Thursday, July 31, 2014

What happened next

So this is a continuation of a post I started here.

Even in the midst of chaos and injustice, God was with us.  Even though we had wounds and were treated unfairly, He had us.  Even though the world tried to make us feel alone and isolated, God never left us.  He saw it all and was on our side.

We caused quite a crowd to gather and one of the people must have opened the gate that was trapping us.  Somehow we all got out of the gate and away from the canings. 

Once we were out of the gate and all had a moment to process what had just happened to us, I hear the boys shouting at me to look at one of the boys’ faces.  (He was the one that needed stitches.)  There was blood pouring out of his forehead.  The next thing I noticed was a Muslim man screaming and crying.  He was absolutely heartbroken over what he saw happen to us.  He was shouting at the guards and crying about the boy’s face.  He absolutely could not believe what happened and it was obvious that he was feeling our pain as if he was one of us.  He stood with us.  He realized the unfairness and defended us.  I will never forget that.  I don’t know that I would remember what he looked like, but I will never forget the urgency and pain in his voice.  He recognized injustice and stood against it, instead of joining the rest of the crowd delighting in the canings we received.  He urged us to go to the police and report what happened, so we went leaving him in his tears.

I haven’t had a good experience with the police here.  As we were walking to the police station, I wondered why I was even wasting my time.  I was sure they wouldn’t care or help us.  But we went anyway.  The man at the counter took our information, and sent us to buy medical forms to be filled out by a certified police doctor to be added to the file.  It was probably God’s leading that I went to the wrong place to buy the forms and had to go back to the right place. 

As I was waiting to buy the forms, a man came up and started talking to me.  I thought he was just some random person, so I didn’t take his questions so seriously.  Another man sitting there noticed that I was getting medical forms and that my neck was super red and told him he thought I had been assaulted.  I agreed that I had been and when he found out where, he got super annoyed and said he had enough.  At that moment, things started to happen.  He took me back to the office and demanded that they go and get the guards.  He listened to my story and sincerely cared.  He couldn’t believe that a man could beat my children or me.  He gathered a few people, we got in his car and went back to the school.  He took the guards by force and arrested them.  We went back to the station dropped the guards and then he took us back to the school to get our other visitors, boys and the things that were stolen from us during the scuffle.

As it turns out, the man was the one completely in charge of the station that day and is some high up inspector.  It was only by God’s grace that he found me buying those papers and anything was done.  If it wasn’t for that man, I know nothing would have happened.  The guards would have never been arrested.  There would have been no consequences for their bad actions.  But because God avenges for us, and sets the wrong right, we had justice.

When we went back on Monday with the medical forms, amazingly, the guards were still in custody.  I was sure that they were going to let them pay their way out.  But justice actually happened and they spent the night in jail.  We found the administrator of the school there trying to get them out and they wouldn’t let him until I made a decision of what I wanted to have happen.  They gave me the choice as to whether I wanted to go further with the case, or let them go.  The administrator begged me to be forgiving while the other man with him, just wanted to prove that it was our fault.  I wanted to be vengeful.  I wanted them to suffer and feel small like they made us to feel.  I wanted to abuse the power that I had, to decide what would happen to them, like they did to us.  I didn't want to show them mercy because they showed us none.  I almost made them stay just to prove the point that I could, but then I remembered how good God had been through it all and that revenge wasn’t mine to have.  I know God saw it all and despite the stories the guards told, I know God saw the truth and that we weren’t the ones that started it.  I know that He saw me defending one of His children and us getting beat as a result. I knew he wanted me to show forgiveness.  

I always tell the boys that one day we will all have to answer for our actions, so make sure you are always on the right side because you will be held accountable.   I know that we will all be held accountable for that day.  God will set it all right.  He will deliver justice.  And His justice is way better than any I could ever hope to deliver.  The guards apologized and so did the school, and we let it go. 

We just let it go…

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I seem to have bad luck with security guards.  They are unreasonable people that are determined to demonstrate their limited power.   Being the stubborn, hard headed person that I am, I don't take to well to it being demonstrated on my kids.  (Read about my last run in here)

These kids have never had anyone defend them.  Like, literally never.  Tons of people have witnessed them being beat and have done nothing nor jumped in to help them.  One of the boys on the street was in the hospital for 2 days at the end of last week because some mechanics found him looking for plastic bottles near their workshop.  Their solution?  To get him, tie him up, and beat him almost to death just to show him they didn't want him there.  These boys have had more than their fair share of persecution.  More than their fair share of undeserved beatings.  And never, has anyone stood up for them.

They need to see that they are worth defending.  That someone loves them enough to fight for them.  It is not merely enough to say "I love you" or meet their basic needs.  Love is about action.  They need to visibly see what it is to love someone.  They haven't had the best role models of love in their life.  Almost every single person that has said that they loved them has hurt them immeasurably.

I want to be different.

I want them to see my love.

And sometimes that means I get myself in a lot of trouble.

Like yesterday.

I went to a local secondary school to see one of my boys perform.  The security let me in without barely saying anything.  They let maybe 10 of the boys in with hardly 2 words.  As we were sitting there waiting for the performance, some of the boys that were supposed to meet us came and said they wouldn't let them in.  So I went to get them and the security said nothing.

But then, as we were walking away they wanted to show off.  They just wanted to give us problems and because I wouldn't kneel down and beg them to let the boys enter, I got completely kicked out of the school with 5 of the boys that were trying to enter late.  I could have started shouting or refused to leave as the rest of my boys were still inside, but instead not wanting to cause a huge scene, I left peacefully.  I told them it was stupid and ridiculous, but I left.

I called someone inside and told them what happened.  He tried to come and fix it but everyone was unhelpful and I stayed kicked outside.  Everyone that came to find out what was wrong with me, got kicked out too.  Quickly, we were about 11 people outside, me and about 10 boys, but 2 of our visitors were still inside with 5 other boys.  The one came to see where I went and I told her the problem and told her they would all find us at home.  As we were getting ready to leave, I was telling one of the boys where to take her after they left, when the security guard got really hostile and tried to kick him out.  I tried to explain to him that he couldn't without our other visitor, but he was unreasonable and got a really big stick. And I went into psycho mama bear protective mode.

In an effort to stop one of my boys from being caned, I stepped between the boy and the security guard and told him he better not touch my kid.  Have I mentioned that men here don't like to be put in their place by women?  Especially white women?

Well...he shouldn't have tried to cane my kid.

So what happened next was pretty much out of control and best described as a royal rumble.  I shouted at him not to touch my kid, and since I was in the way, he was about to cane me instead.  He swung the stick and in an effort to prevent me from being hit with the really big stick, one of the boys pushed the security guard and got hit straight across his face with the stick (3 stitches later and a really puffy face and nose...).

It all happened really fast but I remember trying to take the stick from the security guard because he was about to hit me or one of the boys.  We struggled for a bit over the stick but he finally got it away from me and hit me seriously across my neck.  I'm pretty sure I was going for blood then (Who hits girls???  and children??? Apparently Ugandan men.) but one of the boys pulled me away.  Probably a good thing.

Did I mention that he had us trapped? And we couldn't get away from the lunatic security guards(they were 3 by the end of it) all swinging sticks at least 4 feet long and 2 inches wide.

Did I mention that in all 34 years of my life I don't think I have ever been in a single fight?  Not on the playground when I was younger.  Not in the neighbourhood.  Never.

If I was to be in a fight, there is no one on earth that I would rather fight for than these boys.

I will tell you how it all ended in the next post.

Don't worry we are all fine.  My neck just has a dull ache and miraculously no bruise.  I am sure that tomorrow it will be fine.  The one boy's face will be fine, but you could be praying it won't scar.  He doesn't want one more scar, especially on his face in the middle of his forehead.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Prodigal son

I believe in choices. 

And I am raising these boys to make their own decisions and think for themselves.  One of the biggest problems that I see in Uganda is that no one is taught to think for themselves.  From a young age, children are beat into submission by their parents and at school.  They are trained to do what they are told and never question anything.  Almost like little robots.

I hate it and it makes me so sad.  There are no critical thinking skills.  No higher level thinking.  No making choices.

I want these boys to know that there is always a choice.  With that also comes knowing that there are always consequences for our choices.  When we make good choices, good things usually happen.  And of course the opposite is true also.

As a result, I give the boys a lot of freedom.  We talk about good choices and what is expected and then the boys have a choice what to do.   I want them to learn to think if I do X then Y will happen.  Sometimes, this works out well.  Sometimes, not so much. 

But I still believe in choices.

I want them to choose the right thing because it is right.  Not because they fear a punishment or me, but because they want to do the right thing.  I also want them to know forgiveness.  Forgiveness when we make the wrong choice.  Forgiveness when we make a mistake.  It is impossible for them to understand God’s unending love and forgiveness if they don’t experience it here on Earth.  So we forgive, a lot.  And we know that tomorrow is a new day, where we will try to do better.  We know that we are forgiven for yesterday and it is over.

This results in many second chances and learning some difficult lessons.

A boy left back in April after a huge disagreement.  He thought that life would be easier/better on his own.  He had been helping a family in our village because the husband is living far away and the mom needed help with all of their animals.  She doesn’t have any sons, and treated him like one.  He thought that life would be easier if he just worked for her full time caring for all of her animals.  I let him go, even though I knew it was a bad choice.  But I let him go, knowing God brought him to me, He wouldn’t take him away.  The first few days, were rough.  We didn’t talk much but this boy is like a gentle giant.  He has a really soft heart and soon our anger disappeared and things were almost normal.  He stopped by regularly to say hi, but he never apologized or asked to come back home.

This past week, I knew something was different.  I could feel it.    And sure enough, he came back and begged for forgiveness.  He told me how I was his family and he should have never left me.  He told me how he missed his brothers and that lady deceived him.  He told me how he learned so much at home and wanted to come back home.

It wasn’t an easy lesson for any of us to go through, but it was needed.  He learned he had a choice and he made it.  He learned it wasn’t a good choice, but still the choice was his to make.  Because he had the freedom to choose, he was able to come home and experience forgiveness and a second chance. 

Something we all need…

Friday, July 25, 2014

Go Fund Me

We moved into the house we are living in May of 2012.  It was a great space for the boys and far away enough from town that they couldn’t make it back without great effort.  They had space for everyone, space to play and have made friends in the community.  It has been a great area, except the lack of good schools.

We thought that we found a good school, one that didn’t over cane, had good teachers and cared about its students.  We had the boys split between 3 different schools, but we have just realized that none of them are that great.  The one that we thought was the best, we just discovered the teachers are grading their papers wrong and giving them more marks than they deserve.  When we get their papers back and look over them, the answers are wrong but they are marked as correct.  The teachers are doing this in an effort to make themselves look like they are better teachers than they are.  The boys complain about the teachers not showing up or leaving class frequently.  We have even sent a boy for extra coaching and the work that he was sent home with was incorrect.  He was supposed to be memorizing spelling words, but half of them were spelled wrong.

Many of the boys are entering primary 7 at the beginning of next year.  If they aren’t at a good school, they have no hope of passing the exam to get into secondary school.  We are all worried that where the boys are currently studying will not help them to pass.  The boys that are entering primary 6 will be even more prepared if they start at a better school next year.

There is no school transportation in Uganda.  You must live near the school you attend.  Therefore, we desperately want to move to give the boys a better chance at a good education and passing the exam to get into secondary school.  We have started a fund on Go Fund Me to raise the money that we need to move.  In Uganda, you have to pay at least 6 months up front before you move into a new house.  The campaign will mostly cover rent, but it will also cover all of our other moving related expenses.  The boys have been with the same metal bunk beds since the home opened at the beginning of 2012.  Most of them are broken and need to be replaced.  Thus, the campaign will also buy new beds and bedding for the boys.  It will also cover the moving truck and any other miscellaneous expenses.  If we are to exceed our goal, we will pay additional months rent. 

Please consider helping us to move.  These kids need a better education.  Education is the only thing that will give them a good future.  Education is the only thing that will change anything for them.  Please help and tell your friends and family to help.  And as always, please pray for us, so that our campaign will be successfully funded.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Life is difficult.  So difficult sometimes. 

But then there are these fleeting moments when I am overwhelmed with joy and know at that moment, life is perfect and it isn’t going to get any better than right then.  I live for those moments.  They give me hope.  They keep me going.

Like, when I see my baby boy, not really a baby anymore, treating the wounds of boys on the street and loving them, there isn’t anything that could make me prouder.  When he looks at me and tells me his job right now is to take care of boys on the street, I melt.  It was a long road, and we haven’t reached the end, but we are close.  And in those moments, the love and joy that I feel just overflows and I want to scream shouts of praise to the God that made it all possible. 

Or when we are having so much fun together, being silly or dancing, and we are all laughing so hard we are almost in tears, my soul is restored.  Laughter is the best medicine and there is no one on earth that makes me laugh like these boys.  They are so crazy and funny; sometimes I can hardly keep it together.  But we need those moments.  Perfect moments.

Or when we are at church and the voice I hear praising, over everyone else’s, is my boy sitting 3 rows behind me.  Then I turn around to see him and his hands are lifted high, reaching out to the God that delivered him from the streets to a loving home.  Right then, I remember all of God’s goodness and that He isn’t done with us yet.

I know it is those moments that God uses to give me hope.  It is those passing moments where I know with every cell of my being that God made me perfectly for this time and to love these boys.  It isn’t easy, but those moments are so beautiful, that they make all of the bad bearable.