Saturday, May 7, 2011

July 22 Thursday

We woke up to sweet faces  and a wonderful breakfast. As the children waited for school to start we were able to enjoy some time playing with them. Since it was dark when we arrived the night before, it was the more a wonderful sight. Mama Rebecca and her helpers prepared for us fresh fruit, bananas, eggs , toast , coffee and tea.Very yummy!!!

In the above picture , I believe that Dee Dee is passing out silly bands.   They were a huge hit! So much so that it was difficult to make sure everyone got one.  At one point , we noticed a little boy w/ an armful and others looking a bit sad. We helped get that worked out. :0) And as you can see they liked the camera here as well. Love that little face at the bottom of that shot.

I love their sign!! " I thank God for Canaan and my life. Please feel at home!"
"Before I was born God knew me..... Jer 1 : 5"

 We were able to get a little tour of the girls dorm. As you can see, very simple.There was a bin in the corner with clothes that the children shared and there were very few personal items around. Each room had about 15 children w/ one room parent. Did you notice that there are no pillows on their beds??

Here is my team leader Kari Gibson " Mama Kiki" and one of the room parents.

One of the things that we were going to do today was to break into groups  and go around to the schools different classrooms.I had some things prepared but was having an awful time getting the ipod charged. Some of us missed out getting in w/ a group so we walked down to the school to see where we could jump in. Here is a beautiful sight we saw on the way.

A short walk through the village and we were there. 

As you can see the classrooms were very overcrowded. There were about 150 children in a classroom. I was amazed at how well behaved and respectful the children were and how well the teacher dealt with such a large group. I realize that they had visitors but I do believe that there is something to what I am saying. I was in awe of the classrooms. There was so little in them but so very much in what was. Make sense? There was a chalkboard and posters all over the wall. The posters were homemade and the focused content on them was incredible. I saw very little books and am guessing that most of their learning came from those posters. I was so convicted as I thought of all the things we think we need or we just really want to have in order to  teach our children. Thanks to Dee Dee a fellow team member who was good at journaling our daily events and so kind to share her journal, I can share with you that one child had to bring her baby sister to school with her because both of her parents died and there was no one to watch the baby.  This is just one story ... so many more.  I wish it was easy to scoop them up and give them a home and a family to call their own.

After our time at the school ,it was time for some more fun with the kids.

Friday, April 15, 2011

July 21 Wednesday Canaan Children's Home

After a 3 hour ride , we arrived in Jinja to Canaan Children's Home.  It was already dark outside and we were greeted by (I would guess) about 100 screaming children. We were mobbed by their excitement and it took so long for this tired team to make it off the bus and to our rooms. A member of our team, Dee Dee,wrote," Now, I know how the Jonas Brothers feel."  LOL

I felt so much more at home here at Canaan's. We stayed in dorm buildings and it had a summer camp feel to it.  I was glad to be rooming with Sarah after being separated. Though I was missing Emily who I bonded with those first nights and who was so kind to me. Marge was in another dorm that first night. We were so glad when she came to join us the next day. We were able to room with Ashley and Janette. We all became fast friends!! 

Once we were settled, we went to the dining room where Mama Rebecca, Pastor Isaacs wife, and her 3 cooks served us dinner.They had set the table with real China and were so excited to welcome us w/ a meal.

The food was so refreshing and yummy after our long day. After dinner we went back to our rooms and anxiously got ready for bed. We were exhausted!

Friday, March 11, 2011

July 21 Wednesday Journey to Canaan Children's Home

Since I was sick on this day , I was privileged to have a front window seat on the bus. Here are some shots from the bus as we journeyed from My Fathers House to Canaan Children's Home:
Crazy traffic = some crazy driving 

The truck below filled with cattle and people kept appearing in our travels. For most of us it was shocking sight to see all of those people riding on top of all of those cows. I kept trying to get a good shot of this.

When I saw these people carrying this lumber on the back of a boda boda, I remembered the time Guy David and I  went to Lowes and took our lumber home w/ some coming from the back seat,hanging over our heads and some tied to the outside of the car. We did not have a truck at the time. I thought my husband was crazy and must confess that I was embarrassed as well. Now , I think we were pretty lucky and that my husband was quite resourceful.

I am not sure what this lush green foliage is but I know we passed through a rain forest, a raw sugar cane field, and a tea leaf field.

There are a bunch of dead chickens ( I think they were dead) on the top of this van.

This was a market place we passed.

This guy was loaded down w/ things he had for sale. 

 I wish I would have gotten a picture of our adventure when we stopped at a gas station for a potty break. For some of  the team ,they had their first experience using a squatty potty. For others, we just crossed our legs a little more and prayed for the best.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

July 21 Wednesday My Fathers House

Leaving Return was a hard thing to do!! There were some children crying because we were leaving. I felt so sad, wishing I could have spent the day playing w/ them and lovin on them. Now, we were heading to My Fathers House,a couple of miles down the road. I was so excited to be able to give school supplies to them. I was the most excited about giving them the parachute. Sarah and I had a conversation after I signed up for the trip about how other groups had taken parachutes w/ them to use to play w/ the kids and then have left them there. I was so excited because I had a huge one that I had gotten at a Yard Sale years ago and we had only used it a couple of times. I had decided I would take that w/ me.  Awhile after this decision, we got an email that shared some needs of the places we were going. On My Fathers House list were mainly school supplies and one of the things listed was a parachute. I was so excited and felt like God had given me yet another confirmation that I was truly suppose to go on this trip and He had a plan and a purpose for me. So, with that all said, giving this parachute to My Fathers House was something I was anticipating for months. I felt some sort of connection to this place before I even got there. Oh, how I wish we could have been there longer!!! But our short time there was ever so sweet!!!!
 First, we went to meet Rebecca.I cannot help but think about what Marge had shared during our presentation at church about our trip. Marge talked about what one person can do. The amazing servants we met along our journey were just people who were "one person" w/ a passion and a leading and acted in obedience to the call on their lives to be Jesus' hands and feet in the life of the orphan. To learn more about her story go here to my friend and co leader of this incredible trip ,Kari Gibson's blog.  :0) Also, go here and here to learn more about Rebecca and the ministry of My Father's House.And then please come back though you might want to stay there and hang out.
As we entered Rebecca's home not only were we welcomed so warmly by Rebecca and  the other people that she serves w/  she calls her family but on the walls were  posters  made by the children, welcoming us. We were invited in for some wonderful goodies and were blessed w/ such love and hospitality. Mama Maria served us fresh pineapple and mango juice. After being sick for most of the day and not eating all day , this was so refreshing!! 
One of our unforgettable memories for our team happened here. We asked if we could use her restroom. She then asked, " Will it be a short call or a long call,or how we like to call it an international call?" LOL She had two bathrooms ,one for each of the two. The rest of the trip those were terms we used quite frequently. haha 

After our refreshment , Rebecca asked us to walk to the school w/ her because the children were waiting for us there. So, we walked through the village, which in itself, was such an amazing experience .

 As we were walking , we came across a unique way of filling a pot hole.Never before,have I thought to be thankful for the roads we have here in PA. Usually, I am complaining about them.
I still have not figured out what this is. If anyone knows please let me know!!
Here are just some of the sweet things we saw on our walk.The kids were just so excited to see us . They would run to greet us,usually w/ these excited words, "Mzunga, Mzunga." Then some of the children would grab our hands and walk along w/ us. 

I will never forget when we came upon a bunch of these cows in the road. I must confess that I was scared. Look at the horns on that thing!!!!! 
As we continued walking through the village, we began to hear the most beautiful sound of children singing. I cannot even write this w/ out crying, even now,5 months later.This is the post that hung me right up. How in the world can I describe this??? I can't!!!!! The children were lined up on both sides of the road. We were to walk down the middle to get to the school. I think I can speak for my whole team when I tell you that as soon as I entered and saw their faces close up and heard their precious voices singing" Welcome to Africa" ,the tears just fell down my cheeks.I was completely  overwhelmed w/ such a welcome.  After I shared this story w/ some, they made the comment that they felt like they were treating us like royalty. No, honestly, that is not what it felt like at all. Hebrews 13:2 says ,"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels w/out knowing it."   Romans 12 :10-13 says 
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 
not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 
rejoicing in hope,persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 
contributing to the needs of the saints,
practicing hospitality.
Now, I am no angel but their show of hospitality ministered to me in such a way that I have really evaluated myself in reference to these scriptures. This is one of the ways that Africa has changed me.  The people there really take these scriptures to heart and I experienced this at every place I went.  We have so much to learn from the African people in the way that they love others and put others before themselves.( Well, I know I do. They have so little and give so much of themselves)  This moment will forever be engraved in my mind and will forever be grateful that i got to be part of this. Oh, and it does not stop here.

When we got close to the end of their line, one of the children would come out of the line and take our hands and lead inside of the school  and to our seats. The school was decorated w/ streamers, balloons and a banner and filled w/ sweet praise and worship from these precious children.

 The children led the worship. Their worship leader was  a young girl of about 12 years of age. I don't think I have ever seen someone worship w/ every thing w/ in them before. You could see her love and thankfulness for Jesus all over her face. The children sang from their hearts w/ such passion. Some had tears streaming down their faces.
We found out later that 3 of the girls had been raped a couple weeks before and contracted HIV. There they were praising their Lord w/ grateful hearts and such joy. I am blown away!!! "Oh Lord , may I live my life filled w/ joy and at rest w/ you,always aware of the many blessings that are mine because of you. May I always praise you even in the storms." 
In the middle of our time of worship, it began to rain. It was so loud as it came down on the tin roof. As some of us sat there w/ thoughts of ,"Oh, no it's raining," The kids sang and danced w/ greater joy. We found out that tradition says that if you have  a guest in your home and it rains, it means a blessing. It had not rained there for 3 months and the rainy season had not started yet. The children were so excited and jumped and played in the puddles.

I was able to give out all of the school supplies w/ the children piled all around me filled w/ excitement. It was a special time for me and I could hardly hold back my emotion as I handed Rebecca the parachute!! I hope to return someday and I hope I can spend more time at My Fathers House. The time was short but oh so very sweet!!!! After the rain stopped, we got back on our bus and headed to Canaan Children's Home.