I knew today would be a good day when we woke up to the best eggs I've had in a while! :) We started our hour and a half journey to the orphanage around 8:30 as usual but today I got to expedience the front seat, and WOW what an experience! The poverty of Kampala really gets to me and to drive through it for hours everyday makes it hit home for everybody. The driver, Patrick, taught me many things about his country that I will never forget while we were driving down the busy roads of Kampala.
When we arrived at the orphanage with our plan for the day (recreation, lunch, worship then crafts) we were soon told by one of the teachers that the kids had a special surprise for us! The whole morning before lunch was spent in the prayer garden while they took turns getting up in front of the group to praise God. It was amazing to hear them sing their little hearts out with a tremendous passion for it! Their voices are all beautiful, too, so that's a plus! :) After they showed us their worship and then their play they delightfully presented we got our chance to sing the songs we've been teaching them all week and today was awesome in the fact that over half of them have learned all the words and hand movements! Some of them better than me!
After worship time we had a small bit of down time and I got the opportunity to sit and play with the little ones and it really started to sink in that tomorrow was going to be the last time I might ever see these beautiful faces! It got really emotional for me and all I wanted to do is take them all home but I know that God has a plan for everyone of these children.
At 1:00 we sat down to have lunch which is always a feast and always very good! The food is different but very tasty. Nobody has lost weight on this trip, to say the least!
After Lunch we got to make crafts! We all went to the shelter not a minute too soon because it started to rain! Rain here in Uganda is beautiful. It wasn't a down pour but it wasn't sprinkling. It was perfect and the sound that the raindrops made as it hit the roof of this shelter could put me to sleep! We got out these foam crosses that were sticky and had them stick them to a piece of paper and write down their favorite verse. I had the little ones so they just colored. I didn't get to see any of the older kid's favorite verses until a boy named Aliga, whom I had never spoken to before, came up and gave me his and said 'gift' and I said well thank you so much as he walked away. I then looked down at the red piece of construction paper and realized he had written John 3:16 with very colorful drawings everywhere. It was really beautiful and it touched me! Not a minute later a little girl came up and opened up her hand and it looked like a handful of beads but when i picked one up I realized it was a bracelet and a necklace. The little girl ran off as soon as I put them on and I didn't get to catch her name but it's safe to say that I will wear them often and pray for that delightful little girl. During coloring the children were taking turns tracing their hand on a sheet and writing their name. What a neat idea! I haven't yet seen the finished project but I am super excited to get to see it today!
After craft time with the bible verses and pictures we had kindof a free time with the children. I got the chance to sit down with a quiet girl named Kathy. I learned she was 9 and had been at the orphanage for 3 years. She told me of the place she was from and told me that her parents have both passed away from AIDS. This silenced me. I knew most of these children's parents were gone but to have this little girl, Kathy, whom I had played ball with yesterday while she was screaming and laughing, had no parents. Her parents were the teachers and caregivers of the orphanage. I learned she had a twin, Moses and he soon came over to talk with me and told me of his friends at the orphanage and what he was learning. I had braced myself for this experience but I don't think anyone can truly prepare themselves for when a loving and beautiful child tells you of their parents dying from a scary disease such as AIDS.
Because craft time took so long because of all the fun the children were having and the detail they were taking in their drawings, after my conversation with Moses and Kathy it was time to leave the orphanage. It didn't hit me until I got on the bus that tomorrow is the last day I get with these children and it's a short day at that. I am excited to go to the market tomorrow and bring some things home for the ones who didn't get to experience this, but at the same time I am wishing I had more time to connect and hear more of these children's stories! It's daunting to me that I can't fix everything for these children and I can't bring them home with me and now I have to leave them all together and on the way home from the orphanage passing all the children on the street yelling 'Mzungu' (white person) like the kids had the first day at the orphanage, tears started streaming down my face. These kids weren't just orphans anymore, they were Kathy, Moses, Martha, Kato, Waswa, Barbara.. They were my friends and will never leave my heart.
I ask that people following this blog pray for our team and saying our goodbyes tomorrow. It will be really hard for all of us to leave behind these kids. There will be tears from me I know and I'm sure from many others. We came to teach and play with the kids but the kids have taught ALL of us SO much that I will never forget. I just hope we can take back the stories of this trip and more people get to experience it. I wouldn't trade the heat and exhaustion for anything right now. I almost don't notice it anymore when I'm playing with the smiling faces.
Goodnight and God Bless,