The Rugumba’s – Finally Home!!

It’s been four months since we finally came home from California. Rille, the boys, and I returned home first, and Vena and Zoe joined us later. Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support during that journey. 

We found a lot of things changed, but we are thankful that we are finally settled in now. Rille started school and the other kids resumed school.

During the school break, we had a wonderful opportunity to go and stay at friend’s home. We were able to enjoy a short family vacation near a lake.

With the ministry’s standard operating procedures in place, our school has reopened and about 75% of our kids are at school. We now have 251 kids attending Mercy Christian Schools.

We have continued the construction on our learning center near Mercy Church. We have completed the ground floor, and the center includes a library, computer room, musical school, a science lab and several classrooms. Currently, we are working on finishing the classroom floors. 

We are still continuing to rescue many children. One child we rescued, Little S (name not revealed for her privacy), a six year old little girl, is always on my mind. Her father went to work and left in her the community by herself. This is very common as many parents cannot afford baby sitters, so they will just leave the kids to play by themselves. Little S was found sexually assaulted by an unknown man, but we have rescued her and she is now living at our transition rehabilitation home (Mercy Village.) At the village home, she is able to receive care and protection. Little S started school and is meeting with Vena to receive counseling. When she first arrived, she would run away any time she would see a man. Nowadays, my heart fills with such joy as I see her playing joyfully like other kids. 

Last week, we rescued 6 girls. One of the girls was baby Blessing. Blessing was found abandoned in a long drop, toilet hole. We are thanking God, that after being in there 2 days, she was found alive. 

On the same day we found Blessing, we also rescued 5 girls with special needs. They were found staying in an illegal shelter that the government shut down. 

Please pray for them to assimilate well in the new environment. 

We have opened up a new home at our village to accommodate for the increased number of kids.

Last month, we hosted a team of professors and students from Corban University, in Oregon. They help provide formal training to 42 pastors at Mercy Church. They also participated in a medical outreach, and we were able to see over 80 patients, who are unable to afford medical bills. We were able to share the gospel and offered them free medical care. 

We are currently looking for sponsorship for close to 50 children that are in our care, but are not sponsored. I am asking you to consider sharing this email/blog with friends and help us get these kids sponsored. Sponsorship for residential kids is $100 a month and $40 for our non-residential children.

You can also make a one time gift to our sponsorship fund to help us trace these children’s families and provide for these children. The link below will direct you to our sponsorship page.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

https://childrentolove.givingfuel.com/sponsor-a-child

New Year Update and Prayer Request

Greetings again and Happy New Year 2021.

I can’t thank you enough for your support and prayers through this journey.

Tuesday, January 19, was our 13th wedding anniversary, and Vena had her last cancer treatment that day. For the next month, she will only have to go for doctor reviews, since her white blood cell count is still low. Please pray it gets up quick and she will be able to travel home.

Last week, I went fishing with my dad Tom and Mickey in Redding. Mickey, thought he had recovered from the flu and tested negative for Covid, was with us for about four days. On our way back, he was advised to test again since his symptoms persisted, and he tested positive. We dropped him at the airport in Sacramento, and he rented a car and drove back to Bakersfield. We remained in Redding and self-isolated. I did a test on Monday and another one on Friday, both came out negative. It allowed me to spend more time fishing with Tom.

I missed being with my family during that time, and I was unable to be with Vena for our anniversary.

Uganda school starts this week, I am now traveling back to Uganda with 3 kids and 15 suitcases full of donations. Vena and Zoe will join us later when she is done with her doctor reviews.


Please pray for my trip. In order for us to travel through Amsterdam, each one of us had to take a corona test due to the new requirements of KLM and Dutch Government. We were also required to do an antigen test 4 hours before we boarded the flight.

Please pray that nothing new comes up that will disorganize our trip. We have a direct flight from LAX to Amsterdam and a short 50 minute layover before we will catch our last flight to Uganda. I have been on that flight before and the terminals are close, but please pray that our flight is not delayed.

Zoe developed a fever, and we were giving her Tylenol to help her feel better. We had to make the last minute decision to leave her in California with Vena.

In Uganda, a lot of preparations are going on as we plan to reopen the school soon. We are building more classrooms and finishing the existing ones. We are now planting grass in our field and I can’t wait to be back.

Thank you again for your prayers and support through this journey.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021

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.

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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Strength in Trials

This week am attending the Shepherds’ conference (a pastor’s conference organized by John McArthur)

I have learned a lot about God’s love from different speakers, and He allows us to go through moments and trials because He loves us and He wants to grow our faith. In James 1:2, He tells us to count it all Joy when going through trials.

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For the past 3.5 weeks, I have been visiting the United States. This time, I came with Vena and the boys; we have visited supporters and spoke at churches in Oregon and California, and I had the privilege of preaching at Corban University. We have had a wonderful visit; the kids went to the ocean and sea world which they have loved. One of our supporters booked us a hotel, and Vena and I went away last weekend to Santa Barbara.


On the other side, a day after I had arrived, I found out I had malaria. I went to hospitals here, but did doctors did not seem to know how to treat malaria, as they gave me Malarone which is a prevention medicine. My situation worsened; my doctor in Uganda mailed me medicine which took about a week to get here and when I took it I was better.

Vena has been having pain and we arranged to see a doctor while on this trip. They ran several tests, including a Pathology report that revealed she has stage 1 breast cancer. This has hit us as a family, but we know God is in control, and He loves us and will give us the strength to go through it. The doctor says she will have surgery scheduled on April 1st, and then 6 weeks of radiation. I am flying back with the boys today, but Vena will stay. CTL and the hospital have helped us apply for insurance to help with the bills, and we are waiting to hear back.


In Uganda, by 2006, we had only one cancer radiation machine that broke down, and it took two years to get the two machines we have now. In a country of 40 million people, it is hard to use them and receive treatment. After seeing a local specialist, we have been informed that because of high numbers of patients waiting–it would take a patient at least 2 months for them to be able to start on radiations.

Here is how you can pray for us

  • Pray that Insurance to be approved.
  • Journey mercies as I travel with the boys today.
  • Comfort and strength especially for Vena as she won’t be with us for a while.
  • Vena is trying to find a local Christian school to volunteer at while she is waiting and is on treatment, so that she doesn’t get bored. But, also so she use her time here to learn new things that she can bring back to our school in Uganda.

Thank you for all your support and prayers.

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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.