Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year's Eve in Uganda - Part 1 - Ministry

New Year's Eve was a very exciting day.  I've been praying about the best way to share it with you and I've decided to use pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.  

It's been a long time since I've posted about Africa, so I want to refresh your memory (& mine) and share with you again where we were staying, etc.

We were at Canaan Children's Home in the village of Buziika near Jinja Uganda.  Pastor Isaac and his wife Rebecca opened this home about 15 years ago after God spared Pastor Isaac's life.  I would encourage you to click on the link and read the incredible God story for yourself.

We spent 3 nights at Canann.  The first night we arrived, an all night prayer meeting was taking place at the church on the grounds.  Several of us felt drawn to go so we slipped in the back door around midnight.  Lots of praying, praising, and worshipping - in a language foreign to our ears but translated by the love of Christ in our hearts.  AMAZING!

When Shawn and I left, here is what we saw outside in the dark beside the church...

our friend Sarah cuddling with 2 of the children!  How sweet is that!  Casting her fear of snakes aside, Sarah chose to put love into action!  A little later, one of the children said to Sarah, "Wake up.  You have to go inside so you do not get malaria!"

Here's Shawn in our room.  Pretty nice.  Praise:  The rooster did not crow until AFTER it was light outside!  (Unfortunately though, the cows who lived right outside our window did not get the "no mooing until after sunrise" memo!)

Every morning, we would wake up to lots of children eagerly waiting for us to come outside and play.  I absolutely love staying with the people (nstead of separated from them in a hotel etc.)  There is no better way to experience their culture and their daily lives than to live among them.

Because we were at Canaan during the holidays, a lot of the children had gone to visit friends, sponsors, and relatives.  We only got to meet some of them.

Okay back to New Year's Eve.  On the agenda for today: Amazima Ministries.  Amazima means "Truth" in Lugandan (the language spoken in Uganda.)  This ministry was laid on the heart of young Katie Davis by God when she was serving at Canaan as a teacher.  She is from TN, loves the Lord, and loves children.  I've been reading her book Kisses From Katie to my children and strongly recommend it.  In addition to ministering to 100s of children each week, Katie has also adopted 13 girls of her own.  This is an example of what God can do with a life that is completely surrendered to Him. WOW!

Amazima is less than a mile from Canaan so we were able to walk through the village.

Lots of red dirt, lush green plants & gardens (their rainy season just ended), and mud houses in this village.  (It was hot & humid in Uganda too - it reminded me of home. )

Check out this young boy's car! 

The children would turn almost anything (tires, sticks, plactic lids, rocks) into a toy or game. So simple. We could learn a lot from them.

Everywhere we went in Uganda, the people were so welcoming and friendly.  This village was no exception.  Everyone smiled and spoke to us.  There were ALWAYS fires burning (for cooking) which created a distinct smell.  Lots of people working hard. 

The men were often building their homes, businesses etc.  Sometimes they would use the red dirt in their yards to make bricks for their buildings.  Fascinating.  Lots of farming.  Lots of markets.  (Lots of industry in the city.)  But what I loved most was how creative & resourceful they are. 

After crossing over a railroad track, we finally arrived at Amazima.  Today was Family Day and the children had a special program planned. 

In this picture, you can see most of the young children.  Lots & lots of children.

In this picture, you can see lots and lots of adults who dressed up for this special occasion.

These 2 pictures are of more Amazima children who were sitting dancing in the church.

Truth written on the church wall!


This was one of the performances in the show.  They did such a great job!!!  It was obvious they had been practicing for a long time.  Some of the older children did skits.  Some were funny and some addressed serious issues.  One issue addressed was that guardians sometimes mistreat the children in their home who are not their biological children - even if they are family.  

Alcohol was another issue addressed. (I just did a little internet research and found out that Uganda leads the world in alcohol consumption per capita!  OH. MY.  We had been told about the devasting impact of alcohol, especially on the men.  Their "homemade brews" create all sorts of problems, including blindness & early death)  I love the fact that issues are being addressed (through the children) and not ignored.  No pretending or burying their heads in the red dirt here!!!  In their skits, the children acknowledged the problems and then provided solutions - God's solutions!  They are bringing awareness.  They are trying to break the generational strongholds with the Truth of God's Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.  WOW!!! 

This young child was responsible for taking care of her sister.  I was sitting on a ledge and they were sitting below me.  The baby started crying so I had big sis pass her to me, but she started crying even more.  When I gave her back, a friend whispered something in big sis's ear.  I watched as she then put her baby sister on her back & the baby instantly stopped crying!!!

So for hours this big sister carried her little sister on her back.  Both of them grew tired.  But if big sis tried to sit down or move little sister around, she would start fussing.  Finally, big sis got so tired that she came over to me and put her head in my lap! 

Here we are with Katie Davis. 
You really should read her book Kisses From Katie. 
It will bless your socks flip flops off!

These 2 sisters were the reason I was in Uganda on New Year's Eve!  Daphine is in red
and is very protective of her little sister.

We played together on this enormous playground built by "Uncle Brad" of Amazima.  God also had me write letters to the girls for them to read long after I was gone.  I felt such a connection with Daphine that I also gave her a picture of me & my family.

And just like the previous 2 days in Uganda, God had me provide simple "mother" medical care to Daphine's sister.  Neosporin + a bandaid = love.

I wish I had taken my dramamine!  It's tough getting old.  But the sound of laughing children make it all worth while!

These 2 little ones attached themselves to Shawn, and I got to witness a very sweet interaction between them.  The precious girl in the red had a gash on her arm and was picking at it.  Shawn examined it, put medicine & a bandaid on it and then kissed it and said "All better!"  It was sooooo sweet!!!  You should have seen the way she looked at him afterwards!  I have a sparkle (& tear) in my eye just thinking about it!

While we were playing with the children, other folks were working hard to prepare food for everyone. 

Here is Franco the pet monkey. He seems pretty tame, especially with all of these children around him. But don't think all monkeys are like that. I have a story to share with you from Kenya to prove my point!

After a tearful departure from Daphine, it was time to head back to Canaan. Once we crossed over the railroad tracks, these children ran up to me. I don't think they understood much English, but they definitely understood a hug :)

As we got closer to Canaan, these 2 boys came up to our teammate Stefan and grabbed his hands. What a beautiful picture of our Father and His amazing love! Notice who's carrying the heavy bag burden.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

And to think, it was only lunch time! We still had the entire afternoon ahead of us!

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

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