Saturday, August 17, 2013

See you later, Uganda

Well I now write this post to you from the Amsterdam airport. I am halfway through my flight back home to Florida. With my six-hour layover, I have some time to attempt to compile my thoughts into a blog post. Words cannot describe how incredible it has been returning to Uganda. I just want to thank everyone again who has supported me, both financially and with your prayers throughout this trip.  From the very beginning, this trip has truly been about trusting in God and being faithful to the plans He has for my life. For me, I feel like God has really stretched me this time around. From stressful missed flights to just placing my safety in His hands in every situation, it has been a pretty incredible ride.

The hardest part of this experience is always the goodbyes. On Wednesday, I said goodbye to Mama Lucy. She is one of the mamas for the girls. I love this woman! Last summer, I dubbed her my African mother. She is so hardworking and has such a beautiful spirit. She is a great mama to the girls. I was thrilled to hear that she is expecting a precious little one of her own late November J I have nothing but admiration and respect for her. As she hugged me goodbye, she said, “ Auntie Brooke, no tears this time. You are a big girl now!” Such a typical Mama Lucy statement J All I can say is I will miss her dearly.

Yesterday, I said goodbye to the girls and boys. This time I did shed some tears, especially when saying goodbye to Mercy. As I hugged Alima and told her that I loved her and was going to pray for her, she asked “ Auntie, why are you crying? Are you sad?” I told her that these were happy tears and just a little bit sad too. It’s the truth. I am so happy and blessed to have had the privilege to spend a total of three months loving on these girls. I am grateful for the time I’ve had to be a part of their lives. They have blessed me a thousand times over. Alima was also kind enough to point out and say “Auntie Brooke… your tears are dirty.” I forgot to pack the waterproof mascara J

It’s hard for me to accept that I probably won’t be going back to Uganda anytime in the near future. It is still my desire to one day return and even have the opportunity to show my family Amani and this country I have fallen in love with. I know that at this time in my life, I am supposed to focus on continuing my nursing education and starting this next phase of my life. Uganda and Amani will always have a big part of my heart and that red clay isn’t going to rub off too easily J

 In the words of Lydia… “Auntie, its not goodbye… its see you later.”

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Things I Love...

I have compiled a list of some of my favorite things/ experiences about life here in Africa. I hope you enjoy them :) On a quick side note...this is my last week here in Uganda! It is amazing how quickly a month has flown by here. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to return to this country and people I have fallen in love with. Thank you for following my journey back to Amani!

Things that I love/ experience about life here in Africa

  • Boda Rides
  • Finding geckos living in my shoes...I dont know who was more or the gecko
  • Next door neighbors attempting to DJ and creating a spontaneous backyard dance party for us
  • Feeding and cuddling with babies
  • Little girls running and wrapping their arms around my legs when I enter the cottage
  • The fact that Mercy's smile and contagious laugh is the exact same as it was last summer
  • Being called Auntie Brooke
  • Hardworking, beautiful mamas
  • Late night conversations with the volunteers
  • Laughing with Mama Lucy
  • Bible studies on Tuesday's
  • Splashing around in the Nile with the boys
  • Visiting villages
  • Chapati runs in the morning
  • Meeting Gastor at Canaan
  • African spice tea and Rolex's
  • Kids club on Saturday afternoons
  • Taking kids to church
  • Rolling paper beads and having picnics of passion fruit and Gnuts with Mama Lois and her kids
  • Star gazing with the volunteers
  • Seeing how big the kids have gotten in a year
  • Putting the girls down for a nap
  • Reading books at preschool
  • Long walks around Jinja
  • Speaking Lugandan to boda drivers and their surprised reaction that a muzungu (white person) is speaking their language
  • Praying with the kids
  • Hugs from Paul
  • Hope's giggles
  • Cuddling with Fiona
  • Stories about the latest creatures Mary has discovered in her room
  • Trekking in the mud at the market for produce
  • Pitch Perfect movie night with the volunteers
  • Taking pictures with the kids...both at Amani and the villages
  • Playing with the kids from Budundo in a field filled with cows
  • Taking videos of Mercy squealing and singing This Little Light of Mine
  • And many more :)
Buying Chapati

Love these girls... We were taking a group picture with our elephant pants :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Source of the Nile

Today, we took about six boys on a boat ride on the Nile! It felt so good to be on the water and just take the time to appreciate God's beauty here in Uganda. We were told that Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in Africa. The kids absolutely loved the boat ride. They were all trying to lean over and touch the water. There were a couple of times we were afraid we would be taking a dip into the Nile as we felt one side of the boat lean towards the water. It was amazing getting to see so much wildlife here in Jinja. We saw monkeys, Belted Kingfisher birds and Nile Monitors ( the largest lizard in Africa). About half way through, we were able to get out of the boat and go on an island. On the island, there was a sign marking the source of the Nile. We got some great pictures :)

Group picture

Nile Monitor

Source of the Nile

Local Fishermen


Our group

On those hills is actually the Ugandan prison

Paul and I

Paul and Christopher

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pictures, Pictures!

 This post is pretty much going to be dedicated to pictures :) I take so many here and its just so hard choosing which ones to upload! Its been a good week so far. We are having a bit of a transition in the volunteer house. We gained two new volunteers yesterday and two are leaving tomorrow. This is one of the hard parts about being here. Saying goodbye. I have met some pretty incredible people and its always sad saying goodbye. Thank goodness for Facebook!


Cute village girls

Source of the Nile


Hanging out with Godfrey and Salim

Lunch time!

Mama Susan and Joseph

"Simon, say ROAR!!" :)

Kids lined up saying bye

Friday, August 2, 2013

Highlights of this week

Here's a quick look at what has been going on this week!

This week, we did not have preschool for the kids. Instead, we tried to get a little creative with some fun activities. Since we had our mornings free, some of the volunteers created a "spa" inside the preschool room for all of the mamas. We painted their toes and provided treats and tea. It was nice spoiling such wonderful ladies that work so hard each day. While some of the volunteers were doing the spa, the rest of us did crafts and activities with the kids.

One morning, we made noodle necklaces. This ended with half of the kids attempting to each the noodles off the necklaces ;) Another day, we took a white sheet from the guesthouse and make colored water in spray bottles and homemade finger paint. The plan was that the kids would take turns spraying the sheet with the colored water and throw rubber balls dipped in paint at the sheet. It went as planned for about 10 minutes. Instead, I think the aunties got sprayed just as much as the white sheet. My feet and arms were slightly dyed blue for half the week :)

We also took the kids for a picnic around the corner from Amani. During our picnic, supplied with cookies and Sprite, a monkey appeared from across the road and crossed the street right in front of us! The kids were so excited. After the monkey disappeared, all the kids decided to do their own impression of monkey faces. It was quite comical.

Another activity we did was take some of the kids putt putt golfing at a restaurant nearby Amani. I think the kids had a great time. They didnt quite understand the concept that you have to wait until the ball stopped after you hit it. Instead, the game started to resemble hockey putt putt golf. But the day was filled with laughs and squeals from them once they finally got the ball in the hole. At the 7th hole, there was a concrete crocodile that you had to hit the ball through the mouth to get to the other side. We discovered that the crocodile ate the balls which ended our game early :)

Each night at dinner, we each tell our favorite part or moments of the day. I would have to say that some of my favorites have been Mercy squealing and yelling "Auntie!" as she runs and wraps her arms around my legs when I enter the girls cottage in the morning, cuddling with the babies (especially Jane) and singing songs with the preschool. It has been a great week. I realized today that I leave in exactly 2 weeks! I cant believe how fast it is going by, but I am so grateful for each day here.

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