I have a confession to make. When I found out about this trip, I was SO excited to go back to Ethiopia. I had no idea what Uganda would be like, but thought I could make the best of it while I waited for week 2 to Ethiopia. I tell you, I have fallen in love with this country and it’s children. We visited 3 orphanages, 1 baby cottage and a feeding program. All three of the orphanages planned a concert for our welcome. Tonight at Canaan’s Children’s Home, which has been our home for five days, we received another amazing gift. The children performed for over an hour, singing “You are welcome here”, “God bless our visitors” and telling us over and over again how much they loved us. Pastor Isaac told us that our group was different than any other group that has been here. He even got pretty emotional talking about our leaving. I really hope to come back here someday.
This experience in Jinja has really been the adventure I was hoping for. Today we made the 10 minute walk from Canaan’s Children’s home to the place where Katie Davis does her Amazima ministry. We were walking through some of the poorest parts of Uganda. Walking!!! On one side of the street you would see children in rags yelling “Hello Muzungu!!” On the other side of the street would be more children in rags…if they weren’t yelling at us, they were running to us with open arms! They would grab whatever hand was available and walk with us for about a mile before turning around, saying “Bye, bye Muzungu” and going home. There were chickens and their chicks just walking along the road, an occasional cow, ladies washing clothes in old tin tubs – bent in half at the waist, peanuts drying in the sun, old men and women with no teeth, staring as we walked by. Oh, and by the way, this is no nice paved road. There are parts of this orange dirt road that are so washed out there is only 3-4 feet of usable road available for the Boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis which are Everywhere!! Several of our team rented a boda-boda for the trip to Katie’s…but I was too scared!!). I don’t have the words to describe the sights and smells I saw the 4 times I went up and down that road today. Poverty as real as it gets. And you can’t believe how many children there were!! We read yesterday that 47% of Ugandans want to use birth control but can’t afford it. Wow.
So, I finally met Katie Davis. If you have not read her blog, you Must!! Just Google Kisses From Katie. You will be amazed at her story. We had probably 240 kids at the feeding ministry today. We met and interviewed Pastor Patrick and Katie. I may post these later, but I know they will be on my friend Kari’s blog – My Crazy Adoption. Katie was what I was expecting…just a great girl who is being the hands and feet of Jesus. What I wasn’t expecting was the blessing of meeting her staff! Pastor Patrick and his brother just broke my heart with their love for these poverty stricken children. They are amazing men.
We hugged and held hands and played with the kids for the morning. At about 12:00 they started their Bible Study. They have a great leader, who reminded me of every other great Children’s Pastor I have known. He told the story of Gideon with the kids’ interaction and play acting. It was great!
At 1, the kids got in a very orderly line by age, and each got one hardboiled egg to eat while they waited for lunch. Again, they got into their orderly lines and each got a plate with chicken, beans and rice. When they left that afternoon, they each received a bag with rice, beans, (something else) and soap for their families. This happens every Saturday. They still need sponsors – as do most of the kids in each of the programs I have visited this trip. If God is asking you to do something about any of these stories – please let me know. I can help you sponsor a child and I guarantee all the money will go to the children. I have met and fallen in love with these leaders and have full confidence in their integrity. Many of them have given up comfortable lives of their own to care for these fatherless children.
This evening we went to King Fisher Resort (the same place we went to visit the Nile) for dinner. We invited Pastor Isaac, his wife Rebecca, Pastor Patrick, the 4 staff ladies who cleaned our rooms and did our laundry, and our Muslim Bus Driver- Abus (yes, he drove the bus and his name was A-bus – ha!!!). I don’t think Rebecca and Isaac had been out for dinner for 2 years!! Rebecca is always cooking for the children at Canaan’s!! You should have seen the kids’ faces when we pulled out of the compound with their “Mama and Father”! They seemed Very concerned!!! Dinner was great, but not as good as Rebecca’s cooking!
When we were driving from the restaurant back home at dusk, I just tried to take everything in. My last night in Uganda. What an amazing country and amazing people. I tried to memorize the smells, the sights, and the touch of the rainy season air. Again, I really hope I can come back to Canaan’s again someday.
We came back to the compound, dropped off our things, then met in the outdoor chapel where the kids, once again, had prepared our farewell concert. What an incredible time. Some of the children were already crying about our departure. We told them we may be leaving, but they will always be in our hearts.
We head out in the morning for Ethiopia. I am so excited to see my kids’ home country again, but am sad to leave all my new friends and this country that has changed my heart forever.