I woke up with the roosters to prepare my heart to say goodbye to my three Ugandan daughters. Tough. Stuff. It's always a very emotional goodbye! My driver was already sitting in the car waiting on me and I just didn't want to let them out of my arms. We just sat in silence holding each other tightly, as we always do on departing day. The driver finally got a little inpatient, and told me it was time. I looked down into Caroline's eyes, that were starting to fill with tears, and I lost it! These girls...have my heart! And I have theirs! I quickly tore my self away and waved my final goodbye and blew a "mom loves you" kiss and they were out of sight.
How can children that I get to see once a year have such a big piece of my heart? I can't put it into words. It is a true divine appointment! We have a deep connection, a deep love. I get to be "Mom" to them from afar, even if just a few days a year. They know that I will always come back, I am their one constant. It is an honor!
We arrived at Return Ministries just hours after a Man Up team. I could tell that Pastor Samuel and Sarah were tired. So we offered to treat them to lunch. It was just a simple mall food court type of place, and they were so impressed. It was an honor to give them the an opportunity to be pampered a little. Their kids attached to me and Hannah rather quickly, and by the end of the day we had been upgraded to "Aunties."
Our driver arrived at 9pm to take us to the airport to pick up our team. Their flight was supposed to arrive at midnight. Hannah and I were so excited, we were having a difficult time containing ourselves. The time had already passed 1am, and we still hadn't seen our team! Finally, around 1:00am , Brittany had came over to tell me that 13 bags had not arrived and two team members would be arriving the next day. The team waited in line for another hour and a half to fill out forms for their missing luggage. When we were all finally on the bus, we played two truths and a lie to get to know each other. It was a great start to our next two weeks!
After just a few hours of sleep, it was time Tories and give God the glory. I was anxious to share the African church experience with my team, and they were anxious to love on some kids! We walked up to the compound that houses the children's home and they church and the kids went crazy! They pulled and grabbed us from every limb and direction. I had warned my team of this, but I'm not sure they thought it would be that warm of a welcome. It's as if we're were celebrities. With two kids on my lap, and two under each arm, I sat down ready to worship. The music was lively, and the word was given by Lan, one of my team members.
At Return Ministries, the children are fed lunch after church. They cooks brought out giant pots of rice and beads for us to feed them. We served about 300 kids. They didn't have enough bowls or plates, so we waited for some kids to be done, washed the plates and used them again. It seems like we did that about 4 or 5 times. After lunch was served, our team was escorted my our new friends back to the guest house. When we closed the gate, many children laid on the ground continuing to call for us through the 6 inch space between the gate and the ground.
A few of the team members joined me for a trip to market. I love taking Mzungus to market inUganda! We negotiated for fresh produce and rice.
That evening, when we returned, we went back to the church for the Coffee Time with the youth and young adults. They preformed some lively songs and then it was our teams turn. Dani, a young girl on our team, is a B-Girl! The Ugandans went crazy watching her BreakDance! It was awesome!
I finished my night with a little FaceTime with my family. Brandon got to meet Pastor Samuel and his wife Sarah, and my kids got to chat with their kids. When Marley and Pearl were talking, Marley said, " are you coming to my house?" And Pearl responded with "tomorrow morning!" So freaking adorable!
Waking up with the roosters seems to becoming a pattern. I woke up at five am to take another group to the market to buy meat. It was crowded! I think Chloe, our 10 year old team member, was a little grossed out by the rural Ugandan meat markets! While walking thru the market I heard a scream. I turned around, and Hannah, our Missouri babysitter was catching her breath after an attempted pick pocketing. Nothing was taken, but she was a little shaken up.
The men on my team were amazing! They all had such a servants heart and were ready to serve wherever and whenever I needed them. They continually lifted the giant pots filled with boiling soup to add coals, and fan the fires. Chloe became our master chipati roller! When it came time to serve, we realized that we were going to run out of rice and chipati. I quickly had the team start preparing more. We thinking that children from the community heard that Mzungus were preparing a feast of meat, soup, rice, fruits and sodas and they wanted in on the fun! There had to be closer to 500 plates served! I expected that, but didn't expect to run out of food! The older children waited patiently as we waited for the rice to be done. The team had skipped lunch, and it was starting to show. I had one girl almost faint, and passed out with a baby on a sofa, one with a bad burn from cooking, and many many with exhaustion starting to set in. That's where the Mama in me set it and I called it a day! We walked back up to Return Guest House, ate dinner, had some worship and passed out!