Thursday, February 19, 2015

Joy, Joy, Joy, and Mud

This week there has been so much going on in the village of Zirobwe even though we only head out there from Tuesday to Thursday I feel like it’s a lifetime- except by the time Thursday gets here I am reluctant to get into the car to leave. I cannot wait until the guesthouse is completed and we are able to stay out there long term.

Tuesday evening was filled with some personal ministry. Connecting with individual families and community members. It was a little bit rainy in town during the day I was even able to pull my flannel out and wear it during the day but when we arrived to the village the scorching sun has been so crazy recently. The community is having a hard time planting anything. We walked through the Empower a Child property as the sun was going down as a couple small children trailed behind me holding my hands.  We stumbled across pastor Paul’s small onion garden and the onions had been completely choked by the sunshine. There is no escape from the heat which means the harvest is going to be bad this season and no income, means no school fees or food for families.

As we had devotions as a team we came across a question that we weren’t really sure how to answer: How do we Empower this community to trust God with finances and realize we as international volunteers, and even the people in Kampala have to exercise in every season of our lives. As of right now community members are having a hard time in believing that we all have struggles and some of them are very similar to their struggles. Namely financial provision- As many of you know I have to completely rely on God for that. There is nothing in my own power or strength that can put money into my bank account. It is by the Grace of God alone. I put in a lot of knee work on this side and trust God wholeheartedly to provide.

Wednesday we led devotions for the nursery section and this week some of the upper classes joined us as they were feeling a little left out from all the fun. It is so fun to keep up with all the friendships there, as I am slowly learning the language my relationships continue to grow deeper. I feel like I meet a new kid everyday or I hear my name be yelled by someone from a mile away and I have not a clue as to who or where I am waving back to most times I keep walking and just wave from where I am at. We shared the story of Zacchaeus and just the impact the Jesus had on that man’s life. We led a skit and showed them how to surrender all to God. While most of these kids stand there and pick their noses or just cry. They are still learning and being impacted at a young age of such incredible Godly wisdom. And the coolest part about it is…they remember everything.

We spent the morning taking inventory of all things EAC and marked/ numbered all the chairs. The people in the community showed up to help tidy up all the chairs and go through and wash them all. At one point I had a baby on my hip and I was walking around bare footed in the loud people filled church..AND I WAS STACKING CHAIRS. I chuckled a bit because as a pastors kid the amount of times I have stacked chairs is totally beyond anything I could count. I am so thankful that God has sent me to the exact place where I can do the same thing that I do at home and have a huge impact in both places. I am such a blessed girl and I know that is such a cliché saying but how can you explain it any better?! Its joy. Pure joy. My Ugandan Dad Lukka was in the church helping, he is always around without fail walked by and I had my camera with me. He always calls me his daughter and asks how I am doing- he wanted a photo with me I turned it around to show it to him and his face lit up as he just laughed. That man is a blessing to so many.


In the afternoon we performed another skit over at the school. We took a break from fixing desks to just spend some quality spiritual time with our older kids at the primary school. We call it Scripture Union. It is a lunch time bible study where our school choir leads us in some praise and worship while one of our team members shares a brief testimony and a message from what God is doing in their own lives. This week we shared about the prodigal son. Sometimes just being silly and having fun and teaching in a different way can lighten up the mood of a long school day while still making relationships, choosing joy, and loving others.  


I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine, this is Geoffrey. He is one of the sweetest and most respectful boys I have ever met. He is always checking in with us to make sure we are ok. This week he brought a pineapple to me because he overheard someone tell him it is my favorite fruit. He is trying to make friends because I was also told that he has been sharing his pineapple wealth with other people on the team. Geoffrey has lost both of his parents and stays with an auntie quite a distance from the school. He has two brothers and a sister. He needs a sponsor; he had to drop out of school for a couple years to work and save money. At the moment he is paying for school fees by selling pineapples that he has gardened himself. This term he saved enough money to come to school and sit in his P.7 exams which is so vital. Next year he will attend high school. I think he is 17 years old. So he is quite a few years behind the rest of the kids his age and is one of the oldest kids at our school. If you or someone you know is interested in sponsorship please please let me know! There are so many kids who are in need of just $35/ month. I also met a girl this week whose name is Marisa- Her and her mother were chased from their village because all of the people in the village thought she was a witch. They had a good standing home, 20 goats, and several cows all destroyed because of some village gossip. She too is getting ready to go into P.7 but has nothing but the clothes on her back at this point. Porsche and I have pooled together some money to pay for the first term but in order for her to be able to pass her P.7 exams she is going to need your support. If you are interested email me:


Thursday we worked on another wall of the school kitchen. It is a long process of getting a pile of dirt and some water and playing in the mud and every once in a while throwing some onto the wall in order to let the sunshine harden it. It is amazing that they have all the resources they need right in their hands. As you can imagine there is not much homelessness in a village here in Uganda. Our team spent the morning playing in the mud and just fellowshipping with our school cooks while having the coolest mud fight I had ever been a part of. So thankful for this sweet family of mine.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Waiting in lines and God's timing

We just pulled into the driveway from three days in paradise.

I am going to try to put it into words, as simple as I can. The week I just experienced in the village was so God given and spirit filled that I feel like I am ready to take on the world. Although I cannot explain fully I will do what I can. I want to just say from the get go that it might be a bit of a ramble. My feet are dirty and my hair is frizzy and standing up from my head. The stink that is coming from me would make mother cry. My feet are cracked and covered in so much mud there it is quite possible there is a handful of jiggers in between my toes. But… my heart is FULL, my bones are no longer dry, and my God is so faithful. 

This week started out a little hectic as I am still trying to get a visa from the immigration office. Uganda is trying to seem as if it is all put together but many times their bark is much bigger than their bite (which is so great for me). Porsche and I both have expired visas and we are trying to transfer from tourist visas to work visas and it has been almost as bad as pulling teeth (after current events in Porsches life she may beg to differ on that brief analogy). We have spent the last two weeks jumping through hoops trying to get a special pass while we wait for the NGO board to accept our work permit application. They told us they don’t allow visitors to change the status on their visa while they are in the country. I sat there and nearly begged the immigration lady to let me be an exception, because as many of you know that I just was home for a whole month. I don’t mind having to leave the country I just don’t want to travel over 48 hours through airports anytime soon! She let us by this time by the grace of God,  but then told us we needed to go to a local DTB (like Key Bank or Bank of America). Porsche and I set off on Monday to get everything finished up. We got to the local DTB and stood in a long line for 25 minutes when we got to the teller he told us we needed to go to customer service. So we stood in the customer service line waiting to be helped only to find out that we needed to go to the DTB Head office in downtown Kampala. We stopped by the local grocery store to see our friend and pick up some soda and chips because we had a feeling it was going to be a long day. We hopped on a Boda and headed downtown to the Head branch to which we found a nice air conditioned building with a line of people so we stood in yet another line and waited our turn…again. Only to find out we needed to walk down the street to a different branch to see the right people. We walked down the street and walked into one of the most hot, stinky, African filled rooms that I had ever seen. Disorganization everywhere. Lines coming from every different direction. I didn’t even know where to start. I finally cut everyone in the line and walked up to a counter and asked for help. We were very much so out of place and were the only other Mzungus in a five mile radius. From here we had to stand in a series of lines, answer a few questions, and pay the most ridiculous exchange rate I had ever heard of. A feeling of defeat was coming closer. We hopped on another boda and at that point we were both broke because we didn’t realize how much this special pass was going to cost us. We had US Dollars because that is what we were told to pay in when in fact it was actually Ugandan shillings we were to pay in. So after that we headed to the immigration office. We of course found the offices closed because they were on lunch break. We looked at each other…and just bursted out laughing. Porsche even told me a story as we were heading into the offices (Which are all outside courtyards covered in rocks and dirt. Very informal.) that someone we knew had given their passport to these very same internal affairs offices and they lost it! Only one of my biggest fears. We waited another 45 minutes and ate some Pringles and Mtn. Dew. Once we got up to the window in which several people cut in front of us, the lady spoke not one word to us. Took our passports and had a very unhappy face. She stamped it, threw it on the floor, gave us a receipt and expected us to walk away having knowledge as to why she just threw our passports on the floor and did not stamp it and give it back. She said come back in one week.

With our identity literally sitting in the dirt we walked away in disbelief and just laughed out loud again.   


Tuesday was a much better day.

Jackie- my older sponsored kid came by the office because the school chased her away because her school fees have not been paid and it is only the third week of school. Oh! AND I forgot to tell you that Tonny’s little brother Kenneth just moved in with us. Everytime he laughs it brings back so many memories and it feels like a piece of him is here. We sat in the office (Jackie, Kenneth, and I) and we were just catching up on life and I asked them if they could be any animal what animals would they want to be and why? Kind of a difficult question. But their answers surprised me. Jackie would want to be a cow because they are timid and shy and just care free, easy animals that don’t stress anybody too much. What a modest answer from one of the most humble young women I have ever met. She challenges me to be a better person every day of my life, and she doesn’t even know the impact she has on me.  Kenneth is a very shy and quiet kid he told me he would want to be a lion because he wants to be fearless. Coming from a boy who has pretty much lost everything my heart broke but also built up so much confidence for him. I was blown away by his response and totally excited that those were the thoughts he had. Wanting to be fearless.

We headed to the village just after a lunch of rice and peas. We packed the van and we were all ready to head out into the bush and leave all responsibility and office work behind. Sometimes I feel like office work gets in the way of ministry. I am thankful for unplugging and disengaging that side of my brain when we get out to the village. Always a good balance. I can honestly say I didn’t think about my visa or my passport while we were out there. Tuesday night was filled with some personal ministry. Time for us to go out into the community and spend time with our favorite families. To just invest in lives and grow the community. I spent the evening with one of the new comer kiddos to the village and just asked him questions about his life, faith, and family. Both of his parents passed away. He has two older siblings that live in the city area but he chose to move in with his jaja (Grandmother) because she called and told him that white people live in the village with her! J To this I laughed but was taken back at the same time that a young man would give up a life of comfort just to stay near people “like us” like we are something different. Something special. We are not. Not realizing that we are the ones that benefit, we are the ones that are blessed by him being here.  

Wednesday we led devotions for the nursery section of Empowered Leaders Academy (ELA) and performed a skit of Joseph. We went on to organize class rooms, and split up into different groups. Some people repaired desks, while others chopped wood, and then I helped with organizing the media center. Getting term 2 and 3 teacher guides and exams all put in a filing cabinet. It is so challenging when you don’t have all the access to the normal office supplies that you really have to get creative. I love working on stuff like that so the time passed so quickly. After lunch we lead devotions for all of the upper primary classes and had a complete praise rally. I almost feel like a big sister to all of these kids. I stand at the door and as they walk in and I know most of them by name and they ask me in Luganda how my day is, or what I am doing, or that I can’t dance. I am so protective of them. They each bring out something so different in me and God has blessed me so much by having them in my life. One of the kids asked if I would sit with them during our scripture union and saved me a seat. He chose to sit smack dab in the middle of all the craziness. Amidst two hundred kids is where he chose to sit. I squeezed my way through after greeting all the kids and found my seat- but it wasn’t long until I was up again singing and dancing for the praise and worship. As the choir danced, so would I. Such a huge sense of community fell on me while we were singing. After scripture union the sun was up and it was HOT! So it was nap time for most people but it was too hot inside the church and we all want to take advantage of spending time with our loved ones in the village so it really turns into personal ministry time again. I was hanging out with Alex, and one of our good friends Sande- who is supposed to be heading to school fell really sick this week and was asking for me. So Alex and I went to see him. But in Uganda everything has to be done with a purpose and you don’t just go somewhere to go somewhere. So we went and fetched some water to bring to Alex’s moms house which was just down the road. All in all it is probably a mile and a half from the church. But with the sun shining in the sky it feels like it is about a 5 mile walk and a billion degrees outside. We put a stick through the top of the jerry can and walked it to the house together. We got to Sandes house and he hobbled out to the mud hut living room and just laid there in pain we spent some time laughing together and just sharing what was going on. Then spent some time in prayer and asking God to heal this boy so he can get to school as it is his first year in high school and he can’t miss any more of it! Like I said you have to have a purpose when traveling to anyones house, That 20 liter Jerry can of water on a hot day was getting very heavy very fast. Sande has a bike. So after we prayed with him we borrowed his bike to carry the water the rest of the way. When we got to mama Alex’s house she was not around because she had went to pick water from the tap. She arrived just about 10 minutes after we got there and she was so excited to see me at her house. When you get to anybodies house they offer you a chair and whatever was the last thing that was cooking. Most people in Zirobwe know how picky I am so they usually don’t offer anything but fruit. They know by now that is what I will eat. On the way back to Sandes house I hopped on the back of the bike and we headed back to the church.

We were prepping for the kitchen for Thursday so as I was sitting at the tap I was struggling because if something is broken in Africa you don’t fix it you just figure out how to use it until it completely breaks. So the tap was slowly leaking water out but we had two empty cans that needed to be filled. So there is a special way you have to wrap a piece of plastic at the bottom of the tap and hold it place just the right way to get a trickle out of the faucet. Since I am just a dumb mzungu everyone just stands there and laughs…until I heard a soft sweet little voice and saw a shadow standing in front of the sunshine that was hitting me. It was Dora, my sweet girl that reminds me so much of my Violet in America. She stood there and didn’t say much but helped me fix it. We played in the stream of water that was pouring out of the bottom and just watch things float down the small ramp. The water just kept flowing. It reminded me of Gods constant ever flowing love for us. Who will stand in the sunshine when it is too much for us to handle.  We walked to her house together and played in the backyard, ate some passion fruit, and just laughed together.

On Thursday we started construction we got to help rebuild the kitchen walls which of course is made out of mud, and of course resulted in a huge mud fight. We sang songs, and just spent time laughing and sharing our adventure together. Some of the boys in the community even came over to help us and spent time giving us tips on how to do manual labor the Ugandan way. This afternoon we had bible study with the local gamblers and after we read scripture we prayed with them individually. I prayed with a young man named Mpita because his eyesight is not well right now, after I prayed with him I explained that I would commit to praying for him every day and when I asked him if he understood (in Luganda) he looked at me with a big grin and just said yes ‘you me girlfriend’… You win some you lose some, but just don’t ever give up hope. We may be getting mocked and teased for the time we spend around that table. It is impacting these men whether they know it or not. Their hearts are being changed one by one. I am excited to be a part of an organization that not only changes the lives of kids but empowers a community.


 This is a small window into a week in the village. I can say without a doubt in my mind that as we approach the day of love I cannot imagine being anywhere else in the world to feel this loved. Not only by this community but by you. Thank you for loving me. <3