It’s been a dream of mine, this bringing of my husband and children to a land I fell for five years ago, head over stumbling heels.

A land of fresh avocado and shoe-less children, of wide smiles and giggling babies and mothers that can’t sleep for their hunger. A land of sweet jasmine flowers and piles of garbage, of boda bodas and tiny shops and despair-filled fathers. A land of vibrant churches and pastors that can’t pay their kids’ school fees. A land rich with resources and void of justice.

I was able to introduce this land to the loves of my life, this Christmas, Christ’s birthday, a day when Jesus left all to visit us, left comforts and Father and angels and everything to travel to a place that in turn would become His new family, His new home.

These brothers and sisters in Uganda became family. My husband Trent swam and raced and climbed in caves with them. He joked and played pool and went to the market with them. Aiden, Kasher and Aria played jacks and balloons and cards and soccer with them. And I watched with tears in my eyes as my two families merged. As the two became one.

Much as Jesus must have felt when He returned to the Father and then sent the Holy Spirit to indwell his new family forever. The two become one.

It wasn’t perfect — I mean, there was the flu, which we all got on the way over, and then Aria’s ear infection, and the food was a bit rough for the kids so they resorted to lots of fruit and peanut butter sandwiches. And don’t forget the hours of driving over bumpy red roads or the jet lag that hit us hard like a truck stuffed with livestock and five Ugandan boys seated on top, clinging on.

But oh how the kids glowed when they played with the village children, when they leapt into the Nile River, when they climbed trees and saw monkeys and played drums in village churches. Oh how the Spirit moved and wove us deeper into fellowship with each other and with our True Family — the Trinity, displayed so beautifully on earth through the broken and very human Church.

Over the coming weeks I’m going to share more of my heart with you on what it means to be Family with our brothers and sisters across the ocean. In the meantime, here (below) are some glimpses into our time together in the Pearl of Africa. With all my love, e.

After arriving in Entebbe late at night, we slept close by at a friend’s house and then Mommy Esther and the team took us to Pastor Richard Kazibwe’s church in the slum where every month he hosts children to teach them about Jesus and feed them rice and beans. Aria and Emily got to lead the kids to Jesus and to feed them Jesus’ birthday cake. The children’s Bibles which Kasher’s class donated will be going to the children’s directors at the churches in both the slums and the villages, and each Bible will be used for Bible study with multiple children so that as many people as possible can hear about Jesus.

The Lulu Tree operates a dorm and school for teen mothers close to Jinja who’ve been abandoned by the school system and their families for getting pregnant. They gathered along with Lulu pastors and their parents to help us put together Christmas hampers (with rice, sugar, soap and matches) for the jajjas/grandmothers in their community. They also shared testimonies of how God is redeeming them, giving them a second chance at life through being able to care for their babies, being reconciled to their families, and returning to school.

We stayed with eight men and five women who are part of the Lulu team in The Mission House, a house rented by the team for when they do work in the Jinja villages. We loved doing “life” with them – eating matoke (cooked bananas), groundnut sauce, rice, potatoes, beef or fish, samosas, and flat bread, as well as fresh fruit like pineapple, watermelon, paw paw or papaya, mango, and jackfruit. We also experienced a traditional Ugandan Christmas tree complete with balloons, and played lots of games with our new friends.

We had two days of gatherings, one with the teen moms, pastors and Lulu team for a thanksgiving service, and then one for extended pastors who received training. We also took a boat to the Source of the Nile where Emily was baptized.

We attended a new pastor’s church in the villages and Aiden and Kasher got to play drums after the service. Then we visited the pastor’s home and saw his work with pigs using the microloan The Lulu Tree has provided him with. After that we went to the Nile River to eat fish and take a boat ride to a cave where we saw bats. Trent jumped into the water and swam to the cave with the boys.

We took the Lulu team to the zoo. On the way we met this precious street girl who had no shoes and no toenails. Aria begged us to be able to give her shoes away but they were too small so Kasher gave his instead. Aria loved her so much. Kasher finally got to see monkeys at the zoo! They were all across the road as we walked, many with babies clinging to them. Then we drove to the airport and flew at midnight with tearful goodbyes.

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