Tonight we are back in Kampala and I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad. Thrilled to know we have a some processing time ahead of us at Murchison Falls National Park and to know that we will see our families soon. Sad to know that our intense week of providing encouragement to each other and to those we came to serve has come to an end. It has been such a joy to work side by side towards a common goal; so many relationships created and so many strengthened over the past week!
Violet, Mariah, and I took off this morning to show for all of the items on the list for Betty's school. Everything from sheets to sugar to "stockings" to shoes; it only took stopping at 6 shops to knock everything out! We drove to her school to deliver the items, pay her school fees, and purchase her school uniforms. When I got off the bus, Betty ran to me and gave me the strongest hug possible and whispered "thank you" in my ear, as best she could. Her smile was the only "thanks" anyone would ever need.
The headmistress assured us she had had a good night and was being placed in the P4 class. Betty is 15 and has been living on her own for some time now, so I think she must have felt so much safer in that dormitory last night. The staff seems to love her and they feel like she is already fitting in well. We will be keeping a close eye on her and the Hearts and Hope staff will be checking in.
We picked up the team at the hotel and made the short drive to the market and Source Café in Jinja. We placed our orders (mostly for chicken guacamole wraps!) and started shopping. We gathered back together when the food was ready and had a great meal. A we continued to shop, Violet came to get me to tell me that Abraham, one of the kids who lived on the streets in Jinja, had been taken to Nakabango, where he later ran off from, was looking for me. I returned to the Café and there he was - with that huge grin on his face as always. We got him food and talked about what he was doing. I try so hard to understand what draws him back to the street, but I don't understand it yet. He told me he wants to go back to school, but is afraid. I'm not giving up on him; he is so smart and loving. Stay tuned.
If you have a Hearts and Hope magnet, Abraham is the boy featured on it!
After shopping we gathered our treasures and got back on the bus to head to Kampala. Most people put on headphones to relax during the 2-hour drive. Violet, sitting in the middle of everyone, looked around and said, "I can not be quiet on this ride!" And so, headphones were removed... :)
A third of the way back, the bus came to a complete stop. Traffic moved nowhere for 10 minutes, so our bus made hard right-hand turn and we took the back roads for over 45 minutes. A bumpier ride, but we got to see so many children along the way! At one point, I was completely wrapped up in the faces I was seeing and the song "Spirit Fall" came through my headphones. It was an amazing, well-timed moment.
As we drove on, MercyMe's song "Beautiful" came on. Some of the lyrics:
Days will come when you don't have the strength
And all you hear is you're not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they'd see too much
You are made for so much more than all of this
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His
Such relevant words.
We arrived safely back at the Hotel Africana and had dinner at the Rock Garden restaurant. Pastor Paul deemed it one of the best meals he has ever had! Excited to worship together with our Ugandan friends in the morning and then head northwest to Murchison Falls!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.