Farida & Hanifah {Uganda Memories}

Farida was the first child I met at Adventure Village, the orphanage of Christian Life Ministries where our team stayed, played and served for two weeks.

Farida is 13 and she and her sister, Hanifah are orphans. Orphans caused by death, poverty and abandonment.
My first few days getting to know her, we spent time jumping rope, painting toenails, blowing bubbles and singing songs.

She was very excited and proud to show me her bed

and especially her school work.

She loves school and takes pride in working hard so that she can become a doctor. If she continues to work hard and get good grades, she will have an opportunity to attend one of the most prestigious boarding schools in east Africa...an opportunity made possible through Christian Life Ministries.

One evening, as we were sitting on her porch talking about America, the girls asked me what I do for work. I told them that I am a mom, that I stay at home with my children while my husband works. Farida said "I have never known the love of a mother."

This was so hard to hear. It was really difficult to keep from grabbing her and holding her and crying with her. However I had learned through my interactions with her that she is not an emotional or touchy child, which I'm sure is a result of years of disappointment and hurt.

I took the opportunity to ask her how she had come to the orphanage. What happened to her parents? Does she remember them? She and her sister, through their limited English, told me of how their father had died when they were young. Their mother was unable to care for them due to poverty so she left them with their grandmother. I asked Farida if she remembers her mother. She smiled and said no, but that she would surely recognize her if she ever saw her because she had seen a picture. She then told me of how her grandmother wasn't able to send her to school and, upon hearing of education opportunities through Adventure Village, brought her to the orphanage.

I asked her if her grandmother ever visits or writes and she said no. Hanifah, Farida's sister, said she wants to get an education so that she can find her mother and then help other children find their parents.

As heartbreaking as this story is, these girls are healthy. They are fed three meals a day. They have access to medical attention and medication if they need it. They are getting an education. Most importantly, they are being taught scripture and about God's love. They participate in worship times. They smile with an inner joy...a joy that maybe only comes through seeing, knowing God's faithfulness in hardship and hurt. These girls are strong and courageous. I learned a lot during my time with them.

During these two weeks, I was deliberate with my words. I made sure to tell them that they are beautiful, smart, strong. I told them God loves them and that He is faithful...always. He sees them and knows their pain. I told them to study hard in school, to persevere when things are hard. I wanted to make sure that they know someone cares for them and loves them. They have God, they have their Adventure Village Family and now they have me too.

My last night there, we sat together and talked. We took pictures. We exchanged letters. When it was time to say goodbye, we hugged (which I felt was a big step for Farida) and cried (another rarity). We promised to keep in touch. I kept my desire to see them again to myself, knowing that I shouldn't make promises I may not be able to keep. Only the Lord knows when, and if, I'll ever see them again.

When I got home I was able to give my children letters that Farida and Hanifah had written to them. My children now have friends in Uganda. How great is that? God is soo good.


I'm Home!

From an amazing, mind blowing, wonderful trip to Uganda. I am still very much processing the trip, gathering photos and reviewing my journal, so I will update in detail soon.

For now, I thought I'd take advantage of this jet-lagged morning to give a shorter update.

It was great.

It was what I imagined it would be and it was much more than I could have ever imagined.

I had some insecurities going into this trip that the Lord helped me sort through and overcome. He is so good and so faithful. He made this dream of mine, being in Africa snuggling and connecting with orphans, come true. I am so thankful.

I made some great, new friends. Some Ugandan, some American. We cried together and laughed (and laughed!) together. These are forever-memories.

I didn't really suffer from culture shock, but more heartbreak for some of the conditions I witnessed. I found myself frustrated to tears on more than one occasion.

The trip was life changing in that it was a fulfillment of dreams and hopes I've had for years. I was already in love with these people...and I hadn't even met them yet! I think it's similar to pregnancy...when I was pregnant with my children, I already loved them. When they were born, it was confirmation of that love. Love coming to fruition. This trip was a birthing of the love that I already had in my heart.

I just have to take a moment and brag on my husband. Words can't even describe the admiration and gratitude I have for him. He always is a super dad, but especially these last couple of weeks! He created some memories that our children will remember for many years...sleepovers, movies, Chuck E Cheese, playgrounds, water balloon fights, horseback riding, walks, french toast, dollar store runs...knowing that they were having so much fun here made it easier for me to fully engage over there. AND I came home to a clean house! He rocks!

I will share more in the next week or so. Two weeks of emotions and experiences is a lot to sort through! The jet lag is a bit challenging too...in some ways I don't feel like I'm back yet! I'm awake for several hours in the early morning, by myself, while my precious family sleeps. Then, from about early afternoon through bedtime I'm tiiired and not worth much to them. Can't wait til that's over!


Uganda Bound

I know, I know. I've fallen off the blogging wagon again. Let's just call things like we see them and say this is a new normal for now, shall we?

The kids are out of school. The weather is slooooowly, but surely, warming. My house is messy. I'm behind on laundry.

And it's all okay. My kids are loving their new stay-up-later, sleep-in-later schedule. Brad and I aren't complaining about it either!

AND I'm leaving for Uganda in 2 days!

I am so excited about all that God is going to do through these 2 weeks!

I am enjoying getting to know the members of our team a bit...I'm excited about travel days full of talking and learning life stories. Their energy and laughter are contagious.

I am looking forward to seeing new things, smelling new things, tasting new things. I am preparing myself to be amazed.

I can't wait to hold some Ugandan children. My heart races even typing those words.

Mostly, I am looking forward to this time with my Creator. This trip is His gift to me. I am so thankful and overwhelmed.

I'll be honest and say that I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to my wonderful, supportive, amazing husband and our 5 little squeezes. Paige and Brooke both cried yesterday, realizing my trip is so close. It was all I could do not to join them. We are all thankful for this opportunity, and excited for things that will occur (they have some fun things planned, too!), but it will be heart-wrenching to say goodbye. And not hold them and kiss them for 2 weeks. I'm going to miss talking to my best friend everyday. I think I might just journal like crazy and make him sit through me reading it all to him when I get back!

Please pray...

for our team...for health, for safety, for perseverance, for heart transformations.

for the Ugandan people...for softened hearts and new revelation of God's amazing love for them.

for our family...for comfort and peace, strength, patience and endurance.

I'll be a better blogger when I get back (for a few days at least *wink*) and post some pics and updates!

Love to you all,