Friday, May 28, 2010

Obalanga & ICC

Today we went out to a village called Obalanga. The roads there are mostly not paved and mostly not smooth, but we made it in maybe 1.5hrs. Obalanga is a place where refugee's from within Uganda set up camp back when the LRA rebels were wreaking havoc in the north of Uganda (2003/4). At once point the LRA surrounded the camp and didn't let anything/anyone in or out of the camp, needless to say it was bad and some 12 people on average were dying each day until finally the village created their own militia group and was joined by the Ugandan Army were they able to free themselves. International teams has used some of its money over the last couple years to help properly bury those who had died during that time by creating mass graves for the unidentified and individual graves for those who were identified as people would be digging their gardens and come across bones and bring the trauma right to their face again. The ICC (international criminal court) will be coming to Soroti and Obalanga tomorrow to see the graves and meet some of the kids affected by the LRA. We are doing a big portion in hosting these people. So today we went to Obalanga and tore out weeds that were growing very tall among the graves. it was a hot and long day. I couldn't help but see a lesson that God wanted to teach me as I was hoeing. As a follower of Jesus it's one thing to say I follow you Jesus and then just live on, but if i leave the garden of my heart weeds will come. If I don't let continually Holy Spirit into my heart and have Him cleanse me, my heart will be come choked out by weeds and will loose track of my purpose and my identity in Christ. Jesus isn't supposed to be just a one time decision, it is a constant relationship, a constant abiding. and He will make me more and more like Him. Ok, in my brain it makes sense, but i'm tired so don't know how well that translated into actual words.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

a few pictures from abim

kids in the training session

one-on-one with one girl who has lost her whole family to warriers

walking one of the girls home after training was over for the week


I arrived back from Abim yesterday. Also went up to Moroto for a night. Abim was beautiful. The people were welcoming. I basically hung out with about 15 girls for the week. All of them have some how been affected by karamojong warriers (which are the cattle raiders who have wreaked havoc in those parts for several, several years, or they were affected by the LRA which was in that area briefly. There was much pain in many of their stories. So many who didn't have any parents still living. They are in situations I can't even imagine. One girl was living with a guardian who said that she had to marry her son or else move out, when she went to stay with an aunt, the aunts husband said she could only stay if she would become his second wife. I just can't imagine. and she's probably like 15 yrs old or so. Another girl was being pursued by her primary school teacher to have sex with him, and yet she was able to stand firm and not give in to him despite his efforts to effect her school performance if she refused him. She's a full orphan meaning no parents, since she was born. She was shot by the LRA in her knee. She was raised by a guardian who loves Jesus. She knows that she has a purpose, she cries out to God when she has a need and knows that she would not be alive today if she did not have faith in God. She's seen His hand too much in her life not to believe. It was encouraging to speak with her. Though there are many problems in her life Jesus has given her hope. There's hope for the others as well. Though many have left them throughout their life, they have One who will never leave them nor forsake sake them, who hears their cry and saves them. My prayer is that their eyes would be open to how He loves them and is with them and that they see their God given purpose in this life.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Just had an ah-ha moment i thought i would share. So I was thinking about how i get frustrated with people when they don't trust my intentions for them. I want them to see my heart and how it loves them. and it hurts me when they doubt that. so all the sudden, i realized how I affect the heart of God in such a way. He shows me over and over again His heart of love and compassion and how His intentions are for my good and not to harm me. Then something hard comes along and I want to blame Him, and doubt Him. And He must say oh beloved...don't you see my heart for you, look at all the ways I've tried to reveal myself to you and shown you my love and you're still questioning me and doubting me and my intentions for you, don't you see I gave my life for you. TRUST ME! Trust my heart for you. Thank you Jesus for your patient persistant pursual of your people.

Friday, May 7, 2010

goat distribution

So I was supposed to leave this morning around 8am to go oversee the distribution of goats that International Teams had donated money to buy for former child soldiers and their families. Mode of transportation is a dirt bike. Lawrence (with an organization called Fida) and I on the dirt bike. We are supposed to go to three different sub-counties, it makes for a long day of travel. Especially when the road has been washed out and we have to go around.

but i'm getting ahead of myself here. we were supposed to leave at 8am, but someone else had used the bike and was stuck out of town because the rain and the bike was malfunctioning. so we didn't end up leaving until after 1pm. (hoping the bike was fixed well enough...) And so we are just flying down the road, even up to over 100km/hr on these torn up clay roads. Lawrence already drives fast, and now we're in a hurry...when we finally get to the first place they complain about having been there since early in the morning, but we move on and get the goats distributed.

we head to the next place, but run into the washed out road, and when we finally find our way there, no one is around. so apparently they are still out buying the goats...then we leave and go to the last place, this time the road was washed out but passable... by the time we get there it is getting late, maybe around 5pm and we've missed the goat distribution, they got tired of waiting and just distributed without us there. At least we were 1 for 3. oh and one more picture for good measure, we needed some fuel so we stopped in this one village and they filled us up with fuel from a coke bottle...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

a village burial

so today i went to a burial. it's so hard to put everything in words, i will try since i didn't feel right taking pictures there. So I have a friend here called Bena, she's married, one baby, and she's 29yrs. She loves Jesus and wants to help the girls from her home village know how God sees them and show them that God does have a purpose for their lives, she's started an organization called Alive With Purpose. I have really enjoyed getting to know her and hear her heart for the people here. Anyway, so I was helping her in her office type up the constitution for renewing her community based organization certificate. I asked if she wanted to come home for lunch and she said she could not because she had to go to a burial. her great-grandma had passed and was being buried out in the village in the afternoon. So...then she asked if i wanted to come with her. which i did. I am trying to take every opportunity to learn more about the culture, plus I wanted to be there with my new friend, to support her. The youth pastor from her church stops by the office at 11:30am, he was supposed to arrive at 9am to go over something with her, but apparently he was delayed...Bena says, african time, i just smile. she tells him she no longer has time to go over whatever they were going to go over because she has to leave for a burial. then enters the associate pastor from her church, charles, he works for an organization called Light, he has a vehicle. when he hears about the funeral he offers to drive us, along with simon (the youth pastor), Bena says they will come and now simon has begun calling others to come too, Bena says that it is good for others to go and stand with the person who has lost someone. we stop by my house on the way out and pick up jennifer, then we swing by somewhere else and pick up another lady, dina. we are now, the 6 of us in the truck cab, and we head out. the village is near so it only takes maybe twenty minutes. the road is bumpy but the four of us across the back are pretty tightly packed we don't move too much...we turn off the "main" road to the village and start driving on a walking path for a short while and then we park outside a cement house that Bena says is her family's. Now we proceed to walk further along the path which opens up to a compound with maybe 4 or so huts on it. the introductions have already started, and the temporary shelter that has been constructed the previous day is now packed with women on the floor and men on the benches, the shelter is big sticks standing up right with branches over top. the people have actually over flowed from the shelter and there are people under every edge around each hut, and under a tree. there were over 300 people...not going to lie, felt a little out of place walking into this scene. i spot the coffin amidst the people, Bena heads toward it, jennifer and I and the pastors follow shortly behind. she kneels by the coffin briefly we just stand, then she introduces her self and her friends (that's us). we say our names, they clap and then some men clear off a bench for us to sit on in the front row of benches. there were a few more introductions after we sat, but they cut the rest off because they could tell rain was approaching. the grandmother was catholic. while one man is praying for her, another is standing up saying that that's not necessary because it's not helpful once she is dead. then the pastors we came with preached the word of God, a few people raised their hands to accept Christ. then we did some sitting, some standing as we went through what i think was some part of a catholic service, then another pastor shared the gospel as well, for a long time, many fell asleep, and all in a language that i did not understand. then he went over to the other people sitting around the huts and started summarizing what he had been teaching under the shelter but people began telling him that the rain was coming we had to hurry up. so we got on with the rest of the service. but at anytime while someone was talking a lady may enter into the shelter crying a loud for this dead grandmother, someone would try to console and the person speaking wouldn't even skip a beat, everyone's attention would just be diverted for a brief time. ok, i better move this story along. so they eventually put the white sheets over the body and put the lid on it, carried out from under the shelter and lowered it with ropes to it's final resting place. the service continued. someone got down on top of the coffin and put sticks across the top of it, i think maybe to keep it from floating up if it was heavy rain or something, they were also mixing cement on the side of the grave, but the rains came heavy and we ran back to the house before we got to the rest of the covering of the grave. and it ended just like that. everyone else was just beginning to eat. we met Bena's father (who teaches at Gulu University) and then we prayed together and left. ok, so that's enough for now i think. all in a day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

where to begin...

I'm thinking how do i write..., i want to share, but i don't quite know almost a month has passed. maybe i'll just start from where i am. if you read this maybe you could just ask specific questions in the comment section that i could answer.