Jinja, Uganda
February 13, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

We arrived safely in Uganda, Africa yesterday morning after about a 9 hour flight to London, 7 hour layover, and 9 hour flight here to Uganda.
I wasn’t expecting it to be like the pictures and movies.  The poverty and filth is everywhere.  As we came off the plane and walked across tarmac, I was overwhelmed by the heat, the smells, and the feeling of no-going-back.  I honestly keep feeling like I’ll wake up from this dream and reach for my coffee! ;-)
We met our driver in front of the small airport and started our 3-hour trip to the orphanage.  As we drove down the road, I couldn’t believe the shacks that people called homes.  I now understand why Americans are considered so wealthy.  Even the “nice” places here are dilapidated and dirty.  Near Kampala, the capital, we hit major traffic.  Vans and taxis crowded their way in, making four lanes on a two lane road.  I had to close my eyes at one point as I saw drivers pulling in their mirrors.  The cars were as close as 6 inches apart.  After Kampala, the roads cleared and we were back up to 70mph.  I was so tired that I fell asleep despite all that there was to see.  I as jolted back awake when Abdullah swerved off to the side of the road.  Apparently, he had been going “too fast” and had to talk his way out of a ticket, I think having Americans in his car helped.
We arrived at the orphanage to about fifteen African women running toward us, screaming, laughing, and hugging everyone.  Now, on to see the kids!

We went into the “preemie room” first.  I had to fight back tears as I walked around the room, stopping at makeshift cribs to hold each baby’s hand.  Some were alert and happy while others looked at me with a blank stare.  I picked up one and walked to the next room to find more babies crying to be held.  I felt like I didn’t have enough to give.  I couldn’t hold them all and I couldn’t stand that I was leaving some out.  I put down the preemie and picked up one of the crying babies.  She had been taking a nap and needed a diaper change.  After changing and holding her awhile, I went back to our room to unpack.
We were taken out to a Chinese restaurant for our welcome dinner.  (I found it very strange that I was in Africa, at a Chinese restaurant…and Beyonce was on the radio.) 
By the end of the night, I couldn’t keep my eyes open...I was exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally.  We came back to the volunteer house to find the power out.  We were ready with our flashlights.  I have to admit that I was a little over-cautious and walked around the room and bathroom with my head-lamp, checking for anything crawling.  I climbed under my mosquito net, sprayed everything down with repellent and wrote for a while in my journal.  We were asleep by 10:30pm.  I’m having a hard time with the jet lag, trying to figure out the time.  I woke up at 4:30 this morning and couldn’t sleep until about 7am.  We got up at 10 and are now in town at an internet café.  We don’t have any food or water back at the volunteer house, since we just got here, so we’re going shopping after this.  While the heat isn’t unbearable, it’s definitely more than I have ever experienced.   I can’t wait to get some bottled water!  The water here isn’t drinkable, so we’ll need to either have boiled or bottled.  And as you can probably imagine…Starbucks is nowhere to be found!  ;-)
I laughed as we passed a gas station and saw the owner sitting out in a lawn chair with a rifle in his lap.  As we passed the local bank this morning I saw another man sitting out with his rifle, so I guess that’s acceptable around here. J
While I didn’t expect all the luxury of home, I honestly didn’t expect the Africa that you see in National Geographic.  Walking down the street, you’ll see toddlers out playing in the dirt, women washing clothing in basins, a man pushing a banana-laden bicycle, and dirt…red clay everywhere. 
God is giving me so much grace.  I am able to deal with things I couldn’t have handled back home.  This is quite the experience.  To be honest, the thought of three months of this is hard, but I know that everything takes time for adjustment.
Anyway, I have to go.  I’ll write more soon.  Please excuse my grammatical errors, rambling or incomplete sentences, and whatever else.  I am way too tired to think straight!
Thank you all for your prayers, gifts, letters, and support.  I love and miss you all more than I could ever express.  Feel free to write and tell me how things are going back home.
In His hands,


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