(First of all, I tried uploading pictures, but our internet connection here is insanely slow...so pictures may have to come later...sad...)
Oh man…how to put the past 3 days into one post!!?!
I am in love with this place. I am in LOVE with these people. I’m already frustrated thinking about trying to communicate what it has been like, but I’ll give it a shot…
We arrived in Entebbe on Friday night at around 9 PM and were picked up by Rev. James Adyeri (one of the founders of the Kibbuse school) and our driver for the trip, Elias. James is an incredibly inspiring, humble, godly man and Elias…well, Elias has quickly become one of my favorite people here. They took us to our hotel in Entebbe where we spent the night…
James and Elias drove us all to Kampala (the capital of Uganda) where we did a little shopping and picked up a computer that we’d bought for the Kibbuse school since theirs broke. I was pretty blown away by how crazy busy and chaotic Kampala was. The streets were PACKED full of cars, people, and “boda-bodas” (motorcycles)…and the driving was even crazier. It was like New York City driving on steroids…and with no lanes.
We met Bob and Brenda (missionaries at the Kibbuse school who have arranged our entire trip) for lunch and then we departed to the village of Mityana (Rev. James’ hometown). We got to see James’ home, meet his wife, Ida, who is just a heartwarming woman, and also met his two cows, their pigs, and their chickens. J James and Ida have been living in their current house for 27 years. It is a tiny, tiny 3-room little house with no doors and mold inside. James has been working on building a new house for his family for over 5 years and there is still much to be done…it was one of those moments when you just wanted to write a quick check and tell him it’s done and paid for. The patience of the people here has truly blown me away.
We also got to visit the small local orphanage that currently houses 10 little orphan girls. Once I met them, I was done for. The men went back to the hotel, but I stayed and played with the girls for a couple of hours. They sang songs for me, told me stories, gave me a tour of their home…it was wonderful. I got to join them for praise and worship and prayers, and was so struck by the fact that these 10 little girls, whose parents have ALL died, are growing with very little of what the world would consider valuable, but they are growing up with THE thing that matters most – a love for God. And there is true and lasting joy in their lives because of it.
I woke up this morning to two very exciting things:
1. There was no running water or electricity in our hotel (which definitely made getting ready quick!)
2. Matt and Amy had arrived!!! I have been so excited to see them and it was just great to see their faces again. Our team is now complete!
We went to two church services today – one at the local Anglican church and one at the local Pentecostal church. You want to talk about two polar opposite church experiences! At both services, we were asked to go to the front and individually introduce ourselves and “bring greetings” and Bobby gave the lesson at both services (with Rev. James translating). One of my favorite things is when they sing a song that we know but they sing them in their native language while we sing them in ours…such an awesome picture of unity. We were so warmly welcomed at both services. They called us their “brothers and sisters”, which I personally loved…because we are truly FAMILY! I was excited to see the 10 orphan girls I’d spent yesterday with at the Pentecostal service…they make my heart so full. I also just loved how simple these churches were. There were no fancy sound systems or slideshows, but the churches were full and the people were worshipping God with all of their hearts.
This afternoon we traveled to Niyamarwa. The men in our group are staying in a nearby town so they went on, while Bob and Brenda took Matt, Amy, and I on to the Kibbuse school! We arrived right before dark and got to meet a few of the students. We went to the “Faith House” on campus where the cook (Timothy) had prepared an unbelievable meal for us. The food here is definitely different, but I’m developing a taste for it quickly. Two of my favorite things have been “matoke”, which is like this steamed banana mush thing (I know…sounds awful) and “chipate”, which is this like this bread/pancake/tortilla type thing.
After dinner, we were taken to our rooms. We found out that the students (along with Bob and Brenda) have been working on and preparing our rooms for week in advance. How could you possibly not feel so welcomed by these people?! Our rooms are great…mine is right between Matt and Amy’s and Madame Hope’s (who is the “dorm mom”). She is one of the most joyful women I’ve ever met. I can’t wait to get to know her better.
DAY 3: David, Lonnie, and Bobby drove in this morning, and the day started with a chapel service with the students at Kibbuse. Bobby spoke at the service and once again, we gave our individual introductions and greetings. One super fun part of the service was when they took up the offering. Some students had no money to give so they offered food to be auctioned off (with the payment going to the offering plate). Two mangos and a sugar cane were auctioned off…there was definitely some friendly competition that went down. And whoever won the bid always ended up giving the prize to their competitor. There was a lot of fun and a lot of laughter. That’s one thing I’ve immediately noticed…they laugh all the time and about anything. I love it. There is so much joy here.
After chapel, we were given a tour of the Kibbuse campus. And the whole way we got to hear from James and Bob praises for the things God has done and dreams about what is to come. They have so much vision and so much faith.
After having some lunch, the rest of the group left for some meetings with some local government leaders while Matt, Amy, and I stayed behind. We then spent the afternoon playing futbol and netball with the students and the village children and then had a couple of students lead us around the village. As we started walking the streets (they were pretty packed with people), you would’ve thought we all had three heads with the way people were staring at us…it’s just so rare for them to see “mizungos” (white people) walking the streets in their village. Every person we met, though, was just so kind and welcoming. As we were walking, we started picking up quite a following of village children and soon had a good 25-30 kids with us. Spending time with them was literally just a piece of heaven. They held our hands, we skipped down the road, we sang songs, we laughed…these children have completely stolen my heart. I’m already dreading leaving them.
After we got back to the school, I decided it was time for a shower, which was quite an interesting experience. First of all, you can just kiss hot water goodbye here. You’re going to be showering in cold water. But what made my experience even more great was that I had (unknowingly) decided to shower at the same time they were pumping water, so I literally would be in the shower and the water would just stop for 2-3 minutes, then it would start dripping (which I took full advantage of) then it would come out like normal for about 30 seconds and then turn off again. So half an hour later, I was finished with my shower…haha.
Timothy prepared dinner for Matt, Amy, and I, and we convinced him to actually sit down and join us for our meal tonight! Timothy is quickly becoming one of my favorite people here. He is just so humble and kind and has the true heart of a servant. We gave him the night off on the dishes, which was a nice treat for all of us! J
What an amazing day.
It’s kind of surreal thinking about everything that has happened in the past 3 days. For years I have dreamed about coming to this place. And things I’ve only dreamed about I have now experienced and seen with my own eyes. These people have stolen my heart. They have pure joy, strong faith, genuine love, and are tireless servants. They love without pretense. They don’t make assumptions or pass judgment. They love you without even knowing you. They make you feel genuinely accepted and cared for. I have always believed it in theory, but now I am truly experiencing this truth: I need Africa more than Africa needs me. There are so many things about these people that I desire and that I envy. I want to love like they love. I want the patience that they have. I want just a portion of their joy. God has much to show me and teach me through the people of Uganda. I wonder how in the world He plans on using these few people from the US for His plans and purposes here. What an unbelievable gift to be able to join God on His mission in this world.