Jinja, Uganda
February 18, 2007

Hey Dad,

...You made me cry when you said that I didn’t show up for breakfast.  :o)
Crying in the middle of a busy and crowded internet café is not cool! ;)

Thanks for the great update. Yes, I figured that something went wrong.  [[[Wes tried calling and calling - had a wrong number]]] I stayed awake until about 10:45, and then I figured that nothing was going to come through.   I put 42,000 shillings (about $25 = about 40 minutes) on the phone, just is case we needed to make a quick call. Because incoming calls are free, we were going to set up a call schedule and only have people call us....

... Sorry! I really wanted to talk to you guys. I’ll figure something out and let you know.

We had a great day yesterday! Joy and I went along with three of the other girls to Bujagali falls, which is part of the Nile. Michal decided to hang out at home.

The five of us crammed into a taxi, which made every car I’ve ever been in, seem like a new BMW! There were many times when I thought the car would actually fall apart…literally! As I’m sure you experienced in Liberia, the roads are absolutely horrid! The ruts and potholes are far too deep for how fast they’re driving. The red dust flies up and covers everything as they swerve back and forth to miss motorists and pedestrians. We were alternately laughing, coughing, and covering screams. :-)   We took a little ride down the Nile in a rickety boat that was straight out of National Geographic. Honestly, you would laugh if you saw it…no, actually you would ask if I was trying to get myself killed! <grin>

In the evening, Danyne [[[owner of the orphanage]]], Holly, and Debbie, three of the women who run Amani, came over for a BBQ. They brought meat and we, the volunteers, provided the side dishes. It was really fun to have a relaxed time of fellowship. A local missionary family, and Siouxanne, the orphanage nurse, came as well. (There seem to be too many commas ;-))

The power stayed on longer than we expected, for which we were thankful. It went out at about 8pm, so we ate dessert and cleaned up by candlelight.

I told mom a little about the preemie we just got it. Baby Elizabeth is about three weeks old. She weighed in at about three pounds and is just as sweet as can be! I was in the right place at the right time, and got to be the one to take her to the clinic to be tested for HIV. Julie and Elizabeth, both volunteers, took two of the other kids.

This clinic was a lot nicer than the one we went in last week, which was a relief since we had to wait for so long. They tested baby Rachel first.

Rachel is a 5-pound preemie who was abandoned by her mother. To test, they had to manually prick her tiny finger with a sterile needle, and then squeeze out enough blood for a few tests. She cried so much. Baby Elizabeth was wrapped up tight, but I had to unwrap her enough to find her finger. It was too small, so they had to prick…no, stab, her heel. He had to squeeze her heel so much that I thought he would crush it! He finally finished the tests and it was time for the next child. Julie brought him in but didn’t think she could handle the blood, so I held him and comforted him while they took blood samples.

We made it through the whole ordeal and took the kids back to the orphanage. 

We have 9 girls volunteering right now, including us. Here’s how it works.  We each commit to two full days, 8-5, each week. On the other 4 days, we sign up for shifts in different rooms. So, we can be at the orphanage every day, all day if we wanted, but we have to commit to be in a certain place at a certain time on each day. Last week, I was scheduled to be in the Preemie room on Tuesday, and Baby room 1 on Friday. Then I took the afternoon shift in the toddler room on Wednesday, the afternoon shift in Baby room 2 on Thursday and random shifts on the other days. When we aren’t working, we take a baby to town, back to our rooms to play, or on a walk. It’s very fun!

I like to take the afternoon shifts so that I can read in the morning and walk to town to check mail. The afternoon shift entails getting the babies up from their naps, taking them all outside and reading books, playing, watching to make sure they don’t get into trouble or eat anything they’re not supposed to, and just basically hold as many as possible. Sometimes, I am holding one in each arm, one in my lap, and one is lying on my feet. :o)  We feed them dinner at about 5:30, and then they all get baths. So, I am usually done there by about 7:30pm. I go back to the volunteer house to have dinner, read, take a shower, or whatever. We are usually asleep by 9.

So, that’s my day. :o)   I will write more later. I have signed up to feed the preemies their lunch bottles today, so I need to get back to the orphanage. I love and miss you all.  Please kiss everyone for me and tell Hannah that I’m sorry I don’t have more time to write her.

In His hands,

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