Walking through security at the first airport finally made it real…I was going home! After 18 months away….stepping foot on my Ugandan home was only 24 hours of travel away! Traveling in COVID times has its perks, wearing a mask for 24 hours straight was not fun…but having empty seats on the airplanes was great! We made it from Nashville, through Atlanta and Amsterdam with no problems and after immigration and clearing customs we walked out of Entebbe airport after a record 30 minutes with ALL our bags! Woohoo!
After a quick sleep in Entebbe we started our first day with the most welcomed site, our friend Moses coming to pick us up to drive us to Jinja. Right after we left last time, Moses was involved in a serious accident. We didn’t know if he would make it, let alone be up walking, and driving us again! We are so thankful to God for his healing.
Once we got to Jinja and settled into our place our social work team came for a meeting so we could prepare for the work we had to get done. We have the best team and they have really stood strong during the pandemic, loving and serving our kids. After having supper together, we were ready to head to Musima the next morning.
Coming into the village during COVID time is much different. There were no families lining the road to greet us, no dancing, no hugs but the love was all the same. Even from behind masks the smiles were so big on all of our faces. I think some of our families thought we would never come back, so many said “thank you for braving COVID to come back to us”. We could never turn our backs on this community, it is where we are called to serve and God will always make a way.
Some of our kids are still in the village, patiently waiting for the President to allow them to go back and some are away at school. We spent the day visiting with parents who are facing challenges, some mom’s who have lost their husbands in the past year (not from COVID), some that just needed to share with us some things.
I got to visit with my sweet Emma, one of my boys. Emma has come so far since starting in a special school, he is communicating now, was all smiles, and also 6 inches taller than he was the last time I saw him. That has been the biggest shock coming back, our kids always grow and mature in the time between visits, but after being gone for almost 2 years the change is so huge. Our boys sound like men now, and our girls are now young women. Our littles are not so little anymore and babies were born that I had not even met yet.
The next two days we hit the road and visited our kids who were at school. They were so happy and surprised to see us, especially to have us come visit at school. My sides were bruised from hugs from our boys who are not so little anymore, and my cheeks hurt from smiling talking to our girls. We sat as a group and talked about challenges they have been facing, problems at school or problems at home, and how we can help.
We focused on our older kids who have really struggled when they were out of school due to the lockdown, our teens who are easily lead astray. We talked about their hopes and dreams and what they wanted to be when they finished school. We have future doctors, lawyers, engineers and even a future female president. We encouraged them to wake up every morning and remember their dream and not let anything or anyone stand in their way of reaching it.
We held our first Ugandan board of directors meeting this week – now that we are in the process of becoming an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) on this side we now have a formal board. We are so thankful for each person who has selflessly agreed to help lead and guide PY.
We ended our first week by having a family fun day back at our place. We invited our team and their families to come spend the day, share a meal, hang out and just relax. Our team works so hard for PY and they deserved to be celebrated, and we are just so thankful for each of them.