November Update

It has been a while since I last wrote an update; a lot has been going on in our lives, so here is our latest update.

After being separated for about 6 months as a family, in late September, while the Ugandan airports were still closed because of Covid-19, we miraculously received a special pass that allowed us to travel out of the country. It was a 70 hour journey of faith to the United States. We had to drive through Kenya and hustle with immigration, but we finally made it. My plan is to stay until the end of January, when Vena will be done with her treatment.

It has been a joy for us to be together as a family. The first few weeks were difficult as we were adjusting to staying for a long time rather than a short visit. We are currently staying with Rille and Tom, in their home; they have taken us in as their kids.

Legacy Christian School, in Bakersfield, allowed our kids to join their school for free. Joshua was assessed and is in grade 3, Graham is in grade 4 and Zoe is in grade 1. They attend school two days a week, in person, and for the remaining days, the school gives me work and I homeschool them.

It has been a growing moment for me; I am more appreciative of teachers. The school provided us a tutor who comes and helps me learn and to teach the kids.

This week is Thanksgiving Break, and we took the kids to a cabin in Redding. The kids had an opportunity to see and play in the snow for the first time.

Vena has finished Chemo, and she is now starting two months of radiotherapy. The last time they checked her, the cancer had cleared, and we are thankful to God for that.

Pray for her, as of recently, she is tired of the medicine and the continued effects.

Back home ministry is going on; I have continued to work remotely. Our Senior Management team at Mercy has continued to oversee the day to day management of the ministry and Pastor Phillip, together with the church elders, are leading the church.

Our hearts are grieving the loss of Daniel (one of the kids.) At the beginning of this month, he was found abandoned a few days after his birth. He did not show any signs of sickness at the time of admission, and a few days later, we sent him to a family that wanted to start the journey of adopting him. Last weekend, he got suddenly sick, and was rushed to our national referral hospital, where he died of pneumonia. The doctors said that he had dirt in this lungs which could have been inhaled during the abandonment process, where he was dumped, and that bugs might have crawled in his nose and beyond. We are finalizing his burial process this week.

We are also grieving the loss of my Aunt. My Father’s sister died early this week due to Corona, she was buried on the 22nd.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated as we grieve these two losses.

July Update

We have been blessed that the Government is considering our Children’s home, together with another home, as model homes in the country. We are expecting to host the Minister of Gender Labor and Social Development soon, so this week we had several inspections at the home ahead of his visit.

Since our children’s home is under lockdown, the staff staying there have been missing life outside. We have started taking them for a city tour every weekend to help get them away from the village and to visit some places in the city. This week, they saw the Parliament building among other things.

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For our kids, every weekend, we take some of them to the school facility; they help in our farm and play games on our play ground. This has helped them not feel like they are locked in prison.

I was blessed to baptize 26 people, mostly teenagers who are staying with us. Many of them gave their lives to Jesus during this Covid season and we are holding a “Foundations Discipleship” class to help them grow in their faith. We were also able to give them new Bibles. Please pray for them to grow in their faith.

This month through Hearts for Mercy fundraiser, we received money and were able to to buy more new computers. We have now set up a computer lab at the village and our kids are blessed to have computer lessons. For some kids studying from home, we have been able to send some work to them on laptops, and it has helped on our remote learning program.

One of the abandoned babies at Mercy, baby Newton, has stayed here since he was a baby. While we were praying for a family to foster him, God answered our prayer and this month, he was fostered for adoption.

We have continued to distribute food to vulnerable people in our community, and now, we have served over 2500 families.

When the pandemic had just began, our numbers at the medical center hiked up and after a few weeks of lock down, the numbers dropped way low. At first, we were happy, thinking that our community is now healthy because of the lock down and hand-washing. We did further research and found out otherwise; people were very poor and could not afford our subsidized medical care.

With the gifts from Market of Hope for outreach, we started holding free outreaches at our medical center. Currently, every Sunday morning people come and are treated for free while also hearing the sermon played on the church megaphone.

We have had many heart-breaking cases at the Medical Center. We received a breast-feeding mother, who had a tumor on her breast, but stayed with the pain of continuing to breast feed until when we reached to her. Many men are abandoning their homes in such times.

Another case, is of a young man Donald Ashabe, a refugee from Rwanda who got knocked by his cow as he was trying to milk it. He had internal bleeding, but since he had no money, he stayed home and forced himself to work the next day. He became unconscious and by the time he was brought to our center, we put him on oxygen and rushed him to our national referral hospital for specialized surgery. We have no ambulance, so they used my car and it was all stained with blood.

This week, we received the sad news that he did not make it. He left behind a widow and two kids. Mercy is working with the community to help sell the two cows he owned in order to help get the family a small plot and house where they can stay. We are taking up the two kids on our sponsorship program.

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We want to do more work to be on the prevention side. If he was able to get medical care early, his chances of living would be high and he would be caring for his family.

I turned 35 yesterday on August 1, and ran a half marathon with 3 friends; unfortunately I couldn’t run with a big group because of Covid restrictions. For my birthday gift, please consider donating towards free medical care for at least one person. During our outreach the average bill is $9. I am asking friends all over, to treat at least one person during this Covid season.

You may give online on this link below or contact children to love on (661) 588-9000

Thank you and God bless

https://childrentolove.givingfuel.com/give-now

Select Mercy Medical Center.

Finally, Brian Returns Home

As you may or may not know, a few months ago, when the Covid pandemic had just hit, street children became more at risk to exposure of the virus. Since the nature of their lives made them more at risk, the government collected many of the kids and distributed them to different homes. We were gladly able to take in 11 boys when they asked us.

My first time to meet the boys at our village, I was able to quickly identify them from the kids that had been at Mercy for a long time. These boys were dressed in rags, they spoke vulgar language, and many were recovering from drugs.

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One kid that stood out to be the roughest, was Brian. As I observed him, I noticed that he fought with his friends on various occasions and that he had been on drugs. I was drawn to getting to know more about him and I was able to learn that he is a good chess player; we were able to play several games together.

Brian shared his story of how he got to the streets. He explained that after hearing stories of life in the city, he stole his brother’s phone and embarked on a journey to Kampala. When he got there, he was moved and impressed. For the first time in his life, he was able to see large buildings and many cars, as these are not common in the villages.

While in the city, Brian spent all of his money and didn’t have an idea of what to do next. He met street kids, and they oriented him to street life and taught him drugs; this became his new lifestyle.

While on the streets, he was approached by a Muslim cleric, who converted him to Islam. He loved the fact that on Fridays, he was able to get free food outside the Mosque.

When the government distributed the kids they collected, Brian was a part of the eleven that was brought to Mercy. While at Mercy, we have shared the gospel with him, and he gave his life to Jesus. The past few months have been life-transforming for him.

He has blessed me in a special way and we have developed a special bond. His dream is to become a farmer or mechanic, and I was able to take him to our farm. He became interested in taking care of pigs; we brought one pig home with us and he has been taking care of it. Later on, I bought 3 goats that he has also enjoyed taking care of each day.

On Friday, I was woken up by his voice saying, “it is me Brian, I have come to say goodbye!” Filled with emotion, I had to come and say farewell to him. Our social workers were able to locate his family, and they were going to reunite him.

I got him a little goat that he could go along with and some money, so he could buy a pig when he gets to the village to help carry on his farming dream.

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Mercy will continue to support him like all of our non-residential kids. We are going to find him a nearby garage where he will apprentice and learn mechanics while also taking care of animals at the same. We will check on him regularly.

I can’t wait to visit him and see how God is going to use him to transform his community. Your prayers are needed; I miss him and so does the staff and friends who have been with him. He changed in a very short time and everyone liked him amazingly.

How you can be praying:

  • Pray that he finds a healthy church family that will help him grow in his faith and be a witness to his family.
  • Pray that he is able to adjust to life in the village.
  • Pray that our social workers are able to find the families of these kids and that they are able to start the reunification process.
  • Pray for our social workers and their safety as they have to travel long distances in their search, to find these kids’ families.

Thank you for all your prayers and support.

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June Update

Greetings!!

I would like to start by thanking you for your continued prayers and support.

Vena had her third chemo round on Monday. She is feeling better than when she had her first and second round. Pray it is not hard on her. We are still praying for flights to open and we can all join her.

Zoe has graduated from Kindergarten. We continued to teach her at home and we are doing the same to all our kids at Mercy village. We have teachers that stayed and were quarantined with us. This has also helped keep our kids busy and occupied.

The kids had a break from our homeschool, they went and spent some time at my parents’ and my sister’s home. They had not seen them for the past 3 months.

We were able to get most of the boys sponsored, and they are thriving at the village. We were able to not just furnish one house but two, and were also able to buy them clothes. It was a joy as each received 5 shirts and 5 shorts. Thank you for the support.

Since we cannot meet in church, we turned the Sunday school rooms to food stores and have transformed the main sanctuary as a food distribution place. We have reached out to over 1500 people from our community with food and face masks, and we would like to continue reaching out families with the goal of helping at least 5,000 more.

We have reached out to close to 50 rural pastors, boda riders and teachers with care packages; these groups have been affected the most by the pandemic. It has been a joy to see Muslims, and many non-believers come to church for the first time to receive food, and it has given us the opportunity to pray for them.

For the food that we distribute, we buy it from local farmers and food distributors, some who are members of our church. By purchasing from them, in a small way, we are helping these local businesses survive during this pandemic.

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It is currently illegal to walk without a face mask in public; you can be fined or put in Jail for that. At this time, tailors don’t have Jobs, so we have provided jobs to widows and teenage girls in our program and they are making cloth face masks.

Daisy, a mother to our sponsored kid, Angel, is a single mom whose husband abandoned her with the kids in Nansana slums. She later became homeless with her kids, and that is when Mercy started sponsoring her oldest daughter, Angel, who is now in Grade 7. During this Covid season, she could not afford to feed her family, but through the masks program, she is now making enough money to care for her family, pay rent, and even bought her own manual sewing machine.

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Vicky, a teenager who dropped out of school due to her parents not being able to afford her education, has joined our vocational skills training program and has learned how to sew. She has always had them of owing her own electric sewing machine, and because of this program, she has saved over half of the money. In two months, she has the goal and hope of having enough saved up for it.

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Now that public and private transport has been allowed, we have started searching for families of our kids that were rescued from the streets, please pray that we are able to find some of their families.

Your prayers are highly appreciated.

Thank you very much!

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Learning How to Love my Neighbor During this Pandemic.

We are faced with a global situation no one has ever imagined and has changed how we live life.

First, a quick update about my family. Vena started having Chemo treatment this week. It will take about 4 to 6 months. It is hard being away from her. Your prayers are appreciated.

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Just like many counties, so far we have had 2 months of lock down; public transport and private transport are both banned, and we have a curfew of 7pm, where no one is allowed out. If any one breaks these presidential directives, you are tried for attempted murder.

As a pastor and social worker, it is hard not to meet with people in person. We are doing church differently on social media, and we are also playing sermons on local megaphones that play around the community. We have also installed some by the church, this way we are reaching more people with the gospel than we have always reached in the past.

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We have had the honor to distribute over 800 food packages to some church members and other vulnerable people in our community. One story that touched me, was an expectant mother who came to our place starving and having nothing to feed her kids. We were able to provide for her and pray for her. Men are abandoning their homes because they cannot afford to provide for them.

For the 2,000 children living on the streets in Kampala city who used to beg from people, now that the city is empty, their lives are at risk. Our city government, with the help of NGOs, put up a shelter for close to 200 street kids where they went for quarantine. They contacted us several days ago, asking us to look for a safe place for these kids. We have been able to admit 11 boys, after they were quarantined and all tested Negative.

They come from different backgrounds, and some have been on drugs. I intend to spend more time with them and share the gospel and help in their rehabilitation journey.

Please pray for me and my team.

We have had to opened up another house to house these extra kids. I am looking for $3,000 to help furnish their home, to buy beds, chairs and other household items. I ask you to pray and give towards that.

Second, we are looking for ongoing sponsorship for these boys, their sponsorship is $100 a month on this link https://childrentolove.givingfuel.com/sponsor-a-child

 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Lessons for the World from Corona Crisis

The world has always trusted in Military Might; each day trying to invent a better weapon and testing nuclear weapons. The world has trusted in science, fame and money. Major sports games have been cancelled; bars locked down. This is a time when all these gods that our society has worshipped cannot help people. They cannot give people hope.

As believers,we have hope. In the midst of hard times, He is with us.

We know that God is above this situation and will get us through it.

The second lesson, we are learning is to live by faith. One day at a time. No one can tell what the future will be, but as believers we trust in a God that holds our future and we can trust in Him.

For parents, working at home, this has given us an opportunity to spend time with our kids. I enjoyed leading Sunday service with my family and preaching to them a message of hope.

This is a time for us to spend more time in prayer and the word, as we grow in the Lord.

I encourage you to limit the time you spend watching the news and spending time on social media; most information will create fear and anxiety in your heart, but rather listen to the Word of God and let God speak to you. The word of God gives us hope in the midst of storms of life. I slept listening to Psalms 91 on my phone, and I was encouraged.

God will protect and watch over us in this season.

Philippians 4:6-7 Tells us not to be anxious about anything but in every situation pray and give thanks.

Pray for the medical workers in Italy.

Pray for the hundreds of people that are dying, so that they know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

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New Year Celebration in Uganda

End of year service

When I was a child, I always tried to stay awake until midnight to celebrate as we would usher in the new year. At midnight, we would bring out our Christmas tree and burn it. People would start hitting drums and cans to make a lot of noise; those who had guns would shoot up, and people would run on streets burning used car tires. People would drink and feast at night, but it was also a time when some people would be violent and break into homes and do all kind of things.

The trend has changed since 2000. Churches started having End-of-Year night services, so that people can enter the new year in prayer.

New Year Celebration is the most attended service in Uganda, more than Easter and Christmas.

At Mercy Church and the Worship House, we held our third End-of Year service. We had fireworks, as we ushered in the new year. At Mercy, we had over 1,000 people in attendance, and at the Worship House, over 20,000 people attended. The venue was so full that security had to stop people from coming in.

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This service gave us an opportunity to share the gospel. We had a time for prayer, and we prayed for people. Several people came to me drunk, and they wanted to give their lives to Christ and they wanted to stop drinking in the new year.

Pray for them that they will grow in their faith.

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Thank you for your prayers. I came back from a wonderful family vacation in Jinja; it was good to spend time with family and rest.

It has stopped raining in the past few days and construction work has continued to move on fast, and I know we will be able to be done before school starts.

Happy new year!!

Christmas Update

In Uganda, a country with a fast growing population, most pastors do not have formal Bible training. Churches are growing, but at the same time, there is a rise in the amount of heretical teachings spreading throughout many Ugandan churches today.

It has been always my desire, that we get a way to help train pastors. So about 3 years ago, I contacted Corban University in Oregon to help train, but they had a lot going on then. However, God later opened a door, and they agreed to provide training to 50 pastors, free of charge. Corban University will be sending their ministry school professors for two weeks, twice a year, for 3 years.

At the beginning of this month, we had the opportunity to host 50 pastors from all over the country at Mercy Christian School. They came to learn about how to study and interpret the Bible. Mercy Church elders and pastors have been a part of this, and it has been such a joy to see how much they have learned.

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Mercy Church, in two years, has planted two churches, and I see more church plants arising in future.

For Christmas, with the help of gifts from Children to Love, our kids gave out gifts to some staff and needy people around the community. It has been a joy seeing our kids give.

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We have started working on construction at the school. We had to take off the roof on one of the original buildings since it was not up to code, and we are also remodeling the building by creating more windows and ventilation space. We are also in the process of building a house for long term interns.

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For our school break, we sent out most of our kids to their extended families. However, for those who don’t have extended family, they have been sent to be with our staff and church members. I currently have a total of 12 kids at my house.

Ways You Can Be Praying: 

  • Pray for safety of the kids this festive season.
  • Heavy rains have slowed down our building progress, please pray for good weather so that builders can build fast.
  • Pray for more finances to help finish upcoming building projects.
  • I am planning on taking a vacation with family to Jinja this Christmas season. Pray that we have a relaxing time.

August 2019 Update

It is now school break in Uganda. I am thankful to God that our school has run successfully for seven months now! Our school term ended with 122 students. We have learned a lot and the kids are enjoying school. When one student was asked what he thinks about his school, he said, “It is like home!” I don’t remember feeling like that about school; in fact I hated school.Two students, JeanPeace and her friend, even asked to stay an extra week at school so that they can get extra help with math. We praise God that our students love to learn.

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We had a team of 8 interns from Biola that helped our kids catch up on their classes at the end of Term 2. They were able to provide one-on-one attention to the students who were struggling and needed extra help. Our kids have learned a lot and grown in their faith, and I even had the privilege of baptizing 17 of them this term. Praise God!

Molly and Jesse Furrow came last week and they will be staying with us for the next two and a half years. Molly is a teacher and will teach English and Math in P1 and P2. Jesse will be working as the Physical Education teacher and sports coach. We have started working on our soccer pitch and basketball court. Leveling the field has been more expensive than initially expected because of some unexpected difficulties with the water table and the ability to get dirt locally. We are praying the Lord provides the money to finish this project.

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Early this week, our church sent a team of missionaries to Mercy Church Palisa, which is located in the rural, east part of Uganda. Vena, Graham and I joined the rest of the team in the middle of the week. We stayed in huts, preached the gospel door to door during the day, and in the evening, held an outdoor meeting where I shared a word. Hundreds of people gave their life to Christ, and we had the privilege of baptizing 94 people!! Please pray for these new converts that they may grow in their faith and that God will use them for His glory.


On Monday evening, as the village church members were waiting to receive our team, it rained heavily and their grass thatched church fell. We are so grateful that in our time there, we were able to erect a new structure for them to use as a church that has a tin roof.


Thank you very much for your prayers and support. Please be in prayer over each of these names as they all gave their hearts to Jesus and were baptized. We praise God for each of these names.

 

Here is some more pictures from our Palisa Mission

End of School: First Term

This week has had its ups and downs; our kids did their end-of-school term exams two weeks ago, and then school ended last Tuesday, and they all picked up their report cards.

Last Sunday, one of our kids, Swabra, lost her biological father to AIDS. Doreen, our social worker, went with her to the village about six hours away to attend the funeral. What breaks my heart the most, is that Swabra’s dad died a devout Muslim. I had a few opportunities were I was able to share the gospel to him, and the family was so touched by the love Christians continue to pour into Swabra.

Since he comes from a devout Muslim family, the burial had to be done right away. We found out after his funeral, that he had two other daughters, step-sisters to Swabra. Shamira Babirya who is 13 years old and Quruthum Kiiza who is 11 years old. Their mother had died, and they were living in Katanga slums with their dad. A few months before he died, he sold his small shack and all his property to pay for his treatment. He took his girls from school so that they could care for him.

Since the father passed away, no family member was willing to stay with his daughters, and they came to the decision to marry them off. This is a common practice in rural Muslim communities, where young girls are offered into marriage to very rich, old Muslim men. Doreen could not allow that, and she brought the girls back with her. We have decided to take the girls in and give them a Christian education at Mercy Christian School.

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Last Thursday, after a prayer service at the Worship House Church, two kids were reported abandoned. They were sent to the police and Social Welfare office, and finally, they were sent to us. Both have special needs and are non-verbal. We have not given them names yet, but I have decided to name them Micah (meaning humble) and Asher (meaning happiness.)

Micah is a hyperactive, 5 year old boy, and Asher is a young girl around the age of 12. Asher can’t talk but seems to listen. We will have specialists look at them and identify their specific needs.

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Ways to Pray:

  • Pray for Micah and Asher, as we search for their family and  that God will lead us on the best way to share his love with them.
  • Pray Quruthum and Shamira. They have been raised as Muslim, but pray that they will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
  • Pray for the above kids to get sponsored.
  • Pray for safety and health of the kids. Pray that our kids will let their light shine.

Ways YOU can help:

Please share this blog and email to help us find a sponsor for each kid. If you would like to sponsor, please email me back or email Liah at liah@childrentolove.org.

It is now school break until May 17. For kids that have extended family, we have sent them to visit their relatives. For children with no know family, we have encouraged church members to take them into their homes for holiday visit.