Carpenters in the Making

Christian has been very busy trying to get the training center ready, I thought we would have our first class by May. But we don’t have a Lowe’s or Home Depot here so getting the materials for wiring the lights and electricity in the building has been a nightmare. Getting wood the he doesn’t have to plane and recut isn’t possible. So progress has been slow. He’s also been making me cabinet doors and a new cupboard because I had the bright idea when we moved here to have lockers made for our food. But, especially during lockdowns and stocking up they aren’t big enough so they are to go in the training center for the students to each have their own for their supplies.

But, Raelee’s two best friends that are here most of the time are always wanting to help him. One’s dad is in the military and gone most of the time. When you join the military here you are in until you are 65. Sula’s dad isn’t around very much because he has other wives and spends more time gone then being there. So Christian is a father figure for them. When he is trying to work he will have four little hands trying to help with everything and makes it extremely hard for him to get anything done. They can’t do a lot on their own (we thought!) and there isn’t much they can do to help with the training center. We are under quarantine again so they aren’t in school. They are getting too old to want to play house and dolls with Raelee so they always want to be in the barn with him. So Christian put all projects on hold so that they could help him build a dog house. We recently got two Rottweiler puppies after our Dobermans died of cancer. We are tired of them sleeping in the bathroom and when they get full size we need somewhere to lock them in when we have the kids for church or visitors as most people here fear dogs.

The boys were thrilled and actually did a great job even when Christian wasn’t right there. Not that he left them for very long around all the power tools and saw! But he did go to check on some other projects going on and when he came back they had one wall up by themselves. So not only giving his time that he really didn’t have, he’s teaching them early a skill that will give them an advantage when they get older. And an example to be for them. (Personally I think it should have been a little bigger considering these dogs can get close to one hundred pounds! But the boys would gladly build another one!)

In the beginning Christian said “I left them for ten minutes and came back to this. You see what I’m working with?”! He had the flap up at one time and underneath he had yellow safety glasses on!
Very proud of these boys. And I know Christian is because he actually asked to be in a picture! That does NOT happen very often! (And even though she is small Bella sacred people more. But there’s no way she’s going to sleep in a dog house outside. She barks all night anyway when outside. But she alerts us from in the house if there is anything out of the ordinary outside. She’s a brat but a good security dog!

Knowing But Not Seeing

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!

This piece of foam is what the two children were sleeping on at the end of their grandmothers bed
She was so happy to have a “real bed” and blanket.

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

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.

My Playlist This Week

Jammin’ ‘n Slammin’!

I think I’ve listened to Toby Mac’s new song more times than I can count and watched the video almost as many times! I don’t know how many times we’ve seen him perform live but I know the first time was not long after he went solo. Our granddaughter and grandson are fans of his also. I think maybe his video for this song is his best video so far! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the CD!

Crowder ❤️❤️. As soon as we got busy this week with so many projects all at once the devil started in from all sides. Problems with girls we love as daughters. Our own daughter that was being manipulated and teaching her stealing and hiding things from us was okay. Now those consequences have fallen heavy on our shoulders. Table saw that was needed for the training center broke down and Chris couldn’t keep it going this time. And people, there’s no Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart here! Electrical wire for the training center – no one had any! It was one thing after another of the devil trying to steal our joy. In the kitchen one of those days I just started yelling “run devil run”. Scared Raelee a little bit I told her he is real and he is trying to steal the joy we’ve had the past few weeks and I’m not going to let him have mine.

He also has new songs and they have been played almost as much as the new Mac’s songs! And am I the only one that doesn’t see red hair? 🤣

https://youtu.be/6TzECToPYIk

So these are songs I’ve played a lot this week! I love in “I Am” the chorus – “I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am!

There is another video to the same song “I Am” on YouTube that is very moving, from the movie “Son of God”

We started off last week, first a sit down with one of our Ugandan daughters and have a tough talk with. And then I had to had to have a talk with our other Ugandan daughter! I, and then with Christian had to have a difficult talk with her but we told her when she repents that God is there to forgive. We have forgiven her. He uses our pasts, I found myself in somewhat a similar position thirty-five years ago, before coming to Christ but He has used that situation that the devil could have used for evil, God used it in a very big way for good. We will always be by her side but there will be consequences she’s going to have to face. The consequences of my actions still affect people in my life that I love, but thank God He forgives and as His word says:

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:12

These are some of the songs that have helped me get through without wanting to run away (okay, maybe hide for a minute!). Music, especially songs that glorify God or say the words that your heart feels are important to me and sometimes I forget how healing and how encouraging they can be. Music touches the soul.

Don’t get me wrong – these past few weeks have been the most encouraging and exciting weeks we’ve had in awhile. Just not without challenges!

We’ll see what next week’s playlist represents! Bye y’all, and thanks to all the new friends who have started following our sometimes crazy antics!

Faithful in What is Least

10 who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Luke 16:10

I talked a lot about Jenifer. She is our farm manager, volunteers to educate pregnant and new mothers, immunizes babies and more. To me she is Wonder Woman! She has raised five girls and two sons pretty much all on her own. She still has one boy left in his last year of school. We have seen her grow as a great and Godly woman since being here and mentoring and discipling her. She and her daughters for sure have grown so much in their faith. We are still praying for the sons that they come to know Jesus also.

From the five girls we have Haria, the oldest girl and is a midwife. Salima went to college and is now a social worker. I write about her often and how I wouldn’t know what to do without her. For four years of our time here she had been away at school, so the last two years she has really helped us to enlarge our ministry. Takia is a seamstress/clothing designer, Takamida is also in school to be a midwife and the youngest daughter Nswiba just started nursing school. The youngest boy, Ibra says he wants to be a mechanic. Good, honest mechanics (even in the states!) are hard to find. So that will be a good profession for him.

But this post is about Jenifer’s oldest son Nelson. I would say that now he is in his thirties. When we came here we were told he was a hard worker, he could dig a foundation or latrine in nothing flat! And he was responsible, whatever he was instructed to do he did. But as for other skills he just hadn’t had anyone to teach him.

We also support a school about twenty-thirty miles away. During our second year here they needed some of their classrooms remodeled and plastered. Christian took a group of guys from our village and worked with them. They learned the importance of creating a strong foundation, how important it is to do the job correctly so that the workers that come behind to do the other work (floors, ceilings etc) could do their work correctly. They learned this because they could see how the incorrect way work was done before they came to do their job made it job that much harder.

There have been other opportunities in building here on our property, and putting flagstone on our porches. Something they’ve never done before. Many in the village were so impressed that they could do such good work. They didn’t know there was so much talent in these young men. But they were being taught to do these jobs well and not just throw things together. Nelson is really only one of two guys Christian can put in charge of a job and know it will get done correctly and in a timely fashion. So they became known as “professionals”!

I just recently learned that because of the skills he learned working with Christian he is consistently working on building for people. Even just got a contract with a man to build homes and apartments for him.

I just wanted to honor this young man who took what he learned and used those skills so that he is now known not just here but in other places as a hard worker who is responsible, honest and gets the job done! We are really proud of what he has accomplished. There are many others that acquired the same skills but have never tried to apply themselves.

Almost Four Months!

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

Studies And Fun!

Salima has been teaching our six children so they won’t fall behind. She has started teaching in our big building. The government also has classes on TV twice a day according to their grade levels that they watch at her home. We are proud she has taken this on by herself. We don’t know yet how schooling will be handled once quarantine is over since children have missed pretty much an entire term. And they also have Bible class. The girls were telling me so many scriptures and stories in the Bible today. Salima brought them to clean the apartments next door – she usually cleans once a month so it doesn’t get overrun by spider webs. She said they need to learn how to clean!

She has them separated by their grade levels
Phiona at the board, Naomi and Becca watching
Elisa and Musale
Masale and Becca
Having fun after classes! Elisa (the youngest) is such a funny little guy!

Birthday Girls

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!

Salima turned 25
Takia turned 20

Eeew Posho and Beans!

Today was our second time feeding the kids at Global. I heard they were all excited about getting rice again but on Wednesdays we make posho (which is maize flour made in the consistency of mashed potatoes) with beans on top. Not a favorite! So we added an orange in each box. Man! That made a big difference in attitude about posho! There was excited screaming and many thank yous! I told them I knew they would t be excited about beans and posho so I gave them a treat to go with it. Then I told them beans and rice are on Friday’s it was pandemonium! I just love being able to do this! We also gave them wash stands with antibacterial liquid to wash their hands since they were eating oranges. It was a good day!