God's love and beauty is everywhere in Uganda

After returning from a much needed four day break, I feel refreshed and ready to face whatever comes my way.  My family (my two sons and my brother) got to go on a Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park.  We also had Helene (friend from Amani) and Gary (my brother's brother in-law) with us.  Wilson, our driver, was also a big part of our adventure.  He drove us to his family's village on the way and it was such a blessing to see him with his father and grandmother.  Wilson comes from a big banana plantation and the land is absolutely breath-taking in his village.  Seeing the love between his family was refreshing because family intervention is so needed everywhere I go.  

On our safari, God blessed us with seeing just about every form of creation possible.  We were able to see the king of the jungle and drive right up to a lioness and get a picture.  My favorite safari moment was seeing the elephants and the mother taking command to line them all up and cross the road.  Queen Elizabeth National Park is truly one of the most beautiful places that I have seen.  My scariest safari moment was when all the guys got out to help push a car that had stopped and then they looked down and saw the massive lion paw print on the road!  We later saw that lion!

Getting back to Jinja was just like when I've gone on vacation in the past.  Returning home is always wonderful.  It dawned on me as I got in bed the first night we returned that I truly feel like I'm home.  I miss the states and the family and friends there but I love where God has placed me for this season in my life.

This week's bible lesson in the village was a challenge.  First of all, I did not know that Esther (a Ugandan friend that I have gotten to know) was teaching about God's creation.  And, just like God, he meshed our talks together.  I had planned the 7 day creation lesson and planned on the children making hemp bracelets with 7 beads to represent the 7 days of creation.  I was very thankful that Trey, Tripp and five volunteers from Amani helped me.  We divided into groups and made about 300 bracelets!

There are several prayers that are needed.  First, please pray for a teenager that just delivered twins.  Her name is Lydia and she gave birth to Kenneth and Kennedy.  In Lydia's village, the tribe believes that twins are from the devil.  Lydia cannot return to her village at this time because the children will be sacrificed.  The Crisis Pregnancy Center is working with her and the main goal will be to educate and reunite.  I'm learning how long this process takes.  Lydia is sad and lonely and confused.  Thankfully, she sees the two bundles of joy as blessings from God.

Fazirra also needs prayer.  She is the lady that I have written about several times with the 6 children and niece living with her.  She has not been healthy and she is struggling again with school fees.  Fazirra comes from a Muslim community and attends weekly Bible Studies.  Saturday, I dropped by her home in the village on the way back from Buziika.  She asked me if her family could attend church with me one Sunday.  Of course, I smiled and said yes!  God is at work in Fazirra's life.  Shariffe is her 10 year old boy that everyone fell in love with when I wrote about how responsible he is.  Shariffe is hearing about Jesus Christ for the first time.......and I'm excited about his future.

Another little boy needs prayer.  I would like to keep his name unmentioned at this time.  He is five years old and needs to either be placed in a home in the near future or be reunited with his family.  His family has not wanted him.  In fact, his grandfather has stated that he would kill him if he returns to the tribe because he was born in disgrace.  Please pray that God's will is clearly shown for this child.  I am confident in the director that will make the final decision on this boy.

I have truly grown to love the preschool children that I teach at Amani.  As I'm training the volunteers and the Mamas to take over, I can't help but feel a little sadness.  I realize that I have only a couple more weeks with the children and then the teams will start arriving.  We will still be working with them but I'll be letting go and handing over the baton of responsibility.  And, to be honest, it is not that anyone else can't do it (maybe even do it better) but the fact that I've seen such progress and eagerness to learn. I will miss their sweet hugs and smiles every morning that I enter as they yell "Hello Mama Tina".

As much as I would like to think that I have made a difference, the fact remains that those I serve have made a difference in my life.  I have new family in Uganda.  Every child and staff that I've encountered at Amani Baby Cottage, Ekisa, Amazima, Canaan Children's Home, Serving His Children, Our Own Home and the Crisis Pregnancy Center has become family.  The relationships that have been developed have been so rewarding.  The relationships in the villages of Masese and Bujagali with Pastor Andrew and Esther are also rewarding.  They teach me more than I could ever hope to teach them.  They teach me consistency, love and friendship.

This morning as the preschool at Amani closed with "this little light of mine" I smiled thinking about the last verse....."shine it all over Jinja town, I'm gonna let it shine" and I am amazed at God's work in this place I've grown to love.  He shines everywhere here......in the people, in the animals that we were blessed to discover and in His beautiful land.   God's love and beauty is everywhere in Uganda!