Monday, August 15, 2016

Aug. 15 & 16 .................. Traveling home

Ministry Partners,

As I sit in the Amsterdam airport waiting for my flight to Portland wonderful memories of the last 4 weeks flood my thinking. It will take me quite some time to process the miracles I witnessed God do in the lives of the inmates, villagers and in the lives of the team members, for salvation and also in the area of forgiveness.
And then there were the miracles, His provision for and care for us.

Welcoming smiles were everywhere.
Even yesterday before I went to the airport we were contacted by members from the University I spoke at as they want to partner with IRM on future trips. And then today as I took the trolley from the plane when we landed to gate where I now sit. I had a wonderful opportunity to share Christ with the young girl who was driving the trolley.

Thank you again for your partnership. Invite me to your church, home or any activity and I will come to share some of the powerful things I witnessed.

That none would be lost,

Aug. 14, 2016 ……… Our last official day of ministry in the Great Lakes Region

Ministry Partners,

After an 8 o’clock breakfast we were off to Buwambo Prison about 45 min. from our hotel. Although we were asked to be there at 10 after they had made themselves clean (according to the deputy O.C.) they were still making themselves clean and the area ready for us. Alfred came to the covered area where I was sitting and told me that in fact the O.C. was a woman who was there. I had already prepared a man’s gift to go with an English Bible and Discipleship Booklet so I quickly got into the “gifts for men and women O.C.’s” bag and made up a woman’s gift.

The O.C. was in her early 30s and insisted that I must be in my 50s, you can tell I liked her right off. After a discussion about Bible distribution we were ushered outside where she presently went back to her home which was a short distance away.

They spoke of making the inmates leave their porch covered area so I could speak to the while standing under a lean-to but I told them I did not want them to be in the sun so they were allowed to stay where they were. I could see the day was cloud free and going to be hot so I put on sun screen on my arms, forehead and nose. I only realized later that I should have put some on my neck and around the neckline of my dress as I really got red there.

We followed the same format but by the end of 2 ½ hours of teaching I was feeling the sun and heat for sure. I was thankful that the team was able to sit in the shade of a water collection tank while Alfred and Aaron took turns translating for me.  As we ended the teaching time i could see some clouds appearing in the sky.

As we ended I told the prisoners about the blankets and bible sets that we had brought for them. They applauded and cheered but appeared skeptical as one prisoner asked if they could take the bibles home with them when they were released. When I assured them they could they cheered all the more. I could see Alfred talking to the administration and did not realize the discussion that was going on concerning us giving each prisoner a bible of their own to keep. It seemed they wanted the prison to keep all the bibles and let prisoners use them while they were there.

I must say again how gracious every prison administration was to work with on this trip and this prison was no exception as they allowed us to give each prisoner a bible set like we had wanted to.

As we finished at the prison and started to drive back to Kampala it began to rain and rain hard. Aaron and I discussed how God’s faithfulness to us had been evident again in keeping back the rain until we were finished at the prison and how very many times we had seen Him do that this trip. 

It was then time to get ready and head out to our farewell dinner with partners and government officials. We had originally planned to have a luncheon on Monday before I left at a very nice place in the city where we have had it before but the officials were having an important day with the President then so we had it tonight at a nice restaurant. Elizabeth the Deputy Commissioner of Prisons that I have worked with the last 4 years had been promoted to Commissioner of Prisons so I did not see her at the beginning of the trip. I was so excited to see her and we exchanged a huge hug. Her assistant Apollo also came but he had been promoted to Deputy Commissioner.  

How wonderful it was to sit casually and visit as the friends we have become. Elizabeth and I had time to talk about the “Forgiveness” message I share with the prisoners.  And since she is the Commissioner in charge of morals and behavior in prisons she said they are happy to partner with people who support what they are doing. She also said that they receive such positive reports from the prisons concerning IRM’s visits and they have never received a complaint or bad feedback concerning IRM.

She encouraged the local partners to continue the work IRM has started in Arlene’s absence. 

Apollo said it was a pleasure for him to be part of IRM’s ministry and when I asked him how many of the 250 prisons in Uganda he would approve for IRM to go into next year if God brings me back his response was, “As many as you want!”
It was a great visit with other partners there who were Pastors Aaron and Geoffrey along with new partners Pastor Peace and Foursquare Pastor John, Alfred and myself. After we ate our delicious dinner everyone spoke about their observation of IRM and this ministry trip. 

Certificates of Appreciation and other gifts were handed out to everyone present and I received a beautiful African beaded purse.

Peace, John, Alfred, Arlene, Elizabeth, Apollo, Geoffrey & Aaron

It was a wonderful evening and a wonderful way to end this trip but before concluding our time together everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Pastor John as it was his birthday today and it was fun to see his broad smile.

This group is really a family to me and I appreciate each one and the unique abilities and gifting they bring to our partnership. Oh how I am going to miss them. When I think of their partnership and your partnership with IRM and me personally ……..

 Thank you to each one of you for prayerfully and financially supporting IRM and me.

 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Please pray for:

  • Traveling mercies for Alfred as he returns to Australia 
  • Traveling mercies for me as I return to America tomorrow

That none would be lost,

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Aug.13, 2016 ………. Betty, Alfred’s friend from childhood

Ministry Partners,

Today, we needed to have breakfast and then quickly get into the van and head for downtown Kampala to finish our banking needs before they closed at noon.

Along the way we picked up a woman who was in the refugee camp and went to school with Alfred from Kindergarten through Seventh grade. Her name is Betty and she is now a Catholic nun. Betty is such a sweet person with a smile and laughter that will steal your heart, I so liked her, especially when we ganged up on Alfred to tease him. After leaving the bank I handed out scarves and tracts as the three of us walked along, it was such fun!

Arlene & Betty

After our banking needs were taken care of Betty took us to a Catholic hostel and a Catholic guest house just for ideas of where we might stay next year, if need be. I have been unhappy with the stay we have been staying at in Kampala so now we have some other ideas. In Rwanda, we stayed every year that we traveled to Butare in a Catholic Guest House and it was lovely, clean and quiet with good food so I had been hoping for a couple of years to find one here. 

I was able to gift Betty with a beautiful white donated shawl before she left us and Alfred found a shady spot to park and finish the government report so he could take it to get it printed. We could then get a copy to the Commissioner of Prisons before we leave. It is something we have done every year and I still remember how shocked they were the first year when we presented them with a copy at the end of that trip, they carefully looked through each page.

Pastor Geoffrey arrived and kept me company as Alfred went to get the report printed. Over an hour later Alfred returned and as he waited for the document to get printer he also ordered a couple pizzas, one got immediately quickly eaten. We stopped and made reservations at another restaurant for a farewell dinner with partners for tomorrow evening.

Then Geoffrey left for home and we headed for our hotel to do the final bookkeeping for finances. I had so much to do, packing my suitcases and getting a few supplies ready for storage as tomorrow morning we do ministry in our last prison and then with the evening dinner there is no time to do packing tomorrow. Needless I am dragging my feet; it’s so hard to leave! 

We enjoyed the pizza and a fresh pineapple Alfred bought for dinner and I am now finishing this post for the blog.

Please pray concerning tomorrow:

  • An unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the prisoners 
  • A fresh anointing for the team

Thank you partners for faithfully praying.

That none would be lost,

Friday, August 12, 2016

Aug. 12, 2016 …………. A day at Kasangati Prison

Ministry Partner's,

As I awoke this morning I decided to log on to see if I had any fb messages as I was getting ready and there was a message from Rev. Edward Kemei from Kenya. We chatted a bit and then he sent me some photos from the day we were at Kapenguria Prison with him and he gave his permission for me to post them on fb.

 Arlene distributes donated scarves to the women prisoners of Kapenguria Prison
Today was our 12th Ugandan prison and we had been told to be there at 10 as they have their meal at 12:30. It is so different here than in Rwanda where they have a mixture for breakfast and then have dinner at night. Pastor Geoffrey met us there.

They didn’t bring the 12 women prisoners  in for some time but I was concerned about not having enough time so I went ahead and started after the men has sung some worship songs led by our guys. Alfred and Aaron do a great job leading worship.  The men were mostly squeezed together under a covered porch in front of their quarters and the women were seated to the side under a tree for shade.

 I could have also been a distance from them under a tree for shade but I chose to be close in front of the men in the sun as did Alfred and Aaron who were translating at different times for me. We followed the same format after I started but due to the shortened time instead of sharing about the fear the nation of Israel dealt with I shared about King Uzziah and his fear of what people would think.

After the response for salvation and for forgiveness the team had the great joy of having enough and distributing Bibles and Discipleship Booklets to each person present. I then told them about the blankets we had also brought and then I kissed each women on the cheek as I gave her a beautiful donated scarf.

The prisoners clapped and showed such excitement, as they always do, when I told them that Americans were praying for them and that they had not been forgotten. They thanked us and asked us to return again and again. I told them if I returned I did not want to see them there but I would see them outside. At that they erupted with applause and hollering.

As we left the prison we could only offer God praise for how we watched the Holy Spirit work. It began to rain as we drove away and I commented again to Aaron about the fact that God had held back the rain again until after we had finished ministering. God’s faithfulness is so evident so many times during every day.

We stopped on the way back to our hotel at a guest house to see what they had to offer for possible future ministry trips. Arriving back at our hotel, Alfred started working on the Uganda Government Report he writes and I sort photos for him to use. I must confess I have the easiest part. Aaron headed into town to take care of a personal errand. 

Imagine me trying to explain to the young man at the Reception Desk that I needed a Phillips screwdriver! One of the rollers got broken off of our sound system and I wanted to take off the remaining one and bring it back to America with me so I could find a replacement sent, if possible, to bring back and put on next year. It’s much easier to roll than carry as it is quit heavy and bulky. He only had a small ended regular one but I was able to make it work.

At 5:30 (really early for eating here) Alfred ordered dinner for us and it was ready at 6. But it was an interesting discussion that took place over the hamburger I ordered. I ordered one last year and it was ……….! I questioned the cook who came to discuss what I wanted and I found s few things interesting but some I had already figured out items like Fish burger and Chicken burger  but the regular burger came with a cooked egg on top and the Cheese burger was the best …… it was exactly what it said, a burger made with cheese, NO meat! 

I ordered the regular burger but with NO egg then substituted cheese for the egg. Instead of having it with all chips I had them bring it with ½ fries and ½ French beans. It was pretty good as I also had lettuce, onion and tomato added. I caught a glimpse of the cook as I was eating and I motioned her over and told her my burger was good and thanked her for seeing to all my details.

It is hard to believe that it is only 8pm and I have this post about ready for the blog. It then will be time to get ready for bed. I am trying not to but only 3 more days and this trip will be over as I fly out for America, my first home as Africa has become my second. It is not only a blessing just to be here to do ministry but to be able to do it with those God has put in my life as family.

Have a blessed day partners.
That none would be lost,

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Aug. 10 & 11 …….. Thanks Lord for keeping us safe today!!!

Ministry Partners,

Yesterday was a day for getting errands done as Aaron went and had our van serviced due to the miles we have traveled up-country and on dirt roads while Alfred went to exchange money. It’s hard to explain how that takes the whole day but just know it takes 3 hours to get to the center of town from where we stay and then 3 hours to return all of that time due to the traffic here that is just a part of their lifestyle.

While Alfred was exchanging money Aaron and I went to the Craftsmen’s Market where I was able to find some jewelry and two pair of fun cool crop style cotton summer pants. One is purple, black and white while the other is brown, beige, gold and black and both pair have elephants on them. They are just “fun” pants and something I would not usually wear for sure but they were only $7 each so the price was right. 

Alfred arrived and said he just started looking in each stall until he spotted me and I told him Aaron deserved a medal for being so patient with my shopping/bargaining!

Since we were still in town at dinner time we went to the place Foursquare Pastor John Kamazi took us to and even though Alfred had fish and chips, Aaron and I had pizza. It was good to have something different from the regular fare here but chose to something that was familiar to my American taste buds.  I ordered double cheese and it was about a regular amount of cheese on an American pizza. Even though Alfred had some of mine I could not eat it all but he also helped Aaron eat his so Aaron did not need a take home bag like me.

Today we had a regular 8 am breakfast morning so we could be ready to leave for the prison as soon as we had loaded.

The hotel we are staying at and have stayed at since I started coming to Uganda has some new 3 story building construction going on so we are not able to drive our van close to our rooms for loading and unloading our supplies. I must say today’s verse as so appropriate;

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 NIV

We had made a number of trips to the van this morning through the narrow walkway when what appeared to be a large, tall, wooden form for a cement pillar came crashing to the ground from the top story. 

The numerous boards that were banded together appeared to be 1x12’s about 12 feet long. Praise God for his ever present help everyday and his protection today for our physical bodies.

Although we have a letter from the government giving us permission to enter Alfred has been unable to reach the O.C. by phone to let them know we were coming and to finalize our visit. As we traveled to the prison we stopped and met up with Pastor Geoffrey and Peace, who was going to a prison with us for the first time.

It was a bit of a drive to get to Buwambo Prison so we were disappointed when the Deputy O.C. told us most prisoners were working or in court and then he asked us to come back Sunday at 10 sharp, It is a prison of 140 – 160 with no women except for the ones who are officials.

So, it is 2 pm and Alfred went to run another errand and has taken the van which leaves Aaron resting in his room and I will do some packing then finish this post. With having a prison to do ministry in on Sunday I will not have time to pack up and although my flight leaves Monday after 11pm the team has a commitment in town earlier in the day.
Well, we are scheduled to be at Kasangati Prison tomorrow but we will see what tomorrow brings. 

Please pray for:

  •  for open hearts with good soil for the Gospel
  • a fresh anointing for the team

 That none would be lost,