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Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Ugandan fairytale

We're HERE in the beautiful land of Uganda!  Miss Esther is doing so fabulous, less drugged, happy to see us!  She and Sebastian hit it off instantaneously and not to be an american-adoptive-special-needs-mom-stereotype.....but I just had to give her oral sensory chew toys.  Which she LOVED!  She figured out how to blow the whistle on the one right away, which reminded me of little Ari whose good-bye gesture was to blow a whistle, wait for everyone to look at him, then laugh hysterically.  As the youngest of 15, he doesn't have a hard time accepting that his purpose in life is to receive and give love.
We had some supernatural sleep Friday night and I woke up Saturday morning feeling quite refreshed.  (miraculous, as I have a serious Princess-and-the-pea sleep complex usually)  Since Brad will just be here a few short days and we have back to back to back appointments this week this would be his only day to go to Jinja, which everyone said we had to visit, a town a couple hours away from Kampala.  So I called our missionary friend for a driver recommendation, rolled the men folk out of bed (we were conveniently all still dressed in our plane clothes) and off to Jinja we went with just a vague idea of what we were going to do.

One of my prayers when we started to adopt Esther was to keep my heart on God's chest to listen for any ministry opportunities along the way.  Because God tends to do a zillion things in one situation, I wanted to  keep my eyes and ears open to what He was up to.  On our first trip here we met a couple on the plane who is doing some fabulous work with a ministry called Sixty Feet.  There are boys "prisons" here where boys are sent on fake charges, maybe mom's boyfriend doesn't want to take care of the child, maybe they are sent to beg then arrested for begging, etc. and then live in these horrible conditions.  Sixty Feet is seeking to rescue and restore these children, and their website is worth checking out.  Brad and I have enough experience visiting our local jail and prison in good old Iowa to know that HOPE is a much needed commodity in such places.

So I thought I would experiment with technology during the drive and try to text my new friend I met last time from the cell phone to let her know we were back in Uganda and to see if we could get together later on, maybe after Brad left.  But all I could manage to do was send a blank text, so I gave up on that idea.  Through much prayer and wrong turns though, we ended up in Jinja which is where Katie Davis has her ministry.  Those unaware, Kisses from Katie has become quite a well known book, about how this girl graduates from high school, goes to Uganda, and gets radically called to serve the children there.  Rather than go to college and do the American Dream thing, she adopts 13 Ugandan girls, some with special needs, whom she home schools and starts an outreach to the community including bible studies, feeding programs, school sponsorship, etc.  My kids read the book and loved it, and seeing as how it was Saturday and lunch time, I figured it would be worth it to stop by so Mommy, Daddy, and Sebastian could tell them we saw what they read.

When we got out of the van who should I see but......a bunch of Sixty Feet people including my friend I fake texted!  They "just so happened" to be visiting Jinja and Katie Davis's ministry too.  And you can see the excitement I had to discover they even had toilet paper with them.  These are my kind of girls.  (and her husband is Brad's kinda guy.  He's a pilot in the Air Force and Brad's team at Rockwell makes some kind of secret government ninja airplane thing-y that this guy actually knows about.  That's all I took away from that conversation anyway....)  By the way, all things toilet related are going to be very important later on in today's stay tuned.

Later Katie and I bonded over the weird phenomena that happens when strangers think your adopted children are "communal children" and try to touch them and it creeps you out.  I remember our Make-a-Wish trip and having to keep our family from being someone else's tourist attraction (and not liking Mr. Stranger on the beach trying to pick up one of my girls to go swimming with....hello pedophile radar going touchy!)  I can hardly imagine the fish bowl Katie has to live in now that her ministry is well known and people drop in all the time.  It took me 7 years to work up to a BLOG for crying out loud, so protective do I feel at times about our family's boundaries.  Katie has Jesus and a fantastic sense of humor, so she and her girls will be fine, but maybe they need security to enforce boundary lines?!  (her main helper there by the way is from.....IOWA.....went to the same school as Brad......something about that farm charm must lend itself well to Africa......)

So after all that we were going to visit a Facebook friend's mother-in-law who runs an orphanage out there, but we had some time to kill so we decided to see the source of the Nile River.  Why not?
For peanuts we had a guy on a row boat take us out to the little island where the Nile River starts and he gave us a most interesting history lesson as well.  He said the people there used to worship a waterfall that was there and make all kinds of nauseating sacrifices to "the gods" on this island, but around 60 years ago "God wiped it out and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached on this island and now everyone worships the Creator of All things including the Nile."  That was worth the trip right there.

Then we went to Redeemer's House Orphanage and met the most amazing woman who has I believe 17 children she cares for.  This woman has an incredible testimony of how God took ashes and made something beautiful, and she is so full of Jesus you can hardly be around her without wanting to fall down and worship.

The kids there were so obviously loved.  I met the boy version of Esther there, nearly identical medical and developmental stuff going on, a particularly tragic past.....and I want him to be my son.  Just a few miracles would need to happen for that to come to pass, so I'm pretty sure God's got something in the works.  We've been talking about this kind of thing for a while anyway.

After all that we were back off to Kampala, but I had the driver stop first to get some jackfruit from a vendor on the street.  This stuff is straight from the Garden of Eden.  So delicious.  However, first-born son was less-than-thrilled.  "Mom, the doctor at the travel clinic clearly said under NO circumstances should we eat food from street vendors.  This fruit is pre-cut and probably full of contaminated bacteria."  Now, do I tell him we hugged orphans all day who are full of TB and coughing all over us?  Or we will be riding boda bodas without helmets or traffic laws of any kind?  Or that Jesus embraced LEPERS for crying out loud?  Or do I understand that he respects authority and rules and finds my blatant disregard for expert advice presumption and not faith?  I chose to keep my mouth shut (the dude won a state competition for a legal team for crying out I really going to win a debate with him anyway?!) but happily sucked down some jackfruit by my own self.  It was the first thing we had eaten all day in all the activities and it was quite tasty.

There was some big soccer game that had just finished up so the streets were crazy going home.  Our driver decided to take a "short cut"and a couple hours bladder was going ballistic. Now I try to keep a fit pelvic floor as much as the next girl, but I really don't think having 7 babies back to back is my issue.  Even as a young child I had to go pee all. the. time.  And God has used it.  Our children's ministry director was found for our church because of a weird potty emergency.  But we were approaching a potty crisis now.

And there were suddenly police checks everywhere, which the driver informed us was because "This is where the opposition leader is hiding out and they are trying to overthrow the government.  They are making lots of arrests."  Awesome.  Can I please pee?!  The crowds in the street were incredible, the police checks making things worse, and I continued to inform everyone that the possibility of my peeing my pants was now turning into a probability.  They said it wasn't safe to just fling the car door open though and go in the street, which appeared to be my only option.  I had Sebastian start singing worship music to try to take my mind off of it, but it's like sleep.  You can't fast certain bodily functions for very long or really bad things happen.  Suddenly a gas station appeared and as I dashed inside I asked for a bathroom.  One girl nodded, the other said NO!  It's under construction.  I looked her in the eye with what I hope was love but may have conveyed a different sentiment, and explained that she was going to either have a wet floor or she would lead me to her pit latrine.  She sighed, shuffled along, and unlocked the door to my well-being at that moment.  I had used a pit latrine earlier in the day and it wasn't quite that magical.  Desperation makes us so appreciative.  Kind of like everyone was appreciative of some of my jackfruit now that they had gone even more hours without nourishment!  What's a little bacteria when you're hungry?!

And this is the week where we begin to finish (we've been hearing 5 weeks as the time frame being kicked around.  Praying for shorter!)  Operation:  Adopt Queen Esther.  Let's break free from those bars shall we?!  Those photos above her crib are our family photos she has been able to look at for the last few weeks.  Can't wait until ALL her siblings can love on her!  Because love multiplies, it doesn't divide.  God's family is big and weird and wonderful and I love being a part of it!  Even if my part sometimes involves being Princess and the PEE!


Kaity said...

I studied abroad in Uganda a few years ago and it's so fun to re-live my experiences through your blog! I also visited the source of the Nile and even got to bungee jump over the river! I also remember jackfruit...not my favorite thing ever. Haha!

Prayers and happy thoughts for the remainder of your trip!

We Are Family said...

You are a GREAT blogger! Love it!!!

The McKinnon Crew said...

Just love this! Love, love, love!