Thursday, June 28, 2012

One Day, 3 Inspirations

As you might notice, in the pictures below I'm wearing the same shirt.  I say that because I just can't relay to you exactly how much "human inspiration" I received that day if it weren't for these 3 pictures.

Let me explain.

 In this picture above, the two women next to me are just incredible.  I recently met Jenny (in the middle). She's here in Uganda adopting her 15th child (yes....15.) Her story is beyond wow....the way God wove together the events in her life. Let me give you a glimpse....she lived in Liberia, post-civil war, in a bombed-out, no electricity town just so she can adopt a sibling group.  She did it again. And again in Uganda. Adopting special needs children without batting an eyelash. And she did it with her "Venezuelan" flair ....Christ's joy just oooooooozzzzeeeesss from this woman. I love her and I've only just begun to know her.  Then there's Colleen, my house mate for a month.  I love how God can use humor as a starting point for a friendship. Before we lived together, I knew little about her. But through her emails, I quickly knew we'd get along.  She's your cool, older sister....hilarious, protective, encouraging, and just a tiny bit crazy.  Oh....and she lives out God's love with everyone.  She's met no stranger, and people flock to her like the 'salmon of Capistrano'.  She uses words like "lamesauce". Really. I love it when Christian women aren't afraid to use their mad vocabulary skills. Colleen, "Frowwr" loves you.

 In this picture above, my family is standing next to a pretty important Ugandan family.  The son, Ben, is a friend of our house mates....he's one cool Ugandan dude.  He took us to meet his parents. His dad was a Colonel in the Ugandan army and his mom is the Director of AWARE, an NGO she started twenty years ago that works with the Karamojo women, helping to educate them with life skills, HIV awareness, and child raising.  She has such passion for the Karamojong women. And it's no great coincidence that the Karamojong children are among the many at the prisons we are currently serving.  To be in their humble, happy home was a blessing.

Last but not least, here is my beautiful friend from home, Kasey. She is currently on her 2nd Visiting Orphans trip (we were on ours together last year).  I love this woman's heart. My family was able to meet with her for dinner IN AFRICA.  That still just blows my mind. Two friends, Africa, pizza at the local muzungu hot spot, and a conversation that consisted mostly of how God's been rockin' our world lately.  I'm proud to know her.

All in all, I must say that Africa has been a bit surprising. I thought I would come here and just pour out 'the love' on people.  And I'm doing that....but I also realize that more than ever, God's love is being poured out on me by simply watching His people be obedient.  That's kinda cool.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Now that I've been here for nearly a month, I'm getting used to the "Ugandan way" of life.  I understand that turning on our stove to cook while the hot water heater is turned on is a big no-no (too many amps....the breaker starts smoking).  I've accepted the fact that my feet will be always be filthy. 
I'm starting to learn roads and shortcuts, and in general, I'm not scared to cross the street experience very similar to the old-school "Frogger". I can say "Ensali laco" to bargain away the "muzungu" price (although sometimes even my bargained price is still too high).   I know how to buy minutes for my phone and which veggie market gives the best produce.  In general, my comfort level is normal now.

I'm still working on getting used to travel though.  It takes forever to get anywhere. Traffic is terrible, especially at 8 and 5. You will almost always see something interesting as you look out the window (50 live chickens hanging upside down on a boda (a motorcycle taxi) or a herd of longhorn cattle walking down the side of the road). The dirt roads are either decent (like picture A)  or terribly steep and full of potholes (picture B). I'm so surprised ALL vehicles aren't 4WD over here. 

picture A
 picture B

It's been 4 weeks and I'm just now getting my bearings  here.  In two days, our house mates will be headed home back to the states.  The Ferrells will continue this journey alone for the remaining time (well....we do have some visitors coming for a week - yea!), and I have a feeling time will fly as Boog gets busy with sponsorship duties, and I hope to ramp up my involvement at the Bwerenga village school.

We hosted Mama Catherine and her wonderful crew last night for dinner. After hearing her testimony & life story, all I can say is, the sometimes difficult "Ugandan way" of life very often is the road to being a bright, shining star for Christ.  I certainly didn't start off on a difficult road in life, but I pray I won't forget the roads of others....and help them even out the potholes when I can.

I certainly won't allow myself to complain much when I return to the states.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Not-Top Chefs....

So food in Uganda is a whole 'notha layer on the slice of an already interesting pie.

There's no drive thrus. You can't get a Sonic drink when it's happy hour. What to serve for lunch is always a question - deli meat & cheese are practically non-existent here unless you pay out the wazoo.  Colleen, thankfully, lived in Uganda for a time and knew her way around some of the spices and fruit prices. Did you know you can buy delicious pineapples for 2,000 shillings?? That's about $.80.  Yeah.

So we've been dishing out some interesting meals for dinner. Some have been a hit - Colleen's beans & rice (yummo!), my chicken strips (fried in Mukwano grease....that means "friendship").  But then there's been some disasters - lemon chicken ....we knew something wasn't right with those green gremlin-lookin' lemons, and some really bad chicken fried rice with pork meat that tasted like feet.  

However, I know that I'm lucky to have great Muzungu-friendly (that's the term for white people!) grocery stores and fresh veggie markets. I've picked out my favorite places to shop! We even have a special vendor lady we named "Babs" who gives us good deals on veggies.

My family is getting used to your non-typical meals, and even my pickiest eater, Sophie, has had to come to terms with her aversions.  

Sophie eating a "Pango" (a mango from a tree!)
 Sitting down for Chipate (yummy) and a traditional Ugandan meal

Colleen & I had the extra bonus of cooking for 22 people when the Sixty Feet team came in last week. We served up the traditional Ugandan meal - beans/rice/guacamole/gnut sauce/sweet potatoes and fried zucchini.

Heck - it was so good, we even started our own catering company!
 G-Nut Sauce....I'm still laughing at the name.

And lastly, to add a last note about livin' life here in Uganda. I'm ALMOST used to line-drying and ironing every. article. of. clothing.   Can you hear me? Almost.

The Girls Having Fun Doing Laundry

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Washing of the Feet

This past week was very busy.  The Sixty Feet team came, and we were constantly going all week doing sponsorship interviews and visiting various organizations. Now that they are back in the states, it's normal work again.  Yesterday, Colleen, Kirby (the Sixty Feet intern), and myself traveled to one of the Remand Centers and helped bathe and clothe the young children there.


What can I say to about that experience, but Amen?  I'm so thankful that God allowed me to be a part of that preciousness.  The Karamojong children are an interesting story.  They live in the bush, and their people are considered second-class citizens.  I'm not sure why exactly (something I hope to gain more knowledge about this summer), but they stay in a separate area in the already grim facilities.  To see children as young as 2 and 3 in the Remand Home is...well, there's no words. They are usually brought out onto the streets by their older siblings, escaping their homes & villages in search of better treatment. The police then round them up for begging.  It's interesting because from one talk I had with a social worker there, the children actually see living on the streets as better.  They can get access to better foods by begging, and have more food throughout the day as opposed to their homes or the Remand Center.

Anyway, I digress.  So the Karamojong children had not been bathed in a week or more. They were dirty, rags for clothes, and the emptiness of their living conditions only worsened the whole sight at first. I was trying my best to smile as we were shown into the pit latrines where the bathing would take place....not a wonderful sight nor smell.  But instantly, with the first bath given to a little boy no older than 5, I was fighting back tears.  I was sad to see these children, who need a home, need a parent, need love, need hope, need the basics of life.....but oh my. To see them smile when we scrubbed behind their ears or spent time soaping their feet. Amazing.There were protruding bellies, skin rashes/diseases, open wounds....but we just bathed. And soaped. And bathed again....and laughed as they slung the cold water on themselves, smiling at the fun, just like any child would. They were dried and were rubbed down with oil (shined up, as we say!) ....we took extra time to give them a good massage while we rubbed the oil, they seemed to enjoy the attention. ...then their fresh bodies were given a new set of clothes that had been donated by the Sixty Feet group members.  Gender or size of clothes made no difference. There were boys wearing pink. Girls wearing boy t-shirts.  Underwear 2 sizes too big, but it didn't matter. They had fresh clothes.....for the first time in a while.

I  don't know what will happen to those kiddos. They are in the government's hands.  I am sure they will be taken back to their villages eventually, but as I have learned, they will probably be back on the streets soon.

I write this post not to show what we did. We did nothing.  But to not tell this precious story, would be wrong. Praise be to our God who sustains the workers who do these sort of things everyday.  

PS. Because I have a hard time posting blogs without pictures, here are a few from this past week. Signs are some of the funn-ee-est things here in Kampala. The English is misused and sometimes the point of the signs are hilarious. I loved this one at the Nile River.

 Here's a family pic at the Source (Foot 1) of the Nile River.
 And finally, here's our "fathers" on Father's Day with their gifts on...the Ugandan FUFA jersery.
That's Daniel, our driver. Lucas, the Jobe daddy. And of course, Boog daddy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Visit to Amazima

So many people are now familiar with Katie Davis's story and her ministry, Amazima, in Jinja.  Her story, even now, convinces me that God uses any heart that is humble and willing, no matter what age, color, or gender.  This past weekend, we were able to attend the Saturday feeding program and get to know the organization a little more.  Katie sat down with us as her staff member, Brad, explained Amazima a little more in depth....which was good. The Sixty Feet team members there were encouraged by just hearing about the positive impact Amazima has made in their community.

We were able to stay for a dance-filled worship and bible lesson, and my kiddos got to play their hearts out with the 500+ primary kids that were there for the day.  This organization is a blessing to their community and just witnessing the hard-work behind it all is a testimony itself.

I have to admit, having my daughters hug Katie and attach a young, REAL face to a girl who is living out the gospel with her life.....I couldn't ask for a better young woman as an example.  I'm ready to get back in the states and begin reading her book (again!), but this time, reading it with  my daughter.   She knows now.

AMAZING behavior from these kiddos during worship and the lesson!

 Grace and Jane, rope session with the kids!
 What a blessing this sponsored feeding program is to thousands of children!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sweet Redeemer

Today we drove 2 hrs. to Jinja, the source of the Nile River, and home to many (many!) different orphanages.

One we visited was a home to 19 special needs children. To say I was flabbergasted at the young women who serve there daily is an understatement. I didn't take pictures..... Just focused on loving the one in front of me. But I was truly, truly blessed. One of the children I met there was the same child I met last year in the Remand Center. I remember last year, he was skinny.....drooling....really close to death's door. Today, as a result of being in a loving orphanage that knows how to meet his special needs, he is thriving!! Smiling ear-to-ear and at least 20 lbs. heavier! It was a blessing to see him again.

We also visited Redeemer's House. It was a breath of fresh air! The pictures below speak volumes because in them you see happy, smiling children who, yes, are orphans but are loved well. A model for any home. The kids have neat, orderly cook & clean.... And one little guy took to Boog like a kid to candy.

Tomorrow, we head back to Kampala to start our work week again with 60 Feet. This trip to Jinja was a nice break!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"They can come here!"

I have two posts coming soon.  One will cover the topic of our meals in Uganda. They've ranged from the wonderful (Mama Catherine's Ugandan feast!)  to the gross unique "cheerios and chicken" served to my picky daughter tonight.  The second post will cover traffic.  Traffic. And Traffic.  Here in Kampala. 
U.S. morning rush hour ain't got nothing on this.....

This post simply covers the adaptability of children.

I asked Sophie the other night if she was ready to go back to our home in Texas. "No...." she replied.  " you miss Mimi  & Papaw?" I asked.  She smiled and said, "YES!....but can they come here?"

And there you go.  
We worry. I worry. We pray. I pray.  We wonder whether our children can handle the hard things we put before them. But they do. They just do.

A perfect example of this was our time at Mama Catherine's house this past Sunday. We worshiped at their church (Boog & Lucas were even able to impromptu preach at a service to field workers!), and while Mama was cookin' up  this monstrous feast, we waited.  In Africa, that's just part of it. You wait. Alot. You wait to eat. You wait to leave. You wait to go. You wait in traffic. It's just part of life here. Nothing is rushed.  Anyway, during the wait, my kids got busy.....seriously. Sophie had NO problem playing with her new friends.  And Grace had a great time eating mangoes and pomegranates that had fallen from the tree.

Trekking out in the fertile land....

 On our way to church
 Sophie making FAST friends!
 Digging in the Dirt.  Yes....I've resigned that my kids WILL be kids here.
I'm not putting a safety glove around their body!

I had an idea that they would do fine, but not THIS fine. They truly are having a blast (thanks in part to our house mates kiddos and the stairs in our house).  There's a part of me that wonders whether they "get it".  Do they "get" that although it's fun to play with new friends, do they see what is front of them....lifestyles that are different? Not better, not all worse, but just different.  

Whatever they do glean, I hope it'll impact their life story one day.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Glimpse of Ugandan Teaching....

So this past Friday, we made the 30 minute trek to the outskirts of Kampala to Bwerenga. I met the much -talked about Mama Catherine and she was just as expected. 
Her face shone with grace and love, and her hug was warmth personified.

We visited the school that serves the children there.

The dirt road that led to the school......

  I got a taste of what it's like to be a Ugandan teacher. I taught a 30 minute language lesson, from impeccable lesson plans handwritten by their teacher, Miss Doreen.  Nervous, I pulled my resources and had a really  fun time teaching about the topics of" accidents". The children got familiar with American words like "nail"  "razor" and I even learned what a "panga" was (a machete in our terms.) 

To say I was amazed at their behavior and interest was an understatement. After I taught, they took their pencils and got to writing in English what we had just learned!  Their papers started out....
Today is (the date)
My name is __________
My teacher is Miss Flo
My school is the ______

No lined paper and their sentences were so straight! (Teachers in America, you know how hard this is...) and these kids were 5, 6, and 7!  Amazing.

 Miss Doreen then got up to teach the rest of her lesson.  I wished she had gone first. Her style of teaching was so energetic - dancing, singing, and full of discipline in love.  She was a light to those children!

On a separate note, Boog had his first experience driving in Kampala!  If anyone knows Uganda, they know that driving here is terrifying.  People come close, cars come closer, no rules and very little regulation!
To sum it up, I think I'm beginning to get a more realistic view of what being a long-term missionary is like.  This trip so far has been a combination of what I did last time (huggin' and lovin' on kids) combined with real life - raising kids, laundry, cooking meals, etc.   That's a good thing to know because "real" is always better than what's in my I've learned on this trip.

This post would be a loss without mentioning our saving grace and house mates, the Jobes. This whole situation would be umpteen times more terrifying if their wisdom and experience weren't being given in mighty doses.  Thank you, Lucas and Colleen! You are a mighty team!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Uganda Livin'....

Here we are. 20 hours across the world. Kampala, Uganda.

The girls did great on the plane ride. Seriously. Boog & I just kept on looking at them in awe.

As soon as we stepped foot in the Entebbe airport, the familiar smells and navigating our way through the confusion came back to me quickly. It almost (almost) felt like home away from home.  We drove through the red dirt streets, saw camels on the side of the road, and my thoughts then turned to "What in the world are we doing here??"   The hard livin' came back to me just as quick.

It took us a while to settle in. Not the girls, of course (noticing a theme?). They took to our housemates' kids like they were long lost buddies.  Here they are eating popcorn together.
 The house we are living in is pretty amazing. The perfect size for two families. Lots of play room and a great, awesome, amazing African backyard. Boog has no problem with that!
 Explorin' in the backyard.
 There's always a beautiful sense of community in Africa. Our house keeper's daughter always pops her head in for a visit. Sharon is quiet, shy, and we have no problem introducing her to our new foods. For instance, I gave her a straight-from-the-oven oatmeal cookie and she rolled in into a ball and started licking it. Sweet Sharon. 
 Sharon & my girls.
 The view from the backyard. That's Kampala through the trees.
 Of course, we give the girls the occassional memory of home. A movie via laptop.
 Sleeping underneath a mosquito net has been no problem.

Not that everything is hunky dory here at all. It's taken all of us 3 days to finally get adjusted to the new time zone.  We've spent most of the three days learning how to live here - buying food from the street market, learning how to do simple things like turn on the oven, getting used to our electricity going out 3 times a day at least, having to iron ALL our clothes that dried on the line (the heat from the iron make sure the bugs and their eggs don't hatch IN your clothes....yeah...even ironing panties), and yes, Grace has even gotten the "Africa's" and thrown up once...although I firmly believe it was really carsickness.

Tomorrow starts our first real day of work. We'll be traveling to Mama Catherine's school and teaching a lesson in the morning....the boys will be painting part of a building....and the kids? Well, they'll be doing what they have been doing since day 1 - playing like there's no tomorrow.

Like I said, THEY'VE adjusted quite nicely.
Stay tuned for more.

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