I am tucked away at Two Friends right now, an outdoor cafe in Jinja, to blog and rest. I have felt like a mama with the whole household of boys these past two days, with Rachel visiting Kampala for the weekend. But we are having a wonderful time of it! The younger boys and I have gotten to play games, like Hide and Seek, Band Aid Tag, Big Mouth Bullfrog and Stop and Go (a.k.a. Red Light Green Light since there are no stoplights in Jinja).
Last weekend, Rachel and I caught a coaster (bus) to Kampala, Uganda’s capital. From there, we rented a private hire taxi to take us to Uganda’s Equator Monument, which is about 2-3 hours from Jinja. We traveled southwest through gorgeous countryside- tea and plantain and papaya fields, and villages where men were making handmade drums.
The equator itself was positioned diagonally across the road we were on, and there are two main monuments, one on each side of the road. We stood on the northern and southern hemisphere of the world at the same time for a few snaps, and then headed back through Kampala during rush hour traffic combined with Sean Paul’s concert, and passing the king of the Buganda tribe and his grenade-launcher-protected escort on our way into the city (he is a figurehead since there is also a Ugandan president). Picture L.A. traffic, except everyone has forgotten basic driving rules and decides to push through the other cars whenever possible. I was grateful to share the experience with Rachel, and we enjoyed the day of traveling and exploring.
C.R.O. and The Sanctuary
Last week I visited two organizations that work with street children, and both are run by people who love Jesus. C.R.O. (Child Restoration Outreach) is located in the main town of Jinja, and many of our boys passed through this organization before settling with the Street Child Project. C.R.O. is a drop-in center where street children can get an education, bathe, do laundry, and have meals.
I saw several boys there who I previously met at Calvary Chapel Jinja. It is powerful to know that God’s church is not limited to a building, but made up of the people who love Jesus, and that I get to worship Jesus alongside many of the street children I have met here.
I had a humorous time talking with the wonderful Canadian women who currently work here, and making sure my watch did not get stolen. Little Yeshua, a spunky boy who was only wearing a shirt, was doing his very best to distract me as he playfully tried to lighten my load. Another boy, Carlos, looked in my eyes and told me he saw Jesus in them, which was an incredible encouragement as I came to C.R.O. to share God’s love through my smile and hugs and handshakes with these children. Two boys offered Rachel and I their porridge, which we declined, our bellies full from breakfast. It astounded us to see their generosity, and especially with food, since some have large bellies from malnutrition on the streets.
The Sanctuary is on the outskirts of town, and a residential home for former street children. It was incredibly encouraging to talk with the woman who runs the home and share stories and ideas, since her organization is very similar to the Street Child Project. Her boys made no-bake chocolate cookies for Rachel and I, and were listening to American rap music as we all talked. Quite often, and I am grateful for this, God helps me forget the past that these boys have come from, and I just see them as people- people who are growing and learning and needing God’s love just as I do.
Times with the Boys
Little Calvin and I are fast friends now (our toddler who was terrified of Mzungus), and he and I are delighted to see the kittens starting to walk and exploring my room. The hens have also laid eggs, and we had our first chick hatch this morning!
I have had a wonderful time doing art and crafts with the house. We made thumbprint art last week with some Ed Emberly books. And last Wednesday night, the boys were delighted to make friendship bracelets. I love seeing them grab pink and purple for themselves, since there are no gender-specific colors here, and bracelets are fashionable for boys. My example “Uganda” bracelet was a hit- red, yellow, and black, the colors of the flag.
I also have gotten to share the story of Ruth with them. This past week, we talked about how in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, God shares rules to protect the people who were lowest in society- widows, foreigners, orphans, and the poor. The boys enjoyed learning about Boaz, and how his love for God makes him be even more generous than just following these rules for Ruth. I got to encourage the boys and pray that they would be godly men who would look after women and children and people that are mistreated by society.
These boys have already taught me so much about their culture, and are giving me a great taste of parenting adolescent boys. They teach me that parenting is done best on your knees, relying on God for strength and wisdom. They teach me to consider their needs above my own, and to choose to act in love when I don’t feel like loving since I want some time to myself. I keep laughing about how much this role feels like being a mama, and I know that I deeply care for these boys after just about 4 weeks here. I care about them enough that I want to act in ways that show both grace and truth for them (John 1), which means being consistent in discipline since I cannot stand the sin in their lives, and listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance for how to show them grace and unconditional love when they have messed up again. They also remind me that seeking and following Jesus is daily- I do not like to skip breakfast in the morning, and see myself go spiritually hungry if I miss time with Him- time to talk with Him and confess and share my concerns about the coming day, and time to be in His word for truth and encouragement. It is also an incredible comfort to realize again and again that even if my friends and family are not here with me, I am never alone because God is ever with me. And He has given me the gift of getting to work alongside Rachel, and getting to build relationships with many people here.
Tomorrow I am taking a day to raft on the Nile, and will have to see if my group chooses the Class 3 or Class 5 (waterfall-esque) rapids for the day.
May the peace of Christ be with you all,
Lindsey ( :