James 1:27

James 1:27

Friday, June 14, 2013

This is not goodbye...

This is till we meet again Uganda.

I cannot say goodbye when I leave Uganda because a piece of my heart resides here and I know I will be back.

Our time of ministry this time is done. We as a team are worn out and tired from giving of ourselves. We pray we were a blessing and those we have interacted with know they are loved. By us. And especially by God.

Today we begin the long trip home. We will spend the morning in Jinja walking the streets and enjoying the town. Then we head out for Kampala where we will eat a late lunch. Then the drive to Entebbe and the airport.

I want to ask you to be ready to give your team member some time when they get home to decompress and process. Then get ready to meet some amazing people and hear stories that will break your heart and also full of grace and love.

Our time here has been good. God has blessed us and I have been ministered to more than I have blessed I believe.

Till we meet again Edward, Sam, Julie, Isaiah, Joshua, Mondi, Moses, Titus, Peter, Solomom, Douglass, Bishop Daniel, Sara, Florence, Jessica, Viola, Reagan, Mercy, and many others.

I will be without wifi in a few hours and so no updates till Amersterdam. We have a 10 hour layover and will be headed in to the city to see the sights. I hope to find a couple of restaurants I have read about and relax.

As the plane takes off tonight from Entebbe I will be crying. I have each trip. I miss my friends and brothers and sisters here in Ugnada, but I am ready to be home.

Talk to you soon.

Katherine with her new sponsor child.

Dinner at Edward's Father's Home.

His Mercy School
Goat Delivery
Walking the Goat to Viola's

Patrick and Alice
Wanita's old home

Wanita's new home.

Our Last Day in Uganda

Today was a relaxed day, but still a day of ministry. I believe I was ministered to more than the people we met. I was humbled and staggered beyond anything I have experienced- more than once today.

We started out by heading to the village of Buwenda where Pastor Edward's church is located. We first stopped at the home of Wanita. Recently our church provided the funds to build her a new home. She invited us in and thanked us for her home.  We said a prayer over her and as we were leaving she gave us a gift of a tub of maize. We could not turn it down and offend her, but I had a hard time accepting it. In the world at large she has nothing. Her old home is made of mud and cow dung. She has a dirt floor with no running water or electricity and few possessions; yet, she wanted to give out of what she had to bless us. Wonderful lady who taught me a lot about giving.

Next we visited the home of Patrick and Alice. A couple of years ago I got to work on the expansion of their home. They have 15 children. They have their own and they take in orphans from the village to honor God. We sat and visited and toured their garden. They were both so excited to see us back. What an amazing couple who have a farm and use it to care for children. Again, dirt floors, no running water or electricity and few possessions; yet, they give of themselves.

Then we stopped and visited a former witch doctor who has given his life to Christ.  He is working to turn from his shrines. His sons have threatened him because they do not want him to tear down the shrines, but he is working to leave that life behind and be a new creation in Christ. We prayed for him and visited one of the shrines. He is not repairing them when they are in need of repair. He is a strong man who loves Jesus. He also gave us a gift of maize as we were leaving. Again he has nothing, but grace and love but gives freely.

Next we went on a walking tour of the village to the church. This was a blast. A line of Muzungus walking through the jungle is quite a sight! Many of us stopped at various huts and gave our corn away. It was something I have done only once before.  It really is a wonderful experience to walk through the village.

The church is still a beautiful little light in the jungle. There was not service, but the team got to step inside and pray over the church to continue to be a light in the community. I love this little church that God built through us. I have worshipped there many times and I feel at home.

We took a long ride to the Itanda Falls or otherwise known as the Bad Place. This is the class 6 rapid on the Nile.  It is such an awesome sight. We watched a group raft through the lower part of rapids. Watching made us all of wish we had time to raft. Incredible.

From there we traveled back to the school in the village of Kikubo in the Maygue district. We prayed over the teachers and students. We commissioned the new kitchen and teacher housing. I am amazed at what God has done. My friend Mike has been a tireless advocate for this school and I am honored to work with him and see his faith and hard work pay off. The children are making good grades and the school is a light in community. The children sang us a song of thanks!

Edward's father hosted us at his home for a feast. He prepared us a traditional meal out in front of his home. It was simply a beautiful time with a beautiful family. We were served beef, chicken, matooke, posho, yams, potatoes, rice, watermelon, cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, avocados, jack fruit, and beans.  Good food from a great man and great family.

Then I bought a goat. Never thought I would ever type that. I wanted to bless the family of Viola and Reagan who our family sponsors in Kukibo. Edward's brother went and bought it for me as we ate. Then I walked it down the dirt road to her house. I was humbled. The joy and celebration the family showed was overwhelming. Mama Jessica sang and danced and hugged. I went right along with her. She called me her eldest son. Viola shook my hand and smiled a huge smile. The goat got away and started running off! All the children around began chasing after it. Finally it was caught and returned. I cannot tell you how I felt except to say I was humbled by their joy.

Our time has come to return home.  Our hearts are full. Each team member has been incredible in their passion and desire to serve and love. We told each host we are not saying goodbye, but instead, see you next time. After 7 years that is not an empty promise. They tell us they know we love them and God loves them because we keep coming back.

We treated over 1,200 people in 4 days of clinics. We saw wounds and sickness that could not be treated sometimes even death was certain in the near future.  We prayed with people, took time to engage them and share our love of Jesus with them.  They did the same to us. It was hard, challenging, amazing, beautiful and so worth it.

We do not come to report numbers. We come to love. We come to make a young girl who has AIDS and has been told she is past the point of no return and cannot receive meds feel loved showing her she is not hopeless. We come to give and give and give and leave for home with no regrets. We come to love and the people and the country love us back.

It is time to return home and see my family who I miss dearly. Tomorrow we begin to travel home.

Thank you for your prayers and for following the blog. I pray you have been blessed.
Talk to you tomorrow. I am worn out as is the entire team.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pictures from Today.

People were ready when we arrived.

The New Kitchen

Outside the Pharmacy

Teacher Housing

The Clinics are Finished

As I type tonight let me set the scene... I am sitting at a table drinking a semi-cold Coke Zero while the hits of the 80's plays very loudly. This is Africa.

Well the medical clinics are finished. We wrapped up our clinic in Kikubo and it was another hard, but amazing day. The team really rallied together and once again stepped up and did whatever needed to be done. Last night after dinner we got together and discussed yesterday and talked about how we might keep things flowing better today. We also prayed as there was some warfare going on. This morning the team was ready and excited to get started.

Les and Sue left to go pick up Jody at the airport in Entebbe. He left on Tuesday to visit South Sudan and arrived back in Uganda today.

Today was filled with chaos and blessings. When we arrived the crowd was waiting and it was bigger. Each team member knew what they were going to do and started setting up. We got the doctors and dentists set up and the wound care station and began seeing patients.

The local politicians brought a list yesterday of people they wanted us to see. We provided treatment to 325. Today they brought a list of another 300. Talk about being a bit overwhelmed because we knew we could not see everyone.

By the grace of God we were multiplied like loaves and fishes. We treated 930 people today in the clinic. This was dental, doctors, eyeglasses, pain management, de-worming and anti-fungal for kids, wound care, etc. This is a miracle. We can do nothing but give God the glory. I am not sure how we did it except to state what we as a team have known this whole trip on good and bad days. It is not us doing anything. It is God working through us.

I do get frustrated by the local politicians. They want us to see everyone and they still bring their friends and family to get in first. My human side overtakes me and I get frustrated, but in all honesty I do not blame them. They only want the best for their people. The nearest hospital is about 8 miles away and when the people go there they walk; if the doctor is in, they stand in line and if he gets to them, they may or may not have the medicine they need. If they do not see him they walk 8 miles home. How can I get frustrated when the local leaders simply want to maximize our team being there so as many people can be treated as possible? Shame on me. I would want the same thing.

The clinics are hard, but even Jesus when he was healing people had to take time away to pray and recharge. Our team is stretched on the clinics, but everyone gives and gives and gives to be a blessing. The team has blessed me by their willingness to give of themselves and ask what else they can do.

It can also be overwhelming to realize that there are so many needs and sickness that our clinics cannot help. But once again I think of Jesus. He healed many, but not every person. Many people were in his presence and were blessed without a physical healing. Our time in Uganda is about more than healing physical ailments.

Dr. Moses asked me to start the clinic off by sharing with the crowds. He is a great man that I love. He has been with our teams since 2007 when he was our driver in Gulu and still in medical school. I pray I was a blessing.

The new kitchen and teacher housing unit are beautiful. The school is so different then when we first visited 2008. It is beautiful! The school that God built. I was talking with some of the children. I know many of them from over the years and I asked if they liked e new classrooms. They said yes and thanked me. I told them we needed to thank God as He was the one who did it. Not us. It was a fun moment to simply sit and talk about my wife and kids with them and answer questions about America.

I am rambling. I am worn out. I am off to bed. Today was amazing. God truly heard our prayers and gave us all we asked and more to make today a witness to His power.

Your team member will have some amazing stories to tell when they get home. Be prepared to meet some wonderful people. My time in Uganda always comes back to people and stories and new friends.
Thank you for your prayers. We feel them for sure.

Good night.

Comments from Chris about Clinics in Kikubo

Yesterday, started out with Mike, Katherine, and I - with Edward meeting the Residential District Commissioner named Richard. He is the President’s representative for Jinja district and reports straight to the President. I had the opportunity to pray for him; that was a blessing. I prayed for him to be the leader for his people that God calls him to be. I struggle having to make the political calls sometimes, but that is my pride. I realize that they grant us permission to set up in their area and want to be thankful for that.  It was good. He was very open to being prayed for and for our coming. Second time I have been in a meeting with such a high powered politician. Still feels strange. How did I get here?

You saw Kysia's post that yesterday was difficult. It was a challenge, but it was a blessing as well. We supported our hosts and we were able to simply love people. At times I get overwhelmed with the needs and how little is seems our medical clinic helps. The wounds and sicknesses we see that people live with breaks my heart. I am reminded of two things:

Firstly, we are not called to solve every issue in Jinja district of Uganda. We are to do our part and bring grace and love. Our presence, a hand shake or hug, and trying to speak their language validates them. It says, “We love you and God loves you.” We do nothing. God does everything. My favorite Catholic nun quote… "If you cannot feed 100 then feed just one". (Mother Theresa)

Secondly, I am reminded that even Jesus did not heal every person he met of a physical ailment. However, everyone in his presence was blessed and loved; plus, they knew Christ cared and loved them. We are here to be the hands and feet of Christ, to bless and love through Christ- to care.

I love this place. It is hard sometimes.  I think, God uses it to break my heart for the things that break his. We are off to serve! I cannot wait to get to the school today!

Pray extra today for the team. There will be more people today. The team is built of true soldiers for The Lord. I love their hearts of service and love!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Some Pictures from Today.

Of course I made friends with the chef at our hotel in Gulu. He invited me to cook with him next year. Score one for Chris!!

Children at Kikubo School helping Katherine with the bags.

Tents for waiting patients at clinic.

Pharmacy and Prayer room at Kikubo

The road to Kikubo

This is Viola.  My 12 year old daughter sponsors her by doing extra chores to pay for her school and other needs.  We have watched Viola grow these last few years.  She is part of our heart.  Today she had a tooth pulled.  She didn't like it very much. If you are interested in sponsoring a child from this area, please go to www.helponenow.org The children listed under Uganda are from this region in Pastor Edward Magumba's care.

Isaiah Chris and Chris.

Dennis was a helper for us in Gulu. He saw my Invisible Children bracelet and came to thank me. He said he worked for them making the bracelets; it paid his school fees and he now has a barbershop. He is also taking advanced schooling classes. Dennis was quiet and hard working. He told me he loved me very much for supporting him by buying a bracelet. Humbled.