Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 18, 2011

We are excited to share with you some of the stories from our training here at New Hope Uganda.  We are also very excited to have power!  Where to begin…

We have officially been at New Hope Uganda for almost 2 weeks.  Our travel from Jinga to Luwero was an adventure.  We piled our tubs and all our belongings into a bus with the kiddos and headed from Jinga to Luwero.  We did not have exact directions to New Hope other than go to Luwero and ask how to get to New Hope.  “Everyone knows how to get to New Hope.”  We got directions and started down an endless dirt road that was bumpy and dusty.  When I say dirt road I mean one that seemed to never end, we kept going and going.  Finally after many not so reassuring glances at each other, and some silent prayers we saw a sign for New Hope.  We traveled along this bumpy, dusty, windy and at times scary dirt road for about 50 minutes in the bus. 

Once we arrived we were greeted by some of the staff of New Hope.  We were so excited to be there and so excited we had actually found the place.  The staff was excited to share with us that a house had opened up and we would not be staying in a hut! Praise God, it is a two bedroom house with a western style toilet and running water. Not the same type of house as American standards, but a house! We only have water when we have electricity to fill the tank outside; the electricity has been off more than it has been on.  We went about 36 hours without it and ran completely out of water in the tank.  The kiddos took bucket showers and we pulled water out of the well to flush the toilet.  All that aside it is such a blessing to have a house; we are so very thankful, electricity or no electricity.    

We have been hearing each other’s testimonies and it is absolutely amazing hearing the stories from the people of Ugandan who have lived through so many struggles.  Many of them lived through the civil war and were forced to leave their homes or families.  So many of them had close friends and family members who were killed.  One lady in particular told of leaving everything and running to hide in the bush from the soldiers. They would hide out in the bush until the soldiers passed, sometimes it would take hours of days.  There are so many stories of struggles and loss that it seems like something from a Hollywood movie script, except for the fact it is the story of their lives.

We went through a week long conference called Envisioning.  It was a great gear up for our training.  It was a week of praise and worship and different speakers. Today we stated in on our training going over ground rules, conduct, expectations etc. Then we had a 52 question “exam” over Biblical knowledge.  The last question was to draw a timeline from Creation to Christ, filling in as much as possible.  Tomorrow we all work in the fields for the harvest.  The whole New Hope community comes together and goes to harvest maize.  We are excited and nervous as the same time, but it will definitely be a learning experience.  The boys  are really excited as well, I do not think they know that they are in for.

We had our first cooking experience in Africa.  We have these little round charcoal cookers.  Now when I say charcoal I do not mean Kingsford Match Light.  This is burnt hardwood charcoal that definitely has a technique to getting it going.  You have to first light some paper or dried grass in the bottom, and get a big fire going to light the hardwood charcoal on the grate above.  Once this is done you have to get the coals hot enough to set your pan or skillet on to cook.  We did not have class until 9:30 today so we had the brilliant idea to whip up some French toast and scrambled eggs.  A mere two hours later we had everyone fed, cooking is not so easy here.  It did however roast some G-nuts this afternoon, which are like peanuts.  Before you know it I will be whipping up big family meals on my little charcoal cooker.

More stories to come, unfortunately our connection speed is too slow to upload pictures for now.  Also, check out the new feature on our website called Karson’s Korner.  Karson is giving his stories from the perspective of a 7 year old.

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 7, 2012


It is 4am here and I am wide awake so I figured I would write an update of our first real day here, outside of the guest house.

We started off the day visiting the Amazima program run by Katie Davis.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, you should!  You can read more about all the incredible things she is doing at Jason and I visited the program when we first came to Uganda last year and took pictures of the amazing playground that they have there.  From that point on, the boys have associated Africa with that playground.  It was so much fun to see them enjoying it with the kids in the program this morning.  Hadlee became fast friends with one of Katie’s daughters, Grace.

Unfortunately we only had a little time to spend there and were on to our next stop, Canaan Children’s Home, just down the road.  Jason and I had been waiting for this moment for so long.  It was the moment that our kids got to finally meet the children that they have been praying for every night.  For them to be able to meet Frank and Alan and Pastor Isaac and Mama Rebecca was just incredible.  It just so happens that two of Pierce’s favorite people happen to be his Papa and his cousin Isaac and he knows those words very well.  So Papa Isaac, as many refer to Pastor, was shocked that Pierce could already say his name, just after meeting him for moments!  I just let him think he was brilliant J.  All the kids played and played and then played some more with the Canaan kids and were so sad when it was time to leave.  It was also a special treat to get to see Carol and Addyson McCoy, who were visiting there at the same time.  These are friends of ours from previous trips who we visited this summer in Gatlinburg while sharing about Healing Faith.  Addyson is an amazing kid that took it upon herself to raise enough money to build a playground for the children’s home there.  She exceeded her goal and is now working on funds towards a playground for the school.  So blessed to know them!

Our next stop was to meet Emmanuel Lufafa, our Uganda partner with Healing Faith, and to visit the Mafubira area.  This is the village area that Healing Faith will be providing medical assistance for and hopefully building a new clinic site for in the near future.  Jason and I had seen pictures of the area and of the current clinic, but were not fully prepared for the huge amount of need that we were faced with.  It was almost overwhelming.  At the same time though we both had this feeling of joy in seeing the area and meeting the people that would be benefiting from all the sacrifices that so many have made to get us here and the support that we have received.  Please believe me when I say that your money is going towards an incredible cause.  This is one of the poorest areas of Uganda that Jason and I have experienced so far.  Emma (as his friends call him) said that almost on a daily basis they have to turn orphans away that are brought to the clinic, because they have no means to care for them.  He also said that almost 65% of the population of Mafubira is infected with HIV and AIDS and that the results of those numbers are devastating to the population of children.  So many kids are being left orphans on a daily basis and extended family members are taking in children that they have no means to support, especially not medically.  This is where Healing Faith and YOU can have such an impact on this community.  Emma has such a vision for what can be done with the El Shadai clinic that has already been started, but his vision has been hindered by lack of funds and supplies.  Jason and I feel so certain that Healing Faith can help make this community flourish again.  We are so excited about what is to come and hope that you will play a huge role in all of it.

The community welcomed us with open arms. We were told that what was theirs was now freely ours an to  help ourselves to any food that they had.  Then they cut open a jackfruit for us all to try.  Some of us more bravely than others (Jason is kind of a wimp when it comes to trying new foods, but don’t tell him I said so).  It was an incredible feeling to be welcomed to their village as one of their own.

I know this entry is long, but I couldn’t wrap it up without talking about the kids briefly.  I was so very proud of them today.  Quit possibly one of my proudest moments as a parent so far.  I won’t lie, I was worried what their reaction would be to what they experienced and saw today.  All the parents out there, or just anyone who has been around kids, knows that they sometimes (often) have a knack for saying exactly what is on their mind.  No filters!  This was the first time for them all to experience such poverty and change from the world that they knew.  I had no idea what to expect from them.  What they might say.  They were amazing.  You would have thought they had seen things like this everyday of their lives.  They played with the children as if they were playing with their best friends back home.  They walked hand in hand and never once even flinched at any differences they might have seen.  They had such an incredible day of playing and just being kids.  All four of them looked like Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka afterwards, covered in the Ugandan red dirt from head to toe.  Smiling as big as they possibly could.  My heart was truly filled with joy today in so many ways.

Jason and I feel so truly blessed in this moment at God’s provision for our family and where He has brought us.  Please consider joining us as a monthly sponsor or with a one- time donation to make all the hopes we have for this area of Uganda a reality.  Thank you for being on this journey with us.  Stay tuned….. we promise to post picture when we have a better internet connection.

You can check out the Healing Faith facebook page for pictures posted from one of our future interns.

Friday, January 6, 2012

We are in Uganda!!!!!

We are here!  Things have been incredible so far.  The flights went very smoothly.  Everyone was SO very nice and helpful.  Because of our kids, we were facetracked through every line there was.  Always taken right to the front.  I felt like we were VIPs at Disneyworld or something.  The kids were great on the flights.  Karson was determined to stay awake the entire way and was almost successful.  Of course, that meant I didn't get but maybe 2hrs of sleep the whole trip.  Still recovering!

Then once in Uganda (we landed around 10:30pm) there were 3 airport workers that helped Jason unload all the luggage while I kept up with the kids.  The car seat was the only thing missing. (we were able to use the seat on the first flight, but they said there wasn't room for it on the second so they took it at the gate).  So we had to wait at the luggage claim for quite a bit while they were checking tags.  Finally, Jason and I decided to just forget about the seat because even if they found it later and had it in Entebbe, we would have to pay $100 both ways just to go pick it up and it wasn't worth it.  The blessing in disguise though was that since it took us so long to get all of our luggage and deal with the seat, the rest of our flight was already completely done with customs and security.  I guess they don't hang around in between flights because there was NO ONE at security.  The workers helping us push the carts asked if we needed to go through customs, if we had anything we were trying to sell that we needed to pay taxes on.  I said no, we don't have any of that so we can just skip that and they let us just walk right out the door.  We had some shillings so I tipped the guys that helped us and they looked at me really strangely.  I asked today about tipping in Uganda and they said it is not normal and that in some situations it can be looked at as a bribe.  Thank goodness me tipping with the luggage didn't get us into trouble.  So much to learn!

We were finally leaving the Entebbe airport around 11:00pm and had decided to drive strait through to Jinja.  We arrived with no problems at Arise Africa Guest House shortly after 2am.  THE KIDS WERE WIRED!  I think it was well past 5am before I finally got Hadlee and Pierce completely to sleep.  Rachel Ruiz and Brooke Thomas were there to meet us at the airport and have been such a huge help.  Our hopes were to let the kids sleep in their room and Jason and I get some rest, but the kids had other ideas.  Pierce ended up "sleeping" with me, and I use that term loosely because he mostly tossed and turned all night.  We did stay in bed until well past 1pm though!

The rest of today was just spent hanging out at Arise.  We went to a place called 2 Friends for dinner, which was just a short walk away.  It was a beautiful place and they had pizza so the kids ate and ate.  Pierce has been going up to every person he meets and just bear hugging their legs.  They all just pick him up and toss him in the air.  He loves it and I think they love him too.  It just cracks me up how bold he and Hadlee are.

That is all for now.  Tomorrow morning we are heading to another area to take the kids to visit the Amazima program and to meet the kids at Canaan's Children Home.  Then tomorrow afternoon we are traveling to the Mafubira area with Lufafa (who we found out goes by Emmanuel and Lufafa is his last name!) to see the future site of the new clinic and meet the people we will be helping.  I can't wait for that.