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! 

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