Tale Of The Rooster

Richard gets my groceries, often. He knows I still get all my meat at the supermarket – frozen chicken and frozen hamburger. Since the truck broke down again this morning, I called for delivery. Among a few other things I asked him to get minced beef (hamburger) and one chicken. He arrives and is walking in to the house carrying a rooster by the feet! A live rooster! I know I looked at him like he had lost his mind while yelling for Chris to come get it. Richard asked if that was what I wanted and I asked him if I have ever asked for a live chicken?! He felt bad, I told him it was okay, we would eat it. Probably not, but I didn’t want him to feel worse! The only problem I have with eating the local chicken is that most of them are tough or rubbery due to only eating free range. Plus I’M not going to do the killing and cleaning! Ha!
I’m not sure how well having two roosters will go but we will see!

Choose This Day

Isaiah 54:17  “no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord  and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

I’ve read this scripture many times, especially over the past few months. People have sent me this scripture to help encourage us. But on Monday while I was praying that Christian wouldn’t have to go to jail to stand for what he believes, I really started to wonder just what it means. Most people take it literally – that no physical harm can come to us because we are God’s children. But then when I read in John 16:33 it says I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” So, if Jesus says in this world we will have trouble and tribulation I take it that we may have physical harm, we will have hatred spewed against us and we will have times of deep pain. BUT there is no weapon that may be formed against us that can take eternity with Him away. We may suffer for a little while, but the reward is so much greater than any suffering we may face here. We can take great comfort when those weapons are being used against us that they won’t succeed in taking us out of the Father’s hands.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” Ephesians 6:17

The weapons satan uses against us – his flaming darts – are many. Doubt, temptations, anger…like I said many. So I believe (my opinion!) that when we take up His shield, standing on His Word, we are able to withstand any weapon formed against us. This week we were able to withstand and avoid the temptations of self-righteousness in getting justice we think we deserve; anger that would take focus off of the One Christ that we are trying to be like; impatience; and worry. You do know worry is a sin, right? 🙂  We let this situation strengthen us and bring us closer to God rather than handle things in our own fleshly way. The many prayers for us also were answered with His protection around us. If we hadn’t decided to choose to act in a way pleasing to God, satan and his weapons could have won. God gives us free will, and everyday we have to choose whether we will serve Him or we will go our own way. We aren’t always successful in behaving as God would have us to, we are not perfect of ourselves, but these past few months have shown us for sure that when we choose to focus on God and not the problem, not the people causing the problems – there is a greater success than we can see with our eyes. And in greater ways than our minds can comprehend.

That’s my bible study to you today! The experiences we have in this life present you with a choice – get bitter or get better! I pray that through every situation God will help me to get better at serving Him!

The BS

The Bull Situation
There was a farmer had our bulls and Bogere was his name-o. A refusal here, an arrest warrant there and the bulls were brought back home-o….
To recap the first go round:
I want to say that with 30+ farmers, only 5 tried to cause trouble and when Christian went and confronted them, three ended up giving a portion. Their reasoning for not honoring their contract and trying to get us sent home is that we didn’t honor the contract by helping this second season. (Most farmers understood that it was our mistake – our misunderstanding of the seasons, but we would carry on with our agreement in March). Three farmers (including the ringleader) ended up giving some when they were confronted face to face. One ran away and didn’t even harvest his peanuts so they rotted in the field. And the one hold out is this guy. (Although all five are now out of the program.) He has made income plowing with our bulls in trade (we were told) for keeping them on his property. We have paid for the vet and Medicine when they were sick. They say hindsight is 20\20 but we had so many other things to deal with that we just let whatever had been going on previously to stand. But when he said he wasn’t going to give his half of his rice harvest, Christian told him the bulls had to come to our property. So started this stupid situation. Even after being arrested, he openly admitted to the police the first time that the bulls are Mandates. The bulls were returned and we thought that was the end.
Now I think it’s a matter of pride and embarrassment, he has pressed charges against us and the Chairman. He has four wives and 14+ offspring to support. He’s known to be a thief, his sons and own father have admitted it and have tried to get him to stop this. It’s not a matter of people disrespecting or denying our authority, it is one bad man who is desperate not to lose the moneymakers he’s had for 3+ years..

We got to learn first hand how the process works when there is a dispute. The police come to the place where the dispute is, and have a “court” procedure of sorts. Each side presents witnesses to the Chief of Police and another official. There were over one hundred people came as witnesses for Mandate. We didn’t ask them, when they found out what was going on they all volunteered to come. The accuser did not show, nor did he have any witnesses to stand with him. The best he could find was a man from another village and the police said he could not be heard anyway. The Chairman called Bogere and his excuse was he was at the police station talking to the police. He was demanded to get here and said he was on his way. While we were waiting, the Chairman (who you know is an elected official) took the two officials on a tour of the village to show the wells that Mandate has dug, the solar at the Maternity Ward and around our land. The accused never showed so the “program” began with a prayer from one of the farmers. (Praise the Lord!) Around ten-eleven people stood and bore witness to the help Mandate has brought to their community. What was so encouraging and humbling were ones that we didn’t know but had helped someone in their family, and it wasn’t even monetary help. It was praying with them when a loved one was sick, giving a ride to Kimuli’s dad when no Ugandan would because of the smell of his leg. The widow that cooks the Mandaze every week for the children at Sunday School told how much we have helped her by buying her sweet biscuits! She no longer has to walk all day through the village trying to sell them one by one. Another widow, Ms Betty gave witness that I buy mats from her so that she can eat. (Personally, we think if we just gave Ms Betty a chance at this guy she would straighten everything out! Haha!)

The Chief stopped the witnessing, he had gotten a pretty clear picture of our side, and he said that Bogere should have a chance at speaking. (I’m going to leave to your imagination our reaction to that!) There will be another date set, he will now get the summons to appear. If he skips it the matter will be dissolved and it will be over. Even if he appears, I believe in the officials minds the case is already decided.

God’s Word says in Genesis 50:20:

 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive…

We saw how true this is yesterday. The police Chief stood before the people and told them that they had to be saved, in their hearts, to keep them from sinning. To keep them from thieving, lying and hurting others. He told them that instead of looking at what they can get today, to look to their future, at their children and grandchildren’s futures. What happens when we are driven out? What happens when this crop is harvested today and sold tomorrow? Where will you be then? He told them that in six years he is retiring and already he is making plans for his future retirement so that he won’t suffer, his children and grandchildren won’t suffer. He told them there should be no poverty here like there is if they would only be saved and look toward their future and not live for just today and how they can get whatever they can get. We were pretty blown away after he spoke, and thankful to Our Father for the many Saints that have been lifting us up in prayer. Though this situation hasn’t worried us, even at the point where Christian was prepared to go to jail rather than give this guy the bulls back, it has been an annoyance. That puts stress on a body! And it has taken us away from work to be done. Even if ninety-nine people went home and ignored every word he said, I believe that the one that ponders his words will be saved. Of the other ninety-nine seeds were planted, and by someone who is in their eyes a great authority. In Isaiah 55:11, the Lord says:

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God is in control, ALWAYS, and He has used this situation to strengthen us, strengthened our standing in this community and now in the city. We now have a friend in the Chief of Police! He has brought many people together, and we had a chance to meet many people in the village who now are able to see that we mean to help them. Do I think this ends the dealings with the devil who is behind everything? No, but as each situation arises, as each one strengthens our faith and our resolve, it makes it harder for the devil to succeed in each. It weakens his power over this village, over each person that hears God’s Word.

To be continued……?!

I Don’t Want To Be A Doctor

It’s amazing how our words can effect children, even when we think we are complimenting, encouraging, and building them up. I often tell people when they see Raelee loving on babies or baby animals that I think she would one day be a great pediatrician or veterinarian, not that I am putting my own goals on her, just that I see that potential because of her love for babies and animals. Not long ago she came to me bawling and said her heart was broken. I pulled her into my lap and asked her why her heart was broken. “I don’t want to be a doctor or a veterinarian!” I told her that she doesn’t have to be either one and she explained that she thought that is what she has to be when she grows up because that is what I tell people. I explained to her that I only say that because I see how much she loves babies and animals but she can be anything she wants to be when she grows up. “I really can? All I really want to be is a mother.” I told her that was a very good thing to want and she would be an awesome mother! So, she went on that day and soon she became a police officer, the day after she was a detective and after that she was a doctor/detective!

I know that words can hurt but I didn’t realize how serious she took my words, and that instead of encouraging her it put pressure on a six year old that didn’t need to be there. So, I won’t say that anymore, I will find other ways to compliment her to others and keep encouraging all the many occupational changes she makes before she decided on her own what she will be when she grows up!

Heartbreak And Hopelessness

This week has been a great story week, Raelee has kept us and many readers of Facebook entertained. Today was no exception but with a sad reason.

Raelee went outside. Usually we hear her playing, if there are other kids she is screaming constantly. If there’s no kids she is usually singing at the top of her lungs or running around yelling “Elsa come back”. When all is quiet for 20 minutes I go looking. Today she was at the guardhouse with Sharifu. (He usually knows exactly where she is!) I see her shut the door of the guardhouse and then open it saying ” Well, that didn’t work” She goes in and comes out with a screaming baby. “Why is that baby here?” “He walked here” (he’s barely a year old). “Take him home” He lives next to us so she took him home but his mama wasn’t even there. Raelee left him with their neighbor. I asked her later what was the purpose of shutting him in the guardhouse and she explained she was laying him down for a nap. I told her that we, nor our guards are a babysitting service and the babies have to be taken home. There are two women, the neighbors who will come to get water and leave their babies. One of the women we have had that problem with her many times. He is always crying and our Dr says he is malnourished. We and others from the village have talked to them about the importance of feeding their baby. Now, she is pregnant again. Even though we got a laugh about her shutting the baby in the guardhouse trying to placate him, it is heartbreaking to hear babies cry all day and all night because they are hungry. And I’d like to feed them but that’s not teaching them to take care of their own. If we fed them once, we would be expected to feed the whole family everyday. If it were up to Raelee and I, we would keep the babies!

Over two million children in Uganda under the age of five are chronically malnourished. It is the cause of nearly 60% of infant deaths and 30% of the death of mothers.

Malnutrition is caused by vitamin and iron deficiency in their diets. It is extremely hard to understand when I look around this beautiful green country that people die from malnourishment. Our Doctor here told us that if the baby I described above could have one egg a day he wouldn’t be sick all the time. The family has chickens but I think they are kept and eggs probably sold for school fees, and/or less expensive but not as nutritious foods… I think a big part is not being educated about what is good for the babies. One mother has given Raelee the porridge that she (and others) feed their children. It is basically corn flour mixed with water – not big on nourishment. One of our workers who is also Vice-Chairman of the district is involved with a program that is trying to educate pregnant women and mothers about what it takes to keep their children healthy and clean. Educating them that getting dirty water out of a ditch does not constitute good hygene. Because the world you and I have been raised in has been so blessed, we take for granted and don’t realize there are people in this world have to be educated on the basic neccessities of everyday life. Granted, when you only have dirty water to wash in what else are you to do? And when your grandparents taught your parents in a time that there was rarely clean water, you are just doing what has been handed down. That is one reason The Mandate is so appreciated here is because of the bore holes (wells) that have been drilled every six months, bringing water to all parts of the village.

Christian and I have been researching and praying on what we can do as God’s hands and feet to reach out and make a difference that is lasting, that doesn’t make people dependent on us but to help them with dignity to be able to care for themselves and families. There is such poverty and struggle here that is it rare for community  to reach out to their neighbor because they are barely surviving. We have found a couple of groups in and around Kampala that have been overseeing projects such as our farming project and we have contacted them to ask their advice on the things that have worked or not worked for them. There are a few things that we see helping, with very little cost to us but great impact on the community. The key is training and teaching rather than giving freely. Giving would be much easier but wouldn’t help anyone in the long run. As the old phrase says

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch a fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”

That is a big problem with many organizations who want to help – and are honestly well meaning – but actually end up hurting because once the organization or the money is gone then people are more likely to be worse off than before.

We have found in our year here that what God is showing us is to walk with our community, have relationship with people and live out His truths. Be honest and have a realistic picture of what we can do and what we shouldn’t do – especially if we don’t have His leading in it. We came here with no experience and no personal vision on what to do to help, but as God leads us everyday, more of the picture of His plan develops before our eyes. We have seen so much gratefulness in the farmers with this project, even though we have made mistakes and have learned along the way;; even though these same farmers have grown crops before, getting the good seed and fertilizer has made a difference in their crops. We have seen one farmer who had the best harvest now looked to for advice on what he did to achieve that. We’ve had opportunity to pray with them and give testimony that everything we do is not of ourselves or our organization but because of God’s plan for this village.

The year has plenty of ups and downs, tears and laughter but we have grown through the many trials and joys. I don’t think we would change any of it even if we could, knowing this is where God put us and He has plans not only for the community but for us also. We joke at times that we feel we are actually here because of Raelee, but I don’t doubt it. The joy that she has brought to the people here, and the example of unconditional love she has shown for everyone has probably made more of an impact than anything Christian and I could do. She isn’t shy about making friends or telling about the love of Jesus and because of that many seeds are planted for a great harvest.

We don’t know what this next year will bring, I’m sure many more surprises, twists and turns! But I also know God will bring us through richer than when we started!

Buying A Wife

 

Sharifu (our day-guard) came to us last week with Kimuli. “This one has a problem” he said. We asked what the problem was. Well. Kimuli is now twenty and has decided he wants a wife – actually what was said was “He wants to buy a wife”. He is one of our best workers despite what the previous couple told us. They told us he was useless and their kids weren’t allowed around him. He barely spoke any English, really only about two words until Raelee came along and decided he was her best friend. He was our day guard, but he worked harder than any of the others on the grounds so we promoted him. Having Raelee around, he has learned more and more English and keeps a close eye on her and Smokey every day. He and Sharifu are like sons to us and big brothers to Raelee.

So when he came to us with the “problem” we asked what is involved in buying a wife. Sharifu and Derrick explained to us that the man/boy goes to the intended woman/girl’s parents and asks for permission to take her as his wife. They negotiate on what he has to give them to get this permission. Sometimes it may take the future groom months even years to acqure the expected selling price!  Kimuli had collected 300,000 shillings from friends but he was short 200,000 so that he could offer 500,000. Half a million shillings is more than most people see in a year, some never see that much at once. He was asking us for the remaining 200,000. He would go to the town they live in and offer this and ask if they would accept it and agree to his marrying their daughter. We contributed to his fund even though it is hard to understand having to beg and borrow money so that one can marry. If you have to do this just to buy the wife, what about taking care of the wife? And I wonder if he is really ready to be married buy he is considered old here and it goes against the culture for him to be single. Plus, in this culture, if you have money you are expected to give it to anyone that asks, it is very rude not to. This is why so many put their money into chickens and goats – no cash means not having to give it out. Kimuli is the oldest in his family (at least the oldest to one mother – his dad has two wives) and his father is the one that had his leg amputated. So, both wives, father and siblings expect him to support him and buy whatever they need and want. If he marries then they will stop expecting him to support them because now he will have to support his wife and the children that come.

He went to the parents and they accepted the 500,000 shillings but also agreed on a number of chickens and goats. Also gomez for the mother of the bride and sisters and possibly Aunts. (the gomez is the traditional dress and still used for celebrations. They range from 25,000-30,000 and up, depending on the cost of the fabric chosen. Then they are made by a seamstress. Now Kimuli is 178,000 short! When he comes up with that money he will have bought his bride to be! Then the “meetings” will start in the village with the list of things needed for the reception here. I imagine that the actual marriage ceremony will happen at the girl’s parents home. There will be meetings until the total of the list of items has been met. I guess we won’t know when the actual wedding will be until he has finished paying off the 178,000! He has a houseWP_20151020_003 he built and is trying to get a bathroom built before he marries. He wants to be prepared! And I know Raelee will be as thrilled as anyone when he and his wife do start having babies!
Sharifu, on the other hand, is definitely old to be single – he is twenty-two but has no plans to marry just because it is expected. We know the pressure on him is great to be married and try to encourage him in his decision to wait until he is ready and has someone he loves. I’m not saying Kimuli doesn’t love his girl but in most marriages here love has nothing to do with it. It’s crazy to us, especially when we see the struggle to take care of multiple wives and so many children, to find it so common for boys and girls barely into their teens marrying. Girls are married off as young as twelve just so the parents no longer have to take care of her. And exceptionally scary to be raising a daughter in this culture whose life goal is to be a wife and mother! Right now she would love to know that it is possible to be married at twelve!

I will keep you up to date on the progress of this endeavor as it goes along!

**When talking about giving livestock for marriage, my husband told them that I am a ten cow bride! They thought that was pretty impressive! Haha!