Monday, February 28, 2011


Sorry its been so quite around here this past week. To be totally honest, I’m not sure what to write. I started this blog to keep family and friends informed of how my trip is going, what I’ve been doing, and things of that nature. The longer I’m here the more I have to process and I feel it’s a disservice to those reading to let you think that its all fun and games around here, but at the same time, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read a whole bunch of heavy posts every week. So I’m not too sure of how this post is going to end-I’ve started it with no plan. Thanks for reading!
Today the sweet Ives family-also from Nashville (we’re taking over Uganda) invited us to go to Kampala with them for the day!! They spent the first 4 months of their time here partnering with a church and were going back for a visit.  The church they attended there is very Ugandan and very African. The church we go to here in Jinja is a mix of Ugandans and missionaries, so it’s a little tamer…haha! It was such a great experience and I loved it! There were three different choirs all dressed in matching costumes, the music was loud and joyful, and the people were so hospitable. I will not lie though and tell you that I am thankful for our 1.5 hour service here in Jinja as opposed to their almost 4 hour service. I wish I would have taken pictures, but that felt disrespectful. Then we went to lunch and I had MEXICAN food-and for being in Uganda, it was really good!!!
This week has been an amazing week of preparing four kids for their new families to come!! We talked about getting to meet mommy and daddy and that they were coming soon. I got to be a part of one family’s introduction to their sweet Luke and it was amazing!! Luke was waiting for them with a worker here and as soon as he saw his mommy he ran to her with arms wide open J  Because I was assigned the job of taking pictures, I couldn’t cry but it was so moving. We’re waiting for one more family and then tomorrow we’ll have a meeting with them about what to expect in court and other important things. Their court date is on Tuesday in Kampala.  I’m very excited that I get to be a part of this process with these families and learn what families go through on this side of the adoption journey. Being able to see first-hand what it is like to live in an orphanage setting, see how it is run, and what the children experience has been so valuable on a professional level. Personally and emotionally-it is thrilling, exhausting, overwhelming, challenging, tiring…and I’m sure I could come up with many other adjectives.
Well I guess speaking for emotionally how things are going-it’s been a trying week. As amazing as it has been to talk with the kids about their parents coming, it’s also heart breaking because that means that there are kids here who aren’t getting to meet their families, who don’t yet have a mom and dad, and who don’t have biological parents or relatives but at the same time aren’t legally free for adoption. Leaving them in limbo. Another little girl, who stole my heart from day one, is going home to her biological family on Friday. There is no such thing as Child Protective Services here. And basically children have no rights. So this little one came to Amani about a year and a half ago after having been subjected to the “treatment” of a witchdoctor, was malnourished, neglected, and abused. She’s terrified of strangers, new things, leaving the compound, and night. The social worker in me is seeing so many things that need to be addressed and causing me to make assumptions about her past solely based on her behavior. It is not pretty. In fact it is dark, cruel, unthinkable, but yet it is her reality. She’s going back. She’s going back on Friday, there’s nothing that can be done, and my heart is going to break into pieces. A song that has been repeating itself in my head says:
                “Oh my God, He will not delay. My God will come through always”
Pray for a miracle on behalf of God’s little princess-she needs one.
Well this is getting long and I’m sure you’re looking for pictures at this point, but one more thing! Saturday, Sarah and I went to Amazima’s feeing program. It was wonderful J Each week they plan for 350 kids. Prior to eating they have a time of worship and a Bible story. These kids are JOYFUL! These children don’t have much in this world, maybe a change of clothes, their school uniform, and a few other things but their smiles and laughs are genuine and contagious. Makes me think of all the material things that I have that have no eternal purpose-that don’t bring true, lasting joy. That is only found in Jesus.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Its a Love Hate Relationship

It's true-I have come to have a love-hate relationship with Amani.  And I know my feelings would be the same for anywhere else I could have gone and will probably go in the future. I love that there is a place like this that exists to provide safety, shelter, beds, meals, and love to children that so desperately need it. Here, and so many other similar places around the world strive to give to what each and every child needs and deserves. And that is commendable and admirable because it's not easy. It's not always smiles, hugs, and laughs. There are lots and lots of tears, screams, hitting, biting, fears, and hurts.  The mamas and care providers strive to give their all. But there is a gap. An orphanage is not even close to being a home and a family.
In three short weeks, I've observed the effect this has on kids-kids we think are not old enough to know the difference, kids that have been here since they were infants kids that have only been here a few weeks. It affects them; it affects them deeply. It comes out in constant questions whenever I leave or say I have to go “Auntie are you leaving?” “Auntie, where you going?” “Auntie, you take me with you?”, “Auntie, you leaving on airplane?” all said with fear in their eyes. They are afraid someone is going to leave them…again.  You see, in their short lives, they’ve only know people to come and go and most don’t come back. They’ve opened their hearts to allow someone to love them, and that person just leaves and they don’t get to go too. They’ve seen parents come to pick up their new son or daughter, and their friend is now gone.  Sooner or later a wall goes up and they shut down. Why should they trust someone who is just going to leave? Or their “bad” behavior is their way of saying their scared-sending out a message loud and clear that says I don’t trust you.  
I know and understand first hand that adoption is not for everyone. But, the Lord calls us, as believers, to care for the orphan and He promises to set the lonely in families. So what does that look like? What is my response? What is the church’s response?  These are all questions I have been struggling with since before coming here. But seeing it first-hand has given me a sense of urgency.  I wrote the first part of this blog after a particularly hard day with the kids. They were hurting and being completely honest so was I. The Lord has reminded me to take a deep breath and remember that He loves them so much more than I do. He sees their needs on a much deeper level than I do. His word reminded me this morning in Isaiah that His ways are not my ways and that His ways are higher than my ways. While this is not an answer to all of my questions, there is peace in that gentle reminder. There is hope in it too. Then He led me to Romans 8 and reminded me that “all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  My job is to love Him. My job is to walk day by day trusting and knowing that His plan is perfect. It is not always easy. For me, it seems that it is rarely easy since I like to know what the plan is and be in charge of that plan. But, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will reveal to me what my response is supposed to be-in His timing and in His way.
Here are a few pictures...

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Week In Pictures

Because I love you...
Because I want you to see how adorable the kids are...
Because we had a great week...
Here are pictures to show you what we've been up to!

We, Amanda another volunteer, took two girls to get their hair did! Above is Jemima looking a little scared about what's about to happen.

This is Susan being so wonderful. We thought she'd cry or be scared, but she slept through half of it!

To hold the ends together they burn them! Amanda and I prayed really hard that sweet Susan would sit still so her face wouldn't get burned. All went well!

The girls were entertained for about 10 minutes at a time with Disney movies and games.

The finished product! Susan was over sitting still by this point-so cute though :)

This is Charlie sporting a little TN love! And I didn't even bring the shirt-it was already here. Charlie taught me that ice cream is better when eaten through a straw after its all melted. Silly boy wouldn't eat it out of a spoon!
Emily on the other had licked her bowl clean! Yummy Yummy!

25 Kids + a huge bonfire + smores = a really fun, slightly stressful night. This is Deborah ready to go!
Little diva :) She posed like this when I told her I wanted to take her picture :)
Henry wasn't too sure what to think of the sticky mess.
Me and my girl Zurita!
Sweet Emily!
Yep, I sure do get to see this sweet smile everyday along with 24 others. I'm a really blessed girl!
On Friday, we took the kids on a boat ride. (Sorry about the smudge on the photo-there was something on my lens)

Little did we know that it was going to be a Gilligan's Island style boat ride. All went well though-the kids had fun and so did I!

This is where Lake Victoria turns into the Nile River-it's called the Source of the Nile. If you float for 90 days you will reach the Mediterranean.

Well that's about all for the week. I'm gonna try and be better about updating more often and keep you more informed of what's going on here. Things are really good. My days are really busy and at the end of the day I'm very ready for bed. Thanks so much for your prayers and sweet notes this week. The support and encouragement is wonderful!