Saturday, May 31, 2014

Two Weeks- A Word from Kellie

We have officially been in Uganda for two whole weeks now! I am in disbelief at how fast the time flies here!

I feel like the best way to illustrate my experience here is to take you through our first village visit. Every few days, we leave Jinja to visit a village about 30 min away called Wakisi. As soon as we first drove into the village, the local kids became ecstatic! They ran after the van and some of them even held onto it until we got to school.  I was honestly surprised by how welcoming everyone was. After we unloaded, we went out to a big field to sing, dance, and play games with the children. It was during my first set of songs that the reality of their life hit me. They were singing this song about how its okay to love Jesus because the "future looks better than it does right now." The truth of those lyrics constantly 
reminded me that this life is just our temporary home. There will be a time when they won't have to go to school in a place similar to a goat shed, live in a mud hut, have malaria, or wonder where their next meal is coming from. Even though the kids in the village have a harder life than most could ever imagine, they are still living out God's word. 2 Corinthians 4:18 came to mind when I heard their song, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

After singing and dancing, Jason gathered all of the children around him for a bible story.The kids were so attentive and eager to learn. They loved looking at the pictures! While the bible story was being told, the women and children who needed medical care began to line up. There weren't that many on Tuesday, but what we did see was heartbreaking. We tested a couple people and a seven month old for malaria.Thankfully, no one tested positive. We saw several babies around 5-7 months old that were clearly very sick. One baby, in particular, was crying and had wounds all over him. It was an amazing experience to watch and learn from Jason as he went from woman to woman, to baby to baby, caring for each one the best he could. After treatment, we gathered around them and prayed over each of them.

We kicked off our malaria education in Wakisi this week. Let me just say that I knew coming into this internship what Healing Faith was all about, but it brought me to tears seeing it all come together. Since Jason and Kari work so hard to establish relationships with the people in the village, we were able to go from home to home in the village and educate them about malaria including the cause, signs, symptoms,
who's at risk, and prevention. Then we went inside and hung mosquito nets over each sleeping area. Next, we treated the outside, doors, and windows with pesticide. Lastly, we asked the families if we could pray over them, because even though we are the ones physically helping them fight malaria,the Lord sent us. Everything we do here is in His name. My prayer and hope is that each family that we meet sees the love of Jesus through our work. This is just the first week of our malaria education, but on Tuesday, our team was able to hang 21 nets. That covered 18 adults and 57 children! On Thursday afternoon, we went back out to the village to continue our fight against malaria. That afternoon, we were able to hang 15 nets, which covered 14 adults and 22 children! That's 111 people who are sleeping safely at night now thanks to Healing Faith!

 God is SO GOOD!

So far, I have absolutely loved my time here. The people are beautiful, the kids are full of life, the culture is amazing, and I've never felt God's presence more than I have here. I love knowing that I'm exactly where God intended me to be and I can't wait to see what he has planned for the rest of my internship.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Where Do I Begin? - First Week Perspective from Greg Mendoza

Where do I even begin? Over the last week I've experienced and grown more than I could ever express with words. Over the past year or so God has really placed a burden on my heart to do something, to take action, to get off the bench! I was getting tired of sitting in bible studies talking about what it looks like to be a follower of Christ but then as soon as we walk out of the room we go about our daily lives like nothing ever happened. That personally just ate at me, and didn't seem right. Sunday, I got to go to church at the Segner's house. While I sat there, I looked around the room at all the missionary families, I finally felt at peace. These families gave up their lives in the States to move to Uganda and show God's love to the people. Talk about getting off the bench and actually playing the game!

Don't get me wrong, you don't have to move to Africa to do God's will for your life. But there's something special about being surrounded by people who are the epitomes of James 1:27.. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." They are literally in the trenches of this world taking care of the poor, tending to the sick, and showing love to the unloved! God has really blessed me with this opportunity to learn from the Segner's and to be a part of an amazing ministry. 

We landed in Entebbe, Uganda pretty late on May 15th and got to a guesthouse where we stayed the night (a guesthouse here is the same thing as a bed and breakfast). That was a very "interesting" time. The guesthouse’s driver picked us up at the airport, which wouldn't have been that bad except for the fact that we had no idea who this guy was, where we were going, it was dark, and we were in another country! The whole time, I was thinking "my mom would be freaking out if she knew about this"... oh and I still haven't told her yet so I'll be getting a call after she reads this. We finally get to the guesthouse and all is good. This guy named Paul, who’s from Holland, and his wife Claire, who is Ugandan,  runs it. Really nice people!

That night I was reading Psalm 121, which says in verse two.. "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." 

The next morning we get picked up by another man named Paul, the Healing Faith driver, and head towards Jinja. And that's where the fun begins! It finally hit me; I was in a place that I only knew existed through pictures and TV. It wasn't all bad, it was actually quite beautiful in some places. Now I won't go into much detail, but some of the things I witnessed definitely made it hard to sleep that night. And that was just along the main road to Jinja! I was starting to panic a little and feeling very overwhelmed by it all. I started thinking that there's no way I could do this, that it was impossible for me. I know it was just the enemy trying to get to me, and for a second it was working. Right there in the van I started praying, and I kid you not, as soon as I look up I see this taxi that on the back had "PSALM 121" in big yellow letters. Immediately all fear and anxiety went away! I was reminded very quickly that I was called here for a purpose and that ALL my help comes from the One who created the universe! 

After being here over a week I'm finally starting to settle down and feel more comfortable around town. Especially after the creative introduction to Jinja life the Segner's came up with. They set up an "Amazing Race" Jinja style! We were given clues and had to find the place in town and either take a picture or buy something but there was a catch! We were only allowed to ask people on the streets and we were racing against each other! Every place we went was somewhere we would need to know
while staying here. It was very helpful, and kind of scary at first! I got a lot of weird looks and looked like a fool multiple times, which gave Jason a ton of laughs. And for the record I won!

There's been A LOT to get used to. From the money, to how you buy food, to how you greet people, to what side of the road you drive on, to just the culture as a whole. I could go on and on! Initially it was very strange, but the more I’ve been around it the more I realize America could learn a thing or two. People are never in a hurry or rushing. They focus more on relationships and they take friendships very seriously. For example, if you pass a friend on the street it would be normal to say “Hey, what’s up?” and then keep on walking, but here if you do that they would think you were extremely rude. You would need to shake hands and carry on a conversation asking how they are and how the family is doing and so on. The lifestyles just go at a much slower pace. I really feel like you get a chance to focus on what’s really important in life without any distractions.

Since it's the rainy season here, it storms pretty much every night. Which is bad when it comes to getting out to the villages that Healing Faith works in. Luckily it held off enough and allowed us to make it out there twice the last week! I was so excited to finally be able to serve and see what it was all about. In order to make it out to the village we had to drive down this mud path that was barely wide enough for our van (yes, it's 4x4). It was awesome! As soon as the kids saw/heard the van they all came running! We got to play games with the kids, as well as sing and dance. At the end Jason told them all a Bible story. I was really impressed by how much they remembered from the last story, which was weeks ago! After the story there were already several women lining up for medical treatment. Most of them had infants. And let me tell you, I have NEVER felt more awkward in my life! As part of the cultural differences I mentioned before, the women won't think twice about whipping their breasts out in front of you and feeding their babies. At one point there was one lady who had a baby on each one! I was definitely not prepared for that! As I was staring off into space pretending like I was playing it cool, Jason was caring for each person that was there. I finally came to and got to see how he interacted with the people and I immediately thought "when you did it to the least of these, you did it to me." It was incredible to actually see this happen right in front of me!  I've helped out with various Healing Faith fundraising events while back in the States, but to actually see first hand the life change is almost unexplainable. This is real people, real lives, and real issues that are being cared for.

Just remember, you don't have to go to Africa to love and serve people. There's people around us everyday that can be served and shown some love! But most importantly though.....DO SOMETHING! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Meet the Interns: Greg!

Meet Greg:

Gregory Mendoza is 22 years old and is one of three Healing Faith interns of 2014. 
He is from Rogers, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M in 2013 with a degree in Bioenvironmental Science. Gregory now lives in the Bryan/College Station area where he is a member of Brazos Fellowship. He is a Sunday morning volunteer and is also a leader in both the college and youth ministries. While at A&M he also volunteered with Breakaway Ministries. 
Gregory felt called to Africa and tells us he is excited for the opportunity to serve through Healing Faith!

Meet the Interns: Katie!

Meet Katie:

Katie McMahon is one of the three Healing Faith Summer interns, for the summer of 2014. 
She is the only intern who is not from the state of Texas, she was born and raised in Ohio. 
Katie currently is entering her senior year at Asbury University, a small Christian college outside of Lexington, Kentucky. At Asbury she is double majoring in Elementary education and Special Education and has a passion for students in the inner-city. 
Katie spent her past two summers working as an Americorps volunteer, helping run a free lunch day camp programs in Ohio. This is Katie's second time serving with Healing Faith, she came on a short term trip this past January with Visiting Orphans and fell in love with Uganda, Jinjia, and the relationship aspect that is so key in Healing Faith. 
Katie tells us she is so excited to get to spend her summer serving in a place that she has grown to love and cannot wait to start spreading Christ's love and fighting against Malaria!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Meet the Interns: Kellie

This summer we are thrilled to have 3 amazing interns.  They arrived in Uganda last week, and have begun to settle in.  We wanted to take the time to introduce each of them so that you can begin to follow along their journey with Healing Faith!

Meet Kellie:

Kellie James is from Austin,Texas and is currently one of the three interns for Healing Faith this summer. She is a former student of Texas A&M University and has two majors: International Studies and French. Although Kellie has traveled to several different countries in Europe, this is her first time in Africa. 
Kellie is an active member of Brazos Fellowship in College Station,Texas which is where she first heard about the Segners and their ministry. 
After hearing Jason and Kari's story, she immediately fell in love with their hearts, their ministry, and their work in Uganda. She has only been in Uganda for 6 days so far, but the country and people have already stolen her heart! Kellie tells us she feels so blessed that God has given her this opportunity to serve here in Jinja this summer alongside the Segners!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Walking as a new man

When I first met Cato, a man I would estimate to be in his early to mid-thirties, he came to us for wound care while working in the village, barely able to walk.  I do not know what was worse, the smell of his injuries or the smell of the local home brew alcohol they make in the village on his breath.  He was a broken man with horrific injuries on both of his lower legs.  We were fortunate enough to have a team visiting that had 3 nurses on it.  They were able to help me clean, dress and bandage the wounds. It took over 30 minutes to clean his wounds so I began to talk to him, to ask him about his life.  He told me he was the last one left in his family and that he had come back to the village to die. He had no hope.  His wounds were so bad and so painful. What he told me next, chilled me to my core.  Cato said “The pain is so bad you should cut off my leg or cut of my head, I don’t care which.”  He was in a dark place.  Do you know what we did?  We prayed for Cato.

I believe the underlying problem is that Cato is diabetic.  How do you treat that in the village?  He can’t get a steady supply of medicine to treat it and he can’t change his diet, what they grow in the village they eat.  There is no “special diet” in the village.

Each time we went to the village, we walked down to Cato’s house to pray for him and to treat his wounds.
Slowly, slowly the wounds started to heal.  Slowly, slowly Cato started to heal.  There was a small amount of hope with our increasing visits.  As he was able to, Cato started walking up to where we work in the village.  One of Cato’s major problems was that he kept the wounds covered for days at a time.  He liked to keep them covered so that he could walk to the local bar and drink the local alcohol. Staying covered for so long and the continuous intake of alcohol was not helping at all in the healing process.

After a couple months of working with Cato, talking about discipleship with him, treating his wounds and showing him love, Cato did something amazing. He asked for a Bible!  At first, we were very wary of him asking because everyone seems to want a gift from the muzungo.  However, this seemed real; this seemed like a genuine request and outreach for help. I told Cato I would look into a Bible  for him in his language.

A couple weeks went by and Cato kept coming.  During our children’s outreach ministry Cato was sitting right in middle of all the kids listening to the stories from the Children’s Bible. The interest and intrigue were there.  I also noticed the smell of alcohol was almost gone from Cato.  One day he brought me pieces of a Bible he had gotten his hands on to start reading.  To say it was falling apart is an understatement.  I do not even think all of it was there and there were all kinds of pages missing. This man went from hoping to die, to reading literally bits and pieces of the Bible.

On our next visit I presented Cato with a brand new Bible in his native language of Luganda.  The exciting part is I don’t just call him Cato anymore, I call him Brother.  Cato accepted Christ!  We rejoiced together and I can only imagine the rejoicing in Heaven.

Luke 15:10
“…there is rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over one sinner who repents.”   
It is amazing to see God take a man that was broken and hopeless and to build him up into a believer.  It is exciting to see the work God is doing in Uganda.  Cato’s leg still has healing to do, Cato still has healing to do, but he has literally been raised up to walk as a new man.

Walking a way a new man

Thursday, May 1, 2014

You helped me....

Ali after his surgery
Some of you may have read the story of Ali and his broken wrist.
Karson & Ali hanging out before his surgery

The original treatment did not work and Ali actually had to undergo surgery to repair his injured wrist. With surgery and proper medical care he was healed and has full function and mobility again, if it ended there it would be cool enough.  However, God is not done with the story just yet.

Back in the village!

The cast is finally off!

While working in the village we encountered a young boy with a huge boil and infection on his leg.  It desperately needed to be cleaned, drained and he needed to be started on antibiotics.  Unfortunately, it was a painful process, even with local anesthetic. I asked if we could please get help to hold him down during this process.  Once we started the process it all happened quickly.  We needed supplies and gauze quickly.  I honestly did not even look at who all was helping, or who was handing us supplies.  I just know that when I needed something it was there. When we finished I looked up and realized Ali was one of the sets of helping hands getting us what we needed.  That is when it dawned on me, every time we are working in the village, Ali is right there helping us.

At this point all the other kids were out in the field playing futbol, jumping rope or having their nails painted.  I asked Ali “Why aren’t you playing with the other kids?”  He looked at me with shock on his face almost as if he could not believe I would ask such a question. What he said next, humbled me, shocked me and over flowed my heart.  “You helped me, so now I am helping you.” How simple is that?  How child like, yet beautiful.  “You helped me, now I am helping you.”  Ali is 10 years old, and he gets it.  He understands what so many of us do not.  You helped me, now I am helping you. Can you imagine a world where everyone acted like Ali? Oh the beautiful innocence and heart of a child.
Ali is always right there waiting to help

On another day we were looking for a couple of expecting mothers, we needed directions to their home within the village.  Who do you think stepped forward and said “I know, I will take you there” With a huge smile on his face,  off we went, sloshing and sliding through the mud, up nothing more than a foot trail, Ali leading the way with directions from the backseat.  Thanks to Ali, we were able to deliver momma kits to the expecting mothers. You helped me, so now I’m helping you….
Ali loaded up to give directions from the backseat

I learn something new almost every time I go into the village. On this day I learned the world still has hope for the simple reason there are young boys like Ali who get it.

Mathew 18:25

2Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them 3And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, ou will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 4So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest Kingdom of Heaven. 5And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.