March 13, 2007
Jinja, Uganda

Dear Family and Friends,

It's been one month since we arrived here in Jinja, Uganda.

We have a new baby in the orphanage.  Mary Kuku was living with her mother in prison but after being physically abused, she was brought to ABC.  She is about 4 months old with an adorable face and curly black hair.   Yeah, I'm looking for a way to bring her home. ;-) 

Last Wednesday, before I left for the night, I stopped in the clinic to say goodbye to the nurse and have one last look at the baby.  She asked me if I'd be willing to take Mary up to the medical center to be tested for HIV or malaria. "Would I be willing?"  That's like asking if I'd be willing to go to Starbucks. :-)

I walked her to the clinic, which is a couple blocks away, and held her as drew blood. Praise God, both tests were negative!  I took her back to the orphanage and put her to bed. One of the mamas informed me that "kuku" means "chicken" in Swahili! So, I call her my little Mary Chicken! 

I struggled a lot this past weekend with overwhelming thoughts and conclusions about life and the living of it. At first, my heart was heavy and I couldn't really pinpoint why. When I tried to talk it out with friends, I couldn't even articulate what I was thinking or give a reason for my discouragement.  I poured out my heart to the Lord and asked for His peace and strength.

On Saturday morning, I asked the Lord for a "hug."  I felt so alone, yet in my weakness, He was merciful and showed Himself to me throughout the weekend in ways that took my breath away.

I took Emily and Dan, two from the toddler house, into town for lunch at a local restaurant owned by a wonderful Australian woman.  I let them order everything they wanted and they finished off the meal with chocolate cake.  When I went to pay the bill, Mama Jude wouldn't let me.  She said that this time it was on her.  I left the restaurant in awe of God's love poured out on me through this special woman.  I spent the rest of the day painting the office at the orphanage with Holly, one of the long-term staff members.   Believe me, painting is a great catalyst for good conversations!  And again, I received a "hug" from God, through Holly.

Sunday evening, the power went out unexpectedly. I secretly love these times because, while I can't charge my Ipod or phone, or take a warm shower, we get to light a bunch of candles SO fun! ;-)    Everyone was in Kampala for the day, except me, Julie, and Caitlin, who has Malaria. We were sitting at the table and talking, writing in journals, and listening to music. Julie went back to her room and came out a few minutes later asking that I come to the back.  As I walked to her room, she told me that she had something to give me and that no matter what, I had to accept this because she had scripture to back it up.  I came into a room lit by candles with a chair and basin of water in the middle.  She wanted to wash my feet! She said that if Jesus could do it for his disciples, I HAD to let her do the same for me. Tears came to my eyes as she scrubbed away the dirt, calluses, and paint. She gently massaged my feet and then painted my toenails!

I was so humbled by her love. This picture of service is exactly what God has done for me.

I finally realized that deep in my heart, things were shifting and changing and that this pain I'd been experiencing was only the uprooting of all I've clung so tightly to. There is a joy in surrender which supersedes all things earthly.  The bittersweet death of myself, my plans, and my dreams brings a life in Him which cannot compare to anything I could ever hope for or dream of.

 There is new life, a clean slate, a new perspective, and most of all the comfort in knowing that HE is in control and nothing can interfere with that. I don't have to worry...  He's got me covered! 

I laugh as I look back and remember my girlish fear of Africa and the possibility that God might ask me to go there.  Wherever He leads, I will follow...even if that means Africa!

One more story:  Yesterday evening, I brought baby Tolufina home for the night. She has malaria and was so weak that she could hardly move.  I couldn't bear the thought of leaving her at the orphanage when she was in such a state.  She slept restlessly in my bed, under my mosquito net. At about four this morning, I got up because she was burning up with a fever and her heart was racing.  I brought her out to the dining room and gave her some baby Tylenol.  She sucked down the juice and water I gave her then collapsed back in exhaustion.

I sat with her in my arms and prayed for a miracle.  Within about 20 minutes, her fever started to break and she dozed off. I held her and watched the sun come up.  At about seven, we both went back to bed and she was able to sleep for a couple of hours.  Once again, I praise the Lord for His mighty power and love.   What an honor it was to hold her and witness this miracle. 

Hope all is well. Please let me know how *you* are doing! Thank you for your love and support.

 In His hands,


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