Archive for the ‘Uganda missions’ Category

Today, in America, people are celebrating Thanksgiving Day. It’s a day where we gather with family and friends; when we prepare a big feast of stuffed turkey, gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce and every flavor of pie you can imagine; when we eat enough at one meal to last a week; and when exciting football games between rival high schools are played.  Most important, it’s a time to reflect and give thanks to God for all He has provided during the year.

Today, homes are filled with the delicious aroma of roasted turkey and pumpkin pie and yes, as I sit here in Uganda I have to admit I am feeling a little homesick right now and missing my family and friends as I think of them gathering together and wishing I could join in on the festivities.  It’s just another day here in Uganda as this Thanksgiving Day is just an American holiday. However, one of the local restaurants in Gulu will be preparing a turkey dinner, complete with pumpkin soup for us American Expats to enjoy and not to feel to deprived.

Even though I am not home in American to celebrate this day with my family it does not mean I can not take the time to reflect and thank the Lord for all He has done for me this past year and there is much to be thankful for…

Tegot-A-Too Village center. There is no electricity out here yet so solar is the way to go.

Tegot-A-Too Village center. There is no electricity out here yet so solar is the way to go.

This year I started a non-profit organization,  Northern Uganda Women and Children Support Initiative, Inc. or NUWOCSI for short. Of course, I am not alone in this new venture. I have some great founding board members from both Uganda and the United States helping in getting this organization “off the ground” and working towards the goals we envision for this non-profit. I thank God for each of them  and for their willingness to serve. Their input, advice and work is invaluable and I appreciate them so much.

I discovered during the past year how much paperwork is involved in starting a non-profit. It is daunting how much documentation is required and at times I thought I would drown in it all, so I am very thankful for the help and expertise of those who helped in reviewing, proofreading and helping me put it all together.

Northern Uganda Women and Children Support Initiative, Inc. is a registered non-profit in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and currently our 501(c)3 tax exempt application is pending with the Internal Revenue Service. We anticipate a reply from the IRS sometime at the beginning of the new year. We would appreciate your prayers that this process goes smoothly and our application is approved.

We are currently looking into building a new website that will enable people to not only make donations online but to also purchase the quilt projects from our Tegot-A-Too women’s project. This would be part of the marketing strategy for selling the women’s products with 100% of the sale price going directly to the women and their project.

Continuing our English Literacy Program.

Continuing our English Literacy Program.

English Lessons!

English Lessons!

It’s also an exciting time as we look into developing new projects to help benefit these wonderful, hardworking women I’ve come to know and love. We have a project we are looking into that would be a benefit both nutritionally and financially, not only to this women’s group but to the whole village and community, but it’s still in the “fact-finding” stage. I hope to be able to tell you more about this at a later date.

Busy working!

Busy working!

The Tegot-A-Too quilters are still working hard and producing some great work. Please take a look at “Our Quilt” page for more photos but below is a sample of their current work. They are also continuing their English Literacy program and many now greet me in English. As they try to speak to me in English, I’m trying to respond in Acholi. It’s a continued learning process for all of us!

We  call this the Congo Log quilt. The women cut and design the squares themselves.

We call this the Congo Log quilt. The women cut and design the squares themselves. Notice the hand quilting!

Another bed size Congo Log quilt. The photo doesn't do it justice.

Bed size Congo Log quilt. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

A closer look!

A closer look!

We call this the Picture Swirl.

We call this the Picture Swirl.

One thing that has been so encouraging to me, as their “teacher” is seeing so many women now designing and making their own small projects from home, mostly handbags from the small pieces of fabric that remain from our group projects. Nothing goes to waste! There is one woman who is working on a bedsize quilt that she pretty much designed all my herself. I gave a few suggestions but she took it further. I can’t wait to show it to you as it pleases me so to see their confidence building! There are so many talented ladies in this group. Most of them just need a little encouragement and confidence building and then watch them soar.

So, as I reflect on this Thanksgiving Day I have to say thank you God for allowing me this opportunity to be here in Uganda, doing the work I am doing and to be able to serve these wonderful women. I am thankful for the comfortable home I have here, for the health I have experienced, for the protection and safety from the many boda-boda rides and bus trips I take, for the opportunity of friendship from visitors to Gulu, and for the hospitality and acceptance of the Ugandan people. As a woman living and traveling alone,  East Africa is the place to be as there is always someone willing to look after you and assist you.  I am thankful for living in such a safe part of the world.

I’d be remiss not to thank all of you who have supported me this past year with your gifts, your supplies to the project, you financial support and most important, your prayers. I am truly a blessed woman!


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Tegot-atoo hill and village

Well, mid-October finds me still waiting for my cargo that was shipped back in June. I’m told that it’s in Mombasa, Kenya; sitting on a vessel that’s waiting to unload. I think it’s been sitting in that port for 3 weeks now. I understand there’s a huge back-up in the port so who knows when it’ll get unloaded.

I’m just grateful my boxes made it to the right continent as the vessel I had first been told they were on docked in China weeks ago. This made me a little nervous…to say the least! I was wondering where in the world (literally) were my boxes.

Once unloaded in Mombasa, the shipment will go through some security checks and then should be sent to Kampala, Uganda where I can pick it up… but I’m prepared to go to Mombasa if need be. These boxes contain a lot of ministry supplies that I could be using now. I’m trying to stay patient!

I will be going to Kampala soon, if not to pick up my cargo at least to buy some needed supplies AND to look for a scooter. God provided the funds needed to make this purchase through the generous giving of a supporter and I want to say thank you to those friends. I know you have a great love and concern for the people here.

The ladies sewing training is going very well. I’m up to 45 women in training. As I wrote about in my last blog post, I broke up the ladies into two groups and this is working out well. They assigned themselves to either a Wednesday or Saturday class. I notice though that some women from my Saturday class will come to Wednesday’s training and vice versa. They know they won’t get individual training if it’s not their scheduled day but come with their sewing to just be part of the group and to get help from each other. They really seem to be enjoying these classes. Most spend all morning in the field farming and I’m sure by the afternoon they are hot and tired so I admire them for their committment.

Meet Agnes. Soon she'll be sewing better than the teacher!

There’s about 20 or 25 who will soon be ready to begin some real projects.  I now need to get some tables and chairs and get us off the ground. The projects we will start soon will have to be kept very clean and dry. Umm..maybe I should also get a canopy as the rains can come quickly.

Recently, a mother came to my Saturday class in tears, pleading for help for herself and children. This wasn’t the first time she had approached me so we arranged to meet with her and her family the next day.

This woman had an all too familiar story. Her husband abandoned the family and she was alone raising 4 children, ages 12 to 2 and a grandchild, age 7. Her daughter left her with the grandchild, Sarah, when Sarah was an infant. The woman breast-fed the baby, not knowing she, herself was HIV positive. Now, both the grandmother and the granddaughter are HIV positive. This woman also has cancer of the lips and requires an operation. The family has very little and is living in dire conditions.  The children are not in school because there just isn’t enough money.

While we visited we also shared the gospel with this woman. She once attended church but knew that she now wasn’t walking with the Lord and wasn’t sure if she had salvation. We talked with her and read some passages from the Bible, both in English and Acholi and prayed with her. Praise God, before we left she accepted Christ as her savior.

We will now work at getting the children into ECM’s child sponsorship program. Once a sponsor is found for a child, he or she will then be able to attend school, become eligible for the food program and receive medical care when needed. If you would like to know more about this program please visit www.ecmafrica.org.

October 9 was Independence Day in Uganda. I discovered that they celebrate pretty much like us Americans celebrate our independence, with a lot of good food and fireworks. It’s their most important holiday, next to Christmas. (I think we can say the same.) This year was their 49th anniversary. I and the other missionaries were invited to celebrate with the family of one of our ECM team members. It was a day of great food, dancing, games and meeting new friends.

Ohh..autumn in New England...can't say I'm missing it though because I know what comes next!

It’s apple season back in the States and I would love to have a bushel of Cortlands right now. It’s also papaya season here in Uganda and next to my New England apples it’s my favorite fruit. So although I’m missing the apples, the papaya is more than filling that craving.

Meet my "adopted" mama. She's as feisty as my mother.

As small and insignificant as this may be it’s just one more way God is providing and blessing me by filling the voids that were created when I left my home, family and friends to move to Uganda. As much as I miss my family… my friends… my church, the Lord has brought into my life so many more people to help fill those empty spaces in my heart. I’m so thankful for His love, mercy and grace.

I am also thankful for all of you, for your prayers and your generous support. Together, I think we can make a difference!

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Well, here it is, the end of July already.  It has been a productive month though, as I continue to get a lot of repairs and paint jobs completed around the house.  I owe a big thank you to the friends and family who have helped with these projects. The place has never looked so good.

I also continue with support raising and get closer to the amount needed to cover monthly expenses. I’m currently at 70%! I’ve also been taking on-line courses on rural development and micro-finance.  I really like the courses and the best part, they didn’t cost anything. It’s amazing how much wonderful information one can find on the web if you search long enough.

During the past few weeks I had allowed myself to get loaded down in worries.  I found myself thinking too much on the “what ifs” in my life. What if my house doesn’t sell, what if money runs out before the house sells, what if the car needs major repair, what if this happens, what if that doesn’t happen? You know, the kind of worrisome thinking that can escalate and go on and on, if you let it. Recently, after spending a morning cleaning and preparing my house for a showing, I grabbed my bible and purse and headed out the door. I knew I was past due for some genuine quiet time with God, away from all distractions.

I stopped first at Dunkin Donuts to reward my hard labor with a “caramel swirl” ice coffee and then headed towards a spot that sits up high overlooking the airport. I was looking for a quiet place with little distractions (hard to do in the city) and thought that would be a good place just watching the planes fly in and out but as I approached it a better place came to mind so I continued my drive to find my silence and peace at a quiet pond.

After scoping out the best place to park I found a spot where I could pull the car up along side the pond. It was lightly raining so my solitude would have to be spent inside the car. Except for the occasional car that passed by, it was quiet and very peaceful as I sat looking over the pond with its lily pads and croaking frogs. I began my quiet time in prayer and as I poured out all my worries and concerns I could really feel the Lord’s presence and oh, it was so comforting.

As I sat there staring at the pond and talking with the Lord, I could almost see Him in the middle of that pond. His arms were out-stretched and He was telling me, “okay, now walk”.

Earlier this year I did a blog that included the passage from Matthew 14:25-31 that describes how Peter, when he saw Jesus walking towards him on the sea, took a huge step in faith, climbed out of the boat and walked towards Jesus. I wrote at that time that I felt it was time for me to get out of the boat. Well, my house is on the market, the majority of my possessions have been sold or given away, I have left the financial security of a good job, and I’m willing to leave my family. I think I’m out of the boat. Now, to walk.

What do these passages from Matthew really mean, what is it that God is trying to teach us through them?

The next afternoon I was searching for teachings on these verses and came across some messages from Intouch Ministries with Dr. Charles Stanley. There were two that he taught from Matthew 14:22-33 that I just found so timely. They are titled “Taking Risks” and are in two parts.

According to Dr. Stanley, Peter took a risk when he stepped out of that boat. Peter watched Jesus walking across the water, in the middle of the sea and thought (or knew) Jesus would give him the power to do the same. So he stepped out, took some steps and was doing just fine but then he took his focus off of Jesus and onto the storm in front of him. He began to sink. However, he had shown courage just by stepping out of that boat and he must have had enough faith to know Jesus wouldn’t let him drown.

As Dr. Stanley explains, the Christian life and God’s call on our life is all about taking risks. We can’t grow and be fully used by God unless we’re willing to take risks and be challenged. God may challenge our abilities, our talent and He may ask us to do something we’ve never done before, to give up something we don’t want to give up or to go someplace we don’t want to go. God is looking for us to completely surrender and give Him complete control on our life. He will ask us to take risks and will pull us out of our comfort zone.  He will take us from playing it safe. Why? Because He is looking for our complete faith, for our total focus to be on Him.

What is the benefit of taking risks, being challenged, surrendering it all? We’ll reach our full potential in our Christian life and God may use us in ways that we never imagined. What are the consequences for playing it safe and saying no to God’s calling? We miss out on all that God has planned for our life. We’ll miss the blessings.

As I sat there looking at the pond I could hear Jesus saying, “keep your eyes focused on me and you will not sink, you will not fail because I am here”.

So, as I continue this journey, I will do my best not to succumb to the “what ifs” that will surely weight me down and sink me, but when I feel my courage draining and fear overtaking me, I will do my best to put my focus back on Jesus.  I know obedience to God’s calling never results in failure.

I so much appreciate those who continue to pray for me as I continue to prepare for Uganda.  Thank you!

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