Greetings from America! I am writing this in an air conditioned room in a comfortable chair listening to the sounds of basketball on TV. I ate fish, couscous, and corn on the cob for dinner and made blueberry muffins for breakfast yesterday. Yum.
Life is good.
America has truly been a land of opportunity for my kids so far as well, and they are taking full advantage of all it has to offer. They are amazed by the simplest things:
- ice, everywhere and in everything
- free (and safe) drinking water
- fountains everywhere! America seems full of water to a family from the parched regions of Uganda.
- strawberries, grapes, and peaches
- squirrels! Believe it or not, this has been one of their favorite things to see. They chase them almost every time they see one!
- different kinds of dogs. Vaeh actually chased a lady down in order to pet her poodle! That girl is born to be a vet :)
- air conditioning. Ok, this one is NOT a favorite of any of them. They prefer open windows all the time and can't understand why people are always inside!
- seat belts. No more climbing around the car while we drive. Another non-favorite.
- "the thing that makes things hot" aka the microwave :)
Most of our days so far have been full and fun. Trips to the museum, dinner and playtime with friends, trail running through the woods, visiting various churches, playgrounds, yard and garage work, bar-b-ques and tractor rides, and the local "castle", aka arcade, have balanced out our school hours.
We have also started a new school curriculum and are slowly changing the way we "do" school. This has been a challenge, but I am hoping we will get the hang of it by the time we go back to Uganda. This last year of teaching has been tough on me (and probably them!) so I am excited for the change. Hopefully it will breathe new life into my teaching and their learning.
All of the kids have done really well with the transition to America. Selah is making friends everywhere she goes while Acuka tries, in his own way, to get his point across. He has fully entered the terrible twos, but at least he's so cute that you just have to forgive him :)
My kids are continuing to do daily chores, some of them a bit different than they're used to, but they continue to be helpful and obedient.
For some reason I thought America would ruin them.
They are so innocent and sweet in so many ways. They spend their days in Karamoja climbing trees and mountains, playing football and jump rope, and practicing with their slingshots or bows and arrows. Such a simple, lovely life.
I view America as the insidious evil (to steal a phrase from Andy) that can rob them of their innocence. And maybe that's true in some ways.
I had forgotten a lot of things about America. Things that make us all wince and turn our thoughts back to our friends struggling right now in Karamoja.
Things like the way we live to eat instead of eating to live.
Things like throwing away food. Any food. Period.
Things like disposable plates, cups, forks and spoons.
Things like "processed foods".
We can't see the people begging for food and so we get all we can, can all we get, and sit on the rest.
We can't see kids like little Nacuk pick up a potato I dropped in the sand and brush it off and pop it in her mouth, not willing to waste even a bite.
We can't see the children that climb through my "trash pit" looking for treasures I might have thrown out. Sometimes they even scour my compost heap, claiming rotten potatoes and onion tops for their family's dinner.
We can't see these things and so we forget to be careful with what we've been given. And we've been given a lot. I have been here for two weeks and am already forgetting.
It's so easy to forget.
We are blessed.
We are blessed with an abundance of food.
We are blessed with riches, more "stuff" than we know what to do with.
We are blessed with comfortable homes, cars, beds, even chairs.
We are blessed with good, free education.
We are blessed with knowledge of the world at our fingertips.
The list goes on and on...
We are so blessed to live in this country. And yet we live such divided lives.
In the whole week we stayed in Texas we were the only family outside. My mom's yard was littered with toys, and I was always missing at least one kid who had gone bike riding or exploring in the creek. And although you might worry about that, my missing children, there is no need because we never saw any people. Now and then you would see someone coming home from work, or there's that one neighbor who likes to sit for hours on end on his front porch, shirtless, but otherwise, no one.
Not a soul.
And although I am happy for the break and enjoying visiting people, this place, no matter how comfortable, can be awfully lonely. (Is it just me or do you all feel the same way??)
So thank you to those of you who have made us feel at home in this home away from home (and even in south Uganda as we finished paperwork for leaving). You have blessed us more than you know.
Thank you for inviting us over for dinner, picking us up from the airport, fixing us delicious meals, giving us a place to stay, letting us do laundry at your house, jumping on the trampoline with us, running with us, sleeping on the couch so that we could have your bed, hosting bar-b-ques in our honor, babysitting for us, allowing us to speak to your churches and Sunday School classes, giving us money and food, and reminding us that we are not alone.
Thank you for reminding me of the best thing about America, the people.
And because you are such good people I know you will try, as I do, to remember how much we've been given. To show your thankfulness by making economical decisions regarding food, money, and time. To try your best to be a friend to the lonely and hurting around you. To invite them into your homes and your families and love them as you've loved us.
Thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ to us. We are so grateful and so blessed to call you friends.
I hope to see many more of you in the months to come!
(A special THANK YOU to Hackers for Charity in Jinja, Uganda, for the free housing during our adoption process! You guys were a huge blessing to our family!)
Kenneth and Kristi Williams
The Williams Family
Kenneth and Kristi
Nevaeh, 18 years old
Rikot, 17 years old
Ezra, 17 years old
Zion, 15 years old
Izzy, 14 years old
Selah, 11 years
Acuka, 10 years
Benaiah, 7 years
Jubal, 4 years
Jireh, 10 months
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