Monday, August 17, 2015

Aug. 17

Ministry Partners,

It's hard to believe that I have been home for two week but my busy schedule tells me that it is a fact.

I have not had time to fully process all the aspects of the trip but I find that as I am sorting some of the 4,000+ photos from the trip that they remind me just a few of the miracles I watched the Holy Spirit orchestrate every day and that is not an exaggeration it is a fact. 
A beautiful new friend from the women's conference
Every trip we say it could not get better but every year we watch God do the impossible over and over again as He opens doors no man can shut and this year was just another example.

It began when the trip was first announced and he provided just the right team member in Chad. IRM and I have been so blessed to have Africans and Americans work with us who have a servants heart and see the value in what God has called all of us to be a part of in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Of course I knew we would watch God do great things as the attacks from the enemy to get my focus in the ditch continued until my time of departure but I learned some time ago to use each "attack" as an opportunity to give God praise for His control, goodness and faithfulness. Upon arriving in Rwanda we discovered that our Rwandan partners were also dealing with attacks from the enemy.

The teams could only praise and worship God as we watched the Holy Spirit bring 1,000's to saving knowledge in Jesus Christ, more that any other trip and the same was true with those who chose to "forgive others or themselves". The powerful teaching on forgiveness is important for everyone but I find it is very difficult for some people to extend forgiveness to others although they claim God's forgiveness for themselves. Our time in Africa gave the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in the hearts of villagers, prisoners, officials and team members.
 

Scripture teaches that salvation is all God's work. Those who believe are saved utterly apart from any effort on their own (Titus 3:5). Even faith is a gift of God, not a work of man (Eph. 2:1-5,8).


I remain thankful for IRM's wonderful American partners who continue to support this ministry with their prayers and financial support who supplied the $64,500 needed for our Africa fiscal year budget, ministry trip budget and Africa Bible Project.
 "THANK YOU"
 
I will have my new power point presentation ready for viewing in a couple of weeks. If you have not already contacted me for a showing or you would like to receive my newsletter just email me at:
arlene.tatum@gmail.com with Africa presentation in the subject line

As far as a 2016 ministry trip to Africa ........... I plan on following God's leading, as I do each year, and wait for Him to open the door but in that vane please pray for God's perfect will to be revealed and wisdom for the IRM leadership.
Bye for now

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Aug. 3

Ministry Partners,

Today is my last morning to be awakened by the pounding rain outside and yet there was no time to lay there and enjoy the smell and sounds of God's provision for this beautiful country not forgetting that although there was resulting puddles there also was less red dirt flying.

I repacked some and gave away more, all the while praying that the weight would be alright and not over.

We were unable to have our last breakfast in the garden but did have it under the porch while discussing the events of the day. When I arrived back at my room there was a envelope under my door, it was from Julius. A long beautiful handwritten letter accompanied by a photo of his beautiful family including his sweet almost 2 yr. old baby girl.

We had a wonderful lunch with the Gov. officials we had worked with and then it was time to go back to home base for the last time for me, Alfred and Aaron will stay one more night since after taking me to the airport for my flight it will be midnight before they get back, far to late to find another place to stay.

When we arrived back at the hotel I had one of the staff come and need to talk for a bit then I called Alfred and we prayed together with them. Pray for God's leading and provision for O.

As we were loading up and about to pull out Julius appeared with pineapple, cut and fixed to transport, for us to snack on as we took the 2 1/3 - 3 hour journey to the airport in Entebbe. It's not that long a drive in miles but the traffic makes it that way. I am still amazed that in the dark with no street lights the vendors who are cooking absolute everything and others selling their wares can carrying on such business as the streets and "sidewalk areas" are filled with people. Many are not there during the day but appear at or after dark.

God was again so gracious to me as he know how nervous I get at check-in when I am by myself. Security check-in in Rwanda and Entebbe is at the entrance of the airport so no one is able to wait in line with me or accompany me to the counter. But this time Alfred told them, like he had last year with different results, that I was disabled and need help with getting my luggage checked in AND they told him to go ahead with me to the counter. GOD'S GOODNESS IS ALWAYS AMAZING!!! Alfred helped me get everything checked in and even the bag I had concerns about weighing too much was fine.

Then it was time to say goodby to my very special son. It seems to get harder for both of us as we don't know what God may have in mind for next year. 

Alfred, Arlene, Aaron & Geoffrey

Goodby Africa ~~~~~~ Portland, here I come ................

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Aug. 2

Ministry Partners,

I would have thought I was in Oregon as I woke  this morning to the sound of rain falling outside my open windows. One thing about it is that those who clean all the outside tile walkways and steps will not have to splash water on them to wipe them clean this morning. As we finished eating Julius came by and when I requested a photo with him he said that's why he came by, he also wanted one.
By the time we had finished breakfast, and not in the garden today, the rain  had stopped although it was still overcast.

Upstairs in a conference room, adjacent to the guys room, they were up last night practicing their music for the crusade that would take place there today. So I am happy for those coming on the most popular mode of travel, motor bikes, that the rain has stopped. I am happy my room is on ground level so I do not have to climb the stairs and I can have our portable sound system in my room thereby also being ably to play Lugandan Christian music while it is charging for the next day. My room maid said they will miss me and they will miss hearing my music. Many of them have told me how much they appreciate hearing the music as they work.

Julius laughed today when  he said that when he first heard them practicing for the crusade .... it was quite loud ..... he thought I had taken my sound system outside and turned it up more than usual.

It was difficult after breakfast to face the fact of packing up the sound system and other items that needed to be wrapped well and taped shut in an effort to preserve things clean and well if God brings me back next year. Geoffrey told Alfred that the church had a sound system and ours would not be needed BUT it just seemed far to final as I placed the tape on each box!

Pastor Geoffrey arrived about 10 and as soon as the guys had everything loaded for the day we were off to the church he had chosen for us to minister in. Imagine my delight when Julius climbed into our van to go with us, he wanted to hear "Mom" preach. We arrived at the church, World Healing Embassy, while their choir was singing and then they sang a second song in English. I am not sure it was done just to bless the visitors, us, but it did.  As we were seated one of the women in leadership came, got down on her knees, greeted me and handed me a bottle of water. Although it is their culture it is still hard for me to be greeted in such a manner.
The pastor then introduced Pastor Geoffrey who then introduced me and I introduced the team. It was another powerful day of watching the Holy Spirit work. After announcements the pastor called me forward again to close in prayer but as I was praying something interesting happened that I will share when I get home. I cannot tell you how excited they were to receive some Bibles and Booklets for their church. And I also left them with bags of ties for the men and scarves were handed out to the women as they dismissed. I was disappointed that the pastor's wife for me to was not there for me to meet but I gave him her gift and the church members seemed ever so pleased to see him holding it 
 as the gift bag appeared to be a woman's purse.
Pastor Jordan & Arlene @ World Healing Embassy

After services Julius returned to Joka's to work and we proceeded to the house Geoffrey rents to leave all the items for storage and then I took the team for a "Thank You" dinner. We had a good meal and then each shared about the impact of the trip on us and how we appreciated each other. The team shared a time of laughter and of tears. I really am blessed to be serving alongside men that have such a heart for sharing the Gospel and men who are willing to make whatever person sacrifices are necessary so that the lost hear about God's great love for them.
Arlene & Julius
 When we arrived back at home base Alfred and I worked on the final financial paperwork while Julius surprised us for a second time with a tray of ice cold pineapple to munch on while we worked.

It's so very hard to believe that this is my last night here but the packed bags in my room lend evidence to the fact.
Tomorrow is the last morning I will see this smiling face serving me breakfast
We have a luncheon scheduled for tomorrow and then the guys will take me to Entebbee to catch my very late night flight.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Aug. 1

Ministry Partners,

So the packing has began in earnest.

My room maid, Olive, is just so sweet and works so hard keeping everything in my room and other rooms so clean. I always know when she has been working in the area as even the hall has a nice clean smell to it. I asked her to choose a shawl from the stack I was going to be giving away and she had difficulty finally asking me to just pick one for her. I told her it was her shawl and I wanted her to have the one one her choice. The donated shawls and shopping bags are making such nice gifts for those who have served and cared for the IRM team while we have been here.
Olive, sweeping my room carpet .......

.......... and cleaning the tile hallway with a wet towel
 Julius, one of my "sons", who works here came to my open window to say hello and let me know he watches when I close my curtains and go to bed. He was concerned as they closed earlier than usual last night (before 11pm) and he wanted to make sure I was alright. He is such a sweet man when I mentioned that I had spoken to the manager and he had told me that they had a scale in the kitchen that I could use to weigh my suitcases, he quickly went and got it so I could weigh the bag I had been working on. As he was hooking it in the doorway the yard man that cleans the steps in the morning appeared and insisted on helping so I would not have to lift.

Well ......... one suitcase is way over, I guess I will have to consider what else I need to give away but each gift is so very special to me. It will be hard to decide, I'm thankful that I'll have a couple of days to think it over.

Alfred and I had a great "Mom - Son" time this afternoon and talked about a number  of things important to both of us, he is such a blessing to my life. When we went for dinner I just wanted something  different from the delicious African flavored foods I had eaten for the last six weeks. Last year at this time I tried pizza and I will only say ...... it did not meet my expectations or desired taste bud flavor. But tonight I felt adventurous and decided  to try something I had seen on the menu the first night I got here ........ a Joka's cheeseburger & fries. When it came the size was more that I expected for sure and the taste was pretty good EXCEPT for the sliced hard boiled egg right under the cheese which I removed. There were lots of "relish items" on the top and bottom of sliced sm. peppers and sliced sm. red onion, ect. and a little salad on the side. Even though I had to do some compressing of the bread to get my bites all and all ...... Yummm!
A scarf & shopping bag for the sweet gal that serves our evening meals.


A hamburger of GIANT proportions

Tomorrow I will be visiting a new church for me, it's another one of the churches that Pastor Geoffrey oversees, it will be my last ministry speaking time. Please pray for open hearts for the Gospel.

It is so very hard to believe six weeks has passed and I only have one more night to sleep here but I am so thankful for each day I've been here.

Good night all.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Friday, July 31, 2015

July 31





Ministry Prtners,

It was good to not have to get up until 7:30 but I still awoke at 7 and this morning it was not to rainy skies.

After breakfast we decided to change plans and make a run, crawl, into Kampala City for Alfred to  pick up his new drivers license and exchange IRM money. Pastor Aaron and I will mozie through the market that is across the street even though I have o  room for any new purchases in my luggage. I have been so blessed with gifts that in addition to the new IRM head set, teaching materials, and ect. that  must come back my cloths and personal items must also come back. All the electronic equipment must come back in my carry-on. I have already been trying to decide which things I can just give away.

We needed to park in a Security guarded parking lot and wait for Alfred to go inside and pick up his new drivers license. But as Aaron was backing up to leave he hit a raised cement edging that was around a small tree, it was similar to the ones in the states that are there to bump your tire against when parking. The guard at the entrance would not allow us to leave as he said the lot guard had notified him of what had happened. We returned to the spot of the crime and Aaron got out of the car to speak with the man. After some discussion Aaron put some money in the mans hands and we were then allowed to leave. Alfred and Aaron say, "That's Uganda" and explained that the day was hot and they needed some bottled water to drink.

After banking Alfred met us at the market and everyone took a quick look around to make sure they were not passing up a really great buy and then it was time to head back to Joka's where we have been  staying.  It was a good thing we did not plan on doing lots of shopping or errands as it poured rain as we were driving back. I was surprised that we saw no one selling pineapple on the way home, a day without pineapple ......... not sure I can make it!!!

Yesterday in one area where we traveled there are a number of speed bumps and the locals have taken it to advantage for as vehicles pull over for new passengers or traffic backs up they mob your vehicle. If your window is open you receive a barrage of fast food - bananas, matoki - peeled & roasted, beef on a stick, chicken on a stick (or pieces of both in a bag), bottled cold water or soda. It's fast food Ugandan style. I should have had Alfred buy pineapples yesterday.
Fast food - Ugandan style

Matoki - peeled & roasted
My room looks like a tornado has hit it as the sorting to give away more things begin, hummm, where did all this stuff come from anyway? But I must admit that having had those beautiful scarves, shawls and even men's ties were such a blessing to give away as a tangible gift of God's love. May each one of you who donated be richly blessed for your generosity. I have a special place picked out for the few I have left.

everyone on the team is busy doing personal things tonight, I might try to start sorting the few thingsstill in my personal suitcase in an effort to jump start my packing tomorrow OR I may just rest, finish a missionary's journey book and go to bed. Hummm, that sounds best.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July 30

Ministry Partners,

Today I woke to a very cool morning but no rain although dew covered the chairs and tables in the garden area.

After dinner last night I was doing paperwork in my room when Alfred came with Julius, the young man that works here that received Christ as his Savior last year, for me to explain the details of the eventful day at the prison yesterday. He was awe struck when we talked a few days ago and he said, "They bring the prisoners outside to hear you?" to which I responded, "No, we go inside the walls." After we had talked a bit Julius told Alfred that he had asked me a few days ago to explain how/why I felt called to visit prisons and again he said, "Why would you go to such places, they are dangerous."

I have never had a doubt in my heart that EVERYTHING about this prison ministry has been God's plan for me and that is just one reason I have never had any fear. I still do not understand it but I know the Holy Spirit has equipped me and it is by the Lord's provision and direction. I have always trusted the Savior and I am secure in Him, as I have followed His leading, while He has opened and led me through the most unusual doors. And through it all I am the one who is blessed abundantly as my heart has been filled with His peace and joy.
Roadside vendors - tomatoes anyone?

No matter where we travel roadside vendors of every kind are everywhere. Then you go 1/8 to 1/4 mile or so and more and another "village" with vendors with the same types of products are available again. The scene is repeated no matter how close or far we travel on the highway or dirt roads. It makes sense when so many do not drive but walk and carry everything for their daily needs.

Today we left at 11 for a 2+ hour drive on the West side of Kampala. We traveled through tea and sugar can plantations to an area where I did a Women's Conference with a co-op group of women the first year I was here and today I did another one there. One of the leaders is Alfred's mother-in-law who had a delicious meal fixed for us when we arrived at her home. Alfred's sister-in-law named "Praise" made the drive with us and translated for me. She looks like Blessing, Alfred's wife, and really sounds like her when she talks. She did a great job translating and said the women conveyed how thankful I had come and for the lessons I taught. She said the lessons also were a blessings to her.

The women were eating the lunch IRM provided for them when  we arrived but they started singing as soon as they saw me. After the messages I handed out Bibles and Discipleship Booklets to all the women who did not receive one the last time I was here and they gifted me with two lovely "Thank You" gifts. It was such a sweet time with these wonderful women.
Some wonderful women with Arlene

The guys arrived to pick us up after fixing the tire so it would not wobble. Are any of you laughing with me about the issues we have had over this van? Please believe me no other year has ever been like this when it came to our vehicle.

We did not arrive back at home base in Kampala until 7:30 and since they promised our spaghetti dinner in 15 min. which really meant 30 min. I opted to just work on this blog and take my hot bath afterwards.

Tomorrow is a day for IRM business and Sat. is for packing and getting ready to return home. I would appreciate grace in the writing and spelling within these blog posts as I am usually too tired to go back and proof read. But I think you get the just of what I am trying to convey.

It's about 10:30 and after literally falling asleep in the tub I think it is time for lights out!!!

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 29

Ministry Partners,

This was a very important day for me .......... as of today I have made 100 and 1 entrances into 40 different prison facilities. In 2005 when I first came the the Great Lakes Region of Africa I would NEVER have guessed that God had such a marvelous plan for me. Thank you Lord for your grace and mercy in my own life.

Today the team met for comp. breakfast as so many of the hotels/guest houses in Uganda do. Fresh fruit plate, juice, omelet, African sausages, bread and African Tea. As usual, I gave my small omelet to Alfred and opted for a bit of peanut butter on my bread as I chose not to bring my last bag of American granola with me.

Following breakfast we found a covered area outside to have our general team meeting to discuss events of the trip, what went well and what did not go so well and what we might improve on IF ..... IF God should bring me back next year. And then it began to rain, rain and rain. By 11 am when we left the hotel it had stopped raining and at least on the dirt road back to the main road there was no dust.
Roasted corn anyone?
There are times when I ask Aaron to stop the car so I can jump out and bless and elderly street merchant with a scarf and tract.

We arrived at the prison at 1:40 pm although we were to be there at 3pm.. We noticed that there was no sign at the roadside for the prison and as we drove up the "gate" was one wooden pole across the dirt driveway. Yesterday when we dropped of the Bibles, booklets and blankets for today n one was even posted there and a passing school child turned the pole to another direction so we could enter but today there was an officer there. He did not even  suggest that he would open for us as he had been brought a metal bowl which we soon surmised was his lunch and he was thereby letting us know that it was lunch time for him. Evidently his meal was not flavored quite right as soon that inmate appeared again with one of his hands cupped with a white substance, salt, inside. We watched the officer dip his fingers in and then sprinkle the salt on his food. The inmate then threw the remaining white granules to the wind and brushed off his hand. Pastor Aaron said, "Ugandan germs move slowly." to which all of us had to laugh.

Finally the pole was moved and we were allowed to enter and park only to be addressed by the same officer that told us to be there at 7am as he said, "I see you changed the time of your being here." We explained that his superior had requested the time change and with that he turned on his heel and disappeared. As we waited we watched some inmates making bricks out of clay dirt, the sun was out by then and it looked so hot, dry and dirty.

It was 2:30 before we were allowed to set up but the inmates were singing as we entered the common area where 71 men and 5 women were. The assistant O.C. graciously welcomed us but appeared to be a very stern gentleman. These Ugandan work prison camps are so different from the Rwandan prisons and seem to be run more like the Rwandan TIG camps although these prisoners only eat once a day.  There was an African shrub surrounding the common area but no high brick walls.

I was just starting my message when two incidents happened of which has never happened in all my prison facility visits. If you want to know more about it you will have to come somewhere when I am doing a P.P.P. as I feel it would be better not to discuss it here.

It was more than evident that Satan did not want us here today BUT the Holy Spirit had once again gone before us and prepared the hearts of the inmates for the truth of the Gospel, praise you Jesus!

The O.C. and Arlene
We left the prison and were headed for Kampala when Geoffrey received a call from the O.C. that we had missed at the prison as he was headed there and coming from Kampala. He wanted to see us so we pulled off the road and waited , within a few minutes there he was, a young tall good looking man with a very welcoming demeanor. After a few moments conversation he decided he was also my son and agreed to allow Alfred to take a photo of us. He invited us back anytime and thanked us for our ministry time at the prison.

We made it back to Kampala in record time for a nice hot bath, dinner and as soon as I get this posted, I am off to bed. We will be leaving tomorrow morning and traveling a distance to do the Women's Conference that we added last week.

Your prayers today were felt, keep them coming!!!!!

That none would be lost,
Arlene

July 28

Ministry Partners,

It's hard to believe that in six days I will be flying home ........ I'm not ready.

I am up early today as there is a ....... quite close to where we are staying and even with earplugs the call to worship at 5 am usually prevents any further sleep and today is one of those days. Sunday Pastor John was telling us that the M...... are making quite a push for the young people graduating from high school telling them that they will see to it that they will go on to college to become layers if they will become a M......  . I must admit I see them everywhere, with the women and young girls, even very young girl children wearing their burkas (?) in varying degrees. Please pray for the truth of the Gospel to be known in this country.

Today our van was quite packed a we needed to take the allotted Bibles & booklets for each prison, the blankets the prison authorities had us purchase for them as well as our water and lunch supplies and our small suitcases.we traveled quite a distance to visit our 7th prison but first we passed by the prison we will do ministry in tomorrow just to let them know we will be there tomorrow. It was a good thing as they told us that they send them to court at 10 so if we want to minister to all 71 prisoners then we need to be there shortly after 7 in order to present everything as most of them would be gone at 10am. Since we are staying 45 - 60 minutes away we will have to pack the car by 6, gobble down the complimentary breakfast and be on the road no later than 6:30. Tomorrow will be another long day but it is the last prison for this trip.

Officer in Charge & Arlene
We made it to Ssaza Prison by 2:30 and were kept waiting outside the large metal doors for quite a while although Pastor Geoffrey gave them our letter from the Prison Commissioner. Then the guard allowed us to pull our van inside but we were told to wait for the O.C. which we did. When he arrived he was a round faced gentleman with a most broad and charming smile who graciously welcomed us. He agreed tome having my photo taken with him and when I told him I was 71 and "Mama" to many and asked for permission to give him a hug as the photo was being taken he laughed out loud and agreed. I then noticed that a paper sheet with some good advise was posted on his wall and asked if I could take a photo of it and he gave permission. I told him the advise was good for Ugandans and for Americans.

I was told we did not have full time so I clipped what I could of my messages and Alfred got a few extra minutes so we were able to complete everything. At one point in my testimony I talk about never hearing "I love you" from my parents as a child growing up (most Americans did not say it back then) and how the best gift they can give their children is free and I challenge them at every opportunity to tell their children, "I love you, Jesus loves you, God has created you unique and special and he has a good plan for your life, I love you." I tell  them it will speak such value into the lives of their children and then I ask them how many of them wish they had heard that from their parents .......... and the response is heartbreaking as they ALL raise their hands.

One prisoner spoke of what our coming had meant to the inmates and I finished by giving the 7 women prisoners a hug, African greeting and a beautiful scarf. It's so interesting some of the reactions and gestures we see from the inmates. One of the women who appeared to be M....... was a bit standoffish from the beginning but made both the decision for salvation and to forgive someone else or yourself but when I gave her the scarf she hugged me solidly and when I went to the next women I saw her put the folded scarf up to her face and bury her complete face in it. I had to then turn in another direction so I don't know how long she held it there. May she know the pure peace of God in her life!

We will stay overnight here and then on the way back to Kampala area tomorrow we sill stop and do ministry in our 8th and final prison. But extra good new, thank you Jesus for the special blessing as Geoffrey called and talked to the O.C. at tomorrows prison and it seems the man earlier today gave us the wrong info about us needing to be there so early tomorrow. The O.C. wants us there at 2pm so we do not need to leave here until noon. Yippee, I can sleep in as breakfast is not until 8 and then we will have a team meeting covering the events of the mission trip.
Talapia, chips & salad



Tonight everyone, including me, had a deep fried whole fish, Talapia w/ clips and salad while we ate outside under the palm trees. It was good but TOO MUCH FOOD.

I will miss a hot bath tonight as my room only has an "African type Shower" but I am almost too tired to care.

Another day to give God praise for His faithfulness and goodness.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27

Ministry Partners,

Today started out hot and sunny and of all days we had to go to the City Center for Alfred to exchange some IRM money for schillings and to purchase more air time so I could continue to post the blogs. Today it cost $30, again, so I will be even more diligent in how I use it and do the blog writing in an open blog page but not connected to the internet and when I am ready to add photos and actually post then I will connect to the internet. We will see if that will take me up to flight time next Monday. With all the traffic,people and blacktop it seems even hotter there. Aaron and I would need to wait in the hot car for Alfred to return, it's just faster when he does those kinds of errands alone.
Pastor Aaron actually fell asleep as I played Solitaire on my iPhone. 

Pastor Geoffrey arrived a short time before Alfred returned and then it was off to >>>>>>>> Prison. I try so hard to get good unusual shots as we travel but inevitably when I turn the camera off to save the battery then there is not time to turn  it back on before I have missed capturing it. Like the camel, a motor bike piled high with open flats of raw eggs or the lady with about 20 stools stacked on her head as she walked down the edge of the road. Sorry about that, I'll try better!

It's nice having air conditioning in the van but then when you get out you really feel the heat.
Arlene at Mpigi Prison

We arrived safely at Mpigi Prison and the OC said I could have a photo with her for my report BUT I would have to wait until she went home to put on her regulation blouse and she had on a regular summer dress, she assured us that she lived close.


There were not quite 100 at this prison with 8 being women, I did not see any children. As the men were seeing to it that the inmates unloaded the van and took everything to the appointed place I asked if I could use the toilette and a small brick structure just outside the confines of the prison was pointed out to me. I knew I was headed for a  pit toilette but at that point it did not matter but as I was walking back up the knoll to the van a woman that was washing her clothing in a tub spoke, Lugandan, and held out a bar of soap and a container of water. Goodness, how thoughtful of her to provide a way for me to wash my hands even though I could not communicate with her. As soon as I had washed my hands I made my way to the van and got a scarf and tract, asked Alfred the Lugandan word for "Thank you" and made my way back to where the woman was working. We really did not need words as we smiled at each other and I put the scarf in her hands but I still tried to pronounce what Alfred had told me. Maybe her broad smile was because of the way I tried to pronounce it but it really did not matter.

The prisoners were already assembled under a porch like area when we got inside, while the women were seated under a shade tree on some grass while the translators and I were once again in the direct sun. While the men finished setting up I went over and greeted all the women. I can so tell from their reaction that it  is not something they are used to. I was glad that this prison had electricity as then I could use my headset and not a handheld mic..

I can tell you that once I start preaching I really don't notice the sun but for a brief time I did notice the bit of shade produced by a cloud, thank you Jesus! And I did notice that the OC had returned wearing her official blouse & outfit. She as well as the guards stayed through the crusade and discipleship time and when we finished she had some very positive thing to say about what we taught as did one of the prisoners.

The Holy Spirit did an amazing job again today in the hearts of the inmates and officials.
The drive home was long but I guess in good preparation for tomorrow as we will travel even longer to get to that prison but I will write more about that tomorrow.

You know some things you just take for granted until you don't have it. Although I have a huge bathtub here I have not had a nice hot bath since I have been here and cold showers/baths are not my first choice. Besides it would be SO helpful for my back and legs, after bouncing around all day on these roads, if I could just "soak" for awhile in a hot bath. WELL, tonight I finally got one and I can tell you I did not want to even get out for dinner. I was so thankful that I did go to the front desk and thank them as I wanted them to know how much I appreciated it.
Hoof of cow

Alfred finally did it ......... he had "hoof of cow" for dinner w/ french fries while I had salad and spaghetti. I know .....I'm not a very adventurous eater but oh well!!!!

Are days are winding down but we are not, there is still much to be done. During our prayer time today Pastor Aaron thanked God for the safety He has provided this team in all the travels we have done here over the less than desirable roads and I was reminded to thank you again for your prayer covering. It is so appreciated.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

July 26

Ministry Partners,

What a wonderful day to worship God and so we did at the church of Foursquare pastor, Rev. John Kamanzi  who is currently the National Leader of Hope For New Life Ministries in Kampala, Uganda. I have been trying to touch bases for sometime and finally obtained his contact number through a Google search prior to coming. When I spoke to him on the phone he invited me to share this morning but first wanted to chat for a bit in his office. When we arrived at his office there was an FMI gentleman also there. 
Arlene & Pastor John
Pastor John was most gracious and welcoming to us and we had a great chat, I instantly liked him. His beautiful wife's name is Pauline and they have 4 children, the youngest is the most darling little boy.
I was surprised at how large and beautiful his church was after being used to other village churches.
Pastor John's Foursquare Church

A bit of John's bio:
Rev. John Kamanzi was himself an orphan; when he was just 13, war claimed both of his parents and he became the head of his family. He gave his life to Jesus at the age of 18, and soon felt called to counsel surviving youth.  His initial ministry as a Youth Pastor rapidly grew. In 2008, through association with Warm Blankets Orphan Care International, John was introduced to the Church Orphan Home Model. Childhood restoration and raising disciples among surviving orphans remains his passion. Rev. John life to Jesus at the age of 18, and soon felt called to counsel surviving youth.  His initial ministry as a Youth Pastor rapidly grew. In 2008, through association with Warm Blankets Orphan Care International, John was introduced to the Church Orphan Home Model. Childhood restoration and raising disciples among surviving orphans remains his passion.

The worship was wonderful and I even recognized some  of the Lugandan songs they were singing as songs by a Ugandan Christian that I have been playing at home and in my car for over a year now. The service went well with many making decisions. I preached for 1 hour and 15 min. and I had to laugh when John and missionary agreed that too many ............... (I'm not going to repeat the denomination) pastors speak for 15 min. and think that's good. Yeessh ... I like these two men. John said he had to nudge his wife when I started preaching and my theme was "Fear" as he had just preached last Sunday about that very same topic.

We had not planned on having lunch at John's home as we had to get to a prison but John's wife fixed a delicious traditional lunch for us and it is the first time I have eaten matoki (a type of green banana) and liked it. I have had it fixed every which way over the years but never liked it until today and with the sauce, yummm. Our Meal and fellowship was over far to soon and we were on our way.

It was about an hours drive to the prison and Pastoy Geoffrey met us on the way. There were about 145 inmates at the prison and there were no women there. The men sat under a covered overhang but Alfred, Aaron and I preached & translated while out in the sun. But the men were ever so attentive and from the responses it was evident the Holy Spirit had done his work.

Tonight I am a tired servant after preaching twice was such a joy and what powerful memories. Tomorrow is another prison.

Your faithful prayers matter, keep them coming!

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 25

Ministry Partners,

Today appears to be a very interesting day as Pastor Geoffrey has been working on a area wide open air village crusade. I would like to say I know what that means here but I don't as this will be a first for me in this country.

About 9:30 am Pastor Cornelius and his wife came for a visit. I first met him at one prison years ago, in 2006, as he was the head pastor of all the incarcerated pastors. I found him to be very soft spoken and mild mannered and although I had wondered as to why he was in prison I never really wanted to know.
Photo from 2006 - Alfred, Arlene & Pastor Cornelius
I wanted to have an opinion of him by what I saw him say/do and how he treated me and those with me as he was involved with the Spiritual Leader Training that IRM presented at his prison. A few years ago when I returned to that prison they told me he had been released but the warden gave us his contact info and he made the long trek to see me in Kigali. It was then I found out that he had been in prison for 5 1/2 years and when they finally had his trial they found he was innocent. He told me, "But I am not bitter for being in prison for I know God sent me there so I could share the Gospel." His comment reminded me of the Apostle Paul.

Pastor Cornelius contacted me some time ago a let me know that he was now in Uganda so although he lives about 3 hours from where I am he agreed to come and see me. It was so good to see him, finally meet his wife and find out about his family and church. He said the work of IRM must continue and he wants to be instrumental in getting IRM registered in Uganda as an NGO but I told him that  would take much prayer and a clear direction from the Lord to pursue any registration here.

He brought me a report with photos of his testimony and my heart was broken as I read how violently he had been tortured. He said he kept the death records while in prison and many died because they just plain lost hope. But the God sent an angle, me, and as I shared the Gospel and gave Bibles the prisoners began to once again have hope and the death tole went down. He also spoke about the many "children" I now have and that one day we will be able to celebrate together in heaven.
Arlene renews a friendship w/ Pastor Cornelius & his wife
Their two hour visit was far to short but hearing these and other things from him make me realize how very small the hassles and trials in my own life are and how very many lives God has allowed me  to share his love with.

The rest of the afternoon and crusade was not what I expected but at one point the afternoon found me sitting on the roadside engaging about 10 very darling children of various ages with the youngest one saying over and over, "How are you?" I wish I had had my camera but it was in the van.

We arrived back at home base from the crusade about 8pm and I went straight to bed. Tomorrow will be a full day with The Foursquare Church in the morning and a prison in the afternoon.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Friday, July 24, 2015

July 24

Ministry Partners,

As I waited for breakfast to be served in the garden  this morning I noticed the sky was overcast as it was yesterday. There was such a downpour of rain early yesterday afternoon that it was the Lord's faithfulness that it did not interfere with the crusade for that last prison that we went to, Kitala Prison.
Kitata Prison

With everyone out in the open it was God's provision for sure that the rain had stopped a bit before we arrived.

On our travels yesterday we went past a portion of Lake Victoria where they get the huge Nile Perch that I see them selling alongside the road.
A small piece of Lake Victoria


The team spent some time after breakfast today looking at our schedule for the remaining days and how our ministry might be the most effective. With the rearranging that was necessary to do yesterday it created an open day on July 31 so it was decided I would do a Women's Conference that day.

My room is on floor level with the entry courtyard right out side so I hear lots of people coming and going as well as their conversations which of course I do not understand but there is always much laughter which is universal. 

Our plan for the day was to go to Butuntumura Prison but we are ever aware that the Lord's plan might be very different. It is a distance away so we will load the van at 10:30 and pull out at 11. Pastor Geoffrey is preparing for the village crusade tomorrow so he was not with us today.

Hysterical laughter filled our van as Alfred drove us the long drive to the prison and part way there we were involved in a traffic jam more than usual and imaging our surprise when we discovered that we were part of a parade through the countryside for the Democratic Party of Uganda. People along the sides of the road and the filled vans of celebrators that we passed were cheering and waving at us and we were laughing so hard as Alfred kept passing cars and vans to get us away from the demonstration. Then all of a sudden there were the police stopping all lanes of traffic demonstrators BUT us as they did not even seem to see us as our van proceeded.
100+ buses, vans & cars in the Democratic Party parade

We arrived at Butuntumura Prison with 150 inmates (5 women) pretty much on time and were graciously welcomed by the OC (Officer in Charge) whose name was Charles, who told me that he had only been there two months. They originally had us in a cramped covered area but Alfred asked if we could be outside where we could get some air to which the OC agreed. At the end officer Charles had some kind words about our ministry time there and firm words of instruction for the prisoners. In the van on the way back to home base Aaron commented on how the inmates in the front row had made comments as I shared my personal story and how some of the women were crying. It never ceases to amaze me how the Holy Spirit takes our "ashes" and creates something beautiful to touch the hearts of others.

I so appreciate our portable battery operated sound system and the prisoners singing a couple of songs for us as we packed.
 
We had a very late lunch of salami sandwiches and the drive home was exceptionally quick, 1 hr & 30 min., for a Friday evening and it seemed strange getting back at 5:30 before dark and traffic thickened. And we even stopped for Alfred to purchase 3 more pineapples for us to have following our evening meals.

It was another amazing day of watching God work.
Thanks again for your much needed faithful prayer covering.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 23

Ministry Partners,

Today as we sat and waited, waited, waited for our 8 am breakfast we were a bit confused as it did not come although we watched others being served. Finally after 30 min. since no server was around Alfred called the tile cleaning man over and explained our situation. Off he went to the kitchen returning with the paper the receptionist had written on and there it was in black and white ...... she had made a mistake and written 9 am.. While waiting for our breakfast to arrive Aaron decided to take the van to be washed while I went and got a menu to see what I might find for dinner. I am so tired at night I don't feel like trying to find something to eat so have opted for their style of spaghetti and coleslaw the last 4 nights. As I asked Alfred to explain words I could not decipher his response to one, KIGERE, caused me to burst out in laughter. He said," Oh that's "foot of a cow!" and I said,"You mean the hoof?' to which he said, "Here in Uganda we eat everything." I decided no more questions were needed.
KIGERE = The foot of a cow
WELL, I don't think I will be ordering that but I so wish you were here Chad as you probably would order it. I was raised on a farm where we raised, butchered our own and ate lots of different animal parts but cow feet was not one of them. But Pork Hawaiian sounded like a possibility, with Alfred's or Aaron's help I'll have to question the servers later tonight about that menu item.

The tile cleaning man is a very interesting fellow. He is older than most staff I have seen around here and is always busy in a very enthusiastic fashion. A few days ago he appeared to be skating across the floor tile as he drug the towel attached to a long pole behind him or sometimes in front of him. 
He works hard keeping everything wiped down, floors, tables and counters but all with the same cloth
That is an improvement over last year when he bent over holding the towel in his hands as he cleaned the floor. Today I told him if I had a bushiness I would hire him as he is such a hard worker. He smiled broadly, put his hands together, bowed and said,"Thank you, thank you."
After about another 25 minutes our breakfast arrived by two new servers we had not seen before.

At 10:30 we loaded  the car and headed off West through busy Kampala City to the prison we were to go to today arriving at just about 2 pm the perfect time to began only to learn that ALL the prisoners were out working and Sunday is the only day they would be available to us so the decision was made to return Sunday afternoon after I preach that morning in the Foursquare Church. It will be a VERY long day so please pray for me and the team.

Then we decided to travel East back through Kampala City to the Entebbe area  where we were to minister at a prison there, just to make them aware that we would be there tomorrow so they could have prisoners there but due to a miss-communication found that they had expected us yesterday and wanted us to minister to the 104 assembled inmates this afternoon ..... it was after 4pm but we opted to do as requested leaving tomorrow for a different prison. Being flexible here is not an option but a prerequisite.

It was almost 9pm as we made it one more time through Kampala outskirts to our home base. A tired team we all were and I can tell you I was happy to help unload and make it to my room for a quick hot bath before eating a bite. Which leads me to the Pork Hawaiian I had Alfred order for me, he was so tired he just ordered it for himself too, although he had never had it before.
Pork Hawaiian
It was delicious with the sauce poured over the rice, the pork had pineapple & onions cooked with it, the was a bit of coleslaw and then of course the inevitable fries. We topped our meals off with some fresh pineapple Alfred had picked up for me at roadside. As a whole ........ DELICIOUS!!!!

Tomorrow is another long day so I am off to bed early 10:10pm.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 22

Ministry Partners,

Indeed, it is hard to believe that we have already been in Uganda and in only two weeks I will be flying back to America.

Although I miss the ease, usually, of getting around on our roads and freeways  I know when I get home I will miss seeing people everywhere and when you extend a smile and greeting one is returned to you from the locals here.

Today after breakfast we had to wait a bit to load up as Aaron had to take the car in, this time to have a flat fixed. Somehow Alfred got a puncture and had the spare put on but we did not want to travel out of town today with our spare already on as we were fairly sure the trails we would be on would require four sturdy tires.
That darling baby girl with Arlene
Pastor Geoffrey's spiritual daughter came by with her baby and I did not need to be coached into holding her sweet three month old darling baby girl.

As we finished loading up Alfred's next youngest sister arrived to go with us for the day. I can tell you one thing for sure, Alfred's birth mother must have been very beautiful as both girls are also beautiful and Alfred is handsome. Alfred says my assessment of his mother is correct.

We got waylaid in Kampala City so our arrival at Sentama Prison, a change from Butuntumula Prison where we though we were going yesterday, was not until shortly after 3. The Director was not present but we were warmly greeted by the Assistant Director, a very small older woman. This is another small prison on 145 with 10 women and 2 babies.
A day at Sentema Prison
The Director informed us the women are kept in a secure area and not allowed where she had instructed us to set up but after a conversation with Alfred she agreed to allow them to also be present. With no electricity I was unable to use my wireless mic so I decided not to use one of the cordless mic's that go with our battery operated sound system. By the time I try to hold my Bible, turn pages in my message and hod a mic it just becomes TOO much. It's far more important for them to hear the interpreters.  

All of the inmates were under a cover while the guys and I were in the sun so I quickly put on some sun screen on my forehead and nose, the last thing I need now is a sunburn. Pastor Geoffrey, Ann, the Director, a woman guard and another woman all sat on benches adjacent to where the prisoners were.

Afret the crusade and the discipleship teaching time I explained about the blankets, Bibles and Discipleship Booklets we had brought and then I pulled out the bag of lovely donated scarves and when to where the women were seated.They stood as I approached and giggled as I kissed each one on the cheek, placed the scarf in her hand and gave her a hug. I noticed how the watching men were also laughing ....... only later when I questioned Alfred about it did I understand. In their culture they would kneel before me in greeting, Alfred said both the men and the women were surprised and valued by my actions. Goodness I am so glad I greeted them first and so very thankful for everyone who donated thos beautiful scarves.

As the team was packing up I explained to the inmates how much I enjoyed hearing them sing with no instruments asking them if they would sing a worship song or two and one young man quickly came forward to lead them.

As the women were filing out back to their quarters two speaking  English said to me, "Please remember to pray for us". Please do remember, along with me, to pray for them.

The Director said some kind and gracious words about us to the prisoners and later to me as I was about to enter our van.

A short way from the prison we stopped and gave God praise for what we had watched  the Holy Spirit do and then ate our Peanut Butter sandwiches since we had not had time before. The rutted, narrow dire road did not seem quite so long as it had on the way there as we were quickly back at the main road but before arriving there I spotted an old woman walking along the road on my side. As we passed I looked at her and our eyes met then she not only smiled but waved before I got a chance too. I had Alfred stop the van as I got into my backpack and retrieved a tract and scarf. I greeted her and as I placed the scarf in her hands her smile got even bigger. Thank you Jesus for another great opportunity to share your love in a tangible way.  


Sharing God's love in a tangible way
It was well after dark before we arrived back at home base, everyone a bit tired but grateful for our amazing day.

Alfred called Pastor C., a former Rwandan prisoner/pastor who took our Spiritual Leader Training at Nsinda Prison who is now living in Uganda to invite him to accompany us to our crusade on Sat.. It will be good to see him again. Alfred also contacted Pastor John from the Foursquare Church here to ask for directions and advise him that we planned on meeting him and enjoying his church service this Sunday. It appears we will not just be attending but I will be preaching as well. He laughed when I told him I had planned on hearing him preach and then he said, "Next time."

That none would be lost,
Arlene