I have arrived home safe and sound at 4pm today. Now it is time for me to rest.
That none would be lost,
Today is flight day and the route home is far better than the one when I came, from Entebbe to Amsterdam to PDX.
After some time another man from the check-in desks came a asked for my boarding pass and disappeared with it. I was getting concerned as I watched him go to a number of different check in desks and have a conversation with different people working there. After quite some time he returned and said I would have to get my boarding pass for the Amsterdam to Portland flight when I get to Amsterdam.
Finally another young man came with a wheelchair and took me through immigration and another security check where a woman checked/searched me for everywhere except my ear canal!!! I was at the gate when the young man that pushed me here took my passport and boarding pass to get me checked in and talk about concerned when he did not return fora bit and then he was back with everything ready. The tip I gave him was well worth it.
As I waited there were few people also at the gate when someone of another religion walked straight up to me and informed me he was a ........ and asked me what I was doing in Uganda. He then told me he of all the places he liked to vacation, Germany, Greece, ect.. I told him of the prisons we had just visited and that it was important that the prisoners knew that God loved them regardless of what they had done and that the religious head knowledge they had was not enough to save them as Eph. 2:8&9 says salvation is not by our own work but a free gift of God. With that he turned on his heal and walked away. Hummm!
The flight was fine and I actually dozed some but was disappointed that although when I booked my tickets I requested wheelchair assistance and when I boarded in Uganda I reminded them that I would need assistance in Amsterdam there was no assistance when I landed there. And cannot tell you how long I waited for help before finally arriving in the wheelchair assistance lounge for my 6 hour layover.
I got my new boarding pass so hopefully the rest of this journey will go well. I am ready to be home.
That none would be lost,
Today started off with a great breakfast meeting with Bishop Burton from Tanzania, who traveled the long distance from there to meet with us. He previously worked as a Regional Commander of Intelligence there. I will share later some of the details from the VERY informative meeting about prison ministry that we talked about. Additions to IRM's ministry might be coming, only God knows what he has in mind for 2023.
After the meeting Alfred headed to town to finalize everything with the company we rented the van from, Aaron took Bishop Burton to catch his flight and I sent him off with 2 new ties, which he was thrilled with,c and a scarf for his wife. Then I resumed packing.
At about noon there was a knock on my door, it was Alfred to get my shoes on as it was time for his lunch date with his mom! So, off we went to town to a place he had picked out.
First time in over 10 years for me, we each had a milkshake (Coconut Kiwi) and it was absolutely delicious and thick. Then we decided to split and BBQ chicken sandwich was also delicious. This was an extra special lunch as we both knew that we will leave Uganda for Australia and America tomorrow.
As we were sitting there enjoying our meal a tall beautiful young woman walked up to the table, looked down at Alfred, and said, Well, Alfred Mupenzi." and as Alfred looked up at her he quickly rose from his seat and they grabbed each other in a long embrace. I am not sure how she recognized him as she was sitting some distance away and he had his back to her. She is a cousin to Alfred, her mother was Alfred's mom's younger sister, but they grew up together so she is more like his sister. They had not seen each other in over 7 years. Alfred was thrilled to say the least and they only chatted for a few minutes.
Later in the evening we drove to the home of the lady, Julie, who owns the hotel where we have been staying for dinner. I had met her before and she wanted me to come and share "my story" with her. I just so happens that she grew up in the same refugee camp as Alfred and is two years his senior. But when we arrived she introduced us to her first "adopted daughter" who she cares for and is 26 years old. It turns out she is ALSO Alfred's cousin that he had never met and did they ever have a great time greeting each other.
Then Julie asked me to share my story with her and Alfred's cousin, which I did. And by the time I finished the Holy Spirit had added two more precious souls to the Lambs book of Life! Alfred was ecstatic. We had a delicious feast prepared by Julie's chef and then he rode back to town with us. A very nice man who spoke great English.
Alfred and I finished the IRM financial stuff and then it was off to bed at 11:30 and I was too tired to post this blog so I so I decided to do that in this morning.
We took Alfred to the airport at 6am and he flies out about 11:45am. I am not even going to try and explain how hard it was to say goodby to him!!!!!!
I leave for the airport at 6pm to make sure I am there by 8pm and will then fly out at 11pm. I appreciate your prayers that check in goes well and the 7 hour layover in Amsterdam is not extended or the flight cancelled.
That none would be lost,
Today was a busy day with a trip to town for shopping and an afternoon willed with fixing gift bags for the Commissioners and the team. Alfred and I tried to finish the finance details but still have a bit to do. And then there is packing, packing, packing.
It is always such a special time to meet with Commissioner Elizabeth and Deputy Commissioner Apollo who has been promoted to Commissioner and it is nice to hear how they appreciate each team member and the work we do within the prisons. After dinner gifts were exchanged so my luggage is full for sure with a beautiful wooden carved Africa shaped clock, gorgeous fabric and more from last nights banquet like the beautiful gold cuff bracelet. I have been spoiled for sure.
Tomorrow is our last day together as Alfred and I both fly out on Friday. And it is also a busy one as we have a meeting with someone from Tanzania.
I realize this is a short post but it is already 11 as there was much traffic on the way home from dinner.
That none would be lost,
July 19 – Our “Partner Friends of IRM” banquet was tonight
These "Pots" are huge
Waking up the cool fresh air of Uganda is a good thing and walking into breakfast being greeted by “Good morning Mom” by my son, Alfred, is an extra special thing. Then there is Aaron, who claims he is son #2, with his morning greeting. When you live alone like I do these morning greeting are something to treasure.
The breakfast for the guys remains the same, Matooke with peanut gravy, green spinach, pineapple juice and African tea. While mine was fresh pineapple, French toast, African tea and a wonderful cereal with almonds and dried cranberries. Then I am not sure why but they also brought me a bowl of beans (similar to Pork and Beans but without the pork). Far too much to eat so I saved my French toast for lunch to have with PB&J.
We were to go to town today to do some shopping and get printed the ministry trip report for the Commissioner of Uganda Prisons that we will be having dinner with on Thursday. But things always have a way of changing. They were unable to finish the service on the van yesterday as they found some major seals/gaskets were damaged and had to be replaced to the tune of $495 so Aaron left this morning to pick it up. It is 1pm and not back yet so I pray they have not found something else that need to be repaired.
Alfred decided to take a motor bike to town to get the report printed and wire some funds that were requested by Edward wired to him in Kenya. I had inventoried and packed up all the IRM supplies that will be stored at Alfred’s and packed most of my second suitcase when I had a God given opportunity that I would not have had if I had been gone from the hotel. The very sweet lady, Harriet, that cleans for us and brings our meals came to my room and asked why I was packing since we were not checking out until Friday. It seems she was concerned that I was leaving early but I assured he that the next few days were going to be busy and I was just getting prepared. The conversation continued about how Alfred and I adopted each other which led to me sharing some of what I share with the prisoners. She just kept staying and talking which was not what she usually does so at one point I asked her if she had ever accepted God’s free gift of salvation and asked Jesus to be her Savior to which she responded, “No”. The Holy Spirit gave me the privilege of praying with her to receive Christ. What a sweet, sweet moment. Then her helper appeared and they were off to finish cleaning and I was off praising Jesus.
I am excited to see 9 couples of IRM ministry partner/friends tonight. Bishop John Kamanzi, the head of Uganda Foursquare, will officiate communion and Alfred will share a message with my urging instead of me. I am just going to enjoy spending time with everyone unless Alfred TRIES to pull me in to speak but I prefer not to as I have done a lot of speaking these past 6 weeks.
Alfred had arranged for a tent in the garden area and it was surrounded inside with IRM colors of red, black and white balloons and the tables were decorated with red and white roses. Oh what a wonderful buffet banquet we had with beef, fish, beef strips in sauce, Matooke for sure, coleslaw w/ pineapple, potatoes, squash, rice, other local foods and a variety of fruits with my favorite pineapple.
I did not realize the whole evening was designed around appreciating IRM and the work I do, I felt humbled by everyone’s words to me but I must admit after the last two weeks it blessed my heart to hear such kind words and then at the end of the banquet they had me sit in a chair outside the tent everyone gathered around me, laid hands on me and prayed for me. Then everyone did the same for Alfred.
What an amazing son God as put in my life and group of pastors and wives, I am truly blessed!
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16
That none would be lost,
July 16 – Today we arrived back in Kenya
Breakfast in Uganda
Matooke, peanut gravy and greens (similar to Swiss Chard)
I had a fair night’s sleep as the hotel we stayed in was next to the highway and the MANY trucks driving by continued through the night. I have had a difficult time finding foods that fit my tummy’s taste but the last two nights have provided good meals. Night before last was the pizza and last night was the fish fillets, they were good as were the carrot and fresh green bean veggies. The potato wedges were seasoned differently but tasted fine, there were just too many.
The breakfast provided by the hotel was not what we expected and when I went to the counter and saw the VERY VERY filthy open refrigerator and the young “boy” who. had no hotel uniform and looked like the he was off the street, that was preparing the food I was glad I still had some of the cereal Alfred picked out for me that I have been caring in my suitcase. He wanted to be sure I had something for breakfast if some hotels “local” food was not something I could eat. So I decided I just should not to eat the French toast that had been prepared for me since I know the boy probably touched the bread as he was preparing it. On the last trip I ate something that had been prepared for me by a person with filthy hands and got very sick, having to go to the hospital for medication. I am trying my best to not let that happen this trip. I am not sure who cooked the fish I had last night but I am glad it was deep fried, killing most every germ, and I feel fine this morning.
It was 9:30 by the time we got in the van and headed to Kampala. Since it was Sunday the traffic was light until we got close to town but it was good to finally arrive back at our original hotel which is clean and nice. The house at the hotel that we originally rented was not available until tomorrow so we stayed in a different section of the hotel. I was disappointed that there is no Wi-Fi in my room so I will have to wait and post this tomorrow.
Alfred and I spent some time going over finances and just visiting the rest of the afternoon.
The cook here is so nice and followed the instructions Alfred gave him to prepare the coleslaw with pineapple for me to go with the spaghetti I ordered. Everything was DELICIOUS but the portions were huge so Alfred helped eat some as he waited for the “local food” dinner he and Aaron ordered; fish, mashed mitoki and rice.
It was a special treat to end the day with a nice hot bath to soak my back in. Most hotels do not have hot water or bathtubs just a shower head, a drain in the floor and cold water.
July 17 –
Goodness, I must be more exhausted than I thought as I only woke once and slept from 9pm to 6am, waking with the help of the 4 or 5 roosters in the area. The team met for breakfast in the garden here with Aaron and I having African tea and French toast and then the guys having whole matooki (a green banana) topped with peanut gravy! It looks really “interesting” and I have tasted it but it is not something I want to eat.
While we were there the guys spoke with a representative for prison ministry from Tanzania. We continue to see God’s provision as the door has opened for us to add going to Tanzania in the future and before I return home our IRM team will meet with a representative from there. I am excited to see what God does with this opportunity next year in 2023.
It is hard to believe that I only have three more days here. As I watched the enemy start attacking this trip and me earlier this year and during this trip but then has always saw God’s provision. I KNEW this trip was going to be a powerful one and told others that I believed that we would watch the Holy Spirit pour out His power like never before, and so we have. With me being so ill from the time I left Portland and for most of this trip only a fresh anointing from God each day allowed me to preach 48 crusades and do a radio broadcast. Some of the 52 prisons I was scheduled to do changed as some prisons combined and brought their ladies wing to a side of the men's prison and 2 scheduled prisons for one day had to be canceled by Chaplain Edward.
I must say my team here in Uganda is exceptional as they are not just friends of IRM but real partners as they continue to increase their partnership with us by paying for their own phone cards and some transport. This shows their desire to really be a part of this ministry by not expecting IRM to cover the cost of everything and allows us to purchase more bibles and booklets for the prisoners.
Aaron has left to get the van serviced, Alfred is finalizing our report for the Uganda Prison Services and writing a much needed letter while I finish writing today’s blog but there is much to be done as we finalize this trip. We have moved across the hotel property to their house we have rented here. It was cheaper to rent it than to rent separate rooms and I love the family atmosphere it gives our team.
I read a message about the issues concerning travel through the Amsterdam airport extending layovers, mine as already been extended from 3 hrs. to 6hrs., and canceling flights. Please pray that I would not have any further changes to my flight home on July 22.
That none would be lost,
Words are hard to write today as I think about all we saw and heard God do this last day of ministry.
Breakfast was at 8 and Aaron and I saved our French toast and Yogurt to take in the van for our snack as we cross the border. We will add it to the remainder of the very good Hawaiian pizza I had for dinner last night.
We were met by two very nice chaplains at Busia Main Prison who set about getting everything ready for us. The 700 prisoners were assembled in a field with those in striped clothing (convicted) on the right and a larger number of those in street clothes (remand) on the left. What a great time we had with them and they made so many good decisions for themselves in both salvation and forgiveness, I saw one M…… man that received Christ as his Savior.
Although we were in an open area God provided a bit of cloud cover until the very end so I did not have to preach in the sun. My strength in a few areas has not returned from my blood infection and I notice even the strength in my hands has not returned. Can you imagine not being able to open a bottle of water? Good thing I have teammates who are willing to do that for me.
Then we walked over to the women’s area and as I walked around shaking hands with each prisoner one old woman patted her heart and the reached forward and toughed mine. There are just those precious times when words are not needed.
Because of my personal testimony I have a very real connection with the women prisoners and today’s group was small and actually perfect. I shared a part of my personal story that I have never shared with prisoners before because a few day ago the Holy spirit made it clear it was time to add it to what I share. Aaron said later that he watched many of the 38 women duck their heads and start crying as I shared meaning they were identifying with what I was saying. It is difficult to be so transparent but if it helps others know that God can give them victory over what they have gone through then I will continue to share those things.
4 cried as they shared their testimony about what the Holy Spirit had done in their hearts during our time together and most of the other women cried with them. One prisoner, with tears streaming down her face, said that after coming to prison she had wanted to kill herself but today's message had given her hope and changed her mind.
Yes, they have done wrong things but many here, according to the Officer in Charge, are innocent like the elderly woman who was the victim of a break-in and when she screamed the village neighbors came and killed the man. She and her daughter was judged as being part of a mob and she was sentenced to 3 years her daughter sentenced to 5years. Another prisoner was there because she witnessed a murder and did nothing.
Because this was my last crusade of the trip today it was hard for me and I cried with them. I do not know if God will bring me back to Kenya or what plans he has for my future with the ministry he has called me to do. But watching women’s hearts be touched by the grace and love of Christ is something me heart yearns for.
When we were finished I gave each woman a kiss on the cheek and blessed her as I gave her a wrap, that had been donated. I told my team it was something I wanted to do all by myself. Then the prisoners with babies received a donated crochet cap.
I was so pleased that there were enough bibles and booklets that each woman would get a set.
We walked to the O.C.’s office to sign the official book, like we do at every prison, but when we walked outside there they were all the prisoners with their wraps on and they were standing in a line. I could not help myself, I ran and got in line with them.
To those who have given generously and prayed so I could be here, may our Savior pour out his richest blessings upon you, “Thank You” is too small a word.
It was 2pm so we said our goodbyes and drove to the border which did not take long to go through and then we entered Uganda. Aaron and I were so happy we wanted to sing praises to the Savior. We drove to Jinga but the place we always stay was full so we drove further and found a place that ended up being close to a mosque, and the 7pm call to prayer just sounded. Good things I have earplugs as I plan to sleep until 7am or so. We will leave for Kampala at 9am and since it will be Sunday perhaps the traffic will be light.
Please pray for a good night’s rest and travel safety tomorrow.
That none would be lost,