Monday, November 14, 2016

Chapter 22 - Update #13 - Conference Part 2

Something very interesting happened after we concluded Day 1 of the conference.  Each night after the crusade or conference, Godfrey would debrief with his team of leaders. They would discuss how it went and what they could improve on for the next day.  Then we would all meet and debrief together before our time of nightly devotions.  
Have you ever taught a lesson, preached a message or led a devotion and when a listener is asked, “What did you learn today?” there is a blank stare, shrug of a shoulder or deafening silence?  That is a speaker’s worse nightmare right?!   When we began our debrief,  Godfrey asked that question to the children & for a moment I was in that scary place!   I didn’t realize that he was going to put them on the spot like that.  By the look of surprise in their eyes, neither did they!  
During the conference, they were all attentive and very responsive.  In my moment of wondering if I was a capable teacher…I looked around the room.  I saw droopy eyes and tired bodies.  The children had just had three full days of a crusade that involved setting up and moving equipment back and forth.  We successfully had begun the conference but these long days were beginning to take its toll.   It was like a car with a battery that just need a jump start!  
So I did something that ended up setting the tone for the rest of the conference.   Godfrey got up and started asking the children what the three points were that we learned today.  Try to imagine, this but it is one of those things that you just had to be there!   As Godfrey moved forward towards the kids, his back was turned to me.  I started signing to them.  He couldn’t see what I was doing.  As he asked, “What was the first point?”  I did an imaginary BIG STEP forward.  They all looked at me as I was giving them a sign language hint.  I took another BIG STEP.   This time as Godfrey asked them, “What was the first point?” ALL HANDS SHOT UP IN THE AIR!  He looked at me and I acted very innocent!  In unison they said…”STEP IN!” 
I was onto something.  So when he asked for the second point, I used sign language and LEANED forward.  ALL HANDS shot up again!  In unison they all answered, “LEAN IN!”  You know what happened as he asked for the third point.  I used my hands to sign “RISE” and they all proudly raised their hands and yelled out, “RISE!!!”  Through all the giggling there was new life in the room.  They continued to expand on all their answers as to what God taught them on that first day.  They just needed a little push start to wake them up.  It was almost like a shot of caffeine infused the room.  
But this gave me the idea to use the sign language to emphasize the three points for the next two days!   So as I prepared each day, the points grew out of what signs would help them remember best & apply the truths to their lives.  They loved this!  
 Day Two I started asking what were the three points we learned yesterday.  Because of our debrief last night, ALL our children proudly yelled out all three points!  It set the stage to continue our journey.  I talked about our assignment, our responsibility and getting ready.   The three points were:  
HE POINTS THE WAY/HE LIGHTS THE WAY/GO AND SHINE - This time I used the sign language to emphasize each point.  
I started with the song, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again,” by Danny Gokey I encourage you to watch this particular clip of the song.  It begins with Danny giving testimony of the inspiration behind the song.  As we are on our journey, the words to the song become a part of our larger map: 
Beginning - Just let that word wash over you.  It’s alright now - Love’s healing hands have pulled you through.  So get back up, take step one, leave the darkness, feel the sun. ‘Cause your story’s far from over and your journey’s just begun.”  
Yesterday I left them standing ready to go.  As I signed the song, “Rise,” I had our children pass out stickers I printed with the word, “RISE!”  What was fun was seeing some of them still wearing that sticker on the second day!   Yes, we were up & ready to GO.  God now would POINT THE WAY. 
When I was called to Uganda, God said GO.  God POINTED the way.  I stepped in.  Through the years I gained more training through my work with CBU with International Service Project teams. Two important truths I teach when training are these points: 
1. In order to go you have to leave.  Sounds simple but it can be a challenge.  To experience all that God has waiting for you in its fullness you have to leave the comforts and culture of America behind to have no distractions moving forward.  The same is true when we STEP into our journey.  We need to leave our past and its troubles behind so we can experience all that God has waiting for us.  HE POINTS THE WAY.   
2. In order to be filled you have to empty yourself.  You can’t pour more into a cup that is already filled.  How can you receive all that He has waiting for you if you bring all of America with you.  God has so much for you on this journey, but if you don’t empty yourself how will you receive?  GOD POINTS THE WAY. 
This led to the second point.  God doesn’t leave us in the dark.  GOD LIGHTS THE WAY for us so we know where to go.  
Our new Beacon of Hope sponsorship program has a new logo.  It is a beautiful lighthouse with the Raining Hope logo in the place where the light begins radiating from the top of the tower.   I had to explain what a lighthouse was as most people there had never seen or heard of one.  “A tower or other structure containing a beacon of light to warn or guide ships to sea,” was the definition.  But they got a laugh out of me trying to be a human lighthouse to make my point!  They did understand the comparison that we a light in a dark world. 
“You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before me, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.’”  Matthew 5:14-16.
God lights the way.  He wants us to follow His direction and give light to those around us.  God wants us to step in and SHINE before men.   Each person is given a unique assignment.  My friend, Pastor Charles in Virginia encouraged me with this important message, “When you are using the gifts that you have uniquely been given for His Kingdom, people will catch your obedience and the love of God.  Then they in turn will express their gifts fully. “ 
I used an example of how one of my gifts is encouragement.  I write “notes under the door” to all the team members each day.  I also write thank you cards and bring gifts to my friends at the hotel and in town.  I normally bring a devotional book to specific friends at the hotel.  Apophia in the business center gave me this testimony…
“I have a dream of opening up a library.  I want to take all the books you have given me over the years and put them in a library so others can also enjoy them.  I am getting closer to that dream.  I also have been sharing with my children about the cards you write to me and the sweets that you leave for them.  I began writing Scripture notes to them everyday too.  They now have been going out, telling others about Jesus.  They write scripture notes and sweets and give them to others.”   The expressing of my gifts inspired them to express their gifts.   You never know what the expression of your gifts will do to encourage someone else.   You are uniquely qualified for the assignment that God has created you for.  No one else can STEP INTO IT. 
If you thought explaining a lighthouse to someone who has never seen one was interesting, try sharing the story of Cinderella to someone who has never hear of her!  Oh yes. I did!  But think about that familiar story.  Fast forward to the glass slipper which by the way, in this story it was a Ugandan sandal that I threw onto the steps!   It was a perfect illustration for the third point.  No one else could STEP into her glass slipper.  The same is true for your assignment.  Only you can step in and fill it.  No one else can do it  They actually clapped at the end of the Cinderella story but it made the point! 
2 Corinthians 4:7 “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not ourselves.”
Remember that BRIGHT little light that lit up the stage when the power went out at the crusade?  I hid that light inside a little basket.  Covered up, no one knew that the light was in there.  When I opened it up, they were shocked to see it was on.   They made the correlation that they should not be hiding their gifts and their dreams.  They are to SHINE brightly for Jesus to a very dark world.  
At this point, I asked everyone to yell out what they believe their dreams or assignments from God are.  They spoke in unison very boldly proclaiming those dreams.   Then we passed out pieces of paper for everyone to write them down.  At the same time we gave stickers that said, “SHINE.”  One of the updates I will dedicate to sharing just those pieces of paper so you can join me in praying for them.  
As I signed a song, “Hope in Front of Me,” by Danny Gokey  I had each person come and place those “dreams” and “assignments” in a basket at the altar.  To take a break, if you can watch this video before finishing this update it will encourage your heart.  
Think of those in attendance listening to this message.  So many of them are like those shown in this video.    They have faced abusive situations, they have been told they are failures, they have been victims.  But watching them dedicate their dreams and assignments to God was inspiring.   “There’s a place at the end of the storm you finally find.  Where the hurt and the tears and the pain all fall behind.  You open up your eyes and up ahead there’s a big sun shining.  Right then and there you realize you’ll be alright.  There’s hope in front of me.  There’s a light, I still see it.” 
A beacon of light.  A beacon of hope.  God points the way.  He lights the way.  In a little spot in Jinja, Uganda, there are people who are proudly SHINING for Jesus.  
You are a part of this movement by joining us in prayer.  

SHINE !  mama eydie kisakye 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Chapter 22 - Update #12 - Raining Hope Ministries Conference - Part 1

With the crusade behind us, on Thursday we were ready to switch gears and focus on the conference.  Godfrey asked if I would lead the teaching during this equipping time.   I start the teaching and he compliments it by bringing it all together at the end.   The crusade was to be held back at the Raining Hope house.  There would be a combination of attenders who are on different parts of their journey.   We especially invited the new believers who had given their lives to Christ over the past few days of the crusade.  There would be those that have been believers for quite some time desiring to grow deeper in their walk with Christ.  We prayed many more would attend that were just plain curious from the three days in the marketplace.  
The children were very busy preparing our compound to receive visitors that afternoon.  I am amazed at how our large “porch” area that faces the large open space of our compound has turned out to be a perfect “stage” for our Sunday Services!   It causes me to stand back in awe seeing how God is in all of the details of every aspect of our lives!   
The porch is large enough to hold ALL of the equipment, sound board and still have a lot of space for the choir to sing and move!  When I sat and participated in worship, I just marveled at the absolute perfect setting for His Word to be proclaimed!  
The tent that was so graciously provided for by precious donors covered the area where people were seated.  The tent held the one hundred new chairs that we purchased just in time for the conference.  In order to keep the musicians and machines dry from rain & protected from the sun, Godfrey and his group of friends also used additional tarps to create a temporary awning or overhang from the house to the tents.  It amazed me how creative they were using just tarps designed for the car and long pieces of timber for poles.   It did the job and kept them dry and cool!   Eventually the dream will be to have an awning installed that will compliment the house & the tents.   When you see some of the photos they have an orange tint because the tarps were orange!  
Remember how at the crusade started on Ugandan time each day?  The conference was no different!  I just waited until they were ready to pick me up.  Because I was leading the teaching, they didn’t want to pick me up until just before it was my turn.  I appreciated their protection of the speaker and the reverence for His Word.  One of the days I told Godfrey I could come early and just study in the back room.  But he said it was better for me to stay at the hotel so I wouldn’t be distracted or interrupted by others.  He wanted me to just focus on what the Lord had me to share.  I love it.  
As we set the tone for the next three days, I began by signing the song “Spirit of the Living God” by Meredith Andrews that I shared in a previous update.    I know when you signed up to be on their journey with me, sitting in seat 17C on Alaska Air or 47H & 45A on Emirates, you had no idea this would be so long!   So while you read these updates on the conference, take a moment and click on the links to the songs.  Close your eyes as you listen and transport yourself back to the tent at Raining Hope.  Hear what they heard and feel what they felt.   I want you to in some way experience what we did as we watched the Holy Spirit take hold of hearts and grow deeper in love with Jesus.  
 These words in the song were key, “We’re leaning in to all you are - everything else can wait.   Spirit of the Living God - come now and breathe upon our hearts - come now and have your way.”   The theme of the conference was “Christ in You - The Hope of Glory.”  Each day I had a specific emphasis to the message.  The first day it was, “Step in - Lean in - and Rise.”  
Because of the various levels of where people were on their journey with Christ, my responsibility was to speak truth in a way that would minister to each person at their need.  So the focus on the first day was born out of these three points: 
  1. What you have stepped into   2)  How to lean in   3)  Time to step out and rise
I emphasized that we are all on the same journey whether we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior yesterday or years ago.  We have stepped into the most exciting journey of our lives that will continue into eternity!  
Try to picture when we all “boarded” the flight on my 22nd journey to Uganda.  Our flight was only partially filled.   On the Emirates 380 planes, there is a whole upper deck that the economy level never sees.  You almost forget that there is another level unless you see the fancy staircase towards the front of the plane leading to the exclusive level upstairs.  Thanks to the commercials on TV with Jennifer Aniston promoting Emirates, we have a glimpse into what that First Class/Business level actually looks like!   Once our conference started I could envision the attendees joining us on our flight!   There is plenty of room for new passengers!  Unlike Emirates, our flight has everyone on the same level.  We are all First Class as sons and daughters of the King of Kings!   
The first point about “Stepping In” was focused on this journey they joined regardless of when that was.   I used an example of a famous but now non-existent tourist attraction called Bujagali Falls in Jinja.  It is not a waterfall, but used to have beautiful rapids of exciting rushing water.  But a new dam has stopped the flow of water.  It is now flat and locals call it “ugly.”  I asked the question, “Is your life exciting and moving or has it become stagnant not moving forward?  Is something blocking the flow and power from the Lord like the dam?”   The first point was to help give those a map to help them start well.  For those who have been believers for awhile, we also wanted to help to lift the obstacles that would allow living water to rush and flow again! 
New believers many times don’t know where to start.  The second point emphasized the need to LEAN INTO GOD.  The main focus was leaning in and developing a daily relationship with Him.  We emphasized the need to daily be in prayer and in His Word.   
Raining Hope (Psalms Ten for the first two years) has had many difficulties over the past ten years since I was called to Uganda.   We officially became Raining Hope on 9-9-09.   The next update will talk about our anniversary.   We were filled with hopes and dreams for the future.  Things were good.  But then at one point life just seemed to come crashing down.  Life became hard.  We faced so many challenges in Uganda and here in the states.  I had some who told me I couldn’t do this.  I had others tell me what I was doing was impossible.  
Ronald’s testimony was powerful on this first night.  You know the story.   He was walking down the road when he was hit by a van.  Suddenly he was lying helpless.  The story told to his sister Tabitha was that his legs were crushed.  Does that sound familiar in our own lives?  We are minding our own business and suddenly we are hit.  Suddenly, hopes and dreams can be crushed right before your eyes.   I encouraged our children that our family stayed strong and courageous during these valley times. (Joshua 1:9).  Part of the song, “Rise” by Danny Gokey says this, “Lift your head and look around you.  See the dreams you lost, they have found you.  And the heart that once was beating is coming back to life, coming back to life.”  
So the third point was you’ve stepped into your journey,  you are leaning in the hear from Him, now it is time to RISE up and get moving forward!   Ronald’s leg is healing.  At the time he was using walking sticks (crutches) and had to sit a lot.  He now has had the cast (they call it cement) removed!  Praise the Lord.  He still uses the sticks but less and less.  At one point they thought he would not make it.  Yet he did not give in or give up.  He will walk and run again.   
Dreams are coming alive again at Raining Hope.  
I want to finish this update with a testimony from Jonathan.  He is one of two of our students who is currently in nursing school.  While I was there, he and Jessica were just beginning clinical work with the hospital for training purposes.  This is part of the letter he wrote to me once I came home regarding his dreams…   “ I greet you in Christ our Father.  …  Suddenly we have new machines and am in process of learning the guitar because I always come back on weekends and am taught how to play it. My life now is full of wonders and it’s my Heavenly Father who is working in me.
At first in the hospital, patients called me doctor and I really couldn’t believe because I thought they were calling someone else. But when I realized that they were calling me, deep down inside I felt happy because that was the best day in my life that I will never forget MUM.
At this moment God is doing wonders at Raining Hope. The best thing is that my sisters and brothers are happy in Christ. We are all remnants and priceless in the midst of God’s presence. Even people call me doctor now days both outside and inside the ward.  We pass through hardship and battle but I want to encourage you that the Lord who started this great job will accomplish it. Will always put you in prayers and your family back in the states since we are now one in Christ. The Ugandan Dream is real and it’s there because of the theme that says we should be strong and courageous. Love you and miss you mum. Your son, Dr. Jonathan 
Thank you all for the support you give to the children of Raining Hope.   We finished the conference that night with the song, “Rise.”  They all signed along with me as the words encouraged them to “rise, breaking the dark, piercing the night.”  The children at Raining Hope know they were made for more.   They were made to shine.  They are an army of hope bringing the world a radiant light.   
It is time for all of us to rise and be HIS LIGHT in a dark world and be HIS Beacon of Hope.  Will you join us in the blooming, radiant bouquet of His light and hope?! 

Speechless !  mama eydie kisakye 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chapter 22 - Update #11 - Raining Hope Crusade Part 3 - Testimonies

As I write, I am on a flight home from Maryland and Florida.   There is something inspiring about writing updates from a seat high above the earth below.  This flight I am in seat 10F and picture you next to me as we pick up the conversation about the end of the crusade.  
Each night at the conclusion of the crusade, we would have to pack up all of the sound equipment and transport it back to the house.  Godfrey had talked about hiring police as security guards to watch over the equipment overnight.   I am glad that we didn’t go with that option.   It just meant additional time needed to set up and tear down each night.  
I hope you have been able to see the Disney movie, “Queen of Katwe,” in theaters now! It would give you an idea of the marketplace we were in for the crusade.  The shops and places where the people live are mainly like wooden shacks.   The main road is paved but the marketplace itself is on plots of dirt.  At this time of the day, many people are traveling by foot home from work.  As it became dark, paraffin candles begin to light up the darkness of the market.  
On the last evening, when we got back to the house we spent a long time unpacking the three days of the crusade.   The following are the testimonies from some of our children and guests of what the crusade meant to them. 
JEREMIAH: (Godfrey’s friend)  “I thank God who used us in a mighty way.  I want to thank the singers (Raining Hope choir).  They were so well coordinated.  I remember watching the movie, “Woodlawn” (This is one of the Christian movies we watched throughout the week).  It reminded me that we can start in a bad state but end well.  The first day of the crusade we had challenges with setting up.  But we brought the Word of God and we prayed.   We continued on and praised the Lord.  He showed Himself alive in the ministry.   Praise the Lord that we are conquerors!   Birds of a feather fly together!  Amen! 
FRANK:  I learned that HE IS the LIGHT OF THE WORLD!  We have something HOT!    I am thankful to be a part of Raining Hope Ministries.  We started with power.  We saw many lives touched.  People who came gave their time and listened to the messages from God.  They heard the praises being lifted to God.   I saw a change in people’s lives.  Whether I was working at the machines or using the camera, I saw God move.  
HENRY:   I thank God for the machines (sound equipment)!   I am thankful that as a ministry we all had the heart to work together.  EVERYONE tried to find something to do.  I thank God for using us.  At times it was not easy but we did it together.  When we were leaving on the last night , I had some ladies ask me if we were coming back.  They were sad the crusade was over, but I was able to invite them to come to the house for the conference the next day! 
SYLVIA:  (Sylvia & Hillary are the directors of the choir)  All I wanted to do was stand and praise God.  I lost my voice at the beginning of the crusade.  I asked God to restore my voce and as I stood on that first night, my voice came back!  I thanked God for his grace! 
HILLARY;  God used me and I am blessed.  During the crusade I was humbled to think “Who am I to be a part of this team?”  We watched as people gave their lives to Christ.  This is not just a job, this is important.  The song you shared called, “Spirit of the Living God,” was a picture of that I was feeling.   When God speaks and moves He does what only He can do and it changes us!    
JOANNE: (younger Joanne)   I learned when we trust in the Lord, we will manage.  I was nervous on the first day.  Even when we did the songs with Mama Kisakye…we had not practiced together yet we were always unified.  We managed as one! 
TABITHA:  I am thankful for the grace of God.  When we first stood and all eyes were on us, I was nervous.  But seeing people saved gave us courage!  
SOPHIA:  I know that it was not me. It was the grace of God that allowed me to minister. I thank God that I am in the Raining Hope choir.  If it were not for His grace, I would have been doing it with pride.  I am speechless. 
DOREEN:  Raining Hope helps us stand in power as one body.  It gave us courage.  (On the second night the generator completely stopped working.) A friend of mine who was there said, “Even though the generator disturbed you, the pulpit was not discouraged.  I wanted more.  I wanted you to come back, for the whole week.”  I was able to invite them to come back to the house for the conference and for Sunday worship!  
BYARUHANGA: (Godfrey’s friend)  I am speechless!   I am appreciative of all that was done.  The devil tried to disorganize the crusade.  But we gave God our best.  We prayed.  We trusted God for these things.  Thank God He enabled us.  At the end I was feeling so good I want it to continue.  I am thankful for Godfrey for inviting us.  We have to be conquerors.  The power was a challenge but we still ended up on top.  I also want to say that most choirs in Africa fail because of pride and lack of unity.  But the Raining Hope Choir is very unified.  I love these people who are so united.  I LOVE THE UNITY.  It is hard to find people like this.  This is RARE.  Please keep this in your heart and don’t change.  If you get prideful it is the beginning of the end.   I was very proud of the choir.    I also saw how people were very impacted.  People were praying everywhere during the time of invitation.  Keep the light burning.  I am grateful for what was done.  
GODFREY:  Many times on the first day of a crusade people walking by question and can say, “What do these people come to do?  They should go.”  At some crusades people get fed up.  But we were different.  I saw people walk in and stay.   People see Jesus in us.  Now that the community knows who we are and who we represent, they will be watching.  They want to see if you are strong in your faith. As you walk to and from school or go to the market, you need to remember you represent Jesus.   If they continue to see a consistency in your walk with Christ, we pray that they too will want to follow Christ. 
This continues to confirm what I wrote about in Update #9 about the crusade.  Godfrey & I are beginning to see the challenge that comes with outside help to run an evangelistic crusade.  Having “muzungus” (white people) come to lead in the preaching is something we are reevaluating.   It has nothing to do with the heart of those who come to serve.  It has everything to do with culture and gaining credibility within the people group which takes time.   Part of Godfrey’s testimony that we were different and people stayed was due to the fact that he was preaching and the children were leading.  The children felt empowered and encouraged in their own assignments from God.  I have never seen them so confident as they ministered.  That night as we praised God and thanked Him for a very successful crusade, we remained speechless and in awe.  

Before the start of the crusade, Godfrey encouraged the children that God is sending us out,  “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’  And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8.   Our Raining Hope Children are GOING out to Ambercort and beyond knowing He is with us wherever He sends us!   Next three updates will be about the conference!    
Our bouquet is blooming!   
mama eydie kisakye 

Chapter 22 - Update #10 - Raining Hope Crusade Part 2 - Music

After we concluded the crusade on Wednesday night, we packed up all of our equipment and When you call on Jesus, all things are possible.  I can mount on wings like eagles and soar.  When I call on Jesus, mountains are going to fall.  Because He’ll move heaven and earth to come rescue you when you call.”  
Something happened that I had not expected.  While I was doing my greeting, the Raining Hope choir was still standing behind me.   As I started signing, they started backing me up and signing with me!  We had not practiced anything or even talked about it.  But we have been doing music together for so long, we immediately began to work together as one body.   It was a thing of beauty.  I have never experienced anything quite like it.  From that first day on, we did every song together.  Godfrey later told me the choir were like angels wings that covered me and were pushing me forward.  They followed my lead and they moved as I moved.  You could almost feel the brush of angels wings.  The people in the market all moved in closer from the outer areas.  As the words of the songs came alive, the people began to respond. 
So the next two days of the crusade, the songs became crucial during the worship time to usher in the preaching of the Word.  They became our living testimony. 
On the second night, Godfrey had me share two songs.  As soon as I arrived (a little earlier this time…6 pm!) we shared the song, Giants Fall by Francesca Battistelli.  This song became our theme the year that we purchased our house.  That year the children surprised me and had choreographed their own movements to the song!   Over the last ten years, we faced multiple giants.  This song means so much to our children because they are experiencing miracles…and giants HAVE fallen!  
“Don’t you be afraid of giants in your way.  With God you know that anything’s possible.  So step into the fight, he’s right there by your side. The stones inside your hands might be small, but watch the giants fall.  Miracles can happen.  Anything is possible watch the giants fall.”
Just before Godfrey preached, we signed One Touch by Nicole C. Mullens
This song becomes a visual depiction of the story in the Bible found in Luke 8:40-48.  It was the story of a women who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had spent all her money on doctors but no one was able to heal her. “She came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.  …  In the presence of all the people she explained why she had touched Him and how she had immediately been healed. “Daughter,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”    I became that woman.  The children became the crowd that ostracized her.   It was a powerful moment that Godfrey then used to say to the crowd n the market that they too could be healed with just one touch of the Master.  
I have signed this song many times but never with a group.  In the moment I truly felt ostracized.  When I sign music, my job is to communicate to the deaf what they can not hear with their ears.  Hearing people benefit as they CAN hear with their ears. Whether deaf or hearing, both can “HEAR” with their hearts.  Songs become powerful for me because most songs are very personal.  Many are testimonies of experiences I have walked through.  I sign the way I do because I FEEL the words in my soul.  I also have come to understand that I am not alone.  How many times have we been judged or ostracized by others?  How many times have we been told we are not good enough?  
“Been ostracized for 12 years,  I'm used to being alone - Spent everything I had and now it's gone - I’m used to being put down, my issues tell it all - My only hope is anchored in this fall.”  I have felt the “sting” of pain from the words of others much too often.  But with one touch, one word, He heals and He restores.   “When I call on Jesus, all things are possible.” 
The last day of the crusade was the most powerful.   Another song that has become precious to us this year is  “Different Drum” by Blanca -  Godfrey has told me that many people have been asking about the Raining Hope children.  They have noticed that our children are different.  There recently was a meeting in the community that Godfrey attended.  One subject that is discussed is the misbehavior of youth in our community.  They have said, “We find none of that with the Raining Hope children.  They conduct themselves and lead their lives in a way that is healthy to the community.  Their desire is to serve God and their service is something we are thankful for.  They are different and God is at work in them.”  Hallelujah!! “We’re gonna march to the beat of a different drum / We do that left right left to our own rhythm / And we’ll keep on movin’ ‘cause we’re not afraid to stand out.”  Our children at Raining Hope stand out because they are the LIGHT in a dark world.  They truly are not afraid to stand out for Christ!  
But the song that touched my heart the most of all the crusade was when we signed, 
I have done this song countless times.  It is one of my favorites.  There is a familiar story in Matthew 26:6-13.  His Words tell this beautiful story:  “While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper,  a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.  When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.’  Aware of this,  Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’”
CeCe Winans words from the song bring this story to life. 
“I can’t forget the way life used to be - I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound 
And I spent my days poured my life without measure 
Into a little treasure box I’d thought I’d found 
Until the day when Jesus came to me and healed my soul - With the wonder of His touch 
So now I’m giving back to Him all the praise He's worthy of 
I’ve been forgiven and that’s why I love Him so much 
When I sign this I use a clay pitcher that I bought in Uganda to symbolize the alabaster jar.   This time I signed it in a way that I have not signed it before.   Tears flowed as the children and I moved together though the song.  
“And I’ve come to pour  - My praise on Him like oil from Mary’s alabaster box 
Don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears - And I dry them with my hair 
You were’t there the night He found me - You did not feel what I felt 
When he wrapped his love all around me and 
You don’t know the cost of the oil - In my Alabaster Box 

I came off the stage and looked at Godfrey.  We both had a moment that we were genuinely speechless.  We tried to talk but could not.  We walked away from one another in tears.  
After the crusade was over, this is what Godfrey told me: 
“While you were signing, the song was slow and ushered in the presence of God in a mighty way. I saw people attentive to hear and learn from the song as they connected with the sign language. This prepared me a lot to deliver the message. Your signing provided a spiritual atmosphere that the Holy Spirit of God used to minister and prepare souls for Christ. It was a blessing.”
I mentioned in another update the importance of signing music in my life.  It is not just interpreting words but it is interpreting my heart.  This time just like in the song “One Touch,” I became this Mary.  I truly submitted myself to the presence of Christ as Mary must have done by pouring out this expensive ointment on Jesus’ head.  
This is what the children of Raining Hope are doing.  As they submit themselves to Christ, the fragrance that fills the air is one that people are noticing.  The people of Jinja are beginning to understand our children spend time in the Presence of Jesus. They sense the difference.  The sweet fragrance from our blooming bouquet filled that market in our community of Ambercort.  People want to know who is this God we serve.   The fragrance of Christ is drawing them in.  They are seeking and they will find Him.   Part 3 of the crusade update will be testimonies directly from our children during our time of debrief.   You too may find yourself speechless! 
Continuing to be Speechless, 
Mama Eydie Kisakye 

Chapter 22 - Update #9 - Raining Hope Crusade Part 1

The crusade itself seemed to add multiple flowers to our growing bouquet. Monday, Godfrey and the children were busy taking care of multiple details.  It helped them for me to stay at the hotel.   It gave me opportunity for the first time to work and get caught up on updates & prepare for the week of teaching.  
Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings,  I join the staff and workers of Paradise Hotel in their morning devotions.  This is a precious time for me.  They will begin the day in praise & devotion to God.  I have never been a part of anything else quite like this.  When I am home there, they have me share the devotion to bring a word of encouragement for the day they are about to begin.  
Throughout this week my devotional word was taken from what I was teaching at the conference and turn it into a 15 minute version!  It always ended with signing a song together!  The first Monday I signed the song, “Rise” from Danny Gokey.  THEY LOVED IT!  The gentleman who is in charge of the new renovations for the restaurant was very taken by the words to the song.  Looks like when I return on my next trip I will have many copies of Danny’s new CD to purchase!  
Another song that I signed for both the children and Paradise Hotel was “Spirit of the Living God” by Meredith Andrews.  There is something special about signing this song with the Nile as your backdrop hearing the words first thing in the morning, 
“Spirit of the Living God - Spirit of the Living God
We wanna know you more and more - We’re hanging on every word.  Speak to us
We're leaning in to all you are - Everything else can wait
Come now and breathe upon our hearts - Come now and have your way
Cause when you speak, when you move - When you do what only you can do
It changes us, it changes what we see and what we seek.”
This trip was different. It changed me. It changed what I see & what I seek. It changed everything.   I spent much of the time being still and knowing that He is God.  As a family, we hung on His every Word.  We leaned in to hear from only Him.  He did what only He could do.  
 The place I sat to be still was at a small table at the restaurant,  overlooking the Nile.  The weather was PERFECT, in the mid 70’s, slight breeze with the smell of jasmine in the air, birds singing and … sounds of construction with skill saws and nail guns!  At one point, someone asked me how I could sit and work up there with all that noise!  I said to me it was the sound of God blessing the hotel with business enough that they could do the construction.  It signified to me the future of a FULL restaurant and more people who will experience the beauty of the Nile & the Presence of the One who provides!   Amen!  
So among the peace of the Nile and the hammering of nails, I began preparing for the week.  Godfrey would be the main preacher for our evangelistic crusade.   He wanted me to sign music that would be evangelistic in nature that went with our theme of “Christ in You - Hope of Glory.”   It has taken me a few days to write this.  As I began to reflect on all God did during those three days,  I realized just how much actually happened at the crusade.  I don’t want to loose any of you as a cup of coffee only lasts so long!  So I made a decision to divide this into three segments.  The next update will include all the music I used at the crusade and how each song had its own message and was a unique bloom in our bouquet.  The third segment of the crusade will include testimonies from our Raining Hope family from our debriefing on the last night after we were done.  
One of the basic rules of any team I lead is to be flexible, trust me and go with the flow.  Through the years I have come to trust this process and not worry about schedules.  Yet even these three days would have been a huge test for A type personalities.  Our crusade was suppose to go from 4:00 pm-7:00 pm each night.  I learned that the first hour is really a “setup” time.  In local language it means show up after 5 pm!    But the first day was a challenge even by Ugandan standards!  To see Godfrey a little tested by circumstances is very rare.  He updated me throughout the day saying the major problem was the stage.  We paid to have a very professional stage built in the village.  When I came with a team in 2014 to Kakira, the stage was very unstable and small.  Whenever the praise team danced and moved, the stage moved as if it were going to lift off into space (or fully collapse on the ground)!   But to my surprise, this stage was at least four times the size of the little rickety one we had before.  It was a picture of being built on a strong foundation!  Problem was, something of this magnitude can not be built in 30 minutes.  And yet, the man who we rented from showed up about 30 minutes before we were to start and discovered the men he hired to set it up had not been there all day.  This man took it upon himself to jump in and build it and enlist others to help…even our kids.  Another picture of the body of Christ working together to accomplish Kingdom work.    
I quietly kept working at the hotel unaware of the absolute chaos that was happening in the market!   They also were having to transport all of our new equipment from the house to the market.  This meant trying to understand and set up all the new wires and buttons.  I looked at the sea of wires and wished it could all be wireless!   I kept working to get updates done, practice songs and prepare my notes for the upcoming conference.  By time Godfrey actually came to pick me up it was close to 6:30 pm!  (Remember, we were suppose to be done at 7:00 pm!) 
No worries.  We knew it was Ugandan time.  Godfrey said many people were gathering at the market.  The beauty of the location of our home is it is only a short 5 minute drive from the hotel.  The market is just past the round-a-bout off the main road to the bridge.  As we approached the market,  the beautiful sounds of our children singing filled the air.  The van pulled up to the market and I saw the MASSIVE stage with the Raining Hope choir in their purple uniforms singing for the Lord.  We were in the moment and the three hour delay didn’t matter.  People in the market were all engaged in the worship.  Even at this late hour, Godfrey still had to run to the home to change his clothes.  He had been one of those that helped to build the stage.  
As I got out of the van and began walking through the crowd, the presence of Christ was evident.  I got closer to the stage and saw the faces of the children deeply in love with their Savior. I looked at all of our new “machines” as they call the sound equipment.  Godfrey’s friends were on the drums and guitars.  Henry was on the keyboards.  The shop in Kampala was correct about our needing the guitars.  Without them we would not have had a complete sound.  I looked over at Brian, and he was wearing a SF Giants shirt!  I knew I liked him! Ha!  Later when I talked to him he said the Giants were his favorite baseball team1  So funny to see how a MLB team can influence someone half way across the world!  
One of the concerns I had because of the delay, was what were we going to do when it got dark?  We did not purchase the beam lights and without them no one would be able to see.  I wondered if we would have to finish as soon as we lost the light of day.  But Godfrey had thought of everything!  They took the light from our porch and hooked it up to a LONGGG piece of timber.  This served as our homemade flood light and worked perfectly!  I was actually pretty impressed.  
I stood back and marveled at the way our children were ministering.   They sang and danced with absolute joy.  They proclaimed the Word with power!       
Even with the late start on the first night,  everything moved forward beautifully!  More people actually showed up because of the late hour.  The average time people are off work can be anywhere from 5:00-6:00 pm.  We discovered some people at the hotel don’t change shifts until 6:00 pm.  So timing was perfect.  
Something that really struck me in a powerful way at this crusade was Godfrey.  After signing the songs, I sat quietly behind one of the “machines.”  I marveled at the way that Godfrey connects with the villagers.   I watched as people engaged in all that Godfrey was speaking.  I saw people connect with him as a Ugandan in ways that impacted me in an important way.  When we gave an invitation, it was like nothing I had seen before.  He was very aware that his voice was not only reaching those we could see, but into the market booths and surrounding homes that line our area.  As he gave an evangelistic invitation, he had people stay where they were and recognized even those in their homes and booths.  Not only did he give an invitation to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but he also directed the prayer to those who are already believers.  It was a time for people to rededicate their lives.  It was a time for people who were struggling to stand up for Christ.  Throughout the three days, I watched as hand after hand went up when Godfrey called them to prayer.  Hands in the air, hands on their hearts.  I watched one by one people give their lives to Christ for the first time or rededicate themselves back to him.  
After each service, Godfrey asked those who made that decision for the first time to meet him over on the side of the stage to help them begin their journey with Christ.  Irene, Godfrey’s wife immediately would join him to take down the names of those who came forward after Godfrey prayed with them.  The Raining Hope choir went on stage during this time of decision and began ministering to the crowd.  I continued to stand back and marvel at all that God was doing.  I realized in this moment that the Raining Hope family ARE ministers of the gospel.  They can do this crusade without outside help.  In all reality, it is better to have a Ugandan preaching because they automatically can connect with the people.   
One of the most beautiful moments happened on the first night.  As I was observing, I saw Hillary and Joan individually praying for two children that had come forward.  They each had their hands on the children’s heads fervently praying over them.  This is what it is all about.  In the testimony update you will hear directly from our kids what the crusade meant to them. 
On the second night, we completely lost power when Godfrey got up to preach.  I wasn’t sure what we were going to do.  Even our new generator wasn’t working properly.   But Godfrey put aside the mic and began speaking with such power as if he had the microphone!  Joan was interpreting for him and her voice was booming the message of Christ just as loud!  The children learned when they were about to postpone the crusade because of the lack of sound equipment, that we really could carry on with or without it.   
Then, what to do without the lights became the question.  Godfrey was preaching but no one could see him.  I realized that we had bought a new portable light for one of our cameras.   I had not used it yet, but thought it might work.  When I turned it on in my bag, I almost fell back on the ground because it almost blinded me!   
I sat in front of the stage on the ground and turned it on.  IT LIT UP THE WHOLE STAGE!  Another kind young man who has been coming to Raining Hope on Fridays for Bible study came up to me and said, “Let me help.”  He sat there the whole time and held up the little light for the duration of Godfrey’s preaching.  
As soon as Godfrey finished and as the invitation had been given, he rushed down to the generator and discovered the problem.  The lights came back up and the sound equipment could be used again.  But at this point, people were already responding to the Word.  
During the three days, we had people come to Christ, we had people come back to Christ.  But something else happened.  It pointed the way to a simple house and Raining Hope Ministries that proclaims the name of Jesus every Sunday.  It helped to make Raining Hope known to the area that Jesus is the Lord of our lives everyday.  “Christ in Us - The Hope of Glory” was loudly proclaimed.    He was glorified and continues to be made known in a little market in a little town called Jinja in Uganda, Africa.   

Remaining Speechless,   Mama Eydie Kisakye 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Chapter 22 - Update #8 - Raining Hope Ministries Sunday Services

The week of crusade & conference began with Sunday Services at Raining Hope & culminated with services the day before I flew home.   These two Sundays became beautiful bookends that supported the week of miraculous events that were just waiting to blossom in out growing bouquet! 
Interpreting music is a gift that God has given me to communicate to the deaf.  What they cannot hear with their ears they can see with their eyes and feel with their heart.  Through the years we have discovered that hearing people can hear the words, yet interpreting music allows them to see with their hearts.  
As I was preparing to speak at church both Sundays and at the conference,  I realized how much interpreting music is an important part of who I am.  It is not just an add on to a message to bookend the opening or closing.   This particular journey I understood in a new way that music is what is unique about me and how I am to communicate His love to the world.  
Have you ever caught yourself listening to a song over and over but never really knowing the words?  There is a show called, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” where contestants will hear a song from various decades, and sing alongside a karaoke-style video screen until the music stops.  They have to fill in the missing word.   I have been shocked at some of the oldies but goodies that I had no idea what the words actually were.  
Today, with modern technology, you can find lyrics to songs with a quick search on the internet.   Somewhere along the way, I went from just enjoying the catchy tune to a song, to really getting to know the words behind the song.  
Hang in there with me because this is key to the whole trip.    Godfrey gave me the assignment to speak both Sundays, sign music at the crusade, and be the main speaker at the conference.   Our theme was “Christ in You - Hope of Glory.”  The scripture that I discovered to communicate this truth was “To whom God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” Colossians 1:27.   Throughout the week, all of 1 Corinthians 4 was the scripture my speaking was based on.  
 I had the scripture, a lot of truths, ideas, inspirations, and examples all excitedly dancing around in my head!  But honestly, I was having a hard time trying to put it all together on paper.  It was as if the words were not compatible and they just wouldn’t stick.  
Then two things happened that bonded it together like super glue. 
  1. MUSIC.  I began to just listen to music.  Unlike just listening to a catchy tune, I really LISTENED to the music.  I breathed in words.  I interpreted my own music for my own heart.  I realized that songwriters must be inspired by their own journeys.  As I began to listen, I felt like Danny Gokey or Jason Gray were the ones occupying seat 17B!  We seemed to have been on the same trip!   I can almost envision us having a conversation saying , “Yes, I understand!  I have been there too!”  Songs have helped me to know I am not alone.  Words have helped to pull me out of very difficult times.  Words have helped me to smile knowing how much God really loves me.   I began to really LISTEN to WORDS.     The week began to come together.  The words from songs began to inspire me, help me to focus & dig deeper in Scripture.   But the second point is why the week became effective. 
  2. THIS IS OUR  JOURNEY .  We had our own story to tell.  We effectively were writing our own songs this week.  The words began to flow because we were telling our own story.  To help you travel with me through this incredible week, I am going to include links to YouTube that should bring up the song for you to listen to.  I could give you all the words like I have done in the past.  But listening to the song itself should help to bring the week to life!

Two songs set the tone for us before Sunday.  The first one was “Stolen” by Jason Gray. Some of the key lyrics have to do with the fact that nobody is looking for heartache.  Sometimes we get broken down, busted and bruised from the inside out, but God uses that to build us up again.   The words that spoke highly to me and to the kids were this: 
“If my life never would have got broken, then my hands would have never been open
And my heart never would have been stolen. But Your love came to me at my lowest
And I've been singing ever since that moment.  Hallelujah, my heart has been stolen”

We started this Sunday recognizing that it has been 10 years since I was called to Uganda.  That first trip many of these children were only 7, 8 and 9 years old.  That first trip I met Godfrey who was not yet married to Irene.  That means all four of his children were not yet born.  That first trip I began to discover stories of how broken the lives were of some of these precious children.  After coming home from that first trip I entered a very broken & devastating time in my own life.   Yet, this song rang true for all of us on our first night together.  Our lives being so broken allowed God’s love to break in and take a hold of our hearts.  We were praising God this night knowing we have so much to be thankful for. 
You can take a coffee break and listen to the song… -  “Stolen” - Jason Gray.  LISTEN to the words and experience what we did.  Interpret the words to minister to your own heart!
On Saturday night, before we were to launch into the week of ministry,  a song by Kari Jobe called “We Are” was confirmation of living out 1 Corinthians 4:5-6. “You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves.  We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness.”  has made this light shine in our hearts so we could now the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”  
We are the light of the world.  We are the city on the hill.  We are the light of the world.  And we gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine.”  
We entered into our week of crusade and conference knowing that we are the light of the world in a very dark world.  Our Raining Hope kids were ready to shine!  You would be SO PROUD of how bright their lights were this week!   Picture Raining Hope with encouraged hearts as you listen…  - We Are - Kari Jobe
Sunday, we began to tell the story of how the first two years we were all filled with so much hope as we began this journey together.  But then life seemed to come crashing down.  We spent the next six years walking through some difficult valleys & discouragements. We were all told to give up because what we were doing was impossible.   Many felt their dreams slipping away from them.  Ronald, our young man that got in an accident three months ago, became a picture of our story.   He was just walking on the road and suddenly he was blindsided by a taxi.  He was lying helpless on the road.  In the heat of the confusion, someone thought his legs were crushed.  Thankfully, only one leg was broken, not crushed.   That is our story.  At times we felt crushed.  Yet, we were only broken.   Yet in our brokenness, these kids believed the promise in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.  They knew God would restore us if we stayed obedient to His call seeking Him with our whole heart.
It all changed in 2014 when the Ugandan Dream was born.  You know the story of how God rescued us and brought us to our new home and our new lives.  The song by Danny Gokey, “Rise” became our theme song for this week.  It is our story.  
There was a brokenness inside of us.  There were wounds that reminded us of the fear, shame and rejection we all experienced.  We knew we should get up but we felt defeated.  But there was something inside we couldn’t deny.  We heard the call of our creator.  He made us for more so we unlocked the door.  He wanted to restore our glory.  We are shutting the door on yesterday, leaving what happened in the grave.  We were made to rise, we were made to shine.
Do you find yourself needing to rise? This song will inspire you as it did our children.  I signed this after speaking on the first Sunday.  After signing it once, we did it again, this time the whole congregation signed with me declaring that they too are ready to RISE! - Rise - Danny Gokey 
Raining Hope is not only about food and fees.  We exist to make God known.  We exist to bring Him glory.   Our children have become ministers of the gospel. They are rising.  They are an army of hope! 
Ronald is doing well.  He is healing.  He will be in crutches for a total of six months.  But he will walk on his own again.  He will run.  He will rise on his own.  
Raining Hope has thrown away the crutches.  They are standing on their own two feet.  They are running with joy!  They are RISING believing that they were made to shine!  
The second bookend will need to wait until the end of the reports.  That Sunday was the culmination of the week so I will wait to draw it all together!   God is doing great things in a little corner of the world on Sundays at Raining Hope Ministries!   
Remaining Speechless, 

Mama Eydie Kisakye 

Chapter 22 - Update #7 - Bouquet of Flowers!

I finally found my way back to Room 35!  Home sweet home!   Being with the children recharged my batteries!   My room is on the 3rd level of the original building.  There are no elevators so it transforms into a natural stair master machine!   
When I step foot into my room, I sense His presence and know I am finally home!   There was a bountiful fruit basket with bananas, apples & oranges overflowing!    Selevus, the food and beverage manager had hot water, coffee, & tea ready for my arrival which was perfect!  But then my eyes turned to a small table near the bed.  An unfamiliar sight was a bouquet of fresh flowers!  If that were not enough, I noticed a beautiful card on my bed.  I was drawn to the words, “welcome home.”  I thought “How nice!  They leave notes for guests now!”    But then I noticed the words directly underneath… “Aunty Eydie!”  Wow!  This was a first!  I felt at home when I walked through the door.  After entering, I felt deeply LOVED! 
When my day started on Friday, it just blossomed right before my eyes.  As I walked out my door,  it was as if I opened my world to a bouquet as beautiful as the one left in my room.  Every step seemed to open up another petal on an individual flower.  The most beautiful part of my journey is always the people who have become a part of my family.   As I walked to breakfast, I began to see familiar faces.  Whether it was a smile, a handshake, a hug or a “welcome back,” the petals began to open up one by one to reveal the treasure which is the heart of this hotel - the people.  
I have only been gone for about seven months.  In that time the hotel had begun a new construction project.  They expanded the upper deck of the restaurant that overlooks the Nile River.  They are in the final stages of this renovation.   Robert had hoped it would be done before I left to be one of the inaugural diners!   The day I left for the airport, I was able to at least walk out on the deck and pray a prayer of dedication and blessing for the new addition with Mr. Otile and some of the staff!   
Friday & Saturday would prove to be full and busy days.  Between the two days we accomplished a lot!   We were able to purchase all of the food supplies for the month of September for the home.   It is always good for me to go with Godfrey to the shops we buy our main supplies.    The flower continues to blossom with each passing word of thank you to these shop owners for the way they support our work. 
As we made our way though the main part of town, it was as if flowers were sprouting up everywhere!    Walk with me for a moment through the town of Jinja.  I want to introduce you to some of my dear friends.  The sweet faces of Rita, Faith, Irene, Jude & Mubeen are like the fragrance after a rain!   They all send greetings to friends and family back home! 
We met our friend, Mubeen after purchasing our house.  We began needing household items such as appliances and furniture.  The challenge with a new shop is they see a white face and immediately think they can charge more.  Sometimes, I will let Godfrey go in without me to first negotiate.  But as the years have passed, I have gained more credibility in town. I have a Ugandan accent that comes out when I am there.   The first time we bought from Mubeen, I was the one who was able to negotiate with him.  Godfrey told him, “This one is not only American, but she IS Ugandan too.”  That moment we gained a mutual respect for one another.   We have  all become very good friends & he always gives us “the very best price!” 
Rita & her husband are the ones who named their baby after me!  Baby Eydie is now called Little Eydie!  She regularly asks for me and wonders “where is Big Eydie?”  
Faith is a shop owner where I buy many of our gifts.  The surprise when I walked into her shop was she remodeled and removed the huge display in the middle of the store!  We used to have to walk sideways through the shop just to see all of her merchandise!  It also made the shop very, very hot!  But now the new configuration made the shop much more appealing and easier to see things!   
Just a few doors down on the same block is a place called Ozzie’s.   I have brought many of my teams here to have lunch.  The owner is an older woman named  Jude.   Yes, she is an Australian who came here years ago and never left.  I had opportunity to  just sit and share a meal with her during the week.  I have been more intentional over the years to find time to get to know these friends & also just be a friend.  They all have their own stories that are fascinating.  
I have known Irene at the Source Cafe since my very first trip.  She and our friend,  Justene came to the first day of our conference.  The day after I had opportunity to talk with her at the shop.  She began to share with me the impact the conference had on her life.   For the first time, since I met her, she began to give me her testimony of her husband’s passing in January 2007 (right after leaving Uganda on my first trip).  God used the conference in a significant way to reveal God’s love to her and give her much needed answers regarding her faith.   Two truths were confirmed to me from this very precious time of sharing.  
1.  People in Uganda do not draw attention to themselves in times of crisis, illness etc.   They truly live out the truth, “It is all about Him, not about me, and everything we do is Kingdom work.”  
2.  Irene and I have become very dear friends in the past 10 years.  Yet it takes times to built credibility in people’s lives, especially in another culture.   They need to see you as genuine and this only comes from time.  Her testimony was precious.  I was left in awe as I walked out of her shop.  God is so good. 
These are all familiar friends who I look forward to reuniting with each time I return home.  What I didn’t know was I was about to add a whole plethora (I just love that word!) of new friends to my growing bouquet!   This is the second day we have driven up to the home with a van FULL to the brim!  This is only possible because of your generous love and support.  As the children  unloaded all of the food, I looked around and realized there was already a beehive of activity!  
Godfrey is so well connected.    Little did I know but he called in an army of people to help us with the new sound system!  Everywhere I turned, I was shaking a new hand learning a new name.  Each person was invited because they had a very specific job.  One of the men from the shop in Kampala, came all the way to Jinja to deliver the items we could not fit in our van.  He also brought two guitars for us to borrow for the crusade as well as other necessary items he didn’t want us to go without.  The amazing thing is he stayed to help us set up the equipment!   There were other men there to help teach the children how to use each piece of equipment.  I was honored when Godfrey introduced me to his friend, George.  This man not only was Godfrey’s best man in his wedding, but he is extremely gifted in running sound systems.  He is employed by a large ministry in Jinja to take care of all of their media needs.  Someone like this who is in high demand in Uganda is called a “hotcake!”  Love it!  So we had Uganda’s “hotcake” helping us set up our sound equipment correctly!  I had not thought through this as well as Godfrey had.  Having an avalanche of equipment come all at once would just be a pile of machines unless we plugged it in correctly to the right sources.  George was a gift from God for us.  
Two of the other men who became our dearest of new friends were Byaruhanga from Kampala & Pastor Jeremiah from Entebbe.  They like the others attended Bible College with Godfrey.  These two men were refugees from the Congo.   Byaruhanga came to teach Joel and others how to play the drums.  Pastor Jeremiah’s gifting was in playing the guitar.  To my surprise, at one point I looked over and he was playing an old accordion !  These two men committed to staying with us for the whole week from my arrival until I departed.  I will talk about them more in the updates to come . 
Like a beautiful orchestra, each person was on point in their unique spot.
As I stood in awe, I saw Pastor Jeremiah seated in a circle with at least seven students who wanted to learn more about playing the guitar.  Byaruhanga had a very attentive student in Joel who never passed up a moment to stand next to him as he gave lessons in playing the drums.  Another friend of Godfrey’s came to teach Henry how to use the new keyboard which was much more complicated than our old one.  George was going back and forth from sound board to speakers, hooking up cables and testing the sound.  It was a picture of the body of Christ, all using their gifts to bring glory to Him.  
The moment that all cables were plugged into the correct slot, all buttons adjusted to the right volume, and every person with their instrument ready to play was a moment I will not forget.  The gift of the sound equipment came to life the moment that the first notes together were played.  A symphony of praise erupted on our grounds.  I don't think my words can adequately bring to life what actually happened in that moment.  Speechless.  Simply speechless.  
My “bouquet of flowers” is a gift from God.  As the sounds of music drifted off into the neighborhood, it spread a sweet aroma like night blooming jasmine.   Be still.  Listen. Can you hear it?  
This is the sound of God’s love for us.  This is the sound of not giving up.  This is the sound of trusting in God and God alone.  
God is good, all the time.  And all the time, God is good.

mama eydie kisakye