Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday at Grenada Community Berean Church

The Go, see, serve team had the privilege of sharing at both services Sunday morning. The second service was 2 hours long!! African style!! It was an incredible time where truth was spoken and account of God's awesomeness, sovereignty and power was given.

You can listen to it here: Click on "Sunday sermons" then go down to May 30th. I had to click on "download" to get it to play but you are supposed to just click on the date.

Take care.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Orphans of God - Uganda

Click the title to see a video slideshow from the trip.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Reasons why...

...I love Uganda:

God used it. Just like I prayed He would and more. To break my heart for what breaks His. To teach me, once again, the importance of trusting in Him. To open my eyes to SO MANY widows and orphans. To remind me that I can make a difference. To renew my spirit. To give me new dreams.

The children. Every single one is amazing, beautiful, and heartbreaking. They each have so much to offer. My prayer is that every child I saw is able to be in a home where people love them. Pray for them. And help to equip them to live up to their incredible potential.

Prayers in Luganda. Every night the RHO kids sit around the kitchen table lifting up prayers to God. Even though I could never understand it and they always would be talking over one another the passion and urgency in their prayers was undeniable. And inspiring.

The Ugandan people! Everyone that I met had a unique story. Almost every single one broke my heart in a new way. Yet the people there have so much joy in life and strive to care for their families and others. There is a different way that people there connect to one another, it seems to get so much deeper so much faster then everywhere else I've been, (even camps!).

The non-Ugandan's who live there and have a passion for the people. Kathy through The Redeemer House. Amy at Loving Hearts Babies Home. Abby and Jess working with and setting up feeding programs for kids living on the streets of Kampala. Sheleah and the ministry her family has started to help refugee's from Sudan, Congo, and anywhere to start a new life in Uganda.

How different it is. It is so beyond and so much more than anything I could have begun to imagine. The way they build, drive, live, everything! It's just different!

Fresh pineapples and avocados. I ate them both a lot. Because they're fresh, cheap, and everywhere.

Greetings from Redeemer House kids. Most of all the one I mentioned in my last blog. But every morning when I first saw them each kid would say: "Praise God Aunt Elicia". That's just it. They were so happy for the day and me, (of all people!), being there to share it with them that they would always start by praising God.

There is hope. I saw it in the eyes of some of the people there. Hope for Uganda. Hope for change. Hope for a better future for themselves and their children. Hope in Christ Jesus.

In 28 days God was able to use everything about Uganda to forever change me. And I could not be more grateful. Or terrified.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Really fast...

Wow, things have been busy up at the house. Tomorrow morning some government officials should be coming to check out the orphanage and so they can approve care orders to Redeemer House Ministries for the kids. So please be praying that that goes well! They were supposed to come today, but never showed up.. Oh well, this is Africa.

In other news Renee left Sunday and Bill, (a missionary who runs a family home for children with medical conditions in China that came with the other team we spent time with), moved into Noah's room for the next few days. The kids started their term at school Monday, you would think life at the house would slow down a LOT when that happens. But it hasn't. It's fun still.

I think the best part of my last few days here was Friday afternoon when I came back to Redeemer House after spending two days with the other team. It was around 4 in the afternoon and as I came through the gate I heard: "Aunt Elicia! Praise God! Welcome back!" as I saw ten kids running towards me. I had only been gone 24 hours, but the hugs and smiles I was blessed with made it seem like I had been gone for months. It was such a blessing. Their smiles. Their hugs. Their hearts. Redeemer House, with these kids, has truly become my African Home.

As I wrap this up I want to ask for continued prayer. Prayer for the study of the house tomorrow. For organization. For wisdom. And continued energy. Not only for me, but also for Kathy and Bill. Thank you all so much! I can't wait to share more stories with you all.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The least of these...

Our team visited two sugar cane villages one day with some workers from the Welcome Home Africa orphanage. This was part of an ongoing ministry of teaching bible stories and songs to the children of the villages. Our team split up and 5 of us (Kathy included) went to one village and 5 to the other.
I had put an Awana grand prix car (made by Dawson Vaughan) in my backpack that day. I wanted to find the right child to give it too. As we walked into the village I prayed and asked God to show me a child to give the car to. As we sang with the children and I looked around and again choked back tears, I saw a little boy near the front of the group. I don't mean this in a mean way, but he was a mess. He had a big belly most likely full of worms, a large burn scar of the side of his head, he walked as if there was something wrong with his feets and legs, his skin looked awful with a dry scaliness to it, on his lower back was a "rash" and sores the like I have never seen. This boy was a medical mess. He was the picture of pitiful. Yet he stood and sang with the mass of children that were there.
I knew the car was meant for him. During the medical treatment time, Kathy was able to give some medicine for the boy to his uncle and learned part of his story. He is an orphan and his uncle now cares for him. (As I stood near the uncle, I could smell the alcohol coming from his breath and person. Alcoholism is a pervasive problem among the Ugandan men.) The boy had been asleep in a hut one night when there was a fire and the side of his head was burned. As for his other medical problems, there had been no real diagnosis and no treatment.
My heart was broken for this child. I wanted to pick him up and run out of that village. I wanted to tell him "I'm taking you to America and my doctors are gonna fix all this stuff." I never saw him smile. He just looked defeated. He couldn't even run and play with the other kids who were playing with the new soccer ball we brought to the village.
God provided a moment when I was able to give the car to him. He even managed a smile.

It was after moments like these when I would think of my American life and it sickened me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Source of the Nile River....

Our team got a chance to see the source of the Nile River which flows out of Lake Victoria and takes a 90 day 3000 mile journey to the Mediterranean Sea near Cairo, Egypt. We were at the opposite end from where Moses took his float trip.


Who could tell these three are brothers! From one of the remote villages on the shores of Lake Victoria. Ugandans are the most beautiful people I have ever seen. And so happy amid abject poverty. We could learn a lot from them - I did.

The kids of Redeemer House

Here they all are: Annet, Gloria, Saida, Esther, Sara, Gladys, Natasha, Deo, Brian, Allan, Api, Nicholas, Ivan and Joshua.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This is Elicia and... I'm still in Africa!! God is good!! Sunday as we were getting ready to leave to go home there was some things happening that was just stirring up in me the desire and the need for me to stay a little longer and help out at The Redeemer House. And after calling my parents and Shauna being AMAZING and making the arrangements in 20 minutes I'm staying until next week!! I have a whole other week here!! God is awesome!

It has been flying by so far.. Sunday Kathy, Renee, and I dropped the guys off at the airport for a crazy plane ride back to the states and headed back to the orphanage. Luckily all the kids were already in bed asleep so I was able to sneak in without anyone seeing me since they didn't know I was staying. Monday morning I got to surprise the kids and spend a bunch of time with them in the morning. The best was when two little kids who spend the days during their school holiday at the house that I had really connected with showed up. Their mom was in tears when she told me how she had prayed that I could stay just a little longer to be able to play with and love on her kids. Moments like that will stick with me for a lifetime.

That afternoon the three of us muzungu's took the 4 oldest girls to Oweno Market. If you can imagine the biggest street fair you've ever seen... Multiplied by 20... With about 500 more vendors... And botta's, bicycles, and people carrying huge sacks on their heads while about 3,000 people weave their way in and out among people and haggle with the vendors.. That only begins to describe it.

A generous person had given money so that we could take all of the kids shopping and let them pick out what they wanted to spend it on. The kids were floored. They are beyond thankful for every little thing, so this blew their mind. The girls ended up with lots of clothes, backpacks and new shoes for church (The boys all wanted the same, plus some toys and army men). Because of our late start we didn't get to take the girls to sit down and have a soda in a restaurant like we'd hoped, but instead got them biscuits and some grasshoppers for the road which they were quite content with.

Tuesday Kathy, Renee and I went out to Bethany Village. It's an orphan village across Lake Victoria that is partnered with Africa Renewal Ministries... (I think, we've heard so many names it's hard to remember them all!) The village has a clinic, a primary school, and 11 homes with gardens, out houses, and out buildings (used for cooking and storage) that house up to 15 children and 1 mama. It may sound like a little bit of an institution, but it's not at all! We were able to see the Bethany Choir before they left for a trip across the lake for a competition against other choirs from projects run by Africa Renewal where the winning choir, plus the 3 best kids from all the other choirs, get to go to America for a concert tour. The kids were beyond excited to have the opportunity.

I started making balloon hats for the kids standing around me, some from the local fishing village and some from the choir. After the choir kids left the open air school where they had been practicing Renee and Kathy were able to pass our MUCH needed clothes to the village kids while I tied more than 100 balloons. Again, we prayed for fishes and loaves. And AGAIN God came through. Every kid left with a balloon hat and a new piece of clothing. God is good!

Yesterday we took the boys to the market and I was able to get "UP" (for a dollar!) to watch with the kids on Kathy's computer last night. It was super fun!! They loved it.

I have to wrap this up because the internet is about to go off, but today I got to spend the day with the team led by Dwight, who Justin came with last year, playing soccer and doing community clean up with a bunch of kids off the streets in a slum outside Kampala. They have a very different style, but they're awesome. And it's great to see how God is working through them too.

God is AMAZING. And so present here in Africa. Pray for The Redeemer House as it is going through a time of transition. Pray for wisdom and confidence in decisions for Kathy. And for Renee and I to be able to support her in the best way possible.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One of my favorite pics of the entire trip...

This old man lived in one of the sugar cane villages outside of Jinja. I am sure he lived through the Idi Amin era and all its devastation. We couldn't communicate, but imagine the stories this old boy could tell!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What I asked for

This is an entry from my journal that I wrote on the plane. It's the "disclaimer" to my journal.

16 May 2010

While reading through [my journal entries] I realized I have mostly talked about the good, beautiful and positive things but fail to mention most of the sad, heartbreaking and ugly things. (A lot of which consume Uganda).

I think part of this has to do with the fact that for a lot of the trip I felt "out of it" (to others and myself). I believe that I was like that because there is and was and will be so much to process. And the bad stuff is the hardest to process and understand because the more I think about it,the sadder (for lack of a better word), more distracted, upset and uneasy I become.

It is hard to think about/soak in all the things that make up Uganda, let alone write or talk about them.

This is not meant to sound like a wonderful, lovely, happy trip. It was hard, relentless, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically draining. No one really WANTS to experience everything that is in Uganda. Yes, I LOVED it but that had a lot to do with the people (not the places or circumstances of peoples lives) and God. I enjoyed the trip because every moment I was there I knew I was where God wanted me to be. And I was working to fill the hole in our gospel by loving Him and my neighbors (even the ones half way around the world).

I was taking my faith into action and caring for the poor, the widows and the orphans. He gave me joy, peace and eyes to see the beauty in the people and not judging them based on their situation -- no I was not perfect, but I tried. There were days I was judgemental, frustrated and confused, but God held my hand all the way through (through the hands of the children of Uganda).

Things are slowly seeping in and taking root. I cried on the plane ride home as some of the emotions of it all started to hit me. I am guessing it was only the first of many tears to come (so far I've been right) but it is okay. It is what I asked for.


I'm home. I'm getting ready to get into my clean warm bed. My stomach is full. I'm tired but totally healthy. I just walked to the kitchen sink and got a clean glass of cold water and then plugged in my cell phone and digital camera to charge. The heater just kicked on to keep the house within two degrees of the set temperature.

Where am I? Where have I been?

Lord, don't ever let me forget what you've taught me. Your love is better than life. Help me to walk worthy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We're alive!

*WARNING! This post is gonna be long due to the fact that we have not had internet and have not been able to post since we got into Jinja.*

Wednesday: We left Kampala early in the morning so that we could drive to Jinja. The drive is about 2 ½ hours and is absolutely gorgeous. Part of the trip is through an incredible rainforest with massive trees. Other parts go through sugar cane and tea plantations. The way things grow here is astounding.

Once we arrived in the much-smaller-than-Kampala town called Jinja, we quickly settled into our new guest house and went downtown to get some Rolexes (chappati with scrambled egg wrapped in the middle) for lunch. While waiting for our food we saw some boys on the street and started giving them some whirrly-gigs (a big hit over here--way to go Bill!) and a few hacky sacks. They hung out with us for awhile and soon enough we found out that one of them - David - lost both his parents and is now living on the street alone. He thinks he is 12 years old. (this information was confirmed by our awesome driver Farouq who lives in Jinja and basically knows everything J)

David is a skinny little boy who has a big heart and no where to go. As a group we gathered around him and laid hands on him and prayed that God would continue to protect him and that he would accept Jesus as his savior. There was about 5 other boys hanging out with him, and although they have homes no one looks out for them during the day. So we sat the boys down and gave each of them a rolex. It seems small but in that moment it was a huge blessing to them and to us.

Also while in downtown we found an art store. I just have to say “WOW!” Angelo, the man who does all the paintings, is an INCREDIBLE artist. He can truly capture the beauty and devastation that is Africa.

The rest of the day included: stopping by Welcome Home (an orphanage with 70 kids), worshipping while Ron played the guitar and going to Kingfisher Resort.

At Kingfisher Resort we took a boat trip in Lake Victoria to the head of the Nile River. Did you know that the Nile River is the only river that starts in a lake? Or that 30% of the water comes from an underground spring that we got to see? It is quite incredible actually. We stood at the source of the Nile River. HOW COOL!

Thursday: WOOHOO!!! Not only did we see the source of the Nile, we all nearly drowned in the Nile - just kidding (kind of)! On Thursday morning we all loaded up into the back of a big truck, towing two big yellow rafts behind it, and headed back to the big river. (Justin’s friends who live here set us up to go white water rafting Wednesday night. It was opportunity to SEE one of God’s coolest creations and experience a little bit of His power. We couldn’t pass this one up.)

It wasn’t long before we were in the river and going over all the safety “stuff” and commands we would need to know. Kevin was shaking in his skin from the beginning and took all the rules and guidelines very seriously. As for everyone else (minus Ron and Renee who did not join us and instead went and SERVED at Welcome Home) we were ready to rock and roll.

Throughout the trip we went down 12 rapids ranging from class 3 to class 5 (class 5 is about as good as it gets without being suicidal). Our guide, who has literally traveled the world and gone rafting in some of the best rivers said the Nile is one of his favorite (because of how big it is and power that it possess. Sadly, the part we went down will no longer exist the way it does now, due to the dam they are putting in L) Fortunately, we were able to experience God’s intricate artwork before man decides to take it into his own hands.

The whole trip was great. But the best part, by far, was going down Silverback. One of the best rafting rapids in the world. It is monstrous.

On approaching the rapid our guide warned us that there was a possibility that our raft would flip. He quickly reminded us of what to do in case we did flip. Thankfully he did. Because about half way through the rapid we hit a big wave and our raft went right over on top of us.
Everyone was thrown out. Except for Kevin. He followed the directions just like he was told - when all was said and done Kevin still had ahold of the rope on the side of the boat and the “t-handle” to his paddle. Kevin always does what mommy tells him. This time it worked out well for him.

Most of us spent more time under the water than we bargained for. And we all “got” (had ) to swim in the Nile for quite some time as we gathered paddles (apparently paddles are more important for people. “We can find more customers, but we can‘t find more paddles [in Uganda]”, as put by our loving and compassionate rafting guide)…and then the team.

We got everyone gathered up and of course shared our individual near-death-experience stories as we enjoyed a nice lunch on the river. Some of us even swam the rest of the way back to shore. It was incredible. And now you can just call us Moses - yep we floated down the same river baby Moses did. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Since we had done a half day trip we then went with some of the staff from Welcome Home Orphanage out to some sugar cane villages for a ministry that they do weekly. We had no idea what to expect. They had us split up into two groups so we could experience two villages. What we did see is how 80% of Uganda lives. In huts, living with pigs, goats, chickens and ducks living in and among them. There was more flies than we had seen anywhere else on the faces and especially the cuts of the people living there. Most of the children in these villages were literally dressed in rags, dresses held together by zippers, pants filled with holes, and sweaters that are barely held together by string. But the villages offered two different experiences.

The first village we came across was “small” with 500 people living there. The Welcome Home staff gathered the children to sing songs and do a Bible Study while a pastor spoke with the adults. The music was good, but as they taught our hearts were broken by the “works gospel” being preached. Telling the children that they would go to hell if they did not obey their parents, stole, or lied. When we were asked to share Justin spoke about how our hearts get broken by sin and other people, but Jesus has the power and grace to forgive these things and make our hearts whole again. Kevin was also able to share about God protecting him when he was in a motorcycle accident last year. When it came time to pass out the gifts we had brought we were praying for fishes and loaves. That God would multiply the snack bars we brought to feed every kid… And He did! Not that I’m really that surprised, but it was still amazing to see how we had enough. Kathy was with us and was able to give some Tylenol and de-worming medicine as well as clean some of the cuts of people there.

The second village was MUCH bigger, (but we didn’t know that when we split up our team 50/50), with over 1,000 children. The native language there was Swahili so Lashae was able to sing a song to a children that a friend had taught her. The message in that village was the story of Paul and Silas in jail, but did not have any “works gospel”, so that was encouraging. When they were passing out gifts it was basically a mob scene. Children pushing over each other trying to get a piece of candy or a little car. And to think we all grew up with a toy chest full of toys…

We tried to put a post up that night from an internet café, but as soon as it was almost finished they closed and shut the wireless adaptor off. Oops.

Friday was… just wow. Our first stop was at a whole sale shop to buy soap and salt to hand out the three island villages that we were going to with a pastor to preach the gospel and provide some medical care. There was 16 of us, 450 pounds of soap, 450 pounds of salt, and 200 pounds of donations in 30 foot, leaky wooden boat, with a 25 horse power motor. On the 45 minute drive to the first village the edge of our boat was seriously 10” off the water.

We were greeted with smiles at all 3 villages. Kathy, Elicia, and Mark set up inside the “community center” or under a tree and tried to see as many sick children in the most orderly and effective way possible. The rest of the team sang with the villagers, Justin shared the story of the heart, and Ron shared a message, (the story of Jonah in the first village and of Jesus walking on water in the other 2). When it came time to hand out the soap, the inside of the 12’x 24’ stick, mud and grass-thatched church turned into a mob scene. Mom’s were pushing little kids out of the way and stretching out their hands as far as they could while crowding in around us, just to get half a bar of blue laundry soap and a package of salt. They would do just about anything to get a small amount of soap (they use it for everything: bathing, washing clothes, washing dishes, etc.), many consider it a gift from God (because it is). The second village was better because it was smaller and happened to have another hole in the wall for people to exit after receiving their new treasure. But men, women and children worked hard to get inside and piled in one after another. They were desperate. They were also forever thankful, they would kneel down and say “God bless you. ’sank you.” grinning from ear to ear. Then would gather with their friends and celebrate with laughs and excitement. ALL FOR SOAP!

To truly describe what it was like in any of the villages… You would just have to see it, smell it, live it. Pictures will help, but the words just won’t even begin to do it justice.

Although we were all emotionally exhausted when we got back, we had donations to bring to Welcome Home and Our Own Home, an orphanage for only HIV positive kids. Even though we were only there for about ten minutes Our Own Home had a profound impact on many of us. These kids. Who will all develop AIDS began singing for us: “I will praise Him all the rest of my days”. These kids KNOW they are dying. And it’s not their fault. But they choose to praise the Lord with all of their hearts. It was truly awe inspiring and as we were leaving many of us were brought to tears.

Back at our guest house we shared laughter and tears as we reminisced and asked the question weighing heavily on all of our minds as we prepare to head home: Now what? We have all this knowledge now and have met all these beautiful people and seen the devastation in which they live. So now, how do we help from home? How do we continue to make a difference? How can we paint a true picture when we go home and share our stories with all of you our friends and family? How can we use this experience in Uganda to change and shape the rest of our lives? Although we have no perfect answer we have begun a conversation and hope to reach a solution to the portion we have been given.

*This blog has been brought to you by Lashae and Elicia. Can you tell who blogged where?*

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The People of Uganda All Have a Name

Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” 1Samuel 3:6

This name was important to God. He had a special purpose for Samuel. It is also true that the people of Uganda have a special place in God’s heart and they all have a name. The team and I have met many people in our ten days in Uganda. The first person I met at Ssenge House for Boys was George. He greeted me at the end of the driveway with yellow beads (VW logo attached). He is about 12 years old and is the leader among the boys. He worked the hardest and played the hardest and somehow was in the center of almost every photograph taken. Ronald was the youngest, probably about six. He was playing drums. keeping perfect rhythm, during our brick line that moved 800 bricks from where they were dumped to the building. JR was one of the young men at the house; they call him Uncle. He is a young man in his twenties who along with some ladies called aunties look after the kids. They call all of us Uncle now. JR is university trained and will be a CPA soon but his heart is helping the boys. Samuel is another of the uncles from the boys house in Kampala. He did a great job of leading worship on guitar at the house. All of the songs he played we do in our church back home. Lala, one of the other boys, wants to learn to play as well. At Redeemer House I met Nicholas who is a very good reader. I placed him with the task of reading the book, “The Three Trees” and gave him the matching tie to wear. He was very excited and was doing very well with the book. I also met Noah at Redeemer House. He is a gold mine of laughter and excitement. Twenty-four years old going on ten. He is on the staff at the house and is a children’s pastor at a local church. He is very tall and extremely skinny. He also has a million different comical facial expressions that go along with his strange tricks that he does for the kids. He has a high pitched voice that makes you laugh as he pats your head and tells you he loves you. A real fun guy to have around and the children love him too. I have met many orphans and their names are written on my heart. The impact of starvation, AIDS, political corruption and tyranny have taken its toll on the lives of the children of this beautiful country. I met a women whose name is burned into my heart at the slum outreach. I am not going to share her name to guard her privacy. However she is a widow, has six kids and has HIV. That is far to common here. Early in the day she asked if she could receive Jesus Christ as her Savior. The team prayed with her and she became a Christian. Praise God!!! About six hours later she came back to us and was seeking God’s forgiveness for drinking alcohol. Many of the team shared with her their struggles with alcohol and she was helped and encouraged in prayer. The people of Uganda need hope: those who are orphaned, widowed, sick with AIDS and dying from starvation. The people of this place need to know that God has not forgotten them. To know that God still loves them and will forgive them. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering towards us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. My hope is that Christians can know Ugandans by their names. To meet them and to help them in their time of need. I also hope they can know us by name. I am having a t-shirt made here in Jinja that says’ “My name is not Muzungo”, because every time people see us on the street they shout,“Muzungo! Muzungo !”, which in Uganda means white man. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. I hope we can help the people of this special place and in result they can know that our Father in heaven who loves them. “Save me O God, by your name, and vindicate me by your strength”. Psalm 54:1.

Tom 5-12-10

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kevin's pictures!

faith like a child

Tonight's blog is being brought to you by Elicia, again. Tom said he's too tired tonight, but promises to blog tommorrow... Kevin has decided that since a picture is worth a thousand words he's already posted upwards of 20,000 so he's under the impression that he's off the hook for blogging and while I disagree he's been taking some pretty amazing shots so I can't argue much.

As you may, or may not, have noticed Chuck didn't say much about our day yesterday... That's because he spent six and a half hours yesterday trying to get a drill for hire, plywood, and some timber for various projects at The Redeemer House. I kid you not, almost 7 hours. The rest of us stayed up at the house. We sang worship with the kids, played, and were able to have some good conversations with some of the staff there. When Chuck did make it back with the drill we tried to put together triple-decker bunk beds that have quite a story behind them (ask Jaja Kathy about them). None of the peices have been measured properly AND there were no slats to keep the mattress' (2" pieces of foam) up. Unfortunatly the screws that we ended up with were too short so about a half hour after we got back to our guest house Justin got a call from his mom saying that the boys bunk had fallen apart when one of the boys was getting up onto the middle bunk. So last night the kids slept on the floor again.

This morning Lashae and I FINALLY got our first rides on bottabottas! So fun! After Chuck went to the steal store to get better screws, (he'd tried to yesterday, but the guys who work there decided to take an hour and a half lunch break), we were able to put the bunk beds together so they would stay together. Then the work began. Kevin and Tom built shelves for the girls closet. Charlie bulit a toothbrush holder for the bathroom and a counter for the kitchen. Justin, Mark, and Ron along with a rotation of kids, Sandy, and Patrick (two of the guys working at Redeemer House) built 6 benches. Not without some confusion when it came to Mark's counting though. Renee, Lashae and I ran interference for the kids and also helped on projects when the guys would let us.

It has been so great spending so much time up there because we have really gotten to know all of the kids and see their personalities truly shine after spending a few days together. These kids who started their lives in slums and have experienced more pain and heartache then I can imagine still have such joy and are still able to let loose and just be kids. The faith they have in Christ is astounding. There is not an hour that passes where I don't hear kids wondering around singing worship songs. Every day we've been at the house at least three other kids come and hang out all day and get fed, taught, and loved just like all the rest. They are so satisfied with what they have, even though it is so little. 8 girls live in 14'-14' room. Each girl has their own shelf that isn't even close to full. By the time we leave there will also be 8 boys living in a room that is 9'-10' (they have decided to add a new boy to the house). They do have a running toliet in the house, but instead a new latrine and shower has been put in out back. There is a tall skinny tree in the front yard that the kids have tied a rope to one of the branches and put a stick through the loop at the bottom to make a swing. And they all have such JOY! You'd have to meet them to truly understand. But hopefully that kind of helps.

Miss Ashton sent us a great verse today that just fit perfectly for... well everyday, but espically today: Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exhaulted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens. --Psalm 148:13

Thank you all for your prayers!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Uganda Abbreviated

T.I.A. : This is Africa, not sure where this originated but just about the time you think you have life and everything figured out here you are brought back to reality because it either does not exist in their world or they think they know what you are looking for and show you everything else but what really wanted. Or you think it might be at the next strip mall ( large storage containers lined up Side by side) you will go flying past.

Matato: These are Toyota mini vans that have been adapted to accommodate 14 passengers. Yah right, try adapted for 14 but hold upwards of 20, so far no live animals inside the van. Plus you drive on the wrong side of the road not so much at a high rate of speed but just inches from the other two rigs on either side of you going the same direction on the 2 way street, with the other Matatos, pedestrians, goats, and your occasional Watusi cow herd being driven to their feed grounds for the day. Oh, the there is the BotaBota.

BotaBota: In America, this is your classic Honda Trail 100. These guys believe they own the road only thing is they are just a step above the 3 million pedestrians wandering in and out of traffic. But they haul everything in the usual quantity your average 1 ton dually will haul in the states. Plus, they haul passengers in and out of traffic like synchronized swimmers at the Olympic games. But hey, for 15 cents you get the thrill ride of your life. Kind of like a near death experience in 3-D, however it will keep you in constant contact with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

T.I.U.:This is Uganda. What a beautiful country. This is where the water is which feeds all of eastern Africa. Only problem is they do not use it. God supplies it they just have not figured out how to use it like lets say, The Netherlands. Thing is the beauty only masks the real poverty and some of the most disgusting things you can only imagine, let me rephrase that, you cannot imagine unless you come see it, smell it, live in it.

M.T.N.: Have no idea what it stands for but that is the first place we stopped so we could get our SIM cards And buy 10000 airtime cards. You think right on 10000 minutes, naught, try about 10 minutes of actual air time. That is 10000 shillings, so sorry to all of our loved ones out there who have been cut off in mid sentence. But have no fear, there are little MTN shops everywhere where you can buy more airtime; side by side, next strip mall 200 meters from the last strip mall, in town, in the villages, in the slum, next to the church, and you can even buy airtime as you drive down the street.

T.I.S.: Tip It Straight. This was a new building term I learned here in Uganda, after all I have only hand drove a few thousand nails in my building career, but was shown how to drive a nail with my hammer (spelled UMA) that is too strong, by a local “ master” carpenter. Thus now it has become a common phrase here with the team.

L.A.M.: Look At Me. Another term I learned from the “master” carpenter. As I would stand there in disbelief at what I was unlearning, I would look at what the master was saying, trying to understand or make sense of it, and the master would no you need to look at me, not over there. Focus on me. Again, a highly used term here in Uganda.

N.G.O.: Non Governmental Organization. There are glimpses of some form of government here, but not really. There is the hand full of white clad traffic control officers, who are mostly on break or have just given up on the fact that there is NO control on the traffic here. If you have the brass to pull out onto the road you own it, take your part out of the middle and go, or stop, or just pull part way into the road so that you can create a JAM. Traffic jam that is, which is the only thing a BotaBota or bicycle cannot make it through.

T.Y.P.: Thank You Please. This is the most courteous way to say Thank you. You just add the please.

S.O.N. Shot Of Noah. Everybody needs a little shot of Noah. For you that have not been to Uganda, you can only get a half shot until you actually step foot over here. For you who have not met him, he is 6’2” 150 lbs. of shack raised, God fearing, Jesus loving, prayer warrior, who is 22 going on 12. He sleeps minutes at a time and prays for hours on end. Kind of the opposite of just about all of us. We seem to sleep or waste hours at a time and pray minutes at a time. So we have figured about the time we think we are burnt out or run down, both physically and spiritually, we would just take a shot of Noah to jack us up for Jesus. Kinda like a 5 hour energy drink without all the extra added sugar. Well mostly, he does love “Stickles”. That is Skittles to all of us, it just that Noah cannot say that word for some reason.

All in all, we have been blessed beyond imagination by these people who for the most part, actually all in part have nothing. They say thank you please for blessing us, when we give them anything, and I mean anything, down to the basics, just like a bar of soap will drive a woman to her knees with her hands raised to heaven in thanksgiving. You would’ve thought she won the lottery, as she comes over and grasps your hands and says; God bless you. Problem is you don’t know what she looks like because the tears are so welled up in your eyes. All for S.O.AP.

Thank you all from all of us.

Charlie (Uncle Charles) Brewer

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Today we attended two church services, one at Gaba church, and one at Grace ministries international. We started around 8:30 and ended at 2:00pm. Heavy rains caused a slight delay however. The first and second church were not without contrast between them. The worship music and dance is fantastic and engaging, the passion is unlike I have ever seen. The sermon was on repentance, starting with forgiving yourself, and others, also not repeating those sins that you have asked to be forgiven for. Math. 6: 14-15, 1st john 1: 8-10, Rom 6:1-4. The style of the pastor is fun as he interacts with the church. Helloooo!! (inside team joke,sorry)The second church had a little different flavor with a lot of attention focused on the rich muzungu visitors that had shown up to their church.
After church, on our way to Redeemer house, we visited some more slum areas. As we walked the roads it’s hard to explain just how close the car vs. pedestrian situation is. Had a great meal at the Redeemer house and played with the kids. It is safe to say each one of them craves the attention of each and everyone of the team, we are blessed to give it.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Moments from Redeemer House

Moments from Redeemer House

Just a quick note about African is very normal and expected to hold someone's hand as your talk together...even men.

True worship...

The Armor of God

Day 6
So much to say, no words can explain what we have experienced, the faith of the believers here, you would need to experience yourself to understand. When they pray they pray believing, expecting an answer and God hears the cry of His people. Yesterday I had a young girl from the Redeemer House ask if she could pray for me I had no idea what her prayer was, it was in Luganda but I could truly feel the presence of God as she prayed. We as a team have witnessed the healing power of God through the prayers of these children. When we got back to the apartment the church next door was alive and well with worship and preaching. At about 12:00 AM I thought their church service would be ending at any time but at 5:00AM my thought was, go home so I can get some sleep. The minute that thought went through my head I started praying for salvation for the lost that might be in the service. The moment I started praying I felt like some- one’s hand was choking me. I rebuked Satan in the name of Jesus Christ but it wasn’t until I opened my Bible when that feeling left. Sounds strange but it left me an emotional wreck. Spiritual warfare is alive and well in Uganda. We need to cloth ourselves with the full Armor of God. Please keep us in your prayers.
We went to the slums today to reach out and love on the people who live in “Kuwaka“. Most of the children at Redeemer House came from this slum. We were given a tour of the slum, again unexplainable. We held a VBS with songs and gifts for the children. Kathy and Justin spoke and then the whole team plus the Redeemer House kids and staff helped lead some worship. Then Tom and I preached. We were blessed to see several people give their life to Christ. Thirty to forty people came forward for prayer. After the service we had purchased beans, rice, posho, salt and sugar to giveaway. The children from the Redeemer House fasted so they could purchase soap to give to the people. What a blessing to see how thankful they were to receive something to eat. What a day to celebrate the joy of the Lord.
Please keep praying for us.
Love in Christ, Ron

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 5

Well, another amazing day in Africa and I have no idea where to begin. For those expecting to hear from another voice on the team... sorry it's Justin again. We couldn't seem to get nailed down who would be blogging tonight and apparently everyone went to bed without anyone doing it. I will make this short and sweet because I need to get some rest (as many of you know I was pretty sick yesterday).

Today brought so many new and incredible things, starting with the market. We took a van to the edge of the city to a small corner of land criss-crossed by railroad tracks and dotted with mud puddles from the near daily rainstorms. Walking into the market immediately contrasts the stark beauty and utter poverty that is Uganda. Ragged tarps claim 10X10 plots of land which are covered with local crafts of such amazing artisanship they seem to be out of place. Necklaces, drums, clothes, toys, anything you can imagine is for sale. As you walk by each vendor bids you "come and have a look", all claiming to have the best for the lowest price. Each person is trying to make the most on each sale so they start prices high, but expect you to barter, it's the African way. Some people did better than others, all did better than Charlie. Usual bargaining goes something like this. me- "How much for this?" him- "Twenty thousand" (Schillings, about 10 dollars) me- "Oh, hmm" him- "But I make a good price for you." me- "How much?" him- "How much you have?" me- "What's your best price?" him- "Seventeen thousand" me- "Fifteen?" pause him- "Ok". Charlie's bargaining goes something like this. Charlie- "How much?" him- "Twenty thousand" Charlie- "That your best price?" him- "Best price " Charlie- "Ok".

After we purchased more things than we can possibly take home, we headed to Redeemer House Orphanage around lunch. I am not sure who wrote what yesterday, but those kids and workers are some of the most incredible people on the planet. Selfless, loving, giving, genuine. There is definitely fruit of the Spirit coming from them. As said, I was sick yesterday, sick enough to need I.V.'s and a day in the clinic. (Thank you to all those who prayed for us) The doctor told me I would be down for three of four days and when I went to bed last night I thought that might be a conservative estimate. I have never been so sick. Waking up this morning I still felt puny, but thought I would come down stairs and try to eat. Five minutes later I was back in bed, exhausted. Everything hurt. I layed there for awhile and decided I at least needed to get logistics worked out for the day so back down I went. This time I took one of the letters that various peole wrote for the team to read daily and when Kevin read it we all nearly fell out of our chairs. The scripture referenced was amazingly timely Hosea 6:1-3 (New International Version)

1 "Come, let us return to the LORD.

He has torn us to pieces

but he will heal us;

he has injured us

but he will bind up our wounds.

2 After two days he will revive us;

on the third day he will restore us,

that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;

let us press on to acknowledge him.

As surely as the sun rises,

he will appear;

he will come to us like the winter rains,

like the spring rains that water the earth."

Only God. I felt as if God were speaking directly to my heart. I ate breakfast, got ready and joined the others, three of whom had been sick as well, but feeling good today. As we were in the van my mom began telling us how Noah, the Uncle of the house, and some of the kids stayed up instead of going to bed and prayed for us to get better from 8:30 pm until 12:30 am! A few of the younger ones even snuck out and joined. I was blown away. When we got to the house, Noah told me that at 11:00 that night God told him that we would all be there for lunch, so he told the kids. They were not the least bit surprised to see us all, they had prayed specifically and God had answered, specifically. The faith of a child! I can honestly say that by the time lunch was served I was 100%. I also know that if I had woken up feeling good I would have accredited it to a good nights sleep, medication and God. But that's not how God works. He wants all the glory, all the credit, and I humbly give it to Him now. Praise you Father, thank you. God wants to show himself to be the awesome and powerful God that He is, sometimes it just takes the faith of a child to recognize it. Give God the glory in everything today.