Saturday was visitation day with our six kids (among over 400 more!). It is a big deal for our kids to have us come, and many times it falls on times we are out of town. They were home for the holidays between terms when I had my surgery so I did not get to see them. We are blessed that we have a connection with the school and I got to see them the week the ladies from America, Salima and I were able to go and talk to a group of girls and give out kits. We also are there visiting from time to time and get to check up on them but for most of the children that board there visitation day is the only day of the three month term that they get to see family. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived that the kids father had come without any prompting from us or Jenifer. And when he left he gave the oldest girl some money. That blessed our hearts as much as seeing the children. It’s been a long journey with the kids and with their father – trying to care for them but also to get him to care about them. Sometimes I think that maybe the guilt and shame he felt for not being able to care for them kept him from them. Maybe being able to see how blessed they have been has helped him to overcome some of that and is able to hold his head up now and enjoy his children. I know the smallest boys were all over him and he loved it.
Jenifer always does the cooking to take for them. She also shops and gets them treats and drinks. As we were sitting and eating I started counting and realized we had nine children sitting and eating with us. “I thought we had six children – when did we adopt three more?” I said. “These are their friends!” I’m not sure if they had family visiting, many children don’t. I am thankful that Jenifer knows how things go and made sure to make more than enough food. But, for the first time that I have seen there was someone selling shoes across the way. We always get a list of things needed, but I was asked if we could go and get shoes. So I went with the girls and Jenifer. After a lot of trying on shoes and trying to keep the little boys from running off in new shoes before I could pay, I realize there are about five pairs of girls shoes laid out for me to pay for. Again I asked “Why if I only have three girls are there five pairs of girls shoes here?” and again I was told “These are for our friends!” And there were more friends also shopping and bringing shoes! I told them that they all got to eat the good food but I was only buying six pairs of shoes today!
It was a good day, and we were able to see our “other” girls who intern there every year. We had already seen Olivia, I am her mama here in Uganda! We picked her up from the airport, but in the past couple years we have been able to also get close to Alexis. She is from Canada and had just arrived at the school so this was the first time seeing her. We plan on seeing them as much as possible, make sure they are getting some good treats and take them out to eat in Jinja!
It is a blessing and warms our hearts to see how happy the kids are, how they are growing and learning. We were worried about a couple of them and their grades the first term but have brought them up this term already. They are thriving there and we thank Hands of Hope for the love, discipline, education and the love for Jesus they give all the children.