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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reflections... and a look Forward

As we approach another new year, I love to look back at where the Lord has taken us over this past year, and look with hopeful anticipation at what He has in store for 2013. I believe it is always good to reflect on the goodness of the Lord, His lovingkindness toward His children, the promises He has kept, His goodness, love, mercy, forgiveness, provision. The year 2012 was a year of seeing God work in all of those ways, and I praise Him for all He has done.
I want to share a few things God has done in 2012, and then share our hopes for 2013 with you.
In 2012 God:

Paul on his old "trike"....getting a new one soon!
Provided money to buy our dear sweet Paul with a new "trike". Paul developed an illness as a young teen. It went untreated and he was left crippled as a result. He has been using the trike you see in the picture above as his means of movement. However, on two trips during 2012 we noticed he was crawling on his hands and feet. His trike, while it has done him good for years, has increasingly deteriorated to the point that it is now a better stewardship to purchase a new one for him. One has recently been purchased, and will be delivered to him when we go to Uganda in February.

Lobali John, with Mark...his sponsor
Another answer to prayer for 2012 is the health of Lobali John, one of the children in Mercy Uganda's sponsorship program. Lobali John just finished his third term at Moroto High, and was leaving Karamoja to travel to Iganga to stay with his brother while on holiday from school during the Christmas season. He was riding on the back of a boda boda (motorcycle) with two men when they had an accident involving a trailor. The trailor somehow landed on them, crushing and killing the other two people Lobali John was with. Word was that Lobali John may be dead himself, or alive but losing both legs. It took several days for our director, Henry Mello to find him in Mulago Hospital......alive and well with only a broken leg. Now, the leg was broken in more than one place and he had to have surgery to repair it, but he is alive and recovering! Praise the Lord! He will make full recovery and be able to return to school, hopefully by February.

Left to Right: Pastor Phillip, Henry, and Gabriel
The year 2012 was a time of struggle, and hardship for our dear sweet Henry and Gabriel, who went through a very difficult period....a period that tests men's resolve and teaches them things about God's faithfulness in the darkness.  As they went through the fire, God embraced them.  He reminded them of His deep love for them, and that He is there with them....never to leave or forsake them.  I don't think I've met two young men with more integrity than Henry and Gabriel.  Two young men who, since I have known them, put others before themselves, and who have sacrificed so much to minister to others.  We know that Satan does not attack where he already rules, so it makes perfect sense that he began his assault on Henry and Gabriel.  The battle continues, but God continues to shine His light in their lives, and continues to hold them in His righteous right hand.  Our prayer and hope for Henry and Gabriel in 2013 is that God will be glorified in their lives, and that the difficulty of the events of 2012 will be only a chapter from the past....a chapter that leads them, and Mercy Uganda to a stronger reliance upon, and faith in God, who uses all things in our lives for our good and His glory.


Left to Right: Ashley, Paul, and Jenna
God brings certain people into our lives who have a way of shining His love so brightly that we can't help but be moved, changed, inspired, and encouraged by them.  Such as Paul Telemwa.  I had the privilege of meeting him about three years ago, and have seen God work through Paul's life, and his disability.  Paul fell from a ladder while preparing for a conference at his church.  No one knew at the time that his injury would take him down a road of increasingly painful and debilitating health.  He began to lose the use of his legs, and it was discovered that he had spinal injuries.  Surgery was provided, he improved......for a time. In August of 2012 we had the opportunity to see Paul again.  This time, he had declined such that he could not live alone and a family took him in to care for him.  We were told surgery was needed in order for Paul to improve.  We set in motion a fundraising mission with matching funds already in place.  We came home to America, and found out within two weeks, that Paul died unexpectedly as friends drove him to the local hospital.  His dear friend Henry....our director, was here in the U.S. and unable to be by Paul's side, or even attend his funeral.  Painful and difficult?  Yes.....but the beautiful part of Paul's story is that he unashamedly loved the Lord.  Even in his on pain and suffering, he found ways to share Christ and minister to others who were hurting.  Paul wrote a song not long before his death that sums up how he lived, and what and Who he saw as important.  The song is called "My Harvest" and words are:
When I will rest of the troubles of this world.  When I cross home where labor will be no more with me, will be all my deeds.  My contribution to this world will have ended.  (Chorus) The love I have shared, bears fruits in my  hands.  When I share with the needy, there I get my reward. 
Of what benefit is it to me?  When I gather and bring in wealth into my vaults.  All my laboring will be in vain if I do not share with the poor. 
With me will be my harvest when I cross home to present to my Father.  What a disgrace if I will have nothing on my name.  I will have led an empty life in this world. 

Paul will be so very missed this side of heaven, but we can say with confidence we will see him again.  So 2013 will be a year of his memory and testimony living on and influencing so many more lives.

Land in Uganda
And last but not least.....2012 was a year of enormous provision.....God provided land to Mercy Uganda through the generosity of His children here in the U.S.  Through the financial gifts of many, Mercy Uganda was able to purchase 2 acres of land, and is preparing to buy a third.  This purchase has been a prayer for nearly two years as we have sought God's will, guidance, and plan for our Faith 500 Vision.  The year 2012 was the year of God leading us to the land, and providing the means to purchase the land.  The year 2013 will begin the next phase of this work......clearing and building.  Our prayer is for a home for the children, and an agriculture and livestock program that will provide food and training for the orphans in our program, and will help the ministry work become more self-sustaining.  Praise the Lord for His provision for us!  Our February trip will be a time of seeing the land,  and working out vital logistics for the building to begin.  The summer of 2013 will be a time of great excitement as we get a team together to travel to Uganda to begin the much anticipated building projects.  Reflecting back.....seeing God's hand in all that we have been through......looking forward with hopeful anticipation as we see our faithful Father caring for His children in amazing and wonderful ways. 
Please pray for us as we continue this Faith 500 Vision.  We are confident that God is in this work.  He provided the land, the well for water on the we are getting close to the needed funds for the truck to haul supplies, materials, and feed, and funds for the completion of the buildings.  We know He will finish the work He has begun. 
2013 will be an exciting year as we hold tightly to God as He leads us on His path for us!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

News, News....Good News!

At Mercy Uganda, we are always attempting to take the Good News to the people of Uganda.  Today we would like to announce some really good news that will help in that very effort!

Mercy Uganda has many people who sponsor children so that they can attend school.  Living in America, it's hard for us to imagine that in order for children in Uganda to go to school, they must pay, and many of them simply have no one to pay the school tuition or the fees for needed supplies.  It is such a blessing to be a sponsor to one of these dear, sweet children.  They take nothing for granted and appreciate the opportunity to make their lives better.  At Mercy Uganda, we try to make their lives better in more ways than just education....we try to take the truly Good News of Christ Jesus and His love for them, which is the best news of all!  

The following is a letter that brings us great joy!
Rebecca Vaught (left) and Becky Carreira (right)
September 2011 Medical team trip
Dear Friends,

My dear friend, Rebecca Vaught, and I have had the privilege of being involved in the lives of the children in Uganda through our medical ministry work with Ezekiel 37 Medical Ministry.  We have been sharing ideas with Laura Knetzer, founder of Mercy Uganda, as to ways to build the child sponsorship program. Laura asked if we would consider taking the lead role in this arm of the ministry.

After much prayer Rebecca and I have agreed to take on the responsibility of coordinators for Mercy Uganda's “Hope for Children” sponsorship program and are happy to be a part of the Mercy Uganda family.  I have been to Uganda 4 times now and Rebecca has been 3 times.  We have been a witness to what Mercy Uganda has accomplished over the past few years.  As members of the Ezekiel 37 Medical Ministry team we have partnered with Mercy Uganda in ministry work in Karamoja.  Rebecca and I both feel called to deepen our involvement through work with the student sponsorship program.  Education is vital to the success of children ending the cycle of poverty and we are anxious to get to work. We have some exciting goals and plans that we believe will take Mercy Uganda’s child sponsorship program to the next level.

One of the first things we are working on is to build a stronger method of communication between the team in Uganda and us here in the United States.  As a sponsor myself, I know how much it means to receive periodic updates, pictures, and report card information about your sponsored child.  Being able to send a letter to the students helps establish the relationship and to bond.  It enables sponsors to encourage their student, tell him or her you are praying for them, etc. Below is an explanation of why it has been difficult to obtain these updates and what we hope to provide to create this new level of communication.

Our sponsored children are currently spread throughout different regions in Uganda the furthest being Karamoja.  Karamoja is a 12 hour drive from Kampala which makes it quite difficult to keep up with the children in that area.  Approximately 50% of Mercy Uganda’s sponsored students are in Karamoja.  It is expensive for our Ugandan Director, Henry Mello, or our Karamoja Field Manager, Gabriel Lobu to travel to that remote region.  Our prayer is that the Lord will provide a couple of people who live in Karamoja, and would be interested in joining Mercy Uganda as a sort of “mentor” to the children.  These mentors would be the initial contact people in the region. The first person the schools call if there is an issue, if a child is sick, if a child isn’t doing well in school, if a child needs more school supplies, etc.  They would also make monthly or bi-monthly visits to the schools to check in with the Headmaster and to also get updates from the children.  We are also praying for a mentor for the Kampala area what would accomplish the same things as described above. We have some individuals in mind who we believe could fill those positions and ask that you pray for us regarding this important decision and role.

In order for these mentors to be successful they need the technology to make it possible.  We have done quite a bit of research and have determined that a tablet of some sort would be the best alternative.  One that has the ability to use WiFi and also a 3G network like an iPad or Motorola Xoom.  I have talked to the internet provider in Uganda and they have said that as long as we can change the SIM card they would have coverage in Karamoja and in Kampala.  The good thing about a tablet is that they can take pictures and email all from the same device.  We can also get a really good case for it to keep it protected from dust and dirt.  If you have or know someone who has an iPad or tablet (with 3G capability) that they are no longer using please let us know. If you know of businesses, organizations, or individuals who may have some of these devices they would like to donate, please let them know of our need.  As a 501(c )(3) non-profit, their donation is tax deductible!

Another plan we have is to work on creating a new and comprehensive webpage through Mercy Uganda’s website that will have pictures and biographical information about children who need sponsorships.  Our prayer is that you will share the website information with your friends and family so we can provide the gift of education to more children.  On each of the trips we’ve taken to Karamoja and other areas in Uganda it always saddens me to see the children who are of school age but are not in school.

Laura, Rebecca and I are planning a trip to Uganda in February.  The intention of the trip is to meet with the mentors and train them on how to help us improve the communication.  In addition, to visiting each of the schools where students are currently sponsored, we plan to meet with the Headmasters,  get updates on the students, and assess how they are doing in school. This will also provide the opportunity for us to build a relationship with the leaders in the schools, which will benefit the schools, the children, the communities, and the ministry as a whole.

In order to accomplish these things we need your support and prayers.  There are so many children in the villages that should be in school.  Unfortunately, school is NOT free in Uganda.  It is very difficult for a lot of people in Uganda to send their children to school. The cost of tuition in the schools is more often than not more than the average Ugandan earns. It is our hope and prayer that with your help and support the Hope for Children sponsorship program will continue to grow.

We will keep in touch with you as things progress.  In the meantime, thank you for supporting Mercy Uganda and the children that you are sponsoring. Your gift of hope and a future is a blessing to the children, their families, and to Mercy Uganda.


Becky Carreira
Mercy Uganda