Coming home from the beach is never an easy transition because there is piled high work waiting for us. If I elaborate it will sound like I am complaining about life here, which isn’t so, it’s just an upside down house and kids who are ready to go back to school can be challenging. There’s so much activity here I can’t work in my office. I find myself running away with my computer to any quiet spot without distraction I can find. And then there’s the big open jaw of college approaching for Jordan which will soon swallow him up and extract him from our daily lives. Wah. I am feeling so sad to watch him go. I will have a phantom limb for a while.
Thankfully life in Uganda is smooth and less chaotic than family life here in America. We have had some terrible battles with malaria. It seems that every day someone is going to the clinic to get treated for it. And we discovered the children are contaminating their drinking water and getting sick from that as well. Auntie Julie has to boil the drinking water for everyone each day. Well the kids weren’t using sanitary methods and everyone was ending up sick. We have solved this with a water cooler. Now we can just hope they don’t break it. I forecast we will have to replace it often. Kids all over the world share the common practice of being rough on material things. It drives Phiona and Robert crazy to see the good resources ruined quickly. Funny though, we have lectured them strictly about caring for their books, and penalties are high if they disrespect these guidelines. We rarely see them careless with these precious gifts. It takes so much effort to get good books into their hands. I collect them here, pack them in our suitcases and bring them all the way around the world. We are about to fill our second book case, and the third will be built soon!
Donny and I spent some quality time together during our beach travels. We have this new relationship now that he’s a working man and about to finish his senior year in college. He has a new perspective on the choices we made to raise him to become who he is today. He gets it. He said, “I used to hate it when you would make us read and never let us have video games, but now I realize that’s what I’m going to do with my kids!” He said, “I am going to have a lot of books in my house.” And knowing Donny, there will be a few animals too. It’s entertaining for me to see he is turning out just like me, despite his struggle to be polar opposite from me as a teenager.
It is nice to know that our parenting methods worked. Especially with little miss Princess here testing and challenging our boundaries. We laugh and remind her that she’s small and we are big and that means we make the rules. She doesn’t like it now but as Donny has shown me, she will some day.
So getting books into the hands of our children in Uganda is a high priority for my packing list. And so it should be no surprise that our children in Uganda are all reading now! Last year they didn’t know a word of English and now they are reading it. Kiah has them read books to each other for practice. They love good stories with nice pictures. I have brought a few starter novels for them. It would make me so happy to know they are curling up in a cozy spot with a book when they have some free time. When all of the children go to school and young Marvin is home alone he likes to look at the pictures in books. When I think of the boy who wandered out of the bush naked, covered in sores with that big smile I am so thankful we could help him and give him the opportunity every child born on this earth deserves. Children should have love, spiritual guidance, shelter, a bed, three meals a day, shoes, clothes and an education. Here in America we take for granted that these basic necessities are enough. In Uganda our children are among the highly privileged because they have all of these bare necessities.
More and more often I cringe when I experience public displays of discontentment in American children. My two worlds often clash and I am hopeless to reconcile the two cultures. When I close my eyes I see our children in Uganda with heaping plates full of food prepared by Auntie Julie. Their eager hungry smiles as they enjoy their food stays with me where ever I go. Their inventive play and happiness over sharing a puzzle and completing causes me to question the discontentment I experience among the youth in our culture. Their gratitude moves me, it changes me, it inspires me. Sometimes I just want to shout out to American children, “You should be so thankful for the abundance you experience! You never have to wonder where the next meal will be found. You have shoes to wear and when they are ruined a new pair is there.Wake up!” Of course if I did that, they would label me the crazy red head lady who should just stay in Africa next time.
I am so thankful for our five children at home, and the sixteen in Uganda because I have the opportunity and privilege to guide them towards character values that seem to be quickly disappearing in our culture. I hope for respect, kindness, love, gratitude, a hard work ethic, a love for God and a heart to learn from the bible. Craig tells our children he hopes for two things, “a strong work ethic and that the content of their character be godly.” Often the culture we swim in pushes us far away from these goals with a mighty force. We know with God all things are possible…and perseverance is a winner’s trait.
We often pushed Donny hard away from the culture and though he resented us for it then, he now sees our perspective and he is thankful we pushed. This confirmation is a comfort when I feel so disappointed at what I see in this world. We are beginning our push battle with Kira, but there are too many of us and she is only one. Though she is strong willed, she is also sweet in the heart. It will be all right. I have proof.