Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UGANDA...the first of many hopefully!!

At the airport...filling up on hugs and laughs with cousin M!!

Saying our last goodbyes to the L's!!

Osobie used his playground project money to purchase many swing set seats!! Our brief night and am in South Africa...hmm...what a shot eh?? It seems like we never left. We land, see familiar faces at the hotel, sip African tea with delight, and pick up right where we left off. Thank you Jesus for getting us here safely!! The most beautiful sounds that welcome you here are the songs of birds. The first morning we woke from our jet lagged haze we heard the chirps and calls of the birds. I wish I could say I knew the birds that were singing all around us, but there are too many to count. Jeff is the birder in the family although that hobby has been put on hold since we became parents. The kids and I just returned to Entebbe from our visit to Jinja. Jeff also flew back from Arua for some meetings in Entebbe, so we are reunited once again. So, here we are in Entebbe, enjoying a bit of the comforts before we head to Arua.
A friendly peacock strolling at the hotel grounds in Entebbe, UG.
When there's no toys,..you play cook with grass! Fatu insisted that this was a salad with chocolate shavings on it. Her mama is teaching her well!!

What a gorgeous view! Lake Victoria behind O and Jeff's coworker- Kevin. We enjoyed a pizza at one of the best pizza places in Uganda (other than NYKitchen in Kampala).
We were able to take Osobie in to see a doctor yesterday about a rash that has spread on his face and limbs. The doctor diagnosed it as a viral rash that he picked up at some point in the last 2 weeks. There is no cure or treatment, but luckily it is supposed to clear up spontaneously in about 6 weeks. Osobie seems to be managing it fine but we sure could use prayer that it doesn’t get any worse and that it indeed clears up on its own. Fatu is healthy and happy which we are thankful for, aside from a few spider and mosquito bites The kids are adjusting well to our life in Uganda again and even seem to be more comfortable here. They remember many of the places and people from last year and are doing better at picking up the Ugandan English accent. Jeff and I are constantly in awe over God’s faithfulness in putting our family together. And as you can imagine, we frequently get the chance to share with others how God put our family together. For the most part the stares and inquiring is friendly curiosity, which we welcome. But I would be lying if I didn’t share that there are also many times when comments and questions are harsh and uncomfortable. Like for example on our plane to South Africa, a young man sitting next to Osobie asked him where his parents were. After pointing to Jeff and me and explaining, the man asked him again in an irritated louder voice, “No, where is your mother young boy?” I happened to be looking across the aisle just as he was asking and he just stared at me with a look of disapproval and turned away, not a word more from him the rest of the flight. I guess silence is better than words that are spoken that not only are hurtful to us but confusing for Fatu and Osobie. Each time I feel the burning sensation of stares I pray that God would give me a loving spirit, understanding and the right words to help others get a picture of adoption and God’s heart for us all. I love our family and how God has woven us together, we wouldn’t want it any other way!!
This one's for you Stacie!!!! Muhammad asked where you were? Where are you? It's much more fun drinking iced lattes and munching on banana bread with you!! Oh Chapati...how I love thee...let me count the ways!! Matoake! Oh yes! My other African fav' food! Underneath those banana leaves lies soft mushed plantains which you smother with groundnut sauce and then simply...enjoy!! Thank you Arthur for your hospitality!! We sure love ya!! Our time in Jinja was short but so full! We stayed with our dear friend Arthur from Bethesda International and visited with the staff and kids at Rapha community school. Each time I come to Jinja I remember Jeff and I’s first trip to Uganda in 2003. It is on this trip that the Lord really cracked open wide our already broken hearts for Uganda. We met Ruth Mirembe-Muga on our trip and her friendship fueled our hearts and call to Uganda. So each time when I come to Jinja I feel so fortunate to have such a history with the folks of Bethesda Int’l. One of the nights in Jinja I couldn’t fall asleep, partly due to the fact that I had a double latte at The Source CafĂ© late in the afternoon and because my mind was filled with thoughts about Rapha Community. It was 2003 when Ruth first drove us down the bushy path towards Rapha Community School. Ruth was passionate about the work of Bethesda and the foster home system she had implemented, but I could tell by the way she talked that Rapha held a special place in her heart. Even back then in 2003, Ruth shared her vision for what Rapha now is and continues to become. I remember many times she would look off in the distance describing what she hoped to build and create, and I didn’t quite see how it would all come to be. But, God knew and that’s why He gave her the heart, calling and vision for Rapha Community and that’s why it is becoming all that she had dreamed, even though she is no longer here with us. Rapha kiddo's!!
It started with a piece of land, that’s it. So many people have joined with Bethesda to make Rapha what it is today by volunteering their time, energy, muscle, money, prayers, encouragement and support. Each time I come back to Rapha I’m amazed at what they have accomplished with the help of so many friends, partners, and volunteers. I was thrilled to see a photo pasted on the office wall of a young girl I met last year from our home town. She chose to celebrate her 12th birthday by asking her friends to bring school supplies for Rapha children instead of birthday presents for herself. We packed the school supplies and brought them to Rapha last year bringing such joy to the kids and relief to the teachers knowing their students would have school supplies for the term. Just last year, Children’s Hope Chest (a U.S. NGO) also came alongside Bethesda Int’l. to help with child sponsorship for many of the Rapha foster children and helped to build a updated kitchen. Juliette, the head mistress, also showed me their new plantation of banana, papaya, apple, and mango trees that were given to them from some U.S. marines who purchased the plants and volunteered to plant them. It is stories like these, multiplied over the years that have allowed Rapha to become what it is today, a community where children are cared for and loved by foster families, teachers and elders from the surrounding community, and of course by many of you who have donated to Rapha over the years. The children have clean water to drink and decent food to eat. They are clothed, they sleep under mosquito nets, and they have the opportunity to attend school. They are learning about God’s love and truth and they are being taught the cultural songs and dances of their country. This is more than many children ever receive in Uganda and in other parts of Africa. I believe our friend and founder of Bethesda International, Ruth, would be proud of what Rapha has become, but I’m sure she would also be continuing to dream and plan for what more could be done for the children of Uganda.
Music and bikes. What else does one need??