I awoke Saturday morning when it was still dark. Jack came to my bedside and whispered, “Mom, it is six, you should get up.” I never thought the occasion would come when my youngest son would poke me out of bed. I staggered to the coffee and nursed it until the absolute last minute before getting dressed. My house is a wreck, which in my overwhelming life messy is a side effect of being a working mom. There are sixteen bright red back packs filled with yellow t-shirts and rain coats on the living room floor. There are piles of new books stacked everywhere destined for Uganda, and boxes of new sandals waiting to be sorted. I don’t want to confess the laundry problem this week. I will admit though that we have never eaten dinner on the dining room table but rather transformed its use into the folding and sorting extension of the laundry room. I don’t even mind if visitors see the laundry on the table. It is the first clue that I don’t have it all together. But I do have my priorities somehow in line because my kids are washed, folded and put away neatly. (haha)
Jack and I set up our booth at the Boerne farmer’s market to sell Ugandan crafts to raise funds for our orphanage in Uganda. The weather was perfect and the atmosphere was festive with live music and a fun variety of goods to buy. The smell of wood smoked pizza cooking attracted Jack. It was the smell of popcorn that made my mouth water. The people watching opportunities were almost as good as an airport. I spent most of my day wondering if a guy’s sunglasses were tattoos to match his arm sleeve tats or actual removable glasses. I have always loved an outdoor market so to be a vendor this was fresh and fun for me. When an elderly couple requested a song from the band and danced together on the grass I knew I was in the right place for a Saturday. (though I was missing a good ride on Bear) Boerne is a cute town in the Hill Country of Texas where people flock to it for lively culture on the weekends.
I’ve only been a vendor once before and it was in a church so I was surprised how some people put their heads down, handle the goods and don’t make contact or welcome a word of explanation about how our sales help orphaned kids in Uganda. I wondered if it was a convention of the “bad day” society. And then as if the rebels broke through the cloud I encountered sunny people who smiled widely and supported our cause. Occasionally I met some who just knew God was in charge of this cause and we shared a mutually appreciative admiration of the peace that comes with working inside God’s will.
Jack is a fantastic salesman and the people like his enthusiasm. I eventually realized it was best to leave our cause and explanation for him. He explained how the beads were made from paper and laquered, the other bracelet is made from coconut shells, the globes are rosewood, and the ladies who make it all do it to raise money to pay for their kid’s school fees. He is so comfortable being center of attention. They are all so impressed to know he comes with me to Uganda and really loves playing with the kids in our home. No one had questions about Africa, a few were interested in how we got started, and a couple didn’t even know where Uganda was in this world.
All of the family arrived at lunchtime wearing their Kirabo Seeds tshirts. Kira was a superstar and I could just see people follow her every move as they realized a bit of Uganda was in their midst. We were the real thing! (Are we all skeptics?) She wanted to dance to the music, help people put their purchases in bags, and go see the turtles for sale. She loved sorting the money into the box. She caught on about selling so she gave her own story a try but no one could understand her fast talk, but the gestures and facial expressions were priceless. The boys hung around for hours with me. It was a good family outing for us to come together and support our sales project.
My favorite customer came last just as I was thinking about zipping up my booth early. Her lively friend pushed her wheelchair into our booth and began to ask many questions. The lady in the chair was intelligent and calm. After hearing our story she said, “you are a noble person and there aren’t many who think like you.” She made me choke and want to cry. She bought a rosewood carved globe for her daughter’s desk because she loves a good charity. As she was pushed away I regretted I couldn’t hug her and I felt sad because I didn’t have her in my life.
What we can raise in a weekend with a sales event like this can almost pay for the salaries of the loving staff who give everything they have to help us keep our sixteen children safe, loved, taught, protected and understood. The work they do is priceless to me. I have no higher respect for anyone I know than our team helping our kids in Uganda. They are selfless and work long endless days. And they have fun doing it! It’s a good thing they know they are working for God and the heavenly rewards because that is ultimately sustaining them better than I could. When we sell goods I bring home from Uganda we say that every dollar goes to help the children. The best help we give those kids is the people who serve them every day.
There are many people in Uganda who think the mzungus like me come to do work in Uganda and we have millions of dollars in the bank at home. We take a handful of money and spread it around them like glitter and go home and never notice a dollar missing. We can throw money up in the air and care less where it falls. The truth is that we struggle and work hard for the support we raise one dollar at a time. I spent two long days in that booth hoping to raise a little money for our kids. This money is so hard to come by I guard it like a bulldog and guarantee it all goes right to helping the children have the very best opportunities for growing up to be leaders in their society all so they can bring glory to our Heavenly Father. If that happens I will climb into my own coffin with a big smile on my face. But what I won’t allow is for someone to assume these dollars are for the taking. No way is that happening to us again.