Hallelujah! We slept two nights in a row!
I know I’m cheating by combining two days worth of recaps and it’s a little unorganized, but finding a solution to my mango mouth problem took up most of my blogging time last night 🙂
Oh mango mouth…. Some people don’t get any reaction from mango skins but unfortunately I’m not one of those people! Though it may be because I’ve eaten an excessive amount and peel them with my teeth. Last night I noticed little itchy bumps forming on my lips. I didn’t think anything of it so I went out side to enjoy another freshly picked mango. I felt my lips getting more and more irritated so I decided to look up what could cause a rash on the lips: mango mouth was one of the very first results. When I woke up this morning my whole face was puffy and my lips looked like I just had an intense round of enhancing injections! They seemed to go down throughout the day but the rash is still there.
Yesterday morning we went to the market in search of more plastic buckets. It would be impossible to miss the smell or the giant mountains of trash piled in front of the entry gate. A few men sifted through it bringing small scraps of metal to a scale to get paid; Elizabeth called it recycling for survival. Just a few yards away over a fence was an even larger pile of trash freshly burnt and smoldering. Garbage service is new here in Jinja and after it is picked up it is taken here to be dumped and burnt, which really adds to the interesting variety of smells in the market.
The market is rows and rows of hundreds, if not thousands, of deteriorating lemonade stand looking booths with vendors in each one separated into categories of merchandise. It would take at least one whole day of walking if you were not a mission for a particular item. If you were in need of a wide assortment this would be the place to come. There are sections of clothes new and used, tools, toys, vegetables, fruits, accessories and more, but I don’t recommend lingering too long in the butcher section unless you’re exceedingly interested in cow, fish, and goat anatomy.
Because it had just finished raining the ground had a fresh layer of mud covering it. The aisles were cramped with people all trying their best to avoid deep puddles. Unfortunately we did not find our buckets here but we found Jamison a hand made dress so it was worth the trip 🙂
After the market and purchasing more buckets our family visited the school Alpha and Omega. The buildings were beautiful and most impressive, the classrooms were bright and colorful reminding me of my daughter’s school, the grounds were more gorgeous and well kept than any resort I have ever seen. I couldn’t help but think of my brother-in-law Zak when I saw people weed wacking: literally wacking weeds with a knife hunched low to the ground. It’s things like weedeaters that we forget to be thankful for!
The school had a patio over looking the Nile river, it was the most breathtaking sight we haver ever seen.
The school was absolutely incredible and offered an extraordinary education to the children who attend, but still couldn’t give them clean water. After our tour Jake set up and gave the school 7 water filtration units.
Later Jake and a group of men from Calvary Chapel Jinja went to a local prison. Jacob was not authorized to go inside, so while the rest of his group ministered to inmates and men on death row Jake stayed in the office assembling water filters and teaching guards how to use them. They were very appreciative of receiving three filters, because even as employees of the prison, like the inmates, they do not have access to clean water.
I feel like I should mention that a lot of the men in these prisons could be serving hard time for something as small as not wearing a seatbelt and/or not paying a bribe to the police. If someone is arrested and can not pay his bail he will sit in prison for 1-5 years before his court date where he is found innocent or guilty; if he is guilty his sentence will be in addition to the time he has already spent in a cell.
Any type of theft is taken very seriously. If a thief is caught by police he will serve many years in prison. Most of the time if a person is caught stealing, the local people will beat and stone him to death before the police are ever called. This is called mob justice and the mob who killed the man will not be arrested.
In fact today we were in the car down town getting ready to head home when we saw a man sprinting across the street, by the time he had crossed, a group of 5 angry men were almost on top of him. They cornered him at building, men held each of his ams while another kicked him in the stomach, more men ran towards the group beating the young man with their fists. We started getting really anxious but before we witnessed a violent murder the men stopped hitting him and started dragging him towards the police station. Elizabeth explained that this may have been because he was so young (18 at most); normally the people would have killed him right there in the street. He will probably serve at least 5 years in prison for petty theft.
Our friends Lane and Gary arrived safely last night into Jinja and met up with us this morning at the compound. I didn’t realize how much I had missed familiar faces! We spent part of the day with them acting like tourists for the first time since being here. We walked up and down the streets looking into shops and sharing experiences of their time in Kenya and ours here in Uganda.
Yesterday and today we went to the nutrition center. Because I had been there before I knew what to expect, so I worked hard at preparing myself emotionally and spiritually before entering. Yesterday as we drove up I could help but think of the little girl Lillian and wonder if she was still alive, if not I knew all my “preparation” would not be enough. The car pulled along side the concrete building and there in front of us was almost 8 year old Lillian with her stomach half the size it was, and a beautiful smile on her face. I couldn’t contain my excitement I jumped out of the car and squeezed her fragile body in my arms. After a few seconds of being wrapped in my tight embrace she squeaked out, “where is my friend?”, meaning Jamison who was asleep with Jake in the car. I was so thrilled by her well being and memory of us that I assured her that I would bring Jamison back for a visit and play time.
Lillian is recovering remarkably, as are most of the children ,but unfortunately not all do that well, for some it is just too late. In my first blog post I wrote of a baby 8 months old who couldn’t have weighed more than 10 pounds. I am sorry for my mistake, I have tried so hard when writing these posts to be as truthful as possible with no exaggerations. I really over estimated this baby’s weight when I saw her from afar, wrapped in a blanket. When I saw her yesterday in hardly any clothes it was obvious that she was between 3-5 pounds, this was also confirmed by the nurse.
When arriving today at the nutrition center the nurses came to us with the news that this sweet baby did not make it. Her mother had refused to feed her and even with so much care she was past the point of saving.
This baby’s death weighed heavy on my heart, but if she survived she most likely would have been severely brain damaged. Even though my heart ached so badly for this child I knew that her life was not meant to be lived.
Tonight I told Gary and Lane that I feel like I could go to the children’s hospital and nutrition center every day of my life. Lane asked me why, and what I thought I could do there. I really didn’t have an answer. I still don’t, but now I see that if you hide yourself from tragedy and shield yourself from devastation then you will never witness blinding miracles.
If you don’t see anyone get sick you will never see anyone get better.
Lillian and Jamison danced and played together at the hospital today.
Then we came home to all other Ugandan compound kids, expectantly waiting at our door to play with Jamison and Ezekiel. They ran, climbed, and laughed for hours this evening.
A lot of people frowned upon us taking our 2 and 4 year old kids here. Coming without them was never an option for us, but we did second guess our decision multiple times. I am so happy that we are all here together, I am ecstatic that they are able to experience all of this with us. They don’t realize that they are in a third world country half-way around the world or that many of the kids they have seen are living villages in extreme poverty, or even that those kids are half naked with no shoes. Jamison and Ezekiel didn’t look at Lillian like she was a dying child they saw her as another friend to play with. Through their innocent eyes they see no difference between themselves and these children. They are inspirational and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
Thank you God for loaning me these angels who have made my life so much more worth living. I could have never done any if this without them.