Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I heard this week

Here is your weekly dose of the crazy things these kids say!

I have been keeping a garden, and it has tons of greens in it.  I picked some on Sunday for lunch and Kansiime cooked them for us.

Me:  The greens were really good today.  Thanks for cooking them.
Kansiime:  You're welcome.
Me:  Were they good because I dug them well or because you cooked them well?
Kansiime:  All of it.

More on the story of greens.  In Uganda, anytime you farm or grow plants they refer to it as digging.  I was serving lunch on Sunday.  I was still at the back of the house serving food when I heard Paul shout from the front of the house, "Thank you for digging!"  Clearly, he loved the greens too.

We were at a fancy mall on the other side of town picking up the strawberry plants.  I took 3 of the boys with me and the mall was having all sorts of promotions because of Christmas.  There was a life size Santa Clause doll, dressed in a red sequin suit, that danced.

Me:  You see that thing?
David:  Yeah, it is Father Christmas.
Me:  Yep, we call him Santa Clause.
David:  Why doesn't Father Christmas bring us a bunch of gifts?
Me: uh...

There is a song in Uganda and it is about a guy that wants to buy his girlfriend shoes until he realises what size shoe she wears.  When she tells him a really big size, he says she has gorilla feet.  Not the nicest song, but it is still pretty funny.  Richard and I joke about who has gorilla feet now.  Our opposite of gorilla feet are cat feet.

We are sitting in the slums waiting for the women to arrive and a church lady gives her baby to Richard to hold.

Richard:  Playing with the baby, "Who has the gorilla feet now?  Him?"

More on gorilla parts, after my things were stolen my hand was really swollen and I couldn't move it.

Me:  Ah, now I have a gorilla hand.  Look how big it is!  It is just like a gorilla's.
Richard and Jimmy just stare at me, not laughing.
Me:  Why aren't you laughing?  That was funny.
Jimmy:  Maybe to you.

Wishing you a happy new year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Photo time

Monday of last week we spent in the slums helping our friend with his party for the boys on the street.  

Christmas Day we went to the slums in the morning to give boys eggs, bread, and juice.

Then we had lunch at home and headed to the beach.

Hope you have a great week!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Last week in pictures

Sylvester at the Gandhi statue at the Source of the River Nile.  I had to go to Jinja to get my visa figured out, so we did a little sight seeing.  For having lived in Uganda their whole lives, the boys have really seen very little of it.  Most of them only know their villages and Kampala.  They have never gotten the chance to visit any where else.  

Sylvester and I on the Nile River.

Several of the boys and I spent our Friday with the boys on the street.  Our friend was showing a movie at his programs and the boys are all captivated.

I am not the only one excited for our garden.  Our tomato plants are doing so well and have many baby tomatoes on them. Kansiime is so excited he couldn't wait for them to be ready!

I found someone that sells strawberry plants and could not resist!  Strawberries are really hard to find here and if by chance you do, they are so crazy expensive that we can't afford them anyway.  But now, we will have our own, fresh, soon.

These boys love little kids.  One day, in the VERY! far future,  they are going to make great dads.  They are always playing with the neighbourhood kids, actually any kids they find.  I was leaving the house and I was met by Jacob and all of his little friends.

To get the strawberry plants, we had to travel to the very far other side of town to a super fancy mall.  She had set up a table in one of the malls foyers.  When we got there, she was all sold out of strawberries and told me that I could come back on Monday to get others.  However, once she found out how far we travelled, she called someone and they brought them to us. Here is John and Jimmy taking a rest before our journey back home.

We hope everyone has a great week and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Things heard around our house

These boys are hysterical.  Most days, these boys have me dying laughing all of the time.  Their surprising wit and even insight into things is incredible.    So I am going to start sharing their funniest shenanigans with you every Wednesday.

I was walking with Vincent and had my hands in my pockets.

Vincent:  What’s in your pockets?
Me:  Nothing.  Why?
Vincent:  Why are your hands there?
Me:  I don’t know.
Vincent:  Puts his hands in his pockets and then says, “My pockets are boring.  Let me try yours.”
We then walk by a little boy who has his hands in his pockets, both start laughing, and he says, “See everyone else’s are nice.”

Richard, John and I went to eat after we were walking all day looking for a new house before we moved. 

Richard:  The food was nice, but I have a complaint.
Waitress:  I’m sorry.  What’s wrong?
Me:  Just ignore him.  Everything was fine.
Richard:  No, really.  I have a complaint.
Waitress:  It’s fine.  Let him talk.  (looking worried)
Richard:  You see, I like to eat a lot.  The food was fine, but it was not enough.  I am still hungry.
Waitress:  Dies laughing.

Richard at dinnertime asking me to serve him food.  (He’s a 15 year old boy and is growing, so he is always hungry)

Richard:  You’re joking around talking to me, but really I am dying.  Please, can I have food.  At lunch, they gave me such little food.  For them they don’t know how much I eat.  For you, you know, but them they don’t.  I am really hungry.  They gave me little food, then Lucky (our cat) wanted some and you know if I didn’t give her she would rip my face off, so I had to share.  Please, do we have food?

The water at the house has been out for several days so we have to take jerry cans to the tap to get it.  Vincent brought me the jerry cans to show that we needed to go and get water.

Me:  What happened to all of the water?  Why did you take it all?
Vincent:  Be serious.  You can’t drink a jerry can.  What am I, a frog?

I had just put my contacts in, so it looked like I was crying.

Jacob:  Are you fine?
Me:  Yes.
Jacob:  Don’t lie to me.
Me:  I’m fine.  I just washed my face and put my contacts in.
Jacob:  If you are lying to me, God will beat you.

I was sitting on my bed in the morning drinking coffee and checking my emails.  My coffee was sitting on my bed, when Dunkan came into my room and started plopping himself down on my bed.

Me:  You’re going to spill my coffee, please don’t.
Dunkan:  Sorry.  Then he gets up walks away and comes back.  He plops back down.
Me:  You keep doing that and are going to spill coffee all over my bed.  When you do, what am I going to do to you?
Dunkan:  Thinks for a second and then says in a mischievous voice, “Give me a high five” and then makes the motion of a high five while saying, “in my face.”

Richard:  Do you know apes?
Me:  What?
Richard:  Apes?  The ones that are like gorillas?
Me:  Yeah, why?

Richard:  Just think about how much they love bananas.  That’s how much I love you.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Photo Mondays

In an effort to start giving you a better insight into our daily life at the home, on Mondays I am going to share a photo from the week before.

This is Ibra.  He is showing off his fake tattoo.  Currently, the boys are obsessed with candies that have fake tattoos in the wrappers.  I don't know which they like better, the candy or the tattoos.  Whenever they get them, everyone in the house ends up being covered in fake tattoos.  I drew the line at the dog though, but that doesn't mean the boys didn't try.  :-)

Happy Monday!

Monday, December 8, 2014

For my zebra

My dearest Ibra,

Life is so unfair.  First, you suffered greatly in the village.  Then you came to the streets and suffered even more.  When I found you, I fell hopelessly in love with you.  You were the cutest kid ever, and your charm was out of this world.  You were always so close, yet so far away.  But eventually I broke through your walls.  I remember the first day you held my hand and I knew then that you would be mine always. 

I had come to Kivulu at night to say goodnight to you boys and share a story.  You all were at a party.  As soon as you heard I was there, you all came running.  As we were walking back to the room where you slept, you grabbed my hand.  I was sure I never wanted to let it go.
I watched you grow and change.  I watched you struggle and fall apart.  I watched you pick yourself up and overcome.  Sometimes the struggles were so immense, I wondered if I would ever see the person I knew you could be.  I wondered if you would ever see yourself as I did.  I wondered if you would ever believe in yourself like I did.

And now, I won’t.  All of the dreams I had for you, all of the dreams you had for yourself will never happen, and I am so sorry for that.  Life isn’t fair.  I miss you so incredibly much and nothing will ever fill the empty space in my heart.  We made so many mistakes, and fought so much, but I am so glad we had the most perfect week right before you had to go.  You were the boy I always knew you could be and I had hope that we had finally overcome for the last time.

Now you are resting in peace.  I know your struggles are over.  I know your demons haunt you no more.  I found a picture of you on my phone from the night before.  I immediately started crying.  It captured your spirit and energy perfectly.  I still can’t believe I will never see that sly smile again, or have you burst into my room shouting “mom”.  I keep thinking I hear you voice or see you, but that is just my sadness playing tricks on me.

Your brothers and friends miss you so much too.  No one will ever be able to fill your spot.  It is so huge of a place you left, as you were so full of energy and life.  We are going to remember you for the good times, and the times you made us laugh.  We will remember you for who you were trying to be. 

Life isn’t fair, and we shouldn’t have had to say goodbye so quickly.  We actually didn’t get to say good-bye, but I knew you were already in Heaven then, so I knew it was okay.  I bet you are making Jesus laugh with your crazy dance moves.  I know He is shaking his head and laughing, just like all of us used to do.  What I wouldn’t do to just have one more dance.

I am so proud of you for trying so hard.  I know it wasn’t easy.  I am sorry if I didn’t tell you enough how proud I was of you.  I know I pushed you too far sometimes, but it was only because I knew you could be truly great at anything you wanted to do and I wanted to see that happen.  You made so many changes to your life, and I know if we had more time, you would have went so far in this life.

Ibra, my dearest sweet zebra, you are so loved and so missed.  Always and forever.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Sometimes life here is so achingly beautiful and completely unfair.

Death is all around us.  I can’t even put it into words.  There isn’t a month that has gone by that someone I know, or that the boys know, hasn’t lost someone.  If that doesn’t seem right to you, it’s because it isn’t.

It absolutely isn’t right. 

It isn’t fair.

It isn’t okay.

And yet, death is so common here, it seems it is almost to be expected, making it seem that it is ok.  But how?  How is it ok for a woman to give birth to a child and expect that he is probably going to die, so when he does, she isn’t so shocked. 

How is that ok?

It isn’t.

What is worse is most of the deaths should never happened.  I lost my sweet Ibra because of a lack of good medical care.  I know, without a doubt, if we had been in the US, I would be laughing and talking to him right now.  He would be here in person.  Not only my dreams.  I wouldn’t be waking up every morning with an emptiness that is never going to be filled.  I would be seeing him grow up and getting to hug his adorable children.

But no.

One of the boys, Vincent, just lost his boss.  His boss was in an accident when he was out test-driving a car they had fixed.  He passed away last Sunday because of a lack of good medical care.

Why doesn’t that outrage us? 

Why don’t we care that people all over the world are dying because of a lack of proper medical care?  Not even proper.  But basic medical care. 

I don’t know what the answer is, but an answer needs to be found.  Death shouldn’t be so common that people are unable to mourn. I don’t know what is worse to feel this endless sadness over losing a child, or moving on quickly.  But somehow I feel that not being able to mourn diminishes the importance of the person.  I feel an endless sadness because Ibra was a huge part of my life.  I would rather feel this pain, than to pretend that I don’t miss him and life isn’t different without him.

But how could I effectively mourn if I lost so many people all of the time?  I would never get out of bed.  Nothing would get done.  The rest of my kids wouldn’t eat.  The housework wouldn’t get done.  The extra vegetables wouldn’t make it to the market.  The fields wouldn’t get plowed.  Literally, nothing would get done.

Once again, that isn’t right.  Mourning loved ones shouldn’t be a privilege.  Everyone deserves the chance to properly mourn. 

People shouldn’t have to say goodbye to their loved ones just because they were born in a place without adequate medical treatment.

They just shouldn’t.  But they are.  I am. 

And that should outrage you.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What I learned today

Today, everything finally made sense.

I decided to go to church, even though I wasn’t feeling like it.  I woke up and immediately everything seemed to be going wrong.  I wanted to just get back in bed and stay there.  But instead, I got up and went to church.

Totally God’s urging.

I was grumpy the whole walk there.  But God has a way of getting us where we need to be, when we need to be there.  Today was one of those days.   He knew I needed to be at church, and that’s where I ended up.

I don’t think I have ever heard a message that was more fitting, or more directed at me, than I did today.

And it all finally makes sense.

Not in the sense that I will ever understand why my sweet Ibra isn’t here, because I can never understand that, but I finally get that I am not alone.  I was so angry at God for letting it happen.  I was so angry that we live in a country where we can’t get good medical care.  I was so angry that I had to feel this pain.  I thought that I should be spared from it, like there was some suffering exemption that I had earned.  I was just angry.  For me.  For the rest of my boys, because they had already suffered and lost enough in life, they didn’t need to lose a brother too.

I thought no one could understand how I was feeling.  No one had ever felt the pain I was feeling.  And I was so angry at God for letting it happen.  I felt alone.  I felt like He had left us. 

But I was so wrong.

It is so easy to say all of these things that you’re supposed to say when it isn’t you suffering.  I am sure I have said them to someone.  I am sure I have encouraged people not to lose faith when life really sucks and they are wondering how a good God could let it happen.   When people were saying them to me, they seemed so empty.  I just wanted to tell them to shut up.  I wanted to tell them that they couldn’t possibly understand my pain and anger, so they should just stop trying to make me feel better because I wasn’t going to.  Ever.

But today, I learned an important truth.

I learned there is someone that understands exactly how I felt.  And when it finally sank in, it hit me like a brick and I almost completely lost it in the middle of a really big church making a huge spectacle.

Thank God, He is good and so gracious, not to mention forgiving.  Here I was blaming Him, telling Him He left me and didn’t care.  But I learned He IS the only one that understands my pain.  And even more so, I understood that His pain was far greater than any pain I am feeling.  I lost my son far too soon, yes, but He willingly gave His son up for my benefit.  GAVE.  HIM.  UP.  Like willingly choose to endure this pain.

And here I am, like a jerk, telling Him He left me when He understands the pain and loss I am feeling, like no one else.  And not only that, He willing choose it.  So I could be saved.  

I am so grateful today for a gracious God that is always with me and forgives me when I am a jerk.  I am so thankful for a knowing Savior that has experienced every single hardship I could ever face.  He is, and always will be, the only one that can ever begin to understand my pain.  But not only does He understand, He has felt it.  God sent Jesus to be with us, to experience life as we do, just for a time such as these. 

Now, I know when I cry out to God about the immense sadness I feel, I can hear Him say, “I know.  I felt it too.  I am here for you.  Don’t lose hope.” 

And from Him, those words don’t seem so empty.