Jinja, Uganda
March 28, 2008

Dear friends and family, 

Over a month has passed since I arrived here in Jinja…a month full of joy, pain, love, and letting go.  To let go is always beyond my strength - but in my weakness, He is strong.  So many times, I have found myself face to face with something so out of my comfort zone or beyond anything I’ve ever experienced that I have no idea how to react. 

My only thought is “Why, God, have you blessed me so much!?”

A girl showed up on our doorstep last week seeking help because the rats were coming and eating her hands at night.  Why her, and not me?

Another little girl walks over an hour, barefoot, to school every morning, which is actually common for many.  Why her, and not me?

Why is Sophia, a little girl at Amani, suffering through bleeding rashes because of her AIDS?  Why has God blessed me with health and strength?

The thought of it all takes my breath away.

I’ve been at Amani most days, from midday until all of the kids are in bed.  While the kids at Amani definitely have my heart, I have been blessed by so many opportunities with other orphanages/organizations.  This past week, Julie, Josh, and I had the privilege of visiting an orphanage about an hour or so away.  We were welcomed with open arms and informed that we were the first white people to visit the village in THIRTY years!

All the kids wanted to do was touch my skin and hair.  They pulled me down to the ground, content to just sit and smile at me.  My lap was full and the kids continued to press around me.  I was overwhelmed by the need, but felt a strange sense of peace and satisfaction in their simple joy.

When it was time for lunch, I walked with the kids down the dirt path where everyone gathered around to receive a cup of porridge and a small baked cracker.  I sat down on the ground with the Ugandan women and they immediately started whispering and staring at me.  For some reason, I think the fact that I sat right down on the dirt beside them kind of caught them off guard, as if they weren’t really sure how to take this “Mzungo.” 

One of the women handed me her baby and I thanked her profusely for the honor of holding the child…she simply smiled.  They then insisted on feeding us lunch.  I was very conscious of the fact that I was being evaluated and so, by the time their offering was set before us, I had purposed that I would eat whatever I was given, which turned out to be a very hot, thick porridge, cassava, and nuts.  It didn’t taste fabulous, but I definitely was grateful that it wasn’t something worse!  ;-)

As we prepared to leave, they said that they had a small presentation for us.  We were ushered to benches and the women danced a traditional dance for us.  The songs were all in Lugandan, but translated, they were saying something about the white person finally coming to their village.  After they finished their dance and songs, they gave us each gifts.  Julie was handed a very large basket of avocados.  Josh was given some pieces of art and some large woven mats.  A woman walked towards me, beaming, with a chicken in her arms.  Once again, I choked back any hint of shock, and took the live animal as if I were given such a gift every day.  I honestly couldn’t hold back laughter, which seemed to please them! 


Our motorcycles arrived to take us back to the taxi park.  We strapped the mats to the back, Julie climbed on with her avocados, and I got on the back of the motorcycle, still cradling my chicken.  We survived the 20 minute ride on the motorcycle, and then spent the next hour and a half in a crowded van.  The last leg of the journey, after reaching Jinja, was another 20 minute motorcycle ride out to our home in Bukaya, the chicken all the while in my lap.

Once home, I was enlisted by our house girl to cut its head off.   Apparently, since I was the one to carry it all that way, I also had to kill it.  Needless to say, chicken doesn’t seem very appealing to me for the time being.

We are going back to the village on Sunday to bring some food and gifts. Please pray that God would give us wisdom in helping these kids.  It often seems that the easiest solution is food or money, but these things are so temporary.  My time here is short and I feel a sense of urgency to help and give as much as I can before I have to go home.

On another note, please be in prayer for the staff and volunteers at Amani.  Relationships and communication don’t always go as smoothly as they ought.  Please pray that God would grace us all with love and understanding.  Sometimes, when volunteers come in with great ideas and plans, all with the most sincere of intentions, things can be misunderstood as an attack on the current system, rather than fresh ideas.  Also, we as volunteers need to learn patience and understanding towards those in authority and those around us.  God has given us a great gift in being able to all serve together here.  My prayer is that we wouldn’t get sidetracked by the insignificant things.

Thank you so much for the honor of sharing my heart with you.  I’m humbled by the life God has given me.  Much love and many blessings to you and your families. 

In His strength,
Kathryn

HERE ARE PHOTOS OF THAT VISIT

 

 

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