Friday, May 15, 2015

Jinja part 1

It has been more than a week since we've been home and I had really meant to continue to post all this time but I tell you what, I have had a TERRIBLE time with jet lag!  I've been going to bed by 8pm almost every night and some nights I would even fall asleep earlier. My afternoons would drag me around.  
I've been trying to get caught up on all the things that I left behind. 

But I do want to tell you about our last 2 days in Uganda before our 34 hour journey back home.  It will come slowly though as I have so much to catch up here at home on the farm.

On Saturday morning, May 2nd, we had 3 friends arrive at the house to pick us up so we could head to Jinja, Uganda. This is about a 2 hour drive from where we were in Kampala and only because of traffic.  It was an adventure of a day!

As we headed out of town the weather was gloomy and rainy.  

We drove through some beautiful countryside.  Here we have tea fields.  We asked what kind of tea and Dianna just said it's just tea, but they call it chia.  Chia=tea. We drove by a tea plantation.

We also drove by some sugar cane fields.
Patrick said, "Here is the forest!"
We stopped off at one of several places where you can get refreshments along the way.  It isn't like your typical Quickie Mart. We didn't even need to get out of the car, nor could we even if we wanted to.  Look at them surrounding the car...they are vendors.  They rush at your car as you pull in. Tapping on the windows and thrusting their goods through any and all open windows.  I didn't even dare open my window.

We arrived in Jinja and the clouds broke for a bit!  We went to a place claiming "The Source of the Nile". It was on Lake Victoria which is truly the source of the Nile. 
 Fishing boats above, out on Lake Victoria.  Below, if you click on the picture you can probably read the description of the Great Nile River.  That's Dianna and me in the picture.  She is one of the lab technicians at the UCI lab. 

We had to duck in out of the rain a bit.  We found our way to a pub called "Rumors of the Nile".  
We bought a few souvenirs before leaving this park and heading back.  
We headed to have lunch before going home though at a place called Kingfisher Resort.  More on that in another post.

A jack fruit tree and a mango tree.

Sunday, May 03, 2015


Today I have been preparing for our departure from Uganda. It's been a laid back day. James has been somewhat ill the last few days and so we stayed home from Church. We ran quickly to grab a few more gifts for family and friends back home, packed and took a nap. Now I'm just waiting for the final touches of packing and Isma to arrive.
I realized though that I've had a VERY full and exciting 2 days to talk share, well one full day and one awesome evening. I also have quite a few random thoughts I'll probably be sharing for days.
On Friday, May 1st it was a holiday (Labor Day) so the offices were closed. We stayed at the house until evening. James did work from home because it wasn't a holiday for him. I just sat around. It was kind of boring. :) I know, I shouldn't use that word. But really, I didn't even have a good book to read.
We had plans for the evening though. We were headed out to NdereCultural Center to see the Ndere Troupe preform. What a show! I thoroughly enjoyed and so badly wished the kids were with me. Patrick and Michel picked us up at 6pm and we headed out.
Here we are by one of the display huts at the center.
We did get a few gifts at the center for ourselves. Some art for the walls. I've fallen in love with the african wall art.
The dancing and music were so wonderful. They take you to various places around Uganda and share a traditional dance and the meaning behind it. Pretty impressive.

 The picture above is the opening song.  It's just a musical introduction of sorts.  Then man down on the ground below the others is the director.  He was truly AMAZING to watch!  He directed them with his WHOLE body.  I could have just watched him all night!

The last dance was from the Acholi tribe which happens to be where Patrick is from.

I have some videos and will try to upload them to YouTube and link them here tomorrow.  You'll enjoy them!

Sitting in Amsterdam now!  1/2 way home!! (Yes, my posts can span a couple days before publishing!)

Friday, May 01, 2015

My Last Day at the UCCF and UCI

I arrived at the UCI Thursday morning and delayed heading to the UCCF because I knew I'd have to sit around for a bit. So I hung out with James for about 30 minutes.
When I arrived at the UCCF it was quite quiet. Moses greeted me and introduced me to a couple high school students who were waiting for the rest of their group. The UCCF has a campaign called 3C: Children Caring about Cancer. They go around to all the schools promoting cancer awareness, hygiene and getting children involved in helping and caring about those who have cancer. They have organized groups of high school students who rotate coming in and bringing the cancer patients needed supplies. This particular group that came in today was about 6 girls and they had bags and boxes full of supplies.
Tons of fruit, porridge, milk, toilet paper and soap. Moses told me that toiletries are a huge need.
While the girls waited, I waited. I did spend a few minutes buying t-shirts to take home, UCCF t-shirts. They were only $5 each!!
After a short time I finally told Moses that I really could do something. Maybe I could make room on a shelf for the supplies from the suitcase to go (since I needed to take it with me today anyway). So I did that. I was then told that it was very possible Becky may not be able to come in at all today because of a sick family member. So I decided to grab a coloring book and go make copies somewhere. I told Moses that I was going to make copies so that I had something prepared for the children in case Becky didn't come.
I went and asked Patrick if he knew where I could easily make copies and he said, “Sure.” He took me over to the clinic offices and Lydia (IT tech) helped me make copies.
I made 3 different pictures (15 each). I am so glad I did because when I got back to the office I was told Becky wasn't coming in. Ben said, “You know more about it up there than I do now since you've been up there 3 days.” So Moses and I headed up the hill to the UCI children's ward. He helped me get all set up and then headed back down the hill leaving me with the children!
I was completely comfortable with this! They all knew me now and were so excited to receive their shading pages. We had Hello Kitty today!
Just as I was starting to hand out crayons a woman came running from the ward, screaming and crying. She stopped right outside the doors. Right in front of me. A few other women came to her assistance and she fell to the ground, crying and shaking. People were walking by saying, “Oh, sorry.” It was completely heart wrenching. All I could tell was that she just lost her child. Moses was actually still here at this point so I asked him about it. He said she THOUGHT her child had died, but in fact he/she had not. But she did spend the next 2 hours crying and I so I was thinking that the child really doesn't have that much time left. I'm not sure what child it was so I don't know if I knew the child or not. This was very difficult to see.

The children thoroughly enjoyed the time they had for shading. I was so happy to be able to come in Becky's place to provide this time for them. There were many familiar faces and some new faces. Here is a young girl,
maybe 13 years old or so, with her niece. Her name is Prossy. She told me that this was her sisters baby, but the baby often called her mama. Her sister doesn't look much older than she does and at some point came to get the baby who became quite fussy. Prossy's nephew was the one in the cancer ward. He looked to be about 4 years old. With him so sick I'm sure Prossy helps take care of baby quite a bit!

Soon Moses came back with Winnie and the high school students.
We sent all the children to their beds to receive their gifts. Winnie asked me to help. I mostly followed along. We handed out soap, toilet paper and a bag full of fruit. Each family was so grateful.

While the children were still in their beds we cleaned up all the crayons and paper and got the chairs and mats ready to bring the TV out for the afternoon. As the children came shuffling back in they sat to watch their movie for the day.

I started to say good bye to some of them. I specifically made sure to tell Douti that I was going back to America. Abednego was sitting next to him. I described my plane ride and that I was leaving. Abednego asked me, “Can we go with you?” Heart broken I had to say, “I so wish I could take you with me but I can't.” 
This is Abednego, Douti and me.

I said my good byes. 
I wish I could have done so much more!

I want to remember these faces forever. I can't remember nor actually understand what all their names are but I will try.  Here are the children of God:

(L-R)Abednego, Sam, Thoms (in back shading), Faith and 2 young ladies (the older one was always so beautifully dressed, the younger just as lovely but the one fighting cancer)
This is Frida!  Tall and beautiful.  Always with a smile and willing to help me understand the other children.

This beautiful little girl I never heard her talk.  But she giggled to no end when I placed this "crown" on her head!

This is Mercy Grace!

This quiet little boy has Burkitts Lymphoma, a completely curable cancer.  No child here in the US would die from it.

Christine.  Quiet and lovely.  She loved to shade.  Wednesday and Thursday she was always with another little girl, Annet.  I loved the smiles they gave me when they completed their shading.

This is Sheena.  She was packed and ready to go home when I saw her Thursday!

He stole my heart, Daynese.  On Thursday he never came out to the play area.  He wasn't doing very well.  I missed his smiles.

Little Lucy.  Poor little Lucy with leukemia. Her momma said she is getting worse.

This is Peace holding baby Grace.  Holding this baby put smiles on Peace's face.  She also loved to draw.  The little girl in the yellow dress was just visiting for the day.  Her mother worked there.

This is Stephen.