Nov
2004

17
Uganda Team Update – Sunday, November 14
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The children’s Sunday School was held in the new shelter that was built just for that purpose this week. We had watched it take shape from a few posts and beams over the dirt last week to the solid cement foundation and metal roofing today. It was so fun for us to see them teaching and singing with all those beautiful children in such a wonderfully shaded area instead of in the blazing hot sun like they had in the past.

Our worship and praise time together in the church was filled with high energy. Watching the children in the back of the sanctuary as they danced and praised God with their whole heart was truly delightful. It was such a treat when the praise team led part of the worship with the traditional guitar and drums. Both Tom and Pastor Wilbur preached the word of God with eloquence.

While we were all at the True Vine Team Ministries church, Pastor Bob was at a much smaller church, which took place in a very rustic setting, with approximately 50 people worshipping and praising God as if there were hundreds of them. Bob felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit as he preached to these people who listened with open hearts to their new brother in Christ.

As we anticipated, saying good-bye to all our friends at the church and clinic was very difficult today. It amazes us how quickly we have grown to love these brothers and sisters in such a short period of time. It was hard to finally get on the bus to leave the site and head over to the farm project, where we would be eating our last delicious meal that had been prepared for us by the hard-working women of this church.

After lunch, half the group headed over to the new farm property which was purchased this week, and the rest went to the Tororo Hospital to visit the children in the children’s ward. The desperate need of these patients and their families in this difficult setting broke our hearts, and before long, our group was mobbed by parents who wanted to get the beanie babies we had brought for the sick children. It would have been a very discouraging experience except for the fact that there were several awesome opportunities for ministry. Bob had the privilege of baptizing a premature baby, which brought great peace to the child’s mother, and some of our team members had the joy of praying with children who were seriously ill, and with their parents who were so worried for them.

The group that had gone out to the new property had a great time with the children in the surrounding huts as they blew up balloons for the kids and handed out candy. The children patiently waited in lines for these treats, and for most of the people in this village, they had never seen Mzungu (white people) before, so it was a delightful experience for all.

As we reflect on these two weeks, which have flown by with incredible speed, our hearts are filled to overflowing with the blessings God has given us through the people on our team and the people we have come to love in Uganda. Thank your for your prayers and encouragement and support. We could never have been part of this amazing journey without you.

 

Nov
2004

14
Uganda Team Update – Saturday and Sunday
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These will be the last updates you will receive from us while we are in Uganda. We leave early tomorrow morning to head toward Kampala, where we’ll be taking an evening flight from Entebbe airport to Nairobi, and then from Nairobi to Amsterdam. Hopefully, I will be able to send one last update from Amsterdam on Tuesday morning, and we’ll be arriving back in America on Tuesday afternoon. If you add 10 hours to Phoenix time to make up the time difference, that means that our journey home will be approximately 43 hours from the time we leave the hotel to the time we arrive in Phoenix. For those heading to California, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Florida, their journey will continue on even after all that. Pray for endurance and smooth traveling connections!!!!

Friday, November 12

The knitting and sewing lessons have come along very quickly, and we have seen incredible progress. Some of the women have mastered knit and purl and have now begun making sweaters. It was also great fun to watch the women who have mastered the treadle on the sewing machines and can now sew actual seams. They used empty cement bags from this week’s cement projects to cut out paper patterns and then practiced sewing the patterns together. The women were adorable as they modeled their paper clothes that they had sewed…many of them are ready to sew with fabric, and they can hardly wait to start.

Some of our team members went into the villages surrounding the site today, and had an opportunity to meet people we’ve not yet seen. The villagers were thrilled to have mzungu guests, and the children were beside themselves with excitement.

One of the things that has touched our hearts the most has been the incredible reception we’ve received from the children.

Wherever we go, the children clamor around us, and if we drive by, they run up to the roadway and wave and yell “Jambo!” which means hello. They all want to shake our hands or hold our hands or just touch us and be near us. That’s one of the things we’ll miss most when we leave this place. Every day, kids come during their lunch break and right after school to hang out together at the church. Even when groups like ours aren’t here, this is definitely a community place; it doesn’t matter if they belong to the church or not, all are welcome to come and play. Many times, the reason the parents begin to come to church is because the kids have been so blessed by this welcoming community.

This afternoon, we had the wonderful surprise of watching a baby calf being born. Already we are seeing the multiplication of our investment as this baby calf entered the world and immediately added worth to the herd that we’ve purchased for the farm project.

Al had an opportunity to preach on Pastor Wilbur’s weekly radio program on Mambo Rock radio station in Tororo. Now that’s something to brag to your grandkids about!

When half of the orphans from the orphan project arrived this afternoon, we attempted to show one of the cartoon movies with Tom’s laptop computer and projector, but unfortunately, there was one little piece missing, and without that piece, we couldn’t hook the projector up to the sound equipment to generate the audio. The kids were disappointed, but when we went outside and started to play ball, they forgot all about the movie.

Saturday, November 13

This morning, many of the orphans came for their monthly program at the church, and in addition to a worship and praise time, we showed “The Jesus Film” with Tom’s laptop and projector (this time we had the missing piece, and the audio worked well). In spite of the fact that it was like going to a drive-in movie in the middle of the day, people still sat and watched in fascination as it powerfully told the story of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection. Before lunch, we also had time to take Polaroid pictures of the kids and the adults, and they really got a kick out of that. It was so fun watching all of them walking around as they showed each other their pictures..

The afternoon was filled with excitement as many of the orphans received goats through money that has been raised by school children in America. It was so fun to be a part of this ceremony and to see their reactions as their names were called and they came up to the front of the church to get their goat. It was also incredibly cool to see that no one minded that the goats peed and pooped on the church floor; it was just accepted as part of the process and was later cleaned up with no complaints or concern. In addition, a number of hand-made quilts were given to some of the orphans, and their eyes lit up when they saw how beautiful they were.

Later, while we were teaching some of the women how to macramé, they told us that the next thing they wanted to learn was how to make those blankets because the blankets were very “smart” (that’s their word for pretty). When we told them we didn’t know how to make them, that some of our friends in America had made them, they told us that we need to tell these women that they must come to Uganda to teach them how this is one.

We finished off the day by going to the football field to watch the True Vine Team Ministries team play football (in America, we call it soccer). It was great fun to cheer on these kids that we’ve been hanging out with all week.

This was our last full day to play with the kids and be with all our new friends. Tomorrow, we will spend all morning and early afternoon in the worship service, then we will be going out to the farm, where we’ll see the progress that is being made with this project. From there, we will head over to the hospital where we’ll hand out beanie babies and blow bubbles and visit the hundreds of kids there. Then it will be time to pack for our journey home.

We are so anxious to see our families again, but so heartbroken that it’s already time to leave.

 

Nov
2004

12
Uganda Team Update – Friday, November 12
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Thursday, November 11

As if it were possible, our days seem even more filled with activity than they had been when we first arrived. Perhaps it’s because we’re nearing the end of our journey here, and we’re so intent on accomplishing all the things we hadn’t yet had chance to do.

Our morning started out with raucous laughter as we were trying to dream of ways to help fight the threat of parasites in these children. It was a serious conversation as we talked about what a difference shoes would make because it was the constant exposure of these barefooted children to the dirt that caused part of the problem. But when Rachel suggested that we buy thongs for all of them, the rest of us burst out laughing. We knew that was another word for flip flops, but the picture that conjured up tickled our funny bones.

Painting a cross on the wall of the church was something Pat felt led to do as we had been painting the interior walls earlier in the week, so on Wednesday, he sketched out the cross that they were going to paint, and today, he and Louaine painted it. Their artwork brought beautiful color into this sanctuary, and the children watched in anticipation as the picture took form.

In the medical clinic, Alycia, Melissa, Rachel and Travis used the eye charts that Rachel had printed up to determine what strength of reading glasses people would need. The eye charts were the verse from John 3:16, printed in different sized fonts, so as soon as they could read “For God so loved the world that He sent His Son,” that would help determine which pair of glasses we would give them. Across the hall, Matt was working in the lab with the lab tech, Robert. Robert delighted in showing Matt how to keep the records for the patients they were seeing, and even taught him how to draw blood and read the smear under the microscope. For the patients that have been coming through the lab, approximately one in three have been testing positive for malaria.

Melissa and Travis seem to be kid magnets, and wherever they go, they have multiple kids holding their arms and hands and hanging off their hips. Juliette is a little girl that comes from morning to night so that she can be with them.

Linda was delighted because today, she had the opportunity to go into town with the group going to purchase supplies, so she and Robert and Al went in search of some of the supplies while Tom and Chris went with Pastor Wilbur to sign the contracts for the purchase of land to add on to the farm project. Sara spent much of the morning helping to sweep out the sanctuary, and she had a little friend who stayed by her side and wanted to sweep along with her. She taught the girls how to do the electric slide, and she spent over an hour inflating all the rest of the soccer and playground balls we had brought with us. The kids love playing with the balls, but the rough terrain and thorny vegetation quickly takes its toll on these balls.

Joe once again worked with the men who were spraying the stucco onto the exterior of the church, while Bo and Bonnie continued their awesome work in the dental clinic. Alycia and Michelle went with Teddy to the True Vine Ministry office to check out what they would need for computer equipment to make the orphan project a little easier to manage, and while they were there, they taught Teddy some basic computer skills. She was so excited as she learned how to open a Word document and begin typing, and she can hardly wait for her computer classes to start. As we walked back to the church, Teddy danced with joy the whole way! Back at the church, some of the women were anxiously waiting for the knitting classes to begin, so as soon as we returned, we began to teach the basics of casting on, knitting and purling. Some of these women caught on very quickly, and for some, it was a bit more of a challenge. It feels good to know that with the books and patterns and supplies we are leaving behind, they will be able to begin some easy knitting and crocheting projects and will be able to teach the other women in the village.

Al had a wonderful opportunity to speak to the men at the men’s ministry time in the church this afternoon. He felt blessed as God used him to share some thoughts about being Godly husbands and fathers, and their worship and fellowship time brought great joy to all who were part of that.

As we ended our day, some of the teenage girls were arriving for their choir practice, so they took time to teach us some of the dance steps that they do as they praise the Lord with song and dance. It was pretty comical to watch us try to emulate their moves, although Alycia did quite well. When it was time to go, one of them asked Bob if she could carry his bag for him, so as we were heading toward the bus, Bob asked her if she had fun teaching us, and she said she liked it very much when black and red danced together. We all burst out laughing, because she was referring to Bob’s sunburnt skin!

Our day of laughter, hard work, and the feeling that God has a purpose for each of us on this journey has filled us with great joy.

 


Photo Album Update
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I have finally gotten the bugs worked out of the photo albums. The Uganda 2004 photos have been added to gallery. Enjoy!

Photo Gallery

 


Uganda Team Update – the rest of the story – Wednesday, November 10
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Our prayers for smoother internet connections have been answered as we have found an internet café with a more reliable server and faster computers.

Alycia and Sara spent time at the internet café downloading the orphan information that Sarah Eggum had sent us as they worked out the kinks to keep track of all those details. Sara’s expertise in Excel was invaluable as it saved us countless hours of work.

The little boy that Melissa and Travis are sponsoring had ridden his bicycle with his older brother the 13 miles to get here to see his American parents. Because they had given him a goat, it would have been impossible for the 2 boys to ride back home, so Travis and Melissa made arrangements for them to be transported home in a “taxi.” What a special time they had with this little guy.

The work on the church continues, and today Joe spent the day with the men who were spraying the stucco on the outside walls. They use a hopper that spins the stucco out onto the wall, which means you get as much stucco on you as you do on the wall. While the work progressed on the outside, Linda continued with the painting crew in the church offices. Robert was working on electric projects with some of the men, so he stayed behind while Bob went into town with the group that was purchasing supplies. Bob was on a personal mission to buy a bike for Protus, because after spending time with Protus yesterday afternoon when they went together to one of the home fellowship meetings, Bob knew that he wanted to do something significant to help this amazing servant of the Lord. When he presented the bike to Protus, all our eyes filled with tears as we saw Protus’ reaction to this wonderful surprise.

The lines for the medical clinic have become very long, but they are mostly waiting in these long lines to be seen by the “mzungu” dentist, Bo, and his assistant, Bonnie.

Yesterday, a truckload of animals that had been purchased with the money that had been sent by school children in America was delivered, and it was so fun to see all the cows and goats roaming around the property today.

Michelle has begun to teach some of the women how to knit, and tomorrow will be another fun day of lessons. Inside the church, Pat and Louaine were sketching the cross on the wall, which they will be painting in the next several days. As they were doing that, the women were having a lesson in weaving while the children were watching a movie that was being shown through Tom’s laptop computer and the portable projector. It was a little frustrating because the projector kept shutting down as it overheated (what a shock that would happen in the middle of an African afternoon!), but whenever that would occur, the kids would all stand up so they could watch it on Tom’s laptop screen until we restored the projected picture on the wall. While all that was going on, Matt was enjoying a great game of volleyball with some of the older kids.

Robert and Rachel had the wonderful opportunity to give their sponsored daughter, Priscilla, a goat. After she received her goat, Rachel and Robert and Travis and Melissa all walked with Priscilla back to her hut (about 3 miles away), followed by an entourage of kids. When they got to that group of huts, they passed out bubble gum to all the kids and Rachel attempted to show the kids how to blow bubbles. The moms were all laughing as the children laboriously worked their gum and tried blowing bubbles. It was such a fun afternoon for them all.

In the meantime, Tom, Chris, Bob and Al headed to the Kenyan border with Pastor Wilbur so they could meet an Episcopalian minister who has a church there. Because this Episcopalian church is in a border town, there are many challenges, so these men embraced the opportunity to spend time with these special Christians to encourage them and to be encouraged.

The Rock Classic Hotel where we are staying in Tororo has undergone some wonderful improvements since we were here in the summer. We can see that the renovation of the rooms is a daily process, and things have been added to the rooms that have made our stay even more pleasant. All the rooms now have mosquito nets over the beds, and fans to keep us cool at night. They have added surge protector strips so that we can safely recharge our cameras each day, and many of the rooms now have small refrigerators so we can chill our bottles of water. From time to time, we can even access the internet from their computer, although they are still struggling to make that a functioning amenity. However, we can see that they are intentional about making this a very pleasant, comfortable stay for their guests, and we have been blessed by their hospitality.

 

Nov
2004

10
Uganda Team Update – Morning – Wednesday, November 10
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This morning, the adventurous members of our team got up early to go climb “The Rock” of Tororo. It’s an arduous climb, but it only took us 30 minutes to get to the top. We thought we were accomplishing such an amazing feat until we were being passed by Ugandans who were hauling 30 kilogram bags of sand on their backs. Some of us attempted to haul their bags of sand on our backs, but we didn’t get very far. They laughed at our silliness and probably at our weakness, but I think they were delighted that we tried.

Once we reached the top, we had an incredible time of prayer for the community of Tororo and UCI, that the ministry of True Vine Ministries would reach all those places in the valley that our eyes could see from the top of this mountain.

 


Uganda Team Update – Tuesday, November 9
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The sewing lessons continued in full force; and today, even some of the men were learning how to operate the machines. One of the men is a very accomplished embroiderer with the machine, and it was fascinating to watch him work as he helped prepare the material for the dresses that some of our team have ordered from Jane’s dress shop.

Linda’s goal for today was to get to be part of the work crew, painting the offices in the church. She had no idea how much work she was in for, but she amazed the Ugandan men whom she was working with as she kept up with them throughout the entire day. We’re now referring to her as Super Linda!

Going to the marketplace to buy supplies was again part of the agenda, and Robert has become a pro at this task. Alycia became the hero of the orphan project staff as she purchased some much-needed supplies for them, and when she gave them each a clipboard, Teddy raved about how official they would look, just like some of the UN workers in Tororo. A trip to the pharmacy meant that we would be bringing boxes and boxes of life-saving medicine back to the clinic, and Tom also went to a store to purchase the mattress and bedding supplies for Joseph, the orphan that Bonnie will now be sponsoring. Matt was able to find the necessary cable for hooking up Tom’s computer to the church’s sound system, which will allow us to show movies to the kids this week. The children have been hearing about this, and they can hardly wait.

In the late afternoon, some of the men went to several of the home fellowship opportunities, and they were incredibly blessed by the experience. For Pat, it was the highlight of the trip so far. He was so touched as he heard the men give their testimonies, and as he heard them express how grateful they are for the blessings that they have received. The hospitality in these humble homes is what has moved us so deeply. When you come to someone’s hut, no matter how modest and primitive the surroundings, you are immediately offered a seat and are told “You are most welcome to my home.” In what seemed to be the direst of conditions, the guys felt like they were cared for as kings as they were treated to Kenyan tea, homemade bread and fry bread.

Michelle & Joe went to visit one of the orphans in their home, and on their way back to the church and clinic, they had wonderful opportunities to talk with some of the villagers. One of the women taught Michelle how to carry firewood on her head, although the minute she tried to walk with it, it all came sliding off. That’s when the other women proclaimed that she didn’t have the right shape of head.

Rachel, Robert and Bob all experienced the joy of bringing a goat to the orphans that they sponsor. For Bob, it was a truly humbling experience, because after he offered his gift of a goat, his orphan presented him with the gift of a chicken. Again, to receive so much from people who have so little has been the story of our time here.

 

Nov
2004

09
Uganda Team Update – Monday, November 8
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What a glorious sight to see all the women that had come to learn how to use the new sewing machines. Before they could get started, we had to figure out the best thing to use as a “fan belt” that would hook up the pulley system for the treadle. We discovered that the macramé cord we had brought to teach them how to make belts was the best material for this important missing link, so Joe and Louaine and Linda and Rachel crafted the make-shift fan belts and got the machines up and running. Louaine, Rachel and Linda helped teach the women the skill of working the treadle, and there were squeals of delight when the women would master the rhythm of the machine.

Bob, Al, Travis and Pat did some intensive hauling as they filled wheelbarrows with large rocks and brought them for the foundation of the Sunday School shelter that is being built. Tom, Robert, Chris, Pat and Al went into town to purchase food for feeding all the people that would be here during the week for the clinic and for working on the projects. While all that was going on, Bonnie was assisting Dr. Bo in the dental clinic, seeing patients non-stop from the time we arrived until the time we left.

Sara and Alycia spent a good portion of the day working on the paperwork with the administrators for the orphan project. Chris, Tom and Matt worked on setting up the projector to Tom’s computer and running the cords through the sound system to begin to show movies in the sanctuary. While the kids were waiting for the movies to begin, Travis, Melissa, Rachel, Alycia and Michelle gave out candy. The children were excited about the sweets, and it was really special to see some of the kids sharing with each other.

Once again, we ended the day with the joy of knowing that God has called us to this place for His purpose.

 


Uganda Team Update – Sunday, November 7
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There’s nothing like worshipping with our Ugandan brothers and sisters to set our hearts on fire for the Lord. As they sang and danced and jumped up and down shouting “Hallelujah!” we, too, got caught up in this rejuvenating sacrifice of praise. Some of us had the opportunity to be outside with the children during their Sunday School, which was a two-hour time of praise and teaching, and Matt was asked to share some words from God for the kids. The children love Matt, and were excited to hear from this young “mzungu.”

Chris, Bob and Tom were each asked to share the word of God during the worship service. The people listened intently as they brought a message of hope and grace. It’s so humbling to be in the midst of these people who love God with all their hearts and trust Him with everything. We have a lot to learn from them.

After a delicious lunch that was once again prepared by the Pastor’s wife and the women from the church, we split up into two groups. Most of the women returned to the church for a Women’s Ministry time, while the rest of the group headed over to the farm project. While there, they saw some of the goats and cows and chickens and pigs that we’ve been purchasing to get the farm project up and running. The food that is raised on this farm will be used to feed the orphans and their families. Our group had a great time with the villagers that surround that property, and the children of this remote area were delighted to play with the “mzungu.”

This afternoon’s women’s ministry was a time to encourage and challenge the women of this area. They face so many struggles, and a majority of the group are widows and single mothers. Jane (the Pastor’s wife) shared from her heart about how important it is that the women come alongside those who need help. She told them about the new project that is just beginning….starting tomorrow, they will begin lessons on the brand new sewing machines that have been given to them by some of the women in America. Explaining that this is a gift for the whole church, she said that these machines will be used to help them make clothing for their families as well as items that they will be able to sell in the marketplace. With the proceeds from their sales, they will be able to continue buying material for their sewing projects, but they will also invest a portion of it by buying pigs and cows. The vision is that with these pigs and cows, some of the offspring will be used to multiply the herd, and some will be used for food. The dream is that they will eventually be able to provide an animal to each of the families so they can began their own herds, and then the families will give back one of the offspring so the project can be multiplied and spread throughout their village and into other areas.

What a joy it is to partner in ministry with these people who are so filled with compassion and vision.

 


Uganda Team Update – Saturday, November 6
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There were lots of hugs and kisses as we finally arrived at the church and clinic site this morning. Our friends were so happy to see those of us who had returned from the summer team and the new friends that had come for the first time. They couldn’t wait to show us all the progress that had been made on the church construction, which they’ve been using as a gathering place since June. When we saw that the old church had actually fallen down, what praise we gave that this new building was such a beautiful oasis. The work continues to progress, and we spent a number of hours working with our friends painting the inside walls.

Another shout of praise went up when we saw the sewing machines that have been purchased for the women to begin home industries. Agnes demonstrated how the machines work, and we watched in awe as she did free-hand embroidery using the designs she has created. Later in the day, we were able to observe as not only the women, but also some of the men, practiced what they had been learning about operating these machines. Some of us sat down and tried pumping the treadle while we sewed in a straight line, and it was such comedy to see us attempting to pump that treadle smoothly.

Bo is a dentist on our team, and he trained Rachel and Bonnie to be his assistants so that he could begin the dental clinic today. He checked lots of little mouths while waiting for some of the supplies to be brought in from town, and has already scheduled several abstractions. When they found the necessary disinfecting supplies, he also prepared his equipment and pulled a tooth from little Priscilla’s mouth. Priscilla is one of the girls that Robert and Rachel sponsors, so Rachel was very glad to be there holding Priscilla’s hand during the process.

Playing with the parachutes was great fun as children squealed with delight while they ran under the billowing colors. Soccer is always one of the most popular things to do, and Linda and Bonnie both had a great time kicking the ball around with the kids. Bob was involved in a rousing game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” and the kids loved it so much, they kept him at it for over an hour.

It was such a great day, filled with lots of play and fun work. We praise God for the opportunity to be where He has called us to be.

 
 
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