Friday, July 1, 2011

The best day (Thursday….I think)

We left Nariembe guest house, and Kampala this morning, and headed out to Jinja. It was about a two hour drive so we all had a little time to just relax and be still on the bus which was nice.

I had no idea what to expect at Pillars of Hope. Godfrey ministers to street children in his area out of a small warehouse type building. The 50 or so kids are all in some type of school, and all have homes, although many are probably not the best conditions. None of the kids actually live at Pillars, (because there is no where for them to live there) but they all come after school, and during their school breaks. They all eat lunch (porridge and a slice of bread) there everyday, and play, have worship time etc with Godfrey, Peter and David (the guys who run the ministry).

When we arrived, our leader asked if a few of us would get off the bus with some sports and games stuff and play some games with the kids while the rest of the team went to the hotel and checked in and unloaded our luggage. So, Shanna, Rachel, Ellie and I volunteered. We met Godfrey and began to trek towards the building with our sports stuff while the bus and our team prepared to drive away. From literally nowhere, 50 + children came running at the 4 of us at warp speed and hugged us all to the point that we almost all fell down. It was my highlight moment of the trip.

Godfrey shared with us a little about the ministry, and then we went straight in to play mode. We got out balls, jump ropes, bubbles etc and had a blast with those until the new literally wore off. Then we played soccer, keep away, volleyball (with a soccer ball and no net), duck duck goose (which in Africa is the cat chases the rat), a crazy version of red rover that involves singing and kicking, and then each team calls out one person from the other side and they commence to play tug of war in the middle (really fun actually), a train game, simon says, and we did the hokey pokey and turned ourselves around. At this point, the 4 of us were so sweaty and DIRTY and tired…..and we began to wonder where our team was! We just kept playing until they returned (about 2 hours after they left!) and then we were able to take a quick break and eat a sandwich and drink some water. We were exhausted but we had an absolute blast. It was the first time we had a smaller group of kids and only 4 of us! So we were able to really connect with a lot of them. They were some of the sweetest children and they all spoke great English compared to many of the kids we have encountered. I can only attribute that to God and to Godfrey pouring in to their lives, because there is literally nothing else that could explain it.

Once our team got back, they went in the building and Godfrey shared about the ministry with them as he had done for us earlier…..way earlier. J So, guess who was left to play with the kids while he talked! It was fine though because we had formed such relationships with the kids that we didn’t mind in spite of our exhaustion. Alex is one of the older boys in the program and has clearly taken a leadership role with the kids. At one point, I noticed an older boy coming towards our group from across the road. He did not look like so many we have seen who are curious about us and simply want to play. He was older and honestly he looked angry. As he made his way into our crowd, Alex immediately noticed him and went up and asked him (I assume) what he wanted. The boy didn’t respond and just kept walking toward our bus. Alex followed right along with him as he made his way around our bus, and then proceeded to leave the area, clearly not accomplishing whatever it was he set out to do. Although I do not know Alex, I felt so proud of him in that moment for not only looking after the kids, and their place, but also for looking out for me. I thanked him later….it was brief and no one else noticed, but I will never forget.

Once the rest of the team was finished meeting with Godfrey, they came out and played for a little while. Then the kids sang a few songs for us. One was about Africa and how AIDS, and so many other things have left their continent in a terrible state, and without people to help them, they would have no hope. It was such a wonderful song. Alex sang his own song that he wrote about how “someday he will succeed”. I heard more of his story and how he came out of drugs, found God, and a family at Pillars of Hope…..and because of those things, I know he will succeed.

We were then able to bless each child with a new dress or shirt, as well as new shoes. They were all so excited! Then we had to once again say our goodbyes and be on our way. This group of kids touched me more than any other so far. Maybe because we had so much time to just cut loose and play with them. Maybe it is because God just had me right where He wanted me today to do his work. I don’t know, but I know it was awesome and I haven’t played so hard in a long time. I am going to hurt in many places tomorrow, but it will be worth it!

After we left Pillars, we drove straight to Amani Baby Cottage. I know of a few kids who were adopted from there, and it was really just a blessing to be able to see where they came from. I have to be honest and say that I really thought this would be one of the places that would hurt my heart the most, just seeing such tiny ones. But, as Mama Susan took us on a tour of the entire facility, and we met many of the other mamas, and interns from all over the US who were spending the summer there, and ALL of the kids ranging from 6 months to I guess 4 ish, I just had such an overwhelming sense of peace. The only analogy I can think of is that if I was an inspector coming the check out the facility, I would have given them and A+. They are just caring for those babies so well, and they all seem so covered in love. A few are in the process of being adopted, and I am sure more will be, but their goal is first to try to help the families that these kids belong to, and rehabilitate their situations, so that the children can eventually go back to their families.

We all immediately became Aunties, and just blended right in with the kids. I met a little boy named Matthew who is a natural born photographer. I wouldn’t let him take off with my camera, but I let him look through and when he was ready for me to hit the button he would say “ok auntie, go’. He had so much fun.

When it was time for the kids to eat their dinner, I followed the mama who does the cooking from the outdoor kitchen to the indoor kitchen. I asked her if she needed any help and she chuckled a little (not sure why) and immediately said “Yes. Get plates there. I do posho, you do beans.” And so there we went! I laid out the 20 or so plates for the toddler kids and we served it up! I really loved helping her and serving her in that way. I have tried to be very sensitive to the adults who are around us at all the places we visit, because many of them need encouragement and love just as much as the kids do. Sort of like the grandmother who was hanging around at Pillars while we played games. The whole time we were there, she would crack an occasional smile, and then by the end of our time there she was up signing with all of us. That was pretty sweet.

SO, now we are at the King Fisher “Resort”. It is right on the Nile and is a beautiful spot from what I can tell so far in the dark. I made a mistake at Namirembe of mentioning that I thought it was odd that even at night there were no bugs, lizards, anything running around like we would typically see at that time of day at home. I now know that the reason we never saw much there is because they all live here. I have seen all varieties of bugs from huge green praying mantises to flying cockroaches to buzy flying things that I have never seen before and geckos. Not to mention the huge toads (that don’t move when you try to walk down the path, the largest snail I have ever seen, and an entire array of wild kitties who are consistently unhappy with each other. Be careful what you wish for.  I really feel like I am in the middle of the jungle out here. So, I have tucked my mosquito net in tightly all around my mattress, and now I am going to try to go to sleep.




  1. What an interesting and moving day you had gal. When you get home I want to spend some time alone with you so you can tell me in person about your trip. It sounds like not only are you being a blessing to those children but they are a blessing to you. I can't wait to hear more. First thing I do when I pick up my computer is search for your newest blog.
    Prayers coming your way. Love you,

  2. Jenny,
    Chris has been asking me, daily, how you knew you wanted to be a missionary and what you are doing and what time it is there. He feels very connected because of VBS and your momma and daddy teaching his class on Sunday mornings. I am SO thankful for your influence on him. We are praying for you and wish you a safe and fruitful trip.~Lisa