Friday, December 31, 2010

As the year ends....

Every year at this time, we are left to think about the past year of our lives.  To be honest, the last two months have consumed me and I don't really remember much about my life before Africa.  Maybe it isn't because I can't remember, but I choose not to. Everything that was an issue before, seems so far away and so unimportant.  I really feel like my heart has changed and I will never be able to be the same person I was.   So many wonderful things have happened in these two months, and so many incredibly heartbreaking.  I don't know what the new year holds, but I hope to be spending it right here in Uganda.

Here are some of the highlights from the past two months:
1.  Having Emma wait over a month to celebrate his birthday with me.
2.  Coming home after an average/frustrating/disappointing day and seeing all of the boys that I love so much and them welcoming me home like I have been gone for days but really it had been only a few hours at most.
3.  All of the boys, except one, getting promoted to the next grade.
4.  Being able to find a home for Moses, a boy from the streets that stole my heart, and hearing that another boy, Edwin, who is also so special to me, has found a home.
5.  Finding out that Gabriel had not been taken and was ok.
6.  Having Abby trust me enough to leave her programs in my care.
7.  Having a disabled lady living on the streets tell me how much she loved God and believed in His plan for her.
8.  Finding a church here that I felt connected to and were capable of helping lead me closer to God.
9.  The moment finally happening when Kampala felt like home.
10.  Having the disabled people coming to church with us for the first time, and the congregation reaching out to them and showing them so much love and acceptance, and the preacher telling the congregation that these people are putting them to shame because they were worshiping with everything they had and asking what the rest of us were doing.
11. The first time one of the boys told me he loved me.  It was Emma.

Since this has become my home and I notice all of the cultural difference, I thought I would share some of them with you.  Here they go:
1.  You cannot make a request from anyone, not even a store worker, without first greeting them and asking them how they are.
2.  People talk in circles and never come right out and say what they mean from the beginning.  So for example, instead of just saying, I really think that is a bad idea and you shouldn't do that, people will first greet and ask how your doing and talk about this one time and maybe hint about the bad idea and make a suggestion, etc.
3. Smelling your food is considered rude.
4.  Stepping over things especially plates and people is very rude.
5.  If you cannot do something you are expected to say so, if you say you will do something and don't it is considered a sign of not liking the person.

Hope everyone has a wonderful new year and it brings them happiness and joy and everything that they hope for.

                                            Little Bashir
         At the street program.  The boy in red is Moses, the cream is Gabriel and the other boy is Alex.
                                           Man selling grasshoppers on the street.
                                                     The son of one of the disabled people.
                                                    me and Emma
                                     This is where the boys on the street bathe and wash clothes.
                              Beautiful African sunset.  It is at the field where the boys play soccer.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another beautiful day....

Yesterday was such an amazing day!! 

But I should back up some and start from how it all began.  We have found this amazing new church, Streams of Life, right down the street from our house.  It is about a 20 minute walk.  The pastor is wonderful and so wise and they reached out to us a few weeks ago.  The pastor asked if there was some way that he could help us and offered the use of the church van so the boys wouldn't have to walk every Sunday and make it more of a special experience.  Uncle David had the brilliant idea to instead invite the disabled people from our street programs with us and then bring them back to the house for lunch.

So that brings us back to yesterday.  Uncle David and Jaja Gina went to the streets to pick them up and took them to church.  Many of them cannot walk at all and even the pastor helped carry them to their seats.  They saved them seats right in the front and had a boy to translate into their language.  During the service, 3 of the pastors greeted them and welcomed them on several occasions, people from the congregation came over and hugged them and greeted them and made them feel so welcome. 

The best part of the service was after the pastor was done with his sermon, he asked if anyone wanted to give their lives to the Lord and receive Him in their hearts and 2 of the ladies went forward!!!!!  It was such a beautiful day. After spending more and more time with them, I am not sure who is benefiting more from the interactions, me or them....I am pretty sure it is me though.

God bless

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Only the good....

So much has happened since my last post....I have fallen in love with Africa.  It is a beautiful place and it doesn't get the credit it deserves.  All the media ever focuses on is the bad...the wars, the poverty, AIDS, etc.  Don't get me wrong, those are huge problems and the people need help to solve them but there are also beautiful people, doing beautiful things every day, and you never hear about it.  I think if people heard more of the good things, people would want to do more.  When you only hear about the bad, it seems a bit overwhelming and useless to even try and help because you wonder what the point is.  So I am only going to focus on only the good things that have happened....

First, I have never seen anything more beautiful than an African sunset.  If you have heard anything about African skies, you can't imagine how beautiful it is, no matter where you are from.  Every night, the sun doesn't disappoint.  It leaves the sky in a beautiful way and then the moon comes out and there are soooo many stars that are so clear and bright.  It is absolutely amazing.  I can't wait until I get the chance to go to the village or the grasslands so the city lights aren't spoiling it.

Next, all of the boys except one were promoted to the next grade except one.  He needed to be held back so he could catch up and it is a good thing.  Another lady is coming to live at the house and is going to focus on helping the boys with reading so they are going to be caught up in no time.

Also, one of the uncles got his visa to go to the US with Abby so he can help her with talks.  This is going to have a huge impact on their fundraising efforts and the ministry. 

I went and visited a girls' home the other day.  It was a beautiful house, so nice and clean.  The girls seem well cared for and are doing well.  Those are 16 more lives that have been saved from prostitution and it is this generation now that will be the change that Uganda needs. 

There are people here that have dedicated their lives to the children here that are forced to live in the darkest places and they love the children unconditionally and give willingly.  They care for the children when they are hurt, take their drugs, counsel them, feed them, and spend time with them.  They give a but of hope to children that have none.

The people here are so friendly and so welcoming.  I move around town by myself and never once have I felt unsafe.  People want to hear about the US and Obama and compare our societies.  They may have very little or nothing but are not stingy and happy to give everything they do have.  For example, street kids that have nothing want to give you their necklace or share their food with you.  They don't eat on a regular basis, but they are willing to share with someone that they know eats all the time and whenever they want.  They are also willing to help you with anything that you need and not expect anything in return. 

It really is a beautiful place and I can see why people told me that I would never want to leave once I got here.