Jinja, Uganda
April 25, 2007

 Dear friends and family,

Another week has begun in Jinja.  Actually, I meant to get this out on Monday but was in Kampala all day so wasn’t able to keep with the “Monday newsletter” plan, and now it’s Tuesday!

Time steadily slips through my fingers and I find myself frantically clinging to each precious memory.  I am remembering something my mom often talks about regarding time, memories and “lasts.” 

In life, we pass milestones and “lasts” of many kinds, often without recognizing it.  Things change, people move on, life happens, and oftentimes, we experience a “last” without even realizing it.  Like the last time a mother reads a bedtime story, pushes the swing, or holds her child who is now grown.  At some point, unbeknownst to her, they entered a new phase, and the “last time” has already come and gone.

I am seeing this with friends/volunteers and babies coming and going here at the baby cottage.  I held one of the babies last week not knowing that when I came in the next day, she would already be gone.  I had coffee with a friend without realizing it was the last before she left for home.

I think this is why the advice of living as if it were your last day on earth is so important.  I know that this is one of the important lessons I needed to learn here.  Life must be lived one moment at a time, day by day.  When we allow ourselves to step back and not actively invest in every minute, life passes us by and we miss chances to impact and be impacted!

Last week, I started thinking about the London tour we have planned and the stark contrast to the life I’m living here.  I think I’ve been here long enough, quite removed from the American way, that the thought of being in the busy, expensive, and fast pace of London is more than I can handle. 

A few weeks ago, we were given charge of a little boy whose mother is in the hospital, soon to give birth.   I don’t know the whole story, but for some reason, there isn’t anyone else to take him in.  As I sat holding this precious, terrified little child, it hit me that there was no way on earth that I could leave these kids and go hang out for a week in London.  At any other time, I would jump at the opportunity to see the amazing sights and historical places, but I know that once I leave here, I will just want to be home with family.  There will be so much to process and think about.   

After much prayer and thought, I went to the British Airways office in Kampala yesterday to see what I could do about my ticket.  The original plan was to fly out of Entebbe on the 10th of May, stay about a week in London, and arrive home on the 18th or 19th.  I was able to change my ticket so that now I will be flying out on the 21st, arriving home on the 23rd.  I am so relieved that I won’t have to “brave” London while in such a fragile emotional state!  ;-) 

Today, we had a meeting to work out a new schedule.  Last week, we were at our most with 17 total volunteers.  We’re now back at about 14, I think.  When there are so many, it’s necessary to have a little more organization as far as volunteer shifts and days off.  I’ve been working with another girl in the Toddler house, teaching basic preschool lessons so I’ve now been permanently scheduled in that room. 

Tonight, I stayed until about 7:30 and helped put the toddlers to bed.  At about 7, the little boys had already eaten, been bathed and were in pajamas, ready for bed.  We all sat on the floor and I read them a few stories.  As I looked around the room, I couldn’t help but think about how these kids have always gone through the bedtime routine in groups.  Never do they get to have a mommy all to themselves to sing, pray with, tuck in, or kiss goodnight.   I honestly feel like my heart is breaking every day—in a good way. 

I finished the story and told the little boys gathered around me that it was time for bed but that I wanted a hug from each of them.  I made sure, as each one came to me, to give them my undivided attention.  One by one, I held each for a minute, then looked into his eyes, and told him that I loved him.  After all were in bed, I went around to each bed and once more told each how much I loved him and that it was time to go to sleep.  Of course, every child wanted just one more hug and kiss.   How could I refuse!?  ;-) 

I want to close with an encouragement to not let any more time pass without determining to live every moment to it’s fullest… No matter how much it might hurt!  The joy and pain is so much more intense, but feeling and being alive is so worth it! 

May His strength and peace be with you today.
In His hands, 

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