August 7, 2004
Dear Friend Jane,
Well my friend, I have spent two birthdays in Africa now. On our return trip we had an eventful time in London. Our flight to Entebbe was delayed 5 hours so we spent the day walking around London streets. We took the train into the city and managed to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.
I slept on the plane ride to London but Mike and Casey were unable to and were pretty beat when we got back to Heathrow. As we were boarding the plane for Entebbe they discovered that they had double booked our seats so we were upgraded to Business Class –oh, what a great grace that was! The recliner seats allowed us to sleep on this 8 hour leg of the journey and get prepared for the work that awaited in Uganda.
Would you believe that I left my pocket book on the American flight that we took from Richmond to Boston?
Shirlene, the Rafiki Girls Center Director, met with me the day we returned and asked me to begin the next day observing the classes that I would teach: Music, Cooking & Nutrition and Sewing. Procuring the groceries needed to prepare the noon time meals, making menus and gathering recipes, teaching the recorder, teaching the girls to make a dress on treadle machines and supervising in the Weaving Room on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be some of the pieces of my new assignment.
Shirlene seems most anxious for me to take over the sewing class even though I don’t know a bias from a facing! I am ready and observing to beat the band to get up to speed.
The Mamas and Aunties are expressing much confusion about my status in the village since my return. The truth is it is as difficult for me as for them right now. Auntie Edith invited me to come to her home for a visit on her off day yesterday so I went after work. She had cooked 5 traditional foods over charcoal each was wrapped in banana leaves and she wanted to share them with me. Jane the extravagance of this gift will astound me forever–she cooked the equivalent of a holiday meal for me and her children were sitting and watching me eat…I can only hope that they tasted some of this when I was gone.
I said, “Edith you don’t eat this early.” She smiled that sweet smile and said, “Jja Jja, I wanted to share food with you and to pray for what has happened. I want this meeting and our words to be Christian and honoring.” That was her way of saying she was not asking me to gossip and she knew that being Christian meant our language needed to be different from that of the unbelieving world.
With tears she thanked me for making her feel valued as a person and for speaking to the women of Rafiki as though they were as important as anyone else. She said, “Jja Jja, my heart felt like it had been put in a cold box when Mommy told us you had asked to go to the RGC. I thought, ‘What has happened? I know Jja Jja loves us.’ Then I thought you would come back and sit us down and explain to us all the reasons that there were so many changes because you always tell us everything. What I find is that you walk by with only a wave now.”
I did spend some time explaining things to Edith and assuring her that my help to her family would continue no matter how things were different within the gate. I asked her to trust God that the changes would help the running of things in the village and we would wait and watch how things went. We clasped hands and spent a long time in imploring prayer–I will never forget what happened in that hut.
You of all people know how that meeting affected my heart.
I do want you to know I am seeing God and am sustained by Him in all this. In fact, I am so grateful to be with the girls at the center in morning devotions each day. God broke out in all our hearts while we were praying today. For devotion time we were looking at the attribute of God’s Impartiality. Later, during the time of confession one girl asked God to forgive her because she often suspected that He favored others more than He did her–she went on to say that she wanted to believe what the Word said rather than her feelings.
The girls sing beautifully and I am most blessed to stand among them during hymn time. Later, the first term girls completed their first blouse project and were thrilled to think they were allowed to take them home to show family–they kept saying to Shirlene, “God Bless you Miss Shirlene–for assisting us.”
It has been a great morning. I haven’t read our Psalm for the day but am even now rehearsing the truths that are there in Psalm 91 (that is the one right?) through my head.
We will have mini missionaries for dinner tonight and hope that they are made to feel welcome–Jane, I am glad that God saw fit to knit our hearts together–I miss you daily and am helped and remember to say, “God thank you for e-mail, phones and yearly chances to sit and sip coffee with Jane.” What would I do without a friend with whom I can talk about any and every thing!”