Going Batty

Christian went to get a candy bar out of the “candy drawer” and he said “Come here quick”. There was a tiny bat hiding behind the pringles can. We thought at first it was dead, but then it moved just a tiny bit. Christian put on gloves and took it outside. Creepy to think he was in here! How long has he been here with us? Haha! I will probably have nightmares tonight!

Sunday School

Sunday didn’t start out well for me. The devil isn’t happy about what has been going on with the children, and now Christian is teaching from the Bible early before the regular service. My interpreter Derek texted me to say he wasn’t coming. It was short notice that Christian would also be preaching the second service so there went my support and photographer. It just seemed nothing was going right. I was crying and decided I wasn’t going to do this anymore. I asked God why it had to be so hard. Next thing I know, Derek arrived and I knew that God was listening to my cries and He wiped my tears. I still didn’t have a photographer until after the story, but that isn’t the most important thing. We had a great time again with the children, they talked about what they learned last week and I have to say I could tell they were really listening last week. I am so very thankful God has sent Derek, he explains things so well to the children, in a way they can understand. He sings and dances and gets the kids involved. I believe God has big plans for him in ministry.

The Bible study Christian did was mostly our workers, which is awesome. They are almost all muslim, in name and upbringing mainly. It was good to see that they have interest, and eight of them said they didn’t have Bibles but would like to have one. The people around us mostly speak Lusoga or English. But the language that is more common is Luganda. We had already bought a few Lusoga Bibles but we found out that the schools do not teach how to read and write in Lusoga. (Doesn’t make much sense!) So they asked for Luganda Bibles, which we found in Jinja and bought. Please pray for these men and women. It is very hard on them when they do come to Christ, some get shunned from the community and have even been chased away. And pray especially for the men. Our regular church services usually only have a couple men besides the two Pastors. So we are really excited that there are more wanting to learn more about Jesus.

I posted on Facebook that we are now the parents of 17 kids! We came here as parents to three kids, but it seems here if you help kids by caring, feeding or paying school fees you become their parents. In one way that is a good thing – I know it is for the kids that don’t have one or both parents, but on the other hand some parents use that to just quit taking care of their kids thinking we will do it! Really we have 7 that we support, feed and send to school 3 of that family. We have Derek that we are trying to keep in school. The others have a mother and we have helped with their education but have had to stop that. It is one thing to help but another to be used. And where we were afraid or didn’t want to say no, we learned that most of the time they have a way other than us. So for now we are sticking to the widows and orphans and some medical for children. Our workers still have their medical fund so that works out great.

Last week was a rough one, this week has started out rough already so please pray for us. For perseverance, for compassion, and for God’s direction and His Will be done. Pray for us to help keep our focus on the One that knows our hearts and has His hand always out to pick us up when we falter. The devil doesn’t win in the end of God’s story and he won’t win here! Sometimes we run, sometimes we stand, but always we have faith in the One that holds us in the palm of His hand and never, NEVER let’s us go!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

1 Corinthians 9:24
[ Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith ] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  Hebrews 12:1


Happy Resurrection Day!

“I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

I hope and pray everyone has had a good day. We had a wonderful day with the Church – the kids way outnumbered the adults, but there were a few adults that don’t normally come. There was singing and then the Jesus movie. I got to hold many babies today and had one little girl that would not let go of my hand. The children are taught that they are not to sit in the chairs, but because she was glued to my side an exception was made. I sat for a long time with a tiny sleeping baby in my lap and the little girl in the chair beside me that went to sleep and drooled all over my arm! When the baby woke up she promptly threw up on me. Oh well, it all wipes up and was well worth the chance to love on these little babies. Raelee had her share of baby holding, much to her delight!

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

After the movie, Christian gave a message to the people inside the church and part of the children came outside with Raelee and I. There were two other ladies that I am forever grateful for helping with the children! I also had a great interpreter, it is important to have someone who understands what we are talking about. It’s not enough that they can just interpret the words, but to know the context and be able to present it in a way for everyone to understand. I gave my testimony, and then while I used The Wordless Book, Raelee showed the matching color on the dolls necklaces. The wordless book has on one side just the color and the other tells what each color represents . I want to give a special thank you to the great, indispensable Donny Lee, our friend, organizer and magic man, for The Wordless Book. Also a big thank you to all the ladies at Good Hope Baptist Church in Anacoco, LA for their hard work and laughter and love in making 100 dolls for us. I know you have been waiting to see the smiles on children’s faces when they received them and I have been praying for the best opportunity to give them out. Today was the day! We gave 95 dolls out, and it was pandemonium even with the ladies helping us. These kids don’t know what “make a line’ means! And they were all so afraid they wouldn’t get one. The trick was trying to keep track of the ones coming back trying to get more! We got down to the last 5 dolls and Prosy said that’s it. I told her we may as well give them all out but there were kids coming from across the road when they saw that something was being given away so she said no more! But then with such humility she asked me if she could have 5 dolls for her children and I told her of course. She had spent the entire church service wrangling kids. You can see in the pictures there were many many there! Almost 100 little ones and the building is pretty large but it was full! Then I noticed she was pointing at the tub we had the dolls in and I told her she could have that. She cried and hugged me. She hugs me often, and usually it last about 2 minutes too long! But I am grateful for her!

Finally, at 2:00 we parted ways, me exhausted, Raelee ready for a nap and many, many very happy kids. I am thankful for the 9 that came forward to receive Jesus as their Savior and I plan on doing my part in keeping up with them and teaching them. We are getting a slide and catwalk for Raelee this week, and building a bench for the kids to sit on outside so that next week we will start doing the felt board Bible stories that an a generous man bought for us. There are hundreds of pieces that have had to be cut out. I believe it is going to be such a great tool for the kids and adults alike.

I pray everyone had as happy a day as we did, and took a moment to remember and be thankful for the love of a Savior Who loves us so much He gave His life so that we could know Him and have relationship with Him. Raelee gets so excited about the crucifixion of Jesus – that he died but 3 days later He came back! I pray that today around the world there are many people who now have that same excitement and awe!

“The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name.” (Luke 24:46-47)

Working On The Storage Building

Work began on a storage building, for storing crops and other things. We already had framework and a concrete slab there, so this week the guys have been busy putting on the roof and building the walls. All of this is right outside my bedroom window and these guys carry on all day! Thankfully I am up by the time they get here!

We also have guys here re-doing all of our solar and adding solar to other buildings. It’s been a busy week!

Daily Life

Life has slowed down a little bit since Christian and the guys finished their part of the school buildings. When the other crew is finished with the aprons around them I will post more pictures. So Christian is home, taking a break before starting another project – just not too long of a break! We have seen so much happening in the lives of the guys that Christian has been working with and we don’t want to lose momentum, or them to lose hope.

We’ve had time to walk through our part of the village every evening, and one day came upon a group of kids in front of a house. Actually, we turned down what we thought was the path to our home and ended up in someone’s yard! The kids started asking Christian to give them money and he told them he had none. They didn’t believe him – a mazungu with no money? Not possible in their way of thinking! He emptied his pockets and showed them he only had a pocket knife and some atom ball candy, which he gave to the oldest two boys. They then showed us their “ball” which was plastic soda bottles taped together so they could kick it around. They asked us to get them a ball. So the next time we were in town we bought one and took it over. They were so excited about that ball! They all gathered round it and inspected it and were laughing and carrying on. There was an old man there that we sat and “talked” to – he didn’t know much English and we don’t know much Lusoga! But he said thank you many times for bringing the ball!

On the way back to our home, there are always ladies outside,  they and the kids always want us to come sit. Raelee used their language to say hello and that tickled them to no end. All the people here get so excited when we use any of their words. Although, if we say one word in Lusoga they automatically think we know more and start having a conversation that we don’t understand! And everyone wants us to hold their babies, which is always okay with me! Even Christian who normally doesn’t hold babies is known to hold one or two! I tried to hold the one that is crying, but he is scared of our white skin. It’s so odd for me, who can usually calm any baby and put them to sleep, to have them scared of me. I will never get used to that! And while most still yell muzungu to us, many of the kids call me Jessica, that is the other woman that is here and I’m not sure if thats the only name they know, or if now they think all white woman are called Jessica! I’m sure after time they will get our names down! But even the ones that know us call us Mama Raelee and Baba Raelee instead of our names! (It’s always about your kids isn’t it?!)

Raelee is getting ready to go to school and is very excited. I am excited and nervous – praying she does well and doesn’t take over the school! I believe it will be a good experience for her, she has already fully emersed herself into the culture, learning the language AND the mannerisms so much faster than Mama and Baba! School will be a good thing for her, I just pray she is a good thing for the school! I’m sure she will, she brings life and joy everywhere she goes and has such a kind, caring heart.

Cataract Screening

Yesterday we had the cataract screening in the village center. I think we attracted more kids than actual applicants! We ended up with 24 people to be screened – only 2 had cataracts. 2 had immature cataracts, so they will be monitored every 3 months. But we did find 4 people that were eligible for a surgery that is done in our town for free, they just don’t have enough money for transportation to town. We are going to take care of the cataract patients first, and then hope to get the others to their surgeries if they will go through with it. The Dr. said many times they are too scared to go through with it. There were 3-4 that needed glasses, and a few that just need medication. I know there were a few that were quite disappointed that they weren’t going to get their eyesight fixed.

The Struggle Is Part Of Our Story

Jeremiah 17:7-8  “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Now, I am not one to see the devil on every doorknob as one friend says, but I do believe that when we are drawing closer to God, and when the plans of God are unfolding, the devil doesn’t like it and he has his ways of trying to knock you off track. I know him, and I know the signs that he and his schemes are at work.

We would appreciate prayers today and this week. There are many things going on this week, directions that we believe God has us going in, but just as many things have started coming against us – sickness, truck problems, worker problems, our little hedgehog dying. Even though it is frustrating, it is also exciting because we believe God is working and forces are trying to derail us. So please pray for our health, and for wisdom in dealing with workers. Finding a part for the truck is very difficult as there are no auto zones or Toyota Dealers around! We will probably have to go to Kampala the first of the week to find one, and that will put work on getting the gate up behind. We were going to go today, but we have been connected with a program out of Kampala that does cataract surgeries for free and today we are having a screening for people in our village to be checked and if they have cataracts, we will supply transportation to get to Kampala and have the surgeries. It may not seem like a big decision, but it was, to wait on the truck and put off a day of work so that we can be there for the screening.

I know you are out there praying for us, and it means so much. These problems and trials are temporary, but sometimes in the middle of the battles we tend to forget that and forget He Who is leading the charge!

2 Corinthians 12:9-10  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Philippians 4:19  “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Beautiful Children

Every time we take a walk outside our property, we get a following! Most of the time, if it is boys, they follow, but don’t talk to us. And if we turn and look at them they will either run the other way, or dive into bushes. Pretty funny! Sooner or later I pray, they get used to us and get a little closer. Some of the babies will cry if we talk to them, as we are the only white people they have ever seen. It’s not a good feeling when small children are terrified of you just because of your skin color, but I have hope. The 4 kids that we have been feeding and checking on started out crying every time they saw me, now they smile and touch me. It just takes time and consistency to gain their trust and try to form a relationship. Our biggest prayer is to learn the language quickly, but I am sad to say I am not doing so well in that department! Raelee helps me when someone greets me, she is picking it up quickly, so is Christian. So, pray for me, I have the hope I will get there…eventually!

Marriage Celebration

Traditional Marriage Ceremony

“The traditional marriage ceremony is a battle of cultural tongue-twisting between representatives of the two sides who engage each other in a question and answer challenge or in knowing, mentioning and following century old norms and traditions. Both families are required to have a spokesman to speak for them. The spokesman takes the role of the final emissary on the day of introduction and he has to pull a lot of antics learned from tradition and experience to engage or answer challenges from the other side’s spokesman.  It is the battle (friendly and of words) between the two that makes the Kwanjula and the whole ceremony memorable and unique from any other ceremony. On this Kwanjula day, little is required from the husband to be or the Son in-law. He has to say nothing on that day. Having bought everything required and dressed properly in coats and Kanzus for males Gomesis or long shawls for females, all he has to do, together with his entourage is sit and enjoy the battle between the two spokesmen.The rest of the ceremony is as interesting as the gifts (which are left outside) are brought and allocated to the different beneficiaries, and the hosts lay their demands and wishes on the new family.  Once the gifts are brought, the host’s spokesman may ask the bride and Ssenga whether they should accept the gifts. The obvious answer is “yes.” This is followed by more clapping, and more excitement. On this day of Kwanjula, the son in- law comes with rings that denote marriage. It’s at this stage that rings are exchanged and cut the cake to crown the ceremony that ends with meals.  The official church wedding takes place some few weeks or months after Kwanjula. (3)” 
(excerpt from http://megan08.weebly.com/uganda-wedding-ceremonies.html)
One of our workers got married this weekend. There were only two meetings, one actually was the morning of the ceremony (after the party had started at midnight) because they hadn’t raised quite enough money yet to finish the day off! Christian was asked a week ago if our truck could be used to go “just pick up the bride’ and bring her to our village – to the groom. He said yes, he would go with our driver. Well, the party was going pretty strong, the xylophone players were playing the same beat for over 8 hours, the DJ would turn on the blaring music, competing with the xylophone. I went over a couple hours after Christian had left our house to go over (the groom lives right next door) and was told Christian would be back any minute, they had gone to get the bride. Two hours later (in total Christian and crew were gone 4 hours!) they arrived. It was dark,, so I couldn’t see anything. Wondered how we would see the service and was informed the service was performed at the brides village! Christian said it was quite the ceremony to witness. We aren’t sure if the bride and groom had met before this day, but he said the groom was sweating bullets! We left the partiers to it, and when we went to bed around 10 pm it was still going!
Another site that describes the ceremony pretty close to what Christian said went on is http://www.ugpulse.com/heritage/traditional-marriages-in-uganda-marriages-in-buganda-kwanjula/378/ug.aspx. You should read it, very interesting. The only difference is that all the bartering and gifts was done away at the bride’s home and after it was finally agreed they would marry, they went in private with a muslim cleric who actually married them. Then they and some of the bridal party were loaded in the truck and brought back to our village to the groom’s home. There, the party had been going on full force without the groom! We didn’t know this is how it all would work, so unfortunately I had to miss out on the best part! Hopefully this marriage will stick – it is the groom’s fifth! His parents decided to try their hand and pick a bride for him this time – maybe fifth time is a charm!