Thursday, July 31, 2014

In the Shade

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The graceful lifting of the elephant's ears works to cool down his body temperature. The slinky body of the crocodile slides into the murky waters. The hippos lounge peacefully next to the equally powerful water buffalo. And the lioness wanders from the hot sun to the cool thicket.
All things wild come to a resting point under the hot African sun, and we are doing the same. Our work has halted and we are regrouping before our transition back to home.
What have we learned, while in Uganda?
1.  God Cares. We saw the poorest of the poor and those who came to help them. There are no government agencies to bail them out, but people like you and me who come in the Name of Love. We are the hands and feet of Jesus.
2.  God Calls.  Most everyone I know feels insignificant to world events. Yet The Lord anoints each of us daily to be His ambassador to a hurting world.
3.  God Provides.  On the days we felt like we had nothing left to give, He replenished our stores... both emotionally and physically. Even when we thought our supply of eyeglasses was too low to be sufficient.
How will you respond to the God who cares, who calls and who provides? He alone is adequate to meet your needs. Abundantly!

July 31 2014 Thursday

On the way to our safari we saw banana trees and tea plantations. Finally we got to the hostel and we were all ready for bed. It wasn't the nicest place but we had a roof over our head, beds, and nets. We got up the next morning at about 6:00 or 6:30 to ride in the van. I was ready to see God's beautiful amazing creatures. Our driver,Richard, put the roof of the  van up. I had a quick idea of sitting on the roof but it came and went until I saw Anna fearlessly sitting on the roof of the van. I sat on the roof with pillows to cushion the bars on the top of the van. I felt like a fearless bird on the roof. I has to call the elephants out from hiding in the tall grasses. We saw a family of thirteen all together. We drove for a little while until we saw water bucks eating and sleeping. We saw a skull of a waterbuck and some other bones. I was hoping that we would see a lion but I was happy with we just saw the leopard. Our driver was even surprised to see a leopard. He said that we were lucky to see it. Richard and Ben drove us right to where some lions were. They were far away but it was still cool to see them walking around. We kept driving in the cool day and I was still on the roof and that is when I noticed that God made this beautiful world and it is our responsibility to keep it clean and heathy. Don't you think God loves us. I mean look at this beautiful world. Look at the stripes on a zebra to the spots of a cheetah or even the long neck of a giraffe. If God loves the small animals don't you think he loves us.

The grass withereth, the flowers fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.
~Isaiah 40:8

                                ~Rachel McEntire

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Off to safari - Tuesday, July 29th

Began our day very early, as safari vans picked us up for the 11 hour drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Our ride included a stop at a grocery store to get bottled water for ride.  Just as in most other shopping adventures in Uganda, we had to get through security to shop.  Our drivers, Richard and Ben are quite personable and drive quite safely. After driving through a brief rain, we stopped at the Equator.  We all took pictures of each other, some straddling the famous north-south line.  It just makes for a memorable moment for sure.  Mbarara was our stopping point for lunch. The menu included some American sounding foods such as the Apple Bacon Salad which I ordered.   It was actually a couple of leafs of lettuce with several large pieces of "bacon" (not cooked crisp enough for me), slices of a nice crisp green apple, a few rings of purple onion and some Ugandan style honey mustard dressing. Not too bad, I'd say!  And on the side, I tried the deep fried eggplant. Most of the group liked it.  Back on the road again, we drove through several small towns including Igara which I think is where we began to see several tea plantations.   We also saw several banana plantations. I was impressed with the use of the land! Planting was even neatly spaced on the side of the mountains. Next thing I noticed was a lake our guide called Crater Lake. There is no inlet or outlet - very interesting!  Once we entered the Queen Elizabeth National Park area, our safari actually began as we saw elephants, water bucks, a leopard (lucky us!), lioness, water buffalo, and antelope.  By the time we reached our "sleeping quarters", we had had a long tiring day!  So blessed!!
Norma Jean

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday, July 28,2014

Monday,Monday....sounds like a song.  Today was catch up day.  Catch up on laundry, some more shopping, and napping!  I participated in all three!  So since this was a rest day I would like to reflect on the past few weeks and some of  the people I met that inspired  me.
  Generous was the pastor of the church in  Kasubu.  This woman's faith and her servant heart for trying to make an impoverished village better.  She knew the only way possible was through her trust and love for her Savior Jesus Christ.  Her drive and love of God was inspiring. She has life forever.
  Mosses and Sundae are our two drivers who have been with us all two weeks.  Mosses smile is so contagious that you can't be sad around him.  He is kind and soft spoken. He loves Jesus and his life is one of a true servant of God.  Sundae is the enforcer of the two.  Younger in years he took charge the one day when the crowd got unruly.  His village in Gulu was our last visit and he is so proud of the village.  The church of God is on his family's land and his love for our Lord is very noticeable.  He was so excited to have us there that his wife Grace went up a week before to make preparations.  The people of Gulu do not have a lot in material things but their faith in God who is the hope of all was very evident.

  Out last Home visit was to see Doris who was a grandmother taking care of her grandchildren.  She has the faith of a giant.  She struggles every day to provide for her family, her hut is small,  her grandchildren have to help her with daily chores.  She was collecting firewood to cook over when we arrived.  The bag of food we brought her was an answer to her prayers.  She could now feed her family for the next few days.  Her faith that God would provide her needs was inspiring and touched my heart.  She looks to her Savior every day!  She ended our visit with a song of praise to  God.
  Pastor Tim Stevenson and his drive and love for Uganda.  His family have dedicated their lives to be servants and to see the Church of God develop and grow in many regions and villages.  He is driven to make a difference in this world and listen to God's calling.  He has to run this compound while his wife  is undergoing chemo treatments in Canada.  Even when he is not feeling well he never loses his sense of humor.  His drive to finish the race and hear well done faithful servant is one that truly inspires.  Colleen you are always in our prayers!
  Finally my team,  every one who is on this trip was chosen.  The team started out as 11 with the Ohio three, and we still are 11 with the interns who are here.  Each person on this team has shown their faithfulness that God will provide each day strength, endurance, healing, patience, love, His faithfulness that my team inspires me.  Each day God handles the details of the day and shows up in big ways. I love you all and have drawn closer to each of you.
  There are many more that have touched my life and I am forever changed.
  My last thought,  I have seen poverty and disease here, but what I will remember most is the faith of these people that God will provide, and a determination that their faith in not in vain.  I challenge all to look at your life and do you have a servants heart?  Do we notice a person in need or are we to busy in our own lives?  These are questions I ask myself.  I hope that I become a better servant and my faith is evident in my life.  Just my thoughts!   Lana Lanphier

We leave on safari early Tuesday morning and will be gone for three days.  Back late Thursday night!

No blogging till we return.   Lana

Now Is The Time Of Worship

July 27,  2014

Sunday began with an early breakfast.  Sundae had to pick up 8 goats.  We were giving them to members of the church that were in need.  Never saw how he got them there.   It kind of made me chuckle inside.   We were wrapping up our time there.  It would be hard to leave.  We had been there for three days and had started to build relationships with people there.  For each one of us, I am sure there is at least one person that is imprinted on our mind.  For me... It was Oketbush.   Better known as Bush.  Every day when we arrived it seemed as though we sought each other out.   Then everything was going to be okay.  He was about ten.  He became my interpreter.  He was a leader amongst the crowd of children.  He translated for me, organized activities, and helped me pass out candy which was a hard task to do.   The other children looked up to him.  This young man had no one to support him so he could not go to school.  Like many of the other children.  Somehow he learned how to read.  The book he chose to read was the Bible.  Amazing!

It was a time of to worship.  Music playing...  People dancing...  The Word of God proclaimed...  Two very distinct people groups coming together to worship as one.  Joy and excitement was in the air.  Anticipation to have a meeting with The Lord.  In appreciation for the work we had done there, they gave us a goat.  The question that ran through my mind was, "How do we get the goat to Kampala".  That was simple.... On the top of  our vehicle.  It was a eight hour trip back to Kampala.  It was an interesting ride home.  We picked up chickens along the way.  I have to admit this is something I will never forget.

In all it's forms... today was a day of worship!!!


Gulu - Saturday, July 26

Psalm 26:12 GOD's Word gives us firm footing, and equips us to bless His Name.

What a powerful anointing on the time with the Pastors' Wives! I talked about the benefits of journaling and used material from Moms In Touch International, and Kathi Lipp's book, "I Need Some Help Here!" We shared concerns with each other in small groups, and prayed for one another and for our children and grandchildren. It was beautiful to hear them read Scripture in their own language, and to know The Lord will multiply that in the women's hearts. The Busti Church of God Women's Connection sponsored the journals given, and ladies... you would have loved the smiles when they received their gift of pen and journal! What do we have in common with women of another culture? A love for The Lord, concern for our families, and a desire to connect with each other!

Winifred & Margaret, local TAPP coordinators, took four of us on TAPP visits (Ugandans living with Aids).  We took gifts to each one, including local food staples and sugar, which is a special treat for them. They were super excited to receive other items, including Abbey-Fest T shirts, soap, coloring books & crayons, small toys, candy, toothbrushes, lotions and more. The women shrieked when we gave them hand fans made by individuals attending the Aspire of WNY day program! They just loved the cool breeze as we waved them in their faces to show them how they work. Even a hallelujah was shouted a couple of times.  Some of these visits were difficult emotionally. Aaron is a 14 year boy who has become partially paralyzed and is not doing well. Paul's HIV has taken over his body, leaving him unable to get around, and his skin is falling off.  Deginna is gaining strength and wanted us to know that a rape caused her Aids.  This is only three of the seven we saw on Saturday.  While physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, I am so glad that I was able to bring a little joy and love into their lives!
Norma Jean

Over thirty Pastors and other church leaders gathered for the conclusion of the hygiene conference and the Pastors conference. We began the conference by identifying the district leaders, to whom we gave Arlo Newell's book, The Church of God as Revealed in Scripture. Following this presentation, we then gave out Life Application Study Bibles in the New International Version to the Disrict Leaders and Pastors. After clarifying who was considered a "real" Pastor, I lead a session in which I showed them how to use this valuable study tool.

Following that session, we looked at Acts 2, and talked about "The Church that God Blesses."
It was a blessed time together during which I discovered that the churches in Uganda are facing some of the same struggles as those of us in the United States. Issues like church people watching from the sidelines, gossip in the church's, jealousy, etc. I believe that it was good for these Pastors to be reminded of what God had in mind when he birthed the church.

The day ended with a supper together before we turned in for the night. It was a rich day that was arguably our busiest day of this trip. We managed to dispense another 76 glasses, Teresa held a mini children's conference, in addition to what we have shared above. A good day in which God was clearly present!

P. Roy

July 25

"The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing...Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.  Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong, do not fear! ...He will come and save you.'  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing...They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
These portions of Isaiah 35 speak of a land that was once ravaged and desperate, that was now being restored and rebuilt.  They are reminiscent of the area that we are visiting this weekend; a land torn apart by war and plunder and fear.  Our driver, Sunde, is from this area, and it is evident that returning to his homeland stirs up much emotion and meaning.  He spoke of the horrors that occurred here, and also showed us the mango tree that served as his classroom.  He told us that the roads were empty and people would hide in fear of the rebels.  These atrocities only ended about 5 years ago, when the insurgents were finally kicked out.  Though there is much healing and restoration still needed, it was a living testimony to see people walking and doing business and laughing.
It was a very active day at the Gulu Church of GOD and for our team.  Pastor Roy and I helped with a pastor's and leader's conference that hosted nearly 50 participants.  Tim Stevenson brought greetings to the congregation in his witty and endearing way; I conducted a hygiene workshop and Roy brought an update from the recent national conference that he attended in Oklahoma City.  I could tell that the direct connection through Roy was meaningful to those in attendance.  And, of course, there was jubilant praise throughout the day!
The ladies split up into two teams to go on visits.  One group went to see the jjajjas (a grandparent) and the other group went on TAPP visits (Tumani AIDS Prevention Program - Tumani means Hope). They brought each one that they visited a package with gifts and food.  These visits mean so much to those who are being visited, as they rarely receive visitors, and it was obvious that they had a great impact on our team members as well.
Dinner and devotions under the generator-fed light bulb hung from the rafter rounded out our busy day, after which we headed back to our hotel for a well-deserved rest (once the booming dance-party music next door ended around midnight!)

- Keith McEntire