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!
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
I was going to write a different post but I got some news yesterday I want to share. I want to share for two reasons, one is you never know the fullness of God’s plans, even on what we would think is a small scale. The other reason, we sometimes don’t even think about the way in which God works. Our vision of Gods kingdom is so small we can’t fathom the mystery and greatness of His works. We only see one thing but God sees all and not only is He working on you and what He asks you to do but he is already putting other plans in place so that it all comes together when you least expect it.
My last post mentioned that smiling little boy – Suluman – I wanted so much to take home with me. The one that had been abandoned at a young age (he is four and I think I said he was three) I had even asked Pastor Emerson if any of the children are ever adopted out. Apparently there were more people around listening (something that is common here I’ve found many times. I’m not going to say busybodies, but….In our village especially!) I turned to Chris and asked him if we could pray about it. I will just say, I am 57 and am raising an eleven year old girl so I already have my hands full. And they say this one is a little firecracker! Of course Chris said we could pray about it if that’s what I wanted to do but there would really have to be confirmation it was God working it out!
I believe God has a sense of humor, along with His plans and not mine. I have said many many times I don’t even like kids – except my own and grandkids! (Don’t judge me!) Once they hit 3-4 you can have them! I also say that especially here with so many beautiful children that have no families, that is why God gave me Raelee. To remind me that cute little baby does grow out of that cuteness and dependence on you and one day grow their wings and fly from the nest! . (That’s why I’ll stick with animals!) But since I got saved He has put me with children. Most times because I was the only one around to do it and a lot of times it wasn’t willingly but I always was blessed. (Unless it was teenagers – I just don’t know how to relate to them!) But here knowing the things these girls, boys and babies go through, my love for them all has grown.
So, it seems the word was spread around that some mzungus had come to their school and wanted to know if they could take him home. Whispers that mzungus were going to adopt him and take him away. (No offense but rumors can spread so fast that we find out what we are doing almost before we even do it in our own village!)
A lady came to Pastor, seemingly upset. He said she had often come around and sometimes would bring him food or clothes and even as we were there had bathed him and dressed him and he had walked off holding this lady’s hand. Pastor Emerson said there were times he wondered about this lady’s affections for this one boy. She told him she had heard that mzungus might be taking him away and she was very distressed. She told him she was his mother. Her husband had left her and she couldn’t care for him as a baby so she had left him there. But through the last few years had still been in his life and did what she could to help when she could. She was so afraid that he would be taken away by the mzungus and she wouldn’t see him anymore.
Through his own tears, of joy and amazement of God and God’s timing Pastor Emerson told me this story. And through my tears I said “Well, I got my answer to prayers pretty clearly”! A child belongs with his mother and I am so thankful that she was courageous enough to step up and say she was the one who left him because she knew she couldn’t care for him. She had pictures of him after she had him and they had it checked out with the Chairman of their area. She has a new husband and I don’t know their situation but either they still can’t fully care for him or she feels he has become at home there she still wants him to stay with at the school. She still wants to give him whatever she is able to. We pray there will come a day she can take him home and they will be a family.
It’s an amazing story of love, between the talk with Pastor Emerson and how his girls need the help of Hope for Girls to how it also gave a woman the courage to say she gave her baby up. God is always working situations but we don’t see the fullness. He knew exactly what would happen and in His timing. We sometimes get so wrapped up in what “we” are doing for the Kingdom that we don’t realize what He is doing all around us when we obey and GO!
I have the joy of knowing I will still see him when we go there but not all the work of raising him! And great joy he will know he is loved by many, especially his mother who was scared and just wanted a better life for him than she thought she could give.
Can’t believe that June will make four months quarantined in our compound. The only contacts we’ve had with are our workers, Salima, our kids, Salima’ sisters and Richard. Our village has been fortunate in a way that since they are mostly farmers they haven’t felt a great impact on their livelihoods. The ones that have felt the most strain are the boda drivers who really can’t work. Some public transport opened today but bodas still can’t carry people. Taxi vans can run at half of their capacity of people and have to be registered. And they can’t travel and pick up near border towns. I’m not sure if they were told they would have to do that ahead of time or if many just waited but there were long lines to get registered so not many on the roads yet. In our town because it will take time registering they cannot travel outside our area. I think it’s a good thing and they are trying to implement a system similar to city busses/bus stops so that there isn’t so much congestion with them stopping just everywhere.
So far Uganda has faired well as far as spread of the virus because of the quick response of closing the airport and at first borders. But there have been growing numbers now as they get some border points covered with the testing machines and stop cargo trucks then trucks from other borders have started bringing it as their countries covid numbers rise. We are still blessed, under three hundred hospitalized as of now, since the first cases in March there have been around eighty recoveries and no deaths. I commend the Ministry of Health and their diligence in testing. I pray that as the country slowly opens up, especially transport that the numbers stay down.
We aren’t sure when children will go back to school but have been so grateful and proud of both Salima for teaching and the children for being such good students for her! She keeps them busy both with school work and Bible study. They were reciting scripture to us today and explaining their understanding of what the scripture means. It’s not enough to just memorize, Salima is doing a great job in teaching them how we are to live them out.
Our bananas are ripening, one tree at a time! Sometimes there may be fifty or more on one tree and we can’t eat them all fast enough! So today Salima gave bananas to children around her house and to some of the widows.
We are getting a little stir crazy but really it isn’t as big of a change as for some people. I never know what day it is! I usually know my days by Sunday’s children’s services and Monday’s going to the prison. So that part is disorienting! Thankfully Richard has been able to provide us with all the food and supplies we need. We are just praying that the sacrifices of everyone for these months were not in vain and they can get back to normal soon.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1
Thursday was two of our girls birthdays. They are sisters five years apart but share the same date! Their older brother and sister share a same birthday also. It was the first day we have seen them since we quarantined almost two months ago so it was a joy to see them. We got to visit for a few minutes but it was the highlight of the last two months! They are both (along with their sisters) are the sweetest girls, always joyful and have a huge love for Jesus and for their community. And us! They bring us joy but Salima is such a great and close friend to me. I think I might have been the happiest to see her!
Happy Easter to everyone! I know Easter this year is different for everyone but have loved seeing different ways people are celebrating in the states! Here is the third part of our Resurrection Day story!
If you haven’t watched part one please go back and watch! We were able to record and upload today so we will be back Sunday with the rest of the story. Love that Raelee took over this time and I really didn’t need to read the scriptures because she pretty much explained them!
And a PS – the cat had 4 babies in between! So no meowing in this one. It did take us four times because I kept saying the wrong words and we would get tickled. Then we would have to wait on our camera man to stop laughing!
I have to compress the videos and upload to YouTube- it still took 2 hours! So I hope the link works and you can see the videos!
Raelee and I decided to record for you the story behind why we celebrate Resurrection Day (Easter). We’ve done it in three parts to try and get them uploaded by Sunday. (Please ignore the cat, she is in labor right now and a little freaked out, we apologize! – we recorded three times and she was worse in the other two!)
I am thankful that our embassy here has been working with the Ugandan government and airlines – as the airport is closed – to be able to keep bringing in an empty plane to take Americans that want to go back. (There have also been planes taking foreigners to other countries) comments are so rude about Americans either being stupid or “deserters “.
We foreigners have had to make tough decisions when we left our home countries in the first place. We knew we would have to prioritize what we could fly across the world for. Think about that. Prioritize what would be of the utmost importance in going back. Whose sickness or death do we have to choose? Because it’s costly, both financially and emotionally. We know there will be sicknesses, emergencies, fears and troubles our families and friends will go through and we can’t be there for them. We’ve had to count the costs and we had to put it in Gods hands. And He has blessed us and shielded us.
It was not an easy decision to stay here when the virus started. We did pray about it. My parents, sister, son are all in the high risk categories. The other son lives in California. My mother in law works in a nursing home. We cannot live by “what if’s “ because we would be out of our minds with worry – all the time. We have to lift all of them to God – He can do what we can’t.
The Americans that are leaving I’m sure at this point is because of necessity, because maybe their parents or family have nobody else. Maybe they don’t have the faith we have and the assurance we are where we are supposed to be. We don’t have blind faith, we know what the possibilities we could face are. Some may just be panicking but the ones that are saying they are stupid or deserting are with their families in their own country and can’t comprehend what it is like.
Right now we are already getting calls and texts from people who are not in any different situation than they were already but are taking advantage and asking for this asking for that. Yesterday we went out of our way to help the workers by paying them early and paying in cash because we were concerned when transportation was shut down they wouldn’t be able to get to the bank. Or the banks might be shut down by payday. I know I’m not perfect, I know I make mistakes but I am 99% sure as I was counting each workers pay and putting it into an envelope for them I counted three times. Yet we had one (new) worker who has already started to show some problems come back and say I only gave him half. I don’t believe it but I can’t prove it. So next time we will make them all open them in front of us. We gave one worker his and his wife’s in separate envelopes and said make sure she gets hers, it’s not for you. This morning she came to wash and asked Jenifer why she didn’t get paid. Went through the whole conversation we had with her husband and she said “Oh, I just thought that was a gift”. They know. But because they usually get paid on the fifth I don’t doubt on the fifth some will probably try and use the same excuse. “Oh, we thought that was a gift” even though I thought I was very clear I was paying them early and in cash because things are changing day by day and We wanted to make sure they are able to get what they need. And there are some that are truly in need now but we cannot help. Especially when we try to help our community first and we can’t even help all of them.
It is especially important right now for everyone everywhere to turn to God. The panic and the worry will just make things worse. You can worry about a thousand things and nine hundred and ninety nine times out of the thousand won’t come about. Or more times than not the things that do happen aren’t even on your worry list.
We aren’t perfect in anyway when it comes to our Spiritual walk. We make mistakes. We take our eyes off God and start worrying about what “we” should be doing what “we” want to do. We’ve had to learn hard lessons when we didn’t first pray about it. We’ve gone on vacations because we wanted to and nearly died. I’ve looked at my husband at times and said “did you pray before we did this because I didn’t”.
I’ve written in my calendar the timeline of this virus as best as it’s been publicized and I saw that when we were wanting to go on a break – when we were so frustrated and wanted to get away that I reserved hotels and when I tried to buy the plane tickets something (the Holy Spirit) would stop me. The day after I came the closest to buying the tickets Kimuli fell from the tree and would have died if we weren’t here. But i saw it was also at the time the airport here shut down flights coming in and putting travelers under quarantine for 14 days in hotels at the personal cost of $100/day. God was protecting us.
We admitted last week we were looking at too many things lately through our own eyes and our life has been off kilter. So we made the decision to be more intentional in our spiritual life and as soon as we did that and fear left us, frustrations were less, anger was less the above problems started cropping up. That’s what the devil does. Don’t stop. Know it will happen. Keep driving and praying through it. Don’t give up and despair. That’s what the devil wants.
For now we aren’t facing what many around the world are facing. The president of Uganda started in the very beginning of February putting in place many things to protect the country and has been making changes as things progress. There are 44 cases, all in and around the capital and all traced back to the two planes that came in from Dubai two days before they shut the airport down. (Which by the way is where we would have changed planes coming or going) Half the cases came from ones in the mandatory 14 day quarantine in hotels. The others weren’t from high risk countries so they were only put on twelve day home quarantine. They believe they have tracked them all down now and are watching their communities carefully. There is no transportation- hasn’t been public transport for about two weeks now and keeps getting extended. Private cars were allowed to be on the road until people started taking advantage and using them as taxis. The President stopped that. He is trying to keep movement around the country to only emergencies to keep the spread down.
But we do face concern about families and friends. And the people around us. And having discernment as to what to do here.
I know it often sound like just something we say when we say Pray about it or “I’m praying for you”. It shouldn’t be taken lightly or said if you aren’t actually seeking God. If you aren’t seeking God in everything then who or what are you praying to? It’s an everyday, all day living and talking with God.
Matthew 6:33 says – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
He never said it would be easy. He never said we wouldn’t face sickness and tears and sorrow but when we seek Him and know there will be a day when we don’t have to face these things then we can find peace.
We are sincerely praying for the world – through this God is calling everyone to come to Him. He’s shaking the world to turn from their wicked ways and todays world is full of wickedness. He’s not the cause of this but He is the answer.
We are praying for those who don’t know Him to seek Him and He WILL find you. He’s there already. Waiting on you. We are praying for the faithful, stay strong, keep your focus on Him for peace and comfort. But it’s up to you, He doesn’t force anything on us.
I read this post to my husband before I posted – I usually don’t. He can read my blog or not! He said it was good and he felt fine to post. He warned me because I lay my heart open and talk openly about challenges that there will be people who may comment negatively. Be prepared for that. I know this and I haven’t ever had negative comments but it’s why I post on my private life blog and not always on FB. I see many people that only comment to instigate hatred and controversy. If you’ve read any of my posts I believe you will see my faith. And if you don’t agree you are welcome not to follow me. I respect your opinions but it doesn’t mean we should tear others down. Just move on.
For months now Salima and I have been ministering to the women in our local prison. It is really heartbreaking to hear some of their stories. Women here are treated so badly, very few rights, mistreated by husbands. There is one lady that because her husband stole something and then ran away they have arrested her. If they are accused of not paying back a debt the accuser can come every week and give money to keep them in, which adds to the total they owe. And no way to earn money while on the inside. Currently there are three babies in there with their mothers. It’s been rainy and cold and these babies have no clothes so Salima took $15 and bought clothes and blankets for them.
For the past few weeks there has been a girl there that at first they said they put her in because she previously sold fries for lunch in front of a bar and then started acting crazy. So they thought maybe she was on drugs and were waiting to see if she would “dry out”. But after three weeks now she still hasn’t changed. I was sick and unable to go Monday so Salima and now because we have given her courage, the wife of the Pastor that has gone for years and preaches with Chris goes with us.. The story they now have gotten – and we aren’t all clear about it – was somehow she was doing some kind of “errands “ for some men for a while but one day they called her to come and she was accosted by a group of men and since then has been out of her mind. Crazy acting which is understandable if she can’t work through what happened to her. They haven’t found family and there isn’t much help for girls or women that are attacked in that way. She has been on my heart these weeks but right now we don’t know how to help. I want to bring her home but unless God is leading we don’t know all the consequences that can bring or if we could even help her. So please pray for this young lady. Prison is no place for a victim like her.
It is hard for me at times, anxiety of speaking to a group, sometimes feeling like a hypocrite when I go and speak and my relationship with God isn’t going so well and sometimes the heartbreak and helplessness I feel is too much to handle . But just showing up and loving these women have made a change in them and to me. So please pray for me to have strength, courage and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as I speak to these ladies. I am so thankful to Salima and now Rebecca for going with me. I can relate to the ladies in many ways just as a woman but they can also add to what I speak about in a way that speaks to them culturally also.
Christian and a few Pastors from Mustard Seed Fellowship Church were able to go up to Karamojo to meet people in a few different villages. In this one, which was one of the worst, they have no latrines, they believe latrines will make them sterile so they just go wherever, all over inside their “compound”. Then with the rains it is all muddy and mixed together. They have no bore holes so the water they drink usually comes from either water that runs down the mountains and makes puddles that is then mixed with excrement. A lot of the children (even as old as 10-11 walked around in shorts and no pants. The shirts didn’t cover anything). They have a Church and a Pastor who they said seems to really have a love for the people. Please pray for the Karamojong people. And pray with us as we follow God’s leading in how we might be able to help. We also pray that God will lead someone close by that can teach them about hygiene, take the stigma and myth away from latrines and teach them to grow food on such fertile land. It is from the giving hearts like you that enables us to help people who have never seen the outside world and don’t know how to live any differently than they do.