Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011- Father's Divine Love Ministries Jinja, Uganda

Happy New Year!!! a few short hours

So I am getting ready to say good bye to 2011 and HELLO 2012!! I am not sure of my wild and crazy plans this evening and there is no electricity at home so....   But 2011 was full of many great adventures, opportunities, and firsts for and I am sure 2012 will bring the same. For one, 2012 will be the first year with no pork and saurkraut and mashed potatoes. :(  Though no fear of bad luck... I am going to make the best substitute. Pork with cabbage that has sweet and sour sauce and irish, maybe will even mash them.
In 11 days now (but who's counting) my brothers and friends, Kelly and Abby will be arriving in Uganda!!! I am so excited to experience Uganda with them. We have lots of plans of traveling all over the country, enjoying fellowship time, playing with some awesome kids, and living the African life. I will be sure to post some stories here so that you can all know what you are missing out on. I am so thankful that I have such awesome family and friends who are willing to spend their life savings to come visit me. I owe them BIG time!! Thank you Dustin, Michael, Kelly, and Abby!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Christmas time in Africa!!

This holiday season has been well.....weird! I miss all the Christmas hoopla and traditions back home with family and friends. I miss the Christmas tree, the baking, gingerbread houses with the McGaw's (Shoutout!), the shopping, the cold weather, the party's, the extra functions at work that is great money, and the Christmas music and lights everywhere all of the time. But at the exact same time I really am enjoying the sunshine (I have a nice burn and peeling skin), and the easy-easy life (okay I did breakdown and I must admit thus far I colored 2 sesame street christmas pics and I made a red and green paper chain for the sitting room at home).  I can probably count on my 2 hands the number of Christmas songs that I have heard thus far. This morning at church the children did their Christmas production and it was WONDERFUL. I am really looking forward to the Christmas Cantata next week. But most of all I am enjoying the true simplicity of Christmas this year. I sometimes forget that Christmas is right around the corner...2 weeks to be exact!!! I don't have my Christmas plans set in stone yet, but I know this holiday will be one that I will never forget!! (And maybe my parents will even allow my stocking to hang until I get home...) Love you and miss you all!! And I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas season!! There is still time for you to give your hard earned money to an orphan as well! Please do so!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Coffee House THIS SATURDAY!!

Coffee House to benefit Uganda Orphanage
THIS Saturday, December 3rd 6-9:30pm

Pequea BIC Church - 40 Church Rd. Lancaster (right off Penn Grant Rd)

Come out enjoy some local musicians, sip a hot cup of coffee, indulge in delicious baked items, and enjoy each others company! It's bound to be a great time!! And it's for an awesome cause. So I want you all to clear your calendars and BE THERE!! I don't want to hear any excuses.

All proceeds go directly to Father's Divine Love Ministries here in Uganda. The money will be used to pay for food, medical, and school tuition fees. The very basic needs of these children MUST be met! Help us, help them!

If you are unable to come out (for some stupid reason), but would be willing to bake something, you can call my brother Dustin at 519-7999. Thanks!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You can educate and feed a Ugandan Orphan from the comfort of your home!!

Dear friends and family,
Oli otya! I send you greetings from Uganda. It's hard to beleive that I have been here for 5.5 months already.  I can guarentee you that I am a changed person because of this experience. I am now not surprised to see people in public urinating or picking their nose.  I expect to be charged the "mzungu price", I expect to see people throwing their trash wherever they please, and for every boda man to ask me, "we go?". Haha! On a more serious note, I expect to see people give all that they have, for complete strangers to invite me into their home for tea and to socialize (though we speak a different language), for children to over thank me for buying them bread or fruit, and for people I meet in taxis to start up a conversation as we are stuck in the jam and to be genuinely thankful for what little I am doing.
I am so grateful for each and every one of you who has blessed me in so many ways. Without all of your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes- I know without a doubt that I would have given up  months ago.
As you are all aware the holiday season is quickly approaching. As the popular song asks, "Do they know it's Christmas time at all?", the answer is YES. Many (actually every) ngo that I have been working alongside are feeling the pain in their finances as the world economy is hurting. Children's homes are unable to feed their children- kids are going to school hungry (that's if they are lucky enough that someone was willing to pay their school fees). They are so in debt to food suppliers, medical caregivers, and schools, that eventually the tabs are going to be put to an abrupt halt and innocent children are going to suffer.
But YOU (yes you) can make a difference. It costs approximately $1.50 to feed a children three, hot, basic meals per day. I know that the vast majority of you have $1.50 in your pocket at the end of every day. Ugandans will hustle all day to get that money and then turn around and give it to a friend in the hospital or give it away to a person needing transport.
I have lived my whole life valuing saving money- to see how large I could get my savings account. I even have money in stocks, cd's, etc. Then there are people in Uganda MY AGE who can not find a job and so they hustle EVERYDAY and when they come home with $2 they buy dinner for everyone in their house. If they have been blessed with $8 that day, and they so happen to get a phone call from an orphanage who can't feed their kids dinner that night, they give $8. And when that orphanage calls me I ask 150 questions, who, what, where, and how. I have seen it all. And every time I think WOW!
The world has so much to learn from Ugandans. The people here have a desire to take care of one another to the point that it hurts. I am not asking you to necessarily give until it hurts (because I am not able to give that way. But, hey, wouldn't it be cool if we did sometimes.) I just ask that you give from the overflow.
All contributions will be given to orphanages to pay off debt that they have accumulated to make sure that their children's basic needs have been being met. I know most of your Christmas trees will be crowded with things that you don't really need. Why not consider giving the gift of education or a few hot meals to a child whose parents are deceased and others whose parents chose to not want their children. If we all give a little, we can change the future of Uganda by impacting her future leaders today.
All contributions can be made payable to me "Jolene Goss" and mailed to 8 Campside Circle Conestoga, Pa 17516. Or see that either of my parents or brothers receive the contributions. Thank you once again!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So I have not updated this thing in FOREVER!...I know. I have been thinking the past couple of days about what I could write about and I still have nothing, but don't fret I am going to write anyways. Life has been kind of slow here with not much exciting happening. But this weekend I am traveling to Rwanda with a good friend of mine, Abbey. He has family there and has not seen them for some time and I need to escape Uganda in order to be able to stay. So we are a perfect traveling pair. We will be staying with his family and friends and living the local life. I am excited about this.
I have been sick a lot recently. Two days of some stomach virus/food illness followed by a week of a bad cold with some other things mixed in there. I still have a small throat tickle cough, but it is so much better than it was and I can actually get some sleep at nights.
Life at home is good. Everyone is always busy and nobody is ever really around except to sleep. The past couple weeks some of them have been taking a day to hang out with me which has been nice. I love these guys so much, though they make me mad at times. But, hey! that's what brothers do. Last week Ronnie's younger brother came to stay for the week while he was on holiday. He's like 12 years old, great kid. We enjoyed hanging out, watching movies, cooking for each other, eating hamburgers and chips. I loved when I left for some time and came back and he came out of the house with a big smile to greet me and welcome me home. I now have internet on my phone thanks to him (that means fb too!!)  and some more movies downloaded onto ronnie's laptop that I can take to my room and watch. What a genius!!
Bula I guess is good. I sent them an sms today saying that I was coming and they responded that today was not a good day. WEIRD!! But that gave me some time to catch up on some other things. I will head over there some evening this week They have been struggling to collect enough money to feed the children which makes me worry since all of the children will soon be on holiday. Please pray that funds do come through for them. However last week when I was over someone had donated meat...i mean MEAT. There was meat of all kinds being prepared all day and everyone wanted me to try theirs. It was good, but that was enough meat for me for some time.
This past week I have had some good times and great conversations with the children in the community where I stay. I love that they all come running every time that they see me come and go and that they enjoy coming into the compound and playing with me.
I have not spent much time in Kisenyi recently. I hope to be able to get back there this week. The friends that do the children's program on Saturdays has been struggling to raise the funds to pay of the debt to the playground where they have their weekly meetings.
In other news, the mouse that has been tormenting me in my room for the past week is longer there as of this afternoon!! This stupid (very) little guy was good at hiding. I mean my bedroom has a bed and my three suitcases. Not a lot of places to hide. But he managed. Last night was it for me. I got so tired of the guys saying 'tomorrow, tomorrow'. So I had Ben come back to my room with me and try to murder the thing before bed...with no luck. We even carried suitcases outside and emptied them (this was around midnight). Nothing!! Until I lay down and then he scurries all around and up the headboard. So today I was getting lunch out of the food suitcase when guess who popped his head out. I shut it quick and yelled for Collins, a friend of the guys who was over at the time, and he admitted that he was scared of mice himself. haha! I closed that suitcase and took it outside and poked around until that booger finally POPPED out. I screamed, Collins laughed and what a glorious celebration it was.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mama, do you love me?

Hmmm. What to say? Days here have become life. Never anything new and exciting, just the day to day business of life. Last week I spent the day on the set of a music video (I'll have to let you know if I made the final cut). I had a day of great conversations with some young adult guys in Kisenyi. It started by them asking if I wanted to smoke some ganja or cigarettes with them. To which I always respond, "I value my life and breathing too much." Some of them became curious if I really believed that smoking ganja would kill them. I responded, "slowly , but surely." One became very concerned saying that he looks after several young children and does not want to kill himself. We had a great chat about the reason that he smokes is because of the troubles that he went through as a child. When he's idle he has vivid images flashing through his mind of the trauma that he has been through and smoking helps him forget for the time being. Another man, Papa, interrupted, he's madly in love with at first sight WHITE for him. He tells me that he smokes 45 joints a day and the only way that he would stop is if I promised him my love. REAL love. Sex and kissing. "Mama, I love you" over and over. Poor papa. All that I could do (and everyone else present) was laugh hysterically, but he was serious and getting quite upset. Mzungus have such an easy life. I have never had difficulties in life. I must be rich if I could afford a plane ticket to Uganda.
Some people here don't want to hear it. I am not saying by any means that his life is easy. But maybe if he wasn't sitting around idle with the guys all day every day smoking ganja, he could make something of it. He told me he started smoking because of hunger pains at around the age of 12. As a street child, no one ever offered him food. He said he wanted to know how he could quit. I suggested cutting back to 35 joints a day and using the money saved to buy a hot meal for a street child every day. So that he could help someone out of the cycle as he helps himself. To which he responded that I don't live a hard life. everything that I ever had was handed to me. "Mama, do you love me?" Ummm...No!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Greetings friends and family! I am sure that you have been missing me because I have been missing you! It's hard to find time to get to the internet cafe these days. Mostly cause when I am seriously bored that means the power is out which also means no internet. Anyways, life here is fantastic. Time is going soo fast. I can hardly believe that I've been here for 4 months. I have become really good at enjoying my alone time. I feel that is using the times to help me grow. I know that by being forced to travel teh city alone, eating alone, and being home alone has made me become more independent. I am really enjoying the new me.
On Saturday mornings I have been volunteering with friends of mine and their NGO Youth with a Vision (Sound like something you've heard before?!) They reach out to the street children in the slums and have recently been asked to work with the community children as well. It excites me to see their project grow. Saturdays they share the word and a meal with the boys and then they all play football. They have a new clubhouse where they are able to teach the kids craft and where they house a few boys. These boys can bring the biggest smile to my face.
This particular week the ice cream man was around and a few of the children got some ice cream. One kids fell right off his cone and he through the cone down too and jumped up and down and yelled -If only I understood Luganda- but he was MAD! Another kid came by and picked up the cone and scooped up the ice cream not physically touching the ground an enjoyed. Another boy came along bent down on all fours and licked the ice cream off of the ground turned and saw me and wiped his mouth have with his shirt and quickly got up and came over to give me the biggest hug. As he did, he whispered in my ear, "It's been so long since I have tasted ice cream." He had the biggest grin on his face!!
THis past week I was taken to the part of the slums where these street children stay. My friends escorted me after lunch. I was speechless and quite frankly uncomfortable. The boys were all sniffing as I was informed that they would be. They each have a ball of paper or a piece of a plastic bag with a smell similar to petrol. The smell itself was overwhelming, let alone the sight of 50-60 street kids high. To be honest I was ready to leave at first sight. The pain that I was feeling was so much. Everyone was running towards me "MZUNGU!!" giving me hugs, informing me that they are hungry, need a roof over their head, and wanted an education more than anything. One boy-about 10 years old- clearly hungry, came to me and offered me half of his samosa and insisted that I eat it. It didnt matter how many times I said no...I was going to have to eat it! A girl about 14 years old wanted me to take her young baby and raise it. It's not the first time that I have been asked to do this, but every time it is still just as shocking.
Did I mention that it was pouring all afternoon and I was freezing cold being in my friends room.?! The children were starting fires to keep warm as they wore rags and many of them did not have a pair of shoes to put on their feet.
God has called me to love these children. I know that they are a big part of why I am here. Please pray that I learn how I can best help these kids. If you are interested in helping in any way let me know.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The business meeting...

So many things to share and yet I'd have to write a novel to share it all. I had an entire entry written up last week to share here, but so much has happened since then. So just to catch everyone up on my life here (those of you not on facebook...that's you Willow Valley folks!!) Julia had to fly home last Tuesday morning for surgery. She has been having horrible cramps/pains and finally got the diagnosis that she had to have her gall bladder removed. So now it's just me. I am sure that there are going to be moments when it takes all that I have not to go to the internet cafe to look up plane tickets to come home, but for now I am fine.
So tuesday through Fridaay I lived the village life with my friend James. His aunt died from cancer (please pray for the 2 young children that she left behind.) and James' sister and her husband traveled to the burial. So James and I stayed at their place to care for their children. It was a great few days and it definitely kept me busy. One day while 2 of the kids were at school James and I watched Crash followed by Drop Dead Gorgeous. His choices. Could the day have gotten any better?!
On Saturday morning I ran around Ntinda town in the pouring down rain trying to find an atm that would spit some money out at me. Good times... That afternoon I had thoughts about what am I really doing here. Sometimes I feel like I am just here living my life, hanging out. That was not MY plan. That morning I was supposed to go tot the slums of Kisenyi and do a children's program, but it was canceled due to the rain. It seems that everything I get excited about with kids something happens that I can't go. Anyways, James asked me if I wanted to go to a business meeting with him that evening. Originally when he asked I left it up in the air if I was going. But when the time came to go the power at home was out and I would have been home alone. (nothing like going to bed at 7 when it gets dark!). So I opted to go the business meeting. It started out as a typical evening (for Uganda) waiting an hour for the business man to arrive (we were an hour late ourselves). James' uncle introduced James to this business guy. The business man's wife stays in Kabale, where James' family stays.  Then he wasn't satisfied with the place we chose so we boarded a taxi and went 5 minutes down the street (apparently the 'rich' here can't walk!) We went to some nice hotel, ordered dinner, but then the man got pissed cause the prices in the menu changed (typical in Uganda) and they did not have fish and chips on the menu. they were both sold ala carte but of course he wanted on one plate and he should not have to pay for two ala carte things cause the price includes 2 plates to clean, more service, etc. Hilarious!! So we left there too. We found some random young adult guy on the road just chatting with his friends and the business guy asked him where a place to eat was. This young man showed us the way and then was invited to join us. So we all began chatting. The business man shared that he pays many kids school fees and offered this young guy the opportunity to go back and finish school.  The business man paid and then told us that we were all going back to his house. When we arrived we all sat in the living room watching music videos on tv (i wish you could all experience this...Uganda music videos). The man called James out to another room leaving me and the young adult guy in the room. The business man was apparently making beds cause we were all now spending the night. I thought this was weird, but I am in Uganda. Well James came out with a look on his face of fear and told me to pretend I was on the phone and to tell the business man that I had to go that a friend had an emergency. The tone in his voice was one of those where you don't ask questions and just obey. Thoughts were running through my mind...what happened back there?! I assumed this guy wanted to sleep with me and offered James money to do so. I was freaked out!! So both the guys escorted James and I out. It took a long time to get bodas and probably felt longer cause I had no idea what was going on. When we got on the boda james was talking to the driver. He was getting all emotional. I had no idea what he was saying. Finally he told me. The 'business' man was gay. He apparently was trying to get all over James and kissed him.
James was so upset, obviously. He couldn't stop thanking me for coming along and saving him. I have not stopped praying for the young man. I wonder if the business man pays school fees in exchange for sex. James has been talking to everyone to find a way to stop this guy. Please pray that we are able to stop him in a manner that is safe for us and everyone involved. Once again, not MY program and not a normal story. But it happened here in Uganda.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Greetings from Uganda!!! Just wanted to say hello to everyone since it's been some time. Our internet stick is no longer working and so we are back to internet cafes. I have nothing prepared to write here today and only a short time left so this will be nothing special. Things have been going really well here. We've been super busy this week. Last weekend we were at FDLM in Jinja. (Have I told you lately how awesome those kids are!!) Every minute there was amazing and I was not ready to leave. We traveled home on Monday and spent the evening at home relaxing. On Tuesday I spent the day in Kisenyi with friends and all the cute kids. Of course I got some of the world's best orange juice and the best matoke, rice and gnut sauce in town. Delicious! Yesterday I spent the day at Bula.. The primary kids were able to go to school yesterday (1.5 weeks late-they are able to begin school without paying their fees). The secondary kids are still waiting for their school fees. Pray that the school fees will come in soon. They have been really down and out and can not wait to get back to school. I will definitely miss them when they are gone. There were a lot of good, deep chats yesterday as it was just them and I at the home for most of the afternoon. When the primary kids got home from school we began making chapati and rolex for dinner. This process took till about 11:30pm. It was a late dinner and an even later boda ride home. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

From Boring to Exciting

Yesterday started out as any other boring Saturday does.  At breakfast Julia was asking if I would go to Game (a walmart-ish store) with her as she has never been and wanted out of the house. I told her that I wanted to clean the room and get packed for Jinja first and then we would see what time it was. (Breakfast here is typically at 11-noon).  I went back to the room and started packing some clothes. I realized that there must have been more dirty clothes than I realized. So I grabbed a few dirty shirts and washed them in the bathroom. Since I was in the groove I washed some more and then some more. I took them outside to hang up on the line and after putting a few shirts up I realized it was breezier than I thought. So I called to Julia to pass me the clothespins that I had brought. (I had yet to use these so I was VERY excited about this). Now the wash lines are over the compost pile and there is high weeds all around. So it took me some time to maneuver around. Well about halfway through I felt something under me give way and before I knew it my feet were wet and then my calves.  I didn’t even think about what I had just fallen into- all that I knew is my flip flop was coming off and I wanted it and my legs to come out of the hole. Upon climbing out I immediately smelt the odor- sewer!! I began walking towards the house wondering how I was going to get by the two girls who were visiting and back to the bedroom to wash off and give Julia a good laugh. Then I realized that my right arm was kind of numb and I did not like bending it. I looked at my elbow and it looked different. I called out to Julia and then the pain started.  I quickly got into the tub and she splashed me with bottled water to get the nastiness off of me and then she helped me change my pants.  We called Ronnie to come with the car and within minutes we were off to the hospital.
                Every bump I felt this pain that was almost unbearable. Along the way Julia reaffirmed me that she had brought food  cause she didn’t know how long we would be at the hospital. I asked what she had and she states, “Swedish fish and biscuits (cookies)”. LOL! Upon arrival to the hospital Julia helped me fill out some basic paperwork and then I was taken to a bed where I was given “painkillers”. They had no water so good thing Julia had some in her bag. Julia was all concerned that I needed to eat something so that the painkiller on an empty stomach would not make me sick. I reassured her that I was still full from breakfast.
                Within minutes I was sent to get xrays. I waited for little time when my doctor came and gave me some paperwork and the bill and said I had to go pay for the xrays before I had them done.  We explained to the men at the desk that I had insurance and they said I had to pay in cash and then my insurance company would reimburse me. Good thing I went to the back just a day or two before! I got the xrays and then back to my bed with the results I was sent. The nurse came and rubbed bengay on my arm and put me in a splint (think guaze). I was informed that it was a sprain and to keep something cold on it to reduce the swelling –(This is Uganda-I don ‘t think ice packs exist!) I have to return Tuesday morning to see a specialist. We were handed the bill and sent to the pharmacy to pick up some meds. Upon reading the bill it was determined that the “painkillers” given to me upon arrival was ibuprofen. LOL!
                We left jumped on some bodas and were off to a really good Ethiopian restaurant that we found a month before (Thanks Melissa for the suggestion). We had goat and then we ordered a cheap garden salad ($1.25) just cause I have had a salad craving since I got to this country. It was huge and amazing!! It had rained during our meal and so we waited to get some bodas home. We fought for a fair price, but never got it. Good thing- cause it started raining again. We stood around and then went into a cheap supermarket to look for a cheap plastic bag to put the xrays in so they would not get wet. Inside we found so many deals. Pasta cheaper than we get at our local supermarket, alfredo sauce (about to expire) cheap, peanut butter and then we found the dvds and there was LOST!! We purchased season 1 for a mere $1.50 and if it works well. Season 6 and Part 1 and 2 of the final season are awaiting my return.
                As I type this my elbow feels so much better. I don’t really know what pain meds they have me on. But I can feel my fingers again and the swelling in my hand has gone down. Now the elbow feels severely black and blue and it is swollen still. But the fact that I can bend it and move it around it is progress enough.
I love my life!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Making Memories. Lives Changed.

Here I am sitting in Uganda, Africa. I feel that I am home.  I can truly say that at this point. Sure I miss America. Mostly I miss the people involved in my life there. Sometimes (okay…quite often) I dream of one of my mom’s home cooked meals. I miss receiving a weekly paycheck so that I don’t have to feel guilty about spending money.  But what I miss most is the moments that I am missing. The memories that never were and never will be because I am not there. Such as RCM 2011, hurricanes at the beach, my best friend Madeleine growing up, game nights, family trips to the cabin, and so much more. When Ugandan  friends ask me what I am thinking about (which is all the time) it is typically this. It is how different my life would be right now if I were not here. BUT I am here. I am enjoying a world of moments that so many will never take the opportunity to make. I am making friends that I know will last a lifetime. Through God in my life I am impacting the lives of many as they impact mine.
I sit here alone in my room watching the storm outside my window listening to worship music and reflecting.  These (almost) three months have changed me. I feel like I am a stronger person. A person willing and able to stand up for what I believe is right. A person who understands more and more how much culture impacts who you are and how experiencing another can make you stop and think about what you have thought all your life is right because of what your culture tells you is right. And then when you are in another who thinks differently…are you wrong? Or are they? OR are you both wrong?
I often reflect on ‘why am I here?’ Am I really doing anything? Am I making a difference? Is this all worth my time and your money? I still have a peace that I am where God wants me to be. I don’t want to doubt him anymore. I want faith that can move the mountains. Maybe I am not here to move mountains, but overcome a lot of hills. These past few weeks there have been a lot of these ‘hills’. It’s been challenging not having that ONE organization to fit with here anymore and instead going here and there every day.
*it was a blessing to be here when my friend Ronald died. It was good to be able to be with his family on that day. It was great to have been able to see him once again this year. Sure I wish I would have taken the time out of my “busy life” to hang out with him when he called wanting to be the first friend to come visit me in Namirembe.
* Then it was clearly a God moment that I was here to pay Abbey’s medical bill. His family and friends were wailing , watching the one that they love slowly die. I mean that’s what was happening. He was sitting in a clinic, internally bleeding not wanting to “bother” me.  I am grateful that he is still around to hang out with. I know that I hold tightly onto money and it was a growing experience for me to let go.
*Then the other night when I arrived home at dark, I was locked out. Five of the kids that live in the house across the street came over and asked if they could hang out with me because they were scared. They were home alone with a teenage cousin who was abusing them and trying to scare them. W e hung out and I learned about who they were and we had some good laughs. Even after Julia arrived home I stayed out with them into their mom got home from the salon.
*Yesterday I went back to the house that I stayed in my first time to Uganda. I was able to spend some quality time with the now youth that I lived with. It was great to catch up on life with them. When we were headed to town 2 others who stay there were also going. We joined and went together. I asked them to join us for lunch. We all had chips and chicken with a Mirinda Fruity. The bill came to about $10 for the four of us. They were sooo thankful. It’s the simple things.
My prayer today is that I continue to walk where He leads me. That I will be willing to answer to His calling. I have not written this so cry out ‘why am I here?’ I LOVE it here. I am glad that I am here. I want others to be able to experience this with me. That is why many of you I always ask when are you coming. I am so glad that Julia is able to experience this with me. It’s always easier when you have a friend by your side. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My "Vacation" in pictures

On our way to Rwanda to renew our visas we stopped at Ronnie's Jaja (grandmothers). This is the view.

 More of the view!
 Food at Jaja's!! This was just a welcome home plate. Not dinner!!
 We made banana pancakes with everyone!
 JAJA!! Ronnie, Julia, Jaja, me, James
Climbing the rocks at Jaja's.

 Lake Bunyonyi- James and I
Lake Bunyonyi

What price do you put on a friend's life?

Well it’s been some time since I have updated on my life here. It continues to be crazy but good!  So at the funeral of my friend Ronald, another friend Abbey fell and cracked some ribs and damaged his spleen. He sat in a clinic in the slums of Kisenyi for several days internally bleeding. He of course was not answering my phone calls wondering if he had wanted to hang out (I did not know that he was in the clinic). Finally on Monday a mutual friend picked my call and informed me that Abbey was impending surgery the following day. The next day I went to the clinic and spoke to the doctor of his condition. He recommended that I take him for a second ultrasound before we make any decisions. So we piled into a car and spent a long afternoon waiting for him to be taken back. (You see here in Uganda if you give a small bribe things move along quicker for you.) I however am not willing to play the game. That evening we went back to the clinic and showed the results to the doctor. He said that Abbey needed surgery asap. We asked that he be admitted to the hospital that evening and the doctor would not agree. He kept repeating let him spend the night here. We began calling surgeons all over Kampala and hospitals to make sure there was a bed. It was decided that he would have surgery the following day or the day after. (Don’t forget this man is internally bleeding.) I was sent home with all the ultrasound pics ready to go to the hospital the following day. Late that night I got a phone call from the clinic doctor saying that Abbey was admitted to the hospital and the surgeon needed to see all the ultrasounds. I rushed them immediately to the hospital. When I arrived it was already decided that Abbey would be having surgery that night-it was an emergency. NO DUH!! I wish that you could all see the hospital, and it was apparently a nice one. Abbey was going into shock and they were letting him fall asleep on the bed. Then they told him to call his family to have someone be there when he awakes. I went home and prayed like I had never prayed before. I was not able to sleep a wink until the surgeon and doctor called me and verified that Abbey made it through the surgery.
Going into the hospital that week to visit was always an adventure. Some days there was blood all over the floor, other days there was a man with 2 broken arms trying to escape, and there was always people crying and screaming for help.  One evening when Abbey was in a lot of pain his family called and asked me to come in. Upon arrival I discovered that there was only 1 nurse on the entire ward and no doctors. What was the purpose of being in the hospital?!
Abbey is now doing well. They were able to repair his spleen and not remove it. He had his stitches removed and is able to eat more and more every day. I keep being asked how I spent the money or be  careful and don’t get too involved. Is $375 too much to save a great friend’s life?! I don’t think I would be able to live with myself today had I thought about another day or had him try harder to find the money. What would you do?
Did I mention that I was in the Uganda newspaper today?! Picture and all! The entire article may be false or should I say the truth was stretched. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some people that I am thankful for...

1. Julia Adams: She has been by my side through everything. Willing to go to friend's viewings and spend a day making sure that a friend gets the lifesaving surgery that he needs. We are able to laugh and cry together. I can honestly say these 10 weeks have been life changing for me and she has played a major part in them. Thank you Julia.

2. My Parents and brothers: Who I know love me and worry about me, but are always there supporting me every step of the way.Phone calls at random times of the day saying call me back please and they always do or simple fb messages and chats that can brighten up my day. Love you!!

3.Pastor David Zijjan: The founder of the FDLM orphanage in Jinja that Bridge Connections is blessed to work with. He is always a phone call away willing to lend any assistance that we need. One day there were lots of Police and not a lot of people in Kampala city and we called David in Jinja to find out what was going on. He says,"You are in Kampala and I am in Jinja and you want me to tell you what is going on in Kampala?!" Haha! A few minutes later he had an answer for us. Phone calls saying I was thinking about you girls today so I called is just what we need some days. Thanks David for all the support and all the cultural understanding lessons that you give. I can't wait to come visit in the coming weeks!! Love you.

4. Nathan and Katie Kilgore: I know that you 2 are always praying. The advice and the experience that you have is priceless. Thank you for Bridge Connections and working with us on this journey. I don't know what I would do without you. (Well I probably wouldn't be in Uganda.) Thank you so much!

5. Megan Rohrer and Kelly McGaw: I don't even have words to describe how thankful I am for your friendship. When I look at the pics that I brought and share them I laugh cause it's hard to explain the bondage I feel with the McGaw family and that's why many of the pics I brought were of you. I love you and miss 'us' so much. Thank you for calling me to chat. (Kelly-I know God laid it on your heart to call me last night as I needed it the most. I am so glad that I have a friend like you who understands and cares. When I describe you I say that you are any man's dream girl, the best friend anyone can ask for. The person who would drop anything for anyone. I don't know anyone with as big as a heart as you.) And then (Megan: There is this beautiful card that you wrote me Valentine's Day that I keep in my Bible and read once a week (at least). It brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes as I realize how grateful I am to be able to call you my  friend. I miss Friday and Saturday evenings chilling at your house with you and your girls.) Thank you girls for the friendship over the years. I love you!!

6.J ames and Ronald (and the rest of the crew): James begged me on several occasions to allow him to take us out sometime. Unfortunately his schedule did not match ours. Finally on a Tuesday it did and these guys took us all over and we ended up at the beach for a great evening. They let us know that if we ever needed an escape that we could come to their place anytime. Little did they know the next day we called and we were moved in the following. They took time out of their schedule to come and pick us up and make sure that we were always comfortable here. It's great to have them around to chat to.

7. Joe and Sue McDonald, Judy Hinson, and Judy Kauffman: There is always an inbox in my email from these people. I am so lucky to have you all in my life. Thanks for your encouraging words and allowing me to continue living Willow Valley through you.

8. All of you praying for me: I can't do what I am doing without people like you. I know that you are out there and it keeps me going. I can honestly say that I know that God has been with me through this past week as I know that I could not have done it alone. A special thanks to Shari Steager and Daryl Rineer as your kind words were just what I needed to read when I did.

I believe today is a new week and things are looking up. To update those of you not on Facebook. My good friend Abbey fell Saturday at the funeral of our friend and ruptured his spleen. He stayed at a clinic, internally bleeding until last night. I was in touch with him on Sunday evening when he informed me of what was going on. Monday I spent the day taking him to get an ultrasound and talking to the doctors. That evening (only by the grace of God) he was admitted to the hospital and ended up having emergency surgery last night. As I stood by his bed holding his shaking hand all I could do was pray.  I got a call from the doctor that he made it through and will be going in soon to make certain all is well. I will update you in the coming days of the decisions that Julia and I have made about where and how we plan on serving and being served here in Uganda. For now pray for Abbey that he heals well. Pray for Ronald's family as they are missing him. And pray for the meeting that will happen between myself, julia, and the uncles at Bula.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Did THAT just happen??!

It’s so hard to write this and I have been putting it off because I want to pretend like it never happened. But these last several days did happen, they were challenging, full of tears and laughs, and will always be remembered.
So let’s start with Monday.  On Monday evening we had a discussion with the uncles about the children being disrespectful towards Julia and I. Two new volunteers arrived on Sunday morning and the children were blaming us for taking them to town on Monday to exchange money. They repeatedly told me that I was telling the new volunteers to not give them anything and keep things in the room, etc. Anyways, during the meeting we decided that it would be best to have a family meeting that night and discuss it. I was afraid that the children would not open up, but OH was I wrong. We heard everything from “they don’t wash their hands before they give us toothpaste.” To “They are the reason our language is bad cause they showed us the movie Hitch which (apparently) has bad language and kissing scenes.” To “they are the worst volunteers that we have ever had.” So the meeting did not really make me feel better…but at least I got some answers.
Wednesday was the next meeting. It was to be a new volunteer orientation. So the 4 of us volunteers were there and the 3 uncles. This meeting ended in the head uncle getting extremely heated, agitated, and his voice was raised. The main concern that was brought up was Julia and I wanting to take the children out of the house for a simple, chap dinner with 1 or a few children at a time. This was to be a special day for the child that would be fun, provide a way to give that child our full attention, to show them the culture around them, and for us to get to know them on a different level. Well long story short we are not allowed to do that because “What if we would have had those children out at the restaurant where the bombings were last year?! We are accountable for each of the children.” The meeting ended by my leaving the office in tears when the head uncle said’ “Jolene and Julia why don’t you take your money and spend it at another orphanage!” Minutes later the other three came to the room where we were crying wondering what just happened. The head uncle knocked on our door and asked me to come out in the hall where he proceeded to hand me the rent money that Julia and I paid that morning. WHAT!!? At this point numerous phone calls were made to friends in Uganda and to our parents. We decided that we should pack our bags and move out of the home temporarily.
Thursday afternoon our friends arrived with their car and took us to their house where we would be staying. That morning the secondary students arrived home from boarding school excited to see us and exclaiming how much fun we were going to have over holiday. Of course we had to share that we were leaving for a few days to sort things out. That morning I also received a phone call from a friend’s sister who was in shock saying that my friend (her brother, Ronald) had passed away that morning and that I had to come to their home in Kisenyi immediately. So after many questions about death in Uganda and how the grieving process worked I decided that I did in fact have to go to the family’s home that day. So Julia and I dropped our bags in our new room, grabbed a cheap lunch at a local joint and then headed out.  I walked in to an outside room of mourners. The boys father greeted me whispering with tears coming to his eyes,”Your friend is no longer among us. He has died.” We sat down in chairs was told that food that Ronald ate was poisoned and he was very sick for 3 days. The doctors did all that they could. And then came the words, ‘Do you want to go see the body?” We followed him up the stairs to the home. People were crying all around. Halfway up my eyes locked with a sisters and she ran to me “Jolene!, He’s dead! Ronald’s dead! I call out to him, but he doesn’t hear me!” Into the house I walked not knowing what lied ahead with the arms of two women wrapped around me, heads on my shoulders, wailing. The room was full of women crying and the casket in the middle of the room. We probably stood there for 3 minutes, but it felt like forever! We went back outside to sit and reflect.
Friday we visited a friend’s school where he teaches at. They had a special day where the children presented to family what they learned that year. Came back home around 5 and hung out at the house for the evening. Around 11 Julia fell asleep on the couch. James told me to wake her and tell her to go to bed. I did but she refused at first. So James brought the candle (did I mention there is never electricity here) back to the room and set on some speakers beside the bed. The 3 of us joked for a few minutes and then James and I left the room to allow Julia to sleep.  About 2 hours later one of the guys said “there looks like fire” and he walked to the door and looked out. He saw a reflection in the car parked right outside our bedroom window. Seconds later 2 guys were running down the hall to my bedroom. Julia was awaken and she came out through billowing smoke and laid on the couch again to fall right back to sleep after telling me that it was a legit fire. We slept on a mattress in the living room that night.
The next morning the guys immediately began scrubbing down our entire room. Luckily we had not unpacked much of our stuff so it was safe inside our suitcases.  It was later confirmed that my laundry bag had caught fire and I lost several shirts and pants. Some were saved with minor damage that may get cleaned enough (fingers crossed).
The challenge of whether to go back or not continues. I shall keep you updated with what happens in the coming days… Otherwise continue to pray for us and Ronald's family. I am honestly safe and doing well. I know that I am facing these challenges for a reason and I am excited to see what happens this coming week.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


 me and some of the girls
Bujagali Falls-The Nile
The boys running away from the photo
Sports Day! The marching practice paid off!

Bula Children's Home-Where I live!!
Sarah, Brenda, Lillian, Sharon, Arnold, and Apizu in the back

Only in Uganda...

Let me tell you about my day yesterday...So Julia and I were to meet with a friend at 11. We jumped on bodas (motorbikes) and told our drivers where we wanted to go. We verified that they knew where we were talking about. We were off... Julia's driver fell behind and so my driver pulled over. Of course it was by a man preaching who quickly changed from Luganda to English. "All woman who consume alcohol are prostitutes!" Cute!! We enjoyed lunch and said good bye to Melissa. We jumped on another boda off to the Office of Internal Affairs to work out extending our visas. We told them close to Centenery Park they verified they knew. We drove by the park. I asked my driver if he knew where he was going and explained that I would not pay more for him being lost. They dropped us at an offfice for internal affairs for PRISON. So Julia and I walked. We arrived at the office after asking 10 people where to go and of course it was lunch break! The lady handed us a list of things we would need ...Criminal background check, resume, letters from the organization we were working with, $250..... She told us we were currently in the country illegally on the wrong visa. We quickly grabbed our passports and were out the door. I called the US Embassy to find out about the Criminal Background check. I could make an appt and come in with $50 and a letter that I write about my good standings back home that they would notarize and then somehow get the FBI to fingerprint me, yada, yada....Then she said that it could take 1 month to 1 year to process if it ever gets done! CUTE!! She then added that plenty of people's passports get lost in the process. So we will be leaving the country of Uganda for a day or 2 and then re-enter on another 90 day visa. We are thinking Rwanda...

Monday, July 25, 2011

and the journey continues

Life here has been pretty exciting. There have been some intense times at the home that are very aggrevating...Did I mention VERY!?! But otherwise things are good. I am really enjoying my days at the school. The children are such a joy and what an honor to have the class stand everytime I walk in and say"good morning teacher Jolene." I love when they come up and tell me about their weekends and ask for my help with their work. The other day Julia and I were walking by the school and some of my students who are boarding kids were out in the field and they yelled "Hi Teacher". We went in for a visit. Dang! Those kids are creative. With their bodies intertwined with one another they were making planes, bikes, and so much more. I was impressed!! Well I dont have much time as the children at home should be returning and I shall be going to meet them. I just wanted to update all of you out there of what has been going on here. The internet at the home is currently not working, so my internet times are scarce.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

For those of you asking for specific prayer requests...

I often ask myself why things can not just be easier all the time. Then I am reminded that life for these children that I am to be loving was never easy. Last week at school a P7 boy came into my class to ask for help with his revisions on a religion exam that he took. We got into a good conversation about the exam and had the Bible open as several members of my class gathered around to listen. He heard that I was staying at Bula Children's Home and shared with me that he stays in another local children's home. Prior to coming to that home he spent 2-3 years as a street child in the slums of Kisenyi. Kisenyi is the slums where many of my friends come from as it is where the street youth that I worked with for 3 months came from. He shared about his life on the streets and how he ended up there. Then he shared how these men from this organization found him and promised him that one thing that he wanted: Education. He began school 3 years ago in P2 and is now in the top quarter of his P7 class. Stories like this make my heart smile. He invited me to come visit his home sometime and I look forward to that day. I know there is hope for these children and it's the little things that may make the difference. I just need prayer to be reminded of these things. To not get frustrated and upset. To not get discouraged. To remember that they are children.
*Prayer for my health and safety. I have been struggling with this annoying cough since I had that cold a month ago. Then on Thursday morning I was very ill with stomach cramps.
*Prayer for each child here at the home: Kenneth, Aaron, Bob, Vincent, Apizu, Arnold, Douglas, Harriet, Juliet, Sharon, Sarah, Brenda, and Lillian. (And also the secondary students away at boarding school)
*We still struggle daily with this whole children majorly disrespecting us thing.
*Prayer for the relationship between the volunteers and the uncles and matron. That we can learn to all work together in order to have the greatest impact.
Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for the work being done here in Uganda. Together we can make a difference in the lives of these children.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sooo...What's new and exciting here in Uganda? I don't really know what to write about. I have gotten into a routine and this is now my life.The children continue to bang on our door early in the morning for vitamins and toothpaste. They are off to school by 7:30 these days. Lately we've been only having electricity for a few hours per day. Which means early to bed!!!
In an earlier blog I wrote about a boy named Douglas. He had become violent and rude to us volunteers through the weeks (along with many other children). On monday after school he told me that he was hungry. I asked him what for. Chips (french fries) and chicken of course!! I made him a deal (being the good parent that I am) if he could respect me, and I never have to yell at him for the next 2 weeks, I would buy him chips and chicken. I didn't think he would make it through the night. Well he did and he is still going strong! Last night during dinner I even asked him to fill my water and he did it with a smile. I'll keep you updated if I get a date with Douglas. I sure hope so!
This past Tuesday we traveled to the equator. It was a fun morning.We were adventurous and took public transportation hoping that we would be dropped off at the right spot. Well we the middle of nowhere!! There was literally a strip of craft shops, the photo spot, and 2 cafes with mzungus everywhere. We grabbed lunch, a veggie wrap (guac. and carrots in a chapati). Upon leaving the cafe it became evident that all other mzungus had disappeared. We finished taking pictures and then prayed that a taxi would drive by that was going to Kampala with 4 seats. We hailed a taxi driving by and the first one tried to rip us off by charging us 10,000ugx. We got them down to 8,000 which I think is still getting ripped off.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A weekend away

Happy 4th of July!! This holiday weekend I got to spend with some extra special people in my life. It was such a blessing to be able to hang out with my friends at FDLM. FDLM is the children's home that I have visited the past 2 years. Paddy, one of the beneficiaries who is attending Uni in Kampala escorted us home. I was the lucky one to get the back seat with the tire under my feet for the 2 hour journey. Luckily when I exited the matatu I was able to feel my legs enough to walk to the home because as Paddy said, "we are going to use our Foot-subishi." It was a longer walk then I remembered, but maybe just because I was so excited. There was lots of time to talk to everyone and catch up with everyone. It was a blessing to be able to chat with Pastor David who always has some great advice and says what I need to hear. It's also great to joke around with him. And by the way David if you are reading this, last year Kelly and I had itchy thumbs at FDLM and this year I have the same thing again. I think it's you!! haha!
Otherwise I am starting to feel better. Just a scratchy throat with an annoying cough. I don't think the dust helps. And yesterday on our way home from Jinja we took a shortcut through Egypt. I really dont think there was any way that we were still in Uganda. There was lots of traffic going into Kampala so our taxi driver took us off the paved road through forests that I dont think Uganda even knows that they existed. I could not feel my butt, but I knew that I had to pee. Not a good combination. But as Paddy reminded us, "This is Uganda!" haha!! I love it!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just wanted to let everyone know that yes I am still alive and having a grand time. Thanks to everyone who asks. I truly feel loved when I sign on and have new messages and emails. Today I am home sick from school. I have been battling a cold here and yesterday I thought I was over the hump for sure as my sore throat and earache both disappeared. Of course when we were in town I did not look for cold medications. Last night I could not sleep. I just felt so rested and ready to go. This morning I awoke with the cold now moved into my chest. (and yes Kelly McGaw as I laid in bed awake coughing I kept trying to think of who it was who was worried about keeping people awake with their cough and finally I remembered. haha!) Nicola, one of the other volunteers here convinced me to stay home and rest and left me with every drug and vitamin known to man. It has really been great to have Nicola and Amy around to hang out with and pass thoughts and ideas off of. We were just speaking of how they only have like 2.5 weeks left here which is sooo sad.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Being white in an African country

So last Monday evening Julia, Amy, Nicola, and I headed out to the National Theater for music night. It was a great evening of seeing numerous friends of mine perform and catching up with everyone. Our schedule is so "busy" that it is hard to meet up with everyone so it was great to see lots of people at once. During the show this guy sat right behind me. Yes, we were seated in a LARGE grassy area and YES he chose to sit RIGHT behind me. After several minutes he tapped on my shoulder. (In my head I thought here we go again...) Then he nicely asked me my name, where we were staying, and what we were doing in Uganda. (I say we cause Julia was turned around listening at this point.) He asked how long I planned to be in Uganda doing this work. Then I turned around to listen to some more music. Several minutes later I got another tap on my shoulder. "Do you have any friends here in Uganda." Yes, i said. (All my friends were in hiding at this point, not yet arrived, on jamming on stage." The guy continues, "Do you need any more friends? I would like to be your friend. At this point JUlia turns around fast, no longer interested in snooping in the conversation. I stutter and then pause and then say nope I dont think that I do. Haha!!
The other day the four of us walked to the Nakulabye (spelling) market with several of the children. We wanted to buy some fruit to go along with dinner that evening. The whole way there (yes we took multiple Ugandan  'shortcuts') the kids told us that they knew how much everything could cost. But for some reason upon entering the market each and every one of them somehow forgot. They all went around asking the price of pineapples. I think the best price that we got was like 1500ugx or 2000ugx. I knew we were getting ripped off. So I said "we go!" As we left the one standholder apparently said that we should never come back and that we look like poop. (this was translated too. so it could have been some other words.) Cute!! Walking back home we found a lady who would sell them to us for 1000 ugx. We bought 3 from her and have already been back once for more. YUM!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Children at BULA

It is time that I actually tell you about the 13 children that I have already come to love! Some visitors were here the other day so the kids sung and dance for them before they left. I almost had tears in my eyes thinking of how it would be on my last days. I have for some reason been given the words "please beat me" on my back. As many of the boys have thought it would be fun to constantly beat me. Seven year old Lillian is just too cute for words. Though it is hard to communicate with her, it's great to see that bright smile of hers. I have come to call her my mukwano (friend) and she lights up. Douglas (maybe 12ish) has stolen a piece of my heart. He loves to laugh and joke around (sound like anyone else you may know?!) Aaron sat down with me the other day and told me his story. His father passed away when he was seven and his mother left him, his twin brother and a younger sister at that time. His uncle brought him here. His twin and sister live alone in a hut somewhere near Jinja with an aunt that cares for them occasionally. Aaron wrote a paper for school about increasing milk production in Uganda and also increasing dairy intake among children. His paper is one of the select few from his school that will be sent for judging. There is also Kenneth. He is the headboy at the school and just a joy to have at the home. The past few days he was upset and then he was sick, so we hope he overcomes this soon.
We enjoy playing football after school (when the boys let us). Homework time is a time that I have come to enjoy. But it can also get very frustrating as the younger ones finish first and want to laugh and play, but the older ones still want silence and get upset.
Another challenge has been living in a non christian home. The values and morals that are taught here (or not taught) is just so upsetting. The children watch mtv, dirty music videos, and the other day they watched Zombieland.  I mean there is a 7 year old!!! Violence seems to be the ultimate problem solver here. Though it is often play...
We have been teaching the older guys how to treat a woman. One of them always tells us that we are beautiful, another made us all tea the other afternoon, and they are learning that "please" and "thank you" go a long way. I can not wait to experience the next several months with these kids! I think there are lots of good times to be had.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It is time again...

I hear that people back home have been asking about me and praying daily. What a blessing this is! Life here is good. I am really having a great time. Let me tell you about the school and teaching... On my first day I introduced myself to the P3class at Mengo Primary School. There are about 150 of them. They are divided into 2 classes, east and west. After I introduced myself and answered all the questions about life in America. The teacher taught a lesson on fruits. (Pretty much fruits have juice.) It was time for break and all the teachers go to their breakroom. I traveled there and met Julia there, On this particular day there was a teacher meeting and things got OUT OF CONTROL! I still do not know what it was all about but money was involved. Julia and I left and sat outside the classroom building. After a few minutes one of my students came out saying "teacher, please come. they are yelling and fighting." I went. She was not exaggerating in the least. I tried to quiet them down and then worked with small groups of students asking what they were to be working on. But they said that they were finished. At this point I decided to play hangman with fruits as the category followed by guess which animal I am with yes and no questions. While playing these games the head girl of the school came in and was beating my students with sticks. Good times... That was my only time in front of the class so far and I think I will get some direction today. Otherwise I am happy grading workbooks in the back of the classroom.
Life at BULA: THings are good at the home. The 2 other girls from Ireland have arrived and are so sweet. It's nice to have a group of girls to travel to town with and chat at home when the kids are at school. On Saturday, the 4 of us went to the slums of Kisenyi to visit the children and some friends of mine. We then did the Mzungu thing and went to Garden City (a mall here). We walked around there and grabbed some lunch. When we got home the children were all upset and we think it was because we left for the afternoon.
I shall be getting ready for school now. After school the four of us are going to town to meet 2 friends for lunch (paddy and moses, for those of you who know them) and then we will be meeting up with a group of friends and going to the National Theater for the monday night music thing. We will be spending the night at a friends and then who knows what Tuesday holds.... Maybe I will let you know next time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The First week in Uganda,,,

What a great week that it has been!! I love this country, the people, and the culture. Upon arrival at the airport all our luggage was there and a van full of children and uncles who stay here at BULA. This week has been spent getting to know the children who stay here and the schedule of the home. It really is up to us what we want to do which is nice, but overwelming. The children awake at 4:30am to study, clean, and get off to school. They get home after 5 and play for a little and wash. Dinner is around 7 and then we do homework together around the table. Lights out and silence at 10:15 and then we do it all over again. Tomorrow is a big day! We start teaching in the local primary school that the children here go to. Will be teaching math and english to children in 1st through 3rd grade. Will be an exciting challenge as those children do not speak much english yet. Which I guess will be my job. Two other volunteers are to arrive tomorrow as well so Julia and I spent the day cleaning and repacking our things. There really is not a lot of space in our room. So this should be cute...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tomorrow is the BIG day!

So tomorrow is my departure date. It is amazing how quickly it has arrived. Today was my last day at work at Willow Valley. I really am blessed by the relationships that I have made there, with residents and team members alike. Thank you all!! Then there are all (well few) really good friends. You know who you are. Thanks for all your support, laughs, memories, and good times. I will miss you but I am only a phone call or plane ride away. haha!! And last but not least family...they are the lucky ones that have until tomorrow to say good bye. Thanks for all the love and support.
Last week I read the book "Same Kind of Different as Me" in one evening. It was once of those books that once I picked it up, I just couldn't put it down. Check it out! It's about a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together. But one quote that I really liked from the book is, "So, it occurred to me:If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend. But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one. Forever."
So for now I headed off to Uganda to reunite with some old friends and hopefully make some new ones. But you are not forgotten and will be in my prayers and thoughts.
Please remember to keep me in your prayers and all those that I will be coming in contact with. Thanks! next time I update you I will be in UGANDA!! God is good!

If you wish to stay in contact: My email address is and my cell number will be 011256784012514.

Monday, May 9, 2011

30 DAYS....A note from Jolene and Julia

We depart the U.S in less than one month. The planning process alone has been a roller coaster ride full of some great smiles and also difficult times. We have been busy collecting everything we will need for our time in Uganda. We've even began the packing process to make sure that space will not be an issue at the last minute. Currently we are busy planning out the final details for our coffee house this Saturday evening (see my previous post for the details-- and BE THERE!) 
At this time we want to thank all of our family and friends who have graciously supported us along the way. It's hard to believe that the countdown is on. With only 4 weeks left, we still need to raise $4,000 of our $10,000 goal. We have been assured that this an attainable goal and know that we can reach it with your help. Maybe you would consider giving monthly while we are away. Please ask us how this can be done. 
Thanks again for all your support, 
~Jolene and Julia

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Coffee House Fundraiser

Interested in impacting the world…Come out to our Coffee House Fundraiser

WHEN: Saturday, May 14th 7-10pm
WHERE: Christine's Cafe

             555 Greenfield Road
             Lancaster, PA
                  (in the same complex as Issac's)

WHY: To raise funds to build a home for Orphans in Uganda, Africa

There will be live music, Christine‘s coffee masterpieces, delicious baked items, and great company.

"With Uganda having a mind disturbing 2,600,000 orphans, a million of which have been directly due to aids, the need for church based orphan care is even greater.Father’s Divine Love Ministries is setting up a 3rd Orphan’s home which is to be designed in a village setting. 8 homes are being developed on a 3 acre piece of land. Each home will host a maximum of 10 kids in each full house under the care of a couple. The community will therefore host a maximum of 80 children growing up in an environment of family.
We all know that family is the strongest and most import unit of society and its brokenness has generational implications. The solution to this is to raise up children in families and that is why FDLM can’t drop the practice of modelling family rather than subjecting children under institutionalized care." ~ Pastor David Zijjan, founder of FDLM

You will not want to miss this event!

Can't make it out, but would still like to be involved??
Consider donating a baked good or sending a check made payable to "Bridge Connections Inc" with "Housing Project" on the memo line to 6601 Hampnett Ave. Baltimore, MD 21214

Thank You!!