When I wrote this post I had just left Rebecca Sorensen's house. You should read her story. She is another precious young American girl that lives in Uganda. God is doing amazing things through her life. She started a school that now has over 400 students. We visited Royal Hope Academy that day, and then she invited our team to eat dinner at her house. With her 17 kiddos that live there with her. Seventeen children that have no one else to care for them. She is their mother.
We arrived at the school to a HUGE welcome from the children. They lined the walk and sang and danced as we walked to the place where we would gather for our time together. They had plenty of songs and dances to show us. It was wonderful!
When I got to the front of the room with the rest of our group and found a spot to sit down, Ruth appeared out of nowhere. She attached herself to me and didn't really want much to do with anyone else.
Ruth is a tiny six year old. She's a complete ham. She sang and danced for my camera. She hugged me and wouldn't let me put her down. When our group went to the 'stage' to teach the students a few songs, she was right there with me singing at the top of her lungs.
After the children finished welcoming us and we were finished singing, it was time to play. We went outside and had the best time, Ruth never getting too far from my side. I was quite the hit when I took a Woot monkey out of my purse. The kids thought that monkey was hilarious. They chased it over and over and over again.
When it was time for the children's school day to be over, I didn't want to leave. I took the monkey and gave it to Ruth. I told her it was hers. Maybe she wouldn't forget me? I certainly would never forget her. I was sad when I got on the bus. I was excited to go to Rebecca's house for dinner and spend time with her and the children that live there with her though. We had brought flip-flops and fingernail polish. :-) Rebecca and some of the little ones that were headed to her house climbed on the bus with us. Pretty soon Ruthie was on my lap. I was confused for a minute, but soon learned that she lives at Rebecca's. I had no idea! I was super excited that I didn't have to leave her yet and would get to spend the evening with her!
We had a wonderful dinner. In true Africa fashion, we lost the electricity while we were eating. No problem. We just lit some candles and a lantern. I was kinda nervous at first - candles on the living room floor and 17 children gathered 'round. There were no accidents. :-) We visited with Rebecca while some of us polished fingernails and toenails on the back porch by candlelight. All the children got a new pair of flip-flops. Ruth never stayed far from me for long. Ruth and her monkey.
When it was almost time for us to go, we gathered on the back porch to pray together. Several prayed. I stood holding Ruthie while she sobbed quietly on my shoulder through the entire prayer. I couldn't breathe. I didn't know how I was going to leave this precious child. I would have stood there clutching her forever if I could have. Everyone was leaving. Everyone got on the bus out front. I didn't move. I couldn't move. I was telling Ruth how much I love her and begging God to make her know it. She knew I was crying too and I can't imagine that was making it easier on her.
I gave her to Rebecca and I walked away. I knew I probably wouldn't see her again. Brenda grabbed my hand and we walked to the bus together. I knew this was going to be hard. I thought I did. I had no idea. Sleeping was hard to do that night. I wasn't sure how I would handle the rest of this trip.
The next day we left Kampala and traveled to Jinja. We stayed there two night and days. I'll tell you all about it in time. It was wonderful.
After our time in Jinja, we travelled back to Kampala to spend the night before traveling to Kenya for the second week of our adventure. At our 'hotel' that night I was sitting outside at a table trying to find some internet to jack so I could update you all, when I heard our bus driver say "Rebecca is coming." We had a Rebecca on our team, and I was confused for a minute about where she was and what he meant. He wasn't talking about our Rebecca. That's when Rebecca Sorensen came around the bus. I saw her and gave her an interesting welcome when I blurted out "Where is Ruth??" She laughed and told me that she thought she was in the car (when you have 17, I guess you never can really keep up with all of them.) I ran to her van and tapped on the window. The man that helps her with the kiddos rolled down the window and I asked if Ruthie was inside. He said yes and said something back to her that I didn't understand. Ruth doesn't speak much English just yet. She got out of the van and walked around to the side I was on. It was dark and I could tell she was frightened.
When she realized it was me, she flew up into my arms. She squeezed me so tight. She kept pulling back and looking at me and then hugging me so tight. She acted like she couldn't believe her eyes. I was bawling.
It turns out that Rebecca needed one of our team leaders to bring something back to the States for her, so she was just stopping by to drop it off. The kids didn't know we were there. When they figured it out, they ALL piled out of the van and we had a little reunion there in the parking lot. It. Was. AWESOME. I squeezed her until they had to leave. I had asked Ruth where her monkey was. She pointed to the van, but since her English is limited I wasn't sure she understood. When she got on the van, I asked her again and she held him up for me to see. Ruth very own Woot monkey. She had piled into the van with all her brothers and sisters, but not without her monkey. ;-)
Oh how I love that little girl. I hope she knows. My trip was made.
I have since learned a little about Ruth's story. She and her 3 older sisters lived with their mother who was having a very hard time providing for her children. One day she sent Ruth and two of her sisters to a neighboring village to look for food. While they were walking to find food, all three of them were raped and infected with HIV. Ruth was 4 years old and her twin sisters were 6. This is not an unusual story in Africa. Many African children share similar stories.
My heart is broken. My heart is broken, and I can't wait until God sends me back.
I LOVE these children. They are God's precious treasures.
If you made it all the way through this post, thanks. I know it was long. Thank you for praying me through this hard stuff.