Sorry to everyone that follows by email! I got the video fixed…
Sorry to everyone that follows by email! I got the video fixed…
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1-3
Tuesday was the first time in twelve years there was a vote for new LC 1’s. An LC is “Local Community Chairperson” and there were seats up for election (or re-election) in 60,800 villages. An LC 1 assists in maintaining law, order and security as well as receive and solve problems or disputes in villages.. There are five levels of LC’s, the highest level being LC 5 who is over an entire district.
We knew that the Chairman that was here when we came had been in office for twelve years and we just thought it was because he was well-loved, respected and had done much for the community. Now we know that he has been in office because there has been no voting for change in twelve years. I am not disputing any of the things we previously thought, truth is we don’t really know. Since we don’t always get information, or truth it is hard to know what really goes on. I do know that until the last year he has always been helpful to us, always tried to place bore holes where they were most needed to benefit the village and is a very friendly man. About a year ago we thought they were going to vote and heard a lot of rumblings of unhappiness with him. We now believe that was just the beginning of campaigning and wanting to oust him.
Monday night we were told that he had dropped out of the race, which was shocking for us. We talked with him last week about future plans for bore holes and there wasn’t any talk about it. We will probably never know the truth of it, we’ve heard rumors today but the one person I know tells me the truth in everything told me she didn’t have enough facts to tell me why and she wasn’t going to speculate or spread rumors. I have a lot of respect for her, rumors are always rampant here! She did tell me what happened at the polls. There were two different men to vote for, one is a Muslim, a business man that we have never met and she knows him to be a good man. The other was our former farm manager, who apparently had made a lot of promises using The Mandate’s name and then couldn’t make them happen. To the community he proved himself a liar and has brought shame on himself since leaving us. As my friend and “little sister” said “Pride will always be a person’s undoing”. And she is right. Christian and I cried today when we heard the things that happened at the voting. He was like a son to us and over the past two years we have done everything a parent and friend could do to set him on the right path. But he let pride and other influences rule. Even up to two weeks ago, we tried again to give him another chance and let him work on a job for us, which caused all kinds of trouble for us but he still couldn’t stop himself from the pride and building himself up. Then when he realized he was in trouble for saying too many things he couldn’t get us to do it was too late. We believe in second chances, in his case third and fourth chances but we can’t let one person bring down all that we have tried to do here. We say “he brought it on himself” but we say it with great sorrow. We know he had bad influences but he also had wise counsel and he made his own choice of which to listen to.
Because many of the people in our village don’t have national ID’s the Electoral Commission representatives had both candidates stand and then whoever was voting for each made a line behind the candidate they wanted to be Chairman and the representatives counted the people in each line. It was said that the line for the farmer went from the village center almost to the main road (very long line!) but there weren’t as many in the other line – even his brothers and other family members stood in the other candidates line. When the representatives investigated, the majority were under the age of eighteen – too young to vote. So they were sent from the line. This made them and their candidate mad and they began stoning people. My friend said she was hit with big rocks and it was awful. The police came but before they got there all of them, including our farm manager/candidate ran and hid. She said that later there were some supporters for him that came and said they realized then that he was a coward. I say all of this with great sadness. My friend said she and her family have been praying about this election and we need to keep praying for the new chairman. I told her we need to pray even for the other candidate, he also needs many prayers.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:43-45
I don’t know where we go from here, we hope to meet the new Chairman soon. Our current farm manager and good friend has been the Vice Chairperson for many years and I was afraid that her position might be up in the air with the new Chairman. It worried me so much that I walked down to her house to talk with her and found out that there was a vote last week among just the women of the village and a new Vice Chairperson was voted in. When the ladies asked for the day off to go and vote for a new woman leader we weren’t told that was the position Jenifer held. (See how we are left in the dark so much of the time?!) She said she was excited because it is her best friend and that she nominated her. She is an advisor to her now. With the other, we are pretty sure that just as we were used in promises we will be used in excuses for failure but we will survive that too. God is in control of it all and we pray that this new man can bring peace and growth to our community. And we pray for Bakali, that God will change his heart and help him see the error of his ways. God will forgive him, we forgive him, we love him and if he repents and truly means it we will be there for him.
All you prayer warriors keep our village lifted up and join us in prayer for the new leader. He will need it, all leaders need it. As I told my friend, even if we don’t like who our leader is, we are still to pray for them. Governing and leading others is a heavy burden, especially to good men. I printed out a list for her with specific things we can pray for the new Chairman.
And as always, pray for each other.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Christian and I have many many conversations about what it will take to reach people who are so entrenched in their culture, the mix of western religions that have passed through for so many years and believe that it is okay to mix them all together? He has taught Bible study and I have taught the children for over two years now, teaching that it all comes down to the relationship you have with Jesus and only Jesus. And still we get questions about worshipping spirits, lying and actions not lining up with words. We have watched growth in the two women who claim to be Christian and try very hard to learn the Bible, learn how to live the Christian life, yet because of their culture they struggle in so many areas. We spend a lot of time with them, know their hearts and that they love Jesus in earnest. But then they will ask a question that is so contrary to what we try to live and teach, it just shows us that not only is it a struggle for us but how much more the struggle is for those who truly want to follow Christ but don’t know how to separate the gospel from the culture and rituals that are all they’ve ever known. They believe they are born Muslim and can become Christians but not turn away from all that was taught before. And most really don’t know what Islam really is any more than they understand what Christianity is.
Ancestral worship is believing in the spirits of the dead. It is founded on the belief that the dead live on and are able to influence the lives of later generations. These ancestors can assert their powers by blessing or cursing, and their worship is inspired by both respect and fear. Many believe, and questions have been asked in Bible study about it, that ancestors can be reincarnated in their descendants. This practice used to be only in secret, shrines were hidden and the practice wasn’t known to neighbors. But over the years it has become widespread. People openly visit shrines to seek healing power from the spirits. Traditional healers today openly advertise their services to the public. What are called “traditional healers” were what used to be called witch doctors. There are shrines being put up in more and more places.
There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. Deut. 18:10-12
It has been said that at least two out of ten Ugandans believe in witchcraft, sacrifice and ancestral guidance. But a survey that was done by the US organization Pew Research Center also showed Uganda is one of the most religious countries in the world. Many people will tell you Uganda is a Christian nation – the survey said nearly nine out of ten people say religion (Christianity or Islam) plays a key role in their lives. Their survey says Uganda ranks 15th in Africa and 20th worldwide in the “most religious” tables. But it also says Uganda takes 2nd spot in East Africa and 11th in Africa in the worship of evil spirits, sacrifices and believing in traditional religious healers. There have been higher numbers of child (and even adult) sacrifices each year, especially around election times.
So, when you look at all of these factors, and that they view Christianity, Islam and traditional religion as all options that can be mixed together, you can understand what we face everyday when trying to witness about Jesus as Savior. If you wear the garments for Islam you are a Muslim, if you go to church and have a Bible you are Christian but you were born a Muslim so you mix a little from here and a little from there. If you aren’t getting the results you want from either of those, you can still go to the traditional religious leader for quicker results (or so they believe).
Even though we teach and talk about how you cannot use “but that’s how we Africans are” to validate cheating, lying, stealing and disrespect, we still have questions over and over about people who come to church but then go out and lie and steal. We get questions even from the few that we believe are saved about worshipping angels and reincarnation. It astonishes us all the more when we see such growth at one time and then questions like worshipping angels comes up. The longer we live here the more we learn but it is so slow it feels like we really don’t know anything. I am reading “African Christian Ethics” and the author states that failure to understand African traditional beliefs is the source of many failures to understand African ethical problems and to suggest appropriate solutions in the light of Holy Scripture. It explains a lot about how culture and traditions in Africa defines morals and ethics and how hard that is to change without really knowing what is believed, what has been taught and passed down from generation to generations. We are challenged in learning the traditions specific to our community in that we only have a couple people that can translate and many times they don’t actually translate but tell us what they think we want to hear. It is hard to find out life stories and what people really think or truth about their lives when every word is put through the filter of “Watch what we say or the Mzungus and the money might disappear”. We ask ourselves and each other so many times “What will it take to reach them?”. That there is a separation from what God’s word says and what other religions say? That you can’t live contrary to what God’s Word says even if you have to stand alone. I spent two weeks teaching the children about salvation – that it isn’t just saying words, coming to Church on Sundays and believing that makes you saved. That it isn’t just about what you say or do but that you accept Jesus into your hearts and only the Holy Spirit can help you to live for Christ. You can’t do good things and be a good girl or boy and get into heaven without confessing Jesus as your savior. As soon as I was done, my interpreter, who I believe is saved and tries her best to learn God’s Word so that she can live for Him only – tells them that (to sum it all up) if they do good works, be the best they can be, never do bad things like lying, stealing, cheating – then God will let them through the gates of Heaven. I was astonished that after all I said, that is how she took it. Is it just in the translation, was she trying to put it in a way she thought they would understand – is that where the problem lies? Or is it that the truth is just so hard for them to understand in the culture in which they live. In America, contrary to what the media and politicians want people to believe, our nation was founded on God and our values were a result of that. When you come to a culture that doesn’t have that you see the huge difference. I don’t know. Some days I feel like a total failure and don’t know what else to do. But when I pray and meditate on His Word He reminds me that it isn’t up to me to give up, to decide I am failing if I know that I am doing what He has for me to do. I have to ultimately leave it to Him, teach them that in Christ other powers are nothing, be ready when one wakes up to the truth, when He has stirred their heart to His truth and do the best we can to make disciples and help them grow in Christ.
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he:before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior. Isaiah 43:10-11
I put together some of the video clips I took. I loved seeing all the different times with the children, the joyful singing with our workers but I think my favorite part is where John is helping the children with their crafts and trying to figure out what they were telling him and their reactions! Again, thank you all for the love, joy and encouragement you gave and are still giving to us!
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Philemon 1:7
Just a warning – this post has A LOT of pictures! Some are mine, some are from others who were on the trip but there are hundreds more out there. I tried to pick enough to show all the different things the group got to see and do.
This group was the first big group we’ve had – eighteen in total. I was so nervous in the time leading up to them coming. Would we have enough for them to do? Too much for them to do? My biggest fear was that they would be disappointed or bored! My prayers were always that they see God’s glory here, the beauty of Uganda and it’s people and experience a taste of the life we live. They got a big taste on the second day – the solar went out for the first time since we got it! (That’s the one thing I didn’t pray about!) And we couldn’t get in touch with the man who put it in. So the entire time they were here there was no power, no internet, no fans in the hot apartments! They got to see a little of what we experienced when we first moved here. And to see that most things (like getting it fixed quickly!) don’t come easy here. They were great about it and I am so thankful God brought such a happy, easy going group! They were such a blessing to us and those around us.
I learned a lot – it’s hard to cook for that many people! But I see things I can do differently for the next time to make things a little easier on me and the group. I learned that you can make real connections in a short amount of time. I got to see some things through their eyes that in the daily, sometimes stressful life here I had forgotten.
They got to see some of the daily life of the people in our community – some made bricks and I think found it’s harder than the guys make it look! I know it’s harder than I first thought it would be. Some worked on a latrine for the school across the way. I think it was hard for them because of the distraction of beautiful little children! They learned that there is always an audience with everything we do! I am so thankful for the women that helped me in my first endeavor with the Hope For Girls project. And the children – they are the biggest part of our life here. They spent a day at OVU school with the kids. I know OVU has over four hundred students! Then we had kids day here with two schools – I would estimate four to five hundred students were on our grounds that day. I was very skeptical when I was told they would do crafts at each place but it worked out very well and the kids loved it. I think they lucked out because one school here came after the crafts were over! And as always EVERYONE loves Mr. Donny’s magic! They are all still talking about it and I get asked frequently if I know his secrets. I tell them I know only one but I am sworn to secrecy by the magicians code! They think that is funny.
1Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
I am so thankful for the sacrifices of time, money and separation from their families. I think that each of them took away a different perspective and were able to see and understand how blessed they are in their lives. I thank God for them and pray that the desire to help others that they felt here will grow everyday, not just for Africa but all around them. The scripture above makes me think above all else about this group, there was so much compassion, kindness and patience. I know that they didn’t all know each other well before they came but an experience like this will bind many different personalities forever and I think they had to have unity to get along in close quarters! I pray that they visit again, I can tell you four days isn’t enough, for us or for them! But even in that short time we were able to have meaningful talks with some of them. We don’t often get to have conversations with people who have things in common so it was a great blessing! We had praise and worship and a different person had a devotion each night, sharing this time with our workers and families. The last two nights we had it outside and I think I liked that more than in the building. The last night was a crazy one! I still don’t know who started the dancing with chairs on their heads but there was so much joy! Our workers and friends got to sing and show off for the visitors and they took full advantage of it!
I think our first time hosting such a big group was a success even with the challenges and definitely will make me better prepared for the next group that comes, and to better prepare them for life here! We have been here long enough that we have forgotten how important and how hard the little things can be, like keeping mosquito nets closed ALL of the time! We laughed a little at some things but then remembered we were once them and it wasn’t funny when we were learning about life here!
I am working on putting some of the videos I have together for another post. Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we have!
And thank you Celebration Church for the joy you brought us and this little village in Uganda!
Hope for Girls is a program that is in partnership with “Days for Girls International” to educate girls in Uganda about puberty, sexuality and menstruation and give kits for that time of month. Fabric for pads and carrying bags are purchased from “Days for Girls International”. It is very hard for me, a Mzungu, to do some things on my own, especially in finding fabric, knowing how to talk to Ugandan girls specifically. I am very thankful to partner with Days For Girls in this project, the people there are Ugandan and are warm and giving and there to help me any way they can.
Many girls have to drop out of school because they miss too many days because of their periods each month and not having the supplies they need. Girls use leaves or other things that can cause infections and don’t protect their clothing from staining so they are made fun of at school when they have accidents. Some have to dig a hole in their home or somewhere away from people and sit over it until that time is over. Can you imagine? They are shamed and confused because they don’t understand what is happening to their bodies each month. There are myths and misinformation on menstruation, puberty and how pregnancy happens. It is shameful and not talked about. Many things we in America take for granted are a huge problem for girls and women here. Girls even sell their bodies or marry older men just to have money to buy pads. We take for granted that we have easy access to the things we need at that time of the month.
We were very blessed to receive a gift of donation from Riverpark Church in Shreveport Louisiana to get us started buying kits to distribute to school girls here in our village. I was able to order 350 kits to start and also able to give seamstresses an income in sewing kits to be distributed. We also purchased flip charts that help to explain what is happening to their bodies. And I was very blessed and so encouraged to have a wonderful group of women from America visit and help me my first time in hosting one hundred thirty girls from two different schools in our village. (They were part of a bigger group of visitors…I will be writing more about that soon.) We were able to give one hundred thirty kits plus fifty more that couldn’t attend. The ladies talked to the girls using the flipchart to show what happens every month, I was able to explain to them that God loves them so much and He did not make a mistake when he made them – that they are wonderfully and fearfully made. Only they are able to grow new life inside them and menstruation is a part of that. The girls were given opportunity to ask questions. This is something I have prayed so much about – that the girls would feel they were in a safe environment to ask questions. And praise God, they did! I can’t express the joy I had to hear the girls ask good questions and the ladies being able to answer them. And the best part was seeing how blessed both the young girls and our visiting ladies were.
I was able to have meaningful conversations with the teachers that came – we were able to give out fifteen kits to them also. They all want to partner and mentor me in being able to address problems that not only all women face but Ugandan girls in particular. I am so encouraged as we move forward in reaching as many girls as we can. I already have another school lined up to visit that have two hundred girls!
I want to thank all of the caring people with all my heart that gave financially and to the women who helped me my first time out in facilitating such a big endeavor!
Only $10 provides a kit of washable pads, wash cloth, soap, two pairs of panties and a pretty bag to carry it all in but also a part of that will go to seamstresses for income in sewing the kits. Along with the education about their bodies we talk about how to care for their kits – when taken proper care they can last them 2-3 years. Please think about donating to such a worthwhile project. Every dollar that you donate goes directly to everything The Mandate does. You can’t put a dollar amount on the impact these kits make for these girls!
For more info and to donate visit us here: themandate.com/campaigns/hope-for-girls/