Jan. 7th & 8th, 2011
On a typical Friday, the Zion Project women go out into the community for part of the day and try to encourage people in the neighborhood. This is seen as a very welcomed act by the neighbors. There are no strange looks of "why are you here?". Only the gracious provision of song and chairs for guests.
We had an amazing time and was even able to talk and pray with a man who had been in the rebel LRA for over 12 years of his life. He had a lot of inner struggles with feelings of shame and guilt over the crimes he had committed while in the LRA. He had a family in a village far off but would only travel from town (where he works as a teacher) by the darkness of night because he feared people spotting him and knowing he was a former rebel.
Gulu has made amazing strides in the past 2 years since I have been here but there is still so much pain in people's hearts. They welcome so openly the chance to just share their grief with someone who is willing to listen and speak of reconciliation like our women did! It is amazing to see our women giving back to their own community after they have come out of the hardships of life here.
St. Jude Children's Home
I had the incredible opportunity to visit a large children's home (orphanage) that is also a functioning school when the term is in session. They are on break now so we had some extra time to hold A LOT of babies and also visit their disabled children's wing.
I have to say that the photos of a malnourished child or one with stunted growth will never compare to holding one in your arms. It was my first time to hold a child who was one and a half years old but was too small and weak to hold his own head up for too long. He smiled and was clearly a happy baby even though most of the time he just rested on my chest and looked around at what was going on. For those moments I was his protector and comfort and he held a piece of my heart.
The disabled children's wing was home to children with various mental and physical disabilities. We mostly just sat with them, asked them questions if they were able to answer and played a few simple games.
Dinner with David Oyite and His Family:
On Saturday evening I had the amazing opportunity to be invited to dinner at my very good friend David's home. I met David on my first trip to Uganda and have been lucky enough to see him every year since then. He usually spends January in California with his American girlfriend Jenna but this year she came to Gulu!
I got the GRAND tour of the house which included a lesson in making ground nut paste or as we would call it, peanut butter.
David's family grows most of their own food including sorghum, cassava, greens and an abundance of chickens. We sat out in the yard on a mat and were able to look out over the hilltop at the amazing landscape of Uganda! The sun was setting and his parents gathered up all the dried sorghum that will eventually be made into flour.
Like most typical families, entertainment centers around the new baby (who grandpa adores) and the large meal that we are all excited about eating! Our menu started with an appetizer of an avocado and sugary lemon smoothie. Seriously people this is the best thing ever and I plan to master the recipe upon my return to the States :). We continued with a traditional Acholi dinner of cassava with malaquoin (greens with g-nut paste), some sort of meat (I think goat) in a delicious soupy sauce with rice, bo (like collard greens) and of course potatoes.
After dinner David's father formally introduced every family member including those who were not present. We prayed together, took some family photos (which were not on my camera sorry) and enjoyed the evening. I left their house so full of not only food but amazing hospitality! Thank you so much David to you and your family. You have truly blessed my time here in Uganda! AFOYO MATEK