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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.