Tonya’s Visit

Last week Tonya was here along with one of her sons, Jack, and her daughter, Kira. She also brought her friend Erica with her. Erica volunteers a lot of her time in the states doing accounting for Kirabo Seeds. It was a lot of fun to have all of them around! I was thankful for a little bit of American interaction, and their visit helped to refuel all of us here. Although their trip was short, I feel like we got many things accomplished that we needed to do as a team.

Something really cool we got to do was celebrate the two-year anniversary of Kirabo Seeds. We invited all of the kids’ jjajjas and any other friends that were somehow connected with the ministry. We talked about all of the things God had done in the past two years, we shared a nice meal together, the kids gave their jjajjas gifts, we played some games, and we had a devotion together. After the devotion, almost everyone there went around and shared all the reasons he or she was thankful for the ministry. It was one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever been a part of. We were all reminded of the immense blessing it is to be a part of this ministry.

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Lately we’ve just been enjoying the holiday – playing games, reading, doing devotion, watching movies, etc. A new thing the kids have been doing is flying kites, because Mama Tonya brought some recently. They’re obsessed with it now, and they have been asking us everyday if they can fly them. The first two times we flew them, I was the only one out there with them. Just picture masses of tangled string and kites caught in power lines and on top of houses. It was a disaster. But now they are able to get the kites flying really well and keep them up until it’s time to go back inside. It’s been fun getting to teach them something that I enjoyed doing as a child! Another new obsession for them is the movie Frozen. Tonya brought it this past trip, and I think they’ve watched it four or five times now. All day you can hear them singing random lines of the songs… “Let it go, let it go…” or “For the first time in forever…” It’s hilarious to hear it in their Ugandan accents and with their own made up words (they haven’t quite learned the real words yet).

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Three weeks from yesterday I will be back home. I can’t believe my time here is actually coming to a close. My time here has flown by. I have experienced so many incredible opportunities and intense challenges. God has taught me so many things that I hope I will remember as I return home. I’m beyond excited to come back home and see everyone, but leaving these kids will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I can’t imagine going through the transition of seeing these kids all day everyday for five months to not knowing when I’ll see them again. Please pray that the next three weeks for me will be lived to the fullest. I don’t want to waste any of my limited time here. Thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement!

How am I supposed to leave these faces??

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to everyone! I’ve been busy recently putting together a Kirabo Seeds Easter video. It was fun to work with the kids to make the video, but it was also quite a challenge! The kids worked really hard to learn their lines and speak them for the video. I was really proud of the way they worked! If you want to watch it, here’s the link:

I hope it encourages you and reminds you of why we are celebrating today. That’s all I’m going to blog today, because I’m going to spend the day celebrating with my Kirabo Seeds family. I hope you all have a happy Easter!

About two weeks ago, the kids went down to the well to do laundry (sorry I’m behind). The kids usually have fun in that area, because when they’re finished, they can play around and climb trees. This time they found some big pieces of tree bark and used them as sleds to slide down the hill. They also found some rope and a big branch to make a swing from the tree. They know how to use their resources to have fun! 

Lydia

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Dickson

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Ronny

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Lawrence

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Angela

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Musa

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Paul sledding on tree bark

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Dickson

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Daniel on the homemade swing

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Peter

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Recently I’ve been able to do a lot more things on my own, which has been really nice. Sometimes it can be hard to feel dependent on others every time you need to go somewhere. I’ve learned the taxi and boda boda system well enough, so now I can go to certain areas by myself to run my own errands. I’m sure this is nice for Robert and Phiona, too, so they can work on other things instead of just escorting me around. So lately I’ve been on a few adventures, which has been very beneficial for me!

We also recently went to visit Rhonah’s place, so she could see some of her family. And we had an outreach yesterday at a local church. I’ll have to blog more specifically about those later. 

A few days ago, Phiona and I went to visit Fred at his school, and he seems to be doing really well! He’s made friends, he’s enjoying learning, and he’s performing well in his classes…that’s what he tells us at least. This is so beneficial for Fred, so it’s good to know that he’s enjoying it! Pretty soon he’ll be home for the holidays. In Uganda they go to school for a few months, then have a month of holiday, go for a few months, have a month of holiday, etc. Holiday is in about two and a half weeks! It will be fun to have Fred around the house again!

I would like to ask for your prayers. My time here will be over before I know it. I want to make sure that I’m really taking advantage of every moment I have with the team and with the kids. Please pray that I will continue to stay focused on what I’m here to do. I want to make the most of this opportunity!

Good News for Fred!

I’ve been wanting to update you on some great news for Fred, but I needed to wait until everything was officially settled and Tonya could update everyone first. About three weeks ago, Robert, Phiona, and I went on a search to find Fred a new school. We spent three or four days driving to different schools to see if they were possibilities for Fred. We wanted him to be able to go to a school where he would be surrounded by people like him, because we knew it would give him more motivation to do things on his own. We could already see an improvement in that because of the people he was surrounded by in the hospital. The first school we visited was perfect! It was a school for the physically handicapped that followed the national school curriculum and even had vocational classes for the kids to learn how to make and sell things. When we talked to the head teacher about Fred coming, she told us they were full. She said she could put us on a waiting list, though, and she also gave us some other schools that could be helpful. We spent the next few days driving to all these different schools. None of them were good. Some of them even seemed fake. It turns out it’s really difficult to find a school for someone who is physically handicapped. So our only option was to go back to the first school and try to get them to change their minds.

When we went back, the head teacher gave us some forms to fill out, so Fred could be considered. She emphasized that there was no guarantee, though. It was only one step in the process. The forms had to be filled out by Fred’s doctors, so we got the forms filled out as quickly as we could. We wanted to show the head teacher how serious we were about this. When we returned the forms, she was impressed. She understood how desperate we were. She said she would call us that Friday (3/7) for Fred to possibly come in for a meeting and an assessment. Again she emphasized that after that, there were still no guarantees.

Robert and I were able to bring Fred for an assessment, and he did really well! They were impressed by how well he did for not having been to school before. We realized that Auntie Kiah’s work with tutoring the kids has really been working for Fred. We thought Fred would have to start school at Level 1, which could have been embarrassing and hard for Fred at times because of his age. But the teacher that assessed him wanted to put him at Level 3! We were really thankful for that! 

After the assessment we waited to speak with the head teacher. We knew that even though we were this far along in the process, there were still no openings for Fred. We thought maybe he would be able to start next term or even next year. When the head teacher looked at the assessment, she was impressed and pleased. She started going through all the requirements of the school with us and what Fred would need for school. Robert and I looked at each other, wondering why she was going through this information with us. Then she said to bring him to start school on Monday. Before I could stop myself, I asked, “Are you serious??” She laughed and said, “Yes, we want him to start school on Monday.” I could have cried. We had spent so many weeks having no idea what Fred’s future would look like. So we went from having no idea about his future to being extremely excited about his future! God’s timing was absolutely perfect in this situation. 

Robert and I spent the next day shopping for everything Fred needed for school, and we were able to take him that Monday! Fred’s already made friends there. There’s even one boy there that he knew from the hospital, so they were excited to see each other again. Fred is really excited to learn! He has dreams of being a business man, and he knows he needs to be educated first. We’re able to visit him whenever we want, so we’ll do it as often as we can to see how he’s doing. He’ll also come home for holidays to spend time with everyone. We’re so thankful he has this incredible opportunity!

Fred’s new school!

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Fred sitting at his new desk in his classroom. Look at how excited he is to be there!

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The Beach

Last week we went to the beach with all the kids in honor of Boniface. When Bonny was still in the hospital, Uncle Robert asked him where he wanted to go when he got better. Boniface said, “Uncle, I want to go to the beach.” Also, one of the last things he asked for before he died was cake and soda. So we took a trip to the beach last week to celebrate his life and had cake and soda in his honor. 

It was really great for the kids to get away and have some fun for a while! I think it was much needed for all of the aunties and uncles, too. I didn’t think I would want to swim, but when we got there, the kids convinced me to get in the water. I spent most of the time with two to three kids on my back. I was their “boat”. I loved being able to just play with the kids that day instead of the normal routine of school and making sure they get everything accomplished. It was a nice break for everyone!

Rachel (Aunt Judith’s daughter), Angela, and Christine

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Lydia

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Lawrence

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Christine

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Rhonah did NOT like her first experience with the water.

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We even got to take a little boat ride!

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Rhonah liked sitting in a chair on the sand much better. 

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Peter, Daniel, Dickson, and Denis

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Ryan

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Paul

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Many people have asked me when I am going to blog again, so I know that means I’m behind – sorry I’m not very good at keeping up with it! I’ve actually been trying to blog the past several days, but electricity has been really bad here lately. We’ve had about 5 days in a row where we didn’t have power the whole day until late at night. We actually don’t have power right now as I write this, but I have enough charge on my computer and internet from charging through the night to do this post.

I don’t have too much to update, but I want to share several pictures with you. I’ll probably split them up into a few different blog posts over the next few days (if we have enough power!)

A few weeks ago, I pulled out my camera on a Sunday night while the kids were having some fun. While the kids are in school, there aren’t many opportunities for just playing around. They go to school from 7 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday. They even go on Saturdays from 7 am until 1:30 pm. When they get home from school, they have to wash their uniforms, bathe, have devotion, do homework, get ready for school the next day, eat dinner, and be asleep by 9. So the school schedule can be pretty crazy. When I pulled my camera out that night, the kids wanted me to take pictures of everything! They started doing exercises and stretches that they wanted me to capture. It was a fun night! When Phiona looked at the pictures the next day, the first thing she said was that when she looks at these pictures, she sees that these kids really love each other. This is very true. It’s so fun to see them spending time together with so much joy. 

Lawrence loves the camera. He’s probably the funniest little kid I’ve ever met. Normally he’s making some sort of goofy face, so it’s rare to get a picture like this where he has a normal smile.

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Musa loves taking care of Rhonah, and he’s really good at it! Rhonah loves spending time with Musa, too!

 

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The kids wanted to show off the crazy things they could do.

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Dickson and Denis did all these different leg stretches and exercises…

 

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…so Musa and Desire decided they wanted to do them all, too. The size difference between the two of them was hilarious!

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Daniel and Peter – I’m not really sure how they accomplished this.

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Lawrence and Ryan are really close friends – they spend so much time together. And there’s one of the goofy faces from Lawrence I was talking about.

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Daniel, Denis, and Dickson being funny

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Rhonah and Daniel. Rhonah will always be well protected by all of her older brothers.

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Lawrence and Desire. All of these kids really do love each other so much, and it’s awesome to see that!

 

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Boniface

I write this blog post with a heavy heart as I recount the immense pain the Kirabo Seeds family experienced this past week. Although the emotions are still very near, I don’t think I will be able to fully portray the mix of emotions our family experienced and is still experiencing. On Thursday afternoon, we lost one of our boys, Boniface.

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Boniface had been sick with HIV, and he got the chicken pox about a week ago. We didn’t think much of it, since he was the sixth or seventh one in our home to get it, but we found out later that chicken pox can be very serious for those with HIV. Last Monday, Boniface was complaining about a pain in his lower back. Robert took him to the hospital to get everything checked out, but the doctors didn’t seem concerned about anything, so he came back home. For the rest of the evening and the whole next day, Bonny just stayed in bed. He wasn’t really able to sleep though because of the pain he was experiencing. When he didn’t sleep at all Tuesday night, we decided to take him back to the hospital. Robert and Phiona took him early Wednesday morning, and I came later that morning.

When I walked into his room, Bonny looked miserable. He was so exhausted, but he wasn’t able to sleep because he was hurting so badly. He would sleep for about 5-10 minutes and then wake up crying out for one of us to help him. We took turns holding his hand and massaging his lower back to ease some of the pain. Nothing seemed to truly help, though. That afternoon his grandmother came to stay with him, so we were able to go home and take care of the rest of the kids. When we talked to the doctors that day, none of them showed any sort of indication that Bonny’s situation was really serious. Robert, Phiona, and I all had a strong feeling that the situation was worse than the doctors were saying, though.

The next morning (Thursday) Robert and I went to check on him. He looked even more miserable than the day before. He didn’t sleep again the whole night. His body was so worn out. His eyes were fighting to close, but the pain was forcing them to stay open. The expression on his face was so unfamiliar to me. It wasn’t the Boniface that I knew. I sat there holding his hand and massaging his back for the majority of that morning, praying that his pain would disappear and he would be able to sleep peacefully. The doctors told us that morning that the pain in his back was a pinched nerve. I still felt like the situation was worse than the doctors made it out to be, but I didn’t want to argue with the doctors. So after a few hours at the hospital, Robert and I went back home.

As I was sitting in the living room with a few of the younger kids a couple of hours later, Aunt Julie came in to tell me that Boniface was gone. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. I had just been there holding his hand and talking to him. How could that sweet boy be gone? He was supposed to get better. I didn’t have time to process everything, because we found out soon after that we needed to go get his body from the hospital. When we got there, we found his grandmother in the grass on her hands and knees wailing. Pain exploded in her cries. There is no person that could have listened to her and not have begun to mourn with her. 

We took Bonny’s body to his grandmother’s house, and there were already several neighbors gathered there to mourn with his grandmother. When someone dies here, the whole community is there to support the family. Later that evening Robert and Phiona came with some of the older boys. They were heartbroken. I was so overwhelmed thinking about the pain these boys were experiencing at such a young age. It didn’t seem fair. I had to keep reminding myself about the truths of Scripture. God is sovereign. God always knows what He’s doing even when we don’t understand. God is the Healer, and He ultimately healed Boniface. He will never be sick or in pain again.

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The next day we had the burial in a place about three hours away. The service was very similar to many other funerals I’ve attended. Several people spoke about Boniface’s life and the truths of Scripture, and we sang a few songs. As I looked at the picture of Boniface that was resting on his coffin, I was reminded of the incredible person Boniface was. He was one of the sweetest kids you could ever meet. He always had a smile on his face, or he was making you laugh because of his contagious laughter. He knew how to love others well. Sometimes he would come up to me, grab my hand, lean his head against my arm, and look up into my eyes, smiling. He didn’t have to speak for you to feel his love and care. He loved to play the drums. He loved to sing loud during worship time. I never found Bonny doing anything wrong. He loved to help others. I could write all day about Boniface’s character. 

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After a long few days, everyone got some rest, and we went to church this morning. Many of the songs we sang talked of God being our anchor in the midst of the flood, and God being our light in the darkness. I needed those reminders. The sermon was about worship. God is ALWAYS worthy of our praise. Worship is a lifestyle, not just something we do on Sunday mornings. When times are good, we praise God. When times are bad, we praise God. We are praising God for the life that Boniface lived and the joy of salvation.

Please pray for our family here as we figure out what life looks like with Boniface gone. This will be something the kids deal with for the rest of their lives. They lost a brother and a friend. Please pray for healing and peace and that we will be reminded of the joy that heaven brings. Pray that we will never forget that God is sovereign.

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Boniface, we love you so much. Words can’t describe how much we will miss you. Thank you for being an incredible brother and friend. No one can ever replace you. Continue to play those drums and sing loudly for Jesus. I know He loves listening to you. Thank you for everything you have taught me by the way you lived your life. I thank God that someday I will see you again.