Uganda has been my home now for a mere four weeks. I came here with no expectations or pre-conceived notions of what Uganda might be like. The only thing I knew was everything would be harder and everything would take more time. I was not viewing this as negative -- just different. But I also knew God called us here to serve the Covenant Mercies Orphan Sponsorship Program; he would equip me and my family with the strength, wisdom, and ability we needed. He truly has been faithful as we have transitioned here to Covenant Mercies children’s homes in Maundo village.
I would not say it has been a hard or easy transition. It’s been a natural transition -- it has felt like home to me since the moment I stepped off the plane. I love the people. I love the country. We have all we could possibly need! It is very simple and uncomplicated living, but absolutely perfect for us. Everything about Uganda is raw and exposed. Earthy, dusty and beautiful. The weather feels like the beach. Days are hot and very bearable. Evenings and mornings are cool and crisp. Everyday feels a bit like camping. Everything is harder and requires more work. But there is something about this kind of living that feels natural -- the way it’s supposed to be. I feel like I was made to be here.
Maundo is a very rural area of Uganda. It has long dirt roads covered with potholes caused by the rains. Little charming brick and straw huts are scattered off the roads. Half clothed, chubby little children rapidly scurry out of well manicured huts as you drive by, shouting out ‘muzungu’ and waving energetically. Everywhere you look you see a vast changing sky, peculiar and breathtaking rock formations, and fields upon fields planted with cassava shrubs, sugar cane, rice, and sweet potatoes. The roads are filled with people walking, riding bikes, driving motorcycles, and some using vans or cars for transportation.
Some of the challenges we have faced since moving here have been maintaining consistent water, power, and internet access. When we have no water from the water tower, we need to fill buckets from a large holding tank outside our home which catches rain water . We use this for cooking, washing clothes, bathing, flushing toilets, and cleaning. I am very thankful we have a back-up water source so close to our home. I have learned to wash my clothes by hand, which has not been all that difficult. Before our gas stove was hooked up, I was learning to cook over a charcoal fire. Making sure the girls are bug sprayed up and tucked carefully in bed under their mosquito netting at night has become a routine we fell quite easily into. It’s hard for me to call these minor inconveniences challenges though, because it’s something we just have to figure out or just need to get done -- and we do it.
Learning to shop in the open markets has been interesting, different, and fun. And frankly, I love it. I'm learning the art of bargaining; learning what is good and what is not. They use this soap called omo for washing clothes, cars, hands, and pretty much anything else. I can also find a wonderful, but small, assortment of seasonal fruits and vegetables, copious amounts of dried fish, live poultry, sheep, goats, cows, and small selections of beans, rice, and flour. Clothes, baskets, water jugs, fabrics, flip flops, mats and pretty much anything essential for Ugandan living is found in the markets on market days. They don't have much variety, but they usually have what we need.
The girls are adjusting well. They are just beginning to want to play outside. At first they were scared from the attention they received from the other children on the compound, but now that the novelty of white children has worn off a bit the girls are becoming more comfortable. They are enjoying the property and the many beautiful, large trees they can climb. They are also fascinated with all the animals that roam freely. The baby calves are their favorite. But they sure do love to pick up the baby piglets just so they can hear their obnoxious squealing. They are even making some friends with the girls around here, which is exciting to say the least.
Alf has been amazing in trying to make this adjustment as pain-free as possible. He has worked hard to keep water easily accessible, and has been constantly working to create some sort of power for refrigeration, light, and internet access. He makes sure all our electric devices are charged and the cords are meticulously wrapped and put away. Presently, he is working on our third bedroom, making it into a guest room and outfitting it with bookshelves, so I can have some sort of order to my homeschooling supplies. He has also been involving some of the older orphan boys in his work. They are enthusiastic about anything Alf asks them to do. The boys even scoured the property to find rocks for me, because they knew I wanted them for my flower garden.
I’ve now had the benefit of seeing the faces of the orphaned children, and hearing testimonies from caretakers of how this program has helped them. I’ve handed out school supplies on distribution day to the children in the program, and talked with people in the local community who are thankful we are here. I have listened at night to beautiful voices singing worship songs to God as the house parents lead their children in family worship (of course African style with drums and all.) There is a beautiful work taking place here and we are all participating in it.
We are thrilled, and consider it a privilege, to be involved with the Ugandan people over this next season. God has sanctioned us to play this small, but unique role, in caring for the children in Maundo homes, and we are grateful for the opportunity. We are also thankful we’re not alone in this, but have the love, care, and support of our local church, family, and friends back at home. This is the beginning of a crazy fun adventure. One we are happy to be a part of!