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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 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.....

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!