Tuesday, March 31, 2009
So it was after I blew out my candle that the guessing game began. How old are you today? Well it is my fault, I asked them to guess, the guesses came in some were being funny and saying 17, but then came 71, 68, 55, 63, 74, 52 and OK I am going to stop there. It really told a story though, with a average longevity of life to be 46 years old in Uganda and them not not seeing many older muzungus maybe, (I tell myself) and also when you are a kid everyone seems old. Well you can see I am still trying to convince myself of that!
The average age in Uganda is 15 and the average life expectancy is around 46 years. So yea, I am old here, especially to these kids who most of their parents are deceased. That is why Robyn and I are the Jaja's (grandparents) and the 30 year old's are the momma and daddy.
One of the boys later told me that there is a saying here, now some things just don't always translate well, but, "older people have wisdom", that part is OK, but then it goes further, "they are like roasted meat because it is preserved", so I am thinking; I think this means that I am like Beef Jerky. Now I picture myself in one of those jars in your local convenience store counter, (you have to know my imagination).
Anyway they gave me a totally customized two sided birthday card that was signed by everyone in the family with lots of well wishes for a long life!...Priceless! OK, I am 58 years young today! Of course it is still shocking even to me, where does the time go?
Sunday, March 29, 2009
We have reached the capacity with the boys and getting close to it with the girls at least at this compound. We will know more about our direction in the future when the Lord directs us. What the Lord is giving these children is amazing; they have a good solid chance for a great future because of this opportunity that He has allowed so many of you to participate in. As we get more organized as time goes on, we will have profiles on each child for you to learn more about them as individuals.
Let me catch you up to date with our latest tally:
We now have 15 children, with Momma Eunice and Daddy Brian and their two small children Duke & Deon, Jajas Jim & Robyn (grandparents), Aunt Rita, & Uncle Sam. Although the main function of the momma, daddy, and Uncle Sam is for the Door of Hope Ministry, the rest of the crew divides their time with all of our other ministries as well. But the largest and most time consuming is the Door of Hope Family. Jaja Robyn is in charge of all the procurements for the children; bedding, washing and personal hygiene items, as well as their clothing and shoes.
Our life on the compound is busy for sure. With seven girls and eight boys going to and from school and meeting for supper with 23 people every night, you can imagine that we have to be a well oiled machine.
Supper is at 7:00 PM and consist of an African diet and a muzungu diet, with sometimes a variation of the two. We follow supper with prayers, The Word, and worship music, and on Saturday night we watch a film too!
On Sunday morning we all walk together to church for about a 45 minute journey. Service is about 2 1/2 hours and then the 45 minute journey home. Then the youth group has an afternoon service from 4:00 to 6:00 PM. It is a pretty busy day for being a day of rest!
Here is a typical school day.
- Leave the compound at 6:30 AM for a 30 minute walk to school (rain or shine)
- Return to the compound at 4:30 PM
- Do some chores, Bathe and prepare for supper
- Supper at 7:00 PM
- Leave the compound at 6:30 AM for a 30 minute walk to school
- Return to the compound 6:30PM, do some chores, bathe and prepare for supper.
- Supper 7:00PM
A Typical African Dinner Menu
- Matooke (steamed & mashed large green bananas), rice, beans, avocado or other fruit.
- Posho (corn starch cooked & mixed to a firm consistency like mashed potatoes), beans, fruit, peanut sauce, green beans.
- Any variation of the above with silver fish. (They are tiny little fish eaten whole that smells like an old shoe, but they love it!)
Fruits can be bananas, watermelon, pineapple.Vegetables include red potatoes, sweet potatoes, egg plant, tomatoes, green beans, squash, cabbage.
A Typical Muzungu Menu
- Rice with stirred fried vegetables
- Fried potatoes and onions, sliced avocado and tomatoes.
- Spaghetti with meat sauce made with fresh tomatoes
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Fried chicken with rice
- Steamed rice with a vegetable and a fruit
- Tacos, well African style- made with chapatis similar to a flour tortilla with ground meat and seasoning mix from America, sliced tomatoes, (no lettuce or cheese), But we make a pretty good guacamole!
Jim's pick of the most sensational of fresh vegetables or fruits available here:
- Avocados These are as large as a very large grapefruit, and are very flavorful and cost equivalent to about 10 cents usd.
- Pineapples These are so sweet and juicy, they are an extra treat to me because I can not eat them in the states because I have a reaction to the acid and it literally burns my mouth. Here I can eat so much of it before I finally know that I have hit the limit. A pineapple costs between 25 to 75 cents usd.
- Passion fruit There is nothing like a glass of fresh squeezed passion fruit juice.
- Bananas are very good and plentiful here and come in a variety of styles, there are very small ones that are sweet, a medium size close to the variety eaten in the US which is my favorite, and the very large type that is used for cooking their matooke.
I enjoyed sharing this little glimpse of our daily life here, I hope you enjoyed it as well. Not a day goes by that we don't think of and pray for our supporters that make this all possible. The base is our regular monthly sponsors, and God knows we need more house sponsors to completely support this, but we offer that up to God for Him to Provide!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
But it is easy. You can write to our family members either by a personal note to one child or to the whole family. The children absolutely love it when we read them a letter from you.
Please adddress the letter to email@example.com
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Recently two of our girls, Barbara and Sara, were blessed by a visit from their older brother Richard. He was interested in visiting where his sisters were living and how they are doing in their new school. It was during our visit with Richard that we learned more about their family. We talked about the deaths of their mother and father and how Richard who is only 19 has been doing his best to look after his siblings. We then learned of their youngest brother Robert. He has been staying with an uncle and Richard knew he wasn't in a good situation. The girls had not seen their little brother in nearly two years. The separation of this family was a very obvious burden to the eldest brother.
Tonight, Richard arrived with 12 year old Robert, to come and live at the Door of Hope, where he was greeted by his two sisters. Can you imagine this family reunited, all four of these kids together in one place after so much time? What a burden for this young man of just nineteen years; we can see the relief on Richard's face as he is proudly surrounded by his younger siblings. They all look up to him and you can see the love in their eyes.
Now that Richard has his family in one place he can continue his work in Kampala and only needs to worry about taking care of himself. He knows he can come to visit his family whenever he gets a chance. It is times like these that the supporters of this ministry, must know that they are doing God's work! Thank you to all of our supporters! How is it that all of you are to be here in this moment in their lives? Our youth is so short, yet so impactful in our lives, and what a difference a small turning point can make into a lifetime memory!
Psalm 68:5 A father to the fatherless, defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
By God’s grace the owner of the house came by last week to see the house that HWP is renting. It’s God’s grace because Robyn had dropped off a letter of house improvements and pictures to the property manager that morning and before he had even seen the letter the owner dropped by the house to talk to Jim. This is the first time that the owner had came to the house since Robyn and Jim had moved in, as he lives in Geneva, Switzerland. As he took a “tour” of the Door of Hope house he realized what was being done here for the children. Within an hour of the owner leaving the property manager phoned and gave permission to have all of the improvements to the house done. I love how God works!!
We started with the most essential repair projects, the leaking water tank, plumbing issues and the holes in the window screens. This started the flurry of worker bees coming into the compound! :) On Monday the plumbers showed up. Not just two but four and five at a time. They were running around the compound in their blue overhauls busy checking pipes and toilets working on the leak in the water tank. The next thing we knew there was another knock on the main gate, yes another worker. This time it was Godfrey, the window screen repairman. He comes walking in with a big roll of screen and all his tools. As he started pulling off the old screens and hammering on the new the BUZZ in the compound grew. Then before we knew it evening was upon us the BUZZ had subsided and the children were knocking on the gate, they were home from school. The day had slipped away but it was wonderful to see all of the new things being done!!
And we know that God caused everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
We are so excited that this boy has returned to us and he was welcomed by all because they all had been praying for him. Now here is where this story has twist. One of our newest boys, David who we recently wrote about, has been waiting to go to school. As you may recall, we needed senior school fees, so he has been waiting patiently while we are waiting for funds. Meanwhile the boy that just returned to us can go to school because his fees are already paid, because he was previously enrolled. His only problem is that on his journey his shoes were stolen.
Last night I was talking with the boys and the boy that just returned that has been absent for a few days, says; "Jaja can you write a note for school so I can return?" I said but you don't have any shoes yet. "Oh yes I have shoes, David lent me his!"
2Corinthians 9:6-10 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work. As it written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever"
Today we took David, wearing the other boy's sandals, to enroll him in school. I believe the Lord will provide these fees. How could we wait any longer when we see such an example of someone following the Word? It is amazing and humbling to witness such a giving heart. I mentioned that he went to school in his friends sandals, this is because he lent out his only pair of shoes to another boy, without judgement or resentment! Amen!
P.S. If you read this story, you will see that David was chased away from the other children's center. If they have any more like him please chase them over here!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Meeting with this group is a pretty awesome experience, because this group of youths is the future here in Uganda, and they are so eager to hear the Word. They are a lively bunch that love to read scripture and share their thoughts. This is a wonderful bible study, it is just so real, that I don't know how else to explain it. Maybe it is witnessing these teenagers to be on fire for the Lord that makes me so excited. It would be any youth pastor's dream to see this group in action. I know that in America it seems that we have to have activities or food for the youth to show up and keep their interest. I have met with this group on the grass in a football (Soccer) field, in a classroom on a hot Saturday afternoon, and under a shade tree with no more than our Bible. When we talked of ways for some of these kids to get a bible of their own someday, they break out in a cheer!
During our last meeting, I believe we had about 40 members that go to one school. We are approaching about one hundred youths, some of which have joined or are interested in joining the club. The club has a book of salvation that has check marks by the members that have accepted Jesus. I am looking forward to meeting with all the members in one place someday soon!
Some of you may recall or have read about the crusade that they had this past December, it has made a huge impact on these kids. Our funding for this project made possible by a donor, went far to help not only of the costs of the trip but it has impacted their spirit for the Lord! They are already talking of next years crusade. What I would like to do is to get some mini crusades right here in Masaka this year. I am meeting with Pastor Tom, a local youth pastor, on Wednesday to discuss the possibilities of this happening. I know he is excited about this project and if he can get his church to sponsor the location, it is big enough to handle a crowd of this size! Pray for us because the kids are doing pretty good so far without the adults leading them, we just need to come along side them and support and encourage them and allow the lord to continue leading them.
We are working on a program with our local Bible League. After completing a workbook bible study they will receive a certificate to receive a bible at half price. We told the kids that when they complete the workbook and receive the certificate that we would pay half of that and they in turn would be paying one fourth the cost of the bible. To put this in perspective, this will still be a challenge for most of the kids as well as for us.
Links to stories written regarding this youth group on our blog:
Sunday, March 8, 2009
As a missionary you never know exactly what you will be doing from day to day. One day you could be painting a girls dorm room, the next you could be trying to help a local set up their chicken farm. We have been going to different schools fellowshiping and having bible studies with the students and also ministering to the people at the local hospital, praying, talking and bring the joy of the Lord to them, this is one of the hardest out reaches to do because of the condition a lot of the patients are in and the cleanliness of the hospital, you wonder if some will even make it through the week. It is after going to the schools, hospitals and prisons that coming back to the compound is so sweet, with wonderful meals and coffee that flows 24/7, you sometimes don't want to leave. It has been very exciting and different, some days you are wondering if they will ever turn the power back on, others all you want to do it just sit down and send an email with out it taking a half an hour, and then you have your cold sponge bath in the fly infested bathroom asking yourself; "Will I survive this one?" These are all things that we look forward to as a new day dawns, but without it, where would the fun be?
Well, sadly are time here is coming to an end, but the memories that we have made will last a lifetime. Building the family chicken coop, doing fire drills, and passing out the daily vitamins at supper will be remember by both black and white. My prayer is that my impact on them will be as much as their impact has been on me. My dear Uganda family, I love you all so much, Jim thank you for all the wonderful meals, Robyn for just being fun to hang out with, Rita for helping Sam and I get through painting the girls dorm rooms, Brian thank you so much for having patience and taking us to explore Uganda, Eunice for doing our laundry and cooking us Ugandan food and to all the kids, you have taught me patience and love and you have shown me what real joy is, I love you guys!
I mentioned earlier in my blog that Jim and Robyn have just arrived and begun their work in Masaka, taking care of their new family. Feeding, clothing, paying for school fees and giving kids a place to stay is all possible because of donations from people like you! Would you be apart of these kids lives by supporting them or joining them? They would love to have you come and be a part of their family. It will truly change your life forever! 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 says this, "You yourself are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are from Christ, the result of our ministry written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." Let me leave you with this closing thought and question; Your life is a human pen.....what are you writing in life?
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Today along with our volunteer Rob, I went to our favorite village church, God's Revival Church. This church is one of our projects that we help assist where we can. We visited with Pastors Gerald and Betty Kasozi. Our main purpose was to talk about raising chickens. Rob's family has raised chickens in America and we thought we would see where we can help. We talked about how many chickens they should start with and about nests for laying eggs and also about food and water. Then I asked; "Betty, where do you get your water?" Because suddenly I realized, that after all these times that I have been to their church, I really have never seen their source of water?
This is where our conversation turned! She said that they fill their Jerry cans with water from a neighboring tap. This is a typical way to get water here in Uganda and it usually costs about 200 Shillings for each 20 liter can that is filled. I am thinking about all the 30,000 bricks that they had made from their own mud, that they had to bring in water for, besides all the other daily needs of water for themselves and their animals.
I asked about what it would take for them to get their own tap. They knew all the information, because they thought someday that it might be possible to get water. Water, as you can imagine, is a very big deal here as well as anywhere on earth, it is a key eliminate to our survival. I then proceeded to tell them about our H2O8 Project. Some of you will recall when we started the water project last March. That is when we participated in World Water Day in Billings Montana. We received some funding from the event which primed our project. Then throughout the year we received some other donations for water. We initially planned on digging a well for the other ministry that we were originally assisting. But since the Lord redirected us to work in other areas, I often asked Him, what are we to do with the water project funds? Well today the Lord told me the answer to that question. When I told Betty and Gerald the good news that we had the funds for them to have water, they raised their hands in the air and said; "Praise God!" Yes, Praise God, thank you Jesus for allowing me to be part of your wonderous work!
Monday, March 2, 2009
Growing up I was home schooled by my mother and a few others from our home church. This was an awesome positive environment for me to grow up in. There were about 12 other kids in my class, but over the years we started to head our separate directions. When It came time for me to head into ninth grade my parents and I had decided that a change was needed. So I enrolled in the frightening world of public high school. I don't blame anyone but myself for my actions while attending. It was a bit of a shock being introduced to all the things that most of these kids had grown up with. Freshman year was a struggle for me to stay strong in what I believed in and by the end I fell victim to the ways of the world. The following years I kept growing farther apart from the Lord. Eventually I decided that my life could not keep heading in this direction. I dropped out of high school and finished out my education at a military school. This experience gave me the discipline I need to turn my life around. Once I graduated though I found myself longing for my old high school lifestyle. I started to fall victim to it once again but this time was overwhelmed by a feeling of tremendous guilt. Deep down I knew that the Lord was calling me back to Him; a life filled with adventure with Him as my guide.
The next few years ensued exactly this. Now I am currently working my dream job as a Wild land Firefighter in the North American summer. The government actually pays me to run around the mountains and play with fire. I have been truly blessed by working this job. Due to the snowfall in the winter though, I am only employed for 6 months out of the year. Last winter I headed home to Tulsa Oklahoma to take a semester of college. Whenever I am in Tulsa I attend a local church called Believers. One Sunday they showed a video about an outreach they were working on in Africa. My friend Rob was sitting next to me and we both were touched by what the video had shown. At that very moment we felt compelled to go and help how ever we could. Through a series of events we ended up coming to Masaka Uganda to help Jim and Robin with their outreach called He Will Provide. We have been here for about 3 weeks now and it has been one of the most rich times in my life. The kids here are filled with so much passion for the Lord and for life. Not a day has gone by that I have not been inspired by them. I would have never thought that I would be here, but then again I don't even know what tomorrow will bring.
I wanted to write my testimony for you to show you how the Lord can use the most unqualified people to do His work. If any of you reading this have been on the fence about coming out here to work, I totally recommend that you come. If your actions in the past are still hanging you up, remember that the Lords mercy is new every morning and He never stops waiting with open arms for you to come back to Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 " No eye has seen, no ear had heard and no mind had imagined what God has prepared for those who Love Him."