New Babies!

So far this month we’ve had four of the women we gave mama kits give birth! All girls!

There were two others that lost their babies that were stillborn, including a set of twins. We pray for those mothers but they thanked us for all of the other things in their kits that helped them so much.

One mama brought her baby born June 2 to see us last week. She was so tiny. She said she was so thankful to have the mama kit when she went to the hospital as they didn’t supply them.

Baby Katherine

Another had her 9 1/2 pound baby at home by herself! I couldn’t even imagine having to do that and be all alone. She was taken to the Dr the next day and mama and baby are doing fine.

Here are two more of the babies that were brought to show us, one was just born this past week and is our “Ugandan Granddaughter”. Her mother is one of our girls that went to tailoring school and will be teaching at our training center. She has a little time anyway to rest and be with her baby – we are under full lockdown here in Uganda. Takia and baby girl are doing well and at home.

A certain little girl was determined our Takia name her baby after her middle name Noelle. I don’t think they knew how to spell it but named her in R’s honor!

Nowelyn Blessing

And baby born June 7 is called Shemora. Her mother only had a midwife to help her so she was very very thankful to have everything she needed so a safe birth.

Baby Shemora

I thank all mothers who have received the mama kits for bringing their babies so that we could see. And so thankful they are all healthy and Mamas’ are happy! We will be having 25 mothers ready to receive their bags July 1 but since we are on lockdown they will be delivered to them individually.

Everything in the tote bag, including the important Mama kit plus other things a post natal woman needs.
We are thankful to Takia that she got so many tote bags done before she had her baby!

Covid Sewing Class of 2021!

Since we are on lockdown and the training center isn’t finished, the girls are out of school. Raelee is on summer break so they’ve started classes in the apartments. It was so exciting getting our first two sewing machines that were donated by a very sweet and giving man who loves supporting us. Phiona (on the far right in the pictures) is actually the first student. The other two are learning while they are on break. I had hoped we would start classes in May in the training center but covid messed that up! But there is an advantage to being in the apartment for a little while, as you can see our teacher will be having a baby at the end of this month! We pray we will start officially in August and by then the baby is already set up with a babysitter 😁. We are excited to be “God Grandparents” to a baby girl!

Takia (right) is instructor for the tailoring classes. Salima is “headmaster” of the training center! We are proud of all these girls!

Carpenters in the Making

Christian has been very busy trying to get the training center ready, I thought we would have our first class by May. But we don’t have a Lowe’s or Home Depot here so getting the materials for wiring the lights and electricity in the building has been a nightmare. Getting wood the he doesn’t have to plane and recut isn’t possible. So progress has been slow. He’s also been making me cabinet doors and a new cupboard because I had the bright idea when we moved here to have lockers made for our food. But, especially during lockdowns and stocking up they aren’t big enough so they are to go in the training center for the students to each have their own for their supplies.

But, Raelee’s two best friends that are here most of the time are always wanting to help him. One’s dad is in the military and gone most of the time. When you join the military here you are in until you are 65. Sula’s dad isn’t around very much because he has other wives and spends more time gone then being there. So Christian is a father figure for them. When he is trying to work he will have four little hands trying to help with everything and makes it extremely hard for him to get anything done. They can’t do a lot on their own (we thought!) and there isn’t much they can do to help with the training center. We are under quarantine again so they aren’t in school. They are getting too old to want to play house and dolls with Raelee so they always want to be in the barn with him. So Christian put all projects on hold so that they could help him build a dog house. We recently got two Rottweiler puppies after our Dobermans died of cancer. We are tired of them sleeping in the bathroom and when they get full size we need somewhere to lock them in when we have the kids for church or visitors as most people here fear dogs.

The boys were thrilled and actually did a great job even when Christian wasn’t right there. Not that he left them for very long around all the power tools and saw! But he did go to check on some other projects going on and when he came back they had one wall up by themselves. So not only giving his time that he really didn’t have, he’s teaching them early a skill that will give them an advantage when they get older. And an example to be for them. (Personally I think it should have been a little bigger considering these dogs can get close to one hundred pounds! But the boys would gladly build another one!)

In the beginning Christian said “I left them for ten minutes and came back to this. You see what I’m working with?”! He had the flap up at one time and underneath he had yellow safety glasses on!
Very proud of these boys. And I know Christian is because he actually asked to be in a picture! That does NOT happen very often! (And even though she is small Bella sacred people more. But there’s no way she’s going to sleep in a dog house outside. She barks all night anyway when outside. But she alerts us from in the house if there is anything out of the ordinary outside. She’s a brat but a good security dog!

Knowing But Not Seeing

We (The Mandate) support one of our Ugandan daughter’s community ministry. We sent her to college to be a social worker and this past year and a half since she graduated we have been able to support widows, orphans and those that have the most urgent needs. She loves her community and puts her all into helping wherever and whenever needed. Our ministry has really grown and supporting her and mentoring her for the future has been a joy for us.

When we first moved to Uganda we met a very educated Doctor and I was so discouraged, we didn’t know the culture, found we were being taken advantage of and just really didn’t know where to begin or what to do. It was a little embarrassing to fall apart on his office. His words have stayed with me in everything we do here “what are you going to do that will have a lasting effect even after you are gone?” The water wells are definitely something that will last but investing our time in teaching, mentoring, parenting these girls we have will go on long after we have gone. (He also said we are working among a very stubborn people where we live!)

We don’t leave our farm that often to just visit in the village. It’s hard, we want to make relationships but because needs are so great it usually just ends up being people after people asking for money. We know it’s hard but for us as a ministry we want to get to know people and not just be looked at as an ATM. That is why we are so thankful for and why we support Salima. I and our daughter were able to go and visit with the people Salima has been caring for and people along the way so that they can see we are real, we want to be friends and we don’t feel like we are above them. Even after six years we are always learning and today I learned a lot. It was also good for our daughter. Even though she is growing up among the poor she is usually on our compound and hasn’t really seen what real poverty is.

I want to add that I am usually behind the camera, I don’t like to be the center of attention or feel worshipped. It makes me feel that I am better than them. And I don’t. But their customs are to show their gratefulness by taking pictures of us giving the food and things we have. I would rather take a picture with them rather than pictures that highlight what “we are doing for them”. So I try to balance my humility with their customs. Not always easy!

Besides just being widows, which there are sixty two, some have grandchildren that have been orphaned and they care for. One of the things today that got to me the most was a widow that has a granddaughter and grandson that are around twelve and thirteen and the conditions of where they had to sleep. Their entire house was about 12×15’ and the two kids slept at the end of the grandmothers bed on a torn up 4’x4’ piece of foam. We gave them a mattress and blanket and it was like Christmas to them. It was like Christmas for me. No matter how the ones we visited today have to live and do without they have joy. And it is infectious!

This piece of foam is what the two children were sleeping on at the end of their grandmothers bed
She was so happy to have a “real bed” and blanket.

I’m thankful for Salima, now I feel I can get out of our little bubble and get to know people. Which has always been my prayer.

We are under a quarantine again but the past couple weeks there have been more things of God happening than in six years. He is bringing so many good things out of this awful pandemic we find ourselves in.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Bring the Little Children unto Me

Its very sad baby Kamuya has passed away this afternoon. The malnourished baby. It is sad but I rejoice because this baby who has only knew a life of pain and nothingness is now running and dancing on streets of gold.

I am sad that Salima hadn’t discovered him sooner, many times babies or children that aren’t deemed perfect are hidden away. It is just in the past years we’ve been here that there are more and more ministries to help even albino children who are thought to be a curse.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 10:14

Please pray for the mother. She is not all there mentally, was not in any position to care for a baby and her mother can’t watch over her all the time, she’s an adult with a child’s mind and is deaf also. Someone keeps taking advantage of her, she is about to give birth any day now. And the circle goes on. That is the saddest thing here.

Clean Water

The Mandate just put in our thirteenth bore hole in about six years we’ve been here. We try and put two a year but we didn’t get to drill any last year. (Covid messed everything up!) We always consult the chairman of the village as to where they are put. They have all been put in strategic places so that clean water is available to everyone. So many people have had to walk miles each way to get just one ten liter can of water. Living without running water ourselves I would say there are many trips for those who need water. Thankfully we have a bore hole in front of our home and I have Raelee’s friends that earn money by filling my jeri cans as they are called. We go through 10-15 some days. Just think about how much you use for bathing, flushing, washing – clothes and dishes! Don’t forget cooking and drinking.

I can go into all the steps of drilling but I don’t want to bore you with technicality! Mainly the first step is to get a professionally trained Hydro-geologist to test the best place to put the well. Where the water is and the best way to get to it.

The hole is then drilled by a drilling machine and steel encased piping is put in. Then they test for how much water is there, how much can be pumped and at what rate.

After all the testing and agreement on the correct placement of a well the pipes on and then the pump is cemented in. It takes time to dry and then the base around the actual pump is poured along with a “ditch” or run-off gutter.

Then you have clean water and happy very people!

The concrete on this one just has to dry and it will be ready to pump water! You can tell how happy they are!

Stealing Uganda

Uganda is home to approximately 43 million people and a very young population, with an average age of 15 years old. Think about that for a minute, 43 million people with the average age being 15 to 16 years old. That is what makes such a beautiful country so poor. There are so little opportunities for such young people to earn an income. Little money for many to even earn a basic education, no college or training school and very little hope. They are exactly the ones that are preyed upon because they are easy to persuade- the old adage if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. For the desperate kids though, all they can see is an opportunity of money and employment offered to them.

Because of where Uganda is located and its beauty, it is an important destination for international tourism and trade. The routes for trucks coming and going is a hub here. It is easy for truckers to get people out of the country, especially because many young girls make their living off of the truck drivers and can form a trust with some that are just grooming them to get more girls to traffic. Tourism also doesn’t help. People that come for the sole purpose of taking someone for what they can get out of them. In 2019 laws had to be changed for adoption and”legal” rights over children that actually had families here. It previously was changed to the adoptees staying three years before adoption. In 2019 that was changed to one year. Before there were any laws, a person could come and inside a month take a baby or child back to their country. Many times the families were either ignorant that their children were missing, often the were either given money for a lie other than the fact their children were being adopted by foreigners. Or “brokers” would tell families that the children had an opportunity to go to the best schools here in Uganda, while taking money from (mostly Americans) people that believed they were adopting an orphaned child. And not all adoptions were for loving families. Many were adopted or sold off to groups who used these children as either work or sex slaves.

When we think of human trafficking we often first think of only sex trafficking. While this is highly prevalent, there are almost as many or the same in the trafficking and selling of children and vulnerable people as “slaves”. Used to make money off them by sending them out to work – sometimes not even bad jobs – but keep all of their earnings and their passports so that they have no choice but to depend on their kidnappers and associates.

Recently there was a man who recorded a confession and was later arrested because he said over the last twenty years he had been illegally trafficking children for the equivalent of about $14,000-20,000 USD. Over twenty years that may not sound like a lot to an American but when you consider that many were probably sold for just a few dollars you will then look at it differently in terms of the amount he could have sold off.

The 2020 Police Annual Crime Report indicates that a total of 666 persons were victims of Trafficking in Persons compared to 455 victims in 2019. Of the 666 victims in 2020, 497 were victims of transnational trafficking – many from trucking, import/export “business covers” and the many ads for great paying jobs under excellent conditions as hotel maids, models, mechanics and the like.

It was just in 2009 that the 2009 Anti Trafficking Act criminalised sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed punishments of up to 15 years imprisonment for offenses involving adult victims and up to life imprisonment for those that involved children.

Human trafficking has become a major problem in Uganda. According to the Trafficking in Persons Report from 2020, estimates determined that traffickers are currently exploiting 7,000 to 12,000 children through sex trafficking in Uganda. The report also outlines how human trafficking in Uganda primarily takes the form of forced physical labor and sexual exploitation, both in the male and female population. I personally, see ads all the time on FB or through the newspapers for jobs overseas. Usually “no experience needed” and sound like good jobs. These are mainly in middle eastern countries. It is so sad to make because I know how desperate these young people are.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” 2 Corinthians 11:14

There have been some actions and investigations, not enough, but it takes more manpower and police when you consider how many countries border Uganda and the total of flights coming in and going out each day.

Last month, anti-human trafficking detectives arrested a woman accused of defrauding 200 girls of over Shs 90 million in fake job promises. (Approximately $255,000 USD) She was trying to lure girls from various parts of the country on promises of securing for them jobs in Kampala city. The victims had been exploited under “Alliance in Motion Global Uganda Limited”. The girls told police that they were charged 450,000 each in order to secure jobs that would pay them between Shs 650,000 and Shs 1 million per month. There are many stories of people being asked for large amounts of money that they have to borrow or make in “any way possible” to get the money in hopes of a good paying jobs that will support themselves and more times than not these young girls already have at least one child.

Also in March 30 females all from Burundi were found locked inside a house in Uganda. These people were trafficked here and were going to be given to shady labor exporters to illegally take them to Arab countries”.

There have been many groups of woman and girls stopped either at the Entebbe Airport under suspicious circumstances with tickets or visas that were going to middle eastern countries. Or at the borders of Kenya and Uganda. Since 2018 both countries are trying to work together to stop trafficking at the borders.

I know this isn’t just a Ugandan problem. It is a worldwide problem; it’s the vulnerable, desperate and isolated people that are the most targeted. And though it is happening more and more in the States, third world countries have previously been the biggest targets. Especially a country like ours, Uganda, where the population is mostly teen agers that have babies early and most of young girls only other option is to be married off to the highest bidder to what he will give to her family. So the promises made to them by unscrupulous people sound much better than the other options.

When we go to talk to the girls for Hope for Girls we do talk about the risks of trafficking. One thing we’ve found, even in the educated young ladies is that Americans are all good. I think the reason for this is the times they are in contact with either mission groups or people that come to help and assume all Americans have their best interests in mind.

So it is very easy for an American to sway these young ladies. We tell them that there are people in this world that consider women, girls and sometimes even boys as property. Some people steal girls and women for many reasons, not just sex or slavery but sometimes as drug mules. They lie to get them and by the time they realize they are in trouble it is too late for them to escape. Or they are just taken by force – kidnapped.

We tell them some of the lies people will tell to trick them into coming with them, offering money or other rewards. School fees are something everyone needs because although government schools are available and “free from tuition” many can’t even afford .50 notebooks or $5 uniforms. And in many rural areas the teachers don’t care, or don’t even show up. So many children go to boarding school. So a lie like this would definitely get a child or parents attention and desire.

Another thing we tell them to watch out for is the offer of a ride or food. Promising a job in another place, promising to pay their parents so that they can be taken for a better life or threatening to kill, or worse, a family member.

Anyone is vulnerable and anyone can be a trafficker. We tell them to be safe before taking any offers. Talk first to someone they trust and see if they can check it out. Usually adults are more suspicious and can guide a young person.

We teach a little self defense and tell them if at all possible don’t be put at night alone. My daddy always said “nothing good happens after midnight”! We tell them to implement the buddy system and try and travel in groups. But most importantly watch out for each other.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. John 10:10

My Playlist This Week

Jammin’ ‘n Slammin’!

I think I’ve listened to Toby Mac’s new song more times than I can count and watched the video almost as many times! I don’t know how many times we’ve seen him perform live but I know the first time was not long after he went solo. Our granddaughter and grandson are fans of his also. I think maybe his video for this song is his best video so far! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the CD!

Crowder ❤️❤️. As soon as we got busy this week with so many projects all at once the devil started in from all sides. Problems with girls we love as daughters. Our own daughter that was being manipulated and teaching her stealing and hiding things from us was okay. Now those consequences have fallen heavy on our shoulders. Table saw that was needed for the training center broke down and Chris couldn’t keep it going this time. And people, there’s no Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart here! Electrical wire for the training center – no one had any! It was one thing after another of the devil trying to steal our joy. In the kitchen one of those days I just started yelling “run devil run”. Scared Raelee a little bit I told her he is real and he is trying to steal the joy we’ve had the past few weeks and I’m not going to let him have mine.

He also has new songs and they have been played almost as much as the new Mac’s songs! And am I the only one that doesn’t see red hair? 🤣

https://youtu.be/6TzECToPYIk

So these are songs I’ve played a lot this week! I love in “I Am” the chorus – “I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am!

There is another video to the same song “I Am” on YouTube that is very moving, from the movie “Son of God”

We started off last week, first a sit down with one of our Ugandan daughters and have a tough talk with. And then I had to had to have a talk with our other Ugandan daughter! I, and then with Christian had to have a difficult talk with her but we told her when she repents that God is there to forgive. We have forgiven her. He uses our pasts, I found myself in somewhat a similar position thirty-five years ago, before coming to Christ but He has used that situation that the devil could have used for evil, God used it in a very big way for good. We will always be by her side but there will be consequences she’s going to have to face. The consequences of my actions still affect people in my life that I love, but thank God He forgives and as His word says:

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:12

These are some of the songs that have helped me get through without wanting to run away (okay, maybe hide for a minute!). Music, especially songs that glorify God or say the words that your heart feels are important to me and sometimes I forget how healing and how encouraging they can be. Music touches the soul.

Don’t get me wrong – these past few weeks have been the most encouraging and exciting weeks we’ve had in awhile. Just not without challenges!

We’ll see what next week’s playlist represents! Bye y’all, and thanks to all the new friends who have started following our sometimes crazy antics!