Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November 3 (Tuesday morning)

Dear Friends and Family,

We were unable to upload the Sunday morning update before leaving Mbale because the internet service at the Mount Elgon Hotel was down on the weekend. You will see Sunday's update below this one. All are well, and we are now at Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The Sunday morning services at Kidoko Church were exceptional. There was a large turnout for Sunday school classes for men, women, and children. For the main service, not all could fit inside the church structure. Estimates were that approximately 500 were present. African worship with this many people inside a building is always a special experience. Keith gave a sermon challenging attendees to become a Biblical church, and Pastor Morris gave his much-anticipated, high-energy message commissioning Pastor Charles as the church’s new leader. To think the place was only a building one week ago, and to experience 500 people, many of whom are new believers, praising God is a special experience. We all thank God for the privilege of being a part of this. Likewise, this could not have happened without the faithful support of Tomball Bible Church in providing the funds to construct the church nor without the prayers and support of our senders. We are grateful to our Ugandan hosts for their faithfulness and encouragement, and our team was blessed by each of them. We hope our blog updates have allowed you to share in our joy.

On Sunday afternoon and Monday, we made the journey across Uganda to Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Our plan is to enjoy a little R&R and to go on a few sightseeing safaris. On Monday evening, we all saw elephants, hippos, cape buffaloes, wart hogs, mongooses, and various forms of antelope/deer. A few from our team who rose early this morning got to see close-up looks at three male lions and four female lions. Elephants in the park were poached down to 200 a few years ago, but their population is back up to 3000 based on increased conservation and security efforts. It is a special treat to see all of these animals in the wild.

As twelve of us prepare to come home, one of our team will be remaining for a few more weeks. Marsha plans to stay until Dec. 3, and she will be continuing in various ministry roles with the Ogengas. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.

Thanks again for all of your prayers and support. We anticipate this will be our last update, since most of us head for the airport tomorrow. Please pray for safe travel. We are scheduled to be back in Houston at 2:20 pm on Thursday afternoon. Knowing all of you have been behind us has been a key part of our trip. God has worked in many in Uganda, and he has certainly grown all of us as well. We’ve missed our families, and we look forward to getting home. God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good!

Fred (on behalf of the whole team)

November 1 (Sunday morning)

Friends and family,

Friday was another day of blessing from God. Our team, together with Ugandan hosts/translators, were planting seeds in many directions. Rose, Dee Dee, and Larry spent the day at Lulwanda Children’s Home. Tyson and Stephen spoke at two schools. Marsha and Keith toured the seminary and visited with its leadership in the morning. In the afternoon, Keith spoke at Mbale prison. (In the afternoon, Marsha was not feeling well, but she was back in action on Saturday. PTL!) Clay spent the day filming with Pastor Abraham. That left Don, Ann, Tyler (“Taylor” as he is called here), Cindy, and Fred to evangelize in hut-to-hut outreach. At the afternoon crusade, Rose and Fred shared testimonies and “Taylor” gave a heart-felt, crystal-clear sermon about trusting in God, and not leaning on our own understanding. Cindy and Ann capped off a week of crusade children’s ministry by providing color bead bracelets to each of the hundreds of children; the children were taught how the different colors can be used to tell the good news of Christ to others. The day proved incredibly fruitful as God led many on each of the fronts described above to trust in Him as their hope of heaven. It was an awesome end to an incredible week of evangelism!

On Saturday, the team spent the day at Lulwanda Children’s Home. This was “Good Neighbor Program” day at LCH, in which each of the 90 LCH children invite a particular child from the surrounding community to spend the day with them at LCH. At mid-day, the home was visited by a Uganda federal minister (similar to a US cabinet secretary in Washington). This was an exercise in protocol in which the cabinet minister had many positive things to say about LCH, and he was complimentary of the work being done. All of us enjoyed musical presentations by the LCH children. The minister also challenged the group to do even more to reach Uganda’s 2 million orphans. After his departure, the 90 LCH children and the 90 Good Neighbor children made their own color-beaded bracelets, and they were taught how to share the good news using the color beads. In late afternoon, we had a great time of conversation, play, and hugs with all of the children. LCH is a special place where God is doing a mighty work, and it is always difficult to say goodbyes.

It is early Sunday morning as this is being written. We are packing our bags in preparation for checking out of our hotel. When we leave, we will be heading for the new Kidoko church for its opening Sunday Service. All week, we have been inviting new believers and others to this opening service to celebrate the way God has blessed the village of Kidoko. We are eager and expectant of this morning’s service. Don, Rose, and Cindy will be leading Sunday school for men, women, and children, respectively. Keith will be preaching, and Pastor Morris Ogenga will be commissioning Pastor Charles in his new role as the pastor of the Kidoko church.

In closing this update, rest assured that God has moved mightily this week. Thanks to all of you for your prayers, encouragement, and support. Thanks to TBC for funding the church land and building through its spring Missions Emphasis Weekend. We recorded the names of hundreds of new believers in our hut-to-hut evangelism. We saw many come forward to accept Christ as their Savior at afternoon crusades. Children’s programs were incredible. The village of Kidoko has been changed for Christ. We saw incredible responses to the good news at prisons and at schools. God has opened the hearts of people to His message, and we count it as a privilege to be used by Him in this way. As for us, we’ve all been stretched and grown in many ways. We are grateful for this work that He has done in us as well.

As we depart our hotel, we will be losing our internet connection, and we are unsure when another update can be provided. Please know that all of us are healthy and well. We will be traveling to Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda for a short time of R&R. On Wednesday, we will be visiting Kampala before departing. Updates will be provided if we can.

Blessings to each of you,
Fred (on behalf of the whoe team)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29, 2009 (Thursday evening)

Today was Fred’s birthday. Fred’s day started off with a happy birthday song sung by the team followed by a day of hut to hut evangelism at Kidoko and another happy birthday serenade in the afternoon by a few women from Lulwanda Children’s Home (they made a special trip to the village to sing to Fred). They sounded much better than the team. Papa Fred later received a hand-made birthday card from Michael, his sponsored child from Lulwanda, which I know he will treasure. Fred had a great day but he did not get a birthday cake.

Keith went to three primary schools and saw many children. Keith delivered a message about choices from the book of Daniel at all three schools. The kids in Uganda always listen very closely to what is being taught. The first school alone was estimated to have had over 800 girls. At the second school there were around 250 kids, but one of the interesting turn of events was that a woman standing out by the road behind the children listened in on Keith’s message and she accepted Christ. Keith was able to go and talk to her afterwards. He didn’t arrive at the third school until after 4:00 PM , but there were still over 150 kids there waiting for him to arrive.

The team dropped off Rose and Cindy at Lulwanda. Rose continued to interview the children and found the favorite color of many of the children is red and when asked why they stated because of the Blood of Christ. She had a good day. Cindy, an administrator in education, visited the school and library. She really enjoyed her day and has some great ideas. She indicated the need for some additional books for early readers.

At Kidoko, Ann, Clay, Stephen, Tyson, Tyler, Larry, Dee, Marsha, Don and as mentioned earlier Fred went hut to hut. Clay had one of the most memorable visits. As he approached a hut, the woman of the hut came running out and urged them to come see her husband in the hut as he was in very poor health. They went into the hut with some reservation. As they went in they saw the man was near death, possibly dying with Aids. When questioned, the man indicated he did not know Christ and asked to hear. Clay witnessed to him and he and other family members accepted. All members of the team had an amazing day which would take several pages to cover just the highlights. Clay, Stephen and Tyson went to the Prison in the afternoon where Clay preached and Stephen and Tyson shared their testimonies.

Larry and Dee shared their testimonies and Don preached at the Crusade. As the van was ready to pull off, Larry heard an altar call in which those present that wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior should raise their hands. Seeing all the hands up in the air in the middle of the drizzling rain was a beautiful sight.

God is good all the time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28 (Wednesday evening)


All team members are healthy and doing well. We continue to see the Lord work in amazing ways! (Please know that this update is wholly inadequate to describe what is happening here.) Each day this week, members of our team have grouped together with Ugandan translators to perform hut to hut evangelism in different areas around the new Kidoko church, and each day all have reported new believers in Jesus Christ. At afternoon crusade services, two Americans give testimonies and one American serves as the preacher of the Good News. On Tuesday, Cindy and Clay gave testimonies, and Keith was the preacher. On Wednesday, Stephen and Marsha gave testimonies, and Tyson was the preacher. The programs are organized by our Ugandan hosts, and each day has seen incredible responses to altar calls. Children have responded as well to Bible stories. Prison ministry teams were Stephen, Tyler, and Fred on Tuesday and Stephen and Clay on Wednesday. Area schools were visited by Don and Marsha on Tuesday and Tyler on Wednesday. The prison and school outreaches have also proven fruitful as many (100+) have professed new faith in Jesus as their hope of heaven. Clay, Rose, and Dee Dee continue their work at Lulwanda Childrens Home taking portraits of the children, filming daily activities, and preparing short biographies.

Needless to say, our team has been busy and is tired, but we've all been motivated by witnessing incredible results and by working alongside faithful Ugandan coworkers. We are encouraged and energized, praising God for His blessing upon this outreach. All have been stretched, but the growth among our team's rookies (to Uganda) has been most astounding. All have done everything that was asked of them, even if far outside their comfort zone. Tyson delivered a clear, confident, Spirit-led sermon at today's crusade, and led a group of new believers in the "sinners prayer" at the conclusion. Tyler showed courage to enter a prison with very tight quarters and deliver a testimony on Tuesday, followed by being the lone American visiting two schools and delivering sermons at each on Wednesday. Stephen has been bold in delivering testimonies, which often turn into "preachimonies" as he confidently declares the urgency of believing in Jesus and walking with Him. Following hut-to-hut evangelism in the mornings, Stephen has volunteered to visit a prison each afternoon this week (three so far). Wow. Clay delivered a prison sermon after which all 24 prisoners professed faith in Christ! Cindy has been incredible leading hundreds of children during childrens programs, and typically returns with 20+ names of new believers each day from hut-to-hut evangelism! Marsha has proven to be a trooper by visiting schools, by walking dusty trails to perform hut to hut evangelism, by delivering testimonies, and visiting the LCH garden plot.

Please pray for continued good health, boldness in Him, open Ugandan ears to the Good News, and spiritual victories! We plan to follow a similar program on Thursday and Friday.

Internet service is intermittent, but know we do the best we can with new posts. Thanks for the comments you've posted as they encourage us. Much love to our friends and families at home! God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!

In Him,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday's Adventure

Today started like most days at Mt. Elgon Hotel. A beautiful sunrise over Wanale and a cool refreshing air greeting us as we opened the room windows. The light smell of smoke in the air as households began to prepare their day's meal over an open charcoal fire. The team assembled for breakfast and then held a devotion in the outdoor hut with full sight of Wanale.

The team covered four venues today with 3 going to Lulwanda to begin photography of each child in preparations for portraits while some individual info on each child was gathered. The two baby classes were photographed today. Our video project began as videos of the kids in school and working around Lulwanda were gathered.

At Kidoko, team members partnered with their translators and were on the trail going hut to hut to share the Good News with the villagers. Special testimonies were conveyed tonight around the dinner table about what touched their hearts while spending time in and at the huts of the Kidoko people.

Children's program at Kidoko church had about 300 kids in attenance and the crusade had that plus many, many more adults who heard two testimonies and a sermon by team members. It was a great afternoon.

Four schools were visited and one prison was visited by team members today as well. It was a long, tiring but invigorating day of doing the Lord's work. All team members are doing well. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Night, Oct 25

We arrived late Friday night in Entebbe and spent the night there. Saturday, we traveled through the capital city of Kampala and spent time in the city so that we could capture some video footage for our promo video project. All luggage arrived safe and sound and the team is doing fine.

Today we began our first day of ministry in Mbale, Uganda. We spent the morning at Mbale PCU church which is the home church for Pastor Morris Ogenga. The team provided children's, women's and men's sunday school lessons for the congregation and we also delivered the main service message. Church started at 9:30am and concluded at 1:00pm. True African style. It was a blast. We heard children's choirs, youth choirs, and adult choirs sing and do creative dances. The talent level and energy level of African worship is outstanding and it was a real blessing for all of us to witness and participate in.

After lunch at Mbale PCU, we changed clothes and headed to Lulwanda Children's Home. It is amazing to see how the kids have grown and to look into the new Medical Clinic and the new School blocks/library. We played with the kids and did I say we played with the kids... well if I didn't, we played with the kids. They performed songs for us as well at Lulwanda. The quality of their music is improving with their age.

At Mbale PCU, the ladies choir sang this song which is very appropriate for each of us. Please consider for yourself:

Verse 1: Don't go on living the life of wasted years,
Wasted years are foolish, turn around the Lord is calling you from the life of wasted years.
Have you ever wandered around in your lifetime, Have you thought of a life, a life of fear.
Have you asked from the Lord to change your life, You can go around living a life of wasted years.

Refrain: Wasted years, wasted years, oh how foolish as you walk in the darkness and fear.
Turn around just turn around. The Lord is calling, He's calling you from the life of wasted years.

Verse 2: Many times you may ask How is my life.
Just go down on your knees and ask the Lord,
He will never let you down in your time,
You can go round living a life of wasted years

Monday, October 19, 2009

before we take off...

Thank you for praying for, and traveling with us over the next few weeks on this great adventure and exciting opportunity the LORD has for us all.

Please be encouraged (whether you are a go-er or a send-er) by the following nuggets from God's Word:

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is [His] faithfulness."
--Lam 3:22-23

"Taste and see that the Lord is good..."
--Ps 34:8

Remember that "We love because He first loved us."
--1 John 4:19

We are to know that God is good and what He does is good.
--Ps 119:68

and our Scripture for our journey is:
"... His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."
--Jeremiah 20:9

Please pray with us as we seek the LORD's heart and wisdom in the preparation of sermons, Sunday school lessons, testimonies, devotions; and, as we continue to pack for the trip! THANK YOU!!! :-)

In Christ's love...
Dee H.