Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Day in Mbale

 Our last Day...
Today we had our IChooseYou Christmas Celebration ! We started the morning doing Tie-Dye shirts with the children and then headed into the church as families rolled in around noon. Andrew opened us up in prayer and then the IChooseYou children performed the song they had written about IChooseYou :) For those of you who have been to Uganda, I'm sure you know the tune!
It was an incredible thing to witness... the 11 brand new children sitting quietly in the back in their tattered clothes. Even the new moms and dads who brought them were sitting in the back, shy and awaiting what was to come..I was reminded once again of where the 30 kids came from. These strong, brilliant children singing joyfully at the top of their lungs and strutting their stuff were not very long ago hopeless and looking just like the 11 in the back. Even the moms and dads sat taller than before. They beamed as they looked at their children. God has worked wonders in all of their lives.
Then the IChooseYou families sang a few African worship songs. I enjoyed watching Andrew smile all the while, not knowing a single word  haha
 Sarah, Joyce's mom, stood up on behalf of the ICY families and thanked God for the IChooseYou program. Then Mama Aidah stood and spoke to the families, encouraging them of their children's good reports and in their sewing.  She also introduced the new 11 children and the African woman did their squal :) Their unique form of praise(the IYIYIYI!)  still resonates in my heart! I got to stand and give thanks for the opportunity to bring good news to them and share in their joy as God continues His good works in their lives.
Soon after a few more speeches and information for the new families, we all prayed once again (this time lead by Joyce- one of the children).. and then all shared a meal to together. The meal was rice, beans, chicken, beef stew, some cooked greens, and a soda :) Typical African foods, but a FEAST for sure!

THANK YOU ..all who donated money to help make this happen! Over 40 families were blessed to be filled a warm meal.

After the celebration we headed to the pig farm.. and YES, We can actually call it one now that there are pigs! They were so cute, but they didn't smell so cute...
How encouraging it was to see life on the Pig farm! The Lord knew my patience was running thin, so it was an answered prayer to see His Work. I'm looking forward to seeing the pigs reproduce and Kasava root planted and harvested on the land next time we visit, God willing.
Please continue to pray over the land and the pigs, that this land and all of its fruit be used to glorify God.

Andrew:  The only word I can muster is wow.  It has truly been a full trip, and by full I mean we've done and seen so much, I don't know that we could have done much more.  I have seen God's purpose in us coming to Uganda,  and I am thankful to have helped here.  I want to thank those who donated money towards the celebration meal.  THANK YOU so much.  Your gifts helped so much and I hope that you can see the smiles on the children's faces in the pictures!  You have been the hands and feet of Christ in Uganda without even going!

I know that we will be going back one day.  When that is will be up to the Lord, but I hope and pray that things continue to go well with our little ministry in Uganda in the meantime, that the pig farm keeps growing, and that there are many more through ICY who come to know the fullness of Christ's love!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday and Thursday

Imagine the difference between night and day and you’re halfway there.  What a world apart Uganda is compared to the US – from what is worn as clothing to what is eaten as food to what is said in conversation to how a home is kept in order.  But no difference is more obvious than what we have seen in Namatala.  This is the struggling, neglected village God has chosen for us to help, and it is awful.  The stench alone of hard brewing alcohol, mixing with dirty, dieselized air and the smell of rubbish and body excrement is enough to gag.  And these people live in this. Mud on the ground everywhere, small huts for homes, they use the bathroom wherever they want/can, men leaving the home simply to go and sit somewhere where they don’t have to be around the women and children; small market stalls line the main streets where flea and fly infested goods are sold for shillings as motorbikes and bicycles take people from one place to the next. 
“Muzungu” is the word for white man, and you hear it a lot in Namatala.  Probably because you are the only one they’ve ever seen.  They are all wanting to touch you.  They like rubbing your skin for some reason; as if they hope some good luck comes off of you onto them in the process.  And God help you if you have a camera around your neck!  If they see it, it is all they want, just to be in a picture.  Then they want to see what you’ve taken so they try to grab at the camera to see the screen. 
I am glad to have seen this with my own eyes.  Haley has tried to tell me in pictures and words what it is like here, but none compares to being here.  We even shared the Gospel today in people’s homes, which was quite difficult.  You have no idea if they are going to welcome you or kick you out, listen to you or curse you.  Luckily we were welcomed everywhere, even into a muslim home, and prayed with new believers and shared life stories.  Please keep these new believers in your prayers!

 Today is my favorite day but there is no guarantee that I might say the same thing tomorrow. We started off on foot sharing the gospel and near the end ran into Faizo’s Gaga (pronounced jaja) who asked us to pray for her family because the rains have flooded her home. She is the Gaga who takes care of 10 children and also this lady can praise the Lord in church.. my goodnesss!!!.. so we walked to her home and were able to assist her in hiring someone to dig trenches around the hut to prevent future floods. It cost us about 10 dollars to hire a laborer for 2 days to dig the trench. It amazes me that 48 Hours of back-breaking digging equivocates to $10 dollars. It is also very humbling to know that it would have taken her a month’s time to earn that kind of money.. unbelievable. I am so glad to be able to  hear her prayer and be used by God to answer her cry for help.
 Another highlight was bible study with the Ichooseyou children at the church. We brought “The Word is Comforting” felt pillows for the children to make after memorizing Isa 49:13. Their precious voices still echo in my head and heart, “Shout for Joy, O heavens. Rejoice, O earth. Burst into song, O Mountains. For the Lord comforts his people..”.
 Also, the small things in life are the greatest. Watching them put together puzzles was so special. They first got so upset when I broke apart their pictures… not knowing that the purpose was to put it back together again.. what a funny concept haha. I enjoyed watching their little minds’ work, fitting edge to edge and smiling everytime they succeeded.

We went to Sipi Falls today!  This is the most popular of waterfalls in Mbale, and it is gorgeous!  It was kind of overcast today so it kind of took away from its majesty, but it was still great to get so close to it.  We took the thirty IChooseYou children with us also, which was quite an adventure.  They were singing so loud all the way there.  And to them, singing is like yelling.  They have no volume, just loud. 
We walked down to the falls and let the kids walk around.  Its so funny how they got so cold.  Some of them were crying and it was like 60 degrees.  Haha.  They just cant handle the cold. 
Once we were done, we all ate chappati’s (which is basically like tortillas) and sodas.  Soda tastes so much better here! 
Tomorrow is our last day in Uganda, may it be a blessed one as we share a meal with the Ichooseyou families and may the children continue to do well in school!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hey Haley Girl and Andrew....sounds like all is well in Mbale!  Haley, you know I had to laugh...going to get 10 and you get 11...well, at least it isn't 20!!!!!  So glad all is well and you are a happy girl :)  Andrew, thank you for the update.  I love seeing our beautiful Ugandan home through the eyes of someone there for the first time.  It gets in your blood my friend.....so get ready!!!
Keep us updated....please give our love and lots of hugs to our IChooseYou kiddos and family and all of our friends!  Can't wait to hear all about the trip when you get home.  Please give our love to the "sewing club" ladies....tell them we are so proud of them and that we will see them in 5 months!!!
Love you guys....safe journey to you!
Remember Who You Are,

December 7, 2010

Andrew - 
The villages are crowded and dirty; just as I had expected - although, it seems hard to imagine that this place could ever really be expected.  The poverty is of course rampant and permeating; but, lets be honest: people are making cooking pots out of melted down car rims - that has to be beyond imagination.  It seems as though this idea of resourcefulness is the key, this is how you survive.  We aren't faced with this in America.  Resourcefulness is simply a prudent idea, one worth acting upon only if you have time and it is convenient.  Here, resourcefulness is the difference between life and death, food on the table or none. 
“To whom much is given, much will be expected.”  My thoughts for today rest in God’s great provision and the secret to contentment.  I think it is unfair to compare daily living in the US to daily living in Uganda…it is like comparing apples to mangoes.  But, one thing that does span both continents is the secret that Paul refers to in his letter to the Philippians – the secret to contentment.  So can we learn what it is to be content, whether we have only as much as Ugandans, or whether we have an abundance like Americans?  One is not better than the other.  These are just different circumstances set about by our Father for our benefit.  Let’s hope and pray that we all learn contentment in daily living.  

December 7.
Haley - Today we got to make 10 new additions into the IChooseYou family! As we went with Mamma Aidah and Hassan to take pictures and bio information of the 10 ( well 11 because we couldn’t turn down one!:) ) I never would have dreamed of being able to pick another 10 children after having been blessed to pick the first 20 children with Aidah in 2007. But God gives us the desires of our hearts and so much more, doesn’t he?! God is so good to let Andrew and I be there to witness such a time as this! I hope I never forget the Mamas and Gagas (grandmothers) joy as they are told that their child will be able to go to school and have a future. I don’t think I’ve ever received so many hugs! They keep saying thanks to us but it is hard to receive because we did no good thing.. WE are the grateful ones. God has allowed us to come to Uganda and share His deep Love for his people. WE get to hear cries of joy and laughter as our faithful brothers and sisters in Uganda praise God for hearing and answering their prayers for their families.  We are but 2 sets of hands in such a big body of believers and are SO thankful to deliver such wonderful news. Oh how I hope I am able to relay such joy and gratitude to all of you whom our Lord has put IChooseYou on your hearts and/or who sponsor one of the beautiful children!
I am so excited to see these new 11 grow in their knowledge of Christ and grow healthy and smart! May you all stick around and be blessed to see God transform their lives before your very eyes, too!
Andrew took many ( and I mean MANY J ) pictures today and these are but a few of Namatala village. The children wear clothes worn almost to rags. Most suffer from some sort of disease and several of the children have worms, warts, malaria, burns, and most sleep at least 5 to a small hut. Grandmothers and aunties take in many children whose parents either died of AIDs or have abandoned their children or are in the village trying to find odd jobs meanwhile the child is left to fend for him/herself.  It’s a hard-knock life for the Karamojong.
So… thank you, Lord for IChooseYou Ministries! We praise you for your GREAT mercy on us. You are compassionate, You are an abundant Giver. And not only do You hear our cries, but You respond … You have responded by sending your son, Jesus Christ, to die for us on the cross so that we may have eternal life with You. May you fill Andrew and I with your Holy Spirit tomorrow as we go hut-to-hut and share Your Gospel. Amen!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

CHRISTmas time!!

Hi Everyone,

I hope this finds you all well.  Just wanted to catch everyone up on the IChooseYou activities during the past several weeks.
I met up with Haley during the month of October and she had a suitcase that a team member from a Houston team gave her to give to me.  WHAT A SURPRISE...the IChooseYou ladies that Darby had worked with in May had been busy.  In the suitcase was 100 BEAUTIFUL PILLOW CASES that the ladies had made along with several of the book bags.  We are so proud of them...they are working so hard and their work is beautiful.  Darby looked like one proud momma when she opened the bag!  If you are interested in a wonderful Christmas gift....the "Travel Pillowcases" are for sale in the church office!
Rachel Gober, one of our 2010 team members, hosted a benefit in Dallas the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We had so much fun and we did  get a few more sponsors!  Thank you Rachel and thank you to the new members of the IChooseYou family!

Andrew and Haley left on Dec. 1 to spend a week in Namatala, Uganda.  Haley was not able to go with us in May so she and Andrew decided to go now....how excited she was to be able to share her heart with Andrew!  They will be loving on the kiddos, having a dinner with the kids and the parents, checking on the "pig farm" and meeting with the "sewing club" ladies.  I know that they will have great pictures and stories to share with us.  Please keep them in your prayers!!

We will be making our plans in the next several weeks for our May/June 2011 trip(s)...sponsors, if you are interested in going, please let me know.  How special it is to get to know your kiddo....what a blessing for you and for child.  You can email my....  ichooseyouministries@gmail.com  and let me know if you are interested.

I hope all of you are peacefully getting ready for CHRISTmas.  What a wonderful time of year....aren't we blessed!!!  Sometimes it is hard to say that we are....life is not easy but all we have to do is look around us, love our families, help our children in Uganda and love, remember, thank and praise our Lord for His love for us.  Remembering that we are celebrating the birth of our Saviour....makes us KNOW just how blessed we are!!

Thank each one of you for choosing to be a part of the IChooseYou family....you are such a blessing!

I will write again soon....Merry CHRISTmas to you,