew and Ronnie to Kampala to KPC (kampala pentecostal church) to see their christmas production. We got there about 10 mins before the show started and were able to find about a 4 feet square patch of stairs on the balcony to squish ourselves into. I know everyone thinks that the chrismtas contata at their church was the best and can't be beat but i'm here to tell everyone that we have NEVER seen or heard anything like we did yesturday. It was indescribeable. I was sobbing the whole time, completely overwhelmed at how thankful i am to be able to spend christmas here, and beth was sobbing as well. It was completely Ugandan and stunning. There was a giant choir, probably 150-200 people in it and beautiful costumes and a ridiculous house band. Traditional dancers and costumes and music was involved too. Really, i can't say enough about how amazing it was so i'm getting the dvd of it to watch whenever i miss "home" when i'm home.
Today Bethany is out at the market, FULL of people looking for last minute christmas gifts and live chickens and turkeys to kill for supper tomorrow. She's getting stuff for STAO and the christmas party we're going to have their. We bought Rachel and Arielle's christmas gifts for our gift exchange tomorrow night and Rach Air and I took 11 babies to town together. We take 3 double strollers and just pack em on in! They loved it, except hunter who's been sick this last week. We strolled down main street with many gawkers wondering what these crazy girls are 'driving'. People like to comment on our wonderful "vehicles" when we bring the doubles into town.
I'm about to go upstairs and stuff stockings with Arielle in preparation for tomorrow morning! We have a big day tomorrow! It is incredibly weird to think that tomrorow is Christmas because its blazing hot, there is no snow, and not really a whole lot of christmas decorations. Its going to be amazing still.
I've been feeling overwhelmed lately with the thought of leaving, and wanting to stay, but wanting to go at the same time, and i know beth feels the same way. WE are beyond lucky to have the opportunity to be here for these 7 months and are so greatful to everyone who's supported us along the way. We are forever changed.
We wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Isaiah 9:6 " For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government will rest on his shoulders. And He shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace."
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The other day Amy and I were driving in Kampala with some of our ugandan besties David and Ronnie, and this wonderful little blast from the past song came on the radio. For those of you who remember the famine in Ethiopia in the 80's, you will probably also remember the band "Band Aid", and their deep and profound song "Do they know its Christmas?". I'd just like us all to take a moment to appreciate the lyrics...my personal favourite lines are in bold.
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime
But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging
chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
Here's to you - raise a glass for everyone
Here's to them - underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again
Needless to say, we were just a little mortified to be sitting there listening to such an ignorant song with our african friends. Oh and just for a little clarification:
1. They, being africans, are in fact aware of the both the christmas season, and the biblical basis for it.
2. Not that life isnt just a FABULOUS christmas present, but I do know quite a few africans who are getting something other than just "life" for christmas this year.
3. Believe it or not, despite the lack of snow, christmas still finds a way to happen here in africa!
4. If we can learn anything from this song (other than the fact that "clanging chimes of doom" is just a lovely metaphor), I hope its to never NEVER thank God that its "them" instead of "us". Even the use of the word "them" in reference to all of africa just makes me want to vomit. God has not spared North America and sent his "clanging chimes of doom" to Africa. North America is spoiled. Living in a "world of plenty" has jaded us. Please don't pity africa. Pity does no one any good. If you feel like there is injustice, find out what you can do about it.
I understand the intentions of Band Aid when they wrote this song, but I guess what I want to say is that good intentions are good, but even the best intentions can be kind of ignorant. We want to encourage you all to be educated about Africa - there is definitly christmas here, but without all of the commerical hullabaloo. Its different, but its still christmas!!
Until next time...
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
George and Sophia hanging out on the tire swing
George, Sophia, Jason, Bryan, Arnold and Christina
Mama Lucy with Noah and Chloe minutes before they leave for America!
Josh and Elizabeth Granderson, proud parents of Chloe and Noah Granderson!
Christina (teenie beanie) and Georgie Porgie
Arnold with too big of pants!
Top L to Bottom R:
Diana, Junior Maggie, Danynene, Junior Amani, Jimmu, Sonja, Stephen K, Asherife, Emily
A goodbye hug for Vince as he leaves for America (middle). Junior Maggie, and Dan
Ruthie all fat and happy!!!!! This child is totally different now! She never smiled and we always joked that she has no personality but she's getting one now!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
So we have some news and we would like you to pray for us. I dont know if any of you have heard on the news, but the Ebola virus is making its way around east africa. It started somewhere in the Congo and has made its way to Uganda. About a week ago we had heard it had reached Kampala, and in the last few days its been on the news that it is now in Jinja. Its scary because people here I dont think really appreciate the seriousness of a virus like this. Me and Amy are on a full-scale Ebola Alert Campaign and are handing out gloves to all our friends and trying to be really cautious - even at the expense of other people's perception of our sanity!
Ebola is transmitted through any body fluid, so coughing, sneezing, handshakes, even computer keyboards could be a potential transmission source. Even exposed linens can transmit the virus. There isnt really a known cure, and the scariest part is that Uganda is really not equipped to handle a full scale outbreak. But dont worry, I'm emailing Steven Harper as we speak and I'm going to ask him to send aid.
Right now the threat isnt too severe, but we heard that today the bordering countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, and Congo are all screening travellers wishing to enter from uganda. Its a really bizarre situation, to read the news reports and get a little freaked out and than walk outside and everything is totally normal! There are no reports confirming that it has reached Jinja, but all of the grocery store workers are wearing gloves to be safe....and now so are we.
So please pray for us...for protection obviously, but also that God will protect us from getting any other illnesses while this is going on, because hospitals are not a place we want to have to visit. Also - even though we will most likely not be infected, a lot of people will. Please pray for Uganda, they have enough going on with all the chaos in the north, AIDS, malaria, and TB without a deadly virus causing trouble. Please encourage friends to read this and pray in your churches. Please feel free to google ebola uganda and learn more and pray for us. We are just doing our best to trust God that he will protect us as we are here doing his work.
Thanks for reading and please be dilligent in keeping us in your prayers.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The obligatory jumping in the air photo between bridesmaids and groomsmen
Bethany Katie, Bride- Judith, Matron- Grace , Amy and Flower girl Sandra
mama Judith chilling with Arnold!
Beautiful Mama erin Littleton and her gorgeous kids Mary Cameron and JAckson Moses, FINALLY going home!!
Auntie Amy and Auntie Fefany with Jackson and MC
Jackson and his puppy "tuckah"
Mary Cameron and her best friend Emily
Mummy Doreen and Jackson! Saying
feel At Jesus is a common greeting on our church's weekly bulletin! This week Mary cameron and Jackson went home with their mom, Erin. It was so beautiful to see them go and the whole time MC kept saying Tu Gende Tu Gende which means we go we go!
In other news, we got 2 new babies. They are twins, Nicole and Walker. They used to be triplets but the third died. The mother is postive but Praise the Lord, the babies are negative! They are severely malnourished, as you can see from the photo. That is Nicole and she is 13 months and weighs maybe 8-10 pounds.
Until Next Time...
Friday, November 30, 2007
We marched to the source cafe where the kids had soda and ice cream and me and beth had a light lunch. We then marched to the cafe where the kids greeted uncle raoul and uncle david and sang THEM songs! Auntie Fefany taught them "the roof is on fire" and they sang it "the woof is on fi-yah!" pretty darn cute.
The 8 of us marched up main street to caltex where we spent WAAAY to much money to get a taxi to take the kids home in a "moto cah". After a quick stop at central market to pick up 50 bags of pop corn, we were on our way, and everyone was pretending to drive and being so very adorable! The kids hopped out at the amani gate and were very polite in saying bye bye to uncle driver.
After distributing the popcorn to all the amani staff, there were a few bags left over and all we sat the kids down in pairs and they all share their popcorn. A nice, fun afternoon.
Right now bethany is working at the cafe while David is at choir practice and i'm keeping her company and updating the blog.
Oh!! This morning Paul and Olivia left Amani with their new mom and dad, Lisa and Mark. Its sad to have them gone, but awesome that they are orphans no more! Praise the Lord for that!
until next time!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Amy and Bethany in our gomesi FINEST! We looked pretty spectacular i'm not going to lie!
Carol, Beth, Blessing, Amy and Scovia with the flower girls!
Our dear dear friends Carol and Mr. John Paul Okwi.
Amy Blessing Bethany in the lineup for food!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Yesutrday Paulson and I -amy- were running around town for a good 5 hours. We went to TASO (The Aids Support Organization), AIC (Aids information Center) and the town clerk. Meanwhile, bethany was hard at work here in the cafe getting the pledge cards ready and doing her own work for being TYT's secretary. While i was at TASO with Paulson he was asking me questions about Canada and AIDS and he was so shocked when i told him that the first person i never knew with HIV/AIDS was sophia here. There are 24 million people living with Aids in Africa. CRAZY! Everyday i'm just so thankful for being born in canada and having the life i've had but at the same time its hard to deal with the guilt that we feel for that same reason. Why us? Its a hard thing to deal with.
Last night bethany lead praise and worship and intercession at bible study and did an amazing job. She is definately a talented girl! Next week i'm speaking and i'm a bit nervous. i'm just praying that God will give me something really relevant to talk about...i have some ideas though. Every day we are reminded just how faithful God has been to us here in Jinja. Our trip would be totally different if we didnt have the friends we do here. They are truly quality people and we are now closer to some of them than many of our friends at home!
yesturday we got our final dress fitting for Sharif and Edith's wedding on Sunday the 2nd. Its hard to believe that its almost december already! Sharif and Edith are a couple we met through bible study and we dont know them really at all but we're the bridesmaids so that will be interesting! our dresses are thick heavy satin so its just soooooo comfortable when we're in the hottest time of the year (35 plus every day!). And in a counntry with no air conditioning, we are going to be dripping the whole time. FUN! Weddings have really yummy food though, so at least we'll be well fed :)
All the 10 Amani kids who are being adopted have their parents here in Jinja and are really loving having mom and dad around! Please pray for all these 5 families. Pray that the visa office would be speedy and diligent in getting these kids visa's ready. That the passport office would be able to keep track of all relevant paperwork and be able to process the kids passports quickly. Pray for patience for the families. Its so hard to be waiting 2 years already, and have to push back flights still.
These parents are awesome! We are so excited for them to be able to board those planes for home, with all the other family and friends waiting for them at the airport and at home! How exciting!!
Pray for little Emily, she is going to so lonely without her best friend Maria at Amani and she will probably be really upset and confused for a while. Shes old enough to understand that all these kids will be soon leaving and she wont.
Mukama Yebazibwe means Praise God and the common answer to that is Amena. for amen. neat hey.
until next time....
p.s i WILL be putting up photos just as soon as i have time!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Today Princes Charles and Bill, and Steven Harper are joining bethany and i at our house for kraft dinner and crystal light. We are going to catch up and then possibly play a game or two of skip-bo by candle light. Then at the end of the night Beth and I will fight over who is going to marry Bill.
We are ready with our canadian flags for when they roll down Kiira road on their way to the source of the nile where a big, invite only, party has been planned.
So the last 2 days have been hectic and long and dusty and sweaty and fun! We drove with our 13 friends to Tororo, in the eastern part of Uganda, near Kenya, for David's Aunties introduction and wedding.
Introductions are kind of like our engagement parties but really really cultural, long and huge deals. WE got to wear gomesi, these really cool traditional dresses and shook slowly slowly to greet the bridegrooms family with Davids aunts. It was so cool! They treated us like family and it was really so cool to be a part of something so traditional and culturally Ugandan. It was really long though and those gomesi are not the coolest things to wear!
The wedding was the next day and it was held at a church in Tororo town at a church that was at the base of a huge almost mountain style hill made out of rock. It was stunning. Weddings here are so cool. They are the same as we have except really loud, really fun and everyone screams and there are always about 10 random people standing in front of the bride and groom taking photos while the maid of honor powders the brides face. We sang bethany's sweet solo song, Run to You, and our friend Raoul's congolese song that was especially great since me and beth are fluent in lingala! We had 4 others practised that were so good but something at the reception got wrecked and we couldnt do it. It POURED at the reception for maybe half an hour and after it the rain stopped, i helped the brides sisters put back all the flowers that had fallen from the stands and organzised the place again.
Me and bethany entertained ourselves with photo shoots because we were looking so so smart and then we slept for a bit on eachother and before we knew it- 4 hours had dragged by and it was time for food! 500 guests and not a fork to be seen. Beth sneakily grabbed some spoons that she found and we were able to forgo the eating with our hands thing that we are just not that coordinated at yet.
When we were leaving, we danced a bit with some ladies for their tribes traditional song and then we packed into the van again, all 13 of us with our equipment plus 2 random people who needed rides. SO comfortable for the long ride home.
Our friends Rachel and Arielle posted new kid photos on www.olegirlsmission.blogspot.com and i'm going to post some when the internet is a bit faster!
A lot of the amani parents are here and some kids are gonna be going home in the next week! So exciting! PTL
until next time...
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Yesturday night bethany and i met up with Carol, David Raoul, Roger, Andrew, Blessing and Michael Mark for choir practice! This thursday and friday we will be in Tororo, about 3 or 4 hours away for David's aunts wedding. She asked if David would put together a choir to sing for her, since she heard the TYT choir once and LOVED it! So we are singing the Ntambula song that me and beth are obsessed with and so so happy that we get to sing it again. We are also singing I will never be the same again, power of love, woman of love and run to you. I LOVE LOVE LOVE run to you for some reason. Roger told us all that we need to smile and look happy when singing Ntambula because its such a happy song but me and beth really dont have a clue what we're singing but we just smile and fake it like ole pros. Beth has a solo in Run to You and shes a bit nervous because she has to ad lib but its gonna be great!
This morning was church and Bethany, myself, Rachel and Arielle took Dan, Sophia, Asherife and Steven respectively. Sophia wore my neice Ava's pretty yellow dress and it looked So beautiful on her! She really comes out of her shell when shes with me and i acutally told her to be quiet because she was laughing so loudly, something i've never had to do yet!
Our church is in the midst of raising money for our new church building and today at the fundraiser we were able to raise 77000 shillings. Thats about 42 dollars. We had an auction and the only item up for bid was a live chicken that had its legs tied together and was held up at the front by the auctioneer man. Its crazy to think that a few months ago i had all the money they needed to build the church right in my own bank account! its definitely puts things in perspective.
After church we took the kids out of lunch and then me soph dan and beth went back to our house where i removed sophie's terribly shabby hair. her hair was so dirty that my fingers were acutally brown. like dirt.we all watched the incredibles with bethany enjoying it the most and me getting bored halfway through so i cleaned!
Mama Vicky Lowe had mentioned to Rachel how we hadn't mentioned her of Arielle on our blog yet so let me introduce them formally. Rachel and Arielle are here for 7 and 9 months and I met them last year at Amani where we hit it off! We are now ugandan bff's. Rachel and Arielle are constantly cracking jokes.
They've been told they have grown fat since the last time they were here so now all 4 of us are working on "reducing". people get a kick out of that here. Rach Air and I tried to run the 1km from their house to mine and we got a little past halfway. It WAS uphill the whole way though so keep that in mind before judging our ridiculous lack of endurance.
Anyways- until next time!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Bethany and i would like to give a shout out to Gigi's Samantha who is religious follower of our blog! Thanks samantha for reading and being interested in our time here in Jinja! When we come to North Carolina to visit MC and Jackson this summer (hopefully) maybe we'll get to meet you!
YEsturday was so good. I went to Mama Lois' house for tea after spending the day at amani and Mama Robina was there too. Mama Lois is having surgery in January and was unable to pay the 2 million shilling price tag (about 1100 dollars) but while i was home, some very kind and VERY generous and VERY VERY lovely people donated and i was able to tell Mama Lois that she doesnt have to worry anymore! That all her expenses are now covered! She was overwhelmed and said she will never have the words to thank the people who gave so generously to a woman they dont even know.
It was her daughter Steffi's 3rd birthday and i was able to bring back some pretty cute presents which she was THRILLED about last night. I brought her an umbrella and 2 shirts, a pair of shorts, a dora the explorer towel and face cloth and a princess blanket. I also brought a beautiful hand card from MY mama which Mama Lois thought was just so beautiful and kind. I brought her a big pink robe that she loved, that she can bring to the hospital when she has her surgery so she can be nice and comfy. We ate casava chips and chapati and had yummy yummy tea!
After that i went to bible study and everyone was so excited to see me. During testimony time, i testified about how the Lord kept me safe during my surgery and how the prayers of everyone in jinja and at home must have had a huge part in the reason i recovered so fast.
After bible study was done, Mama and Papa Jack (our friend david's parents and whos house we meet at for tuesday cell) brought out a beautiful pink cake that said Welcome Back on the top. I got to sit in the special red chair while everyone sang This is the day that the Lord has made, and me and bethany cut the cake and everyone ate rice and beef, cake and sodas! It was so fun and sooooo kind of them to think of me like that. After Papa Jack took me aside and we talked for a few mins and he said how they think of me and bethany as their daughters, how they love us and what we are doing here and how we are to think of their house as our house. These 2 people are some of the greatest there are! We love them!
Today we are bringing our 2 friends, David and JP to STAO with us. It's gonna be funny because our ugandan friends see us in town and at our bible studies and at church but never at the orphanages we work at and it'll be interesting for them to see us in OUR element.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17
until next time.
Friday, November 9, 2007
And in not-mayonnaise-related news, after several weeks of searching we have finally found exactly what we are looking for! We had made the decision that we felt our time at Amani was coming to a close - as much as we love the kids and the mamas with all our hearts, there are always a lot of volunteers to help there. Amy and I both felt like our time would be more valuable somewhere else that didn't have quite as much help. Hope actually told me about STAO - an acronym for Save The AIDS Orphan. It is a little orphanage in a district called Mafubira just outside of Jinja. It is totally ugandan run which we love, and the pastors who work there are really so nice. There are 45 kids, 25 of which have AIDS. It is by far the poorest place we've been so far but there was something really special that hooked us from the second we arrived yesterday.
Oftentimes when we visit places here that are outside of Jinja, the people arent used to seeing white people, and the kids will scream MZUNGU!!! and run up and ask you for money or sweeties. We drove through the gate for the first time yesterday and instead of yelling the kids started cheering...they were so appreciative that we had come to visit. As soon as I stepped outside the car there were eight little people throwing their arms around me. I started asking them how they were in Luganda - not expecting them to speak much english - but to my surprise they just laughed and said "I'm fine...whats your name?" I was like oh...haha...im Bethany...and the boy I was talking to said "Nice to meet you. I'm George Bush." I just laughed and asked him if he was THE George Bush, as in the president of the United States, and he looked at me as if that was the most obvious answer in the world and said..."Yeah! I'm a mzungu... cant you tell?" So then George Bush gave us a tour of the compound. Its honestly about the size of my property at home - not that big for all the kids that lived there. But there was something that really caught me and Amy's hearts about these kids...
For the first hour we sat singing and learning Luganda words. They love when we show interest in learning their language and are so thrilled to sit and teach us songs and words. We went through about every song that we all knew in both english and luganda when George Bush asks us if we have heard the song "Children of Africa" and we, unsuspecting, say that we haven't. He began to sing and the first verse goes "Children of Africa, we were not born to suffer." As we sat there with these precious children singing such a profound and beautiful song we looked at each other and both our eyes just filled with tears...it almost seemed ironic that these kids almost dont even know how much they are suffering because this life is all that they know. And you will never for a second hear them complain.
After we sang they took us around the compound and George Bush tried to make us Calypso...I almost gave the kids a hernia with my calypso moves. Its hard! They dont understand that white people just cant dance like they can...After calypso we did taught them red rover which gradually evolved into Lay-low-ah, laylowah, we call MUSTAFA! Cute.
At 4:00 every day they have a little church service in this brick building with wobbly wooden benches, no windows, dirt floors, and the most expensive sound system I've seen since I've been in Uganda...it must have been donated and it looks really hilarious to be in this dirt brick building with this super nice mixer and keyboard...we sat there on these benches surrounded by 45 beautiful children all putting our singing to shame. It really makes you think twice about what kids are capable of...I sat next to Janet who was 11, and Maria who was probably four. Maria kept leaning into my side and so I started rubbing her back and I just kept thinking that this little girl may very well never have a mom to rub her back and straighten her dress and play with her hair while they are in church.
Its kind of strange - we've been here for four months working with orphans and for the most part you get into a routine and dont even really think of them as orphans, they are just kids. But every once in a while God just breaks your heart for these people and this country. Yesterday was one of those days. At the end of the service we sat and prayed for the kids up in the north that are being kidnapped and forced to be in the LRA and I was overwhelmed at how powerful it was to be with all of these kids praying their little hearts out for their brothers and sisters in the north - many of whom have been rescued from the north themselves. Just when I thought I couldnt be any more moved we all were asked to pray for our neighbours, so I prayed for little Janet and Maria and they prayed for me. I dont know how many of you have been prayed for by a four year old african orphan, but it was one of the most amazing experiences I've had in a long time. It was all I could do to not dissolve into tears and I looked over at Amy, sitting with little Fatuma on her lap and I knew that she was feeling the exact same thing.
We knew right away that STAO was a place that we were so comfortable at, and felt so welcome, and are so blessed to be able to go spend time with those kids. We are so excited to start going regularly and are already planning out christmas presents for the kids! As we were leaving the kids were thanking us for coming and I wished I could explain to them how we are blessed a million times more by them then they could ever be blessed by us...
Anyways, this blog was way overdue and is longer than I meant it to be...but we are just so excited to be in such a wonderful place. We are still going to be at Amani a few days a week to see our babies, and speaking of amani TEN OF THE ADOPTIONS WENT THROUGH! It is soooo exciting, Mary Cameron, Jackson, Paul, Violet, Chloe, Noah, Joseph, Dwayne, Vince, and Bekah are all going home! We are so thrilled for all the families that are taking their little ones home finally!! God is good. All the time.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
So the day has come. I booked my flights back "home"to Jinja yesturday and boy does it feel good! I leave at 8:30pm on monday Nov 5th and get to Entebbe Uganda at 2:50pm on Wed the 7th. I am so so so so so excited to walk out of the airport and into the arms of my kindred spirit Bethany, and see my awesome friends Katie, David and JP who are all gonna come pick me up!
This video i've uploaded is from Deliverance Chuch Jinja, me and bethany's beloved church! We love this SO much. The pastor is such a gifted speaker and even though we can't understand it sometimes, it definately feeds our souls like no other church we've been too. This video is a typical praise and worship song at DC complete with clapping, waving, jumping, and dancing. People REALLY know how to get into worship in Uganda, and its awesome to be a part of.
It was weird being home for church last sunday and not clapping once! I texted my friend JP from Uganda and told him that we didnt clap one time and he texted back saying "what kind of church do you go to!?". I think that really shows the difference between north american church and african church. There are bad and good parts to both but one thing i think we really need to get over is our reservations about really getting into things. David in the bible danced before the Lord so why shouldn't we?!
Ugandans are VERY passionate people and one thing they are very very very passionate about is their relationship with Christ. People are just so into the bible, so into bible study, so involved with their churches that it makes me a little embarrassed when i have to use my concordance to find a verse or even my table of contents to find out where Habakuk is! These people are so joyful in the face of all circumstances. Wallowing in self pity when something bad happens to you is just not kosher. When beth and i got hit by the car (SO FUNNY NOW!) David, JP and like 5 other guys came to the hospital to make sure we were ok. David was in the exam room with us and beth was sobbing with George and i was panic attacking with Ruthie and he just kept saying "dont cry, you will be fine". Ugandans dont cry unless someone dies practically and to have me and bethany cry at weddings there, cry when we get an email from home, cry when our friends are just so wonderful to us, cry when we've had a hard day, cry when we're mad at eachother, cry because we dont have power and all was want to do is cook in light, is really funny. When i bawled my eyes our when we i found out i had to come home for surgery, David and JP just stood to the side looking SO uncomfortable. They had no idea what to do!
People just dust themselves off and pick themselves up! Our church collected blankets and clothes and housewares for the people up north who have been devastated by the worst flooding Sub Saharan africa has seen in 30 years. My church did that! My church where some people dont have enough clothing or blankets for themselves! People are generous and loving and beautiful and passionate.
When someone says 'i'll pray for you'- they mean right there and right then. no fooling around. Prayer is so so serious. On Tuesdays and Thursday Beth and I attend Bible study. On tuesday's we meet at Davids house and on thursdays we meet at some persons garage. At both places there is no power point, there is no guitar, drums, microphones, piano. There is NOTHING. YEt we sing and dance and pray like our lives depend on it....and they do! We sing songs like "Blessed is the name of the Lord, he is worthy to be praised and adored. So we lift up holy hands in one accord, singing blessed is the name of the Lord." I can't tell you how beautiful it sounds to be ina garage with 4 other people all singing like its their job!
Tuesday fellowship begins with intercession. For 20-30 minutes we stand in a big circle and all at once, pray out loud. It was distracting at first but i really love it. Its so beautiful to hear 30 other prays while i'm praying. If theres one thing Ugandans know how to do, its pray! There is no kidding around when people pray! Its AWESOME!
Needless to say, i really can't say enough good things about Africa, Uganda, Jinja, Deliverance Church, my friends etc...Its just home.
Friday, October 26, 2007
This is Mary Cameron and Jackson.
Worlds biggest picture smile..
"AUNTIE!! MY TOOTH IS BROKEN!!!" - mary cameron on my lap when she sees this picture..
Sorry Erin, this ones the cutest but i took it the wrong way!! Maybe you can save it to your comp and rotate it there?
This was at my sweet bible study birthday party they had for me...at ugandan parties the birthday celebratee cuts half the cake into little pieces and serves it to everyone. I got to sit in the special chair and everyone sang happy birthday to me...twice... On the left is our darling friend Blessing and on the right is Florence. My friends and my darling Katie had a surprise party for me also on my actual birthday which was really fun - except for when it POURED and the lightning was so severe that everyone was an hour late and I arrived at the same time as half of
This is me and my baby Georgeums. He's recently started answering me when I ask him how hes doing...he never used to do that. He never used to talk at all actually. But now he does. And when I say "Georgie nkwagala nnyo!" which means "i love you" he says back "nwaagawaawaa" which is about the cutest thing ever in life.
My good friend the monkey we met at the Entebbe Zoo. These guys are cute but you have to be careful - they WILL reach through the fence and scratch you...don't ask how I know.
Me and my bestie who I miss so much! Shes coming back soon though, please keep praying for her!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
So I'm home all alone, bored, missing Bethany and my babies, my home in Africa, my friends and thinking how awesome my life has been so far. How blessed am i! I've been spending my time meticulously updating my ipod and this song- is one of my new faves. Its by Rita Springer
Oh God of mine, I'll have no idols. Oh God of mine, come lead the way
Oh God of mine, I'm greatly humbled. This sinner's heart you came to save
Oh God of mine through storm and trial.Oh God of mine through death and grave
Oh God of mine, in resurrection. Your scars display my soul's refrain
Oh God of mine Who holds all nations.Oh God of mine who saves the day
Oh God of mine, your grace sufficient.Your tender mercies new by morn
Oh God of mine, forever faithful. Oh God of mine, forever stay
Oh God of mine, forever after. These eyes upon your face will gaze
I'm left with a lot of time on my hands. I walked an hour to my surgery follow up today to feel like i was back in Uganda and walking everywhere. I've been looking into schools closer to home. I'm accepted to Trent University for the compressed nursing program but I'm not sure anymore if that's what i want. I'm leaning towards international development so i can do something so cool like be an ambassador and write books on poverty and living in Africa and be on Anderson Cooper 360 talking about my sweet orphanage I'm going to start (one day!).
I'm not down with living apathetically anymore. I want to be a proactive citizen whatever country I'm living in, getting involved right around me. I want to change the world. My great friend Katie says shes "sometimes working in a third world country makes me feel like i am emptying the ocean with an eye-dropper. and just when i have about half a cup full of water, it rains.'' Its so true.
How do you help 2 million orphans? How do you spread your love to each of them? How do you make people understand your incredible, crushing love for a continent the world's forgotten about? How do you show your amazing Ugandan friends that they've done more for you in 6 months than you've done for your friends in your life time? How do you change your selfish, proud self to humble and selfless? How? How do you look in the eyes of your beautiful daughter and see a life of struggle of sickness because of Aids? How do you reconcile your wealth?
I come home and wish for a night with no electricity. A night where I'm sitting in Tuesday fellowship at David's house, with the rain pouring down so hard on the roof we can't hear the sermon so we just worship for 2 hours. I come home and wish i could transport my church here. My church that is alive. That's loudly proclaiming the gospel to its members, that's passionately loving the community, that's praying in hospital wards for dying people, that loves justice, that you have to bring your bible to, that encourages scripture memory, that's dancing and praising and praying. My church where people are poor- compared to our western standards, but more richly blessed than we could believe. Where people have so little, and are still willing to give it all up for Christ. I come home and am so thankful for my family, my house, my freedom but yearn for the people I've left my heart with.
My God is mighty to save. He is bigger than Aids, he's bigger than poverty, he's bigger than corruption, he's bigger than death. My God conquered the grave!
My God will help 2 million orphans. My God will spread his love to each of them. My God understands my incredible, crushing love for a continent the worlds forgotten, and HE hasn't forgotten it. My God can change my selfish proud self to humble and selfless. My God will comfort my Sophia when she's sick, when she's angry about having Aids, when she's lonely and i can't comfort her. My God is big enough to heal her.
I am blessed.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Greetings from Canada!
Its 1:09am here and i can't sleep. maybe because i've slept like 40 hours in the past 2.5 days. My war wounds are slowly but surely healing and in no time i will be the proud owner of 4 new 1 inch stab sites in my abdomen. A special shout out to Cindy, my moms boss, who brought over choclocate mint girl guide cookies for me tonight. YUM.
So i made it through the surgery just fine and dandy and have a followup appointment on tuesday at 12:30pm and at 12:31pm, iwill be booking my flight back to the motherland. (aka UGANDA) This will hopefully take place ASAP. Meanwhile i'm hoarding used clothes and selling things to my sister at seriosuly inflated prices to get a couple extra shillings in my pockets. This is a note to all my Ugandan Friends-I haven't bitten my nails yet.
I just talked to Bethany and Katie and heard about beth's fabulous 22nd surprise birthday party thrown by Katie and David. She is the envy of every young adult Ugandan male we've come in contact with and her position as a "beautiful mzungu with hair the color of the moon" wont soon be won by someone else.
I've taken the liberty to upload some new goodies on the site whilst recovering. The first is of me and beth saying so long at the airport.
The next is of my 4 stab sites and SERIOUSLY bloated stomach from all the gas they pumped into me!
This is my 3 year old Niece Ava making faces to cheer me up.
And this is the face she made when i told her to smile.
This video features Francis (sterling), my soph, beth's george, snotty nosed arnold, katie (mr. T) and...i think weiss. cute stuff.
Until next time....