The Simple Things We Call LIFE
Friends it's been too long since I last updated y'all on life out here in Uganda. I'm truly sorry for those that have privately messaged me and I haven't responded or have been short with. I'm juggling quite a few different projects, different people coming and going and have been really sick on and off these last two months. Because it's dry season out here, there are more viruses in the dust and pollution, so it has been a challenge. I can wholeheartedly say I've never been more excited for the Rainy season to start (in September). Life though it has been chaotic, it has been good as well. I've had so many wonderful people travel out to Uganda to help me with various projects these last two months. I had this amazing gal from Sacramento, CA called Beatrice, but we called her Bea. What a blessing she was for me and the villages I work in. Even though she was only able to spend two weeks here, she was able to get a glimpse and give a helping hand in all my projects. A gentle soul, beautiful smile and giving heart, Bea I can't wait to see all that our dear Lord has in store for you! Then one of my bff's from Washington, Michelle, came out here for a few months and still is with me. Though she's only been here for almost two weeks, she has been a tremendous help and I'm excited to show her my life out here and the life of those I spend my days with. I'm hopeful she will not only leave an impact but be impacted in her own life once she returns home. Among others that came were also special friends from Bethel Romanian Church in Michigan, where I grew up. I can't express enough how great it felt to have a piece of home here with me for a few weeks. The team was Becky, Florin, Monica, Naomi, and Curly. I know each of them and it was so much fun to get to serve together, to laugh and make unforgettable memories. No on will ever guess how much fun we had over cupcakes and Mandisa singing outrageously loud through the speakers, LOL!! I am amazed at their dedication and all the hard work they poured into hiking miles upon miles day after day doing village ministry, and most importantly loving unconditionally. They left a lasting impression everywhere, impacting children and their education for years to come, so thank you from the bottom of my heart Kingdom Ladies & Flo! My darling sister Becky led this team and it was even more special because I actually had family here. Becky and I love each other, were sisters after all, but we're also like oil and water when it comes to how we do things. So though we bickered lovingly, we also got time to laugh and cry together, to mourn and learn how to continue going through this thing called life. I don't often talk about the loss of my mother, because it truly hasn't sunk in that she's physically gone, and though it is hard to mention it out loud, I know she would be so proud of the decisions both Becky and I have made thus far in life. Every time I think of my mom, I am reminded that this earth is not our home, and that while we are here temporarily, we have to strive to do more for God's kingdom. So before I update you all on the projects out here, take a moment to reflect on your life and ask yourself, who or what are you truly living for? "For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come." ~Hebrews 13:14
love & care orphanage
When the Michigan team came, our first stop was at this amazing orphanage ran by one of my favorite people in the world and a mother to me, Agnes. We were able to spend a few hours just loving on the children, taking them some goodies and playing with them. If you're ever in Entebbe, you have to stop by Agnes' orphanage and see the amazing work she does with these children! The entire continent of Uganda should be using her example of what it means to truly care for children, to invest and educate them with sincerity and whole heart. We love you Agnes and are honored we get to love on you all when we're in Entebbe!
In Rusachi, a.k.a. Kabale Village, we've continued our weekly work providing medical care, education and the feeding program to now 180 children. Everyone that has come has been so great being able to jump right in and help as needed in this village. The team from Michigan, with the substantial financial donation from my sister Mirela, were able to provide 113 families in this village each with 3 kroilers, a.k.a. a type of chicken. I didn't know till this point that kroilers don't need a rooster to have eggs, they somehow just make it on their own, LOL! Sorry, you might have to hit google up on that one for more info ;). But it was so great because along with these gifts to these families, we were able to go in each of their homes, get to know them, pray for them and truly let them know how much our heavenly father loves them. It was so eye opening and sad to see these families that thought no one cares about them or even knows they exist. But it was beautiful to see how they opened up and even as poor as they were, accepted us in their mud homes and offered all they had just to show us how thankful they were that some white people from across the ocean came to not only help them but spend quality time with them. The village ministry done by Becky, Monica, Florin, Naomi, Curly and Diana was truly an impactful experience felt and seen by so many. I think that only when we go home to heaven, will we realize the little seeds planted had taken fruit and blossomed beyond our imagination.
Batwa - Birara
In Batwa Birara, we were able to go for one day as it is a three hour drive to this tribe from town and a three hour drive back home. Along with the team from Michigan, we were able to go provide medical care, give clothing to every family in the church, and do an educational program with the kids. This tribe breaks my heart, truly. The need they have when it comes to receiving basic medical care is just beyond me. I had so many children with jigger(sand fleas that burrow into the skin and lay eggs) in their entire toes and had to cut out massive holes to remove it all. I mean these children don't get to have numbing creams or medicine to help ease the pain, their parents are just begging for someone to take it out and help their child. There are infections that could easily be treated but are so far advanced because they don't have any clinics close enough for them to walk to, and even if they could get to a hospital they wouldn't be able to afford treatment. It's a no win situation that is heartbreaking.
Batwa - emperwa
In Batwa Emperwa Florin, Bea, Judith and myself were able to spend two days and a night in order to provide more medical care. This tribe is very similar to Batwa Birara in the sense of extreme poverty and lack of accessible medical care. I wish I could get everyone to understand how far these areas are and how these pigme people live. Pictures, videos and testimonies do little justice to the reality of it all.
Our darling sassy Agatha is doing so much better these days! She's officially out of the hospital and back home in the village where she lives with her grandmother. She was sleeping on the floor before meeting us and being admitted to the hospital, but with financial help from our dear friend Lidia P., she now has new furniture in a tiny room in her grandmothers home. We were also able to buy her mukaka (grandma) a new mattress as well. Can you imagine sleeping on cement with only a small blanket to keep you warm?? I've seen it, and not just with Agatha but with hundreds of people throughout the villages I work in, and each and every time it's unbelievable for me. Agatha was one of the blessed ones so far to have crossed our path and be truly impacted. I see her weekly when I go to the Rusachi village on Saturdays to provide medical care to the entire village. She'll come and spend hours there with me even if we can't communicate much, she'll just hold my hand or sit next to me. She'll usually eat a meal with the children that we feed, and then go back home. She's still often teased by others from the village, and I can see her shying away or trying to hide but I always stick up for her and encourage her to be brave because she's beautiful as she is. I'm hoping to find something more productive for her to do as she wonders around most days, but because she is epileptic it is hard to keep constant watch over her, so hopefully something will come up soon.
Bugira, for those that don't know, is one of the more recent villages I've started working in. It is the land I prayed for, for months, where I plan on building a missionary home for missionaries from all over the world that want to come serve here in Uganda, along with a Medical Clinic inside that would serve this village, a workshop specifically for the Women's Project I'm doing where women would learn a trade, make a career, learn English and have a second chance at a better life. What's really special about the Workshop though is that it is in honor of my mother, who was a seamstress. This project is truly so important to me, beyond the fact that it will be a tremendous blessing to hundreds of women. My heart and goal is to impact and change the lives of at least 1000 women and their families within the next five years. If you want to be part of that, COME and join me. There are women and children waiting to be loved on, taught by and encouraged and I know that there are so many of not only my friends but even family members that have such simple skills, that could come and be a blessing. I truly believe that everyone should at least one time in their life get out of their comfort bubble and go serve in a third world country. It doesn't have to be Uganda, as there are so many poor and needy countries, so I hope this pushes you to get up and do it. As you can see from the pictures below, it truly is beautiful and oh how I wish you could all see the land and meet the wonderful people of this village! I worked really hard with an architect and engineers here to put this project together, because it truly is immense and will need financial support and specially trained builders to put together. Even though I am seriously so limited in my capabilities of construction, and so overwhelmed some days, I know without a shadow of a doubt that as God planned for my life to be here, he will also take care of every part of this project and it will come to completion. The plan within the next year or so would be to add on a Day School Center for children with special needs and children that truly cannot afford education elsewhere.
This women's project though it has it's daily frustrations, is so beautiful! When I started this two months ago with five women I had moments when I was like, oh lord how am I going to impact 1000 women when I can't even get through the language barrier and lack of education with only five women?! BUT, I look back now pushing through each day, and am so amazed and proud of the work we've put in. The goal for these women is so much greater than simply just to make money, or have a career... my heart for them is to fulfill their dreams, to have a second chance at what they want and not what is expected of them. To be able to give their children a better life, not one of lack and poverty. We are now up to ten women, and though that may not seem like a lot, it is when you understand that these beautiful women have little to no education, most don't speak English, some come from extremely abusive homes with abusive spouses, some have HIV and all are so desperate for help. Though they are not fully paid yet as we are in the training stages, they are all receiving free training along with all the equipment and materials needed to make products that are high end and that will be able to sell in America as well as here in Uganda. The love and work that has been poured into each of these women these last two months is now so evident. When the Michigan team was here they bought some of the training products the women had made, and even though knowing they weren't perfect, that small gesture impacted them greatly, showing them that they are worthy and to keep going. As you can see from the different pictures below, they work hard and with dedication. They come Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. I give them breakfast every morning because sometimes that will be the only meal they'll have that day. I was telling some of the gals that were here recently that it's easy for those passing through to hear a story and want to help for the moment, but it's a different world for me because I live here with them. They have no one to go to but to me with their daily struggles and problems, and that alone gets overwhelming. All these women are so special and I have moments where I'd give them the world if I could. I say all this to encourage you all to get involved in some way. These women are blessed because I have those monthly sponsors that believe in a greater good. Simi & Nate, Micah & Amy, Pat, Ema R., and Adrianne, this project is possible because of people like you. There's so much more I could say, but I will keep it short as I'll have each of these women's stories soon to share with you all, and along with that will be different ways you can directly help them alongside me. There will also be more to come as this is only the beginning :))
A few weeks ago we had a family dinner for the first time for the women and all their children. It was such a special evening being able to feed them a meal of beef, fries, and cabbage salad along with drinks and a bag of candy for each one. This might seem like the most simple meal for you, but for them it's a special day when they can have meat and fries. See, most of them eat boiled potatoes or plantains and beans every day...that's its. That is their daily food. I think of all the different foods back in America and it makes me sad to think had I been born here I would never have known all the amazing foods that exist. They were all so happy they performed traditional dances for us to show their appreciation. We laughed, played games and got to know each other just as an extended family would.
I know I probably bombarded you with a lot of updates, but imagine how I feel that I had to compress it this shortly, LOL. But I truly am so thankful for so many people that have stepped up in the last month or so (especially Bethel Romanian Church from Taylor MI and so many church members) to help me financially out here. I cannot do this alone folks, like seriously. I need your help otherwise I am limited in how much I can actually get done. The need is so great that there never should be a question of hey Lily do you need help, uhm yes help whether financial or physically you coming out here, is always needed. Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs and my oh so extravagant life out here in Uganda ;))! I miss home and so many friends and family, but knowing I've finally found my purpose in life makes it easier to get through. Let's really hope it doesn't take me another two months to bring you more live updates. <3 Feel free to message me or comment if you have questions or just simply want to send some love here!
P.S. Along with the team from Michigan, we were also able to visit Bunagana, speak to the people, love on them and give 112 families 3 kroilers each, as well. Talk about happy people!! They were so ecstatic and even though there are 281 families in this village, they were all understanding of the families that were chosen first to receive the kroilers. So if you're interested in helping our sustainability projects, there's a need for you as well so come on out to Uganda! :))