Hi!  This is Shangazi Tanya!  That’s “auntie” in Swahili😊 We are about halfway through our stay here in the beautiful Mt. Elgon district.  I knew I would be in awe of the beauty of the country, people and the work being done here, but there are truly no words to describe HOW in awe I am.  We are nestled on a hillside.  There is lava rock throughout the property.  The neighbors have small straw covered circular huts made of sticks and mud.  There are cows, chickens and dogs hanging out among us all.  The food is simple and delicious.  You would not believe it even if I showed you a picture of the “kitchen”.  Amazing what comes out of the tiny little shelter with smoke and amazing aromas coming from it all day long.

The people.  I was unsure how accepting of us they would be.   I wasn’t sure how well we’d be able to understand and connect with each other.  We were greeted with the most amazing song, dance and hugs by all of them!  It rendered us all speechless!  God is Good.  He brought all of us, approximately 130 of us, all together this week for a reason and it’s going to be incredible to see what He does.  I am so blessed to be here getting to know my Marafiki (many friends).  The girls are so respectful of their teachers and each other.  They are smart, articulate and have such a strong desire to be here.  Many of them have stories you would not even believe.  Their mentors and the staff of Empower Hope are simply angels.  I feel so blessed to have met them, learning their stories and watching them have such a powerful impact on these amazing young ladies.

I want to thank my amazing friends from the softball community and beyond.  I thought it might be fun to have the many teenaged girls I know write letters of hope and friendship to their “sisters” on the other side of the planet.  I was given 149 letters and pictures of Love to bring with me.  We handed them out on Monday night and the girls were so awed and excited to receive such a gift!  Thank you to everyone who has supported each of us here!  We feel your love and prayers and ask that you keep them coming!  There is a whole lot of rain expected!  We are looking for prayers for safe travel up the mountain (for parents and previous graduates) for celebration day on Saturday and also for our team to safely make it back down!  Love and hugs to you all, Tanya.