Thursday, August 19, 2010
The last two weeks Francis, Joel, Allan and I spent in OUR village. I love the sound of that... our village! But it truly is starting to feel like home to each of us and we are growing a love for the area and the people of the area each day we spend there. Allan had been up in Akampala for the past 3 months as he was overseeing the construction of the building we will be using for the school, so to him especially that place feels very much like home.
The trip began with some sadness as Francis and Joel went first to the village of their relatives to mourn the loss of their dear uncle who passed away just days before from HIV. He had been suffering a lot this past year and suddenly his spirit let go and gave in. That family has had a lot of grief this past year, but thankfully, God continues to sustain them and carry them through.
Our first couple of days in the village we gave applications to the LC1's (Local Counsel leaders) from the three closest villages within walking distance. They were to be distributed to those who were most in need within their villages. Our target was to, firstly, take in orphans, secondly, those children with one parent, and thirdly, others who, in various circumstances, had greatest need. We also had some running around to do with finishing up a few small things regarding construction of some of the doors and chalkboards for the school, and searching for teachers to hire. After a few days' time the applications all began coming in and Allan, especially, did an incredible job helping the villagers who didn't write to fill in the details on their forms for their children. It took some work to sort through them, as some people from one of the villages (not Akampala) tried to 'pull the wool over our eyes' and lie about some of the children being orphans when in fact their parents were alive. Thankfully, we had help from other villagers to try to sort these out so as to make fair choices. Francis and Allan met with the parents in discussion on two different days, explaining what our plans were, and how we wanted to go about things, allowing them to voice their questions and concerns and also confronting the issue of lying on forms. I really was so proud of them for how they handled everything and were so respectful towards the people. It reminded me once again, how grateful I am to have fellow Ugandans to work with, who not only can speak the language (Kumum) but who understand the needs here, and can relate to the challenges of living life in the village. After much prayer and sorting through forms, the children were finally chosen for our school; 66 kids from the three villages. From most families we took only one child at this point, but for a few rare exceptions. Uniforms were given to the kids all in one day, and wow, did they look good! Both the children and their parents were SO proud! I admit, it was difficult to see the disappointment on the faces of some of the children who we weren't able to help at this time, even some of those who already seem to have found a special place in my heart. However, I know that this is only the beginning and, with God's help, in time more opportunities will come for some of those kids. I realize the importance of looking at the big picture and staying positive, being thankful for those who we can help and taking one day at a time. There really never is an end to need and to those who are in need. We need to be thankful for the little we can do and for the lives we can touch, whether many or few.
We also were able to find and secure 2 teachers from the area, one for the nursery class and one to teach P1. Both were very happy for the opportunity and I trust will do a good job. Already Francis and I have purchased some teaching aids and material to help them with their tasks ahead. We have yet to find some material for the religious education aspect (religious studies is actually in the curriculum of all schools here), but will do so before classes begin in September.
We also agreed upon a person to hire for the tasks of cooking porridge in the morning for the children, making shopping lists, keeping the school and schoolyard tidy and being our eyes and ears there when neither Francis, Allan nor I are around. We also have plans to construct a small, simple kitchen in the next couple of weeks where this work can be done.
Other than the business side of things, the 4 of us also took time to play. The boys spent almost every evening playing soccer with the local village guys, and I swam nearly every day in the lake, and taught another lady my age to swim as well. We played with children, walking with them, playing games, organizing coloring sessions and Joel and I spent some time attempting to teach some of the village kids the alphabet as well (some of which was successful I believe).
I also had my first experience sleeping in a hut and found it to be cozy and can only compare it with camping. I do indeed, enjoy sleeping in a hut! I also learned many words in Kumum and have found that it is easier to learn than Luganda. I can't wait until I am able to spend more time in the village and really be able to devote my time to learning the language.
Our next visit... We are planning to return to the village for a few short days at the end of the month, to meet with teachers, take teaching supplies and get everything set so classes can begin in September. I am happy that at least a few of my last days in Uganda will be spent up in our village. I have such joy in my heart when I am up there.
Francis' Visa - Francis was denied his visa on his first try (as is often the case). He will try once again, and we'll see what happens, but either way, I will be moving forward with planning to speak and raise money with or without him in Canada. I have many things to do in preparation for that.
Prayer and Finances - Please continue to pray for us as we move forward. We always ask that God would grant us wisdom and discernment. We don't want our own ideas to shape this ministry but we truly want God to be leading each step of the way. He sees all that is down the road while we only have a small dream in our brains and can't comprehend all that He may have planned. We also continue to pray for finances and ask that you also would help us in this area as well. In order to keep moving forward, we have had to spend money in faith that it would be provided. I really had no idea how expensive things would be in Uganda (and how many added expenses would come up along the way), however I do know that God is great and I believe and trust that each dollar that we need to spend He will provide for. If God lays it upon your heart to help us, whether out of your own pocket, by helping us to fundraise, or by praying for us in this matter, we thank you!!! We rely on all those at home for this ministry to move forward. And to those who have helped us, you have done a great thing. I know I am the one with the privilege of seeing the people's faces in person whose lives you are pouring into, but on their behalf I say thank you! Your gift really will make a difference in the lives of those in Kaberamaido.
For those who want to give, you can do so by sending a cheque written out to 'Rays of Hope for Uganda' to Joanna Hulowski at the address below, or you can call my mother and give a donation on your credit card as well.
RR5 site 23 box 165, Prince Albert, SK, S6V 5R3
One last note... Personally I will be looking for some temp odd jobs around Canada to try to take care of my own personal finances. If you or anyone you know has leads to any odd jobs I can do that would still afford me the flexibility I need to travel some please let me know.
Thank you for your support, your love, and your prayers. I will be seeing you all shortly as I am due to arrive back in Canada September 3rd.
Much love in Christ,
Thursday, July 15, 2010
That is something that I am realizing more and more that, as a Christian, especially living in Africa, that I have to give up...
Loss of control regarding personal space. Even sometimes when you need the alone time, culturally speaking, you can't tell people, even in a friendly way, to go away. Loss of control in issues of finances and knowing where they'll come from. It is difficult not having a normal 'job' to depend on for a steady paycheck. Loss of control in owning my own things, for example, the car and computer I use are shared. Never before have I had to share these types of things and not be able to claim them as my own. Loss of control in regards to timing (things are often NOT done in a timely manner here or in the timing we hope for). And realizing, as we all do, as Christians, that I really don't have much control in regards to what happens in my future. HOWEVER, I know the ONE who has the control. Anxiety is caused by feeling out of control, and more so, if you don't trust fully the ONE who is in control. But God is trustworthy. He knows and He cares. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows the ministry we're involved in more than Francis or I do, and has a bigger plan and dream than we do for it.
It has been quite a month.
I have attended 2 burials this month. The first was for a grandma to some boys I know here. They don't have parents, and that grandma was one of the last living people who truly CARED for them in their family. It was a terribly sad loss, knowing that some of those boys now don't know where they will even spend their Christmas'.
Last weekend as well, we lost 18 year old Joyce. She grew up in the Good Shepherd's Fold orphanage (where I used to volunteer). Joyce had HIV from the time she was born, the only child in her family to contract it. The last few months Joyce's health has really been going downhill, and recently, it seems that her spirit just gave in and gave up. She lapsed into a coma a couple of weeks ago, and last Thursday night (Friday morning) she went home. The funeral was touching, sad, and yet hopeful, as we all know that Joyce knew and loved Jesus deeply. What a comfort that she is now at his side. Joyce was a caring, servant-hearted 18 year old girl whose main aim in life was to make others' happy and share Jesus' through her love and care. Please continue to pray for her siblings who are missing her dearly.
After a few visits to Kampala this last week and some complications, it seems that my last visa for Uganda is finally coming through. I will continue to pray about it until I have my passport back in my hand with a visa in it (should have it on Monday).
Francis also made a trip to Kenya this week and has applied for his Canadian visa. We're really praying that God's favor would be with him and that he'd get it on his first try.
Rays of Hope for Uganda
The building we will be starting the school in is finally FINISHED, other than the doors and windows being installed... but we are excited to head back up to Kaberamaido finally to get things going. The plan is to go next week if all goes as we hope (including sewing of school uniforms being completed). Francis and I have talked and decided that since the school year is well under way for other schools we are just going to start a few beginner type classes right away for the kids to learn things like basic English and math and when we return in January next year then we will start up the more complete school program.
What a blessing every Thursday night is. It usually takes me most of the day to clean the house and prepare snacks, but every Thursday night we come away feeling encouraged and built up. I am grateful for all the people who continue to attend the bible study and the way we truly feel like family, carrying one another's burdens and lifting up our needs to God together. Last week we broke the record for attendees and had 19 people! It is encouraging to see young people desiring to seek the Lord and putting aside that time for Him.
I will end for now...
As always, our ministry, 'Rays of Hope for Uganda', continues to need your support, in prayer, encouragement, finances, and any other way you desire to assist us. I want to thank those who, especially recently, have been sending notes of encouragement and who are displaying such an eagerness to get involved with what we're doing. We thank you, pray for you and bless you in Jesus' name.
Again, here is the address if you desire to give. Cheques should be written out to 'Rays of Hope for Uganda' or you can call my mom and make the donation on your credit card.
Her number is 306-763-5626. All gifts given will be issued a tax receipt.
Mail Cheques to:
RR5 site 23 box 165
Prince Albert, SK
Saturday, June 12, 2010
It has been a few weeks since I last wrote. Since then, a lot has happened! Francis and I returned from Kaberamaido and had our car fixed (a few times) as we had a few problems while in the village, problems which unfortunately ended up costing us a lot of extra money we didn't have.
I met with a tailor and together we designed a couple of school uniforms and he has already begun to work on sewing them for us. We have asked him to sew 70 uniforms as we hope to have a variety of sizes to fit the 60 kids whom we plan to enroll in the school.
I have spent many hours at a local coffee shop uploading pictures to facebook (while enjoying an, unfortunately too rare, latte), and have had the joy of receiving many emails of encouragement and support regarding our project. God has, once again, showed himself to be so faithful to us! There is a story in the bible that came to my mind at bible study the other night about the Israelites crossing the Jordan River while carrying the Ark of the Covenant. From some study years ago I had learned that the Jordan River had very steep banks on either side and had a very strong current that could easily sweep a person away, and YET the Israelites climbed down those banks with that Ark in faith that God would make a way for them to cross it, and He did! The text goes on to say that they all walked across the river on dry ground! That is a little how we've been feeling with this school project. We stepped out in faith, believing this to be God's will, not having the money to complete this starter project, but yet trusting that God would not let us down. Well, God has been proving Himself faithful, as He always is. From the time I arrived back in Jinja He has been opening doors for us. A few people emailing me telling me they want to support us monthly (one person I haven't even met has sent in cheques months in advance to support us for the rest of this year – what an encouragement)! A church decided to support us with some unexpected money and we have found a few more people willing to sell crafts for us to raise money for the ministry, including the bible camp I used to work at!!! Incredible! It seems that every day lately we have had some new encouraging news in regards to support. We are ever so thankful, and believe all of this to be further confirmation that we are moving in the right direction.
Some days Francis and I have discussed just how unlikely this whole thing is. He, an orphan from a village in the middle of nowhere, Uganda, and I, a once shy Saskatchewan girl and her mom coming together to create this ministry. It seems so strange and unlikely even to us at times and we just have to shake our heads... but isn't that just the way that God does things?! He chooses the most unlikely people to do His work. And why? So the world would see His goodness and power! God is great!
Francis and his brother Noel traveled back up to Kaberamaido this week to check on the progress of the school building. We had left Allan (Francis' cousin) in charge of the work. Much to our delight, the building has really progressed so much in the little time that they've been working on it. They have finished plastering the walls, inside and out, pouring the floor and have already put up a fence around the building as well. I am so impressed by how quickly the men have worked (that is an incredible thing, especially in Africa, as often, with the relaxed African way of life, work takes a VERY long time to get completed here), but it is encouraging to see the heart they are all pouring into this project, and their work ethic, I believe is also a testimony to their desire for this school to begin for their children.
Francis and Noel returned a couple of days ago and Francis will be beginning his school exams around the 20th of this month (he is finishing up a business and management course he has been taking the last couple of years).
Today, I took the day and visited the village where Sarah (one of the ladies I buy necklaces from) stays. She had invited me to visit her home and to see her children who could not wait to meet me. I have talked about Sarah before in past blogs but will do so again here. Sarah is 26 years old and has 4 of her own children and also takes care of her brother's child since her brother went missing some time back. The five kids are Brian (11), Emma (9), George (5), Angel (2ish) and Benjamin (under a year). Sarah's husband had gone to Sudan to try to find work some time ago but has not returned. Recently she was told from another friend who returned that her husband was in prison there, though he did not know for what reason. I arrived to find Sarah's small shop to be empty of goods for resale. Empty boxes lined the shelves. She had been so desperate before I met her that she started selling her chairs in her small place and even had to sell the weighing scale from her shop. The necklaces I have been buying from her for Rays of Hope has really helped them, to eat, to put the kids in school and to pay for medicine but she still needs so much more to refill her small store so she could continue on with business there. I told Sarah that we would help her to get back on her feet again by buying her some things to begin selling and then she can help herself continue to restock after she makes a bit of money. She was so happy and instructed her kids to begin to clean and organize the shop to make room for the items to come. Sarah is planning to go shopping tomorrow for bulk items to start with, things like soap, matches, laundry detergent, parafin, etc... I hope to visit her again very soon to see how her shop is running. What a privilege to help such lovely ladies who really have nowhere else to turn. I am thankful God allowed me (and Rays of Hope) to be a part of her answer to prayer!
Unity and love within our team of 3 and all other people we work with and for – I believe this to be foundational for any ministry to be successful... without love, it is all for nothing!
Francis' exams at school (that he would do well)
Finances and more people to help support the ministry – there is still much work to be done!
Our vehicle – that it would run smoothly, free from accidents or mechanical problems
Francis' visitor's visa to Canada – he still has to apply and will be doing so shortly (we have been delayed waiting on some letters of invitation from churches to get to Uganda, however, we have them now so please now pray with us for favor as he applies, so he can come to Canada to try to raise more support).
We need a website! - please pray that God brings someone forward who can help us to build one.
Also, if God lays it upon your heart to help us in other ways, by supporting us financially or by helping us to sell crafts, please let me know. My email address is email@example.com. We are praying for more monthly supporters who would be willing to partner with us in this project. Tax deductible receipts will be issued for all donations given.
If you want to donate, please send cheques written out to 'Rays of Hope for Uganda' to my mom at the address below...
RR5 site 23 box 165
Prince Albert, SK
Thank you so much for reading and caring!
Love you all!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
This past week God answered our prayer for a vehicle for Rays of Hope. Francis found a 96 Honda CRV in excellent condition with really low mileage and we were able to purchase it for our long journeys to Kaberamaido. Travel is next to impossible once you get out to the village without a vehicle and we found renting or hiring a car to be too expensive to do time and time again so we 'bit the bullet', so to speak, and have thanked God every day since for the incredible vehicle he brought along our path.
Last week Francis and I traveled to Kaberamaido (and are still here). From a past trip here we discovered that there is a building not quite complete in the village where we own land so decided to ask about the possibility of renting it to begin a school, since it will still be some time before we have the money in place to build our own.
The owner was more than happy to make a contract with us that if we agree to purchase the remaining things for the structure and provide the money needed to also build a latrine (about $3,000 dollars worth of materials and labour) then the building will be ours to use for the next 3 years! We've accepted and are moving forward with that plan in place, hoping to have the building finished in the next two weeks. Our plan is to begin a small school until we have one built ourselves that can accommodate more children and classes.
We have decided, since most of the kids in the village have never been to school, (the closest school is 5 miles away) that we would use the two largest rooms as classrooms, one for pre-school and the other for Primary 1 (Grade 1) and the third, smaller room, as an office. Since we cannot at this point accommodate a lot of grades at one time, next year we plan to transition to making available P1 and P2 classes.
The village parents are very happy and excited about seeing this progress. What parent doesn't want the best for their child?!
As we move forward we are trusting that God will provide for the costs we have need of for the work He has called us to do and we know as well that He may possibly want to use YOU!
Here is a breakdown of some of the costs involved:
$3,000 dollars for the building to be completed for use (and the latrine to be built)
$100 dollars per month to pay 2 teachers a fair salary
$420 dollars – for 6 sets of tables with 2 benches (each set is $70)
$180 dollars- 2 Teachers' desks, 1 office desk and three chairs
School uniforms for the children (includes shirt and shorts, or dresses, socks, and shoes) - approximately $25 dollars per student (we need 60 uniforms)
School supplies ($3 dollars per student) – this includes exercise books, pencils, etc...
Porridge for the students ($50 dollars per month)
Purchase of cups and pots ($50 dollars)
If you, your small group or workplace would like to commit to purchasing any of these items for us please let us know. Tax deductible receipts will be issued for all donations given. Just write a separate note stating what it is meant for.
Though this is somewhat of a costly endevour, we really have God's peace that we are moving in the right direction and need to move forward, trusting that He will provide.
On the topic of 'how the Lord provides', I have to mention just how faithful God has been to provide for my needs month after month. Just this month it seemed as though my financial 'cup' was running dry only to find out that someone sent in enough money for almost 2 more months for me here. Thank you friends, for your faithfulness to God's leading and for blessing me with the encouragement of your support!
Another 'thank you' goes out to those faithful ones selling crafts to help us fundraise! We SO value and appreciate your effort and hard work and a special thank you to the person who has already raised over $1500 dollars for us in the last couple of months and is still enthusiastic to do more to help(you know who you are). Your tireless labour of love for us, and for the people of Uganda does not go unnoticed!
Other answers to prayer and joys I've seen in the last 2 weeks...
'Rays of Hope for Uganda' has received its certificate of registration as a ministry in the Kaberamaido District – We will pick up the certificate this week!
Sonrise Babies Home now also has a children's home! Pray that all the finances come in that are needed to purchase all the furniture so the older children can transition and more babies can be taken in to the babies home.
Bible study continues to grow, with 16 people (and a baby) in attendance last week
Something that brought a smile to my face as well is that Francis and I also had the joy of purchasing his 13 year old brother Mariko a bike. I don't think I've ever seen a kid with a bigger smile than the day that we got Mariko's bike for him. The kid has never before owned anything as nice or as valuable as a bike, and he is delighted! Mariko really deserves it so we were so happy to get it for him! I was more overjoyed for him to have it than if it was for myself!
Amos, a boy I know that I mentioned in my last blog post, now has a sponsor for this year of school! He is SO very grateful to the people who stepped forward to help him. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
Well, I'm sure I've overwhelmed all my readers, but hopefully it has strengthened your faith and brought some encouragement and joy your way. We continue to ask for your prayers and support. We know that we really can do nothing on our own.
For those who feel led to give to our school project here in Kaberamaido, please make cheques out to 'Rays of Hope for Uganda' and mail to my mom (Joanna Hulowski) at:
RR5 site 23 box 165
Prince Albert, SK, S6V 5R3
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Once I return to Jinja I will post some pictures on facebook from Kaberamaido. Please take a look through... I'm sure you'll be touched, just as I have been by the people of Kaberamaido.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
These last couple of weeks included a few more trips to the hospital for baby Brenda's meds, a lot of computer work helping Damali write updates for the babies at Sonrise Babies Home as well as writing up a few of their stories (some of which i will post below), a couple more bible studies at my house, time spent cuddling little children and a LOT of company at my place.
Things have been good. Life is good.
I think the biggest lesson I am continually impressed with is what true 'community living' looks like. In our bible study this week we were talking about the body of Christ, (1 Cor 12). The part that especially stood out to me is where Paul talks about when part of the body is in pain then all of the body suffers with it. How true that is, how much we need to be feeling the pain of others and be the hand to tend to the wounds that our brothers and sisters may have, and allow them to do the same for us when we're in need. And though we learn when we're 2 years old that it is better to share than to keep things to ourselves... do we really take it to heart? But how much greater to share what we have, whether it be our books, our clothes, our finances, our homes, our lives!
This next week Francis and I are planning to take a trip to Kaberamaido. I will post about all that was accomplished in that time once we return.
As i mentioned above... i wanted to post a few of the stories of kids who have been taken into Sonrise Babies Home so you know what situations some of these kids are coming from. These stories are like so many others, and reflect the lives of children still out there in similar types of situations...
Edrin was 2 years old when he came to Sonrise in August, 2009.
A woman with a ministry to prostitutes in Jinja called Damali and informed her of the child's situation. Edrin's mom was a prostitute. She would mistreat him, give him alcohol or sleeping pills at times to keep him quiet and leave him all alone when she went out at night.
Edrin had all the signs of malnourishment when he first arrived at Sonrise; skinny legs, distended stomache, ribs showing, and no hair. Those first days he was with us 'table time' was his most favorite time of day. He would want to eat anything and everything that was put before him. Edrin also would try to sneak food out of the kitchen when no one was looking, most likely a habit he had learned from his previous living situation. The house moms at Sonrise were informed to feed Edrin anytime he wanted to eat, at least until he learned that the food would always be there. It is good to see that Edrin now has moved beyond being a baby merely intent on survival to a little boy who enjoys playing with toy trucks, balls and with the other children at Sonrise.
We learned that Edrin's mom has been living with HIV so we had Edrin tested. Thankfully the little boy's results came back negative.
Edrin has already come so far is such a short time and we are so proud of the little guy.
Edrin's mother recently came to Sonrise to visit him. We are happy she is still showing some interest in knowing her son and hope she will continue to do so.
Catherine and Junior (Catherine and Junior's profile was written by someone else so i can't take credit for it)
Brothers and sisters are a special gift from God and one that should never be taken for granted. Catherine and Junior are sister and brother from the same parents, and in a country like Uganda, this is all too often rare. Catherine is around 4 years old and Junior is around 2. They come from a village where their family is very, very poor. Their mother died sometime after Junior was born, so they were raised by their father. Catherine and Junior’s father and uncle (their father’s brother) were very close and lived next door to each other. Their children grew up together although their uncle’s children were much older. But shortly thereafter, Catherine and Junior’s father died and they were left in the care of their uncle. They were very close to him and even called him “father”. At night, Catherine and Junior slept in a hut by themselves. Because the uncle was gone often and there wasn’t a female caretaker, Catherine and Junior were left alone most of the time with very little adult supervision. Because they were all alone in the hut by themselves, Catherine and Junior always slept huddled together on the mud floor. Rats infested the hut and would eat Junior’s little feet during the night. When he arrived at Sonrise the bottoms of his feet were badly bitten and scarred. Both Catherine and Junior were very malnourished as they had lived off of very little food and no milk at all. Catherine came to Sonrise with only a pair of mismatched shoes and the clothes she was wearing.
God is watching over Catherine and Junior’s precious lives and He loves them. He has never left their side. He was with them throughout their parents deaths’, He was with them in their tiny mud hut, He saw the rats. He saw the neglect. And God has rescued His little children and He brought them to Sonrise Baby Home. Catherine and Junior’s lives are in His hands. From their stories, may God receive the glory.
Gift was born in October, 2009 to a teenage mother who passed away while giving birth to little Gift. From that time on her grandmother cared for her but was finding it too difficult to do so while still trying to raise her own children, caring for her husband with cancer and having no steady income. A pastor told Damali about the baby and Sonrise agreed to take the little one in. In January, 2010the pastor paid for the transport to bring the baby and her grandmother to Sonrise and Gift was given a new home. When she first arrived, Gift was malnourished and very small, however, over the next few months she steadily gained weight and has grown into quite a content, healthy and happy little baby.
Musa Kayumba was born January 10, 2010.
Sonrise first learned of baby Musa from someone at another orphanage. We were told that his mother had died sometime after giving birth to him and there was no one capable of caring for him in the village where he lived. When we went to the village to get Musa they were in the midst of burial ceremonies for his mother and Musa was, at that time, in the hospital sick with malaria. Musa, though not premature, was a very tiny baby. We discovered that for the first week of Musa's life his aunties in the village had been giving him mostly water to drink, and only a little milk, therefore he lost whatever weight he had had when he was born.
Musa, we have learned, has some other sisters, one who is just 2 years of age.
Since Musa has come to Sonrise he has been doing really well. He has a hearty appetite, has gained a lot of weight and is happy. His father has not yet come to see him but we hope that one day soon he will.
In September, 2009 Damali received a phone call from a woman in the Mbale area telling her of a young baby who was staying with her struggling grandmother and wasn't receiving proper care. Unfortunately, at that time, Sonrise did not have the money or necessities in place to take care of this little one so had to refuse. This little girl by the name of Brenda Sambula had been orphaned when her teenage mother, who was HIV positive, passed away. Brenda's grandmother from that time on had been caring for her.
Months later Damali got back in contact with the lady who had told her of this child and they made the trip to Mbale in January, 2010 to pick up little Brenda.
They found that Brenda's grandmother who had been caring for her had also died and the little one had to go stay instead with another grandmother who was even more poor than the first had been. Little Brenda, just a few months old, most days had to stay on her own all day long while her grandmother would go out to dig in her garden. Her only food for the day often consisted of a piece of posho that would be left at the house with her.
We were told upon picking up little Brenda that she was about a year old, however 3 months after that time, nurses and doctors seem to think that she is closer to 9 or 10 months old.
Baby Brenda was very malnourished and sickly when she first arrived at Sonrise. She had terrible ear infections and a bad cough. We took her to the doctor in January to have her ear infections looked at and for a chest X-Ray to be done. The doctor gave Brenda medicine to treat the ear infections but nothing more was discovered about her health at that time. Again in March we took her to get a second set of X-rays, but again the doctor could not tell us what was wrong with her, and he suggested that she more than likely had HIV. So, prayerfully we took Brenda to be tested for HIV. When we went to pick up Brenda’s test results in April 2010 they came back negative! That same day Brenda saw a doctor, and after looking at her X-rays for one minute the woman was certain that our little baby had TB. Brenda was put on medication right away and got tested as well that same day. Two days later when we got the results we found that she did in fact have TB. Brenda steadily has been in improving since starting her TB medication, she is looking healthier, smiling a lot more and gaining some weight.
Brenda's grandmother came to see her at Sonrise recently (April 2010) and she was so thankful. She has seen an enormous change in Brenda in just a few months time.
These are but a few of the many stories that I can tell. Thanks for reading.
Finances for Rays of Hope
Wisdom and favor as we travel to Kaberamaido this next week, to accomplish all that we need to get done and would meet with the people we need to meet with
ROH may also be buying a vehicle to make travel to Kaberamaido easier (we would sell our bike if this is the case). Pray that whatever is best will work out.
Health for the children at Sonrise Babies Home
Wisdom as Damali leads Sonrise Babies Home
Continued blessing on our bible studies Thursday nights and for Ivan who leads the discussion time
Sonrise is also going to begin a children's home so the children can transition from the babies home to the children's home so they don't have to be separated - pray for finances and God's blessing and for Ivan as he heads that up
Pray for me, that God would use me these next 4 months that i am here in whatever way he chooses, and that much would be accomplished
Pray for Francis to be able to get a visa to come to Canada (we would like him to come back with me in September to speak in churches to try to raise some support).
Pray for me, to know what God would have me do next year (return here or stay in Canada for some time)
Also, if there is anyone out there who would like to help a boy I know finish his last year of high school, please let me know. His name is Amos and he has just two semesters left of school but does not have the money to pay for it. I wish i could help him myself but my budget is small and it is impossible for me at this time. He would need $200 dollars for these last two semesters. We would not be able to give a tax receipt for this gift but if God lays it upon your heart please let me know and i will give you the information on how you can help.
Thanks for reading and for praying.
Also, if anyone feels that they would like to support me financially as i finish up these next few months, I or my mom can let you know how to do so.
Thanks so much my friends!!!
Can't wait to see you!
Friday, April 23, 2010
So Friday came and I went back to the hospital, and the service was much quicker (only 2 hours this time), but at least i didn't have to bring the baby which was good. So, we're set for 2 more weeks of medication... I only hope and pray that the next time we have to get more medication that it won't have to take 3 days to do it! Especially seeing as Brenda has to take the medication for 6 months. I can't complain though, and i don't complain as I was not the only person waiting at the hospital... there were many, many women and children there waiting just as long as I was, and I'm sure many had come from distant villages and this was their only option. It made me to be able to relate just a little bit to what these women face all the time here when their children get sick.
Today is Saturday and i went to visit Emmanuel at his mom's place in Wairaka... correction, not HER place, but the orphanage she volunteers and lives at full time!!! What an incredible woman of God that lady is! She really just shines with the light of Jesus! I thank God for such examples of beauty on this earth.
Rays of Hope bought some necklaces both from Emma's mom (Rebekah) as well as Emma's aunt (Betty) to help them out a bit since they have no income coming in and Emma still needs to be transported back and forth to the clinic every couple of days.
I love using the necklaces to raise funds for Rays of Hope because it really is a way to help people here as well. I was able to buy some from a church youth group today to help with their ministry and have agreed to also buy some from a lady by the name of Sarah who is struggling to raise her children alone. Sarah told us that her husband left for Juba, Sudan some time ago to do business but has stopped calling and hasn't returned. Apparently this is a common occurrence with men going to Juba for business... either they get killed in the process or find a new wife and another life there. We asked her what she does to survive and to feed her 4 children. She told us that she has a small shop but since her husband hasn't returned they have not been doing well and there are less and less things in her shop to sell. So, Sarah makes necklaces in hopes of finding market to supplement her small income in the shop. Sarah told us that her oldest of the four kids is 9 years and the youngest just 6 months. I hope to visit her home in the weeks to come.
Mariam, the other village lady i sometimes buy necklaces from comes by every now and again. It is good to see her doing better than when we first met her. We have encouraged her to use the money she has made from the necklaces we've bought from her to expand her business in selling vegetables and so not to depend entirely on the necklaces themselves. She can always make necklaces as she sits at her booth selling vegetables. Mariam thought it was a good idea to try to do both.
Rosemary is a lady who lives in Jinja town and rents a shop. She is also a supplier of our necklaces, and just last month told me she didn't know how she would have paid her bills if we hadn't bought what we did at that time when i had to send a shipment of them to Canada. She gave the glory to God, as it is due him! I know i always mention this but I am continually amazed, day after day, at how God provides for His people here... When all looks hopeless, God will make a way for these people so close to his heart!
Well, thanks for reading my ramblings.
I love Uganda... hope many of you can come here one day as well, and fall in love with it for yourselves!
Until next time,
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The last two weeks have been crazy!
Early last week a friend of mine (Emmanuel - aka Emma), who lives with Francis and his brothers, got into a motorcycle accident and wound up in the hospital. Someone came to my house first thing in the morning, asking me to try to get some money to help him and to come down to the clinic as soon as possible. I went down unsure of what i would find.
It turns out that Emma was riding the motorbike and a huge swarm of bees starting stinging him on the head, under his shirt, everywhere! He would have moved away but a car was coming towards him in the opposite lane and he ended up getting a little mixed up and flying off as the bike hit a post.
He got to the clinic before 8am with Francis and I arrived shortly thereafter. As a good friend, it was so hard to see Emma in so much pain. The bone doctor who works in Jinja happened to be in Kampala at the time (which is usually a couple hours drive away with traffic) and so little was done for Emma until that doctor could come in to see him. We waited and waited and waited as I picked bee stingers out of Emma's back and arms that still remained. Finally, after some X-Rays, and the doctor's arrival we found out that Emma had broken his leg (just below his knee in the front), and his big toe, and the gash in the back of his leg was so deep it almost reached the bone. Emma was stitched up and put in a cast and we were told that he would have to stay for at least 5 days as the wound would have to be attended to. The first two days were the worst for Emma, as the cast was even over top of the wound. After 2 days time they cut a hole in the cast to try to attend to the wound from that time forward. Emma's mom came to stay with him in the clinic and many friends came by to see him. I spent a lot of time running up and down, bringing meals and tea and just spending time visiting (and playing scrabble) with both Emma and his dear sweet mom.
Emma was just this Monday evening released from the clinic and went to stay with his mom until his leg is recovered as she can give him the best attention and care at this time. Please pray for Emma that his leg and toe heal well and that he can be back on his feet once again. We all thanked God that Emma survived the accident with relatively minor injuries (though I'm sure not minor pain).
I think the whole situation really made me think again about true community and how precious it truly is to serve one another in love. It also made me appreciate, once again, the free health care that we enjoy in Canada. I truthfully don't know how people ever survive financially when things like this happen here. I always wonder how people survive, in general, with the cost of things in this country and the minimal jobs, but this situation, even more, made me really consider the harshness and reality of just barely scraping by, the way most Ugandans live day-to-day. I suppose that is why their faith in God is so confident and strong, because they truly see God provide time and time and time again when things seem utterly impossible.
I also have learned something about sacrificial giving... God brings challenges our way at times to see how we will respond I suppose and if we'll be willing to let go, even when it hurts, and trust him. I thank Him for such challenges that stretch my faith.
On another note, I have also made three trips to Kampala in the last week as well. I had to renew my visa once again, and the Lord provided someone to help me run around Kampala on the very day that I needed to get the process started. Taking public transport around Kampala is NOT a simple task so to have someone help out with a car was a HUGE blessing.
I also took a baby from Sonrise Babies Home in to a clinic in Kampala on Monday to get the results from her HIV test that was done a couple weeks before. She came back NEGATIVE, Praise the Lord, however we had her tested for TB that day and just today had to take her in for the results. Well, we found out that she does in fact have it. This poor little girl, less than a year old, with TB! The crazy thing is that she had been to a few doctors before but no one could figure out what was wrong with her, but this doctor, after looking at her X-rays from previous months suspected right away that this little girl had TB. She will have to be on medication for the next 6 months. Please pray for her healing, her name is Brenda. I enjoyed so much just being with this little girl this week though... it reminded me once again of how much I hope to adopt some little ones one day. That desire has always been in me, to take in a couple little orphans as my own. I pray that in time God would allow that to happen. The nurse at the clinic told me that I looked like the mommy to little Brenda, I guess I couldn't help but love her. How can you do anything but love a little one who doesn't have parents?! That is our job as decent human beings, and even more so, as Christians!!! True religion is to take care of orphans and widows in their distress, the book of James talks about, how can we not?
One other blessing from this week is this... I met a muzungu (white) friend who happens to be from Canada. I think even just knowing one white person will be good for me... for those moments when I need a little piece of home, and someone to understand where I come from. I love my many Ugandan friends, but thank God for my one new Canadian friend too.
Well, that is enough of my thoughts for tonight...
Thanks for reading, and staying interested in my life here in Uganda.
Love you all!