There is joy welling up in my heart that cannot come from anything else except God. There is such an incredible peace, complete joy, and confidence in the one true God we serve. We are standing on a firm foundation, our rock, our fortress, shield, and strength. Our God is so good. He is so faithful. I am in awe that He has chosen me to be a daughter of the King. I am so blessed.
As I write, I have a million things on my mind...as well as a million distractions...so there will be no particular order... Come along for the ride!
On Sunday, Lacey and I went to Calvary Chapel Church in Jinja, just down the street from Amani. I immediately recognized a Ugandan pastor named J.B. from pictures I had seen from Deke and Erryn's mission trip last summer. Deke had developed a special friendship with J.B. During the sermon, God had put it on my heart to talk to J.B. and ask if he knew of any villages we could go to to distribute the supplies we had brought from home! After church, I told Lacey that I wanted to talk with J.B., and what do you know...God had put the same thing on Lacey's heart! So we immediately made a connection with J.B. and found out that he just "happened" to be going to a village on Tuesday afternoon as part of their regular outreach.
So today, we had an entire suitcase full of toys, flip flops, toiletries, school supplies... We went with a team of about 10 Ugandans to a village called Danida. As we began driving through the village, children were waving and jumping up and down. I told J.B. that the kids seemed so excited to see him coming. He said, "No! They are excited to see YOU!" What?! As we got out of the van, we were literally mobbed by over 50 kids! We blew bubbles for about 10 or 15 minutes with a response of pure enthusiasm, cheering, celebrating, jumping, shoving...whenever we would take a picture, the children would erupt in shouts and screams of excitement. At one point Lacey was pulled to the ground by a mob of children because they wanted to touch her, be close to her, have her attention, have their picture taken... It was unlike anything I have ever seen. Then J.B. had all the kids sit down and he asked us to share a message with them. A what?! So Lacey and I quickly put together a mini sermon on the spot, and started sharing how much Jesus loves them and how special they are, while J.B. translated. In response to being told how special they are, one little girl piped up, and said, "even me?" Yes! Even you! We told them we had brought gifts for them from people in America who love them and have been praying for them. There is no other way to explain the next 45 minutes other than it was complete chaos but pure joy. News travels fast in a village, so before we knew it, we had another 20 children in front of us. Soon after this, part of our team took over with the children, and we went to meet the adults who had gathered. We began handing out care packages that we had put together from all the supplies that were collected in Billings. J.B. and the team had brought a few benches and Bibles, so we got started...first we opened in praise and worship, with clapping and beautiful voices, then Pastor Aaron shared a message and 4 people accepted Christ as their savior!!!!
When we concluded, the women decided to bless Lacey and I with necklaces they had made. Every woman wanted to run back to their home to pick out a necklace for us! We left wearing three necklaces each. Later that night, J.B. and his wife took Lacey and I out to dinner and had the most delightful time. Todd, I cant wait for you to meet this man! You would love him! During our conversation he told us that he was so blessed by our coming to the village with him today. He said that our presence brought many people out of their homes and to the "Bible study," people that have never come before. There were about 8 new people who showed up, the very same people that J.B. has been trying to get to come for a long time. And guess what???...out of those 8 women, 4 of them are the ones who accepted Christ tonight!
Praise God! He is so good and His timing is always perfect.
Today at Amani, we brought a case of Luganda Bibles and some English Bibles to distribute to Mamas that do not own a Bible. One Mama in particular, named Sarah, came up to us to give us hugs and to thank us. She had tears in here eyes. I asked if she had ever had her own Bible, and she said no, this was her first one. I wish I could see more people treasuring their Bible as much as she was. It was beautiful.
Another fun adventure we had today (and you thought we have just been hanging out by the pool sipping sodas and getting a nice tan) was meeting with a man named Ayub. He is a Christian man that we met one of the first days we arrived in Uganda. He was our driver and we developed a special friendship with him. His wife had delivered a baby in Jinja while he was in Kampala with us, and it took him a week before he was able to get home to see his wife and brand new baby girl. When he finally arrived in Jinja with Cheryl and Erryn, he asked the four of us to go with him to visit his baby for the first time. I had known from day 1 with Ayub, that God wanted me to do something special for him and his family. The Clough family had given me money to use specifically for the Ugandan community...I knew right away how to use it. So today, Lacey and I called him and told him we were taking him shopping. He said, "WOW!" He and his wife and their week old baby met us in Jinja town. She placed the baby in my arms and I got to carry her as we walked all through town. I loved it! We had asked Ayub and his wife , Miriam, to make a list of their needs for the baby, so we began walking to different shops and crossing item after item off their list! I cannot even begin to describe the level of gratefulness. Ayub had tears in his eyes many times. He said he had been so worried about how to provide for this baby, yet God had provided abundantly. We were able to get them a baby tub, towel, 3 outfits, a mattress (which became the first and only one they own), a mosquito net, sheet, baby carrier, nappies (disposable diapers), and various baby toiletry items. We also got a pair of shoes for their 5 year old son. Also on their list of needs was a suitcase. J.J. and Randi...we were able to bless them with your suitcase!
It has been incredible doing God's work, and in His timing. Thank you to so many of you who have blessed the people here through your generosity, giving, and prayers. We are loving being the messenger.
We are seeing such specific prayers answered even the littlest things. For example, I have been wearing a green bracelet that says "Orphans No More Psalm 68:5" for many, many months. I had committed to wearing it until our babies came home. Today as I was sitting with the adult Bible study at Danida village, there was a little boy sitting next to me, who was having pain in his ear. He looked to be about 2 years old. I thought about giving him my bracelet, but wasn't sure if I should, or if I was ready to give it up. This was the first time I have ever considered taking it off. I made a little prayer, and said, God, If you want me to give it to this little boy, have him show interest in my bracelet. But the boy never did, and I forgot all about it. Until we were in the van with our team. The man sitting behind me touched my arm and said, "Where do you get these bracelets...I really like them, but have never seen them in Uganda." Without even thinking, I took off the bracelet and told him to try it on. I told him that I wore it as a reminder to pray for the orphans and mine specifically. He said he would continue the path I have walked, that he would continue praying for the orphans. I later found out that he had grown up as an orphan. God delights in the little details!
There is a miracle I want to share with you all...The other day, I got to look through Christopher and Katie's medical record book. I found out that Katie had actually been HIV positive when she was born and arrived at the baby cottage. This is because her Mother was HIV positive and Katie was carrying the mother's antibodies in her little body. Per standard procedure, a second, more involved test was given to Katie, and it was declared that she is truly HIV negative! We praise God for this miracle. I am constantly reminded that He has chosen Katie and Christopher for our family for a purpose. And once again, God's grace is sufficient. I am seeing over and over that Katie is covered by His grace. Even in the meaning of her first name, Kisakye, (Katie is her nickname), which means "God's grace."
I cant conclude this blog entry without a word about court yesterday. First of all, I have to tell you, yesterday might have been the longest day recorded in history! We started out by arriving at Amani to a locked gate, with the night guard nowhere to be found. We spend 15 minutes clanging the gates together and shouting at 6:30 am. So we got a late start on the road. Then Katie began feeling very ill and threw up all over Lacey, again, and again, and again. Poor Lacey. She handled it so well, although I gagged the entire time I was helping clean up. Lacy ended up sharing clothes with Ditte, another person traveling with us. This happened to be one of the few times the Judge showed up on time, and we were not yet there! We were able to squeeze in with no problems and court went really well. The judge did not ask any questions which is a good thing. I could not understand anything the judge said, so as soon as our hearing was done, we filed out of the courtroom and I asked our lawyer for a translation...The verbal ruling will be next Tuesday, March 25. The song that kept going through my head is "It is well with my soul." And it is...God is in control and everything is for His glory. That has been our desire all along, and it continues to be my heart's desire. So we will wait and know that God is right here with me during this time. I am in the center of God's will, and there is no better place.
Thank you for praying. I am really skipping many details but the internet cafe is closed and we need to get home. We will post again soon.
Where I Went!!
1 year ago