I've been told that the first weeks are the hardest, and that really proved true for me. I missed my family, I missed my friends, I missed my home and my neighborhood and my city. I missed normal. And until I found my *new* normal, it was difficult for me to adjust. During those first few nights I was convinced that either it would take me months to settle, or I would never settle at all and I would be forever longing for home, for Chicago. I knew I had a commitment to Our Own Home, and I fully intended to keep it, but that didn't stop me praying that my time would go really, really fast and I would be able to leave as soon as possible. It probably sounds horrible to you, but rest assured that those thoughts lasted only a few days. There is a great team of volunteers here right now, and my roommates Anna and Morgan totally took me under their wing. They've been a wonderful source of information and support to me, and a complete God send! I’m now soaking in my time here, and although the days do go by pretty quickly, I enjoy each day as much as I can.
I now also feel settled. I know what my days look like, how things work, what I should be doing when, where things are. I know my way around town. I grocery shop, and go to the clinic, and go places on my own. I love the people here, I love the country, and I especially love my children.
And speaking of my children.... they are a delight and a joy and a challenge and an encouragement to me. They make me laugh. They frustrate me. They remind me of just exactly why I’m here. And…. they call me Mommy! If any of you have known me for even a small amount of time, you’ll know that being a Mom is one of the deepest desires of my heart. Having a large family has always been something I’ve looked forward to and wanted. And guess what? I HAVE ONE! I have a large family! I have children! 47 in fact, and they all call me Mommy. My all-time favourite quote is one from Amy Charmichael. She says, “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire which He creates.” God gave me a desire to care for and nurture and raise children, and that’s exactly what I’m doing with His help! Sure, they might not be *mine*, but I love them as if they are. And God brought me to where I am today. He orchestrated every moment of my journey here, and He is laying my path yet. How amazing is it to have a savior who cares enough about my sinful self to plan my future? Or better yet use me for His glory while giving me the exact thing I‘ve always longed for?!? It‘s so hard for me to comprehend! The song that keeps coming to mind is I Am Yours. The very first words are “Who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt?”. The phrase I dwell on is who am I? Because really, who AM I? I am a sinful, selfish being who would at times prefer to go back to my comfortable, safe life and miss out on helping to shape lives like these….
Even though life here is relatively comfortable (compared to the rest of Uganda), every day I’m confronted by these children who each have a different, heartbreaking story. Some were unwanted by their earthly families, some watched their parents die, some were abandoned because their parents couldn’t or wouldn’t care for them, some have relatives, some have no one else and were left to fend for themselves. All came here with some level of trauma, and I am blessed to try to drown out that hurt with love.
If you’ve ever been a Mom, you will know that having to constantly give attention and love can become annoying, even when you only have maybe one or two children. I find that too, only times about 10! But every time I hear “MOMMY! MOOOOOMMMMEEEEEEE!!! HUUUUUUG!”, I turn and receive what ever child decided to fling herself into my arms, and give that child all of my attention for that moment. Because guess what? I’m the best they have, me and the other Mommies. If we don’t give love and attention who will? If we don’t pour scripture into their hearts who will? If we don’t tell them they’re wanted here on earth WHO WILL? My children are wanted. By me, by the other Mommies, by the uncles, and best of all by God himself. He placed each and every one of these precious children in this home to be loved by us, and who are we to say “Um, no. I’m too busy today to love you, hon. Sorry”. God NEVER turns us away when we need love or encouragement or an ear to pour our trouble into. Who are we to give our children anything else?
I’m learning so many new things by living here. How to improvise in day to day activities, how to hand wash my clothes (you may think you know but you really don’t), how to be patient with pretty much everyone, how to have boundless energy…. Ok, I haven’t learned that one yet, but I sure wish someone would teach me!!
I want to thank each and every one of you who helped me come here, whether it was through a financial contribution or through prayer. I have been feeling God’s presence SO DEEPLY since being here, and I truly treasure every moment I have with these wonderful children. I can’t imagine missing out on this life I’m living here, and so I thank you for your support. It means SO MUCH to me to know that I have friends and family back at home praying on my behalf and on behalf of my children! THANK YOU!