Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
If you have been keeping up with this blog over the course of this Uganda trip I hope you'll continue following through the months ahead. There is still much to say and do for Ranch on Jesus. Stay tuned!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
In a previous post (Learning from Sarah) I described the unusual selflessness and generosity of my friend, Sarah Kamara. But the Mrs. isn't the only Kamara in the family to display these remarkable qualities. Her husband, Dr. Theophilus Kamara, is quite her equal in these areas.
Theophilus is a Ugandan businessman, educated and capable. He owns several entrepreneurial efforts in the country, works contractually for a water company on various projects, and volunteers with Ranch on Jesus. Yes- volunteers. Although they are the directors, neither Sarah nor Theophilus take any salary or compensation from the ministry. In fact, it is just the opposite. They are donors.
When Ranch on Jesus is in financial need, the Kamaras do not hesitate to donate their personal funds. Although they own land near the Orphanage Home, they have failed to begin constructing their home. They continue to occupy their small rental house because the ministry is in need. Until Ranch gets a firmer support base, they will continue to pour their extra income into their multitude of children.
Theophilus is truly a man poured out. He uses his money, time and talent completely or the sake of others and the cause of our King. He goes sleepless, forgets to eat lunch and waits upon those who can offer him nothing in return. He has been a living, breathing example to me of what humble, effective servant leadership looks like. I respect him more than I am able to say.
Still-something has to change. As much as I admire Theophilus' sacrifices and work ethic, I believe he bears more than the Lord intends him to carry. These burdens and responsibilities are too great for one man-or even a family. Theophilus' health has been in decline. He suffers from high blood pressure. He is physically exhausted.
Theophilus himself knows that something needs to change. He knows he will run mad at this pace. He needs to concentrate on his family. The funding and work of Ranch on Jesus needs to be shared by many loving souls, making a very heavy burden light. Theophilus' current pace of life is not due to stubbornness or pride, but rather a heartfelt refusal to allow children (as he calls them "God's children") to suffer. When he sees an unmet need and he has the capacity to fill it-he does. "For if anyone has this world's goods and seeing a brother in need shuts up his heart from him, how can the love of God be in him?" 1 John 3:17 In my estimation, Theophilus is full of the love of God.
Last Saturday Theophilus was in a car accident. He didn't sustain any serious injuries, but his car was pretty banged up. The Kamaras waited at the local police station that evening. As word of the accident spread, dozens of Theophilus' employees, friends, etc. began pouring into the station to visit him. Loving leaders are almost always loved, and this attests to it. Such a crowd gathered that the annoyed police officers dismissed him from the station (all of the people were getting in the way) and sent him off to a local clinic. The generosity of his life is deeply felt by many Ugandans. He has been used by the Lord, and I pray he still has many years of service before him.
The driver who hit Theophilus fled the scene of the accident and hasn't been traced. This leaves the Kamaras with an 800 dollar repair bill. Theophilus, as always, hasn't asked for assistance with this expense. But as a friend, I present their need to others. I would be delighted to allow God's people to minister to this couple with aid toward this unexpected expense.
Two weeks ago (before the accident) when the Ranch on Jesus bank account was running dry, I watched Theophilus transfer a large sum from his personal account into the ministry's. He didn't make a fuss or complain. It is just his nature. He trusts the Lord both with the ministry finances and his own. "I serve a big God!" he laughs as if what he does is nothing. I know many Christians who have said the same, but very few who have stepped into that posture with such raw, practical faith. Although the Kamaras are my best friends and partners, I do not find myself fit to untie their sandals. I sit only at their feet and learn.
What a joy it would be for me to see Christ's church come and stand alongside this couple by giving Ranch relief. If many would give even a small sum each month toward the welfare of these children, the shared burden of their care could become lighter. The work the Kamaras have chosen to do for our Lord in caring for the least of these will never be simple or easy. But I ask those of you who have been bought with a price, to consider doing what you can.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
And suddenly...the end is in sight. I don't say that with relief, but rather dread. The end of a trip means planning, packing, tying up loose ends and goodbyes. I hate goodbyes. As much as I might long to see certain faces and places back in the USA (like my mom and a Zaxby's :) nothing quite has a hold on me the way Uganda and Ranch on Jesus do. I hate to let it go, but a week from today we'll be on our way to the Entebbe airport.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Ashleigh, Sarah and Jamie meet to discuss ideas for Ranch's new Busines Development Program.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
SO much can happen when you don’t have access to the internet for a few days!
I apologize for the large quantity of updates bombarding the blog all at once. They were written at intervals, but I was unable to load them due to a poor internet connection. I have tried to backdate posts to correspond with when I wrote them.
To update on Amy’s friend, Kevin Bartkovich, he has regained consciousness-Praise the Lord! To keep up with his situation you can visit their blog at : http://kwegesiya.blogspot.com/
Another unexpected event took place for us in Uganda yesterday evening. Theophilus was in a car accident. A passing car sideswiped him. He isn’t seriously injured, but his car is greatly damaged. It was a hit and run. The offending driver fled the scene of the accident. Please pray that he is located so that the Kamaras won’t have to pay for the damage to their small car. We thank the Lord that Theophilus was spared!
This, however, makes life a good deal more complicated for those of us serving Ranch on Jesus this week. Our team has been using the Kamara’s land cruiser for the extent of our trip. This accident leaves the Kamaras stranded without a car. I believe Theophilus intends to borrow George’s car for the time being. But we will all have to take on new flexibility this week as we are down one vehicle.
We also hope to have some trip photos up for everyone sometime today or tomorrow. I will include some in a new post as well as disperse some through older posts with which they correspond.Thank you all for serving us and this ministry through your prayers!
I know many dear folks out there have been praying for our Vivian throughout our travels and time here. Thank you! I praise God that apart from the “ordinary” bumps and struggles of parenting a toddler, no unusual trials or challenges have come our way. This has truly enabled me to have more freedom to minister. With such limited time here, this is priceless!
I find it remarkable that she has been so healthy. She touches dozens of other children, licks the floor of the guesthouse and feeds herself bath water with a plastic spoon. She is mobile and independent. Realistically I can’t guard her every movement. So when she crawls to places that have never seen a Clorox disinfecting wipe…much less a bit of soap… I simply have to smile and trust that whatever doesn’t kill her will only make her stronger. So far this tactic is working. Apart from two teeth wiggling their way through her upper gum she is completely and totally fine.
The lifestyle we’re living in Uganda suits her extroverted personality to a T. I am constantly astounded by how social she is. She greets everyone enthusiastically. I don’t know where this comes from as I am by nature quite reserved and shy in social settings. Vivian smiles, flirts and seems interested in connecting with everyone she meets. Yesterday a Ugandan woman visiting the house said, “But your baby is too jolly. Why is she so jolly?” My answer-a gracious God who knew she’d be a world traveler.
On Saturday Vivian took her first steps independently. Praise the Lord! Thank you for praying! This was one day shy of her 17 month old birthday. She is still nervous to truly step out and walk, but she takes a few steps here and there. Once she gains balance and confidence she’ll be quickly running away from me I’m sure.
She may not be able to balance her chubby little body very well, but she is able to say “balance” clear as a bell! She is also stringing together small sentences and picking up a few Lugandan words. Last Sunday she pointed at the chickens strutting around the church doorway and shouted, “encoco!” Martha, Mark and I all looked at each other in surprise. “Who taught you that?” I asked. She is also fond of say “kali,” a Ugandan way of saying OK.
It truly is an unusual life she has been born into. Of course she has no way of knowing this yet. The travels, friends and trials she has inherited from her crazy parents are all by her knowledge-ordinary. She bounces around the roads of Uganda without a care in the world.
The name, Vivian, means “full of life.” We chose it because it was Scott’s grandmother’s name, but it has proven to be very fitting with our child’s personality. Vivian is one lively kid. Whether she is happy, frustrated or sad she expresses her emotion with vigor. She doesn’t do anything halfheartedly or passively. She is bursting with enthusiasm and energy.
I make it my prayer each evening as I set her in bed that that life in her will soon take on a godly form, that she will understand at an early age why it is that her father and mother have chosen to walk this narrow road. And although she is a semi-passive participant now, she will soon be actively engaged with her whole heart and hands. I pray the life in her will be Spirit filled and Spirit led so that she might do more for the kingdom than even we have done ourselves. May these seeds we plant in her now bear much fruit.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Entry fees for district competitions: 150 dollars. Ice cream for 300 students: 25 dollars. Watching your school beat a rival team in football: priceless.
It was a hot and dusty day in Lweza, but spirits were high. Yesterday the schools o
f the Wakiiso district gathered together in a local field for a tournament of games. The girls competed in netball (bearing a small similarity to basketball) and the boys in football (what we in the States call soccer).
It was a day of jubilee and excitement. No classes. No reports. Just gaming.
The local football pitch (field) is not what we might expect by our American standards. For the most part it’s just dirt with a sprinkling of grass-tall grass-here and there. It isn’t entirely level. Heavy rains cause valleys and mounds to form in unpredictable places. The rifts were present yesterday, but since we haven’t had rain this past week the field was unusually dusty. Add to the red dust an army of stomping, running and cheering children and you gain billowing clouds of dirt blowing into everyone’s faces.
I have experience competitions in the past, and knowing the likely circumstances determined to stay at home with Vivian for the bulk of the afternoon. We dropped Hannah and Ashleigh at the pitch for the whole of the day. They experienced Ranch’s win in the initial game, then waited patiently all day for the team to be matched up in their next face off later that day.
Hearing that the match was set for the early evening, the Laslo family piled in the car to go witness what we hoped would be another triumph for our boys. Upon our arrival the crowds of children had thinned out a bit since only a game or two remained in the tournament. Nevertheless, hundreds of Ranch students were still gathered around loyally waiting for their team to play.
I knew it was trouble when Scott started walking toward the ice cream man. In years past he had forked over a few thousand shillings to buy every student a small cone of ice. In Uganda, ice cream men ride bicycles with large Gatorade coolers strapped to the back. The cooler is full of a neon sherbert type substance that they scoop out and sell by the cone-full. They ride around the villages playing a simple recorded tune from their bikes…much like the tunes of the ice cream men in the States. (Common tunes are Its a Small World and We Wish You a Merry Christmas). A primary school sports tournament is just the place for an ice cream man to happily camp out for the day. The business just flocks in-especially when a mzungu daddy shows up.
In terms of cost, it is only about 5 to 8 cents for a child to enjoy a small ice cream cone here in Uganda. Scott didn’t even hesitate to plunk down a few small bills so that our kids could enjoy some refreshment. Payment was the simple part. The administration of the event is what makes it complicated. How do you monitor which children get the ice cream and insure that none are double dipping?
Teacher Peter helped administrate and ensure that all those children in our extremely long line were indeed Ranch kids. Tevin and I stood nearby to watch for kids who would try to sneak back in line for a second cone. It was remarkable how many actually thought they could get away with their trickery. (I am proud and thankful to say that none of our children from the Orphanage Home made this mistake.) It was also remarkably easy to distinguish those kids who had already enjoyed ice cream. The neon pink and orange dye in the ice was a tell tale sign on the tongue of whether a child had eaten or not.
The ice cream was a definite draw, but I must say that Vivian had almost as strong an appeal to the kids. From the moment I unloaded her from the car she was surrounded by inquisitive admirers. It was as if she was the eighth wonder of the world for some of these youngsters. She may, in fact, have been the first white baby some of them have seen in person. I strolled her across the field followed by a faithful crowd. I think they would have followed me over the edge of a cliff as long as I was pushing Vivian before them.
Vivian handled her celebrity remarkably well. As long as no one tried to pick her up she was content to have dozens of faces mere inches away from her. They even had her giggling at one point. I have tried not to be overprotective with her in public and I don’t mind the simple curiosity of the children so much. But sometimes I do get frustrated with how noticeable and popular she makes us. We were popular enough before we added a baby to the mix.
But once the game began, attention was turned toward the field and Vivian and I had a few moments of peace to witness and enjoy the surroundings. I don’t want to boast too much in our boys, but they’re good. They dominated the rival school for the entire length of the game. The Ranch on Jesus students made an unequivocated fuss. They danced. They drummed. They cheered. All directly behind the goal. Their pride and celebration was contagious. Even Vivian clapped joyously though she had no idea of what she was cheering for. They were happy, which made her happy.
Final score: 4-0! The children marched around the field singing and jumping. This win qualified us to participate in Saturday’s festivities and throws us in line of possibly winning the championship cup! Even now as I write Hannah, Ashleigh and Scott are down at the football pitch preparing to cheer on our boys. I hope they win, but even if they don’t I am equally proud. They’ve been excellent, honest competitors and bring our school much favor.
By the time Vivian got out of bed this morning our team was halfway to Kampala. We were on our way to the wholesale market and left at the crack of dawn in order to beat the traffic jam in the city. The market really isn’t a place for a non-walking, 30 lb. Mzungu (white) baby so we left Vivian behind with a sitter. Ordinarily I would have been happy to remain with her at home. I do not particularly enjoy shopping. However the purchases we make at this market are ministry business and I needed to make at least one trip along with Scott to throw my two cents in on a few matters. Besides, Scott promised to buy me a small quiche from the neighboring bakery if I came along.
The wholesale market is a weekly outdoor gathering of Ugandan artists and craftsmen by the railroad tracks near the border of Kampala’s industrial district. Vendors pitch their tents on the expansive dirt plot and spread their items out for sale on large plastic tarps on the ground. Paper beads, batiks, carvings and grass baskets are stacked and strewn in every direction-a regular feast for the eyes.
We come to shop at the wholesale market for very specific reasons. One of the ways our ministry assists Ugandans and raises funds in the States is through the sale of Ugandan handcrafts. The ministry purchases select items from local Ugandans, sells them in the States, then uses the profit to continue supporting the ongoing work of Ranch on Jesus Ministries. One of our tasks while we are in Uganda is to collect such items for fundraising purposes.
This responsibility for this project falls primarily to Ashleigh and Scott. They have been diligently budgeting and doing inventory for the past two weeks. They have also been furthering relationships with some of our suppliers as well as pursuing opportunities to form new working partnerships with certain craftswomen. One of these new partners, Ann, makes beautiful paper beads and carved bracelets. Her story…along with her products…will be available upon our return to the States. She is a sister in Christ and we pleased to support her labors.
I forgot how much I disliked shopping until our land cruiser pulled up to the market lot. I immediately felt uneasy. I dislike shopping in the States because I don’t like spending money and have difficulty making decisions. These problems still plague me in Uganda in addition to a few others. Shopping in Uganda is very personal and emotional for me. For starters-there are no fixed prices. Everything is negotiable. This means that with every purchase you make you must actively engage another human being. I have learned over the years what is a fair offer for most goods. I want to pay a fair market price and do business by a Ugandan standard, but I personally can’t escape the feeling that I am robbing some of them. I know that by having a trade and spot in the market, these vendors are not the poorest of Ugandans, but for the most part their income in quite mean. They need.
This produces an additional difficulty of know who to buy from. With so many vendors offering similar items, how do I choose who to give my business to? They are all eager to sell to me. My purchase could make a difference in what they eat for the day, or if they are able to put their children through school. I have sat in their shoes before as I have hocked goods to support the orphanage. I know how vulnerable fishing for customers can make a person feel. I truly want to help them all-but I can’t.
This is why I am so pleased to continue developing relationships with particular vendors. We gain a clearer picture of who is truly needing/deserving support and how we can best invest in their business. It helps me make choices with my buying power.
All in all it was a successful trip and we were able to obtain what was required. Although visiting the market isn’t my favorite of activities-it truly is a unique Ugandan experience and one worth tasting, even if only briefly.
We not only went to the market to avoid traffic, but also so that we might leave town in a timely fashion. The Ranch on Jesus Primary School football team was to compete in a district tournament and we wanted to reach the pitch before the games ensued. That event deserves its own post…
Amy made it home in one piece, Praise God! But upon her return she learned that one of her former World Harvest teammates had massive heart failure while he was out running near his home in the States. I do not know much detail, but I do know that he is in critical condition. He and his wife have young kids and this is very unexpected. Please pray for Kevin Bartkovich and his family.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Entebbe airport is a hop, skip and a jump away from Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in the world. It is massive and beautiful. It is also extremely polluted.
On a whim we decided to drive down to Aero Beach, a private beach area very near the airport. I really don’t know if I can find the proper wording to describe the surroundings there. We pulled through the metal gates and passed under the ominous shadow of an old stripped out air jet. The jet, which hadn’t flown in years, was painted to look like a Ugandan flag. The paint job was also done many a moon ago. The empty, banged up jet had a haunted look about it and I dare say none of us would have set foot near it if it hadn’t been broad daylight.
Across the yard was a smaller, but no less interesting airliner. This jet was blue and on the tail was a large painting of the face of President Barak Obama. Under the face was a red banner with the words “Yes We Can!” I won’t elaborate now on Uganda’s current obsession with Obama. I think I will save some of the interesting Obama sightings we’ve had for a later post. Nevertheless, I must say this was by far the most humorous place I’d discovered him yet.
Scattered around the grassy acre at the front of Aero Beach were various statues of Ugandan animals, all crudely constructed out of cement. Vivian in particular was excited to see a large cement cow not far from the spooky plane. If I haven’t mentioned it before, Vivian is infatuated with cows. Actually, she is obsessed with all animals. For her, Uganda has been one enormous petting zoo. When she wakes up at 6:30 each morning the first noise out of her mouth is usually an animal sound. You can’t walk by a window or door in the house without her shouting “Da MOO!” This is her way of asking to go outside and look at the cows. I think life is going to be quite dull for her back in the States without chickens, goats and cattle roaming through our yard on a regular basis.
Once we crossed the yard of Aero Beach we came to the beach itself. A little strip of sand being lapped up by the waves of Lake Victoria. It was beautiful and ugly. I can’t think of a more poetic way to put it. I find that my ability to describe it fails. The water stretched out as far as the eye could see. On the beach windblown tiki huts were leaning over exhausted by the breeze. The place had such a feeling of a ghost resort, yet there was just enough life present to make one believe it still had a faint heartbeat.
After a few minutes of meandering around, we realized we never took a team photo. Since no other human beings seemed to be around we decided to use the timer on Hannah’s camera. Unfortunately we were also lacking a tripod. That’s when Scott suggested we prop Hannah’s beautiful cannon camera on the rear of the cement cow. So we posed and smiled at the bull’s behind while the camera counted down. It actually worked and hopefully this week I’ll be able to post a shot of us all together.
All in all it was a very bizarre and memorable way to say goodbye to Amy. At last it was time to truly let her go, and we sent her sadly through the security gates of the airport. Partings are always painful, especially after such intimate times of life and serivce together. At least I know I have the joy of seeing Amy again soon when we follow after her in two weeks.
Please pray for Amy as she has a long and lonesome journey back to the United States. Pray that this will afford her time to reflect on all that she has seen and experienced the last three weeks and that God would guide her steps once she reenters her life in America. We are grateful for every precious moment she was able to spend with us here in Uganda. I am especially thankful that such a good friend of mine got to meet my Ugandan family and walk with me in my ministry here. That was a priceless gift to me. I look forward to seeing how that will enrich our friendship once we’re reunited back home.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Of course, not all jewelry is universally appealing. Fourteen year old Phionah had no issue telling us what she thought about the necklace we gave her to copy.
“It’s ugly,” she frowned dramatically.
The necklace we wanted her to imitate was a random assortment of small colorful beads.
“Why is it ugly?” I laugh.
“There is no pattern.” She sighed dramatically. (Phionah is by nature very dramatic.)
I didn’t think it would do much good to point out that the necklaces she made for us on Wednesday didn’t have much of a pattern either. At any rate, they are learning.
I am currently sitting on a bench under the large tree at the center of the compound. Vivian is snoozing next to me in her stroller. Her bare feet are the color of the dirt beneath us. I have found it completely impossible to keep her even remotely clean here…even when she is indoors.
Today it is hot and dusty, but there is a small breeze streaming up our way from the lake. Just behind me Maurice, Kenneth and Ashiraf are doing the weekly washing. All of the children’s clothing, bed sheets, etc. are washed by hand in small plastic basins. It is truly an exhausting and tedious task. Even watching them my arms grow tired. When they have washed, rinsed and wrung an item they lay it flat to dry in the grass. The compound yard is currently a maze of blue, yellow and white garments.
Next door the Seventh Day Adventist Church is making an “Effort.” This is their term for a revival or crusade. They are well into the second week of the three week long event. The noise projected from the loudspeakers over our fence is constant. A variety of music and speaking-all in Lugandan- is projected for the entire neighborhood to hear. Every now and then I understand a word or phrase, but for the most part it is unintelligible noise to my ears.
Ernest has just run down to tell me that he has finished coloring on his canvas bag. Ernest is seven. He has always been a “show and tell” boy. He is hungry for approval and always wants me to see what he creates. I left the littlest of the children unsupervised with permanent markers up in the dining hall. I really have no idea what state I will find them in when I return. (The children or the markers.) But I am sure their canvas bags will be more than colorful.
The way the children have kept…or failed to keep…their canvas bags have been telling of their natures. The majority of the girls have kept theirs fairly pristine. The twins, Joel and Joshua, have done likewise. Although they are only eight, they are very responsible and careful boys for the most part. I wish I could say the same for some of the other boys, but many of them have managed to ruin their bags in less than two weeks. Ibrahim’s bag looks like he threw it in the dirt and ran over it with a land cruiser. Even now he is trying to wash it with Nomi (detergent) in one of the basins. Granted with all the dust and dirt in Uganda it is truly challenging to keep things clean. Still, it seems that a good many of our lads didn’t make much of an effort.
Vivian is awake now. She didn’t sleep for long. She never does in the stroller. Mark Kamara has just run through the front gate of the compound and is now strolling her back inside. I can remember clearly when Mark was even younger than Vivian. Now he is one of my many babysitters. Time keeps flying by. The children who seemed so young only a year ago now look practically grown. In very little time Vivian will be as tall as me and all the children here at Ranch will be adults with families of their own.
I look forward to attending their weddings, visiting their homes and watching as all that we tried to instill in them as boys and girls, Lord willing, becomes the truth and hope they seek to instill in their own offspring. I treasure my Saturday afternoon at Ranch on Jesus watching the will of God practiced in the simplest (and most complicated) of ways-setting the solitary in a home. (Psalm 68:6) I make it my prayer that because of what little we have done at Ranch for these few there will be fewer solitary little ones in Uganda’s future. But for now and for these children, I remain thankful for this home.
Friday, June 5, 2009
It happens like clockwork every year. About halfway through the course of the trip, I hit a breaking point. I've been extremely on edge the last couple of days. (It doesn't help that I am covered in some sort of strange rash and haven't been able to eat anything much for 24 hours…) But the true sources of my frustration lie more with the panicked sensation that time is slipping quickly away. How will we ever finish the multiple tasks assigned to us? How will we ever get to spend enough quality time with the Kamaras and the children? Before I know it we'll be back at the Entebbe airport preparing to fly away. This thought is distressing.
On the other hand there is a part of me that can't wait to get back to my home. This really has nothing to do with Uganda, culture, ministry, etc. It is all due to the temporary nature of our month here. The most challenging thing about this month is that we don't live here. This makes everything feel quite unsettled. I don't have the freedom or time to make a home here. Everything is makeshift, borrowed, unscripted and out of my control. This wasn't such an issue before I had children. But now with a family I find it terribly difficult to spend a month in someone else's home.
So in my heart there is a bit of a war. I long to be in a place where I can care for my family in a more settled way. But I also long to remain in Uganda, because despite the temporary nature of this trip I still feel incredibly at home here.
When we are here Scott and I dream about what a life in Uganda would be like. What kind of house we would build. What kind of home we would make. This is really where we want to establish our family. Being here gives us a sweet taste of that possibility. Yet we know that that dream is still a good many years away. There are duties and calls keeping us in America. There is also the understanding that at least for now, we do more good for the Ugandans we love by having a presence in the U.S.
In our hearts we live somewhere in between both nations. Which at times makes me feel a little homeless.
I am trying to be grateful for the time we do have here rather than being discontent with how short and hectic it actually is. Our predicament has taught me a great deal about our life as followers of Christ. What it means to feel like a pilgrim, away from your true home, longing to settle there yet still having tasks to accomplish on the journey.
For now I simply pray that the Lord would settle my spirit and organize the remainder of our days. That I would not feel anxious about anything, but trust that He will make a way to get everything done both on this small trip and all of life.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
We've been in Uganda for eleven nights now. We've spent two weekends at the Ranch on Jesus Orphanage Home. Three remain.
This week our little team is sticking together in our home base near Kampala to continue serving Ranch where we are each able. After a team meeting this morning, Ashleigh, Scott and Hannah headed back into Kampala to purchase supplies for a jewelry making project with the children this week. Amy and I remained behind. As noted previously, I avoid Kampala when possible. I especially don't want Vivian inhaling the smog and dust of the city on a regular basis. We are currently having a restful afternoon at home together accomplishing small odds and ends.
"Odds and ends" is a good way to describe the theme of the coming week. There are a lot of mini projects, outings, meetings, and admin tasks.
Tomorrow is a public holiday here in Uganda: Martyr's Day. Schools are closed and therefore the children will be at the Orphanage Home. It is our plan to spend the afternoon there making African jewelry with them. The kids love stringing beads. We are able to bring their handmade items back to the States to sell at fundraisers and churches. It is a fun and profitable program.
Ashleigh is largely in charge of this undertaking as well as all of the "craft" enterprises which benefit the ministry. She is working closely with our friend, Tevin, who is connecting her to local craftswomen and artists in the area. We are putting in a serious effort this year to truly develop this aspect of our ministry both here and in Uganda. Ashleigh's training in Community Development and microfinance give her some insight in the area as well as into the other areas of community development Ranch on Jesus hopes to explore in the coming year(s).
Hannah continues to document the ministry faithfully with her camera. For those who don't know, Hannah is a young photojournalist we've brought with us to Uganda to digitally capture the country and ministry. Her photos will help us in multiple ways specifically with publicity as well as fundraising.
In addition to keeping up with Vivian (getting much closer to walking these days!) Amy and I will be doing a large chunk of admin work for the child sponsorship program. I need to update my files on over 70 children as well as register all the new little ones we're adding to the program this year. I need to spend a lot of time sitting with Sarah in the office going though documents and organizing.
Scott and I both need to spend some quality time with the Kamaras this week. We need to think together, pray together and just keep the conversations flowing. Our time here is so short and each moment with them is precious.
Keep praying for us as we each determine how best to use our time and talents for this Kingdom work.