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.

Never Early…Never Late

Don’t give up!

If you’ve followed my blog for long you know all about the rabbit project. About four and a half years ago I felt God put it on my heart to raise rabbits to help with all the malnutrition here. The plan was to have a training class, to show how rabbits can be raised easily and inexpensively and they can feed their children and themselves meat every day. Because it was something new I was laughed at and if it wasn’t going to make fast and easy money then most people weren’t interested.

It is such a frustrating thing to see so many children that only have a corn flour porridge everyday, even when the family has chickens and eggs. But they are sold for school fees or to buy the flour so that they can make it stretch. There is no nutritional value in maize flour. And though the focus on education is important, hungry and malnourished children don’t learn as well if they aren’t healthy.

What I would like you to get out of this is, just when you are ready to give up, as I have been, God shows up. That’s the hard part, patience through the times you don’t see things happening in the way you envisioned or even thought was the vision God gave you. I’ve been struggling whether I was mistaken, that maybe the idea was just my own. I spent forty hours a week in the first few years trying to do all “I” could to at least sell some to help keep feeding two hundred to sometimes four hundred rabbits!

Then God gave me the answer and the blessing of seeing my dream of feeding those most vulnerable come true in a big way just as I was ready to give up!

The same Pastor friend that is working on the school for orphans and is already caring for about 134 teenagers and the few small ones found out we raise the rabbits. He was so excited he wanted to start training right then! And we were leaving in two days to see our son for two months! But the excitement he had that there was a way besides chickens and agriculture they could have their own food to feed these children was infectious!

Taking notes and soaking in as much information as they could!

Pastor and a teacher or two and some students started coming in the end of March for two days every week. They went through all the training of feeding and sicknesses, how to recognize and treat. And the fun parts of cleaning the cages and how important that is.

For the last three to four weeks they have built their own cages and are ready for some rabbits! I am so excited for them but I am blessed beyond measure that even though “my plan” didn’t go as I expected and on MY time frame, God knew. And this will be a blessing not only to the kids there at the school but prayerfully to their community once they see that they too can raise rabbits for meat easily and inexpensively.

We are thankful we have been able to bless this school, and these children who have no one else but this man who has been Pastor/Mother/Father to them all. As much as we can whether it is through the Hope for Girls or helping with raising rabbits or their school as they come along, we want to walk with them.

Thank you Lord and Hooray for Pastor Emerson and Global High School! As you have been blessed, you don’t even know the blessings you have given us!

Don’t give up. If you feel God has given you a calling, a project or a ministry just know it’s not always (rarely is!) in our own timing or understanding. But if we are faithful and keep at it unless He tells us to quit the blessings are beyond measure!

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Persistence and Perseverance

We have been breeding and raising rabbits now for over two years. Change is hard to make in this country so it has been a slow and some times hopeless road in getting people to see the benefits of rabbit raising and eating the meat. When everyone is just looking for a way to make money it has been disheartening to not get the message through that a person can feed their family healthy meat that is easy to raise with little cost in it. Much of the unused part of crops already grown can be used as food for the rabbits. It is very hard to understand why so many children are malnourished when they have chickens everywhere but each egg is sold to buy “Posho”, which is just a flour made out of maize having no nutritional value because mixed with water and made into a thin porridge it will go further. Even though one egg a day will benefit the children so much more. It is the same with the rabbits. Even if they have enough rabbits that they could sell and still eat meat every day they are going to try and sell each one. Education and getting fees paid for school is the main goal for everyone in our village. And that is important. But what they don’t get is if your child is malnourished they aren’t going to learn as well as when they are healthy and getting the vitamins and nutrients that they need.

The market for rabbits has been growing but very slowly. As for now there are more farmers in Uganda than there are buyers. But our neighbors in Kenya have been successful in the spread of eating rabbit meat and the Chinese can’t keep up with the demand for rabbit meat. So slowly there have been buyers from Kenya coming to buy rabbits in Uganda. A problem, as we faced, was everyone bred and had many rabbits with no buyers and not enough room to house more so they had to quit breeding. Then the buyers from Kenya come and are ready to contract with breeders to supply tons of meat each month and have bought up all there was available. So breeding has started again. But it takes about five months until rabbits are ready to be sold for meat. Our prayer is contracts can be kept as breeders are breeding and raising more rabbits to sell.

Just when I was praying whether to give it up, after two and a half years of not getting interest in our village, not selling even though many of my days were spent reaching out to everyone, including restaurants and supermarkets and not seeing results, God sent men from Kenya who want to work with us. Our main goal is to fight malnutrition but I would also like for the rabbit farm to bring in enough money to pay the workers that care for them. Whatever money we can bring in through the rabbits is money that can go to hiring more workers and helping our neighbors with different projects. It would be awesome to make our farm self-sustaining and the rabbit farm is one of the ways we are trying to accomplish this.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

We have had a sign of hope over the last week, a group of eleven people from a neighboring village came and would like to form a co-op raising rabbits for food and profit and would like training. This has been one of our goals also, to train others so that they can be successful. They will be coming back for training and help in choosing crops to plant and how to build cages. We have been successful in growing all of our own crops and making our own pellets for the rabbits. So we will be able to make pellets for them with the crops they grow.

Even though there have been times when I’ve wanted to give up I’ve held onto the knowledge that God gave me this idea and He will not let me down. Not everything happens in the timing we would like but when you know God is in it persistence and perseverance will pay off in furthering His kingdom. And just when you are at your end He takes over and gives you hope!

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!