Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Day in Africa

This was at a well where we stopped to pump water for people.

My friend in the red dress and my make shift nail salon!

You would not believe the number of children dressed like this or worse. Today we saw lots of children with no clothes.

Pastor Timothy's Church on the island. This is the place that does not have an orphanage.

The truck in the picture is loaded with the posho and sugar. This is the food that Pennies for Posho purchases each quarter to feed the children.

Don't you just love their smiles. Most of the children have never had their picture made or probably seen themselves. They loved when we turned our cameras around and they could see themselves. They all just giggle.

Boys on the island. They dry fish on those nets to boil and add to posho.

We are having a difficult time with the internet here but we wanted to share a couple of pictures. I can not upload pictures from my camera so we are just adding a few that we took with the bloggie camera.

M and A - We talk about you to everyone. We miss you terribly bad. A - I painted fingernails for hours today and I was thinking about you the whole time. I needed you here to help me. M - I met lots of boys your age today and told them about you. I wish you were here to play ball with the boys. We wish you were both here. We love you very much!

Today was my hardest day yet as far as having to tell the children goodbye. I can not even begin to put into words the images we are seeing. Yesterday we took a 20 minute boat ride to get to the island to visit a church. They were the poorest children we have seen. There is no orphanage in this area so these were the children that just have to sleep where ever. Pennies for Posho is making plans to build an orphanage there. No one had on clothes that did not have rips or holes. Most did not have shoes and if they had them they were very worn. The smells were overwhelming. Because they were on the water, it was very fishy smelling and then added to that is body odor. Most have never had a bath. Let that sink in for a minute. I had to take a cold shower this morning and the water went out during it but I would not complain because to the people I have been meeting a cold shower is very much a luxury.

We walked for a long time to make our home visit. Each day we go to an orphanage we also make home visits and give the families 5 pounds of sugar and 5 pounds of posho. We walked mostly uphill through a corn field to get to the homes. When we arrived, their homes were mud huts. No electricity. No running water. No bathrooms. About thirty people lived in this community of mud huts. They brought us out chairs and then they sat on the floor. They were so appreciative of the food. It was very humbling.

Today we rode for close to 3 hours to get to the orphanage and church. We were very close to the Kenya border. The children were singing and clapping as our bus drove up. They are amazed by our white skin and immediately want to touch us. I grabbed hands with one little girl in a red dress. She had a smooth bald head. She told the interpreter that she was 4 years old, but she was tall for her age. She was beautiful. Her smile would melt you in seconds. She stayed with me for most of the time and sat in my lap for a long time. Then another little girl came and sat in my lap. Her name was Brenda and she was 5 years old. She was tiny and did not have any shoes. She stayed with me most of the time. She sat in my lap along with my other friend in the red dress. We never could understand her name. Brenda got so comfortable that she laid back on me and rested her face on my upper arm. She then began to rub the rest of my arm.

I wanted to take her with me. Her face was as black as night and she had big brown eyes. Because of her poor nutrition the whites of her eyes were not really white. I painted her fingernails, along with hundreds of other children's. I cried when I had to leave her. That is what made today so hard for me. I have not had that connection with any other child...just Brenda.

Most of the people where we have been visiting live in mud huts. They draw their water from a community well. They do not have any electricity. You would not believe the conditions. The pictures you see on tv that you have to change the channel because they are too hard to look at, well they are real. And I just have to praise Jesus because when the bus doors open and you greet the people a love that is only Jesus just flows. I can almost feel His strength coming out of me. I think that will be the thing I miss the most about Africa. Jesus had healed my stomach and taken my issues with the smells away.

Today when I was painting fingernails, I was pouring sweat because the children were just pressed in on me. I am sure they smelled but I did not smell them. I just loved on them through a bottle of blue nailpolish. Even the boys got their nails painted they just love the attention. And you would not believe the excitement when we bring out the sweeties (candy). Each child only gets one smartie or one dum dum sucker and they are beyond thrilled. For some it is the first sweetie they have ever tasted. And for most of them it will be the last they get until another mission team comes.

Cliff and I said when we come back, yes I typed WHEN, we will bring a suitcase full of candy and shoes. Keep Praying!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our First Orphanage Visit

Today we went to two orphanages and also made home visits in the nearby village. It was very overwhelming to say the least. The children almost mobbed us as we tried to hand out socks, hats, clothes and toothbrushes. They wanted anything they could get.

We, meaning white people, are very unusual to them. They call us mazoongoo and chant it as we drive in the bus and especially in the villages. For most, we are the first white people they have ever seen. I went with a group to make five home visits. We take them five cups of sugar and five cups of posho. I did not realize when we left that I was the only white person that went. There were others from our team but they were African American. The village children ran out yelling "mazoongoo" "mazoongoo". They were amazed by me. They would run up just to touch my hands. Then when they saw that I wouldn't bite, they grabbed on to every white piece of skin they could. Our translators would tell them to stop but then they would run up just to touch my fingers. I have never experienced anything like it.

I did not feel like a rock star as it may sound. I felt overwhelmed. The sights I was seeing was too much. Children walking around naked with obvious signs of disease. Women probably younger than me weathered and worn by the hard conditions they must live in. Cows, goats and chickens inches away from us. We walked through dirt streets and corn fields to deliver the posho and sugar. We went to the very poor. Their houses were more like caves with no electricity. They cooked on a little fire right outside the doorway. Most did not have doors to keep anything out. To say they appreciated the items is an understatement. We told them that we came in the name of Jesus and they He cared for them. One woman bowed on her knees at our feet. She would not get up off her knees because she was so thankful. That was overwhelming. I fought back the tears because I knew if one trickled out then the flood gate would break and the crying would not stop.

This is only day one. Only by the strength of Jesus will I survive this experience. I am speaking emotionally because we all feel very safe here. Even as we walked through the villages with our translators I never felt scared. (That comment was for our parents :)

I am having trouble loading pictures. I am hoping to use one of our team members computer tomorrow and be able to load some photos. We are taking tons and can't wait to share them with you.

Prayer Request: I want to ask you to pray for me and my stomach. The smells here have gotten to me today. I can't get the smells out of my nose or mind. Even here where we are staying the smell of the food they are preparing for us, which needless to say I can not eat, is making me sick. Please pray specifically that God will strengthen me physically. Thank you so much!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

We're Here!

I woke up this morning in Africa. We had a great flight here. We lost a whole day in travel which was very confusing when trying to keep up with our malaria medicine. The most adventurous part of our trip so far was the two hour bus ride to where we are staying. I was just thankful that I fell asleep for part of it. If you can imagine it was like riding across railroad tracks with an occasional pot whole thrown in there.

We were greeted last night at the airport with children from Royal School and Orphanage. I could not contain my tears. As we embraced one another, it was hard to believe all the months of planning was finally a reality.

Well, they are giving out our instructions for today. We are going to two orphanages and then making home visits. We can't wait. I will hope to post more later. Pray for us!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our Bags are Packed!

We are packed and ready to go. We are only packing in a carry on and a backpack. I was amazed by how much we were able to get in there. I think God stretched our carry on bags.

We are very excited and I can't wait to get my hands on those sweet Ugandan children.

Please pray for us and check back often for updates. We are hoping to post updates and photos so you can follow along with us.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Count Down Has Begun

The count down has officially begun for our trip to Africa. In twenty four days, I will be taking off from Atlanta headed to Uganda. I am very excited but as the days get closer I find myself getting a little nervous.

This is my first time out of the country and my first time being on an airplane for so long. We fly from Atlanta to Amsterdam and then from Amsterdam to Uganda. Each leg is about eight hours. I'll be honest and tell you that I really try not to think about that too much.

I know in my heart that all the worries and anxious feelings will melt away the first time I wrap my arms around one of the children. I just hope I can let go!

On Sunday of our trip we will visit an orphanage located on a small island. We will have to take a boat ride to get there. They have told us that this is the poorest of the poor. We were then told that the children have to sleep in the grass.

I know that sentence just needs a minute to sink in.

There are children that have no place to sleep and therefore must sleep outside in the grass, everyday. I am overwhelmed at the reality of this. My heart hurts when I think about these poor children. What can I, a white woman from Georgia, offer these children? How can I help them?

I can do nothing... but I know Hope! I know the One who knows each of those children by name and knows the very hairs on their heads. So I pray that as I hug those sweet babies and maybe paint a few fingernails that they will feel the hope of Jesus coming from within me.

Oh for the Glory of His Renown!

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