Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We are blessed with visitors at LCH...

And advance warning that this might be longer than normal because it has been awhile since my last post.  But hopefully you will enjoy hearing stories and seeing what God is doing at LCH.  
ALSO- - a prayer request:  Pray for expedited approval of my work permit renewal.  It has already been turned into the immigration office for a month, but things move quite slow here.  It expires on Aug. 11 and if not approved in time then I have to spend extra money, effort, and trips to Kampala to apply for a special pass until the renewal is approved.

Of course summer is our busiest season.  But I praise God that this summer has been one of the greatest in the number and type of visitors that we have been able to host at LCH.  During June, two individuals came, which was so fun for me to have girls my age to show the ropes of Mbale and host slumber parties at my home :)  Also, a new friend, Melanie May, has moved to Mbale and is living in my old "apartment" at Mama and Pastor's house.  She will be here for at least 2 years, so I am excited to see how God will grow our friendship.

Sarah Hurst is finishing up her final week in Uganda and has done a great work giving feedback and helping our LCH students prepare for the Music Competition that will be held this Friday.  Our kids sound awesome and we are praying for their success and to pass on to the next level.

Sarah has also been a huge blessing in helping me to accomplish some of the big tasks that were on my plate.  She has been a blessing to LCH and to me personally.

Amy Watley is a friend I know from TbarM and a teacher in Lubbock, Texas.  She spent about a month at LCH, helping out in the P3 classroom, organizing the supply closet, and teaching the teachers how to use the various classroom manipulatives that God has provided for us.  Her joyful attitude and servant's heart made her a huge highlight of the summer.

Really, I have had a blast with Sarah and Amy.  We have laughed together so many times.  They are sweet friends to me and God allowed us to do many unique things together during their visit, such as...

 Visiting Namatala, a slum in Mbale, where many people from Northern Uganda fled to during war times in hopes of finding better opportunity.  Unfortunately, they did not find that to be fully true and now live in this village, in their little mud huts, with little opportunity to proper medical care or education.  Thankfully, God's grace has stretched to 40 of these young children to provide school fees and supplemental food through a ministry called I Choose You. 

 It was time for a new look at LCH.  Sarah and I 
did the work of priming the wall before a team came out to paint a new mural.

Girls weekend to the Nile River.  We stayed at a little guest house that is truly one of God's treasures and took an afternoon trip to the headwaters of the River Nile.  They say this is the actual point of the source of the river and where it begins its 1300 mile journey up to Egypt. 

We also traveled with a team to Sipi falls, where we hiked under and then to the top of the falls.

 In preparing for one of our teams to visit, the three of us visited St. Kizito's Baby's home and were able to spend some time playing with these sweet ones.  I love that LCH has partnered with St. Kizito's and three of our new children, who had outgrown the accepted age of St. Kizito's, are now part of Lulwanda's family.

Of course we have spent most of our days at LCH doing various activities.
 How can you not love these faces?!  Oh Jesus, thank you that you have and continue to restore hope at LCH for 110 precious kids.  These are some of our newest babies!  (Shameless plug-  most of our new girls are needing sponsors. 
If interested in changing a life through $1 a day visit www.ugandaorphans.org)

 It is the season for maize.  You can find many vendors on the street selling either boiled or roasted maize.  One evening, being very Ugandan, Amy and I jumped onto a piki (motorbike taxi) and rode to town to buy maize and mango juice and proceeded to the local hangout- a wall outside of one of the government buildings- to people watch and enjoy our snack.  We even made two new friends :)
Outside of visitors to LCH, there are many teams who come to Mbale to do church plants under the ministry of Pastor Morris.  We had the privilege to join one of the teams and head out to the field or hut-to-hut evangelism and a crusade that followed.

I have also been able to celebrate 3 birthdays in the last 2 months of old and new friends.  Jerad, my friend and co-worker at LCH had his 24th birthday.  We had a great celebration, complete with the a Kenyan birthday tradition of pouring water on the birthday person.  Jerad had no idea what was coming!!

 And who said that "firework sparklers" were only and outside toy for the 4th of July?!  Here, a birthday party is not complete without the sparkler candles.

We also have had the privilage of having the Perkins family join us for a few days- doing various activities from I.T. to teaching to sponsor photos.  And God has again blessed us by the return of our dear friends from MDPC (in Houston area) that beautified our campus with new murals, a team of teachers from Wimberly and Monahans area who held a teacher's workshop for over 40 local teachers, and the Global Journey team, that willingly served in various areas, from painting, to reading, to playing with the kiddos.  So, many things have been happening in the past two months that it might be better to show you in pictures so you get the full effect of God's rich blessings to us at LCH.

 I love to see the hearts of the teams that come because their love and generosity always extend beyond the children and staff at Lulwanda.

MDPC visited a recently established children's home called, My Father's House and brought bags of rice, posho, beans, and sugar, in addition to many toys and balls for the children there.

 One of my sweetest moments of the summer was meeting the beautiful girl below, Emily.  She first caught my eye because of her little crutches sitting beside her.  After asking about her, I found out she is 10 years old, and in baby class.  Her teacher says she is able to learn but just doesn't try.  I have seen this before with some of our LCH children that are big in size and age, but behind in education.  They get discouraged and give up.  On top of that, she is basically immobile on her own capabilities.  When the team presented their gifts, it included a little tricycle.  The director quickly suggested that this be for Emily.  But as we put her on, we realized that because of the immobility of her legs and that there was not a foot rest, we didn't think this would work for her.  But God works in interesting ways.  After pushing her around the room a couple times, holding her legs up so that they wouldn't drag behind, I stopped Emily in the middle of the room.  After a few minutes, I was something wonderful.  She was using her hands to move her legs and feet forward, one at a time, and then scooting her body to excel slightly forward.  I watched her do it a second time and realized she was actually moving.  So, I went over and helped encourage her to continue.  Sure enough, she moved inch by inch around the room.  Oh, tears filled my eyes seeing this little girl be freely mobile for the first time in her life and seeing a sense of pride and self worth shine forth in a smile that was before vacant. 

Emily touched my heart and I invited her to Lulwanda to meet my friend, Betty, who uses a cane to help walk around.  I hope Betty can be a great source of encouragement to Emily- that a disability does not have to hinder your life and especially education.  Sweet Emily has a bright future, in Jesus' name!

 In the afternoons, the Thrasher team led the girls in different crafty activities like sewing bags and baking yummy treats.  While the boys carved, painted, and put together little wooden cars.  At the end of the week we had a pinewood derby race to see whose car was the fastest and went the farthest.  There was even a crowd of children from the village there to see the excitement.
 Painting, painting, painting.  Whether a fresh coat of paint to spruce up the walls or beautiful murals to add character to the dorms and main hall, Lulwanda has a new look and it is WONDERFUL.  We are so grateful to the Global Journey team for serving us in a less glamorous way by sprucing up our walls and to MDPC for the incredibly beautiful mural on the outside kitchen and the names of God and who God calls us in the dormitories and main hall.  Thank you for beautifying our home!!

Thank you a million times to all our visitors that have been a rich blessing to us at Lulwanda Children's Home.  I am excited to host our last team of the summer next week.  The team is extra special because my step-mom, Janece, is coming with a small group from East Lake Fellowship and it will be everyone's first time to Africa, except for Janece.