June 14, 2004
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.
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!
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. 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 favorite 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,
October 8, 2003
Hey my friend,
What a good prayer you have for commitment to wait as God unfolds “A Call to Prayer”. You know I have come to realize that as He is engineering timing He hems us in to wait by withholding what we are anticipating– so He engineers the wait whether we are patient or not! It is all grace when we can wait without anxious chaffing and I know that is what you desire.
I used my American clippers to cut 7 heads of hair yesterday before the clippers refused to continue– so I will haul the rest to “Good Boys” salon in Wakiso Town this afternoon and pay shillings to complete the task. We shave the boys and girls heads right down to the scalp until their heads glisten in the light. Recently one of the mamas went into the bush and broke off a leafy plant, crushed it and rubbed the fresh shaved heads with it. I asked why and she responded, “JjaJa, it can keep the heads from burning and even the insects will stay away!” African hair is very coarse and the clippers got so hot after the 4th child that it was burning their scalps!
This morning I will haul the 4 new ones to SOS clinic to get a blood test to see if they came to us with malaria. We were there the day we brought them to get them checked over and to get all started on antibiotic syrup for upper respiratory infections. Flavia, housemother of cottage 3, is believing that she too is having a relapse so we seek information for wise treatment today. I am completely in love with our new baby Chloe! She got here on Monday and took her first steps yesterday! Mama Flavia and I shouted with such delight that we scared her and she sat down and began to cry! Thank you – thank you for tending to the things you have this week. The way you have chosen to settle up financially is fine with us. We are grateful beyond belief. I am still not sure how we will celebrate but Casey seems okay with whatever comes.
She experienced some significant loneliness over the weekend and it was more painful to watch than to experience for myself. This place is most fine but there is a point in the evening when you feel the loss of everything familiar. God comes quickly. We finally got a family picture taken for our prayer card.
That picture will always make me smile-we look so harmonious but James was mad because I woke him from a nap to take it and he still had sheet creases in his cheek-Casey was put out because she had come home ready to head out and visit and we told her she could not go to Melanie’s to play-I had just been on my back in that dress under a sink trying to tighten the faucet and was sweating up a storm?etc., etc, The tree behind us was pushed over during construction and was lying side ways and growing ugly and crooked. A dear guard here who loves trees helped us resurrect it and get it heading skyward again. I wanted to remember his kind service to us. Thought you’d appreciate the story behind the shot!
May God sustain you as you wait – the description of how He built excitement for the event when you could share about the information card that folks had received was priceless. He will do that again and again.
You have my love and His,
September 23, 2003
Good Morning Friend,
How much I have to learn about what it means to worship! It is not about being comfortable in a pew–it is not about having a great sound system–it is not about beginning on time or being well ordered–it is not about being timed down to the hour. As I engage in worship with my friends here they show me it is the greatest treat of the week! They come prepared to stay the day! They hunger to talk and share of all the ways God has blessed them in the past week, so the services begin with testimonies of God’s faithfulness–there are so many wanting to speak that the Pastor often has to limit it to 8 or so! It was heart melting when our helper Flavia stood up and with tears in her voice gave thanks to God for her new job with JjaJa Mike and Lissa. What a privilege it was to be in worship in this place! Worship is alive in Wakiso and in my heart. There are two churches that we take the children to. One is close, just a couple of miles from the village and is called Wakiso Central Baptist Church. That church is led by a wonderful shepherd named Pastor Fred Kibuuka. His wife is named Susan and she is a great help to Rafiki both in ministering to children and identifying girls who would be good candidates for the Girls’ Center.
When worship begins, it opens with music. Here at Wakiso they have a fragile electronic piano and a man whose enthusiasm more than makes up for any lack of skill. His chord progressions are more rhythmic and drum beat like than they are carrying any melody line. The worshippers love for the music to be vigorous and to build in energy and participation, so the praise time goes on and on with people on their feet clapping and so joy filled. I was struck with how the faces are smiling and how delighted they are to be together—our worship seems passive and unemotional by comparison. Solos flow into congregational singing and back again–and yet there are no bulletins and you are convinced that what goes on is spontaneous and honest expression from hearts overflowing with love and gratefulness to God. Following the music, the Pastor invites the congregation to pray and everyone does–out loud and at the same time–the cacophony of sound that rises is powerful–some crying out for mercy, some jubilant and thankful, some confessing and asking for forgiveness.
There is no hurry in any of this and at a time that seems corporately sensed a quieter song begins and we are ushered together into a time of Pastoral Prayer. The most striking difference in American and African prayer is that we bring a list of requests to God and they bring a list of praise and thanksgiving. What a contrast–we have much and want more– they have almost nothing and are profoundly grateful and want to speak it! The time of offering is also an event–there is a table with a basket set up front and the people sing and dance on the way to deposit their shillings and seem thrilled to have some to give.
I love Pastor Fred’s wife Susan. She is a fireball and completely dedicated to children’s ministry. Children from the surrounding village wander into church at odd times and find a place on a crooked, rough bench and look up to her and listen attentively. They sit pressed together for about 45 minutes relatively still and listening–no flannel board visuals, no VCR, no snack time or toy time–they listen to her teach/preach from Scripture. The children range in age from about three years old to about eleven.
The only discipline I see being done is for her to move a child to the front row so they could listen better! She too begins her time by asking the children, “Who has a testimony of what they are thankful to Jesus for?” 25 hands reach for the sky and they are anxious to go to the front and tell their friends how Jesus helped them by giving them a t-shirt, recovery from flu (cold), providing school fees, healing from malaria, some new slippers (flip flops), or a mother healed, or getting a sweetie (candy), etc. It is the most humbling thing in the world to sit amid a people who seem to have nothing but who have eyes to see that life is a gift and who have trained eyes to look for something to be grateful for. How much I have to learn about worship! Until later—lissa