Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tears in the night

I've had lots of moments when I have just thought, am I really driving this SUV, paying 80$ to fill it up? My kids get snacks what seems like every hour on the hour, they are clean and have at least a dozen or more outfits to choose from- all without holes or tears. There are no bugs burrowing into their feet because they don't walk around barefoot. We tuck ourselves into our king size bed in our air conditioned house... all the while, my thoughts are with them.
My thoughts go right to the kids at Return as I watched them shovel handful by handful that rice into their mouths to fill their bellies because they don't know when the next meal will be. My thoughts go to the children of the Karomajong that have worms in their private parts, jiggers burrowing deep in their feet.
My thoughts go to the mothers who put their children to bed on a dirt floor as the rain comes through their leaking straw roof. My thoughts go to the Karomajong women who work trying to make an honest income and maybe make a dollar or two every few days. My thoughts go to the women who have to make life or death decisions on how to feed their children, and what evils they feel like they only have to turn to to sell their bodies to feed their kids. My thoughts went to those women who talked to me about taking in neighbors' children as if, why wouldn't they take them in as their own after the children's mother died.
As I tucked our two into bed tonight though, I couldn't shake a moment I had holding sweet 3 year old Frank at Canaan's.
 I kept hearing him sniffle as the singing program went late into the evening. Finally I looked around his head on my chest when my arm felt wet.  He was completely asleep, yet crying. Even his face was twisted into a full cry. Tears coming down both cheeks.  A few minutes later, I looked over as Shelly was holding a 5 or 6 year old girl named Patience and she was crying too. Tears streaming down both cheeks and a look of pain on her face all while her eyes were closed.
I got to thinking. These kids do not know how to process the pain and trauma they have seen in their few short years of life.  But it comes out while they sleep. I talked to the house mom about it and she said it is very common. I thought about everything I have heard and read about "night terrors" in bringing home adopted children.  Just waking up screaming or crying in the night for no apparent reason.

How could we not open up our home? How could we not live differently? I want to have an attitude just like those women. Just so matter of fact. Of course we will take care of these children as our own. Why wouldn't we? God has given us much and also requires much of us. For 250$ a month, our family can feed 150 kids 4 times a month that may not get another meal. That is 600 mouths fed for just one less trip to the grocery store and gas station for us.
Now this is the road God has me on personally. It is not meant to inflict guilt or make you feel like this is what everyone should be doing... I am just processing out loud the millions of thoughts going through my head.
But as these faces are flooding my mind, all I kept coming back to were those shedding tears in the night, silently and alone. As their pain leaves their body while they are somewhat numb to it. It has changed me.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 6: Amazima and Nile River Tour

Wow, there is just so much packed into a day here, it is starting to run together or blur in my mind!
First off, I made a big mistake and left the boys dorm room door open last night when I left after checking the internet in the hall! Male mosquitos (the non-biting kind, i learned only females bite) flock to the light and thousands upon thousands came in and died in the hall way. After sweeping, this is the damage I left behind. Wow. Thankful for bug spray. That is all mosquitos in that pile. No dirt. The other picture is our bedroom at Canaan's childrens home. Im on the top bunk which makes for a tricky bathroom run in the middle of the night! This is our girls devotional at night in the room.
After breakfast we walked about a half mile up a dirt road to Amazima- Katie Davis' ministry.  It is quite an operation. It is several acres with an open pavilion for worship.

They also teach community seminars there about Jesus, hygiene, nutrition, feeding your kids, teaching skills, etc. There is a playground there that is amazing! Saturday is a day for only sponsored kids. There are approximately 600 in Amazima's sponsor program.  These kids receive 300$ a year and that provides meals on saturdays with a worship service, a bag of food for the week, and school fees. It was amazing to see these men bagging up rice and beans for the 600 kids to take home with them to provide food for their families.

Who needs toys in Uganda? They find their own entertainment.

Then I watched the ladies preparing lunch while the worship service was going on. These ladies were cooking enough rice, beans and chicken to feed 500 kids! Amazing! Everyone got a hardboiled egg to eat when they got there at 11 to hold them over until 1:30 for lunch. 
cutting the chicken

 Then it was time for praise and worship.  It was amazing to hear all those sweet voices with lugandan accents echo in the pavilion with songs to Jesus. They learned revelation 3:20 as their weekly memory verse and heard a message.

Then it was time for playtime! I was pretty excited myself to check out this awesome playground. The kids got to just be kids as they ran, climbed, swang and jumped rope. It was amazing to see their joy and enjoyment amidst hearing some of their stories as we waked too. 15 year olds caring for their aging grandmother and 4 siblings, 8 year olds whose dad had died of HIV, etc.

It was soon time for us to get in place for the assembly line of lunch. A pot of rice that weighed more than me, beans, and a piece of chicken with a cup full of chicken broth on top. The kids would bow as we filled their plates and say "sank you" as they'd walk away. I can't tell you what joy I got from just filling kids plates with chicken broth. The simplest thing, but I was just so grateful to be a part and to help a child get a warm meal and full belly.

We walked back and got showered up for our touristy "night out". We drive down to the king fisher lodge for a boat tour on lake victoria to the source of the Nile river. It was so much fun to end our week together, seeing Uganda in a different way. Despite the fact that it poured rain (thankfully our boat was slightly covered), it was neat to hop out on the island and see the spring of the Nile river rippling and bubbling up joining lake Victoria as it started flowing, rather quickly.  It is the only river that flows south to north. Pretty amazing and beautiful! Lots of fun wildlife and a delicious fish dinner! A fun night to end an amazing week!

love this picture, this was on the back of a beached boat

source of the nile!

see where the current changes to the right? Lake Victoria is to the right, the nile starts from the bubbling on the left and flows left.

fishing village on Lake victoria

half of the team

the other half of us

not sure why Safari is in the name. The only wildlife we saw was birds ;)

I haven't even begun to process through the tens and tens of take aways and lessons God has taught me through this trip. For now I am simply working on getting over jetlag, loving my family well, and praying through all I have seen and heard from my time in Uganda. Thanks for your prayer, support and journeying with me on this season of life!

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Day 5. Divine change of plans

So day 5 started out how each day has before, with a plan. We have learned here in Uganda, we are on "African time" which means plans and times change minute by minute. We heard that the pastor here at Canaan's son was in need of encouragement at his ministry. We got in the bus to go with only these instructions "no v necks or tank tops. We are going to a remote Muslim community". So we get in and the hear the trip may be more like 3 hours. We took a vote if we should continue and it was a split vote so our leader says let's go. The ride ended up being only about 2.5 hours so thank God. But it was quite interesting. We traveled to eastern uganda to a remote Muslim village called pallista. Along the way we aw mud round huts with straw tops, lots of women gathering water from well, shepherds, cattle herders, sugar cane growing, etc. we had one of our most near death experience when a cow ran out in front of us. Amazingly, ebus slammed and swerved just enough to barely clip his tail! We saw women laying cassava root on the side of the road to cook it. Definitely a different way of life. Once we arrived at pastor Samuels place, "to Africa with love" the kids ran out to greet us. We put a headband on every sweet head and a watch on every boy. The boys really wanted headbands too! They did a program of songs and skits for us.

Then Samuel told us stories of how some of the kids came to live at their children's home.
 ::Jamal was born with club feet and tuberculosis. He was thought to be demon possessed. His parents brought him to church and Samuel and his wife took him in. He had not been fed well, he was extremely malnourished and couldn't lift his head or hold himself up due to malnutrition.  Through series of surgeries, he has just learned to walk. He is about the size of a 12-15 month old and he is 3 1/2 years old. Ironically, his shirt said "I love my parents"

 ::Tybitas father wanted to sacrifice her by decapitation. They rescued her from her father. Tybita is the girl in stripes on the left. She only came to live at the home 2 months ago and only in the last few weeks has she started to trust Samuel and his wife. Surprisingly, she was very affectionate and smiled every now and then.

 ::Moses' mom died and dad was a drunk. They took him from the home. This morning the dad came to take him back and the boy ran, hid and cried. They will keep moses at the children's home.  Moses is the one in the stripes up front, purple headband. He was so sweet and snuggled on Ashley for a long time.

 We got to eat with pastor samuel and his wife they told us their neat story. Mercy and Samuel (the pastor and his wife) met in bible college. Mercy's mom was raped and conceived her. At 2 yrs old she started loving Jesus. By 8 she had a Vision that god wanted her to have a big church and take in orphans in her family. Now she ministers as a family to a remote muslim community with her husband.  Here she was, so excited about the things we brought for their home.

Their church is near a mosque where the men will still beat their wives often to death if they change their religion. Sometimes the women sneak out of the house and sit in the back of the prayer meetings. Tonight at pastor samuel's church, they're having a prayer meeting from 6:00p-6:00 a. Their church is very makeshift. At first we pulled up and I was thinking, the church must be last this shack like building. Once I got in, I realized our view of church is often distorted. The walls are just sheets of wood and metal laid up against a frame.
But samuel says it's perfect bc the walls just come off and they can seat people outside if they have a night with a lot of people. The way church should be. Not exclusive. Not Bound by walls. But broadcasting the gospel.  This family is not only pastoring a church that has grown from 20 to 200, they've also taken in 30 children, but most surprisingly I think beyond that they're meeting one of the greatest needs of Uganda. The marriage crisis. Lasting marriages are rare here. Men typically leave, die, or have multiple wives. Pastor Samuel and mercy are having marriage seminars, married Sunday school classes, and preaching on the biblical mandate of what marriage is to be. I was so encouraged. Because we can feed and adopt and clothe orphans all day long, but until we address the source of the problem we cannot sustain. Marriage empowerment is orphan prevention. Samuel says "we mentor couples from the bedroom to the courtyard" from intimacy to child rearing. We left a donation and a bag of medicines, vitamins, pads, toothbrushes and toothpastes, etc. they were so encouraged. Samuel told us, last night with the children they prayed someone would come the next day. God heard and answered his prayers through our divine change of plans.

 That evening the kids at canaans out on a concert for us. 2 hours of song, dance, and bible verse reciting. It was amazing!