Wednesday, February 29, 2012

No warm blankets and junk food...

While cuddling up in my warm blanket (in the safety of my mosquito net) in the early hours of the morning, I can't help my thoughts drift to 20 adorable orphaned children who don't have that luxury  

- just 2+ hours from here - in a rural area outside of Kampala 


(totally out in the boonies).

They live in an unfinished house with gaps between the walls and roof (obviously no ceiling) and no glass in the window openings.

The boy's room (the bed on the left is for the male teacher and his 2 children, each bed is shared by 2 children)

They freeze at night.

I heard them coughing - sick because of it.

Since moving into the house 1 month ago, most of them (including "Mummy Praise") have had malaria as they don't have enough mosquito-nets to cover all the beds.

And the mosquitoes there are fierce!! 

I put on mozzy spray just before arriving and when I left I noticed quite a few 'juicy" bites on me. 
(Obviously, mozzy spray isn't even heard of there.)

Girl's room - shared with the 2 female teachers
living and dining room (if it rains)

Their water for drinking, cooking and washing dishes and clothes comes from a water hole at quite a distance. The children have to carry the water to the home.
The day I was there it had rained and the water was muddy, I was told.

There's no alternative - THAT's IT! Dirty or not, they have to use it!

No wonder they're getting sick.

where food gets prepared
outhouse with future bathing room on right


He as stolen my heart, for sure!!! SUCH a sweetheart!!!

My little prince Joseph that I fell in love with on my last visit (even on this visit, there was a special connection between to 2 of us.... lots of special smiles back and forth in the crowd of kids),
has lost some weight and Praise told me that he is not doing so well
(along with about 5 other kids) - and she doesn't know why.
I suggested worms?
I'm not a medical person, but wouldn't be surprised...

The kids also have jiggers in their feet that Praise has to dig out at a regular basis.


The daily menu?

Runny porridge made with maize flour for breakfast.

Posho (maize-flour and water) and beans for lunch.

That's it for the day!

These kids know hunger, but at least they have a minimum!

A funny little thing that happened:

Praise told me that the children don't like living in the country.
It's hard for them - compared to when they were in the city.

The only thing they like about living there is the "junk-food" (I understood).

I couldn't hide my surprise when I asked Praise to repeat:

Junk-food? 

NO - JACK FRUIT! These huge fruits that hang from trees.

haha!


The biggest challenge, though, is the isolation and lack of transport.

Hauling food there...

Getting sick children to a doctor and to get medicine.

Imagine having sick children and the only option is to make them walk a long distance

or carry them (if you can) - not sure, but maybe 3km (about 2 miles)

until you finally come to a road with cars and motor-cycles passing.



And even then, there are no boda-bodas (motorcycles - the cheapest transport) to take you to a clinic.
You may have to wait in the scorching heat - or the rain - depending on the day, for quite a while for a "taxi" - public transport van.

Once you finally reach a doctor and there's a prescription, you have to somehow get yourself and the sick children from one pharmacy/clinic to the next, because most often, the needed medicine is not even available.

HARD LIFE - REALLY !!!! HARD - HARD!!!

BUT - and here comes a BIG BUT:

The children are joyful and started singing for me from the moment I came out of the car just about until I left a couple hours later. I have lots of videos - sooo precious, but can't upload them now.

These kids are sooo adorable, lovable (except for their muddy feet and legs...haha) - 
no seriously, they are the sweetest children with such tender spirits!( photos coming below)

I know for fact the their FATHER is sooo desiring to tangibly lavish HIS LOVE on these little ones!!!
HE is right there with them - and wants ME and YOU to help give them more than an existence!
Reach out and buy some blankets, mosquito nets, help finish the house, invest into seeds for farming, a cow for milk.

WHAT WAS TOTALLY UNEXPECTED - ready for this?

I was expecting to find 17 children with Praise and maybe 1 or 2 helpers.

When we arrived, I was swarmed by kids from everywhere, couldn't count them.

{By the way, Praise now takes care of 20 orphans, not 17 - and she was told by her spiritual parents, mentors and leaders from the "Orphans kNOw More"- network that she cannot take in any more right now}

Anyways, soooooo - I found out that:

Not only did Praise venture out into this half-finished house, but she also built a school!
And made it available to the children of the village, whose parents were MOST THRILLED that FINALLY, there was going to be a school in the village!

I remember her writing a year ago that her dream was to do exactly this:


the school with 3 classrooms - probably wouldn't meet New Zealand building consent...
So now there are 80 kids going to school (since early Feb)!


They showed off everything they knew - their numbers, alphabet, songs and huddled around me, wanting to hold my hand, checking out my funny white, wrinkly skin with freckles, wanting their picture taken and when I started showing them some photos on the camera display, they almost ran over each other to get a good look.
Oops! I quickly made that camera disappear again -  didn't want anybody to get trampled on.
Even in what they call "Baby Class" (4 year olds) the kids know the alphabet and recite it together with the name of the word next to the letter - see that special look on Josephs' face? He was following me closely with his eyes wherever I went


counting to 100 in English (they don't speak English yet)
singing - and singing some more
one of Praise's treasured princesses
These children are getting LOVED, introduced to JESUS and even an education!




All this just because of one crazy courageous woman whose comment,
when I asked her about the school was,

"I had no choice. They have to go to school."

Praise was very tired... she had even built some of the school and house with her own hands.

You can read  here and here about why she moved to the country.
She's a smart, entrepreneurial young lady, besides being a lover of God and a nurturing, loving mother!

Really, this lady is something else!
She's incredible!!!

This is the house she built


here they live - 20 orphans, Praise, 3 teachers and their 3-4 children (can't remember exactly)

Instead of using the rent-money (read the links above to understand) for all the 3 months (Jan-March)
and starting the children in a school where she'd have to pay for all kinds of supplies, uniform etc. just to pull them out again 2 months later,
She used the remaining rent money to buy doors for the house and what she would've used for school to start a school for many.

She borrowed materials for the roof and some other necessities

and then moved them a month ago.

I was able to have a VERY special and wonderful time with Praise - all because of my lost tooth.

But more about that in the next post.

So - watch this space!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

HERO of the faith!

One of the things I shared about on Sunday was the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11) that are an encouragement to us today as they have made their mark in history 
(remember the picture of the pencil - that always leaves a mark with whatever it does?!)!

Well, there is nothing more touching and exciting for me than to meet a REAL-LIFE HERO - especially one who's got the FATHER/MOTHER heart of GOD and is caring for the abandoned babies and children, taking them in, caring for them, loving them as her own - under the most challenging circumstances and with no support whatsoever - except her GOD!

Let me present you to Praise - my hero - full of FAITH and LOVE:




Was trying to upload a bunch more photos to help tell you yesterday's story, but it didn't work.
Oh well, another time!



Speechless

It's 11pm - and I don't have words for today...

Just tears

and BIG emotions!!!

Jesus, you are AWESOME beyond measure and I am so in love with you!



You'll get to hear about today some other time.

Just letting you know for now that the broken tooth was a

HUGE BLESSING

{in disguise}

I am staying overnight in Kampala and will see the dentist tomorrow at 9am, then head back to Jinja.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 8 - just beginning

Good morning, once again!

Good thing I woke up at 5am. This gives me a chance for an update, as today, I will be in a meeting at 8am and then drive straight to Kampala for the day 
(and possibly the night, depending on when I get a dentist appointment).

I am excited to see Praise today - if you don't know her story, just gotta go back in my blog to September 2011 - and end of December 2011 (don't have time to find the links now).

AMAZING young Ugandan woman caring for 17 orphans - without any help...

Anyways, my emotions have been such a mess since being here - as usual.
This is what Uganda does to me every time.

At the moment, though, I was just crying as I was reading the sweetest e-card that Rich sent me for our anniversary today! I miss him so much and hugely honor him for the sacrifices he makes to allow me to pursue the dream God has placed in my heart. 
He's my best friend and I can't wait to be with him again! But until then, there's some "business" the FATHER has put on my heart that I will gladly pursue. 
(9 more days til I'm home...)

So, it was funny, I got picked up for church instead of at 9:30 at 10:20.
But I knew better than to stress.
Just used the extra time to pray and prepare some more - so it was actually a blessing!

When I got picked up, I found out the reason for the lateness.
Moses and Penninah don't own a car (with their family of 20+) so they borrow one when needed.
But it was so dirty when they got it yesterday that they didn't feel comfortable to pick me up in it like that and went and washed it first.

Now, that's priorities!

The church service was amazing! Very poor church, dirt floor,  no instruments except a couple of drums, no sound system, just the people!

view from my front row bench - see the dirt? My shoes will never be the same :)
 What is special is that all their older (mostly adopted) children are helping run the church!
Beautiful!

I was touched as 2 small children from the congregation went forward spontaneously at some point when it was testimony time and sang a song. 
All by themselves, first one, then the other.
Oh, the sweet, soft voices!
And no embarrassment - just wanting to bring a gift to the Lord - and the people.

I was apprehensive about preaching, as a piece from my cut tooth hurts my tongue with every word I speak. I really needed to rely on the Lord big time and he came through once again.

It went really well. I felt anointed and able to bring encouragement (felt no pain until after the service).
The pastor (Moses) thanked me in the end and said that people were touched and encouraged.  
I even kept them awake!

Now, if I hadn't been in a Ugandan church last visit, I wouldn't be able to appreciate that comment.
As the services go so long, people do tend to go to sleep when it gets to be after 1pm.

It was fun not to be restricted in time!

In the Western church, you always have to be as precise and short as possible.

Here, it's the opposite.

If you preach under 1 hour, people will still go away hungry.
They want MORe, they are HUNGRY for the WORD of GOD!

I guess they don't have much to back home to in terms of food,
(like in our western countries),

so they're all the more eager to eat spiritual food.

Anyways, THANK YOU SO MUCH if you prayed for me!
I definitely felt the prayers.

Also had wonderful fellowship with 2 families after church.
The friendships that are deepening are precious beyond words.

And sorry, I once again just couldn't make myself take all these photos -
though there would've been lots of opportunity.

Once you're not a "tourist" but a friend, it just isn't appropriate.

Except for this one - 
I asked Moses and Penninah in the end, as I didn't have a decent photo of them yet.
TRUE HEROES, this couple, AMAZING people!!

with their youngest (biological) daughter Deborah

I'll tell you more about them in another post.

Just telling you one thing Moses told me on the way:

As they are working in the villages and visiting/counseling many people, they come in touch with so many needy situations, especially children. 
Even though they find it hard to find food for their own family, he couldn't help himself and committed to paying school fees for 3 more kids in the village.

WOW!!!

Are these people crazy?
Irresponsible?

Maybe...

But they sure have the heart of God and don't hesitate to be HIS hands, too!

2 weeks ago, they had a woman with 5 children come to their home just as they were preparing for church. She was in desperate need of help and when they said they couldn't help, she broke down crying - right there, in their home.
And they needed to take off for church.

This is their daily reality!

There's SOOOO much more I'd like to say, but 'nuf for now.

Appreciate your continued prayers - protection on the road, finding out if/how God would want me to be involved in helping Praise - and the dentist visit, just a few ideas...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 7 - just beginning

Though today, Sunday, is just beginning, I might as well grab the chance to write now, since tonight I'll for sure not be able to, as I'll be visiting one of the OKM families - and I know it'll be late (dinner there is around 9pm).

And having 3+ hours to myself before heading to church gives me lots of time.... YAY! I LIKE it!!!
Nobody around to distract me - just me and my Jesus!!!

A little riddle for ya:

I was emailed by the wife (pastor and OKM parent) that I would get picked up at 9:30am for church.

When I saw her husband yesterday and asked him what time church starts, he said at 9am!

OK - that's different...

Gladly, I went to a church last time I was here (without ministering) and I figured out that churches here have 2 morning services. I guess like some churches in the US, where you have Sunday school first, where people get taught about a certain topic in small groups all around the church.
And only afterwards the "real" service starts.
The church I went to last time, the teaching during Sunday school was actually a lot better (for my taste) than the actual preaching in the main Service.

Anyways, just a bit of fun..

Had a good night - thanks if you prayed! 
Woke up at 6 with the song in my heart:

"He makes all things
He makes all things
He makes all things BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Oh yes, he does!!!

During the nights here at the YWAM base, I've been hearing lots of interesting noises.
One night, I heard gut-wrenching SCREAMS - was sure that I was gonna hear in the morning that somebody had been killed or something like that. But I didn't (doesn't mean it didn't happen, though...)

This morning again, somebody SCREAAAMING - 
(I prefer not to go check it out but stay safely under my mosquito net in my guest room).

I hear noises through the night of people that must be partying - 
of course, these are sounds coming from the neighbours... (I think - haha!)

This week during one of meetings, as we talked about the history of the communities surrounding the base, I found out that they used to be in a terrible state of hopelessness, drunkenness and violence all over.

This road that I have walked, taken a motorbike on, and driven by car used to be so dangerous, that if you were on it after 7-7:30pm, you'd be sure not to survive it.


The name of the main village surrounding the base is "Namaziba" -
 "a place where nothing good comes from, a well of deep sorrrow."

And every young person's only wish was to leave it as soon as possible, because there was no future.

So much has changed already, I am told. There used to be a bar just about behind every hut 
(they were in the distilling business and of course, had to try the alcohol...). 
Now there is just one bar in the village (and that will go, too!!!)

Being with the "Women of Hope" group on Friday just tickled my heart.

YES Lord,

YOU make all things
YOU make all things
YOU make all things
BEAUTIFUL!!!

There is so much more to do, but little by little we want to do our part to transform 

Namaziba

into a 

City of HOPE!
(as was prophesied a couple of years ago by a visiting minister)

Day 6 - a different kind of JOY!

I am really tired tonight - have been dragging all afternoon

 - so here's mostly just a copy of my facebook update:


How crazy is that? 

Was JUST sitting down to finish preparing my message for tomorrow's service when I grabbed a gum, chewed on it for a few seconds and - whoops - one of my molars broke off (it had a big filling) 

 - no warning... nothing!

Maybe I'm meant to fast completely?! 

Already haven't been eating much ~ 

and I am not even half way through my trip.... 

By the way, the message I feel to give tomorrow is mostly around a parable - 
comparing us with a pencil 
(thanks Elizabeth!)

One of the points of the message is that in life, we will undergo painful sharpenings, 
which will only make us better.

 I was just going to write down this verse in James 1, 2-4 when I felt something in my mouth that wasn't right:

Dear brothers and sisters,
when troubles come your way
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that if your faith is tested,
your endurance has a chance to grow..
So let it grow...

Yeeehaw!


On another note, I spent a good part of the day today with the group of

Orphans kNOw More-kids

who are preparing for the upcoming ministry/fundraising trip to Europe.
I couldn't believe HOW MUCH the dances that the kids are preparing remind me of Tahitian dances! 

Unbelievable! 

I almost found myself transported back 20 years
(when we took a team of Tahitians to Europe)

It's gonna be amazing! 

It was hard not to say anything about the trip to the kids 
(12 of them, ages 9-17), 

especially when one of the girls asked me at the end: 

"When am I going to see you again?"

I just said, "I'm sure we'll see each other again!"

She wasn't so sure at all - mentioning that she doesn't even have email...
 
 All going well, she's gonna see me again in Germany in August, but  shhhhhh...

The kids don't know yet that they'll be going to Europe - the leaders didn't want to tell them until May or so, otherwise they'd be way too excited to concentrate on their school work. 
(good thing they're neither on fb nor reading my blog!)

So today, they just thought that this "Mzungu vista" (white visitor) was watching their practice.

And I was thoroughly enjoying it!!!

By the way, I was told by the leader that one of the youth had a vision or dream in December that he was going to take a plane... (and almost left his bag behind)

Isn't that amazing?
I guess God himself gave the secret away... kind-of 
(the boy still doesn't know he'll actually be taking a plane, 
and when time comes, I'm sure he'll be extra-careful not to forget his bag...)

God must've had fun with that one - can just see the smile on his face!



Anyways, would appreciate your prayers about this tooth thing, 

also that I would sleep well (still waking up way too early)

and then be God's toothless mouthpiece tomorrow as I preach.

HAHA!

I really need HIS help and anointing to bring "fresh bread" to the hungry people!
So far, he's been really faithful every time I've had to share without much prep time.
So I'm leaning strongly on HIM.

Will have to go see a dentist asap.
Seems there's a good one in Kampala
(thanks Danielle!)

Just a hassle - a "trouble" that I will do my best to consider as

an opportunity for GREAT JOY!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 5 - OH the JOY!

Oh Africa, how I love you!!!

Have been enjoying listening to BEAUTIFUL African worship in the distance here on the YWAM base ~ soooo good!

Today would've been the BEST DAY of the year for me - so far 
(who knows what else is coming... the year's just started... haha)

It was a VERY full day today with non-stop meetings all day.

So - the BEST part?

I can barely write this without loosing it... tears coming already...

It seemed harmless enough:

A meeting had been scheduled with the "Women of Hope", the group of women whose children we are trying to find sponsors for so they can go to school.

I had already met a number of them on my 2 previous visits, some of them in their homes, 
most of them during a day of Prayer and Fasting - and also a HIV support group.

I was supposed to explain to them how the sponsorships will work, so that they understand.

Simple enough.

I was completely taken by surprise by their welcome and the whole atmosphere of the meeting!
It was such a HUGE CONTRAST to yesterday's meeting!

OH - the JOY - and CELEBRATION - and HOPE in their eyes and spirits!!!

Even though the promised sponsorships will only help less than half of them -

and then only be for one of their (on average 5) children

and they still have VERY CHALLENGING circumstances and many problems

~ YET ~

Their exuberance and DEEP gratitude touched and humbled me HUGELY!

I had to fight the tears back the whole meeting.

PEOPLE, you have NO idea HOW MUCH it means to these precious ones in extreme poverty to receive a small answer to their prayers (3 years for many of them)

To feel that they are NOT FORGOTTEN

LOVED

CARED FOR by SOMEBODY other than the invisible God

somebody with flesh and blood

who sacrifices a little bit of their abundance

so that they can have 1 child go to school

and have HOPE for a better future!

WOW ~ WOW ~ WOW!!!

I will never forget this day - their faces and smiles will FOREVER be etched in my mind -
 and no, I didn't take photos again (though I did film some of their singing/dancing)! 
Photos just wouldn't do justice!

I feel so incredibly privileged and blessed to have been able to be the bearer of

GOOD NEWS!
(of course they already knew, but my presence and explanation today made it "official" for them)

I dare dream that yesterday's group may experience the same thing

one day - 

hopefully sooner than 3 years from now!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 4 - What.A.Day!

After sleeping in - finally - until just after 5am - (thanks for the prayers!) - and a leisurely beginning of the day, great time with God, first skype call home (great to see some of the family!!!), we had a meeting from 9am-4pm, with just a short lunch break.

Not exactly my idea of fun, but necessary and very - very good!

Then -
  • looking at the beehive that was donated for honey production
  • visiting one of the grandmothers in the HIV+ program
  • driving to Jinja with one of the YWAM leaders
  • taking the public transport for a while
  • scary adventurous ride on the back of a motorcycle - boda-boda, as they call them here (giving me a new appreciation for what our staff are doing all the time) I wasn't even asked if I was comfortable with this, it was just so normal for them and I was coming with them - very bumpy ride... oh my - thank you, Lord, for your protection!
  • arrived at a small piece of land in a village where 30 women had gathered - waiting for the 3 of us to minister to them - hey, we were only one hour late...
And this is where I need to stop with the bullet points.

After giving them some good news (according to Isaiah 61 - though this was not the passage I used) and praying for several, I started hearing some of their stories.

It was - once again - heart-breaking!

These women only started getting together weekly about a month ago. First there were very few, but now 30+.
So hungry for friendship, God, encouragement and a great response to the invitation of JESUS to start a new LIFE with HIM!!

But - oh - their stories...

Just a few examples - and I really couldn't make myself take ANY photos at all - it would've made me feel like I was just "using" them and it felt so not right.

Such beautiful, yet beat-up women!

Not sure about the exact percentage, but a good number of them are HIV+.
One HIV+ grandmother was sharing how she had numerous sicknesses in her body. I was later told that she is taking care of 2 orphaned grand-children, very poor.

Then a tall woman asked for prayer so that she could find a job or some way to make money.
She is a single (or widowed, not sure) mother with 7 children and no support.
She's got stomach ulcers, chest pain, fibroids and something else I forgot.

One young woman asked for prayer for her 5-month-old sick baby, who looked like a 1-month-old.

I forgot some of the others - my brain is shutting down...

A young woman with a beautiful smile stood out to me. She is in the last month of pregnancy, without ANY clothes or other necessities for the baby (I was told later). She has a partner but he doesn't care for her, the baby and their 5-year-old, who she is not able to send to school for lack of money.

Walking to my friend's home after the meeting (good work-out after sitting most of the day!), I found out more stories.
One 14-year-old gave birth last week. She also had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for the baby.
My friend helped her out with her own limited finances and was able to get her a few things, including a mattress so she wouldn't have to sleep on the hard floor with her new-born...

There is so much pain and extreme need - and such an appreciation for a little love and encouragement.
It just broke my heart all over - and made the many hours of meetings in the last couple of days (and another one tomorrow) SO worth it!

Bringing help to these women isn't romantic in the least - it's dirty, dusty, tiring and sometimes plain hard work, but that's just fine with me. No romantic side to the cross either...

If we can just come alongside this beautiful ministry and bring some practical answers to the cries of these precious women, loved by God, so very valuable, it is worth it!

Many of them are opening their hearts to HEALER and RESTORER, COMFORTER and PROVIDER - BEAUTIFUL JESUS!!!

Last week, as they were being taught about forgiveness, many said, "How can we forgive?"
There is so much injustice and pain - and YET, the key to their freedom is forgiveness.

Anyways, after finally getting home (missed dinner at the base), showering off a  load of red dirt and hand-washing the clothes of the day, it is time for bed now.

FOREVER GRATEFUL for the goodness, mercy and faithfulness of God!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 3

It's been a great day - mostly in meetings with YWAM leaders for the project in the villages!
Too tired to write more. 
Please pray that I will be able to sleep longer than 3:30am tonight so I don't feel like a zombie at 7pm....
So grateful to be here - keep thinking that I wouldn't mind living here... haha!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 2

Once again, I'm sitting in complete darkness under my mosquito net  in the early hours of the morning. Have already been awake for a couple of hours.

Isn't technology amazing? Here, we have no electricity, running water or proper toilet 
(and newspaper for toilet paper), 
but I can be connected to YOU via a mobile internet stick I got after I arrived at the airport.
AMAZING!!!

Had a good time yesterday, ministering to Remmie, spending some more time with the kids and a smooth drive to Jinja, during which I got to hear LOTS more about the healthy kind of community development and also learned more about the African culture! WOW!!! What incredible people the Lord is allowing me to partner with! Such a rich well of wisdom, knowledge and experience.

So true how much of the charitable work that's been done in Africa over the years has been ineffective at best and harmful at worst - quite sobering. Hand-outs are the worst, as they stifle the people's motivation and even rob them of their dignity and JOY of being able to do something to better their own circumstances! (of course, there IS need of help, but it's gotta be done right)
Am just pondering a comment Fred made:

"If a community exists - however poor and desperate it is - they must be doing SOMETHING right, otherwise they would not exist. So our job is to find out what they are doing right and help them do it better."

Hmmmmmm....... true!

On another note - my heart was once again deeply touched by what I found out at the Baby Home yesterday:

Remember what I wrote yesterday about the 3-year-old twins who called me Mom and wanted me to pick them up?

Well, the back-ground for this is:

2 weeks ago, an American couple arrived at the Baby Home to pick up twins that they are adopting.
They (and I) are/were staying at the same guest house right next to the Baby Home.

As the purpose of the Baby Home is to get all the children adopted out, this is something the children are familiar with, and most often they get adopted by Americans or Europeans.

As a matter of fact, when I was visiting 5 months ago, I was told that only 1 of the children was being pursued for adoption.

Now, I heard that quite a number of them either have been or are in the process of being adopted out.
What an answer to prayer!!!

The little children of our church (5 and under) have adopted all the children in prayer and their main prayer request has been for these children to find forever families.

So - it's a wonderful answer to prayer that these adoptions are in the pipeline - and this particular one actually happening!!

I was told that the 2-year-old twin (boy) went straight to his new adoptive Dad after they had arrived (and he had been told before that his and his sister's parents were coming to take them home) and told him, "I want to go with you - on an airplane".

So amazing that even the little 2-year-olds KNOW that some children will be chosen, get parents and then leave.

The adoptive mother told me that later that day, one of the twin girls came to her and pointed to the guest-house, confidently saying, "My mom will come next!"

So - guess who the next Muzungu (white person) was that came???

Yup - guessed it!

Now I understand why this same girl was so sure that I was her Mom - 
and her twin sister was right behind and joined in.

OH.MY.GOODNESS!


I felt like my heart was going to break all over again...

No wonder that her eyes got soooo sad-looking when I also picked up baby Elizabeth.
She was not only jealous, she had understood that once again - she wasn't picked

and still had no Mommy....
That's her - Nakato holding the cuddly and photo she just received from her prayer sponsor in New Zealand

I can't even begin to imagine what was going on in her little heart.

And Remmie told me later that, yes, it is VERY hard for the remaining children every time one gets adopted and not them.

These 3-year-old twin girls are absolutely adorable and I would scoop them up in a minute.
But it is not to be.

twin sister Babiyre as she receives her cuddly

As a matter of fact, they are not even adoptable, as their parents are still alive.
And that's a whole other post - - - so many "orphans" in orphanages that still have parents...
But they stay in the orphanage year after year without ANY interest from either parents or extended family.


'Nuf said - it's 6am, the rooster is crowing (has been for hours, haha), the family's getting up - even though it's still pitch-dark.

Today, 3 days of meetings will start with the YWAM leaders about the project

Hope In Villages+

Please continue to pray for me - strength (don't know why can't sleep after 3:30am, even with sleeping pills that normally work), protection (saw my first snake yesterday just as I arrived. It was in the house I am staying at...), wisdom and constructive, fruitful meetings so that we can lay the foundation that needs to be laid for this new partnership between the local YWAMers and our church in New Zealand.


Thanks heaps! Lots of love to each one of you following along on my journey! Really appreciate your on-going prayers!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stark Contrasts!

Ok, this might be overload of blog posts - but who knows when I'll get on the internet again...

When I was feeding baby Elizabeth last night, I almost couldn't handle the contrast.

I've got to correct myself from last night's post: she's 10 months old, not 9.

The exact age of my grandson Gideon.

Just a few hours between me holding him, feeding him, playing with him

And now (trying to) do the same with Elizabeth.

OH, the contrast!!!

Gideon is full of life, smiles, spunk, sounds, loved to the max by not only his parents but his extended family. He's crawling, standing, close to walking (don't you dare take your first step, Gideon, until I'm back!). He eats just about the same food we do, drinks his milk bottles like a champ - 
and weighs 3 times as much as Elizabeth!


What I fed Elizabeth last night, was a tiny bit of watery broth/soup with a little fruit juice.
I was told she hardly eats, and doesn't take the bottle, doesn't drink milk.

Elizabeth is lethargic and can't hold her head up yet, but look - she grabbed my necklace! That's more than what she did 5 months ago!
And all I could think of is this quote I read a while back:

"Where you live shouldn't decide IF you live."

Don't get me wrong. Elizabeth lives and I do believe that she has a bright future ahead of her.
But had Remmie (see article in last post) not stepped up and been willing to face MANY challenges because of it (she's also had to stay with Elizabeth in the hospital LOTS lately, on top of running the home),

Elizabeth wouldn't be here today.

This is just what it WILL take for us Christ-followers to be HIS hands and feet in this hurting world!
Taking a step of obedience and faith and going beyond ourselves and our comfort zone,
holding on to GOD for all we're worth
and then persevering when we feel like we can't do it...

There are more "Remmies" out here - and I'll get to meet some as I move on today!

When I was at Dubai airport, lugging around my 7kg hand-luggage and a heavy backback for a couple of hours (I maxed out on every kg I was allowed to take), I noticed that some people had small carts carrying their hand-luggage - and I thought, heck, why don't I get one of those? And I did manage to find one. What a difference!

The weight of my stuff hadn't changed a bit, and I was still the one "carrying" it.
But because of the carts with 4 wheels, I hardly felt the weight.
I just pushed it along and it was a breeze, whereas before it was getting heavy and tiring.

Part of my mission is to encourage the "Remmies", the ones who do the hard nine yards, caring for the orphans under VERY challenging circumstances and with often very little support.

I feel like God's calling me to provide such carts  -  some "wheels" to make the burden lighter for these precious ones - through:

Friendship 
Encouragement
(lots of emails have been going back and forth since my last visit)
Prayer
Visits 
(Remmie was SO THRILLED when she found out I was visiting again)

And obviously practical and financial help 
(I haven't been able to do much of that for Remmie yet)

If she had more money, she could hire more local Mamas to care for the kids, which is a real need and even better than ever-changing volunteers that the kids bond with just to loose them again.
She could also get some new clothes - and cloth diapers (the kids are "wet" most of the time)
She could also get them fresh veggies and fruit.

Oh well, enough rambling - the day is starting - and I'm gonna sign off to have some time with
JESUS!!!

Thanks for your prayers as this is a big day - including a 4-hour drive to my next destination - and I haven't slept much.

Stirred up!

Something I just wrote on facebook - (for those who are not on fb)
Sitting in the dark - under my mosquito net - in the early hours of the morning. 
Jet-lag, I guess, although I took sleeping pills to help. Only worked for a few hours...

I am just SO stirred up about the things I've already heard and seen and felt in just the few hours I've been here...

More than EVER convinced that babies/children NEED to be in a FAMILY!!!!! 
Can't get the sad eyes out of my mind of one of them when I also picked up a baby (still keeping her on my lap, too). The director of the orphanage told me she was jealous... awwww... 
the kids eyes.... speak of emptyness, sadness - even though they know of Jesus, but WHERE ARE JESUS' HANDS on this earth? In this place???

WHO will embrace these orphans and bring them HOME, just like God embraced us and made us HIS CHILDREN?
Adoption is the very CORE of the Gospel!!! (I know, nobody from NZ is allowed to adopt from Africa, so don't think I'm going that way myself, cuz I can't - though would if I could...)
And here is an article that was just recently written in the newspaper about the Baby Home.
"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread."
Mother Teresa

Back in Uganda!

After an uneventful 38-hour trip on 4 planes (and a bus), I finally arrived back in my beloved Uganda!

What warm fuzzies once again as I touched African ground.... LOVE IT!!!

Just like last trip, the promised ride from the airport wasn't there,
but I was half expecting it not surprised and just ended up taking a taxi to the Baby Home where I'm staying tonight.

Right away - there were babies/toddlers everywhere....

... and I was in my element!

Playing, singing, holding, cuddling, feeding them - just loving on them.
It was full-on, even helped getting them ready for bed after their (cold) baths

The cutest 3-year-old twin girls both called me "Mom" and wanted me to pick them up...

To say this has been an emotional afternoon/evening is an understatement.

The place I'm staying at (just one night) is a bit adventurous again  -
but before I head off to bed, here are some photos.

THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH if you've prayed for my trip!
It couldn't have been smoother and I was able to sleep enough to keep me sane (until now).

flying over Ethiopia - it's so dry and brown everywhere

This is UGANDA - nice and green with Lake Victoria!

With the same baby that I loved on for 2 hours on the last day of my last trip - she's 9 months old now - and still only weighs 3.5kg

she was still just as sad - didn't smile at all - she's been very sick and in and out of the hospital because of early malnourishment and abandonment. There is a couple that is pursuing adopting her, which is great! She really needs a family and one-on-one care! She was cold, even wearing warm clothes... Shayden, keep up the prayers for baby Elizabeth!

the toddlers' dinner - and on the left you can see the pile of clothes that the kids will put on after their baths - just pick and choose whatever fits - quite holy hole-y clothes...

another lil one that's sick a lot - I think she's 1 1/2

cutie - on the right you see the tub the kids get bathed in

Bed-time: no stories, songs, prayers, tucking in - they just get laid down and that's it!

the kids are well cared-for, but there are so few caregivers and they don't get much individual attention -  there's just nothing like a family!


'Night!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Short update

Just a short update about my upcoming Uganda-trip!

I am deeply humbled and completely in awe of God - once again - how HE orchestrated the provision for this trip! Nothing short of A-MAZING!!!!

Besides the JOY of the provision
(in two weeks from ZERO to everything covered, with gifts from 5 nations!),
this week has been challenging -
with sickness once more attacking pretty much the whole family - and some other time-stealers.

 But we'll get there - by HIS grace and hopefully not completely exhausted before the 36hour trip - hehe!

2 more days...

Just something cute I just have to share:

Yesterday as we were having dinner, Jeremie joined us
(he doesn't live at home any more but comes every so often).

I don't know why, but at some point, Jeremie gave his wallet to Shayden.

As Shayden was looking through it, he came across Jeremie's drivers license.

He was very interested in it and asked Jeremie:

"Did you get married last week?"

After we all had a good laugh at this random question, we asked him:

"What's "married" mean?

After thinking about it for a little while, he declared:

"It's being happy!"

What a little entertainer this boy is - sure getting us our dose of laughter!

And he's pretty smart, too - knows his stuff!

Every day, he repeats after me:

"I am loved.

I am clever (NZ version of smart).

I am handsome."

Sometimes he interjects:

"I am a singing bridge" (from Dora the explorer - a bridge singing silly songs)

Silly boy, that's for sure!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."

Mother Teresa

I was struck by this quote this morning...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Saw this yesterday...

... and thought I'd share.

Kinda expresses what I'm feeling/thinking...



My "flesh" would prefer just staying home instead of embarking on another long trip to Uganda  - alone (sadly, my friend is not going to be able to come).

It would be SO MUCH easier just to
  • stay put at home and take good care of my family, 
  • have my house in order
  • spend lots of time with my precious grand-son, 
  • not need to take another 9 weeks of antibiotics (malaria meds) - 
  • and all kinds of risks... (not to mention the finances or lack thereof)
  • Avoid looooooong travel, cold showers, 
  • long days, short nights - like right now... :)

YET, it's not about me, my comfort nor my security.

I WILL follow the call I'm hearing in my heart - and I'm going.

Here am I, Lord - send me!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Have I mentioned...

... that I LOVE being a Grandma?!!!

I don't get to spend as much quality time with Gideon as I would like to, 
but this morning I got a special treat:

I was signed up to take care of the babies at our church nursery.

And for most of the service, I only had Gideon.

Oh, how enjoyed that little one-on-one time with this precious, cute lil boy!!!





I LOVE YOU, GIDEON!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hope In Villages+

Have a look at the video that we showed at our church to introduce the ministry

Hope In Villages+

Just 3 minutes ~ ~ ~

The response was very encouraging and more than 30 people signed up in early December to sponsor a child. 

Commitments were also made for income generating businesses.


As money is starting to flow - and has already caused tears of joy in Uganda - it is necessary to build a solid foundation to make sure this partnership is on solid ground with all the details figured out!
 
I will also need to take more photos of children and get some basic information for the sponsors.

When I presented the project I had only received 16 profiles from Uganda. The person who was able to email me the photos and info had to leave the country (because of a family death).
Soooo ~ ~ ~ somebody else will need to be trained up.
A digital camera has already been donated that I can then leave there.

Anyways, enough of the rambling...

Here it is:
(put together by our church's graphic artist with photos I brought back)




By the way, I just found out today that the children in the last photo of the video clip 
(the ones taken care of by their grandmother) are now in an orphanage.
Not sure how I feel about that.
Orphanages are better than no help at all, for sure - but how much better if children can stay with family members in their community
... so sad...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mission (im)POSSIBLE!

Ready to read about an incredible testimony of God's provision?

Rewind to August 2011
Our family was in  a campground in Connecticut at the end of our USA-trip.

By the way, we bought this caravan/tent (with a friend's help) and shipped it to New Zealand to sell here. The sale was meant to cover some of our travel costs (as they sell for more in NZ). Our challenge right now: We need to sell it!!!


It was the day before my scheduled departure from New York for Uganda.


We had payed my ticket with a credit card and were still missing 1/3 to pay it off.

Then, Rich told me that he was very sorry but he was not going to be able to give me even one dollar for my 3-week-trip (by myself) - just cuz our accounts were at zero, nada, nooch...

Great! 

Talk about a freaky fascinating faith-challenge!

Shortly before leaving the campground for the airport, I thought I'd check my emails quickly.

And - suprise of surprises: There was an email from somebody in Germany who had put a large gift onto an account that we hardly use (and didn't check during our whole trip).

The money had been sitting in that account for 2 months!!!!
And it was a good thing we didn't know it, because we would have spent it on our trip.

So, our mountain-moving, awe-inspiring , super-caring and loving God had provided all along!

The provision was just "hidden" from us - for good reason!

You can't imagine HOW ECSTATIC I was when I read that email!!!

  Not only were all my travel expenses covered, but I was able to invest more than half of the gift in Uganda! YAY!! God had once again come through – so faithfully!

As much as I don't like this last-minute provision, it seems to be a pattern in our family's adventures with God...
My time in Uganda was absolutely AMAZING and surpassed all my expectations!


On February 19th - just a little over 2 weeks away
I will be traveling to Uganda once again.

God has led me to partner with local people making a difference for orphans and widows. 
And it is necessary for these projects that we sit down face to face, talk and pray together and do all the things that you just can't do with email or phone calls.

One of them is the upcoming trip to Europe with the ex-orphans of the "Orphans Know More" network.

The main one is the project our church Changepoint has taken on:

(go to the very bottom of the post - video coming soon)

and a couple more

So, once again, I am in that freaky fascinating place of praying and trusting God to bring the provision out of "hiding" - SOON!

Watch this space!

And if you want to invest to redeem the lives of Ugandan orphans and widows,
here's YOUR CHANCE!  

You can help me get there (and back)
Airfare and visa: just under NZ$3,000, plus ground-costs which I keep at a minimum

YOU ARE MOST WELCOME TO JOIN THE TEAM THROUGH YOUR PRAYERS AND/OR GIFTS!

By the way, I am hoping to go with a friend (not sure yet)
and - feel free to email me at bettsfamily@hotmail.com