Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thankful hearts!!

Saturday was a wonderful day. Darbs and I had the privilege of going out into the Namatala village and visiting the huts of almost all of the sewing ladies. They were so honored that their "Teacher" came to their house. Darby prayed over their homes. We were both humbled and honored to see how they live, up close. Their joy is overflowing in the midst of unthinkable living conditions! The mother of one of the new girls that had just started attending our PiNK Bible study this past week, accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior this day!! God is so good and He is working through this amazing group of women. They are impacting their village! They are a Heartgroup in every sense of the word.

While Darbs and I were out, the rest of the team divided out the monthly IChooseYou supply of Flour, Sugar, Soap and Vaseline. Then, the IChooseYou families came, with their kids to get their monthly supplies. Becky interviewed them to, including some new kids, to update their bios. They are all doing great! What a fun day of laughter and playing. It is truly a giant family!!

Sunday was an outstanding day, beginning with church in the morning. Darbs, Becky and I had the privilege of teaching the women, while the younger girls taught the kids. Nothing compares to worship in Africa!! A long day, but a very rich one! After church, we served lunch to the IChooseYou familes as well as the rest of the church. Then, they "performed" for us!! The IChooseYou moms performed the most precious skit illustrating where they came from and how IChooseYou has changed their lives. They literally acted out how they used to live, compared to how they live now. The moms and the children sang and danced for us. We heard and felt over and over again just how thankful they are for us. Aidah said that if we could look inside their bodies to see their hearts, they would be jumping up and down. We ended it with handing out their new backpacks filled with school supplies, new IChooseYou t-shirts, socks, sponsor letters and gifts. Again, they simply could not contain their joy. It is amazing how something that seems so small to us can bring them such happiness. What a lesson to learn!

As Aidah says, 100 years from now, it won't matter what kind of clothes you wore or what kind of car you drove or what kind of house you lived in. What will matter was what you did in the life of a child!!

Monday we had the opportunity to go to Lulwanda Children's Home! A terrible road to travel on, but well worth the trip. Darbs got to see her little Davis again and introduce him to his "brother and sister" Josh and Micah. It was precious! The Lulwanda kids are incredible and are so happy secure in their home there.

Today was spent back with the sewing ladies and bead making ladies for some of us, while others went back out into Namatala village. By the way, the mother of the sick baby we had discovered in the village - well she acceptted Jesus as her Lord and Savior today. Her baby will have his surgery next Tuesday and it is not going to be too expensive! Thank you for praying for that! His life has been saved. Morris said he will definitely be an IChooseYou kid one day when he gets older. :)

Over and over, God is showing up and showing us that He is in control and we are playing our roles in His master plan. It is such a privilege to be here, working for Him, watching glory being brought to His name!!

The trip for team 1  is winding down and it is hard to say good-bye to our family here! Thank you all again for your support and prayers. I don't think you will ever fully understand what you are doing for these kids and their families here in Uganda. God bless you!

,Brandi & the Team

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another great day!!!

Hi All.....hope this fines everyone doing well.  Team One is doing great!!!  Such a good team...working hard and everyone is enjoying beautiful Uganda.  We had another good day.....

We started out this morning at 6:15 in the Wanali Hut with Kyla leading worship and Micah leading our prayer time.....what a wonderful way to start our day with the sun coming up over the mountains!!!

Our driver picked us up at 8:00.  We dropped off the team at Covenant to teach this morning while Becca and I went to Morris and Aidah's house to meet the lady and her baby.  She and the baby were there waiting for us.  Morris decided to take her by himself because he did not want Becca and I to go into the hospital because of the deseases....we wanted to go but he really thought we shouldn't.  So off they went and Becca and Darby and I went to the market to look for sewing supplies for Darby's sewing ladies then because we had time and we were already in Mbale Town we decided to pick up the monthly IChooseYou supplies for tomorrow.

After we took the supplies to Covenant we returned to Morris and Aidah's.  Morris and the lady were back....the doctor said that the baby was doing ok and that the wound around the intestines was not infected....Thank you Jesus!!  Morris will take her back in the morning hopefully for the first of three surgeries....please keep praying for this little guy, his mom and for the doctors performing the surgery.

After Ted, Micah, Kyla, Taylor, Brandi and Josh finished up at Covenant they joined Darby, Becca and I for lunch.  After we ate we went next door to where the ladies sewing room is and while Brandi was teaching the Bible Study it started raining.  We had a wonderful afternoon....around 20 to 25 women and children in a small 10x12 room.....some sewing, everyone talking together and we were holding babies for about 2 1/2 hours in the pouring rain.  The ladies sang beautiful songs, we laughed together and really got to know one another with babies sleeping, children playing, toads hopping, rain beating down on the metal roof and lots of thunder....what a wonderful day!!
What a blessing these ladies are and what wonderful things Darby is allowing God to do through her!

We will have a big day tomorrow (Saturday).  We will start at 8:30ish at the IChooseYou office filling bags with the flour and sugar that the families receive each month along with their vasaline and soap.  They will all meet us at the office around 1:00 to pick up their monthly supplies.  Josh will take pictures of the kiddos while I will update their bios and talk to the families and the children....it's gonna be another great day in Uganda.

Hope all of you are doing well....we send love and hugs to all of you.....will write more tomorrow!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oh Happy Day!!!

Greetings from Mbale and Namatala, Uganda!!!! 
I am happy to report that all is well with Team 1...everyone is healthy and working hard and loving on a whole bunch of precious African children and their parents.

Now for a brief update of our last few days (or not so brief):

We arrived in Mbale on Monday after stopping at, what I call, the "African Wal Mart" to buy the kiddos their very own "real" backpacks and then of course we had to stop at Ling Lings to eat lunch.  After about a 6 hour van ride we were greeted by Noah and his staff at our wonderful "home away from home" Mt. Elgon Hotel.  They always make you feel so good with their big smiles, hugs and just wonderful Ugandan "YOU ARE WELCOME"!!!  As the team was very tired we ate and then went right to bed....it's been a whole year since I have gotten to bed by 9:30 :) 

Tuesday was a slow day.  I met with Aidah to discuss what we were planning on doing over the next couple of weeks and Darby met with Margaret concerning the sewing ladies.  After that we went to Covenant to chat with Head Master Stephen and peek in each of the classrooms.  After that we went to see where Darby's Sewing Ladies were...it is a very nice place....it's wonderful to see the ladies sewing inside on the machines while ladies sat on matts outside making beads and straw matts and their little children playing in the area around them....talk about "Community"....what a great start for our first IChooseYou "HEART GROUP"!!!! Way to go ladies!!!
We had a wonderful treat...Joyce, Justine and their mother Sarah came to the hotel and had dinner with us.  We sponsor Joyce and my sister, Julie, and my brother-in-law James sponsor Justine....we enjoyed spending this time with them.

Wednesday we met with Headmaster Stephen again and got our "marching orders" from him.  We ate lunch at Aidah's then the team went to Namatala with Becca and Taylor and Sarah.  I went with Aidah to see the pig farm and to buy supplies for the IChooseYou children.  It was another good day in Uganda!!

Today, Thursday, Aidah had to fly out to Tanzania for a few days to prepare for a church planting team...she will be back on Saturday evening.  The team met at 6:15 am for our prayer time and then had breakfast.   Our driver picked us up at 7:45 and took us to Covenant to teach Bible (Micah and Ted), art (Kyla and Brandi), PE (Taylor) and music (Becca and Becky).  I was fun and full morning....so many happy children....how much they bless us.  Darby  went to work with her sewing ladies....I think she will post an update about that later.  At lunch time we went to Aidah's...ate then hit the road again.  Brandi had her "Pink" Bible Study then Sarah took us back to Namatala.  We went to several of the kids homes.  Most of the moms were sewing (that's good) and the children were in school (that's good) so there was no one at home but we just walked through talking to people and allowing the little ones and the other childrent that are not in school hang all over us....fun times.
I would like to add that Josh Burleson is videoing (do you still call it that??) and photograhing everything that is going on and that we are seeing and is doing an amazing job....even with several children hanging on his arms and asking to be lifted up...he is great!!!
After being in the village for a couple or three hours we came upon several huts with moms and children around.  A lady went over to Becca and asked her to look at her son.  After Becca looked at him she realized that he was very ill.  They called me over and showed me the problem....his intestines were protruding outside of his body.  After asking her some questions and Becca putting a moist then dry bandage over it we told her that we would take the team back to the hotel and come back and get her some help.  We did deliver the team then we went to see Pastor Morris at his office.  We told him what the problem was and he went with us back to Namatala to see the lady.  After talking with her we found out that the baby (11 months old) was born with this condition and that she had taken him to the doctor a couple of times but did not have the money to have anything done.  The baby has only had powdered milk all his life with nothing else....he needs help.  So our plan is that in the morning (Friday), Becca, Taylor and I will go with Morris to take the mother and baby to the hospital to see what can be done....please pray for this precious little baby and mother and that we can get him into the hospital.  Also please pray for the medical cost...you know me, I can't just walk away from this situation and I know that Becca and Taylor can't either! 
What a day....God is so good.  This is what we ask for as we walk through that village that we love so...we want to do God's will and to be the hands and feet of Jesus....were He leads, we will follow. 
So, all of this to say...all is well...we are all so happy to be serving the Lord here in Uganda...Sponsors....Your children are doing well....are so happy and they send you their "Greetings"!
Love and Hugs to all of you,

So much has been going on!!

We have done so, so much in the last 2 days, where do I even begin? Well, yesterday morning, we were back at Covenant School where there are 200 students. Out of those, 41 of them are IChooseYou kids. As soon as we walk in their classrooms, we recognize them, the "chosen ones" instantly and they know us and they look at us with these precious brown eyes and smile, knowing that they are special. It's like they are saying "thank you" without saying a word. All of the IChooseYou kids are absolutely darling and are doing so well in school!

During outside recess time, I finally saw my little Mudua Irene. I hardly recognized her, she has hair now! As soon as our eyes met she came a runnin and grabbed me and hugged me so tight!! It was a hug from God! She knew exactly who I was and you know me - tears, they were-a-flowin !!!!! Mudua has a baby sister now - child #9 in the family!!  So, her hair is looking quite "Buck-wheat-ish" at this point and she says she wants long hair - she has never had any hair. So, I've hired Sara, our first IChooseYou graduate to put braids in Irene's hair. I can't wait to see how it turns out! 

Later, we went on over to the IChooseYou mom's sewing room to relieve Darbs for just a bit and gather them for their PiNK class (or "PiNK it up" - as Becky would say!). As we handed out the PiNK t-shirts, I was  astounded at their gratefulness, and the fact that we had exactly enough t-shirts for every woman present!! I just love how God is into the details! They were all dancing around, jumping for joy with, you guessed it......the African "yiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyi" sound that they make when they cannot hold their joy inside!  The love was all around simply engulfing me!! So, we sat in a big circle and had our first {PiNK} Bible study lesson of the week, on the Full Armor of God (Ephesians 2:10). They soaked it in and were very receptive. Margaret (a.k.a.  - Mama Flower) was a great translator and they later expressed to her just how much they need encouragement like that and to get into the Word of God and that it was "very good teaching". These women have all been through such unimaginable hardships, yet they are still smiling, still loving on each other. They do community like nothing I've ever seen. We could learn a thing or two from them about how to do "Heartgroup!"

Then, we headed on out to the Namatala village for the first time. Even after you've experienced it before, you are never desensitized to the severity of this place. It is truly unbelievable. Kyla, Micah and Josh all had incredible eye opening experiences as they encountered absolute joy from the beaming, dirty children living in the absolute unthinkable circumstances! Again, we learned lessons! I received an awesome confirmation from God when we were at Mudua Irene's hut. I met her entire extended family and they were so grateful and loving toward me. One of the ladies I met, who was her Aunt, just so happened to be one of the same women whom I had prayed for last year, shared the gospel with and she received Christ! I will never forget her face as I have a picture of her holding the Bible I gave her. How could I have known that she was the aunt of our IChooseYou kid!!! There are no such things as coincidences. She is still attending church, she said!!

Becky and Mama Aidah checked out the IChooseYou pig farm and it is doing great! The pigs are doing well and they have already planted corn there. It is good!

So, today, we once again taught in the Covenant classrooms where we rotated in the classrooms teaching Art, Music, Bible Story and P.E. We got to fingerpaint rainbows, sing amazing songs and plant seeds of God's love as we played with them and loved on them. Becky sang and danced up and down the aisles, Micah and Ted shared Bible stories, Kyla got to be the star art teacher! Taylor got a full workout in at P.E.  It was great!

Once again, we headed out to Namatala this afternoon with no agenda except to follow the Holy Spirit wherever He lead us. And He sure did that!! We took Ted to Margaret's house - a precious woman and dear friend of Ted's who claims every year that she is 75 (which is clearly way off!). As they embraced, Ted said "I'm older than you!" It was adorable! She is the same woman who has the graves of her husband and all 5 of her children around her tiny hut - they all died of Aids. Yet, Margaret is full of the joy of the Lord!

As we made our way through the village, God directed our attention to those whom He wanted us to pray for and those who needed conversation and encouragement and help. I mean to have someone come in and ask them about them, is a rare occasion. These people simply love to tell you all about themselves and their families - all you have to do is ask! We were followed, of course, by a parade of little children all holding our hands - we called the Mzungu parade!  God lead us directly into a situation that was an absolute divine appointment. I just can't share the details here but let's just say we were able to step into the life of a helpless scared young mother and most likely, save the life of her baby today!!! We were able to pray for another very, very sick woman, near death with no hope! I am certain that she and her beautiful daughter will be taken care of because of God's healing touch and His great mercies. If you think about it, please keep a Karamojong girl named Elizabeth and her sick mother in your prayers tonight. Also, please remember a baby boy in green (I did not know his name!) He desparately needs healing!

It was a rough afternoon but God is good. I so wish we could scoop them all up and take them for medical care but it is just not possible. The needs are too great! We believe the greatest thing we can do is pray and that is what God sent us here to do!  Please continue partnering with us in prayer, this week. We just never know where God will lead us next! He loved us deeply today as we were humbled to our knees!! We saw Jesus all around this place and it is beautiful! We are all doing great here. All is safe and good. We are super excited about all of the awesome footage that Josh is capturing with his video camera. It will make for an awesome IChooseYou documentary! You go Josh!!

God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!

Love you all and miss you!!

Brandi & the team

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Sewing Club

Greetings from the ichooseyou sewing club!

Today we really got to work organizing and figuring out what we are going to do for the rest of the time here. They are ready to learn some new and more difficult things. Yeah!

All the same people are here (so good to see the same ladies from last year) plus 7 or 8 more! ...more children have been chosen for ichooseyou so more parents are welcome to sew or to make something that is "marketable" as they say. Some of the new moms are wanting to do different things such as making Bead necklaces, earrings and bracelets to sell. Also braided door mats. I'm all for that...whatever talent you have, use it! We'll be buying supplies here for that, praying our US dollars will go a long way here. :)

They had 4 sewing machines stolen from the last location so they have moved to a permanent room that can be locked up.

Tomorrow we'll continue to work on some difficult things. Please pray for great comprehension and understanding for them. This is tough stuff and can be tedious at times. Pray for patience for them.

Thank you to everyone for your support, can not put into words the difference you are making in the lives of these women and their families.

Love you Jones family.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sweet Reunions!!

Oh what a day!! We finally got to go to Covenant School today to be reunited with our precious IChooseYou kiddos for the first time! Ted finally got to see his sweet Joyce.......his IChooseYou girl whome he loves VERY much, whom he has not seen in 2 years! What an emotional moment when they got their first hug together......(first of many, I'm sure!) Ted was in Heaven!! Let's just say that smile never left Papa Ted's face all afternoon!

- I was disappointed that my little Mudua Irene was not there at school today as she was home sick. :( I am praying that I will get to see her at school tomorrow.
- Emily & Dustin - I saw Faizo and got his picture! I told his grandma about you.
- Josie - I gave Goret that big hug you asked me to deliver and I told her mother how much you love her!

After that we went on over to the rented room (next door to Mama Aidah's house) where the IChooseYou mom's sewing club now resides. I cannot find the words to describe this reunion moment!!! Darby is quite famous here and as soon as she walked up, all of the ladies jumped up and started dancing and singing and hugging her! I mean how do you spell their squeal sound they make......you know, the Africa "lilililililililililili" sound that the women make when they are excited? (Those of you who have been to Africa know what I am referring to!)......yes, that sound! I have never seen such excitement and happiness. They still have their class going, the ladies are still sewing and learning new sewing skills. We were also pleasantly surprised to find a new group of IChooseYou moms, sitting in the grass outside of the  sewing classroom having their own little bead-making class and door-mat making class, lead by Jennifer, a brand new IChooseYou mom who speaks English very well! For those moms who are not particularly interested in sewing, they too are learning a skill that can provide income for their families. This little group included Goret's mom, Faizo grandma and Stanley's mom, just to name a few. Starting tomorrow, I will have the privilege of teaching our frist PiNK session and giving them t-shirts. It's so funny because we had 20 PiNK t-shirts donated and there just so happen to be 20 ladies, alltogether!! God is so good!

Once they were finished with their sewing for the day, they pulled out a chalkboard and all gathered in the room for their daily reading and writing class. Aidah's son, Timothy, and his wife are teaching these beautiful women how to read and write. What a beautiful sound it was to hear them alltogether, reciting their ABC's! These women are amazing! God is amazing!! Uganda is just plain amazing!! What a privilege it is to be a part of God's team that He sent here to encourage, teach and equip our "team of Ugandans" to empower them to change their culture, to give them all hope for a new future! And it all starts with loving them with God's love!

I just have to say thank you, once again to all of you who are IChooseYou sponsors. You just have no idea what a difference you are making in the lives of these kids and their families. They have such hope and joy and YOU are a big reason for that!!

The "newbies" on our trip were overwhelmed! Josh, Kyla & Micah all got a taste of what Uganda love is like! Were were all absolutely enveloped in the amazing love of God today. And this was just day one......................................:)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Looks like we made it!!

We made it!! We are here in beautiful Mbale, Uganda. It was just as I remembered it. It feels just like coming home! The great thing is that it was a little rainy and nice and cool today! A first for me!

The flights went well, no delays, no problems. The entire team came together in London - all 9 of us. Tomorrow we will go to Covenant School to see all of our precious kiddos and give lots and lots of hugs!! Thank you all for your prayers. All is well and safe and good here in Uganda! God has answered every prayer so far and has provided us with everything we need to serve His precious people!

Much Love!


P.S. - I love you Loren and Luke and Tony!!!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Uganda is upon us!

Well, it's here! It's time, once again for a new IChooseYou team to journey to Uganda. Team one will depart this Saturday, 5/21, team two will arrive two weeks later and some will remain in Uganda the entire 4 weeks. We are full of excitement and anticipation over what God is going to do in Namatala through this trip. He has given us a clear vision of what His will is for the Karamojong tribe in Namatala. Through reaching these people with the love of Jesus Christ, He can and will change the entire culture of Uganda, reconciling them back to Himself. He chose them and they are a Holy people, He treasures them! What a privilege it is to watch God work through the children, the future generation of Uganda! We are all humbled and honored to be a part of God's work there! Wow!

With this being said, we thank you all so, so much for your support and your prayers. We could not do any of this without you. IChooseYou is a huge team effort, from the child sponsors to our financial supporters, to our prayer partners, you are all so important to us! We ask you now, to specifically lift each of us up in prayer while we are gone.  The team is specifically asking for prayers for confidence, wisdom, energy, strength, good health, travel mercies, safety, unity, peace, courage, compassion and love for these precious people! We believe that God has already gone before us and prepared hearts and paved the way. His angels are there, waiting for us and Jesus Himself is ready for us to arrive and "grab onto His robe". We pray for salvations, for healing, for education, for the sewing business and the pig farm to flourish, and for fun, loving times to abound!! As the Word of God is taught, we pray for open minds and open hearts. When His Word goes out, it does not return void! As we step out in faith, we have an unspeakable confidence because our hope is not in our efforts, but in Christ alone and His Mighty Power!

We plan to update this blog while on our trip so please follow along. I know it gives peace to many to hear from us! Keep in mind, the internet connection is not so great in our hotel. It is hit or miss, so be patient - we will blog when we can.

We love you all! Grace & Peace to you!

In His Service,

The Team:

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, "Here I am. Send me!" - Isaiah 6:8