Happy children o' mine from the orphanage and from my home in KC wish you a Happy New Year!
Rose and Faswella
film by Nicky
Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Team 4's visit to Uganda has come to an end. Our days absolutely flew by.
There were lots of tears as we said our goodbyes. It was a fantastic group; the children will never forget their new friends from America.
This is a shot of the team at the craft market in Kampala. More photos and observations to come. For now, we are all looking forward to getting some sleep!
Monday, December 27, 2010
There is a core group of artists at the orphanage who could paint all day and night and never grow tired of doing so. They are a talented bunch of kids, and they are a treat to hang out with. They are hard working, fun loving, appreciative, polite, humble and so affectionate.
I get the privilege each December to watch them work and to bring their paintings back to KC for the annual CTT fundraiser. I'm always blown away by their creative prowess and their deep love for making art.
A couple days ago I brought them to the luxurious hotel at which most members of our team are staying. It's not expensive by American standards, but it is a beautiful place right on Lake Victoria. For these young artists, it was only a few kilometers from their home at St. Mary Kevin, but it was truly a world away. We loaded up the car with paints, paper, canvas, pencils, pastels and brushes. When we arrived, the kids were so excited to grab their supplies, head through security and check out the sprawling grounds and gardens.
Nicky turned and said to me, "Wow, Mama Gloria. This is like another country!"
They each picked a place from which to paint. Some preferred the view of the lake, some the gardens, others the building itself. They painted for two hours, then we gathered in my room for a little TV and hanging out time.
Back: Nicky, Brian, Willy, Ivan
Middle: Issy, Brian, Oscar, Collines
It was one of the nicest mornings I have ever spent.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
"Pure. Simple. Joy.
It hit me. In the solitude of walking a short distance from Melissa’s house to the entrance of Saint Mary Kevin it hit me. Joy. Joy shining from some place I didn’t even know existed. Joy from the heavens. Joy from the red muddy soil. Joy from Shine’s eyes as she sang a new song from heart for the first time. Joy from Fiona’s contemplation writing a pen pal letter to a student in Overland Park, Kansas, whose life is a world away and yet whose hopes and dreams are close to the heart. Joy for Douglas being so patient teaching me drumming rhythms. Joy of receiving a tiny note of words and pictures from Sharon as she slipped it into my hand, gave me a quick squeeze, and ran away. True, pure, simple, awakened joy. It didn’t matter how much I tried to prepare my heart for this experience. The joy is truly overwhelming. It emanates from every held hand, every smile, and even every shared tear. The stories of these children are too much for anyone to bear, but their Joy is a gift for all. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity for their Joy to hit me." - Jennifer
In spite of a slashed big toe, a popped knee, coughs, colds, one ridiculously late luggage arrival (yesterday) and exhaustion, Team 4 is doing amazing work here! I have been blown away by everyone's compassion and each person's willingness to do whatever it takes to make this a special time for the kids at SMK. There have been tears of joy and tears of sadness. There have been strong bonds with kids already established. There have been breakthroughs with certain struggling orphans. There has been a lot of laughter. Jeff, Jenn, Avis, Emily, David, Suzanne and Bobbi are working their tails off. And they've put up with me attempting to lead them through this journey! So, hats off to each of them. I know the children here will never forget them. As we get ready to provide a special Christmas day at SMK, I just want everyone back home to know that these team members, who have given up being with their friends and loved ones on this holiday, are giving the greatest gift there is: pure and simple, unconditional love. And I have a feeling they, too, will be receiving one of the best gifts they've ever received: pure and simple, unconditional love.
Friday, December 24, 2010
"Uganda, you complete me (Jerry Mcguire plug)!!!
From the moment I stepped foot into the orphanage, I have felt a sense of peace in my soul. The laughter and smiling faces of the children, the music, the dancing, the sound of the Islamic call to prayer (Adhan), all of this has touched an untapped place in my heart. I have enjoyed detaching myself from the luxuries of America. There is a humility that comes from taking cold showers and using screaming goats and roosters as one's alarm clock. The people of St. Mary Kevin have been so receptive and I feel as if I have known them my entire life. Whether it has been teaching karate, running 3 miles to Lake Victoria and swimming with 60 kids (with crocs and rhinos...just sayin'), or playing futbol (soccer for you uncultured few =) with the big boys, I have enjoyed every moment of this trip. I am thankful to GOD for the experience and there is nothing I would trade for the memories. Webale!!!" - David
"After morning calls by screaming goats and mosquito net avalanches, sewing with boys and girls and seeing how each stitch adds a new piece of pride for each child has healed me in ways I never thought possible. Through hearing a girl last saw her mother on Christmas and a tiny face lighting up as she runs into my arms every time we meet, I have found a new sense of strength in myself. I try to take photos of every new and interesting person I meet and see. But between walking to Lake Victoria, crying at choir performance, watching Philipino soap operas, and teaching 'Jingle Bells' there is too much to process, let alone capture on film. Through my journal and talks with David, I have been able to explore my thoughts and feelings of the days' events, along with recording every moment to share with my friends and family back home. I am so thankful to be here and I would not trade a moment of it, but on this Christmas Eve I find myself extremely home sick for my family traditions and the warmth of my best friend, my mother. The individuals here remind me of her strength and resilience, passion and joy, and her ultimate love for me which I cherish even more now. Without her I would not be here and might not go back. So for her, I will dedicate my Christmas morning hike to watch the sun rise over Uganda, in my love for her so far away and all of the mothers missing their children on this Christmas Day." - Emily
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Team 4 is doing so well. Everyone has settled into their projects, and the children (who seem to be having a really good time) are flocking to karate, sewing, yoga, art, etc. Tomorrow I will begin posting the team members' own impressions of the trip so far. For now, please enjoy these photos of our first few days at SMK!