All night while I lay awake hoping for sleep to return I listened to the wild life outside my open window…a window without screen. An outdoor light burned brightly nearby my window and I could hear the bugs swarm it. I think I heard the swooping of bats as well. My heart nearly stopped at the thought of a bat entering my bedroom. If that happens you will know because every American will hear me scream from Africa. I have a neurotic fear of the ugly things, and in my mind the African bats are the size of the storks that perch on building tops here. You might say close the window but you can’t imagine the stifling equator heat that would boil my blood as I sleep. No wonder I couldn’t sleep.
We had some banking and household shopping business to take care of first thing before our adventures could get underway. There’s a store called Game that is owned by Walmart . It’s an odd experience because they feel similar except that in America Walmart is where you go for the cheap stuff and here Game is the most upscale shopping one can do. It is the only place here where I can actually use my credit card! Using cash is the only way in Uganda, which means I have to have enough of it wired over from America, and carry plenty in my purse while we are out shopping or the task is not completed. It is tedious and burdensome. I sing a little alleluia when I can swipe my plastic.
After a lunch where Jack could get a cheeseburger to enjoy (until he discovered an unrecognizable pink sauce oozing over the side) we were on our way to the children’s home through traffic. It always takes an hour to get anywhere because traffic moves at a crawl. Kira was at the edge of her seat looking at everything she sees. She’s interested, alert and communicative about this culture. She must be so fascinated to see people who look like her. Her experience has flipped. At home she’s the only one who looks as dark as she is and now here she’s like everyone. I wish I could understand all of her thoughts.
At the Kirabo Seeds home the children swarmed the car and lifted Kira out of our van and to my shock she allowed it! She went straight into play. The new compound of our home is wide and flat. The children are constantly outdoors playing happily. It is the most charming sight for me to see all fifteen children freely enjoying happy play. This scene in contrast to some of the suffering and laboring they once endured is a great reward.
We bought four hoolahoops at Game so Jack could teach the kids how to do it. He’s good considering how straight and skinny he is in the middle. The children tried so hard to keep the circles moving. Finally they resorted to the game they know best, running it like a tire pushing it along with a stick or hand. They played more games, like red light green light. Jack taught them how to play tag. The women finished the last of the corn and Robert took a saw to some wood. The pots were lined up simmering with dinner and the cat lounged in the midst of it all. The heat of the day passed and a cool breezed cooled us. I think it was as perfect a scene as I could hope to experience.
Phiona announced it was time to fetch water for the evening baths. There are two bathrooms in the house but the children must bathe in the outdoor bathing room because they make such a mess in the house. The house has piped tap water in it but the children aren’t allowed to use it because it is expensive. It is for the kitchen use only. So they must walk a short way down the hill to the water source and carry jerricans home with their water. We all believe the routine of doing this will help keep them African and prevent them from being terribly spoiled by western conveniences.
I was eager to join the trek to the well and so were Kira and Jack. The children held Jack’s hand and led him down the path. The neighborhood is quiet and though large beautiful homes are being built it has a calm village feel. There were cows grazing, people bent over their crops, children running, men stopped and stared. Green rolling land meets up with the hills behind that touch the blue African sky. I took a few deep breaths and thought, I could for sure enjoy this forever. The peacefulness of the village appeals to me and I simply want to walk as far as I can and greet everyone I encounter with the few phrases of Lugandan I know.
To see my little American princess with Ugandan blood run free in a scene such as this brought a choking sensation to my throat. Everything in my heart wants her to grow up all her life and know her culture and feel she is a part of it. This trip is the first time she’s aware of her environment and interested. To see her try to carry a small starter size jerrican of water was precious and lasted two steps before she realized it was work and gave it to someone else. Phiona offered to bathe Kira and so she stripped her naked in the yard which sent the princess running around crazy laughing to be free. The cold water of the basin bath was a shock and she screamed, but she also really likes it so she helped soap herself up. To rinse the soap off was a challenge because Kira got away so Phiona chased her with the basin and threw the water over her. It was hysterical because Kira enjoyed it. We all laughed and laughed. It felt so good to have such simple fun here with the family.
The children bathed and ran one by one in towels dripping wet to through the yard. Once cleaned up they assembled with Auntie Kiah for their devotions at the tables. Stephanie Garcia, a friend and missionary friend recommended the devotion book 24 Family ways, and they’ve been using it since September. It is a wonderful source to guide them towards how to treat one another as God teaches in the bible. They were chatty and eager to understand the concept of peace that comes when you choose God’s way over our own selfish ways.
Last week they committed the week to prayer and devotion. They recommitted themselves to God’s ways for their lives. They searched their hearts to understand where they had gone wrong and ask God to help them take the right path forward. All of them confessed to lying, stealing and bearing false witness about one another. It is good they recognize this as wrong and are so broken about being right with God.
The children trust the team here so much that they are beginning to share the horrible details that happened to them before coming to our home. The healing can now begin because they are secure that their lives are safe. Some of them had been taken to the local witchdoctor and a few remember a curse put on their lives. Mainly they were told they would not amount to much and do poorly in school. The team led the children in prayer to ask God to separate them from the evil practice of the witchdoctors. With prayer and scripture the children will learn to abandon the ideas that had been put in their minds.
I prayed for them all at the end of our devotion time together and then the children ran outside to play again until dinner was served. I dozed on the sofa a little bit and Dickson tapped on my shoulder. I awoke to see him kneeling before me. He wrote me a long letter thanking me for the work I do so they can have the new life they are living. He said in the end he could see God passing through me to reach them. I was astounded at the depth of his understanding. He was spot on because the only way this work is done is by the grace of God for his glory alone.
In the dark the children ran and played and I haven’t seen Kira and Jack happier in a long time. When it was time to say good-bye and go home Kira said “bye friends”. Then she approached each child one by one and hugged tightly. It was darling. Everyone stopped what their play to watch her. She’s stingy with her affections so for me to see her bonding with the children makes my heart sing. Robert took us home and before we exited the compound her head was in my lap and she was deep asleep. It turns out the best decision I could have made was to bring Kira and Jack on this trip.