Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday

Today was a really special day. Nearly 4 years ago I came to Uganda for the very first time to help run day camps for impoverished children. Our first stop, a school in the village of Luwero, where we were greeted by 400 of the most beautiful, gracious, faith-filled and simply endearing children I had ever known. God did a mighty work in my life in Luwero; it was there that I first fell in love with Uganda and it was there, as we said our very tearful goodbyes and the bus pulled away, that I realized that I would never be the same again. In 2007 I had the opportunity to go back to Luwero once again for a short, three-day visit and, although the whole story is too long to tell right now, those were the three most purposeful, glorious, awe-inspiring days of my life so far. As you can see, Luwero holds many special memories for me.

As I mentioned, when we were first in Luwero in 2006 we were doing camp for 400 children yet there were a handful of them that I made a special connection with. When I returned in 2007, there were 900 children at the school nevertheless, God allowed me to find and reconnect with several of those students that I had connected with that first year and our bond became even stronger. I have continued praying for those students ever since and, even before I made plans to come back to Africa, I asked God to give me a chance to see them one more time. As soon as I realized that I was going to be back in Uganda I e-mailed the social worker at the Luwero school with pictures and first names (that’s all I had) of three specific students and asked he could try to track them down for me. This was no easy request as these students all graduated 2-3 years ago! Still, he gave it his best. One of the students he was never able to identify, another he discovered had moved and the phone number he had for the family was no longer valid. Last week however he told me that he had indeed managed to track down one of the students. She was still in Luwero and if I wanted, I could come and visit her this week. Of course my answer was yes!

So, this morning I headed off to Luwero. The entire trip, from the guesthouse to the school (where the social worker lives), took 2.5 hours but once again, it included a boda ride so I was happy. I arrived at the school and was excited to see Uncle Rommie and his family. He has three of the sweetest children ever and I was excited to see how much they’d grown in the past 3 year years. Oh my, have they ever grown! Our three “babies” were now all grown up. All of Uncle Rommie’s children are extremely smart and, when I asked them if they are still bright like when they were little, they smiled and ran off to show me all their report cards (very rarely a mark under 90%) – so cute! When I get home I’ll have to post before and after pictures. In the meantime, here they are (with their new beanie babies of course!)...

Uncle Rommie's Family - July 2007

Today - Priscilla, Praise & Paphra

After visiting with his kids for a bit, Uncle Rommie and I headed off to see Shalifa. When I first met Shalifa in 2006, I immediately saw in her great potential. We would sit around after camp with a handful of other students who were all trying to teach me Luganda. Shalifa was my best teacher, extremely intelligent and extremely patient, and I’d have to say that she taught me nearly every word I know in Luganda (including how to count to 100!). As we pulled up at Shalifa’s house she ran out to greet us, so excited! She couldn’t believe I still remembered her, let alone that I had come all the way from Kampala to see her. We had a great visit, talking and laughing as we reminisced about old times and then I had the privilege of praying for her in person after all these years of praying from so far away. I know that God has great plans for this girl and, even if we never meet again in this life, I can’t wait to find her in heaven and hear all about how God has used her.

Shalifa had this sign waiting for me when I arrived... (ok, I may not be from the U.S.A. but I felt welcomed nonetheless!)


Shalifa & I - July 2007

Shalifa & I Today

Shalifa was not the only child I got to visit today. You see, I wasn’t the only one whose life was forever changed by that trip to Uganda in 2006. Our team was made up of individuals from all across Canada, the US and the UK – one of those people was my friend Jenny. Jenny and I met here in Uganda in 2006 and, after returning to Canada/the US, we kept in touch. God had stirred something in both of our hearts and we e-mailed each other often as we tried to sort through it all. We met again back here in Uganda in 2007 where we were once again part of the camps team and then the two of us returned together to Luwero for those amazing three days. From there I headed off to New York for my internship with Metro Ministries and Jenny headed off across North America as a chaperone to 26 of the sweetest children you will ever meet – the 30th African Children’s Choir. Jenny spent about 16 months with those kids and obviously fell completely in love with them. Over the past 4 years, Jenny has become more than just a long-distance friend. God has led us on such similar journeys (right about the same time that I left home for one year in Congo/Ukraine, she left for a year in South Africa) and it has been as though we are walking this road together, even from a million miles apart. Anyway, Jenny hasn’t seen her Choir 30 kids in over a year and so, when I realized that I would be back in Uganda, we were both excited for me to see them and give her a full report (with pictures!). Unfortunately, the way the timing fell, the kids ended up being on holidays (all former choir kids stay at a choir-run boarding school but go home to see their families on holidays) both times I’ve been here so I haven’t been able to see them. As I was in the taxi headed to Luwero however, I all of a sudden had what I could only describe as a divine recollection – Daniel, one of Jenny’s kids, lives in Luwero; maybe Uncle Rommie would know where he lives and we could go see him! Well, Uncle Rommie did indeed know where Daniel and his family live and so we popped in for a quick visit. It was great to see him again (I have met Jenny’s kids several times, both here in Uganda and while they were on tour), to see how much he has grown and to hear about how he and all the other kids from his choir are doing. Most of all though, it was great to be able to tell him that his Auntie Jenny loves and misses him and all the other kids.


Daniel - July 2007                                                                      Daniel & I Today

The day kind of passed in a whirlwind and by 2:30 I was back on the taxi to come back to Kampala. It truly was an exhausting day but it was so worth it.

Jenny, I’ve been thinking about you all day… wish you were here!

Jenny & I - July 2007

2 comments:

Jenny said...

I finally got a chance to read your blog! Now I am sitting here in some strange house in France longing for Uganda and wondering why in the world I am not there! Thank you, thank you for going to see Daniel and giving him my love. I loved the video and pictures you emailed me. It is also so very special to see Uncle Rommie's children and remember our amazing time in Luwero. WOW...I get goosebumps remembering the feeling of God's presence and work in that place. I think I need to go now and peak in on the 2 sleeping South African Angels I am taking care of....otherwise I might jump on the first plane to Entebbe! love you lots!

Jenny said...

Andrea, I just reread this and it still makes me cry!