Friday, October 9, 2015

Uganda Independence Day - Raining Hope Breaking Free Day!

Independence Day is one of the major national holidays in Uganda. It's annually celebrated on October 9th on the anniversary of gaining independence from Great Britain in 1962.

Every year the nation of Uganda remembers Independence Day. This year, Raining Hope Uganda has chosen this day to thank God for true freedom and independence in Christ. They will have overnight prayer beginning at 9:00 pm and concluding at 6:00 am on Saturday. If you would like to pray in unison with them they are 10 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. You can pray anytime between 11:00 am to 8:00 pm PST on October 9th. This night of BREAKING FREE will also be open to the community to help others break free in Christ. Please pray for Godfrey as he leads this time. Pray for the children as they also take an active role in telling others about the freedom in Christ. Jesus is ALIVE at Raining Hope!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Video Update #4 - Dedication Day - RHSP - Chapter 20

Video Update #2 - RHSP - Chapter 20

Video Update #1 - RHSP - Chapter 20

Chapter 20 - Update #20 - August 10-12, 2015

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday  - 8/10-8/12 

We can’t believe how quickly the time is flying by!  Ever since the team arrived we hit the ground running!  Monday morning we still had an early morning breakfast because of morning devotions with the hotel.  This time it was Desiree & Shannon’s turn to share.  They too did an amazing job.  They were able to share about what God has been doing in their lives and what they have been learning.  I was so proud of the both of them for the way they were able to stand before the group and share from their hearts.  Speaking in front of people was not the favorite thing for both of these women.  Yet, because of the way that God had been stretching them last year and this year, they stood confidently and boldly to proclaim His Word.

On our journey I tried to have one-on-one time with each of the team members.  After the morning devotions, I was able to have a significant time of fellowship with one of the girls.  It is always good for me to have this time as it gives the person an opportunity to share things they may not share in the group.  I believed long ago that one of the reasons that Raining Hope exists is for discipleship, not only for our children but for those that travel with me to Uganda.  This morning as I met with one of the girls, it was apparent that these one-on-one times are valuable and important.  I am really proud of my team and how they allow God to stretch them & mold them into the women of God that He has designed.

After lunch at the hotel, we had an adventure that awaited us!  Each trip I try to take the team to the land we own on Lake Victoria.  This is the original piece of land we were going to build a house.  After much prayer and discussion, Raining Hope made the decision that the land was not practical for us to build the home on.  Originally when we bought it, a hotel was suppose to be built right next door.  This would have brought in better roads and electricity.  It is a more remote area and we were waiting for those things to happen.  It has been over 3 years and they have still not done any of those improvements.  Plus, it takes us about 35 minutes by boat to arrive to that land.  It is too far from town and also any schools.  But, the land is fertile and excellent for growing crops.  We have had someone taking care of the land and allowing him to use it for growing crops as a trade until we were ready.  This is a good friend of someone at the hotel so we were not in danger of loosing control of the land. It has been mutually beneficial.

This trip to the land was to introduce this man to Godfrey and let them begin the process of Raining Hope using it for our crops.  We took the boat ride to the land with the team which was a good relaxing activity for us after a full weekend of ministry!   We go by the Source of the Nile where the Nile river actually begins.  We travel on Lake Victoria until we arrive to the landing where we then walk to our piece of land.  We have 4 acres that is prime land for crops such as maize, cabbage, greens, potatoes, etc.   They had just harvested the last crop of that season so it is perfect timing for us to begin new.  The person managing the land is willing to work for us to maintain the farming.  We are working out a trade for him to continue to do some farming for his family.  Be in prayer for us and especially Godfrey as we enter into the next phase for this farming project.  It will help us become more self-sustainable.  After the first crop is ready to harvest, we can not only use the food for the house, but we would be able to sell some of it to gain a small income.  This way they would have money readily available to use.   We are in need of raising funds to start clearing out the land and putting up a chain link fence to mark off our property.  We have been blessed these past three years as God has protected us from “squatters” and those who own the land on either side of us.  Godfrey said that we need to put up a fence to mark off the boundaries so there is no question in the future as to what land we own.  Godfrey is going to hire local men in that village to come and “slash” the overgrown foliage and old harvest.  This also gives Raining Hope a presence in that community by giving some work to the locals.

A couple of years ago, we did try to put up a “natural” fence by purchasing seedlings of trees.  We planted those to mark our boundaries.  But the lack of good rainfall caused these trees to not weather well.  The only option that we have is to purchase a chain link fence that will make the boundaries clear.

The funniest thing about the boat ride is where we dock at the hotel next door to us.  We have to walk down these incredibly steep steps in order to get to the Nile.  Once we get to the bottom, we still need to walk down these aluminum type steps that have really aged (and disappeared!) over the years!  Some of them are missing and we now have to walk to the side of the steps on the hill in order to make it!  But with the help of the men who take us on the boat, we laugh and all make it onto the boat that awaits us!  It is always worth it.  The climb back up those step stairs is what is the most challenging!  You should have seen Pastor Doug race Godfrey up those last few steps!  I know there is video of this in one of the video updates!

We had a little bit of time before heading to the house.  While the team went back to the hotel to get their things ready for the evening, I went with Godfrey into town.  On Saturday, when we had the huge Dedication party, our little refrigerator was jam packed with the sodas which left no room for anything else.   Something that has been a problem is we can’t buy too many things ahead of time because there was no way to keep them fresh.  We got caught at the last minute not being able to buy the meat ahead of time because we had no room to store it.  We are so thankful to Grace Fellowship & Raining Hope because of some funds made available to us by donors, we were able to purchase a much needed deep freezer for the home!  Godfrey and the staff were overjoyed!  They now can purchase especially some of the meat and keep it in the freezer until ready to use.  We have a great relationship now with the shop owner who sells appliances and furniture.  He gives us great deals because he knows it is for the kids.

That evening when we went to the house, we were able to have a great time of fellowship.  The main thing we did that night was the reading of the Dedication Book.  We were so busy on Saturday, I had Godfrey wait to open the gift until tonight.  We wanted time to just read through the notes that all of you who contributed to the making of the book.  The book mainly was from those who have traveled with me on a Raining Hope or CBU Service Project trip and from the sponsors of the kids.  I started reading the first few entries, then had all of the team take turns reading.  After each entry, we would walk around the room with the book so we could show them the pictures that were on that particular page.   They were especially amazed at my past ISP teams to see new husbands and/or children!  They LOVED each and every one of you who took the time to write a word of love and encouragement.  It really was as if each of you were here celebrating with us.  THANK YOU all for taking the time to write and be included in this book of memories and dedication.  It meant the world to me and to the kids.

Tuesday morning I let the team sleep in a little bit longer which they appreciated!  We were able to meet just before the breakfast closed down.  After that, I was able to have another one-on-one with another team member.  Again, I am always blown away by how God uses these times of just sitting and sharing what is on their hearts.  While we were meeting, I asked the team to use that time to prepare for the final debrief which is set aside intentionally for the day before we leave. That morning, I had slid under the door a 4-page paper that they fill out that gives them time to think and pray over their answers.  Mainly the debrief is a time to ponder on all that God has done and what they have learned from their experience.  We cover reverse culture shock as they prepare to re-enter the American culture.  We talk about things that are highlights and things that were challenges.  It is one of the most significant moments of the trip.  We set aside the majority of the morning and early afternoon for this.  It is also a time of bonding for the team as we support one another with all of our emotions, our successes and our struggles.  It is a time of bringing together all the snacks that we have with us...and I always save some for this time of debrief just for the team!  We laugh, we cry, and we celebrate all that God is doing.   Having their answers on the questionnaires makes this time go more smoothly and then I mail back them back to them about six months later.  It is a good reminder of all that God has done in their lives on this journey.

We did go into town one more time to see our friends and say our farewells.  We had to pick up g-nuts (ground nuts like small peanuts) from Rita.  This team has come to just love those g-nuts as one of their favorite things!  We did last minute shopping for any souvenirs they still needed.  I also gave the team an assignment to purchase a few things for Raining Hope.   We also needed a few more things at the market so Godfrey and I ran into the main market to buy those food items.

The whole time that we have been here, the children were still in school.  They were in the last session of this 2nd term and in the middle of exams.  They were not returning home until about 6 pm.  That is why we were not going to the home until late afternoon/early evening.  By time Tuesday came, most of the children had finished with their exams and were home a little earlier.  We tried to get to the house before dusk as we were trying to get a photo for Raining Hope of all of the children.  We were successful and did a team photo with the kids as well!  

That night before devotions, we were able to have Annet distribute the clothes that we brought.  The girls on the team all leave their skirts which the Raining Hope girls just love!  We also brought many clothes from home which I can do when I have a team that allows extra luggage.  Annet systematically will distribute the clothes so each one has at least a couple of new pieces.  They all proudly put on their new clothes and model for us.  It warms our heart to see how much a new skirt, trousers or shirt means to them.

The team had been in the next room blowing up balloons!  One of the things that this team did last year was fill the room up with balloons and just bat them around.  It was so fun and chaotic last year!  I wish you all could have been there to just experience the joy and laughter playing with a bunch of balloons could bring!   We played until the last balloon ended up popping!  That was our lead in time for our evening devotions.

During the devotion time, everyone knows that this is our last evening there.  The kids and the team have an air of the reality that we will leave tomorrow.  But one of the things that has helped this to not be such a sad time is the reason why we are here.  We are here to glorify God.  It is not about the team.  It is not about us.  I learned over the last nine years, how to leave well.  It means helping the team to communicate to the kids that as much as we all love one another, this trip is not about us.  God did amazing things on this journey and we are to celebrate that!  I had all of the team speak.  They each shared about what being here has meant to them and all that they have learned.  I had Pastor Doug share about loving God and loving others & helping the kids to know that this trip was all about Him.  It helps us all to finish well and keep our focus on the main thing and that is pleasing Him and bringing glory to God.

The kids seems encouraged by this time.  They even honored us by a meal of a special type of “porridge” that was a sort of delicacy.  It really was quite good.  It was a perfect way to honor the team and our time together here.

Then we had our traditional time of goodbyes that Kristen White from California Baptist University helped us to establish in 2009 with my first ISP team.  We had all the kids come back into the room where we spent about 10 minutes saying all of our goodbyes.  Each person was able to hug and share words of love.  It was more of a joyous time not sad.  There was laughter and hugs and our kids would say, “bonus hug” after hug number 2 or 3.  After that time of saying personal goodbyes, they put us in the middle of the room as a team.  As we huddle close together, the kids surround us and all lift up their prayers to send us back home.  The prayer time is powerful as they share words of love and encouragement.  As this time of prayer closes, they kids all go outside and form two lines that lead to our van.  They begin shouting, “strong & courageous, strong & courageous!”  Our team then one by one RUNS to the van giving high fives to the kids on either side of them.  They can’t stop as that is part of the plan.  After they all are in the van, the door is shut and I have also climbed into the front seat.  The kids all are still shouting, “strong and courageous!” and also this year added. “aloha ohana!”  We begin to drive away with the kids happy as they send us off!   We believe this is the best way we can honor God with our time that He had us here.

In the van, I have told the team that is when they can cry.  It helps the kids if we don’t fall apart in front of them.  I was so proud of the team because yes, there were some tears...but on the most part, they were very strong and courageous.  They finished extremely well.  They made this journey all about HIM and not about themselves.

What also helped the team was knowing that tomorrow (Wednesday) we were going to stop by really quick on the way to the airport.  That is the beauty of where the new home is!  It is so close to the hotel and on the way to the airport!  We had to go by and pick up some of the paintings that Fred was finishing for Raining Hope to sell.  We also had all of the luggage on the top of the van in the luggage rack.  We wanted to cover the luggage with tarp just in case of rain on the way.  As the guys were putting the tarp on the top of the van, the team had a little more time with the kids that were home.  Because we had done the big send off last night, when we stopped by today, it was a lot  easier to leave when that time came.  It was a real positive time filled with smiles and love.

Our flight was not leaving until 1:00 am on Thursday morning.  It still meant that we needed to leave early in order to miss the traffic in Kampala.  But it was nice to still have a full morning at the hotel.  We had one more time with the hotel during the morning devotions.  I led the time but had the team all share their personal testimonies as a word of thank you.  I closed by signing the song by Building 429, “All the Glory.”  This song really sums up all of what this trip was about.

As I closed up our bill at the hotel that is when I ran into Mrs. Otile and Andrew in the lobby.  That is what I wrote about in a previous update.  Getting ready to leave and seeing our plaque up on the wall was a perfect ending to a wonderful trip.

Of course on the way to the airport we had to make our traditional stop for chicken on a stick!   Even with leaving early, we still hit a lot of traffic in Kampala.  By time we got to the airport than night it was already dark.  We were concerned about Godfrey turning around and making the trip back home.  But he had a friend in Entebbe that he said he would stop, shower, and get back on the road.  He actually made it all the way back to Jinja before we even boarded our flight!

At the airport, we had so much time that I was able to have another one-on-one with another team member.  It still leaves me with three more that I still plan to do now that we are home!  But this turned out to be another significant time of ministry for both of us!

I hold things together so well...mainly for the team.  I was not sitting with the team when we took off mainly because my ticket was separate because of my original stop in Maryland.  It turns out ok because I am emotionally when I leave Uganda.  I am fine until the wheels on the plane leave Ugandan soil. I too just need a moment as I transition home.   What is different for me is this is my 20th trip...and I am truly leaving family.  This is more than a ministry that I am in charge of.  I have to pull out of my role as team leader and leave my 32 kids who have become a part of my family.  Understandably it is always hard for me to go.  But what always helps me is to remember that it is all about Him and not about me.  And, that I have my family waiting for me back in California that I need to get back to.   It is a beautiful life to live to have family in Uganda, California, Maryland, and Hawaii.  I am privileged and blessed to be a part of the family of God and to have so many to love & who love me.

The last part of the journey was a beautiful lesson in trusting God.  Even with a 1:00 am departure time from Entebbe, we were delayed.  The time of arrival in London was already going to be short.  We originally had a little under 2 hours to make the connection.  At least half or more of my past 20 trips have been with this stopover in London.  I have been on this same flight before and normally the two hours still allows for time to stop at Starbucks for a coffee! But this time I was keeping an eye on the time realizing that the delay in departure was a factor.   When we landed in London, I realized that our two hour window was cut down to about one hour.  I was only about five rows ahead of where the team was sitting.  When we were getting ready to leave the plane, I turned to the team and said, “The connecting gate will close in one hour.  We have just enough time to get to the gate, but that means we can’t stop at Starbucks.  Sorry!”  They seemed to trust me and said, “Ok” even though I know they were wanting that taste of a latte!

As we departed the plane, I was in front of the team.  The beauty of all of this was what I had hoped would happen as soon as I stepped into the building.  There were two British Airline agents standing with signs in their hands.  Most of the time when there is a short window in between connections, they have agents that will escort you to the next plane.  I have had this happen to me before when the connection was tight.  I saw the sign and it had our flight number with all of our names.  Immediately, I was filled with a sense of His peace because I knew they would get us there in time.  Once we were all off the plane, she radioed in and said, “I have all of the passengers.  We are on our way.”    It was a good lesson for the team to trust her and to trust me as we worked our way to the gate.   I was talking with her as we walked and she said, “We are going to take you downstairs to walk through a different corridor if that is ok.  If we go through the normal security check, it will hold us up.  All the flights are going through that same checkpoint.  This way we will avoid all of that.  We will walk to the next checkpoint, take a short tram ride, then end up at a secondary security check.”  I said, “perfect” and we would follow her.  At one point as we walked through this long empty corridor she asked me, “If it ok and you all feel like walking more, we can skip the tram and just keep walking.”  I asked the team and they all said, “Ok, we have been sitting eight hours and would like the walk.”  We continued walking at a normal pace just enjoying not fighting any crowds.  Then we came to a service type elevator that she had to key in a code.  When we arrived at the next floor, the doors opened to a small security check that NO ONE was going through!  We put our bags on the scanner belt, walked through the x-ray thing, waited for one another then were on our way again!   We emerged into our awaiting terminal and she led us right to our gate!   I told her if I had a gift I would give it to her!

The whole time that we walked, I was filled with His peace.  It was a picture of what this whole trip has been about.  Trusting Him and letting Him be our guide.  There was no way we would have made it to the connecting flight without the guidance of this British Airlines agent.  This mainly was because we would have had to go through the main security line that would have held us up.   But as soon as I saw her, I knew that we were going to be fine and I was at peace.  She was communicating with someone the whole time on her radio letting them know our position and how far away we were.

I watched our team do the same thing with God on this journey.   If you remember from an earlier update, the goal of this trip for the team was this:
Show up 
Be spiritually prepared 
Do whatever is asked of you 
Trust me as your leader...Trust Him as your God

I know there were times I asked the team to trust me as I led just like we had to trust this woman who led us the back way to our departure gate.  Sometimes we are unsure.  Sometimes we want to know all the details before we can fully trust.  Sometimes we think our way is better.  Yet, by fully trusting this British Airlines agent, she was a picture of what I had been trying to say all along.  She had someone on the other end of the radio and I trusted she would get us to where we needed to be.  GOD is on the end of my line and I pray that the team was able to trust me as I led.  This will be a good illustration for the future and I hope an encouragement for you as you too can apply these truths from our experiences.

We made it on the plane with time to spare.  The funny thing was there was a Starbucks right at our gate!  They have been remodeling the airport and I think this is one of the additions.  I think if we really wanted to, we could have gotten a cup of coffee!  No one at this point really wanted to take that chance.  We were so thankful just to have made it to the gate.  To me, it was just a personal “kiss” from God to seal up a wonderful journey!  

This has been a journey of trust and believing fully in Him.  He receives all the glory for all that we have reported on.  Thank you for joining us on my 20th trip.  I think it is interesting that for Chapter 20 there are 20 updates!   I did not plan it that way but I think it is cool!

I do have testimonies from team members that I will share in the next newsletter.  I will also include updates on what God has been doing at the home since we left.  The last couple of weeks have been filled with God moving in amazing ways!  So get ready for the next chapter in the lives of those who you pray for and support at Raining Hope!

This has been all for His glory alone!
Love you all!
mum kisakye!

You turn my world upside down - You turn it all inside out
You take the least, make them first - Pour yourself on those who thirst
And You use me because I’m weak

It’s here I find you lift me up just to lift You high
It never was about me, You get all the glory
And if I stand it’s only that I am in Your hands
It never was about me, You get all the glory

You’re the author of it all - So I live to make you known
Oh If I’m last or if I’m low You’ll make something beautiful
And You use me because I am weak.

It’s here I find you lift me up just to lift You high
It never was about me, You get all the glory
And if I stand it’s only that I am in Your hands
It never was about me, You get all the glory

Your way higher, Your will above my own
Your glory greater, and Your story will be told Your story will be told

Repeat chorus

Monday, August 31, 2015

Chapter 20 - Update #19 - August 9, 2015

Desiree & Sunday School 

Desiree, Kelly & Katie 

Making flowers


Kelly & Sunday School 


Glory Be to God Church 

Waiswa reading his letter

Mama Kisakye & Hope 

Dinner with the Otile's & Hotel Paradise

Dinner with the Otile's & Hotel Paradise

Sunday  - 8/9  - Glory Be to God Church

Sunday we were able to worship at Glory Be to God Church.   It was an amazing morning.  The children presented one of their Raining Hope Choir songs.  Then we presented the song, “Alive” together.   I had Esther in front signing with me as the rest of the Raining Hope kids had choreographed dance movements behind us.  We all ended the song signing the chorus together.  This song as well has become an anthem for Raining Hope.  People are starting to ask, “What is happening at Raining Hope?”  It is such a blessing to hear the children say, “Jesus is alive in our home!” 

Here are the words to the praise song, "Alive."

I was lost with a broken heart, You picked me up, now I'm set apart
From the ash I am born again, Forever safe in the Saviour's hands
You are more than my words could say, I'll follow You Lord for all my days
I'll fix my eyes, follow in Your ways, Forever free in unending grace

'Cause You are, You are, You are my freedom, We lift You higher, lift You higher
Your love, Your love, Your love never ending, Oh oh oh

You are alive in us, Nothing can take Your place
You are all we need, Your love has set us free

In the midst of the darkest night, Let Your love be the shining light
Breaking chains that were holding me, You sent Your Son down and set me free
Everything of this world will fade, I'm pressing on till I see Your face
I will live that Your will be done, I won't stop till Your Kingdom come


You are, You are, You are my freedom, We lift You higher
You are, You are, You are my freedom, We lift You higher, lift You higher
Your love, Your love, Your love never ending, Oh oh oh



After the time of worship, our ladies on our team went to minister to children’s church.  There were about 150 children in this time of Sunday School.  They shared the Word and they had a corresponding art project.  They made tissue flowers that were so pretty.  It was a site to see all the children after Sunday School carrying their art flowers so proudly.  I saw some give their flowers to their moms which just warmed my heart! 

Pastor Doug was invited to preach the message that morning to the congregation.  He gave a great message on Psalm 23.  He taught verse by verse the very familiar passage.   He used good illustrations that they can culturally relate to.  It was challenging message and one well received by the church.

We have to rent a larger van that is more like a bus each Sunday in order to get all the children to and from church.  They all piled into the bus after the service and our team got into our Raining Hope van.   It only takes a little over 5-7 minutes to get back to the house which is such a praise!   We drive past some shops on the main road.  We were following the bus when all of a sudden it stopped on the side of the road.  I got out of our van with Jonathan to find out what had happened.  It turns out, the driver just wanted to stop to pick up something at the shop!    I was about to turn to return to our van when the children said, “Mum Kisakye, you need to come on the bus!”  I told Jonathan I would stay and he could go back and take my seat on our van.  When I jumped onto the bus, the children all shouted with joy!  It was a simple thing as my joining them in their bus that made them so happy!  Three of the little children turned and gave me their paper flowers that they made in Sunday School!  I was filled with such joy and love.  I was able to get the flowers back to Ventura without getting crushed!  They now have found a nice spot in our living room as a constant reminder of their love. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon at the home.  I had warned the team that last Sunday after church, the children are exhausted!  They were so glad that I had warned them because this Sunday was no different.  Church service worship is an amazing time of praising the Lord.  There is a lot of dancing that happens and the kids are physically worn out!  They worship with their whole being and need Sunday afternoons to just rest in the Lord.   So many of the kids just fall asleep right in the living room chairs! 

Before they got too tired, we took a huge group photo with the team.  I also needed a group photo of just the Raining Hope kids.  Shannon has done a tremendous job for me in getting photos for Raining Hope.  I am so thankful for the way she is sharing her talent as a photographer. 

Before we had lunch, our Raining Hope family provided the team with sugar cane and bananas!  I think for some of the team it was the first time they experienced eating raw sugar cane.  It is a special treat for our kids!   The bananas are the sweet miniature bananas that you don’t find much in the US.  They are incredibly sweet!  

The kids played futbol (soccer) with some of the team for the first time.  They had been playing volleyball most of the other days.  We also took this time for Shannon and Desiree to do the interviews I needed on video for Raining Hope.  I have not seen the finished videos yet, but I know they will be amazing! 

The kids were not only exhausted from church service, but from the Dedication Day on Saturday.  We wanted them to get some needed rest.  We had a short time of devotion but then we left to head back to the hotel for dinner.

That night, the Otile’s had invited my team for a special dinner.  Most of the time when I bring a team, the Otile’s do invite us to share a meal with them.  At times we have had the meal next door at their sister hotel.  One time, we went to their house for refreshments.  It always varies depending on their schedule.  This time, they wanted us to eat right there are the hotel.  They had us order our food ahead of time so it would be ready for us. 

This team has come to love the Chinese food at the hotel.  The cook that specializing in the Chinese food mainly works next door at their sister hotel.  But if you remember from my past updates, I was given the privilege of learning from this cook how to make this food.  So now, whenever we want Chinese food, they call this cook over from the other hotel.   They brought my friend, Mutete over especially to cook our meal that night with the Otile’s.  The Otile’s also invited Godfrey and his wife Irene to join us.  Little did I know that they also invited, Andrew, one of the operating managers, Selevus, the Food & Beverage Manager, and their son, Robert the General Manager to join us!  These are all dear friends of mine who have become part of my family.   It was so nice to have them sitting and enjoying a meal instead of being the ones serving us!  It was the first time that the Otiles had invited anyone other than the team to join us!    It was a great time of fellowship for all of us.  I just love having my families all come together as one! 

The biggest challenge for the team was the Ugandan culture of not leaving any food behind!  Mrs. Otile was sitting closest to the girls on the team.  She said, “You know, when there is food left over on plate, it means that something is wrong with the food or you don’t like it.”  I had also warned the team that tonight was a special night and they would be aware if we didn’t eat all the food.  Again, the team was thankful for the warning!  I was so proud of them.  We we had the debrief after the meal, we had lots of laughs!   They said when Mrs. Otile made that comment, they took a deep breathe and went for it!  Their bellies were a little more full than ever...but at least it was with food that they loved eating! 

As the weekend came to a close, we stood amazed at all that God did.  He receives glory for each moment.  We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend than this. 

I will send one more update that will follow this one that will include Monday-Wednesday as we finish out our service project trip.   I do appreciate all of your taking the time to read.  It means the world to me that you have joined us on this incredible journey.

One more update to come!
mum kisakye! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Chapter 20 - Update #18 - August 8, 2015

Welcome Table! 

Dedication Cakes! 

Raining Hope Choir - Sharon 

Raining Hope Choir - Hillary

Signing "Giants Fall" 

Praying for Peter 

Even Baby Hope has a Raining Hope onesie!

"Oh How He Loves" 

Godfrey & His family 

Cutting the cake

Mary & Martha

Jemimah, Mary, Martha, Doreen, Sean & Dan

Mary, Martha & Sean 

Raining Hope with Melanie

Raining Hope with the Team
Cutting the Cake

Planting the Tree 

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Andrew, Sean, Mary & Martha! 

Saturday  - 8/8 - Dedication Day & 20th Anniversary! 

This update is long.  It will be worth your reading it!  This is the main reason for this trip -  the Dedication of the new home to the Lord.  Grab a cup of coffee...or split this reading into two or three.  I just don’t want you to miss anything of what we experienced on this day.  I know it is not the same as being there...but God can work through the lines of these words and make it come alive for you!  Thanks for taking the time !  eydie 

This was the day we were all waiting for!  Dedication Day!  There was an air of excitement all around us!   We were thankful for Glory Be to God Church who let us borrow chairs and their sound system.  We also rented large tents from a neighbor who has a rental business so our guests could sit in the shade.  The children had decorated with balloons and ribbons all over the compound.  The hotel let us borrow the nice serving trays so we could keep the food hot . Godfrey picked me up after breakfast so we could go and pick up the cakes we ordered.  All the kids were busy at work at the home preparing for the arrival of guests.  In Ugandan culture, our team was to be among the honored guests.  So I didn’t bring them to the house too early because they would have wanted to jump in and help.  

I discovered something new that I didn’t know how to explain before about the Ugandan culture.  I have told teams before that when they are at the house, they are to let the kids serve them.  Teams have a hard time not clearing the table or doing other kinds of work around the house.  Something like this event, it was made clear to me by Godfrey that the team was not suppose to do any work because they were honored guests.   Godfrey said, “It will look like it is ok but when you go home, then I would get questions as to why I let the visitors do work.  It affects me after teams leave.”  As much as we want to serve, there is a fine line when it comes to cultural boundaries for visitors.  This was a difficult lesson for the team to follow.  But they did do a beautiful job in following those instructions and just being honored guests.  

Originally, Godfrey had planned for this event to last all day.  We would have started at 10 am and gone until 5 pm.  He thought since we were going to have parents here, we could have a parent’s workshop.  During the week I came early, we decided that it made the day too long and it was actually two separate events.  We postponed the parent’s workshop for my next trip.  The interesting thing was, Godfrey decided not to contact people to tell them that we changed the program time from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  He said, “This way, people will hopefully all be here by 2:00 pm ready for the start of the program.  If we let everyone know we changed it, they may not show up until 4:00 pm.”  He was right.  Even by 2:00 pm, there were people here but more showed up after the starting time.  Not very many were at the home at 10:00 am.  I brought the team over about 1 pm.  Even with that, there were only a handful of parents there.  I had prepared the team to help by welcoming guests and talking to them.  Little by little, guests all began arriving.  By the starting time of 2:00 pm, we did have a good number of people there because of Godfrey’s decision to not announce the change in start time!  

It also allowed us to start on time which is not as important for Ugandan culture as it was for American culture.  Two of our children, Sylvia & Fred were the MC’s for the afternoon.  The two of them did a phenomenal job!  Sylvia’s dream is to one day become a newscaster.  At one point she ran past me and said, “This is my first reporting job!  I am so excited!”  

Even with the delay in the starting time, some of our invited dignitaries were still not there.  We had to stretch the program out to wait on these guests.  The Raining Hope choir presented many of their songs.  But we also had a couple of local artists there who are known in that area.  Fred invited each one of the them to come and share their music as we waited.  The program just flowed flawlessly.  Guests continued to arrive and fill seats as we progressed.   

Something that just warmed my heart was when the children did solo’s in their songs, they came out into the audience to sing and dance.  One in particular, Hillary just amazed me.  He was dancing and singing and just smiling big.  I looked over at his mom and family and they were overjoyed!  They were smiling and laughing so big!  When I talked to them later they said, “We have never seen Hillary dance like that!  We didn’t know that he could do that!”  They were so proud of him.  

At one point, as Fred & Sylvia were trying to fill time, they wanted me to sign a song.  At the last minute, I asked our kids if we could sign, “Giants Fall.”  They had choreographed that song from my visit in April when we first moved into the house.  It turned out to be very appropriate for the Dedication Day too!  By time we finished that, all of our dignitaries had arrived and we were able to proceed with the presentations. 

One of our dignitaries was the LC Chairman (local council).  He is a very important person in our area as he is the one we report to an official capacity.  As an organization, we work with various officials whose approval we need if we want to continue operating.  This LC Chairman apparently is very involved and loves having us in the village.  When he got up to speak he said, “I am a man and not suppose to cry...but find myself having these emotions...”  Then he continued on with his welcoming speech.  By time he stood up to speak, he was overcome with emotions as to all that was happening.  Isn’t that just amazing?!  

Godfrey & I led in the part of the program that led to the dedication.  After introducing the team,  I had Pastor Doug share a few words during this time in thanksgiving to the Lord for all that He has done.  I then invited a surprise guest to come and share his testimony.    Peter had traveled all he way from Rwanda & surprised me the day before that he had come.  The reason it surprised me was his own mother had died less that a week before the dedication.  When I saw that on Facebook I didn’t think he would be able to travel to be with us.  But since she had passed, he was able to leave home and accept our invitation.  I am so glad that he did join us.  I had him give his testimony of what it meant for him to be a part of Raining Hope.  One day we will dedicate a time to share his whole story.  But what was important about his testimony was how God used Raining Hope to help his own dreams become a reality.  In December of this year, he will graduate with a 4 year law degree from a university in Rwanda!   He already has a job waiting for him in a law office.  We are so proud of Peter!  His story encouraged those that were there...including our own children who saw hope in his story.  Peter is the first one of our children to graduate from university and fulfill the dreams that God has placed in his heart.  I presented Peter with a graduation gift of a study Bible.   He told me later, “No gift can compare to the Word of God.”  Amen.   Peter then traveled all the way back to Rwanda the next day as he had to work on Monday.   He said, “Of course I came.  I had to be here.”  Peter was with us in the years that things were at its most difficult.  He was a huge source of encouragement to me during those trying times.  It meant the world to me that he came to celebrate God’s goodness !  

Two others who surprised me were two young men named David & Solomon.  They were also in the home the same time that Peter was.  They are both 23 years old now. Solomon is now in medical school!  I was amazed to hear that news!   They too were thankful for all that God has been doing in their lives and came to celebrate with us. 

I also shared a devotion that the team had read that morning.  We were going through a book called, “A Cup of Joy.”   That morning the devotion basically said this, “As you anticipate an exciting new chapter in your life remember,  the coming chapter, like every other, begins and ends with God and with His Son.   God will touch your heart and guide your steps - if you let Him.  So dedicate this day to God’s purpose and give thanks for His grace.  This is the day the Lord has created - give thanks to the One who created it, and use it to the glory of His Kingdom.”  Wow!  We stood amazed that this was the very word from God He had for us as we Dedicated this house to Him!  

I finished that time bringing out all of our children, dressed in their new Raining Hope t-shirts.  Because of all of those at home that bought t-shirts, we were able to use those proceeds to bring one t-shirt for each one of our kids!  It was a beautiful sight to see them all walk out in their shirts!   A song that has meant so much to us is “Oh How He Loves.”  The version that we listen to and sign to is sung by Anthony Evans.  The kids signed the whole song with me and it was powerful.  He truly does love us & we love Him.  

Godfrey then asked all of the visiting pastors as well as Mrs. Otile representing the hotel to join in praying for our children. Godfrey had charged each one to pray for a specific need.  Each one, offered up a beautiful prayer.   After this time of prayer and dedication, we presented Raining Hope with a plaque that read, 

This home is dedicated to the glory of God and the love of people.  May this place always stand as a beacon of hope to the people of Uganda and as a light to the nations.

“…As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
~ Joshua 24:15 ~

“… Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
~Joshua 1:9 ~ 

August 8, 2015

The gift that was presented was a scrapbook that I had put together.  There have been about 50 people that have traveled to Raining Hope through our International Service Projects with California Baptist University or Raining Hope that wanted to be a part of this special day.  The only way that I knew to bring all of these people with me was to have their words of encouragement in a book that was given on this day of dedication!  I am thankful to all of you who took the time to send me your photos and your words of thanksgiving for what these kids have meant to you.  They LOVED the book.  

After this presentation, Godfrey had the team and I cut the Dedication cake!   Then Esther & Godfrey escorted me to an area where we would plant a tree of Dedication.  This would be a symbol of how God has provided and that we are built on the foundation of His Word & His Truth.  This house belongs to the Lord and as we watch the tree grow in the years to come it will continue to bring glory to Him alone.  They had already dug the hole and had the tree ready for me to lower into the ground.  Godfrey had wanted just me to plant the tree.  Esther was there with me which I believe was very symbolic to have one of the children assist me.  They are the future of this ministry and of the HOPE that He brings.  It was so appropriate to have her help me in the planting of this tree of HOPE.  

Then the celebrations continued with music and food!!!   Our family had provided a feast of delicious Ugandan food!  We had matoke, chicken, rice, beans, greens, potatoes, fresh fruits and more!   Everyone had more than enough to eat!  We encouraged the children to find their families and eat with them.  The team was able to meet parents and guardians after they finished their own meals.  I was able to meet some of their families for the first time.  This is the first time in the last nine years that we have attempted to do anything of this magnitude.  It was amazing.  All of these parents have walked through the ups and downs of the last nine years with me.  Today was just as important to them as it was to all of us.  

Little by little, parents & guardians gave their children hugs and found their way home.  All of our special guests gave us such encouraging words of support and thanksgiving. When it was just our family left, we still had more to do. 

This was the secret part that the kids didn’t want me to know about.  They wanted to celebrate the anniversary of my 20th trip to Uganda.  They had all of us come into the house.  They actually blindfolded me and told me not to worry.  They all then began singing, “Oh How He Loves,” as they began to walk me around the room.  I couldn’t tell what they were doing.  When they stopped me, they had all gathered around the table I was standing behind.  I knew that I had Annet holding me on one arm, and it turns out I had Irene on the other arm, waving a hand fan on me to keep me cool.   Then they said, “We love you so much, and as a special gift to honor this moment and for you to always know how much we love you, we give you this...”  As they took the blindfold off, I see Pastor Doug holding a painting with my portrait that Fred had painted!  It said, ”Congratulations on your 20th Anniversary...we love you!”  I was speechless!  They all erupted in praise!  They also had placed a third cake in front of me that they wanted me to cut in honor of the anniversary!   

This day couldn’t have been any more perfect.  I am so thankful for my family in Uganda.  I am privileged to be a mum to them.  I wish that all of you could have been there to experience what we did on that day.  

What is happening at Raining Hope can only be explained by God.  When children are asked, “What is going on at Raining Hope?”  Their answer is... “Jesus is Alive in our home!”  


I asked Pastor Doug to share his thoughts on what he experienced on the day of dedication...

“Within Judaism, there is a concept of something that is “Corban”.  It means, dedicated to God.  When something is Corban, it is not only set aside for God’s use, but it is also set aside for His glory. When Hannah dedicated her baby, Samuel, to the Lord, Samuel was called Corban.  He grew up to be a Prophet and a great man of God. When Solomon built the temple, they had a dedication ceremony, where the temple was set aside as Corban.  God met His people in amazing ways in that great temple.  His presence dwelled there in a unique way and it brought Him glory.  

God has seen fit to give a new house to the children of Raining Hope.  As much as the children love & treasure this “palace” they are not keeping it themselves.   Instead, they have said that the house is corban.  They have dedicated the house and property for God’s use and God’s glory.  And what a time of celebration it was!

The children and staffed worked hard to prepare the house and grounds for their invited guests.  There were guests from the local community, including the chairman of the local community leadership board.  There were guests from around Jinja, including the owners and some of the staff of the Paradise Hotel.  There were people from local churches including several pastors from the area.  Our team from California won the prize for distance traveled, but we were not the only ones from outside of Uganda.  Peter (a former Raining Hope kid) came all the way from Rwanda for the event.  He is just finishing law school and stands as an example of what can happen in the lives of the Raining Hope children, as they are enabled to pursue God’s dreams for them.  He shared his testimony and said that Eydie and Raining Hope were absolutely instrumental in helping him to pursue His God-given dreams.  It was at Raining Hope that his character was shaped and he was taught to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9).  Today God is using him to change the world.  The other Raining Hope kids were so thrilled to see their brother and they were all inspired by his story.  

It was also wonderful to see some of the birth parents and families of the Raining Hope kids at the dedication event.  Not all of the children are orphans.  Some have families who for one reason or another cannot or should not be raising them in their homes.  It was a blessing to see these parents and siblings beam with pride as their children ministered to the crowd through song, dance, preaching and witnessing.  Some of the mothers hugged Eydie through tears and didn’t want to let go.  They were thanking her for her investment in the children.  But Eydie was quick to deflect of the glory to God, where it always belongs.

There was a huge feast, there was entertainment, there was singing and dancing.  It was a magnificent day!  After the crowd finally went home in the evening, the Raining Hope kids had more that was planned.  They wanted to bless their mother, Eydie (or as they now call her: “Mama Kisakye”.  It is her Ugandan name and it means, “Grace of God”).  This trip to Uganda marked the 20th time she has came to Uganda over the course of 9 years.  They sang to her and served her a cake and gave her a beautiful gift: a portrait of her, painted by Fred (one of the older young men in the Raining Hope family) who happens to be a great artist.  She was overwhelmed.  We all were!  And all of the glory went to God.  After all, when something is corban, it is all about Him! - Pastor Doug 

Thank you for those of you have took the time to read all the way through.  It is the only way I know how to help you visualize the events of the day.  This two verses sum up our day...

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3:17 

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.”  - 2 Corinthians 5:9

Jesus is Alive! 
mum kisakye! 

P.S.  More photos of the whole trip will be added once I finish all the updates so stay tuned!  Also...friend Raining Hope Inc on Facebook and you can see added videos! 

Mama Kisakye's 20th Anniversary! 

Anniversary cake!