Things that bring me delight:
1. Prayer in community with Rachel each morning and evening (using Clairborne, Wilson-Hartgrove & Okoro’s Common Prayer), and prayer with the boys at each meal and during evening Bible studies- this is the sweetest, most powerful way to start and end and live each day, in communion with God and each other. Thank you Jesus for protecting us each day, for protecting us at night from thieves and for protecting the boys as they dream.
2. Boda rides. Bodas are our local public transportation, and drivers pass on the road outside our home each day. We walk out of the gate past the guard, and stand on the street till a driver comes. Then we negotiate a price, using some Luganda to show that we know the going rates and wont settle for the Mzungu price, and hop on the moped. Although each ride brings me to pray for safety since helmets are unheard of and driving often incorporates both sides of the road and non-road surfaces, I love going for a ride, having the wind whip through my hair, and seeing the sights around Jinja.
3. Visiting Our Own Home with Rachel yesterday, which is a Christian HIV/AIDS orphanage. We had a stunning view of Lake Victoria on the boda ride over, and took a brief tour of their home, and returned in their car, picking up six women on the way home who needed a ride. My favorite part was visiting the little ones- there was a room where about 10 toddlers and preschool and kindergarten-aged children were playing. The older girls came up to introduce themselves, and the little ones just wanted a hug or to be picked up and to play with my watch. Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me” kept repeating in my head as I got to hug and pray for and play with these precious little ones.
4. Little Calvin, our almost-2-year-old who is terrified of Mzungus, is warming up to me. He used to start crying or scream when he saw me (a humbling new experience for me), and today we played football together, just the two of us (and this little guy can dribble!). After lunch he stood at the door and said “Aunty, something, something,” which I correctly interpreted to mean, “Aunty, come play football with me.”
5. Ugandan food- every now and then we have freshly squeezed passion fruit juice, and my favorite meal is Tuesday dinner: plantains and cooked pumpkin, with a thick, tasty G-nut sauce over everything (like a peanut sauce). It is a simply delicious, sweet and salty meal.
6. Bible study and games and art time with the boys. So many precious moments, and I am thrilled that we pray and read God’s Word in English and Luganda.
On Monday night during prayer requests, Balaam who is our newest boy and learning about Jesus, prayed out loud for the first time and asked God to teach him to read in English so he can read and study the Bible. Afterwards, a few of the boys and I had a spontaneous math tutoring session (questions about logarithms, powers of 9, expanding a decimal using exponents, etc..). Thanking Jesus for the Internet to look up a few tricky concepts, and I am finding that He is using my past experiences in unexpected ways.
Tuesday night was my first Bible study, and the boys and I talked about how it is hard to forgive, but what Jesus does for us when we believe in Him, and how we need to ask God for His strength to help us choose to forgive instead of fight back, and for His strength to forgive someone again and again (I later saw that God use these word in a very applicable way since there are a few house rivalries between different boys).
Last night, I brought out colorful clay and after a few quick rules and instructions let the boys each have their own bag of clay with 10 different colors to play with. We played worship music (Mat Redman’s 10,000 Reasons is a favorite with the boys) and had some free play with the clay. Football was a huge inspiration, and several boys made small clay fields and footballs and one wrote his favorite team, “ARSENAL, in all capital letters.
Things that I have previously taken for granted in my life:
1. Fresh food. I have been surprised to find that I enjoy stale sweet bread dipped in sweet chai tea for breakfast. But so far I avoid the fish, which has that strong, nauseating fishy smell and some shriveled heads left on the bones.
2. Water pressure and clean water. Being here makes me appreciate water- each time I want to fill up my water bottle or brush my teeth or shower, I know that it costs precious water.
3. Paved streets and private transportation. I love how public transportation is just a normal part of life here, just like walking to places. And for those who have cars, they often become public transportation for anyone who needs a ride walking down the street. What a great use of a car!
4. Going to the bank and (a) knowing an ATM always has money and (b) not having to have a lookout. Sometimes the bank is empty. And I am learning to be a lookout when Rachel goes in to the ATM get money. We then pretend that no money was there (and sometimes we don’t even have to pretend) by shaking our heads.
5. Sleeping in a bed under the open air. Mosquito nets are now becoming second nature, and a bit tricky when a cat tries to come and cuddle under the net and then wants to swat at it or escape somehow.
6. Laundry that comes out sparkly clean and soft. We have chickens in the yard and a small boy romping around, so as my clothes air dry on the lawn, they tend to pick up a little chicken poop or some other interesting smells.
7. Stores full of anything I could want and more, and fixed prices. I get to practice bartering, and often errands involve a few different stores if a particular item is desired (like the NIV Bible that Rachel bought for a new friend). So different than walking into Barnes and Nobles and finding every version of a book known to humankind. And other things like paper and guitar strings are a in short supply here. We save every little scrap of paper and plastic bottle to use again and again.
8. Meals with napkins and fancy drinks. It is lovely and delightfully simple to eat out of an old plastic plate with a cup of water and one utensil and nothing else. That’s all that is needed during our meals.
9. Police who answer their phones. Rachel told me yesterday that it is rare for Ugandan police to answer their phones, and that the local Christian community calls on the Lord to help them instead.
10. Going to sleep and knowing you are perfectly safe. Each night involves prayers for protection, and trusting that God is in control no matter what happens. And He has protected this house from thieves for as long as they have been here- praise be to Him!
I am so grateful to be here, and enjoy living simply and in dependence on others and God.
I hope you all are full of joy today! -Lindsey/Smiles ( :