Our first experience in Africa was really being immersed in the drama of International Adoptions.  We didn’t intend to be in that position, but because the guest house we stayed at was housing so many adopting families, it just worked out that way.  We learned so much and have such a great respect for people who have been called to adopt.  This commitment to adopt a child from another culture is an amazing thing.  I have to admit that I don’t feel that call on our life, but to witness it changed my heart.

I did not realize the sacrifice that it takes to adopt.  One family has been delayed in the process for many months and has many more obstacles to overcome before they will be able to take their child home.  So what this means is that they are basically trapped in Africa.  They can’t leave without their new child and they can’t go home because the paperwork isn’t complete.  They endure being separated from their children and spouses back in America because of the love and commitment they have given this new child.  This story is common.  There are the occasional cases that go smoothly, but so many don’t.

The governments in Africa operates much differently than they do in America.  You have to remember these are “developing” nations – which basically means that they just don’t have their act together quite yet.  Filing systems aren’t the same, expectations aren’t the same, the addage “time is money” means nothing there.  No one wants to accept responsibility and so the addage “pass the buck” reigns!  It is simply the reality and there isn’t anything you can do about it as much as it grinds against our “American way”.

So those families who have made a commitment to adopt a child from one of these developing nations are saints in my book.  Not only are they opening their home, their family, their heart to a child that was born of another, they are opening their lives up to trial and difficulty that they probably would never have imagined.  But after meeting the children who benefit from this commitment I understand why they do it.  The children are just wonderful and so deserving of a loving family.  We met some of the darlingest kids that I will never forget.  I found myself, at times, being envious that God had called them and not us, just because the kids are so amazing.

If you know of someone who is adopting, please remember to pray for them.  They will need it!  They are becoming lifetime missionaries in a sense as well as living out the example set before us in that we have been adopted into the family of God ourselves through the sacrifice of Christ.  Adoption is such a beautiful picture of sacrifice and redemption.  It simply amazes me.

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So we saw the hippos on Lake Awassa.  It was fun going out on the boat, but I have to admit, seeing the hippos was pretty anticlamatic for some reason.  I guess we were just too far away and the boat driver wouldn’t get any closer.  I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.  So, no matter!  It was a nice time anyways and I did get a few pictures.

Sunday morning Guy got to share at “English” church.  English church is a service that is held every other Sunday in Awassa.  It is basically for the missionaries in the area, since most services are in Amharic.  This gives them a chance to fellowship in English.  They take turns having different speakers, so there is no one pastor conducting the service.  Guy did a great job bringing a message about serving the Lord in love.  Rachel did a fantastic job leading worship!  I loved it!  I guess I was due for a little “English” church myself.

We invited our friends the Ayele’s and the Munson’s (the folks we are staying with) to dinner after the service.  Then we went home and packed up our stuff to prepare for the long journey home.  Our journey home included one little detour however.

I have to tell you this little story.  When we decided to go to Ethiopia for this trip we knew we wanted to go to Awassa, but we also wanted to visit our friends in Burayu.  Unfortunatley we were not able to connect with anyone in Burayu before we left and so we just didn’t have any way to make it all work – no place to stay and no driver.  But I just couldn’t shake the desire to see our friend Pastor Amanuel while we were in Ethiopia.  So one day (it was the day we saw the hippos) we were having lunch at this beautiful resort and a familar face walked past us.  I couldn’t take my eyes off this face because he looked so familar and he too had his eyes fixed on Guy and I and then it hit us both – Dawitt!  Dawitt was our driver the last time we were in Ethiopia.  I had tried to email him, but did not get a reply – and there he was – in Awassa, in the same resort.  Well we had hearty greetings and were both pretty surprised.  He was busy with clients, but we got his phone number, just in case he could help us with directions we’d need to give our driver in order to get to Burayu (no one in Awassa knew of the place) on our way to Addis before we flew home.

We found out later that our driver wouldn’t take us to Burayu so we ended up calling Dawitt and he magically arranged for a driver to meet us in Addis and take us to Burayu and then to the airport.  I know the Lord arranged all of this!  So we did get to visit Burayu and our driver knew right where the church was.  We went to the church and within 10 minutes Amanuel was there to greet us.  We explained that we only had a few hours to visit, but we managed to see Amanuel’s wife and daughter, tour the new training center for pastors and evangelists, tour the school and the new church building.  We were impressed with the changes we saw in the town and in the growth of the church.  God is doing an awesome work there.  We were blessed to see a few old friends and have a chance to bump shoulders and exchange greetings and then just like that our time was up and we were off to the airport.  I still marvel at how that all worked out.  God is so awesome!

So Guy and I have spent the last couple days “exploring” Awassa.  We leave the house we are staying at and trek up the road into town.  Sometimes a Bajaj will stop and we ride a ways, but we never really know what to tell the driver, so there is often a lot of confusion and I’m sure we usually overpay for short trips to the wrong place – oh well, whatever – it’s all totally fun anyways!  Yesterday we used a little map that our host had made and that helped us get around a little better.  She recommended an Italian restaurant in town for lunch and we actually got a driver to take us right to the front door.  We sat outside and had a leisurly lunch.  They served perfectly cooked pasta that was sooooo delicious.  I even had dessert after.  It was like a gourmet meal and it cost us all of about $10 for both of us including drinks.  As we sat there we could just as well have been sitting at a restaurant in Maui.  It was amazing!

We wandered around town for a couple more hours and even found ourselves in an alley or two.  We high fived each other that we were walking in alleys in Africa.  I know I know – it sounds silly, but it’s braver than you think.  We were supposed to be at the orphanage at 3 and found ourselves just a little bit lost.  Of course the bajaj driver had no idea what we were talking about when we said the “secret code” that we were told would take us to the right neighborhood that the orphanage was at.  So we hopped in anyways and by the grace of God pointed our way right to where we needed to be.  More high fives!

We spent a couple hours hanging out with the kids and babies.  Oh my goodness!  They are the darlingest kids you’ve ever seen.  They are so loved at Ebeneezer Grace Children’s Home.  So loved!!  We spent a little time all together, praying for the kids, the mamas and the orphanage.  It was a great time!

Then we headed back to our house and that evening a bunch of folks came over for “movie night”.  There was Christmas music playing, cookies baked and kids and parents and friends piled in for a great time of fun and fellowship.  Everyone was a missionary of one sort or another with amazing backgrounds, educations, and stories about their journey that lead them to Ethiopia.  I have to admit, I felt a bit unworthy to be in their company, but it was a real blessing all the same.

We are just getting ready to head out for a “fun” day (as if everyday hasn’t been a “fun” day)!  We are going to rent a boat and see hippos on Lake Awassa!  How fun is that?!!?

Sorry about the delay in blog updates.  We flew into Addis Ababa Ethiopia on Sunday and was greeted by the Ayele’s (our missionary friends that we have never met).  It was great to finally meet them in person.  They are the reason we made the trip to Ethiopia.  We spent one night in Addis and then drove to their hometown, Awassa, in the morning.  . . . . another long day driving in Africa, ughhhggg!!  We are staying with friends of theirs in a beautiful home – we hit the jackpot here!  It’s better than the Hilton anyday.  We don’t have very convenient internet availability though which is why the updates have been sparce – sorry.

We have spent the last couple days visiting orphans, visiting widows, recovering from malaria (Guy), eating odd food, and having a good time with new friends.  We’ve been stared at, begged from, heckled and loved.  Awassa is a really cool town, especially for being in Africa.  It’s like the Ashland, Oregon of Ethiopia except they don’t speak English like they do in Uganda.  It’s a separate and distinct culture from the sub sahara region of Africa.  In some ways it’s better and in some ways it’s not better – language and food are more challenging, but the crowds and roads and available transportation are much better and everything is a lot cheaper (well almost everything).

We are looking forward to spending a day on the lake and hoping to see some hippos.  We’ll try to fill you in on that before we head home.  There is so much more to say, but it’s just not convenient to get it all in on a borrowed computer/internet, so we’ll try to post more after we get home.

God bless you all!

Deb and I just returned from Mokano, a two and a half hour drive from Kampala. We got a call last night from Kelsey, a Sixty Feet volunteer from Florida who has been in Uganda since August.  She arrainged a home meeting with a young girl we sponsor. She arrainged for a driver to pick us up at 8 am and said it was a short trip to her home. Wow what a break, we got a driver paid for and all we had to do was travel. You see in Uganda that is a short trip, it’s the road and traffic one has to deal with. I joked with our driver Frank that Ugandan drivers won’t tell you the truth about how far or long the trip will be. Its always “its just over the next hill, or only about a half an hour” after you have been in the car for hours. Anyways we finally drove thru the three foot grass in the middle of the driveway and the holes you could lose a trash can in,  (did I mention we went the whole way with a spare tire that looked like a bicycle tire?) and came upon a delightful colonial home. An elderly Uganda gentleman met us as we exited the vehicle amidst groans and sighs (I’m old) and showed us into a type of sitting room. Kelsey accompanied us with her sister and three children, who were saved from dire straits, and we all sat very formely in this plantation type house. I half expected Clark Gabel, most of you wont know who that is,to ask us on safari. Anyways we learned that thru Sixty Feet that this man and his wife were the great uncle and aunt to young Claire which we were about to meet. I almost went into my favorite Colombo routine because Claire had not appeared yet. Then she finally entered the room.  What a beautiful youg lady. Her story was tragic and now thanks to obedient calls on their lives this  14 year old girl has a sure future. She had been ignored after the death of her father by an angry step mother. This turned into severe abuse and eventually placement in a child prison. The unwanted children in Uganda can be victims of the most heinous behavior by neglectful parents and officials.  Her family had no idea that Claire was in this position until Sixty Feet informed them. They were all for her living with them and raising her.

Her great uncle is an educated man and we all spoke excitedly for over an hour and a half. The discussion centered around politics and the future of Uganda and her people. Africans are savvy to global polotics and even our driver, a graduate in statistics, bent my ear. Then amidst the discussion Claire brought in African tea and chipatis (a tradtional Ugandan dish – like a fluffy tortilla) to our delight. She served it (very British) and then proceeded to sit with us. We presented her with a  Lugandan Bible that Tom Young pulled out of his hat the night before to our delight. The whole day was so typical of life here. You never know what you will encounter. What started out for me as a ‘here we go again’ ride turned into a beautiful day of fellowship and life changing experiences. Deb and I will keep in touch with Claire and her family and 60 Feet to see how they are doing. The last thing Claires great uncle said to us was “we greatly appreciate your help but we dont expect it.”  What a wonderful thing to say.  As we left the village the children flocked to the roadway to wave and yell “muzungo” at us as we headed for home.

Well hello everybody! Were back in Kampala where we first stayed when we arrived on Nov 13th. Were resting up waiting to leave Sunday afternoon for Ethiopia.This is home base for our future travelers to Uganda. Yes those of you who feel the nudge to step out of your comfort zone and see how the rest of the world is living, Deb and I are setting up the logistics and lines and contacts to make your visits seamless. Thanks to Tom Young and others we can get you from Sisqiyou county to Uganda and the mission field or just visit without a hitch. We can talk about it when we get home. There are so many things I could write about and tell you all but suffice to say it has been well worth it.

One cannot describe Africa without hearing, smelling and breathing it. Pictures wont do it justice. There is an earthiness, a viceral connection that brings one back around to yourself. When you played in the dirt as a kid, when you heard thunder for the first time, your first cut, your first kiss. Africa is sensual, perplexing, disturbing, surprising, comforting. Africa dosent make sense until you stop trying to figure it out. You know that whole circle of life thing, thats it.

I could go on and wax poetic but I will save you the experience. Enough already.We are staying with families here that are trying to adopt. I have never been around people more commited and long suffering. The process is gruelling to say the least. They persevere because they know they are the only ones who can save the life of this child or take a horrible situation and bring healing to it. The orphanages we have visited are run by saints, I had no idea of their commitment. Day in and day out they are there for the kids who get thrown away, unbelievable.I cant think of a harder place to help children. The culture of Africa is broken. It just is. But God in His mercy is working here thru a body of believers and volunteers saving one person at a time. What brings people to Africa? Simple its the children. They are a magnet for anybody. You cant help but love them.The African smile is like no other.If you want to stay young and slim come to Uganda.Between the kids and the food you cant lose. Shalom for now.  – Guy

Hi Folks just a few comments on Africa in general.After settling in now one gets a deeper view and perspective of the people and culture of Africa.There seems to be  a sense of community here a togetherness I have sensed here in Uganda and in our previous visit to Ethiopia. A community feel we perhaps had in the U S during our struggling early years. The years of colonizatrion here although in most aspects help build the infrastructure [roads bridges schools communication churches etc. have led to a convoluted dependency. I would compare it to adolescense. The sense that we know what we want but not really sure how to get there from here. I never realized the role model  we in the U S play here. The people here really look to the west for leadership role models and especially the Body of Christ ie the Church!Where do I get this idea?Having had many conversations with our drivers as we tour Uganda. They all expressed a hope in the church and in the U S. They all believe that the U S is this land of riches and wealth where everybody is rich and happy sort of a shangra- la.Truthfully it is in a material sense.  Life for the most part is brutal here. Its like camping out for the rest of your life. There is a sobriety a awful awareness that this is as good as it going to get for most Africans.Thats where the Church comes into play. To help but not to produce dependency.There are many ngos here [non govermental agencies] but I dont see that as the ultimate solution. Its the same problem we have in the U S with our welfare system. The culture here is to seek for help rather than for help to originate from within. But I belive that might be changing with the huge influence of the church and the teaching of the scriptures. Ugandans, Ethiopians and Africans in general are tired of the status quo. Their seems to be a growing desire to do it Gods way. The greatest need I see here is LEADERSHIP. Not helping hands but African hands. I have never seen such a desire for leadership not dictatorship. The word of God is the greatest factor  in changing Africa. So come on Church lets dig in and pray for the church here and support them as God changes Africa from within. After all were all in the same family. Shalom from Jinja,