January 2013 Update #3

And I thought things would slow down a bit after camp…just kidding!  I asked people to pray for us to be productive while my parents were here.  Prayers answered!!!  Monday we checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner then allowed mom and dad to go to bed to get adjusted to the time change. Unfortunately the power was off overnight, so mom and dad’s AC unit wasn’t working.  Long night…welcome to Africa!!

Tuesday we hit the ground running, literally. We walked all of Jinja.  One of my desires for this week with mom and dad here, was to introduce them to my community.  I want them to know the family that God has built around me here.  So Tuesday I arranged lunch with 7 of my good friends.  I was absolutely loving sitting back and listening to the conversation.  There was a lot of laughter and joking as well as good conversation about family and Uganda and camp.  So much fun!!  I am so thankful for the community God has placed me in here in Jinja.  And with each trip the relationships just keep getting better and better.  I am excited for the day when I won’t have to leave after a 2 week visit.  After lunch, we started footing (walking).  One of our tasks for the week was to set up a bank account, so we walked into town to the bank.  After a very good meeting with a banker, we walked down Main Street to the supermarket.  An essential for mzungus (foreigners) here is clean water of course, so we picked up 4 5 liter bottles to last us the week.   We then made the journey back to our hotel on foot.  I told mom and dad they were getting a small taste of what the kids here go through to get water. (Later in the week we got to spend time with my parent’s sponsor girl thru CoG and she said she carries 40L 2 kilometers a day. So much for our 10L!!)  After resting and cooling down a bit (M&D’s AC was working), my twin sister Vicky came and met us at the hotel for a soda and then we headed into town with her and Emma, my driver friend.  We enjoyed a great indian meal, dad ordered too much as usual, but Vicky and Emma got a kick out of it and Emma got to take the leftovers home.  They actually ended up kicking us out because we were sitting and talking for too long 🙂 This has been a wonderful day of community!!  I am so thankful!!

Wednesday we enjoyed breakfast and then we were off to town to meet with Simon, the Community Development Officer.  This is the guy who is responsible for all the NGO’s in the Jinja District.  A good guy to be friends with.  He helped me back in May to file all my papers to get my certificate as a CBO (Community Based Organization).  He warned me then, that I needed to get busy and do some work or else they wouldn’t renew my certificate, the initial one is only good for a year, so this was to share with him what we did with His Hope and our plans for the future.  I was kind of hoping it would be a quick meeting, but God had other plans.  We ended up sitting and talking for about 2 1/2 hours about ministry opportunities and ideas for growth.  Dad asked him a ton of questions too that have provided a wealth of information.  I have been a bit guarded about how much access I’ve given Simon because I had a bit of a weird feeling about him, but he could be a wonderful person to be connected to in many ways.  I also had a chance to hear a bit of his heart and the frustration he sees in his government.  He truly wants to see things change, but has seen that it is going to happen through NGOs.  The afternoon was pretty open, so mom and I headed into town and did a little souvenir shopping while dad did some work?!? He looked to be napping when we returned 🙂  We decided just to stay at the hotel for dinner this night- bad decision- mom and dad ordered chicken chow mien that had no noodles and appeared to be more like curry.  Not so good, but I enjoyed my chinese beef and veggies.  Today was a pleasant surprise from the Lord with Simon.  I need to be careful not to judge too quick even though I know I need to be cautious.

Thursday…today is going to be crazy!!  We have 3 things all scheduled for the same time.  We are meeting our sponsor kids from CoG at their office.
DSC_0444I was so excited to finally introduce Sharifah to mom and dad.  They have sponsored her for 8 years and I was able to meet her on my very first trip in 2009, God put her in my small group at camp.  As always, it was fabulous hanging out with my boys too.  Muhammad wouldn’t let go of me when I hugged him, it almost made me cry. They are definitely coming out of their shells around me.  Its about time!!!  We collected the 3 of them and jumped on bodas and headed into town.  Our first stop was at Rita’s Craft Shop.  Rita is a friend through Erin Beck.  DSC_0451She has a daughter named after her, so I always try to get pictures to bring home.  We visited with them for a bit and then started walking around the craft shops.  Dad hadn’t really looked plus we had seen something we really liked at the CoG house that we were on the hunt for, cute candlestick holders shaped like animals.  I’ll send out pix later.  It turns out that another friend, Florence is the one who sells them and she’s the only one in town.  While we were waiting for her to wrap them up we asked the kids if they saw anything they liked and Sharifah jumped at the chance to get some cute sandals.  We walked down a couple booths and the boys found full futbol outfits!!  Too cute!!  We continued down to the supermarket to pick up some essentials for the kids, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.  We were fully loaded up and headed over to Flavours a favorite restaurant for lunch.  My boys know this place well and love it because they know they will get ice cream for dessert.

We also squeezed in a meeting with Frank and Antoine from YWAM’s Discovery Centre.  The meeting was for 2 purposes, 1- I needed to pay them for camp and 2- I wanted to talk to them about continuing to partner with them to run camps.  We had a great conversation getting to share with them more of my future plans and then dad did his thing and started asking questions.  A huge idea out there is about buying land in the future.  Dad was asking questions about that to both Simon yesterday and these guys.  Great thing is now I have a bunch of locals checking out land for me, which means less work for me plus they don’t see my white skin and hike up the price.  After this great meeting, we took the kids out to Pastor Godfrey’s church.  This is the church that the CPR teachers come from.  This week they have a conference going on for their church family.  We went and sang and danced.  I was invited up to share a word, love that!?!  But my parents got a taste of what church looks like in Uganda.  DSC_0437Afterward we returned our sponsor kids to their homes and headed back into town.  We had a quick meeting with Kimi before heading back to the hotel.  We were too tired to go out for dinner, so we braved the hotel’s restaurant again, but ordered safer.  This was a full and fabulous day with our kids and getting to see and grow relationships with others.  Thank you Lord!!

Friday is our last full day in Uganda.  Today we need to finish up at the bank (we were waiting for paperwork we needed).  The gals at the bank were great.  They were asking all sorts of questions about my ministry and one said that the bank does outreach stuff with NGOs, so maybe we can partner in the future.  Partner with a bank…YES PLEASE!!!  Hey, turns out…I am a multi millionaire!!! In shillings that is 🙂

The afternoon’s mission was to check out land options.  We were just going to get in the car and using Google Earth, see what was available.  We drove around the YWAM base to see the area and then Raphael, one of the CPR teachers let me know he had a friend of a friend who knew stuff about land.  We ended up meeting up with them and looking at a piece of land that is rural, 35 acres and already has a title.  Pretty good news because if it is already titled then that decreases the prep work exponentially.  The other great thing is they quoted us the Ugandan price instead of the mzungu price.  It would only be around $45,000 for the whole thing.  That seems almost too good to be true. There is a lot of work to be done to it and there is a lot of checking things out before we could even consider it, but God is working.  Praying that I will step where He wants me to and no where else.  Whether we end up buying it or not, it was another great opportunity for my dad to ask a lot of questions and feel out the Ugandan system.

We rushed from there to meet Vicky and her mom and dad for a family dinner.  This was really special.  Vicky and I have joked about being sisters/twins and her parents have welcomed me with open arms, so the chance for my parents to get to do the same for Vicky and meet her parents was just sweet!!  We had a wonderful time.  We found out that Vicky’s parents and mine share the same wedding anniversary, and I’m pretty sure my dad invited them to the US to celebrate in September.  That would be crazy cool!!!  Vicky would come too of course 🙂  We also ran into a pastor from Alabama of all places, at the restaurant.  I mentioned to him that we were looking at land and he said he knew of a place too.  Maybe we’ll see that tomorrow?!?!

Overall it has been a hectic week, but God has helped to bring clarity to our vision and has comforted my parents as they think of me moving to AFRICA, now they know the place and the people I will be with.  I am so thankful that they have been here.  It still seems a bit surreal.

Saturday morning was a bit rough.  Mom and dad are both feeling crumby.  I think it is probably a mix of heat, dehydration and weird food.  Please pray for quick recovery.  This morning we got a few errands done.  Dad went with the pastor from AL to see that property.  I ran to the bank to give them some more info.  And then we packed into the car.  Before heading out of town we swang by Vicky’s to say hi to her niece and nephew.  They were expecting to see me, so I couldn’t let them down.  The drive to the airport was long, especially since mom and dad weren’t feeling well, but we made it. Ethiopia bound!!!

Please pray for our time in Ethiopia.  I’m not really sure what all God has in store for us, but I am excited to find out.  Thank you for your love and support!!