Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June 13 -

Ministry Partners,

It's hard to believe I have been home five days but it was great to be at New Life Church and Rolling Hills Community Church Singles this last Sunday to see some of you and sleeping in my own bed has not been bad either!

I have started sorting some of the 2,500 - 3,000 photos to use in my power points as well as working on a report for New Life pastors and Church Council and then there is a newsletter that I need to get out to all of you.

So many of you have told me to get some rest but there are so many details that need to be done to finalize this 2017 trip.

I have something very special to share with you.
In case you did not read my post from May 7, I shared with you about the following Ordination/Coronation of a Bishop that I attended. Now I will share the details as follows:

Today was a VERY long but ever so interesting a day. From 10am until 6pm about 300 guests were able to witness the Coronation/ Ordination service of a Bishop, I’m not sure what one is like in the states but I can tell you the Ugandan people and those from the neighboring countries of Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda made it a celebration to remember. There was a worship time to begin and then there were speakers from each country and then a delicious buffet meal was served about 2pm. That was followed by testimonials, a pastor singer and dancers from Kenya and pastor singers from Rwanda ending with a prayer over and a short speech by the new Bishop who was thereafter referred to as Reverend Bishop and that's me!
Pastors from Uganda, Sudan, Kenya & Rwanda pray over me
Pastors Pauline, John & Arlene
Foursquare Rev. Bishop John & Foursquare Rev. Bishop Arlene

These men & women pastors traveled from Rwanda for my ordination
 Before closing the festivities Foursquare Bishop John and the new Reverend Bishop cut a beautiful 4 tiered cake that was quite delicious. Once cut the cake was "chopped" in pieces piled onto a plate with it then passed for everyone to take a piece of until the plate was empty, when another full plate was ready and continued to pass to those eagerly waiting.

The  Ordination/Corination Cake made by Uganda Foursquare
Bishop John Kamanzi's wife, Pastor Pauline
Those of you who personally know me know that I am not big on titles but the African Pastors, Gov. Officials, prisoners and villagers that I meet are. So with approval from my covering pastor, Ron Swor,  I gave my approval for the pastors in Africa to go ahead with my ordination as Bishop.
I am just sure that God has a sense of humor!
And just to make you smile, here is how I introduced myself for the remainder of the ministry trip:
Good Morning/Evening, I am Rev. Bishop Arlene Tatum, but I have other names, in Rwanda they call me Mechumesa (women of honor), in Uganda - Victorious and in Kenya - Blessing, but the name that holds a special place in my heart is Mama Alfred and then I introduce Alfred as my adopted son followed by introducing the rest of the team.
This introduction always brings huge smiles and a round of applause.

I want to address something with those of you who took the time and actually commented on this blog or on my fb page or the IRM fb page. I really don't have the words to tell you what it meant to me to read your comments and see that you were praying when I was so sick, had a delayed flight or there was an attack of the enemy trying to take the teams and my focus off what God had called us to do and on to our circumstances. You cannot possibly imagine how your comments were so encouraging and like a sweet balm to my heart, I felt comforted.

I made you aware, before I left for Africa, of my current medical need and I will keep you informed of any developments as I find out. Although this blog will now close until the 2018 Mission Trip gears up I will be posting on  the two fb pages.

That none would be lost,

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

June 7

Ministry Partners,

Flight day has arrived.

Aaron left in the van to return to Uganda this morning at 3 a.m.. He will take IRM's things to Alfred's house for storage and then return the van to the  rental company. It's good to have a place to store our portable sound system and other remaining supplies.

Alfred and I had our final breakfast together and then he left for the airport about 8:15. Alfred echoed  my sentiments when he said, "Goodbys are hard". Being with family and friends sharing the Gospel and watching God powerfully work for 5 weeks are the things that make my heart sing and keep drawing me back here.

Although Alfred is my son and calls me Mom, here I am called "Mom" by everyone and the women in Kenya's Gulu Prison also gave me a new name so I have 5 now.  In Rwanda - Mechumesa (woman of honor), in Uganda - Victorious, in Kenya - Blessing, here in general - Mama Alfred and my personal name Arlene. They smile and applaud here when I am asked to introduce myself and I use all my names.  I'll have to try it when I get home and see what reaction I get.

I got fully packed yesterday so today as I waited for my ride to the airport it gave me time to work on sorting and filing the thousands of photos (I'm not joking here) I've taken as well as the ones Alfred took on his iPhone. I know I'm going to have a problem just trying to choose the few I actually use in my Power Point Presentations. 
Tending the goats, everyone works
I found the following photo of what it looked so often as I traveled with the guys on the IRM core team. They all seemed to gave a phone attached to their heads, Alfred making arrangements for tomorrows activities, Aaron driving and fielding calls from partners, Geoffrey contacting prisons and then there was me just taking photos and enjoying the scenery but usually I get to sit in the front left hand seat. It will hard to have to start driving myself when I return home.
Alfred and Aaron, I think those phones are permanently connected to their heads
Thank you Holy Spirit for helping me figure out how to check-in online this morning. As I wrote before, I have never boarded from a foreign country by myself but this morning after Alfred left I received an email from Delta that I could check in on line and I just wanted to see if I could do that especially since I am not very computer literate. 
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13
With His help I did it and the office here at Heart Lodge printed my boarding pass out for me, all of this should make my check in tonight easier. 

Thank you Dani Kelly for sending me off to Africa with these powerful verses
I enjoyed these verses again today. I have truly been blessed by those of you who have encouraged me with prayer, notes, fb comments and just plain loved me and forgiven me even when I did not deserve it.
Thank you to each one of you.

Lunch here today was interesting in a very pleasant way. IRM is usually in the field wherever we are so we just carry bread, peanut butter, jelly and honey with us for sandwiches but today I am in the lodge compound alone for a "real" lunch. The team of 15 or so left today, the group of 6 is in the field and my team is gone but the chef here prepared a meal for a child of the King, indeed, enough for two for sure.
When the chef started putting the many containers on the serving table I asked him if he had heated up his kitchen and prepared all that food for me, his response with a huge smile was, "Yes".

Generally the beef and chicken here is a bit tough but today I was prepared the best beef I have ever had in Africa. The pan seared beef medallions were so tender and delicious I could have eaten a second serving but did not. The rest of the meal was delicious too with round cut, deep fried baby potatoes, broccoli and julianne cut carrots served and pan seared separately, just until tender with a little butter.  The meal was topped off with vanilla/strawberry ice cream topped with chunks of mixed fresh fruit - pineapple, watermelon and papaya.
The chef smiled even bigger when I told him how wonderful the meal was and then he informed me that he would have something prepared for me a bit early since my airport transport would be picking me up at 6:30.

I will write one more blog post after I return home so that's pretty much it for today as I try to take a nap and then make final preparations to set off for my American home. Since I was unable to purchase some of the tea and coffee I wanted my two bags are not overweight so please pray:
  1. That checking my bags in and boarding the plane at 10:45 for my 11:55p.m. flight goes without a hitch as well as my Amsterdam transfer.
  2. That I would be aware of any opportunities the Lord might bring to share His Gospel and that I would have boldness to do so.
That none would be lost,

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 6

Ministry Partners,

Yesterday before we arrived in Nairobi it was my final time to enjoy the culture here as we drove along with sights that are familiar in both Uganda and Kenya.
Anyone need potatoes or other veggies?

I will miss these familiar sights
 We arrived in Nairobi but not "safely". It was about 10 last night and we were about 3 miles for Heart Lodge where I had reserved rooms. I was here last year and it is a nice, quiet Christian place. Anyway, we were hit by another car just in the right tire, finder area. The three of us fell it was his error but of course he claimed it was ours so after an hour conversation it was decided they would meet at the police station today. We are outsiders and he is local so I had my concerns. Even though we were in town it was the outskirts and a bit desolate with only a bus/van stop.

Nairobi, late at night is not the safest place for a Musungu (white person) with a loaded van of "goodies to be. There were a number of young men on the street there and Alfred had concerns that at that late time in night they might rob us since when we tried to start our van and leave ........ it would not start. In all the confusion Aaron had left the lights on and the battery had run down.

But once again God stepped in to provide for us. Alfred called Heart lodge to see if they could send someone to give us a jump start, since we were so close to the lodge. The man he talked to said yes they would send someone. he came, and jump started the van but as Alfred was paying him $25 he told us he was not from Heart Lodge and then he left. When we arrived at heart Lodge they said they had never received a call from us. Alfred then checked his phone to show the man that indeed he had called the number on their pamphlet but there was NO number on his phone. His phone looked like he had never made any call!!! Was an angle involved here???? I don't know but he did take $25 for his efforts. Are you smiling at all of this? I am as I write this, it's just another time when we were in trouble and God provided for us. Praise hie name!

After breakfast the guys went to the police station I sorted my bags to come home and then the things we will send back with Aaron to store at Alfred's house. I had my concerns about the police findings as the other man was a local diplomat and we are all from other countries. Locals will tell you of the corruption in government amd police here but I do not have personal information on that.

Alfred called a while ago to say they were going to go for cost assessment of the damage to the mans car. The police said they could not determine those fault it was and we could file papers and go to court OR come to an understanding bu "mutual agreement" which ended up meaning I pay 1/2 of the bill to repair his car. The owner of our car/van said that because we filed a police report that his insurance would pay to fix ours. I guess the insurance we were required to purchase at the border was just paperwork but then at least we have a colorful sticker on the windshield that says we purchased it.

Needless to say my hope of finally going to one of the Maasai Markets, which were all a distance away, never transpired so I walked to the local market but was unable to purchase the Kenya coffee beans for gifts that I wanted or the individually wrapped Kenyan tea bags. So although I did get a few things my shopping was pretty much a bust. When the guys returned Alfred and I talked to some ladies here about any other markets in the area and there were none. I still wanted to get an authentic Kenyan dress and Alfred wanted to buy gifts for his family. I guess we will both have to check out the airport before we fly out tomorrow.

Please pray for the three of us:
  1. Aaron leaves for Uganda with our car/van in the morning at 3a.m.
  2. Due to an unforeseen issue in Australia, Alfred had to change his ticket from leaving 10 min after me to flying out at noon tomorrow.
  3. I fly out at 11:55p.m. tomorrow night. This will be the first time for me to fly out of a foreign country by myself. Alfred has always been there to help me with my bags and getting them and me through check-in. Please pray for me!!!
That none would be lost,

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5

Ministry Partners,

 It was nice eating breakfast today with Moses, Edward, Aaron and Alfred, five at the table meant not only conversation but much laughter.
Then we were off to the women's prison called, Eldoret Women's Prison. I really enjoy ministering in the women's prisons so today was also a blessing to me. We were so graciously welcomed and I could hear the women singing as we walked toward the  medium sized building filled wall to wall with smiling faces. We followed our same format and again watched the Holy Spirit work in the hearts of the inmates and officers. It's such a thrilling thing to see. After the invitation for salvation I asked one of the inmates who had accepted Christ to help me with the discipleship portion of our time together. It seems she was originally a "lifer" but now her sentence has been reduced. Her face told the story of a changed heart and she was so animated in helping me that the other inmates laughed and when I gave her a bible, hugged and kissed her on the cheek the room erupted again in laughter and clapping.

A new beginning

Once again the "Forgiveness" portion was a powerful one with inmates and officers responding. The Deputy O.C. spoke as we ended our time and said how they all needed to hear the message of forgiveness. She  thanked us for coming and asked us to please come again.

The O.C., Beatrice, invited us to her office and there we found something that has only happened one other time since I have been doing ministry. She had African tea and Chapattis prepared for us. She walked to our van with us and invited us to return anytime and asked us to promise about next year. I told her we would make it a matter of prayer and see what God would do. Then I  told her it was too bad that we could not get into the prisons after dark as we were involved with the Jesus Film Project  and I was sure the ladies would enjoy the 2 hr. film. Then God did another miracle as we found GREAT favor with her ....... she said we could come after dark and show it!!!  No prison ever allows anyone into the prisons after dark ........ but God!!!!

After leaving we went to a local restaurant and sat with Edward and Moses, the Commandant over 34 prisons to discuss getting a permit to enter unlimited prisons next year if God brings us back.
It's hard to believe that this was the last scheduled crusade of this missions trip.We left Eldoret at 4:15 for the 5 1/2 - 6 hr. drive to Nairobi.

About two hours into our trip, I was working on this blog, when I looked up only to see the grill of an approaching van almost in our grill. He was passing on a curve when he should not have been. All I had time to say was, "Please Jesus!" as I closed my eyes because I was sure we were going to be in a head on. Other than the hand of God being around our van and Aaron holding the wheel still and not trying to swerve, I have no idea how we came through without even a scratch. About 5 minutes down the road we saw this:
Thank you Jesus that this was not us
   If you have not believed me before please know ....... YOUR PRAYERS MATTER!!!!!!!!!

 It's hard to believe that this was the last scheduled crusade of this missions trip and in three more days I will be back in America.  I just must say I am NOT ready to leave!

I am going to try and post this from the van while we are traveling as I will arrive in Nairobi late.

That none would be lost,


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Minister Partners,

After the VERY poor dinner last night the comped breakfast we had this morning was a feast that we should have had last night. Two kinds of sausages, chunked of deep fried potatoes, steamed veggies, baked beans, chunks of seasoned chicken, bacon, made to order omelets, 4 kinds of juice (one of which was Avocado!!!!!), toast, fruit, 3 kinds of dry cereal and hot drinks. Yes, it was a feast. 

Pastor Edward arrived and we were off to our third prison in Eldorate, a men’s farm prison. When we asked for a few of the inmates to say what it meant for us to be there one inmate shared, “I had a tractor and property and a mob came and shot me in the leg with arrows and did so much damage to my leg that I spent some time in the hospital. When I came out of the hospital, they had taken my land and tractor and had me sent here. Since I have been here, I have been planning to take revenge on them when I get out and my attorney said I should make them compensate me for what they took. However, today I received Jesus as my Savior and I have spoken forgiveness over them. I want nothing from them and I will not take revenge on them.”

We loaded up and drove toward Eldorate, Edward in his van and us in our van. Just a few blocks from a gas station on the edge of town our van started overheating. If you have been following this blog, you already know that this trip we have had trouble after trouble with our vehicles. Never on any trip have we had so many issues and never before have we seen such provision and care from the Lord over us. In all the miles we have traveled, not once, have we been stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Every time it has been close to where we could get help AND help was always available.

Thank you Jesus for taking such good care of us!

But I must admit, today was difficult for me. Those of you who know me personally will understand what I am about to write and for the rest of you I hope you get a glimpse of my heart.
It was decided that Alfred would stay with our van and try to get it fixed while Aaron, who speaks Swahili fluently, would go with me in Edwards van to the men’s prison 20 minutes’ drive away. Never before in 141 entrances into 68 different prison facilities have I ever gone into a men’s prison without Alfred. Alfred is not only my Vice-President and Coordinator, who translates for me and watches out for me, he is my trusted son who is always looking out for me that I am safe. Watching his face as we drove away knowing I was going into that men’s prison without him was TOUGH and that word does not even fit.

But Jesus, my protector, was with me and he taught me long ago that I never have to be afraid to do what I know he has called me to do, He has promised to go before me and behind me. He also provided Pastor Aaron and tall Chaplin Edward to fill in, of sorts, for Alfred.
We arrived quickly at the prison and entered into a large field where 500+ prisoners were gathered. Over to one side were some buildings that were built by the Colonial Masters and at times now are still used for overflow prisoners today.

I noticed the rain clouds overhead and prayed that the lord would hold back the rain. But shortly after I began to speak it started to sprinkle so out loud I prayed again asking Jesus to hold back the rain but it did not stop.

They began directing the prisoners and us into a nearby building were we could all fit. As we walked toward the building, I told Aaron and Edward to pray for me, as I knew the Holy Spirit wanted me to talk about what just happened when I prayed or should I say did not happen when I prayed but I was not sure what.

The space was cramped but adequate when everyone got inside and the Holy Spirit gave me an on the spot message about the ways God answers prayers and trusting God when we don’t get what we ask for or when God “seems” silent. I ended with a testimony from one of the inmates this morning who said that when God did not answer his prayer to be set free at trial with a yes, he decided to not serve God again. Nevertheless today changed many things for him.

Then I proceeded with a regular crusade where so very many received Christ and prayed the prayer of forgiveness. One prisoner gave a testimony that brought me to tears as he admitted to the other prisoners that he had had quarrels and arguments with many of the other inmates and today he was asking them to forgive him. Everyone responded with applause and as he handed me the mic I put my arms around him and gave him a huge hug, then the room erupted in applause and cheers. What a moment!!!!!
Asking forgiveness from his peers
 We finished as the inmates got into a LONG line outside to eat their evening meal. They waved to me as I left and many hollered, “Come back.”

We drove back to Eldorate to find corrections had been made in the cooling system and Alfred had found us a place to stay. The Commandant of Prisons, Moses (whom I met last year), came and had dinner with us and we had a brief meeting. He also stayed the night here.

I guess that wraps up the day and it is 11pm here. Time for me to shower and go to bed. Tomorrow I go to our fifth prison in Kenya.

Keep praying, your prayers are being answered and with a yes!!
That none would be lost,