Friday, December 30, 2011 8:30pm
Greetings from Uganda!
Our team made it here safely and we are all attempting to get over our jet lag from the long journey here.Â We are exhausted, and yet thrilled to be here.Â Many of us have had giddy moments where we have exclaimed â€œIâ€™m in Africa! I canâ€™t believe I am in Africa!â€Â Itâ€™s inspiring to hear the stories of team members who, like me, have felt called for many years to come to Africa.Â It feels like the fulfillment of a dream. This trip is also special because I am with some of my closest friends who have fallen in love with Uganda. I canâ€™t wait to see this special place that is so dear to their hearts.
We arrived late Thursday night into Entebbe and stayed at a nearby hotel for the night.Â I had my first experience sleeping in a mosquito net.Â I must admit that I had flashbacks to my childhood canopy bed.Â Though it wasnâ€™t as niceâ€”or pink.Â This was also our first taste of accommodations being very different than those in the states.Â What might seem like a â€œrun downâ€ hotel in the states is considered a place of luxury here.Â So we gave thanks for where we were staying.
We woke up in the morning and set out on our 2 hour drive from Entebbe to Jinja.Â Driving through parts of Kampala, the drive gave us a quick snapshot of both urban and rural life.Â The landscape is beautiful.Â Green, lush hills and trees make for a beautiful background to these beautiful people.Â As I looked at the storefrontsâ€”often times run-down sheds that may also serve as the familyâ€™s home-- it felt like I was watching a movie or something.Â In some ways things are how I expected them to be.Â Yet itâ€™s shocking and humbling when I try to comprehend that this is reality for many people.Â There are soooo many living in great need here.Â And I have been told that we havenâ€™t begun to see the areas with the greatest need.
Upon arrival at the Children of Grace headquarters in Jinja, we were greeted by the Ugandan staffÂ there.Â This was quite the welcome!Â We were met with smiles and hugs and cheers.Â It felt like a family reunion (the good kind of reunionâ€¦not the awkward kindâ€¦).Â For some people on our US team, they have traveled to COG many times before, so for them they were being reunited with old friends.
We spent the day getting to know the staff there and beginning our training time.Â Their cook, Bonnie, is lovely and she made us delicious meals.Â The first consisted of beans, rice, collard greens, and pineapple.Â I got the chance to meet her three daughters who are beautiful.Â One of my friends had been there 6 months ago and brought a few CDs of mine to give as gifts.Â Bonnie was one of the recipients.Â I was surprised to learn that she and her family listen to my CD all the time her daughters have memorized much of it. I got the chance to sign a few of the songs with her daughter, Nancy.Â Check out the video!Â I was so honored that I almost cried.Â Crazy to think that people in Africa have been listening to my music!
Tonight we are looking forward to some sleep and my eyes are getting very heavy.Â So Iâ€™m signing offâ€¦
Saturday, December 31, 2011
We got a great night of sleep right now and for the most part I am feeling refreshed.Â We are about to eat breakfast, meet up with the rest of the team, and then head to camp.Â The next two days will be spent in training, and then the kids come on Monday for our week long camp.Â The week will be a combination of health education, sex education, decision making skills, Bible study, games, worship, and relationship building.Â About 80 sponsored kids have been invited to come.Â These children are all AIDS orphans, having lost one or both parents to this epidemic.Â We get to partner with the Ugandan staff here and support what they are doing.Â Many of them work as Child Mentors all year for these kids, so in addition to building our own relationships with the kids, we want to encourage their relationships since they are the ones doing the long term work here.
We will be without internet for most of the week, so I will try to update when I can.Â Thank you sooo much for your prayers!Â Here are some specific prayer requests:
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Health: We are all lacking energy and I woke up with a sore throat today.Â Pray that we will be strengthened so that we can give 100% in loving these kids.
-Â Â Â Â Â Â That we would love courageously
-Â Â Â Â Â Â That we would have servant hearts towards each other, the staff here, and the kids
-Â Â Â Â Â Â That these kids would be met with hope as they learn about Jesus