Sunday, January 20, 2013

Uganda Photo Journal - Days 1 to 3

In the interest of time, I think the best way to catch you all up is with a photo journal of sorts - less words, more pictures. I really want to share our time here with all of you but after falling so far behind, the idea of typing it all out is more than a little overwhelming. Besides, I know most of you are just here for the pictures anyway :)

So, here's my best effort at recapping days one to three... I will try to do days four to six (the camp) tomorrow.
***Disclaimer: Parts of this will be inspired by blatantly plagiarized from my aunt Corina's e-mail updates as she has been doing a much better job documenting our trip than I have.***

We arrived in the early morning hours (think 1 a.m.) on Friday, January 11 and spent the night at a motel near the airport before driving into Kampala. We were greeted in the morning by a baboon perched on the water tower outside and everyone agreed - we were officially in Africa.

First Morning in Uganda!
Left to right: my mom, Wendy, me, my uncle, Peter and my aunt, Corina.

Our welcoming committee

Once in Kampala on Friday, we had a chance to catch up with my African brother, Bonny who you may remember reading about here. I met Bonny on my first trip to Africa in 2006 and our friendship has been growing stronger and stronger ever since. Over the years, Bonny has become a member of our family calling my mom "mom" and my grandma "grandma". Bonny even named his first born daughter Wendy (my mother's name!). For years Bonny has been praying that my mom would be able to come to Uganda and having my aunt and uncle come along was the icing on the cake. There is no doubt in my mind that in the months and weeks leading up to this trip he was the most excited of all of us! For those of you know familar with Bonny, I encourage you to follow the link above to read more about his story, his heart and his vision. Bonny has adopted four children (in addition to his biological baby) and we were thrilled to meet three of them, along with their Mommy, Julian, on Friday.

Bridget, Uncle Peter and Joram were quick friends
Jjaja (grandma) Wendy and Baby Wendy 

Bonny, Wendy and Julian

On Saturday we started the week off with a bang with a visit to Kids Club Kampala. Again, I have talked about Kids Club on my blog many times before but if you are not familiar with them, I would encourage you to follow the above link to their website or to go back and read more here, here or here. I was first introduced to Kids Club in 2007 by Bonny and his good friend, Sam who were in the process of starting this ministry. At that time both Sam and Bonny had a desire to reach out and share God's love with the impoverished children around them. They had many dreams of how they would like to do that and were praying that God would make a way for them to accomplish His will. Six years later, Kids Club is working in 16 different centres, reaching over 4000 children each week! On Saturday we had the opportunity to visit two of these centres. The first was in a rural village called Guyaza. There we met about 75 children and spent nearly three hours playing with bubbles, balloons and balls along with lots of hugging and hand-holding.It was really neat to see our small team of four spread out across the field, each loving the children in their own way according to our own unique gifts - encouraging the older boys, being silly with the little ones, joining in the kids' games, praying with those who God had put in our path. What a blessing it was to see my family loving so whole-heartedly and falling in love with the children I have loved for so many years. 

After a quick stop at Bonny's home-in-the-making (more on that another time), we headed out to Katanga. Those of you who have been followers of my blog for a while will remember Katanga as the place where the school supply distribution took place on my last trip. Unlike the lush, green, tree-filled field in Guyaza, Katanga is one the poorest slums in Kampala, filled with little more than dust, dirt and despair. Katanga has long held a special place in my heart and and I was glad to be returning once again. Before Kids Club began, Sam and Bonny took us on a walk through the slums to give us a better understanding of the conditions these kids are living in. Remembering the first time I was given such a tour, I know how staggering it can be. My aunt described it this way: "It was a heart-wrenching, and heart-warming, experience to walk single file, following our Ugandan leaders, through the narrow, rutted, passages between the "houses", and have dozens of children running out of their homes to walk with us, usually with several clinging to our hands. Wendy likened it to a 'pied piper' experience... These children live a harsh reality, but as one girl told us, 'the best thing about Kids Club is learning about God'. The strength of their faith and love for God can certainly put most of ours to shame." We spent our time in Katanga pouring out as much love as we could to these dirty, sick, malnourished, beautiful children and I think it is safe to say that I am no longer the only one whose heart will forever remain in that place.

Finally, on Sunday we went to church in the morning and had an afternoon filled with last-minute camp preparations for the following week. That evening we had the privilege of attending an outdoor live dinner theatre that highlighted some of the many Ugandan cultural groups through their music and dance. The highlight for all of us, however, was getting to spend the evening with Bonny's family and with Allan, a wonderful young man of 18 who my mom has sponsored for over 6 years, but had never met before that evening. We ate, laughed, shared stories, and even danced together and, as my aunt so beautifully put it, "it certainly felt like our family grew again that evening."

The Family Picture

My mom, her sponsor child, Allan, and her namesake, Wendy


Freedom Hollow Farmgirl said...

Beautiful thank you for sharing!


Jill said...

Awesome! Simply beautiful!