Sooo today we started off doing manual labor. Again. But today was much easier, just had to move rocks. :) However, the workers' job was pretty much still the same. A boy named Peter, age 15 (same as Keegan from Grapevine) had shoes that had holes in the toes and were in terrible shape. While the workers took their lunch break, a couple of people from our group went to Nakumatt (Wal-Mart) and Whitney (Keegan's Mom) bought each worker a pair of working gloves. Keegan, having befriended Peter, ended up giving his pair of shoes away to him. It was a good day for Peter! We also gave each worker a new t-shirt, either with an American logo or a Texan one. The thankfulness and joy expressed in their eyes made everything we've done these past two days completely worthwhile. After lunch we went to the passion fruit place, which I found out has grown significantly since it was started...two years ago, thanks to the Kaaga Synod. It is absolutely incredible how much they produce...even coffee! To see the work of these people is inspiring and comforting. Because of the support of the Methodist Church, a few families have been able to become self-sufficient, which is becoming an important concept here. After visiting the farm, we spontaneously went to a local orphanage. I had begun preparing myself for the visit to the Aids Orphanage we will go to on Saturday, but was definitely not prepared for this. We first took a tour of the beautiful place, and then saw the children. They sang for us and a few of the women, including me, had the most difficult time keeping our emotions in. Looking around I began to notice that these children had broken flip flops, mismatched shoes, clothes with holes...need I say more? You see it on TV or hear about it, but to truly experience it right in front of your face, while listening to their harmonies and watching their bright faces, is in every way overwhelming. I fought hard to keep the tears back, but once the children left, I couldn't keep it in any longer. The retired Bishop overseeing the orphanage discussed some issues with us, that were incredibly heartbreaking. Some of their supporters are giving them an ultimatum...they will continue supporting the orphanage, but must get rid of some of the children. I absolutely CANNOT comprehend how that's even a consideration!? To take a child off the streets and give them a home, something they can call their own, a network of "brothers and sisters" in Christ, and give them a hope they could only dream of...and send them RIGHT back, is outrageous. These children find places to sleep on the streets and make homes out of paper...then the cops demolish these "homes" and chase them away. There is NO way I can understand ANY child going through that. I mean, these children are any age!
Ugh, that's the end of my ranting for now. The worst part about it is, this isn't the half of what I am going to see. I ask for all of your prayers in keeping us all strong and steadfast with this trip. That we may be prepared for what else is to come in the week and that we can find ways to help these most-deserving people.
We love you and miss you all.
Well what can I say after Brittany's witness to the power of this day. There is just too much to share. Those who have joined me for this trip are beginning to understand how overwhelming all of this is. I have never been with so many people who have so little who complain so little and seem so happy. There are many times I just want to ask them according to my culture and what we think is so important how can you be so happy? It makes me wonder. Our mission team has been so great! They have had long days and been exposed to much but have been real troopers. We are learning so very much. The passion fruit farm that Brittany mentioned above was begun from a loan from the Methodist Church. It began with one family. I could not believe how much it had expanded and how many people were now involved. It is a clear example why I feel so committed to the work being done here. They make such a difference in the lives of people who are poor and now through the work of the church have a chance. The orphanage we visited was just an experience that I cannot find the words to describle. When former street children starting singing in harmony words about how good God is and that God is working in the midst of living I just will never forget that sound and that sight. God was indeed working through them. Many times the most powerful and memorable expressions of God's love in my life have been through such broken and hurting people. This was certainly no exception. I am tired after a long day but it is an incredible good tired. I don't mind being this kind of tired. God has been very good to us today. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We feel them so present with us here. Tomorrow we go to see the new church starts out on the edge of the synod. It will be another long but good day. One thing I am learning here is that the presence of God does indeed bring meaning and purpose to all of life both the scarce and plenty. Brittany and I will see you tomorrow. We miss you!