Days 9 & 10 – Providing Clean Water Through the Living Water

We were once again blessed with the opportunity to worship with the congregation of Return Ministries. There really aren’t words for what you know will be the last full day with the people you have served alongside and come to love. There was more singing, dancing, and praising.

Lots of handshakes and hugs. Lots of photos. Lots of “until we meet again.”

The dedication of the water reservoir and the well spring brought claps and shouts of joy and some tears as we continue to walk this new path in Micah’s absence. This community will be impacted for years to come by these gifts of water. One man can make a difference for many. And God can multiply your gifts into the unexplainable.

“Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:38

We had one last visit to the children’s home where the children taught us how to make charcoal. Some of us might have been better at it than others. And we may have tried some Kingsford lookalikes, but ultimately we were schooled by the experienced Ugandan hands.

Our evening was pure joy as we surprised the staff of Return Ministries and some of their families with a night of cultural food, song and dance at the Ndere Centre. The experience was filled with, “Wow!” from our Ugandan friends and, “How are they doing that?” from our American lips. It was an absolutely amazing way to close out our trip.

Day 10 was spent shopping for pieces of Uganda to bring home and included a trip to KFC. Yes, please.

Our team would love to hear from you. Ask us your questions. We can’t wait to tell you about Return Ministries, Sole Hope and Amazima School and their work in Uganda. We would love to tell you about our experiences.

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Days 7 & 8 – Bound Together

Day 7 was all about the community.

Return Ministries serves many people throughout their community of Busega in Kampala, Uganda. Generous donations to our team allowed us to distribute some much needed items to people in the community. One of the most well received items was a new mattress.

We were invited inside of each home to be welcomed and thanked. The opportunity to pray with each family was such a gift. They have humble requests and so much gratitude.

The afternoon brought a different type of adventure. We may have used a crane to raise the water tower, but ropes and brute strength were all that was needed to raise the water tank. And a lot of gasps from those on the ground…

After dinner we enjoyed time with the children in the children’s home. It was such a beautiful time of connection that we didn’t appear to stop and photograph it. Nails were painted. Questions were asked and answered. A guitar was played. Music was sung. Friendships were rekindled and forged.

Day 8 offered us a chance to play and feed the children that are a part of Amaka Children’s Home and Return Ministries church.

We began out time listening to the children’s choir, but then it was our turn to sing some songs and teach a Bible lesson (thanks, Garrett and Maureen).

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What a comfort it is to know that our Bibles are written in different languages, but they tell the same stories. Then it was time for futbol, matball, swinging, dancing, singing, cuddling, talking, coloring and whatever else could be dreamed up.

Thanks again to the generous donations given to our team we were able to feed the approximately 150 children, as well as pass out toothpaste, toothbrushes, clothes and shoes to each child.

It was a good day.

Day 6 – A Day in Jinja

We traveled outside of Kampala today to see the work of two other ministries in Jinja, Uganda. Jinja is located northeast of Kampala and about a three-hour van ride.

Our first stop was Sole Hope and our entire team was in awe of the work they do. A jigger can burrow into the feet and hands and if not removed—can lay eggs and multiply very quickly. Over time they can destroy soft tissue.

Upon arrival we toured the Sole Hope facility and received a firsthand account of how the shoes are constructed once they arrive in Uganda. Everyone took great pride in their work and enjoyed showing us their part in the process.

IMG_5232Check out their website if you are interested in having a care party in the states.

Sole Hope had visited a school a week earlier and presented educational material and spent time with the teachers of the school to find out which children may be in the greatest need for their help. It was time to “hit the red.” In America, we would likely say “hit the road” but here it does make more sense to say “hit the red” as most paths are unpaved and everything is touched by the red dirt of Uganda.

While the setup team works to prepare a space for the clinic on the school grounds, we had a chance to watch others on the Sole Hope team in action with the kids.

After the clinic area was ready, we were each given a job.

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Some of our team washed feet after the children moved through the intake process.

The children then moved on to the removal area. Only Sole Hope staff completed the jigger removal, but some of our team worked alongside them recording any jiggers that were found.

After the jiggers are removed, the children receive more education and a brand new pair of shoes. DSC_0374

Our second stop was a tour of Amazima School, an African Christian secondary school.

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If any of you have read Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis Majors, then you understand a few of our team members’ excitement. I believe everyone on our team left impressed. The Amazima School is combining the best of Western and Eastern education to bring students a new education style. It will be amazing to see what God accomplishes through this school in the years to come.

I think the team would agree that two more highlights of the day were crossing the Nile River multiple times and landing at a restaurant with free wifi. We are halfway through our trip and hoping to experience even more in the last days than the first.

Days 3, 4 & 5 – Working Together

Days 3, 4 & 5 brought opportunities to work.

When our first team served here in Kampala in 2013, we took a walk with some of the girls from the children’s home to fetch the water that was needed for cooking, cleaning, and odds and ends around the children’s home. They took us where the local community goes to collect their water—an access pipe from a natural spring. It was a sobering moment for all of us.

 

But last year Micah decided it was time that someone did something about it.

“663 million people in the world lack access to clean water. That is 1 person without safe water out of every 10 people with it” (dropinthebucket.org).

“In Africa, more than a quarter of the population spends more than 30 minutes, sometimes up to 6 hours, walking 3.75 miles just to collect enough water for the day. Women and children are mostly responsible for fetching water and caring for the sick (who primarily fall ill due to unclean water). This means that women and children have less time to spend on productive activities, such as going to school or working on a business venture” (dropinthebucket.org).

Micah’s fundraising set into motion a brand new well on the church’s property, a water reservoir which will be connected to the well, and a major overhaul of the community’s access point to the natural spring. There is currently a lot of run off into the access point that contaminates the spring water.

Our team has hauled bricks and rocks (some larger than others), cut brush (yay for machetes), painted a water tower, and dug a 6x6x3 foot hole–twice.

The ladies also found out more about the long process of providing a meal for loved ones. We now know what to look for in a good bean and the process to make that bean as tasty as possible.

The conveniences of the states begins to sound appealing as you think through a woman’s day here or consider the backbreaking work the men do with lack of machinery, but everything is done with intentionality and care. I’m not sure I can say the same about my daily life in America.

What an honor it is to work alongside men and women with such strong work ethics. Our backs are tired and our hearts are full.

Days 1 & 2 – Days of Thanks

Day 1 was filled with the sights and sounds of Uganda.

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Three members of our team (Laura, Ryan, & Deanne) have experienced Uganda before, which means that seven members of our team are taking in everything for the first time. It is wonderful to experience it again and through the eyes of new team members.

One of the first activities and excursions was to exchange our money—currently $1 to 3600 shillings. This also allowed us to see more of the city of Kampala, as it was dark when we landed in Entebbe and drove to our guest house.

Pastor Samuel of Return Ministries and Amaka Children’s Home was excited to take us to their new location. Those on our team who had worked here in 2013 were excited to see all the growth and progress for the church in their community. The place where they now worship is 3x the size of their previous location.

We were able to supply many things to this ministry through the generous donations our team received. One of those purchases was a projector and Macbook Air. A team member (Garrett) spent some one-on-one time with a Ugandan church member helping to set up things for their evening celebration service using these new devices.

One of the pieces of our trip that Pastor Samuel was adamant about was having a service in honor of Micah. Micah loved Return Ministries and he set into motion some projects that will impact this community for generations to come. The same can be said of Pastor Samuel. Two great men who shared a heart for people and for Jesus.

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The service was indeed beautiful and indeed a celebration. It was shared by one of the pastors in attendance, “We dance because he (Micah) lived his life victoriously.” And dance they did–for hours.

They also took time to pray for our team and asked the Lord to watch over us and our work. What a privilege it is to serve with this community.

IMG_5143Day 2 was an opportunity to worship with the church of Return Ministries.

A few team members (Alexis, Madison & Ashton) joined the children to help with Sunday school and shared Bible stories using those tried-and-true felt board illustrations. Our entire team was blessed by the worship time.

More dancing. More singing. Some in Ugandan. Some in English. And a sermon was shared by one of our team members (Garrett) that was translated into Ugandan. At the end of the service, we were able to serve lunch to the church members and spend some time getting to know the children and people of the community.

DSC_0058What an honor it is to be in Uganda serving. May His name be praised. Thank you for sending us. We are forever grateful.

For the Love of One Man

Dearest Family and Friends-

Many of you know of the recent loss of our best friend, Micah. If you didn’t know Micah, I encourage you to read and/or listen about his life here, here or here. We will continue to miss him every day this side of Heaven. But we trust and believe that we will see him again, and that’s when forever will begin.

Micah had planned to lead a team from our church to Uganda in 5 weeks. We had not planned to travel and serve this year. Fikirte just returned home from Spain, and all five of our children are attending Christ in Youth conferences this summer. Those trips seemed like they would be enough for our family and our family’s budget.

However, our Uganda team is now left without a leader. Ryan and I were with Micah and his wife, Laura, in 2013 when we first served Amaka Children’s Home. We consider it an honor to step jointly into the leadership role for this year’s trip to Uganda.

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The team has almost completely funded a well that will be used to provide clean water for the first time to Amaka and the surrounding community. We will help the home provide food and multiple services to hundreds of Ugandans. It will be humbling to work with Pastor Samuel and his family and staff again. They work tirelessly.

This trip is generally something we would save for over time and fund, but we simply don’t have the resources or more specifically the time. Ryan and I need to raise approximately $6000 by July 5th. That date is a mere two weeks away.

Micah was a prayerful man, and we know he would have led the charge in praying and believing that this can be accomplished. Can we ask each of you to join us in that prayer—that the finances will be provided that will allow us to serve the people of Amaka Children’s Home and the surrounding community? Many others on the team also need to complete their fundraising and could use your prayers, as well. Their names are Alexis, Garrett, Jacob, Madison, and Stormy. Please pray for them by name. We ask for that and more in the prayers for his wife, Laura, and daughter, Ashton, who are still fundraising and will be traveling to serve a place that the Wakeman family loves so much.

We are boldly believing that these funds will come. If you are able to help us financially, you can make the check out to ‘MPCC’ and mail the check to our church with ‘Mott – Uganda’ on the memo line. If you prefer to give electronically, please contact me and I can provide that information.

Above all, may the Lord’s name be praised through this trip.

~Deanne & Ryan

 

Mt. Pulaski Christian Church

115 N. Washington St

Mt. Pulaski, IL 62548

Defying the odds

The vision of Mission of Hope: As an organization following Jesus Christ, Mission of Hope seeks to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti.

Our team has a time of debriefing every night when we share about our day and have the opportunity to pray together. Tonight’s time felt extra special as it included praise music complete with guitars.

Each member of our team shared a high and a low from today as well as something they are looking forward to.

The highs included seeing a graduation, visiting the community, planting mango trees, helping to hand wash laundry, holding babies, touring the Mission of Hope campus and hearing about their history.

The lows. One word. Heat.

What are we looking forward to? Everything.

13533346_10154335820993179_1123565230025691893_nOur team cannot say enough positive things about Mission of Hope and what they are facilitating here in Haiti. An example of that: 192 students graduated from the School of Hope today. In a country where less than one percent of children graduate from high school, these young men and women have defied the odds. Please take the time to check out their website and considering partnering with them in some way.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3