I fought with a mosquito who found its way inside my net last night. That’s when I noticed there’s a rooster and too many dogs in this neighborhood. Somehow sleep returned to me and I know it’s because there’s a new person in my life, I have a warm happy feeling in my heart!
Early in the morning I got a text from George,” Hallo jjajja Abbie!” I should explain. First of all I’ve known George since I first met our own Kira and I’ve been in Kampala for the important events in his life. Last year I was the photographer for his wedding to Irene! He regards me like a mother. And just yesterday Irene gave birth to a baby girl, Abbie. She was three and a half kilograms. Itty bitty. Jjajja is the word for grandmother. Actually it means old woman, but it is the highest level of respect someone could give. And mothers and grandmothers here are renamed after a first child’s birth. For example Irene calls me “Mama Kira” because Kira is my first Ugandan child. Now they call me jjajja Abbie, to honor me with the position of favor in their new family. It is a humbling happy opportunity for me accept.
When I came to see the new family in the hospital I had to undress her from the three layers of swaddling blankets so I could have a good look at her. She became alert and we had a good gaze at one another. I learned something about dark babies. They come out light, but Phiona said you can tell by the tips of their ears how dark they will be. She will be dark like her daddy. I taught Irene how to swaddle an infant up tight into a bundle and then we discussed breastfeeding. It was my honor and pleasure to help teach her how to breastfeed. Funny it isn’t really a natural thing at all, it takes learning for both the baby and mama. So we had a lesson, and I was overjoyed to be able to share my experience with this sweet young mama. Life is at it’s complete best when you are able to share what you have learned with someone who is just learning, and it’s actually useful!
As I listened to George talk about how it felt to watch his baby girl be born and the effect it had on his heart I could see he was an altered man. He said he was overwhelmed with a great love and the full impact of responsibility to provide and protect. He is so in love with his baby, but also the experience has deepened his love for his wife. He told me, “I wish every man loved his wife like I love Irene.” I know for sure if that could happen the people in this world would bring great joy to God. He shared with me that during the pregnancy they would learn new things about pregnancy together, they shared all of it. When they learned she shouldn’t drink soda, he stopped bringing her soda. When she wasn’t willing to eat, he said, “uhuh, do you want to hurt our baby?” He is a doting loving husband and now has learned how much love can flow from one heart as his new daughter has opened another full force of flow.
So his first instinct was to go to work and provide! He called and said, I’m working today we need to go get that van. While I was on safari George went all over Kampala looking at every fourteen seater van and narrowed it down to one. It was in the back row of a large lot of vehicles packed like a new York city sandwich. It will probably take them all day to get it out of there! I have no idea how they do it. I’m convinced there is a crane somewhere to air lift it.
Used Car shopping in Uganda? What in the world have I got myself into? I wouldn’t step foot onto a used car lot in America, let alone here where my skin tone doubles the price. But George did his homework, he has a degree in auto engineering, and he has a friend who knows a lot about mechanics who helped him find this one. The van is on the NEW lot in Uganda. Seriously. It is a 1996! And it has a hundred thousand miles on it. This is new! It is a Toyota and runs on diesel so I’m told it will run forever. The body looks great and the engine sounds good to my novice ear. It doesn’t have any knocking noises anyway. And for my husband’s sake, it has air conditioning! No more African saunas when the tsetse flies swarm. So we sat in a dark cramped office with the big guy behind the desk checking me out. I hid my diamond ring, but my camera caught his eye. He asked if I was a journalist, I nodded, and he said, “I know because that is a strong camera.” We got the best price we could get. But the vans here don’t come with seats in the back. We have to go get seats put in after they manage to get it out of that lot.
We have our own VAN!! I want to shout Hallelujia. For two years I have been saving donations and hoarding them away for the time when we had a real emergent need. Countless occasions have passed where money flowed from my hands into this sinking hole, but I refused to touch the money provided by God for the good of the children, we just used our own personal money. I’m seriously fearful of our almighty God and I couldn’t touch money he has provided to our ministry without having the absolute peace that I could say I know where it went and how it was used. I am so thankful and respectful to those who have obediently given their financial sacrifice to provide for orphans. I’m seriously protective over those funds. (I personally know how hard it is to raise these funds.)
A few things have happened where Craig and I realized, the first thing we need is a van to move these children around for their regular routine, and most importantly for emergencies. Renting a car costs fifty dollars a day. Every time a kid has to go to the clinic, or shopping needs to be done, a car has to be rented. We also have to pay for fuel on top of that. People here don’t drive anyone anywhere without calculating how much it is costing them in fuel. It is always on the mind. People with cars let them sit in their driveway because they don’t have the money for the fuel.
Since I have been here three problems have come up to indicate the time has come to get our own transportation. Abdul has bought a van of his own since I was last here, and he was charging Kirabo Seeds to rent his van. Craig and I agreed that was a conflict of interest. His van business is so much more profitable than what we can pay him that we agreed to part ways so he could better provide for his family. In the middle of the night children get fever and must be taken to the hospital. Dickson had a 105 malaria fever in the middle of the night, he nearly died, and Erica insisted we bring the doctor to the house, which meant we had to awake Abdul at three in the morning to take him. Then last Saturday the children were all late coming home from school in the afternoon. (half day of school on Saturdays!) After too long Phiona hopped in the van and went searching for the children. The van we hired to transport them to school and back every day had lost its breaks and went into the ditch. The driver jumped out of the van as it lost control and left our kids in there! When Phiona found them they were all trying to push it up to the road. She left that driver there to solve his own problems and took our kids home. O she was mad. So he’s fired. To protect and provide for our children and save money for our ministry we needed to buy our own van. So, finally, I touched the money God has provided to our ministry to satisfy an emergency need. Thank you God!
With this van we will be able to get our children to a good church where they get fed good bible teaching and Phiona too can be fed the vital nutrients from the word of God. A van also means that Robert will work for us full time and be available to help work with the children. He’s a young man with a heart for God and for children, and he’s committed to our ministry. He will be a great influence on our boys especially, and a good help for Julie. And we’ll save a lot of money we were spending on renting vehicles to get our work done. Glory to God these are his children and he will provide with or without me, I’m just so thankful he’s chosen me to help them fulfill his great plan for each one of these children.
Dare I write more? Ok.
While I was out van shopping and giving breastfeeding lessons as a new jjajja, the team went to Kira’s baby home. They spent all day serving the four Aunties there who take care of thirty babies. It’s seriously hard work. We dropped the team off there in the morning and introduced them to the Aunties who have been there since Kira was first brought to their home. They were so thankful that we provided help to lessen their burden for a day. Before I sped away to the used car lot I challenged each member of our team to pray for every baby that they hold. These are the truly blessed babies who all have families waiting for their court dates to come for them and give them a forever family.
At the end of the day around eight p.m. we had a meeting to share our experiences of the day. Hearing what an impact this baby home had on their hearts gave me great joy. Orphan care is a service where the presence of God is tangible. God hovers over orphaned children and protects them fiercely and anyone who interacts with orphan care can feel it. I appreciate how much the team loved every child there and prayed for the family waiting to take them home. It is a great experience to minister to the families who cannot be here yet to hold their child. I love it that we are able to give back to the home that gave so much to our Kirabo, our daughter Kira. (I was so relieved no one made the joke “I want one” or “can I put one in my suitcase?” For an adopting family who struggles long and hard that’s not funny and it actually is offensive.)
Each young person who has encountered this baby’s home and seen adoption from the inside admits that seeds are planted for how they will one day grow their family. Adoption is not just an option to the infertile, but also an excellent way to grow any family. I love to hear young people make plans to adopt a child because they have seen what a rich service it is to God. This is the essence of Kirabo Seeds. God’s hand on our Kira’s life will plant more seeds in more hearts than we’ll ever know. He is the Master gardener. I love being a laborer in his garden.