Sunday, September 25, 2011

Going out on a limb

The one thing that seems to characterize all the "Orphans Know More" families is that they are continually going beyond their means to help the orphans.

Last year, Rich and I visited this family.

Missing 1 child, plus 2 who passed away in the last couple of years (one at a fire at school and one at an accident of the school bus)


They have been building their home for almost 10 years,

little by little.
this is the living room

The floors are of dirt,

there is no kitchen - yet

this is where the kitchen will be one day

there is 1 bedroom for the parents,

1 for the boys



and 1 for the girls.

one of the kids' bedrooms holds the dishes/kitchen supplies as well.



When a rather large donation was given for OKM a few months back,

we felt to pass it on to this family

towards the completion of their house.

We had found out that the dirt floors were causing some health problems in the family.



I was curious to see the progress they had made on the house

when I visited them recently.

This is what I found:


Instead of proper floors,

a kitchen

or walls plastered,

this family is using the money to add 2 more bedrooms to the house.

Why?

Because they want to make room for more orphans in their family!

They have 10 kids in 2 bedrooms.

They recently had 4 more kids for some weeks

as their widowed mother needed some respite care.

The teenage girls stayed in a tent in the living room

in order to have some privacy.


They are also looking after several children in the community that are not in good situations and need to be brought "home".
So - building was going on during our visit.

NOW - THIS IS THE HEART of all the OKM families I have met.
Always out on a limb to help more orphaned children!

The parents Mabel and Dickson need our prayers at the moment.
Mabel's brother just passed away a week ago

and her father needs to be looked after.

It's unbelievable HOW MUCH DEATH people in Africa have to deal with...




There's also a very exciting project I am working on together with this couple for next year.

Just giving some hints:

Streets of Europe

Dances, Songs, Testimonies

Ex-orphans ministering.

More on that another day...


Saturday, September 24, 2011

more W.A.T.E.R.!!! YAY!!!

This widow with children that Rich and I visited last November

had to walk a long way to get their daily water supply every day.

Carrying the heavy water 

not without danger

especially when the young girls go out to get water before school...


NOT.ANY.MORE! 

(as long as it keeps raining every so often, that is)

one of the kids taking her "bath" just as I came around the house




Thanks to the generous gift of more amazing, kind, compassionate friends

this family now has the luxury of getting water from their 5.000l water tank

that collects rain water from the roof of their modest home.


washing hands



What a pleasure to visit with them on this last trip!

Had a great time of fellowship and encouraging the mom!


The best part:

The children get to drink the REAL LIVING WATERS!!!

"Anyone who is thirsty may come to me (Jesus said)!
Anyone who believes in me may

COME AND DRINK!!

For the Scriptures declare:

"Rivers of LIVING WATER will flow from his heart.""

John 7:37

Family picture

Thursday, September 22, 2011

About grass-huts


Have YOU ever associated Africa with people living in grass-huts?

I have.

While there may very well still be grass-huts - I have yet to see them.
And I don't claim - by any means - to have seen a lot of Africa -

or even Uganda.

I have yet to see LOTS MORE!!!

And I can't wait - as heart-wrenching as it is...

By the way, I am gutted - I lost the photos I took of some HIV+ widows I visited in TERRIBLE conditions (worse than this family)...

A visit with widow Florence, her mother, aunt, and 7 children - 3 of the children are being sponsored for going to school   





The poorest that I have seen, 

and I mean POOR - 

live in small places

some made out of mud

others built with cement.

But they all have tin roofs





Many of them leaking in the rain...




The inside of the hut with all the family's belongings - and this is where they sleep - all 10 of them

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We could live in a grass hut!

While I'm procrastinating scrambling to START getting the house back in order 

and everything caught up on ~ ~ ~

here are some more photos from my trip to Uganda:

This is one of the "Orphans Know More" families that some very generous friends decided to bless with a 10.000l water tank a few months back!

those who were there - in front of their new water tank


What a HUGE BLESSING for them - they are SOOOOO GRATEFUL!!!

I went to visit with them for the birthday of their 12-year-old biological son 
(only found out later that he was their bio son).

Was tickled that I got to put to use the balloons I brought and also get some other goodies food for the family. (they have been living without electricity for a while)
It was SOOOO sweet!!!

Everybody was dressed up (it was school vacation), we had a yummy lunch, a cake, a small gift and the Ugandan version of the "Happy birthday song".
Every member of the family said something nice about Dan - some quality they see in him - to encourage him!

WOW!!!

He must be ONE AMAZING KID!!!

What touched me especially was when the mother of the family shared:

He asked her a while ago if they couldn't sell their house and give the money to the abandoned children who live on the streets.

When she asked him where they should live then - if they did that - his response was:

"We could live in a grass hut!"

What a precious heart!!!

And that's one of 4 bio children who shares his parents with over 20 orphaned children and young people!

Go, Daniel - cut that cake!


The Dad shared with me on the way to the house how he and his wife NEVER thought of having such a large family.

All they wanted was their own few kids.

That's it!

But GOD changed their plans!

And they are INCREDIBLE parents and role models to these children,
besides also pastoring a church!!!

Just to witness the incredible LOVE, AFFECTION and RESPECT these children have for each other and their parents - blessed me "off my socks" - WOW!!!!


"GOD places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell."
Psalm 68:6

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thanking God that we're still alive

This little boy is SOOO special! I love him!!!

He's part of the wonderful family that I stayed with in Uganda -

have a look at the family (just the ones that were home on the morning that I left).






Brian is the youngest - 6.

He wouldn't remember his birth parents.

His mother passed away while giving birth to another sibling, when he was 2.

The baby also died shortly thereafter.

The father was alcoholic and abandoned Brian and his 4-year-old sister.

Belinda was trying her best to care for her little brother, finding food for him here and there.

Eventually, some neighbours got concerned and took the pair to a near-by church,

hoping that somebody would have mercy and take them in.

Nobody did.

Praise ended up taking them

just for 1 night

until she could find somebody else.

She was already caring for 8.

The 1 night turned into 2 nights
and then many more,

as nobody else could be found.

I was so touched on the first evening I was with Brian and Belinda's "forever"- family.

During their family devotions, every child had an opportunity to stand up and give thanks to God for something.

Everything was in Lugandan and I didn't understand anything.

Somebody translated for me what little Brian said:

"I thank God that we are still alive."

Coming from a 6-year-old, this shot like an arrow into my heart.


WOW!!!

He knew what he was talking about...

and it was REAL!

Monday, September 12, 2011

some pics

Here are the promised photos from my visit at Praise's house in Kampala - although photos REALLY don't reflect well what I experienced there - you just HAVE TO go sometime and experience for yourself!

TOOOOO PRECIOUS!!!

Joseph, about 4 (we guess) - the one who stole my heart - and seemed to like me, too :)

doing some dances for auntie Isabel

Praising God with all their hearts

Praise (n red top), her helpers and the kids in front of the rented 2-bedroom house

HOME!!

So good to be back home - the land of Rugby, stubbies, God-zone, sheep, cows - and a wonderful family!

Note to self: DO.NOT.EVER.AGAIN do such a long trip without staying a night somewhere on the way.

57 hours = insanity! I'm at my end, but so grateful to AMAZING GOD!!!

And, by the way, for the first time in 28 years of traveling did my luggage (just one small duffle-bag) get lost - so added  more time and hassle when I arrived...

I'll definitely need a few days to really arrive...

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Whoever receives a child in my name, receives me."

Went to a Babies Home today, full of adorable, adoptable babies and toddlers, plus a few older ones (up to 7).

Another very touching time!

This home also was started by a young Ugandan single girl - a couple of years ago.

It's full to capacity with 23 babies/children and she cannot take on any more until at least 4 get adopted out.

There's only 1 that has parents pursuing adoption... :(

If I could, I would have picked 3 to take home with me - if not all of them.

Got to hold and care for a sick 4 month old baby girl called Elizabeth - soooo beautiful!! (photos coming sometime)

You can still see the traces of the malnourishment she experienced in her first 2/3 months.

She was found in a gutter...

Today, she had been vomiting and refusing to eat/take liquids all day.

Poor little darling!

I held her for most the time I was there, trying to get some liquid into her every few minutes,

Loving on her,

Praying for her.

To top off my AMAZING trip, I was blessed with a dose of diarrheoa on the clothes that I will be traveling with shortly - just before it was time to leave there - yeeehaa!

That was the first time - usually, the babies are "just" wet and smell like urine (chipped away just a tidbit of the romantic picture I had of African babies... haha)

The Baby Home's founder's biggest desire is for these lil ones to find forever families!

Mine too!!!

Visiting there today made me more convinced than ever of the vision of the "Orphans Know More" leadership:

To motivate Ugandan Christians to adopt!

If every church in the nation could just identify one or 2 families in the church that have the calling to adopt - even just 1 or 2 children - and then come alongside them to help support them as a church -

IF ONLY

They could do this ~ ~ ~

Most, if not all of Ugandan orphans could be growing up in a loving Christian home

And there would be ORPHANS NO MORE!!!

The OKM leadership is just now in the process of preparing what is needed for this adoption-awareness-campaign in Ugandan churches.

A documentary is in the making.

There is the need to put some type of training together for prospective foster/adoptive families, proper preparation and support to ensure the quality of care of the children etc.

No small thing.

But I am SOLD OUT to this idea!

Especially after seeing the fruits of adoption into Ugandan families firsthand!!!!

Gotta go, have dinner and off to the airport!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shattered - once again

Nearing the end of an AMAZING trip, I'm so glad God has arranged some "alone-time" for me - which would have been the last few hours and tonight.

Just to have the freedom to process some of what I've experienced - material that you'll read about for the next little while, for sure...

I am soooo devastated - and touched, both at the same time.

Have been crying my eyes out for most of the afternoon.

Didn't help that today I had my last (short) visit with our son Richard - saying good-bye to him is never easy.

But what REALLY got me today, was what I witnessed in a small 2-bedroom house in Kampala...

Before you read on, go back to this post, cuz I'm talking about his same single 24-year old beautiful Ugandan called Praise.

After entrusting her 10 children into the wonderful permanent care of the OKM family, she's been going back and forth from that family to Kampala, where she grew up and also has lots of ministry opportunities (doing music and youth ministry, speaking in schools etc about abstinence etc).

As we sat around the pool the other day (she came specifically just to watch her kids have fun in the water, it was such a treat for her to see them having so much fun - you can see her photo in the post about the pool - surrounded by some of her kids), she shared some more of her story with me - and today I visited her and the 17 children that God has brought into her small rented home since January .

Yes, you did read right - no typo - 17 children - since January!!!! (well, truth be told, some of the kids had been with her before but she was planning on taking them to some other families after taking the other 10 to Jinja)

She didn't want to care for children any more but pursue her music and other ministry.

But God had other plans.

He asked her to be available to take in more.

And they started coming

one by one.

Actually, there was a pair of twin girls that came together

She found them on the street after they had been raped

And took them home.

They are Kylie's age...







One little boy in particular immediately stole my heart and I picked him up and held him for the whole time I was there (photos coming after I get home).

Little Joseph (we are guessing he's around 4, nobody knows his exact age) was cuddling with me - just resting on me - it was so wonderful!

I loved every minute of it and would've loved to take him with me! He was the cutest little "thing"!

Joseph - that's what Praise named him, after he was found in a public transport mini-van, left alone, very sick.

She explained why she named him Joseph:

She believes that one day, he will be a great man, even though he was abandoned, just like the Joseph of the Bible.
His middle name is the Lugandan name for hope.

Hearing some of the children's stories while they sang and danced for me - I had to use all the self-control I could muster not to cry the whole time...

As I talked with them in between songs, I was mentioning the verse that says,

Even though my mother and my father forsake me, the Lord will receive me as his own.

I wasn't even quite done saying this when one of the kids quoted the exact Scripture, including the reference, Psalm 27,10 - - - (I didn't even know the reference)

I was - ahem - shocked/surprised - wow, these children know their stuff!
They proceeded to quote all kinds of other truths from the Bible...

So here's this single girl who - out of her meager earnings - rents this house and cares for these children. She has 3 people helping her. When I asked her if she pays them or they volunteer, she said, "They need money".

They live by faith, trusting God to provide for their needs.

She says, sometimes people bring by some food.

Irresponsible???

After all, she had come to her end with the first lot of 10 orphans!

And by law, she doesn't even qualify to have guardianship of these children...

Well, if I hadn't seen and gotten to know her other 10, I might have thought of irresponsibility to take on 17 more.

BUT - she has done a awfully incredible job raising those ones for the time she had them.

They are amazing!!!

Sooo - all I can do is take my invisible hat off to her

And somehow know that these ones, too, will be ok longterm.

They will be loved, cared for, know Jesus' love and healing power in their lives.

I guess what struck me particularly hard today was the fact that Praise is living out what I have been dreaming about doing most of my life.

She's ACTUALLY taking in all these abandoned children, off the streets!

Oh how I would love to come alongside her and help ease her burden!

That's the least I can try to do...

She's able to do this job SO MUCH BETTER than I could ever do, even if I tried hard!

They are in their country, culture, language, songs, dances... and LOVED!!!

One of the last things Praise told me (without the children hearing),

"Next time you come, you can take THESE children to the pool!"

Yup - sure!

If God allows!

But my hope and prayer is for much more support than just a trip to the pool.

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've got photos and video-clips of today, but am writing from a public computer.

Off to sleep now

Then one more full day tomorrow

Looking forward to it!

And then I'll fly out in the evening.

50+ hours of traveling, longest trip I have EVER had in my life - 4 different planes.

Thanks for prayers!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Convicted

Before going on from here and not being sure about the internet connection in the next place (I was given a stick to use here), I can't resist to upload this short video clip of the first night I was here.

One of the things the father of this beautiful African family told me, and I have thought of this, too, many times, in raising our children:

"We look at the end result of how we want our children to turn out  - and then we invest what is needed."

I can see it in their older children - they are all lovers of God and strong yet gentle leaders, hard working and serving joyfully.

Rich and I have kind-of been raising our children with the end-result in mind, too.

But when it comes to developing our children's relationship with God, I admit it's been a struggle over the years to really invest what is right, good and necessary (and our kids love the Lord now, don't get me wrong).

Yet - why have I/we given in and gotten discouraged when feeling the resistance of the kids to spending time in God's Word, prayer and worship as a family - and it's felt more like a drudgery than the highlight of the day?

Yes, we've done some, but doesn't the Word of God tell us to

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Col.3,16

Can't say we've done that.

It's been barely, just enough not to "bore" them and get them all fidgety, even with different devotional books for kids.

YET - how many hours do we spend as a family doing things like reading wordly books to them or letting them listen to whatever songs, watch movies (nothing wrong with them, but if they memorize THOSE and NOT the TRUE, LIFE-GIVING spiritual FOOD that ALONE can make them strong and whole INSIDE - something is wrong.)

It's been stirring in me for a while now, but I think there are going to be some changes in Betts-house when I come back home.

Yes, again.

Get yourselves prepared, family!

It's really SOOOO MUCH BETTER!!!

Our Western families have so many distractions - we diligently run our kids around to all kinds of sport, music and church activities, and at home they're doing Wii, playstation, video and other games, TV, movies, ipads and iphones, facebook and other internet stuff - and once again, in and of themselves, these are not bad.

But seeing the contrast from our lives to theirs here - I am convinced now that as Christian parents we are actually ROBBING our kids from the GREATER TREASURE! The RICHNESS of GOD and HIS WORD becoming deeply ingraned in their hearts and spirits, FILLING them to overflowing with REAL LIFE!

May I suggest that we have fallen into a trap???

All these exciting and FUN things are STEALING the real treasure from our kids!

Do we want our kids to be entertainment addicts when they've grown up,

yet empty in their hearts?

Having a form of godliness, but no power? (and once again, I am not saying my kids are like that - just talking generally)

Or do we want them to be so FULL OF GOD that HE IS THEIR TRUE SOURCE OF LIFE - and no matter what comes along for them in life, they will stand strong, because their "house will be built upon the rock" - in a VERY REAL WAY!!!

I was so humbled last night, as the kids kept quoting many different Scriptures by heart, including their references - spontaneously.

And it was no rigid, religious exercice.

They were enjoying themselves, having a different sort of FUN!

I would have been hard pressed myself to come up with half of them...

I'm glad they didn't ask me to quote a Scripture, although they did invite me to share - and the Lord had put something on my heart that I was able to give them - although I had to get my reading glasses out and read it from the Bible rather than quoting it - but that was alright :)

One of the things I told them is that they many times think that the white people are rich (in Uganda, if you are white, you are automatically rich in their eyes). I told them that the REAL RICH people are THEY, not us! You get what I meant...

What an IMPACT these words of truth, exhortation and comfort that they memorize will have when they go back to school and face all kinds of challenges, issues from their past creeping up, lies from the enemy attacking their minds etc.

The Word of God is POWERFUL and VERY EFFECTVE!!!!

And we have neglected it - I admit it and feel DEEPLY sorry for it.

Kids, if you read this - I'm sorry for robbing you of the BEST!

We have many times treated it as an accessory ~

Not a necessity!

Here, dinner is eaten only AFTER the spiritual food is eaten -

and yes, it's been 9pn (I'm not sure - the kids may have had their porridge or beans before family devotions at 7pm - but definitely not the older ones, or the parents)

And no, I'm not saying we'll wait til 9pm til we eat dinner from now on :)

There so much more to say, but I've got to go now. Here's the short clip, taken without them realizing I was filming.


video

HUMBLED - and SOOO BLESSED!!!

What is EVEN MORE PRICELESS than seeing the kids enjoy the pool and playground is seeing and hearing the children every night when they have a long time of singing and worshipping God, praying, testifying, reciting memorized Scripture, getting discipled by their parents and/or older siblings.
It is sooooooooo precious!!!

Totally spontaneous,

yet led gently

Everybody feeling free to participate - or not -

a feeling of freedom

and at the same time order and respect

There's dancing

Rejoicing

Celebrating

Thankfulness

Hands raised

Eyes closed

No show put on for a muzungu white lady.

Just simple, sincere, deep, yet childlike faith and love expressed to God!

BEAUITFUL!!!

I have a hunch it is the highlight of their days!

It's the school holidays so they are all home (the younger ones at least)

There's no distractions, no toys, no computer, no sports activities or other things they leave the house for - (there IS a TV, but it's not on much)

I also KNOW (cuz the parents told me) that drawing near to God as a family - daily - is the ONLY WAY to do this kind of life - and THRIVE!!!

As JESUS becomes REAL to the children, they find healing and restoration!

HIS love, acceptance and comfort heals the broken-hearted and restores the wounded spirit!

ONLY HIM!!!!!!!

There is an incredible RICHNESS in these children and this family that I have never seen anywhere before!

They have so much pain, loss, trauma and grief in their lives - they should be really messed up.

And YET - they are so free, loving, happy,

getting along with each other so well and caring for each other - 'course still children that sometimes squabble (though rarely)

And can you imagine a house full of teenagers?

Besides the 10+ that haven't reached that glorious age yet...

I have pretty much only heard peaceful or happy noises.

Everybody plays their part, has their job and quietly does it.

It was a PLEASURE and HUGE HONOUR and PRIVILEGE to spend these few days here!

I am MAJORLY INSPIRED - but gotta go to bed now.

Had excellent meetings with the leadership of OKM - some exciting plans in the making - inspired by GOD! WOW!!!

Rich and the kids should be landing in NZ in a few minutes - whoop whoop!

Tomorrow, I'm off to the YWAM base for further ministry/planning...
Speaking to a group of HIV+ widows tomorrow ~ ~ ~ doing some visits as well...

AND - I'm sorry, but I just COULDN'T make myself take photos of the children worshipping and praying (though I quietly filmed their worship - just didn't want the flash to disturb their intimate time with God)


Thursday, September 1, 2011

O.MY.GOODNESS!!!

The title is the short version,

 describing my time here

sharing in the life of an African family that has adopted around 30 children!

WOW ~ WOW ~ WOW ~ WOW ~ WOW !!!!

There would be SOOO much to say, but just today ~

Seeing the smiles on the children's faces

hearing their laughter

as I was able to treat them to an afternoon at the pool in a local hotel

including a playground

was AMAZING!!

Many of the children had never experienced either

IT WAS PRICELESS!!!

And worth E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!!!

Knowing the story of many of them and their horrific former existence life

made it even more special!

From the streets - into a loving family!

What a JOY and PRIVILEGE to bond with them while having fun!

And I could just feel the FATHER smiling and laughing with us!
I couldn't have had more fun!!!!

on the way, a few piled in the car, the others walking ( a long way)

in the pool for the second time - after getting all sweaty again on the playground -
 first time around I went swimming with them

warming up after the first swim - it was overcast and not very hot, so most of the little ones were shivering - and they had only brought 1 towel - for 20+ swimming...
Guess what happened to the small towel that I brought along? My one an only one?!

So wonderful to love on these ex-orphans - and especially because I know that they DO have incredible parents looking after them - I just get to be "auntie" for a few precious days...

these smiles are completely sincere - on just for the camera - I saw them all afternoon :)

waiting for some food and drinks - what a treat!

don't ya just want to scoop 'em up and hug 'em?!!
They all asked me to take a photo of them (there are more...)

such beautiful, tender-hearted children - - - and there are SOOOOO MANY MORE roaming the streets.... breaks your heart!

good thing this slide was SOLID! With 10+ on there - for a loooong time, sometimes all at once, it'd better be!

priceless

this little boy Brian was collected from the streets when he was 2 - with his sister who was 4 and caring for him -
he's the youngest member of the family - now 6 - SUCH a sweet-heart

At the end of the day:
some falling asleep, while others are preparing paper for paper beads -
after only getting back from the pool at 8pm!
About 20 all working together
And that's after (very lively) family devotions

'Night!