|Mary, Eydie & Little Eydie|
|Eydie & Eydie|
|Rita & her family|
|Mr & Mrs. Otile receiving plaque|
|Godfrey, Eydie, Mr & Mrs Otile & Pastor Doug|
|Eydie & Mrs. Otile!|
Friday - 8/7 - Thanking the Hotel
It was Kelly & Katie’s turn to share in the hotel’s devotion time this morning. I was so proud of the two of them! Kelly did an object lesson using a pencil! She talked about how object lessons aren’t just good for teaching children, but adults can learn a lot about God and how He works from simple objects. The pencil is a good one.
Kelly shared that we learn...
1. That we are only useful when in God’s hands.
2. That painful sharpening will occur to make us better and more useful, not to make us bitter,
3. That it is what is on the inside that matters
4. That from time to time we need to use the eraser - confession of sins in order to put mistakes behind us, and
5. To have been truly useful in our lives we must leave a mark.
Katie then tagged onto what Kelly shared and gave her personal testimony. She shared about the door-to-door evangelism and how it impacted her life. The two of them worked beautifully together. They gave out pencils for people to take with them to remind us of this simple object lesson and to share it with others!
My tailor friend, Mary came by this morning to drop off the dresses that she made for me. A couple of our girls also had bought material so she could make a few more dresses.
We then went into town for our first day of shopping! We went to visit all of our favorite friends. Rita was so happy to see the team again! Little Eydie & Mary were both there waiting for us! Every time I see the kids I am always amazed at how much they grow in between my visits! For those new to the updates, Mary was a little girl I met on one of my first trips. They were walking past me in front of the Source Cafe. Turns out that their mom, Rita had a shop just down the block. We became instant friends. A couple of years ago, Mary and her husband honored me by naming their baby after me. Each team that I bring has fallen in love with Rita and her family!
I like to bring my teams to specific friends who we like to support. Faith is another friend as well as Irene at the Source Cafe. This year we met a new friend. While we were at the hospital, Godfrey introduced me to Tina, the administrator who he mainly deals with concerning billing. She too owns a shop in town. We arranged to meet her on her day off from the hospital. The hospital has been so good to us. We wanted to at least help in some small way by supporting her in her shop. She was so incredibly happy that we took the time to come by. So many of these friends of mine will tell me later that the support the team members give by buying items makes it possible for them to have food on the table that night. Our buying souvenirs to bring home actually help to support a family to provide food, shelter and medical needs. Our ministry is not only to the children of Raining Hope but extends to those in the community.
This idea of supporting & loving those in the community was the basis for the main activity for the afternoon. For the last nine years, I have stayed at the same hotel in Jinja. I actually stay in the same room each time as well. Out of 20 trips, I have only stayed in another room twice. The hotel now calls my room 35 my home!
Something that I have been wanting to do for years finally came a reality on this trip. With the planning of the Dedication service on Saturday, everything also came together to thank the hotel in a special way. With the recent purchase of the house, it was important for me to thank those who have stood by me all these years. I had written to the Otile family at the hotel to let them know that I wanted to say thank you for their support, not only personally but recognizing that Raining Hope is just one organization of many who they minister to. Typical of the Ugandan culture, they were not sure how to receive that. It took until I arrived the week before to finally convince them that they should just let our team bless them!
We agreed on just a couple of hours on Friday afternoon. They actually have another hotel fellowship every Friday afternoon at 3 pm where they come together for a time of praise, prayer and devotion. They also fast on Fridays and they break the fast at the end of the fellowship time. They decided to turn that time over to our team and allow us to bless them.
The idea behind the afternoon was anyone that works at the hotel could come by. We just wanted to say thank you. I encouraged the team to welcome people as they came in and have conversations about which departments they worked in. The hotel had gotten the word out about what we were doing. Yet, some may not have realized that the program had changed. Little by little, the conference room that they gave us to use began to fill up.
We began the time with praise and worship as people filtered in. When the program started, I explained what this time was all about. We simply wanted to say thank you. We went around the room and introduced ourselves. As each of the hotel workers introduced themselves they also told us which department they worked in. When it came to Mr. & Mrs. Otile, they were so gracious and humbled by this gesture of our wanting to thank them. Mr. Otile spoke up and said that things are a little turned around. We are staying in their hotel, and they should be the ones who are offering the hospitality. It was difficult for them to receive when they believed they should be the ones taking care of us.
That was the beauty of this moment. The sign above the entrance of the hotel says, “Hotel Paradise - LEGENDARY HOSPITALITY.” I used that in explaining what the hotel means to me. LEGENDARY sums it all up. I explained that years ago I too used to work in a hotel. I worked at the San Francisco Airport Marriott and know what it is like to work in the hospitality industry. When I began to identify with them as a co-hotel worker, I watched heads nod up and down with acknowledgement. They knew I understood how hard it can be at times to work in an industry such as this. Taking care of guests...especially those who are a challenge can be difficult. Yet, the hotel as always shown this legendary hospitality no matter when the circumstances.
Then the most interesting thing happened. One of my dear friends, Apophia who works in the business center stood up. She began sharing a story that touched my heart. One of the things that I am known for is leaving “notes under the door.” Every morning I leave notes under the doors of the team members, some from friends and family and one from me. But I also leave thank you notes for my close friends at the hotel before I leave. I also give little devotional books as a thank you gift. Little did I know how God was using those gestures. Apophia said that she began writing notes to her children. She will write three cards, many with a Scripture verses on it. She asks them to read them and then pass them onto other friends! But then she talked about the little books I have given her. She revealed how much she LOVES books. She has always had a dream to one day open up a library. Apophia said, “This is a dream of mine. I will use these books for that and get even more. I know that one day my dream will come true.” Apophia had never told me before about any of this. So the Ugandan Dream extended not only to our Raining Hope kids but those whose lives we touch outside of the home!
But what happened next was a moment that I will not soon forget. One by one, others followed the lead of Apophia and began to share testimonies of thanksgiving. As each one had a personal testimony, I became overwhelmed. I truly felt like God just began to pour out over all of us words of encouragement and affirmation. Because I had been here for nine years, the words directed to me were a huge encouragement. I even turned to Pastor Doug and Godfrey and said, “What is happening? How did they manage to turn the tables?” But a moment that warmed my heart was when one of the staff, Denis, stood up and talked about how the object lesson that Kelly shared that morning meant so much to him. He proceeded to shared each point he learned from that very lesson taken from a pencil!!! He said it was something so simple but that he would apply it and share with others. As I looked over at Kelly I know that it had to have encouraged her. Then another friend, Sarah stood up and began to share a story about how Desiree’s testimony last year was such a blessing. Last year, Desiree shared a personal testimony that was something that she had struggled with. Little did she know, Sarah’s sister was struggling with the exact same issue. Sarah said she was able to go to her own sister and share Desiree’s struggle and how she overcame it. That testimony made a world of difference in the life of Sarah’s sister.
For Desiree, I know that this encouragement came from the Lord. Last year, standing in front of groups of people and sharing testimonies was not the favorite thing of most of the team. Desiree became very emotional sharing her story. One year later, she was able to hear the fruits of her stepping out in faith and doing what she was not comfortable with. It was a powerful moment for all of us.
After this time of mutual encouragement, I turned to Mr. Otile and said, “Well, LEGENDARY hospitality seemed to have turned this around. This day was suppose to be to honor you and the hotel! You somehow managed to turn it back on us!” We then presented Mrs. Otile with one of our “Golden Day” leis! The hotel knows what Golden Day is for my teams. She was so excited and just beaming with joy! She exclaimed, “Oh, this is very unexpected!” Everyone began to shout, “Golden Day! Golden Day!”
I also signed a song, and I can’t even remember now what it was. I think that it was “Oh How He Loves” as just a tribute to how much God loves us all. We then presented the hotel with a plaque that said,
With love and appreciation from the Raining Hope Family to the Otile family
and the staff of the Paradise On The Nile Hotel.
Your ministry to travelers is changing the world for the glory of God.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have
entertained angels without knowing it.” ~ Hebrews 13:2 ~
Then we had a time of refreshments and fellowship. Andrew said that they call this time “swallowship!” (swallow food! Ha!) We had planned to pay for all of the food. But again, LEGENDARY hospitality would not allow us to do that. We paid for samosa’s (like a fried won ton with vegetable filling) & little queen cakes (muffins). The hotel provided not only the room, but banana’s and the drinks. It was encouraging to talk to people thanking them for their contribution to the hotel. Our biggest encouragement was to pass on what they learned today about taking time to say a kind word to one another. Many said that they would do that more often. I think that we had a total of about 75 people that came in and out that afternoon.
That day I was suppose to have a scrapbook ready to present with the plaque. Because of all of the other things on my plate, I couldn’t get it done in time. I showed them the front of the scrapbook and said I would be giving it to them before we leave.
The day we left, I was able to give the book to Mrs. Otile and Andrew. We were standing at the front desk when I gave it to them. As they looked through the pictures I had gathered of all my ISP & RHSP teams and memories of the hotel, they were so thrilled. Mrs. Otile looked at Andrew and said, “This gives me ideas! We should be putting together something like this for the hotel!” She was very grateful for the memories of the past nine years...looking forward to many more in the future that are just waiting to be created!
Later, as I went to pay the final bill, I was standing in that reception area waiting for my receipt. I happened to look up and saw a picture of the King of Uganda. Opposite of that picture was the familiar photo of President Musevini, President of Uganda. But then my eyes focused on what was in between the two! The plaque that we presented was right in the middle! We are in good company!
I asked Pastor Doug to give his account of what happened at this event...
“Hotel Paradise is not just a hotel. They offer so much more than a safe place to stay with a comfortable bed and hot shower. They do a great job of making guests feel welcome and meeting the basic needs of a traveler. But that is not what makes this place so special. It is all about the people!
Eydie has been coming here for nine years and this is her 20th stay at the hotel. The owners, management and staff have become like family to Eydie and their kindness extends beyond Eydie to the teams she brings to Jinja, Uganda. The hotel is owned by Mr. & Mrs. Otile. They are followers of Jesus and they have instilled in the staff a heart for the kind of hospitality that the Bible demands of Christians. Many of the staff are also followers of Jesus. They begin their days with staff worship and fellowship times and the love of Jesus permeates this wonderful place.
They are constantly serving us; so this time, we decided to turn the tables on them. The Raining Hope Service Project team hosted a reception for the hotel owners and staff on Friday, August 7th. We provided food, drinks, a relaxing atmosphere and lots of encouragement. We also presented a plaque, commemorating the day and thanking them all for their part in spreading the gospel and supporting kingdom work in Uganda. They host dozens of mission teams every year. And they are supporting the life-changing work those teams are doing.
Of course, being hospitable Ugandans, they insisted on having some time to encourage us as well. Their kind words were so touching. One woman told us that when Desiree shared her testimony during staff fellowship last year, it changed a woman's life. Another talked bout the impact Kelly had made this year, when she shared a simple object lesson. And many people told about how God had used Eydie to touch their lives over the years. It was an amazing celebration. One I will not quickly forget. ... Pastor Doug
The team debriefed this later and we agreed that this one event may have a future impact that is deeper than what we see. We were all so blown away by the magnitude of what a simple act of saying thank you can do. I was personally affected by this for the rest of the trip. It was miraculous. I love my Hotel Paradise family.
That evening we just seemed to float to the home! Some of the team had more opportunity to play volleyball. Other team members colored with the kids. Godfrey and I went and did the final shopping for the Dedication. We ended up taking not only Jonathan but Joan, Vivian & Sylvia. We also had to shop for party items like balloons for the decorations. I was also on the hunt for wrapping paper as I had two wedding gifts to wrap! It is not like you can just stop into a Hallmark store. I had never had to wrap a gift there before. I realized that I had never seen any gift wrapping anywhere. Turns out, it was very shiny paper that was rolled up into these small little tubes. I realized that here at home all our wrapping paper is wrapped around a huge roll in the middle. In Uganda, they have eliminated that inner cardboard roll. Actually, that is brilliant as there is no paper waste!
During the devotion time we used it to prepare the kid’s hearts for what the Dedication Day would mean. Godfrey had already given each child a responsibility and they had their chores all lined out. They were also doing some secret preparations that they didn’t want me to know about! So after our devotions, the team ate supper and then headed out so the kids could continue their preparations for tomorrow.
I can’t wait to share tomorrow’s update with you about all that God did on Dedication Day!!!! Soak in this update first and take a deep breath...tomorrow’s update will be even more amazing!
Filled with JOY!