Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chapter 18 - Update #9 - January 25, 2015

As soon as I sent out the last update, I went down for breakfast at the hotel.  Immediately, God began answering your prayers!  Robert had been trying to work out my ticket since yesterday.  There was a problem with the connecting flight in Dubai on Monday.  It was looking like there was no options for me at all for Monday.  So Robert arranged with the station manager at the Entebbe Airport for me to try and fly standby on Sunday.  I had not unpacked my bags, so we quickly shifted plans to try to get me  on this flight!  

Robert, Godfrey & I were suppose to have a meeting in Kampala with the owners of the house on Sunday.  When everything changed, Robert thought we could still meet and then travel to the airport from there.   Not wanting to repeat our Friday adventure, as we got closer to Kampala, Robert advised us to go straight to the airport.  He took care of our business with the owner and we made it to the airport about an hour before check-in closed.  I ended up needing every minute!   Robert’s friend was there waiting to greet me.  He then had another man help me at the counter.  That person stayed with me through the whole process.  The ticket was on standby but they issued the seat right away!  This was the flight that was completely full on Friday that they said they could not get me on.   I also had 4 pieces of luggage because of some large paintings that one of our students sent back with me.  Robert’s friend helped me with the extra luggage problem.  He had me move things around in suitcases so it would be condensed down to 3!  We did one of those airplane cellophane wrap jobs and put the paintings and one of my bags together!  He saved me $175 as I then only had to pay for 1 extra bag!  God is good!   The whole time Godfrey waited outside in case I didn’t make the flight.  Because Robert’s friend vouched for me, I was able to go back through security to give Godfrey a hug goodbye!  The agents at first said, “No you can’t go back out there.”  Then this man said, “Let her pass, she is ok!”  

I heard the boarding process start while I was still at the ticket counter.  When all was done I had to rush through passport control.  I then went to the gate and straight onto the plane!  I was so happy when I sat down onto my seat!   

The other thing that Pastor Ken said to me about missing the flight was, “You never know who God may have you sit next to on this trip.”  Well, this is amazing.  I sat next to this young man that ended up being from London.   He had been visiting family in Uganda for 1 month.  Here’s the thing...when he said that he was from London, I said that I had been there a couple of years ago.  I mentioned that I was in the Kingston area.  His eyes got big, and he said, “Really?!   I am going to Uni there !”   “I said, “Kingston Uni? (University)”  He was pretty shocked that I knew which university it was.  I only knew because that is where my ISP team served!  He is actually studying to become a lawyer.  To top it off...he was suppose to be on a flight the day before and he missed that flight as well!  Were we ever meant to sit together!!   I told him about my friends in London and that I would connect them with one another.  He was thrilled!  I also told him that one of those friends is from Uganda.  He was really excited to hear about that!   

What also was funny was I didn’t talk to him much at first because I am always very emotional when I leave Uganda.  I was crying quietly when we were taking off as I always do.   I feel sorry for the ones that sit next to me as they are probably wondering what is wrong!  So I was crying but trying to contain myself.  Turns out... he said that he was so sad too because he really didn’t want to leave.  So both of us were emotionally challenged and we didn’t know we were in the same boat!  We got a good laugh but also it was comforting to know that God put us in the same row to silently understand the love we both have for this place we call home.  

So to fast forward...I have safely arrived back to the United States!  I am currently in Maryland visiting with Carol John & her family.  It is a good place for me to have gently landed for a couple of days to debrief and re-adjust.   Little did I know that just landing at Washington DC Dulles Airport was an answer to prayer.  I was unaware of all of the winter storms that are causing delays and cancellations in flights.  You wouldn’t have known by our flight as it was all smooth sailing!   When I saw Carol and Diane at the airport, I was never so happy to see the two of them...waiting with hugs, my winter coat, boots, gloves, hat and Starbucks!!   

Before I continue with the events of my last day in Uganda...let me catch you up a bit.  
Because I was having internet issues the last few days, I was not able to update you on all the activities on Wednesday and Thursday.  Those days were filled with meeting with various people and spending a lot of time with the children.  I was able to meet with Gerald and his family, Pastor Richard from Amazing Grace Church, and Pastor Paul from Cornerstone Church, as well as Ann another old friend.  Another surprise was when we were just about to start devotions on Wednesday night, I received two very special visitors.  Two of our previous students, Charles & Godfrey just stopped by the house.  They were from our home when we first began this ministry.  They are both in their 20’s now.  As they stayed for devotions, they were reminded of how far we have come.  They both have jobs now and are doing well.  It was encouraging for our children to see how far the Lord has brought them!  

The whole time that I have been in Uganda it has been on the warm side.  They said that January is one of the dry months.  It has not rained in over a month.  Even that day it seemed like it just might rain.  One person said to me, “No, it is impossible for rain to come.  Rain does not come in January.”  But that night, I was woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain!   At first I thought the sound was the generators that had kicked in.  But when I opened the window,  I was overjoyed with the pouring of rain!  We had also lost power in hotel so it was too dark to try and find my way down the stairs.  I would have gone outside and danced in the rain if I could have!  

Each day that week we were trying to coordinate getting the keys to go into the new house.  Our plans before I came were to actually move into the house and be settled.  Once I got there, I realized there was more to do before we were actually going to be able to move in. One week was not enough in order to pull off this huge task.  His plans were different than ours.  And in anything, His plans are always best.   

Our friend, Robert is on top of working with the owners.  They are in Kampala and each day he was trying to coordinate getting paper work finished and getting the keys.  By time we got to the middle of the week, we knew we had to shift the plans that we had.  I knew that the most important thing for me to do was to take the children over to the house and pray over the house and the land.  The moving in would be left with Godfrey and Robert.  We just need to move in the next two weeks before they start school.  

So the morning I was leaving, we had a meeting arranged to actually go into the house.  The owners were coming from Kampala that morning.  I had Godfrey bring all of the children to the hotel for the morning devotion time that I was leading.   I can’t tell you what it meant to have my Raining Hope family and my Paradise Hotel family together!  This was the first time that this has happened.  I was overwhelmed with love and joy as we all stood together.  I had Hillary give testimony on what it means to be a part of the Raining Hope family.  Then the children presented their song, “We are the Hope of Raining Hope” to those there.  I don’t have words that can express enough what happened in those moments.  It was glorious.  

The owners were delayed by a traffic jam because of an accident.  On the way to the airport, Godfrey and I saw the jam in the other direction.  They were delayed by almost 2 hours.  That is one reason why we were late in setting off from Jinja.  But while we waited, we took all the children over to the new house.  This was another moment that I wish all of you could have been there for.  They LOVE the new house.  They were so excited to see the size of the plot.  There is so much room, more than I even remembered.  The vegetation that surround the house has become overgrown since July.  So we waded our way through to get to the back of the house!  But we celebrated on my favorite back porch!  We praised the Lord, we danced, we sang, & most important, we prayed.  We had Robert and Andrew from Glory Be to God Church with us as well.  Andrew is a dear friend who also works at the hotel.  He is an associate Pastor at the church.  We had him lead us in the dedication time and the prayer over the house, the land & the ministry of Raining Hope.  I knew that this is what I was suppose to do with our kids on this trip.  We thought we were going to have a dedication time with other invited guests.  But it came down to me and the kids with Godfrey,  Annet, Robert & Andrew.  It was perfect.  It was His plan.  It was a precious moment for our family.  

When I return with a team in August, we will be moved in, the grounds will be cleared and the house will be ready to receive visitors!  It is then we will have a big celebration party!   So those who plan to come with the team in August will be a part of this event!  

I see so many reasons why God kept me in Uganda for those extra 2 days.  First, when I arrived back at the hotel it was 9 pm.  It took us close to 5 hours to get back to Jinja.  Once I got back to the room,  I just sat on the bed a little shocked that I was right back in my room.  I knew I shouldn’t unpack my bags.  Wondering what to do next, I decided to look at all the letters the children have written to pen pals and others.  Jonathan had done an excellent job in collecting them all for me.  But when I took them out, I found that they needed to be organized into groups.  I knew Jonathan had a check off list to make sure that I had received letters from everyone. I thought it was a good idea to double check just in case.    Sure enough, I discovered that I was missing some letters.  Turned out, there was a batch of letters that Godfrey had received that morning.  He was suppose to give them to me but they had fallen in the van and landed underneath some other folders.  Because we were rushing once at the airport, they had gotten left behind.  We didn’t discover them until I told Godfrey what letters I was missing.  I was so thankful because I don’t want anyone to miss out on receiving a letter from the children!  

Saturday morning, I had such a sense of peace.  I also did not have any specific plans so I had some time to just begin the process of debriefing all that God was doing.  Godfrey had to spend the morning getting the van serviced since we were going to have to make another trip into Entebbe.  He also had to take care of some school issues and order some uniforms.   I had great conversations with people at the hotel that morning.  Many of which centered around the missed flight. There was deep concern, yet a complete confidence & trust that God was working in ways that we could not see.  

I then decided to begin to work on the notes I took on each child when I interviewed them for their sponsor files.  I had not felt good that I did not finishing meeting with each person.  I knew I could get the needed information from Godfrey once I got home.  But I had told the children that I would meet with each one of them.  When I left the night before I was bothered that I had not had a chance to talk with all of them one-on-one.  
I realized as I sat there that I was given this opportunity to finished all of the interviews.  As much as I thought the main purpose of this trip was to move into the house, it turns out the interviews were at the heart of what this was all about.  

As I read over each interview, I was even more convinced that I needed to get back to the house to finish what God started.  I wish all of you could have been there when we drove back up to the house.   They were all yelling, “Mama, Mama, Mama!”   They were thrilled that we were given an extra day together!    We called it our BONUS from God!  There was an amazing sense of joy as we were SUDDENLY together again!  BONUS!  

Godfrey told me that they were praying so earnestly for me when I was faced with my passport issue trying to come to Uganda.   When the news came that I got it, they rejoiced in the answer to prayer.  When I missed my flight on Friday, he said that they would be so disappointed and may not understand why I missed my flight. I realized it was important to use this as a teaching time.  

I was able to explain that missing my flight did not mean that God did not answer their prayers.  We were overjoyed we were given the BONUS day together.  I was able to apply this whole situation to how we need to look at each opportunity we are faced with in our daily lives.  I shared the devotion I read about “being stuck” that I wrote about yesterday.  I watched as God took this truth and began doing something new in their hearts.  The day I leave is always sad for all of us.  But now with the reality of what “being stuck” really meant, we were all filled with this unexplainable sense of joy and wonder!  

From the devotion, I watched as each child listened intently like I have not seen before, “God told me to finish the assignment He had given me, to stay on the boat.  Don’t get in the way of God’s glory.  Don’t stop short. Fix your eyes on Him. Trust His love.  I pray your love may about more and more so you will know God and will be able to discern what is best - so you will know in your heart what He wants you to do and will trust Him to do what only He can do.”  

I stayed at the house until after 11 pm.  I was determined to hear the story from each child.  One by one I heard stories of their lives before coming to Raining Hope.  When we first began this ministry 8 years ago, the person who was in charge of this work called it “Living Hope Children’s Home.”  Amazing that I had even forgotten that name!  I heard stories of how some had been abandoned by fathers ... some had grown up starving . ..  some were verbally or emotionally abused.  I needed the reminder of where the children have come from.  What effected me most was not the sad history of their lives before coming to Raining Hope because that is not their story now.  That is part of their testimony.  What makes the difference now is their testimony of restored hope.  So many thought when they were in the midst of their abuse, abandonment, or starvation that they would never have a chance for a future.  There was no hope.  But one after one they all expressed that they KNOW there is HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.  This is it.  The past is important because they see what God rescued them from.  Everything here really does center around the opportunity to go to school or not.  Whenever you give to support a child for school, it really does give them hope that they have a shot to make it in the future.  Some of the testimonies talk about how their own parents have told them from a very young age that they would never amount to anything.   They are told that they are worthless and should stop trying to achieve their dreams because they will never come true.  God is using all of you in ways that became even clearer to me when I became “stuck” in Uganda for an extra two days.  Each year they finish another level in school they have seen that they are one step closer to actually being able to survive in this world.  There are some that never believed that they would even be alive to this point.  This BONUS day that we were given was the day that I watched God work in a way that only He can work.  They all had a renewed sense of HOPE that they all have a chance for their dreams to become true.  At the heart of their stories was their desire to make a difference in Uganda.  They want to see change in the corruptness that plagues this country.  Testimony after testimony was about how they came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior after coming to the home.   The majority of our children all accepted Jesus after coming to Raining Hope.   As part of the interviews, we ask the children to give their salvation testimony.  In giving those testimonies, we share our life before Christ, when we give our lives over to Christ, then what difference He makes in our lives now.  It was amazing to see the intertwining of their testimonies of what their lives were  before coming to Raining Hope, how they came to know Jesus while at Raining Hope and how their lives now have been transformed.  

At the very heart of their testimonies of why they want to become lawyers, doctors, politicians, teachers etc. is because they want to tell people of Jesus and make Him known in the nations.  They want to reflect Jesus in all they do.  That is how they will change this world.  That is who the Raining Hope children are.  This is the work that you give towards and who you pray for. These are the children that you love.  The children of Raining Hope who have a dream.  Thank you for helping to make their dreams become a reality.  

Thank you for journeying with me on this 18th trip.  Continue to pray.  Something significant happened in the hearts of our children.  They have renewed hope.  Something happened in me as well.  Something significant happened to us together.  One of the children in the interview said, “Raining Hope is not an organization.  It is a family.  We are a home.”  Another transformation was I noticed they went from calling me Aunty Eydie to Mama Kisakye.  God is not finished yet!  Continue to join us as we journey this Ugandan Dream together! 

Extremely Blessed, 
Mama eydie kisakye! 

Prayer Request: 
Pray that the day I have in Maryland would be a good transition place for me.  I always struggle even after 8 years with the re-entry into the US culture.  Carol, Diane, Teri & the 4 dogs are a gift from God to me right now!!   I also am enjoying the gentleness of the falling snow! 

Pray that we are able to raise the balance to pay off the house in full.  The children are SO EXCITED that we no longer have to deal with landlords.  We have had some very difficult landlords in the past.  We want to be completely free of any one who we are tied to in terms of landlords.  We will be able to realize this long time dream once the house is paid off.  

Pray for Godfrey as he has the majority responsibility to make the move into the house happen.  I am extremely blessed to have him in charge of the ministry. 

Pray for my flight tomorrow out of Washington DC.  I am suppose to fly out at 9:00 am.  Today watching the news they said that over 7000 flights across the country have been cancelled because of the blizzards on the east coast.  They said it would take 24-48 hours to get people to where they need to be.  We realized that if I would have flown out on Monday, I probably wouldn’t have been able to fly into Washington DC at all.  God sees what we don’t.  That was why there was such an urgency to leave on Sunday! 

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