We enter the gates of a much quieter project. All the children have stayed home as they are on holiday for New Years Day. All the children have stayed home except for our sponsor children and their mothers. We exit the bus reaching out to the hands of the little ones waiting for us. Immediately, I run over to Adam’s mom to give her a huge hug. We sit and chat for awhile while others disperse around the project to play with their children. I ask about the kids and school. She tells me about the goat they bought with money I sent through Compassion for Christmas. She also tells me that the goat has had twins. What a blessing! Soon we are called in for tea and all the children and the mother’s join us. Coloring pages and markers are spread out across the table. Children are engaged in works of art while the team members and mothers are engaged in conversation. The room is filled with laughter and joy. I ask Adam’s mother to provide me with all the names and ages of her children. There are eight of them and they are all growing so quickly. Shortly, it is time to load the bus and we are on our way to home visits.
I exit the bus, and I am immediately greeted my four smiling faces and the sounds of one large goat and two baby goats. Mama Adam guides me to the front entry way and I am embraced by her eldest daughter, only one year younger than myself. This is my first time meeting her. She has long, beautiful, braided hair and she is accompanied by her daughter Gabby, who is two and has a bad cough. We sit and we catch up on all the things that we had missed out on over the last year. All the children are in school now. Their father is working as a fisherman in Jinja. The eldest daughter is a teacher. I began to share with them all the Luganda, their language, that I had learned in my last three trips. I am pleased to say, they were very impressed. Following, I present Mama Adam with a gift of a necklace as in May she gave my mother a very beautiful Jesus necklace to give to me. She presents me with fuzzy pink slippers that I will absolutely cherish. Often it feels weird, or even wrong to accept gifts from people who have so little. We have to be reminded that we must allow them to love us in the ways that they do and accept so not to offend their kind and giving hearts. The rest of the visit was followed by many polaroids and even more large hugs. We walk back to the project to finish out the day.
We say our goodbyes to the children, ensuring them that we will see them on Wednesday and load the bus for Pastor Fred’s house. When we arrive we are greeted by Pastor Fred and guided to his house. We enter a beautifully open and breezy room. It is new to all of us as it had been under renovations the last few times we have been around. Margaret, Pastor Fred’s wife, enters the room greeting each and everyone of us. This woman has the kindest heart of anyone that I have ever encountered. We say a prayer for the meal and instead of sitting to eat, Margaret stays serving us until she is asked three times to please sit and take some time to feed herself. I hope that I can grow to be like her, with a heart so full of love and a willingness to serve others first. Their granddaughter Mercy, cute as can be, enters the room and shakes the hand of each guest in the room. This is not something you commonly see in the states and most definitely surprised most of the team. We also met their daughter Grace and their son Annoke. As we finish up dinner, we say our goodbyes and head back to the hotel for our debrief session.
We share many stories that night but one of the most memorable ones was the story that Sue shared. She talked about how the father of her sponsor child fishes for a living. He has been fishing for small fish because he does not have the boat and net required to fish for large fish. This is illegal and if caught by the military, he is seriously beaten. This is something that breaks our hearts. The cost of the appropriate equipment is equivalent $3000 US dollars. If this seems like a lot of money to us, it is an enormous amount to them. He is one of the many that we will keep in our prayers.
It is always an incredible opportunity to meet with your sponsor child’s family in their home. I pray that it is something we never take advantage of and always use the time to strengthen our relationship with them. How grateful we are for their hard-work and commitment of taking such great care of the children that we love so much.
Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is our final day at 512.
As we weave through the streets of Entebbe, the sound of early morning chatter drifts off into the atmosphere. After only a few short minutes, the sound of the project grows louder and louder.
Children laughing, drums beating and hands clapping. Familiar faces appear at the windows. After hopping off the bus we are guided into the church.
Judy and Joanne share a short devotion with the church and it is delivered with such grace. A dance is performed for us and then it is time for lunch. We exit the doors of the church and line up to serve the children lunch. I snap a few good photos of all the children eating together. Following lunch we head back into the church.
The room is emptied leaving only the teens. They are divided by girls and boys, each group taking a seat on opposite sides of the room. This is time set aside for us to talk only with the teens and allow them to be involved in a question and answer period. The first 5 minutes are a little awkward as teens tend to be slightly more shy than the children. They weren’t willing to ask their questions out loud but they open up when we suggest that they write them down on paper. The conversation does an amazing 180 after that and we begin to receive a variety questions. They ask some simple questions but many hard questions.
The simple ones include: Who are your favorite celebrities? Do you use social media? How is the weather in your country? What is your favorite cinema? Who are your best friends?
The hard ones include: Is there HIV/AIDS in the US? Is there rape in your country? Do you celebrate Halloween? Is it right to have a boyfriend and how far should you go? How do you feel about President Trump’s behavior?
We answer the questions as best and honest as we can, infusing then with as much of Jesus’ word as possible. In the end, the girls are incredibly grateful. We pray over them and the question and answer period has come to an end.
While some of us are talking with the teens, the other half of us play with the children. Sue did an amazing job at leading the games. The team taught them a few games and the children taught the team a few games. It was a light and joyful experience.
The day came and went as swiftly as the wind and soon enough the day is over. We say our final goodbyes to the children of 512.