Sunday, March 21, 2010

Back and over the jet lag... well, kind of!

In a lot of ways it's wonderful to be home - most importantly because my husband and daughter are here! But there's so much that I miss in Uganda, and my heart and mind wander there a hundred times a day. So in the 4 months til the next visit, here is what we are working on:

* HOME PARTIES - if you'd like to have a party at your home (in the Raleigh area!), please let me know. I will show a short presentation, tell about Ten Eighteen and what we're doing there, and have all the handcrafts available.

* HOSPICES - I am going to be contacting hospices in the area to try to form some partnerships, or at least receive one-time help, for Rays of Hope Hospice in Jinja. If anyone knows anyone who works or volunteers for a hospice here, or had someone who was a patient of one and you know a contact, please let me know!

* CRAFT IDEAS - We are trying to come up with some ideas for new ways to use the paper beads for Nawezakana. If you have any creative ideas (and they could be combined with the sewing, too!) please let me know. I'm not super crafty, myself! We are looking at two lists - things that they could sell within Uganda, and then things that would do well internationally.

* SCHOOL SPONSORSHIP - If anyone is interested in sponsoring a child's school fees, we have a list of children needing help who are known personally to Emily and the staff at Ray of Hope. The costs differ with the particular school and grade, but the range is about 70,000 shillings to 225,000 shillings ($35-$110) three times a year. This would cover tuition, uniforms, lunch, and any supplies and books.

Thanks for keeping us in your prayers!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3/18/10 - HOME!

By the time I went to bed Monday night, AT HOME, I'd been awake for 46 hours. In some ways that midnight flight is good, but boy does it make for a LOOOONG time to be up!

Now that I'm home and un-jet-lagged... to sum it up: Awesome! I know we didn't "do" as much as last time, because of the driving situation, largely. But Father's House has 13 Ugandan children, and we were able to spend a lot of time with them, time with Suzanne and Steph and Jess, and helping where we could. I cooked some, drove with Steph to the store a lot, tried to help out where I could. I felt like the Lord really used me to help Suzanne during Eric's unplanned trip to Ukraine, and the girls' unplanned trip to Rwanda. So maybe we didn't do so many "big" things... but we made a big difference, and really felt the pleasure of Father.

Our next trip will start in late July, and I will update the blog as I know what we will be taking - I do know we will take medical supplies, and, if we still have some after the Mumford's visit to the States in April/May, the clothing we have that you all have donated. As things progress, I'll let you know - we would love to have all of your participation! Thanks again for ALL your thoughts, prayers, and encouraging notes. We felt it all while we were gone!


3/14/10 - over too soon!

Our flight is actually at 12:20am on the 15th... but we will be leaving for the airport around 9pm. I got up at 6am, so it is a LOOOONG day! With Eric back last night, and it being Sunday, it's a laid back, quiet day, with lots of movies (Thumbelina AGAIN - UGH!) and pancakes and bicycles and swimming. It's hard to be packed and know we're leaving, and yet not go. It's hard to fully engage, and yet be DISengaging... 4 months til the next visit seems long, and short, too. I'm really looking forward to seeing Chuck and being home - and now that we're packed and ready, I'd like to start. But I hate to leave, too... As before, I am leaving a huge piece of my heart!

3/13/10 - Starting to pack...

I can't believe I'm doing laundry and packing already! I have a floor full of beads and other items, and we will need to take 4 bags home for the weight. (We brought 5, including the hockey bag, but that will squoosh up in the other suitcases.) After a nice morning at Emin Pasha and lunch by the pool at the Serena, we stopped at the grocery (of course!), and then headed to Father's House. And other than visiting with my family away from home, we're done! I can't believe it's been almost two weeks... wow.

Here are pictures of the kids at Father's House... Love all of these kids like my own! Thank you, Father, for all of these wonderful relationships...

3/12/10 - We did go to Oweno!

I forgot yesterday that we did go to Oweno to look for fabric. We didn't actually go INSIDE the market, which looks kind of like a hamster's Habi-Trail and extremely claustrophobic... But we held tightly to our bags, and trudged onward, finally finding both the chatingi fabric and some decently stiff plain colors that match.

Also found out that Eric is coming home Saturday night, so we will have to cancel our swim with Nesco... which is ok. With Drew, our main contact, in the States, it is a little more difficult. But we will get them the large bag of clothes and shoes as soon as possible, and Suzanne will reschedule the swim for their school break in August.

Today I went to the "real" market with Zeke and Page, and got a LOT of stuff for Ten Eighteen to be able to offer to donors: paper bead purses, bracelets, bone bracelets, etc. We also ended up with over 400 necklaces from Nawezakana, so it's awesome! I have gotten good at bargaining, as long as I'm buying in bulk... for personal gifts it's a little hard to say, "2,000 shillings ($1)?? What's the best you can do?!" I mean, it's a buck, right?! I am a disgrace to my Ugandan friends, but really... come on!

I am treating Suzanne to Emin Pasha tonight, Kampala's first (only?) "boutique" hotel. She goes there a lot for tea or lunch, and it is extremely lovely and relaxing. We didn't know when we planned this, back in October, that she would need it so much! But the Lord did, and He so wonderfully provided for us... We have a great time listening to the live "afro-fusion" band sitting on wonderful outdoor couches on the lawn. I can't believe we leave so soon!

3/11/10 - HOT

Wow, since we got to Jinja on Tuesday it has been soooo hot and dry! I mean... hot. Even the Ugandans are talking about how hot it is. wow.

We visited Ray of Hope and got a list of six women who need assistance, and who have been faithful to Ray of Hope and Nawezakana for some time. We read through the stories -and obviously what you WANT to do it help them all - and decided to visit two of the women. We had Christine go with us to visit Mary down in Namuwongo, in the slums. We stayed for about a half hour in her home - she has 8 kids, including 3 1/2 year old twins who were absolutely adorable, up to a 20 year old son. After talking with her, and with several of the children, I decided that we would sponsor the 3 school-age boys who were not already sponsored elsewhere.

We were going to visit a second lady, but it was already 5pm by the time we left Mary's, and it is Vincent's birthday, so we needed to get back to Father's House. For now, we will add these 3 kids... and if Suzanne or Page can visit any of the others before I visit in August and report back after prayer, we'll expand that some. This makes 6 kids that Ten Eighteen is sponsoring, which is awesome!

3/10/10 - Hospice!

What an awesome day! I was worried about the visit to the hospice, because I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd seem some pretty grim pictures... So we arranged for the kids to go horseback riding, and Suzanne and I went to the hospice. After a wrong turn or two, we pulled up - and discovered that the actual name is "Rays of Hope Hospice, Jinja". That was such a blessing and confirmation, esp given my worry.

We talked with Shem, the director, for awhile, and gave them the huge bag of medical supplies that we brought, as well as another large garbage bag full of adult sized clothing donated here in Raleigh. We were so impressed by their vision, clarity, dedication and compassion... It was really just amazing. We met all the staff (2 nurses, James the driver, and Shem, who is medical and administration) except for Joy, the office person; and also met an Australian nurse who had just arrived there to do some volunteer work - for a month, I think she said.

I gave them 600,000 shillings, which, Shem said, would pay for fuel for a month. Amazing! They were really blessed by it all - the economy around the world the last year has really hurt their funding, as they are almost exclusively funded by donations (they have been given an office space in a government area by the government, which is wonderful, but that's about it). Anyway... it was just so great... I continue to be amazed at the round-about way God connected me to them, and was even more so when I discovered that they had served Godfrey's mom - Godfrey is the founder of Arise Africa, which my church has been helping for several years. He is so far ahead of me!!

I will have more pictures from Shem soon - James documents everything with the camera!

Pictures from the Nile

3/9/10 - Jinja!!

We discovered the bypass today, and cut a lot of traffic out of going through Kampala, which is always EXCELLENT! The bypass is nice, although why they put this nice new road in and made it 2 lanes is a mystery....

It is HOT in Jinja - I think hot in Kampala, too. We had lunch at a little place downtown called Ozzie's, owned by a wizened Australian lady, and it was excellent. Then to the Kingfisher Resort... which is waaayyyy out. Let's just say you aren't going to stumble on it! But it's very lovely, lush landscaping, and we have a half of a banda with two twin beds and a nice en suite bathroom. Very refreshing pool, and a cold Nile Gold beer complete the cooling off period!

We called Shem and arranged our visit at Hospice Jinja for the morning, and arranged for horseback riding for Zeke and Steph while we're there. Then we did an hour long boat trip up from the source of the Nile, and saw a lot of gorgeous birds, and had a whole troop of monkeys about 2' from our boat. That was awesome!

For dinner I was convinced to order "whole fried tilapia". And it was WHOLE fried tilapia - about a foot long, teeth, eyeballs, fins and all... It was delicious! Suzanne and I laid out on the ground and looked at the stars for a couple of hours, talking about God, Ray of Hope, Nesco, hospice, life... It was awesome! (Are the stars the same? Because I didn't think they would be, but I swear I saw Orion.)

3/8/10 - Big rain!

BIG storm in the early morning, so things got wet way into the great room... But the house and furnishings are set up for this, since there isn't glass in the windows! However, it did force my quiet time into my room, since everything I usually sit on was wet!

Today was one of those days where EVERYTHING takes forever, and it is stressful! The girls get back from Rwanda tonight, and we leave for Jinja in the morning, so I am trying to take it all in stride. We sat on the side of Entebbe Road for a half hour while Suzanne talked to Eric (still in the Ukraine) and I did get some pictures as life passed me by. One boy, looked to be about 9, walked by us, then we moved a bit to get into shade, and he walked by again. He had one of those huge canvas bags on his head - they are about 4' long, and used for carrying anything loose. It looked heavy... Makes me sad.

We still haven't gone to Oweno market... and from all the stories I keep hearing, I'm not sure that I want to!

3/7/10 - Quiet time?!

If you're in a house with 19 other people, many of them under 11, there's not much quiet unless you get up before everyone else! The kids do know I have quiet time every morning, and they can be quiet... but they come sit right next to me and stare at or poke my Bible, my journal, or me. haha...

I slept 11 hours last night, and am glad for quiet Sundays. I think I am on the way back to health, but a day to do nothing is most welcome. Being the only driver is exhausting for Suzanne, and I generally go with her. It just takes so long to do anything, even the most ordinary of tasks, if you have to go in the car!

We are wanting to go down into Namuwongo (the slums) on Thursday when we visit Ray of Hope, but there is a nation-wide cholera warning due to the rains, so we'll see. Next week will be busy - we will be leaving for Jinja Tuesday and returning Wednesday, Ray of Hope Thursday, the market on Friday, and swimming with Nesco on Saturday or Sunday. Once the "big girls" are back to drive, we can get busy!

3/6/10 - Rain cancellations!

It just POURED down rain this morning. We were supposed to take the boys to soccer (football), but that was rained out; and to go to Oweno market to purchase some chatingi (native patterned) fabric for the buntings that Nawezakana is learning to make. But one doesn't go to Oweno casually is one is a mzungo - you wear closed toed shoes, long pants, and keep your purse in front! - so we have postponed that! Not to mention that smells in those areas are horrible when mixed with rain and mud... ugh. Zeke went to science with Jess, Steph and Rick, and did 5 hours of chemistry and physics!

Still no power, and it's not too bad. Amazing what you can still do, as long as you have a gas stove and a generator. The generator doesn't power everything, but we can put on sections long enough to charge phones and iPods, heat some water for showers, etc. But it's better on a sunny day than a wet one, for sure.

Supposed to go to an African women's thing tonight at Serena, but I took a 2 hour nap and couldn't do it... Hopefully this is the lowest point of this cold!

"It take Almighty grace to take the next step when there is no vision and no spectator - the next step in devotion, the next step in your study, in your reading, in your kitchen; the next stp in your duty, when there is no vision from God, no enthusiam and no spectator. It takes far more of the grace of God, far more conscious drawing upon God to take that next step, than it does to preach the Gospel." Oswald Chamber, My Utmost for His Highest

3/5/10 - Sick...

I have a cold... and feel pretty not great! I'm supposed to go to an African women's thing tomorrow night at the Serena with Suzanne... We'll see! (Note to self: Next time I need to remember to bring nice clothes!) Lillian is sick, too, so that leaves just Dora to cook and do laundry, not to mention kid-stuff.

Tova, Vicka and Page left last night for Rwanda, taking a midnight bus. They have no idea what to expect, but they were all very excited to go - can't wait to hear about it! The only problem is it leaves us with just Suzanne to drive all these people around... Steph has a learner's permit from the States, so can drive with me as far as Quality (the grocery) but not on the big roads. So until Monday evening, we'll be very busy just trying to get this household of 20 people fed and where they need to go. (Eric is in the Ukraine!)

The kids are all great, and Zeke loves having so many to hang out with. Mark is AMAZING - I can't get over how "grown up" he is, and FAT, compared to when he came up here from the city weighing 3 1/2 lbs. He is just too cute!!!

3/4/10 - Still no power!

It is possible that our entire trip will be powerless... Last time the transformer went out, it was 3 weeks before they fixed it. It's also very rainy, so kind of dark. But TIA (this is Africa!)!

Today we went down to Ray of Hope and talked with Emily for awhile while I went through one of two HUGE bags of beads. We got progress reports on Agnes's son, and on Miriam's daughters, who we have been sponsoring for school. We asked her to come up with a list of a few more women and/or children who might need help, so that we can discuss them and pray about them after our next meeting. They have been tossing around starting loans for the women, which I am not in favor of for a lot of reasons, so I will ponder possible solutions that don't require debt. (Some of the women are returning to making beer in order to pay school fees or rent, which we are trying to steer them away from - not from some moral issue with beer, but just because they can get into some unsavory situations when reliant on it.)

3/3/10 - Hit the ground running!

We hit the ground running today, after getting to Father's House at about 11:30pm last night. No problems with immigration or customs, and our bags came right out! Go figure... And Rick came with Suzanne to pick us up, which was great.

Anyway... Today we rode a boda! Twice! (see the picture above of a woman on a boda in the mud... and picture Suzanne and me sharing one!) And lived to tell about it. On the way back to the tire store, the boda driver took us through the edge of the slums, down a muddy, narrow path, passing chickens and naked children... I just hung on and prayed we'd get where we were going!!

We arrived to no power - the transformer went out 9 days ago. Thank goodness for the headlamps I brought! One thing it means, aside from no internet, is LOTS of grocery shopping!

3/2/10 - Over the Med

Flying over the Sahara!!

It's a long way! We did this trip at night last time, and a lot less turbulence. We have 2 air marshalls with a middle eastern looking prisoner, along with a paramedic and some other official looking person, sitting two rows back. They are apparently taking the prisoner from London to the hospital in Kampala.... which seems strange! I guess we should feel nice and secure with two big men with guns, but I'm not sure I do! The paramedic said they might have to fly back to London in a few hours, which would definitely not be fun!