Saturday, November 12, 2011

Visiting Return Ministries Uganda and a Surprise

Early Monday morning, the 17th, we headed to the airport to fly to Uganda.  I was sad to be leaving Kenya, but there were people in Uganda that I could not wait to see.  I was excited!

We landed at Entebbe and made it through passport control and got our visas.  Pastor Samuel from Return Ministries picked us up from the airport.  We were headed to spend some time with and feed lunch to the children at Return.

Some of them sang for us. 

This little one was getting in to all the clapping! 

That little one in the back of the line could shake it like nobody's business.

We helped serve all the kids their rice and beans.

This dude is a character!  He remembered me from last time I was there.

After everyone had finished eating, we played.  We brought pipe cleaners to use for a craft that went along with a bible story.  But... there were SO many kids and most of them were little, so we just decided to forgo the bible story and let these little ones be creative with some pipe cleaners.  They were definitely creative!!

When it was time for us to go, we headed back to Pastor Samuel's house to do some shopping.  They have a little shop where teams like ours can buy handcrafted items, and the money raised supports their ministry. If any of you purchased any of the paper bead jewelry from me, this is where it came from.  

I cannot find any pictures of my shopping experience.  ;-)  I was WAY too busy shopping to snap photos.  Then, something amazing happened while we were there.

(If you are still with me, thank you.  I know this is long.  I just LOVE reliving all of this!)

This little girl... Ruth.  The same little beauty that is in the picture over there in the sidebar.  -------->

Back when I got the itinerary for this trip, the first thing I did was look to see if I was going to see Ruth.  I had been too afraid to ask.  I knew I would be beyond disappointed if the answer was 'no.'  It turned out that our schedule this time would not allow for a visit to Royal Hope Academy where Ruthie goes to school.  Ruth lives with Rebecca, and I knew that Rebecca was in the states and not going to be in Uganda during our visit.  I was pretty sad.  For a long time.

Finally I decided that it couldn't hurt anything for me to contact Rebecca and just see if maybe she could send someone to meet me while I was there so I could send a few fun things for Ruthie.  I. Love. Rebecca. She said she would arrange for Michael (a man she works with) to come and pick up what I would bring, but she didn't know if he would be able to bring Ruth because of some testing that was being done at school.

I was completely OK with that!  By the time this day got here I did not at all expect Michael to bring Ruth with him.

I was busy shopping (remember? yeah, back to that.)  -I tell really LONG stories.  :-)  The men that I work with hate it. (I can talk about them here, because they would NEVER be still reading.)

So, I was shopping and Michael walks up to me.  When I recognize him, I thanked him for coming and turned to go to the van and get the bag I had for Ruth.  I wasn't looking for Ruth.  I thought he was alone.  And there she was, peering out of the van window.

To say I was thrilled would be the understatement of the year.  :-)

So I got to squeeze Ruth.  What a wonderful day!!

 She loved her Princess Tiana doll.

 I don't know how many times this child told me 'thank you!'

There might have been a dress-up dress that matched Tiana's and some princess stickers and some princess pencils and who knows what else in that bag.  ;-)

It was a good day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Leaving Fiwagoh

Leaving Fiwagoh is hard.  It takes forever to leave.  We line all 180 children up and give them each a hug. So this time all of the children got 8 hugs.  The plan is to hug them and get on the van so that we don't make it any harder than it has to be.  Yeah... that doesn't happen, and it is excruciating.

When you come upon a sweet little one that is crying because they don't want you to go, it is heartbreaking.  There were many tears.

I thought I was going to make it without completely falling apart, but Emily and Jane were crying.

My sweet Emily hanging on to my hand while I was sitting in the van.

Don't worry, sweet ones.  I will be back to give you lots of hugs in July!

I will leave you with some pictures of beautiful Kenya!  It in an absolutely gorgeous country.

We stopped at the same spot that we saw the giraffes last time and they were there again.

We saw a boatload of baboons on the side of the road.

I fed them peanut butter crackers. 

They really liked them!

Mama Sweetie's and Nelly's

While we were at Fiwagoh, we were able to go visit a couple of other ministries in Nakuru.  The first place we went was the home of a lady named Diana.  Everyone calls her Mama Sweetie.  She has about 30 children that she takes care of in her home.

Diana on the left - Her neighbor on the right

Some of her children were at school.  These were the ones we got to meet.

Mama Sweetie has 3 biological children.  The rest of the children have come to her as their parents have died (mostly of AIDS.)  Their parents were her neighbors and friends.  She is teaching them about Jesus.  They sang many songs to us about God's love for them, and we taught them some new ones.

The 'buildings' on her property are pretty run down.  They do have a few animals that produce some eggs and some milk (not near enough to feed 30 children) along with a little plot of land where they grow some vegetables.  In the room where they sleep, there are 8 wooden beds.  No mattresses.  For 30 children.  I think a future VO team may try to raise funds to buy some mattresses.  Maybe they can get some more beds too!

 The kitchen

This is the container that collects the rainwater from the roof for drinking.

The children were so joyful!  They sang and danced.  They made us dance too.  There is a video out there that I hope never surfaces!  We did a little craft with them.  They loved it!

We made salvation bracelets with them.

After visiting with them, we made our way to an orphanage called Haven of Hope.  There we found the neatest lady taking care of 29 little ones.  Nelly is awesome!  She told us that she'd always known that she wanted to have a home like this.  A few years ago she was engaged to be married to a man that didn't understand her desire to take care of orphans.  As a matter of fact, he was pretty against it.  So... she lost him and got 6 brand new babies.  :-)

Diana and Nelly

Seriously.  She said she didn't sleep for 6 full months!  I can't imagine having 6 newborn babies.  Now they are the most precious 2 year olds.

She told us that, although it was not her original plan to have older children there, to get some type of government registration she had to have 20 children.  So... she took in some older orphans.  She has a few women that work with her, and they do the most wonderful job.

There were no toys.  None of the children are sponsored to help with the cost of food and school fees.  There is a church somewhere in the states that helps pay her rent.  I don't know how she makes ends meet.  She said she has to turn her phone off sometimes because the hospital calls constantly needing placement for abandoned babies.  She can't save them all, and she knows it.  She does absolutely hate to say 'no' though.

She said that now she gets a new newborn every six months.  A brand new baby shares her bedroom for six months.  Then that baby moves in with the other littles and she brings another home from the hospital.

Her newest one is this tiny girl.  Her name is Precious.  She is HIV+.  She is 3 months old and so sweet. I got to feed her a bottle.  Her whole digestive system was making all kinds of crazy noises.  I asked what kind of milk I was feeding her, and one of the ladies that works there sheepishly told me that it was cow's milk because they can't always afford formula.  So... I fed a tiny, HIV+, baby girl 6 ounces of cow's milk, because no one can afford the food she needs.  :-(

We had to get back to Fiwagoh, because the kids were going to take us on a walk.  We left Nelly's and hurried to Fiwagoh to see what we could gather from our donations that we brought for Nelly.  We couldn't go back to her house, but our driver (Daniel) said he would take a suitcase full of goodies to her while we were on our walk.

We packed her a big suitcase full of cloth diapers, balloons, balls, jump ropes, bubbles, medicine, shoes (LOTS of shoes!); I can't even think of what all was in there.  We were also able to bless her with a digital camera.  When we were talking to her about creating a website (one of the guys with us is a web designer for Dave Ramsey), she said she couldn't give us images of the children because she didn't have a camera.  Well it just so happened that one of the girls on our team brought two cameras on the trip and was willing to give one of them to Nelly.  Wow!

We sent Daniel with the suitcase and a video camera.  Of course we wanted to see Nelly's face when she went through the bag.  It wasn't my camera so I don't have the video to show you, but it was awesome to see.  Nelly and the girls that work for her were literally jumping up and down with excitement.  They were passing out shoes as fast as they could.  They let out the biggest screams when they found the camera.  Now she can take pictures of her precious kiddos!

This post has gotten long, so I'm going to go ahead and post it.  If I find any other pictures from this day that I want to post, I will post them later.

I'm so thankful that we were able to visit these wonderful women.  We were truly blessed by their lives of service loving on His children.