Sunday, July 23, 2017


Some things are able to cross cultural and language lines and connect people. Music is one of those things. Art is too!  We have had so much fun for the past few days visiting classrooms at Good Shepherd, where our kids attend, so that Molly could teach art lessons!  She brought all of the supplies to teach the kids to weave, and they absolutely loved it!  Watching them relax and work, and then seeing the pride they took in their creations was priceless. There were 50-70 students in each class, and we did lessons for P1-P4, so we got to see our middle aged Ddembe kids in their classes, and the big kids were jealous! 

Yonna with his creation!
The first day went so well that Lillian, Moses' sister who is the headmistresses at Good Shepherd, invited us to visit a nursery school on Friday morning. We spread out the supplies we had brought in the hotel room Thursday night, and made a plan to create butterflies out of paper plates. We arrived in time for morning circle, which is outside, whole-school, and full of fun songs and games!  I could have stayed all day!!   Pictures can't do justice... when I am home, I will have to show you videos!!!  

Every one of those 50 kiddos took their shoes off to go inside for the lesson-- then had to find their own and put them back on when we went back outside!  

I taught the kids about the life cycle of a butterfly, and Molly led the art lesson. (Diamond was an awesome supply lady!). 50 children ages 2-5, and one chicken who wandered into the class with us!  SO MUCH FUN!


Friday, July 21, 2017

Old friends

Old friends!

Being able to see old friends is a blessing! Being able to see old friends half a world away feels like a miracle!  

On our way to Jinja from the airport, we met Patrick, from the lacrosse team-- he left this week to play in Israel for a month!  So exciting for Uganda lacrosse!!  The first full day I was here, I ran into Pastor Zach!  It was so great to see him again, and to have the chance to catch up!  

Every year, Robert and I look forward to catching up with Joshua. He's got one semester left after this current semester, and will graduate from nursing school in May, and be ready to get a job!!  He is so proud of himself, and we are proud of him, and grateful to get to continue to be in his life!!

Probably one part of the trip that is the most unbelievable to me, still, is the fact that I got to see Ms Agnes!!  We haven't seen each other in 3 years, and I have missed her and prayed for her so often. We have been back in touch in the past year, and I can't thank God enough for allowing that to happen!  Getting to see her was icing on the cake!!  Even better, her granddaughter, Betty, still lives with her, and she sat with Diamond and me and showed us her schoolwork, while we showed her pictures on our phones from when she was a little kiddo!!!  I met Betty when she was 18 months old, and now she's in third grade!  God has been so faithful to restore this relationship and connection. I am overwhelmed just thinking about it!  Agnes is doing really well, and we even got to see some of her children (the ones who told her they would disown her if she passed the orphanage on to us). Relationships restored, and God proving that His plan is always bigger, and that he sees more than we do-- best thing ever!

Speaking of Agnes, we are so blessed to have 9 of the children who used to live at her house living at Ddembe now. We often wonder, though, about the other ones. We wonder how they are, and what they are doing, and if they are in school. Today, we were at Good Shepherd Primary School, the school our Ddembe kids attend, and a child walked into the room, and I knew it was Pamela!  We worked with Pamela at Agnes' school, and I have pictures of her doing art there when she was only about 3-4. Today she was in the P3 class (third grade!). 

When we got to the 4th grade class, we saw two more faces we recognized-- Grace and Rachel-- sisters who were at Ms Agnes' three years ago!  

God knows where all of his people are all the time. We have to trust him as he brings people in and out of our lives. When he chooses to let us know where people who we have lost touch with are, it feels like a gift. 

Over the past nine years, God has done some pretty incredible things in my life through Africa. I am overwhelmed and grateful. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Aunties (& uncle!)

Two years ago when I visited Ddembe, our house mom had left and I was able to step in to help Moses. It was a crazy amount of work for Robert and me, and a crazy amount of lessons learned!  

This week, Esther, the house mom, needed to go be with her mother, who is sick. Esther's sister was recently sick, and Esther gave her all of the money from her salary. We were able to give Esther some money to pay the hospital for her mom, and to give Esther the ability to go be with her mom because we were here. 

Let me just say that if Esther had a hidden camera she could watch, she would see that six Americans cannot do the job she does alone!  We have been without power yesterday and part of today, and it has literally taken all of us to make sure kids are ready for school (Katie stayed with Ainsley and Moses to help with mornings), that the youngest kids are picked up from school at 12:30, brought home and fed, and napped and entertained, clothes are washed, water is boiled, dinner is cooked, dishes are washed, kids are bathed, homework is done, prayers are said, and kids are ready for the next day and put to bed. It doesn't sound like that much for six people, but for six people used to vehicles and appliances and electricity, it's a workout!  Monday I went with Moses to the market and got all the produce for the week. The market ground was about 2" deep red mud, so what is usually challenging to navigate was even trickier!  I loved it, though, and we are set!  All this for about $30! (Seriously-- I bought 15 large avocados for $1.25!!)

The first night we made spaghetti, and it was a big hit!   

Last night, we made chicken and rice and veggies (like chicken soup without the broth) because everyone at Ddembe has a cold!  With the exception of the fact that we had to rely on juice we bought at the market to drink with dinner because our fresh squeezed concoction didn't turn out according to plan, it was also a winner... and cooked in the DARK!! 

I'm bragging about this so that you will realize we have not completely let the kids down when I tell you that tonight we attempted homemade chapati with guacamole and chicken and rice (a Ugandan version of a burrito!), and it was a fail!!  Several of us have made chapati before, but we have always had help from a Ugandan. Today we decided that surely between us, we could come up with the right way to do it.  I left to run an errand and got a call from Ainsley saying, "it's not going to work!"  😂

We had something that was closer to grilled thick pie crust than chapati, and LOTS of help from Vicky even getting it to that point, but the kids all ate it!  Quote of the day:  while frying the "chapati", Vicky said, "even when I am old, every time I eat chapati, I will surely remember this day, and I will laugh!"  

Thanks for all your prayers and help getting here so that we could make memories with our kids! 💚

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It's ok

This morning at breakfast, Molly asked for an omelet. It never came. When we were about to leave, they remembered and asked if she wanted one. She said, "it's ok. Don't worry about it."  Then they asked Diamond if she wanted one, and she said, "oh, it's ok. I think we're about to leave."  I settled in and said, "you're both about to get an omelet!"  😉

"It's ok." To an American= No, don't worry about it. 
"It is ok." To a Ugandan= yes please, I am ok with you doing that. 

This is just one example of a tricky cultural difference between Ugandans and Americans. It's a sneaky one, too, because the only way you ever discover it is when you get frustrated enough by miscommunication to ask someone what is going on. I honestly didn't learn this one until a year or two ago, when I was working at the house. I would ask Moses if he wanted me to do something, and he would say, "it's ok."  So I wouldn't do it. Then he would wonder why I offered something, but didn't follow through!  Or someone would offer me some food and I would say, UIKeyInputDownArrow

We are working hard to be different. To learn from the Ugandans, and to ensure that we are respecting their culture. We have learned tough lessons through the years. There was the time I agreed with Agnes that we should get volunteers, and then learned that volunteers in Africa are volunteering to work for money. There was the great chicken coop fiasco at Ms Agnes', which I am believing may actually be redeemed on this trip!  Robert and Katie worked with Moses and Emma on Sunday to continue the work on the new chicken coop at the house!  Please pray that we are able to finish it!

We are going to continue to work on bridging these cultures, being more sensitive to the environment we are working in, as it continues to change, and ensuring that, no matter what, we are all working for the Kingdom. It will take a lot of work, and we are asking God to help us be different from the other organizations that have not been able to make this work. 

Thanks for all your prayers and support!!  It's worth it for these precious kiddos!! 💚

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Today was Visitation Day at both Amazima and Good Shepherd Schools. Visitation Day is like a cross between Parent/Teacher Conferences and Open House.  

The team stayed at the house with the youngest kiddos, because they didn't need to go to their conferences, and I went with Moses and Ainsley and Grace to the ones at Amazima.  Molly opened up her suitcase of art supplies, and there ere over 100 pieces of art waiting for us when we got home!!! 💚

It was great to finally see in person the school I had heard so much about, and to meet some people there (especially the friends of our friends in Dripping Springs!) It was also great to have Moses's mom, Bridget's grandmother, and Mary's dad there!  The greatest part, though, was getting to hug Moses, Mary, and Bridget, who have been there this year!!  They were excited to show us their work, and Moses was waiting to greet us wearing a medal he won for second place in the science fair!!!  

At the end of our visit, they were SO happy to get jugs of juice, loaves of bread, boxes of cookies, new soap, and of course, a HUGE bag of those daddies-- so lovingly cut and fried for them!  💚💚💚 #carepackagesarethebest

Saturday, July 15, 2017


We are back!  Internet has been spotty, so posts may seem kind of sporadic, but we are trying!  I asked for the wifi password when we got here late the first night, and the receptionist said, "oh, you will not get that in your room! It is only in the restaurant and under that tree."  Of course. Mercifully, our hotel room has a balcony that is fairly close to the "internet tree."  #firstworldproblems

This year, we are here with three friends-- Katie, and Diamond, who have been here before, and Molly, the art teacher at our elementary school. Because we are all here, we are staying at a hotel. The amazing thing is that it's literally about 200 yards from Ddembe House, so we can walk back and forth!  

Quick update:  at Ddembe, we have 5 new kiddos-- ages 2-8 (all younger than the kids who are already here!). They have only been here about 2 weeks, and they fit right in, and at the same time, completely change the dynamic of the house!  ;-). 

Meet Vicky, (almost 3)

Brian (4)

Timothy (7)

Jenipher  (6)

and Viola (8)

They are all absolutely precious, and have 5 new friends in us!  

We are enjoying spending time catching up with our older kids (Rogers and Patricia get the award for fastest growth this year!!), and getting to know our new kids!  We are working to help with chores, and taking care of kids.  

We spent our first night here in the kitchen for a grand total of 5 hours, (subbing out as needed!) making "daddies". Daddies are small pieces for fried sweet dough. The kids LOVE them, and tomorrow is "visitation day" at the schools, so Esther is frying up FOUR LARGE BUCKETS of them for care packages for the kids who board!  It was a sweet time of serving our boarded kids, helping Esther, and working side by side with our kids and each other. 

It's so good to spend time with old and new friends!

Friday, July 14, 2017


I have spent some time lately sorting through my "teacher files" which have not been touched in this millennia. (True story) Some friends have suggested I just throw it away and start over, but two things are true: 1.  I would have missed out on such gems as this:  the purple ditto with the guy with the Afro, and 2.  Good teaching hasn't changed, and there are some fantastic ideas in there that I am glad to see again, and beyond excited to use!

I did find an envelope, though, that brought back memories. It was from my dad, sent while he was working in Africa, and I was in my first year of teaching. It was filled with newspaper clippings from  Malaysia and Thailand -- ads for English teachers. See, my dad knew that I was called to Africa, and he knew that I really just wanted to be overseas, and that maybe once I was "in" that network, I could make my way to Africa, so he had his friends helping me get started. So awesome. Except it never worked. Because that wasn't God's plan. I didn't mishear my calling, but I did misunderstand the timeline. 

Molly just got back from Pine Cove, and she said, "God doesn't mess up his plans for your life."  Truth.

I'm grateful that my dad honored my calling by passing along ideas, and I'm grateful for the doors God shut along the way-- doors that, had I pushed through them instead, would have kept me from having this:  an adult (!) son living out his own calling in Uganda-- and getting to share it with him!  

Uganda, here we come!!