Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Africa and all its Awesome: Part 1- Schedule

Over a month.  That's how long it has been since I....well, we, meaning my sister Kaley and I.....left Uganda.  And I don't even know where to begin.  I haven't really been able to process the trip at all.  But I know there is just so much bundled up inside of me.  And as more things keep being added to the inside of me, the tension and stress builds.  And I just wanna remember my amazing trek to the land of my dreams and remind myself of all the things I learned there.  So...here goes.

I think I'll just start by kinda going over the whole journey.  This is mostly for me, so I can always look back and remember the general stuff too about the trip.  So yeah.  The schedule, although I do have a tendency to be long winded  :]

Travelling was pretty intense.  We flew out Thursday night from DC, which meant that on Wednesday morning, Kaley and I drove to Virginia and stayed at Leroy's house with my friend from REACH, Kristyn, who also happens to be Leroy's niece.  God's creativity astounds me.  Then, on Thursday, the dreadful waiting for our flight that evening began.  As a sidenote, I'd much rather leave a place in the morning.  If you leave at night, the whole day is wasted by either just wishing you had left already or dreading departing from the place you are leaving.  But, we finally left, and after around 30 hours of traveling time with very little sleep during and being up for much longer, WE MADE IT.  Sure, we only had 2 of our 8 suitcases when we landed, but after figuring out how to get the rest back later, we left the airport with Paul and John, two of the pastors under Greater Living Ministries (the ministry started by Leroy to which he is the President) that would be by our sides throughout the entire journey.  They are amazing men of faith and obedience.  Their lives are not only inspiring, they are downright compelling.  More on them later.  So we made our way to our hotel in Kampala and were on our way to sleep a little before 2 am.  Actually, I think the only reason I got any sleep that night was due to pure exhaustion.  Apparently on the weekends, Kampala likes to party in the streets until 4 or 5 am, and when the people party, they do it LOUD.  Blaring music pounded its way into our ears both days we stayed at this hotel.  Not the best sleep I have ever gotten, but not the worst either.  That was to come :] Anywho.  So many details.

The next day was a great one.  Just being in Africa made it great, honestly.  It has been the biggest dream of my life so far, so I was pretty ecstatic.  But that day, which would be Saturday, we got to meet Grace, aka a real life superwoman.  Her ministry, which is helped by Greater Living Ministries, is one that reaches out to widows and single moms.  Through her hard work and creativity, she thinks up and starts programs that provide skill sets for the women.  Whether it be through sewing things, growing and selling mushrooms, or making jewelry, these women are finding hope and a purpose for life.  And that purpose's name is Jesus.  With these new ways to provide for their families, the struggle each day grows weaker.  And Grace is a beast.  She is constantly thinking and planning, always with the other women in mind.  Her selfless love and passion for her work are so real.  Her faithfulness to the King is precious.  She is truly a warrior for the Kingdom.

Later on this day, we visited a rock quarry.  In my next post, I will be posting stories from the trip, which will better explain this place.  Just know that NO ONE should have to suffer the way these workers do.  To sum it up quickly, women (generally) pound rocks down into gravel using tiny hammers all day long.  And they do it all for less than $2 a day.  The sight makes me wish I could take back any complaint I have ever voiced before.  We are so blessed here.

After, we returned to the hotel, and Leroy, Kaley, and I payed $8 to get a full body massage.  Yup.  $8.  And it was WONDERFUL.  Money well spent if ya ask me.  Then, it was another horribleish night of trying to sleep with the music flooding through the walls.  Exhaustion helped.

We were originally only going to stay at the hotel in Kampala for one night, but due to the fact that our bags were missing, we stayed an extra night, after being told that they would arrive Sunday morning at 10.  Well, Sunday morning at 10 came and went and still....no bags.  So, we went to church, which was our first experience with African worship.  There's just something about it....I'm convinced that if you are born in Africa, you are automatically gifted with rhythm.  EVERYONE there can dance and clap and drum all crazy to different beats.  It's insane, and I love it.  Also, African worship services are LONG.  Like, 4 hours is an average church service.  And they get so into the singing and dancing part of the service, and then its really hot and stuffy in the church, so generally you have a bunch of people falling asleep in the middle of it.  And sometimes, a lady with a stick comes around and pokes you until you wake up.  I found this to be extremely comical :]

So, after this church service, we waited for the bags until like 2 o'clock I think.  And we drove into town and picked them up on the sidewalk outside of the post office type thing.  This was exciting, except for the fact that we only got two of the suitcases.  And of course, they were Leroy and Kristyn's OTHER suitcases.  For some reason, Kaley's and mine took a trip to Dubai.  Why?  No idea.  But, that's what they did.  So, we headed off to Busia with 4 of the 8 suitcases.  It was a 5 hour drive from Kampala to Busia. which really isn't bad at all.  We hired a driver for the entire week to taxi us all around to the different locations and churches that Leroy would be preaching at throughout the week.  And the van was nice.  The backseat was basically a couch with thick, padded seats and the windows had curtains over them.  The back of the van even had two small ceiling windows that popped open.  At first I thought this was very cool.  Then I quickly realized that they were the exact opposite.  They were actually VERY hot.  The sun just beat down through them and the popping up of the windows did nothing for air circulation.  So, after a little while, I shut and covered them for us.  Not 30 seconds later, the driver glances back at us, realizes the windows are closed, and uses his fancy button in the front to open up the windows and pop em back open.  We laughed pretty hard at this, and he was absolutely clueless.  I shut them one more time and sure enough, he opened them again!  So finally, we got Leroy to explain to him that he was slowly killing us with the sun, and he agreed to stop opening them.  It was such a hot ride without the sun shining down on us anyway.  At one point I almost went crazy because we were getting no air flow.  But we survived.

So we get to the hotel that Leroy books every time he goes to Uganda, and wouldn't you know that since we were late, they gave our rooms away.  AWESOME.  We then started the hunt for another hotel, which proved to be way harder than I anticipated.  It took us about another hour to find one with two available rooms, and now looking back, it doesn't surprise me at all that this one had so many available rooms.  It was.....interesting.  There was a big bed in each room, so Leroy took one and us girls had the other.  That was an adventure.....three grown girls all in one bed.  I was lucky enough to score the middle of the bed......also awesome.  And the doors to our hotel rooms were very strange.  They were just metal sliding barn door types.  Weird, although they were painted orange which I liked.  But with them being metal, they basically magnified every sound that bounced off of them.  It was on this night that I got the worst night of sleep that I think I have ever gotten.  It was so loud with people talking and the TV down the hallway blaring.  I couldn't fall asleep for a long time, and when I finally did, I would wake up to some random louder noise or from being SOOOO hot in that bed.  Good times :]

The next morning went much better though.  We finally made it to the place I came for....the orphanage.  And although we could only be there for 20 minutes that day, it was AWESOME.  The kids ran beside our vehicle, laughing and yelling until we parked.  And when we opened the door, they crowded right up to it.  I couldn't even get out at first.  So many kids just trying to grab and touch me.  And all of them were saying "HOW ARE YOU?!!"  There are only so many times that I can say I am good or fine in a row (In Africa, the common response to "how are you" is "I am fine").  So we got a very short tour of the orphanage grounds that day while getting the privilege of being escorted by tons of incredible kids.  Immediately, I was right at home with them.  And the only explanation for it is God Himself.  He is so awesome.

We only stayed for a short time because we went to visit Pastor John's church for the first time.  I don't know how we managed to get our big ol' van down the footpath that led to his church, but we did somehow.  It was very eye opening.  Being way back in the fields, the houses and buildings were all made out of mud.  The kids were singing and dancing for us when we got there, and we were shown to our places of honor.  It felt weird to me.  I don't like being treated as if we deserve better than the people we came to see, but its just what they do.  It was a lot of fun though.  After Leroy spoke, they were so happy that they gave us a chicken to take home with us.  We, of course, gave it to Paul to have.  The funniest thing was watching Kaley freak out the whole way home because she is terrified of chickens.

That night, at the hotel, I tried to do some laundry since we still didn't have our suitcases.  Thinking it would only take me a few minutes since it was just a few items to wash, I was expecting to be in bed soon after I started, since I was exhausted.  No, no, no.  It took me FOREVER.  In a story that will come in the next post, I was just very stupid, but finally, I was able to sleep.

Tuesday morning I had devotions for us, basically talking about the importance of getting into the Word.  It was mainly a good reminder topic for myself.  Paul and John were supposed to pick us up at 9, and since we were done with breakfast at 8, we all got our books and started reading out in the yard while we waited.  9 o'clock came and went, which wasn't very shocking.  It was Africa and time doesn't mean a whole lot there.  But when 11 o'clock came and we still hadn't heard from them, annoyance and worry settled in.  Finally, Leroy got a phone call from Pastor John.  He told us that he was really sorry but that he and Paul had spent the night in jail and that they could only be released if we paid for them to get out.  Long story short, basically the police chief of Busia is a money hungry, Muslim lady who somehow found out that they had white people staying with them.  So for made up reasons, they hauled John and Paul into jail so that we would have to "bless the police department" like we were blessing Paul and John.  Money.  The lady was on a power trip.  I was sooo angry with her.  Our whole day was spent trying to get them out of jail.  We ended up only having to wrongfully pay $80 or so to have them released, since she realized she was not going to get any more out of us.  And we had to ALL go down to the station to hear here rant about our safety.  I did not have a good attitude and really did have to ask God for forgiveness over my anger towards her.

Once they were finally released, we brought them and Paul's wife Janet back to our hotel and gave them a meal to eat.  Then the men went to take Leroy to get a shot, and Janet stayed back with us.  We quickly realized that she knew hardly any English.  The awkwardness of sitting there and not really being able to say anything became too much for me, and so I began a local language vocab learning game.  And boy did she teach me words.  She went SO fast and taught me SO many words that I could hardly remember most of them.  And I couldn't get the point across for her to go back over a small amount of words so that I could actually learn them, so she kept adding new words for me to remember.  It was a hilarious time and actually really fun.  We laughed a whole lot at not being able to communicate and my horrible pronunciation of the words.  But I did learn quite a few body parts that night.  And then, when the guys got back, they surprised us with our SUITCASES!!  It was exactly the perfect ending to that crazy draining day.

Wednesday us girls went back to the orphanage while the men went to different churches for Leroy to speak at.  We started painting the girls' dorm rooms.  They hauled everything out of the rooms which were very small, especially with the amount of girls sleeping in each of them.  The rooms were filthy.  I didn't really know how to describe the original color of the rooms, because it was supposed to be white, but it was so filthy that it was more of a brown.  And there were so many kids in the room with us trying to help that it just got chaotic.  Also, Paul's 15 year-old son Moses was appointed to help us paint.  He was super shy with us though and didn't understand much English either.  And his painting skills were CRAZY.  And I'm not talking about crazy good either.  It was......an adventure.  Soon, it was time for lunch, and all the kids helped wash me off at the pump.  All of us girls had at least two kids scrubbing our arms and legs for us.  It made me laugh.

Lunch was prepared for us, and this became the first of many times eating alone.  No matter how hard we tried to communicate that we wanted to eat with the kids, they would stick us in the living room all by ourselves and give us a feast.  No joke.  A feast.  It was delicious, but I felt so bad.  All that they ever eat is posho, which is like tasteless cornmeal mush stuff and beans.  And everyday they would serve us rice, noodles, boiled bananas, regular bananas, pineapple (the most delicious I have ever tasted in my entire life), meat, cabbage, and stuff like that with a few variations depending on the day.  But like I said.  We tried countless times to communicate the fact that we just wanted to eat posho and beans with the kids.  It happened on the very last day, but I will get to that later.

After lunch, we didn't get back to painting.  All we had done was primed the first small room out of the four we were going to do.  Instead, we watched the kids sing and dance together.  Honestly, I don't know how they do it but EVERYONE there has rhythm and can dance.  It's crazy.  I'm so jealous.  And it was so fun watching them.  I couldn't stop smiling.  The kids that weren't doing the group dance were squeezed up beside all of us.  So much joy.  After they had pretty much performed every single song they knew for us, we went outside to play.  The pulled out the jump ropes and frisbees they had and tried to get us to play everything with them.  They are pretty impressive at jumprope acutally.  They tied all of them together to make one long rope and then played games inside of the jump rope.  Most of the girls especially were very good at running in and out of the rope as it was swinging.  After playing with them for awhile, I sat down by some kids and soon had 5 kids braiding my hair at once.  It was nutso, but one of my favorite memories for sure.  They were all laughing and touching my hair.  They think its cool that it is so soft.  And pretty soon, I had 5 interesting braids all over my head.  I am convinced that that is what love looks like.

That night was one of the dirtiest that I felt all trip long.  I was covered in paint splatters and dirt and sweat.  I was downright gross.  I was exhausted mentally and physically, yet I have never felt so satisfied.  If I could live a day like that everyday for the rest of my life, I would be ecstatic.  I feel as though it is what I was created for, and that, my friends, is an indescribable feeling.

Also, that night before bed, we called home, and I was informed of a prayer meeting that my church had for us.  With all the crazy things that had been going on, we felt like we were under attack from the devil.  And when I was told that not only was there a prayer message that went around to everyone, but that they had actually gathered together to pray, I can hardly describe the feeling it gave me.  Love.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude and just so proud of my church family.  That is what the body of Christ is supposed to look like.  It was one of the greatest feelings of blessing that I have ever experienced.  So I just want to say thank you to all of you who were praying for us.  Your prayers were felt and heard and made a huge impact on all of us.  When I told Paul and John that churches in America were praying for them, they were blown away and so honored.  So thank you so much.  I can't express it enough.

Thursday was a fabulous day.  We got to the orphanage and set to work on painting, this time with a much more thought out plan for the day.  We were able to clean and prime the second room connected to the first room we had already primed and then finish the gray on top and purple on the bottom of both rooms!  Taping a straight line on the walls proved to be the most difficult challenge since we didn't have a level and there were many opinions flying around, but we got into a groove and got it done.

Also, it rained that day.  And it was the only day that it rained the entire time we were there.  I'm so glad I got to experience the random African rain at least once.  So strong and refreshing.  Sure, it created a muddy mess everywhere, and of course I was soaked, but it was so worth it.  I raced the kids after the rain had stopped through the mud, and we just laughed and laughed.  Also, it was a hysterical sight to see first one naked kid running around in the rain and then right after seeing four more naked kids following him.  A bunch of the girls crowded into one of the tiny rooms we had just finished painting, and we saw this happen from a distance.  We all erupted in laughter.  It was like a movie or something.  Too funny.

One more memorable thing from that day was that it was the first time I participated in dancing with the kids.  If I could pick any talent in the world, I would pick dance.  I LOVE dance.  I am inspired and moved by it.  I wish so badly that I was good at it.  But, alas, I am actually horrible.  But it was still so fun to imitate their moves and sing along with them in as much rhythm as I could muster.  They also loved it and roared with laughter at one move in particular that I murdered.

Friday, we decided to go with Leroy to the village he was going to speak to.  And boy, did we go.  It was the bumpiest ride I have ever experienced in my life.  And it was the furthest destination that Leroy was going to speak at.  Add the heat to the mix and you have for yourself a ride of misery.  Looking back, it cracks me up.  The road we traveled on was HORRIBLE.  But that is life for them.  They don't think anything of it.  And I am glad I got to experience it.  When we reached the destination and sat through the abnormally long service they held, in which they introduce practically the entire congregation there, my bladder was on the verge of explosion.  Finally, we were able to inform Pastor John that we really must get to a bathroom ASAP.  And so, we were escorted to a very far away squattie potty.  It was my first time experiencing one.....Kaley's too I believe.  Very interesting, but something I grew very accustomed to.  Fun stuff.

After another HUGE meal provided to us by the pastor and his wife (the fish and pineapple were out of this world...), we drove to Lake Victoria.  It was beautiful.  Houses on a lake like that in America would be EXTREMELY expensive.  The Lake is huge and we could basically see glimpses of it from every city we had been at in Uganda, but it was very cool to see it right in front of us.  Then, we started back to Busia.  With the heat even more intense and the bumps not getting any smaller, the ride back was maybe even a little worse than the way there.  And Kaley wasn't feeling good, so she was actually miserable by the time we got back.  Again, though, we survived.

Saturday, Kaley stayed behind, we she was still not feeling well.  So Kristyn and I spent the morning/afternoon passing out all the supplies we had brought with us for the kids at the orphanage.  It was quite a process, but well worth it.  We took photos of each of the kids so that Kristyn, who is stepping in as the new Director of Orphan Sponsorship for Greater Living Ministries, could update the website with them.  The kids LOVED all the supplies we brought for the school and the notebooks/health kits that were given to them personally.  They spent the afternoon and evening writing thank you notes to those that had made them a health kit or provided the notebook.  It was so sweet.  And that pretty much sums up that day.

Sunday was church day.  So in other words, it was a very long day.  Church there lasts 4 hours at least.  There is a lot of singing and praying.  By cramming so many people into that tiny church and having hardly any openings for ventilation, it got real hot real quick.  Kaley almost passed out, which isn't surprising, but still.  After church, Leroy decided that we would just go back to the hotel.  We all really needed the rest, especially him, but he spent the rest of the day preaching at two more events.  They kept him busy the entire time, but three sermons in one day is quite the load.

Monday came and we visited Pastor Egessa's church, the man who oversees Alijah Joy, the pregnancy crisis center under Greater Living Ministries.  It was interesting to see all the projects they had for the kids to get involved with.  Also, an interesting part of this trip was the fact that they had 2 different bathrooms.  One for "short and long".  I finally was able to understand what the lady was trying to get me to understand.....

Also that day, back at the hotel, we were given the privilege of meeting the guest that was staying in our room with us.....Marvin the Gecko.  He ate all the bugs for us, but Kaley just couldn't shake the image of that scene in The Parent Trap where the woman has half of a lizard sticking in her mouth.  Yum!  Then, that night for dinner, we told the waitress that we wanted chippati (thick tortilla like thing) and fruit for dinner.  After waiting an hour, we were surprised with receiving spaghetti and avocado instead.  Oh, the joys of language and cultural barriers.

Tuesday was a day full of packing up, as Leroy and Kristyn were leaving, meaning that Kaley and I were moving in to the orphanage.  Leroy and Kristyn left around 9 that morning, which was a sad time, but in the same way good.  They needed to get back, and I am so thankful for the opportunity we had of staying at the orphanage full time.  It was the best and most rewarding experience I have ever had.  The majority of that day was spent getting our hair done.... a 4.5 hour long process.  And, as many of you know, it didn't go the way we had in mind.  The full story on that will come in the next post.  Lemme tell ya....its a treat :]

"Bathing" happened later that night.  What a process.  Using a basin of water that we placed in our squatty stall, I was very unsure of how I was to go about getting clean.  To give you a bit of the scene, the hole of the squatty was probably at most 4 feet away away from the basin of water we were using to clean ourselves.  So the aroma was pretty wonderful, and since it was dark at this point, tons of bats were flying around the outside of the stall.  It was in this moment that the African culture really hit me.  It was definitely something to get used to, but we really did.  We had the art of bathing mastered by the time we left Uganda, although after our first attempt, I don't really think I was any cleaner coming out than I went in.

Wednesday, Kaley and I started painting the last two rooms.  We quickly realized how much faster it was with three people versus two.  It made a huge difference.  It was a very slow and dirty process.  We still had a long way to go by the time we quit that day.  This time the bathing went much better, and I actually felt clean afterwards.  We spent some time painting nails with the nail polish I brought from home.  Unfortunately, none of the girls in school are allowed to have any one or else they will be "caned" aka beaten with a stick.  Not cool.  So Nekesa, Paul's 20 year old daughter who was our closest friend there, and Sarah, his 18 year old daughter, and Mama Janet all had their nails done.  Nail polish was such a treat for them.  Sarah especially loved it.  They used about every color we had and layered up each fingernail.  It was a pleasure to be able to leave all the nail polish there for them to have and use.  Sarah was so happy :]

That night we visited a hospital for the first time with Nekesa.  This is another thing I will share about in my next blog post.  So so sad though.

Thursday, we finished the painting! I don't think I have ever been more excited to be done with a project.  The good roller broke, it took so long, the tape kept being crooked, and we had to do the touching up with our fingers, but we finished.  WOOHOO!  Also, that morning we had a breakfast burrito type of thing, with chippati, egg, and tomato.  It was SO GOOD!  We ended up having it many more times which was awesome.  In the afternoon, I learned SOOOOOOOOOO many words from the kids.  It was so much fun.  They loved that I remembered some from before, and were just so impressed that I cared enough to try.  I still remember those words.  I have them written down as well so that when I go back I can start from where I left off.  I am so excited. I love language learning!

It was also on this day that I went with Paul and Eunice, a 13 year old girl, to the clinic right down the road to look at a tumor that had appeared overnight in her armpit.  It was maybe just a bit bigger than golf ball and made it extremely painful for her to raise her arm at all.  The doctor looked at it and gave her two injections to help shrink it.  This story continues over the next 2 days, but I will write about it in my next blog as well.  It is the most horrifying thing I have ever had to witness in my life.  Makes me so sad.  We are so blessed here in America.

This post is so long, and I apologize.  But really, I guess you don't need to be reading it.  So yeah.....one week to go :]

Friday, I stepped in baby poop.  Yup.  Human feces.  It was gross.  Another kid wiped it off my foot with a stick.  Haha.  Life in Africa.  That is also the day that we started teaching some kids how to use the typing program that Leroy had gotten them through Greater Living Ministries last year.  The programs are great and easy to use.  We were just there to make sure that the kids knew what they were doing and that they weren't cheating by looking at their hands.  I really hope that they have continued typing now that we are gone and are doing it correctly.  Knowing how to type right would help them tremendously in getting a job, as most people do not have the opportunity to learn how to type correctly.  We started out with about 8 kids split up on 3 computers which was really nice.  After one lesson, the kids would rotate.  But by the end of our stay, we had over 20 kids to rotate between the three computers.  It got a little crazy, but I loved it.

That night was also the first night that we experienced Evening Prayers with everyone.  I guess they had stopped since we moved in.  Why, I don't know.  Also, they never had Morning Prayer time while we were there, although the kids said they usually do.  I don't understand that.  But anywho.  Evening Prayers became one of my favorite times with everyone.  We all gathered around the front part of the yard in front of the kitchen, and someone would start singing a song.  Then, using water jugs and sticks, a few kids would begin giving the beat.  Pretty soon everyone was singing and dancing at the top of their lungs.  There was so much joy all around.  After a few different songs, everyone would just disperse into praying.  Most people walked around, praying out loud as they roamed; I usually chose to sit.  It was an awesome sight to behold.  And it was during these times that the Lord just reassured me that His timing was perfect, even if it didn't make any sense to me at all.  He is in control, and He knows best.  The peace that I felt was incredible.

Saturday, we slept in until 730.  Then we had more typing class with the kids.  Like I mentioned, there were a lot more as the days went by, and I was in charge of running two of the three computers, since Kaley's program was a little more advanced.  This also meant that I got all the beginner typers.  It was quite challenging and bit overwhelming at times to keep everything smooth, but at the same time, it made me SO excited when a kid passed his lesson.

Later in the afternoon, Nekesa took Kaley and I to a little market a ways down the street.  It was interesting to see everything.  It was kinda like a huge garage sale put on by a bunch of different people.  There were some cheap trinkets to buy and some fruits, veggies, fish, and baked goods to buy as well.  This is also the spot that a man asked if he could marry Kaley and I.  Gross.

That night was probably the funnest night I had there.  We just really bonded with the older girls.  They came into our room and just started giggling and going crazy on the mattresses.  There was a lot of flipping going on, and Sarah.....not Paul's daughter but a different one.....did a really sweet headstand.  They taught us all sorts of hand clapping games, and we raced all over the yard.  That night I received SOO many hugs, and I loved each one of them.  They also made me play this trust fall game, and of course, there was dancing.  It was just so good to go deeper with them in our relationship, and I knew it would be so hard to leave.

Something I wrote in my journal that night was, "Success is having a distinct dirt hand print on the back of a white shirt from a hug from my girl, Faibe, and a dirt footprint on the front from being accidentally kicked while pushing Sylvia on the swing :]"

Sunday was the worst day.  Again, there was a four hour church service which was normal.  I also had to go up and say a little something to the church.  They love having guests.  But then, we took Eunice to get her tumor removed.  Next post will cover it, but it was horrible.  The rest of the night was just really, really hard for me.

Monday came, and there was laundry to do.  By this point, I was much better at it.  Every morning I helped Nekesa wash our clothes, though she rarely let me help her wash hers.  Also, this was the day that I took my blue hair out.  What a time of relief.  That morning, John came with his wife to take us back to his school for the day.  We got to ride a boda boda, which is a motorcycle taxi :D  It was so much fun!  The day at his school was a lot of fun.  There aren't nearly as many kids as there are at Paul's school, but still a good number of them.  They taught us many new games and loved hearing our English songs.  By the end of the afternoon, though, I was already missing all of Paul's kids.  And it had only been hours since I last saw them.  In 4 days it would be a year before I could see them again.  Leaving is so hard.  It was also at Busitema that I really missed my friends at Canaan Communities.  I've come to realize that those kids will forever be a part of my heart as well.  I'm so thankful for them and the work that my church is able to do there.

That night, there was more typing to be done, and then I spent the night hearing legends told by Eyan.  I love and miss that kid so much.  He has so much joy.  And he is also the best storyteller and vocab teacher.  He helped teach me many more words that night as well.  So good.

Tuesday, Paul and Janet took Kaley and I to Masafu to visit the government funded hospital.  It was much nicer than the other hospitals we had visited and was able to hold many more people.  Even with more space, there were still so many people waiting to get in.

Wednesday was our last day at the orphanage.  It was so sad.  The kids kept asking us to stay longer or wondered when we would be back.  It was so hard for me to have to say that I don't know when I can come back and that I couldn't stay longer right now.  It is still hard not knowing how much time will pass before I can get back to them.  I want them to remember me, and me them.

That day, we got to sit in on the school's weekly assembly, where all the grades come together in one room and do presentations.  Then we all had lunch together.  FINALLY we ate posho and beans, but it was still different because they set up every table from the whole property that they could find so that everyone could sit down together and we wouldn't have to sit on the ground.  We also got WAY more food than the kids did.  This wasn't too bad though, because then we just gave it away to the kids who were finished.  It was really awesome though.  I am so glad we got to do that.  The kids really enjoyed it as well.  The rest of the day was free for them, since it was their last moments with us.  The entire school was singing and dancing for us for over an hour, which was not planned at all.  And then they set up a race, in which even the teachers participated in.  After much begging, I ran one race for them and got my butt kicked.  These people are stinkin fast.  It was just a really fun, laid back day.  That night, I laid under the stars with some of my favorite girls and just laughed and talked and learned.  This is also one of my fondest memories from the trip.  It was so sweet.  And then, a very large number of kids picked me up and carried me back to the room.  It was a long way, but it was so much fun.  I couldn't stop laughing the entire time.  Then they made Kaley go to the spot that I started from, and they carried her too.  They are goofballs, and I miss them so, so much.

The next morning was hard.  We left a bunch of our clothes behind for them and packed up our stuff.  Saying goodbye is always sucky.  I hate it.  Some of the girls started crying.  Sometimes I wish I could just cry like normal people in public.  But I can't.  I wanted to show them how much I was hurting though, too.  They sang my favorite song for us as we left.  I can't wait to go back and hear it again.

We stopped in Jinja on our way out, which is a huge tourist area in Uganda....probably the biggest.  There were so many white people there that it was literally freaking me out.  We had been the only white people in our area for so long.  I don't really know why, but I just didn't like it.  We did get some cool stuff though to take home, and we ate at an Americanized restaurant that had brownies and cake even!  It was a nice treat.  When we arrived at the airport in Entebbe, it was 330 and our plane didn't leave until 1130.  We had to leave so early though so that Paul, John, and Egessa could get back to Busia that night still.  The airport is very small, so they have to have this weird rule of where you can wait.  You are not allowed in the terminal area until 3.5 hours before you are going to leave.  So we waited in the waiting area for 4 hours.  It was so long.  I felt like all we did that whole time was sit.  They did have wifi for us to use though so that was good.  I got a lot of reading and updating done.  FINALLY, we could head into the terminal which was quite a process.  Very slow, but eventually we made it.  Leroy had told us about the lounge that we could pay to use there.  It is made for the business class people to use, but for $30 each, we could use it for 3 hours.  And let me just say that it is probably the best $30 I have ever spent.  We got a HOT, water actually falling down from above, real shower.  We could have all the snacks and drinks that we wanted.  There was a TV and good wifi to use, and even pool to play if we wanted, which we didn't because we were so tired.  But it was just so good and refreshing after a long day of travelling and waiting.  We also knew that it would still be 30 hours or so before we reached Washington DC, so it was just nice to feel good before that all began.

Our plane left on time, and we arrived in Amsterdam a half an hour early, which just meant that we would be waiting there for 10.5 hours to board our plane home.  Hurray.  I didn't sleep at all on the plane to Amsterdam, due to a screeching 3 year old across the aisle, so I slept for a little over an hour during our layover.  We got some good chocolate to bring home, and ate some pizza, and after a long, long time later, we were finally on our way home.  The end of our flight into Washington DC was the scariest I have ever experienced.  The flight attendant had JUST announced to make sure fasten our seatbelts, as we would begin descending shortly, and 20 seconds later, we hit the biggest rough patch.  The guy in front of Kaley did not get around to fastening his belt quick enough, and he literally almost hit his shoulder on the overhead compartment as he flew across the aisle and almost landed on a lady.  We kept falling and then jerking back up for a good 5 minutes.  I was pretty terrified, along with the rest of the plane.  People were freaking out and people were throwing up.  It felt like a rollercoaster that really wasn't safe at all.  But then, we made it out of the cloud that we were in, and the last 10 minutes into Washington was a breeze.  Strangest thing.  So thankful we made it safely.

So yeah.  That's our trip in as much of a nutshell as I can put it.  Just want to thank Leroy and Rhonda yet again for picking us up and taking us into their home with so much grace.  Their hospitality was awesome.  It speaks volumes to what they are all about.  And thanks to everyone who supported our trip.  We had a phenomenal time.  Can't even put it into words.  Uganda, I'll be back.  Thanks for making me fall in love with you.  Stories to come in the next post hopefully.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Africa and all its Awesome: Preview

I know.  I haven't put up the blog yet.  And its dumb and I'm way behind.  It's overwhelming me at the moment.  But I can assure you (whoever you are) that I am working on it.  There is just so much that I don't wanna leave out because its so good for myself to go back and read what God has done in my life.  And these are the memories that I don't wanna miss.  So I hope to have it up and finished soon.  HOPE.  Especially with my second round of REACH underway.  I will need to start blogging about that really soon here too.  So, yeah.  I do wanna just touch on a few things tho that I find myself missing immensely in this very moment just thinking about Uganda.

I miss the night time there.  I miss sitting around, listening to legends and stories told by Eyan.  What a fantastic kid who is in my heart.  I miss laying on the grass, just giggling and talking with 4 crazy girls.  We seriously just laid down in the middle of a game of "Tag" and just looked at the beauty of the sky and moon.  Then they started teaching me random words in their language.  And we just laughed!  My heart longs to go back to the spot right now.  I miss evening prayer time.  I will explain it more in depth later, but basically all the kids just gather in front of the kitchen area and someone starts beating on a water jug and songs begin and its beautiful.  Everyone is dancing and smiling and singing at the top of their lungs.  It makes me smile just thinking about it.  I can only imagine what God and Heaven's reaction is :]

I miss the peacefulness of life.  Nothing is hurried over there.  There is no freaking out that goes on typically.  Sure, that is a positive thing and a negative thing at times, but I miss it.  I love the "go with the flow" attitude that culture holds.  I miss pumping water from the well.  I miss red dirt.  I miss bananas served every way you can possibly think of.  I miss sugar cane.  I miss them tugging on my hair.  And I REALLY miss being called a mzungu.

But in all of this missing and wishing to be back, there is hope.  There is hope because I know I will see those kids again some day.  I pray that they are all still around when God allows me to go back to the physically again, but even if they aren't, I know I will see them in Heaven. But, I have joy because I KNOW I will be back in that beautiful orphanage again some day.  I pray that it is soon, but only God knows.  And I'm trusting Him and trying to follow His plan for each of my days until then.  The rest of the adventure should be posted soon.  In the meantime, go make disciples.