Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On to Tororo

7 July, 2011

I awoke with some stomach issues. Feeling like that worried me, knowing that it was a traveling day. John was much more like himself today. I think he is finally over his jet lag.

Prayer partners are assigned for each day of the trip, and John and I felt as though we were walking on holy ground when we came upon the group shown above as they were praying for today.

We left Lubowa Gardens and Saphan and Alex today, piling into three vans –one for luggage and two for passengers. The vans coming to get us had started out at 4 am from Tororo, and we started back around 11. We stopped at Chicken on a Stick for lunch –quite an experience for everyone, even those who knew what to expect. John kept saying, “Golly Ned, Golly Ned!” The kids rush from all sides, surrounding the van, reaching in, holding their “offerings” of chicken, beef, goat, and gizzards in our faces. The chicken actually tasted delicious, even though I didn’t start the day out feeling well.

Further along the road the van ahead of us had a blowout! We heard a loud “Pop!” and they pulled over to the side, but not completely off the road. We pulled in off the road behind them. As some of us were exiting the van some loud honking came from the top of the hill behind us and the sight and smell of burning rubber filled the air. Two semi trucks were barreling down the hill side-by-side, headed straight for the other van. When they were even with us the semi in the outer lane pulled ahead and the one nearest us was able to swerve around. Black skid marks ended even with our van! (you can see them in the photo below)

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for protecting us all! God heard the prayers of this morning's prayer partners, and of all of those at home who were praying for us, too!

We were all amazed how quickly the drivers changed the van’s tire, and we were soon on the road again!

We stopped to see baboons and take pictures of them along the highway, then continued on and arrived at the Prime Hotel around 5.

Not long after the baboons we could see our landmark, Tororo Rock, in the distance. Here is how it looks from the Prime Hotel.

We were warmly greeted by the staff, many of whom recognized us. It was great seeing Joy, one of the managers who was so helpful with the teacher conference last year!

I also got acquainted with another manager, Susan, who was in the UK when we were here last year. She was an interesting person to talk to. She told me of her concern for protecting her children now that she’s back in Uganda. She intends to get her baby girl's ears pierced soon, because child traffickers apparently want girls without pierced ears. They also want boys who haven’t been circumcised, so many Ugandans circumcise their boys simply to protect them from child traffickers. Of course circumcision isn’t immediately observable, so according to Susan, sometimes boys are taken and then abandoned in the jungle! It is so sad to hear how the ugly business of child trafficking affects innocent children and their families.

Pastor Ruth came to meet us at the hotel later. It was amazing seeing her smile and feeling her hug! Kermit and Bryan also came down from Mbale to join us. We got to hear what they have been doing all week. They are getting things arranged at King’s Primary School for the electrical project.

8 July, 2011

What a great night’s sleep! I awoke feeling rested and with time to not only shower and dress, but also to do some laundry (in a wash basin on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor, of course).

Most of the men went to the youth center to hold a men’s conference today. We later learned that it went well and was very successful. One participant traveled from near Nairobi to attend! Many came from remote villages, which caused a delay in starting on time.

The women, young men, and John headed to Smile Africa today.

If you have read my blog or followed our ministry before, you probably know that most of the 420 children who attend Smile Africa are Karamajong street orphans. Pastor Ruth, a Ugandan woman gifted and blessed by God, founded Smile Africa in order to feed, educate, bathe, clothe, and tend to the health of these "throw-away children." Many of them still live on the streets, although "slowly by slowly" as they say in Uganda, more of them are being housed and cared for beyond the daily program.

John and I set up for the First Aid/CPR class right away and he began instructing a group of teachers and staff.

They were very interested and eager to learn. They loved the videos and doing all the hands-on practice. As each group finished we gave them certificates and took a picture of them. They cheered, danced, and hugged us in celebration. I think John wants to teach all his future CPR classes here! Sixteen students were certified in all.

The rest of the team did activities with the children and then played with them and passed out some beautiful, colorful clothing that had been made for them by some lovely women from Arizona. Unfortunately, I didn't get many pictures of this since I was busy helping John. However, the one of the girl dressed in blue, holding out her old clothes says it all!

The children got the bananas we provide weekly with their rice today.

Sadly, they went for 10 months without the food they normally get from “Save My Starving Children.” Anti-government protests held up delivery of the food during that time. Even though they still received some food, their meals lacked the vitamin supplements they normally contain.

It was encouraging to see that the children are being better cared for. African Inland Mission has some young women working there from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota. They have each been there for six month stints. Nearly 50 children are now being sponsored to attend school off campus.

Thirteen girls and fifteen boys live at the school, along with several babies. Pastor Ruth’s mother also lives there, as well as Grace, the cook.

Catherine (the other cook) lives with Pastor Ruth and helps her with Esther. She showed us her knee today, which is badly swollen and very sore. Despite the pain this is causing her, the beautiful smile she always wears hasn’t left her face. John decided tonight that he will give her his support sock to wear. Perhaps it will help.

We learned a new expression from one of the Ugandans travelling back to the hotel with us today. When we all exclaimed at witnessing six people on a boda, he replied “TIA –This is Africa!” We have had some other amazing boda sightings, including one hauling a sofa and two large side chairs, and a couple with coffins on the back.

Mealtime was pretty somber tonight. Those who were here for the first time struggled with emotions after seeing and working among the children of Smile Africa. Even though we can see improvement, many needs still exist, and the children are starving -not only for food, but for love and affection.

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