Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chapter 21 - Update #11 - Sunday

Sunday, January 24, 2016 was a glorious day!   I spent the morning preparing to share at our launch.  The anticipation of what God was going to do had been building all week long.   Godfrey was late picking me up because he had been waiting for the tent to be redelivered.  We didn’t pay to rent them on Saturday, but that became a problem on Sunday.  The tent people never showed back up so Godfrey and the children had to shift everything inside the house.  

It actually worked perfectly for our Launch. Rain was coming so it would have been difficult outside even with the tent.  When we drove into the compound they were in full praise & worship.  What a glorious sound to hear such a joyful celebration!    

We sang, we danced, we prayed, we worshiped.  The children were all in charge of the program.  They transitioned easily from one part of the program to the next.  Some gave testimony as to what God is doing in their lives.  The Raining Hope Praise Team presented a special song.  

Godfrey asked me to share the message to the children this morning.  He asked me to summarize what we had learned this week during the conference.  The launch was also to give hope to the surrounding community.  The children expressed how important it was that I was present for the launch of this ministry.

We talked about the journey we have been on together the last nine years. The old phrase, “You had to be there” is appropriate. Sharing the whole message will make a long update even longer!    So I will highlight the main point.  

As we launched Raining Hope Ministries, the New Testament church in the book of Acts is an inspiration for me.  In Acts 20:17-28, The Apostle Paul has an opportunity to talk to the church leaders in the city of Ephesus one last time face to face. In those verses he tells them that false teachers will not only come among them but FROM within. (vv.29-30).  He sets the example for us that we are not to follow “the church” but in verse 32 tells us,  “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.”

What we launched today was a ministry that is based on the Word of God.  When people come on Sundays, they will find His Truth proclaimed!  Isaiah 40:7-8 “The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord.  And so it is with people.  The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”  Raining Hope stands on His Word! 
I closed with a prayer taken from “War Room” as the closing prayer by the character, Miss Clara.  “Help me to stand on Your Word above all else.  Help me to fight on my knees and worship you with my whole heart.  Help me to proclaim with my life that you are King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Guide me to people who will call upon Your name.  Raise up those who love you and seek You and trust You.  Call us to battle, Lord.  Call us to battle.” 

I presented the Bible that I used to teach from that morning to Godfrey and Raining Hope Ministries in honor of the launch.  It was overwhelming to see God at work in such a powerful way.   (Fast forward...Godfrey wrote to me the Sunday after I returned home and told me two more visitors came on our second Sunday!   The next Sunday there were four more from the community and four from other areas!  Praise the Lord!) 

After the services we had some time as we waited for our non-pardoned turkey to arrive!   I was already incredibly blessed by the morning...then it began to RAIN!  I ran outside for a moment and just stood with my arms outstretched to the skies to have the rain just pour over me.   I could hear a worship song in the background from the CD player.  It was overwhelming.  Then as I had my arms outstretched and the rain POURING over me, one of the boys inside put a song on that had to do with RAIN and HIS blessings.  It was a very surreal moment.  It was a private moment that God blessed me with His presence.  I couldn’t have been more thankful for those moments of being drenched in His love. 

Because the turkey had “shrunk” in the cooking process, Robert earlier had discerned that we would need two chickens to supplement the turkey meat.  At first Godfrey didn’t think it was necessary because we were going to have a lot of other food.  But it turned out that Robert was right.  So the hotel grilled us two chickens with potatoes and vegetables to make sure the children would have enough meat.  

This also turned into another object lesson.  There are people in our lives that can see things that maybe we can’t.  The wisdom and discernment of those with experience is something to not ignore.  Robert was just watching out for us and wanting the best for the children.  He turned out to be right.  If we would not have listened the children would not have had hardly any meat.  

We had a FEAST that afternoon!  We not only had turkey & chicken (which by the way was delicious!) but there was rice, African spaghetti noodles, greens, & cabbage.  The children LOVED, LOVED the turkey!  They had never had it prepared this way which was basically roasted.  We celebrated Christmas, New Year’s and all our birthdays.  Through your monthly giving, you all were a part of this feast as it was provided by Raining Hope.  They are all so thankful for all of you who support them as they know moments like this are made possible because of all of you.  

Dessert was a very special time for us.  We had two different kinds of cake.  One was the chocolate cake from Ozzie’s and the other was a banana cake the hotel made for us.  But Godfrey had arranged a very special program.  We had to have the ceremonial “cutting of the cake.”  For those new to my updates, this is a tradition that started on my second trip to Uganda.  “Cutting the cake” symbolically means that I will come back.  But Godfrey added something new.  He first had Hillary come and represent all of the boys in sharing a word to me as their mum, then Vivian share on behalf of all the girls.  Then they all gathered around the table, ready for the cake cutting!  This time Godfrey had Frank represent the boys and older Joan represent the girls.  They stood on either side of me with their hands on mine and the three of us cut the cake together!  This truly is what being a family is about.  Godfrey wanted me to speak to the children before he closed out that time praying for me as I prepared to leave the next day.  

That afternoon we gathered for another Sunday afternoon movie!  I brought, “Facing the Giants” which is another Christian film by the Kendrick Brothers.  They LOVED the movie!  The movie is about a losing high school football coach with an underdog football team that face their giants of fear and failure.  It was inspiring to watch the movie together.  They were challenged to know that anything is possible with God.  

The evening was a precious time that I will forever hold close to my heart.  I had Godfrey share with the children the significance of foot washing based on John 13:14-17.  For the first time in the nine years I have been going to Uganda, we had a time of foot washing to set an example of humility and service.  I usually do this with my teams.  But this was the first time I had done this with our children.   We had praise and worship music in the background.  I washed the feet of all of our children then held their feet as I prayed silently.   Godfrey came behind me and dried the feet of each one praying as well.  I can’t tell you the significance of this very private time we had as a family.  At one point, I could see Godfrey drying feet from the corner of my eye and become overwhelmed with a sense of humility and love.  Godfrey said, “This time helped the children to know how much we love them and care about them.  It set an example for them to love one another.  They were encouraged and felt a great deal of humility.  They felt such love having you wash and I dry.”  Symbolically it was important for both of us as mum & uncle to do this together.  

We had a basin, a bucket of water, soap and towels.  Godfrey would empty out the basin as the water became dirty.  Everyone quietly sat and prayed as they waited their turn.  When we got through washing all the children’s feet, I then washed Godfrey’s and he washed mine.  We closed the time in prayer.  Something significant happened that one night in our home.  Godfrey says it well...”Washing feet was an expression of His love.”  I will never forget this night.  

Since this update is already long I will send one more to wrap up Chapter 21.  I’ll let this update soak in as to the importance of all that God is doing in the lives of the children you support at Raining HopeSunday, January 24, 2016 will be a day we will look back on as a marker in the life of our children.  Thank you for taking the time to read and pray!  They love you all so much! 

Happy Valentine’s Day! 
mama eydie kisakye 

Chapter 21 - Update #10 - Saturday

After a successful three days of conference, Saturday was going to be a day that we would celebrate together.  We planned to have a Christmas, New Year’s, & Birthday party as a family.  We were also celebrating the official opening of the newly renovated boy’s quarters.  Things shifted slightly because of a turkey! 

If you remember in the January newsletter,  I told you the story of how thieves stole our Christmas turkey.  The children still had a Christmas meal, minus a turkey.  They rarely have turkey because it is for special occasions only.  While I was there I went looking for a turkey roaster so I could cook a turkey at the home.  In Ugandan culture, most do not have traditional ovens.  We do all of our cooking outside in large pots over charcoal.  After hunting around the stores in town, I discovered this type of roaster was not available.  

But my wonderful family at the hotel said they would cook the turkey for me!  Robert was able to secure a turkey for me.  Saturday morning he called me and said, “We found you a turkey!  Do you want to come down and see it?”  As I came downstairs, I realized I was to see a turkey that was still alive, not neatly wrapped in a package in the grocery store!  As I looked at the turkey, I felt like the President of the United States who pardons a turkey each Thanksgiving in a public ceremony!  I could almost hear the turkey saying, “pardon me, pardon me!”  The turkey gave its life to make a lot of people happy.  I blessed it in Jesus name as it was taken away! 

The hotel kitchen staff wanted to marinate the turkey for a day.  So we decided to shift the main party at the home to Sunday.  Then we included the launch of the new outreach ministry in the celebration!   We turned it into a two-day party instead of just one.  The kids loved the idea!  

After spending the rest of the morning studying for speaking at our launch the next day, my friend, Mutete came to cook lunch for me.  I took a break and went into the kitchen to watch and learn.  The funny thing is, as I stood next to Mutete I realized there was a large silver tray on the counter covered in banana leaves. It took me a few minutes to realize what was underneath.  My suspicions were correct when I raised the banana leaves to take a peak....our celebration turkey was already in the marinating stage!  

Here is the lesson I gained from this experience...
The turkey looked so much bigger when it was covered with feathers.  On the outside, it can puff up its feathers, be prideful and make a lot of noise.  But when you strip it down to just the bare skin, it is not that big at all.  In fact, I was a little concerned because it was rather small...not the 25 pound turkeys I am used to cooking at home!   To fast forward to Sunday...when it was cooked and put through the heat, it seemed to have shrunk!   Lesson I shared with the children was this....sometimes people puff themselves up and appear to be what they are not.  They are loud & prideful even to the point of being a bully.  Yet when you take away all the stuff on the outside, on the inside they are not that tough.  Then when that person goes through the heat and pressure, they really show what’s on the inside.  Even for us, we learned all week what it is like to be near the River of Life letting our roots go down deep or far away in the desert.  The turkey’s life ended up being an object lesson for them that they understood clearly.  So many of them have been told they are not good enough & bullied by others.  It is to these people they want to share the Gospel.  People are empty on the inside without Jesus.  None of our children want to be a turkey!  They want others to see Jesus on the inside and outside of them!  Praise the Lord!  

Godfrey & I went into town to see my friends before leaving Monday.   We also went by Ozzie’s to see my friend, Jude.  She makes the best cakes and homemade bread!  I had forgotten to order a cake for our party.  Thankfully she had an almost full chocolate cake that was perfect.  I had also ordered a banana cake from the hotel to make sure we had enough.  

The afternoon at the home can only be described as indescribable!  Because we postponed the big celebration to Sunday, we spent some time talking as a family about all that God is doing.  The children have been instrumental in helping me to understand more about culture as we are improving our ministry and writing policies.  It was a significant time together.  

We then had a very special time together as Peter, our first graduate from post secondary school came to visit.  He traveled all the way from Rwanda to be with us this weekend.  He was going to come for the whole conference but came down with malaria.  He still made the long trip only to stay for two days.   Peter graduated from a four year law degree program in December.  We found out that 107 students started the program four years ago.  There were only 35 who finished and graduated.  Peter was the top male student!  The top student was a woman.  So Peter graduated as the second best student over all.  He told me this year he is studying for the Rwanda Bar which is a nine month process.  He already has the top law agencies in Rwanda after him even though he has not yet passed the Bar.  We are so proud of him. 

We had him talk to the rest of the family about his journey.  He focused on the dreams of the children and not giving up.  He told them he has wanted to be a lawyer since he was in primary school.  He told me at another time that he put himself through law school at times working three jobs and 20 hours a day.  His dream became a reality.  He is a great model for the rest of the children.  They were so encouraged to hear from him. 

We also had a couple give Peter a graduation gift to help our new law student. He dressed up in a new suit, shoes, shirt & tie and looked so professional!  He was overwhelmed & thankful.   

Our birthday celebration included a huge group!  Not only did Godfrey, Annet and I all have birthdays in December, Irene’s was in JanuaryI  There were at least five more of our children who had a birthday in these two months.  So we all got together as we sang Happy Birthday to us all!  

The next surprise was for the Raining Hope family as a Christmas, New Year and Birthday gift!   When I was at home in December, I had someone at my church ask if we buy livestock.  We don’t have room to buy a lot of animals, but Godfrey said we could use a cow for milk.  We began to investigate the possibility.  Because of the generosity of three donors, we were able to purchase our own cow!   Robert & Andrew were able to secure the purchase from the person who sells them milk at the hotel.  The great thing about buying from him is if anything goes wrong, we have security to have bought from someone the hotel trusts.  

The plan behind having the cow is not only to provide much needed milk on a daily basis.  But this cow will produce excess milk that we can sell.  This will be a source of self-sustaining income for the home.  Hallelujah!  

The cow already had a name before we bought her.  Through some discussion with Carol, the name “Leche” was decided upon!  Leche in spanish is “milk.”  In spanish the word for meat is “carne.”  Carol said, “We don’t want her to ever get confused that she would be used for anything but MILK!”    I told the kids that this is job security for Leche, and they loved it!  It was so fun to hear them call “Leche” by her name!  

When they arrived with Leche, the children erupted in praise!  Leche is a beautiful black and white cow.  Immediately as she jumped off the truck, she went for every piece of grass or anything green!  I told Godfrey, “We won’t need a lawnmower or slasher from this point on!”  We had Andrew lead in a time of prayer and dedication as we welcomed Leche into the Raining Hope family.  

The added bonus...Leche is pregnant!  When the owner discovered the cow he wanted us to have was carrying a calf, he didn’t raise the price.  God blessed us with two for one!  God is so good.  

This day was truly a day of miraculous blessings.  Thank you for reading with me all the way through.  I pray the words of the update will give you a small sense of what I experienced.   

It is currently Monday, February 1st.  I leave for California on Wednesday. Carol’s sister has been out of town and returns tonight.  It makes a huge difference for both Diane & Carol to have me here when she is out of town. It snowed a little bit more this weekend.  But it is warming up and the snow is beginning to melt.  My children in Uganda are praying for California and the recent El Nino storms that have hit.  Begin praying now for my safe travel on Wednesday.  Pray for Carol’s sister, Diane who is flying home today from California.  Thank you for your prayers. 

I have at least one more update to send regarding the Launch of our Outreach Ministry on Sunday.  As I continue to process all that God has done, it helps to be here in the quietness of the snow and the peace of this home. 

mama eydie kisakye