Monday, June 29, 2009

New team arrives; luggage doesn't

The team from Illinois is, from left, Marsha Mayner, Connie Lovelace, Debbie Rhoades, Jeanne Bell and Shannon Wingler.

Friends and Family,

The first team left this morning for the States, and the second team arrived. None of the luggage for the second group arrived with the airplane. However, we always tell our volunteers to pack a change of clothes, etc. - just in case. There was a large group of young people on the same flight. Everything they brought was in the bags they checked, so they arrived with nothing. Another airplane arrives on Wednesday, so hopefully the luggage will arrive at that time.

The first team was absolutely great ... amazing, hard workers and fantastic company. They accomplished many things, including creating the three libraries. Important as well, were the many games (netball, soccer, basketball) they played - and lost. :) They have made friendships that will last over time with many people. The kids love the volunteers and, after the first day, it was especially fun to watch our young people just automatically reach down and scoop up kids, or grab their hands and start playing with them.

This weekend the group visited the Watoto Orphanage Homes. The Watoto Choir tours the US during the year to raise funding for the homes/villages. They will be at my school in January, so it was nice to see where they live and visit one of the houses. Each home has eight children and one 'mother.' It is a huge operation with the homes located in two places. Churches around the world bring teams in to construct a home, so that more children can be added. On Sunday we attended the Watoto Church, which has about 10,000 members. They had a huge choir. It was a bit like being at the Erwin Center for an African concert, featuring praise and worship in English and native languages. The special speaker was an Australian from America. Great service!

Then, of course, it was the end of the trip, so time for the muzungus to go shopping. :) There are some really great craft shops in Kampala. I must admit, after six years of looking at the crafts, they all run together. I have a hard time remembering what I have taken home for gifts previously, but we had 16 people here for the first time, so they loved shopping.

For the families of our first team: thank you so much for allowing them to travel to the other side of the world to share the blessing of their friendship and God's love with those here. They definitely have my highest respect and love for all they accomplished.

Please keep us in your prayers as the second team tackles the creation of two more libraries, restocking of our first library, plus helping as we train the Ugandan librarians and students how to organize their libraries, plus how to borrow and return books. I am grateful they are willing to help with the training, as I have done it alone the last four years and it is a huge job. We are also happy to still have the company of Jennifer Martin, who was with the first team, but is remaining for three weeks.

Yesterday I left the group and wandered off by foot through a poor area where I spent a lot of time during my first trip in Uganda. I was in tears as I stepped through the rutted dirt paths, through yards - and moved around. The first summer when I traveled alone, staying in Ugandan homes, was a time that was so unusual that it is hard to describe. Coming from America and immediately being totally immersed in a different culture really changes one's life. It makes that culture simply seep into your bones and remain there as a part of your life forever. I feel so fortunate that I am totally comfortable here, and because of God's calling, realize that I am where I am supposed to be to - serve His purpose.

From across the world, I send my love and good wishes.


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