Thursday, September 22, 2016

Chapter 22 - Update #7 - Bouquet of Flowers!

I finally found my way back to Room 35!  Home sweet home!   Being with the children recharged my batteries!   My room is on the 3rd level of the original building.  There are no elevators so it transforms into a natural stair master machine!   
When I step foot into my room, I sense His presence and know I am finally home!   There was a bountiful fruit basket with bananas, apples & oranges overflowing!    Selevus, the food and beverage manager had hot water, coffee, & tea ready for my arrival which was perfect!  But then my eyes turned to a small table near the bed.  An unfamiliar sight was a bouquet of fresh flowers!  If that were not enough, I noticed a beautiful card on my bed.  I was drawn to the words, “welcome home.”  I thought “How nice!  They leave notes for guests now!”    But then I noticed the words directly underneath… “Aunty Eydie!”  Wow!  This was a first!  I felt at home when I walked through the door.  After entering, I felt deeply LOVED! 
When my day started on Friday, it just blossomed right before my eyes.  As I walked out my door,  it was as if I opened my world to a bouquet as beautiful as the one left in my room.  Every step seemed to open up another petal on an individual flower.  The most beautiful part of my journey is always the people who have become a part of my family.   As I walked to breakfast, I began to see familiar faces.  Whether it was a smile, a handshake, a hug or a “welcome back,” the petals began to open up one by one to reveal the treasure which is the heart of this hotel - the people.  
I have only been gone for about seven months.  In that time the hotel had begun a new construction project.  They expanded the upper deck of the restaurant that overlooks the Nile River.  They are in the final stages of this renovation.   Robert had hoped it would be done before I left to be one of the inaugural diners!   The day I left for the airport, I was able to at least walk out on the deck and pray a prayer of dedication and blessing for the new addition with Mr. Otile and some of the staff!   
Friday & Saturday would prove to be full and busy days.  Between the two days we accomplished a lot!   We were able to purchase all of the food supplies for the month of September for the home.   It is always good for me to go with Godfrey to the shops we buy our main supplies.    The flower continues to blossom with each passing word of thank you to these shop owners for the way they support our work. 
As we made our way though the main part of town, it was as if flowers were sprouting up everywhere!    Walk with me for a moment through the town of Jinja.  I want to introduce you to some of my dear friends.  The sweet faces of Rita, Faith, Irene, Jude & Mubeen are like the fragrance after a rain!   They all send greetings to friends and family back home! 
We met our friend, Mubeen after purchasing our house.  We began needing household items such as appliances and furniture.  The challenge with a new shop is they see a white face and immediately think they can charge more.  Sometimes, I will let Godfrey go in without me to first negotiate.  But as the years have passed, I have gained more credibility in town. I have a Ugandan accent that comes out when I am there.   The first time we bought from Mubeen, I was the one who was able to negotiate with him.  Godfrey told him, “This one is not only American, but she IS Ugandan too.”  That moment we gained a mutual respect for one another.   We have  all become very good friends & he always gives us “the very best price!” 
Rita & her husband are the ones who named their baby after me!  Baby Eydie is now called Little Eydie!  She regularly asks for me and wonders “where is Big Eydie?”  
Faith is a shop owner where I buy many of our gifts.  The surprise when I walked into her shop was she remodeled and removed the huge display in the middle of the store!  We used to have to walk sideways through the shop just to see all of her merchandise!  It also made the shop very, very hot!  But now the new configuration made the shop much more appealing and easier to see things!   
Just a few doors down on the same block is a place called Ozzie’s.   I have brought many of my teams here to have lunch.  The owner is an older woman named  Jude.   Yes, she is an Australian who came here years ago and never left.  I had opportunity to  just sit and share a meal with her during the week.  I have been more intentional over the years to find time to get to know these friends & also just be a friend.  They all have their own stories that are fascinating.  
I have known Irene at the Source Cafe since my very first trip.  She and our friend,  Justene came to the first day of our conference.  The day after I had opportunity to talk with her at the shop.  She began to share with me the impact the conference had on her life.   For the first time, since I met her, she began to give me her testimony of her husband’s passing in January 2007 (right after leaving Uganda on my first trip).  God used the conference in a significant way to reveal God’s love to her and give her much needed answers regarding her faith.   Two truths were confirmed to me from this very precious time of sharing.  
1.  People in Uganda do not draw attention to themselves in times of crisis, illness etc.   They truly live out the truth, “It is all about Him, not about me, and everything we do is Kingdom work.”  
2.  Irene and I have become very dear friends in the past 10 years.  Yet it takes times to built credibility in people’s lives, especially in another culture.   They need to see you as genuine and this only comes from time.  Her testimony was precious.  I was left in awe as I walked out of her shop.  God is so good. 
These are all familiar friends who I look forward to reuniting with each time I return home.  What I didn’t know was I was about to add a whole plethora (I just love that word!) of new friends to my growing bouquet!   This is the second day we have driven up to the home with a van FULL to the brim!  This is only possible because of your generous love and support.  As the children  unloaded all of the food, I looked around and realized there was already a beehive of activity!  
Godfrey is so well connected.    Little did I know but he called in an army of people to help us with the new sound system!  Everywhere I turned, I was shaking a new hand learning a new name.  Each person was invited because they had a very specific job.  One of the men from the shop in Kampala, came all the way to Jinja to deliver the items we could not fit in our van.  He also brought two guitars for us to borrow for the crusade as well as other necessary items he didn’t want us to go without.  The amazing thing is he stayed to help us set up the equipment!   There were other men there to help teach the children how to use each piece of equipment.  I was honored when Godfrey introduced me to his friend, George.  This man not only was Godfrey’s best man in his wedding, but he is extremely gifted in running sound systems.  He is employed by a large ministry in Jinja to take care of all of their media needs.  Someone like this who is in high demand in Uganda is called a “hotcake!”  Love it!  So we had Uganda’s “hotcake” helping us set up our sound equipment correctly!  I had not thought through this as well as Godfrey had.  Having an avalanche of equipment come all at once would just be a pile of machines unless we plugged it in correctly to the right sources.  George was a gift from God for us.  
Two of the other men who became our dearest of new friends were Byaruhanga from Kampala & Pastor Jeremiah from Entebbe.  They like the others attended Bible College with Godfrey.  These two men were refugees from the Congo.   Byaruhanga came to teach Joel and others how to play the drums.  Pastor Jeremiah’s gifting was in playing the guitar.  To my surprise, at one point I looked over and he was playing an old accordion !  These two men committed to staying with us for the whole week from my arrival until I departed.  I will talk about them more in the updates to come . 
Like a beautiful orchestra, each person was on point in their unique spot.
As I stood in awe, I saw Pastor Jeremiah seated in a circle with at least seven students who wanted to learn more about playing the guitar.  Byaruhanga had a very attentive student in Joel who never passed up a moment to stand next to him as he gave lessons in playing the drums.  Another friend of Godfrey’s came to teach Henry how to use the new keyboard which was much more complicated than our old one.  George was going back and forth from sound board to speakers, hooking up cables and testing the sound.  It was a picture of the body of Christ, all using their gifts to bring glory to Him.  
The moment that all cables were plugged into the correct slot, all buttons adjusted to the right volume, and every person with their instrument ready to play was a moment I will not forget.  The gift of the sound equipment came to life the moment that the first notes together were played.  A symphony of praise erupted on our grounds.  I don't think my words can adequately bring to life what actually happened in that moment.  Speechless.  Simply speechless.  
My “bouquet of flowers” is a gift from God.  As the sounds of music drifted off into the neighborhood, it spread a sweet aroma like night blooming jasmine.   Be still.  Listen. Can you hear it?  
This is the sound of God’s love for us.  This is the sound of not giving up.  This is the sound of trusting in God and God alone.  
God is good, all the time.  And all the time, God is good.

mama eydie kisakye 

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