Sunday, January 31, 2010

super quick update

Hi family and friends,

There is no power and my laptop is about to die. I just wanted to let you all know that we will be a part of a trauma counseling program in Palobec this week. I won't have internet access there, so you won't hear from me until Friday or Saturday. Pray for us!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Minakulu, House of Hope, and dinner

What a week! We went to a town named Minakulu from Wednesday-Friday to check out a portable bible school. When we got there, we set up our mattresses in a cement room—our home while we were there. There was no electricity and no water (no showers or toilets either), and we were totally roughing it. We thought it would be difficult, but we handled it. I’m really proud of us. It didn’t hurt that Christian, another one of our house moms, came along to feed us.

The first day we were there, we just sat through a few of the lectures at the school. It was cool. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t (and I still don’t) feel like I can play a vital role at a bible school. I’m not a preacher or a teacher. It was nice to see what Favor of God is up to anyways. We went back for dinner and sat under the stars. When we went to bed, we taped up a mosquito net for Christian and tried to sleep. About 20 minutes later, the net fell off the wall and she was completely wrapped in it. She started moving her arms frantically and Casandra yelled, “It’s alive!!!” I couldn’t contain my laughter! We all got up and helped her put it back.

In the morning, we were supposed to teach a health class. I think I didn’t fully enjoy this trip because the level of miscommunication was RIDICULOUS. No one was informing us of anything we were doing at any time. Instead of teaching a health class, our leader walked us through the nearby villages, telling us who had a latrine and who didn’t. We were so confused. However, we ran into a group of people by a stream of milky white water, and Angela was able to tell them how to clean the water. After that, we went to class again.

In class, Angela and Casandra shared lessons that were planned. I wasn’t given anything to share, but of course, they still asked me to go up and speak. So what do you do? Sing them a song! And what song should you sing for a big group of Ugandans? Mighty to Save. AGAIN! Oh well. We went back to wash up and have dinner, and then we taught a song to the group who was with us. In turn, they taught us an Acholi song. It was fun.

We also got to sit down and hear Christian’s story. In junior high, she used to run in races. On the last day of her seventh grade class, the LRA came and abducted a ton of kids. She was one of them. They walked several miles out of town and as they were walking, they saw a chicken. They told Christian to chase after it for dinner. She started chasing it, but it ran into the bush. She saw it as an opportunity to escape. Even though they told the children that they would kill anyone who tried to escape, she ran for it. She ran all the way back to town! She told us that she had a new appreciation for life. She even acknowledged that God saved her from this mess. She said, “God put me through fire so I could burn for him.” She is amazing.

Christian has five kids and is horrified of mosquitoes because her husband died of malaria. Even though she has been through so much, she still has more joy than most people. The coolest part of being in Minakulu was spending time with her. When they taught us the Acholi worship song, I could just see an overflow of her love for God. She sang for about an hour, jumping from song to song, and she loved it! We did too.

This morning was a little more of a nightmare in regards to miscommunication. We were getting picked up by our driver at 11am in order to go home. However, some leaders thought it was a good idea to ignore that and take us walking to villages. We walked through dense bush. It was a good experience, but it was frustrating when we really running late and they didn’t care to turn back. We finally made it back and packed all of our things. We made it back to Gulu and I took an amazing shower. After that, we watched the House of Hope soccer game where I hung out with the girls. I’m starting to connect with a few specific girls and it’s really fun. To end the night, we went to dinner with Coryn and Jamesdon who are visiting from Kampala. Now for bed!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tim time, prison, and choir practice

Last night we had dinner with Tim Taber, his friends, 31 bits, Sean Galaway, and a few other people from NGOs here. The Ethiopian restaurant is so great. We are definitely going back soon! This morning we ate breakfast at the Acholi Inn with Tim and his friends, as well as Pastor Ron and Joy. We talked about how the Congolese women can be helped and we came away with a few good ideas.

After lunch, we went to the prison. A guy named Francisco from Favor of God went with us, so we split up. Angela went to the women’s ward with Joyce, as usual. Casandra and I went to the men’s ward. We both shared. I shared about the Elisha and the Shunamite woman in 2 Kings 4. I talked about frustration during difficult times in life, and how we often don’t understand what God is doing. However, when things come together, it all works out in the end. In Isaiah 38:17, Hezekiah says, “It was for my welfare that I had great bitterness.” Francisco started sharing and his message was about restoration. It was a nice fit.

We got back and went to David’s choir practice. David is one of our drivers and his church is across the street from our house. He asked us to teach his choir one song, and of course, he picked Mighty to Save! Oh man, everyone in Uganda wants me to sing that song 24/7! It took about an hour to teach them, but we are finally home and I am ready to sleep at 7pm!

Tomorrow we are heading out to the portable Bible school about an hour or two away from Gulu. We’ll be there for two nights, and we won’t have internet, so I won’t be blogging until I return.

Monday, January 25, 2010

extracurricular fun

Yesterday we went back to House of Hope with Godfrey to watch the boys practice for their soccer game. Casandra and Angela played soccer while I hung out with the feisty girls. They were amazed by my red pimples. Hahaha. Today we had class and Carole taught the second half of the day. It was a good class—she is a very wise woman. We closed our class with a description of our course, along with extracurricular activities. It looks like I will be doing the following extracurricular activities:
- Science experiments at the primary school
- Trauma counseling at the women’s prison
- Helping Angela type out testimonies from department leaders
- Community health courses
- Teaching new(ish) worship songs to worship leaders and their choirs
Over the next week, we’ll be checking out the portable Bible school, as well as the trauma counseling program. Sounds sweet!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Church Globalization

Today we attended a more famous church in Gulu. It was founded by an American couple, which was blatantly obvious because their pictures were EVERYWHERE. This church was pretty bizarre—it was not a typical church service in Gulu. You see, the worship was just like ours in the States. While that might be pleasant for some, it was not pleasant for me. There was no crazy dancing or any songs that we’ve learned since we’ve been here. Actually, there wasn’t even an Acholi service. This church was as westernized as it could be. As we sang songs like Happy Day, I Could Sing of Your Love, etc., there was a lack of excitement that you would normally see in the people here. It reminded me of the worship of an uninterested junior high group. This is not the Uganda that I enjoy. I can’t help but think about what went wrong.

It has occurred to me that westerners can impose their preferences on people here. What we often don’t realize is that we can learn just as much from them as they can learn from us. Instead of walking alongside of the culture here, many westerners take charge and attempt to teach the people the way that we do things. I understand that it all comes down to preferences. I just hope that these cultural values, the ones that I love, aren’t drowned out by westernization.

All of this reminds me of a song by Jars of Clay, entitled “Light Gives Heat.” Here are the lyrics:

Catch the rain empty hands
Save the children from their lands
Wash the darkness from their skin
Heroes from the west
We don't know you, we know best
But this is not a test

You treat me like I'm blind
Setting fires around houses on the hill
But light gives heat
You segregate my mind
Burning crosses from your fears
The light gives heat

It's not the way to light their way
Boys in holes in empty fields
Oh, how good it feels
Lower-class, and understate
Empty promise, empty plate

You treat me like I'm blind
Setting fires around houses on the hill
Light gives heat
You segregate my mind
Burning crosses from your fears, your fears
But light gives heat, gives heat

You treat me like I'm blind
Setting fires around houses on the hill
Light gives heat
You segregate my mind
Burning crosses from your fears
But light gives heat

Will you teach us how to love?
To see the things you see
Walk the road you walked
Feel the pain that you feel
At your feet I kneel,
I want to see you shine
See your light not mine
'Cause light gives heat
Your light gives heat

Friday, January 22, 2010

keyboards and coke floats

Today, Angela and I led worship at devotions. We taught the group “Dance, Dance” by Tim Hughes and they had some fun with it... I'm talking keyboard beats here. I kept losing my own beat because they kept changing beats on the keyboard. It got so crazy that I just had to laugh. After worship, I had a few worship leaders from nearby churches asking if we could come teach them a few songs. It looks like we’ll be teaching Richard and the GBCC choir 3 new songs on Saturday and another church choir some songs on Tuesday.

We went to the primary school to finish our organizing and we got to meet a few of the teachers today. They told us we should teach some classes. I brought up that we could do some science experiments, and they said that it would be good. It sounds like fun! After that, we went to afternoon prayer. When we got back, we bought some vanilla ice cream and coke and made coke floats. We made some for Godfrey (our good friend and driver) and he LOVED it! He wants us to surprise his wife with some later. Rachel tried it too, but I don’t know if she liked it. The other day, Angela gave her some dried pineapple and she was laughing at Americans for about 15 minutes. The same thing happened when we made some iced tea! We finished off the day by listening to “The Shack” and watching some Flight of the Conchords. It was fun.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

no electricity and crazy worship day

Yesterday was a pretty relaxing day. It was really hot outside— probably around 95 degrees. The power went off around 3am the night before, so when I woke up to shower at 6, it was too dark to see anything. I had to use a big flashlight in the shower… it was an interesting experience. The water was freezing (no electricity= no water heater). I don’t know how I did it! TIA—This Is Africa. We went to devotions, then to the House of Prayer for afternoon prayer, and I was asked to lead a few songs. It was funny because they wanted me and Angela on stage for the entire time of worship, even though we don’t know a lot of the songs they sing. So I started leading “Here I am to worship” and because my guitar doesn’t plug in, everything was SO OFF. The backup singers seriously scream at the top of their lungs in the microphones. I couldn’t hear myself singing and it was so hot in there that I was sweating bullets! They had a keyboard player and a drummer, who were both totally doing their own thing the whole time. I had to keep myself from laughing because it sounded like a nightmare! Finally, I just decided to let them handle it. I gave my mic to Richard (from GBCC—such a cool guy) and just pretended I knew how to play the songs on my guitar, as I was guessing every chord! We got home and slept for a few hours. The electricity finally came back. We’re hoping it stays on! It was raining pretty hard for a few minutes last night, but it just stopped quickly.

This morning, we went to devotions, then stayed to fill out paperwork and renew our modem. We are planning to finish our job organizing books at the primary school. Wanen la chen!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

funny things that happened today!

1. Angela kept saying “Colatians” instead of Colossians. It’s a mixture of Colossians and Galatians. The Ugandans tend to slur their words when it comes to book names… Angela caught on to it!

2. A little girl on the street kept waving and screaming “hello” to get our attention. Angela walked a little closer to shake her hand, but the girl started screaming at the top of her lungs! Angela froze as the girl ran away screaming, only to fall on her face and continue to scream! All the other kids around her were dying of laughter! It was so funny!

3. Angela and I were sitting on the couch, when the terminator of grasshoppers jumped between us. It flew in my face, so we both screamed and I ran out… Angela handles the bugs around here! It proceeded to jump in Angela’s face-- directly in her face. No joke! Then Angela picked up her book and started swatting it around. Her arms were all over the place and I left the room… I’m not sure if I left because of Angela or because of the bug! Casandra heard us screaming and laughing and came to the living room where the action was. Angela finally hit the bug with her book, but she didn’t realize that it wasn’t injured; it was on her book. Although she thought she killed it, she was quite surprised when it jumped right back in her face! It bounced off and kept flying around. Angela and I were dying of laughter… Casandra had to finish the job on her own. When we left her to it, she caught it in less than 5 seconds and threw it out the door! HA!

quick update

Today we went to class for an hour, then we went to the prison. Casandra and Angela shared verses. I sat back and relaxed because it was incredibly hot! I felt like I was soaked in my sweat. Nasty. We just got back and I took a really cold shower, which was amazing. Now we’re relaxing for the rest of the evening! We don’t have class tomorrow and I might lead some worship tomorrow at the house of prayer, so I better go figure that out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

ministry plans, class, and sweet stories.

The past 24 hours have been a bit overwhelming. Last night, we went over to Pastor Ron and Joy’s house to talk about their goals for the Congolese ministry. They have some big dreams, and it is awesome. It was just overwhelming because we want to help, but there is so much to do. We weren’t sure where to start, so we discussed their plan in its entirety. After a few hours, we came home and couldn’t stop talking about it. There is just so much that needs to be done. Angela is going to work on a website, while I help organize ideas with them.

This morning, we had our first class, which turned out to be pretty overwhelming. The information was good, but the teacher wants to teach us for 3 full days each week, which is not what we planned for. We want to do more work; we don’t want to spend our time just attending class. Fortunately, Cassandra, Angela and I all felt the same way about it, so we are going to speak with the leaders about changing our schedules.

After class, I went to GBCC with Pastor Ron and Joy to record a few videos of the stories of Congolese women. We recorded four women’s stories, and they are incredible. While pretty much all of the Congolese women prostitute themselves, there was one story that was out of the norm. Martine, who plated Angela’s hair, is a 23 year old Congolese woman whose mother left her in the Congo as a young girl. She came to Uganda with her sister in order to find her mother. After she found her mother, she moved in with her mother and her Ugandan stepfather. The mother took off, and the stepfather sold the house without telling Martine or her sister, then he took off. A few days later, someone told them that they bought her house and kicked her out. Shortly thereafter, her sister became a prostitute and abandoned her children, leaving Martine to be their sole provider. I believe she takes care of three or four young kids, but she can’t afford it. She has no income. I don’t know how she survives. (If you remember from a previous blog, she is one of the women who praised God when Angela paid extra for her hair because she had no food to eat).

Martine’s age isn’t the only thing that separates her from the others—she has never been touched by a man. She is not a prostitute, and she said that because of what God has done in her life, she never will be a prostitute. That, in and of itself, is incredible. She seems to be the only one in her community who has never allowed it. Can you imagine being the only girl who isn’t the prostitute? Could you imagine her trust in God to provide for her? God can’t overlook faith like that. He has to do something. They all think she’s crazy because she won’t resort to prostitution when she goes hungry. As overwhelmed as I was with the plans last night, hearing Martine’s story reminds me that I want to do everything in my power for these women who can’t help themselves.

After GBCC, I went to House of Hope orphanage with Angela, Cassandra, and our awesome driver/helper for all things, Godfrey. He is a soccer referee and acts as a coach to the kids because they play in tournaments. It was fun to watch the boys play soccer and joke around with the girls. One girl, Mercy (who is probably around 10 years old) asked me what my brother’s name is. I told her and I asked her how she knew I had a brother. She answered, “I had a brother too. But he died of diphtheria. My dad is also dead. The LRA killed him.” As sad as her story is, Mercy is a worship leader to the other children, and she is so good at it! She seems really happy, despite everything that she’s been through. It’s amazing.
It was a long and tiring day, but I’m still really happy that I’m here. I hope you all are doing well.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

GBCC and pineapples

Today we went to church at GBCC and stayed to catch a glimpse of the Kiswahili service. We saw all of the Congolese women and more. It was awesome. Now I’m eating the most delicious pineapple I have ever had! We start class tomorrow, so we’re just relaxing for a bit. Hope you are all well!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

one of the best days of my life!

The power was only gone for a little bit yesterday! But now the water is gone again… It’s always something over here! Yesterday after prayer we stopped by Pastor Ron’s house and talked to him. I told him about the verses that God spoke to me before I got here (see the entry entitled “rooting and fruiting” for more info), and how Carole’s vision was exactly the same. He loved it. We decided that today, we would go with them to a region called Kasubi, a slum where a lot of the Congolese women live. If you’re confused, read the past few entries and you’ll understand who these women are. They have been through quite a lot. We prayed with Pastor Ron and Joy before we left this morning and Joy kept referring to the women as “remnants” in her prayers. She didn’t hear about the verses I shared with Pastor Ron, so it was really interesting because the word used in the verses is “remnant.” When Joy wasn’t in the room, Pastor Ron asked me if I noticed it. I asked if he told her what I shared with him, and he said no.

We took a boda boda (motor bike) to Kasubi and it was hilarious. I was so nervous that Angela was going to fall off of the back! Especially because the roads are so bumpy here. We made it safely and Pastor Ron refused to let the driver rip us off on the cost. It was pretty cool. When we got there, the women greeted us, sang a few songs, and we met their landlord. It was really cool to meet him because he allows the women to stay there, even though they can’t pay most of the time. They are faithful enough to pay him as soon as they get any money, so he lets them stay. It is cool because when they move there after they have been prostitutes in other places, they kind of have a fresh start. They don’t have men chasing after them.

Pastor Ron and Joy asked Angela and I to share. She went first, then I went. I decided to share about a hard time in my walk with God, and about not hearing Him for a while, but being persistent with Him anyway. I told them that He finally came through with a passage in Isaiah 43:1-3a, which says, “But now says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” After I shared this verse, I told them that I trusted in God, and I chose to be secure in Him, whether I was going through a hard time or not.

Then I told them about the verses in Isaiah 37:31-32 and 2 Kings 19:30-31 that I blogged about earlier. I told them that through my hard time, I only had a sliver of hope left in me, but God used that little ounce of hope to be the remnant that is spoken of in the verses. I told them that during the time of my troubles, I began to take root in God, and now that I am no longer troubled, I am beginning to “bear fruit upward” as the verses mention. After I shared about how I related to the verses, I told Pastor Ron to share with them about Joy’s prayer. Joy was in awe because she didn’t know that her prayer was related until we reminded her about it. Pastor Ron took it home! He preached! He told them that they are the Congolese remnants of Uganda and they have been taken out of their hometown (AKA “Jerusalem” in the verses) and have the opportunity to take root in God and begin to bear fruit upward. He asked them if anyone wanted to accept Christ, and 6 women came forward. The landlord and a few other men were also praying, so we think they may have accepted as well. It was really sweet!

We immediately went into prayer for the sick (most of the women are HIV positive) and there was a pregnant woman we prayed for. She has had a few miscarriages and is overdue in her current pregnancy. She was afraid because all of her miscarriages happened as she was giving birth. We anointed her with oil and prayed over her. Then this lady who got saved asked us to name her baby! The baby kept laughing, so Angela named her Joy. It was really funny and unexpected. Then Angela got her hair plaited (braided) by Congolese women. She gave them a pretty decent amount of money, and they praised God because they didn’t have any food or money to buy food.

Today was so amazing; I still can’t believe that any of it actually happened. I know we’ll be working with the Pastor Ron, Joy, and the Congolese women more during our time here. God is good!

Friday, January 15, 2010

last day of prayer week

Today is the last day of Favor of God’s staff prayer week. We are only on lunch break, but the day has already been packed with prayer and worship. We started out praying for America and Europe. They wanted to pray against materialism and idolatry. They straight up said that Africa doesn’t want money from the west if it is coming from a wicked background that is imposed on them. Someone pointed out that their whole problem with the homosexuality bill that might be passed has started because of people in America. Instead of being bitter and frustrated, they prayed. They even asked us mzungus to stand in the middle of the room and accept their prayers as we represent the west.

After that, we prayed for the married couples who were present. Then the single people were prayed for by some children from the House of Hope. Lastly, the children were prayed for by the married people. It was a really great time of prayer and encouragement. We’re heading back now, so I’ll update more tomorrow.

P.S. the water is kind of back. There was enough to take a shower without washing my hair. But as of 2 minutes ago, the electricity is out again! If it doesn’t come back soon, it might be a few days before I blog again. I should have charged my computer when I had the chance!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

rooting and fruiting. ha!

Hello family and friends. We have no water again today, but besides that, things are going well here. We went to the ministry house for prayer and worship. They insisted that I play guitar with them, even though I didn’t know most of the songs. It was really funny trying to guess what was going on! After worship, Carole introduced a more focused mission.

The following story is NOT coincidental. In May, I felt led to this passage in Isaiah 37:31-32, which says, “And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go out a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” I thought it sounded cool, but I really didn’t know what it meant for me. About a month later, I felt led to 2 Kings 19:30-31, which happens to say, “And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go out a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” SAME VERSES!

After experiencing a season of feeling like I was barely surviving, I began to take root in God. Before I left, I wrote Pam a letter talking about these verses and about how I feel like it is my time to bear fruit upward while I will be in Gulu. Little did I know that this was Carole’s new vision! She stood up and spoke about taking spiritual root in God so that Favor of God can grow upward and bear fruit. It was really exciting to hear. It seems like everything I do here is getting confirmed. I just feel like God is continually telling me that I am right where He wants me to be. It is so cool to actually feel confident about this for once!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Simon + math equations

Yesterday I forgot to mention our experience at noontime prayer (at the house of prayer for all nations). We have only been there twice. People from all different churches have prayer and a message from 12:30-2. Yesterday a man named Elijah spoke about Luke 5:1-10. In the passage, Simon is cleaning his nets and Jesus gets in the boat. He tells Simon to push away from the land into deep water and put his nets in to catch fish. Simon tells Jesus, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Simon puts the nets down and there were so many fish that the nets were breaking and the boat started sinking; they even filled another boat with fish because there was no room.

When Elijah finished reading the story, he noted that the name Simon means “trouble.” He even made a joke about Americans naming their kids with meaningless names. Meaning was everything. The name Simon was given to him because there must have been some sort of trouble at his birth. Simon was a professional fisherman and he knew what it was like to catch fish. A night where he didn’t catch anything would be difficult. When Simon failed to catch fish that night, Jesus called him to get away from the crowds and into deep water. Elijah noted that anyone can pretend to swim in shallow water, but no one can pretend to swim in deep waters. Jesus called Simon to go deep, despite his circumstances. Where we see failure is where God sees an opportunity to reveal his power and love to us and those around us. It was an awesome message.

This morning we went to Favor’s ministry house for prayer. Instead of having devotions this week, the staff is praying from 8-4. Angela and I went from 8-11. It was a good time of singing, sharing, and praying. There is this hilarious guy named Richard who always says that praising God is like the mathematical equation: y=mx+b. There is always a constant—it is never zero. Our praise may vary, but if we don’t praise, even the rocks will cry out. Even though it’s a great point, I can’t stop laughing every time he says it!

Anyway, we came back early and I got to talk to my cousin Sarah for a while about all the funny things I’ve seen. We might go to a coffee shop tonight. That should be fun! I hope you are all doing well. I’m having a really good time here!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pastor Ron and Joy, Congolese, and Kampala

Sorry for the blog delay! We didn’t have internet for a few days. We visited Kampala to pick up another student from the States and get Angela’s bags. We stayed the night with a couple from Rock Harbor, the Kisslings, and they are awesome! It was fun to spend time with them. A couple of nights ago, we went to visit Pastor Ron and Joy. Their house is 3-4 minutes walking from our place. We showed up and found a bunch of kids there. It turns out, the kids in the community show up at their house every Saturday for a Bible study with Pastor Ron and Joy! We had a Bible study with them and shared some jack fruit and tea. It was such an awesome evening.

Something extra cool about Pastor Ron and Joy is that they began a church service for Congolese women in the Ugandan community at GBCC. Apparently Congolese women fill the slums of Uganda. Ugandan soldiers marry them in the Congo, bring them back, and then they tend to be unfaithful, so the women are left to fend for themselves. Most of them have children. Because they have no source of income and no career skills, they turn to prostitution to feed their children. Pastor Ron and Joy have been a part of a very small group that actually cares about these women. They introduce them to Christ, pray for them, and support them in any possible way. After they do so, the women turn from prostitution and try to find different ways of making their income.

Unfortunately, Pastor Ron and Joy are having a hard time. Since they are just surviving with their own finances, they can’t provide food for the Congolese women and their children. A few weeks after the women come to know the truth and freedom of Christ, they run out of options and are forced to prostitute themselves once again. It is heartbreaking because they don’t want to go back to prostitution. They don’t enjoy it. Many become HIV positive and horrible things happen. They seriously have no other options. We prayed together, asking God to provide for these women and to provide more help for Pastor Ron and Joy, who are taking care of these women on their own.

Thankfully, I have an awesome story. Since I have been here, I have read and heard the word “favor” in almost everything I’ve read, plus Megan and Ralph from the Rock Harbor team shared that this was “the year of the Lord’s favor” on New Year’s Eve at church. I thought it was a big coincidence, since I’m working with FAVOR of God. The night we met with Pastor Ron and Joy, I felt the urge to read Isaiah 61. When I got up the morning after, I decided to listen to the Rock Harbor podcast. It turned out to be about Isaiah 61. Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 in Luke, but he left a part of it out. There’s a part about foreigners that will tend to the flocks of the Jews. Jesus left it out in order to show that God shows favor to those who are not typically seen as “favorable” people. Mike Erre, the pastor, said that we need to live more like Christ did by welcoming and showing favor to those who are not typically favored in society. He specifically mentioned prostitutes! It was unreal. I felt like it was confirmation of God’s presence in the situation. Angela and I have been praying about getting a little involved in their ministry while we’re here. I’ll let you know if we do!

We are back in Gulu. We went to the prison again today and it was pretty cool. I have to share the internet now, so I will blog again tomorrow. Good night friends!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Library day!

After devotions this morning, we helped organize books at Favor of God’s primary school. The kids are still on winter break, so we were the only ones there. They had piles of books of all subjects in a storage room. We took them all out, organized them, and shelved them in their proper locations. It was like being a librarian for a day. It turns out that the last missions training student taught English at the school, so I’m considering teaching a few science lessons. How cool would it be for me to say that I taught science in Uganda? So awesome. Anyways, it was kind of a long day. I’m going to go have a mountain dew and relax before dinner.

P.S. Godfrey is giving us Lwo lessons if I give him guitar lessons. Wanen la chen! (See you later!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Before I begin, the electricity came back around 11am! But the water was gone a bit earlier than that. It made for a pretty funny morning—it almost feels like we’re camping. We spent most of our day with the Rock Harbor team, since it was their final day in Gulu. We met them at House of Hope, which is FOG’s orphanage. The kids were adorable (as they all are in Uganda); they sang us a few songs, then we headed out. After that, we went to the prison again with the team. Since Angela and I had already been there the day before, we decided to help unload the laundry soap that the team was donating to the prisoners. We caught up with the women shortly thereafter and heard a few of them sharing.

After the prison, we went to Molly’s bead shop. Molly works with 31 bits (you might recognize them by my awesome necklaces. Google them). We prayed over her and her shop, then we checked out Sean’s house, which is also the headquarters for Krochet Kids (you should google them too). We joined the team and the volunteers for their dinner as they reflected over their week. We said our goodbyes and headed home. The water is still off, but we’re managing.


We went to morning devotions, then came home for lunch. When we were finished with lunch, we got dropped off at this afternoon prayer meeting. It takes place from 12:30-2 on Mondays-Fridays. Everyone here loves it because it unites all of the churches in Uganda. It was a typical Ugandan church service. Afterwards, our driver, Godfrey, told us that we were going to the prison. There were three other people in the car with us, but when we got there, only one woman named Joyce came down with us. Godfrey said they would come get us later. Angela and I looked at each other and laughed because we thought he was joking. I mean, they couldn’t expect us to go just with Joyce, right?

They asked us if we wanted to go to the men’s ward or the women’s ward. Since we have both been to the men’s ward on our last trip, we decided on the women’s ward. Thankfully, it was the right choice! We got inside and didn’t feel overwhelmed. There were about 30 believers who were waiting for us to share. They sang a few songs, then Joyce told us to share. Angela shared her testimony. I felt nervous because I wasn’t prepared to share. I kept thinking about the audience. What could I possibly share with these prisoners that would be encouraging to them? After Angela spoke, I shared a bit of my past experiences, as well as a few verses. I mainly shared about God being with us even when we don’t feel like he’s around. God put Micah 7:8 on my heart, which says, “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.” When I read it to them, they gave a resounding “Amen!”

As terrified as we were, it was actually a pretty rewarding experience. We realized that we overreacted when we first arrived and that we shouldn’t have been scared. When we got home, the power was still out. It flickered on once or twice, but never fully came back. I have never been so thankful for electricity in my life. It is definitely one of those things we take for granted in the States.


Today we went to the Favor of God ministry house for devotions at 8am. We met Carole, the founder of Favor, and the rest of the staff. We had our first walk going home (only a few blocks away), and we stopped for soda. We’re taking it easy for a few days because someone else is joining our program on Sunday. The power is out and it is dark, so it looks like it is time for bed. Goodnight!


This morning, we went to church at GBCC and stayed for two services. We were planning on joining the Rock Harbor team and going to Pastor Ron’s house, but they decided not to go, so we stayed home. As we were getting ready for bed, Angela asked me to come help her. She was locked in the bathroom! We were laughing SO HARD while we frantically messed with the doorknob. I told her to pull the door as I tried to push it open. We were out of luck. I ran out to get our guard, Charles, and he opened the door as if it was never stuck. HAHA!


Today we went to a women’s conference at GBCC. All the women on the Rock Harbor team shared their testimonies, as well as a few women from GBCC. We were there from 10-6. Long day! But we got to hear some sweet stories. One of the most inspiring stories that I heard was Evelyn’s. Evelyn is an amazing woman who got saved when she was 14. When she was 25, her parents were angry that she wasn’t married, so they took her to the doctor and asked what was wrong with her. They constantly got on her case about it, even though she was really happy being single.

Eventually, she married this guy to appease her parents, but a part of her knew that he wasn’t right for her and that it wasn’t what God wanted. She said that the day after they got married, they began to argue like crazy. A few years into their unhappy marriage, she had kids, and she suspected that her husband was cheating on her. She desperately prayed that she wouldn’t become HIV positive. A year later, her husband told her that he was cheating on her, just as she suspected, and that he and his mistress were HIV positive. She got tested, and she was HIV negative! She immediately left him and took the kids. He was eventually killed by the rebels (they killed him before AIDS did), but she is hopeful that one day, her children will have a father who is a good man of God so that they are no longer fatherless. It was so cool to see her hope through everything that she’s been through.

We had our first sodas when we got home, and now, sleep is calling my name… good night!


Yesterday, we unpacked all day and left for church around 8:30pm. We stayed up praying, singing, and dancing until 2am. It was fun, but we were really tired. We woke up at 7 today, so we felt pretty sleep deprived. We headed over to Langol village with the Rock Harbor team and I worked in the pharmacy, played some worship songs, played with the kids, then went hut to hut evangelizing with Angela and a translator. He was a nice guy, but he really frustrated us. He was embarrassed when we wanted to say certain things to the people. We both think that he probably didn’t translate everything we wanted him to say.

We were told that everyone in the village constantly drinks, and it was evident when we began to speak with them. This crazy lady ran up and told us she was “the famous Joyce Meyer.” She was SO drunk! I asked if she was talking about the author named Joyce Meyer, but I got no answer. On a funny side note, Angela has never heard of Joyce Meyer so she introduced herself to the woman as “the famous Angela Valenzuela” HAHAHA.

When we spoke to Rachel about it this morning, she said that Joyce Meyer came to visit Gulu in October to do a two day crusade, but the people were not too happy with her. She only had 2 hours for the first crusade. She flew to Gulu, then out of Gulu, then back the next day (it seems as though she was afraid to be here). The people were angry about the fact that it was only two hours because by the time they got there from their distant villages, it was already over. By the way Rachel spoke of her, I wonder if she cared to know anything about the people of Gulu, or if it was just on her to-do list to stop by. It’s almost laughable that Americans are so good at bypassing the needs of others and self proclaiming themselves as heroes. It has reminded me to make sure we aren’t doing that here.

After the run in with “Joyce Meyer,” we talked to a Catholic priest. We are still confused about what happened with that. Our translator was not very clear. We headed home shortly after, and the road was full of crazy potholes filled with water from a when it rained a few days before. We had to pull over to put water in the car… it took around 10 bottles! We finally made it home and were able to rest.


This morning, we made our way from Kampala to Gulu (a six hour drive). A pastor named Fred was our driver, and he was pretty cool. On our way, we stopped for some Kisava, which is some sort of roasted root. It wasn’t bad, but after a few bites, I couldn’t handle anymore. While we were paying for the Kisava, a guy walked up to Angela’s window, held up a chicken, and asked if we wanted to buy it. It was awesome. Just in case you were wondering, we didn’t buy it!

As we approached Gulu, we got to see a beautiful waterfall and a bunch of baboons eating mangoes. We finally got to Gulu around 3pm and bought a phone, exchanged money, and settled in to our new place. It is cute. There is a woman named Rachel who is sort of a housekeeper. She helped us get settled, and then Fred took us out to eat at some fancy hotel. He told us it might be a little pricy, but when we figured out the prices, it only turned out to be $5 a plate.

We ate and came back, only to find Rachel making us more food! She made us sit down for dinner about 20 minutes after we finished lunch! We were forcing food down our throats. It was good, but we were already super full. Every time she left the room, we had laugh attacks… it was just so ridiculous that it felt like it couldn’t be real! Dream mode to the extreme!

As we relaxed after dinner, the sky began pouring rain. I finally finished unpacking my stuff and I am currently sitting under my mosquito net, feeling claustrophobic. It always takes a few days to get used to these things. Anyways, our internet should be up soon and it will be a lot easier to contact us when it is. Time for bed! Goodnight!

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