Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Uganda: July 7, 2014

I'm sitting in the Ugandan airport as I write. It is Monday, July 7, 9:45 p.m. God willing, I will board in less than one hour.

Let me catch you up on some things that happened this weekend. Saturday was simply amazing. I went canvasing with a group of the orphan boys. We conversed Soroti for about an hour and a half before we returned to the orphanage. By the time we finished, I was hot, sweaty, hungry, and exhausted. I began crossing the street to Kerri and Pamela's, but I stopped when I heard someone calling me. I turned around, and, sitting on the wall outside the orphanage were 3 young girls (early teens) with their heads covered (obviously Muslim). I began talking with them. They were very friendly. I asks them if they were Muslim. They said they were. I said, "Ah! I have never spoken very long with a Muslim before. Will you tell me a little about your religion?" They got very excited and began telling me about being good and living peaceable with people to get to heaven. Well, after they shared their beliefs, I shared mine using an Evangecube I brought along from the States. We talked for 30 minutes. The girls had many questions including "Is hell a real place?" The last picture of the Evangecube has an image of hell at the bottom, an image of heaven at the top, and 2 hands clasped in-between heaven and hell (one hand representing a sinner condemned to hell, one representing Jesus). Just before I reached that picture, I had given a little bit of my testimony and had told the girls that when I became a Christian, the Holy Spirit came to indwell me, and now I can communicate with my Savior as friend to friend. That prompted one of the girls to ask, "Do you believe that God can communicated to us through dreams?" I said, "Yes, I do. Why? Have you had a dream?" She nodded. "Tell me your dream," I said. She told me that she dreamed she was in a dark, deep pit and couldn't get out, and someone was trying to grab her hand, but she wouldn't take it. Needless to say, I was floored. Immediately, I showed her the least picture and pointed to the flames of gel. "This is your pit," I said. "Jesus is extending His hand to you; you simply have to reach up and take it. I believe God was speaking to you in that dream." At that point, all three of the girls' eyes seemed to open. I asked them if they were ready to trust in Christ Jesus for salvation, and they said, "Yes." I led them in the sinner's prayer. Isn't God good! Please pray for them. They could face persecution for their decision.

Kerri was sick a lll day Saturday and Sunday. She asked me Saturday night if I would teach both Sunday school and junior church the next day. It was so much fun! I had about 90 kids from 9:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. I taught them the stories "the Fiery Furnace" and "Daniel in the Lion's Den." They taught me some Teso songs! I can't wait to teach them to my class this fall. Immediately after church, I loaded up my things and headed to Entebbe with Mr. Pittman and a Ugandan named Nelson. We arrived at the Joyners' home about 9:00 p.m.

Today I had a blast catching a Ugandan taxi with Sarah Hess to observe her teach music in a government school in Entebbe. We even sang a couple of duets for the kids.

On the way back to the Joyners, we got the taxi to drop us off near Lake Victoria so that we could walk by it on the way to the house. The lake is beautiful and quite large. Maybe one day I can see Victoria Falls.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. I repacked my bags to get my souvenirs in my carry-on to prevent breakage. And here I am. Still waiting to board my flight, it is now 10:30.

I surely will miss all these people I have been working with. I will miss all the kids back at the orphanage. My time here in Uganda was way to short. I have seen so many needs here -- needs that I could fulfill if God allows. Please be praying for future decisions. I am torn between Cameroon and Uganda. But I will keep praying for God's guidance. He hasn't steered me wrong yet!

Uganda: July 6, 2014

I am writing this as I am leaving Soroti heading to Entebbe once again. This past week has been a whirlwind. As I said in the previous post, I have been tutoring some little ones in letters and sounds recognition. On Wednesday, John Peter, a little boy who, when he came to the orphanage, could not speak English or the local dialect, read for the first time in class after our morning tutoring session. That morning, it seems that the information I was teaching him finally clicked. Kerri started crying when he read his first words. You should have seen his wide eyes and big grin! Priceless.

On Friday (July 4) we decided to cancel school and have a field day full of games. The kids were surprised in the morning when they were told to gather for an impromptu assembly, and they were so excited when Mr. Pittman announced that there would be no more school until after lunch. We set up races, an obstacle course, a jump rope competition, a ring toss, etc. That evening we grilled steaks and had brownies and ice cream! Yummy! Fourth of July in Africa is possible! Haha!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Uganda: June 30, 2014

I started tutoring in phonics and letter recognition this morning at 8:40 and finished at 11:00. At 1:00, I ate potatoes, cabbage, and chapatas (African tortillas) with the kids. My favorite part of the day was teaching a 5th grade spelling and reading class. It was my first time since I've been here that I've really had a chance to bond with the orphans. All afternoon I played basketball with some little ones, and later, Kerri, a few of the teens, and I had an intense game of 2-1. I made French toast, and Sarah made eggs for our supper. Kerri and Pamela were super tired and needed a break! And I had better take a break for bed before another busy day tomorrow! Jeremy Pittman wants to take Sarah and me to the local hospital to see the quality of health care here in Soroti.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Uganda: June 29, 2014

I think the reason I have been behind in entries is that in Cameroon, I had some time in the evenings to write. Here in Uganda, however, my evenings are full. We usually have a late dinner, and the orphanage devotions are at 8:00. We usually stay behind several minutes to chat with the girls. Needless to say, by the time I get back to my room, I just want to crash.

So here's a short update of the last 3 days. Friday was a day of relaxation. We took a tour boat up the Nile and saw so many hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and many other animals. After a last awesome meal at the Paraa Lodge, we headed back toward Soroti--only after spending about an hour in a town getting a "new" spare tire. I am glad I went on that safari. I have just been going, going, going without a break, and I didn't realize how much I needed one until I got it.

Saturday was awesome. The plan was to go soul winning with Sarah, Mr. Pittman, and a few other church members in a village way out in the bush. One of Mr. Pittman's newer church members (only a Christian for 2 and a half years) has started a little church of his own in his village. He has had a bit of opposition from the local witch doctor and his followers, but in spite of that, the church has grown. I say that the plan was to have  a good, long visit in this village. Plans don't always work in Africa. As we were driving down an extremely narrow, bumpy path surrounded by bushes, corn fields, and rocks, we blew a tire. While the locals worked for hours to get it changed, we got to experience an uplifting song service in their new church building (mud walls and grass roof!) It was thrilling to see the joy in these new Christians as they sang for us. Sarah and I sang some English songs for them in return.

We got back to Soroti around 2:00 and ate a quick lunch before we headed to the orphanage for Saturday game time. I showed them how to play several team games. Their favorite was  "Tube Tug," but since we don't have tubes, we played "Tire Tug."

Today I got up early to go with Miss Pamela to a village called Serere to teach a Sunday school. You see, this ministry is not only in one church in one town. They are spreading to many villages around Soroti. Mr. Pittman preaches in Serere on Sunday morning, then goes back to Soroti to preach in the Soroti church. My Sunday school lesson went very well. I talked to them about sin and salvation. We did not even have a building to use, so we set up under a porch of a community building. I returned at 10:00 to Soroti so that I could sing a special with Sarah in the Soroti church.

Agenda for the afternoon? #1 Lunch. #2 Nap.

Evening service was great. Pastor preached about going to God instead of to other things when we need something. Kerri, Sarah, and I sang a special.

Tomorrow I start tutoring and teaching! Woop woop!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Uganda: June 26, 2014

I am relaxing in a very fancy hotel room after an awesome day of adventures. We left Soroti at 7:45 and stopped for breakfast at Otinawa restaurant about 9:30. We had brought a Ugandan with us to take care of us in case of car trouble (His name is Milton.) We were only going to take him to the town just outside the nature park, though, and let him catch a boda (motorcycle taxi) back to Soroti.

Only minutes after dropping him off, we got a flat tire and had to call him back to help us. We were able to drive to a nearby gas station. While the tire was being changed, I was haggling with some locals for some neat wood carvings they were selling. Two of them kept pushing items into my hands. I selected 2 that I wanted. They both belonged to the same fellow. I asked him how much he wanted for them. He said 10,000 shillings apiece (almost $4). I said, "Will you take 15,000 for both?" He said, "No." I said, "If you don't take 15,000 for both, I will buy from the other man." He quickly changed his mind and even offered to throw in another figurine for a total of 20,000 shillings ($8). 3 carvings for $8! Not bad. Not bad.

After the tire was changed, we headed off on our safari adventure (after a quick lunch at the
fancy hotel we are staying at.) The safari is probably the most awesome thing I have ever done. We saw antelope, warthogs, giraffes, elephants, jackals, and even a lion! The lion is a neat story. All day we had been telling our guide Denis that it would make our day if he could find us a lion. He finally found one just before sunset when we came upon a herd of antelope all looking the same direction. The guide told Kerri to drive off the road into the savanna. We would follow the path of their gaze until we saw them the lion. We went about 200 yards into the bush until we saw a male lion lying beneath the shade of a tree! Denis started to get out of the truck to taunt the lion into a good pose for photos. It worked! Though I think he made the lion a bit nervous. It started hissing menacingly at us.

Night fell before we made it back to point A to drop Denis off, but before we dropped him off, Kerri got to witness to him very extensively. Please pray for him. He is very close to accepting Christ.

Instead of driving another hour to the hotel we had intended to stay at, we  decided it would be worth it in gas money just to stay at this fancy hotel in the park. So here we are, resting in our room after watching USA play Germany in the World Cup and after a top notch dinner. God has truly blessed us today. I have enjoyed learning about and seeing a new facet of His creation!

Uganda: June 25, 2014

Chapel was at 8:00 this morning. Sarah told the story of the woman at the well. After that, I talked to Miss Phyllis for a long time about the mission in general. The rest of the morning was spent making a quick run into town with Kerri and organizing the donated clothes that are in storage. We ate lunch with the school kids -- peanut/collard soup with a boiled potato.

The afternoon was spent organizing the clothes some more. Church was at 5:00. I wish you could hear these people sing. The only instrument besides their voices is an African drum. Kerri and I worked out after a dinner of hamburgers and then we had a little water fight through the dining room. Way too much fun going on over here! Haha!

Safari early tomorrow! Goodnight!

Uganda: June 24, 2014

Well, it's my birthday, and once again I am in Africa -- Uganda, in fact, and as soon as I woke up, I saw a big card under my door signed by all the orphans.

Today has been relaxing. Woke up at 8:30, made Keurig coffee and banana/coconut smoothies for breakfast, got ready for the day, had tea with the school kids at 10:30, went to town with Kerri and Sarah to get some things from the market. Kerri treated me to lunch at a cute little cafe' in town. Best chicken shish-ka-bobs I've ever had.

Played with the orphans some this afternoon and talked for at least an hour with Jeremy Pittman, the missionary in charge here. He asked me what my goals are for this trip and asked me what he could be praying for me about. He was so encouraging and down-to-earth.

For dinner, we had pizza of all things, and Kerri surprised me by making a birthday cake complete with candles that were really fireworks (about gave me a heart attack!) The cake was already more than enough,  but the missionaries all put in some money to send me on a safari on Thursday and Friday! I was shocked and humbled. What an act of selflessness!