Thursday, April 28, 2011

[the last days...]

Can I freeze time, please? I am trying to soak up all the memories with my dear friends....but I wish I could just stop time for a bit.

I just have one more full week in Uganda. Where did the last 10 months go?? A week from now I'll be heading to the airport. I will spend two days in London with several girls that I went to university with. I'm eager to sightsee London, but Sarah (who's been in Uganda for 2 years!) and I may be a bit emotional after leaving. Should be an interesting trip ;) I will be arriving on American soil on Mother's Day...yes, my mom is more than slightly excited :) I'm looking forward to standing next to my best friend (who happens to be my SISTER!) on her wedding day next month...and it will be a wonderful time of reuniting with family friends and relatives.

I could write a novel here with all the thoughts floating in my head. But my eyes are glazing over, and I desperately need sleep. So for now, I'm just pleading with you and asking you to pray for me during this transition time. It's painful and emotional...goodbyes are not easy. I have a strange feeling that I'll be back at some point, but even if that happens it won't be the same. This chapter is over, and my future is unknown once again (ahhh story of my life!! Thankfully my Father is holding me and won't let go...)

I can't wait to sit down with some of you and share stories, photos, and videos about my experiences in Uganda. It would be an honor, so let me know if you want to get together! :)

Here are two photos from this past week. The first was taken tonight outside of my apartment complex. Meet my second family...what a blessing to have them as neighbors! (and yeah,I know, they're ridiculously beautiful!) I wish I could bring them all in my suitcase...words can't express how much I'll miss them. I love just sitting outside with them...watching movies with them...eating their yummy homecooked food :)...hugging the kids multiple times a day...etc. It's been wonderful learning about Rwandan culture from them. :) [bottom row from L to R: Mimi, Jimmy and Gloria who are ugandan children they're looking after, little Natasha. Top row L to R: Mom, Natasha (the mother to the young natasha), Ivan, Sylvia, me, Laticia, Frederich.]

The second photo was taken Easter weekend. These are the two darlings from Dwelling Places (Lucia in blue. Patricia in red) who stayed with me for a few days. We played HARD and had a blast, but wow their energy is endless and I was exhausted (I got awful food poisoning the day before, so I think my body was still weak from that.)



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

[same language]


Everyone smiles in the same language. And for that I am grateful.

[My sweet Patricia. I can't wait to be "mom" for her and another one of our girls--during a long Easter weekend.]

Saturday, April 9, 2011

runaways...

I love “God things”—the type of situation that He undeniably orchestrated. Recently, I went to the post office here in the city to pick up a package that my friend, Janine, sent me (mail from America is the best!!) When I arrived, it was two minutes before closing time. Yet I was told to go home; the staff had already locked up and were heading out the door. I wish I could say I had a good attitude. Instead, I was grumpy and thought to myself, “It figures—the post office staff are as slow as snails when they’re helping their customers. But how convenient that at closing time, they lock up early and rush out the door.”

So I’m admitting to you that I had a crummy attitude. But in my defense, you have to understand that picking up a package at the post office here is not convenient. First, I have to pay my boda driver several dollars to take me to the post office. And it’s an hour round-trip from my house. If you know me well, you know that those are two things I don’t like to waste: time and money. : )

I had no choice but to turn around and go home. The next day, I was determined to get to the post office and pick up the package. I need to explain what happened that morning at work: two of our girls (recently rescued from the streets) escaped and ran away. No one knew where they were. We alerted the police, but that doesn’t help very much here. We lifted them up in prayer at our staff morning devotions, trusting God would protect them. (Nevertheless, we were worried because one of the girls has mental disabilities because of her drug use while living on the street.)

That’s an important piece to this story, so bear with me.

So after work, I went into the city to try for the SECOND time to pick up my package.

I was sick and also exhausted, so I was riding on the boda not paying attention to the thousands of people we passed by. As we got closer to the city, I looked up suddenly and saw two girls walking towards us. I still can’t believe that I recognized our girls after a quick second as we zoomed by them….(especially because I had only met them a few times briefly, since they were new additions.)

I asked my boda driver to pull over onto the side of the road, and I called my boss to double-check that the girls were still lost (at this point I was thinking “surely that wasn’t them….”). She encouraged me to go look for them. By this time, the girls had walked onto a different road, but we thankfully found them.

I brought them back to the office, thanking God that He had been watching over the girls (they had been wandering around with no food or water for nearly 12 hours in the hot sun…and had walked MILES!)

(No package for Ashley that day either ;) But I didn’t care….I couldn’t help but smile, realizing that God had a reason for me being sent home from the post office the previous day. He wanted me to head into the city and find the girls the next day!)

Quick update on the girl with the mental disorder: she refused to stay at the organization, and we can’t force her to stay. So that same evening, she packed up her things and went back to living on the streets. The next day when I was in the city, I heard a voice say “auntie…..!” and it was her. So crazy. I told her we were praying for her, and she should consider returning since it’s a safe environment.

A few days later, she realized she had made a mistake. She is now back with us at DP! Please pray that she decides to stay and get an education, receive the love we want to give her, etc.

On a completely different note, 4 weeks from tomorrow I will be waking up in my family’s home in Pennsylvania. That’s a lot to process, and I have incredibly mixed emotions—but that’s a post for another day. I’m excited to see my friends and family after nearly a year! But my heart begins to ache when I think about leaving my dear friends and kiddos here in Uganda. This truly feels like home in many ways.

I selfishly would love your prayers during this transition phase and that I get everything done that I need to in my remaining 4 weeks.

The goodbyes have already begun. Yesterday, I got to spend some time with this dear Rwandan girl who I met my first week in Uganda. She’s going to her father’s house for a holiday break, so I doubt I’ll see her again. Isn’t her smile endearing?

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Two videos!

Our kids are adorable. Period, end of story :)
Over the last two months, DP has rescued about 20+ new children from the streets of Kampala. And will continue to do so. They wanted to send their greetings. (They like stickers all over their faces, can you tell? :)

The second video is three of them speaking Luganda, and it basically translates to: "Auntie Ashley, we love you, because you are our friend. And you take our photos..." oh how they love the camera!


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