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November » 2008 » Hope 4 Kids International Blog


Sunday at True Vine
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Sunday, November 16, 2008
by Josiah Shelton

Today we attended church at True Vine Team Ministries. It was wonderful to join the people in worship and watch them dance giving praise to God. The people were so excited to have us Mzungu there and it was a real joy for us to be welcomed by the people. During the service, Pastor Wilber gave out the prizes for the activities from the day before honoring Hope 4 Kids & True Vine’s five year partnership. The orphans won against the workers in football with a little help from Matia, I’m sure. Three prizes were awarded for the men’s bicycle long journey. First prize was a new bicycle! Second prize, a new bicycle minus the tires. Third, the tires of course! Pastor Wilber said they could replace their parts on their bike or sell the parts for money!

Before we left, Pastor Wilber asked that each of the leaders from True Vine would grab a mzungu and take us to plant a Mango tree in honor of the celebration on the True Vine property. Over a hundred people flooded outside to plant mango trees with people from the team. It was a great celebration. What an honor to be part of the ceremony! It was a perfect ending to a perfect trip before the long journey home!


Sibanga Dedication
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Today was a day filled with celebration and JOY! While some of the team members were painting nails at True Vine for the widow’s outreach, others went to dedicate Pastor Isaiah’s village in Sibanga. The village was ready and greeted us with a parade. Pastor Isaiah was deeply moved and lots of tears of joy were shed. Pastor Isaiah originally met Tom in the shack on his first visit to Uganda. As their relationship deepened, Tom hoped he could bring some relief to Isaiah’s village. “Today is the time. Today is the time,” Pastor Isaiah repeated over and over again. Today was the day his villagers would not have to walk miles for safe clean water to drink or walk miles to access basic health care. They had a new shelter under which they could worship and a sound system to bring others to Christ during crusades. They had land to grow crops, a public latrine for sanitation and even Pastor Isaiah got a new house! The team loved interacting with the villagers, playing with the kids in the parachute and rejoicing for the day that God has made. It was a day that Pastor Isaiah, the villagers of Sibanga and the members of Community Church of Joy will never forget.

The Seaside group visited Mumutumba again and spent the day working on budgets for the poultry project and piggery. Larry and John mentioned that it is such a learning curve about getting Mumutumba set up for business. There are so many levels and so many details. They also learned about setting up posho mills, tailoring, secretarial bureaus and primary and secondary schools.

In the afternoon, John, Mike, Carolyn, Sandra, Donna and some others stayed at Bison at Smile Africa to distribute 420 dolls, that they spent the week making, to our Karamojong kids. They also delivered 420 mosquito nets for the kids, too! This has been a special week for our Karamojong kids, one that they will never forget. Thanks to all that help raise money for treated mosquito nets for all of these kids!



Widow’s Tea Parties at Smile Africa and True Vine
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Our team treated 140 widows to two separate tea parties. One being held on the final day of the festival at Smile Africa and the other at True Vine. The widows were treated to tea and donuts. They sang and soaked their feet while we polished their nails. Then we dried their feet and massaged them with a local lotion and placed plastic bags upon their feet to hold in the moisture. Heather walked around the back of the women and massaged their upper backs and necks. We applied and handed out lipstick as well as scarves, blankets and other gifts. The women left rejoicing—knowing that God does not despise them as society does but that He embraces them and loves them so much He sent His son to die for them.


Karamojong receive mosquito nets
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How does one distribute 420 mosquito nets?? ONE does not! Team members collected money to purchase mosquito nets for our 420 Karamojong children whom are served daily at Smile Africa. Pastor Ruth worried that the children would be robbed walking home with something as valuable as a mosquito net so she sent word to the guardians to arrive at the day’s end to escort the children home. By mid afternoon several hundred adults stood outside the gate at Smile Africa claiming to be guardians to the children within. The chairman of the Karamojong tribe, Pastor Ruth, Patsy and the teachers sorted through the crowd to determine which children belonged with which adults. The gate would be opened wide enough to allow those to enter and occasionally someone who didn’t have a child would slip through but were escorted back out once they were discovered.
I stood aside watching the process and taking photos wondering why so many people would show up asking for a $5 item. I imagined the commotion we would cause if we were giving out meat!
After several hours the last of the mosquito nets were placed in the hands of the children and their guardians—many smiling and saying “Thank you” before running home with their treasure.


Andrew’s Wedding
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A Ugandan engagement and wedding can be a lengthy affair.
First there is a meeting between the groom and the bride’s parent/guardians. He asks permission to marry the girl and negotiations for the dowry begins. Once they agree on the dowry—depending and the girl’s education and domestic abilities—thus her worth—the process is set in motion. The groom needs to find a way to purchase the cows, goats and other gifts demanded by the bride’s family.
When he has collected the gifts there is an introduction party where he presents the dowry to the family, pays for a party with all the relatives and everyone celebrates that the two will be married.
Finally there is an elaborate church wedding. Friends and family contribute clothing, food, money, etc to help with the expense. (We don’t see a lot of formal weddings because most cannot come up with the dowry payments let alone the wedding expenses—so many live together as husband and wife without the recognized ceremony).
Andrew asked Robert to be his best man—thus making his wedding an international wedding.
The day of the wedding Frida, the bride, arrived at our hotel early in the morning where Bonnie and Wendy waited to dress her in a gorgeous gown that had been worn by Wendy’s daughter at her wedding in the US.
Andrew and his groomsmen appeared and were ushered into Robert and Rachel’s room where Rachel tied their ties and Donna fastened their bouteniers and made certain they were looking sharp.
Andrew and his groomsmen left for the church first. Our team piled into a bus and followed. Once we were seated with the other guests the men made their entrance. As they marched slowly down the aisle guests cheered, sang and danced around them. Once they were seated there was much more singing and dancing until the bride and her attendants showed up. Wild shrieks erupted from the crowd as everyone leaped to their feet to welcome the bride. They tossed rose petals at her—danced before her as she attempted the long, slow walk down the aisle.
Then the second bridal party entered. We were not aware it was to be a double wedding and they procedure began again as we welcomed Josephine and her groom and wedding party.
We sat through a sermon, two sets of wedding vows and other rituals. After four and one half to five hours both couples were presented as man and wife. Then the bishop took the opportunity to take an offering for the church and released the brides, grooms and all the guests to separate receptions.
Before leaving for Andrew’s reception in the jungle a torrential rain soaked the earth—creating mud and puddles for vehicles to struggle through on the dirt paths leading to the home of Andrew’s parents. Cars were slipping and sliding—some getting stuck in the deep ruts. Those who walked rolled up their pant legs; hiked their dresses and removed their shoes tramping through the mud and water to the reception.
The weather didn’t dampen spirits or hinder hundreds from showing up to celebrate and eat a meal with the bride and groom.



Village Dedication at Bupoto
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Thursday, November 13, 2008
by Mark Hensley

Today, the Seaside Team and some of the main team traveled up to Bupoto which is in the mountains of Uganda. Tom Eggum and Pastor Wilbur and Pastor Aggrey accompanied us. It is beautiful countryside with streams, waterfalls, jungle, bananas on the hill sides, palms, and coffee growing. We traveled up the mountain on a dirt road which is impassable in the rain, and God saw to it that no rain fell while we were up there.

When we arrived at the village, people came running down the mountain trail to welcome us with singing, dancing, shaking of hands and hugs. A big “Welcome” sign hung between two mud huts.

We went to Bupoto to celebrate the dedication of the new church sponsored by Seaside. The old church which is made of mud and nearly falling down is a short distance away. The old church was leased from the owner, so this new church truly is a blessing to them. A church service was held with the children and sponsored children singing praise to our Lord. Pastor John of Seaside gave a sermon through an interpreter on being strong in the Lord and how He loves them and bless them. He gave an invitation to come to Christ and 6 stepped forward. What a glorious day. Clifis, the director of orphan sponsorship at True Vine led the church in worship and had the crowd jumping. Lunch consisting of chicken, goat, rice, matoke (plantain/banana), tomato sauce and porsha was served in the church.


Preparing Sibanga for the Dedication
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pastor Paul Sorensen
Community Church of Joy

On Wednesday we journeyed out of Tororo over the rolling hills to the village of Sibanga. The highway turned into a dirt road, then a two lane path, which narrowed into a one lane goat path, then no path at all, with the banana tree leaves brushing the side of our bus. As we jostled along, I was surprised once again by the lush beauty of the Ugandan countryside. At the same time, the simple and primitive homes seemed surreal—cluster after cluster of small round mud huts with thatched roofs, tucked between the trees.

Pastor Isaiah, his family and team welcomed us with great joy. Within minutes we listened to about 30 small children in their sharp blue and orange uniforms, voices united with a beautiful song of welcome and thanks for our coming. They squeezed together under a stick covered tent on four poles. Then time stopped for me, as Pastor Isaiah expressed his praise to God for the answer to his prayer of many years—a new church facility, medical clinic, pastor’s house and a fresh water well. Tom Eggum tried to thank Pastor Isaiah, but his words caught in his throat and mine. Tears of joy flowed. We were overwhelmed to see their grateful and joyful hearts.

While some sang and played and danced with the beautiful children, others on our team joined with the pastors of True Vine in painting the pastor’s house, and the latrine. (For some reason, the pastors wouldn’t let Tom or I paint the inside of the latrine!) Others finished the cement work around the well that will serve 2000 children and adults in the village. Then a man inscribed the words Community Church of Joy, November 14, 2008. I am so honored to be part of a church family who sacrificed to bless the world in this way!

The highlight of my day came as I played the “red light-green light” game with the children, and then sang with them. After the first song, their eyes fixed on me, as if to say, “what next?” So I sang with them while others played games, read books, and blew bubbles. So simple but so fun!

We thought the day was over, until Pastor Isaiah insisted that we come to his home for something to eat. So with about 50 children hovering around the door, all 15 of us squeezed into his mud hut around a spread of delicious, warm, banana-flavored meal, rice covered with a meat sauce, chicken, pork, and some of the best beef I have ever tasted. I felt so humbled that this family of 10 children and no money would insist that we be served by them.

This was a day full of wonder and the love of Jesus that transcends language, color of skin and culture. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 came true for us this day—that they may all be one!



Working at the Hope Festival
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008
By Erika Sletten

The first day at Smile Africa and we arrived to over 400 children singing to us! It was a wonderful and emotional experience that pictures or video do not justify. The team greeted the children and helped serve the breakfast meal of porridge. We brought dum dum suckers and attempted to hand those out to the children after they received a name tag. That plan did not work so well and the team adjusted accordingly. After breakfast some children played games, others team members spoke to the Pastors wives and team members held hands with the kids. The Pastors wives learned about health, hygiene and family planning. The wives were very interested in the information and even took notes in English. The team assisted the staff during lunch of beans and mush to all of the children. The staff members of Smile Africa had to assist many times to get the children to sit down and the children did show respect for them. Many children did not have pants, shirts or any clothing. The team didn’t hesitate to hold the children as some of them were crying or asking to be held. The widow’s had a stand where they sold things including bags, jewelry, clothing, head wraps and bowls. The women made all of the items by hand and they were very proud of their work. At the end of the day the Pastors wives received a hygiene kit that even included lipstick. Every woman deserves to feel pretty! The women were so happy they sang a song for us and danced. Their songs and dancing are infectious! Victoria and her crew worked magic in the clinic doing acupuncture. Mae helped people see more clearly by providing glasses to anyone who needed them. There were so many things to do and by the time we loaded the bus everyone was ready for a nap. Hug kids, nap, eat and sleep….. it was a great day!


We Made it in Nine Hours!
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Monday, November 10, 2008
By Angie Simon

Today was the day that everyone was looking forward to: traveling from Fort Portal to Tororo. Not! This journey across Uganda typically takes anywhere from nine hours to thirteen hours to reach the hotel. We divided up the buses so our team members would get a chance to get to know each other. Three buses and fifty people later we were on our way at 6:30AM.
Everyone was in great spirits and anxious to get to our main site in Tororo. We had an easy safe journey and were happy that we arrived in nine hours. The team experienced yummy chiken-on a-stick, feeding baboons on the road and using African bathroom stalls in the sugar cane.

Pastor Aggre, Pastor Godrey, Angie and Pastor Bill enjoyed several games of the African version of Go Fish. “Do you have a Jinja?” “Oh, I am sorry. I have not. Go to Lake Victoria and drop your net!”

Elizabeth has been in Kenya the last few days checking on our orphans and will be traveling back to Tororo tonight.


Just a coincidence?
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By: Angie Simon

Pastor Bill from Lighthouse Church shared with us an amazing story that God intersected members from his church, Feed My Starving Children and Hope 4 Kids International.
Lighthouse Church is based outside on Minneapolis, Minnesota which is also the headquarters for Feed My Starving Children. Pastor Bill has been working with FMSC for years bringing youth and other members of his church to their facilities and packing events. Last July, DeAnn Boecker brought her son and his 5th grade prayer team to FMSC warehouse facilities to pray for food. While walking in the warehouse, an agent from FMSC asked DeAnn if they would like to stop and pray for a random palette of food. She mentioned that the food was being shipped to Uganda. DeAnn was delighted and responded that she was traveling with Hope 4 Kids to Uganda this fall. With a smile on her face from ear to ear, the agent informed DeAnn it was our food for Hope 4 Kids! Incredible!

Monday, November 10, 2008
by Elizabeth Flynn

As most of the team went to Fort Portal I flew to Kenya to meet some of my team orphan staff to go and visit our 100 kids that are in the program spend from Nakuru to the border of Kenya and Uganda. We had lots of fun from going to church on Sunday in Kisumu at Pastor Jesca’s church where I got to help celebrate with some new people getting baptized by handing out certificates. What a great message we heard from a Pastor in Kenya. We then bought Mattress, shoes and blankets and also I was able to bring some backpack for the kids to hand out. Klephas, Joshua and Samuel the field officer were so excited to help bring this joy to the kids. We want to thank all of you as sponsors and as donors that have given money to give out these well needed items to these kids in our program. I hope you enjoy the photos that I have taken of the kids receiving these items. The kids all say thanks.

Tomorrow I will be introducing some of the sponsors to their kids. I am very excited about that because I know this makes their sponsorship even more special then ever.


Hope 4 Kids International is 501c3 faith-based non-profit committed to help children around the world that are suffering from extreme poverty through Dignity, Health, Joy & Love.

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