Saturday, July 30, 2011


I didn't want to come to Rwanda.  It was kind of a forced decision.  I didn't want to leave the kids, my dog, etc.  Last time I renewed my visa, the office said some nonsense and only gave me a one month visa.  That meant I either had to change my plane ticket again and come home early or leave the country for a few days and go to a neighboring country.  Since I already changed my plane ticket once, it would have been crazy expensive to do it again.  Therefore, I gave in to Gina's insisting and agreed to take a break and go to Rwanda for a week.

The bus ride was interesting.  It left almost an hour late and was crowded.  After fighting for seats we finally got settled and the bus left.  Thankfully it left at night, so I was able to sleep most of the way.  However, the ride was terrible and I kept waking up thinking we were going to crash and I was going to die or throw up everywhere.  The driver was flying and the road seemed to be one huge pothole.  Every time we hit another one, I thought the bus was going to tip was just swaying back and forth.

When we finally got into Kigali and got off the bus, we were greeted with many taxi drivers.  We chose one and we started our journey of finding a place to stay.  The guest house we wanted to stay at was full but recommended another one.  We couldn't find contact info for it before we left so we just decided to come and see what happened.

Rwanda is very different from Uganda.  The differences were apparent from the second I stepped off the bus.  For example:

  • The very first thing I noticed about Rwanda is how green it was.  It is an absolutely beautiful country and there are flowers and plants everywhere, even in the city.  
  • Next thing I noticed was how clean everything is.  There isn't trash littering the streets and a terrible stench from rotting trash.  
  • One of the biggest differences is the traffic.  It drives on the right side of the road and always the side it is supposed to.  People aren't continuously honking and almost crashing.  It moves in an orderly fashion.  The roads aren't one huge pothole.  The bodas only carry one person and everyone wears helmets.  They are also required to wear vests that signify that they are certified.  Most importantly, traffic stops for people and sidewalks are only for people(as opposed to bodas, cars, and taxis in Kampala).
  • Probably one of my favorite differences is when I walk out I am not called muzungu a million times.  It is nice to just be and live life without being singled out and screamed at.
  • It is also quiet here.  It has given me time and space to think.  There aren't cars honking, trucks blaring music and advertisements, people shouting, etc.  There aren't street vendors (they are illegal) so you can actually walk down the sidewalk or street without having to shout at the person with you or fight your way through a crowd.  It isn't congested at all.  
  • Everything is super expensive here.  Way more than Kampala.  This is a huge inconvenience especially if you are trying to have a budget.  The prices are closer to prices you would have in the US.
  • The food is delicious.  We have eaten at 2 buffets that are considered local food.  The food was amazing, definitely not the posho and beans I am used to.  This morning I had bread for breakfast and it was super fresh and by far the best bread I have had in a long time.
I am loving it here and now that I am here I can see how needed this break was and am glad I came.  However, as crazy as Kampala is, I am missing it...  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

good news

We have a new member to our family as of Tuesday night.  His name is David and he is 6 years old. 
I am really excited that he is home with us.  No kid should be on the streets but especially not a 6 year old.  He was super vulnerable and everyone would take advantage of him.  The longer he stayed on the streets, the harder and more traumatized he would become.  It is only through God's power that he is home with us and we couldn't be more excited.

The last interaction I had with David on the street was Sunday.  We had taken another boy Joseph to the hospital because he was bitten by a dog.  Of course when other kids saw me and the other aunt, they followed.  so Mathias, Ivan, and David joined us in our hospital visit.  While we were waiting for Joseph to be treated, David fell asleep.  First, he was half on a bench and then he fell to the floor.  To say we were causing chaos in the hospital would be an understatement.  David was so sound asleep, he barely noticed.  When Joseph was finished and it was time to leave, David refused to wake up.  Everyone at the hospital thought he was sick and we were just refusing to have him treated.  Mathias picked him up but almost dropped him so the other aunt and I went to help and he let go of him completely thinking that we should carry him.  Of course we couldn't and so we had to put him back down.  At this point, we are laughing hysterically and losing it.  The hospital workers were very concerned.  Mathias and Ivan finally pick him up, one carrying his legs and the other his arms.  David is still sound asleep and refusing to wake up.  How, I am not sure.  Halfway down the steps, the boys get tired of carrying him and put him down and refuse to pick him back up.  He still will not wake up.  Finally we shout at him and make him stand to his feet.  He wakes up.  We discover he is so hungry, he is just holding his stomach, whimpering.  We take the boys to get something to eat back in Kivulu and once he starts eating, he is back to his energetic, sweet self.

I am so happy that I serve a God that hurts when His children hurt.  I know that His heart broke Sunday night also and He never wanted David to be so hungry again.  He put David so strongly on the other aunties' hearts to ensure David would never have to suffer again.  Monday night, I got a call asking me what I thought about David coming home.  It is amazing how God works!

Other good news, 2 other amazing boys, Abdul and Peter, found homes also.  Abdul moved to Jinja to go to boarding school where a pastor will mentor him, and Peter went to another home about an hour outside of Kampala.  Both amazing kids, both so deserving of the opportunity.

God is good all the time...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rare form

I have been super stressed lately and not very happy.  Everything is much more difficult than it used to be and most days leave me feeling angry and bitter.  I just had someone tell me, "while we should all want to live our life for the Lord, when we do, it is really hard."  I couldn't agree more.  He is pushing and I am pulling.  And i know the pushing is to get me where I need to be to serve Him but doesn't make the frustration or other feelings go away or any less significant and sometimes I just snap.

Today would be one of those nights...

First, I should say the one thing i don't find frustrating or more difficult is loving the street kids.  On the contrary, it is where I find all of my joy.  It is the only easy/non-complicated thing in my life right now.  So when I went to dinner tonight with Tom (he is one of the kids that I put in school but lives with another uncle.  He was 1st in his class so as a reward we went to a movie and dinner.) and found one of the kids I love so much, Derrick, looking through the garbage bin outside of the restaurant my heart broke but I was also so happy to see him.  As soon as he saw me, he started jumping up and down and dancing and singing a song.  Of course I invited him to have dinner with us and as we were ordering, 2 more boys David and Semanda showed up.  So they joined us also.  Derrick asked if he could please take his to go so he could go back to where he was staying so he could share with 2 of his friends, Ssemakula and Katerregga.  Of course I agreed and even got him another to take with.

Tom, David, Semanda and I remained and had our dinner.  The area we were, many street kids hang out there.  There is a place to sleep very near by.  So many other boys were around.  I didn't know the other kids but the boys I was with said they weren't so nice and had bad manners.  Nonetheless, they kept trying to share the food with them.  This of course was annoying the security guard.  Then Kasozi shows up and the security guard loses it.  I try to explain I know him and he is fine, he has good manners but the guard doesn't care.  Our exchange leaves me saying, "Fine, i just won't come here or spend my money here any more. Problem solved."  I tell Kasozi to wait for me near the other side, I am leaving soon and will get him something to eat.  Well chicken was too much of a temptation for him and he came back.  Security guard loses it again.  David had finished eating at this point so the security guard tries to push him to go and thats when I lost it...

I don't remember exactly what I said but it was something to the effect of what do you think is going to happen to your society if this is how these children are treated.  Hundreds of children treated so poorly and soon they will be the ones running the country.  What do you think is going to happen?  You should have some compassion.

I should have told him it was unchristian and how is he showing Jesus' love in his behavior.  I should have said a lot of things, but I was furious.  However my question is still a valid one and one I hope everyone that was staring and listening to my rant(the restaurant was full and a shouting muzungu kind of attracts a lot of attention) thinks about.  If a child only knows war, what does he turn into?  If a child only knows hatred and abuse, what does he turn into?  On the other hand, if a child only knows love, encouragement, kind words, compassion, what does he turn into?

I pray that these people get it together and figure it out soon.  These children will grow up.  They will become adults.  What hope does the country have if thousands of the children growing up only know abuse and are treated like they are less than rubbish?

Semanda is on the left and David is behind in red.  Dan is the one in front.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Gabriel at craft day
I  don't remember how Gabriel and I met but it is difficult to forget him once you meet him.  However, I do remember our second meeting.  I had gone to Kisenyi to get kids to bring them to our programs in Kivulu.  When I got to the spot where all the kids hang out, I saw him and he announced that I was his friend but the others with me were not, and that is how it all started...

Like all kids from Kisenyi, he got high from huffing aviation fuel.  I took away his drugs many times over the last 4 or 5 months and fought so hard with him to not return to Kisenyi.  It took a few attempts but eventually he did stay in Kivulu and eventually started using drugs less and less.  There would be days where he wouldn't use them at all or only right before he slept.  Every time I saw him, I would take his drugs, he would tell me how sorry he was and wouldn't do it anymore, and I would remind him how bad it was for him.

About 2 months ago, he completely broke my heart.  We had a really rough day at program and he was one of the kids being the most disrespectful.  He got in trouble and we cancelled programs for the rest of the week.  Over the course of the week, I saw him out in the town.  I called to him and he ignored me.  I went up to him and he still ignored me.  So I told him it was fine, I still loved him and would see him later. But I didn't.

He didn't come back to programs for a long time.  When another aunt saw him, he flipped her off.  I wanted to go look for him but thought he needed time to cool down.  Then I got busy and never found the time to go look for him.  Two Sundays ago, he showed up out of nowhere and I was so excited.  He was clean, he wasn't high, and he talked to me.  Over the last week, he has been coming to programs and has been as great as ever.  I noticed that he hadn't been around the last 2 days and wondered why and today while I was in the middle of sharing a Bible story I saw why.  I saw the greatest thing ever.  There was Gabriel, standing across the church, in his school uniform.  I literally stopped what I was saying and asked the uncle who put him in school.

My God is an awesome God and He knows when I am feeling weak and discouraged and every time He does something so amazing and all of my hope is restored.

Please be praying for Gabriel during this time of transition for him.  He is an awesome kid and am so happy he was given this chance.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

a short walk...

Another auntie and I had been wanting to go out into the city at night and look for kids.  We were wanting to reach as many kids as we could everyday at program and thought the only way to do so was to bring new kids.  We finally started our adventure last week.  We have gone out at night at least 3 times now and have met many new kids.  We go out around 8 or 9 pm as the kids are getting settled into their sleeping places.  The problem for the kids is Kampala never seems to sleep so they must wait for all of the vendors to clear out before they can lay down.  Some nights this happens very late.

Our first night out about a week ago was a little frustrating.  We walked and walked and hardly found anyone.  We found out later that about 200 kids had been picked up the night before and taken to a remand house.  So the kids were in hiding.  We did manage to have some fun and had outrageous encounters.  I got dragged into the middle of traffic, everyone gathers around when we talk to the kids, a random lady was demanded a bag, the list goes on.

The last 2 times we have found very many kids.  Some have started coming to our programs each day and we have about 65 kids now that we feed.  Tonight we went out and found many young kids.  One boy, Brian, stuck out to me.  I hope he comes to program on Friday.  He has some crazy rash/infection all over his body and I want to take him to the hospital.  His English was perfect and we were all commending him on it.  When we asked what class he finished he told us 2nd grade.  His English is way more advanced than a 2nd grader and he looked at me and told me how clever he was but then he lost his parents.  My heart broke...

We found 35 kids tonight, a few we already knew but most we did not.  Be praying they come to the program on Friday, especially the little ones.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blessed House

I started this Saturday night but am now just getting around to finishing it...

My favorite day of the week is by far Saturday.  Saturdays are the days when I get to spend some quality time with my 3 boys and really start to get to know them.  Sometimes this means we go fun places and almost always it means we end up at an uncle's house.  The leaders started gathering a few months ago on Saturdays to fellowship.  It has since turned into a time when we can really love on a few kids and build solid relationships.  There is always food, laughter, and plenty of fun.   It is always an amazing time and one of the best of the week but tonight was something special...

When I got to the uncle's house one of the first kids to greet me and give me a hug was Brian.  I talked about him a few weeks ago.  He is a completely different kid.  God has worked miracles in him and he is turning out to be one of the most sensitive and sweet kids.  I should have known that would set the tone for the night.

We were waiting on another aunt, who the kids call Jaaja(grandma), to arrive so I sent a few kids on errands to buy eggs and vegetables to cook so we would be ready.  (I think this is a big deal to them because it lets them know you trust them.  They could easily run off with the money, but it has never happened to me.)  When Jaaja arrived, she began to cook, like always.  The boys love to help so I went inside and talked to another aunt.  Some of the boys were sitting inside so we were just all laughing and joking around.  One of my kids, John, decided he wanted to do my hair.  So he started braiding my hair and basically turning it into a hot mess.  That was when Peter took over and John moved on to the other auntie's hair.  The room was full of laughter, jaaja was outside cooking, and I thought to myself this is home, this is my family.

The uncle always says his house is the Blessed House.  That night I definitely saw why.