It’s been exactly one month since Kelsey and I packed our bags, left home, and headed for Uganda. Wow, how the month has flown by! I can’t believe it was 4 weeks ago when I stepped into “M” for the first time and met all those smiling faces. Faces that I have come to know, love, and look forward to seeing every few days. Oh, and the children who I have drooled over at M3!! They are just too precious and I want to be around them all the time!! And the sweet boys and girls at M2 who I’m blessed to call my friends.
It’s been a challenging month. Coming into this, I knew it would be hard work, but I didn’t think heartache would happen so quickly and so often. There have been a lot of tears but there has been so much joy and laughter! There are lots of stories of abandonment, abuse, suffering and living on the streets, but then there are glorious stories full of hope and redemption.
Kelsey blogged about “Anita” here. Her story is one of the most heartbreaking and we quickly came to adore her. Today, we brought Anita to her family’s home just outside of Kampala. Anita is a double orphan and she hadn’t seen her extended family since she was a child. Yet, they were there the whole time, loving her from far away, not knowing of her situation. They believed she was in boarding school and being taken care of by a family member. She believed she had no family, no one who loved her. Sixty Feet was able to trace Anita’s family and contacted her uncle and grandparents. We spent the entire afternoon with them, getting to know them, and listening to them talk about Anita. Her grandfather said to us, “This is her home. We are her family.” By the end of the day, we were certain there was no other place Anita belonged than here with them. We hugged our sweet Anita goodbye and drove away, promising to visit soon and call often.
Then there is Grace. I met Grace just a few weeks ago when we picked her up from her boarding school for the holiday. She was jumping up and down with joy when we pulled up. She ran up to the car yelling, “Uncle! Uncle” and nearly tackled Moses giving him hugs. It was unimaginable to me that this was the same girl I heard about only a couple months ago. She was living at M1 and planning to end her own life until Sixty Feet intervened. Today, she is a beautiful young lady studying hair dressing at a vocational boarding school, full of joy and loving life. She has many friends and excelling in her studies. She even did a little practice on Moses’ niece!
Finally, there’s this cool dude named Patrick. No, he doesn’t live in one of the remand centers. He’s a normal 21-year-old studying at Makerere University. Last week, Patrick tagged along with us to M1 and M2, toting a giant duffel bag with him. It was full of beads and knick-knacks for making jewelry. He spent his entire day with us teaching the kids how to make necklaces and bracelets. You may think that teenage boys wouldn’t want to make jewelry but you’d be dead wrong! They swarmed those tables right along with all the girls and proudly wore their creations. The teachers at Patrick’s university are on strike so school has been cancelled. Is Patrick out celebrating, having fun with his friends, and enjoying the time off? No, he’s hanging out with “the least of these.” Most Ugandans have deemed children living in these prisons as the lowest of the low, unwanted and stained because of where they live. Not Patrick, he’s right next to them, getting dirty, singing worship and dancing around. I’m blessed to call him friend and to be able to serve alongside him.
So much more has happened in the past month that I haven’t had the chance to blog about, but I will soon, including the incredibly awesome Sixty Feet Missions Team who came to serve for one week!! Thank you for your words of encouragement, prayers, emails, etc. this past month. I truly feel like I have a wonderful support system back home and all around the world.