Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We are getting married this Friday!! The ceremony will be (God willing) at the ‘Source of the Nile Gardens’. This is the place that marks the site of where John Speke founded the source of the Nile River (where it begins, leading out of Lake Victoria). We are having the ceremony at around 6pm our time, so that is 10am Eastern Standard Time. Your prayers would be much appreciated leading up to this time and during it as well. Please pray that God would prepare our hearts for service to one another and thus to God. We will be thinking of you back home, as well.

After we get married, there will be a celebration dinner back at the volunteer house and then we leave that evening for Entebbe, Uganda – and the next morning, to Zanzibar in Tanzania, until Thursday evening.

Lots of pictures and stuff coming after we get back!


- love, joseph and melissa

“But Christian love abides and for that very reason is Christian love. For what perishes blossoms and what blossoms perishes, but that which has being cannot be sung about – it must be believed and it must be lived.” – S. Kierkegaard

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yesterday, Melissa, Katie, Betty, and myself went to Bugembe, a small village north-east of Jinja. The drive there was beautiful – a wide open road with a village on a hill in the distance. We had gone to visit a good friend of Betty’s, Mama Baraka. We call her Mama Baraka because she is the mother of two beautiful girls, one of who’s name is Baraka. The other’s name is Rakira, and is particularly afraid of Mzungus (what many Ugandans call us ‘white’ folks here). Mama Baraka has one on the way – she hopes it’s a boy! The father of these children has left his family and has turned his phone off, his family left in a room that is about 9’x9’.
Mama Baraka’s rent is equivalent to about $8/month. Because she cannot work, she cannot afford rent this month and relies on the generosity of neighbors to help her get through these days. When she has her baby in about 2 weeks, she will be expected to pay for hospital services.
When we went to visit them at about 3:30pm, they had not yet eaten. I’m not sure if they ate after we left.
Experiencing these beautiful people, this scene, was difficult and heartbreaking. And as the sun seeped through the window of that tiny room, I realized that in a couple hours’ time I would be at an ATM machine in Jinja withdrawing the equivalent of $800.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NEW FEET (death became a second birth).
Every Sunday evening around six a group of Acholi men and women in a nearby village dance. This past Sunday after the meeting a few of the women, a few of the volunteers, a million children, and me walked to Soweto. Everyone circled around while a few of us stood in a line in the middle of the circle. Barefoot, kicking up dust, and laughing -- we danced until dusk. It was more freeing than I ever thought it could be. It seems that whenever I let go of not just the bad but my wholeness as well I find some sort of newness. I think that I honestly only know a fragment of who I actually am. But when I let go I think I know a little bit more of who God intended me to be. When I laugh I think I can accept His presence a little bit more. Choosing to laugh and to be free is a daily decision.

”The saints (and artists) are those who not only accept, but rejoice in incongruity and so learn that laughter is holy. The infinite disparity between God’s love and man’s deserts is an indubitable fact; the saint embraces it for joy. The greater the incongruity, the more wonderful love and mercy of God…” - unknown

I hope everyone is doing well. I miss you all a great amount. I love you all a great amount also. I pray that you will not forget how to laugh today. -Melissa

I sat in a small room inside of a house in Danida today and listened to a 17 year old girl named Doreen tell the story of how she became paralyzed, unable to do almost anything for herself. I will pass this story on to you:

About six years ago, Doreen and her family were fleeing the rebels in northern Uganda, in a district called Lira. While hiding from the rebels in the bush, Doreen was run over by a military vehicle owned by the Ugandan military. The soldiers took her to hospital hours away. Meanwhile, her family continued to flee the rebel forces, unsure if they would ever see their daughter or sister again. They eventually heard what had happened. Doreen stayed at the hospital for over a year and was operated on a few times over. Most of the surgery was concentrated around the joints on her arms and legs. With little money or possessions, Doreen and her family came to Jinja/Danida.

This story is many things to me. It is overwhelmingly sad and hopeful, desperate and beautiful. Doreen and her family have faith in God. They have faith in themselves and in each other. I wish you could experience the joy as we laugh together. For now, this picture will have to do: Please continue to pray for the people here and for Melissa and I. Love you! - Joseph

ps: We are getting married on January 30th!!!!!!!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

On Sunday during the usual buying meeting I got word that a 7 pound, curious, little one has been named after me. I quickly made my way to Walukaba, to the small room, where I met a one day old Melissa. After welcoming her to the world I felt that I myself have been re-born. Rejoice, friends, God is faithful!


no pictures of baby Melissa yet...but here are some keepers.

Friday, January 2, 2009

January 1st: Happy New Year, friends.
Last night was spent watching fireworks, dancing with 15 ex-street children, and laughing. A new years eve well spent for sure.

Today we went out on a boat with a few of the older children at Amani Baby Cottage. The lake was beautiful – something I really miss about my time on kisinja road last year. It’s good how seasons change.

Lately things have been hard. A lot of not knowing what to do but being expected to know…expected to do. I’ve been in a constant state of not feeling like I’m enough or even capable of doing the things I do here in Uganda. The truth is I’m not capable though. I’m praying for understanding and…healing. I want to be able to lie on the ground and yell “Hallelujah I can’t do it on my own”! pray for me, friends. I’m forever changing.

January 2nd: Today I was asked to be a part of an executive committee meeting with the founders of SUUBI. Honestly I was dreading it and was prepared to be asked a million and one different things and I wouldn’t be able to answer or give them permission to do something. But God is faithful and showed me that these women don’t need me for something all the time – we basically discussed some issues together and I realized that we’re all on the same page – Molly kept telling me that we need to work together and be unified. After that we drank sodas and planned my wedding party.
I came home and just cried in awe of them and there love for each other and the community and for Joe and I. they are beautiful.

keep praying.

- Melissa


Christmas did not feel like Christmas. It was in the eighties and there were no TV advertisements telling me that if I wanted to get what I really wanted for Christmas, I should shop at their store and buy things I don’t need. I did not miss these advertisements one bit, but I missed my friends and family very much. I am realizing more and more how blessed I am to have such wonderful people in my life back in America.

On Christmas Eve, Melissa and I went to the pool at the Jinja Nile Resort - very attractive, but a strange feeling…swimming on December 24th. On the 25th, Melissa and I visited a few women in Danida and Walukuba, two near-by villages where many of the ‘Suubi’ women live. We were stuffed full of food, soda, and love! These women are so lovely and have such giving, gentle spirits – it is extremely humbling.

On New Year’s Eve, the whole house (all 8 of us, plus 2 friends – a married couple named Brian and Lindsay) went to 2 Friends restaurant for dinner, drinks, and fireworks. It was an awesome time and a good start to 2009.

New Year’s Day was quite eventful. Some friends and I (including Melissa) took 8 kids from Amani Baby Cottage on a boat ride from the edge of Lake Victoria to the source of the Nile River. The kids had a blast and the landscape was beautiful. I am getting quite attached to the kids at Amani.

We also went to a near-by boys’ home where 15 street kids were taken in by this wonderful woman named Sarah, who is ‘sponsored’ by a couple from Chicago. These boys seem so grateful to simply be alive and are incredibly energetic! On Monday I will go there at 10am to help teach English. Sarah said she’d help me learn Luganda and hopefully even French – we’ll see how that goes!

Missing and much love to you --Joe