Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Last night was the first night of workshops for the boys.  Our friend, Jenna, is living with us for the next 9 months and when she asked what would be helpful for her to do, I told her that she should do the same workshops that she did with the kids in prison.  Even though these boys don’t have the same crazy, violent pasts, they still have a lot of the same issues:  abuse, neglect, drugs, etc.  In Uganda, people don’t really talk about their problems.  There are certain things that happen and no one talks about them.  Therefore, no one can heal because they feel ashamed of what has happened to them even when it wasn't their fault. 

Joseph at Ibra's birthday party
These workshops have come at the perfect time because I have wanted to use our nightly devotions in a way that it makes the Bible real to the boys and they can have a safe space to discuss their ideas and concerns and then see what the Bible tells us about each situation.  While the focus of the workshops isn't the Bible, the topics are still things that affect the boys’ day to day lives.  It is going to be very easy to have the same topics during the workshops as during devotions the following day. 

Jacob modeling our paperbead necklaces.
Buy them here
Last week during devotions, we talked about relationships:  how they should treat women, marriage, sex, everything that is a concern to them.  It was a great time of discussion and I was so proud of the boys for how honest and open they were.  I thought that they would just tell me the things they knew I wanted to hear, but instead they were honest about their thoughts and feelings.  We were then able to go to the Bible and see what it says about everything.  While devotions usually take 45 minutes and the boys are complaining and wanting to go to bed, we had to cut them short because they were going on 2 hours.  The same thing happened the week before when we talked about how our words really have power and how we should use them only for good.  Having a discussion where they can bring their own experiences in and make those connections is really starting to make a difference.  After that time, Jenna was walking with one of the boys and a stranger said something bad to her.  Where the boy would have normally shouted an insult back, he told Jenna couldn’t say anything because we just learned about using our words for good in devotions.

Last night the workshop was about our words again.  It actually broke my heart.  Sometimes, I think that I know the pain that these boys have felt and the abuse they went through.  But after last night’s workshop, I realize I have no clue about the things these boys have suffered and how resilient they really are.  During the workshop, they got a piece of paper with a heart drawn on it and the paper was divided into 4 sections.  The first part of the heart was for when they were one week old.  The others for 5 years, 10 years and now.  For each section, they were supposed to write things people said to them and then either draw a scar or a heart inside the heart depending on if it was something good or bad.   I was helping the boys sitting next to me write in their hearts as some still don’t write very well.  The things they told me to write were awful:  you are bad, you are stubborn, you are a thief, and the worst you don’t deserve to be in this family.  He was 10 when someone said that to him.  The full impact of the activity didn’t hit me until I was looking through them all today.  One boy’s heart in particular crushed me.  There wasn’t a single heart in his heart until the time for now.  Before he came into the home, no one had good things to say about him.  Not a single word.  Can you imagine, from the time that you were born, no one wanted you and didn’t try to hide their disgust for you?  The other boys’ hearts weren’t far off, but at least they had a heart here or there.

So many times we want statistics to prove that what we are doing is making a difference.  I don’t have fancy charts or spreadsheets to prove that what we are doing is making a difference.  I don’t have numbers, nor can I say what these boys are going to do in the future or what they will become.  But for now, knowing that for the first time in their lives they all feel loved and valued is enough for me.
Richard and John
Moses and Matthew

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