Monday, July 27, 2009

Two wild and crazy guys

So I've never really been around adult twins before, I know that's a funny realization to have, but I had it. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Jess's twin brother, Jim, brought a team to work here for a couple of weeks, and it was awesome! Both of these guys are a blessing to work alongside and even though Jim was here for just a short time, getting to see him and Jess together playing off of each others jokes and just doing twin stuff was so cool! Especially with them tag teaming outreaches. I have to admit I half expected them to have a special twin handshake, but I was let down on that one but I won't hold that against them...much.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Safariying it up

I had an awesome chance to go with the team to rock a safari at a game park in northern Uganda. I had gone once before when I came to Uganda the first time, but this time seemed to be even more awesome than when I went before. A main contributor the amazingness factor is that I rode in the bed of the truck with Jess's twin brother Jim. The majority of the team was riding in a van with a little hole in the top you could stand up and see out of, but Jim and I chose to rock the truck while Jess drove and Jim's wife sat shotgun. Jess tied a rope around the cab so that we had something to hold onto, so needless to say we had a blast with hours of safari cowboy style. We were absolutely covered in dirt and my legs are still recovering, but there's nothing that beats getting to see elephants, lions, and giraffes up close and personal.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trip into Karamoja

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tourble or hardship or persection or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? - Romans 8:35

For three days Jess, Bev, and myself took a team into the heart of Karamoja to visit outcasts of Ugandan tribes, the Karamajong.

This tribe is unlike any other people group I've ever encountered while here in Uganda and their culture is just fascinating. They are a pastoral society where their wealth is primarily in their cattle. Throughout the area they live in their little family groups in huts surrounded by fences to keep away enemy warriors who try to steal their livestock or women. The men typically wear brightly colored sheets that they have tied around them while wearing awesome little hats and carrying a stick they use to herd their cows or goats. The women wear knee-length plaid skirts and tank tops with a sheet tied around them kind of like a cape with brightly colored beaded necklaces adorning their necks. Along with their clothing, their dancing is quite different, they dance by jumping up and down (if you're familiar with the Mossai from Kenya - they're relatives to Karamajong).

While these people are welcoming to us as visitors they face MANY struggles and even though I am surrounded by poverty on a daily basis, the situation of these people breaks my heart in a whole new way and gives me a whole new sense of helplessness. For the past three years they have suffered from a severe drought and famine and the people are dying of starvation. It's simple: no rain, no food. Many NGO (Non-government organizations) are stationed there but provide little, if any, actual help to the people of the Moroto area. They are desperate for help and will seek it in any way they can, and that's why we went to visit them.

Day 1
Our team of 10 left in the wee hours of the morning to embark upon an 8 hour drive to go just over 200 miles. The roads to get to the town of Moroto are famous for how terrible they are as there are several times you might do well to have a mouth guard and helmet as you traverse the bumpy road. At one point on our drive, we even saw a food/cooking oil distribution taking place to one of the villages. When we finally arrived, we went to the home of our contact, Noah, who is a Karamajong who went through the School of Ministry here in Jinja. WE were able to enjoy a good local lunch and then we headed to speak with about 30 individuals who either had HIV/AIDS or are the children of one who has died from it. They were able to hear the Gospel and solid teaching from Jess, Jim (Jess's twin brother) and Doug (the Pastor from Jim's church). After the teaching they sang several heart-wrenching songs about the suffering of the Karamajong and specifically those with AIDS. I was able to spend some time talking with some ladies about how their job as mothers is to raise their children to know Jesus so they can be with them in heaven one day where there will be no more tears and no more suffering. After that whirlwind of emotions, we went to our guest house where we all stayed in little bungalows. We ended the night with dinner and I had some instant coffee (which believe it or not wasn't half bad).

Day 2
I will preface this by telling you that out of all the short-term trips I've been on, this would be one of the highlights of my mission trip experiences. We started the day by going to visit some ex-prisoners who are attempting to support themselves and their families by having a brick making business. While Jess and Bev were speaking to them and encouraging them in their walks, the rest of the team was doing a program for the kids who were around. As I was just standing and taking everything in, God really laid on my heart to speak with the women who were just sitting by the side not really a part of any of the other things going on. So I grabbed a translator (this little 4ft tall woman) and I was able to share with the women about how God knows their suffering, loves them and hears their prayers, and how He sent His son who experience hunger and suffering himself to die for them so they could be with Him forever. I concluded it by telling them that God is the one who gives rain, and praying for them is greater than any material thing I could ever give them. It was unreal standing there talking with them as they were gathered around in the shade of a little tree. After I had finished I just talked with them about their culture and had such an awesome time laughing and being humbled that God would allow me to have that opportunity. From There, we went to look at one of the small fenced in villages (a Kraal) where they must have a couple of layers of fences of thorns and sticks in order to keep out enemy warriors (who had just come the night before we were there).

After we had finished with that amazing exprience, we went to eat lunch at one of the local pastors houses and then were off to the prisons. It was awesome because we had an opportunity to teach and encourage them but then they did some worship in their own language and were jumping up and down dancing with such awesome joy. Throughout the day, we just continued to get blown away by what God was allowing us to be a part of. As we pulled up to a primary (elementary) school. It started pouring rain, a rain that they said they hadn't had since April. It was so awesome seeing God answer the prayers for rain in such a huge way! Through shouting over the loud sound of the rain on the tin roof (which we didn't mind) we had fun singing and dancing with the kids. I was even jumping up and down and my calves are hating me today, but it was worth it. All in all it was an absolutely amazing day and I was so amazed at the lessons God taught me and reminded me of.

Day 3

We went to one of the larges slums in all of Karamoja and heard songs from the kids and did some of our own songs. While the team was doing their thing for the younger kids, I was able to hang out with some of the older girls and talk with them, trying to emphasize that they shouldn't be trusting in anyone other than God to provide what they need (which I know in especially this case is easier said than done). It was cool just getting to talk to them as that age is who I spend most of my time ministering to in Jinja. From there we loaded up and began our 8 hour trek back to Jinja. I'm so glad I was able to have this opportunity, it was definitely one I will never forget.

A little soapbox
Seeing this kind of wide-spread suffering, leaves you feeling so unbelievably helpless as to how you can assist them materially. But through the rain, God taught me just how aware He is about the suffering and need of His people. I humbly ask you to pray for Uganda as a whole to no longer experience drought and famine, but specifically this area where they will know that it is God, not gods, who give them rain and that they would truly come to a saving relationship in Him, no longer seeking help from westerners but seeking Him and Him alone as He is the one who gives us living water.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning some compassion

So I've always known that Bev is one busy lady, I've even done my best to lend a helping hand when I could, but today I got a whole new appreciation for the mayhem that makes up her life. She, Jess, and Jess's twin brother and his wife had to go and do something today and so that left me to hold down the fort while they were gone. Now, I've done that before but it was never on a Monday and oh my sweet goodness! I honestly can't even convey to you how much pure insanity took place today and the things that had to be dealt with, all of which are pretty typical things that she has to deal with on a nearly daily basis. I just really couldn't believe it, and at the end of the day I was not a happy camper and I was loathing that verse "Do all things without complaining..." because I may or may not have failed miserably at obeying that verse today. Needless to say I'm pretty stoked to lay down and get some sleep and I will never forget this day and how I learned a whole new level of compassion for Bev, especially on Mondays.

Friday, July 10, 2009


So if you didn't know this about me, I absolute love to read vintage theology books. Those "old dead guys" just put things in a way that cuts right down to it, they weren't soft, cultural, or anything along those lines, it's just pure theology and I love it. Andrew Murray is by far my most favorite author and right now I'm reading his book "School of Obedience". I just read this one paragraph and I love the words he uses and just how raw it is in talking about how we are to above all else be obedient.

"It is as we sink low before God in humility, meekness, patience, and entire resignation to His will, and are willing to bow in a n absolute helplessness and dependence on Him, as we turn away wholly from self, that it will be revealed to us how it is the one only duty and blessing of a creature to obey this glorious God."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another team

Today we got another team in, this time it's from Nevada and Jess's twin brother is the one leading it. It's awesome to see them together and the whole team seem to be really cool and it should be fun getting to work with them and hearing how this trip will change their lives as Africa always does. No matter how old you are, I encourage you to go on some sort of mission trip be it to Mexico, South Dakota, or even here to Africa. I'll be honest and tell you that in two weeks you're not going to save the world, but you will be absolutely amazed at how your walk with God will forever be changed. I realize that with the economy how it is, it's hard to think of spending a couple thousand dollars to go on a trip, but to use the possibly overused but nonetheless true statement, "where God guides, He provides".

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our very first blood drive

Our church does a lot of work with the prisons and part of that work is taking their sick to the hospital. A couple of weeks ago there were a couple of prisoners who were in very bad condition and needed blood, but the hospital was out of blood, and thus the idea of the blood drive was born. Red Cross has been pretty desperate for blood here and they have even been going to the secondary (high) schools trying to get donations. Today we had our own little blood drive. We honestly weren't sure how it was going to work or what sort of response we were going to get but God is so good and answered so many prayers! There were 26 people who gave and a lot more were willing but because they either took medication or were sick or of course those who had HIV who couldn't. Even though for every 1 who gave there were 2 who were rejected, I'm just so stoked to see our little church's desire to give of themselves. I think one of the coolest parts was seeing the "bazungu" population of the church giving right alongside the Ugandans. We really acted like a body and it was just way awesome!

On a personal note, I had wanted to be the first one because I had to run into the 2nd service to do announcements and because they got here late it was down to the wire and so I chugged the soda that I was supposed to sip and ate my cookies really really fast and as I went up to do announcements, I seriously almost passed out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Take another lap

So I know we all struggle with sin, I know that, I get that, and I accept that...however, it still surprises me when I remember I'm apart of that statement. I'm in the middle of learning from falling into a trap that I've done time and time again, and although things are a little different now, the lesson is still the same. For the past couple of days I've been cleaning up a "mess" I've made and how I feel sick thinking that I've done exactly what I hate when I see others do it. It's funny because just last night I taught from Ecclesiastes and pointed out that Solomon had somewhat of a relationship with God, but he still stumbled and fell. Going through this little episode of life that God is trying to drill in my head some very big lessons, I can so relate to Paul as he wrote in 1 Timothy about how he's the worst of sinners. I'm not saying that I fell into sin as one would think, it's more a matter of the heart and that's just as dangerous and the bottom line is sin is sin. As I was talking to Bev about this today, she told me of a saying her friend used to use when stuff like this happened: "take another lap" as we have to keep working and correcting things as we go through life as we progress on the path of holiness. All I have to say is that it looks like I'm going to be doing a lot of "running".

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Miss Nazziwa

Right now, I'm sitting on my couch in the middle of the highlight of today. I've spent the past hour or so with one of my girls sleeping on my lap. Nazziwa who is now 8 (I think) lives on the compound with one of our staff members who has taken her in. This girl has one of those heart-breaking stories that you wouldn't believe and it just hit me how intense it is as I have her sitting here with me. She has both Osteomiolitis and Sickle-cell anemia and is so skinny her upper arm is about as thick as my two fingers together. She used to live in this place called Loco where this one lady was trying to care for her after her parents either died or abandoned her and while she was with this lady she ended up also getting extreme burns on part of her body because something that cooking fell on her. She came to live here on the compound when she was around 3 years old when she was seriously almost dead, and Julie, the one who takes care of her, couldn't bear to leave her there. It's hard for me to think that this girl had potential to not to be around anymore as she has such an awesome little personality. She has such a stubborn attitude and it's just hilarious talking to her, because if she doesn't want to do something, she's not gonna do it. But the diseases she has cause her so much pain, that when she has a flair-up it breaks your heart to see her like that. One thing that I thank God for is how He has given me my past with all my medical stuff because even though my past isn't filled with a fraction of the pain she's experienced, I'm able to somewhat understand what it's like and know how to minister to her on a level that maybe others don't. I love how God has given each one of us our own past, our own struggles, our own testimonies in order for us to know Him more and also to minister to others. He's just so good!


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