Thursday, October 31, 2013

When she got mad ...


Ok, I admit it:

 I can't hide my special affection for Praise!
She truly has become a daughter for me that I love more than words can express.



There are more blog posts about my Uganda trip tucked away in my heart 

- waiting to be written - - - 

about other happenings not having to do with Praise and her ministry.

And they ARE coming... at least a few :)

But before moving on, allow me to have a moment of truth - keeping it real on this blog.
Wouldn't want you to think that she's perfect - hahahahaha :)

Living with her for 2 weeks on her home turf has allowed me to get to know her in some ways I had not known her before.

Ok, are you ready?

(and, by the way, I have permission to share this and we've both laughed about it since)

The first time she got really mad was when she felt like the guys who were rescuing us late at night from yet another car breakdown were ripping us off.

no, it wasn't that time


Once again.

...nor this time

no, not this time I said :)


Why?

Because they saw a Mzungu (me) sitting in her car.

It really got her blood boiling to have people trying to rip us off,

charging us way more than usual

just because of my white skin.

She was NOT a happy camper and was not going to pay the 

"Whites-only-surcharge"

BAM!


not that time either


... nor this time - remember it was at night?!

Truth be spoken: I DON'T have a photo of 'THAT' time :)


Then, on my last day with the children in the village, I had offered to pay for a special meal.

On the menu:

Rice, meat, matooke (mashed green bananas) and sodas.

After everybody had been served the yummy food,

and Praise saw the portions on the kids' plates

She got mad.

Really mad.

She got on the older children's cases.

About what???

About serving the children too much food.

"That is a REALLY bad thing you've done,

a REALLY

REALLY 

bad thing!"

I was sitting there,

puzzled,

not understanding what they would've done that was SO bad...

Hmmmm

And then the explanation came:

"You should have NEVER served everybody SO much food!"

OOPS

Gulp

I was trying to calm her down
(without the kids noticing),
thinking to myself:

What did they do so wrong?
The food was there.
And cooked up.
It's not like there's a fridge to keep left-overs.
WHY in the world was it so bad to have served up big portions to the kids???
It was a special-occasion-feast after all?

Then came the answer:

"Who will feed you when your stomachs are all stretched out??!!!"

BAM!


still happy kiddos that day 

What people get really mad about does show something about them and their world.
Doesn't it?!!!

And that was the day BEFORE Praise found out that the people providing food for the home were going to stop...

(I found out later that she was hoping for the children to eat the left-overs for dinner that day)

NOW

I have very different things that I get mad about - - - my kids can tell you about that - hahaha.

And my concern with this daughter of mine is making sure that she actually eats at all.
Like the day I wrote most of this post, I wasn't happy when I found out that she had only had a couple of eggs and a cup of tea all day long...
And by the next day noon - she still hadn't eaten anything else.
And no, she wasn't fasting and praying that time.

OH - life between these worlds!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WOW GOD - the power of 1!

OHHHH - my heart is doing summersaults..... 

I am super-duper excited to share some wonderful news with you:

JUST

BECAUSE

ONE

PERSON

{did you read:

 -one? 

Just one!  -
obviously with her husbands' approval}

CARED

Herself a mother of young children

in a far-away land...

the beautiful little girl in my last post

will soon have her mother by her side!!!!

soon, little one, soon!


YIPPEEEEEE JESUS!!!!

I was over the moon when I got the email,

Praise was thrilled

and the mother VERY VERY happy!!!

Little S doesn't know yet,

but OH -

don't under-underestimate what 

YOU

can do

to change the world

for ONE person

or two

or more....

'Ya never know....



"... Father to the fatherless, defender of widows..."

THANK YOU!!!

THANK YOU!!!

THANK YOU!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

APPALLING!

Did you know that many children that end up in orphanages in Uganda aren't actually full orphans?

Sadly, many times they end up there because their mothers (or fathers) aren't able to keep them 

for different reasons.

Take S, for example:

One of Praise's gorgeous darlings that stood out to me as being very needy,

always wanting to be carried

wanting attention

and crying whenever attention was diverted to another child.



Unbelievably (yet true)

her mother is alive

yet not able to care for her

as the only job she was able to find was being a maid for a family

{no children allowed}

SOOOO SAD that a child needs to grow up separated from her mother

for a salary of

 NZ$60 (US$50, 35Euro) a month!!!

With which she supports 2 of her children who live with family members.

CAN YOU IMAGINE???

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

Such a small amount of money

keeping a little girl separated from her mother who loves her???

THIS IS JUST NOT RIGHT!!!

Actually gets my blood boiling.

Praise has been able to re-unite quite a lot of children with family members over the years,
and it is her on-going desire to have children grow up with family whenever possible,
but it can be difficult, especially when it includes extra-expenses.



The truth is that Praise really needs a woman/mother to stay with her girls, 
as she is short-staffed.

Wouldn't it be SUCH a blessing if S's mother could come to the village and be that person
and at the same time care for her own daughter?

JUST NZ$60/month for salary....

Boy, would I LOVE to see this happen!!!!

PRAYING for GOD to make a way!!!!

It's just a little money standing in the way - no biggie for HIM!

This girl needs her mother and I bet you the mother needs her girl!

GOD KNOWS!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Song about Coming Together to Fight Aids

If you haven't seen it already on Facebook - 
here are some of Praise's treasures singing a song.

These are the words 
(in case you can't understand the accent):

"Brothers and sisters, now is the right time to come together to fight Aids.
Children are crying, children are dying, because of parents that died of Aids.

Let me tell you one story about the children who survived.
The mother died, the father died and then the children remained alone.

No shelter, no food, no clothes and everything.
They started crying and some were dying 
because of parents who died of Aids.

Please parents, will you forgive us, we are still young to live alone.
Now if you die, where shall we be? Please parents, forgive us. "


 It REALLY touched me to hear the children sing this song - - - WOW!

Let's do it! 

Can you hear the children challenging us?!!!


One of Praise's teenagers, who is herself HIV+ 

an AMAZING young girl, 

SUCH a sweetheart

here with her little brother



 has a strong desire/dream to educate women on how NOT to pass on the virus to their children
(which is what happened to her and her brother).

She even shared this in front of a big church on my first Sunday there, 
while Praise and the children were ministering.
It moved me to tears....

She is very courageous and has huge potential!!!
I am praying that her dream will cone about!

I wouldn't want to think what would've happened to her had Praise not taken her on.
She was very very sick in hospital with Aids-related issues last year
and thankfully she survived and is doing much better now
though still fragile.

Here is the song:

 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

YET

My heart is once again overflowing with thoughts and emotions 

as I am 'digesting' my experiences in Uganda - - -

Ugandan women are AMAZING - so strong, hard-working and resilient - yet full of grace


The best way to sum up what I have been able to experience first-hand once again

 - and observe - 

in the lives of our beautiful brothers and sisters who are

serving HIS little ones in Uganda 

is to quote Paul when he writes:

"We are experiencing all kinds of trouble,
but we aren't crushed.

We are confused,
but we aren't depressed.

We are harassed,
but we aren't abandoned.

We are knocked down,
but we aren't knocked out.

We always carry Jesus' death around in our bodies 
so that Jesus' life can also be seen in our bodies....." (2.Cor.4:8-10)

The daily struggles and challenges,

combined with the very tangible attacks on their safety and lives

are UNBELIEVABLE!

... maybe what you'd expect to see in a movie 

but not on a 2-week trip...

New situations coming up just about daily

that could leave those serving perplexed, beaten down and knocked out.

YET

YET

In the midst of the challenges

Jesus' life is seen as well - and there is JOY in the midst of pain!

having fun with the kids trying out Kylie's gift: "Bop-it"


What a special privilege it was to live with/alongside Praise for most of the days
- even some unexpected ones -
that only brought us together again because of a car accident (she is fine)
and the next 3 days to try and get the offender to pay for the damage
(which didn't happen because they must have bribed the police).

Can you see the broken glass? Mirror and window smashed
resulting in a lot of "wet-ness"....


If I was to tell you everything, 

you probably wouldn't believe me....

YET

It is daily reality for her 

and also for the families from the 

"Orphans Know More" network.

Tragedy and death are so common, and so close

YET

God is right in the midst of them

saving, protecting, helping, strengthening, providing.

SOMEHOW.

The only way to make it for them?

Hanging on to JESUS, like Paul continues in verse 17 of 2.Cor.4: 

"Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us 
that is beyond all comprehension.
We don't focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can't be seen.
The things that can be seen don't last, but the things that can't be seen are eternal."

...and passing this dependency on GOD on to the kids...
here kneeling on the dirt-floor during Sunday service


MY RESPONSE?

To PRAY PRAY PRAY

and do whatever I can do to 

encourage

strengthen

help

speak up

and pray some more!



"Carry each other's burdens

and so you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Galatians 6:2



Wanna join me?

with my beloved special treasure that I even got to spend some
"almost-alone-time" with

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Such beautiful children!

Oh - how I LOVE hanging out with these precious children!
 
Sometimes just observing them blows me away:
 
The way they care for each other is touching!
 
Like this little one who is so motherly with the younger ones.
 
I watched her wipe a runny nose,
 
 
 
bathe a little one,
 
 
 
dress her
 
put Vaseline on her (they do that here),
 
 
 
wash her shoes
 
 
 
and then carry her around.
(Photo taken the day before)
 
 
 
All completely her own initiative.
 
Amazingly enough,
the little one
 is more than happy to be mothered by her.
She seems to be used to it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Spontaneous worship

video

For those not on facebook - this was a spontaneous outbreak of worship from Praise's children.
I didn't ask them to do this just for the camera :)
 
They were in front of the almost-finished new house.
 
I am SO enjoying spending time with these children!
 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A day in the life of Praise

I started this post a few days ago.
Thanks to a mouse waking me up early,
I'm finishing now. YAY!

Wondering WHICH day I should be writing about,
as I could be writing a similar post about each of the days I've been here...
But let me just finish this one:

After being off internet for a few days, here I am, sitting in Praise's (borrowed) car with her next to me, on the side of the road - in the dark - waiting for the mechanic to arrive to get the car to work...

Thank God for 'internet anywhere'!

My thoughts drift back to everything that has happened today

 - a (typical?!) day in the life of Praise:

After a liquid breakfast, devotions and a series of phone calls first thing in the morning, we went to the village to see the children.
On the way, we stopped to buy a photo frame for a photo I brought from NZ for Blair's parents.
Blair (9) was one of the students in Praise's school who sadly got killed by a motorcycle 2 weeks ago, just in front of the school.

I was amazed to see how much things had improved on the property since my last visit - the biggest change being a beautiful new, safe home going up and just about finished, where hopefully rats won't nibble on little children's fingers and toes and also keep them safe in other ways!
The school is to the left.



The new house is being built by International Voice of the Orphan, a connection that happened on my last trip due to a broken off tooth.
IVO has become a tremendous blessing for Praise, paying for their food and helping in many other ways.

Of course, the most delightful part is always seeing the children!
They are absolutely ADORABLE and SO LOVABLE!!!!




Praise showing some of the children Blair's photo

Then, Praise wanted to buy some oil at a nearby 'mini-store' for frying some eggs as we were hungry.
And yes, there are a bunch of chickens now who have started laying about 15-20 eggs every day
(this number should soon increase).
So cool!


Sherry French, this photo is especially for you - THANK YOU SO MUCH for caring!!!!

  That was around 11:30am.


Driving off, we got stopped by an elderly lady who was telling Praise some very exciting news: God had answered her prayers for her children to get married officially. On New Years evening last year, she had come to Praise's church telling her that she wanted to give this Jesus a try. But needed some sign to convince her of his reality: If her husband, who had left her 7 years before was going to come back, she would know that this Jesus was for real and would give him her life.
Well - guess what?

While Praise was in NZ, he DID come back and they both started coming to church.
This lady was SO excited that now her second major request of God is being answered and after thanking Praise profusely, she ended up giving her some money - no small amount for here!
"I cannot thank you enough but take this little bit of money"

WOW! That was a good start!

Off we went, but shortly thereafter we stopped by this grandmother that had literally been close to starvation as she is all alone with no one to help her.
Praise had organized for some food to be brought to her on the week-end - and once again - this lady was thanking Praise over and over for this food. Even in her weakness you could see her happiness.
 She was convinced that she would have starved had she not received this food.


she happily posed for this picture


Next stop - of course - none of these stops planned - we were just going to the store, right?

We turned to visit a man whose wife died last week. She had been on the Parent Teacher Association of Praise's school. We spent a lot of time with this man who was telling us many stories. and so happy about our visit.
As Praise kept stopping at one place after another, she explained to me that she cannot just drive by these people.
 She needs to visit and reach out to them as they are part of her community.

Next stop: Rose, the mother of 2 of Praise's children. Praise took the children in as this woman is very sick with HIV and other related sickness. She has recently spent weeks in the hospital, close to death and suffering severely but thankfully well enough now to be sent 'home'.
As this woman has no family at all, I dare not think what would've happened to her had Praise not found a way to pay for her hospital stay and a person to look after her there
 (which is needed here).
Now, with her actually not having a home, an old lady took her in and is caring for her.


So special to be able to pray with her in person after praying much for her with our family



posted with her permission - she is very grateful for all the people who have been praying for her -
and she needs continued prayers for sure

By the way, I was MOST IMPRESSED by her daughter Monica, 13, who on Sunday publicly shared about her HIV status in front of a large church where Praise and the children were ministering.
She dreams of educating HIV+ women about how not to pass on the virus to their children and started doing that even on Sunday!
What a girl!!!
She's incredible with huge potential!

I found out after the visit that the woman caring for Rose has also been caring for 5 orphaned children and has just had somebody drop off 3 more small abandoned children.
She was begging Praise to take these 3 as already she didn't have enough food to care for the ones she has.


This is the home where all 10 of them are staying


Praise refused as she is not in a position at the moment to take on any more children, but she left her with the money that had just been given to her.

Food for a few days - Mukama jeba sibwe (Praise the Lord!)
Going on the fast track now for the rest of the day, some other happenings:
  • visiting Blair's family and giving them the photo with frame - which will be their only photo of their only son

  • getting into a thunderstorm with heavy rains and flooding on the way to town to get internet.
We were thanking the Lord after we passed this one safely - a bit nerve wrecking


  • Car window failing to go up for quite a while - happens daily

  • visit with Praise's biological mother - which was amazing! I have never been so warmly welcomed by anybody here! Wasn't sure what to expect as you would understand if you knew the story. Blown away!
    
    Precious moments between 2 mothers to 1 daughter :)
  • On leaving, the car wouldn't start - also nothing too unusual, as this car has about 250 000km and has been needing constant repairs. But this time it was 'just' a flat battery due to lights being left on :)


  • Lastly, after the car got going again, we spent more than 2 hours in heavy traffic until we came to where we were staying the night - by 10pm


  • driving behind a pick-up truck with a bunch of people sitting on a coffin, on their way to a funeral (driving at night as no doubt they had to go somewhere far)


  • Coming across an accident due to the muddy/slippery roads - which was the reason for the more-than-ever-heavy traffic


Oh - and did I mention the traffic?


We're in it daily for hours..... no wonder the days are long and I don't get to blog..
Getting back to where we're staying is rarely before 10pm.


Yesterday, we had more adventures on muddy roads, and a flat tyre that had to get changed twice.

 Don't ask me more.

That's another post (that may or may not ever get written - haha).

AND - YES - we did get to eat our eggs!

blowing on the fire - with posho cooking in the front for the kids' lunch

In closing, let me share this quote I just read which is so appropriate for what I see Praise doing every day -

far beyond 'just' caring for 36 orphaned children:

"The first to help you up are the ones that know how it feels to fall down."

I have never had greater respect for what she is doing and under which circumstances.

My daughter - my hero - my joy!
just before going into the zoo - a wonderful, memorable day with the children