Saturday, October 20, 2007

sometimes, im walking down these brown streets surrounded by all these brown people, and i just cant believe that I LIVE HERE; this is my life.

sometimes, i see all the street children as i walk down the streets and i want to pick up every single one of them. take them home and feed them and clothe them and love them. there are so many, too many.

sometimes, i cant believe the magnitude of people that need help. people I could help, but how do i choose? in a country where millions of children are starving, how do i decide which ones to feed?

ALWAYS, i know that i know that i know that i am here because God put me here, that i am serving His purpose, and that i am changing the world for His glory. i wouldnt trade that for anything.

ive been praying a lot lately about starting this organization. i sometimes feel like i am drowning in work that i just dont know how to do. beginning this also means that, for sure, a good part of my life will be spent right here in uganda. but that is what i want, because i KNOW that this is what God wants. so i do this work. i do this work this i dont know anything about, that is complicated and confusing, this work that i dont yet even have the money to do, with excitement and enthusiasm. and i know that there is nothing i would rather do.

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity

I'm through accepting limits
'Cause someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change
But 'till I try, I'll never know...

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately -
Everyone deserves the chance to fly
And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me -

Tell them how I
Am defying gravity
I'm flying high
Defying gravity
And nothing's gonna bring me down..
-Elphaba (that was for my girls)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

immy, my sweet african neighbor is washing my feet. just because. the is the sweet humility of these people. i was just laying here outside with the puppies and she came and started washing my feet. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He was a true servant. these people know how to serve, know how to be Jesus to others. they are Jesus to me every single day. last week i made my kindergarten assistant, "teacher patience", a cake for her birthday; she was so thrilled. "katie, may God bless you abundantly" she said. but He already has, i thought. He already has.

Life has been soooo so busy lately but busy in the indescribably beautiful way that makes me feel purposeful; i know i am busy doing God's work. i sponsored my first three girls to go to go to school last week (they are my friend patric's daughters and i am sponsoring them personally so i was able to get a jump start, they are my trial kids). these girls parents use every penny they make just to pay their daughter's school fees, so other things like school supplies and uniforms are not luxuries that these girls have ever had. i of course payed in full, so for the first time in their lives, these girls who wear the same dresses every day have uniforms like the other children at the school. instead of taking notes on scrap pieces of paper and napkins left over from lunch, they now have pens and paper. when i had finished paying the headmaster for everything, we called the girls into the office and gave them their new uniforms. they were so excited that they put them on right away. i have never seen anyone so happy or grateful. they were down on their knees thanking me as their father beamed with pride. and all of this for about 200 dollars, or what my family and i would spend on groceries weekly.

this is what makes no power, no running water, no english-speaking friends all worth it, that gratefulness. the fact that God can use me to make someone that elated makes me forget to miss tv and normal food and having clean feet. i would give everything i own for that one moment of happiness, to see the gratitude in those girls faces.

i mentioned this before but didn't really go into detail: i have decided (with the guidance of the Lord and lots of help from my awesome supportive parents) to open an organization that will sponsor the orphaned and vulnerable kids that live in the villages surrounding buziika to go to school. i dont know a thing about opening a nonprofit. but what i know is the joy on the childrens faces when they find out they are going to be able to go to school. what i know is the gratitude of parents who work so hard to be able to provide their children with an education and still cant afford it. what i know is the faithfulness of the Lord. this is going to be another long journey, and God is going to walk with me every step of the way. i cant wait.

i teach 134 kindergarteners. every day i walk with them home from school and actually go home with one of them. i love my time with these children and being able to meet their families and see their homes. they all just have these stories that you wouldnt believe stories from movies or the news, and yet, this is my REAL life. the people that i meet have mostly never seen a white person. while white people have been at canaan before, none have ever ventured into these villages. they all run to bring me a seat, insist that i come their houses, and pray for me before i leave. it is the best feeling in the world, and once again word are just not sufficient. yesterday i walked home with twin girls, mercy and nlanga. they live about 2 miles from the school and walk here barefoot every day, over the rocks and mud, rain or shine. turns out they live with their 3 older siblings and grandmother, jaja christine. as we sat on her dirt steps she told me their stories. their mother (her daughter) had come to "visit" when mercy and nlanga were about 2 (so about 3 years ago). in the middle of the night the mother had left, leaving her mom to raise her 5 children. jaja christine does any work she can get her hands on, works all day on banana plantations and grows and sells her own casava (a root that is a staple food here.. kind of like a cross between a potato and a turnip) on the side of the road. all this work and she makes only enough money to send 3 out of 5 children to school. it is truly devastating. i told her about our plan to sponsor kids and she fell on her knees. "i am not alone in raising these children," she said. "you see how God takes care of me? i am not alone. He has sent you to answer my greatest prayer." and standing there in the stifling hot african sun, i had chill bumps. that is the greatness of our God. not just that He would bless jaja christine with me, but also bless me with her true faith, complete trust, and real gratitude. these people claim that i bless them, and i know that i do. somehow though, i think they bless me more.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

With such great pride the tiny, barefoot and bald, coffee-bean colored little girl showed her teacher the closet-sized room she calls home. with such great excitement she introduced her new "mzungu" teacher to her mother who, upon seeing a white person for the first time, shrieked with glee and examined her closely. immediately a feast of rice and boiled bananas, the cheapest african staples, and of course all this family could afford, was prepared. these people did not apologize for the fact that there was no table or chairs for the meal or t he fact that all seven people could hardly fit comfortably in the house. they fed the teacher like she was a queen and wished they could give her something more, but rejoiced in what they had.

the african people have pride. not sinful pride, beautiful pride. pride in themselves, in what they have and what they have accomplished despite their circumstances, because they know it all comes from the Lord. they dont say "excuse the dirty, tiny house" or "sorry we don't have much"; they say "look at what the Lord has dome for us! look at what God has provided!" they dont have much, but what they have they recognize as gifts from the Lord. thesse people know that blessings come from the Father alone, and with the things they have they boast of His greatness.

how much this teacher can learn from her students. how much i can learn from these people who so often seem to have nothing, and yet have EVERYTHING.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

the classroom i teach in is between the animal feeding grounds and the pit latrines, so my classroom is constantly filled with the smell of waste, animal and human.

the weather is stifling here; the moment i step out of my icy shower, i begin to sweat.

i sleep under a mosquito net to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes infected with malaria among other diseases, but i still cant avoid ants and crickets in my bed.

in my bathroom lives a rat the size of a house cat and there are a few bats in the shower. this morning i almost grilled a lizard in my toaster.

fred, my piki man is almost always late, sometimes runs into cows, runs out of gas, or forgets to warm me of impending pot holes.

when i walk home, i am hit on by at least ten disgusting, crude men, most 20 years older than me.

when it rains, the awful roads turn into muddy swamps, making it nearly impossible to go anywhere.

for lunch and dinner we eat posho, which is corn-flour boiled in water until it is thick and pasty. it tastes a little worse than elmer's glue.

sometimes, the children are so dirty they actually reek; it is impossible to touch them without becoming filthy,

with the wind blowing red dust everywhere, it is impossible not to be filthy anyway.

a rooster crows around 5 to wake me up; that is if i havent already been up all night with a sick baby, or getting sick myself.

and to you, those sound like complaints. they are not; this is me, rejoicing in the Lord. because you see..

i love my tiny classroom. i love the hot sun on my face. i love my bed, cozy under my net after a long day. i love my home sweet home, all its creatures included. i love fred, my piki man. i love my long walks home, day or night, rain or shine. i love the beating, cleansing african rain. i love my african meals, prepared with such love and generosity. i love to be hugged and touched and jumped on and cuddled by the dirty street children. i love the cool, dusty breeze in my hair. i love every african sunrise, the cool and calm of a new morning. i love each and every day, each and every moment that i spend in this beautiful country; i rejoice in each breath that i take.