Thursday, March 24, 2011

What to Say?

I don't even know where to start! I'm sitting in the Amsterdam airport thinking about all the sweet children that are getting ready to eat lunch. Saying goodbye was so difficult. I did not just want to spring it on the kids that I was leaving yesterday so a day or so ago I started talking about the fact that I was leaving, which meant I wasn't going to be there when they woke up from their naps and it was my last day to teach preshool. Katie, the oldest girl continually made me laugh and cry my last day at Amani. She would look at me with such a serious expression and our conversation would go something like this (keep in mind we had it at least 10 times)

Katie: Auntie, you fly in airplane?
Me: Yes, I'm going in an airplane.
Katie: You fly like a bird? You won't fall out of sky, no?
Me: No, Katie I won't fall out of the sky.
Katie: Auntie Kallie (cause none of them said my name right) you miss us? You cry in the airplane?

All I could do was nod my head-because yes I miss them and yes I cried and I have tears in my eyes as I type this. Those precious children have a place in my heart forever and I keep thinking that if I love them as much as I do and care about their needs and their futres, how much must the Lord care for them? I am humbled and amazed by the constant realization of His love for his children-for me-each time I saw their sweet smiles, heard them laugh, and asked for 10 hugs and kisses before bedtime.

Just as the children long to be held and loved (and I gladly did it), the Father longs for that so much more from me. He wants me to run to him and say "Daddy-hugs!"  He has been teaching me that my source of comfort is in Him alone. My first instinct needs to be to run to His open arms and climb up into His lap and find all my heart longs for there-in His sweet embrace. Yes, family and friends to talk with are great, but He is so much greater. I feel like this is something that I have known in my head in the past, but now my heart knows-and it is sweet :)

Well those were the thoughts that came as I was thinking about my last few days, but here are the faces that are occupying more of my brain right now...

My two girls-Katie and Siouxanne-love them both dearly. Pray for Katie as she will be travling home to her forver family in just a few weeks!!

 Jonah and his pj pants that were just a little too big :)

Brian just forgot to say cheese...haha!

Kisses for my sweet Zurita

Maggie and Princess Debra-good thing Maggie lives in Nashille and we'll get to keep hanging out when she comes home with her family in May!!

More to come...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What I've Learned

1. Uganda is beautiful

2. Having several children fight over who is going to sit in your lap makes any day a good day

3. Anything can ride in a car-including a goat

4. Hearing basic truths sung about my Jesus by 3 and 4 year olds is an amazing way to start the day
   “My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty-there’s nothing my God cannot do.”  (I tried to upload a video for over an hour and it wouldn't work-so sorry)
5. It hails in Uganda-didn't get a picture of it though
6. Dance parties are a lot of fun (for the kids and the mamas!)

7. Coke Light is NOT the same as Diet Coke. Which is why my sister is bringing one to the airport when I get home, right JoRae?! :)
8. Every child deserves a family

9. Worshiping inside a church building is going to seems strange after having church under the African sky for the past 9 weeks

10. I will not take my air-conditioned kitchen for granted again
11. This face

and this face

 and this face

and all these faces

 will forever be etched in my heart

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Weekend

Aw….what a wonderful weekend!! The Lord has really provided friendships for me while here and it’s so refreshing. How sweet to live with other girls how share the same heart and desire to serve the Lord. He has provided a place for fellowship and also an environment where we can share each other’s burdens and take them before Him in prayer. I went with three of the other volunteers Rakul, Simona, and Sarah to Kampala to spend the weekend with Megan. Megan lives and works for an NGO in Kampala and has been coming to Jinja almost every weekend to get out of the craziness that is Kampala!! I have so enjoyed getting to know her and will miss seeing her when she heads back to the States on Wednesday. People have said that Kampala is crazy and we were given at least three warnings each by the mamas as we left. And it is!! There are so many people in a relatively small place, no traffic rules, it’s overwhelming, its busy,  and it’s dirty. After spending two days there-I’m really glad I live in Jinja! We arrived Friday evening after almost leaving Sarah behind. Her boda driver took her to the wrong taxi park where we were waiting on the bus for her. But that’s a long story and she made it just in time.
On the coaster (bus) headed to Kampala-with Sarah 
All of us pitched in and made fish tacos for dinner and just enjoyed each other’s company; in the dark (cause that’s what happens when you live in Uganda). Saturday we SLEPT IN-what a treat! And then went to Entebee to spend a relaxing day by the pool. It was wonderful!! Sunday was church and then we climbed a few trees to get mangos and avocados-YUM!!  Here are a few pictures from the weekend!!
Enjoying lunch at an Italian cafe

The end of the day by the pool

Living in Kampala means using public transportation (matatoos) which are very crowded and bumpy and slightly smelly. We had about 22 people in this 13 passenger van!

There are houses and people everywhere

Rakul demonstrating her tree climbing skills. We got several mangos and avocados-Thanks Rakul!!

I can’t believe my time here is almost over L It doesn’t seem like I’ve been here that long most days. Some days are longer than others. My sweet sisters reminded me to continue being whole heartedly involved and active and to not start checking out now. That was so needed and they spoke to what I was feeling. It seems easier to start putting up the walls now so that the goodbyes aren’t so hard. But that’s not fair to the kids. They need to me to continue to be invested 100%, and yes, the goodbyes will be hard. But, hopefully each child will know how completely and fully they were loved. I know there are many of you wondering what happened with Zurita. I’m happy to tell you that she is still HERE where I get to hug her, kiss her, and tell her I love her several times a day.  I do not know why she is still here or what is going on with her family. But I’m going to rejoice each day I see her sweet face. Praise Jesus!
A lady at the market, dressed in her finest (traditional Ugandan dress) holding her live chicken in a bag!

Spending some time with Susan!

Matthew's silly face :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Learning and Learning

So it's been a really good but long week and I have lots of pictures that I want to share with you. Some are recent and some from a while ago.

Valentines Day!!! We had so much fun celebrating and making fun heart crafts with the kiddos. In preschool, I've been going through the alphabet with the kids and teaching them how to write their letters and names. It was a bonus that we talked about the letter L for love on Valentines :)

This week I got to go to Kampala twice with the adoptive families that are here. It was a wonderful experience to see how adoptions work in country and go to court with the prospective parents. I will forever be grateful after this experience for the way our court system works. We had to go twice because the first day, the officials decided to send the judge appointed to our cases to another location and the judge that was there couldn't see us. So after a 2.5 hr drive and about a 1.5 hr wait with 4 kids, we were back on our way to Jinja. We turned around and went back the next day and the judge heard all the cases. All the families passed! Sweet Luke (above with his mama) will be moving to Nashville in about 6 weeks with his new family. How incredible that I'll get to continue to be part of his life!

Enjoying a celebratory lunch with the new families. It's amazing how God brings families together and watching His plan for these children's lives unfold before me is unbelievable.  That he would allow me a glimpse into His heart is incredible humbling. Welcome to your forever families Luke, Katie, Nathan and Isabella!
Princess Debra (yes, that is what the other kids say she is!) during preschool

Benja working hard on practicing his letter Y 

Sorting by shapes and colors. Who knew learning could be so much fun?!?

The toddlers reading stories. The boys all go haircuts this week and now they all have bald heads :(

I love this little girl

Auntie Maggie made head wreaths for the kids during playtime. Beautiful Jemima is showing hers off.

Preschool has been so much fun! I knew that I loved it from teaching it before during the summers when I was in college, and this has been no different. I love watching their little brains try to figure things out and how proud of themselves they are when they do. Their writing skills have improved dramatically and I even have a few that are beginning to write their names on their own. They are not the only ones what are proud! I can't believe that my time here is almost over. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!