Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First day of school

I arrived at the church this morning and was immediately blessed by a woman who walked in with a donation of three big dry erase boards with markers and a few bags of other school supplies. I can't imagine more perfect timing as today was the first day of school. We have been so blessed by the generosity of God's people during this past week..it almost brings me to tears. I have jumped for joy and done a little dance as I have sorted through boxes of donated children's books and school supplies. It's like Christmas all the time! The kids did well for the first day of school since arriving in America. We handed out brand new backpacks full of school supplies and their was much clapping, shouting, and rejoicing. For those of you who are familiar with children's literature, I read "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" to all the kids at the end of school today and they LOVED it :) I'm happy to finally have the chance to read to them, as it is one of my favorite activities.

Do you remember the first time you ever made chocolate chip cookies? Well, tonight I got to relive that experience as we taught the girls how to make cookies with our host family. They were pro's and enjoyed the fruits of their labor at the end very much!

Hope you are enjoying the beginnings of fall wherever you are (except for those on the other side of the world :) The temperature is dropping here in the middle of the cornfields in Illinois and the leaves are falling. It's my favorite time of year and I am happy to experience it in so many different places.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The First Week

Thank you to those who have been praying for me and watching this blog faithfully. Life on the road moves so quickly and I can hardly believe that we have already had a week of concerts. Sometimes it feels like so much more than that becuase so much is crammed into our weeks. We have had 9 concerts since last Saturday (four were mini concerts at the same church). I am amazed at how quickly the kids are adapting to American culture. Sometimes it is a good thing and sometimes it is a not so good thing :) I've already noticed their English getting noticably better. It feels like I am travelling with a bunch of movie stars sometimes because everybody wants to talk to them and take pictures and pinch their cheeks and spoil them. I have to be the "mean" auntie who tries to protect them and make sure their are not comletely spoiled, but so far all of our host families have been wonderful. We have enjoyed big fluffy beds, amazing food, and adventures to the park, etc. The other night Lydia and Gladys and I enjoyed a nice ride to the park in a convertable, which was a grand new experience. Imagine a car with no roof! The fluffy white dog in the front seat, on my lap was an added bonus :) Today we took a few of the kids on a carousel ride and they were all smiles and squeals of joy. We also took the kids swimming for the first time at the YMCA which was quite an adventure. They were very ambitious and excited, for people who have never swam before. I had to rescue Racheal from drowning in the deep end when she followed the big boys down the slide. Yikes! Tomorrow we start school so I am frantically trying to get lesson plans done. Pray for me as I try to figure out how to do this school on the road thing. We are excited to start! If you have access to my facebook account, check out all the pictures I have posted. If not, then I will try to figure out how to post pictures here soon.

Auntie Angela

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let the tour begin!

The day we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. After a week of rehearsals, learning about American food, and getting new clothes and shoes, we loaded the bus today and headed to Chicago were our tour begins. The kids were excited to see the Sears Tower and the many buildings, but I think I was even more exited to roll into Chicago, my second home. I couldn't help but point out everything to the children. Tomorrow is our first concert at First Baptist Church in Oak Park at 10am...I look forward to seeing some of you there :)

Peace, Scovia, Sarah, and I are enjoying our first host family experience. The girls were overjoyed to have a very African meal of rice, beans, chicken, corn, and pineapple. They were introduced to popsycles (can't for the life of me figure out if that is spelled right :) for dessert and the shock of the cold led to some pretty hilarious facial expressions. Peace told me that the popsycle was biting her tongue and Sarah just giggled the whole time. The night only got better when they got to take a bubble bath for the first time (I had to stop them from blowing the bubbles all over the bathroom!) and do a little rubber stamping before bed. Life is so enjoyable and simple as a child. What a pleasure it is to enjoy life with them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Newsflash! 30 weary travelers arrive in America from Uganda

Please settle in with a cup of coffee or tea and a blanket, while I share with you stories of the last month in Uganda. my internet access was very limited there which made it difficult to write much at all, so I will try to recount for you the highlights of my three weeks in Uganda. I must begin by praising the Lord that I didn't experience any kind of sickness at all...for which I am eternally grateful. Our time at the Makindye training center was filled with interesting experiences. The cultural differences I experienced were as I expected...the people were wonderful and I fell in love with so many people whom I didn't want to leave behind. Traffic in Kampala was probably the biggest shocker...cars, taxis, people, and boda bodas everywhere, with no lanes, no rules, and no lights. I am quite sure if I drove there I would kill somebody every day! Boda bodas are like motorcycle taxis that weave in and out of traffic and people ride side daddle with no helmet. I was warned never to ride one, however I got into a situation where it was my only choice, so against my better judgement I rode on a motorcycle in a skirt and flipflops with no helmet. It wasn't too bad and God protected me! Each day of driving in Africa was like an off-roading experience in the mountains. when I told the people we do that sort of thing for fun in America, they laughed at me.

Throughout our time in Uganda we had the chance to visit the homes of many of our choir kids in the various villages around Kampala. Many come from one room cement buildings or huts, so it was quite a humbling experience to go and visit with their guardians. Wherever we went we were treated with the utmost respect and curiosity. Children always flocked around and waved, while yelling mzungu (white person)! The guardians of our kids would kneel to show us respect and they always gave me special attention and thanks when they found out I would be educating their kids. What a humbling thing! The parents happily sent their kids off, saying this is a miracle from God that they get to go to America, and they had no reservations. What a difference from the way Western parents hold on to their kids!

Music For Life has several schools in Uganda where former choir kids attend. We were able to visit those schools and see what the kids are doing now. What an encouragement! These kids are truly growing into amazing leaders. I got 150 hugs in 10 minutes from them...and I was sore from hugging :)

Our one big tourist adventure on this trip was to the Nile River. We visited the source of the Nile (Lake Victoria) and slept at a retreat on the banks of the river. I enjoyed falling asleep to the sound of the Nile and showering the next morning with a panoramic view of the Nile! the next day we rafted it, which was a thrilling adventure. I must admit, when the boat flipped and I was thrown around underwater it was the most terrifying experience of my life, but in the end it was totally worth it!

One of my favorite days was the day we visited a home for babies...we spent an entire afternoon just holding and playing with 50 Ugandan babies. Life doesn't get much better than that. I have always thought about adopting from Africa, now I am even more convinced that I will have an African child someday.

Our last few days in Uganda were a huge test of faith. The kids were not able to get their visas until the day before our flight, but we continued on with plans and were able to celebrate and leave on time. However, Frank, our conductor was not able to get his visa then. He should be joining us later this week. The kids held a going away concert for thier families and friends, which was quite a treat. They had the opportunity to show what they have been training to do and say goodbye to their families. There was much rejoicing, good food, and a few tears. Saying goodbye to Abraham and Barnett, and Auntie Ruth and all the rest who have been training the kids was difficult.

We boarded a plane on Friday for America and kids did very well. Nobody through up and they all enjoyed the plane ride. I had to laugh as they put on the headphones and wrapped up from head to toe in blankets, the moment they sat down :) Flying is totally different through the eyes of 22 children who have never been out of their village. When Nelson was asked the other day what he fears, he replied, "airplane toilets!" I guess I don't blame him.

We flew through London and New York and arrived in Chicago Saturday to find the airport partially flooded. It was a long and adventurous journey, but we are happy to be here. This week we are at Cedar Lake Camp in Indiana, getting over jet lag and learning about American culture. Sunday we will begin our tour in Chicago! Please pray for our tour leader, Andrew who went home for a few days to be with his father who is very sick, and pray for Frank, our conductor, that he would get here quickly. I covet your prayers as well, as I try to figure out all the teaching details and help the kids adjust.

If you have made it this far and your still reading, thanks.....:) I hope you find yourself blessed today.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

please pray

I only have one minute but please pray..the kids are interviewing to get their visas and we are planning to fly to the States Friday morning. I'llwrite more when we arrive!