Wednesday, June 6, 2012

One Week

 In one week we leave for this place: 

I'm hoping there will be lots of this along with many orange fantas in a bottle.

 I've gone to Africa now a couple times and one of the things I always look forward to are the orange fantas in a bottle.  Yes, I know that I can get orange fanta here in the US, but I never do because it just isn't the same...the only time I drink it is when I go to Africa and I don't know what it is but it is soooo good!  The only little problem we're going to have this time is that because Scott will be with me I think I'm going to have to watch my orange fanta intake.  Many of you know about Scott's disdain toward any kind of sugary soda...he believes it's morally unacceptable to drink it.  Now, I do agree that it's not good for you and I really do try my best to not drink it, but it is definitely a weakness and a cold orange fanta IN A BOTTLE IN AFRICA is pretty high on my list of weaknesses.  I've already asked Scott what my orange fanta allowance would be and the number was disappointingly low...I know he's only looking out for me and my health, but when he's not looking I may be hoarding orange fantas.  I can totally picture myself hiding a bottle in my backpack to save for a time when he's off doing something else and I have a few minutes to down a bottle...I'm crazy like that.  OH yeah, by the way that's goat on stick in that picture up there.  I know what you're thinking, but it's really good!  We have a couple of really long drives that we have to make and whenever we drive through a town you can always count on people selling stuff, so whenever we make a stop people come right up to the van and you can buy food and drinks.  I was definitely a little hesitant the first time I tried it but it was AMAZING, flavorful and much better than boring chicken which was my other option, and it didn't make me sick so I can't even say how many of those I ate.

So, we'll be in Uganda and Kenya for two weeks and it's going to be a whirlwind of a trip.  Scott and I were asked this past year to serve on the board of an organization called 127 Worldwide that our friend Sara Beth started.  Our mission is to connect people to the needs of orphans and widows around the globe through education, advocacy, and sponsorship.  Currently we have three different partnerships that span across Uganda and Kenya and we're going over to check on each one.  We will have 7 different flights along with 2 long bus rides as we make our way to each location.  It's going to be an exhausting time, but we're so excited about the journey.  First we'll be in Uganda at Acres of Hope which is the same place I visited last year although at that time it was just a large plot of empty land in rural, northern Uganda.  Since my time there last year 4 pod houses have been constructed and the first group of children have moved in just in the last couple weeks!  I can't wait to see many of the same children I met last year!  We'll be helping to furnish the other pod houses so more children can move in and we'll also be working on the child sponsorship program.  In Malava Kenya we'll be visiting Tumaini which is an orphanage for 53 children and a school for 243 children.  We'll be working specifically on addressing some of the needs of the orphanage and school along with the child sponsorship program. From Malava we'll take a small plane down to Nairobi, Kenya to visit the Kibera slum (one of the largest slums in all of Africa) where we have a partnership with Swahiba Youth Network, a large ministry that encompasses several other smaller ministries that outreach to the youth in Kibera. One of which is called the Young Offenders Correction Center and also the Jitambue Project (Swahili for ‘Discover Yourself’) which is an ongoing Teenage Girl Program that currently has 520 girls from 10 High Schools. We are sensitizing, mentoring and empowering these girls, most of whom have gone through tough and traumatizing experiences which include rape, loss of parents, siblings and losing their homes during the post-election violence This is somewhat of a new partnership for 127 WW so we'll be assessing specific needs while also ministering to the youth in Kibera.  Since 127 WW is still so new we also have a videographer coming along with us that will be able to capture on film alot of what we'll be doing in each location so that our supporters here can have a better understanding of each partnership.  I'll actually be working closely with him to make sure we can get specific shots and interviews that can then be used on our website and marketing materials.

One thing I didn't mention is that we are flying out a few days early so that just Scott and I can spend some time in Jinja, Uganda.  We have a close relationship with a pastor that lives in Masese which is smaller slum just outside of Jinja.  There are basically three sections of Masese...1, 2 and 3.  Masese 1 is where Pastor Simon lives and it is by far the worst of the three sections.  I got connected to Pastor Simon and his family a couple years ago and we've stayed in contact ever since.  I was able to visit with him for just a day last year, but this time we're actually staying about 1/2 a mile from his house so that we can spend more time with he and his family and also more time in Masese.  I can't tell you how excited I am about this part of our trip.  I had such a short amount of time with his family last year and I CRAVED so much more and wanted to be able to stay longer and really develop a relationship.  It's so hard to develop a genuine relationship over emails and texts, so my heart is so happy just knowing that we'll get just a little more time with the Muwreza family and I'm so excited for Scott to finally meet them.  We will only have two days with them but Simon is going to show us around Masese and also introduce us to many of the people that attend the church that he has helped to plant there.  We will also be taking about 100 pairs of shoes with us to do a small distribution and would like to also take bibles.  When I asked Simon what were some things that we could bring with us the first thing he said was bibles, that many of the church members don't have one.  So, if you're interested in donating a bible let me know!

Please pray for us if you can.  There are a TON of logistics going into this trip, lots of traveling, crossing over borders, navigating unfamiliar territory, hot days and nights, Scott's fear that I'll drink too many fantas, etc.  We just appreciate all of your prayers during our time away.  Thank you so much to everyone that has supported us financially or donated items for us to take...such a huge blessing to us!!  Thank you to our friend Ben who has SOOO graciously agreed to stay at our house for the first week and watch Murph...Ben, you're a saint, I hope you still like us when we get back!  Thank you to my mother-in-law who said she would watch Murph if we needed her to, but it looks like she's off the hook!  Thank you to my parents who even though I know it's difficult for them to know that we're so far away in a foreign country still support us and are excited for us to have this opportunity.  Oh yeah, I also turn 30 while we're gone...oh my.