Tuesday, May 22, 2012

such a blessed day! :)

What an absolutely AMAZING day we have had together at this place.  I wish I could really describe how wonderful today has been and how blessed we have been to be a small part of what GOD is doing in Uganda!!!

We started out the morning with something new!  There are 4 new Cornerstone homes in Uganda with kids that have just come off of the streets, out of prison, or out of prostitution.  These are kind of like transition homes where the girls/boys learn about structure and living with people, and then they are able to go to a different home (like Mengo) and start school.  We were pretty hesitant about going into these homes solely because we didn’t want to get in the way of the Aunties (the older girls that are basically mothers to all of the girls in the home.  Sarah, Jackie, and Hope are the Aunties at Mengo and they do such an amazing job at loving and encouraging and teaching the girls).  We wanted to make sure that we weren’t any harm… bringing in 9 Mzungus (white people) and then leaving to go back to America is sometimes very hurtful and we didn’t want to create any feeling of abandonment.  We prayed about it a lot and decided to call the Aunties yesterday.  They were SO kind and said they would love for us to come and visit, so we headed out mid-morning and went to Nakowa, a new home for girls from the streets.  There are five girls living there, and 2 Aunties.  They literally SPRINTED to our van when we pulled in. It was SOOOO sweet and precious and adorable and humbling and just amazing.  We got to spend about 2 hours with the girls and learned a lot more about how a new home actually works.  The aunties literally walk out during the middle of the night to find young girls that need a home, they don’t go every night, but that is how the girls come and live there.  When the girls get there, it is very overwhelming and new for them to have any structure or rules.  Some of the girls run away in the first few days or sneak out in the night.  They have room for 13 girls total, but only have 5 right now because so many ran away.  It was sweet and heartbreaking to see the Aunties so sad about the other girls leaving… you can absolutely tell that they want to love EVERY single girl that needs love.  The other girls that ARE living in the home, are so sweet, even though the language barrier was harder for everyone.  They hugged on us the ENTIRE time we were there, it’s amazing to see how a young girls heart is the same all across the world…. tender, sweet, loving, affectionate, and in NEED of love and affirmation and attention.  I love seeing that.  I LOVE seeing the young girls be loved on!!!  We played a game that they taught us (a weird dodgeball/tag/monkey in the middle game) and jump roped some… They read us the charts they are learning (ABC’s, Numbers, and sentences that they fill in to tell people about themselves).  They are learning English at the home and will be able to go to school after they are out of this transitional home.  They were such angels… We came inside and sang together… I love (with a BIG part of my heart) that we do know the same songs, but more importantly that we feel the presence of the SAME GOD!  We sang ‘How Great Thou Art,’ and ‘Above All.’  It was such a blessing to truly praise our God for creating the world and affirming that he is our King and Father and Love and Protector and EVERYTHING!!!!!  We prayed for their lives and were heartbroken when they asked when we would return… Hopefully God brings us back next year!! J

We ran to the grocery and had a very efficient errand time (always a good thing)… Then back to Cornerstone for lunch (Grilled cheeses, thanks to our Chef Katie!) and a little break.  We were preparing everything for tonight this afternoon as well!!...

So then… drumroll please… We took tonight and had a PAMPERING NIGHT for the girls at Mengo!!!! We are all beaming from the joy that those girls had.  Wow.  It is indescribable how sweet they were.

When we first got there, we had all of the girls come outside so we could set up (we also had the saddest situation EVER when we had to ask the neighborhood kids to stay out of the compound… literally we all felt terrible but knew we had to be intentional about our time there with the girls).  Then Jake and Jared escorted each girl in one by one… it was absolutely precious (as in, made me cry precious) as they each walked in.  Reminded me of prom, or a wedding almost, how much the girls felt SO special.  We had all of the girls in the bigger room at the home and had them sit in a circle… Three of us washed each of their feet and had a pedicure (kinda) for each of them.  We washed their feet with a puma stone and put lotion on them to make them super clean and smell good and soft J  Then a few of the girls went around to each of them and PAINTED THEIR TOENAILS!!! They ABSOLUTELY loved every second of it.  It was soooo wonderful.  We served them sodas (a treat for sure) and fresh fruit (best pineapple in the whole world) and just loved on them all night long.

Melissa and Kristen really have a passion for the girls and really had it on their hearts to love on them in intentional ways… they spent a lot of time in prayer over tonight and introduced what we were doing, as well as spoke to all of the girls after we were finished and affirmed that God loves them and that they are SO beautiful!  Kristen made them repeat back that “I am loved and I am beautiful!” It was precious and such a blessing from God.

We have had such an amazing day and I am ABSOLUTELY positive that God is continuing to work through us.  Please continue to pray that we use our time here to bless the people of Uganda and to be lead towards His Spirit more than anything else.  We are continuing to learn SO much and meet new challenges… Thankful to God that we are here, and thankful to God for you and your friendships and prayers.

Happy Tuesday to all :) 

Douglas, the man... the myth... the legend.

At MENGO setting up for Pedicure Night

Jake treating Winnie like a PRINCESS :)

Sweet sweet girls

Sarah and Jackie, the WONDERFUL Aunties at Mengo

All of the BEAUTIFUL girls at Mengo

Esther, Joy, and Olive

Our team and the Aunties after our night together :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Update Since Wednesday!

      So much has happened since our last post! On Thursday we were able to celebrate Melissa's 21st birthday at the Ranch! We went to the Ranch on Thursday morning and stayed until Saturday afternoon. The ranch is a large piece of land that Cornerstone ministry owns which they bought to be a dairy farm to raise funds for the ministry. It is located in the bush about two hours away from the busy city feel of Kampala. On the ranch property is a primary school, a secondary school, a leadership academy, and a hospitality institute. The leadership academy is called CLA (Cornerstone Leadership Academy). We were able to visit the academy on our first day at the ranch. 
            After hearing about CLA, we were able to eat with the boys of the school. Each of us were with a different small group, and the boys had many questions! Everything from Obama, to marriages, to schools, to unlimited refills! We also had many questions for them, just about life in Uganda and the culture here. It was obvious that the boys are hardworking, dedicated and smart. They will truly be great leaders in their community! Through time with these boys, we were once again overwhelmed by Ugandan hospitality. People here are so welcoming and loving and have embraced us despite being strangers only here for a short time. 
            On the ranch property there is also the African Hospitality Institute, which is where we stayed. Near the ranch are a few small villages with whom AHI partners with. AHI was created by Maggie Josiah approximately seven years ago. Maggie had a rough past that lasted until she was 30 years old. When she turned 40, she realized that yes, the first part of her story had been terrible, but she had a say in how it ended, which led her to Africa, and the creation of AHI. AHI is first, a guest house which often houses missionaries. The staff of AHI are graduates of the AHI program. The program is a two year training program which takes teenagers/young adults, who have fallen through the cracks in the education program, and gives them skills to work or even create a job. We all really enjoyed hearing Maggie's story and passion for God!
            On Friday of being at the ranch we went into one of the villages to help mud a nursery school! Several men from the village spearheaded the project, and were so patient in our learning! As the day went on, women from the village came to help, as well as small children! As the day began, the men plowed up a termite hill, which was mostly just dirt, as some of the girls pumped and brought back jugs of water to pour on the water to create mud. Then, they had us take off our shoes and stomp in the mud! Then men then starting rolling huge balls of mud, and tote to the school, which was about twenty yards away. Once the mud was at the house we would fill in the structure, which they had already created from sticks, which were tied together with vines. We would then physically throw mud at the filled in structure and smooth it with our hands. Everyone worked so hard and with such joy! At the end of the day, the satisfaction of the completion of the school, as well as the joy we had received from the interactions with the people filled our hearts, and everyone seemed to be all smiles. The people of the village kept thanking us, as we in turned thanked them because there was no denying we had all be blessed.
           When drove back to Kampala on Saturday and went to Bukesa that afternoon. It was so good to see the boys again after several days of being away! On Sunday, we went to church with our wonderful driver, Douglass, which was an interesting experience! We then went to eat lunch at his house that his family had so graciously prepared for us! That afternoon we went to Mengo girls home. We had a long day on Sunday, but we were all blessed by our time with the girls on Sunday night! 
        Today we were able to take the morning to rest after busy past few days. Many took this time to read, journal, or just talk. We then met at the mall for lunch. This afternoon Douglas picked us up and we headed back to Bukesa. So many games were going on today! From soccer to basketball to volleyball to an African version of Hide-And-Go-Seek! Relationships have continued to grow with both the girls and boys, and we are encouraged by the kids everyday we are here! We are learning so much by spending time with them! We are already dreading having to say goodbye at the end of the week, but we are excited we have a few more days until then! Tonight we were all able to make a quick phone call home which was exciting for the whole team! We also played one of our favorite game, Signs, with three of our new friends we have met! Katie also cooked pasta for everyone which was delicious! It was a great day! 
Thank you for continued prayers. We are all safe and healthy which is a wonderful blessing! 

Happy Monday!
-Uganda Team 
Melissa's birthday burrito! 

One of the sweet village kids helping! 

Carrying the mud!

before mudding

after mudding!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday, May 16... Day 7

What an wonderful day we have had in this amazing city.  After meeting some of the children at church on Sunday, we were invited back to see their school during the week.  Good Shepherd school in Kampala has around 350 children come to school everyday (babies-high school) and it was such a great experience for our team.  A little overwhelming with wanting to love, encourage, and meet every child but it was awesome to love on them just a little bit.  Our Jared led some songs for the kids and they LOVED our Hippo song :)

We had some downtime at Garden City (the mall area) again and had lunch there which was nice to get out and about, then headed over to Mengo (the young girls home) for the rest of the afternoon/early evening.  The two homes (Bukesa and Mengo... boys home vs girls home) are very different experiences from each other.  The boys are much more lively and want to play CONSTANTLY and the girls are much more open to just sitting with us and being quieter (I guess that makes sense).  It's been great to see our team adapt easily to both situations and love on the kids so much!  At Mengo, there are a LOT more neighborhood children that follow our bus in and hang around during the day.  GOD has blessed us with a team that can spread out and spend time with lots of different groups!

We leave tomorrow morning for the African Hospitality Institute, or the 'Ranch' as everyone here calls it.  We will be mudding two school rooms for their village and spending time in the villages there for a few days.  Prayers for safety, health, and guidance are very appreciated will we are there!  We are all looking forward to visiting and spending time away from the big city!

Challenges continue to come and go and we are thankful that God continues to redeem us and our renew our spirits each and every day.  We are thankful to God for the blessings he is pouring out on us and on the people of Uganda.  Praying that we will continue to be a blessing here and praying that God continues to teach us new things each and everyday.

We love you all and Happy Wednesday from Kampala!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

just a few photos

The cute sweet little boy that stays around our house :)

Some of the children at the church on Sunday

His name is handsome and Keela wants to bring him home.

The birthday boy!!!... I couldn't resist putting this on here.

Church friends :) They were so beautiful. 

Happy Tuesday from afar!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday, Day 5

Dear friends, Sorry for delays and shortness of posts...

We arrived late Friday night (May 11) safe and sound. Thanking God for smooth and safe travels and thankful that we have had a great trip so far.  Our bus driver, Douglas, has been such a blessing to us and this trip already and we have LOVED getting to spend some time with him (he goes to Bukesa with us and we were able to go to church with him on Sunday)

We survived jet lag and have had a great first few days at Bukesa.  The first few days of this trip have  surpassed so many expectations of God's wonderful work. We've had AMAZING conversations and the time we has been filled with wonderful gifts and works from God. Haley and Stevi are on cloud nine being back on the ground and the rest of us are taking so much in and learning so much about this amazing place.

Church was wonderful on Friday night and on Sunday (very different but wonderful) and we have been overwhelmed with the love for the people here in Uganda.  It's awesome to watch the people and kids just dance and praise God like I've never seen before.  What an amazing God we serve!!! 

There are so many stories, details, thoughts, and challenges that have come so far and we can't wait to tell you about everything when we return.

Please keep us in your prayers.  Prayers for safety, focus, love, and comfort are so appreciated.  Prayers for protection against the enemy and his attacks are appreciated.  Also continue to join us please in solely Thanking God for his amazing love and protection.

Happy Monday from Uganda and Happy (one day late) Mother's day!
-Uganda Team

Monday, May 7, 2012

2 days out!

We are less than 48 hours out from boarding our first flight (of many) to the great country of Uganda!!!  Our team was blessed to be prayed over yesterday at Ethos church and getting everything together before we leave!

We are going to be taking children's books and art supplies to the two homes in Kampala that we are working with!  I recognize that it's late notice, but if you have anything that you would like to send with us, we'd love to take it! :)  You can contact Keela Evans (keela.evans@lipscomb.edu) or Jake Burton (jake.burton@lipscomb.edu) if you have any older books or supplies :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

meet our team!

We have some really AWESOME people leaving in just 9 days for the wonderful country of Uganda!  We are super excited and can't wait to see how God uses our gifts and passions to do HIS work there!

Haley McDougal, Sophomore at LU, Team Leader
Haley's passion pioneered the trip for the first year last year and Haley dreams of doing long-term missions in Africa!

Jake Burton, Campus Minister/Joshua Project Leader at LU, Team Leader
Jake has a huge passion for Africa and for missions in general.  He will be in Africa for 4 more weeks after the team leaves at the end of May.

Keela Evans, Campus Minister/Chapel Director at LU, Team Leader
Joined the trip in February and has never been to Africa before!  Also getting married in September!

Melissa Wordwell, Junior at LU.
This girl is awesome. Connected with the heart of GOD, Melissa has a huge heart and her joy overflows to the people she is around!

Katie Underwood and Kristen Mathis (picture was too fun not to include both), both students at LU.
Both of their first time on the trip!

Stevi Clark, Junior at LU.
Stevi went on the trip last year as well and has a passion for people and for missions!

Meleia Fisher, Freshman at LU.
Sweet sweet girl who has been on other African mission trips, but first time on this trip!  One of our only couple freshmen! :)

Jared Miller, Freshman at LU.
Our only other boy going!  This guys spirit/humor is absolutely contagious!  Great addition to the trip :)