just this morning, i looked down at the display screen on our printer and it tells me it is November 16. i did a double take. is it really?? i mean, i KNOW it is November, but sometimes i forget. none of my usual reference points for November are present here - no bare branches, crunchy leaves, bonfires, and fall decor. no plans to leave in a few days to make our annual drive over the mountains to spend Thanksgiving with T's family in NC. most of our new friends and neighbors here don't even know what Thanksgiving is! but i'm making plans to bring in the holidays next week with as much style as possible. i've been looking up homemade craft ideas on the internet. we got a canned ham in a care package, which will be the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving meal. (if that's not stylish, i don't know what is!) :) i did find out that i can go into Kampala and put my name on a list to order a turkey, and i would get a turkey, along with a dry mix for dressing, all for only $150! - yeah, ummm, that's not happening.
so, it's November. we've been here 4 mo. now, and i've not done a very good job of blogging about what we actually DO on a weekly basis. T's routine is much more interesting and varied than mine. he is responsible for writing all the daily devotional curriculum for the primary schools at Watoto's three villages. on Mondays, he leads assemblies for the primary schools here at Suubi and concludes the week by leading chapels on Fridays. during the week, he also teaches during the high school's discipleship sessions both here and at Bbira Village. speaking and writing... he does a lot of both of these things right now! he also has times throughout the week where he meets with the youth workers and student leaders to invest in and mentor them spiritually. then, of course, there are the basketball teams that he coaches (sr. boys, jr. boys, and girls). 4 evenings a wk there are practices (5pm- 7pm), and then scrimmages on Sunday afternoons. this may sound like a pretty busy schedule, but, really, he is still with the family a lot, since most of these appointments happen within a mile of our house.
as far as what the kids and i do... we like to join T with his schedule whenever it is convenient. getting our schoolwork done everyday is priority. well, i MAKE it priority, then, as soon as it is done, the boys make a new #1 priority - climbing trees, creating weapons with friends (sling shots and bows&arrows), and guarding the gardens from the monkeys. Reynah's only priority these days is looking cute and making messes. she does this very well. as i elaborated on in an earlier post, managing our house and cooking meals takes up a good chunk of my time. i've intentionally not taken on any extra commitments so far. i've been asked to help with the Watoto mums' English skills by writing assessment materials for them to test with. i hope to start this the first of next year. i'm excited about the thought of putting my ESL background to use here. but, for now, i have wanted to focus on helping my family adjust and just learn how to function here. my contribution to Suubi Village is purely relational - visiting kids in their homes, having girls over to help me cook and hang out, hosting parties and meals. of course, there are special events on the calendar that i love being a part of too. there have been several of those that i have thought to myself i should post pic. of on here... and i just haven't done it. but i HAVE to document our most recent special occasion, because, it was just, well... so special!
while we were in the States in the spring, we had a "Bibles for Homes Campaign" where we raised money to purchase an illustrated children's Bible to put in each Watoto home. we realized while here earlier this year how fascinated the Watoto kids were with Josiah and Judah's Bibles. they would come to our apartment and sit (literally) for 45min - 1 hour looking through the pages at the Bible stories come to life. they had never seen such Biblical illustrations to capture their imaginations before. Friends in the U.S. gave generously and we bought over 300 Bibles (the very same kind our boys have)- one for each home on Suubi, Bbira, and Laminadera Villages. the Bibles were then brought over in the suitcases of a visiting team from the States. two weeks ago, we were able to start distributing them, first at Bbira Village and then at Suubi last week. it was a delightful experience to meet with all the mums and encourage them to be a spiritual parent and disciple their children - not only to encourage, but to EMPOWER them by putting the Bible in their hands.
i sat studying the faces of the Suubi mums last Friday. some of them i've been able to become friends with, but there are sooo many stories i yet want to hear. most of these women have experienced unthinkable rejection and grief... the neglected daughter of a second-wife, the war-widow, the AIDS widow... the vulnerable woman who needed Watoto as much as Watoto needed her. and now she is here raising 8 children 24/7 as a single-mom, cooking over charcoal, washing laundry by hand, the most significant person that God will use to shape these rescued ones in her home. it was powerfully humbling for me to stand up then and affirm them. i just had to tell them that i loved them, even if i hadn't yet met them, and that they are doing an amazing job - that they are my heroes. i think my face was shaded red while i spoke to them, not from embarrassment, but from an unexpected fervency for them to feel loved and valued. i so wished i could cup each one of their faces and tell her she is a beautiful and important daughter of God!
anyway, the mums were beyond grateful for the Bibles. when we bought them, we had the children in mind, but soon realized that the mums were just as interested in reading them for themselves. for many of them, it is the first time they can read the Bible in such simple English. in fact, Mama Victoria met me outside before church Sunday, pulled her Bible out of her bag, and said, "i have already completed it! i loved it!"
we can't wait to make plans soon to travel up north-country to Watoto's Laminadera Village in Gulu and do the same distribution there. and i can't wait to find ways to befriend, honor, and learn from these sweet mama's here. they are heros, indeed!
here's a few pics from our time with the mums at Bbira...