Archive for the ‘Uganda’ Category

There is a lot more to write about the ministries we saw in Kenya, but it is time to move on to the Uganda portion of our trip!

20130725-133140.jpg Adventure Village
Our first stop was Adventure Village, an orphanage our church helped build and has worked with for many years (I think we’ve sent teams there every years since 2007). We spent a few days there, helping to distribute backpacks and clothes that were collected and sent over by generous folks at our church. It didn’t matter how organized we’d been in collecting the goods (life groups were assigned different homes at the village–group members all picked one child to “sponsor”). But, unbeknownst to us, there had been a bit of a shuffle at Adventure Village, with most of the children living in different homes.

So chaos reigned, as it is so apt to do in Africa, but a joyous chaos it was as children received their gifts from afar.

20130725-133331.jpg A happy camper, waiting for his new shoes!

The highlight of our visit to Adventure Village was spending time with Resty, a young girl sponsored by our oldest daughter (who met her on that first trip in 2007, shortly after Resty had come to the orphanage). We’d met Resty three years ago, when Greg and I flew over for our youngest daughter’s wedding. In fact, Resty and a teacher from Adventure Village were able to attend the wedding and join in the fun. Resty regularly sends us letters about her life at the village–she even sent a short version of her life story recently.

20130725-133707.jpg Eating my first beans and posho with Resty

Not all of the children at Adventure Village are true orphans, Resty included. According to her account, her mother and father separated when she was young. Her mother remarried, and her husband did not want the children from the previous marriage. He beat the children (Resty had two brothers that I know of) and life was so miserable it was decided that they would go live with their father. The details are a little sketchy at this point, but their father was murdered around this time. And shortly after that, their mother brought them to the orphanage.

Losing both your parents would be a terrible trauma, but my heart breaks at the rejection and abandonment experienced by Resty and her siblings. Resty has mentioned to me several times how much it meant to her that my daughter chose her, closely following the heels of her own mother’s rejection. Even though Lindsay hasn’t been back to Africa or seen Resty since, there is an incredibly strong connection there. Such power in being chosen!

20130725-134556.jpg Resty and her brother Michael, enjoying ice cream!

My prayer for Resty–and all the “orphans” of this world–is that she would know she is chosen by her Heavenly Father. And that this truth would fill and heal her heart. It hit me hard on this trip that all the backpacks, all the shoes, all the ice cream couldn’t fill the empty part of their hearts. Sometimes I wonder if the stuff we give them even makes the emptiness worse.

There is a song that we often sing at my church, “Only You can Satisfy.” Every time I hear it, I think of Resty and all the little children I met on our travels and pray that the love of Christ will satisfy their hungry souls.


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The book I’m currently reading, “The Hole in our Gospel” has been quite sobering.  And eye-opening.  The author basically describes poverty as a lack of not only material goods–but also a lack of options.  The truly oppressed have little opportunity for choices.

Think about all the choices I’ve made today–and I’ve not yet crawled out of my warm bed to dress and start the day.  I chose what time Greg would bring me my morning latte.  I chose to take an aspirin to relieve my headache.  I chose to use indoor plumbing to access drinking water (and take care of other needs).

I chose to put on my very expensive glasses so I could check all the emails and other messages that came in during the night.  I chose to read several Bible passages online and then share my insights with my online bible bus stop buddies.   I chose to turn on the heater to take the chill off the room and put on my fuzzy robe while I sit in my cozy, dry room and listen to the rain falling outside . . .

Shortly, I will get up and choose which outfit to wear to the garden and then Home Depot today.  I will choose what to eat for breakfast from a well-stocked pantry.   I will choose to drive my miata to the store of my choice to get more grub . . . all these choices will happen before lunchtime today.

Over 26,000 children will die today because of their lack of choices.  The basic necessities of life that we take for granted are not an option for these kids.  Clean water doesn’t exist; nor does food, shelter, safety or medicine.  Even if the kids survive, education and jobs are rarely an option.

My dog has more choices than these children do . . . and Scout will most likely be alive at the end of the day.

I know that many of us have “compassion fatigue”–the numbness that shrouds the heart in our affluent, choice-laden culture.   We are so bombarded with statistics and images of the dead and dying around the planet that we feel impotent–and very distant–from each day’s new disaster.

So we make the choice to just look the other way . . .

Our recent trip to Africa put faces to the statistics and I can no longer look away.  I  recently made the choice to sponsor a little girl with AIDs, and my small investment will help Kevin choose a better future–and God willing, a longer life.

You can choose, too.  If you don’t know where to start, I know a lot of precious children at the Uganda Jesus Village in Kampala.  Make Way Partners is another ministry I support–this organization helps to rescue women and children from unspeakable abuse in the Congo and other regions.

Our choice to get involved will enable others to choose life.  We can choose to make a difference.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Isaiah 58:6,7

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I took Greg’s suit and dress shirt to the cleaners yesterday. Even though he’d only worn the shirt twice, the collar was deeply stained by his sweat and the red African earth.

“Hmmm, we don’t have much luck removing spray-on tan,” the owner clucked, shaking his head over the soiled collar.

“It’s not spray-on tan,” I assured him. “Just good old African dirt.”

“We don’t see much of that here,” he replied, peering at the rumpled garment with a little more enthusiasm. “Let’s see what we can do . . .”

Just as the African dirt clings to our clothing, the memories of Africa stick close to our hearts. I’ve written about the exotic tapestry of sights and sounds and smells we encountered on our brief visit. But I have yet to tell you the unforgettable stories we heard.

They were tragic tales for the most part. Children orphaned by AIDs or war. Boys and girls abducted from their peaceful villages and forced into a demonic army led by an insane commander. Young adults who survived their captivity by numbing their hearts and minds and becoming ruthless killers themselves.

I don’t have the time–or the heart–to tell you all the stories. But here are a few that haunt me. One little girl, who now lives at the Uganda Jesus Village in Kampala, was abducted along with her family by the LRA (the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony). At age five, she was forced to watch as the rebels–some not much older than she was–chopped her mother into pieces with machetes. Her captors made her gather up the severed body parts and pile them in a wheelbarrow. She was then ordered to bury her mother’s bloody remains in the jungle.

You can only wonder what she dreams about at night . . .

And then there’s Jennifer. Jennifer (who oversees the UJV with her husband, Cameron) lost both her parents to the rebels and was kidnapped herself when she was nine. She quickly learned that to survive, she had to be more arrogant and ruthless than the other kids. That little nine-year-old girl, who’d grown up in a loving and educated family, soon figured out that she had to kill or be killed.

After enduring the horrors of the rebel camp for a year, Jennifer and about 20 other girls tried to escape. That tale in itself is harrowing; at one point the girls (now only a handful) were recaptured by a neighboring band of LRA soldiers. They radioed the camp the girls had escaped from and were told to keep the children alive and return them. They would be used as an “object lesson” to encourage the other children in the camp not to try and escape.

Because she’d witnessed it before, Jennifer knew exactly what that gruesome lesson entailed. Each runaway would be slowly hacked into pieces with an axe–starting with their hands and feet and ending with decapitation. Unable to sleep that night, Jennifer–with bound hands and feet–slowly inched her way into the dense jungle and was followed by the other captives. They struggled silently through the thorny underbrush, painfully crawling on their knees and elbows for many hours. Then Jennifer cut her ropes using sharp rocks and set the other girls free as well.

They had several more brushes with LRA and death before they reached safety and eventually returned to what was left of their villages. She was raised by relatives and World Vision played a major role in her restoration and education.

Fifteen years later, Jennifer is finally able to talk about her hellish experience in the rebel’s camp.

She told me that sharing her story with the UJV kids has been a big part of her healing process–and I know Jennifer plays a huge role in their redemption. She understands the despair of their past but offers them hope for the future.

“You have to have hope,” she often told me.

I wish you could meet Jennifer. She is beautiful and funny and filled with the love of Christ. There’s not a trace of bitterness in her; she forgave her tormentors a long time ago. She’s a walking example of someone who has allowed the joy of the Lord to be her strength.

To know more about UJV, visit their website.

And yes, those are pictures of Candyce and her team on the home page 🙂

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