Monday, November 4, 2013
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
And there is a lot of suffering! More than I believe I can effectively communicate.
But...we can make a difference in the lives of a few. Many of you will recall some version of a famous tale of a young lady who came across starfish on the beach. It goes a little something like this:
An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean.
"Young lady," he asked, "Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"
"The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die."
"But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference."
The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves,
saying, "It made a difference for that one."
The old man looked at the young woman inquisitively and thought about what she had done. Inspired, he joined her in throwing starfish back into the sea.
I'll be honest, and admit that there are days that I have moments of weakness. I wonder why we are engaged in a work as large, and quite frankly "over my head" as working to make a difference in the lives of orphans in a nation an ocean away. What difference can I really make? But then I remember the faces of the kids that we know and love at the Carepoints, and the impact that I know has been made in their lives.
I know we can't possibly make a difference in everyone's lives. The problem is simply too big. But I also know that we can make a difference in the lives of some. But who? Where do you start? Who do you choose to help? Well, I made a commitment to start with whomever God throws in my path.
Here are the stories of 3 "starfish" that God has placed in our path. We have committed to helping them, because we simply cannot walk by and not help. To pray for these people, express our sympathy for their situations, but NOT do anything to help them, would be quite simply to miss the point of the Gospel. So we are committed to finding a way to help...one way or another.
Would you please consider reading their stories, and join us in making a difference in their lives...
We met this couple in a humbling moment of irony as we were celebrating the construction of a new home for a widow and her children on a piece of land we had purchased and with funds that you (our friends and family) had helped us raise to save their lives from relatives who were threatening them over a land dispute (Read more here).
As we stood around admiring the new brick home, Festo came wandering over to see what the fuss was about, his wife Florence in tow. The minute Festo came near we could tell something was wrong. He walked with a tedious and burdensome limp, as if each step was painful, and as he got closer, the reason became obvious.
Festo and his wife, as well as their two kids were struck by lightning in their mud and straw hut less than a year ago. The strike essentially melted away their hands, and took the life of one of their daughters. Her name was Martha.
The couple has not been able to receive proper medical attention for their wounds, and there are several open wounds still festering on their bodies. Worse yet, the couple (still struggling to cope with the loss of their daughter) are now struggling to provide for themselves and their surviving daughter - Catherine. They are unable to use their hands to work the soil as they had before the incident, and are basically surviving through the generosity of local family who are chipping in to feed them.
We are sending Festo and Florence to the local hospital to begin work to heal their wounds, and to do whatever we can to try and correct the damage done to their hands so that they can at least go back to farming the small plot of land that they cultivate to survive.
If it takes more than that, then we will work to raise those funds when we get there. It is difficult to explain why Festo crossed our path that day, but I am unwilling to have to explain one day why I did not do everything in my power to help him when I had the chance. Nothing will cure the reality of the pain that this family has endured.Whether the excruciating pain (that could only be described as hell) of healing without medical care from injuries this serious, or the perhaps more painful injury of the loss of their daughter. But I believe that a chance to provide for themselves, and the hope that they can care for their daughter, is worth fighting for.
Will you please consider joining us in giving Festo and Florence a chance at a "normal" life?
Last year you helped us raised funds to provide a home for a small family who captured our hearts from the Bukedea CarePoint. Little Peter Pan and his baby brother (5yrs old) were being cared for by their elder sister who was only 10 years old. They were in practice, a child headed household, and were in danger of losing their mother for good. Mom (Janet) was on her death bed, HIV positive, and suffering from what was then understood to be a pancreas problem which left her belly swollen as if she were 8 months pregnant.
Your donations provided a small parcel of land and a new home for this family, who had been chased from their land after their father had died, and was again chased from their uncle's land when they became a burden. Homeless, destitute, and hopeless...they were taken in by a local "good samaritan" who provided them a small hut to sleep in and some food.
Would you please consider joining us in giving Janet her life back, and keeping these kids with their mom.
We first introduced you all to Alex more than 2 years ago in the blog post "Smelly, Rejected, and Ashamed". Alex's bladder control problem (resulting from a defect in his urinary tract) led to an inability to control his urine flow.
Rejected by his peers, and kicked out of school as a distraction, Alex was being neglected by his father and his new wife (Alex's mom had abandoned him early in his life) as a hopeless child, incurably retarded and a burden on the family.
After many months of research and care by the staff at the Carepoint, Alex was finally admitted to a specialist that had the necessary equipment to conduct the corrective surgery needed to remedy the issue. The surgery was successfully conducted a couple of month ago and we are thrilled to announce that Alex appears to now have full control of his bladder.
He is back at school, and we are sincerely hoping and praying that he will now also begin to recover some of the social skills that he lacks after years of neglect and rejection.
The costs of Alex's surgery were covered from general funds for the Carepoint because we simply could not afford to wait any longer or lose the chance to have the surgery done when the door was open. We are working to raise the $1,000 that was "borrowed" from the general fund to cover the costs of this surgery.
Please consider partnering with us to provide a chance at a normal life for Alex.
Making the Good News - Good!
Over the last few years, it has become painfully apparent how many times the practical reality of the "Good News" that the evangelical church espouses simply has no practical bearing in the lives of those who are suffering around the world in the here and now. Far too often the Good News of the Gospel (at least our version) is good news only insofar as it "saves our souls" at some future point when we die and "go to heaven".
And that was indeed...good news.
A passage that strikes me as strangely often quoted, but as often practically ignored, is James 2...where Jesus' step brother admonished the fledgling church to recognize that if they claimed to have "Faith" in Jesus, and believed that they were "saved" by their belief in him...but did not demonstrate the reality of this faith by the actions of their life...that they were deluded. Their faith was dead!
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2: 14-17
So many people read this passage and believe that these "deeds" are in reference to sin management, and that we are being encouraged to show that our faith is genuine by managing our "sins" and being better Christians. Or perhaps to be willing to be an usher at a church service, or help at out the Sunday morning nursery. But the passage in its context is clear.....To encounter those in need and not help them (while claiming to love Jesus) is a misnomer. An oxymoron. A lie.
Friends...it is my belief that it is to Festo, Florence, Janet, and Alex that this text points. And it is for this reason that I implore you to join us in raising the support we need to care for these people.
We have set up a special Health and Medical fund for the Bukedea and Ogoloi Carepoints for donations to these causes. Your contributions are tax deductible, and no amount is too small ...or too large :) The link below will take you to the donation page for the Ogoloi/Bukedea Health and Medical Fund to provide care for Festo, Florence, Janet and Alex.
If I can answer any questions, or offer any clarification, please call or email me directly.
Thanks for your help.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
We have a lot to report on the Bukedea Carepoint. We spent 4 days on site and had a great time with the kids. As usual our team went on numerous home visits and several of our team were able to visit with their sponsored kids at their homes for the first time. We also spent a lot of time meeting and interacting with the local community, whether under mango trees or at the local school. As always, we learned a lot, and a lot of great discussions were had. Most importantly, our relationships with the people of Bukedea were deepened, and we were able to celebrate Gods provision for his kids in Bukedea.
The following are some updates we wanted to share with all of our sponsors regarding the progress at the Carepoint.
First off, we were absolutely thrilled to see the change in the attitudes of the local community after a change to the Caretaker role at the beginning of the year. The previous caretaker (the lead staff role at each carepoint) had apparently been a huge block to the community and had been keeping them from being involved. We were overjoyed to arrive this time to see scores of local community members at the site, all celebrating along with the kids and staff at our return.
This is a crucial development, as the long term objective of all of the Carepoints in Uganda is that they be owned and overseen by the local community. From day one we let the community know that this is their project, and that we will not be here forever, but are rather here to lend a hand. The goal is that the community partners with the CarePoint to provide hope for the orphaned and most in need in the area first, but in time effectually changing the landscape of the entire community through long term sustainable projects and initiatives.
And the Bukedea community has officially taken this bull by the horns. The Carepoint committee (a committee of local leaders and guardians of orphans- that acts as the connection between the community and the CarePoint) has taken several proactive steps for the Carepoint, including hiring local community members to begin sewing school uniforms for the kids, planting trees on the Carepoint site, and even working to convince a local neighbor to sell us a small plot of land to expand the Carepoint onto.
The new Caretaker (one of the previous disciplers) is doing a fantastic job, and has been embraced by the local community. In fact, he grew up and lives about a km from the CarePoint and is intimately involved in the local community and lives of the kids as an older brother. For those of you who know Richard, you will be glad to know that he is incredibly proud (in his incredibly humble manner) to be in the caretaker position. I cannot overstate the impact of this change, and how large of a step this is towards the Carepoint becoming the beacon of hope in the region that it is intended to be.
New Land Purchase
Another exciting development is that we have acquired about an acre of land immediately next to the Carepoint that we have been hoping to purchase for some time now. This became possible through the involvement of the community committee. The land is to be used to cultivate crops...certainly not enough to provide for all the kids, but plenty to allow the kids to be taught and mentored in good local farming methods by the Carepoint staff and community helpers. We have needed to be able to expand for some time, so this is a great development. For those of you who have visited Bukedea, the land is immediately to the right of the CarePoint Building as you stand on the soccer field (or well) looking towards the project.
The well that we had dug more than a year ago on the Carepoint site appears to be working well, but the recharge is still a little slow. The contractors who dug and installed it are coming back in a few weeks to look into adding another 20 feet of piping to the base of the well to increase recharge. The goal is that the well is able to handle enough water not just for the Carepoint's daily needs but also for the surrounding community. In the meantime, it is great to see that the kids are able to have fresh water on site during meals, and that the staff are no longer having water bicycled in all day in jugs from a well a km away.
Just before our departure for Uganda at the end of July, we once again hit 100% sponsorship levels for our kids in Bukedea. We currently care and provide for 181 children in Bukedea, and having full sponsorship is crucial to our success...not only because the funds are needed to continue to improve the levels of provision for the kids, but also because every one of them want to know that they have a "friend" (the local Teso word for sponsor) who cares for them.
We have decided to add another 40 kids to the program, and so one of my days was spent profiling kids that had been selected by the Carepoint staff and local community committee for inclusion. This is always a difficult process, and the stories behind the kids faces are many times gut wrenching. After celebrating success and progress for 2 days it is humbling to be faced with the reality that there are hundreds...no thousands...more kids in the area with extreme need. And we simply cannot provide for them all. I guess thats why it is imperative that our plans and solutions provide not only short term relief to the kids, but also lasting sustainable change to the surrounding community so that family trees will be changed. We are working alongside Hope Chest to process the 40 new profiles we have and will be releasing them for sponsorship in a week or two. Here a just a couple of the stories.
Apio Berna and Adongo Ivan Apio and Adongo are both 4 years old. The twins live with their mother, not far from the Carepoint. Their father was gunned down in 2009 by robbers in another region and she returned to her families home in Bukedea at that time after the same robbers burned down her home. She could not however, provide for all of her kids (6 in all), so she gave 2 of them up to neighboring families as voluntary slaves. Since then the two kids that were given away have been severely mistreated, but she has not had the means to get them back because she simply could not provide for them.
We have arranged for the two kids that were given away to be returned and profiled in addition to their two siblings (above) all to be included in the program.
Apolot Stella Josephine Apolot does not know who her father is, and her mother, who has been known to live nomadically and dessert the kids periodically, works at the local market selling water. She has two siblings and is in P1 (first grade). Apolot suffers from encephalitis and her head is about twice the size of a normal child. Although this will unlikely be curable, sponsorship will allow her to get treatment to stop the swelling and prolong her life. She has slight pain during the day at school, but apart from that is just another kid at the Carepoint...
One of the kids that we profiled has as yet not been baptised, and therefore had not been given a "Christian" name. This process has been in place since the early stages of colonization in the African continent, where most all Africans have a local name, and are then also given a "Christian" (or english) name when they are baptized. (Quite sad when I think about it - as if to suggest that Jesus and his religion is for white men and that Africans must become white before they become Christian...but more on that at another time)
Anyway...little Adokot had not been baptised yet, and when we profiled him the staff decided that a fitting name would be...thats right...Dylan. Another norm of the Teso region is to name your child after someone in the village (known as your namesake) and to be in intimate relationship with that person as your namesake. So, I am quite honored to have my own namesake in Bukedea, and hope to find a sponsor for little Dylan soon.
We are very pleased to report that young Alex, who first came to our attention more than 2 years ago, has undergone corrective surgery for his urinary control problem and is doing extremely well. You can learn more about Alex at the blog labelled "Smelly, Rejected and Ashamed". We hope that this change in Alex's physical condition will allow him to improve in his mental state and demeanor as he is able to interact more normally with the other kids and attend school without disruption. Thanks for your contributions to the medical fund which made this possible.
Janets New Home
Just as exciting, is that Janet (the mother of 3 of our sponsored kids including Peter Pan) has moved into her new home, and is even currently undergoing cancer treatment to try and save her life. We fell in love with her kids 2 years ago, and have worked to provide a future for them in the event that Janet passes away. Here is a brief video showing the new home (the talk of the community) and the land that she now has to cultivate.
We are in the process of raising funds to be able to complete Janets 3 rounds of cancer treatment, and will update you all on this as we progress. In the meantime, THANKS to all of you who contributed to the new home and land for this family. Read more about Peter Pan at the post entitled Mom will be Dead in a Year and A Little Piece of Heaven
We spent one afternoon at one of the two local schools that the kids attend in Bukedea Township, and this turned out to be an eye opening experience. The school (just a km from the CarePoint) is home to around 95 of our kids and our meeting with the vice headmaster was incredibly encouraging. Firstly, it was great to learn that many of our orphaned kids had risen to leadership roles within the school (some were prefects and others class leaders), and that most of our kids were performing quite well in terms of school grades.
I led (pretended to lead) a small class under the mango tree where a couple of the classes meet each day for school. There aren't quite enough classrooms to house all of the students, and the average class size is around 100 students. Yeah, thats right. One Hundred!
But we were encouraged to see that the CarePoint kids were known by the school teachers, were accepted by the other kids, and were even receiving some additional support from the special needs teacher. Our partnership with the schools at our carepoints is imperative, because their ongoing education truly is their ticket to hope and a future. It was great to open this door, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the local schools to help raise these kids to have a healthy future.
Pictures of our Kids
We worked one afternoon to get photos of all of the sponsored kids who were in attendance (some were off at boarding school) so that we can send them to all of our sponsors. We know that you have been receiving letters and occasional updates through Hope Chest and that a lot of the photos are a little ...shall I say....bland? We will be posting pictures of all of the kids on the Facebook Page in the next few days so that you can hopefully all have updated photos of your kids with smiles.
In a few weeks we will be releasing a couple of fund raising initiatives to begin working on some of the next steps at Bukedea. A few of the more obvious needs are:
Sponsorship: We have 40 new kids to get sponsored as soon as possible and we will need all of your help to accomplish this. We know that many of you cannot sponsor more kids, but we also know that many of you know someone who could. As we begin posting the new profiles and their stories, please consider sharing them with your networks and friends.
Fence: We will be working to construct a fence to enclose the compound and protect the crops and chicken coops that we intend to launch later this year, as well as to provide some safety for the supplies and kids during the day. We have $2,000 already raised for this project and have arranged for the community to handle most of the labor for free. We are working on bids for the project which will likely require an additional $2,000
Mattresses: We would like very much to provide mattresses for all 230 kids later this year as a Christmas present. Most of the kids sleep on mud floors, some on straw mats, but many just on their clothing. When we interviewed many of the kids in groups about what would be the most important thing we could help provide them their response was entirely unanimous - Mattresses.
Microfinance Match: We will be working to launch a Microfinance program in Bukedea (we already have one up and running in Ogoloi) and want to provide matching funds to the community savings program. More on this to come....(this is an incredibly exciting development)
Building improvements: We will also need to make some small additions and modification to the multi purpose building including adding bars to the windows (currently just openings in the walls) and installing some lightning conductors. The building has been hit twice by lightning, which in addition to having caused damage to the building, is viewed as a potential curse by the locals.
This recent trip to Bukedea was truly a great one.
I am so encouraged by the progress, not only in the visible and tangible formats (such as the land, the well, and the community projects like the new home for Peter Pan), but perhaps more importantly in the smiles and confidence in the kids, the deepening trust and quality of relationships, and the very apparent recognition in the kids that we are with them today, and will be with them tomorrow.
Although my heart breaks every time that I go back as we are confronted with the stories of pain, suffering, and disillusionment that these incredible people endure day in and day out, it is amazing to see how (even in the midst of that reality) the Carepoint has become a place of joy, hope, encouragement, and ultimately; praise to God. A little piece of heaven, in a world of muck. A little beacon of light, pointing the way to a better reality, and the hope of a better future....and the ultimate renewal of all things. A city on a hill. And a picture of the love that Jesus has bestowed upon us.
Its a beautiful picture...and I am incredibly honored to be a part of what God is doing, in and through all of you as sponsors and advocates of these kids.
....stay tuned for an update on Ogoloi CarePoint next
Below are a few pics of the team in action
And here are a few Albums on Facebook:
|Kristen has a notable chicken phobia|
|Kaitlyn (aka Katie)|
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Well, another trip to Bukedea and Ogoloi has come and gone.
Back to Work. Life. Bills. School. Soccer practice. Hiring. Firing. Exercise. Etc. And as the "real world" slowly filters back in, and the CNN headlines, and latest political discussions, and 1st world problems, and local gossip begins to surround and engulf me, I feel the now familiar internal numbness that accompanies re-entry into my American life.
I'm glad to be home, and even more glad to have my family back together. But I miss my other family already. I miss their expectant stares, their dirty little hands, and their smiles. If I am honest, I miss Africa as well. The still, warm days. The irritating yet wonderfully refreshing slow pace of African time, where things start when people come, and things end when the people leave - as if people were more important than deadlines. As I am always reminded; Americans have watches, but Africans have time. Oh, and the incredible warmth of the Ugandan people. Yeah. I miss that too. Their sincerity. Their deep gratitude. Their Simple trust in God. And their love.
But I will see them again.
Our team of 12 was the largest I have taken over to the CarePoints since this journey began more than 3 years ago. It was also without a doubt one of the most enjoyable groups. Just the mention of the team brings a smile to my face, as the memories of the last 2 weeks resurface. There is a strange bond that forms between people who choose to share quarters, meals, but most importantly a mission like this one, together. I could not be more proud of the group of ladies that joined my wife, my son, and I on this trip. (You can meet the team here)
We will be releasing profiles for more than 60 new kids that have been added to the program that we will need to find sponsors for. We have 40 children profiled in Bukedea and 25 in Ogoloi.
All of their stories are heartbreaking, and all of them will benefit greatly from being included. Some of their stories are beyond belief. We will share many of them with you in the weeks to come.
We will be asking for your support to help us give life back to several people that God put in our path, from a couple incapacitated by a direct lightning strike, to a young mother fighting cancer.
And we will be announcing some exciting new initiatives at Bukedea and Ogoloi for long term sustainable development of the CarePoints and the local communities, from chicken farming, to sewing and clothing manufacturing, to Micro-Finance projects that are already in full swing.
I wanted to thank everyone who follows and supports the work that God has called us to do in these two small villages in a forgotten corner of an otherwise insignificant nation of a fallen world. I hope that as we update you all on what we have seen in the last two weeks you will see that your provision and help has made an immense impact in both of these locations, and in the lives of hundreds of children. We are so incredibly grateful for all of you.
Friday, July 26, 2013
We will travel for a solid three days through Canada, Ethopia, and then take a gruelling drive from Kampala in southern Uganda up to the Teso tribal region of war torn Uganda to the villages of Ogoloi and Bukedea. This trip is particularly exciting for me, for a couple of reasons.
First, after years of working to include our boys in the process of loving and supporting our little brothers and sisters in Uganda, and many months of Caeden planning and saving for his trip, we are finally in the home stretch and getting ready for my eldest son to join us in the adventure that God has our family on.
Caeden is just 7, and has been sponsoring his little friend Paul for almost 2 years from money that he raised from lemonade sales and chores.You can read an old post (here) about Caeden's ridiculously successful lemonade stands that got the ball rolling.
|One of Caedens more popular designs|
But even better, Caeden has paid for his entire trip on his own. He has worked tirelessly (ok, he got tired a lot of times - but pressed on) to create his paintings which fetched anywhere from $30 to $50 on the "open market". After his first few sales and some facebook posts, he was inundated with custom requests from folks all over the place. We are so grateful for those of you who supported him in this way. It was a huge boost to his confidence, and I am always thrilled to see young entrepreneurial spirit rewarded in a society where so many kids have no idea what the value of a dollar is and don't work for much of anything.
Caeden also manufactured bracelets which were a hit amongst a younger audience.
The second reason that I am particularly excited about this trip is that, returning for the 6th time, it is a lot like going home to old friends and family. I know the kids, the community, and the staff...and more importantly am known by them. And it is so gratifying to return to our friends and "extended family" once again with new visitors and sponsors who get to meet their kids for the first time. I am excited to take things a little easier on this trip (expect fewer blog posts) and just focus my time on being in and among the community as we continue to grow relationships and plan for sustainable growth and development for our friends in Ogoloi and Bukedea.
We are always asked when we tell people that are headed to Uganda if we are going to be "building something". I believe that this stems from a western mentality derived from a misconception about what poverty is. When asked, westerners define poverty as a lack of material possessions (food, clothing, shelter, stuff etc). But when the bottom billion of the world's population (who live on less than a dollar a day) are asked what poverty means, they describe it differently. You will hear them speak rather of a hopelessness, and of a lack of self worth and dignity. They feel trapped, and unable to break out of a cycle that keeps them from being able to progress. For them, poverty is far more about a state of mind...or better yet...a state of spirit.
So whenever we explain what it is that we are doing in Uganda, folks are usually surprised to hear that we don't engage in building projects, or hand out clothes or candy. These "things" are provided through the sponsorship program, and so the kids' needs are being met....but our time with them is far more about building their spirits, their hearts, and their hope, than it is about building buildings. The same is true for the surrounding community.
That said, our trip will be focused on some of the following initiatives:
- We will be spending 4 days in Ogoloi, and 3 days in Bukedea with the kids
- Our team will gather with the kids in the mornings for songs, fun, and to learn from each other.
- We will break for some group interaction with the older kids, focusing particularly on the older kids and discussions around self worth - especially for the young girls, many of whom are in danger of finding that worth only in sexual promiscuity and putting them in danger of contracting HIV and very young pregnancy.
- We will be visiting the homes of various children, especially the homes of the kids whose sponsors are with us. This is a great honor to an orphaned child, and shows the community that we value them...and that they should too.
- We will also have the opportunity to celebrate (and oh boy will there be a celebration) the brand new Carepoint site and facility that has been constructed (by local Ugandans of course) at the Ogoloi Carepoint. This is a huge deal for the community and for the kids, who can now attend the carepoint just a stone throw from the local school.
- And, we will further the planning that has begun to help launch micro-financing initiatives for the community members, helping them get a foot up and a jump start in improving their lives and family's and futures through small repayable loans.
- And finally, we will be working hard to bring back photos and stories for all of our dedicated sponsors of their kids so that you can see their smiling faces. We hope also to add several new kids at each site to the program as we reach 100% sponsorship once again.
We will also be spending some time visiting a couple of newly launched, and as of yet unsponsored carepoints in the surrounding region. My goal is to work to find a sponsoring community or church in the U.S. when we return, so we will be visiting the sites to learn about the kids, gather some profiles, and bring back info that might help us find a church willing to take on one of these sites.
There is much else to celebrate as well. After our last trip we were able to raise funds to help support two desperately struggling families, both in perilous danger. Your support allowed us to have land purchased for both of them to farm, as well as new homes to secure a future for these families. You can learn more about the child headed home of Peter Pan here, as well as the family that was in perilous danger from the own family here. We will be absolutely thrilled to see the progress in these families lives and bring back news to all of you who have helped make these changes possible.
We also just learned of plans to deepen the well (also dug as a result of your support) in Bukedea which is not recharging sufficiently. We will be eager to bring back news on the changes to the well which will hopefully increase the recharge sufficiently to provide water for not just the carepoint, but also the surrounding community.
But more of all that to come....
Our August Team
Dylan de Bruin
I am very excited to be travelling with such a great group of people this trip, despite the very obvious imbalance of males to females. That said, I will have my big boy Caeden to keep me company and I could not be more excited to have him at my side as we continue this journey as a family.
Jen de Bruin
Jen is returning for the third time, and is an incredible asset to have on the team. Not only is she incredibly good with the kids and a trooper all day long, but she has an incredibly good knowledge of both who all the kids are and who their sponsors are. Trips that we take with Jen are just more successful. And of course, it awesome to have my partner and best friend with me.
Caeden de Bruin
At 7 years old, Caeden is the youngest team member to travel with us, or with Hope Chest. He was worked long and hard to be able to cover his trip, and I am incredibly proud of my serious little (not so little) boy. I'm very excited for what God is doing in Caeden's heart and look forward to this time with him in the work that I love.
Destiny is a special ed teacher in West Des Moines. She has been interested in going to Uganda for quite awhile and got connected with us through some friends. Destiny sponsors a little guy named Abraham in Bukedea.
Jess is a veteran traveler with us. She traveled with us to Uganda in Aug of 2012 to visit her sponsored child Lillian. We are thrilled to have her join us again. Once you fall in love with these kids you can't not go back and see them again!! Here are a couple blog posts by Jess from her last trip - Produce and Poultry A Joyous Yelp
Katlyn is an ESL teacher in Marshalltown, IA. This will be her second trip to Africa but first trip to Uganda. She visited Ghana couple years ago so she is excited to return. Katlyn sponsors a sweet little girl in Ogoloi named Lillian.
Kristin and her husband and two girls live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Last August her husband Nate traveled with us and this time it is Kristin's turn. They sponsor two kids in Ogoloi, Michael and Catherine and two girls in Bukedea, Winnie and Lucy.
Megan is also traveling with us for the second time. Megan has spent about as much time in Uganda as she has in the US this last year. She will be working with some medical missionaries in Jinja for the next few months and will be meeting us once we arrive in Uganda. She sponsors a girl named Irene and has been sponsoring her even before we knew about Hope Chest.
Misty is from Colorado Springs and is a late comer to our team. She decided to go and purchased her ticket a month before we travel! She is a mom of three boys and a blogger for Compassion International. We are really excited for her to write about our trip and her experiences while she is with us.
Morgan lives in Grimes, Iowa and is a part time nurse and mom to two boys. Her and her family sponsor multiple kids in Ogoloi and Bukedea and she has been a great partner with our fundraising projects and helping us get the kids sponsored. Her husband told her she could go anywhere she wanted for her 30th birthday and she chose to go to Uganda Africa!
Siera is a college student at Iowa State University from Green Mountain Iowa. She was really interested in going to Africa and loving orphans and one of our mutual friends told her about our work in Uganda. We got in touch with each other, had dinner, and now are off to Africa together in a couple weeks
This is Rachel's second trip with us as well. Her and her husband and their local church have been involved in Bukedea for quite a few years. Many people from her home church in Moorehead Minnesota sponsor kids and help raise money for projects we are doing in Bukedea. Last time Rachel traveled with us with her husband and her mom- this will be her first solo trip.
We will be posting photos and videos at night of the activities each day, and will work very hard to get pictures of all of your kids back to you as we have time to sift through them all. You can follow our activities on this blog, but you will have better luck finding pictures each day at the facebook page.
I want to close out this post by expressing my incredibly sincere thanks and gratitude to all of you who have sponsored kids, made donations, prayed, and encouraged us in our efforts to love these kids. I can't thank you enough, and simply cannot do justice to an explanation of how much impact your support is having in the lives of these kids.
I look forward to sending you all updates in the next couple of weeks.