Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nice to meet you, Josie Love.

The week before Thanksgiving I had the privilege of doing what I never imagined to be possible: I got to drive about 5 miles down the road from my cozy American apartment, and hug, kiss, and hold one of the same children that I hugged, kissed, and held at Amani Baby Cottage on the other side of the globe.

That's right, Amani Josephine is now Josie Love Mayernick. She has a Mommy and Daddy. She has brothers and sisters. She has been a part of a loving babies' home for most of her life, and now is being ushered into the place where she will grow up with so many opportunities and so much love from her forever family. Seeing these children come home fills me with so much joy that I can't help but be reminded of how the angels in heaven must rejoice every time one of God's children "comes home" into his family.

From what I've heard, some dear friends of mine are visiting another new Amani transplant this week as well. I hope their heart is as happy as mine <3


Welcome home, baby girl.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A bit of non Uganda, but in keeping with theme.

I named this blog partly on whim, and partly on a mission... my own personal mission for my last trip to Uganda. Little did I know what a challenge it would be re-learning how to love in the way (or rather, ways) that Jesus intended us to love. Sometimes I tend to be a little single-minded when presented with something I'm passionate about, and I forget just how important it is to treat every day stateside with the same love and attention to detail.
This weekend I was presented with a heavy challenge mentally, emotionally, and physically with regards to my own family. My mother, to be precise. She is having some health problems that have unfortunately affected her mental state, and left me one (physical) state north trying to sort things out and take care of her. It's not something I've been prepared for, and though I've felt like this time might come, i didn't expect it to be so soon. Hopefully I will be able to leave work a couple of days once I speak to my boss tomorrow to go down and take care of matters, but this could be a long drawn out process.
 I'll admit I've neglected matters of my own family since graduating college simply because I've needed some time to heal from wounds of my teenage and college years, but the past year or so I've been trying to make a point of manning up and mending ties. And here's the test. Rather, *a* test. My mother may hate me right now, but I know it's not her speaking. I pray that she knows how much I love her even if I haven't been so good at showing it or knowing how. I ask for everyone's prayers that she would have quick healing and caring doctors, and that the spiritual battle that is going on behind it all might be won with love and patience and kindness... that our Father is keeping a close eye on his sparrows as He's promised.
I'm scared. I'm in over my head. I'm tired..... hard-pressed from every side but not crushed, for certain. I'm learning the extent of His love as it carries me through.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Emotional exhaustion, heavy hearts, and a little optimism

These two kiddos, especially, are on my mind today.

It's been one of the most dramatic weeks in a long time for those following the Ugandan news and adoption blogs. In case you aren't following, please go read
for a small idea of what I'm talking about. Please pray for my dear friends and dear Josephine as they go on this journey together. 
Josephine, or Josie Love, was diagnosed with HIV this week as her family (writers of the above blog) were taking her for a routine health check-up in Kampala (I cringe at the thought of what the streets of Kampala were like on Monday-see previous post). The news brought us all to our knees. These children become like our own children as volunteers, and hearing about Josie's diagnosis brought up maternal feelings that you don't expect to feel as a single girl of 25. I can't imagine the scale of hearing this as a full-blown parent, though I know that all over the world, parents are getting this news more frequently than I'm comfortable thinking about... It's sobering, and my prayers are definitely with the Mayernick's for wisdom and peace.
I'm angry. I keep thinking of the phrase, "If anyone had a right to be mad at God, it would be ________" and inserting the names of so many I know who are going through times such as these this week. But I'm not angry with God. Just angry. If I could channel the passion I feel about this into a physical fight, somebody would be hitting the deck in less than 10 seconds, I'm sure. This sweet baby girl... with such a diagnosis. 
But here's why I'm not angry at God: 
I'm so thankful for medical advances that will allow her to extend and improve the quality of her life much longer than a HIV+ child just 5 years ago... 
So thankful that this daughter of the King was placed in the care of Amani, who ensured she has been SO loved her entire childhood, and who have lined her up with an AMAZING adoptive family to love on her even more
and SO thankful that through all of this, this diagnosis WAS discovered and she could be put on ARV's long before she might have if living somewhere outside of the orphanage, and as a result her outcome will be drastically different.

God has NOT forgotten her. He chose her to be in these circumstances to SAVE her. He has used everyone in her life in a specific, calculated way to bring her to this point, and to me this means that even with anger at the Enemy for his planned attacks and with anger at disease and world circumstances, instead we should rejoice that our God is MIGHTY and sovereign and His eye is on this little sparrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The World is in Motion

I'm supposed to be editing together some videos for a video letter to our dearests in Uganda, but just thought I'd take a short break to share something I read today from the Palmers' blog ( so that you can all be in prayer. There are a lot of dear friends in Uganda right now, and even though everyone is mostly in Jinja or out west away from the Kampala area, I'm still concerned. Especially be in prayer for the Mayernick's and the Keck's, who are traveling in/out of Uganda in the next couple of weeks, which involves travel through Kampala. I copied and pasted this for reading ease, but please take a few minutes to get informed (I feel like American media misses out on a lot of important news).
From the Palmers:

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009


This is a serious post. The usual humor will have to wait for next time.

We got a call last night from Mama Rose, about 10:15 or so. She's an avid radio listener, and she wanted to let us know about some disturbing reports coming from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. There had been some rioting earlier that day, and people died, and that's about all we knew. She wanted us to "pray for the situation." We did, went to sleep, and that was that. 

And then today happened. The rioting continued, people were barricading streets, setting buses and shops on fire, robbing, beating. Local transport like taxis and buses stopped running. The military was called in. Stray bullets from their guns found unwitting human targets. Radio stations were shut down. Journalists were detained and beaten for taking pictures of the scene. 

What's causing all of this? Here's the official AP story, which contains this nutshell version:

The unrest began Thursday after the government prevented a representative of the traditional ruler of the Buganda kingdom from traveling to a region northeast of the capital for a political rally. Members of the kingdom make up Uganda's largest ethnic group but there is friction between the Buganda and members of the smaller Banyara tribe, who claim the Buganda refuse to recognize them.

Basically, it's tribalism rearing its ugly head, and President Museveni is in the middle of it somehow. 

Michelle and I have been reading a lot of different articles about the unrest (BBC News has a good one, as doesReuters, and there are a couple of independent sources that were especially illuminating), and we're discovering that this is a complicated issue with no easy solutions. Tribal sovereignty colliding with democratic government, especially one that isn't exactly known for being pure and wholesome. But both sides have what seem to me to be legitimate claims. 

(And for the record, we are currently safe and sound. Jinja [where we live] is about 80 kilometers east of Kampala, and for the moment, it looks like none of this will make its way out here. So please don't worry.)

All that aside, what's struck us the most is that all this is happening on September 11th. As I remember that dreadful, shocking day, the thing I remember most is the way the crisis united America as a nation. For the next few weeks and months, we were able to look past ideological, political, and even theological differences and see each other as humans, as Americans. 

Remember that? Doesn't it seem so far away? 

Uganda is a tiny nation in the middle of East Africa that is often dwarfed in notability by her neighbors, like Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda. The inability to speak your mind and be heard by your government here isn't going to be noticed by the international media, because there are more sensational things happening in those other countries. But the fact of the matter is, it's difficult to make your voice heard here. 

There are many Ugandans who want to see this country go in a different, more progressive direction, that are tired of seeing government workers drive very nice vehicles while the poor go hungry and lack water. That are tired of people putting their tribes ahead of their country. That are tired of the lack of listening they perceive coming from their leaders. 

So what can they do? We asked Mama Rose that question this morning, and she said, "What can I do? I can do nothing. So I get on my knees and I pray for Museveni, because he is our president. And he is just a man like me."

Americans have the luxury of being petty and focusing on soundbites and sensationalism. Americans can afford to prop up weak arguments with rhetoric and shouting instead of logic and facts. Americans are blessed to be able to try to argue the other guy under the table without ever trying to listen to him. 

Because Americans have an audience. Americans have a voice. 

Here? Not the same. 

So, on this September 11th, can we all put aside the stupidity, the name-calling, the shouting, the money-grabbing rants to increase our ad revenue? Can we remember those days eight years ago when we all decided to be grown-ups and see the humanity in each other? Can we focus on the planks in our own eyes instead of screaming about the specks in the eyes of people who don't agree with every single thing we believe? 

We are all sinners, all in need of redemption, all headed for an eternity apart from God, all in need of grace and mercy. Whether you like it or not, the leader of your country, state, city is the leader of your country, state, or city, and Jesus loves them. Just as much as he loves you. 

"Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. " (Romans 5:7-8The Message)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Next week I will journey to Kansas, and attend the wedding of the lovely Miss Julie (not for long) Durkee, and Mr. Joshua Schneider, both of whom I've had the privilege of meeting in Uganda. Christina B and Uncle Ian will both be there, as well as some other friends that I know through facebook's Amani Volunteers group but haven't met yet. I'm excited for all the reunions and the new meet-ups, and especially for Julie and Josh. I just chuckled actually, because the funny thing is, I've never hung out with ANY of these people in the United States before but we all share a bond that goes so much deeper than many bonds I hold with friends in my physical proximity.

One thing that I'm really hoping for is a wake up call. These past couple of weeks I've felt like I've been in a fog, especially with the death of my grandmother last week. There's objectives and passions in my life that I'm feeling numb and helpless about because I can't shake myself awake right now. It's almost the exact opposite of Brooke Fraser's song... I'm changing, falling more and more asleep this month.


Hello, life. Let's do this. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The space between.

The recent months have brought so much wonderful news that I often find myself in tears, with butterflies in my stomach. The kind of butterflies that you get when you are completely humbled and know that God's hand is all over it: you see things happening that simply cannot be explained any other way.
Yet, I find myself at times almost avoiding writing about it all because when I sit and dwell on thoughts of Africa the emotions are so overwhelming that I cannot contain it. So I just don't go there. I find myself being "all or nothing." Either I want it all: go back to Africa and live this life that I'm called to, or don't hear any of it because the pain of knowing that I must wait is too much. Maybe I'm too impatient for my own good. I'm praying, praying, praying for answers in this time of debt, of longing, of waiting.
But still, despite my impatience, God is so good.
He is so faithful... bringing children home to this very city with speed and efficiency that we never thought possible. Soon, at least 2 of the children all of us volunteers have known, loved, and prayed for will be embraced by arms of their "forever families." 
He is inspiring... helping spread the dream of the Suubi women through the cities. I've seen Kirsten being an all star in Chicago and rocking the festival circuit, and Anna in TX catching the fever and selling kits... and my college friend Caitlin is considering a year to serve with these woman... and Erica has been spreading the Suubi fever to her campus at USA.

I am amazed.
I am also asking for prayer as I find my niche here in the states, and as some friends of mine are considering a new venture for the boys' home I've written about here before. There's a lot of news there that I want to share but it's not time yet. Just pray. Pray. Pray.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I'm awful at posting updates, even in the midst of so much Uganda-related news that's been happening lately. Quickly though, I wanted to let everyone know to glance at a Relevant magazine this month! Light Gives Heat has been getting some great ads each month, and this month the ad is about an upcoming promotion/collaboration with Jedediah (Jebediah? i need to check later) clothing.
There is a feature on Travis Gravette and Global Support Mission. Which reminds me I never really blogged much about time in Kaihura because of the lack of internet there on my last week. Anyways, check it out if you get the chance!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dear Uganda,

My heart aches for you so much it hurts. Not just sometimes... many, many times.

When will I see you again?


Monday, March 23, 2009

It's about time.

Sorry for the photo delay. I must admit I was doing good just to post pics on facebook, but I realize that not everyone who follows my blog has a facebook so I thought I'd add a few more on here from time to time. Though I've been home for what seems like forever (and yet still, it could have been that I left last week), Uganda is ever-fresh on my brain. I daydream, night dream, and sometimes even breathe Africa these days (true story: sometimes I try and take a deep inhale from my scarf that I got there).

Katie Snyder sent me some photos from their stash, and from the day she joined me at Amani. Check out more on her blog as well. She also mailed me a rosary that Daisy made me but didn't finish before I left. I am just floored by the fact that Daisy thought of me, and our time at mass together. Not only that, but she sat and hand-rolled these tinier-than-usual paper beads. I have a one-of-a-kind Suubi-esque rosary that I will definitely treasure forever. 

I can't believe he's smiling AND looking at the camera.

awww. i love this candid one.

(photos by katie s.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spread kit!!!

Yesterday I received my Suubi spread kit in the mail... I can't believe I didnt know about these until right before my trip. In a way, I'm so glad that now I've been... I've seen... I've heard...I've hugged...

Jja jja Margaret showing off her new hairdo

Beautiful, beautiful smiles

Daisy is making YOUR necklace, folks! And doing her thing, laying down the law at a Suubi meeting :)

I've had the pleasure, albeit far too short lived, of meeting and buying directly from these women, and about 120 more. And I hope to do them justice when I talk to people in stores, and person to person and try to increase the local market.

Today I went around to 3 stores in the area where my favourite coffee shop is. It's kind of a hub for the college life in Nashville... the trendy, the fair trade, the bohemian crowd. I've always envisioned Suubi being the perfect product in these stores, so I'm praying that we can get at least one. And if just one here in the Village carries it, I can most likely convince one on 12 South... and maybe one in Cool Springs or Green Hills. Argh. Melissa told the women to be praying for market in the states, and I feel like these are some STRONG prayers coming from these ladies! I'm just praying for God's favor as I talk to the store owners (who have so far all given me the "email this person and send a picture of the product"). I think it's the one bad thing about living in such a crafty little area, because I'm sure they get tons of people coming in pushing products... but I dont care. I'm passionate about this and just hope I can portray that. Even as I sit here, in that coffee shop, I've got my necklace from Agnes around my neck, and several boxes laying across my table. I'm in a high traffic area, just praying for ONE person to talk to, ha. Alright, alright. I'm insane. I've got the fever. And it feels so good.

I've been struggling alot about what I can do here in the states. I feel a little resigned to my fate at work, and I dont know what God's got in store for me next. But I refuse to just sit here, so I've been trying to stay involved as much as I can. Right now, I'm trying to get Suubi placed around town. There's not much to do with Global Support for the time being, no events for now because Travis is traveling and promoting and we just had the This Is Love banquets. I've been floored by the recent development on the Amani adoption front that's going on right here in Nashville... and am hoping that God can use me somehow in assisting these families. Makes me wish I could be some sort of stateside liason for volunteers or families (though I dont feel like I have much expertise in the latter since I havent gone through the process that they will). Anyways, it's a lot to chew on, but I'm happy to do so.

Praying for market, for friends back in Uganda, and for new friends here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Lord really does work in mysterious, mysterious ways.

I've spent the vast majority of yesterday quietly sobbing and praying in between seeing patients at work, because my Grandpop is very ill in the hospital. They aren't sure how long he has to live, and I am faced with the difficult decision of if and when is best to travel to Pennsylvania where he is. I have no money, because I just had to pay 800 dollars for unexpected car and tire troubles this week, and rent and loans are due early next week... but money isn't the issue when it comes to going to see him. It's merely an inconvenience. It's the decision of do I go now? because Grandpop is under sedation and may not know I'm there? or do I wait and go when he is feeling better perhaps next weekend? or *gulp* if things take a turn for the worse...

It's been hard. 

And yet late last night, in the midst of me drowning in my own selfish problems and sorrow, comes a phone call from someone I've never met. Someone in my same town, literally 3 miles away from where I sat, asking me about adoptions from Amani. Dear, sweet, Jesus.  You are unmistakeable in times like these. You remind me that life does go on despite one area feeling like it might collapse. That one or more families are having a burden for your children laid on their hearts from overseas... and that You are providing for them. 


Saturday, January 31, 2009

a bit of important self-definition.

If any of you wanted to know what God's been doing with my heart while I've been in Africa, I don't know if I could tell you. I can say that it was full to the bursting point, nearly every day, with an ever-expanding definition of love; that I was learning so much but at the same time couldn't put my finger on any of it. It was only upon returning that I've started to see where the growth has been in my heart, and now it's only fitting that I testify to a big part of it. If you love me, you may want to read this. No guilt trips if you don't, but I feel that you'll understand me and this past year a little bit better.

I feel like this note is an explanation I owe to many of you. Please don't worry, but I need to get this out of my brain. In a good way. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, here goes.

Somewhere in this past month, this trip saved my life.

Honestly. I was heading nowhere good. I'm not the kind of person who would ever, EVER, do anything to harm myself (so please don't freak out, loved ones). But every day was a struggle to get out of bed, to put myself back into my routine and wait for everything to go wrong no matter how hard I tried. I didn't want to *be* anymore. I was literally and emotionally tired. Broken. And still breaking. I couldn't find much of me left. And when you feel bad enough to where you wish you didn't exist, but firmly stand against the idea of suicide, it can get pretty incapacitating at times when you're just sitting there, alone with your thoughts. Very alone.

I actually Didn't.Want.To.

It wasn't just for the days immediately preceding the trip that I felt this way, but weeks and months at a time. Sure, there were great, wonderful times last summer that were key to lifting me out of the deep depression from last winter, but somewhere around the time that the days were getting darker, I felt like I was losing the battle again.

I asked myself- what on EARTH happened to me this past year? A boy broke up with me. So what. That happens. My family was falling apart yet again, not to mention the individuals within, and as the only child I felt like it was my responsibility to clean up. But all of these things I've taken on before. More important than any of these things, I gave up. Subconsciously, then very consciously.

I let an enemy come in and steal nearly everything that was on the table. In fact, I said "Here, I'll help you," and piece by piece I fell apart. I no longer had the strength to resist
anything. I had the ideas of strength, the remnants and memories of the strong young woman I had started to grow into, but no actual strength. And I was ashamed of myself for it.

I don't think things were immediately better the moment I stepped onto Ugandan soil, or even when the plane from Nashville took off... maybe it started with the decision just to go this year...maybe it didn't. I know by the end of 2008 I was desperate for change, and while I knew that Africa couldn't be my easy out, my fix-all, I also knew that I couldn't
live in America any more. Because I was barely alive inside. So I prayed my heart would awaken while I was there, through forgetting about my situation and trying to be open to someone else's.

I don't know at what point things changed for me on this trip, but they leave me here, changed for certain. I know there were moments that had a big part in it, like talking to Betty at the top of the Adrift Bungee tower, and taking the very conscious plunge towards the Nile 150 feet below. I think that was the first time I truly trusted God would take care of me in exactly a year. And every time I got a crazy piki driver, or walked barefoot through filth somewhere, or had to go out by myself at nighttime, I could feel myself trusting him a little more. I was beginning to think my God could do anything again, and most importantly, that he could do this for me. To tell you the bits of strength and wisdom I witnessed from friends in Uganda (both locals and volunteers) would take another entry entirely.

As I sat in church the day after returning to Nashville, my heart overflowed with gratitude. For the past month, God met me. He said, "Here you are. This is you. And I am here, too. I wasn't really that far away."

In 2009, I've felt like myself again. I feel beautiful inside because I don't feel alone inside like I did last month... and I can't even fully explain why, because I never turned my back on God, but I just couldn't feel Him there like I wanted or needed to at the time.

to wrap up this mini-memoir, I've been thinking highly about this verse this week (something I read first thing when I got home in Katie Davis' blog):

"We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."- 2 Cor. 4:8-12

Good riddance, 2008. In 2009, I am a new creation. And
life is at work in me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


(from yesterday's journal entry)

This morning, I woke up in Kaihura, with the sun, after about an hour of rooster crowing. I had a cup of tea and conversation with Faith and the guys who were also up early to start digging on the well while it was still cool. There was much waiting, heat, and sweating: waiting for the bus to Kampala, waiting for 4 hours during the ride to town, sweating immediately after arrival in the heat of the day, waiting in traffic to finish some errands in town... about 5 hours of waiting in a nice missionary's house where I could shower and repack my bags, and then a 3 hour wait in traffic to Entebbe. 

Bribes paid on Friday: 1 for 20,000 shillings to a rude Kampala policeman who claimed my driver ran the one stop light in town that probably wasnt even on, and he wanted to take us to the prison.

Weird foods eaten: 2 grasshoppers, and Fanta Passion. I'll let you guess which was my favourite.

Random thoughts during the flights: "Grasshoppers taste like pork rinds." "Is it weird to find it weird when I blow my nose and the snot is clear instead of Uganda-dust/dirt colored? or to go to a toilet where there isnt a 5-10 second delay before you, um, hear things hit bottom?"

I have had a week's worth of experiences in even one day. Kaihura to Kampala. Kampala to Entebbe. Entebbe to Amsterdam, to Detroit, to Nashville. Roughly 3 hours of sleep in a two day span means that the entire thing felt like a huge CHUNK of day. Went from 50 degrees, to 80 or 90, then to 8 degrees (Detroit) and back to 30 at home. From village life, to bustling city, and then back to westernized civilization. And the contrast through it all brought this strange, weird "leaving" feeling. "I am a visitor here; I am not permanent," played through my head at times.

Here I go. Back to life. The weirdness is inevitable, and it will creep in, but I think I'm ready for it.

will type up more soon, about experiences in Jinja and Kaihura that I couldnt type because of lack of internet. Actually there was internet for the most part, I just had better things to do that sit at a hot internet cafe for 2 hours a day :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009


the sunset outside of Love and Hope internet cafe is breathtaking.

and is a stark contrast to the boy sitting to my right playing Grand Theft Auto II. What?

to the west, to the west.

tugende, we go.

Leaving for Kaihura tomorrow, to join Global Support Mission and hang out in Kaihura for a few days before returning to the states. Saying goodbye to Jinja feels like I'm saying goodbye to all of Uganda already, even though I know I'm not. I wish I had more time with Suubi, with Amani, and with the volunteers who are making this their makes my life richer beyond belief to be here.

for now, let's pray my flights are still at the same time they were a few weeks ago, because i cant access my account info from here... um. please.

tonight there's a party at the boys home... i'll go, we'll all dance, and i'll pack afterwards... hopefully can spend some time with Achiro Betty and Rachel and Kimby too...they deserve a blog of their own to follow. I love them all.

til then,
see you soon. :-/

Monday, January 12, 2009

less and less asleep.

Across the train tracks from Danita (quite literally) is the village of Soweto. The past two Sundays, some of the Suubi ladies have taken Amberle, Melissa, Katie and I over around 5 pm, and shown us something truly amazing about their culture. These women are Acholi. And several times a week, they dance. Ohhhh, do they dance.

The walk into the village is almost surreal. As soon as you cross into Soweto (over the train tracks), your nostrils are filled with the smell of latrines, your feet are covered in red, red dust, and your hands are grabbed by a growing crowd of 10, 20, 30 children who follow you all the way to your destination. A large clearing which is soon filled by the "Luo Foundation Group," a group of men and women and even jja jjas. They are often drinking homemade spirits, or water, as they start to play on drums made of gourds and some made of cow hide.

The women place us in the midst of the line of dancers, and we dance barefoot until the twilight (when we must begin to find enough pikis to reach home). The drumming is amazing; the women dance with such joy and such a spirit... I wish I could do it justice with just words. You know that you are horrible at this dancing, but they love for you to participate. Amberle says we are like Mzungu television: they will yell and holler if we do well or if we do poorly. And oh, do they yell. "Ai-yi-yi-yi!!!!" is the main cry. There's a huuuuuuge crowd, half children and half teens and adults.

The whistles sound and we dance, we attempt footwork and cabina-shaking that white people just cant do... but it's liberating. The women cheer, and Mama Santa gives us lots of thumbs up. Even the other Mama Santa joins in on dancing and drums... it's amazing.

It's been one of my favourite experiences here... to kick up the dust and then when we get home, watch it run in rivers of red from our feet as we shower and end the day in our nice, ultra-nice home... even in Jinja, we are so blessed. I'm so thankful to LGH for letting me come and see another side of Jinja... it's really something.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

nkwagala nyo nyo nyo...

I couldn't ask to be in a more amazing place in my life right now. This week has been jam-packed with more heart than I thought you could cram into a single week. From dancing barefoot in Soweto, to getting to know the boys at Caring Place Ministries by teaching English and playing lots and lots of soccer, and visiting our friend's sister in the childrens' hospital here... it's humbling, it's breathtaking, and at the end of the day, you are a very good brand of just plain dirty (I'm beginning to think that red clay runs through my veins and simply pools at my feet by the end of the day).

Amani kids say hello to all their aunties and uncles... and the mamas are still inspiring as always. We shared in Bible study this past week about things we were grateful for this year, and to hear what was on their hearts makes you feel so very silly in comparison sometimes.

I am on my way out to Danita for another Suubi buying day with the new women in the group. It's very, very hot and we're all drinking tons of water. And then tonight we'll say goodbye to some great volunteers who have been here with Young Life. Hopefully will write more later on. Until then, blessings. Love.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Who thought you might find me in a coffee shop/internet cafe in the middle of Uganda? There is a very nice one that has opened up in town, and I'm coming here to try and upload some photos... but it is a very stark contrast to the scene through the window of pikis and bodas and red dirt and people walking, some with roasted nuts in baskets or bananas on top of their heads.
Today we're making our first trip (well, my first trip) out to Walukuba to see the women of Suubi. Take a visit to the Light Gives Heat website in the entry below to learn more. I'm so excited to finally meet the women I've been reading so much about; the women in Uganda have so much strength, so much hope... it's hard to communicate through just a few words strung together in a blog. But I have a feeling that over time, many mzungu are going to be severely inspired by all of these ladies. And this mzungu can't wait.

Toddler outing to the Source of the Nile. The kids are in the middle of a massive "CHEEEEEESE" shout, F. is making the best face ever in the middle, and S. was jumping up and down on the rock in front of me and about to fall. They're such a handful. A wonderful handful.

Baby Z. This little cutie sat on my lap for a good hour, slurping on the same piece of mango. She's teeny tiny, but in the Baby 1's/Baby B group already. Siouxanne says she is one of the HIV positive kids at Amani... so far I know of 3 or 4 others as well. It makes her non-adoptable to the states for now. Every time I hear that it breaks my heart... but I pray there's Ugandan families that will adopt our positive children. Mama L. adopted S. this past year, and I can't wait to see her and Steffie when they get back in town.

New Years. Glow sticks. Dancing. Amazing. I hope to visit this boys' home much more while I'm in Jinja. Uncle Ian, they miss you alot!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mzungu... Obama!

Attempted to post yesterday, but as is one of the perks of internet cafes here in Uganda, I was cut off at my 20 min mark and lost my entire entry :) Ah, well.

I arrived safe and sound on Monday night, and spent the night with my Ugandan friend Lillian at her family's house, and was brought down to Jinja Tuesday by Melissa and Joe. Of course the first place we went after arriving in Jinja was Amani... and the first baby I made a beeline for (after hugging several wonderful mamas) was Jeremiah. I didn't expect a lot when I saw him, but he started grinning this beautiful grin, and crawling (crawling!) towards me, saying "Mama! Mama!" I'm a softie, so I was nearly in tears. And yes, I know that Mama is one of the only words he knows and I'm sure he crawls towards most mzungu's now (white volunteers), but still. It felt amazing. Mama Maggie kept saying, "Oh, surely he remembers you, Auntie." Smiles. Smiles. Lots of them.

There are so many beautiful new kids at Amani, and I'm so excited to get to know this group. This afternoon we're supposed to take the toddlers on an outing, a boat ride to the source of the Nile. Being even near the water will surely feel good since it is so, so HOT here. Apparently this is the hottest part of the year, and definitely dry season, because crop prices at the market are a lot higher than most of us vols remember from last year. It's hard, because you aren't sure how much you can bargain down at the market... you dont want to be taken advantage of as a mzungu, but you want to give them a fair price as well.

Speaking of "Mzungus..." I find it highly amusing that people here have found something new to say to you as you walk down the street. Usually, it's "Mzungu how are YOU?" or "Mzungu, fine, mzungu bye" but now?

"Mzungu.... OBAMAAAAA!"

It's a very excited, emphatic cheer. And I die laughing every time. I was looking for a cell phone at a stand yesterday and the first greeting I get was "OBAMA!" and then, "How are you? You like Obama?" Hahaha.

Last night, we spent New Year's Eve at a restaurant called Two Friends, where they had a fireworks display (Ugandan fireworks are the same, except perhaps not as carefully aligned, as several ended up shooting out into the crowd and showering us with sparks and "fire"). Also, it was very amusing to note that at midnight, they counted *up* to the New Year. 1, 2, 3....and 10 was when we shouted and "had much banging on things."

But before Two Friends, we headed to a boys' home down the road to bring a holiday surprise. I'll have to write more about these boys later, but there are 15 former Jinja street kids who live there with 2 Ugandan Aunties and an Uncle. We arrived, bearing a strange item that both Amberle and I had somehow thought to pack... glow sticks. We handed them out and had the boys walk outside for further instructions... seeing the looks on their faces when we told them to break the sticks, and shake, was PRICELESS. Those boys hooped and hollered and danced for a couple of hours with us, playing hide and seek in the dark, and dancing. Oh, there was much dancing. Those boys pounded out amazing beats with sticks and two jerry cans and we all just danced in the yard... my heart hasn't been so full in a long time.

Running out of time. Until next time...
Lots of it.