Friday, August 1, 2014

Raining Hope Service Project - Chapter 17 - Update #7 - July 25, 2014

Chapter 17 - Update #7 - July 25, 2014

Well, we are on the airplane headed home!  I am sorry that I wasn’t able to send this last update until I arrived home.  Let me try and update you on the past days activities!  (This update is long!) 

1) Shopping in Jinja Town - We were able to spend multiple days going into town to shop . As the team was on the lookout for souvenirs for family & friends, I took them to the shops of people I know. One stop is to see my friend, Rita. The girls all fell in love with her and her family! They are the ones that named one of their babies after me! The team loved finding new Uganda treasures to take home!

One of the disappointments was we were not able to do the boda boda rides to town. I had someone for the hotel negotiate with one of the drivers. They agreed upon a price, and I even paid them. But then as the other boda drivers came, they quickly would leave. Basically, we were given a “Ugandan” price. But when they saw we were “mzungus” they doubled the price! They even gave me back my money! I am rarely taken advantaged of any more as a “mzungu” (white person), so this was a surprise. We heard later that if we would have insisted they stick to what we agreed the original boda driver would have been bullied or beaten. Even the hotel owner Mrs. Otile, got involved because she was embarrassed it had happened. The drivers would not budge even for her! So we sacrificed the ride and the hotel van took us to town!

2) Boat ride to Raining Hope Land - One of our mornings we took a boat ride to visit the Raining Hope land! It takes about 45 minutes to get there as we wind down the Nile River and drop into Lake Victoria. We pass the famous “Source of the River Nile” where the Nile River actually begins. The interesting thing for me was how high the water has risen. Since the installation of a new dam, many of the familiar sites were now covered with water! It was a strange site indeed! 

The team loved seeing the land and all of the crops that are currently on it. It was good to see some of the trees that we had planted last year. Some of the trees have not made it because of all things...ants! But you should see the size of the Ugandan ants! It is an odd thing, but the ants will attack the trees and other vegetation! How such a small thing can do such major destruction!

3) Andrew’s House - One of the evenings after the ministry in Kakira, we were invited to the home of Andrew & Rachel. Andrew is one of our dear friends and works here at the hotel. He shared that in 2012, our team of CBU students went to his house to visit his family. His two girls, Mary and Martha were just infants. We prayed with him that God would provide the way for them to build their own home. God answered and we were invited to see the completed structure! In January 2014, he was lacking just about $265 to finish purchasing the sand and concrete for the floor. Raining Hope paid Mary & Martha’s school fees. This allow them to finish purchasing the necessary supplies for the house! They are so thankful for that day the team came and prayed for them. It was great to stand in the midst of answered prayer!

4) VBS/Teacher Training - The three days of teacher training & Vacation Bible School went really well. The teacher training was small but very productive. The team was able to work with the main children’s workers of Cornerstone Church. We left behind materials and taught them how to use them. This training was a answer to prayer for Pastor Paul. He had said, so many times groups come in and do these great Bible Schools. But when they leave, the church is faced with what to do next. This time, we wanted to leave them with tools to use so they can continue the work with the children.

Vacation Bible School was anything but small! The first day we must have had about 150 children! Each day just grew in number as they told their friends! The second day there were close to 200 and day 3 had close to 300! On Day 2 an invitation was given as part of the lesson. There were 87 children that gave their lives to Jesus Christ! The church took down all their names and will be following up with their families.

Something that we didn’t know was that many of the children who show up for Bible school are from muslim families. Pastor Paul asked for prayer as they visit with them. Coming to faith in Jesus is an issue for those children. So pray for Cornerstone Church as they reach out to these families.

5) CD is complete! The Raining Hope Children’s Choir has completed their 6 track CD! I have the master copy with me and soon you will be able to purchase it for a donation to the ministry! It is so very exciting!

6) Computers - Because of the generosity of Grace Fellowship Church in Duarte, we had enough extra money to purchase 2 computers for the ministry! This is a HUGE answer to prayer. Both of our workers have to use internet cafes to communicate with me. It has caused many a problem whether hackers get into the accounts, or just the delay in response time. We have been praying for years for this need! GRACE FELLOWSHIP did such an amazing job with raising money for their team members, that there was enough left over to meet this need. We are so grateful for the support of Pastor Doug’s church.

7) Van - Praise the Lord for the Raining Hope Van!!!! It made a tremendous difference to finally have our own van!!!! Godfrey is an EXCELLENT driver! Thanks to everyone who has given towards this need to make this possible. It made all the difference in the world for our team. Pastor Doug was even able to drive it to town a couple of times!

8) Hospital Visit - One of Pastor Paul’s children, Keren became very ill with malaria & typhoid. Because of the generous giving of donors, we were able to pay for the hospital visit and the necessary treatment for Keren. Some of us went into the hospital to pray with Keren and the family. While we were there, we met another grandmother who was there with her grandson. His mother had died giving birth to him. He is now in the care of the grandmother. He was suffering from malaria. We were able to minister and pray with her before we left.

9) Raining Hope Party! - On Saturday, we were able to spend the morning in a team debrief. This is the time we reflect on what God has taught us throughout our journey. I also spend time preparing the team to go home. We talk about reverse culture shock and how to finish well! This is always an important time for the team. We talk about how to depart from the home when we say our goodbyes. Years ago, Kristen White from California Baptist University, helped to institute a plan in departing the home well. You know that relationships have been formed and the team was having difficulty knowing that they would have to say goodbye. But we talk about how if we allow the sadness to overtake us, it doesn’t help the children at all. It also makes the trip all about us rather than Jesus. So, the plan worked perfectly! 

We first had a soda party! The only time they really get a bottle of soda is when I am visiting. So it is a real treat! But this time, we had many other special treats! We had Queen Cakes, bananas & boiled eggs! They went crazy when we told them that there were boiled eggs! They were SO THANKFUL for so little!

After the party we had supper. We were able to buy them meat for their meal. It is not often that we are able to feed them meat. Most of their meals consist of Posho & beans. Having meat is always for special occasions. This was definitely a special occasion!

We then went into a time of praise and worship! We did this each evening at the home. It is one of the favorite times for the team. We shared testimonies and just kept them in high spirits. We then give everyone about 10 minutes to say all of their goodbyes and give good hugs! It is actually a celebratory time of wishing each other well! The Raining Hope children then gather around the team and send us off in prayer. It is such an amazing experience to be standing together having all the precious voices lifting us up to the Father!

The children then go outside and form two lines directing us to the van. When we are ready, the team runs through the line, giving high-fives as the children shout, “Strong and Courageous!” It is an amazing time! Just about everyone is smiling, happy, and truly excited about the way the team departs. As we drove away with the faint voices of the children still shouting, “strong and courageous,” we sense the Lord saying to us, “Well done.”

10) Foot Washing - When we returned to the hotel that evening, we had a time that we washed one another’s feet. I had Pastor Godfrey & Pastor Gerald join us for this time of serving one another. The men washed each other’s feet and the women were able to wash each others as well. I had then ordered a cake from the hotel to finish off the evening!

11) Glory Be To God Church - But our ministry work was not yet done! On our last day, we attended Glory Be to God Church. We see many familiar faces at this church as much of the staff from our hotel attend here. They graciously allowed Pastor Doug to preach that morning! The ladies as well worked with the children’s ministry. There must have been 150 children that were a part of the morning worship. It was a good way to end our ministry work! The church just loved hearing Pastor Doug preach. The reports were all so positive! I was told that when I return,

he must come back to preach again! That is huge for this church to give their pulpit over to a visiting pastor...especially a mzungu!

We had one more lunch that was ready and waiting for us back at the hotel. It surprised us that the bill was taken care of by Mrs. Otile! When I went to pay for it, the server said, “No, it is on the house!” We are so deeply loved by our friends at Paradise Hotel!

12) Drive to the Airport - Even though we had lunch, that didn’t stop us from having chicken on a stick on the way to the airport! The team loved it so much coming in, they definitely wanted to stop on the way out!

There was traffic heading to the airport which slowed us up some. We stopped in Kampala to have a quick hello with a dear friend, Sheila Kajumba. Her son & daughter are attending school in Ventura. Sheila recently lost her husband a few months ago. We exchanged hugs and greeting before heading to Entebbe.

13) Letters - As we had about 5 hours to wait at the airport for our 1:00 am flight, we had a lot of time to finish our debrief. As we waited at the gate, I also handed out the letters that the children had written to the team! It was such a joy to watch the reaction of the team members as they read the encouraging words from the children! There were a lot of smiles and laughter to go around! It was a good way to end our journey in Uganda!

Upon arrival to LAX, we were missing one of our bags! That is the first time in many years that has happened. We figured out it was one of our extra team bags that was going to my house. Thank goodness it wasn’t one of the team members bags! Our connection in London was so short, we think a whole group of bags didn’t make the transfer. Shannon & I waited to file the claim for the missing bag as the rest of the team went out of the baggage claim area. By time Shannon & I finished, we exited to find the team with their families! Katie’s mom and dad made a sign for us to welcome us home!

As another chapter of my life in Uganda comes to a close, it is filled with many new memories and stories that can only be explained by God. This has been an awesome experience with a WONDERFUL team! We continued to keep Kim & Melanie close in prayer and contacted them throughout the journey. Continue to pray for both of them as they are still facing health challenges.

We had a relatively healthy team, until the end of the journey. Pray as I am still sick with a cough and cold. Shannon now has an eye infection that started on the way home. Kelly has also gone to the doctor to receive treatment for a respiratory infection. Doug was the only one that did not get sick! So keep on praying for our team as they are battling illness. Pray as well as the team re-enters American culture. They were very effected by the Ugandan culture. It takes time to process through the blending of both.

THANK YOU ALL for your prayers and support. Special thanks to all our family members who held down the fort while we were gone. I am so thankful for the families of our team members. You made it possible for us to go and serve knowing that you were home supporting us. You played such an important role for our team!

"So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." 2 Corinthians 5:9

mama eydie kisakye!

P.S. Ask any team member about our mascot, Trash Chicken!