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Monday, December 28, 2009

Safety Nets


In the U.S. we don't have to worry about things like Malaria, but it takes the lives of thousands of children in Uganda every year.  They don't have immunizations against it there.  They don't have access to the resources we have in the U.S. to kill off the mosquitoes that carry the disease.  The mosquito net is the life saving tool used there.  How blessed we are here in the U.S. to be able to sleep at night in relative peace and safety.  How thankful I am for that gift that God has given us.  Mosquito nets cost only a little, but many children do not have them because their families cannot afford this simple means of protection.  Every trip I have taken to Uganda has brought me face to face with someone either recovering from Malaria, or someone who has it.  Lawrence, (The Little Boy At The Gate) had it when he was a year old, that is why he has the medical problems he does, and why we are trying to get help for him.  As you remember, he is now 5 years old and we are working with him to learn to eat and talk. We bought a large net for him and his little sister during our September 09 trip.  When it was handed to his grandmother you would have thought she had been given a million dollars!   In January of 2009 we met a beautiful little girl (picture below) who had malaria while we were there.  Our team was able to purchase a mosquito net for her, and obtain medication to help reduce her fever.   The pregnant girls at Return to Bethel (a maternity home that provides safe shelter to pregnant young women)  also had malaria when we were there.  I'm not sure if that contributed to one of the girls having a miscarriage at 9 months or not (while we were there),  but I think it could have.  She had just gotten over a case of malaria (during her late term of pregnancy), and suddenly quit feeling the baby move. She was taken to the local hospital (ill equipped and not a clean facility), where 2 days later, after being induced, she gave birth to a dead baby girl.  This mother was 15 years old.  Think about it......THOUSANDS of children die EVERY YEAR in Uganda from Malaria!  Perhaps we can work together and provide the financial  resources to purchase mosquito nets there in Uganda.  Each net is only about $10.00 dollars U.S.  We can not put a price on the life of a child.  I pray that the Lord will protect these little ones.  I pray that He will raise up those here in the U.S. who will be vessels for Him in helping the helpless.  I want to be that vessel.....I pray that you do too.

This is the beautiful little girl who had malaria while we were there.          The girl in pink is the one who lost her baby at full term, shortly after recovering
                                                                                                      from malaria.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jesus Came For Such As These







Christmas is just 3 days away, and this year, due to tough economic times we cut way back on our Christmas gift giving.  It was tough, because we so easily commercialize the season.  I have been guilty of that. As I think about the gifts of Christmases past, and I think of how creative I had to be this year, I realize that this struggle, this challenge has brought me back to just what Christmas is, and Who it is about.  It has also made me really reflect on the beautiful friends I have in Uganda who most likely will not be able to exchange gifts, and will certainly not indulge in the feasts we are accustomed to here. Yet I have received numerous e-mails from those dear friends sending gifts of the heart, words of joy and encouragement as they focus on Christ.  I think of their lack of resources, their small, mostly inadequate homes (by American standards), the fact that alot of children there walk around with no shoes and ragged ill-sized clothes.  I think of the days and days of bananas and rice, of meal and dirty water.  I then reflect on the birth of Christ.  He was born into a poor family. He was born in a stable.  He is God and could easily have arranged His birth in a palace but He didn't.  He came in the humblest of circumstances, born into a lowly family, grew up the son of a carpenter.  He didn't own a home of His own.  When He died, He was buried in a borrowed grave.  How easily we make life about money, about things, about position and prestige.  How easily we look down on the less fortunate, the broken.....the least of these. I want to close this blog post with a quote which is part of an e-mail I received from one of my dear Ugandan friends this week.  It brings my heart back to Who we celebrate, and why...."Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow.  I am so happy to e-mail you as we are approaching the day when we remember the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ.  It is my prayer that as we celebrate His birth, we may continue in His grace and also continue to tell other people about Him so that He may be born in their lives too.  It's better to celebrate when you are sure of your life with Jesus Christ, the Savior....may you have peace in the Lord, May you be blessed, may you live for Him alone as we celebrate His birth. Amen".  (quote from Seereuyunge, Fred)....BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO YOU!





Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The gift of dance



Uganda is a beautiful country.  It is also a country that has suffered much through war after war, dictators, and the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army).  The people struggle to survive.  Most are extremely impoverished and barely have food to eat.  Clean water is hard to come by and most collect rain water or go to an area cistern to fill jerry cans with unclean water to take home in order to cook, bathe, wash their clothes.  Education is important but most struggle to pay even the basic fee of $150.00 a year.  In spite of all of this, one thing I have seen in the people of Uganda is their creativity.  They are able to make things with their hands, baskets, bowls, jewelry, drums, carved wooden items such as chairs and frames.  The Ugandans love music too, and after so many years of suffering at the hands of dictators and the struggles of war, they long for a creative outlet that inspires and brings beauty back to their everyday lives.  We had a team member almost 2 years ago who went.  She is a ballet teacher and spent time teaching a small group of students basic ballet.  This so inspired this young group that they have tried to continue teaching themselves through simple videos and random classes taught by others who came to follow up.  They want so much to dance, to for even a while, take themselves beyond the struggle of life into the beauty that dance expresses.  This creative outlet is a small venue to hope.  Through Mercy Uganda, we will provide that opportunity for the young Ugandan's.  Our Ministry Liaison/Client Advocate-Education, Lauren Walker will be hosting a Ballet Workshop for students to come and explore the opportunity to become part of a dance program.  Then, weekly classes will be taught, and the students will be encouraged in their creativity.




 I think of the many Psalms in Scripture that give reference to dance, and how David even danced before King Saul on numerous occasions.  I can close my eyes and imagine the joy in a person's heart as they dance before the Lord in thanksgiving.  I can remember my own children when they were little, how they expressed their joy through simple childlike dance.  It seems to somehow, for the moment, make life a little easier to bear.  It somehow makes the struggles of this life disappear if even for a little while.  We are excited and honored to have the opportunity to work with the students in such a way.  We will be leaving on January 19th for our next trip to Uganda.  During that trip Lauren will be moving there and committing to at least 18 months in Uganda, working in basic literacy with those who have been unable to go to school, working in areas of education with some of the schools in teaching a class or two, and providing the ballet classes for the youth.  We are collecting used ballet slippers in all sizes, and at least a dozen pair in sizes 7 and 8.  If you, or someone you know may have a pair of the dance slippers that you can share with us, we would love to hear from you.  Lauren is also hoping to collect three specific books that will be of great help in teaching not only ballet, but expanding language. The books are: Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant ($9.99), 100 Lessons in Classical Ballet: The Eigh-year program of Leningrad's Vaganova Choreographic School  by V.S. Kostrovitskaya ($12.99), and Basic Principles of Classical Ballet by Agrippina Vaganova ($7.95) All three books are available at Amazon.com.  We are also looking for any DVD's or VHS copies of professional classical ballet being performed.  If you have an old copy lying around, or find one at a yard sale or flea market, we would love to recieve it.  Please pray for us as we offer this creative outlet for the youth of Uganda.  Pray that God will be honored and glorified, and that these children will find peace in the midst of struggle, that they will find joy in the midst of hardship. Most of all, that they will come to know the Lord and will ultimately dance for Him.


Friday, December 4, 2009

The feet of Jesus...

The first time I saw these feet, I was horrified that this child was losing toenails because this child needs shoes.....and clean water.   Such a simple thing in my mind, but for such poor families, impossible.  Notice in this picture that the toenails turn dusty like.  




Just good shoes and clean water for proper hygiene......that would help children to be healthier from head to toe.

Like Florence below.  She is 11 years old and is an orphan who lives with her grandmother, who farms to provide for her.  She is one of the over 500 children Mercy Uganda is attempting to sponsor.  Notice she has no shoes, and lives in a village with no running water, so no proper hygiene, so bacteria runs rampant.  The clothes Florence has on were probably from donations sent over from America...notice her Nestle shirt. 







There are so many who need sponsors.  Over 500 pictures were taken for sponsorships and if we had kept taking pictures, there would be hundreds more. 


Please go to our website to view more children who need sponsors.  There are new pictures up this week!  That means some children got sponsors.......just one of these little ones.  We can be the feet of Jesus going to just one child at a time.  Just one who will learn the love of Jesus through someone who lives far away, but wants to help them to have a better life.  

Monday, November 30, 2009

Return to Bethel Maternity Home

It is always a difficult experience when a young girl finds herself pregnant with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.


You may recall our dear friend Veronica who is the director of the Comforter Pregnancy Center in Kampala, Uganda.   Girls go there to find out if they're pregnant, learn skills that will help them take care of their babies and also learn about the great love Jesus has for them and their babies.


Joy Luswa was on the board of regents for the Comforter Pregnancy Center.....through her many conversations with Veronica and seeing how desperate the girls were not only for information and training, but for a place to live, she felt God's calling to have a place, a home where the girls could live.   Many of the girls were turned away from their homes and families.  Their lives could even be in danger.


Return to Bethel Maternity Home was born.  It is a home, something most of these girls had to leave behind, a safe place for girls who are pregnant to come and live.  They receive a safe shelter, food and medical support while in the home.  There, they are also taught about the Lord. 


Last January, one of the girls living at Return to Bethel was due to have her baby any time. She suddenly stopped feeling her baby move.  This 14 year old girl waited until the next day to tell anyone.  Joy quickly took her to the hospital and several tests were done in this quite primitive hospital.  The baby had died......labor was induced and two days later this little 14 year old gave birth to a dead baby girl.


The father of the baby is Muslim and because they believe in burial the day of death.....and because in the Ugandan culture the father has ownership of the baby, the father of this little baby girl came, took her body from the hospital to have her buried.  The mother did not get to attend the funeral as she was still recovering in the hospital.


The middle girl in the picture below is that 14 year old girl.











Notice the mosquito nets on the beds.  They need those to protect them from malaria.




Below is Joy Luswa.  She is sitting in the kitchen of the home.  She cares deeply about the needs of these girls.  Many of these girls come from villages quite a distance away, some because they have been sent away from home due to the pregnancy, some because their boyfriends have rejected them because they became pregnant and some because they and their families are so poor they lack the basic resources to care for a pregnant girl.







One girl who came to Return to Bethel was a victim of rape.  Hopeless, they come.  Hope, they receive. Joy gives of her own resources, which are limited, to care for these girls.  She is looking for others who share her love for the unborn and these young mothers to help in this ministry.


Just like girls you see here in our own country who face unwanted pregnancy, these girls are scared and helpless.  They need this safe place to live and to learn how to give their babies the basics of life.  They learn how to depend on Jesus.




Lauren Walker, an American, is moving to Uganda with a one and a half to two year commitment as our Ministry Liaison/Client Advocate in Education. Lauren will be working with us in our child sponsorships, in homeschooling for pregnant teens, English as a second language for women who want/need to improve skills, work with area Ugandan schools in a teaching and advocacy capacity, as well as other projects related to Mercy Uganda.  Lauren is honored to be a part of this exciting new ministry.  She graduated from Florida State University in 2007 with a B.A. in Spanish.  She spent a year working at a maternity home in Florida as resident staff and education coordinator.Mercy Uganda is privileged to have Lauren's commitment to the Lord's work through Mercy Uganda.  She is a blessing. 


Don't forget to go over to the website and check out what's going on with Mercy Uganda and see children who need sponsors.  There are so many ways to help us, but more than anything, we need your prayers.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In our Thankfulness.....

While we feast on Thanksgiving day out of our plenty, let's not forget those around the world who will be hungry tomorrow.  


In this beautiful country of Uganda.............................









many, many people are hungry.  They are hungry both for food and for the gospel.  Mercy Uganda is working to meet both spiritual and physical needs.


Below, I am with some women in the remote village of Kalaangalo.  I was asked to talk to them about personal hygiene.  My first question to these women was how do you get your water?  They have to walk a ways on a  rocky trail to get water, which doesn't look clean at all.


So, how do I say to these women, you need to bathe every day....when their decision about water includes do we wash clothes, bathe or cook with this water?


Mercy Uganda is working with others to have a well put in in Kalaangalo, which is all they need to have water more accessible to them. 




 


If you would like to help, go to our website and learn what you can do to help these precious people who are so hungry.....for the everyday needs of life and just as hungry for the gospel!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

When a child becomes the parent....

There are many families in Uganda that are headed up by a child. The father of the children below was a bigamist with two wives.....all three died of aids, leaving the children alone.

Distant family members came.....not to care for them......but to steal what little worldly goods those children had....a goat or two, some spoons and a pot maybe.  They were left with nothing.......just the corrugated tin roof over their tiny shack.


But then the relatives returned.......to steal the roof!  This time the grapevine in the village was working full force and all the villagers came out and chased them off with machetes.  Yea for the calvary!!!


You noticed that they are smiling in the picture below?  Some of the team brought them a few necessities of life.  Once again the village grapevine was in place and the villagers came out, not with machetes this time, but applauding! 






This simple little graveyard is almost in the backyard of these children.  Their parents are buried there.  No one seems to know who made the headstones.  Probably some villagers hauled the stones and carved them. 





Below is Kefa Sempangi with a child.....look closely and you'll notice the child has a few crackers in a bag.  What a treat!  Kefa Sempangi has long worked with the people of Uganda.  

He had returned to live in Uganda and was there with his wife when Idi Amin started the mass murder of many.  He saw the many orphans there and began working to help them.

His book A Distant Grief is a real eye opener!   We need our eyes opened!

We ask for your prayers for the orphans of Uganda. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hate going to school?



Does your child complain about getting up for school each morning?  Show them this classroom.


This is a classroom in a small village in Uganda.  The children stand at these desks.....


Yet, the children of Uganda are eager to learn....eager to get to school.


One of the missions of Mercy Uganda is helping the people there to build better schools. Improve the schools that are in place, and help to make sure every child gets to school! 


The teams that go over help the Ugandan people learn to do things for themselves, so that they will one day be able to provide for their own needs.  They are eager to do so, they just live in such poverty.


Many of the children, even as young as kindergarten have only a small piece of a pencil to write with and have to sharpen it with a razor blade.


We would be horrified to know our children were using razor blades.  They have no pencil sharpeners and very few pencils (which is why they cut them into pieces).  As you can see by this picture, they just have virtually no supplies. But, they have hearts to learn.


Help us to help the children of Uganda go to school.  Go to our website and sign up to sponsor one of these precious children.


************************************************************


Tonight we have an update on Lawrence



Lawrence is making progress!  He is receiving therapy for speech and learning to eat and is already getting a sense of play which will help in many other areas of learning.  He  has an appointment in February to evaluate his eye. Lawrence has come a long way!  Praise God!


Stay tuned for more updates on what is being accomplished for God in Uganda!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Enock's Story

Though we do not yet have a picture of Enock to post, I wanted to go ahead and send you this letter I receive yesterday from my friend Rev Dr Kefa Sempangi.

Kefa is a former member of parliament and has written 2 books, "A Distant Grief" which chronicles his life, his work with orphans, and his many narrow escapes from death at the hands of Idi Amin.  His second book "From the Dust" is a sequel to the first book and is about his work with street children in Uganda. 
Enock's story is one that will touch your heart and change your life.....


Laura,
One of our children at the orphanage died last week 7th Nov and was buried yesterday.  There was a huge gathering for burial.  Enock Sebanga born 1988 became a national concern in 2000 through the media and was among the first children to attract government intervention.  Sebanga was almost starved to death by his own parents at Kalerwerwe in Kampala. 


During Sebanga's brutal torture his left collar bone was broken and exposed to the surface.  It was restored to normal position at Mulago Hospital in 2000.  It is two and a half years that Doctors at Mengo Hospital found out that this bone had generated cancer in Sebanga's body-Leukemia.


In 2000 Sebanga's parents stood trial and were charged and sentenced in the courts of law.  From the beginning of 2009 Sebanga had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the Kampala international Hospital, until about a month ago when his blood count could no longer contain the tough chemo treatment.  Sebanga was terminally ill and given 28 days to live, the exact time he died.


He died a born again strong Christian.


Yours in Christ.
Rev. Dr. Kefa Sempangi

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just one child



Each time a child receives a sponsor, we will be featuring him/her on our blog!  It is exciting to see God at work in the lives of these children.


Frank is 12 and goes to Bethel Junior school.  He's a bright and serious student who understands the value of education.  His mother died and when not in school, he lives with his dad.


Frank was abducted last February by some local witch doctors who wanted him for a child sacrifice.  Try to imagine the terror he must have felt....the knowledge that this was the end of his life and that it would be a horrible death!


It once again leads me to think about my own children and what it would have been like to send them to grandpa's house and wonder if they would make it there safely.  Frank didn't make it that day.  How his grandfather and his father must have worried.  How they must have searched and questioned everyone they met to see if anyone had seen him.


I would always worry if I was late getting my children from school, worry that they would be scared and think I wasn't coming.  I can't imagine the fear if they had been picked up by strangers and targeted for murder.


By the grace of God, Frank has a scar on his stomach, from what I don't know.  That scar saved his life.  When the witch doctors saw the scar and realized Frank wasn't a perfect sacrifice, they released him to return to his family.


If only those witch doctors could know that the perfect sacrifice was made on the cross at Calvary!  That Jesus is the one they need, not a child off the street.


I pray that all the children will get sponsors.  That those sponsors will pray diligently for their child to come to know that perfect sacrifice and to then spread the gospel throughout their world!


Thank you God for each person who sees one of these children and recognizes him or her as their child, that bonus child that they can help in a world of poverty that we can never even begin to imagine!


I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy,for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now;  being confident of this very thing, that he which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offense unto the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1: 3-11 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Simple Things

I was thinking about the people in Uganda this morning as I was sitting in my PJ's having coffee.  I am here this morning typing this and it is already 4:45 in the afternoon there. Since the time change this weekend, they are now 9 hours ahead of us.  Most of them did'nt get up thinking about that first cup of coffee, rather, they thought about traveling by foot to get water in jerry cans so they could prepare food for their family.  They considered a new day where they will probably, if they have a job, make about 50 cents today, some may make a little more, but nothing by our standards here in America where even with our economy and job issues, we have more than them.  I thought back to Paul, the young man who recently had spinal surgery, recovering.  I thought of the over 500 children we are working on sponsorships for....over 300 of those children can be sponsored for only $150.00 a YEAR. The other nearly 200 can be sponsored for $350.00 a year because they
also have to live at the school as boarders because they either have no family or live too far from the school.  I thought about the Kalangaalo Water Project we have going, trying to raise $10,000.00 for a well that will tremendously help that precious remote village and their overall health.  I couldn't help but think of the Little Boy at the Gate....Lawrence, and how God is so mightily working in his life and his circumstances.  God sees those "forgotten" people, the poor, helpless, lost.....He not only sees them, He loves them and He is working amidst their struggles, their circumstances.  More often than not, God works in peoples lives through other people...what a blessing for both!  I can tell you as a very inadequate sinner, how humbling it is to know that God has somehow chosen to use me in another person's life.  He is allowing me to be involved in His kingdom's work.....He doesn't need me, that is for sure.  For some reason in His grace and mercy, He is blessing many lives through Mercy Uganda, my life, Lawrence's life, those who are sponsoring children, the sponsored children, our board members, and the list goes on.  If you will notice, when God opens a door for us to minister to others, we end up totally blessed and ministered to ourselves.  I praise Him for that. I thank Him that He is allowing me to get to know some awesome people and work amidst some spiritual giants.  He is helping me grow in all of this.  My prayer is that He will be honored and glorified.  I pray, too, for an obedient spirit, a willing heart, for strength in serving Him, and for courage always to do the hard stuff that He wants me to do.  Well, if you are reading this over your cup of coffee I pray that you will also reflect on what God is doing in your life. I ask that you say a prayer for Mercy Uganda, and for the women, children, and whole villages that God has placed before us.  Perhaps you too would like to be a part of this work.  We would be honored to have you!.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lawrence....the very latest!

I know you will be interested in this newest information received over the weekend!  Here is what my dear friend Henry had to say about Lawrence's appointment on Friday:
"Lawrence went through a series of tests.  His retina, orbit, and the entire back of his eyes seemed okay.  He was fighting during most of the examinations but doctors did their best.  In fact they had suggested putting him to sleep but this would mean theater" (this is the term Ugandans use for operating room).
It seems too, that Lawrence is far sighted and will need glasses.....but praise the Lord his eye condition can be corrected! An appointment has been made for Lawrence
to see a children's specialist in vision.  He will also visit a children's specialist to assess his heart, lungs, etc to make sure he is healthy enough to be put to sleep
for the eye surgery.  Today (Monday, Nov 2) Lawrence will see the children's specialist regarding his vision.  Please pray for him, for his grandmother, and for the specialist who will be working with him.  I ask you to pray, too, that God will provide whatever funds will be needed for Lawrence to receive the surgery......don't forget, too, that he has an appointment with the speech therapist on the 6th, which is this Friday.  This precious little boy has much going on that will drastically and positively change his little life, and as a result, make life more hopeful not only for him but for his grandmother as well.  God is so awesome!  We give Him all the praise and glory!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lawrence....the boy at the gate

You have heard us talk about Lawrence, and you have even seen his picture on this blog with his grandmother and little sister.  We are praising God today
because we found out that little Lawrence has no neurological problems that will prevent him from getting speech therapy.  He is scheduled for his first
appointment with the therapist on November 6th.  I am so thankful!  He also has an appointment with an eye specialist tomorrow to see what procedure
will need to be done to correct his eye.  It is amazing how God lays people on your heart when He wants you to get involved.  Lawrence was a child in a very impoverished place with no resources and seemingly, no hope for the future.  God had other plans.  He allowed us to notice this little unnoticed child, day
after day, sitting there unable to speak or eat, with a crossed eye.  I kept thinking of my children, and how, even with our limited resources, and honestly, the
fact that when they were growing up we had no insurance.....God still provided all they needed and all we needed.  I now look at my grandchildren and know that if they were in the same situation that Lawrence has been over the 5 short little years of his life, I would hope beyond hope that somehow, some way could be made for my little one to be noticed, to be helped....given hope and a future.  God noticed Lawrence.  God picked that little boy up in His arms and is working wonderful works in that little body, and in that little life. Through this physical help, this little boy will also see the love of Christ. He will hear the words of Jesus spoken to him as he also experiences the love of Christ in tangible, physical ways.  I can't wait to give you more updates as things progress for Lawrence.  You know I will let you know each new praise that comes along.  In the mean time I ask that you pray along with me for him, and his entire family. Not only for continued physical healing, but for the ultimate healing....a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lilian gets a sponsor!

Our prayer was/is that God would use this blog along with our website to bring much needed physical help, but most importantly the gospel to women and children in Uganda.

On the website, you can go to the Child Sponsorship page to see many children who need sponsors in order to attend school and get a meal every day.

Lilian is one of the first 500 children we were trying to get sponsors for, in order that she could remain in school.

LILIAN HAS A SPONSOR!   We here at Mercy Uganda are praising God for His great Mercy for these children and for touching just one heart to help!




She will attend  Morning Star School which is near Kampala, in the Kanjanssi area. The people there are extremely poor and many work in rock quarries for less than 50 cents a day.

When I first heard 50 cents a day for hard labor, I was stunned......but more than that when I stopped to think what 50 cents will buy in the United States I was really stunned. Not a soft drink, not a candy bar, certainly not a snack from a machine.  Almost nothing......that's what 50 cents will buy here in the U.S.


We really have no idea what real poverty looks like.


For many of these children, the meal they get at school is the ONLY meal of their day.  They love school....they love learning!


Please stop by and take a look at these children.  We will be highlighting different children, so check back often.


If you can possibly sponsor one of these children, you will not only be helping with their education and schooling, but more, much more they will receive the greatest gift of all......the Gospel!


    For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul.  Mark 8:36


Friday, October 23, 2009

Mercy Uganda Banquet

It is my privilege to guest blog for Laura about the Mercy Uganda Banquet held last night.


My husband and I met Veronica Nakyewe, director of the Comforter Pregnancy Center in Kampala, Uganda, for the first time last night and what a delightful, sold out for the Lord woman.  


She's suffered so much and yet done so much for the Lord, that I stand humbled and amazed to realize she is 6 months older that one of my sons!  Just a child in my eyes.


At the banquet, Veronica gave her testimony and I hope I recount it accurately as I attempt to retell her story!  


First, here is a picture of Veronica speaking at the banquet.







Veronica was born December 1, 1976 in a small village in Uganda.  That was the first miracle God did in her life.  Her mother did not want her to be born.  Veronica's mother visited the village witch doctor and she drank something he gave her which was supposed to cause her to abort.  However, the Lord had other plans for Veronica's life.


Veronica was born as her mother tried to get from their tiny village to the hospital....before she could board the bus, Veronica was born!  In spite of all her mother had done to abort her, Veronica was born a healthy baby with the exception of her legs.....they were very misshapen and as a result she has always used a cane to walk.  Veronica grew up in a remote village where there was no running water or electricity.  Another miracle was that she didn't contract a life threatening infection.


Because of her disability, Veronica did not attend school.  She was destined to grow up uneducated and disabled. She stated that she thought the future was for other people, not for her. Oh, but that was once again not God's plan!  A group from Norway came into Uganda with the specific purpose of educating children with disabilities.  Seventeen children from Veronica's district applied.  The group could only choose two from each district.  Yes, Veronica was chosen!  As a result, she went to school in a larger city and was educated.


When Veronica graduated from school, her mother did not want her to come back to their village and so for a time, Veronica lived away from her home and her family.  Veronica knew nothing of the Lord at this time, or anything about being a Christian.  She actually wanted no part of church.  People would invite her, but her answer was always no.


Veronica loved music and one day as she passed the church, she paused outside to listen to the music.  As she explains, when a preacher or anyone in authority tells you to do some in Uganda, you do it without question.  The pastor came out and said to Veronica.....what are you doing out here?  Come inside!
She reluctantly entered the church and tried to sit in the back so she could slip out, but the pastor insisted she go to the front.


As Veronica listened to the sermon , she felt it was her life the pastor was talking about.  She thought her colleagues had told her story to the pastor.


The next time she came back to church, the same thing, it seemed as if the pastor was preaching of her life.  She felt something change in her.......it was Jesus calling her to Himself.  She knew God had a plan for her life, but she wasn't sure what that plan was to be, so she kept on doing her job as she had been.  She immersed herself in the Bible and learned everything she could to know Him.  She found she had a hunger for the things of God.


Veronica says there are many abortion clinics in Uganda, but if a girl cannot afford to go to one, there are other people who help these girls to abort their babies. Many, many girls abort their unwanted and unplanned pregnancies in Uganda.


In 2002, Veronica's younger sister found herself pregnant and wanted to have an abortion but didn't have enough money.  A friend told her she knew a woman who would help her.  During the attempt to abort her baby, Veronica's sister bled to death.  Veronica was in church when someone came to tell her that her sister had passed away.  Veronica was heartbroken as she traveled to her home to be with her family.  As the oldest child, she was now responsible for her sister's other children.  Once again, she felt that God had a plan for her life and she knew she would like to help girls and save their babies from abortion.


Veronica found help during her journey to have a place girls could go and learn how to save their babies.  God was working out His plan for her life.  During that time, Laura and her husband Mark, traveled to Uganda with a mission team from our church, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Panama City, Florida.  Our church has been involved with Uganda for many years and teams travel there every year or so.  I think during that trip and following trips,Laura and her husband started feeling that pull to serve, however God wanted them to, in Uganda.


During that time, Veronica emailed Laura and asked her to help her help girls who wanted to keep their babies.  At this point, Veronica had started a pregnancy program.  She knew it needed to be more and prayed about what to call the center.  The word comforter came to her several times.  Veronica asked God to show her with no doubt that the pregnancy center should be call comforter.  The next time she went to church, the pastor preached about the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  Veronica had her confirmation.  She started the Comforter Pregnancy Center.  The building she was renting in the city of Kampala was put up for sale.  Veronica again talked to Laura and they came up with the 152 Program.  The building was for sale for $152,000.  The plan was to find 1,000 people to give $152.00 to raise the money to buy the building.  They had until the end of October that year.  With the help of many people and the help of churches in Florida, Texas, Alabama and Arkansas all the money was raised just before the lease ran out and they were able to buy the building!  God's work never fails!  Through further donations, they were also able to buy an ultrasound machine so that the girls who came there could see their babies and understand that there was a life they were carrying.


I think Veronica said they have been able to save 327 babies from abortion and have counseled many, many girls in Uganda.


Please join us in praying for this brave woman who answered God's call and has gone wherever He called her!  It has been an honor to meet Veronica Nakyewe!


Below are more pictures from the banquet.


These are things made by the people of Uganda.  All proceeds from these things go right back to the ministry in Uganda.  Even the beads you see are handmade from paper! 





People finding seats and reading the pamphlets about Mercy Uganda and it's mission.  The men had to put up additional tables!









More of the handmade beads from Uganda.









The hand woven baskets and hand made wooden frames are beautiful!









Sam Kasimbo, a pastor in Uganda, talking with Veronica.   Sam and Veronica met in the United States, he pastors a church in a suburban area and Veronica works in Kampala which is a large city.  I think Veronica said there were about three million people living in Kampala.







Laura, director of Mercy Uganda, introducing Veronica.








Veronica and Sam.





Covenant's pastor talking with Veronica.




In the background our pastor of missions leaning on the cabinet, talking with Sam.



Veronica holding Laura's grandson. 





One of the great blessings for me at the banquet was seeing a young woman that I worked with at the local pregnancy center.  I haven't seen her in over a year and had lost contact.  What a pleasure to see her and hear how God has moved in her life! 







God is always moving.  Mercy Uganda gives all the glory to God for the work done in Uganda.  Through Veronica and her ministry, His work is being done not only in the lives of young women in Uganda, but in the lives of people around the world. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Friend Veronica

I want to tell you about my friend Veronica.  She is an awesome lady from Uganda.  She is the director of the Our Comforter Pregnancy Center in Kampala, Uganda.  She will actually be here this week and will be sharing her very powerful testimony with us at our first Mercy Uganda fundraising banquet this Thursday evening.  Last year we were able to do the 152 Campaign which was a campaign to raise $152,000.00 to help get Veronica an ultrasound machine and money to purchase the building she had been renting for the pregnancy center.  You see, one of the world's largest abortion providers was trying to buy the building and Veronica and the pro-life work she does would have had to move out and find another place.  We knew that God would not allow a place that had been saving the unborn to become a place where their lives were taken.  We were right. With help from indivdiduals and churches in Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, and other places, all the money was raised within 2 days of the deadline the landlord had given.  We were also able to work with International Aid, a Christian ministry that helps provide many resources to ministries like Our Comforter.  Through them we were able to get an ultrasound machine.  What a blessing! 
After the banquet Thursday night, we want to share Veronica's testimony with you, because we know that many will not be able to attend the banquet and we want
you to hear her story.  You will be blessed, I'm sure.  We hope you will pass her story on to others as well. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

I was sick and you visited me....


Is this how you picture a hospital?  Notice that all the beds are in one long room and no fancy equipment hanging on the walls. No nurses bustling around taking blood pressures and temps. I'm sure there are nurses there, it is just very different from what we here in America experience.



This is the Mulago Hospital.


Our dear friend Paul, sustained an injury several years ago and gradually lost mobility.  He needed an operation on his spine, but it was very expensive.......$2,000.00 U.S. dollars.
If you have had any surgery, spinal or otherwise, you realize that $2,000.00 would barely get you in the door to a hospital here in the states.


Through help from friends, he was able to raise half of the money and was accepted for the surgery.  The above picture is Paul sitting on his hospital bed in the Mulago Hospital near Kampala, Uganda.


This is the latest information I received from Henry.


We were able to move Paul out of hosptal today. they have removed the sticthes so we will be taking him back for review. He became so weak for last five days though now he has started improving.




Mercy Uganda is trying to raise the additional $1,000.00 (U.S.) that will be the final payment on the surgery.


You may or may not know what a huge issue AIDS is in Africa.  Paul has worked so hard ministering to many dying of AIDS in Uganda.


He now needs to be ministered to in order to continue his work for our Lord.  If you feel led to help Paul, go to our website to check out ways you can help.




You may be Paul's Good Samaritan!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Update on the Little Boy at the Gate

Please take time to read this update on Lawrence, the little boy at the gate.


Some day I hope that like the lame beggar at the gate in Acts 3:1-10, that people who recognize Lawrence as the boy at the gate will be amazed at how he has been healed!







As you remember from the original story, Lawrence is a little boy being raised along with his sister by their grandmother. There are no real details on why their grandmother is raising them, but she obviously loves and cares for them the best she can.  Their mother lives in another village but has little to nothing to do with them. 


I tried to imagine my own children needing medical help and having no way to get that help.  


My dear friend, Henry has been working to get Lawrence seen at a clinic and find out what can be done for him.  I recently received this email from Henry....


Dear laura,
I had another long day in Mulago.
For Lawrance, we saw the doctor who recomended a post-infective sequelae.
In the investigations we were to do three tests. 1, CBC [complete blood count]
2, HIV serology 3, TPHA . We have been able to the HIV serology and he was negative.
We were told that Machines for the other two tests were down and they did not know how long it take them to normalise. they suspected three weeks or a month. I have decided to do them outside Mulago at a fee so that we have them by monday for the neuro clinic.


We were able to move Paul out of hosptal today. they have removed the sticthes so we will be taking him back for review. He became so weak for last five days though now he has started improving.
Have a nice day.


Henry.




Let me tell you a little bit about Henry....what a gift to this ministry.
With a wife and four children and very poor himself, he is helping little Lawrence, even using some of his limited income to pay for tests.  Henry is a gifted musician and had a deep love for the Lord. 



I'll save the story of Paul for another day, but for now let me explain what Henry's email is saying about Lawrence.


I think the post-infective sequelae ( an aftereffect of  a disease or condition) is from the  malaria Lawrence suffered earlier in his life.


The investigations are tests done at a clinic.  Lawrence needed to have three tests.


Lawrence was only able to have one test that day; the HIV test, which came back negative, which is a big ole Praise the Lord!  He was unable to get the other two tests because their machines were down and it could take three weeks or more before they were working again.


Henry is taking Lawrence somewhere else and paying for him to have the tests so they will hopefully have the results in time for his neurological evaluation.


Please pray for Henry as he continues to attempt getting medical help for Lawrence.  I left him some money for the expenses, but I know he has had to come up with some on his own. 

Mercy Uganda will be having a banquet in Panama City, FL  at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, October 24, 2009 to raise funds to help with medical and other needs of these precious Christians.


If you would like to be part of this ministry by attending the banquet, please call 850-896-2373.  Plates are only $10.00.



Oh, how we pray that this physical help will glorify God and lead to their spiritual health as well.




Monday, October 12, 2009

For I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

When I woke up this morning, I jumped in the shower and turned on nice, hot water to bathe with and never gave it a second thought.


Maybe at that same time, a woman in the remote village of Kalangaalo was struggling with her jerrie cans a fourth of a mile down a narrow, uneven trail to the watering hole you see below.  Maybe she had children with her and they had to help carry too.  Maybe she had a baby in a sling and carried the child and the can.


Today, I complained about having to do laundry in a washing machine that has water that comes when I turn it on....


Maybe at the  same time I was complaining, a woman in that same village was trying to decide if she should use that 5 gallons of muddy water to bathe, wash clothes or to cook with.
Does she want to make that long trek carrying water on her shoulder again for later in the day?




One of the big problems faced by the people of the remote village of Kalangaalo is water.
  Notice how brown the water is......would you want to cook, bathe, drink or wash your clothes in this water? They have no choice.  Here in America, we would get a boil water notice while it was being fixed, so that soon it would be clean again.







I am teaching the women about personal hygiene, another problem when you have no water.  How can I tell these women that they must bathe and have clean clothes each day?  Also, that their children must be clean and have clean clothes?


Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?  And the king will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

If you feel at all led to pray for these people or help in any way please visit our website

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lawrence--the boy at the gate

I just wanted to talk about Lawrence again.....it is hard to think about a 5 year old boy who is the size of a 3 year old....mostly because he hasn't been able to eat well since he was a baby and ran the high fever from malaria.  It took me over a year to realize that God was pointing me in Lawrence's direction.  I kept looking at him and feeling sorry for him.....boy am I thick headed.  When I finally woke up and realized that God had something specific for me to do it was such a blessing to get involved.  I have some Ugandan friends helping me with translating and with arranging clinic appointments.  Remember, his eyes are crossed but we've been told that can be fixed.  We will be working on that.  Remember, too, that he can't speak or chew.  He goes to a neurology clinic next Monday.  You can't make appointments really, you just have to show up and hope you got there early enough to be seen that day.  This will be their second attempt to go.  When I was there a couple of weeks ago, we were able to go to the hospital and find out where to go and who to see.  Now my dear friend Henry Mello is helping the grandmother get Lawrence to the doctor.  When we find out what exactly is wrong, we will have an idea of the cost.  Then I am hoping to help raise the funds to get Lawrence the medical help he needs.  Please pray for Lawrence and his grandmother.  Pray not only for his physical needs but their family needs (living in poverty) and their spiritual needs as we show God's love in word and deed.  Pray too, that we will be able to raise the funds we will need to get him the help he needs, and that God will place the doctors before him that He wants Lawrence to see.  Thank you for your interest in this ministry.......

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Collecting Always :0)

To all you ladies out there....we are currently trying to collect 5000 Always thin Maxi pads with wings to take to Uganda in January.  Imagine not having them and using rags......well, that is what the girls and ladies in Kalangaalo have to do.  We would love to vacuum pack a large quantity that can be taken on our January trip to Uganda....we can then provide this much needed, and often taken for granted in America, item.  Reply to this blog if you want more information on how you can help!!
Thanks

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Banquet October 22nd

I would like to invite you to a fundraising banquet for Mercy Uganda, the womens and childrens ministry we have started.  My dear friend Veronica Nakyewe will be in the U.S. from Uganda and will share her powerful testimony.  The banquet is Thursday evening, October 22nd at 6:30 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Panama City, Florida.  The cost is $10.00 a plate, and a nursery is available.  You will be blessed by the testimony and by attending you bless the ministry.  You can call Covenant Church at (850)769-7448 to reserve seats.

Update on Paul

If you saw my picture of Paul, the young man in the hospital, I wanted to let you know that I got an update about him this morning.  He is recovering from the spinal surgery and is beginning to regain feeling in his extremities.  This is wonderful news.  Because he cannot continue to afford to be in the hospital they will work with him from home.  Please continue to pray for Paul as he recovers.  He has been a blessing to many people.