The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Five of Us, Spring 2014

Uganda Scrapbook

(Is the previous Uganda post all screwed up on your screen too? I'm sorry, I have no idea how to fix it.)

3 March 2010

What follows is a smattering of photos from the entire trip. They are in somewhat-less-than-random order, but perhaps not the best order. The funny thing about Blogger is that once they are in here, I can't change their order. So, it is what it is.

Let's start with our accommodations. We were well taken care of. This is the Hotel Pearl Afrique where we spent most of our nights. The left-most room on the top floor of the right-hand building became affectionately known as the Waterfall Suite, due to some crazy plumbing problems. But, overall, it was a very nice place to stay, considering we were in the middle of Nowhere, Africa. Here we are hanging out one morning waiting for our ride to wherever! :)
I think we almost spent more time in here than in the Pearl! This is the happy little omnibus that took us everywhere we needed to go. Including off-road in the game reserve when we "had" to track down the lions! Here the guys are reloading all our luggage on top for the trip back to Kampala. Below is the "3-in-1" Office of SOM (Sports Outreach Ministries, as it's called in Africa). (1) Kampala office, (2) Uganda Headquarters, (3) Africa Headquarters. Baby Mitch (so called because he's 6'3" and the head of children's ministries at his church--for 500 kids!) wears all three hats and is an expert delegator. He told me that people always ask him why he's not doing something. He says, "What remains to be done?" :) If you read the team blog, you might recognize this as one of the awesome staff devotionals we got to participate in. Patrick, the guitarist, led us straight into worship, right there in that hot, cramped office. It was wonderful.

Okay, on to the fun stuff. We quickly discovered in Gulu that our sunglasses were the best toy ever made. For one thing, kids could see their reflections in the lenses. For another, they are just gosh-darn fun to wear! Just look at the fun we're having!
The first day of reality in Gulu, the women of the team hung out at the day care in the morning. The day care is on the Farm, Koro Farm, sort of the heart of the ministry in Gulu. It's a real working farm with livestock (cows, chickens, turkeys, goats, and pigs) and crops (sweet potatoes, yams, beans, peas, bananas, mangos, cassava, and maybe more). It's an example to the villagers of how things can be grown for profit and sustainance. The crazy thing about it is that it's sooooooo smart! There are hybrids here that reproduce at alarming rates (which is good for turning a profit), trees are grafted together to create a stronger plant, organic treatments protect from pests. It's really amazing what they are doing.

They have this day care for working parents with little kids. Everywhere you go around Uganda you see these little knots of little kids without adults. The day care gives these kids a place to go where they can learn the basics, be loved on, and fed. The day we were there, there were 60 some kids and two teachers. But, it was the most well-behaved group of littles I have ever seen. One of my favorite things was how the teachers got the children's attention. "Good children?" she would say, and immediately 60 little voices would respond, "Good teacha!"

This little girl (pictured below) is named Eve. She's so smart, she could have taught the class! She knew the answers for every question, every word of every song, and was clearly a leader by personality and charisma. We all fell in love with her right away. I love how this photo captures her vitality and larger-than-life personality!

This is the building that currently houses the day care and church. It's too small, so as the budget permits, a new building, including administrative offices, is being built. On Sundays, they put up a tent right next to this building to shade the overflowing worshippers.

Small Maureen and Susan (pronounced "Suzanne") are the teachers. I'm not sure how old Susan is, but she's quite young. She's the head teacher and the children respect her greatly. Her smile lights the room! Maureen heads the Sunday choir.
We spent an afternoon at the Remand Home in Gulu. It's like a juvenile hall, sort of. It's gov't run and holds kids who are awaiting trials and/or sentencing. They are typically there for crimes like theft and rape, but at least one is accused of murder. There are no fences and I didn't notice any guards. The woman who was in charge was teeny-tiny and I only saw one man staffer there with her. There's not much for the boys to do, so SOM is introducing sports and chess ministries. Our team got to play volleyball with the boys and then watched a couple of them play chess.

This is Florence. She works with SOM in Gulu. She has a very fun personality and was one of my favorites. She gave each of us Acholi names (names in the native language), which makes it easier for them to pray for us. Mine was Lamaro which means "God's love." :) I think it's awfully fitting for her too!
This is Christine. She's very sweet also. God has brought her through a lot. She is living with HIV, but is very healthy and none of her kids have it. Her husband was very hostile to the gospel and was a drunk. He even tried to kill Aloysius. He would leave the house with a gun and come back some time later saying he didn't feel like doing it after all. One day he actually made it to Aloysius' house and confronted him. Somehow, Aloysius ended up leading him to Jesus that night!

The Farm is sort of on the edge of Gulu Town, but right in the middle is the Kirembe Center. This is where SOI began in Gulu. It's a rather large preschool and kindergarten now. I don't recall all the ins and outs of who is privileged enough to attend here, but there are fees. And, so there are many children who cannot attend here or anywhere. We noticed them hanging around the edges of the places and spent a little time loving these precious street children.

Pastor Tim even got down on their level and loved on them a bit.

It's amazing to see in their little eyes the difference between kids who are on their own and those who are loved on in the SOM projects.
This is inside the school grounds, where teachers and children are playing organized games.
Notice the sun-fearer wearing long sleeves, long pants and a hat! :)

This picture was taken at a mid-week cell group. The house belongs to a man and wife. She was formerly the witch doctor of the area. She told us that 8 months ago people gathered in that very spot seeking her remedies from dark arts and that she is so pleased that they now gather here to worship the living God.
It should also be noted that this is the scene of the famous, "I'm going to pop!" incident (read the team blog for details!).

Lugutu is a village that is several hours drive out of Gulu. Because of it's distance, Aloysius has now placed four staff members here long-term. This village has been transformed by the ministry of SOM. When Aloysius first visited, he found women without clothing, people drinking swamp water, and no means of income. Now they have a well, a school with qualified teachers, a church, and some livestock. An elderly couple donated the 4 acres required for the school/church and the children's playground. Some of the school kids are playing soccer here.
This is the Lugutu school/church. One hundred eighty kids attend this school!
This is the well for Lugutu. Our team filled jerry-cans with fresh, clean water and carried them to the women who were washing the dishes from the school lunch. It wasn't far, but it was incredibly hard. We're wimps.
This is a piggery that houses one of the 34 SOM Family Strengthening Program pigs. These pigs were born on the farm and are a special species that can reproduce 3 times a year with 10-15 piglets per litter! One pig will provide for one child's school throughout it's lifetime. Remarkably, there is a thriving market for pork in and around Gulu! So, SOM provides a piglet and watches over the family to make sure they are caring for the pig properly. If they are not doing well enough, they get a warning, but then the pig will be taken away. If they succeed, however, they bring the pig back to the farm to mate. Then, one half of the first litter goes back to SOM to provide for the program's continuance. SOM also gives food for the pig in the beginning to help the family get established. Soon, the family can help others in the village as well!

These baby pigs at the farm are getting up to size so they can be given to families.

This guy is a breeder. He has LOTS of growing left to do! I think they told us the pigs wind up weighing 4-600 lbs! Crazy big pigs these are!!!!

We got to help build a piggery in a village that SOM is reaching out to. People are coming back to the villages now as the government is trying to get them to leave the Internally Displaced Peoples camps. The pastor of this village estimates that about half of the people have returned. But, they just couldn't attract the kids to the church. That was until the pastor met Aloysius and began sports ministries here! Now they have lots of youth (who helped us build the piggery--or maybe it was us helping them!). The church is also running adult literacy programs, and offering much more to help people rebuild their lives. This pole was just cut down to form the structure of the piggery. Tim and Ashley are taking it from the field to the piggery site.

After spending ourselves on behalf of the piggery (we carried heavy rocks for the foundation too), we drove for hours and hours on roads and then trails not made for vehicular traffic. Then we hiked for another half-an-hour to the soccer field of a village called Ungai. Pretty incredible to find a giant-sized (I'm told it was normal, but it sure seemed huge to me!) soccer field out there, complete with goal-posts! At first we saw young kids warming up, but it turned out they weren't our opponents. The young men in the matching orange jerseys (almost all number 4!) were much more intimidating! (This team pic is after the match and the talk.)

Here's your team! Don't we look great?! :) Proof that ANYONE can wear a Youth Medium penny with panache!

A quick "snap" of Aloysius and the interpreter sharing God's word. Those folks up front kneeling are coming to Christ for the first time or rededicating their lives to Him! Yay!
The sun was setting as souls were being saved in the very, very remote Ugandan bush. It was so picturesque. Amazing.
Switching gears now, this photo was taken in Lajwatek, the village Life CC has adopted. This was a Saturday and these young boys were spending their weekend at the hard labor of making bricks. Earth, water, and straw are mixed by hand with hoes. It's not easy work for adults. I think these sturdy boys were rather glad the Mzungus showed up and gave them an excuse to take a break!
This is Jessica's house. Before and after. Jessica is a widow who returned to Lajwatek, her home, from an IDP camp. In the foreground of this photo you can see the house she returned to. She has several young kids and no income. She had no way of rebuilding her house. Until SOM stepped in and provided the bricks. The male half of our team got to help deliver the bricks on our first real day of ministry (Wednesday) while we girls were helping at the day care. SOM has a brick making machine and technology that doesn't require firing the bricks. Which means the people don't have to cut down trees (many of them fruit-bearing) to build the fires to make the bricks. In time, SOM will teach the people of Lajwatek this better way of making bricks and Life CC will buy them a brick machine. But, for now, the bricks had to be delivered.
When we returned on Saturday so that the entire team could get a taste of what Lajwatek is like, this is what we found--the house was built! I think I already told you how impressed we were and that this was instrumental in our decision to adopt Lajwatek.

This was a very common sight in Northern Uganda: children caring for children and babies.
Here's the team with the people of Lajwatek after church. We had just told them that we would be taking them in our hearts and telling our church all about them. And, that we planned to partner with them and SOM to restore their lives.

This is Aloysius. Someone should write a book about him. The things God is doing through him, the authority he walks in, the wisdom he has while still being relatively young, his amazing vision for his countrymen, his standard of excellence, his ability to pass on what God has given and taught him... Really, it would take a book.
The team that fearlessly "pioneered a new initiative" (sorry, inside joke) for LCC in Uganda. At the game reserve, overlooking the Nile. It was wonderful to have a refreshing break in our time there.

After the safari/game park, we went to the major city, Kampala. SOM reaches four of the seven slums and again, the work they are doing is mind-boggling. I have this thing about having pride in other people doing something really, really well. I cry when I watch figure skating on tv because I'm so stinking proud of those people. I feel it when I hear a great singer. I have even felt it watching football (if you know me at all, this will blow you away!). And I most definitely felt it for the men and women who are this ministry. Here in the slums, you feel the depression and hopelessness. It's heavy. But, these men are bringing hope and change, through Christ Jesus. They and He are empowering young men (and a few young women) to make it out of the slums. That just doesn't happen.
In that little room through the door behind me, SOM runs a bakery. They train young men as bakers, giving them a marketable skill and a crazy-attractive work ethic that can carry them above this poverty.
This is the corner of the "field" where they do the sports outreach in one of the slums. You can see the goat there, but there are also cows (with massive horns) out of frame. You can see all the garbage everywhere. It's all over. You can see the dip from the edge--it becomes lower toward the center, making the playing area sort of bowl-shaped. It's not ideal, but it does create lots of contacts with young people, and opens the doors for many teachable moments. Sports is one of the most valuable ministry tools imaginable in Uganda.
Another view of the edge of the "soccer field."
From the heart of the slum to the center of the city. There is an economy here in Kampala, but it's almost impossible for those living in poverty to rise above their circumstances and enter into that world. Finally, our team with many of the SOM staff from Kampala. I'm telling you, it was totally our honor to walk where their feet walk daily. To know their names is a privilege. To have had a glimpse into their hearts, humbling.
Thanks for sharing the journey with me. If you have questions, I'd be happy to give a shot at answering them, but 10 days isn't long enough to know everything. :) We're looking forward to the day when A and I can both go together. I can't wait for him to know what I know through his own experiences. And, I can't wait to get back among these amazing people.


Ashley Lindbert said...

What a wonderful site. You did an amazing job on this. Reading through and seeing all the pictures made me even more excited for our trip back in October.

Veronica said...

I am not sure why I didn't ever know about this site. Funny I googled Lajwatek and found you. Hmmmm. Love you, this is wonderful

My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001


ours through biology, born 7/25/2004, home 8/1/2004


ours through adoption from Liberia, West Africa, born 7/15/2005, home 10/25/2007


ours through domestic adoption, born 1/15/2011, home 2/10/2011, final 8/3/2011

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Round Two Timeline

  • 9/24/08 Home study update home visit for Ghana adoption
  • 10/15/08 Dossier sent to AOHG
  • 10/15/08 I600A application sent to USCIS
  • 10/30/08 First heard about possible domestic private adoption
  • 11/18/08 Last spoke with contact about possible domestic adoption; expected to hear back about meeting with birthmother
  • 12/3/08 Withdrew application from AOHG
  • 1/6/09 Found out another family had been chosen for possible domestic adoption
  • 1/21/09 USCIS fingerprinting appointment
  • 1/8/09 Received USCIS fingerprinting appointment notice
  • 4/11/09 Sent Pre-Application to Covenant Care Adoptions for Domestic Infant Adoption program
  • 6/8/09 Social worker visit to update home study from International to Domestic
  • 7/24/09 Received completed home study update
  • 8/25/09 Went "on the list" for birthfamilies to choose from
  • 4/28/10 Found out a birth mom had chosen us
  • 5/8/10 Met the birth mom
  • 5/11/10 Got the call that birth mom changed her mind
  • 5/19/10 Birth mom's scheduled c-section
  • 11/30/10 Visit from DSS sw about foster parenting
  • 11/30/10 Got the call that another birth mom had chosen us
  • 12/21/10 Met with the birth mom
  • 1/15/11 @1:42 PM BB was born!
  • 1/19/11 ICPC (interstate) paperwork sent to GA for approval
  • 1/31/11 ICPC Clearance Approved
  • 2/10/11 Placement Ceremony and Pup comes home!!!!
  • 8/3/11 It's Official! Pup's Adoption Decree was issued