DATELINE:Â Village of Hope, near Biyali, Uganda.Â 7:09 P.M. Village time.Â That’s 11:09 A.M. CST for those of you keeping score at home.
THE MISSION BEGINS!
This was our first full day at the Village. We enjoyed a breakfast of french toast – which may simply be fried sweet bread – but it was REALLY good!Â After breakfast, we spent some time in prayer, specifically for the Village of Hope.Â There was an outside chance that an important decision could be made today, and we felt a great need to pray on behalf of those involved in the decision-making process, and for the outcome to be favorable.
There had been an issue with getting the examinations printed for the children, so Careenna and Connor spent some time in the “office” typing up the mathematics exams for the children to take tomorrow.Â While they worked on that, several others of us went down to the school office to organize the supplies we had brought, as well as the clothes and ESL and craft materials.
It took much longer for Connor and Careenna to finish the exam, but once they were done we were able to have our team devotionals.Â Dave had asked me if I’d be willing to share devotions today and of course, I was happy to oblige.
*****WARNING*****LITTLE DEBBI SERMONETTE AHEAD******
It’s like a snack cake for your soul.
I shared from Hebrews 11.Â Those closest to me know that this particular passage represents a significant milestone in my spiritual journey.Â And during the trip last year, God imprinted on me these thoughts regarding the power of one.
THE POWER OF ONE
How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death.
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Â Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside Godâ€™s throne.
Last year, as part of our trip, Rose shared her story with us.Â As she shared her story, I was struck with how God is using her – ONE woman – to change the lives of hundreds of orphans.Â God is using her to create a network of young adults to unite and build a village.Â God is allowing her to have a hand in shaping the future of her country through her contacts with government officials and people in positions of leadership.Â After hearing her story, I penned these thoughts:
God’s word is filled with examples of the power of one…
Through one man, God birthed His chosen people.
Through one young man, God gave an army of 300 soldiers victory over the mighty Midianites.
Through one boy, a single stone, and a sling, God felled a giant and freed a nation held captive.
Through one boy, God took a simple lunch of bread and fish and fed 5,000 people.
And through one young woman, God provided His Son and redeemed all mankind.
God is using Rose – one woman – to touch the lives of Uganda’s children.Â As she shared her story today, I was humbled and amazed by her dedication and how burdened her heart is.Â God has placed her in a strategic location for a purpose.Â I believe through Rose God will raise a generation of godly men and women who will impact their country and create change.
If God can use her, who am I to think that God can’t use me?Â He has a plan and a purpose for my life that He is perfecting daily.Â All it takes is faith – and a daily dedication to following His word.
The power of one – through the power of THE One – can truly change the world.
Taken from my journal, November 11, 2009
I took a moment to encourage the team that each of us has that power – the power to be the one through THE One – that God uses in a mighty way.Â Like Cindy, like Rose, God has given each of us a purpose to accomplish, and it is through His power that we can do what He asks of us.Â Take the time while we are here to look around at these children.Â There are those among them who have dreams of being teachers, social workers, doctors….and yes, even the future President of Uganda among them.Â One of these children might be “the one” that God uses to bring healing and restore peace to Uganda.
We have that same hope.Â You know how I know that?Â Because the Bible tells me so, in Philippians 1:6:
“Knowing this: that He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Go and be “the one” today – the one to touch a child’s life, the one to make a difference, the one to discover your passion and purpose, the one that God can use…the one that yields to Him and allows Him to accomplish more than we could ever ask or imagine.
*****WARNING*****END OF LITTLE DEBBI SERMONETTE*******
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog reading.
After devotions we prayed and reviewed events for the day since the children would be in examinations most of the day, and we spent some time preparing for the afternoon.Â I had the privilege of visiting with Richard, the headmaster of the school. I was struck once again by the quality of people – spiritually and professionally – that God has brought together at the village.Â I learned a lot about the Ugandan school system and culture from him.Â Afterward, since we had nothing else to do, I decided to go for a short walk to explore the village and take some pictures.Â I walked down to the well, marveling at the progress that has been made since November.
This building is currently being used as the construction office, church, and school administration office.
The all-purpose building is behind our dining pavilion and will be the church when it is finished.
The walkways between the offices and school buildings, with the staff room in between.
Looks just like a “real” African schoolyard!
These are the classrooms currently being used for Primary 3, 4, 5 and 6.
The school yard, with the Staff Room in between the office and classrooms.
As you drive into the village, this is what you see.Â A dream made reality!
The welcome sign!
On the back of the welcome sign, Gus painted this mural.Â The children see this every day.
The well marks the entrance to the village…and is an amazing story of God’s provision.
Neighboring people from around the village are able to come and get water from the well.
These cows were grazing just on the other side of the fence.
When this one realized I wanted to take its picture, it posed for me!
As I was heading back from my walk, I noticed lots of activity and realized they were getting ready for OUR program.Â I gathered the materials in a hurry and rushed over to the classroom.Â We split into two groups – one for the Bible story and craft and one for the ESL lesson.Â I had Jeffrey to help me interpret but I almsot didn’t need one because the children know so much already.Â Judith also came in and helped out with some of the singular/plural explanations.Â She’s a good teacher!Â After awhile we switched groups.Â I got farther with the second group than I did with the first, because they were older.Â I was a bit disorganized but I hope I can be better prepared next time.Â They do LOVE their English notebooks and the glue sticks are a HUGE hit, so I’m happy about that.Â Live and learn, I guess.
Then it was time for lunch.Â We were joined by the teachers as well as the staff.Â I was able to speak with Irene, one of the teachers, and Maureen, the nurse.Â I even got to hold little baby Kevin!Â She is so precious.
After lunch, the students returned for more examinations so we hung out and did various things around the village.Â I spent time organizing the teaching materials for tomorrow’s lesson so I could be better prepared.
When the students were done with their exams, we were able to have time with them.Â Renee’ taught some of the boys hopscotch, and I joined her.Â I had the privilege of spending time with Moses and Joel.Â They played our version and then made their own board and showed us *their* version.Â It’s amazing how resourceful they are – and how easily they adapt to physical activity.
Moses took a turn at playing hopscotch our way.
The boys were very skilled and picked up our rules quickly.
I sat for a long time outside our hut with Clinton, Justin & Geoffrey (who I had helped study for their examinations yesterday) and they helped me fill in my Acholi book.Â Clinton wrote in a lot of the words, since it seems that Acholi is not a written language and doesn’t have a standardized spelling or lexicon.Â They were very patient with me as I tried to pronounce the unfamiliar words.
As we were sitting there, I heard a bit of commotion near the firepit, and come to find out there was a long line of African army ants parading by in a long line.Â This is the stuff of my nightmares…I’m not afraid of contracting some horrible disease or being attacked by guerilla rebels.Â No, I’m afraid of being eaten to death by an angry horde of large insects.Â So what do I do?Â I get up close to videotape them.
After the excitement of the army ants wore off, Scovia came by and invited Amy and me to come by her house.Â I thanked the boys and went off to spend some time with the girls.Â I had to get a picture with Stella…my adopted African daughter.
We started off with some group pictures, using my self-timer so I could be in them.Â The girls loved that.
First, we have to take the “serious” picture.
But it isn’t long before their true personalities shine through!
We played the “can-you-match-the-girl-with-her-bed?” game one more time.Â I actually remembered a few names and got a few right!
The girls in the first room.Â There’s definitely a feeling of family among them.
And they love having fun together!
They then took me out behind their house where they showed me where they cook the food.Â They taught me more Acholi words to put in my book, words about food and kitchen essentials.Â Janet showed up out of the blue with the largest cassava I’d ever seen.Â I learned not *everything* is bigger in Texas.Â Just look at the size of this root vegetable.
Janet provides the “ham” to go with the veggies.
At that point it was time for dinner so we said goodbye and headed back to our camp.Â I nearly had to pull Amy out of the second house!Â We enjoyed another delicious meal of spaghetti, rice & beans, goat (fried and goat stew), and pineapple.Â I admit, I have learned how to eat goat…and like it!
As we were eating we saw them heading down to worship so we joined them again.Â There are no words to describe the power of their worship – their passion and fervor and absolute devotion to God.Â There is joy and exuberance and abandonment – a total losing of self in the glory of praising God.Â I believe God opened the doors of heaven and allowed us a small glimpse of what it will be like when all the nations are crying out in praise to Him as we sang and danced with these children.
I had to stop videotaping when they began singing:
I will no more suffer…I will not beg for bread!
He is my superpower!!
These two were my favorites…I taped until I just had to join them.
After worship we walked back to our camp still singing, arms wrapped around each other, joyfully continuing the love and togetherness we had just experienced.Â As we reached our fire, we hugged good-night (etvumabe) and lingered to let go even for a few hours.Â We watched them as they made their way back to their houses, our hearts full of love and gratitude for all we’d experienced this day.
And then we played hearts.