Thursday, July 11

Jinja: Pillars of Hope.

The drive from Kampala to Jinja is a beautiful drive.
Lush trees.
Green Grass.
Tea Leaf fields.
And bumpy roads.
I am thankful my friend Wynne drugged me up for the almost 4 hour drive to Jinja. We both wore Sea-Bands, chewed bonine gum, took bonine pills and drank lots of water. I had to sleep off the motion sickness I had for the first hour but after a little sleep all was better.
We arrived at Pillars of Hope, which is a small little ministry just off the Highway before you enter Jinja, around noon. The kids weren't there so some guys went to fetch them on their Botas (spelling??). A Bota-Bota is a junky motorcycle that EVERYONE in Uganda rides.
There were only a few kids that day. A few very sweet kids.

We didn't have much of a plan that day so we just played with them and heard their stories. We brought out our sidewalk chalk and drew pictures. I was drawing with one little boy and as I would draw a picture, he would write what it was in english. I was so impressed at how well he spelled for an 8 yr old.
We also played a bit of soccer and painted many finger nails and many toe nails. The girls LOVED our glitter polish we brought along.
We also made many more friendship bracelets, busted out in a Justin Beiber dance party and sang songs.

It amazed me as I sat back and watched the faces of these children light up at just our desire to 'play' with them and sit with them. These children were different then the children from the day before, they were sweet, reserved, shy, tender and a little unsure if they should warm up to us or not.
We were informed that teams no longer visit these children. They are no longer getting the support they once were and it broke me. You could see it on their faces. You could see the confusion. It saddened my soul. I was glad we were there. I was glad that they had a day were they could just play and hear how much Jesus loves them and he sees them. Jesus never forgets them, he is always there.
My sweet husband, Stephen and John went to the local market while we girls stayed behind and played, danced and sang, to buy the kids some 'lunch' and soda. Phillip loved getting kids soda every where we went. It became his 'thing' he did. It is such a joy to see the kids get soda. They giggle and shake those bottles fiercely. They laugh at the fizz swirling in their mouths and at the water that builds up in there eyes as they swallow down the soda bubbles.

After we wrapped up our visit we loaded the kids up in our van and took them all home. We also got to tour their new income generation plan.
Y'all. I have never in my life seen so many chickens crammed into one tiny room. It was crazy.
They love these chickens. I think in a 12x12 room (about) there were like 150 chickens.

After our tour, we headed off to our hotel. I may never let Stephen (Wynne's husband) live the choice of hotel down. I am not a diva by any means but I do LOVE a nice place to sleep. We (Phillip and I) always joke about how we are hotel snobs. We kinda really are... This place y' stretched us to a whole new level. It was, straight up, an African hotel. I was terrified to close my eyes to sleep. There were dried up bugs in our bed, one of our team members had the sink in their bathroom fall OFF OF THE WALL and almost land on her feet, there were spiders in our rooms, holes in walls, carpet halfway pulled up in some rooms and the mosquito nets didn't fit the bed...if they had any at all. They basically laid right on your face. The water coming out of the faucets was literally brown. When you showered and dried off, the towel was then dirty. (The bus might have been a more comfortable place to sleep...just sayin')
It brought every ounce of AMERICAN out in me.
It brought up every spoiled rotten bone in my body.
Though it was sick and I was being rotten, I dealt with it.
Later that night after an amazing time with Sole Hope (check them out!!!) I laid in bed, on top of the cover (not daring to get in them) and a reality hit me like a boulder. It shook my core hard. I fought back the tears welling up in my eyes. I realized just how terrible I was.
How spoiled.
How comfortable.
How rotten.
This place...
This place, that was so gross to me, was a place that millions would think is luxury.
Millions would give anything to stay in a place like this.
A place that may not be a Westin but a place that is shelter.
Has running water.
Though not the cleanest, it is still water in which you CAN bathe and get a bit more clean.
It is a place that had a toilet and toilet paper, not a hole in the ground and a pile of leaves.
It is a place where you can lay your head on a pillow and not a rock or just the hard red dirt.
This place took my heart to a place I didn't think it would go. I decided laying there in that bed with a pesky mosquito buzzing in my ear that I would love this place and love it for everything that it was and not hate it for everything it wasn't.
Sometimes God uses things like African hotels to speak to our hearts. To open our eyes and take us to new levels. But we have a choice in those moments, we can choose to be mad at our situation and hate where we are or we can choose to love it and find the beauty in it. Not the tangible beauty but a beauty that lies deeper then what is on the surface. The beauty that Christ sees. The beauty that isn't there in the obvious. That night God spoke to me through a hotel in Jinja Uganda. He challenged me to not consume myself in my surroundings. To not hold my American comfort so tightly. I could have been given a much different life then the one I was born into. Sometimes a funky little hotel is good for the soul. Despite the chance of getting bed bugs, I am thankful that we got to stay in that hotel. It definitely was an African experience. And I am sad I didn't take a picture. HA!

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