Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tuesday August 1 2017

Its 10 pm and i am in for the night. I'm hoping I can sleep better tonight than I have the last 2 nights. Today was a long day...
Sunday we went to the 91four house for a church service. Matt preached an awesome sermon and 2 more girls came to Jesus. We will baptize them in Lake Victoria on Thursday. The way these girls worship is like nothing I have experienced in the US. Their arms raised, eyes closed, some with tears streaming down their cheeks. When they pray ~ its with such conviction and intention. Their faith is so evident.  Jesus, help me to be more like them...

Monday was a day at the bank and for purchasing educational resources for the teachers.

Today was a trip to Katwe and Kisenyi slums. This is where our girls were living before we brought them to the 91four house. This day takes some mental preparation and prayer. For me, it's just something I know I have to do and i know God goes with me. Even if I am hurt or disappear - no matter, He was with me. I have to go for several reasons. First, the tribal leaders need to know that we have not abandoned them like so many others.  We need them to see us and know we still stand with them. Second, we need to do the hard work of remembering where these girls came from and where so many still remain. And lastly, we need to go because nobody else will. There is so much fear surrounding these people that no-one would ever step foot in this place that did not have to. But that is exactly why we have to go. These are human beings that never asked for these circumstances. That did NOTHING to deserve any of this. They are primitive and misunderstood and therefore rejected as ignorant, violent, savages. There are NO - I repeat NO government programs to help them, and they are suffering in ways you and I could NEVER EVER imagine. Raw sewage in their camp, filthy polluted drinking water, half naked sickly children and babies with snotty noses, pus-filled open wounds, covered in flies, protruding bellies. All they want to do is hold your hand and be held but there are so many of them. The women and young girls look absolutely hopeless knowing today will bring more hunger, rape and sickness. They sleep on hard dirt and mud when it rains. Besides a couple pieces of dirty fruit and what looks like old, used wrappers- there is no food in sight. The smell is unbearable and one you can't forget. Today, they sat us down on a piece of wood - the same one I sat on when I met them when I was alone on my first trip there - and told us we were like their family now. It brings tears to my eyes as I write this. We can only say, "God bless you." But they must be thinking, "No, clearly God has acctually blessed YOU." And they are right.  But i believe they will enter the kingdom of heaven and meet Jesus ahead of everyone else because Jesus clearly loves the poor and oppressed. Jesus himself lived in poverty and oppression.   He only had warnings for the rich man. And if you are reading this now, you, like me, are considered rich in this world.
As I was leaving Kisenyi slums today, my toes were covered in mud.  Two small children came up to me and bent down and cleaned the dirt off of my toes. I went there to try and bless them, and they cleaned my feet. Jesus forgive me for not being more of who You call us to be. The life we are living now is not about us - it's about others and we just do not get it. We have no excuses because we have been told. We know what we are supposed to be doing. He made it clear. Obey Him.

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ~ Luke 12:33-34

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday 7/29/17

It's 9 pm sat.  We landed safely in Uganda at 230 pm on Thursday.  We normally arrive in the late evening, so this was a welcome change. Emmanuel and Rachel were there to meet us. It was such a happy moment to finally see them again after 6 long months. Rachel greeted me with a bouquet of flowers- as always. 💐🤗  After they drove us the 1.5 hours to our inn, we had a brief meeting over dinner to plan our stay.  I showered and went to bed by 10. I woke Sat at 730 and had a solid nights sleep. We ate breakfast and then left for the new campus site. When we arrived at the village where the new land is located, there was a funeral gathering at one of the villager's homes. There were hundreds of people everywhere. That is a strange site for a village that is fairly remote but Rachel explained that every local villager is expected to attend the buriel of a fellow villager, whether they want to or not.
Pulling up to the future campus was an awesome feeling. Realizing just how far God has brought this ministry in such a small amount of time humbles me beyond words. The security fence was up and surrounding the entire property.  The iron entry gate was up as well as the guard's station. The well was in and there were many trees already planted.  They planted flowering trees, green trees, mango, orange,  and avocado trees. The beans are planted as well. I can just envision it when it is finished and how beautiful it will be. But...we do not have any money raised for phase 2 yet - so the property will remain as is until we have enough to continue. God willing -  The dormitory and kitchen will be next.  Sometimes we find ourselves worrying - wondering how on earth we will ever be able to accomplish such a task. But then we remember that these are God's  daughters we are trying to clothe, feed and educate and that He loves and cares for them so much more than we do.  And because He is faithful, we can rest in Him.
Matt and I sat up talking to the wee hours of the night, so needless to say - I was exhausted today. Actually that's an understatement. Is there a word that means more than exhausted?  If so, that's what I was. A little better after some African coffee 🤤 and crawling out of my tranquilizer fog after 1.5 cokes.   😕🙃
We finally got to see the girls today. Indescribable moment.  Lots of hugs and, "I've missed you so much."  We gave each girl a letter from her sponsor which brings them each so much joy that it is just sweet to watch. They pour over the letters again and again and do not stop until an adult moves them on to another activity. They treasure these letters because it's the only ones they have ever received and for most of the girls, the words of love and affection are the only ones they have ever heard.  As I sat there and watched them smiling and full of joy and peace, i could not help but to picture them 6 short months ago, on the streets of kampala - so thin due to starvation, weak eyes and expressions, dirty little hands cupped in the air hoping for food or water or money from a passerby.  Today they look so much brighter and healthier. They have joy and hope and it is so evident that they praise God for this gift that was unexpectedly given to them.
They danced and sang for hours and we finally left as it was getting dark.
I'm back at the inn as I write this. I'm eating a dry biscuit and a water for dinner. I shared the lunch table with a cockroach this afternoon until Matt finally decided he was going to remove it. I, of course, did my best to be brave and polite to our guests as to not embarrass anyone. (I did keep saying, "What is that bug," and when noone would answer I finally said, "Yeah, it's a cockroach," and I think I said something like, "Matt, it's coming to get you."  So maybe I didn't actually do my best. 😶
I have fierce jet lag this trip - could be a bit of dehydration. 😴😪
Tomorrow we will have a church service at the project house. Matt has been asked to preach. He is sitting at his computer as I write this preparing his sermon.
I am blessed and I am so grateful to Jesus - our love, our peace, our joy, our redeemer, our saviour.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. 
 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.  ~ Psalm 107: 19-21

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 1: Wednesday 7/26/17

It's 5:00 am. My alarm went off at 1 am and we left the house at 3. I'm sitting in the airport waiting to board. This day is reminiscent of my first trip to africa when i sat alone waiting to board. But fortunately I will be meeting my brother, Matt in Philadelphia to board our next flight together. We will fly from phili to Doha and it will take approx 13 hours. Then Doha to Entebbe which will be about 7 more hours. We will arrive in Africa at 2 pm on Thursday - 7 am US time. I am so excited to see Rachel. I miss her so much in the months we are apart. This trip is for the purposes of visiting the new property and seeing the completion of phase 1. The 5 acres have been leveled, the well and electricity are in, the security fence is up, trees planted, and gardens started. When we return we will begin fundraising for phase 2, which will be building the dormitory to house 100 girls. Currently we can only hold 33. It will also include the building of the kitchen and latrine. When phase 2 is finished, the girls can finally move in. On this trip, we will also get to visit with the girls, and of course we will have numerous business meetings. We fly back on Aug 6th.
Preparing for this trip has been a bit overwhelming. I've been emotionally and physically drained for weeks.  I'm taking some good supplements that my nutritionist suggested and I think they are beginning to help. I also had, what i believe to be, a sinus infection brewing but I am on an antibiotic for malaria prevention, so hopefully that will do it. I'm not sure which is worse - the mental and physical exhaustion I've been under or the emotional. Over the last few years, I am beginning to understand what is meant by spiritual attack.  This is not something that made much sense to me before but when you are actively engaged in His Kingdom work, it can be relentless.  BUT, I know Jesus is with me and will strengthen me to do His will.  I'm not ungrateful for this special mission- I'm so very thankful and blessed.  But this is me being real.  It's not easy work but I would not trade it for anything the world has to offer. Please pray while we are in Uganda. Pray that His Will be accomplished in all things. Not ours. Never ours. Only His.
Just landed in Philadelphia and will be headed to Doha soon. Waiting to meet Matt now.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Friday 2/17/17

We were able to go to the bank today and we were happy to get that official business out of the way. From there we went to the project house to say goodbye to the girls. I don't think they quite understood that today was our last day together. Rachel tried to explain that we were only here for a very short trip this time, and that we would be back soon. It is very hard to explain to them the distance between us. Their whole world has only been the short distance they have traveled to get from the slum or from Karamoja to the house. Nor do they understand airplane travel and the time and expense associated with that. So their faces vary between sadness and confusion as we leave them.
They began a game of ball in a small piece of yard right before we left. The sweet innocence and joy that we witnessed left our hearts full of gratitude. That is the way it should be for all children everywhere - but it's not. Oh, I forgot, they were having this much fun with a sad little deflated ball that they kept trying to blow into as they played. (Just in case you are wondering, we made arragements for a nice new ball to be purchased 😀.)
When the girls profile pictures are taken for the first time, there are no smiles. And when they arrive, there are very few. It is as though they have forgotten how to smile or if they ever did. So to not only see smiles but to hear laughter is a greater joy to me than you can imagine. And so once again, I Praise God for His faithfulness.

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Thursday 2/16/17

Our plan was to go to the bank today with Rachel for business concerning the property, but it was closed for a holiday. So instead we decided to go back to the new land and take another look now that the plans were complete.
Here is a little background of the weather in Uganda. They only have 2 seasons- dry and rainy. We were there during the dry season. The weather will say that there is a chance of rain almost every day but it seldom does actually rain. The last bit of rain they had was about 2 weeks prior to today. Also, I occasionally feel a slight breeze, especially by Lake Victoria or when we are on a high point, but only slight.
We drove about an hour to reach the village where our land is located. As we pulled into the property and opened the car doors, a strong wind (stronger than I've ever experienced in Uganda) blew across the land. Hard enough the the tree limbs were bending. And as we began to walk, raindrops began to come down.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word ruach means "wind," or "breath" - "spirit." And in Biblical times, rain was considered a great blessing from God.  Rachel, Emmanuel, Matt and I all just stood in amazement. I can honestly say that it was something none of us will ever forget.

Deuteronomy 28:8 The LORD will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. 

As in the Old Testament concerning the Israelites, this is our prayer - that God will bless us. We pray that we will always remain obedient to Him as He leads us forward in His work. 

Wednesday 2/15/17

Today we met with our land contractor - all day. We planned and discussed and revised for about 9 hours and we were able to accomplish so much. It is a great deal easier to do something like this in person, than Skype, and of course we realized the extreme importance of meeting and discussing face to face. Once we were finished, we felt that we had thoroughly discussed every detail of every building as well as plans for the remaining land which will not have buildings. There are 5 acres. You will enter through a gate and this will be where a security officer will remain 24 hours a day. The first building will be the classrooms and training center. Then, the latrines and bath house.  The girls dormitory is next, followed by the kitchen. The layout of the above buildings is kind of in an "L" shape.  There will be a chapel to the right as you enter the property. This was very important to me and I had alot of input as to how I wanted it to look. It will hold enough space for not only the girls and staff, but for the local villagers who would like to attend as well. It will have a baptistry in the chapel and be lined with wooden pews. I can't wait to see it finished. The rest of the land will house their chicken coup and a small amount of livestock. There will be a large garden so they can begin growing a portion of their own food.
The entire campus will have a fence around it for safety.
It is going to take a lot of folks coming together to make this dream a reality. We will need to fundraise when we return on a whole new level. We are all joined in prayer that God will move hearts and create in people a passion to join us. This is not just about giving the girls a proper place to live and learn, but also so that the girls who have been left behind due to space limitations, can be brought into the program.
And there is an urgency - because remember that the girls left behind are starving and abused (beaten, raped) daily. For others, time will run out because they will end up kidnapped and trafficked before we can get to them.  None of us would delay if this were our own daughters, grandchildren, sisters, nieces.  It can become difficult to put all of this in that perspective.

Please, if anyone reading this wants to help in any way possible, please go to our website at 91four.org or contact us through facebook or instagram (both found under the name 91four.)  Or, if you know Matt or me, just contact us.
The real truth here is - when you help - you are literally changing a girl's life forever - and quite possibly saving her life.

Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mon 2/13/17 & Tues 2/14/17

It is Wednesday morning here.  I have not posted until now because I only have service when I'm at the Inn and I'm only at the Inn to sleep. And speaking of sleep...when I get home from a very long day here, all I can do is think of sleep. So I am sorry for the delay in writing but I've literally been too exhausted to think. 😪

On Monday morning we were finally able to meet our new girls! There are 27 girls living in the house. 3 are graduates who have remained for additional time, 1 is only 4 years old and 23 are new to the house. We were beyond excited to to see one another, because we had been waiting 6 months. After lots and lots of hugs, we were able to begin spending the rest of the day together. On Sunday I mentioned my friend, Mary Albaugh - founder of Amazing Grace Pillowcase Inc., who has a pillowcase ministry back home. She heard me speak and her heart was moved to help the girls. She asked me if she and her team could make pillowcases for each of the girls, small children and staff who reside in the house  - a total of 32!  A prominent textile company from New York donated the material - Thank you Henry Glass & Co.!!!! 😚😚😚  They say, "Jesus Loves You" on them so that this will be the last thing they see before they close their eyes each night.

I can not begin to explain the happiness and love and amazement that I feel during times like this. The realization that these girls have just started a journey that will forever impact their lives is beyond words. They have lived lives of horror until now and you can sense that they are still uncertain as to how to understand that something this good could have happened. We explain that it is only because of the love of Jesus. He loves them and has sent His children in one place - to help His children in another place. We explain that their sponsors and donors work tirelessly to provide for their needs and that they have a large group of their family in Christ - whom they have never met - praying for them daily. We tell them that distance separates them from their "mommas", "papas", and "friends" now, but that someday they will meet them all and spend eternity with them!  They clap and cheer when they hear this and so do we!! 😄🤗

On Tuesday, Matt and I traveled with Rachel, Emmanuel and Simon (our general contractor here in Uganda) to see the new land we purchased. A few months ago, through the generous donation of others, we were able to purchase 5 acres of land.  It is located in a remote village about 45 minutes east of Kampala on the way towards Jinja.  It is breathtaking and so peaceful. It is close to a trading center so that will be a great benefit.
The purpose of this land is to build a new campus for the girls. Currently they are housed in a single dwelling. They sleep about 8 to a room and train in cramped quarters. The girls obviously do not realize the need for more space because they used to sleep on the ground outside, but we have definitely outgrown our sweet little home. Not only that, but there are so many more girls that have had to remain on the streets due to lack of space. They cry and beg Rachel to bring them too but there isn't any room left...
That brings us to the purchase of this property. Our hope is that we can build a dormitory and classrooms large enough to hold 100 girls.  This land will also be a place where they can grow their own food and house their poultry.  This can only be accomplished with the help of others through donations. It seems like a daunting task, but like I keep telling Matt that I believe, "God's got a ram in the thicket. "  We just have to be faithful in our trust and obedience to Him. These are His daughters so we believe that He will move His children who are in a position to help - to join us. Please pray fervently for His Will to be accomished in this - not ours - His.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.