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Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year, New Beginning

We are ever so close to the end of 2011. Just days now from 2012.  Much has happened in our world, both good, and not so good.  I don't want to reflect on the not-so-good because I know that even the not-so-good are things that God is using for our good.  I want to reflect on the oh so many blessings of 2011, sent straight from the loving hand of our Heavenly Father.  I'm sure that in the abundance of His goodness, I will inevitably leave out some of the multitude of His grace, mercy, love, provision....so right now I want to say thank you to my Heavenly Father for ALL that He has done in 2011, even the things that I fail to pen in this blog entry today. 

Looking back, I see water in a dry and thirsty land...wells in Karamoja, given in love by our Heavenly Father through the channels of generosity from His children whom He blessed with the means to provide.
 
I also see children receiving medical care, a young girl who was severely burned now able to lift her arms, not only to dress herself but to praise the very God who loves and cares for her.  I look back on trips to Uganda where we were able to show and share the love of God to the lost and hurting, to the poor and needy, to the sick and the dying.

I look back at our humble desire to buy land, build and orphanage, and a school......2011 was the seed that was planted...I know that 2012 will be the year that God waters and makes that seed grow into the reality of what is now a prayer vision.  So many gifts from the hands of our Father, so many reasons to be thankful, to trust, to wait in obedience. 
 

There are more sponsored children now, about 50 who are going to school, being fed, have a bed to sleep in, and under a mosquito net.  God is so good, so merciful, so able to do far more than we can ever think or imagine.  I praise Him for that.  I praise Him for what is yet to come, because, you see, He is always faithful, never changing, always ready to hear and answer prayer.  Father, thank you for all of Your blessings of 2011, and for all of the blessings we know you will pour out on us in 2012.  Make us useful, usable instruments of Your love and Your mercy.  Lord, make 2012 a year of unimaginable glory to You, and a year of tremendous spiritual growth in Mercy Uganda, and the lives this ministry touches.  We love You Lord, and thank You for loving us!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Go into all the world.....


That's what Jesus told us to do.  Go into all the world with the gospel of Christ and that's what Mercy Uganda is all about.  It isn't enough to just go and tell people about Jesus....they need to see Jesus.  They need to know He cares about their need for food, water, education....they need to see that His followers care and that they care enough to give their lives in order that they may know Him.

We have a banquet once a year and it's a fundraiser, but it's also a time to come together and celebrate what God is doing not only in Uganda, but here and across the United States, moving people to become part of His work.  Giving of themselves so that others might know the love of God.  God doesn't need us to to go Uganda or to do missions in our local towns, He commands us to.

Thank you to First Presbyterian Church for allowing Mercy Uganda the use of your social hall and kitchen for this event.  A big thanks to all who came along side and helped make this a time of fellowship and a time when people could hear and see what is happening through their gifts and mostly through their prayers.  A big thank you to Sheila.....below with Laura....I don't think we would have been able to put on the banquet without her help.  She worked tirelessly all day and into the night.




We started with an empty hall......



And busy hands in the kitchen.....







Then decorating

Putting out sponsorship information for children in Uganda that need help going to school

Most of the items on this table are made by the Ugandan people

Ready at last

Thanks to Mr. Bill for running the sound system.  


And thanks to all who came to support Mercy uganda

For the beautiful music provided by Eric  


And to Mickey for being a spectacular emcee


The medical team spoke



This man had no intention of becoming involved with Mercy Uganda, but attended one year because his daughter was helping serve....as a result of hearing the testimonies of what is happening through Mercy Uganda, he and his family now sponsor some children to go to school, built a house and a piggery for a family.  Showing the love of God through meeting people's needs and helping them to become independent.

This couple gave matching funds and helped build the very first well in a remote village.   They lived in California at the time, but have now moved to our town and welcome!

Thanks for caring and giving to the Lord

This year we are working on our Faith 500 program and I urge you to go to the Mercy Uganda website
to find out how you can help.....you can also link this post to your blog which would be a big help.

Below is part of a song.....I recently heard it and saw it done in sign language and it made me cry.  This is what happens when you give....you may never know until you get to heaven what it means to someone.

This is why we do what we do.

Thank you

http://lyricstranslate.com
Then another man stood before you and said, "Remember the time, A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry.
You didn't have much money but you gave it anyway.Jesus took the gift you gave
And that's why I am here today."

Go into all the world.....


That's what Jesus told us to do.  Go into all the world with the gospel of Christ and that's what Mercy Uganda is all about.  It isn't enough to just go and tell people about Jesus....they need to see Jesus.  They need to know He cares about their need for food, water, education....they need to see that His followers care and that they care enough to give their lives in order that they may know Him.

We have a banquet once a year and it's a fundraiser, but it's also a time to come together and celebrate what God is doing not only in Uganda, but here and across the United States, moving people to become part of His work.  Giving of themselves so that others might know the love of God.  God doesn't need us to to go Uganda or to do missions in our local towns, He commands us to.

Thank you to First Presbyterian Church for allowing Mercy Uganda the use of your social hall and kitchen for this event.  A big thanks to all who came along side and helped make this a time of fellowship and a time when people could hear and see what is happening through their gifts and mostly through their prayers.  A big thank you to Sheila.....below with Laura....I don't think we would have been able to put on the banquet without her help.  She worked tirelessly all day and into the night.




We started with an empty hall......



And busy hands in the kitchen.....







Then decorating

Putting out sponsorship information for children in Uganda that need help going to school

Most of the items on this table are made by the Ugandan people

Ready at last

Thanks to Mr. Bill for running the sound system.  


And thanks to all who came to support Mercy uganda

For the beautiful music provided by Eric  


And to Mickey for being a spectacular emcee


The medical team spoke



This man had no intention of becoming involved with Mercy Uganda, but attended one year because his daughter was helping serve....as a result of hearing the testimonies of what is happening through MU, he and his family now sponsor some children to go to school, built a house and a piggery for a family.  Showing the love of God through meeting people's needs and helping them to become independent.

This couple gave matching funds and helped build the very first well in a remote village.   They lived in California at the time, but have now moved to our town and welcome!

Thanks for caring and giving to the Lord

This year we are working on our Faith 500 program and I urge you to go to the Mercy Uganda website
to find out how you can help.....you can also link this post to your blog which would be a big help.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Pack Picture

New Project to help Families in Karamoja!!




 Mercy Uganda and Ezekiel 37 Medical team are excited to announce a new project to help the people of Karamoja.

On the last evening in Karamoja during the trip in September, Gabriel asked us to think and pray about helping the people of Karamoja with basic household needs.  He went on to explain that it is not uncommon for a family of 6 or 8 to only have 2 plates and no cups.  No wash basin to wash their clothes or bathe their children.  It is so easy for us to not think about needing these types of items.  We run to the closest department store to get whatever we need.  They do not have that luxury in Karamoja.

Both villages that Mercy Uganda works in Karamoja (Kokorio and Kayapas) have received wells and now that they have clean water they need items to improve the overall hygiene.  The majority of the illnesses that are treated on the medical trips can be prevented by cooking with clean water and cleaning their bodies.  They need a wash basin, soap, and jerry cans to carry the clean water.

Gabriel also stated that it wasn’t uncommon for an old man or woman of 80 years to have never slept on a mattress…..let that set in a second.  NEVER slept on a mattress.  Think about the last time you haven’t slept on a mattress.  Imagine sleeping on the ground night after night for 80 years.

Based on all the information Gabriel (Our Karamoja Field Manager)  gave us we have created the following packs to change the lives of people in Karamoja.

 FAMILY PACK: $25.00 INCLUDES: set of plates, set of cups, wash basin, soap, bathing sponges, and a Jerry Can.
BEDDING PACK: $65.00 INCLUDES: Mattress, Sheets, Blanket, Mosquito Net
COMBO PACK: $90.00 Includes all items from the Family and Bedding Packs


For those of you who already sponsor children with Mercy Uganda you can send your child’s family these packs.  Even if your child lives in Kyamagemule, Bugiri, or Entebbe.  We will make sure your family receives the items.

Christmas is right around the corner and perhaps you don’t know what to put on your Christmas Wish List or don’t know what to get for someone who “has everything”.  We’d love for you to consider sponsoring a Family, Bedding, or Combo Pack and we’ll be happy to send a card to your gift recipient.

To become a sponsor please email Laura Knetzer at mlknetzer@comcast.net. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

MY LIFE, A testimony from Gabriel Lobu


Today, I want to share with you the precious testimony of Gabriel Lobu, our Karamoja Field Manager for Mercy Uganda.  Gabriel is such a precious young man of God and a powerful witness to God's love, mercy, guidance, and provision in the lives of His children.  We have heard Gabriel speak of his life and have often encouraged him to put it in writing.  To think back about pain and suffering, loss and grief is difficult, but Gabriel was finally able to sit down and remember. His remembering is about the pain, but so much more too.....it is about the God who led him through that pain, and is using his past to touch lives today.  I hope you will be moved by Gabriel's testimony.  I know I was!
(The pictures are: top-Gabriel with Kefa Sempangi, founder of the orphanage Gabriel grew up in; Gabriel with his mother in Karamoja; Gabriel with Henry Mello giving out clothes in Karamoja; and the bottom picture is Gabriel pumping water from a new well in Kokorio)
MY LIFE: By Gabriel Lobu
My Life:
I am Lobu Gabriel Silva a Ugandan by Nationality, a Karamojong by tribe, born in 1982 in Bokora County Moroto District. I am a Christian loving God with all my heart because I know where he brought me from and strongly believe that he has good plans for me. 
My father died when I was three years old and that was in 1985, after his death, life became completely difficult and very hard on our side. Our Mother had no job and no one could take care of us, when our uncle heard that our father had died, he came and shifted us from Karamoja to Mbale town and life some how changed, but unfortunately he also died after three Months and life became more harder than it was before because we were new in the area and mom was still jobless and had no money to pay for the house since we   were renting. So mom started going around looking for the job to do and I could go with her dig in people’s gardens, banana plantations and they gave us some food and money which we used to pay for the house, but unfortunately we were forced to leave the house due to the failure to pay in time. 

In the state of confusion, my lovely mom decided to go to the streets of Mbale town and started begging so that we could get something to eat and survive, so we eventually we  made the street our new home. Mum took me to the streets because I was the only boy and she thought I could do much work than girls. As the situation worsened we could just go on picking food that people had thrown in their rubbish pits without minding about whether it was clean, poison free or not but as long as we could find something eatable in the pits and we call it a day. Tears flow from my eyes every time I remember those days of misery and I don’t know what to say but honestly speaking God has been so merciful to me, I don’t know what I would have done without him.
  On the streets still life became harder even when the people who used to give us food and clothes became tired of us, neglected us and started sending us away yet we had no where else to go and nothing to do. Mum started to cry to people for help but no one could respond but instead threw food to us as if we were dogs but still we had nothing to do apart from picking it up since we needed it in order to survive. As the bible says that God always has good plans for our lives and he will never leave us neither forsake us, still though there were tough times but still my heart trusted in the Lord and he heard our cry. One day my brother (cousin) Philip came looking for us and he found us in the streets of Mbale town, Mum requested him to take us with him but he couldn’t because he was also staying in an orphanage home of which he couldn’t manage to take good care of us, mum kept on pleading to him and then he promised her that he will only take me to an orphanage home where he was staying by then. After some time, my brother (cousin) Philip came for me and took me in an orphanage home without even a shirt, this Orphanage was  called Africa Foundation Children’s Home were I spent over 17 years.
 After my Secondary level, I joined high institution of Learning and I did Brick laying (building) and then from there I went in a very big farm for training of about six months. After training I came back and started working for Mr. Rashid Luswa and Mr. Sam as a builder. Two years later I came up with a vision of helping young children who were
suffering, since I had no money I couldn’t do this alone because it was such a great decision to take. I prayed about it every single day that passed by and God is so great because he brought a very good friend of mine called Ronnie. Ronnie was one than willing to stand with me in terms of helping the children. At the moment Ronnie is like a brother to me because we have gone through a lot together and we have seen a lot. So I shared everything with him and since he is also an orphan he knew how painful it is and he was more than willing to help so we joined hands together.
 Since we both had no enough money, Ronnie came up with an idea of going to different churches asking for spare clothes from people. As I was building, I used to get very small money but we could always join and go help the children who were orphans in Karamoja where I came from because this place is full of orphans who have no one to take care of them yet they also need care, love, support and they also want to grow up normally like any other child.

 We continued looking for support from different people and praying so that God opens doors for sponsorship and connect us to the right people who will be able to stand with us. Surely God is so faithful he connected me to the godly family which is so kind, merciful and his name is Mark and his wife Laura. They have always been on our side trying to get us sponsors for the kids and indeed God is so wonderful because so far now a number of children have sponsors and are able to go to school.
 I have witnessed people sleeping empty stomachs, dying of simple diseases, massive poverty which unable parents to pay for their children’s school fees and fail to provide to provide basic needs in the family. Tears always flow in my eyes every time I remember them in my prayers and always pray for them and when I saw them suffering I felt so sorry for them and felt down. I thank God every single day that passes by for the great love that he has for his people may be if it was not for his Grace and Mercy, may be we wouldn’t have been who we are today.  (Ephesians 2:8-9).
 My prayer is that the Lord opens up doors so that we can be able to reach out to the Nation and in different parts of Uganda and so that we can be able to get more volunteers.
May the Lord bless you a lot.
Lobu Gabriel Silva

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Henry

This is Nancy guest blogging for Laura.
Henry Mello, our Uganda Director for Mercy Uganda recently  made his first trip to America.    I first met Henry at Laura's home during a Mercy Uganda Board Meeting where we shared a meal, a really good meal at that! However....Henry was always afraid to eat too much...afraid he would gain weight that he could not maintain when he returned home....hmmmm.


All of us enjoyed visiting with Henry and getting to know him better and learning more about what he does  in Uganda, which is ALOT!


Henry had a long, difficult process getting a visa to enter America and returned with Laura after her last trip to Uganda. We have Congressman Steve Southerland to thank for helping him get here!

Henry does so much for the ministry work in Uganda. He is such a blessing and obedient instrument of the Lord.  Below are pictures and information giving you a taste of Uganda, and a hint of some of what we have going on.....Henry is the wheels that keep it all turning!

The Dorcas Program.......women who were provided sewing machines and have set up a business and are learning they can provide food for their families.
The women in Bugiri made patterns out of concrete sacks.

A skirt pattern

A blouse pattern

These women are excited to be self sufficient, something Mercy Uganda strives to achieve.We were able to obtain a few of the patterns the ladies had creatively designed, and use them in our displays and speaking opportunities.

The first question I asked Henry when I met him was did you have culture shock.

In his answer, Henry asked me if we had any needy people in America and of course I said yes!
That day he worked with Laura's husband Mark who needed to go to the county landfill after work.  Henry was amazed.  Notice the shoes below?  Henry picked them out of the debris and cleaned them up to take home to Uganda.....he said we need shoes!  I walked out to look at them and felt so ashamed.  We really are a throw away society.



Below are some school supplies the Ugandan children use.


 Notice the book below.....if the majority of children in a school are Christians, they teach the Christian curriculum....if most are Muslim, they use the Islam curriculum.


Henry with Mark and Laura

This is the paper Henry is holding above.  Boda boda's are the main transportation and riding on one is an adventure.


As a matter of fact, we all got together on the 4th of July and someone had a motorcycle...Henry took off and had a little ride.  We were just a little concerned that he might be arrested, but whew!  that turned out o.k. other than scaring some of the ladies!!

Below, he had just come from his ride.  He was excited and for more than one reason.  That day he got word that his wife had a baby girl!  They named her Laura.

While Henry was here, we had a cookout fundraiser and shared the Faith 500 project. Please visit our website to learn all about Faith 500 and pray with us that God will provide.

These are some things made by Ugandans we had for sale or just for information at the cookout.











The table centerpieces were made from the handmade Uganda items.  On the table below, the centerpiece is made from napkin rings.

Below is the first draft of what Faith 500 will accomplish with God's help.  A school, an orphanage, land for teaching agriculture and raising livestock......learning to use the resources they have to provide and to reach out to their fellow Ugandans in the love of Christ.

Wall carvings

Food at the cookout!



Henry talking during a slide show about what Mercy Uganda has done to improve the lives of the people and to work in their lives to bring them to know and love Christ. Something that really makes us think is Henry's comment "Poor in America is different than poor in Uganda...American's really don't know what poor is."  How sadly true!


Henry met many people while in America and learned so much that will help him in his work at home. It is our prayer to bring him back next year.  His visits here help him learn things that he takes home with him to help improve lives in Uganda....our visits there help us learn things that enable us to better work with them there.  What a blessing Henry is.  We love him and thank God for him!