Saturday, August 28, 2010

Raining Hope Uganda Trip August 8-23, 2010

Raining Hope Uganda Trip
August 8-23, 2010

Update #2
Now that we are getting settled in… I am able to give you an update on the past couple of days! We have had many people praying for us as we prepared to travel. God answered your prayers! We had hardly any traffic on the Los Angeles freeways to get to LAX. That in itself is always a sort of miracle!

Arriving at LAX at the International Terminal it was busy as always. We entered into the terminal near the Emirates area. It was busy and crowded. Yet as we moved to the British Airways terminal…we turned the corner to find no lines! Just like in the story of the parting of the Red Sea was our check in experience. After checking in we looked behind us and there were suddenly a large group of people! God is good.

Another answer to prayer was God leading us to the exact check in agent. We were allowed 1 extra bag each because we were traveling as a humanitarian group. That allowed us a total of 9 bags. However I had an extra bag that needed to get to one of the church ministries in Kakira. The women’s group had agreed to pay the $140 extra bag fee. We were praying that the fee would be waived…and it was!!! One of our pieces of luggage was a guitar that had been donated to one of our associate pastors. When I mentioned to the ticket agent that we had the guitar, she said to carry that on and have the flight attendants store it. Wow! That was a huge answer to prayer!

Our flights and our 9 hour layover in London all went extremely well. For those of you who may be “So You Think You Can Dance” fans…we saw Nigel Lithgow, executive producer on our flight. When I text Kiana to tell her that I saw him standing in line, she said, “Tell him hi & that we danced on National Dance Day on July 31st! So being a good mom…I did! He was very nice and liked the recognition of the participation on the 31st!

Another blessing came when we boarded the flight from London to Entebbe. I was sitting in the bulk head row in the aisle seat. Next to me was a mother with a young child. Just as we were getting to know each other, the flight attendant came to me and said, “If you don’t mind, I want to move you to the row ahead of you to give this mom and her child more room.” I said that was fine…only to find out the row ahead was Business Class! Wow! God is good!

Touching down on Ugandan soil is always so heartwarming to me. I feel the warmth of being back in my “home in Africa.” Denise & Kelly were excited to finally be here after months of preparation. All of our bags arrived safely and intact! As we walked out to the crowd … Solomon was there waiting with open arms, a huge smile and a welcoming hug!

Our 2 ½ hour drive to Jinja went very well. It is always fun for me to watch the wide eyes of those who are experiencing Uganda for the first time! Of course the driving on the roads of Uganda are always one of the exciting adventures for first time visitors! We made our traditional stop for chicken on a stick & roasted bananas! As always they seem to love the new food!
Arriving at Hotel Paradise on the Nile was an introduction to the hospitality of the people of Uganda. The people of the hotel have truly become family to me. It was a huge reunion with everyone that greeted us. Many didn’t know that I was returning so the look of surprise on their faces was worth a thousand words! Denise & Kelly immediately felt the warmth & love of the people.

We were faced with a brand new procedure for the hotel…a security check of the bags. Since the bombing in Kampala surrounding the world cup a few weeks ago, they have instituted a new “security screening” of all your luggage. With our 10 bags plus carry ons it took a while for them to open up each bag and inspect the contents. But it was good to know that they were going through such procedures to secure our safety! For those of you who have been asking about the safety since the incident, you would be pleased to know they have said that they have not been affected much by it in the Jinja area. The security check is just a precaution … but all is well here in Jinja!

Tuesday was spent more in letting Kelly & Denise rest and get accustomed to a new culture and time zone! I had time to do some catching up with Solomon and discussing the possible plans for the next 12 days. What is exciting about this trip is the unknown of what God has in store! There are some specifics in what we want to accomplish … but daily we are going to trust God to show us what to do and we will follow!

Wednesday was a good example of how His plans are always better than our plans! There are no staff devotions on Wednesdays, so we were able to sleep in a little bit. After breakfast, Solomon came to pick us up. First stop…the bank to exchange money. However, once there we discovered the banks were closed for a national holiday. A former president of Uganda had passed away and burial was yesterday. In observance of this, the banks were all closed. When I left Uganda in May, for the first time I came home with excess shillings. I finally learned to travel home with some shillings so that when I arrive back I immediately have money to use (especially for chicken on a stick!). So God prepared the way in May … because the banks being closed would have posed a problem with the money I needed for our meals etc. Praise the Lord!

We then went and visited the children at the home. I am always filled to overflow when I first see our children! Some had just come from going to get water. Henry saw me and began to run with a jerry can filled with water. Let me tell you…I had Kelly & Denise each hold the can filled to the brim with water so they would know just how heavy a load the kids are carrying. We normally don’t have to go to get water this way, but with the financial crisis we have been under, the water at the home had been recently turned off. That is being alleviated today as we will be able to pay part of that bill. Solomon commented that this period has been good though for the home as they have come to appreciate the blessing of having running water at the home and not take that for granted.

One of the most heartwarming moments when I introduced Denise to Tabitha, the child that she and her husband sponsor. As soon as I told Tabitha that “this is Denise the person you…” I was going to say sponsor. Denise said “mummy” as that is what Tabitha called Denise in a letter that she had written to her. As soon as she heard the word, “mummy” she leaped towards Denise and gave her a huge hug along with a hug smile! What a moment.

When I asked Solomon what the weather has been like, he said, “very hot.” When I asked about the rain…he said “no it has not rained in over 2 weeks.” All of you who know the story of past trips and how “Raining Hope” got it’s name…know how important rain is! We base our ministry on Zechariah 10:1 “Ask the Lord for rain in the spring, for he makes the storm clouds. And he will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture.” So we prayed for rain.

Guess what?? Yes…we had rain yesterday and the weather was cool! While we were at the home it began to lightly sprinkle. When the first drops came we were praising God. He has always made his presence known to us in rain. Soon after leaving the home we went to the market to buy water. By time we walked out of the market…it was POURING DOWN RAIN! We moved down main street in the car to head to the Source Café for lunch. As we stopped by Rita’s shop she came running out with a big smile and huge hug! We have been overwhelmed with His love.

The rest of the afternoon was a lesson in just going where He leads. Solomon took us to meet some of his old friends that he has grown up with in another orphanage. They are now running a home for street kids. Visiting this new home was very encouraging for me. I spent some time getting to know one of their workers from the UK. She gave us a tour and explained how they are working with kids that formally were street children. What an unexpected blessing to land there in that home.

We also picked up Charles Mukasa who is one of our adults in our ministry. He has been a part of our ministry from the beginning as one of our sponsored children. He now is attending a local University and helping us with the work in the home. You can be praying for us as on Saturday we are going to look at a piece of property that now belongs to Charles. It was given to him when his father had passed away. He wants to use it for Raining Hope as land that we can plant food. This would be an exciting venture for us as it would help us in providing more food for the children.

This trip is centered around new things that the Lord is leading us in. In upcoming updates you will have more specifics in how to pray for us. By the end of the day yesterday, we were in awe of what opportunities have presented themselves. Since coming to Uganda 3 years ago, I have been in a process of learning to trust God, asking Him to show us what to do, and then following where He leads. Yesterday we went where Solomon had arranged…and we were speechless with how our day ended up!

In the four short days since leaving California to coming to Uganda, God has already shown Himself in ways that are beyond anything that we could have imagined. Pray for us as lives are being changed for Him.

I woke up in the middle of the night to a downpour of rain! This verse is what I found, “He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3.

We are praying for a downpour of His rain on this trip!

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