Camp is over and we are tired!!! But we still have a lot going on. Saturday evening we met up with a friend who has been living here for about 6 years. Her name is Ashley. She is Canadian and has been trying to adopt 2 young girls for all these years. The adoption was finalized here in December and now she is working on the final paperwork for Canada. She is hoping to move back home in the fall. Diana and Agnes are her 2 girls and they are too cute and SPUNKY!!! The moment they arrive, they run over and hug or jump on Erin and I. So much fun to be people they know and trust and enjoy even though we are both here on and off. We enjoyed dinner at 2 Friends, a favorite mzungu spot. It is great to hang out and catch up with this dear friend.
Sunday we are headed out the Victory Family Centre in Amber Court. This is a church pastored by Godfrey, a gentle wise man that I have known since very early in my times in Uganda. He often works as a driver for Children of Grace. Pauline who teaches our CPR is his wife and Steven and Raph are members of their church. Stacey’s sponsor Umar meets us and comes as well. We arrived a bit late, so they were praising and worshipping. This is a typical Ugandan church that generally runs a 2.5-3 hour service. We sing for another 30 minutes or so after we arrive. It is a joy to be a part of their worship. Raph had prepped me to prepare something to share with the church. We have had kids from here twice for camp, so there are many familiar faces. The 3 of us are invited to the front to introduce ourselves and share something. Erin is ready for this, so she goes first and shares a brief word with them. Stacey has no clue what is going on, so she kind of follows Erin’s lead and introduces herself and says a few encouraging words. I prepared a short message from the book of 1 Corinthians 12 to share. I pray God will use it!! Pastor Godfrey shared a word as well and they ended church around 12, I think they wrapped early to accommodate the mzungus. We were able to greet many of the members after and I was able to connect with some of the campers too. It was really nice.
From church, we went to collect my 2 sponsor boys and head out to Kingfisher for a relaxing afternoon. This is a safari resort with a restaurant and a swimming pool. I have invited some of our camp staff to join us too. Things started out nice. The service brought us drinks quickly and took our order. Then something went wrong. It took nearly 3 hours for our food to come. Most Ugandan restaurants take a while, but this was extreme. We were planning on eating and then going swimming, I wish we had jumped in the pool right after we placed our orders. We sat around the table and laughed and talked. There were some spirited conversations about men and women. I love this community that God has built around me here. I am so thankful for all their friendships!! We finally ate and then had about 45 minutes to enjoy the pool before Erin, Stacey and I needed to be leaving. We have a dinner date tonight with Raoul and his sisters.
Emma picks us up and takes us back to the guesthouse to change. Stacey has decided to stay in tonight. Erin and I head out to Raoul’s and have a lovely evening with their family. Deborah the oldest of the 4 sisters Raoul supports made us spaghetti bolognaise and some awesome potatoes!! Erin became a mom figure to this family when she lived here, so it feels more like family dinner than visiting guests. After dinner we broke out Blokus for a bit. We had a great time catching up and joking around.
Monday morning we have a few kids that are supposed to come and meet us at the guesthouse. It is raining though, so things are a little delayed this morning. It was actually nice to just hang out. There is a family staying at the guesthouse from Knoxville, Tennessee. They are here to adopt and they have 3 kids already. I spent a lot of the morning talking with them. They have been working in the ministry for many years working with athletes in different venues. Please be praying for them, Mikkeal and Teg are the parents and Azzi, Zeal and Jet are their 3 kiddos. Dennis is the little boy they are adopting.
John and Christine are a brother and sister that Erin and I have known through CoG for years. We have kept up over the years, so we have asked them to come and play for the day. They arrive as Joel, one of my boys, arrives. Mohammed is supposed to come, but I think the rain has kept him home. We head into town when there is a brief break in the showers. Stacey is awesome on the boda, the motorcycle taxis!!! I love her facial expressions!! She’s fearing them a bit, as they would say here. We spend some time shopping on Main Street and we stop by Ritah’s craft shop. Ritah is another good friend of Erin and I’s. She has a daughter named after Erin. It is fun to see her, and she has had another baby since I was here in January. Little Grace is beautiful!!! After visiting for a while, we head to The Keep where we are meeting the baseball boys for lunch and Umar, Stacey’s sponsor boy. The Keep is a restaurant owned by an American family. The food reminds us of home, but the service is definitely Ugandan…2 hours later J It is a fun time to just hang out with the boys and we debriefed camp a little bit. Mostly we just talked. This camp I had to ask a lot more of these guys and I was a little nervous if they would step up to the task. They really did a great job! Past camps they have had the tendency of just staying with each other or the American team members, but I have challenged them to try and spend time with their kids even when there isn’t a scheduled program thing happening. There were only a couple times that I had to remind them. I had told them in January after camp that this one would be kind of a make it or break it one, if they couldn’t change I wouldn’t be able to keep having them for camp. They took the instruction well.
After lunch, I headed out with Joel to get him a few items for school and Erin and Stacey went with the other kids and did some more shopping on Main Street. This afternoon a friend has learned of another piece of land for sale, so I am heading out to see it. I finish with Joel and send him on his way home. Emma and I are going to meet Frank from The Discovery Centre. He and I have had several conversations about land over the last year and a half. He has let me know of other places that he has become aware of. This new place is about 5 minutes from the Discovery Centre, which would be nice. We are greeted by 3 ugandan men. I learn that one is the husband of the headmistress of one of the schools that we just had for camp. That is great!! He knows what we are doing and his community is already benefitting from camp. It can only help!! We spend about 45 minutes walking around and talking about the property, the neighbors, etc. The land is already titled and has been surveyed. It is 30 acres and is currently agricultural land. There is a little bit of everything growing here, which is good news. We want to be able to produce most of the food we’ll need for camp. Emma and I have a few side conversations about things too. He is so cute! He is definitely invested and doesn’t want to see me be used or deceived. The guys actually let me take pictures of the survey map, so I can bring it home to show dad J I am encouraged, but I continue to pray that God would guide us and close any doors before us. Until money changes hands, I don’t think I’ll allow my heart to fully engage.
This evening we were supposed to meet a friend of Erin’s for dinner, but he is stuck in meetings in Kampala, so we decide to just grab Rolexes (omelet wrapped in a chapatti) and chapatti (Ugandan version of a tortilla, but so much better!!) from the local kiosk for dinner and stay in. I had told the baseball boys to stop by in the evening to meet John, who runs the guesthouse. He is starting a sports ministry, so I thought it could be a cool connection for both of them. The boys are already doing ministry with baseball in several schools around Jinja, but they could learn a lot from John and they could help connect John to kids. We all just end up sitting around eating chapatti and talking for a while. It is a good night!
Tuesday I am doing business stuff and Erin and Stacey will be doing their own thing. They are spending time with Ritah’s daughter, Erin and Raoul’s sisters and I think Umar. My day is spent in random meetings and at the bank. I was able to have lunch with Kimi, my Canadian friend here that runs a sponsorship agency. I am so thankful for her!! God is truly knitting us together in life and ministry. It has become a really neat relationship and a friendship that I know will become one of my closest and most needed when I am living here full time. We went to Ling Lings, a restaurant I forget about a lot because it is a little bit out of town. It is authentic chinese food and it is GOOD!!! The lemon chicken…SO TASTEY!!!
This evening I met back up with Erin and Stacey at 2 Friends. Erin’s friend that was stuck in Kampala last night is able to meet us tonight. Junior used to work with the McCoys before they started CoG. Erin met him on her first trip in 2006. Now he is back in school getting his masters and owns a small business. He is all about ministry, so we have a really fun conversation about camp and our hopes and dreams. He is excited to come and see what we are doing. He has actually been invited to come to the US to run a camp in Memphis in just a few weeks. He could potentially become a good contact for down the road when I am looking for full time staff that get the vision and can improve upon what we are already doing. We’ll see?!?! As we are leaving, we see someone who looks familiar across the restaurant. It is Mike and Mary Ann McCoy. She was in the US when I passed by the office earlier on my trip, so it is a fun meeting to get to check in before we go.
As we head back to the guesthouse, the sadness is starting to set in for me. I had to say goodbye to Alan and Cathy this evening who are like siblings to me. Silas will be riding to Kampala with us tomorrow, but we won’t see anyone else tomorrow. So sad!! Everyone has been complaining to me how short this trip was. I agree!! 2 weeks isn’t long enough to spend the time I want to with all the people I love here and to be able to do all the ministry things. Each trip I realize more and more how ready I am to call this home. It will be nice to not feel quite so divided. God give me the peace and patience to go in your timing and not mine, and the wisdom to know the difference!!
We are now in the car on the way to Kampala. We will meet Vicky, my twin and Jolly my lawyer quickly before heading on to the airport. I said that Silas is riding with us. Cool story unfolding that you can be praying for. His older sister ran away about 6 or 7 years ago. It sounds like she may have some mental health issues. They have been looking for her, but she is very paranoid, so hasn’t allowed any of her family to know where she is. Silas has shared his concern for her with me several times and they hadn’t heard anything about her in a while. In the last couple weeks a friend heard from her and let the family know. She told Silas where she has been working lately, so he is riding with us to Mukono, the town she has been in. He is hoping to be able to find her with the few details he knows. He wants restoration of their relationship and to know that she is safe. Please pray for Rachel and Silas that God would help Silas find her and that she would receive him.
Sorry for this very long email, but thank you for your perseverance and your care!! I am so thankful for each of you who are holding us up in prayer. I am so blessed!!! Please pray for safe travels and for our transition back to the States, especially Stacey. I know it will be hard for her to take all she has seen and experienced and process it in light of the life we know in Danville. Pray that the Holy Spirit would gently guide her and give her wisdom to know how to react to everything. Also pray for our bodies to adjust to the time change quickly. Thank you all!!! Love from Uganda!!