James 1:27

James 1:27

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Some Photos from June 14th

Bobby and Brian, The Film Guys

Edward Being Interviewed
Children's Choir
Dancers at Crusade 

Praying over Jinja

"Come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

I want to start by asking for continued prayer for our team member, Matt, who has encountered a rough bout of food poisoning.  Today he has experienced the Ugandan hospital and received excellent care from a wonderful man who assists us when we are in Uganda, named Dr. Moses.  Matt has meds and is resting.  But prayers for comfortable and safe travel are needed.
Today was a low key day. A time for the team to relax and enjoy what Jinja has to offer. A group went rafting on the Nile. I have not had a chance to talk to them. I am certain they had a blast!
The rest of us spent the day in Jinja. A place I feel very comfortable. Like a second home.

Kariel and I started the day at Ekisa for an hour. I wanted her to have a little more time with the children. It was a free day of the kids so we pushed them on the swing. We walked about the grounds. We loved and laughed. There is a young man, Mwarro (sp?), who is not a small or young guy. He runs up and jumps in your arms for cuddles. No matter how big or small you are!  He welcomed Kariel as soon as we got there! He is always up and then down and off. And then back in your arms! We got to spend time with Grace, Issac, Paul, Rachal, and James. An hour was not enough for her, but it filled her heart once again. Special place. Special work. God's love is present.

From there we began our time with the film crew. I have not mentioned yet that a film crew has been with us this trip. They are here to film footage of the work in the North and South our church is involved. They are going to document the Uganda Project in three short films.... how God connected Edward and I... A personal transformation story.... And a community transformation story.... I have no idea how they will take all the footage they have and turn it into 3 films of 3 to 4 minutes each. I am very excited about the end product though! We have been wondering how we can better show what all God is doing and this is going to be incredible. Bobby and Brian are great men of faith and they have jumped right in with us. They have been a part of the team. Brian took Kariel and I to Ekisa this morning on his own time. They are excellent at what they do and they have been a blessing to our team.

I will say I never knew how how difficult being interviewed can be. Especially when you are asked to keep your answers brief. Brevity is not a talent I have when discussing or telling a story! Edward ad I got to share our perspective of our friendship. It was great.

They walked around town with us and Edward's wife Julie. We just talked and shared and spent time with each other. It was really a great day.

We did end up driving up Bugembe Hill. This is owned by the local tribal chief and overlooks the entire town of Jinja. The view was incredible! You cold see all the way from Lake Victoria to the other side of Jinja. The whole city. I got a chance to stop and say a prayer over this area I love  so much. The pictures do not do it justice.

I am excited to see the end product. I am grateful that God connected us with the film crew. The story He is writing needs to be told and shared. God gets all the glory!

We ended up with a small group of us going to the crusade again. The gospel singer was there again and at the last song the crowd brought Jody, Benson and I up front and tied sashes around our waist and we danced. And danced. And shook our hips. We had Edward ad Julie join us. Ladies and men, and children all down front dancing in worship. It was incredible. Ugandans and Americans all one family of faith worshipping God together. Beautiful.

This will be the last blog post for a few days. Tomorrow our schedule is this.... We get to church with Edward at His Mercy Church. Then the team will visit three different houses we have helped build and bless the home  by presenting to the families framed family portraits as a house warming gift. Then the team will begin the drive to Entebbe and the airport. We will stop at the National Theatre Mall to shop in Kampala. Then onto the airport to begin the long flight home. Uganda to Amsterdam. Amsterdam to Minneapolis. Minneapolis to Arkansas and  Pennsylvania. Wifi access will be scarce after we leave the hotel. So please, pray for our travels and for our final time in Uganda to continue to be a blessing. It has been a great trip. God has done marvelous things through the team. We are thankful for our time here. It has been blessed full of love and grace.

It will be bittersweet to leave. I love it here, but my home is in Arkansas. I cannot wait to see my wife and son! But I will shed a tear as the plane takes off from Entebbe. I will not say goodbye to Uganda. I can never do that. I will say till we meet again God willing.

See you soon dear family and friends.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
Peace and blessings.

Prayer Request- Urgent

I just got word, that Matt has food poisoning.  He has been with Dr. Moses today who took him to a local hospital.  He is now on meds and back with the team.  We would ask that you would pray for him to continue healing.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Photos from June 13, 2014

Accessing the Rapids for Tomorrow's Rafting

Crusade Dancers

Katherine Sharing Smiles

Because she's too cute not to put on the blog.

The Bad Place (Very bad place!
 Don't drink the water! - Kysia)

Youth Choir and Dancers at Crusade

Chris and Paul

"God is writing a larger story..."

"God is writing a larger story and we are a character in that story and the Author of the larger story created a specific role for you in His larger story.". - Rich Sterns

Our team read the book 'Unfinished' by Rich Sterns as a preparation for the trip. It is a Great book about filling the hole in our gospel. Believing is only the beginning. We have talked about how God is writing a bigger story and He has created us a specific role in that bigger story. Our time each day starts with a devotion and scripture to ground us and center us and prepare us to go and serve. I would recommend both of his books.

This trip is a part of a larger story concerning the Uganda mission project. Each team member came on the trip from different places and with different talents and different reasons. Each of us is getting to be a part of this chapter in God's bigger story. And we have encouraged everyone to go forth from Uganda and find the part God is writing for them in the bigger story. Maybe it is Uganda, South America, Asia, Europe, or America in our own little cities. Wherever, it is do not miss the opportunity to live out the part God is writing for them.

Today was a good day. A little laid back, but still with opportunities to serve. We started with a group of us going to Ekisa.  Kariel, Leigh, Chirs H, Olivia, Benson, Beth and I went and spent a couple of hours with the kids in school. This was a part of the trip Kariel was so excited about and to see her get the chance to have her heart filled was special to this dad. Again we simply spent time with these beautiful children with special needs. We used wine tower flash cards, read and spent time with them. We were present. And we laughed, we played and we loved. It was incredible. The ladies who started this place are heroes to me. Young and open to go where God called them. They started caring for disabled children in Uganda. It isn’t an easy life but it is a blessed one. My daughter was shining. Each team member was right in the middle with a child just giving them attention and love. Beautiful.

The rest of the team went to visit Dr. Moses at his home. They dropped off the remaining medicines from the clinic and thanked him. He is a good man and I love his laugh and heart.

The team got back together and we headed to visit one of Uganda’s Falls. This particular spot on the river Nile is called the Bad Place. It is awesome to behold. It is the half way point on the river rafting trip and includes rapids you have to walk around they are that intense. It is quite a sight to behold especially the day before you are about to tackle it!

We then came back to rest up and prepare for the open air crusade in the village of Buwenda. This is where Edward's church is located. I discovered that in Jinja district a crusade is like church:  Loud music, dancing, singing, and powerful preaching! The choir was rocking it when we got there. And the team did their thing-  filled in among people.  Leigh, Kariel, Chris H, and Olivia joined in the dancing! They had a local Gospel artist sing a few songs.  He had some traditional male dancers and man could they shake the hips! One of them came down to the crowd and low and behold if he did not come into the crowd and pull Katie up in front of everyone and tie a sash around her waist and have her shake her hips with him! She was awesome! And the crowd loved it! The next song he pulled Namoi up and did the same thing. Fantastic! Great job ladies!

I also want to say it is so incredible to see Edward preach. He is loud and powerful! I love to see him share the word. Great man who is my brother and I love him so much. Special.

I am so proud of Katherine, Benson, and Ashley as they each shared their testimony front the stage. Each one was to the point and right on. They did a fabulous job. So proud of our team!

Jody wrapped up and brought a great message as well. And then we danced some more! The crusade was still going as we left.

The team then did our annual awards ceremony. This started a few years ago (neither Jody nor I can remember how it stared, but we love it). People can nominate other team members for fun or encouraging awards from our time together. It is really a great way to wrap up and enjoy time together. I am very proud to serve with this team. We have bonded, cared for each other, encouraged and served. I have found new friends and been blessed by each of them. They give of themselves and do whatever they can to help. Each one has just been the hands and feet of Christ to the people and to each other. I will let them tell you the various awards they won as there were many. We had some fun times on the long bus rides and learned a lot about each other! But we also came together as a community.  We loved each other. I am honored to have served with them.

Couple of wrap up things....

We still have some illness running through the team, so please keep up the prayers for strength and to finish strong.

The team going river rafting is pumped and anxious! Please pray for a fantastic time (and to keep the crocs and hippos away. Hippos are aggressive creatures especially during the calving season!) They should all have a blast!

I want to give a shout out to Jody. He is a fantastic team leader and has way more faith in me then I do! He does a great job keeping us centered and focused and is always ready to share and encourage. Thank you for your part in this story my friend! I am honored to serve with you.

I also want to thank my wife Kysia. She is constantly in prayer for the team while we are away. She edits and published each day’s blog post and pictures. She is a beautiful lady and does so much back home to stay in contact with family members and friends. I could not do this without her.

Finally, be patient with your friend or family member as they come back home and begin to get in the swings of normal life.  It will take some time for some to share. They have seen and experienced things that rocked their world. They have seen the face of the poor and suffering, seeing Jesus in his most distressing disguise. They have heard stores that broke their hearts. They made new friends that they will love forever. They have so much to share. But they may need time to decompress. Just allow them to share on their own time. Because when they are ready... Oh the stories they will tell and the people they will introduce you to! I am changed every time I come. They are changed as well. Be ready to listen, laugh, cry, pray and celebrate with them.

Also, the red dirt that covers us all will eventually come off and stop leaving a residue in the shower. I promise!

Goodnight. God bless. Talk to you tomorrow.

Pictures from June 12th

Benson the Painter

Cheryl and Mercy (Viola and Reagan's younger sister)

The children entertaining us during the rain.

Finished Product

Jinja Market

Kariel the Painter 

Making us feel welcome!

Working hard!

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa

Today was a little different again for the team. We split up into two groups with one going to the Ekisia orphanage and the other back to His Mercy School in Kikubo.

The group at Eksia was Chris H., Olivia, Katie, Leigh, Allison, and Diane. They had a great time with the children and it was exciting to hear Chris, Leigh, and Katie be able to put their talents and skills in therapy to work!

The rest of us headed back to the school.... But not before the entire team went to the local prison. We have visited here before. It is where people who have been arrested are held while they go through the court system. On our way we stopped and bought blankets, soap, and razors for the prisoners. Yes I said razors. I have been here before but it is always a strange feeling to enter through the gate. We are among the prisoners and guards when we walk through the court yard. Jody, Matt, Naomi, and I spoke to the prisoners and shared our faith. I was intimidated. I felt unfit to speak anything of value to the men. I have not walked in their shoes. I simply shared my faith and the love of Christ. I shared that we all have made bad decisions and choices. We all have hurt others and taken advantage of other people. I shared that Christ died and rose again to save us all because He loves us all. No matter what we have done. Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest no matter where we are or what we have done. I hope I was able to be used by God. I can only share and plant a seed.

Matt and Naomi were fantastic. These young people are wise and strong. I am honored to serve and know them and call them friends.

Jody shared his life story and once again was great. He really resonated and many of the men chose to follow Christ. The God of second, and many more, chances. God desired for those men to be free before they walk out of prison.

Our team that went to the school were going to paint some classrooms, help build the library, and play with kids (surprise!). As we pulled in the skies began to rain again. We are currently in the middle of the rainy season (ends in July). While the rain brings cooler temps it also turns red dirt roads to red mud! Which gets everywhere! The ladies cooked lunch for us again and it was a feast. The chapatti was pretty good today, but not as good as yesterday! :)

The rain eventually subsided so we could get out and begin to actually do something! Kariel, Jody, Matt, Benson, and I began painting the outside of the classrooms with primer. Edward is going to paint them red with yellow trim. I was not quite prepared to paint, so I ended up with white splatters all over my arms and head. I must say we did a good job for Muzungus! Mondi (he is one of our helpers and a member of Edward's church. He is a great man and good friend. I enjoy my time with him) told me the work I was doing was "not bad". When assessing Kariel's work he told her she was "very very ok". Seems Mondi was happier with Kariel's work. Oh well.

We ended up waiting for the team from the orphanage to arrive while playing with the children. I love times like this. We simply interact and answer questions while we learn each other’s names. There is a lot of laughter and fun with simply being in the now with the kids. I love that. So many children I have seen the last few years are getting older. They ask me about America and I still have some of them asking where my son is! I show them pictures of Jonah and Kysia (the girls all tell me I have a beautiful wife!). They all are so surprised and love that I am here with my daughter. So special of a time. No agenda but to be with them. Kariel always seems to have a few girls holding her hand and arms. She is never alone here! I am so proud of my girl. She has been amazing. Today she jumped right in the middle of a game with the children and their teacher. And the kids accepted her right in and loved it!

We ended the day with the entire team having dinner at Edward's father’s home. He has done this for us the last few years and it is truly an honor. They lay out a full Ugandan spread and we sit in front of his house on his lawn to eat and fellowship. Tonight we had a bonus... Little fish and a Rollex. The Rollex is a street vendor food made of chapatti with egg, onions, and peppers rolled inside. Never had it before and it was great! Little fish was a new dish, as well.  Let’s just say it was not my favorite. But I did try it. Mr Magumba is a wonderful man with an incredible story. He was a mechanic in the army during the time of Idi Amin. When Amin was overthrown he was out as a political prisoner for 5 years. He lived in Kampala with his brother for a while after getting out of prison, but could it make any money. He moved to Maygue district and became a farmer. His home is powered by solar and methane gas which he installed and set up himself. Mr Magumba and Edward’s mom divorced when Edward was 1. His mother did not allow him to see his father, but when he was 16, he and his sister left and found their dad to reconnect. Edward's father donated the first strip of land the school sits on currently. I am always honored to be welcomed in his home.

It was a great day. We were stretched outside our comfort zones. We put our hands to work physically. Some got to use their talents and skills to be a blessing. And we all got to simply be present and share the love of Christ.

God used us all in various ways today. Small ways, but with great love.

Peace and blessings,


Side note... Couple of things we have learned this trip... One, after having Chris drive our dear bus "Rosa" for our team the last 6 years we learned today his name is not Chris. It is Grace, but the Ugandans have trouble rolling the r and it sounds like Chris. Neither Edward nor Grace have ever corrected us. Silly Americans.... Second, it seems that Ashley is super ready to float the “Amazon” river on Saturday. That.... Should be awesome!