Jambo! This trip has been unbelivable. The intensity of the extreme poverty surrounding us has been unlike anything i can put into words. Honestly... this journey has left me speechless. As one of our leaders with Fount of Mercy puts it... I have experienced Uganda with all five of my senses... this inculdes seeing, feeling, touching, hearing, and smelling the poor, the broken, the widowed, the orphans.... the lost. It has been more than i can bare at times.
On a team note:
The youth are doing an amazing job. They have engaged these kids... and as Jack put it last night... "Can we stay for a month?" I loved it... it revealed that these students have long forgotten their ipods, they have forgotten hot showers and familiar foods... and they have only eyes for the orphaned kids they've bonded with. They have kids hanging on them from the minute we pull up to the orphanage to the second they leave... and even then, the kiddos are chasing them down the road. Julie has connected with a little one called Rita, Teddy with Moses.... Kendal loves little Winnie, and Jack... Marium. =) On our first day, one of the oprhans Daphne came down with Malaria and our team agreed that we could afford to take some of our support raised and buy her some medicine. It took $10.00 to see her get well. The following day as we arrived to the orphanage, Kendal discovered that her little firend Winnie had also come down with malaria. Good thing we had purchased 5 doses of medicine. =) It was amazing to see in an instant that money and resources was being put to life-changing and life-saving use. I know... at that moment... something changed in my youth team.
We definitely come back exhausted each day... but no complaints. Not one. After the first day of strange smells, dirty living, and different food... these students have come forth shining. It is unbelievable to see them truly serve... with no looking back.
On a Rebecca note:
Yesterday, as the youth and Dana, Jeremiah, and Jon played with the kids.... I had the opportunity to join one of Fount of Mercy's leaders and share with 15 or so widows in the village of Iganga. This moment forever has changed me. What I thought would be an hour of time with these women, turned into four hours of learning who they were, hearing their stories... and briefly sharing mine. They danced with me (seriously... best moment in my life...) and embraced me as one of them. I have never smiled so much and laughed so much. These widows... they have captured my heart. I had a million thoughts running through my head as they shared their husbands died of cancer, aids, war, etc.... and they were left caring for 8, 9, or 10 children... sometimes taking on their brother's kids, or their siblings as well. I was overwhelmed by their journeys and impressed by their strength. I was humbled at how grateful they were to be given a bar of soap and a kilo of sugar. As I handed out these "gifts of encouragement"... they kneeled at my feel in thankfulness. Ah.... I am a changed person. I have so many stories and much to reflect on. It may take me years to unpack the last 5 days.
In closing the Ugandan people are beautiful. They carry themselves with grace and soft spoken mannerisms. They are friendly... undeniably patient... and strength carries their burdens. They are a giving people... and though they have seen much trial and deep pain.. their straight posture and their firm steps reveal their passion for living.
Under grace, Rebecca, Team Leader for the Hillcrest Youth Team