Friday, November 9, 2007

Well the first and most exciting news I have is that my darling Amy is back with me!! We are so happy to be reunited after a long 3 weeks and 2 days. She is totally healthy and recovered, and the proud owner of four lovely incisions on her abdomen. She came back with a care package from my family, the rest of her wardrobe, and a ziploc baggie FULL of McChicken sauce from McDonalds which we carry around with us now for when we eat french fries...

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 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 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 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.

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