I am just kind of overwhelmed with all that I saw and the literal shift of my heart towards the children of this mission. I am not confident that I can do the story justice. Or that you will be able to "hear" my true heart on this. I'm a decent writer but not an epic one. And so I am avoiding the need to put this all down into words for you.
I've been home a little more than a week now. I slept ten hours straight just last night, after thinking that my catching up days were finished. I'm feeling better. More clear headed. Wandering around the house like I'm lost less often. So let me begin.....somewhere. Where do I even start? Lord help me to get this right....
So many of you donated towards the purchase of new tables, chairs and bedding for the kids. Let me begin there by saying THANK YOU for your help and by explaining what we were actually able to accomplish.
The bedding turned out to be a little complicated and we did not go through with this. The children and volunteers have just moved into the new compound where they are at now. Bunk bed sets are still being repaired and moved over from the old home, a tedious process in Uganda. The kids are sleeping three to a bed for now with some mattresses on the floor. There was no way to get a good handle on what was needed with the sleeping arrangements being in such disarray. These sweet girls were sleeping five to HALF a mattress and one blanket! They were all giggling and laughing with no complaints.
Once the beds are all in place we will see who needs what and go from there.
We DID go ahead with the building, sanding and painting of tables and benches and chairs. It took all week, but they were completed and moved in on my very last day there. The kids went wild with excitement like we were moving in an indoor water park.
With the remaining money you donated we met several pressing needs. It was hard to choose where to start as there were so many things that were calling for attention.
I started with some attention to hygiene. There were many sick children at the home, most of them having colds which they refer to as "flu". Took me a while to get that figured out. Runny noses were as common as dirty feet and I observed that there was absolutely no hand washing going on. So we bought two jerrycans with taps and stands. One is for outside the toilet and the other is for where the children line up to eat....with their hands. There is no toilet paper anywhere in sight and for now I really don't want to know what the process is for that. But clean hands before they begin channeling the food into their mouths seemed like a good place to start. This should at least cut down on some of the "flu" that seems to travel from one body to the next so easily.
We also purchased new school shoes for the teens who are presently attending a private school; a thirty minute walk for them early in the morning and then after 5pm in the afternoon to return home. They all needed shoes and they have to have a specific color and kind for school.
I also went to a textbook store in Kampala and loaded up on one textbook for each subject for each grade. They will have to share for now, but they can use these to study with at the home. I added reams of paper, folders, and other supplies to complete the purchase. Happy does not begin to describe how they felt about these gifts. Some were dancing while others just sat and ran their hand over the books in awe. They kept thanking me and pumping my hand and I kept explaining over and over how the gifts weren't from me but from my many friends who pitched in to bless them. They understood and they smiled and continued to pump my hand with joy and gratefulness.
Let's see....what else did we accomplish?
I used some of your donations to buy a new set of clothes for 20 kids who really needed an upgrade. Nothing fancy but very practical and nice.
I also bought bins for the loads of school supplies I brought with me which were all donated by YOU, as well as ten pair of sandals for some little feet who had none. Add to that a random assortment of baby rattles and toys for the baby house. I could not stand to watch them sit without a thing to play with for one more minute. They get loads of entertainment from the people going in and out of the house on different errands and the volunteers talk and sing and dance for them. But much of their time is spent sitting on a mattress on the floor waiting for their next meal. Toys were in order.
I cannot even begin to express how much of my heart I left in Uganda. I want you to know how grateful I am for every prayer and every dollar that you invested in these beautiful children. These are YOUR children now. I went and have returned to represent them and to call upon you to get ready. In a week, maybe two, I will be publishing a website where each of these 73 children will be available for sponsorship. For 20 dollars a month you can choose a specific child to be yours. You can correspond with them and they will write to you four to six times a year. The monthly donation will go so far in improving the life of your child with more nutritious meals, clean water, an education, new clothes, and more consistent medical care.
So much more to tell you and the website will be full of information and answers to your questions. I am looking for 73 people to step up and help.
I remember my very first night at the home. The children had been called together for "evening prayers". I expected a quick bedtime gathering with a short, memorized prayer for safety and sweet dreams. Instead I was swept into THE most heartfelt worship service and spirit filled time of earnest prayer that I have ever seen come from children. Especially children who have so little.
I was planning to take all week to check things out, keep my ear to the wall and decide if this place, these children, would be "eligible" for a sponsor program. It didn't take all week. I decided that night as I sat in the corner weeping......overcome by the very presence of God.....ashamed at myself for having taken so long to respond to their cries for help. And I said it out loud.....not that anyone could hear me. No one was paying the least bit of attention to me as they danced and sang with an energy that was exhausting yet spine tingling to watch. I said it out loud......"Church, it's time. Way past time to step up and act on this."
The church means me and it means you.
I dare you to ask Him if He has one of these children just for you.