Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tiny Dancer

Tonight we enjoyed a lazy evening at home watching videos from Africa. To say we miss it is an understatement. We had several people warn us that once you go, all you think about is going back. We want to go back this summer and take our children. Max is already thinking about which type of ball would be best to take to play with the kids. And Amelia and I have talked about all the fingernails we could paint.

I wanted to share a video with you that will make you smile. We call him the tiny dancer and if possible, he was even more adorable in person.

I just love how he comes out of the circle to be the center of the show again! When he runs off, he is running over to Cliff to see his picture. He would just giggle when he saw himself on the camera. It doesn't matter what continent they are on, children are all the same. They just want to be loved and have some fun!

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

He'll Move Mountains

I have been in awe of God this weekend!

I was reminded of the lengths He will go to for us, to show His love for us.

This weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at a women's Christmas dinner. The day before I was to speak, God completely changed what I was going to share. I felt that He was leading me to share part of my testimony.

I was hesitant because I was speaking at a Christmas dinner and my testimony really didn't have anything to do with Christmas. And since this was a last minute change, I did not feel as prepared as I like. But I have learned that it is always best to go with God. I hate to admit that I learned that one the hard way.

Still apprehensive about how it would be received, I opened my daily devotional about thirty minutes before I was to leave. The very first line of my devotional for the day was "Leave the outcome to Me."

I paused and said, "Yes Sir!"

After I spoke, I learned why God changed everything. There was a lady at the dinner that's testimony was almost identical to mine. The only difference is that she has not yet experienced freedom from her life of defeat. I did not meet her or get to talk with her but I was amazed at the lengths God went to to speak to her.

I was also amazed that He allowed me to be a part of it all. He loves us more than we can comprehend and He desires a relationship with us. God did not create us to be in bondage to sin. God created us to live a life of freedom in Christ. And if He has to change a speaker's message or rearrange a few things...well that is just what He will do to set someone free.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Colliding Worlds

You may not be able to see it in this picture, but these two little girls are holding a piece of my heart. I did not get it back when I had to say good-bye. This is my sweet little Brenda and the precious girl in the red dress. We never could understand her name but I know God knows her by name and He knows exactly who I am praying for when I refer to her as the sweet girl in the red dress. I was able to hug her and tell her good-bye. I fought hard to choke back the tears. I did not get to tell Brenda good-bye and I believe that God knew that I would not be able to let her go. And I feel very certain that I have not seen her for the last time. In fact, all I do is think about going back to see her.

I shared that my trip experience and my world here at home had not collided. They are starting to collide and I know that my purpose for going on a trip to Africa was more than me just seeing poverty first hand. And I think my purpose may have something to do with this...

This is Brenda's foot and she did not have any shoes. And unfortunately, she was not the only child without shoes. They do not have lush green grass to walk on. They are walking on rocky, red dirt roads. They also get parasites in their feet called jiggers.

I think I can do something about this...

I think I have to!

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday in Africa

This time last week, I woke up to this. Isn't it breathtaking! This is the view from Royal School and Orphanage. The school sits a top a mountain and it had been described to us a piece of heaven.

The ugliness of poverty can not fade the beauty of God's creation. God really showed out when He created Africa. Every where we looked shouted of the greatness of God!

Every morning the students line up for Morning Glory. They sang a little and then the older students were dismissed for worship. The boys wear blue shirts and the girls wear red. Cliff said he sure wished someone had told him that bit of info while he was there. (Ha!)

The boys were great on the drums!

And these girls did an amazing job leading us in worship!

And this is the 2012 choir that will be touring in the U.S. beginning in January. I'm not sure if they are coming to our area this year, but I would encourage you to go check the Pennies for Posho website to get their schedule. They sang several songs for us and they were great. I can't wait for them to get here.

At the bottom of the hill before you get to Royal sits another orphanage called Morning Star. They are really struggling and several of our team members went for a visit. Our team also took them posho and sugar. The bare bottom you see above is a very common site. In fact, it is rare if you see a baby or toddler with underwear. I held many a baby with a naked bottom and was never once wet on. Others on our team were not so lucky. Some mothers had scarves that they wrapped around the baby's bottom when they handed it to you to hold.

This is a picture of the boys dorm. They have at least three children sleeping in each bed. The conditions were pitiful...

...but when these children opened their mouths to praise God, you knew you were in the presense of hearts that knew the meaning of worship. The sound was more than a sweet melody, it was angelic!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Relaxing Day in Africa

We started the day by visiting with Katie Davis. She is the author of Kisses from Katie. I would highly recommend this book. She is a 22 year old girl that grew up near Nashville. She left her American life to move to Uganda. She is now the mom to 13 girls and God is using her powerfully in Uganda. We were amazed to learn that she lives just down the street from where we were staying. She was very gracious to allow us come for an early morning visit. (She is the one in the white jacket on the right. )

This sweet little girl and her family was staying at Arise Africa with us. Her family has been there for 6 weeks adopting a little girl. This sweet little one has treated this chicken like a dog carrying it everywhere. Her mom said the chicken slept in their window seal. We think the chicken might realize that its gonna be dinner once she leaves! I even got up the nerve to hold the chicken.

This is a picture of our group on our last morning at Arise Africa. We really had a great group!

We went to "the market" this morning to get a taste of life in Uganda. This was a common sight. They tried to get this mazunga to buy a chicken but I passed.

Anyone care for some goat? Or at least that is what we think it is! Their meat just hangs out with nothing to keep the flies away.

After leaving the market we did a little more shopping in Jinja and then we headed to Bujagali Falls. It was so beautiful! The falls are a part of the Nile River and unfortunately are going away in a few weeks due to the reworking of the dam.

Oh, how precious!

After leaving the falls we drove for a couple hours to get to the Royal School and Orphanage. The school was described to us as a little piece of heaven. It sits atop a mountain and the scenary is absolutely gorgeous! It was lightly raining and the kids were waiting outside for us. They greeted us with singing and dancing. I was very humbled by these sweet children!

They were so cold but kept on smiling and singing! They were so excited to see Pastor Ted (aka Big Daddy).

Pastor Ted got all of us! He brought out a plate of fried grasshoppers and said that the team was going to show how much they loved them by eating grasshoppers. This is a picture of Cliff I snapped as he was enjoying his grasshopper. I ate one, too. I had some little boys watching me to see what I was going to do so I had no choice but to eat it. It wasn't as bad as you might think, but it is definitely not something that I want to eat again. To them, the grasshoppers are a real treat and very delicious.

I'll post more pictures from Royal School tomorrow.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

We're Home!

We arrived back in Atlanta Saturday at around 3:00. When our plane touched down, we all started clapping. Our trip through customs was very uneventful which we were very thankful about. And out of all of our luggage and tubs, our whole team was only missing two things. They were still back in Africa.

After my last post, we were without Internet. It is very common in Africa for the power to go out. Arise Africa, where we were staying, had a generator but if the power was out there was no Internet. In fact, I only remember having one hot shower while I was in Africa. The rest were ice cold due to the power being out. But again, once you've seen the things we had seen, a cold shower was nothing to complain about.

Anyway, I wanted to pick up and take you through the rest of our week. My last post contained pictures from Tuesday, so I want to pick up with Wednesday. On this day, we went to Tal-laga Church and School. This Church and School is sponsored by Tal-lage Baptist Church here in Georgia. The church raised money and built the building on the left in the picture below. The Preacher's wife and another church member from this church were on our team. They brought money from the church to buy a cow for the school.

These girls danced for us and they were wonderful. They were the only school that had skirts like this. You can't really tell in the picture, but they also had some type of animal skin tied around their waist.
This is a typical sight...children taking care of children. We usually saw them tied to their backs.

This is inside the girl's dorm. There were one set of bunk beds. Each bed had at least two children in it and then others would sleep on the floor.

This is where the teachers sleep. There were no mattresses, just mats on the floor with their clothes piled on top. The floor was dirt. Cliff and I walked down this dirt road for 20 minutes to deliver posho and sugar to a family.
This is the woman we delivered the food to. She is a grandmother. Her daughter and grand-daughter live with her. The only thing they have to eat is potatoes. Potatoes for breakfast, potatoes for lunch and potatoes for dinner. She was very thrilled to get the posho and sugar.

While the living conditions for most of the people are horrible, the scenary around them is beautiful. Everything is very green with a backdrop of mountains. Africa is a beautiful country!

I will post more later!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Day In The Bush

Today we rode for three hours into the bush to arrive at this school. We can not even explain to you the condition of the rodes here. We travel in a bus which you can see in the picture below. We were on a dirt road for several miles and then Moses, the Pastor that travels with us, tells the driver to turn left. I am not kidding you when I say that it was a path in the woods. Amazingly the bus driver got us to the village. You can see the school in the picture above. It is the structure with the grass roofs.

Here is Cliff playing frisbee with some of the village children. They will repeat everything you say. You can say get in a line and they will repeat it perfectly. We got them to say "bye y'all" today which was hillarious in their heavy accents. It is truly amazing how fast they catch on. They learned to throw the frisbee in no time.
Oh yes, you now need to refer to Cliff as Preacher Cliff. This is him delivering a word to the people with his interpreter Sarah. Pastor Ted as a joke said "and now Cliff Wilson from Newnan would like to share a word with you." The villagers all starting clapping and Cliff got up and spoke. He did great!
These are some of the women in the village. I love to take their picture and then show them. They just laugh!
Sweet, precious children!

This is sweet precious Brenda's hand that I held yesterday. I would have brought her home in a second.

Today we had a great day! We were so deep in the bush and it was gorgeous. Cliff and I keep saying to each other "Can you believe where we are!" Only God, Only God! No matter where we go the children are always amazing and loving. They are amazed at us white people. It is hilarious how they want to touch us and when they do they just giggle. We go to another orphanage tomorrow. It never gets easier to see but the love of Jesus gets us strength to go.

Thank you all for the comments. They are very encouraging to us. Keep praying for us. We love y'all!

M and A - we love and miss you so much!!!

Cliff and Laurie