I appreciate many things about Phiona in the way she thinks about the children in our Kirabo Seeds home in Uganda. I especially value her firm belief that these children shouldn’t lose touch with being authentically Ugandan. I know what she means when she sends me a pile of photos titled, “raising Ugandans”. The photos are all about the children walking to the water source and hauling water.
We’ve flooded their lives with comforts and opportunities they have never dreamed possible. It is easy to get “spoiled” when too much comes too fast. I understand that. It is sad though to think that children ever have to suffer without enough food to eat, clothes to wear, shoes for their feet, a bed to sleep on with a blanket to keep the warm. There are resources for their minds coming at them from all directions. They even have books and movies to watch! And now they have a van to take them where they need to be.
All of us hesitate and hold our breath. We don’t want them to lose their valuable humility. Oh my goodness I can just imagine the spanking they would get if Phiona ever heard anyone bragging about their new circumstances. Only words of thanks are allowed to be shared. They all have dish duty, scullery chores, hand washing with the laundry, trips to the veggie patch, and now an occasional reinforcement that water doesn’t always get delivered by a truck that Mama Tonya pays to have done.
It would be natural for them to take all of these new luxuries for granted. But our team won’t let that happen. And here’s another accountability that is being given to the children: there is no more Lugandan allowed to be spoken in the home. Whoa. This means they are accountable for the English education they are getting at school.
The team was creative in creating this English only rule. The children continue to have disrespectful tones, attitudes, and words with one another. So now they can’t say it because they don’t know the English words to insult one another. I think that is genius.
Everyone who works for Kirabo Seeds Uganda has to be fluent in English. Most of them have college degrees. I have come to learn that someone who speaks excellent English is able to show someone helped them get a good education. Their English is like a trophy. Phiona is determined that they will appreciate the gifts they are receiving. We all want to see them become the best they can be with the opportunity they have been given. Life is about accountability, hard work, gratitude, and if there’s a humble attitude in the journey it will be a smooth ride.
I love it that our team knows this and keeps it all in balance. Another wonderful example of the intuitive initiative from the team is how Robert and George had a meeting about one of the bigger boys. They interviewed the children to see what they think the problems are among them and the common denominator was one boy who went out of his way to annoy the other children. Robert and George understood this boy needed more time with male role models, he needs a father figure to show him how to become a man. So they started spending more time talking to him, doing things with him, and of course, the undesirable social behavior has begun to disappear.
For me sitting on this side of the world, I am looking at that and I’m saying: Alleluia. God has put this team together and they are all sensitive, smart, loving Christians who don’t just react, but they think and respond.
I got a report from Kiah who tutors the children in the afternoon when they come home from school. She helps keep order so Auntie Julie can do her job with the home and cooking and not spend all of her time disciplining the children who are loose and misbehaved. When Kiah began in June one of the little girls couldn’t form letters or recognize her name. She had not a word of English in her head. But now she is forming all of her letters, she wrote a note to me, and I received a video message of her saying “I love you” in English. That’s only three months!!
If that isn’t wonderful I don’t know the meaning of the word. I forwarded that video message on to her sponsors and I hope they were as moved to tears as I was to see her bashful face use English. I just can’t help but wonder about the great glory of God who put his hands on these little ones when their parents left them alone on this earth. God has a plan for every child on this planet. He loves them fiercely. And he has drawn people, including me, to follow in his plan to open doors for the children. I understand I wasn’t called to help every child. I keep my head down and I follow what God gives us to do. For now we have our hands full with fourteen children. We are learning how to steer and follow the path God has set before us for His children.
I asked Phiona to make a short and sweet video of each of the children so all of their sponsors could have the pleasure of seeing them in the moving flesh. What a joy they are. George is busy making a documentary of our family in Uganda so I can show people what we do! I can’t wait to see this and share it. The work continues to bless me every day. And sharing the opportunity to be a blessing to these children is my great joy. Let me know if you want to join our group of sponsors to help these children become all they are meant to be.