Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23 – I’m home

Ministry Partners,

I arrived home last night about 10:15, thanks, Fran & Holly for picking me up at the airport. Jesus answered my prayer yes as my neighbors were home so I was able to pick up my extra house key from them and I did not have to call a Lock Smith.

Today as I looked through some photos taken on the July 21st, my last day in Uganda, there was this photo that really is so typical of the culture and sights of Uganda. Side by side roadside vendors include, left to right:
Housewares, Unisex Salon, Butcher, Veg. Market & Fast food Samoas and Pepsi
Note: Butcher offers - Beef, Hooves, Offals (intestines), Minced (ground) meat, Bones & Ect. (???)

And this photo illustrates the joy of these new believers who each received a copy of God's Word and a Discipleship Booklet. 
1 village woman, 2 former Muslim's who now know the true Savior, Arlene & 1 room maid

I haven’t had time to really reflect on the trip as of yet but I can tell you that I have memories that will last a lifetime of God’s faithfulness, grace and downright love for me, a daughter of the King.

As of this year I have been a Christian 50 years and each year keeps getting better. I learn more about God’s love and grace for me and I am thankful He keeps working on my character. I get in the way sometimes when I worry about circumstances that are out of my control but you would think after 50 years I’d know better …… I am still learning! I guess that’s why I identify with the scripture “help though my unbelief.”

Each example of worrisome circumstances beyond my control were times where the Savior was always there to rescue me, just like He did Peter. And through it He was providing me another opportunity to grow in faith in Him for the NEXT time those circumstances come I will be able to trust Him without any hidden worry.

He really does open doors no man can shut and shut doors no man can open. So very MANY times this trip He not only gave me and the team the opportunity to watch Him do the impossible sometimes He allowed us to be a part of it. Can you imagine pastors weeping as they stand and participate in the Forgiveness Prayer, forgiving others and forgiving themselves? We watched that happen over and over again with them telling us that they have never heard such a message.

I do not know what tomorrow or next year will bring for me or IRM BUT I do know my Savior still has a great plan for my life and IRM so I am excited to see glimpses of what that plan looks like as the months go forward.

I have been able to do what I do because of God’s leading and your prayer and financial support so let me make it clear how much I appreciate each one of you. Thank you warriors for standing with me, your prayers matter so much and your generous giving make it possible for me to go. Your giving also makes it possible for me to get Bible sets into the hands of those who are so desperate for the written Word of God.


That none would be lost,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 21 - Goodby Uganda

Ministry Partners,

Goodby gets harder each year as I return home but leave my family and what God has called me yo do here for this season. BUT the new friendships and memories from this trip are a treasure to my heart. I will actually miss being called Mama and Mommie by everyone ....... I love being 70!

Yesterday, July 20th, was our last village church, Christ Like Church International Ministries, crusade. The church is pastored by Pastor Paul, another newly wed. 
Arlene with Pastor Paul and his wife

It was a memorable one as all the others have been. I preached for almost 1 1/2 hr until 1:30 at a service that started much earlier than our arrival at 11:30. I wonder how one service lasting 3 1/2 to 4 hours would work in America?

As usual we picked up Pastor Geoffrey on the way so we would not get lost. Goodness the road (path) there was unbelievable, narrow, rutted and at one point there was such a deep wide rut that Pastor Aaron got out in front of the van to guide Alfred so we would not fall into the crevice.

Not long after we arrived and sat down a woman holding her baby had a demonic attack and two ushers carried/walked her out as Alfred leaned over and said, "She is why we are here." I told Pastor Geoffrey to start praying for her. She returned some time later as I began to preach and although I was preaching to the church in general I specifically tried to look her in the eyes as I talked about the enemy of our soul, Satan and how he wants to destroy us and keep us bound when we choose a life of sinful choices. As soon as I caught her eyes she would look away but as I preached I was also asking the Holy Spirit to intercede. As I gave the invitation she was the one of the first to stand and I watched as her eyes and face softened and became peaceful.
Pastor Paul said she was new to the church but they would find out where she lived and follow-up.

What an amazing thing it is to watch the Holy Spirit work in such a way. At the end of the service we gave all those who had received Christ a Bible and Discipleship Booklet and presented the pastors wife with a gift bag. The church, Christ Like Church International Ministries, then presented me with an envelope, an offering, this gracious church wanted to support the efforts of IRM.
For a second time in my 2 trips to Uganda this has been second church from a poverty area or village to do so ……. I am blessed to serve here.

After a myriad or photos we headed to one of the large hotels for Sunday brunch for our “Farewell Dinner” for the team. It was a time of reflection and appreciation for those who had sacrificed their time to partner with me.

A Certificate of Appreciation for Pastors Geoffrey and Aaron

We decided not to go to the Cultural dancing as we had already missed 1½ hours of it and it gave me time to pack up some of the IRM supplies that will be stored Alfred’s house.

July 21 -
Breakfast served in the garden is going to be missed for sure and today the server and Julius were both there waiting for us. After they greeted us and left our food I happened to move my plate and under it was an envelope addressed to me from Julius with a letter inside that brought me to tears. Its contents are for me but it is very clear that this very sweet young man has not been treated very well. I am thankful that he now knows Jesus personally and for the times we were able to chat.

After breakfast Pastor Aaron took care of business for the van and Alfred went to get his hair cut while I did final packing.
Then it was past time for us to leave to take the supplies to Alfred’s house and then proceed to the airport for me, Alfred and Aaron are staying until tomorrow as Alfred’s plane leaves at 7:30am. But Alfred appeared in my room door saying, “Three people are coming that you need to share the Gospel with.”
A moment or two later the lady that cut his hair and another young man, both Muslims fasting for Ramadan, and another lady appeared. The time I spent with them was certainly ordained by God and as I started to lead them in the prayer of repentance my room maid appeared and also wanted to receive Christ’s free gift of salvation. 

What a special gift from the Lord that I was able to share His love again during my final hours in Uganda were able to give all 4 of the Bible sets and take a few photos.

Before leaving I asked the maid to send Julius to my room and when he appeared I had a few gifts for him and his wife and we prayed for him and his family. It was a wonderful time to thank him and tell him again what a good job he had done for the team. I am so thankful we will stay in touch.
Pastor Aaron returned and it was then time off to drop off the supplies at Alfred’s house, rented by Pastor Geoffrey, who surprised us with a delicious lunch he cooked before we headed off in the opposite direction through Kampala to Entebbe where the airport is. 

Because we over an hour early for check in we decided to stop for my last cup of African tea. There was a young man that worked there and we struck up a conversation with him and after having our team we went to the van to leave as the man came to say goodbye.
I could not help myself; I asked him if he knew Jesus loved him. And after a brief conversation, Praise Jesus, he allowed us to watch the Holy Spirit bring another one to salvation. 

YES, saying goodbye to Alfred and Aaron was difficult ………………………..
 But there was a young man at the entrance door to help me with my luggage and even after check in he stayed with me to the gate but the wait for the plane was longer than scheduled as the plane was 1 ½ hrs late but I met another woman Missionary so it helped pass the time. I was disappointed that the man next to me on the plane was not friendly and did not speak …… I was glad for a movie and I slept.

July 22 –
As I was setting in the WI-Fi area a woman came by and asked about the internet there. I had to admit my ignorance on the subject but we struck up a conversation and long story short she was a Christian but she dealing with Cancer and family issues that needed prayer. After I prayer for her she said how she needed prayer and our meeting was not a coincidence. Yep, she had that right.

The flight to Dulles seemed longer than usual but I was able to sleep some and I will try a stay awake on the travel leg to Portland so I will sleep tonight.
The wheelchair assistant who helped me through customs did an excellent job of helping me but as I waited the 5 hrs. for my flight to Portland I realized that the thief who stole my pack in Rwanda got my house key.

I said a simple prayer to Jesus that the friends who have taken care of my place and have my outside hidden key are not gone somewhere and are home tonight when Fran takes me home from the airport. With my phone stolen I did not have their number or a way to contact them. It will be interesting to see how God answers that prayer!!!!!!!
As I waited I was able to find 3 seats with no armrests so I was able to lay flat and on my right side and get the pressure off of my low back AND there was an outlet so I could charge my notebook. I had hoped to get this posted but internet in the airport is expensive and as I found out in the airplane even more so.
I am sorry but this post will be posted upon my return home.

That none would be lost,

for the team

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19 - My last village crusade

Ministry Partners,

Today was the last village crusade of the 2014 IRM ministry trip. It's really hard to believe that I have been here for six weeks but the busy changing itinerary has made the time go so quickly. Working together with the Rwandan and Ugandan teams for the common purpose of sharing the Gospel creates a family that is hard for me to leave.

 The contrasts here are everywhere with 3,000,000 people the hustle and bustle of them just getting anywhere creates a chaotic and frantic atmosphere and yet getting the simplest task done takes so long. So many people working hard at their roadside shops and shops in town yet as we drive along you see so many people doing nothing.

We left the motel today to pick up Pastor Geoffrey on the way to the village. It's been very nice of him to take so much time to be with us. With no road signs it would be impossible to find our own way and ever find the right village church as you take one dirt trail to the right and then branch off to the left. Out in the villages there are roads or should I say "bunny trails" everywhere. Take the wrong one and you might have to wait for some time until a bicycle or motorbike taxi came by to give you directions.

In our culture/society you would not see such roadside venders with their wares spread out on the ground sometimes in one level layer and sometimes just heaps to sort through and then there are those who erect very tall :racks" to display the cloths they are selling, all right on the edge of the road.  It seem as if like vendors repeat in at least every block and so many with the same thing. And then there are the "butchers" stalls that display the hanging meat, beef, goat, fish in the open from morning until night without concern for the flying traffic dust and .....?????.
 Roadside village butchers.

With all of that, the people are amazing, generous and welcoming and when they smile, well when they smile..........I am so going to miss them.
Lots of  babies at the village crusade!

When we returned to the motel after the crusade there was a choir group practicing upstairs so I sat in the back to listen to them. It was great, they sang one in English the one in Lugandan. I left  before they were finished so I don't know what group they were but the English praise song were one we sing at Canby New Life.
Somehow at our crusade someone bent/broke the stick, by incorrectly removing it, of hours of Ugandan and Rwandan Christian music that I have been listening to in my room. I will have to have Mike at New Life see if there is anyway the music so I can play it at home. Someone here asked me how come I like the music when I cannot understand the words and I said their sing about Jesus and the love of God and the Holy Spirit within me knows whats being said.

(July 20 - morning) I am thankful that there is a second stick with about 7 Lugandan songs on it that I am now playing as I get ready for the church crusade this morning. The maid just stuck her head in my open door, she was dancing to the music and said, " I like, I like" and returned a few minutes later to point to heaven and then cross her arms across her chest as she said to me, "Song says Jesus you are all I need" before disappearing into the hall again. It's amazing to watch the staff here, outside in the courtyard and in the halls as the dance as they work to the music I also love. The people here and the christian music, WOW, what a combination.

I guess you can tell from this post that 1/2 of my heart is here and I am not looking forward to leaving.

Blessings and thanks for your continuing prayers as I return in two days.

Than none would be lost,

for the team

Friday, July 18, 2014

July 18 - 3rd. encounter with police

Ministry Partners,

Today  we were served and ate our traditional breakfast in the garden.
Only three more mornings to eat sausage, omelet, samosa, sliced tomato, pineapple juice and African tea.

 As we ate we watched the young boy clean the tile steps as he does every morning, taking a bucket of water and sprinkling the tiles and steps with handfuls of the water before wiping them by hand with a towel. It is the typical way to clean here but similar also to Rwanda. It makes my back hurt just watching the way they clean here but the finished product is always sparkling and they know how to bend here ......from their hips.

After breakfast it was time to make the trek into the capitol city to accomplish errands but on our return we had our third encounter with the police here. I will not write the particulars here as I never know who is reading this blog but I will say that the standard of practice here when one encounters the police is VERY interesting to say the least.

 I will be sharing about that and many interesting stories when I do my Power Points so make sure and invite me to your church.

In town I was able to purchase a beautiful dress for the holidays and I told Pastor Aaron that if my luggage was now over weight that I would just wear 2 or 3 outfits home on the plane to which he laughed. He has the most infectious laugh and wonderful sense of humor, I so enjoy working with him and together we have a great time teasing Alfred. It is really just pay back for the way Alfred teases us.

Alfred was able to pick up his computer that had been in the repair shop before we returned to the motel for a late IRM peanut butter sandwich lunch. While we were in town I was able to give two Muslim women each a scarf and tract and they were very pleased to receive them. As they read the tracts may the Holy Spirit plant the scriptures contained on the tract deep into their hearts and bring them to salvation. I am so thankful for the promise that God's Word will not return void!!!!

Pastor Geoffrey had other commitments so later in the sfternoon the guys left to run some other errands and Alfred wanted to go to the saloon. I laugh every time I see that printed on a shop as here and in Rwanda it means a salon, a place to get your hair cut or fixed not a bar to get a drink. If a van, motor bike or car connects with your car it "knocked you" not hit you and if a car "tooted" at us here they would say it "hooted" at us. We have so much fun discussing the different way words are used in America and here. Actually sometimes the words they use here to define the subject or situation is better than the English word we would use.

Since they are not sure when they will get back due to the traffic issue especially at that time of day Alfred helped me ordered something different from the menu hoping to get something I can actually eat. The chef that was here until last week was very good but has quit so we are not sure who is trying to fill that position now but even the girl who served our breakfast said the current quality of the food has been a problem.

All the staff here is so nice, helpful and their smiles brighten the space around them. Today I noticed one of the servers reading her Bible and I told her how good it was that she was reading God's word. I found that she was having a discussion with one of the other girls about the length of a woman's hair and they laughed about the length of my hair for a 70 yr. old woman.

Like I posted before I have the sound system in my room so I get to play the stick the has only Rwandan and Lugandan songs on it. The staff has said how much they like me to have my door and window open so they can also enjoy the praise and worship songs. Tonight the server came to my room at 6 to tell me my dinner was ready but I stopped to get my water bottle and when I got to the hall there she was dancing to the music. When she noticed I had seen her she and I both laughed.

Well, I just came from eating dinner and I realized when I started eating that I forgot to take my camera with me. This meal was good, it was called beef stew - clunks of tender beef in a sauce of tomatoes, fine cut carrots, bell peppers, onions and an unusual seasoning. It came in a bowl and my plate had rice to pour it over as well as some chips and some wonderful fresh green beans sauteed with carrots and onions. It was a good choice on my part and someone prepared it well.

The day has seemed odd since I was not speaking at a crusade but it was a bit restful to get some errands done. There will be a crusade tomorrow so please pray that the Holy Spirit would speak into the hearts of those present.

The team appreciates your faithful prayers for the remaining days of ministry as well as our travel home.
Pastors Geoffrey and Aaron remain in Uganda and Alfred will not be traveling through Europe to return to Australia but I will be traveling through Belgium to reach home and it's my understanding that flights going through Europe might be rerouted because of the downed Malaysia plane.

With only 2 day of ministry remaining,
That none would be lost,

for the team

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17 - A working lunch

Ministry Partners,

I have had an opportunity to go back a read a few of my posts and I have a request ....... please give me grace for the missed, wrong and mis-spelled words. After a tiring day I "think" I have the post correct but discover later it contains many errors. Goodness, and they are the first errors I have made all year ...... not!

The days and nights here are so hot and humid that it is especially refreshing to wake in the coolness of the mornings. We had a new girl serve us breakfast today and then I saw the girl who usually serves us with a wrap to cover her hand. She pulled the wrap up to expose the needles set to administer medication and informed us that she had Typhoid. She is SOOOO thin and doesn't look good, I prayed with her and ask that you remember her in your prayers, her name is Joan.

Because our team is not as large as the one in Rwanda we did not have to rent a regular size van like we do in there but were able to rent a smaller vehicle yet large enough to carry us, our equipment and Bibles but the NICE extra to this van is that it has air-condition ....... when it works it's great. Pastor Aaron is a bit of a mechanic so he keeps it working most of the time.

After our breakfast I did some paperwork on the finances and other bookkeeping. It's amazing how much paperwork there is to keep up with each day, I REALLY do need the assistant I continue to pray about.

Julius, the young man who works here and received Christ the other day, has today off so I talked with him about going with us to the crusade today ut he was unable to go with us. He is married with a 9 month old baby. I studied at one time to be a priest so he has lots in common with Alfred and Alfred knows just how to answer his questions.

About 12am we then headed to the city center to have lunch with the Commissioner of Prisons and her Assistant but found that her assistant would not be joining us. When we arrived at the Prison Commission facility instead of driving round and round trying to find a parking place like usual we drove up to the first security check point and informed them that we were there to pick up the Commissioner and while the guard was standing there Alfred called the Commissioner and informed her we were there, we were immediately allowed to drive in.

We had a wonderful "working" lunch with her and she asked lots of personal questions of me which I was comfortable in responding to, being transparent about my life has brought such freedom to me. We talked a lot about the ministry we did in the prisons this year and what a future trip next year would look like. The food and relationship building time was great, another great suggestion by Alfred.  I forgot to take a photo of the delicious creamed vegetable soup and array of salad on my starter plate.
 Two pcs. roasted potatoes, tender beef chunks in brown sauce w/ baby onions & mushrooms on red rice (YUMMMMM), beans. macaroni w/ red sauce, carrots, something similar to Swiss chard, a sm. piece of fish and ... and .... goat at the top of the plate and it actually was quite good.

After lunch I got a bit overheated in the van today as we had to park, no air conditioning, and wait for Pastor Geoffrey who was delayed so tried to made sure I was getting plenty of water. He arrived and we were finally off to the crusade at 4pm, the same time it was to start and we had yet a 45 min. drive. It was hosted by Pastor Isaiah from Repentance Power Church.

There were quite a number of pastors at the crusade all affiliated with the Pentecostal Pastors Ass. called "Friends of Revival".
I watched the Holy Spirit work in much the similar way as the crusade last night. One man was so convicted of his sins that he stood up before I finished the invitation, his conviction of sin was so genuine. Watching even pastors and their wives respond to what the Holy Spirit has given me to share still leaves me in awe at God's goodness in allowing me to be doing what I'm doing!!!

After the crusade Alfred was swarmed by pastors wanting contact info so I can come to their church next year, according to them. I think at this point I could be here a month just doing village/church ministry seven days a week and not fill every invitation we are getting.
 A few Pentecostal Pastors & Arlene

The schedule for tomorrow has changed  so we will be running errands, doing some packing and getting ready for the crusade on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks for your continuing prayers.

for the team 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16 - A crusade in Pastor Aaron's home village

Ministry Partners,

I woke this morning to rain outside my window but stopped shortly thereafter. I am going to miss the 8 or 9 am team breakfasts in the garden here where we are staying. It's hard to believe there are only 5 more mornings here, my time in Africa has gone far to quickly.

A noon, or as they would say here - at mid-day, we left to do a crusade at the church in the village where Pastor Aaron grew up. Depending on the traffic it would take from 1 1/2 to 2 hours but of course we stopped to buy another tasty pineapple to eat on the way. We traveled through the sugarcane fields to the top of a mountain and the view from the church was breathtaking to say the least.

We delayed the start of the actual crusade as some of the 7 pastors and other villagers were still making their way up the hill to the church.
Brothers in friendship. Alfred & Aaron worship with the congregation

During the delay they sang worship songs in my favorite manner, only their beautiful voices with the accompaniment of two drummers and their drums then Alfred preached a brief message, "Who are you?" Although he has told me he has preached at other times this was only the second time he has preached in my presence or given a talk. I teased him before he started and told him just to make sure and not preach my message to which we both laughed as did Pastor Aaron. Alfred has translated all of my messages so often that he could very well preach them himself.

The message the Holy Spirit gave me concerning "Fear" and about not just having head knowledge about God and Jesus but actually making a decision to receive the free gift of salvation that Jesus paid for on the cross continues to carry impact  but the whole "Forgiveness" message and challenge is a tool the Holy Spirit continues to use to touch the hearts of those are present.
The moving of the Spirit in their lives was evident as I spoke, watching both men and women wipe tears from their eyes and at the end of the crusade 8 or so came to the front of the church and testified as to how they had been unforgiving but during the crusade they had followed the prayer to forgive someone else or themselves. Then some of the women came to where I was seated and got on their knees in front of me to honor and thank me. I cannot tell you how HARD it is for me to be greeted in such a way!!!

We did not have nearly enough Bibles for everyone so the pastor divided what we had brought between the pastor/leaders that were there for their congregations ....... 3 Bibles/Discipleship Booklets each and they were so thankful for what they received.

Then we were served delicious African tea, roasted peanuts, roasted corn, bread and bananas, what a feast we enjoyed.

The pastors and villagers asked if I would come back again and my answer was the same, "We'll have to wait and see what God provides",  I told them that my pastor (Ron Swor) made the comment that he hoped I was doing this until I was 90 and they thought his words were a good idea ....... me too!

On the way back to Kampala we stopped by quickly just to say hello to Pastor Aaron's mom.
 Pastor Aaron's Mom, Aaron & Arlene

We were unable to stay but a few minutes and Alfred prayed before we left as it was already getting dark and the rabbit trail roads and the drive back would take two hours in the dark. The teasing, laughter and just fun being together made the trip not seem so long but in fact it was almost 9pm when we arrived back at the Hotel.

The team can sleep in tomorrow as breakfast will be at 9 but tomorrow is another full day as we will have lunch with the Commissioner of Prisons before heading out for another crusade, this one with Pastor Geoffrey.

 Love and blessing to each of you from Uganda.

for the team

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 14 & 15 - Days of business

Ministry Partners,

July 14 - This has been one of those days to do business, that is .....  book work and reports. It's almost 6pm and we just finished the written report, with photos, that will go to the Prison Commission tomorrow.

Alfred's sister came by to see him and visit for a few minutes, goodness she is a beautiful woman. She is married with 4 children and one is a nursing baby.
Alfred & Anna

Julius the young man who received Jesus' free gift of salvation came to my room today and said he had a question about something inside ...... being baptized, immersed, as he had been another religion and had been sprinkled as a child. I knew just the team member to have him talk with so I took him upstairs to chat with Alfred who said later that he was going to meet with Julius again on Thursday.

I just found out today that the Pastor's encouragement time had been canceled in place another crusade. So currently I am scheduled to have a church or village crusade on the evenings of:  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as the last one at a church for Sunday morning service.

July 15 - It was a lazy morning start as the team waited for Pastor Geoffrey to arrive so that we could all go into town to take the Prison Ministry report to the Commissioners office. We decided after he arrived to take a photo of just him to add the his testimony at the end of the report so we left later than we had hoped. We took the PDF file to the same printer that did such a great job on the Discipleship Booklet and they did another great job of putting the report in booklet form.

Entering the secured area of the Prison Authority facility goes smoothly and without a "hitch" now. Although we do not have an appointment we go through two security checks by only saying we are going to the Commissioner's office!!! The Commissioner welcomed us this time with a great smile as she took the report and carefully went through each page. She asked me about coming next year and I responded that I would have to wait and see what God did to which she laughed out loud and said, "Yes" but also gave some ideas as to where she would like me to visit next year. Before leaving she accepted a lunch invitation for her and her assistant on to be with us on Thursday ....... more relationship building.

The rest of the team, all guys, were gracious as they followed me around through the market so I could pick up a couple of gifts and something for me.
Market vendor & Arlene

On the was home was stopped at the store and got another loaf of the delicious wheat.grain bread we found and we bought more pineapple at another roadside vender.

 Fish anyone?

When we stopped there was also a vendor cutting up a HUGE fish. I does not appear that there is any concern here about keeping anything refrigerated or away from the ever present dust and dirt.

Before arriving back at the hotel we ran out of gas but Pastor Aaron hailed a motorbike and off he went only to return a few minutes later carrying a container of gas, I cut the bottom off of an empty water bottle to use as a funnel and in no time we were back on the road. I was thankful for a plastic serrated knife to spread peanut butter!

After arriving back at the hotel I was left to rest and have dinner as the team had some personal errands to do. I decided to bread from the traditional fish I have been having and have pizza. Huummnn not the best idea as after waiting an hour the pizza was very overcooked on top and all the center, except the very edge, was completely raw.

Well it's now bedtime and they have not gotten the redone pizza to me yet but by now I think I will just say it was a good try on both our parts. I'll try something else from the menu tomorrow. :-) :-) :-)

I would appreciate your prayers for the next 4 evenings as I have a village crusade scheduled every evening. Please pray for:
  • Open hearts for the Gospel
  • A fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit for me and the translators
Huge blessings on allof you for your faithfulness.
That none would be lost,

for the team

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 13 - WHAT A DAY ...... A day to worship

Ministry Partners.

Breakfast was early and after getting ready the team waited for Pastor Aaron to arrive from the "washing bay" which if all hods true was the nearest ditch filled with muddy water. When I first heard the words "washing bay" I had a concept in my head that was quite different from what I was actually shown. But I must say the cars, pickups and motorcycles come out sparkling!!!

Sunday, a day to worship and give God praise as we served in a village church that Pastor Geoffrey took the team to. The church is located in a slum of Kampala and used to be the one he pastor-ed before moving to a more rural area and it is now pastor-ed by his spiritual son, Pastor Innocent who is newly married.

We picked up Pastor Geoffrey to show us the way through the very narrow streets of the slum to the church.

Pastor Geoffrey knows the area well as he grew up there. Pastor Innocent is also Founder and Director of "Save Street Children Uganda". He has a heart to do what he can for the children in the streets (slum) as he was also one of them but rescued through the work of Pastor Geoffrey.

We arrived at a fairly large complex for the area and were taken to the office to meet Pastor Innocent although we could already hear adults and children worshiping in the church. The respect and love between these two pastors was evident as soon as they saw each other. After a time of greetings and introductions we went to the church where worship was in full swing. Although I did not understand the words my heart agreed with them in such a precious time.

Only later did I find out that the older gentleman seated on the front row next to me was a pastor from Kenya who was actually scheduled to preach but his time was given to me.

Pastor Geoffrey told the congregation a bit of what he had been doing with us and the prison ministry of Mama (me) and IRM. He then introduced Alfred who introduced me.

After sharing the Gospel part of my message I spoke about being a child of the King and that makes us a Prince or Princess and used one of the men converts to help in my object lesson using a paper crown (donated by Burger King) which I gave to him when I finished that teaching. I finished preaching with a lesson on Forgiveness and was aided by both Alfred and Pastor Aaron who is a dynamic translator and left the stage as Pastors Geoffrey and Innocent both took the platform and spoke for a few minutes.

What happened next only the Holy Spirit could orchestrate. A man came forward that Pastor Innocent identified as his brother and reported that the man, Peter, wanted me to pray with him as he wanted to receive God's free gift or salvation, which I had the privileged of doing then the man I had given the crown to came running up to us and put the crown on Peter's head. 
 Peter, a new child of the King, Arlene & Pastor Geoffrey

Then Peter wanted me to pray for him, I did and as I finished  and looked up at him the tears were running down both of his cheeks and at this point the congregation was weeping. Then another man came up to testify that the message I preached was just for him! Followed by another man who came up and testified how another pastor had done him wrong but how he had just forgiven him and he made the commitment to the church to go visit that pastor.

Pastor Innocent then said some very nice things about Mama (me) and the quality of my preaching ..... thank you Holy Spirit for each word of the message and object lessons you gave me.

Then as Pastor Innocent spoke to the congregation asking them if they had been blessed my the preaching they needed to respond. I wasn't sure exactly what they were saying as Alfred, sitting next to me, was not translating. We had already taken the offering so as I watched the congregation, one by one, go forward and put money on the pulpit I leaned over and asked Alfred what they were doing. Tears welled up in my eyes when he responded, "Their taking an offering to help you and IRM with the ministry your doing." Even as I write this  ..... tears are in my eyes. People in the slum of Uganda, those who have nothing, are giving to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I asked for the mic again and told the congregation that in 11 trips the Rwanda and 2 to Uganda no congregation had ever done such a thing and that I was humbled by their respect, love and support. Then Pastor Innocent gave me an envelope with some shillings inside and said they had another gift for me as he presented me with a most beautiful large Ugandan purse made of tiny pieces of wood.

Hugs and photos followed before the team was ushered back into the pastors office for sodas. It was there the elderly (76yr.) gentleman, Bishop Issac, said he was to go home to Kenya yesterday and although he had stayed to do the preaching today ..... now he knew God had him stay because today's message was just for him!

On the way home we did stop to buy another pineapple and a loaf of bread but the team didn't have a lot to say as the working of the Holy Spirit today has impacted all of us.

I really do not have words to express how I feel and never will as I retell this amazing day. But what I can say is:
Father I give you praise, Jesus I give you
praise, Holy Spirit I give you praise.

That none would be lost,

for the team

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 12 - Mukono Prison

Ministry Partners,

It's so hard to believe that today was the last day for prison ministry and in 9 days I will be leaving this beautiful country for the states. Although this was the last day to enter prisons there is now much village community ministry to do.

Most of the prison Officers in Charge are a "bit" skeptical of us, mainly this white skinned woman, but by the time we are finished with our crusade and ministry time their view of the complete team has changed. They express such gratitude for our coming and invite us to come back anytime and most certainly next year!!!
The sentiments of the  prisoners not only echo that of the O.C.'s but exceed them.

Every morning I wake up here I am reminded how truly blessed I am to know I am right in the center of God's will for me. I pray God allows me to continue this ministry to the Great Lakes Region that He called me to in 2005.

Today after breakfast in the garden Aaron left with $300 to order the part to replace the missing molding for the car that needs to be replaced before we leave. He returned by noon so we could proceed to Mukono Prison for our scheduled 2pm crusade time.

The drive to the prison took 1 1/2 due to traffic and road construction and along the way we purchased a pineapple from a roadside vender.
Pineapple cut, bagged and ready to eat

When we arrived the Officer in Charge was not there and had not informed the remaining staff that we were coming. A young officer of 5 years named Irene was gracious and welcoming to us and showed us where to set up in a tiny dirt courtyard.
Arlene & Officer Irene

It was an interesting set up to say the least with the men under a covered porch area that connected to their group holding areas and the 8 women under an opposite covered area. Lets just say I felt like the center of a sandwich!!!!!

Irene asked us to wait a bit as some of the  workers were on their way returning, in fact a second group waoul be returning even later. We tolde her we could wait for the first group but unable to wait for the last group as we had a considerable drive back to Kampala.

It was interesting to watch them unlock the men's holding areas so the men that were there could enter the porch area and get some sunlight, every door everywhere always has had the largest metal lock.

As we waited Lugandan worship music played from our battery operated sound system (a good thing as there was no electricity at this prison) I asked for and was given permission by Irene to go and greet the women. I had enough scarves with me and the women seemed surprised but very happy as I put a beautiful scarf in their hands. One woman had a little boy about 3 so I gave him a whistle. A couple of the women spoke some English so I was able to speak directly with them and ask about the food they were cooking for their dinner. Irene said they were there for a number of reasons and some had not had a trial as yet. One woman was in there for kidnapping a child and when I asked her the particulars it reminded me of the story of Solomon and the two woman in the Bible.

I always try and connect in some way with the women, especially in eyesight of the men, as it seems to really break the ice so to speak.

Finally the men we were waiting for arrived and we began the crusade.......and then it began to rain. We moved our stuff to the side where the women were as the sound system was on the men's side. I kept preaching and finally after about 15-20 min. the rain stopped so I walked back to the center again. The rain could not deter the Holy Spirit's work in the hearts of the prisoners. It surely was another day to give the Lord praise for His work in their lives.

And as we saw at the prison yesterday the gift of Bibles, Booklets and blankets brought applause from both men and women prisoners.

 We stopped a short distance from the prison and gave God praise for the 6 days of prison ministry He provided.
The drive home took Alfred even longer as the evening traffic was heavy but I was able to take a hot bath before the team's scheduled dinner.

Tomorrow I will be doing a crusade in a village church so I appreciate your prayers for a fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit.

Thanking you for your partnership in this ministry.

That none would be lost,

for the team

Friday, July 11, 2014

July 11 - a day at Kauga Prison

Ministry Partners,

It is so hard to believe that this ministry trip will end in 9 days and although Pastor Geoffrey has a crusade and other evangelistic outreach ministry to do there are only two more prison crusades.

Pastor Aaron left early this morning with the van to see about getting the part to replace on the left side of the car and get it washed. The red dirt and dust is everywhere and when it rains the red mud is everywhere.

I am so enjoying having a relaxing breakfast in the garden here it's so quiet in the morning unlike the evenings/nights here. As I waited for Pastor Aaron there was time to take a brief nap.

Pastor Geoffrey, Alfred and I got into a discussion about a number of biblical "questions" including the topic of Apostles.

Pastor Aaron was delayed and without his phone so the team waited not knowing why. Pastor Geoffrey called the prison and told them that we were delayed but that we were coming. When Pastor Aaron did arrive he looked somewhat frazzled and tired. Then we found out the details of why he was late.  The policeman stopped him because of the missing piece of molding and be because he did not have his phone, the number actually, to call the van rental place the officer would not let him go and began to try an extort money from him. Finally after many hours he was allowed to leave after he borrowed a phone and called an officer that was a friend of his. Wheeeeew, just proof we would see God do great things today.
As we drove to the prison street vendors are everywhere as are roadside business like a "garden center", next best thing to Al's in Woodburn!

 This roadside garden center photo is especially for Mallory Gwynn

After we arrived at Kauga Prison we found the Officer in Charge who was the Social Affairs person to be a nice looking, tall man who welcomed us and showed us where to set up.
The Social Affairs person, the Officer in Charge & Arlene

The prisoners were under a large porch type covering and I would be in the sun before them, to my back across the courtyard, at my back, were 8 woman.

I was grateful that the Officer in Charge gave me permission to go and greet each or the women prisoners.

The rain came and as I continued preaching in the rain the prisoners made room for the team under the covering but because I was concerned about falling on the slick wet cement floor I removed my shoes as my bare feet provided better traction and made the prisoners laugh but of course the whole bottom of my long skirt became soaked! Despite the rain we watched the Holy Spirit do an amazing work in the hearts of the prisoners. The Bibles sets and blankets we brought brought smiles and applause from the prisoners but we did not hand out the bibles as we knew we did not have enough for everyone.

After the nap this morning I find it hard to understand why I am so tired this evening, but I am so .... after a fish dinner I find myself trying to get this post written but keep dozing off and it's only 9:30. I guess that's all for tonight. :-) :-)

Only one more prison, and that's tomorrow.

Thanks for covering this ministry, team and me with our pryers,

for the team

Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 10 - Last day in Jinja - 2 more crusades

Ministry Partners,

Oh my, for the second time since I have been in Africa, eight hours of good sleep was mine last night! It's nice having such a quiet place to rest and I must confess I don't miss the noise from the front of the Joka's Hotel where we stay in Kampala nor the other partying guests or adjacent railroad tracks and trains. Today I am refreshed, ready and so excited for all God has planned.

Last night the Officer in Charge of the prison we were to go to this morning, Bufulubi Prison, called and asked if we could come at "mid-day" instead if 9 so Alfred did a quick change with the O.C, at the second prison, Bugumgu YO,  to reset our time to be there until 4pm.. It means that the long drive back to Kampala will put us back at the Joka's Hotel about 9 pm if all goes according to the current plan.

The constant changes not only keep all of us dependent on waiting upon the Lord but offers so many new opportunities that the days are exciting to say the least. I am fortunate that Alfred does such an amazing job coordinating everything, it means I don't have to orchestrate or be concerned about anything ......... just preach with a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit.

 With the late start morning we had Pastor Aaron led a wonderful 40 minute devotional with all the team members sharing their heart for this mission God has called all of us to.

We arrived at Bufulubi Prison a few minutes past mid-day and were told that the Officer in Charge had the prisoners leave work in the fields early so they could attend our crusade. So we were received well and finished it good time to head to Bugumgu YO Prison. While doing two prisons so close in time it was decided to only do 1 worship song and I tried to clip anything absolutely  unnecessary from my speaking creating a 2 hr crusade instead of 2 1/2 hrs.

But when we arrived we noticed that a some time while traveling over the rough rutted dirt roads we had lost the whole large strip of the body of the car that is directly under the left front door. None of us saw or heard it come off or hit the ground. The car only has insurance to cover accident damage when there is a police report, nothing if you just loose a piece!!!!! Please pray concerning what it will cost to replace it.  

Shortly after starting to speak at  Bugumgu YO I noticed dark rain clouds seemed to come out of nowhere and we were in the open with the prisoners. I turned to the team and said that I felt it was a demonic attack and to pray that God would intervene on our behalf ......... and He did.

We had enough Bibles for all who had stayed through the whole crusade and we were able to hand them out before the rain came.

I must tell you we are watching the Holy Spirit pour out His power on prisoners and staff alike. it's amazing to watch and hear as staff tells us, before we leave, how the crusade impacted them!!!!

We left the prison at about 6:30 and along the way after having our sandwich we picked up some

roadside fast food, roasted chicken and gizzards on a stick, I just had chicken.

Alfred drove back to Kampala arriving after 8:30and after Alfred and Pastor Geoffery sang and entertained Arron and I in the back seats.  .
 Singing praise/worship songs

It has been a VERY long busy day and is now 10pm so I am more than ready for a very hot bath and bed.
Tomorrow is another prison.

Please continue to pray for this ministry, the team and our travels.

That none would be lost,

for the team

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9 - 2 prisons and 2 crusades in 1 day

Ministry Partners -

After a good nights rest how fun it was to wake up to the birds singing in the cool of the morning here at the edge of Lake Victoria.

My bungalow, with our sound system in the doorway for African tunes!

Across the water, on the other shore, you can see one of the prisons we will do ministry in today.

Our complimentary breakfast this morning was wonderful with 3 kinds of dry cereal, 2 kinds of fresh juice (I chose Pineapple of course) and assortment of breads and jelly, sausage links and omelets made to order WITH CHEESE. I haven't seen cheese offered on an omelet Aaron tried to get the lady making omelets to first put a slice of bread in the skillet before adding the eggs (his aversion of French Toast) but she couldn't seem to catch his description and he cam to the table with his omelet and two slices of plain bread with jelly on the side. :-)

It was about 10 when we headed out to the first of two prisons. Even as late as this evening the order of the prisons we do ministry in changes hourly it seems. I told the team today that I feel at times like I am blindfolded and just being led from place to place as no mater what itinerary we think is set for the day as we start, changes inevitably come. Hummmm, God is still teaches me about flexibility!!!!

 I was thankful that it did not rain this morning because the prisoners at Bugungu Prison YP would have been in the rain as they were sitting in the open. There were 85 men and then they brought in 3 women prisoners, 2 with infants. I greted the women as most of the prisoners tried to sit in the shade of the eves but I stood most of the time in the sun. I forgot to put on sunshade so hopeful I will arrive home with a nice tan. The prisoners are first curious as to why we are they but then so very attentive and responsive as the Holy Spirit work son their hearts.

The OC - Officer in Charge was very welcoming and gracious to us and at the end of our time challenged the prisoners to allow what they heard  and their good decisions to change them into good citizens now and when they are released. What a wonderful way to end our time there by having enough Bibles and Discipleship Booklets to give each one a set.

Thank you for each of the 910 Bible sets you helped purchase. I so wish you could see their faces and hear the applause when they first see the Bible they will receive.

My heart was sad for those inside as we left the main hallway and I saw them once again put that large metal lock on the door. Regardless of their crimes and situation to live under the conditions here is difficult at best.

Then we were off to the second prison and crusade for the day and stopping briefly in Jinja for a loaf of bread for our sandwich lunch. There are just street venders everywhere.

Peanuts anyone?

In eight years of doing prison ministry this is the first year I have done two crusades in one day.......... we will see how this works after tomorrow, 4 crusades in two days!

We arrived at Bugembe Prison a bit early of our scheduled time and received permission to sit under a tree to have our lunch. As we were eating the prisoners came in from working in the fields in neat rows and ever so orderly, all carrying their work tools. The visual photo was something to see and I held my sandwich down as I knew after their work in the sun there would be no lunch for them.

The officer in Charge was not there but his staff welcomed us and as we entered we found them in a covered building singing worship songs and keeping rhythm on two very large drums, at one point Pastor Geoffrey went and kept rhythm with them. With only a couple of benches almost everyone sat on the cement floor.

The power in their voices as they prayed in response to the Gospel and the Forgiveness messages was evidence to the Spirits work in their hearts. I just never tire of watching God do such grace filled work and watching as we leave the smiles that are then visible on their faces......sweeeet!

The Officer in Charge arrived as we were ending our time, he was gracious to us but a tall very stern fellow indeed.

When were arrived at our bungalows we had time to have a serious debrief time and a bit of rest before our dinner.

Its been a long but fruitful day all to the glory of Christ Jesus.
You continuing prayers for the ministry, our travels and us in general is appreciated by the entire team.

for the team

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8 - A travel day ......

Ministry Partners,                                                                           
It’s been such an interesting day, filled again with God’s provision and goodness.
Today was a travel day for all the team. Pastor Aaron and the pick-up filled with Bibles and blankets for two of the prisons left first, after prayer, a little after 9. They will deliver the blankets and some Bibles to two of the prisons along the way where we will be holding crusades after our time in Jinja. 

Then those of us remaining had breakfast in the garden. As we were loading up two of the young men who worked at the Hotel stopped to admire our sound system. Everyone was taking longer than expected so I struck up a conversation with them. I could only give the Holy Spirit praise as I watched Him open the door so I could share the Gospel and then see Him bring them to saving knowledge in Jesus Christ. What a perfect and exciting way to start the day, leading two in the prayer of salvation. 

 These two asked Jesus to forgive their sins.

At 10 we headed into town to exchange money and pick up Pastor Geoffrey to head to South Eastern Uganda.

I cannot say I was unhappy about leaving the traffic and hustle of Kampala. Along the way we kept in contact with Pastor Aaron to hear that the deliveries were going as scheduled.

There was road construction along the way and we were held up for some time but when we were once again moving along we made a roadside quick stop to purchase another pineapple for our lunch. You stop where there is a loaded cart and the seller will bring a couple to your window to see which one you would like or you can get out and do your picking. Then you have two choices, you can take it as is OR he will cut the top & bottom off as well as the outsides and cut the remaining fruit in long narrow sections like an orange, putting ½ ea. in two clear plastic bags. It’s absolutely the best, at least I think so and Alfred sees to it that I always have a supply. 

Along the way it began to lightening and rain, rain did I write RAIN? Maybe I should have said there was a downpour for miles and miles. I’m thankful Alfred is such a careful driver and slowed way down. It was hard for the wipers to keep the rain off the windshield and wash outs were already sweeping across the road as we drove.

We turned off on a narrow dirt road before arriving at our lodging place, Kingfisher Resort to find Aaron, the pick-up and its driver stopped because of a flat tire. The remaining Bibles had been firmly tarped down but Aaron said they had not driven through the torrents we had it had just started to drizzle as they waited for us.
We stayed here last year when we were in this area. It’s quiet and my room is darling. After the team had lunch the rest of the team went to check out our van and make sure it was ready for ministry tomorrow while I went to my room. I opened the door to my room and put the sound system in the doorway with the Rwandan & Ugandan music stick playing music. 

You should have seen the housekeeper, first, and then two other gals that work here as we all danced and worship together on the grass in front of my bungalow.

We stopped worshiping and dancing just long enough for this photo. 
 A yard boy came to watch and I convinced him to take a photo. I hope I will be able to post it. WHAT FUN!!! I love parts of culture but I still find it hard that NO person under my age will address me by my first mane, to them I am Mom, Mama or Mommie. Having grown pastors call me "Mommie" just makes me smile. I feel unworthy but I do appreciate such respect and honor.

We will be staying two nights here and holding 4 crusades in four prisons the next two days. Pray for no rain as if the same hold true in these prisons as the ones last year, we will be in the open, uncovered but more important, the prisoners will be uncovered in the open.

 That's all for today. 

Thanks to each one of you who have made this ministry trip possible by your prayers and finical support. May our Savior richly bless each of you.

That none would be lost,

for the team