Rainbow Connection

June 14, 2004

Dear Jane,

I trust the time with Nancy and David Writebol was good for all, they seem like such a devoted missionary couple.  I told Mike I hope you heard stories of people impassioned for Christ.  I look forward to seeing them at Enrichment Week in San Antonio.

DSC02405 (Small) I went to Owino Market on Monday and bought 57 T-shirts, 2 pair of sandals, 42 pairs of shorts and 5 book bags for under $100.  Each outfit for the children costs 75 cents!  For the last two days I have been culling worn out, too little clothes from the cottages and replacing them with “new” things.  The children are thrilled and are colorful as rainbows.  When I give new clothes to the children, I have to first take the old ones away.  If I leave them in the cottages, the mamas continue to have the children wear them no matter what the condition.  This is not a culture that has the luxury of  “throwing things out” — it just is not done here.  They really do not have any understanding of why I come and take things away!  It is very difficult for them and they continue to tell me that a pair of shorts or shirt is still good–regardless of the holes or faded look.

When I do get clothes out of the cottages, it is when they are in better condition than what most children in the surrounding areas are wearing.  I take the clothes that are recyclable to Central Baptist in Wakiso and let Susan distribute them to the children in her congregation. I will never forget the day we went there for Sunday School and a little three year old girl came in by herself totally naked except for a string tied around her waist.  I actually bought her a church outfit and knickers which she was so proud of she lifted her dress for everyone to see!

DSC02113 (Small)I had a fun morning with the aunties and children.  It is Hero’s Day and so all the children were home doing chores from 9-10.  At 10 the aunties had promised them that we would go get mangoes.  Kasmiri our gardener got a long pole and jabbed at the mangoes until he had knocked about 15 out of a tree. We had a feast. DSC02136 (Small) They like to eat their fruit before it is ripe here so the taste of an unripe mango is about like a Granny Smith apple.  We sat and laughed and enjoyed those mangos and it was a sweet time of fellowship.

Later, Mike and I went to town for groceries and we found my favoriteDSC02139 (Small) cracker in stock so I am a happy woman!  It is difficult to find crisp things here and I get so hungry for that.  Mike discovered a cracker made in Malaysia that is really the ticket! I can’t tell you how thrilled you can get when you find something like what you loved in the States–it makes a party!

It is Marsha’s afternoon to cover the activity time and dining hall so I am in with Casey who is off from school. We gave Edith a ride home from work and she took me to her place to meet the 2 orphans that she raises along with her own 3 children. John and Norbert are from 2 different women who have died of AIDS and named Edith as the caretaker. Edith’s countenance about this is never that it is burdensome or out of the ordinary to pick up a couple of extra children.  She cannot imagine that there was any other response than to joyfully take these children in.  One of the boys is infected with HIV but Edith has kept that from the other children so that he will not be ostracized.  In material things, this family is not rich but in love and care they are most blessed!

Well it is the end of the day and I am going onto the porch with a glass of tea, my Bible and watch the sun go down…..

I hope the Lord is very near you today my friend.

with much love,


Top and Bottom of the Morning

December 6, 2003


rain The day started with me practically in a panic but it has calmed down and I have managed a nap!  It was raining cats and dogs at 5:00 when I got up this morning.  I headed out with rubber boots and umbrella to “assist” the new cook who was on breakfast duty for the first time.

It turns out I was the breakfast cook for 16 children and 3 mamas today!  When I realized I was on, I reminded myself of “Lucy” in the episode where she was working in the bakery–we both had no business doing what we were trying to do!

Susan, the new cook, did arrive drenched and apologetic at 7:20.  She has no watch or alarm clock–again, we expect the Africans to have items that they deem unnecessary and too expensive–it is a miracle that she arrived when she did.  Over and over, I am learning that exact time is only important to us muzungus who keep schedules–no right minded African would have ventured forth in such a downpour;  they wait on the bad weather to pass and then resume activities. We, howevDSC00552 (Small)er, allow the schedule to determine our activities.

Well, the reality was that 16 hungry children and 3 tired mamas were going to be arriving and so cooking was needed.  I had to call Mike out of bed to come and light the gas stove and get the grill to work.  We have been having problems with it igniting and this morning was no exception. Things might have gone smoother if I had been familiar with where things were stored but since I was in a huge commercial facility, the way I found things was to open every cabinet. When the children arrived and lined up at the wash basin, the pancakes were coming off the grill!  Yeah! I stuck around to make sure our dishwasher showed and then headed home to regroup.DSC00556

It continues to rain and Casey and I are just staying in.  I am now taking worm medicine after some suspicious symptoms and it seems I have gotten the fungal ringworm that is going around as well.  I did some preparation for our weekly ROS meeting and it was an encouraging time.  I drove the Enis’ to Entebbe so that they could catch their flight home for furlough.  It was a restful trip, good to be alone for a while.  We had an encouraging ROS meeting last night.  Shirlene shared that one of the girls at the girl’s vocational center became aware of her salvation yesterday and there was much rejoicing over that.


Carolyn and I really wanted to get Molly from Sanyu and get her settled at Molly (Small)Rafiki before her furlough, so sweet Molly has arrived! She cried a lot her first night but the next morning she was very satisfied drinking morning chai with her new brothers.   Molly&family (Small) MollySponsorWinter2004 (Small)She is giving our very serious Mama Teopista a run for her money, there is a precocious personality behind those saucer eyes!  DSC01749 (Small) She squeals the highest pitch squeal you’ve ever heard when she is disturbed about anything.   Somehow Teopista finds that delightful instead of infuriating, she throws her head back and smiles and says, “JjaJa, this one is very stubborn!”  I had to learn that that word means “bright” or “smart” and not obstinate as we Americans mean it when we use the word.  DSC00961 (Small) Teopista raised 2 boys of her own and loves finally having a little girl.  Molly is not ready to handle the solid food that we serve in the dining hall, so we are running to town to get formula so she can drink her calories. It is so encouraging that we are starting to be entrusted with the babies.  I think how much healthier they will be with a good diet and personal attention in their early months.

better close now–love you bunches,


December 12, 2003

Dear Friend,

It has been a difficult week for me — not in work or anything other than my spirit refusing to be content in Christ. Woven in  and around that disquiet is that James seems to be aware that his time is drawing short and is purposing to savor all that he can while here.  That is a good thing; but it makes real that the end is near as I observe him getting up early to visit with his Dad, joining me at play time with the children, sitting and wanting to spend time talking with me, and walking around and photographing his favorite sites here around the village.  It has been a huge blessing to have him here with us.
Garden City Today we bought a little artificial Christmas tree at Uchumi’s–our Korean owned supermarket chain that we liken to Ukrops.  This little tree has 160 lights and that really is enough to make the effect.  I didn’t think I wanted a tree this year.  The surroundings do not resemble wintry Christmas card scenes and I have always had a hard time thinking you can have Christmas in a Southern California or Florida setting!

In the end, sentiment won out. I did want to have some moments during the holidays when I could turn off all the lights and sit on the sofa and enjoy twinkling, festive colors.  I am planning a special lunch meal and Christmas Day worship service for the staff and children.  Pastor Fred is considering coming here and leading us in worship before he tends to his own flock at Central Baptist. Uchumi

I went to Owino market which is the place we go to buy clothes for the children–I think I’ve told you about it –a huge market of second hand clothing from Europe and America.  James asked for that trip to be his Christmas present.  He got t-shirts and I was able to get 25 pieces of clothing for the children and 2 pairs of shoes for $10. As I was crossing the street to wait on Mike to return and pick us up , a thief ran up behind me and jerked my gold necklace off my neck.  So surprised and stunned, all I could think to do was to call him a SOB. Not a great witness moment!  I was a fool for wearing it–I had just forgotten it was on.

The good news is it cannot be stolen twice and it is gone and I need not worry or plan how to keep it anymore. You know Jane, as I stood on the corner, I cried–not for the loss of the necklace– but that circumstance of being robbed seemed to serve as a hub around which many pent up emotions coalesced and found expression.  Standing there feeling helpless with tears streaming, questions surfaced and my mind asked, “How much more stripping Lord?  It feels like my culture, my home, my family, my friends, teaching, singing, money, privacy, time to do nothing, time to study, my sense of knowing how to do life, the ease of moving around, all of it has been snatched like that necklace! How much more?”

I am ashamed of those thoughts and thankful to God that under the watchful gaze of my housegirl Flavia and James I recovered. I was able to see in Flavia’s eyes such a sense of hurt that I had been “abused” that I wanted to straighten up and not cause her pain.  I surely didn’t want to be another rich American crying over the loss of a material possession as I stood in the street surrounded by hundreds of people who did not know if they would have food today or not!

James spoke clarifying words and warned me not to become bitter or to let myself become suspicious or fearful.  The Lord met me with much grace and responded to my self-pitying question as I was preparing for the ROS Bible study meeting.  We are working through Matthew together and this week we focused on the Beatitudes.  He fed me promise after promise and I am grateful.  By the end of my preparation I was settled in my heart and marveling at the blessedness of having all that hinders God stripped away!

With much love,

I Will Lift Up My Eyes…

November 11, 2003

Dear Friend,

The heaviness of my spirit yesterday was lifted by the work that He had prepared for me to walk in.  Yoweri awoke with chills and headache so Flavia was sure he too had malaria.  So, we spent the morning at SOS clinic again — his blood was clear but since the symptoms were there and we do not know the boy’s history, he is on chloroquin for prophylaxis.  He also got worm medicine and amoxycilin.  I asked Flavia if she could keep straight all the medicines she has to give these children right now!

thumbDSCF1194 Today Carolyn and I are going with her cleaning woman Ruth to 25 acre, 30,000 vendor Owino market.   It is a market that mzungus don’t usually go to alone.   You need a guide to get you through the maze of stalls and a translator is most helpful when the seller speaks no English!  You find yourself winding through a wood board, tarp covered labyrinth with an atmosphere that is tense and uncomfortable.  I always find myself  wondering if we’ll find what we are looking for or find our way out! I also find myself fighting claustrophobic feelings. selling tennis shoes

It is difficult to write an accurate description so that you can see this place of cramped, muddy, trails that wind and twist acre after acre. As you walk you see piles of clothes, belts, material, skirts, shorts, plastic ware, boom boxes and shoes all pressing in on you from all sides. This curious market is where we must go to outfit the children.  Children’s clothes are not in demand here since they are expensive and considered luxury items.  So, with literally no other places to go to buy reasonably priced children’s clothes–I head off to Owino.

When the shop keepers know a mzungu is shopping there is a frenzied effort to get your attention and to get you to stop and shop with them–hawking and bargaining make it an exhausting effort  for one who is used to Target! sewing machine Before I ever arrive at the children’s sandals sellers are running up to me with pairs of all kinds of shoes in their hands telling me these are exactly what I need.  With a determined resolve I press on in search of the “gently used” clothes that have come in huge bails from the cast offs of America and Europe.

I really get excited when I see the stacks of khaki shorts, or Disney t-shirts by the hundreds.  I love pouring over these cute clothes with labels like McKids, The Children’s Place, Bugle Boy  and sandals made by Clark shoes. .  I want to find many pairs of sandals for the growing feet that are here in the village.  Casey and I get the children to stand on a piece of paper so we can trace their feet. NewCityShoes (Small) We cut out the shape and label it with the child’s name.  At Owino, I pull out the tracing and try it out in some sandals to get a good fit.

It is Christmas around here when new shoes, shirts and shorts are distributed!  Well, Mama Jenipher has noticed and commented that I don’t keep my hair as nice as I used to so I guess I better shower and get dressed and welcome the new day the Lord has prepared.  Time to go get a haircut is a spirit lifting treat!

Love you bunches,

Suspended Animation

October 5, 2003

Dear friend,

  The Preschool has finally opened.  Until the school building is completed,  DSC00213 we have set up the school in the unused portion of the Dining Hall.  We have been preparing the 3 and 4 year old children for this big day and had an orientation/welcome event so the children could become familiar with this new program.

Since school always means “uniforms” here, the mamas are asking what colors the school uniforms will be. I told our housekeeper Flavia that we muzungus did not usually wear uniforms to school.  She looked startled and responded, “JjaJa, how would anyone know who you were if you were struck by a car footing home?”  I looked puzzled by that and she explained that people are often identified following an accident by tracing the uniform worn to the school the child attended.  Personal identification cards have not infiltrated this culture!dsc01778.JPG

These first days since opening are going pretty well.  DSC00244Our Headmistress decided that disobedient children would be handled by facing suspension.  She thought that would whip these kids into shape quickly if they were forced to stay at home and do chores rather than getting to come to school.  

Well, this week we have suspended the suspension policy since so many were being suspended we couldn’t keep track of who could go to school and who had to stay home!  Carolyn and I should be ashamed of how we are taking such delight in watching our precocious preschoolers change the program that Joanne had in place to whip these kids into shape!  She said to me, “Lissa, I cannot physically move these children – they must listen and obey verbal commands.”  I said, “Joanne, they do listen — but the problem is they rejected what they heard!  I have found that physically move a child to where I want them to be progresses us both!”  FirstDayOfSchoolwithDirectorCarolyn&TeacherMarshaDay after day she is carrying a young one home from school who is refusing to obey! She is a very committed woman but one who has not had experience working with young children and she has very high expectations at the moment.

Joanne’s understanding of preschool bladder control issues is another area where there is a huge learning curve.  To maximize their classroom teaching time and not spend all morning lined up at the bathroom,  the children were allowed only one potty break.   After a couple of days of accidents, Joanne asked that all children have a back up set of clothes.  That will mean I need to make another trip to Owino Market to buy a set of clothes for the children and keep them lying in wait in a cubbie hole at school.  Extra clothes is a new concept to people who are blessed to have just what is needed.  At this point, I am greeted each day with what I have called “The Daily Urine Report.  The Headmistress lets me know who has spoiled their clothes and how many times.  I am wondering if that will become a new category on the school report card!DSC00263

Well, the 1 potty break rule got suspended yesterday, in fact, Joanne gave them 3 breaks.  This seemed like real wisdom since I had given the children a Mebendazole de-worming treatment with breakfast!  She has discovered that she needs a school motto, school colors and a school song to be accredited by the Ugandan educational system.  After the first week, we have suggested the motto might be “Don’t Hit!”, the colors should be black and blue and the perfect school song would be, “Trust and Obey!”.   Joanne is good natured about our teasing! 

On the home front, we are expecting two sofas to be completed by Wednesday.  The chairs here are huge and look out of proportion so we decided to get 2 sofas for everyone to have a place to sit and be comfortable.  I am planning to be all over them at the end of the day when I use them for stretching out.  It is strange to walk into a shop and pick out a fabric and then describe the style and dimensions to be custom made.  Ready made is not the way here–custom made is!  Mike requested that the sofas  be 6 feet long on the inside of the arms-I’m thinking they will look long but I am so “longing” for something with a cushion!  The Indian furniture man calls cushions “sponges”. Lissa & Sophie

If I am remembering where we are in the Psalms correctly I smiled when it was time to read Psalm 82 yesterday and came across vs. 3.  Do you remember how God used that Psalm and Boice’s commentary to give me permission to pray specifically that we go to Romania?  Here we are in Uganda-His re-directions keep our eyes pealed on Him don’t they?  Well, I look forward to news about your trip and will be praying for you in the meantime. 

Love you bunches,