Friday, February 28, 2014

Kisoro Photo Dump

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Kisoro, Uganda with a few other teammates. Kisoro is a five hour drive from Mbarara and is as far southwest as you can get without crossing into Rwanda or DR Congo. It's truly one of the most scenic and lovely parts of the country with its chilly weather and stunning views.

The first half of the drive from Mbarara to Kisoro was more pothole than road. 
The second half of the drive was beautifully paved but constant hairpin turns up mountainsides. I was thankful for my prescription-strength motion sickness meds. 


I was also thankful for views like this. I had a kink in my neck for a week after our trip from looking out the window for ten hours. But seriously. Look at this!


I love these patchwork quilt hills


Since my teammates had some meetings with the bishop, we stayed at the diocese guest house.
walking up to the guest house

the guest house... complete with electricity and hot showers!

the view from the guest house... three volcanos

We saw some incredible sunrises and sunsets.




We went on a walk, up a hill of course, and found another amazing view.



 Our trip home wasn't without it's own set of wonders and laughs. Of course, there were the views. Which never get old.


Can you see why they call this the Impenetrable Forest?

And there was the local wildlife.



i'll never get over the national bird, the crested crane

 And the local drive-thru experience. There are some small towns along the way where one can purchase certain types of produce in bulk at very low cost. All you have to do is pull off the road, and your vehicle is instantly surrounded by people working hard to sell you buckets of carrots and piles of cauliflower.




We came home with two basins of onions and a trunk full of pineapples.



It was a great and productive trip. I enjoyed seeing another part of the country and meeting people I've been hearing about for quite some time. It was my first trip to Kisoro, but I don't expect it to be my last!

Friday, February 21, 2014

First Steps

The Ugandans Adopt campaign, started in 2011 with the help of Child's i Foundation, encourages more Ugandan families to adopt children who need a home. It has been so successful that there is now a waiting list of Ugandan families ready to adopt.

The first goal is always to place the child back with relatives of his or her birth family. In over 66% of cases, the social work team is able to trace the child's relatives and resettle him or her with family members!

In cases where this isn't possible, and the child has been made available for adoption, the organization makes every effort to place the child with a local, Ugandan family. The following video is a testimonial from a national news anchor who worked with Child's i Foundation to complete her adoption and bring her daughter home.



I'm so encouraged by the large steps forward Uganda has taken in recent years toward educating families and individuals about the importance of adoption. The importance of children growing up in families rather than in institutions. The importance of taking responsibility.

My friend, Laura, has been caring for these two darling boys for years now, but it was never her goal to adopt them permanently. This week, with the help of the Child's i Foundation social work team, we took the first step in beginning the long process of tracing any relatives. If nothing turns up, then we'll take the next steps in finding their forever families.

Photo: The first step of many in finding these sweet boys forever families.

Pray for us.


Pray for relatives to come forward.
Pray for wisdom and diligence for the social workers.
Pray for Laura's heart, as she's raised them both since they were babies.
Pray for the boys' hearts... for the grief and loss they will experience. For the healing and restoration that will take place.
Pray for their future families.
Pray that God would be glorified in the whole process.
Pray that His redemption story, His "Plan A" of adoption for each of us, is made clear.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Communities

I've written before about the importance of living in intentional community and what a beautiful, messy, life-giving experience it is. Mbarara was the first place I experienced this type of Church-lived-out lifestyle, and I'm encouraged to see this pattern continue as I settle back into life and create routine here.
Throughout my typical week, there are a few scheduled gatherings that bless me continually and surround me with people who love the Lord and desire to see His kingdom come.

Sunday: church
I attend a smaller church in town called Mbarara Church of Christ. One of the main reasons I attend this church, apart from the fact that the gospel is clearly preached, is the multi-generational community. Our church is fairly representative of the current age demographics in Uganda. I know this because when the children leave for Sunday school, the congregation shrinks by half. Those that remain come from all walks of life, cultural backgrounds, and education levels.


I also appreciate that everything spoken in English is translated to Runyankole and vice versa. It's great for my language learning! Sometimes we sing in English. Other times we sing in Runyankole or Luganda. This particular Sunday we got our Swahili praise on.

videos

Tuesday: team meeting
Each Tuesday evening, our entire team gathers to share snacks and a meeting. It's wonderful to have this weekly time together since many of our paths don't cross during the week. We currently have 23 members on our team, including children.
I hesitate to share this video with you (and all of the internet), but here it is. This was performed as an introduction to our team at our AIM conference last month. It will only make sense if you've seen the "Christmas Jammies" video that went viral this year... Actually, I take that back. Even if you've seen that video, this won't make sense. But like I said... Here we all are (minus Seb who was still in the UK on furlough, Dr. Keith who didn't attend conference, and Dara and Dade who were too cool/embarrassed to be involved).

video

Our meetings change from week to week, sometimes focusing on business items and logistics, and other times we talk about our language learning or how to keep striving to become a "belonger" in our community as we learn culture. For the next few months, we'll be watching an expository video series on Philippians so that we can be studying scripture together. I can't think of a better way to be spending our time!



Wednesday: bible study
These ladies meet each week at our church for bible study. I love learning from them, hearing the bits and pieces of their life stories that come out over the weeks, and studying God's Word together. We recently finished a study on the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn (which I highly recommend), and it brought healing, hope, and redeemed anticipation for each of us.



Friday: Gathering
I attend a fellowship gathering that meets on Friday evenings (there's a whole bunch of kiddos missing from these photos). We always share a potluck meal together, and let me tell you... missionaries know how to cook! After enjoying a delicious dinner, we spend time learning, sharing, and praying together as the Spirit leads. I'm so grateful for this time of encouragement and vulnerability as we worship together and invest in one another's lives.