ALMU Update

Jambo!!  Hello all!!  I hope you are all well.  Is it really almost February?!?!  The last 2 weeks have literally flown by.  They have been so good, very productive and way busier than I thought they would be.  And I was worried I would be bored…hahaha!!  I am so thankful to have had this time!!  I have spent everyday either with old friends or new ones.  The relational time has been so wonderful!!  Praise God and thank you for your prayers!!  I have also been able to spend a lot of time with the Lord, in prayer and in His Word and I am so very very thankful for that!!

I tried to make myself rest the first couple of days, but it was tough.  Vicky came from Kampala to visit, so I spent most of sunday afternoon with her and her niece Terry.  I love this girl too much!!  Our relationship was knit by the very hand of God.  We spent a few hours just sitting and talking, just good ol’ doing life together type stuff!!  After she left, I received a call from Jolly, my lawyer.  He was in town and wanted to meet.  So he came to my place.  I thought it would be quick, turns out, the relational time I wanted with him, God provided.  I was able to get to know him better, we talked about his work, his family, his passions.  It was so good!!  I learned that he and a friend have started doing ministry in a village about 15 minutes from Jinja and they are starting a youth program.  He was asking about his kids coming to camp.  Sweet!!  And he is working in an area that we don’t have connections yet, so they would be a totally new group.  It truly was a wonderful time of fellowship with this brother in the Lord.  He came to do “business” but God adapted it and used it for HIS good purposes.  We did get the business done too.  The paperwork we had started in September to register as a ugandan non-profit had a spelling mistake that I didn’t catch, so we had to sign new copies.  Thankfully Vicky was able to stop by before heading back to Kampala and Emma was able to come too, so we finished it and Jolly was able to file it with the govt that tuesday.  We should hear later this week!!  Thank you Lord for these people you have placed in my community here!!!

I actually spent a lot of the first week with the Children of Grace team that was here.  Deana, a good friend from home, was co-leading that team, so I wanted to get some hang out time with her, plus I love the CoG staff, so it was fun to get some good time with them too.  I was able to make some new friends from the US too.  Most of their team was from the Santa Barbara area, but along with D, there were 2 ladies from the Bay, who were fun to meet and get to know.  Nancy came, who I have never met although she goes to CPC, and she has been sponsoring my very good friend Brian here since he started with CoG.  He is the one in nursing school now and helps me with camp.  It was so neat getting to see the 2 of them meet and hang out.  I remember when I first met my boys, it is so special!!!  In between hanging out and doing ministry with them, I was able to get some great time with Brian, Allan, Silas and Raph, some of the guys that do camp with me.  These were great time to debrief camp and to start talking and dreaming about the future.  I am SO thankful for them!!!  It makes me sad to think of the day they will move on and get jobs and not be able to do camp anymore. (A reality that struck me hard the last couple weeks)  I have seen both the boys I sponsor as I’ve been helping with CoG, but not great time, so saturday is for them!!!
Allan let me know he would be playing a futbol match saturday.  I have always wanted to see him play.  I found out that it is literally a 2 minute walk from Joel’s house, so I went early and picked up Mohammad and then went to the school where Joel was to meet us.  I was thinking this would be a simple game and then we would head into town.  It was actually a ministry sponsored event that was a futbol tournament, volleyball tournament and racing, 100 yard dash.  I was anticipating being the only mzungu, but there was a whole crew of them.  I learned they are a YWAM team sent on their outreach from Denver.  Pretty cool!!!  They are here partnering with a ministry called Divine Holistic Ministries that does a ton of different things.  There is an american living here and working with them for the year, so we may be able to connect and serve them with camp at some point too.  Cool!!!  We hung around and watched the activities for most of the day.  I was able to meet some of Allan’s friends from school and I also ran into a couple old CoG kids that I know.  Finally around 430, I needed some food, so I gathered Mohammad. Joel and Joel’s cousin Jonathan and we headed into town.  Oh these boys…as soon as we got to the restaurant, they asked for my phones to play ages.  Kids are the same everywhere!!!  Joel took a bunch of pix on my phone and then I interviewed him and Jonathan.  Pretty funny!!  We ate and then after a quick stop at the store, we went back to where I was staying. We spent a while just hanging out.  They still don’t have a lot to say to me, but I LOVE watching them enjoy each other.  They have so much fun together and they laugh a lot!!!  It was tough, but I said good night to them and sent them on a boda back to the village.  At least I know I will see them again!!
This week has been a mix of old and new.  I was able to help CoG with another day out in Magamaga, I’ve caught up with Raoul and his sisters and did a FaceTime date with Erin and a couple groups she knows, loves and misses.  I spent a day doing outreach in the Children’s hospital with Kimi and her kids.  I actually didn’t end up doing a whole lot cuz they had it covered, but Kimi and I were able to just spend a few hours talking about stuff.  She is becoming a very good friend and I am thankful and hopeful for how God is and will grow our relationship.  She told me she was looking to move into town a and I just happened to know an apartment building.  I asked, they had a room, I showed Kimi and now she’s going to be moving in this week!!  Praise God!!
I knew I needed to do some leadership things this week with my camp staff.  I have been so very thankful for how God has provided a team to come around me to do camp.  I wasn’t very picky honestly, but God is beginning to show me that I need to do more training and equipping of these young people and be ready to have some tough conversation if needed.  Some of the guys that have joined our team, they are still learning, but I needed to set some clear expectations for them if they hope to continue to do camp with us.  Largely emphasizing that they are there to minister to and hang out with kids and not each other.  Imagine that, but if I don’t tell them, then how can I hold them accountable to it.  So God has given me good time with pockets of our team throughout the week.  The conversations have been evidence of God’s promise that iron does sharpen iron!!  We are all growing together!  Thank you Jesus!!!
I ended the week by joining the leadership team of Victory Family Centre, the church we had at camp and the church home of our health/CPR educators, for an afternoon of fellowship at Raphael’s home.  We had a lot of fun getting to know each other and playing games.  I learned that one of the guys there was the husband to Steven’s sister and I actually contributed to their wedding that happened in October.  Here they actually have people financially support the events instead of bringing gifts.  I wasn’t in town for the day, but gave, honestly, at the time to be culturally sensitive.  It was fun to meet him though. They cooked a big meal and Raph had an ample supply of Mountain Dew for me.  We spent some time sharing what God is doing in our ministries and praying for each other after dinner.  They shared with me about the impact camp has had on their kids, but how it has changed and empowered them as well.  Thank you Jesus!!  Evidence of God at work!!  It was a really wonderful time growing existing relationships and building new ones.
Saturday is land day!!!  Jolly came to get me and we went all around looking at different properties that are for sale.  We got a LOT of exercise.  The land here isn’t flat, but it is beautiful!!!  Today has really opened my eyes to a few things…1) this thing God has called me into is HUGE!!!  2) We are only just beginning and 3) He is going to have to work a miracle in the next several months!!!  Land in the Jinja area is not cheap!!  I thought that real estate in Africa must be much less than at home.  Hahaha!!!  This is prime real estate!!!  And there are some mzungus who have actually made some really stupid deals here which are going to cost us more!!  So we spent the majority of our time looking at 2 properties.  The third we looked at we knew pretty quick it wasn’t the right place.  I have been praying that God would clearly open and shut doors for us in this land process and thus far He has been very faithful!!  Jolly has already been in negotiations with one of the owners for 40 acres of land.  This piece was actually the favorite of the 4 of us that went out together.  The other piece is owned by an indian guy and the price is pretty high.  It does have some things about it that would make it a good investment, but not sure how we would really develop it for camp.  We are going to continue the conversation with this one owner first and see what God does.
The end of the day I went with Brian to his aunt’s place.  In September I had the privilege of visiting Allan, Cathy and Silas’ homes after camp and meeting they families.  This time I promised Brian and so we were able to go.  It was sweet to meet the lady that took him in when his parents died.  She has done a great job raising a good man!!
Overall my time has been a good balance of relational and business.  We are set to host a new school for camp in May and have a few new potential partnerships in the works.  God has been faithfully growing this ministry in His timing (sometimes a little quicker than I can manage, but it keeps me dependent on Him). The challenge of growth is a good one, but still a challenge.  How do we continue to build existing relationships and foster new ones??   God is reshaping my focus from the daily runnings of camp to the bigger vision for things.  What does it look like to grow?  How do we make disciples and continue to support the kids after camp?  How do we grow our camp team with people who want to love kids for Jesus Christ? What do I need to do on the US side to get us to where God is taking us?
Please pray for Abundant Life and me as we continue to step where and when the Lord leads us to.  Please pray for the land process, that we would be very in tune with the voice of the Holy Spirit leading us.  Please pray for the over 200 kids who have gone through camp this year, that God would continue to grow the faith that was planted and they would know His love and presence.  Please pray for wisdom and discernment as we begin to look at the next phase of growth for camp as well.
I am confident that God is sovereign and in control of Abundant Life Ministries and we are exactly where He wants us to be.  I know that every need we have had, He has met.  So I know that He will provide for whatever adventure He has next for us.  May He begin to soften hearts even now to build a community in the US who will help provide financially for our dreams moving forward.  Thank you all for your love and support!!  I really REALLY appreciate it!!!