Yesterday we was Sunday and we went to Illera Community Church which was begun by Bob and Carol along with Pastor Dickens and Pastor Douglas. There are over 600 members of this church, around half that number is associated with Otino Waa, but the other half is people from the surrounding villages. The singing was spirited and rhythmic, as to be expected. It’s amazing to see the women decked out in traditional Ugandan dresses, full of color and pattern.
One of the things that has impacted me the most is the offering time at this church. Many people don’t have money to give as an offering, but they give anyway. Some give vegetables, others greens to eat, there was even a chicken given this Sunday. I’m always humbled by how generous these people are as well as how deeply they trust in God. They do a thing called testimony time, where people have the chance to speak in front of the church and talk about what God has done for them. Many speak of praying for healing, either for themselves or a relative. It is such a good reminder to be around people to fully rely on God – they have nothing else, but they are rich in faith.
Later Sunday we went to the dedication of the Medical Clinic. Government officials came from around the region to be at the ceremony, along with hundreds of community members. The clinic is now open and providing the community with medical and dental service.
Today we got a tour around Otino Waa from Bob. He explained everything from how they managed to get running water and power to each house, eco-san toilets, bee keeping and even gave us a tour of the newest school building.
The best part of the day was getting to hang out with the kids during their break. Normally the break is 15 minutes, but today it was more like 30 because they were finishing up some testing.
I am amazed at how much bigger the kids have gotten in the year since I’ve seen them! The ones that were the littlest are now inches taller and the newest kids have taken their place as the “tiny ones.” Coming back to relationships is the best part of being at Otino Waa again. Getting to see familiar faces and remember some names is wonderful. They are so beautiful and full of life and energy. They really know how to play and laugh and sing.
Later this afternoon we visited Lira market. This is always quite the cross-cultural experience. A few of my team members had a harder time with it – the smells, the dirt, the poverty. I don’t know, I guess I’ve always been fascinated by the market and love the colors, textures and the way the light streams through colored tarps above. I’ve always seen the beauty in it all. I’ve loved being at the core of the society where people meet and talk and share news. But as I sit here tonight, I realize it’s good to have other’s perspectives. They are right, in some sense it is a sad place, people struggling to survive and feed their children. It can be difficult to witness…
Tomorrow Andrew and I will go into the bush with Dickens, the pastor of Illera as well as the administrator of Otino Waa. Our goal is to talk to the children on the waiting list and hopefully tell a little of their story. But I’m a bit afraid of doing this – not afraid of where it will take us, but afraid that it may be so sad and difficult to leave the children without any guarantee that they will be helped. I hope that whoever sees the photographs – and hopefully video – will be moved to want to intervene. This really is the chance to save someone’s life. We’ll see how the week plays out…