Saturday, February 28, 2009

There's no place like home!

I had a few inquiries regarding our story entitled "One Boy's Story;" who is it, or is it ...? The story is about one particular boy and we were protecting his identity so he wouldn't be subjected to anymore harassment from the people at the children's center while we were working on his case. Unfortunately this story could have been about any number of kids.

We are happy to say that David is safe and in our family now. He has a bed to sleep in and will have plenty to eat. We don't know how soon we can enroll him in school because he is a senior four level and senior school is a bit expensive and we need to wait for additional funding. Please pray for additional sponsors for our home. We know the Lord will provide when the time is right. It also would be a challenge because this term has already started for about three weeks now. Although he would need a placement test, I think he can do it because he seems very bright, speaks English very well and has a lot of determination.

He is extremely happy to be here and the kids screamed with delight when we told them he would be joining us the next day. Rock said it was an answer to his prayers. It is so good to see God working right before our eyes. David is a true delight to have here and we all love him. We thank Jesus for blessing us with his presence.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When I grow up I Want To Be A Journalist!

We recently had a conversation about our goals in life and everyone shared what their ambition is after finishing secondary school. Jennifer wants to be a journalist, so here is her first story!

I send greetings to all of our supporters all over the world. May the almighty King bless you. I hereby write this letter telling you of our lives before we met Grandpa Jim and Grandma Robyn.
We moved for ages through the thick forest of life whose breath is thorny and strong. Trying not to get hurt yet we were hurt looking for an open heart but found none.

At the end of the road after numerous falls when hurt had it's thorns deep. We finally saw rays of light shining from one heart and then we looked up to see who live in this beautiful heart.

All we saw in that beautiful heart was Grandpa Jim and Grandma Robyn who welcomed us, protecting us from pain and the love they show us can never be compared to anything.

Most of us have no relatives. For a long time we were looking for someone to open up his / her heart for us because we really had a difficult journey and needed someone by our side.

We are now like a family, always happy with our beautiful relatives, Grandpa Jim, Grandma Robyn, Dad Brian, Mummy Eunice and our older sister Rita.

We really don't know what we can do or say to let you know the happiness in our lives. Grandma Robyn and Grandpa Jim have cured the wound we had within our heart.

May God bless all those that have supported us. We are here and happy because of you. May the almighty King guide you in all your paths and may you see success in all your works.

We love you and pray for you.
Love, Jennifer Asante Yesu.

Friday, February 20, 2009

One Boy's Story

This is an actual letter, dated February 20th that was forwarded to us from our local Child Protection Service. It has a note attached from the Social Welfare & Probation Officer, addressed to us that said; "Please interview this boy and find a way to help him."

Dear Mommy Rita, (This is the name of the Probation Officer)

I am by name of ###### ######. I have come to be helped so that I go back to school! I have been studying from xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. So they chased me away out of school because I had got a friend (a missionary) she was from America. One day I was at school and she was staying at school, so I used to sometimes talk with her and share some stories of any kinds. So at first I didn't know that they don't want us to talk to them. In the last term they told me to stop talking to her, so I stopped it. But now when this began I went there at xxxx to be schooling but I found there mommy Jackie and Uncle Willy, the directors and they stopped me from the gate not to enter the school. Because there was a misunderstanding with their sponsorship at school, so they told me not to go back because I had a friend.

So my standing at xxxxx I have been facing many problems because I think that I had a sponsor whom I don't know because they could tell me to write to my sponsor whom I don't know thanking him for whatever he has done for me but at the same time they ask me for school fees yet they know that I don't have any parents. I have only my grandmum and she is very old.

And they had already chased some students out of the school. Now I have been staying with my friends during holidays, they had been renting a house in ###### part of town. Their names are ######. For them they have sponsors. Now their sponsors took them in boarding school, so they left the rental house. They paid the house rent for this month. Now I am in the house and I am jobless and not schooling yet, I want to study. I am now promoted to S4 yet they refused me going back to school. Yet even the standard at xxxx has been very poor, it doesn't look like a good future. There are few teachers left, we don't study some subjects.

Now I have come here to help me or to encourage me kindly how I can study because I like to study. I don't know because I don't have any plan how I can study.

Now mommy help me Rita, I ask you kindly to help and encourage me how I can go to school because the term is already started yet am in senior four.

Mommy Rita, what can I do in order to study this year?

Thank you ####

We have heard this same story before. The probation / Welfare department advises us to take him, but we need to advise you that we need more house sponsors so we can take care of this and other children that are in the same position.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Set Two More Plates For Supper

Set the table for two more Mama Eunice! We have two more boys joining us today. We were awarded temporary custody of John Travis and full custody of Matty. Matty has been on the streets since a sponsor he once had could no longer pay for school fees. He is 14 years old and is so excited to be here. He has a father and step mother, but what is quite frequent here, is when a parent remarries, the step parent will become abusive and the child leaves and the parents let them go. (Here is where we scratch our head and say what?) Our social worker had to meet this boy's father in a bar for an interview and to get the papers signed. Matty will join our kids in the same school they currently attend and it just so happens it is the same school that he attended before his funding had ended, so he will fit right in. As far as John goes, CPS must contact Jireh Children's Center and check out his story before they can award us full custody.

It is so wonderful to see how these kids welcome the new ones, like there is a deep understanding of what the kids feel and where they have come from. They make room for them and show them around and just welcome them! I have never experienced anything like that when I went to school. It seemed you had to prove yourself or make friends. But here, it is like Jesus is here and extends his hand and says; "Come in and join the family!" They clap with excitement when they hear of another child joining us! I guess it is a true example of empathy.

Speaking of more people joining us, We pick up Rita on Wednesday, she will be here with us for about ten months. Helping us with a variety of things. We can use her help in administration and with projects with evangelism and working with our children in various ways. Then we pick up Rob and Sam on Saturday and they will be with us for about a month helping out wherever they can. They fight wild fires in the USA during fire season so they have time at this time of year to help us. It is perfect timing to come up with fire prevention and emergency procedures with our children and to teach them the stop, drop and roll technique. We plan to ask the school if they could use some fire training also because this gives our ministry an opportunity for some community service. This makes a total house count of 21 people!

This afternoon, we were blessed by a visit from three of the pastors from Masaka Pentecostal Church; Pastors Sam, Frank, and Tom. We had some great conversation as we sat on the front porch sipping soft drinks in this beautiful weather. They encouraged us to keep on doing what we are doing. To me, one of the highlights of the afternoon was when they laughed at the notion that the bad behavior of a pastor or anyone could be excused because of African or Ugandan culture. It is individuals behaving poorly and yes they do have their share of these people here but we can not just brush stroke it and say it is their culture. It is truly a breath of fresh air to hear of people that practice what they preach and preach from the Bible!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Calling All "Wanna Be's"

We met with several government agencies in the past week. One of the many important agencies is Child Protection Services or simply known world wide as CPS. It is good to know that even here as economically poor the government is, that there is a system in place. We were received very well by CPS and they are more than happy we are here and were excited to hear of what we are doing. We also visited police headquarters where there is a small division that is the enforcement side of CPS. They both have very limited resources.

To give you an example of the need here, I will share this with you. At CPS they were ready to hand over to us for temporary foster care a seven year old child with serious injuries because she had been defiled by her own father. We could not take her at this time because she may be HIV positive and we are not setup for intake of such cases. At the police station they had two boys that needed care, we provided transportation so one boy could be sent back home after being abused by his uncle and somehow ended up here in our town. The other boy needs to be processed through CPS to see what his care is, he seems to be mentally challenged as he was abandoned and left on the streets.

It is good to have such a good reception from these agencies and we see that we are doing what is desperately needed. They are aware of and have approved us to care for all of our children. We now have the protocol setup for any more children coming to us from the children's center that we were once supporting. We are working hand in hand with the proper authorities to help and assist where we can. There seems to be a serious need for immediate placement of children while parents or situations are under investigation, basically a foster care system.

The Lord knows, at this rate we will not have any more room at this facility and will need to open a second home. We will not take in more children than we can properly take care of and have funding for. CALLING ALL "WANNA BE" AUNTS AND UNCLES, WE NEED YOU! The Door of Hope Children's Center is supported by a monthly donation of $28.00 by Aunts and Uncles. Look on the top left of our page to click on "Make a Donation" and it will take you to "Sponsor a Child." Just sign up for any child still on the old list and we will contact you with the new information. We need to make some changes on the web site, but please don't let that stop you from signing up to help. That's the bottom line, this is a group effort, come and join us if you can! We can take a one time donation if you don't want to make a monthly commitment. Please tell your family and friends to lend a hand.

This is real, we are on the front lines. I had a boy at the front gate of our compound this morning that was chased from the "other children's center" because he didn't have school fees. He was sent to us by the police department CPS Division. His history is that his parents were killed in the genocide in Rwanda along with his siblings. He has no one except us to take him in. We have an appointment with CPS to see if they authorize placement with us. We gave him a plate of food and got authorization for temporary custody. How much must a child struggle just to get a little care and an education? John Travis has been at the children's center for a few years and it is sad that it is turning out this way. He told me that he had been denied medical treatment when he was sick and since then he has been having some problems with his right ear.

I sat with him today and read Psalm 68:6 to him and he wanted to write it down so he could review it again later. For this boy that seems everything is taken away, knows he has God!

Have you ever heard a child tell you how his parents were killed? God have mercy on us all!
We do believe the Lord Will Provide!

The Lion King

On Saturday we had our first movie night! This was a major event for us for so many reasons. We decided that once a week we will have a movie night following dinner and worship. This Saturday's menu was goat stew with rice, beans and cabbage. What makes our first event so special is because there were many circumstances that had occurred. First of all, just the day before we left America, we were blessed with a projector to show films from a DVD, VCR, or computer. Our home church in Billings Montana, Hope Church, was able to pass on a much needed piece of equipment to us. We had prayed for a projector and the Lord Provided, Amen! This projector is not intended just for movie night at our children's home, but as an outreach tool to bring the message to unbelievers by showing a number of films including the Jesus Film. Thank you Hope Church! (Thanks Pastor Ken for showing me how to work it, and yes the cable worked, and it made it here in one piece, praise the Lord!) While I am at it all 16 pieces of luggage and cargo made it here!

Besides all 16 of the family members, we were honored with some guests. "Dr. Sam" (our sponsored medical student) came in from western Uganda where he is doing his surgical rotation. It was so good to have him here with the new family, and yes he immediately started checking the kids health! We also had invited Pastor Tom, the youth pastor from Masaka Pentecostal Church to join us. He gave a short talk and got to choose his favorite film, The Lion King. Everyone enjoyed the movie, as we were just amazed that we were viewing a big screen right here in our African living room. We never dreamed we would have a home theater and blessed with a livingroom large enough to accommodate all these people! Praise God!

Now as blessings go, Pastor Tom was very excited when I told him that we intended for this projector to be used for outreaches too! Part of our mission statement is to assist individuals and ministries to do the Lord's work. Pastor Tom just loves the youth and wants to bring the message of the good news our Lord to unbelievers. We have Pastor Ken on fire for youth in America and Pastor Tom on fire for the youth in Uganda, do you see how God works?

There was a lot of blessings going on here Saturday night including the biblical comparisons in The Lion King! I told you there were a lot of circumstances that led up to this event, and here is one more. It is quite often that we lose power here in Uganda, as our regular readers know, because I have mentioned it a few times in the past. Yep, you guessed it, power went off in the early afternoon on Saturday and we thought; Well there goes our movie night! We will see if the Lord provides power for us. About one hour before dinner the electricity is back on and we had one more thing to celebrate and be thankful for!

Friday, February 6, 2009

God Sets the Lonely in Families

What a family! That is all I can say!! We just watch and live in amazement, because you can see God's hand in all of this. The biggest part of the day is when we all come together for dinner and fellowship, yes 16 of us. We varified tonight that it is God who made us a family. We read scripture that showed us in Psalms 68:6 God sets the lonely in families.

After dinner we played the drums, danced and prayed. No, that one sentence just doesn't tell you what I am saying. I mean we really played the drums and really danced and really worshiped our God! If there are any "empty nesters" who are ever lonely and need a family, come and visit us in Africa!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Praise the Lord!

We have arrived safely! We have the Internet up and after two days without power, we are back with electricity too! Not too bad for Africa since we just arrived on Friday.

Our newest count of children at the Door of Hope project is seven girls and three boys. The house parents and their two young children are moved in and this family is complete with us as grandma and grandpa (known locally as jaja). How amazing is our God to see this truly blended family in action. We will get some pictures up soon!! These kids look pretty smart in their new school uniforms and you have never seen kids so excited about going to school. All 16 of us eat dinner together every night, we are blessed with a big dining room, we have the dining room table on order so we sit on the floor for now. After supper we pray and worship together and share about the day. The children's ages are between nine and seventeen years. We have some wonderful big brothers and sisters to help with the younger ones, a true family. It is just amazing to see God's hand in all of this. We invite you to lend a hand to all of this too! We can't do this without our supporters. Within the next two weeks we will be welcoming three missionary /volunteers to assist with our programs and we thank God for that.

I also had the opportunity today to meet with the leader of our YCMC youth group. Moses tells me we are up to 45 members now. They are growing in members and in faith. Like I said, it is amazing to see God's hand in all of this!

Praise the Lord!
Jim & Robyn