There were so many highlights on our trip, we don't know where to start. First of all, working along side of Bud and Kimberly Huffman was such an honor as we saw how they lived their lives serving Jesus by reaching out to precious children who have lost their parents and are living in horrific conditions. We also saw the many people in the community they have reached out to in the community and as a result have accepted Christ to be their Lord and Savior!
Some other highlights for us were:
- spending time at a Baby House in Kitale and rock those precious babies
- sharing a meal with a home of 8 teenage boys and their house mom, a widow, all rescued by Watoto
- spending time on Bud and Kimberly's Watoto project, Mattaw Children's Village
- traveling on the infamous Kenyan roads-chiropracter appointment now needed :)
Driving through the war torn areas of Kenya was pretty eye opening for me. Due to the number of rapes that happened almost 9 months ago during the political unrest, there have been many babies born prematurely and abandoned and they are predicting many, many more babies to be born and abandoned in the near future.
The Watoto Conference was a life-changing experience for us. We worshiped with 25 other nations from around the world-so it felt like a taste of heaven! We heard testimony after testimony after testimony of children who had been abducted by the rebel army, led by Joseph Kony and were forced to do horrific things to their family members and other children. If they refused, they were killed. I cannot imagine my 4 year old son having to experience what many of the children in Uganda have faced or are continuing to face right now. Here is an article I found that describes what the LRA is:
"I learned about the "Lord's Resistance Army" or the LRA, a rebel movement that has been terrorizing northern Uganda for almost two decades. Children are kidnapped by the rebels and forced to become child soldiers, porters and sex slaves. Adults are at risk, as well. Once kidnapped, the captives often are put through a spiritual ritual or blessing. They are told that once they are blessed they are protected against bullets and can never escape.
The abductees are forced to commit atrocities such as burning, rape, murder and torture - including dismemberment and forced cannibalization. Children by the thousands walk into town centers at dusk, to evade abductors. They are known simply as "night commuters." They sleep on the ground - in schools, hospitals, bus stations, verandas and doorways. Fearful of sleeping in their own huts at night, they are seeking safety in numbers.
Outside the town centers, the Ugandan government has forced nearly 1.6 million people into Internally Displaced Person's Camps, where there is insufficient clean water, inadequate food supplies, and little security, employment or medical treatment. The IDPs are stuck between two fires: leaving the camps to grow food, search for firewood, or seek medical treatment, they risk being attacked by both the Ugandan military and the LRA.
I think about the displaced people living in the camps - invisible to the outside world. Displaced within their own country, they live with fewer rights then international refugees. I think about the NGO workers that are on the ground working every day. Mostly I think of the woman I photographed who had been mutilated by a young rebel. He cut her ears and lips off.
I asked her if she had hope for peace. She told me she didn't know if peace was possible, but she did know one thing - when she leaves the hospital she would return to the IDP camps to care for her children, and live the rest of her life in poverty."
TJ and I desire to serve Africa. We are praying for God to cover the needs we have here in the States to make it possible for us to serve there long term. We have a responsibility now. The issues concerning the countries of Uganda and African CANNOT go on ignored. If you would like to know more about ways you can help, let us know or check out some of the links below:
Thank you all for your emails and posts while we were gone. God answered so many of our prayers both here in the States and in Kenya. We will post pictures as soon as we can!