Two Crazy Girls In Africa

This is the blog of Lauren & Kelly, as we head out on Saturday to the country of Uganda!!! Please pray for us that we will most importantly, honor God in ALL that we do (prepare to go, travel, and during our stay) & that we are a blessing to everyone we meet!!! We are excited to see what God will teach us through this incredible opportunity He has provided! We are both still floored as we look back to see how God opened EACH and EVERY door in HIS perfect timing!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Note From Karen

Jambo everybody. About time you heard something from us, sivio? We had a great two weeks with Kelly and Lauren! Thanks for sending and supporting them.

Thanks too for all the good stuff that came with them! The chocolate was enjoyed daily, the clothes were a wonderful added blessing for the kids at Djadri's children's place in Bunia, and the other bits and bobs (English for bits and pieces)from different ones were appreciated as well.. Thx for the gadgets, Alex - and stuff for 'italian'.

I very much appreciated Kelly's contribution to my quality of life as she made our home 'liveable' (at least for me as the PeptoBismal dingy pink made me cringe) with the new paint job and totally transformed my filing cabinet. Besides that she helped out in numerous other places and ways (which are mostly covered already in the blogging reports I believe). A huge thanks, Kelly, for your contributions. It was great to have you here.

And Lauren! What can I say. What a privilege and blessing and what fun to have been able to introduce you to Africa! Thanks for being ready for anything! Thanks for coming.

with greetings and love to all

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Last Day as a Mzungu

Yes, sadly this is our last day in Africa. We went to Kampala Pentecostal Church this morning and really enjoyed the music(no worries Alex, we got video!), and then went to the craft market for the last time with Alison and Katy. We met up with Gregg and Karen for lunch at Nando’s and had pizza, met some other AIM missionaries, and even ran into Lyn, from the office, as she waited to meet someone. It was a great last day in Kampala!

We came back to the house and finished up our painting of the hallway. We had put the first coat on last night and were nervous that we would NOT have enough to do a second coat on all walls, so we prioritized…but Karen likened it to the widow’s oil, as Lauren was able to paint all of the tops of the walls (they were obviously on the bottom of the priority list as MOST people don’t see them J ). We are now in the office for the last time, and the internet is down…so we are writing this blog and praying that we will find a way to get it posted…if you’re reading this then Praise the Lord…it happened!!

As we spend our last day as Mzungus, we just wanted to take this time to thank each and every one who took the time to read our thoughts, remarks and experiences on our blog. We have had so much fun writing every day…but not nearly as much fun as we have had LIVING each day! This has been an unforgettable experience and we pray now that we will return home CHANGED women…that may mean different things for each of us as we had unique experiences, but our common theme is that we can’t go home the same. This might be our shortest blog ever…and since Lauren has encouraged us to meet that goal J (Kelly is typing as Lauren is contributing)…we will not wax on…we look forward to seeing most of you in the upcoming days.

Love, Lauren and Kelly

P.S. Our small group prayed specifically that we would see at least one baby and one mother elephant...well God exceeded their expectations greatly....they also prayed I would see them at sunset...well we were not around the elephants at sunset, but we did see a beauty...that is the picture shown here :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

God is SOOOO Good!!!

To answer everyone’s question right off the bat….YES…I did get to see Elephants…TONS of them….and YES…I did cry. Not even b/c of the elephants, but I was just overcome by how good God is to me…and how much I don’t deserve it….and it hit me many times over the last few days.

But to begin…we boarded a bus early, early on Thursday morning. With us were Katy and Alison, two girls that Lauren had spent the previous 2 days with at Dwelling Places. They are from Scotland, and were fun to have along with us on the trip. Karen went as well!!! We got on a “post bus” meaning that it carries the mail to the small towns between Kampala and Mbarara where we were exiting. So, it took a LONG time…probably 6 hours in all…and we had many interesting passengers, including a goat! It rained the entire way up, so it was making me wonder what kind of a safari we were going to have. But it is rainy season so rain would NOT be unordinary!

We arrived in the afternoon in Mbarara and we were met by Dale Hollenbeck, who is an AIM missionary in Mbarara. He had volunteered to be our tour guide for the next 2 days, and he was the PERFECT guide!!! We grabbed a quick bit in Mbarara at a restaurant (we got chicken fingers and chips!!) and then got back into this non-4 wheel drive truck to head up to Queen Elizabeth Park (the non-4-wheel drive truck will be important information in the future!) That was about a 2 hour trip…and we knew we were getting closer when we rounded a bend and we saw monkeys EVERYWHERE….then we got into the park….we saw so many animals I’m not even sure I can remember them all..but for a while you feel like you are at Great Adventure or Disney…and then you realize you’ve only hit the tip..and there are just more and more packs of animals…its just amazing. And there are NO tacky marketing ploys anywhere….

We went to the lodge for dinner and basically each got an appetizer for dinner so that we could get a yummy dessert as well. By the time we left the lodge it was closed and the park was closed….but one little problem….we were NOT staying at that lodge, so we had to somehow get through the park to the otherside. Dale, our faithful guide, got it all worked out and after a few phone calls and the Park Warden actually showing up, we were on our way..and then of course…what always happens when you just get started off…2 LARGE Hippos crossed in front of us….you know how it is  And we got to see a lion of some sort off to the right of the car! We did finally make it back to our lodge and bunked down for the night.

This will have to be an abbreviated blog, b/c I’m running out of time (Karen has graciously allowed us to be here until 8pm tonight while she is getting dinner ready at the house, and that is in 10 minutes!!!) But we will have lots of stories when we get home…lets just say, that we saw TONS of animals…those in the park, weird ones around the lodge, all kinds of stuff….we got the car stuck in a mud pit..and I mean STUCK….poor Dale was covered in dirt. He finally came around, got all of us together and then prayed….literally 5 minutes later a truck came with a tow rope and got us out. About 5 minutes after that, we saw another truck get was obviously a guided tour, b/c the muzungos (white people) in the truck were NOT getting out to help push…so Dale got out in his muddy clothes and pushed that truck out of the dirt!! Our guide was definitely the best—not only was he helpful, but he allowed us to ride ON TOP of his truck…that was very cool! I have video of it, but NOT sure if it will make it over the internet to get on the blog…but it was very fun!

There is so much to tell and I just can’t begin to tell it I’m going to have to stop, b/c there is something that God has been teaching me even tonight and I must share…it is more important than the fact that we saw TONS of elephants  (see I am growing!)

Lauren, Karen and I painted the hallway today when we got back from our safari trip, and we got to have a great discussion. I am coming home really burdened for ALL of our missionaries…and how we as a church can really reach out to them and be a family. I think it is SOOOO much more then just making sure that the paycheck gets to them. It’s personal emails, asking them on Monday, October 30th, how I can be praying for THAT missionary that week. It’s getting personal and seeing what we can do for them, how we can help them support their families, and basically how we can encourage our Bethel Family that is out serving God somewhere else. WE talk about them being and extension of our body, but we think that they can just exist out there and all they need is money….it’s like sending blood to the fingers and toes, but not having nutrients in there…blood is good, but it has to have nutrients in it or it is just blood….making sure our checks get there is good…but we need to get personal with our missionaries….so that when they are on the field they feel that they are a part of our body..and when they come home, they are excited to be a little closer and don’t feel like they are getting caught up for the last 3 years. We have some missionaries at Bethel that are fabulous at sending weekly emails…but others are not..and that’s ok..there are enough of us to keep in touch with them.

So…get ready…b/c Lauren and I are coming back pumped up…we are excited to share our trip with you…but I am speaking for myself now..I am even more excited to share my heart with you for our missionaries….to really reach out to them…and pray specifically for them…and make relationships with them…Africa is good about that…more important than getting the job done, is the relationship that you are working on while doing it….so….I’m hoping to bring some of that home with us!

This may be our last time on email until we get home…tomorrow we will be meeting up with Katy and Alison again for church…then doing some shopping with them before saying goodbye. We will then come back home and start packing as we will be leaving early Monday morning. If we do NOT get back online, thank you to EVERYONE who supported us financially…thank you to everyone who prayed for us faithfully…and a huge thank you to those who took the time to send personal emails and to leave us comments on our blog…we were only here for 2 weeks, but it was such an encouragement to us everytime we got them!

We are coming home…we’ll be happy to see everyone…but we are NOT happy to leave  Karen and Gregg say to say “HI” to all 

Dwelling Places

Oli otya everybody?! That's the newest Lugandan phrase I learned(ha and the only one except Muzungu. . .but hey I'm getting there!)and means "how are you?" We just got back a few hrs ago from our Safari trip which was totally amazing, definitely a trip to remember! . . .but kel's gonna write about that. . .

So, let me see. . . Dwelling Places. Aunt Karen dropped me off around 8am Tuesday morning around the time that the staff there does devotions. They are all Ugandans except for Marsali, a Scottish AIM nurse. The place was started by a woman named Rita who has adopted around 7 kids from off the streets. It gets it's name from Isaiah 58, you should def check those verses out.

Ok so quick summary of what they do at DP: It is a Christian organization that brings in children from off the streets. . .but it's an interim thing, the goal is to get them adopted into good families, or to work with their families so that they can go back. The kids live there, are fed, and are given good health care. The kids attend a somewhat exclusive school at DP for the first two years so they can learn basic things. After that, they go to the local schools and are still very much immersed in their own culture, which, I'm finding, is very verrrry important. They have social workers and a pastor as well, and then they have a program where they meet with the kids' mothers once a week and teach them a trade.

There are two Scotish girls working at Dwelling Places for two months, so I pretty much worked with them and then stayed with them Tues night. Alison is 20; Katy is 17. So I had a really good time hangin out with them and getting to know a little bit about Scotland. It was funny to learn some of the words they use, like "swimming costume", "wee"(like a wee bit or a wee girl or a wee shirt, everything was wee), apparently a "jumper" is a sweater, and they say "posh" a lot. . .to name a few.

We played with the babies during the day cause the kids were at school and then did a bunch of odd jobs like carving the kids' names into flip-flops. We also talked to Timothy for a while who is a nurse there and loves to talk about the NBA. . .he also took all three of us girls and weighed us in his clinic, so that was pretty funny, he couldn't have gotten away with that in America!

The kids are so sweet and so accepting. It was so cool how friendly and loving they were towards me when they had just met me. They love to play football (not American football), sing and dance, and they absolutely LOVE the camera. I have at least 25 pictures and two videos of this one little group of girls who kept posing and saying "please auntie(that's what they called me, I had to get used to that) please please just one more!!!", and what can I say, I'm a push over!

On Tues afternoon we took bodas into town to Garden City to get some chocolate cause the food was a little lacking . . . we had beans and this white stuff and this tan stuff. . .let's just say it was hard to get it down. So anyway our boda ride was quite the experience, I'm happy to be alive!!! The guys took us to the wrong place cause they misheard us so they got pretty mad and started driving insane. There were a couple close calls and when we were done I has layers and layers of dirt on my face. It was great though. . .

There were two really cool things I noticd while at Dwellign Places, besides the kids who were so great and just came and sat on my lap and layed their heads on my shoulder. The first was the Ugandan staff in their worship and prayer meetings. It was so cool cause you could really tell that they meant it, and they were so excited to share what they were learning. They would ask to share a verse and then their faces would light up and they would get so passionate and animated about it. And when they sang they sang with their whole hearts. . .they weren't doing it cause they had to but b/c it was the most important thing to them. The other thing was watching the kids' choir practice Tues night. The little kids were, again, singing with their whole hearts to God in Lugandan and it was just really cool to see. And of course they were dancing as well, I wish I had rythym like those three years olds! haha

So overall is was a great experience, very encouraging and very eye-opening. It was definitely not what I expected, the place is still very rustic and "poor", I'm pretty sure they eat the same meals everyday, many of their clothes are torn and the wrong size, and it all gets pretty dirty. But still, their faces light up with huge smiles as they run over to greet you every time they pass you. It's amazing. Thanks for your prayers, miss you all!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Sweltering Heat of Africa

ahhh... yeah... I have NO idea... b/c it is BEAUTIFUL HERE!!!! The wind is blowing and it is just sunny and beautiful. I don't even think it is supposed to be like this b/c October and November is supposed to be the rainy season. And we have seen some rain... but today could not be any more perfect! I came into the office this morning and found a toad on the steps... we think he was sick because no matter how much they prodded him, he barely moved. He did jump up to the next step, but he was either very brave or very sick. He had 5 UK guys looking at of them a frog/toad expert (yes..he was serious... I asked :))... plus 2 dogs sniffing him very excited. But I just went out to see if he was still there and he is gone. So either Shuni or Gizmo ate him (they are the dogs..not the UK guys :)) or he finally hopped away!

Last night we had a wonderful, delicious dinner of some type of shephards pie. You never know WHEN you will have REAL electricity (ie. not the power that Gregg miraciously creates from a battery), so the refrigerator can be off for many hours at a time... so left-overs need to be eaten rather quickly. So Karen took the meat, veggies and potatoes from Monday nights dinner, and created a casserole out of was phenomonal!!! We had steamed squash and carrots which were delicious (is my Mom reading this..b/c I'm being serious... I think veggies here are more tasty... I asked..she put NOTHING else on it!). And then we had fruit and chocolate chip cookies for dessert that Karen had made. Then I just hung out in the living room for a bit and finished up my book. I've been trying to finish it (which is NOT hard) so that I could leave it here for Karen and other ladies to read. I took a picture of the living room this morning so that you could see the finished handiwork... remind you, we were only the labor... Karen was the one who put it all together. I think it looks beautiful... but I may be prejudiced. Gregg will be buying a can of white paint for us to mix with the last can of yellow paint so that Lauren and I can finish up the hallway before we leave... then there will be no pink. I guess we will NOT get a chance to do their bedroom, but Karen didn't seem to really want it, so that's fine :)

Today the three of us are in the office all day, until we leave around 5pm to go pick up Lauren and have dinner at someone's house near there. I spoke with Lauren on the phone last night for a few minutes, and it sounded like she was having a great time... learning and seeing lots, but having fun as well with the other 2 girls that are there with her. So that is good! I think Karen has done an incredible job of making sure Lauren got to see a lot of the ministry that she is praying about doing in the future... it will be a huge help to her as she continues to seek God for His will in her life. Hopefully by the end of today I will have finished up the files for Karen and any other projects that she may think of that could help... Right now Gregg is trying to figure out why when he plugs in the phone our internet connection goes dead. He is truly a jack of all trades, and appears to do it all quite well. I took pictures of them today, MUCH TO THEIR DISMAY, to show you how they look in action. For some reason my camera does NOT want to take a clear picture of Karen... she even turned and smiled for me for one, and it came out blurry... she has some suggested reasons why, but I'm not buying them so :)... so we will just have to get better pictures of her while on the safari for the next 2 days!

I am trying not to think too much of the next few days, b/c then that just means that this time is almost over. For those of you who helped me get here, either through money or prayer or both... I will NEVER be able to repay you. I have loved every minute of it, and I think as a church (Bethel Baptist) we should really look hard at sending over 2-3 people to each of our missionaries that we support... it would take some work and some planning... and people would need to be flexible... but I think that it is an encouragement to our missionaries and I think it is HUGE in helping us understand what it is like to be this far away from home and how much little things mean... every morning when I open my email and see that someone from home has taken the time to write me, it is huge... sure..they have the same thing here that we do..they get all kinds of little emails here and there from those in Uganda that they are working with... you know, "are you free Saturday night" or "what's the best way to get here"... so its not lack of emails, but more just communication with people from home. They have friends here, but I just think they also appreciate being remember by their family and friends at home. Mind you, Karen nor Gregg have really said much of anything... certainly have not complained... but I know how much it has meant to me to get those emails from my family and friends, and I've only been here 10 days! Of course I am sappy, so maybe a little bit should be attributed to that..but none the less..something for our missions committee to consider... really investing in the ministries of our missionaries..not just sending them checks! Of course if any of our missionaries are reading this and thinking, "I don't want 2 crazy americans staying with me..what a mess that would be" please feel free to tell me to zip my trap! I just get crazy ideas sometimes!

ok..sermon over... .sorry. This trip has just been so amazing. Once again, I'm not sure when we will blog again as we leave tomorrow morning for Queen Elizabeth Park. Lauren may get down to the office tonight to check emails and send something out about her last 2 days, as she has much to share... but then Thursday and Friday we will be gone. And it will depend on what time we get back on Saturday. But we'll make every effort, without distressing Gregg and Karen, to make a few more entries before we come home on Monday/Tuesday! Please continue to pray for us over these next few days as we travel to the Safari..and pray for Gregg as he stays home and continues working!

I better get to work... so have a good one :)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On My Own.....:(

Lauren left this morning at 7:30 am to go to Dwelling Places. Once again, had she been more awake I think she would have been excited. She will be staying there overnight, with 2 other young ladies (I think from the UK) and then will bring them back with her on Wednesday Night, where we will all stay at the Lewis Home until we head out Thursday morning for 2 day Safari Trip. So... .big, big prayer request... GREGG... .5 women in the house... I think 3 women in the house has been tough on him, although he is being a trooper and likes to get us into "discussions" (man's word for what they think are positive arguments) about different things. Lauren does much better then I do, as she is schooled in debate... .I throw in my 2 cents every once in a while, but that is seriously what it is worth... 2 cents. So now we will have 2 more ladies coming for the night. Unfortunately for him Matoke Inn (the AIM guest house here) is closed for electrical work! And their house is very nice, but small... so the 2 guests will probably sleep in the living room and then we'll be back in the small bedroom... showers should be interesting as I think the electricity is now off during the day and comes on at 10 pm... so this morning we ran out of hot water... .the water is on, so we have plenty of it... but the electricity I guess was not on long enough to heat up the tank. But Karen and Gregg really do have a very cute house which sits on top of a 2 car garage and is within walking distance to the office... so it is perfect for them... it may just NOT be perfect for 4 girls to stay with them :) But missionaries are told to be ready to suffer, so I'm sure Gregg will make it through just fine!

But... while Lauren is off holding babies and ministering to children, I now will HAVE to buckle down and get some stuff done in the office. We were in the office yesterday afternoon while Gregg and Karen were in their weekly "staff meeting" I guess (lasts 4 hours--so more like an elder meeting :)!! ), and I was going to start going through more files, but the DeTombes were here checking their email. We had met them on Sunday during the AIM day of prayer where we took care of the children. (the picture is of Anna and Katrina Carpenter two adorable MKs with Audrey Wollcott, the 19 year old that we have hung out with a few times since being here!). Anyway... the DeTombes, Cynthia and Jon have a 6 week old son, named William. They came to Africa in January and when asked if she should take a pregnancy test before getting some drug, she laughed, but then thought she probably should just rule it out... and low and behold she was pregnant. They have to be 25 or younger, and William was born here in Africa. So I am just amazed at them. So many young couples in the states today are scared to let you hold their new born, or have them around tons of people... Cynthia hands him over to Lauren and me just excited to share in the joy!!! There is definitely a missionary thought process I think... and if any missionaries are reading this, I hope this doesn't sound rude, b/c I truly think it is amazing and very God-focused. But even Audrey's mom, Debbie Wolcott told us that when Audrey was young, she got sick with a type of malaria and almost died... she's had a hard time ever since... but she never once mentioned thinking about leaving the field. Audrey has left RVA and is trying to complete high school from Uganda, with RVA sending her materials... but she has never once mentioned that she thinks she should be in the states. God is not less powerful in Africa... and despite what I may think, He is not put off at all about not having the "best" doctors or hospitals. If God wants to take someone home to be with Him, it does not matter if they are in Uganda (where there are some good hospitals, right Russ?), or Congo (not sure what is there) or Delaware... no matter of skilled human will keep God from doing His will... .whether that is to keep us alive or to take us home. Our human minds think that somehow we have a "better chance" if we are by sophisticated hospitals, but I'm learning more and more that if I truly believe that God is in control and sovereign, then quite honestly I'm not helping myself by thinking that I am in charge of my own safety or well being... or even success. This of course, does not mean that we should not use the tools that God has given us... but for those who have felt called to serve in Africa, those tools are here, unless after much prayer they feel that God is leading them back to their home country. What seems like an automatic to me (child is very ill... get somewhere that will know exactly how to heal them), its a prayer item that they are searching out to God (IF you would have us go Lord, please show us the way). And when Lauren and I discuss it, we sort of think its like moving out of Delaware b/c someone there gave you the measles or chicken pox... I know it's more extreme, but these missionaries know they are on the field by God's grace AND direction... so it is in God's hands. The DeTombes are a young couple, getting ready to go one of the islands and minister... and they couldn't be happier. We had just a great time hanging out with them and talking. Lauren has even come up with a GREAT project for our youth group--so get ready(it may mean some work and sacrifice for some of you) Something that we hope everyone will be excited to participate in, b/c if we were able to accomplish it, it would encourage Jon and Cynthia so much... but I'll let her tell you about it.

Godfrey is the man who can do anything here at the mission compound. If you need something, you call Godfrey. He has a great smile and also has a habit of putting flowers in the office every week. Right now he is standing in the office helping one of the boda drivers purchase some Bibles. Godfrey has a wife and kids at home, and I think he is a Christian... he is just a bright part to every morning, b/c when you come in, he always tries and comes from wherever he is to say "good morning!"

So, Karen is back from dropping off Lauren at Dwelling Places, so I need to get to work and help her!! Please pray for that... that I will be able to do as much for her as possible and encourage her. I feel that I've been able to help other people, and are scheduled to help some others with publisher and stuff..but I haven't done much for Karen yet... .so please pray that I will be able to do that... .I don't want to leave here and it not have been an encouragement to her ! Also pray for Lauren today as she is ministering and LEARNING at Dwelling Places.

Our days are starting to get numbered and I don't think either of us is ready to come home quite yet!!! So we are trying to get as much into every day as possible! Thank you for all of your comments... it is so much fun to come in every morning and see who has read the blog :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Weekend

Hey hey everybody! Hope you're all doing awesome! Sorry we haven't been on here in a while, the last few days have been pretty busy. I was looking over my last post and I think I write more "properly" than I knew at some times, haha guess that's good for those college essays I'm working on right?! Wanted to start off with some encouragement, so here's some really awesome vss my dad sent me. . .they might mean a little more to you if you look them up yourself, so you can find them in Ps 63:

Zaburi 63:1-5
"Ee Mungu, wewe ni Mungu wangu; asubui mapema nitakutafuta; Nafsi yangu inaona kiu kwako, Mwili wangu unakutaka sana, katika inchi ya kukaukana ya kuchoka, isiyo na maji. Hivi nilikutazama katika pahali patakatifu, nione uwezo wako na utukufu wako. Maana wema wako ni mzuri kuliko uzima; midomo yangu itakusifu. Hivi nitakubariki ningali hai; nitanyanyua mikono yangu kwa jina lako. Nafsi yangu itashibishwa kwa mafuta na vinono; na kinywa changu kitakusifu kwa midomo ya furaha."

Saturday was a lot of fun, we went into town again to run a couple errands and go to the craft market and then killed ourselves sitting by the pool in Entebbe. We met Mrs. Wolcott and her daughter Audrey who's 18 at the pool. The Wolcotts are missionaries here as well. It was really good to spend some time with Audrey since her brother and sister are not here anymore and she had to stop going to RVA bc of sickness and has gotten behind in school. She is a really nice girl and we had a good time although I think kelly is a little too much for her. :) The pool was pretty cool cause they came up to us and took our lunch order and then brought it to us at the side of the pool.

Sunday was international prayer day for AIM, a thing they do twice a yr. Sooo we met with a bunch of the local missionaries and prayed/read the Bible for a couple hrs in the morning. To get there we drove on some pretty sweet "roads". . .it was kinda like the jeep tour my fam did in Arizona except uncle gregg was driving. That was lots of fun! Then kelly, Audrey, and I watched the missionaries' kids while their parents met in the afternoon. We had a great time coloring with them and playing soccer, (my expertise! haha) AND we saw monkeys in the trees, just randomly! It was so cool! There were like 6 of them! The kids were`just like "oh look, a monkey" and kel and I were like flipping out! haha it was great. Afterwards we went to the grocery store for some fruits and vegetables (the grocery store is guarded by a man w/ a rifle!) and got 20 beautiful roses for $1.80! Then we went to a little coffee shop (mom, I got some great ideas for our starbucks, haha!) and had coffee and ice cream before coming home and having some great discussions before bed.

Today kelly is organizing some stuff in the office and I'm just doing whatever random stuff they need me to do. Tomorrow morning I'm going to Dwelling Places which is like a half-way house for children, so I'm excited ab that!!! I'm staying the night and will be there through Wednesday. It has been interesting talking to some of the missionaries b/c they say that while mostly all we see in the US are pics of abandoned and starving kids who need homes, pretty much all of the children in orphanages here are already spoken for. Adoption has become quite a lucrative "business".

Can't believe it's been a week already!. . . although, in a way it seems like we've been here a lot longer than that. Thanks for your prayers and I love getting vss from you guys! Thanks for the encouragment cards too, they def have been an encouragement! Please pray that I would keep my focus on Christ all throughout the day, that "my soul would thirst for Him" and be satisfied in Him only.

Friday, October 20, 2006

"Real" Africa

Aunt Karen and I got back last night at around 6ish from our trip to the Sesse islands which was an absolutely amazing experience. We went out with Kathleen, an AIM nurse who works with AIDS patients on the islands, Helena who is a missionary from Brazil and works with the kids, two Ugandan pastors, and John who is a Ugandan Christian and HIV positive and works alongside Kathleen to help his people. The boat was like a big wooden canoe with an engine. It took about two hrs to get to the "hotel"... ha... we stayed at that night to drop our stuff off. More about that later. We went first to see a boarding school on one island where Kathleen is thinking of sending a seven year old AIDS patient named Martha. The school was very nice and they were especially impressed with the headmistress. It was interesting when she was naming off the different religions in the school as she broke them up into Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants, Catholics, and then "born-againers". They have a desire to start up a Church there but have no one to help them do it.

The next island was where John's mother lived. 90% of the people on the island have AIDS. 90%! I've been making fun of Kelly, telling her that I went to real Africa and she didn't (she's been a good sport about it:), because riding up to the island was just unreal. It was a little village of shacks, children were bathing in the lake, I mean wow I don't even know how to describe it...while most of the adults had some clothing many of the very young children did not. Their houses were about 8x10 ft with nothing inside for the most part. No electricity. Guess it's not too surprising that they're in desperate need of missionaries to work on these unreached islands, eh? The rest I'm just gonna have to describe in person because there's just no way to express it in writing. The coolest part, though, was the children. Right when we got out of the boat they ran up to us and grabbed on to our hands, arms, and legs, shouting "Muzungu! Muzungu!" (white person).I walked through the village with kids hanging all over me, I mean they were trampling each other to get to us, and then when I sat down they would sit all across my legs and put their arms around me, it was so so cute! They just wanted attention so badly. By the end of the day my khakis were brown because of their hands. Oh, by the way, these kids were probably all under 5 because the older ones had to be sent to boarding school as the prevalent drinking and promiscuity made their villages unsafe places for them to live. While Kathleen visited her patients, I helped Helena play games and talk to the kids. It broke my heart when I realized that most of these kids have worms and many have AIDS.

After this we went back to the island where we spent the night and I took my first "bath in a bucket"... so that was quite an experience! We slept in this tiny little cottage and when we opened the door two bats flew out. Apparently that was normal though, as was the rooster sitting on top of the book shelf. The lake flies were another experience... they look like huge clouds of smoke from a distance, and when you're in them, they're up your nose and in your ears, and I'm pretty sure I swallowed one or two. The food was pretty good, especially the coffee!

Yesterday we went to two more islands similar to the one on Wed, except here the houses were made of mud. Just as before the kids were so excited to see us, and when we left they would hang on the sides of the boat and follow us out into the water until it was up to their waists. Aunt Karen and I both ate lunch and got a coke for about $1.40 in one village.

ok, haha so sorry I wrote so much, and there's so much more to say! Kel and I finished up painting the living room and kitchen today. It was fun trying to finish up the first coat by flashlight last night! Brynne, no the red bulls look the same, and I haven't found sugarfree... yet. Let me know how your trip is! H&J-- so glad you get to go to Idaho! That will be so fun! Jess, John enjoyed eating some of the skittles you sent with me as he had never seen them before!

oh one more thing, it's so funny to hear Ugandan English (everyone speaks Lugandan). They say "isn’t it?" for everything. Like, instead of we're going to the store, aren't we? they say we're going to the store, isn't it?.

Miss you guys tons, thanks for your prayers! Aunt K and Uncle G say hello!