Pleased to introduce…

I would like you to meet a few special friends of mine:

Gladyse

Sandra

Geoffrey

Geoffrey

Sarah

Winnie

Flavia

William

Kevin

Gladyse, Sandra, Geoffrey, Sarah, Winnie, Flavia, William and Kevin all live in the Kochgoma IDP camp with Robin.  And there are about another 1490 children whom they call friends as well.  I just couldn’t fit them all in this blog post 🙂

I shared last week a little of how God has been teaching me lessons in faith, reminding me that without faith, it is impossible to please Him.  When we visited Gulu in 2006, I desperately wanted to partner with Experito in his ministry there, but I didn’t see how that was possible.  We were committed to the ministry at Nkumba (and still are), so how could we take on any more?

And then recently I read this in CT Studd’s biography:

“There are no “ifs” about faith. The Scripture says, Faith is substance, and the man of faith acts on faith just as if he had the current coin in his pocket.”

Well, if I had the current coin in my pocket, I would SURELY be partnering with Experito in Gulu!  So, what is stopping me?!  Only my lack of faith.

I know Jesus has told me to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked and take care of the sick.  And He’s taught me to say to Him, “Your kingdom come…On earth as it is in Heaven.”  So we move forward as surely as if we had the coin in our pocket.

Experito has shared his plan with the Kochgoma community in Gulu.  It is visionary, and I can’t wait to see the vision become reality!:

The 20-year war is now over and the community needs development. There seems to be little help that trickles in to help alleviate the stinging poverty as well as lack of access to safe and abundant water (an element vital to the ability to thrive). The importance of water to life cannot be overemphasized.  In order for people to obtain water they currently have to trek long distances and queue up for it. This gravely affects the time and energy which would be spent in productive activities that would improve the household incomes.

STRATEGY

Mobilize the community through the church on several development aspects

  • Train the community on water harvesting, storage and sanitation
  • Teach basic nutrition and the importance of protein in a diet
  • Help establish income generating projects
  • Construct simple but decent houses that provide for water harvesting (see picture below)
  • Teach financial literacy

COMMUNITY WORK

The Kochgoma community will:

  • Build and maintain ventilated pit latrines
  • Build poultry houses
  • Make bricks and stones for simple houses as well as install water-catchment gutter systems and construct underground water tanks.
  • Prepare land for food production
  • Keep Honey-Bee Hives and harvest honey
  • Package, label and sell excess honey, fruits and vegetables produced in the community.
  • Establish model schools, vocational institution and university
  • Encourage volunteering

TARGET GROUP

The impoverished, widows, children, elderly members of the church and in the community of Kochgoma

TARGET NUMBERS

1500 children to de-worm
1000 adults to deworm
1,000 houses and underground water tanks to build

SCHEDULE

12th April 2010: Vision casting meeting with church leaders

26th April 2010: Meeting with the community in Kochgoma

28th April 2010: De-worming

1st May 2010: Vision sharing with the Kochgoma community

Receive communication from Morris Okullu(Alfred’s father)

15th May2010:Land preparation for planting of food crops begins

24th -29th May2010: Construction of poultry house

BUDGET

$2000     One home with iron sheet roofing.  The family makes about 3000 bricks and provides all labor.  We partner with them to provide other building materials. The home’s iron sheet roofing most importantly provides for the rain-water harvesting (common in Uganda).  This is the key to their water supply.  Additionally, the roof is safe and sturdy, unlike the thatched roofs that nest scorpions and other bugs (imagine laying your sleeping infant down to sleep and not knowing what creepy-crawly thing might fall on them from above) and need to be replaced every year or so.

$10       One laying hen or one meat chicken (used to reproduce more chickens and provide sustainable food)

$            One Gardening Package: Seeds, Hoe, Panga and Axe

$50       One Honey-Bee Hive

A simple but decent home with iron sheet roofing that provides for water harvesting. Right now, this is the "mansion" in Kochgoma. It is the ONLY home in Kochgoma with iron sheet roofing.

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Alfred's little brother

shared by Experito Bulamu and Cindy May

After visiting the pond where Alfred fetched his water, we went to visit Alfred’s mother and family at the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp. We found Robin, Alfred’s younger brother, and the other kids without anybody attending to them in the camp as their mothers had gone to queue for relief food.

When I (Cindy) inquired about Robin’s health, Experito answered:

Robin is plagued by the worms and malnutrition.The place is in dire lack of what can be used to de-worm kids let alone the medical personnel to help. Their nearer source of water was the bore hole (well) which broke down in January 2009 and it has not yet been repaired.  People have to go these days to different streams and gather the dirty water which has collected after the rains. These streams are not even near. Alfred told me they are the only ones with a toilet (pit latrine) in the whole village. This means that  rains wash down the fecal waste into the streams and pollute the water which they use!

So, you ask, how much is de-worming and supplemental decent nutrition?!  Unbelievable:

De-worming is 75 cents and needs to be done twice a year. Adding an egg a day to Robin’s diet will cost $3.50/ a month. And repairing the boreholes?  (Four are in need of repair) About $125 each.

“These IDP camps (in northern Uganda) were supposed to be safe harbors where people could live protected from Kony’s atrocities, but in these camps adults and children are subjected to the most unhygienic conditions possible…Such a disturbance in God’s creation is intolerable.” ~From the Dust by Kefa Sempangi

Several years ago, a friend handed me a copy of a DVD titled “The Invisible Children.”  She insisted I watch it.  I’m so glad she did, as we met Experito and Alfred as a result. I’d like to pass it along to you and invite you to watch it as well.  This film provides amazing insight into the devastation and horror that birthed these IDP camps. Below is a description of the film, and a link to watch “The Invisible Children” online.

In the spring of 2003, three young Americans traveled to Africa. What they found was a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them. A story where children are weapons and children are the victims. The “Invisible Children: rough cut” film exposes the effects of a 20 year-long war on the children of Northern Uganda. These children live in fear of abduction by rebel soldiers, and are being forced to fight as a part of violent army. This wonderfully reckless documentary is fast paced, with an MTV beat, and is something truly unique. To see Africa through young eyes is humorous and heart breaking, quick and informative – all in the very same breath. See this film, you will be forever changed.

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Alfred

shared by Cindy May

I should have taken a picture of Pastor Experito’s bags before he left.  They were chock full of everything that was on the wish list, and then some.  He was stuffing things in all his pockets because they don’t weigh the passengers!

If you don’t know Pastor Experito yet, he and his wife Justine live in Gulu, about 5 hours north of Nkumba.  He is an evangelist filled with the joy of the Lord, and it’s impossible to be around him more than a few seconds without being greeted by his large and welcoming smile.

I’ve been in regular e-mail contact with him since he arrived home, and have been peppering him with questions– one that elicited this honest response:

I was just crying when I came from America where I could enjoy  bath in a bath tab. Justine went to look for water came back late yesterday and the water container could not carry water that can be enough for cooking and bathing for all of us. The challenge of water is too big.

My heart broke reading that.  The good news is that enough has come into the general fund recently, that RTP was able to send him $800 for a water catchment tank.  This will collect rain water so that Justine doesn’t have to walk 4 km round trip to haul water back to their home.  If you didn’t see the picture of the water hole where he and Justine collect water, you can see it here.

All of this led me to think about Alfred.

In 2006, when Frank and I met Experito, we also met a young boy named Alfred.  He was just this amazing 11-year old kid who, despite a very traumatic life (his father had been abducted by the LRA) had a cheerful disposition and could quote Scripture left and right.  He and Frank took an immediate liking to each other, but at the end of the day, they parted ways.

Later that night, we decided to hang out at one of the night shelters. Turned away by two of the shelters for security reasons, we arrived at the third night shelter. We had seen hundreds if not thousands of children that day, so you can imagine our surprise at the third night shelter when Alfred walked up. As one of the invisible children, Alfred used to walk long distances into Gulu to sleep at night (for safety and space purposes.)

The next morning was Sunday, and we were off to church with Experito.  Part-way through the service, in wandered Alfred, who plunked himself in Frank’s lap. It was partly affection, and partly to keep his feet out of the 1/2 foot of rain-water that was collecting around our chairs on the floor under the tent-enclosure.

After we left Uganda, we worked with Experito to help Alfred attend school, but had very little contact with Alfred otherwise.

Then in 2008, Experito gave us this picture:

It hung on my wall over my desk.

Alfred’s charming smile had disappeared.  I finally asked Experito about him just last month.  My question was: “Is he happy?”  I know Ugandans don’t always smile for the camera.  Experito’s answer was pretty simple. “No.”  He explained to me the obvious: life in the IDP camps is pretty desperate, hope a vapor and despair epidemic.

In retrospect, I can’t believe it took me two years to ask that question or to think about what we might do to help Alfred further.  I think, well, I know, I was feeling overwhelmed by other needs and reasoned that I couldn’t do everything, so I just put it out of my mind.  Recently, I have been reminded that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb 11:6)

My eyes had shifted from Him and what He could do to what I could do by myself.  But I do not believe that God will give me the opportunity to do what I can handle. I believe He will give me the opportunity to do what HE alone can handle…the impossible.

God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible – what a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.” — A.W. Tozer

We discussed several different ideas, and Experito went home with money for a pair of shoes for Alfred. He wrote: “It is not always difficult to have Alfred smile.This is one of those moments you could see it is a smile from the depth of the heart.”

After Experito gave Alfred his shoes, Alfred then guided Experito and Justine to the place where he fetches water–new shoes and all.  Although the small, dirty pond looks very similar to the place where Experito and Justine get their water, this is actually a different small, dirty pond.  “Alfred’s family set up camp as close to a seasonal stream of water as possible. To reach the stream you have to walk through a bush for one mile.This journey in search of this dirty water makes you to meet several snakes like we did. Justine who is so unfriendly to even a mere mention of the word snake had a hard time as we met several of the poisonous reptiles to and from the stream.

I talked to Alfred’s dad (returned by the LRA) on how to make the family access abundant water. We discussed several things and will install a water catchment system and dig a valley concrete water tank so as to harvest and store the rain water from the house.  He says he is ready and willing to make bricks, aggregate and sand to enable us to at least construct them a big water tank which could store about 100,000 litres of water (26,420 gallons–enough water for 80 people for a month.) This will be a great leap for this village and will be a beach head for other activities. I told him that we shall work together to achieve this goal. He told me that I will at least get a report from him by May on how far he will have gone.” ~Experito

Water is Life:

What I have discovered in my travels to more than 40 countries with World Vision is that almost all poverty is fundamentally the result of a lack of options.  It is not that the poor are lazier, less intelligent, or unwilling to make efforts to change their condition.  Rather, it is that they are trapped by circumstances beyond their power to change…

Imagine that the water you fetched from the lake was teeming with deadly bacteria, parasites, and waterborne diseases–that are literally killing you.  A child dies every 15 seconds of a waterborne disease.  This creates a no-win situation for millions of parents in our world today–they can watch helplessly as their children die for lack of water, or they can watch them die from diarrhea, because the only water they have is tainted.

Tragically, living without water has even more dimensions.  Thousands of hours are lost seeking and hauling water…These are hours that could be spent earning an income or contributing to the well-being of the family and community.

If you take away (my) water and sanitation, you take away my health and that of my children.  If you take away my health, you have taken away my energy and my industry. If you take away my energy and ability to support my family, you have taken away my dignity; and if you take away my dignity, you have taken away hope–for the future, for my children, for a better life.  This is the harsh reality of the more than one billion people in the world who live without access to clean, safe water.

In Africa, they don’t say that water is important to their lives; they say that water is life. The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision

For dozens of people, including Alfred, this $2000 water tank will begin the process of stepping out of poverty and into hope.  And the love we give in helping relieve people from the bondage of poverty opens the door to their understanding of God’s love.

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Cute little Chickies

shared by John Mugabi

I would on the behalf of everyone here like to say a big thank you for all your efforts towards us here. A few weeks ago, we experienced yet another turning point in our ministry as 400 chickens (laying hens) came in. All of us were extremely happy and excited.

The next week, another 400 chickens (meat chickens) followed. And we have ordered another 250 laying hens. We plan on multiplying the meat chickens up to 2500.  We are growing and so happy to feed the children and prisoners. By this we have now included a department of birds and animals. Remember we now have almost over 80 goats, and then the first two cows are coming this year.

God willing Moses Babu, one of our hard working boys, is very soon going to exchange his his six goats into a calf.

We now have 6 full time staff at the farms!!!  Three of these men are ex-prisoners.
Next term we are going to save $2000 for we had a very good harvest this season.

May our Good Lord bless you,
God loves you and so do we,
Brother John Mugabi

Matthew 25:35  For I was hungry and you gave me food…


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new normal

I was reading a friend’s blog today, and thought I would share it here.  What God is doing in and through Tonya is inspiring.  She became a Christian 4 years ago and is preparing to move to Africa this summer.  I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from her!

new normal.

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as he did.” -1 John 2:6

Friday night I picked up a pastor that we are partnering with from Gulu, Uganda to take him to our Radical Small Group. The first thing he said when we got in my SUV was “nice truck”. I felt like he punched me in the stomach. This is when you know your heart is changing. Do you ever remember being excited about having a nice, new vehicle and smiling when people would notice?!? I certainly do. Not so much today.

While we were driving along, we passed not one, but two, massive U-Haul storage centers with fleets of trucks sitting outside. He asked what that was for and I proceeded to tell him that here, in America, when we have too much stuff to fit into our homes, we pay money to place it in a facility such as this. I realized what I had just said and felt punched yet again. Double punch.. I have one. He asked about the trucks. Yup, we use them to move our many things from one home to another. He mentioned how if only he had one of those trucks that are just sitting there in Gulu they could transport food. Turns out they have a piece of land that produces some food but it is 30 miles away. He has no vehicle. Are you getting the picture? If not, it looks like this.

He shared his testimony with our group. To say this man is a messenger of the Lord is an understatement. But that is another story in itself. There was a point toward the end where he was talking about how he had no appetite due to the things he saw and experienced. He began explaining all the things we have heard before; begging children who haven’t eaten for days, mother’s nursing naked babies who were so famished there was certainly no milk in their breasts, children who have never before slept on a mattress, let alone had a blanket. I began to feel sick, like I was going to vomit. I couldn’t believe that I could eat in my abundance when I knew what I knew, and have seen what I’ve seen. How could I still have an appetite when this man who has little to nothing himself can’t eat at the mention of such atrocities? He spoke on James chapter 5, and how he never wanted to have anything that would testify against him. I am feeling pretty beat up now, as I am certain he just slugged me in my gut once more. The Holy Spirit that is. I felt utterly and completely convicted of the things I am holding onto that will no doubt be used against me. I began weeping inside. How could this..

be more important than this?

..or this?

Here he is fetching his water far from his home. DO YOU SEE THAT?

As he was speaking I could not get these images out of my head, and I began to think to myself how… HOW could I send this man back to that water as I sit here watching my TV and going on with my normal? I was now shaking, crying, trying not to throw up, and most importantly, completely convicted like never before. I am so thankful to God for changing me in this moment, because it was then that I understood the difference between worldly and heavenly, I mean really understood it, and understood with my whole heart where I want to store up my treasure. It was then that I realized I had to act immediately.

To add to that, our group leader then told us all of how our adopted pastor in Kenya had sent her an email the day before because there was no more food and they were hungry. His family and 20 orphans have no food. NO FOOD. Here they are, just so that you can see they are real; real people and real children with real dreams……… starving.

I know this is uncomfortable, and that many of you are thinking right now that the Lord would not ask you to give up your TV, or that I am being legalistic in my interpretation of scripture. My response to that is the poor, and what we should do for them, is mentioned 178 times in my bible and is absolutely not to be ignored. So many times I hear people say they don’t know what to do to make a difference. I don’t think it’s that we don’t know, it’s that we are not willing to act. We are not willing to truly sacrifice our comfort for another in need. Our normal is so ingrained into us that we don’t even understand that our very worst here is their very best- a very best that they cannot even imagine. And so I pose a challenge to us all. Lets contemplate our normal here in the US and what it looks like compared to the rest of the world, and lets decide to change it. I personally now know that my normal must change. I simply will not, I can not, live like this any more at the expense of my brothers and sisters. Yes, I truly believe our comfort is at the expense of our fellow humans. When will we decide that this is not okay; that this is not how Jesus walked? While we live normally here, they die there. 26,000 children every day of hunger and preventable disease.

Imagine if we all sold our flat screen TV’s and video game boxes and jewelery etc etc etc etc etc etc etc. IMAGINE how many people could eat. IMAGINE how many people would live. I know some of you don’t have flat screens, and that so many of you already do so much. We can do more. We MUST do more. So much more that our normal is no longer normal.

Jesus told the self righteous young man in Mark chapter 10 to “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” I believe Jesus means what He says.

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Have a look at the new and improved Johnson!

$500, one surgery and one set of eyeglasses later, Johnson and his wife are on their way back to Kabale, 7 hours southwest of Nkumba.

Before

After

It was yesterday that Johnson went back to the village after one week stay in Kampala.  Before he left, we went to Monitor Publications and we were interviewed.

He was so exited and very eager to go back home in a different form and shape.  His wife had never been to Kampala, so she was so happy and ready to tell all the interesting stories in Kampala.

I was to go visit their village and that I promised them. May the good Lord bless for all you have done for that brother thank you very much.

Julius Muwonge, Nkumba leader

And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you. Deuteronomy 26:11

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8 Hours of Life

Below is another great post from Katie Davis’s blog.  And we echo her request…

***************************

2010 years ago, Jesus changed the world.

I bet, if we would let Him, He would do it again today. And EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I would like to invite you to go with me on a journey. Almost exactly 2 and a half years ago I stepped out of my life of comfort to go on a journey with my Savior. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what this journey was going to look like. I HAD NO IDEA. And I am so thankful, because it has indeed been more than all I could have ever asked or imagined. It is a journey in which I learn a little more every day about God’s awesome nature and his extravagant compassion. It is a journey on which I strive each day to give a little more of myself to Him and a little less of myself to, well, myself. I have been opened to ways I never could have imagined to see Jesus’s heart for the poor, and His grief over those who neglect them. I have been shown that the way I was choosing to live my life before this journey was not only intolerable, but impossible for someone who claimed to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, for the record, I do. This journey has not only changed my perspective, it has changed my priorities. And the best part is this: it is FAR from over.

Recently I have been blessed to listen to the preachings of a man named David Platt. More accurately, I have been blessed to listen to the preachings of a man named Jesus, read to me in all their truth and might, through my computer screen by a man named David Platt. This man articulates beautifully all the God has opened my heart to in the past 2 and a half years and says everything my heart desires to say. The Truth is bold, in your face, and even frightening. IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.

So here is my request. I am begging and pleading with all of you to take 8 hours out of your life to watch David Platt’s Radical series. (I am pretty sure it is supposed to span over a period of 8 weeks, but if you are like me you are going to want to watch them all back to back in a day!) Then, after you have been completely blown away, I am asking to really pray about and consider leading a small group in the study of these sermons as well as the Faith Works series that goes hand in hand with it. I believe that if we truly listen to and believe and grasp this word, it will change our nation and the world.

There are tools and all the info you need at http://www.radicalsmallgroups.com and all questions may be directed to radicalsmallgroups@gmail.com

I am excited to watch this spread, these Truths are compelling and life altering … It’s time to put our faith into action!

Click here to go to Katie’s Blog

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