The reason for our hope









Category: Abaana's Hope


Greetings to all!


Many of our family and friends have had questions along our journey about Abaana’s Hope and why we are serving in Northern Uganda. My hope is that this blog post will help everyone better understand what Abaana’s Hope is about and see the impact that Abaana’s Hope is having on its community. Abaana’s Hope would not be anywhere without everyones prayers and financial givings, for that Chase and I would like to say THANK YOU! Without further ado…


The Impact of Abaana’s Hope


Imagine a community that has 80% unemployment, a place where the closest medical care is a 45 minutes drive away, a place where clean water is hard to find, a place were there is no playground for children to laugh and play, and a community that has been devastated by war for 20 years. Let me introduce you to the Acholi people group of Northern Uganda, a place that had little hope until God placed Abaana’s Hope in the region to empower people and restore the lives of the Kinene community.


God called Abaana’s Hope to the perfect place to bring hope and restore life to a people group who literally had little hope because of the wrath that the Lords Resistance Army took on this region for 20 years. Abaana’s Hope is making a positive impact on the community by providing the opportunity for employment, clean water, affordable medical care, a safe place for children to play, and a warm- hearted environment where adults can fellowship and grow together through the love of Christ.


Currently Abaana’s Hope has the privilege of employing 120 men and women from the Kinene community. It is the goal of Abaana’s Hope to teach life skills, as well as about the love of Christ, the only one who can truly bring restoration to a region so thirsty for change.


The greatest impact that Abaana’s Hope has on the community is through its church. Every Sunday, and throughout the week, people are taught about the love of Christ and what it means to be a born again Christian. The church has formed and continues to grow in numbers, but more importantly people are giving their lives to Christ every week!


The aspiration of Abaana’s Hope is that the time spent investing in both physical and spiritual needs through long term relationships will empower the nationals to lead their country to a generational change. That change is happening everyday as empowered mothers and fathers are working hard at Abaana’s Hope to provide a bright future full of opportunities for their children and generations to come.


Category: Four Corners Today


Friends, we wanted to share some thoughts from one of our board members, John Triplett, from a recent trip to Abaana’s Hope this past September. John has traveled several times with Four Corners both to Uganda and South Sudan and has used his gifts in teaching to help grow the church both here and there.


In September a group from Atlanta visited Four Corners Ministries’ Abaana’s Hope in Northern Uganda specifically to provide medical assistance to the natives of that region and community, as well as sow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, disciple new Christ Followers, and see firsthand how God is blessing this effort that so many have prayed for and about, as well as supported with their resources.


As part of this team and the opportunity we had to serve, little did I realize there was something even greater in store for me. It all started with a parable.


In Luke 13: 18, Jesus is describing to those around Him what the Kingdom of God is like. He says “it is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden, and it grew and became a great tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches”.


If you are like me this is a parable that is difficult to understand and is certainly less well known than the parable that compares a grain of mustard seed to Faith.


It happened that before we left for Africa, I was conducting devotions with a seniors group in John’s Creek, Georgia, and we were studying this very scripture in Luke. In fact it was the very hour before we left for the airport. We talked about the Kingdom of God in terms of what it would be like, and how one could obtain it, and childlike faith that starts small and grows like the tree in the passage.


As we headed to the airport with our group I recalled this scripture and wondered if there was there more to this parable. I mean could it be possible to really “see” the Kingdom of God here on earth?


Let me give you some background.


Abaana’s Hope certainly started very small, sort of like that mustard seed, with the faith of a few folks who prayed for God to reveal His desire for Four Corners to somehow reach the lost in this destroyed and forgotten region of Africa, and love some of the children who were missing parents. Some believe there are as many as 3 million in Uganda alone, that exist in a country where the average age is 15. There are challenges daily for water, food, and medicine as well as medical care, for things like malaria, dysentery, leprosy, and parasites. Education is only for those who can afford it, because few make more than a dollar a day.


Before a garden or field can be planted the first time there has to be a lot of work completed to get the ground ready. Someone has to say this is a good place to grow a garden, to see potential and have a vision that crops can ultimately be produced. This was the case with Abanna’s Hope. Lots of prayer and work went into determining that this was the place. Trees and brush had to be removed perhaps like doubt and uncertainty, to get it prepared. I am sure there were those who thought “what could a tiny ministry in rural Alabama do to effect change there?” ah-childrenshome-construction


Abaana’s Hope Childrens’ Home (In Construction)


During the time we were in Africa I stood where the site of a Chapel that will hold over 300 people will stand, and as we were preparing to pray for God to bless this site, I looked around and saw I think for the first time, “The Kingdom of God”. Let me share how.


I saw clean drinkable water provided by a well Four Corners dug next to a Zebra tree and a termite mound. Legend goes if the two are close together, then water is beneath, and sure enough at 60 feet water came forth in a dry and dusty land.. Have you ever been thirsty? Really thirsty? Water is life. Imagine walking miles a day (hours) to get enough water to survive. Now it is minutes away. Just the excitement alone to see people smiling and happy because they have water to drink makes this one of the seeds that came forth and grew into a “great tree”.


Working on the details inside the Children's Home


I saw crops growing that were sprouting from handmade rows in a field that once knew nothing but weeds and grass. Peanuts, beans, corn…on and on. Food for the community that they can now produce on 100 acres of land. And the possibilities for crops that can be sold for profit to sustain the village like Shea butter and Vanilla beans are endless. Another seed.


I saw a medical clinic near completion that will provide care and training for a people who do not know how to care for themselves. In a country that has seen so much devastation, this clinic will help treat HIV and AIDS (25 million in Africa have it creating many of the 3 million orphans in Uganda alone), TB (83% of new cases in the world are found in Africa), and malaria (2500 children die every day worldwide from it, many from Africa) which are the greatest threats to mankind in these countries. And I saw well over a thousand that were treated by our team for every imaginable disease, and hundreds that had limited sight but now can see because glasses had been brought over for them. What is it like to be blind? Or be outcast because of a deformity, or suffer with parasites in a home where all the kids are suffering too? Or have chronic fever and sickness because you have contracted malaria? Or see half of your children die before they reach the age of 5? Blessed tiny seed!




Rae Bates Medical Clinic at Abaana’s Hope (In Construction)


I saw a young couple who will be our first parents to children who have none. Their love for each other is amazing and their love for children and the talent and skills to work with hundreds of them at a time, and teach them the Truths of the Bible…well it is overwhelming. That is obedience to the Gospel. That, is loving your neighbor. Two years ago this tree did not exist on this property. And now there is another one growing in the Kingdom.


I saw a Pastor who is the caretaker of the land. He is an evangelist and loves to see people come to the Lord for forgiveness (many are ashamed of the torture they experienced and feel worthless and unforgiveable) and begin a new life of Hope when there is none elsewhere. Thank you Lord for him and his wife, who, with their two children, are a perfect example of living by Faith. His guidance to our team in daily matters has been invaluable. Beautiful seeds.


Some of us prayed with several women who have been thrown out of their homes and beaten by their husband for reasons that make no sense to me. We heard that some were sleeping in the bush with their children at night as a result. But there has to be more we can do than pray! I saw our own team missionaries reach in their pockets and purchase 12 acres of land to start a women’s refuge to at least offer them a place to stay at night and away from the harsh elements and dangers of the bush.


And listen to this…you can build a home there, a round mud hut, with straw roof like we all have seen in pictures, for around $300! Another seed planted that will shelter more than the birds of the air.


I heard that women were so excited to hear that a church will be built that they already have a schedule of who will clean it. And a playground for kids, yes with bars, and swings, and merry-go-rounds, and see-saws- like you and I took for granted- yes hundreds playing and laughing in an otherwise depressing climate, but happy and joyful, and they cannot wait for Sunday School to see the teacher tell stories from the Bible that connect them to the Gospel of Christ, guess what…on flannel boards. They are so glued to these stories and the characters, and the Hope it all represents. Look, another tree is growing!


I saw the racks with nails on them that the women use to hang the jewelry they make from paper beads. We buy from them and sell them in the states, so that we can plant more seeds. Each rack has their names above each nail, so they can mark progress, not to see who can make more, but to see how they can put some of the money into a bank they have started to be used for emergency needs they will likely encounter. Yes they came up with this on their own. Many of these people had never seen money before, and now they can afford to send their children to school. A tiny seed, and now a beautiful garden.


I have seen the plans for a school at Abanna’s Hope- that’s all they are right now- to help with illiteracy. Only 1 in 3 completes primary school. Many have to work jobs like locating water, looking for food, or caring for someone who is always sick in the ot lums, their name for homes. My wife and I have shared many times in conversations with others that we see few older people. That means many have died from disease, and that impacts those who can help educate them like grandparents, mentors, and teachers as well. And if you are a girl, then the statistics are even worse. I was absolutely amazed and saddened at the number of people we saw in one village we visited who could not read in their own language. Where is the seed?


I saw committed members of the Four Corners team serving on the ground there that face hardships daily. These are people who have given up success for something greater- the Kingdom. Make no mistake about it, this is a difficult life. It is about unconditionally surrendering your life to be a true disciple. But it is rewarding in so many ways. Church services are being held on the land till the chapel is built and it started less than 2 years ago by a faithful couple who saw this as an opportunity to reach the lost and has grown to over 300 attending today. Discipleship on Saturdays that was men only has grown to include women and children. You see, they are hungry, scratching to get into every gathering for a place where they can see, and hear, and learn, and trust the Only Hope that any of us have in this life. These team members live close to the Kingdom of God- no, they are living in it. They are in the very presence of the Living and Holy God and His Kingdom.


Is it a coincidence that Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33 to” seek first His Kingdom, and His Righteousness and all these things shall be added to you”? I don’t think so. Here we have a chance to seek it and find it. What joy, excitement, and reward can be found on earth like it? NONE.


2 Peter 1:11 describes this as an eternal Kingdom. Unlike everything here on this earth, it will be Eternal. It will last forever. That’s a long time. In fact it is longer than time itself. What investment can you make on this planet that will pay the highest dividends that you can receive, forever, guaranteed?


I have seen the Kingdom of God, and have walked in it, and it is beautiful. Come walk in the garden and see all the great trees that are growing from a few seed sown faithfully with branches that provide safety, and protection, and love and mercy, and forgiveness and help, and most importantly, eternal Life. Come rest in the Shadow of the Almighty and experience the garden at Abaana’s Hope.


Better yet, help us sow some seed and be a part of the vision for Abaana’s Hope in Uganda.


John Triplett


Matthew 9:35, Luke 4:18-19


You can join Four Corners in the work by going with us to Africa, or by giving financially to provide resources to families in need.


Category: Abaana's Hope


Happy New Year from Uganda! As we look back over the past year God has been at work in more ways than one. We are so thankful for the opportunities that we have had and the people that we have met along life’s journey in 2013. We are so excited to see what 2014 will be like while we work with our AH team to help build a better future for the Acholi people group!


January marks five months since we moved to Uganda and we have been blessed with smooth sailing thus far! Chase has been working non-stop at the land building a medical center, children’s home and two Ugandan staff houses. Abaana’s Hope has hired an Agriculture Manager that will begin working on Monday. He will oversee over 50 acres of production agriculture and help bring Abaana’s Hope to self-sustaining capacity. The jewelry program, Life Beads, has grown tremendously this year and because of all the support in the states, just this past month we were able to hire 16 new women from the Abaana’s Hope community. We now have 36 women in the Life Beads program and these women are so thankful for the opportunity to make money to provide for their family!


We already have some exciting things planed for 2014 and are anxious to see how the Lord will shape our goals to fit His plan here in Uganda. There will be a lot of bricks and cement being thrown around at the land as we complete the medical center, children’s home and the two Ugandan staff houses! Some new building projects that will begin, and we pray completed in 2014, is an Abaana’s Hope Chapel to house the some 300 people who come to worship on Sundays at the land, a production well that will supply water to the entire AH property, a kitchen that will be staffed to cook two meals for our workers everyday (our current kitchen is outside), a toilet/shower block to compliment the Ugandan staff houses and housing (ot-lums) for the Women’s Restoration Refuge Center.


As we enter 2014 we ask for you to pray for these specific things:


  • Wisdom and guidance with all Abaana’s Hope Projects Safety and good health to not hinder any work that needs to be done
  • For good relationships/friendship to be built between the AH jewelry ladies
  • For the Lord to provide us with a sound Biblical preacher for Abaana’s Hope
  • For discernment when making tough decisions -When to move to the AH property?
  • For Christ to be shared and scene within all of our relationships
  • For Chases Work Visa to be approved

We cannot say thank you enough for every ones continued love and support as we try our best to do Gods Will for our lives in Gulu, Uganda! Some people have been asking what we need and the most important thing we need is prayer, but we have also created a Target List of things we need physically, . Thank you again for your prayers and encouragement. We hope you and your family have a blessed new year!


In Christ,


The Barbreys


Category: Archives


Hello friends and Happy Thanksgiving from Uganda! Chase and I are thrilled to have successfully completed a full day of cooking and fellowship with the West family. During the month of November I have seen a ton of thankful Facebook posts and it made me think of many things that I took for granted before moving to Uganda. As Americans, we have so many things to be thankful for! Humility is something that I am learning everyday as we live in another country. I have been spoiled and sheltered by American conveniences without even being thankful for what I have/had in America. So, here are my top 10 things that I am thankful for today!


1. I am thankful for having a supply of water! – This might seem petty, but it is true. Until I moved to Uganda I never fully realized how much we need water on a day-to-day basis. I now know what it is like to run out of water at our house even with three huge water-holding tanks. You see, the city of Gulu only supplies so much water each day, but not everyday. Run a few loads of laundry, take a shower, wash some dishes and flush a toilet and poof the water is gone! We have gone two days without water and had to flush only when necessary, shower with a water bottle, and wash zero clothes. Gosh all mighty I never knew how spoiled I was when I would complain about not having hot water for a full hour shower.


2. I am thankful for clean water. Drink the water out of the facet at our house in Uganda and get sick, or better an ulcer. I feel like I waste a gallon of clean water to brush my teeth and rinse my toothbrush on a daily basis!


3. I am thankful for good roads. Wow, this one tops the list for sure! I thought I knew bad roads before moving to Gulu, you know, the one road with the police officer that sits on it, or that has that one light that takes forever to change to green. But, after living here for just four short months I know to be thankful for that one stretch of road on our 45 minute commute from town to Abaana’s Hope that is smooth for about 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes of pure smooth joy I can assure you! Chase and I almost threw a party when we saw a truck coming to grade the dirt road in front of our house!


4. I am now thankful for the unthinkable, Wal-Mart. There, I said it. I am more of a Kroger’s or a Target girl but, now, I would be ecstatic if a Wal-Mart opened up right in front of my house. I would leap with joy to know that I could get all of my grocery needs met and at one store! I would have given my right arm for some sour cream or even some heavy whipping cream to make sour cream this Thanksgiving! Just last week we went to Kampala to get some supplies for AH and I saw the first container of grapes since moving to Uganda. I wanted them so bad! But, I could not justify paying $14 for a small box of grapes. Be thankful for your American grocery store, even if it takes forever at the checkout!


5. I am thankful when it rains and when the sun shines! I have learned that there is a season and a time for everything! I appreciate when it rains right now because we are entering the “Dry Season” and every little bit of rain helps keep the dust down on the roads. I am also thankful when it does not rain so that I can dry cloths on the clothesline. No dryer here and even if we did have a dryer, we would hardly be able to use it because we are out of power so much.


6. I am thankful for power! Kudos to ALL power companies in the US for they do what is unthinkable here, keep citizens with power 98% of the time out of the year (this is just a guestimate). Power goes off here just about every day. I loathe a cold shower, but even more, I loathe boiling water on the stove for washing dishes!


7. I am thankful for good health care. Oh’ my goodness this is a big one! After visiting AH workers in the hospitals here I am beyond thankful for the US Health Care System. If everyone saw how people are treated in hospitals here, they would NEVER complain that a nurse did not fluff their pillow before he or she left the room. They would be thankful to know that if he, or she is working in a US hospital as an R.N. that they are well educated and have been trained to help people physically.


8. I am thankful for my family. I have the most supportive family in the world! It is not every year that you get married and move halfway around the world. But, their love and support along this journey has been incredible! Most people would have just called Chase and me crazy, but after a lot of prayer and expressing where we felt the Lord telling us to go, our family accepted with a few tears, but with great joy to support us. How blessed we are to have such a great support system!


9. I am thankful for my awesome husband! I knew I was blessed when he asked me to marry him, but after experiencing life with wonderful women whom are taken for grated and treated as property by their husbands, I am so thankful for my husband treating me as a different, but equal spouse!


10. Last, but most certainly not least, I am thankful for a forgiving God when I am totally unappreciative of what He has provided me with! 1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; His love endures forever! Amen to that!


Chase and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of fun, food and fellowship! It is my hope that in this next year, I am more aware of what I truly should be thankful for!



Category: Abaana's Hope


October, 2013 Update:


O.K., I’ll admit it! There are times I put on a happy face for the world around me and pretend that everything is fine when it is not. Far too often, I allow Satan to rob me of the joy I have in Christ with circumstances he puts in my path. There are times I just cannot relate to Paul who said in Philippians 4:11-12, “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” I know so often that I am weak in my faith. I know spiritual warfare is real and “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) I also know there are great things happening at Abaana’s Hope and Satan is not happy about this. His attacks on us have caused Sandra and me great anxiety in recent days. God’s Word has an answer for such times as these in 1 Peter 5:6-11, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion (power) forever and ever, Amen.” Additionally, in this same Philippians chapter 4 referred to earlier, He says through Paul in verses 5-7, “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Yes, I am weak but God says in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Then Paul continues with, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Amen! Thank you, God, for your Word of Truth that we can always rely on and trust in when we need you the most. Your Word has restored my enthusiasm for the work to be done here in Northern Uganda.


Let’s talk a bit about enthusiasm. The word enthusiasm comes from the ancient Greek word eufousiasmz EN +THEOS meaning “inspired by or possessed by God”. Last week, I received this email from Chuck Swindoll (along with a few thousand other recipients) addressing the importance of enthusiasm:


No matter where I go, my enthusiasm spills out. When my family goes out to eat, they occasionally ask me to keep it quiet. When I attend a movie, I laugh out loud. (Emphasis on loud—just ask Cynthia!) On Sundays at church, I throw back my head and sing with gusto. I can’t help it . . . enthusiasm spontaneously oozes from my pores!


One of my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson lines comes to mind: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Faithfulness among God’s people means showing up daily . . . doing what it takes to stay at it . . . pressing on even when we feel like giving up. Enthusiasm makes all that possible, and it’s contagious.


  • At David’s low water mark, Jonathan stepped in (1 Samuel 23:15-16.
  • Just as Elijah was ready to give up, along came Elisha (1 Kings 19:19-21).
  • When skeptics clucked their tongues at Saul’s conversion, Barnabus enthusiastically vouched for him (Acts 9:26-27).

How we need individuals with enthusiasm around us! When I picture modern-day enthusiasm, I think of Charlie Costa, the voice of Nafitha Ala l’Hayat, our Arabic broadcast of Insight for Living. Charlie pastors a church in Beirut, Lebanon, that his father founded. Charlie, too, is a church planter throughout cities in the Middle East, including two in Iraq where he baptized 30 new believers who had come to know Christ while listening to Nafitha Ala l’Hayat. He also serves as a magistrate for the Family Court of the Evangelical Community in Lebanon, and as such, has a weekly television program. Ask Charlie why he does it all—especially in a culture unfriendly to Christians—and he’ll answer with a grin, “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!”


Charlie Costa drips with enthusiasm. His life is the kind the martyred missionary Jim Elliot had in mind when he wrote, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”


Harold Harmon also drips with enthusiasm. He gets enthused about Auburn football, their children and grandchildren, Abaana’s Hope, rallying our volleyball team to beat the AH workers (even his rallying did not give us victory over these guys), Four Corners Ministries and most importantly, serving our Lord and Savior. Delores (Dee) also is enthusiastic about these things but is subtler than Harold. When she speaks, stop and listen…it will be worth hearing and taking heed. We have been so blessed to have them in Gulu and Abaana’s Hope for the past 6 weeks. Harold has two full time jobs—running his pharmacy, H&M Drugs in Wedowee, Alabama and running a cattle ranch. While here, he had 190+ new calves born. Still, he felt the urging of God to come spend 6 weeks to learn what’s going on and see how he and Dee might further help. Their time here encouraged and blessed each of our U.S. missionary families and Ugandan leadership and we are all most grateful for them. Few, if any, have had such a strong impact.


Our last Mission Team of 2013 came in mid-October. They were primarily a medical team and blessed the Acholi people and our Ugandan Team greatly. This team was co-led by Melanie Maxwell and Chelsie Stulz. Melanie is a pharmacist and Chelsie came with the medical team in October of 2012. Chelsie’s boyfriend, Bryan Hill, also came on this trip and did something we’ve never witnessed with a Mission Team before. At our last night’s team meeting share time, Bryan started sharing about how God had brought the two of them together and got down on his knees before Chelsie and asked her to marry him! Through the laughter and tears, I believe she said, “YES.” I know she ended up with a ring on her finger.


Other members of this Team were Howard Johnson (Pastor), Lisa Vanderbeck (nurse), Deborah Heckenberger, Starlette Roberts (pharmacist) and Michelle Niederriter (she also came last October with the Team Chelsie was on). I would be remiss if I did not mention that Harold and Dee Harmon were also members of this team. They started their 6-week’s stay with us on a Medical Team and ended with another one. We spent one clinic day at the Anaka village where our Director, Onen Santo and his wife, Beatrice grew up. There has never been a ministry take a Medical Team to their village. It was a special day and we saw so many people, we ran out of medicine. Over the last 30 minutes or so, we tried to get the sickest patients to the front of the line and gave worm pills, children’s and adult vitamins to all we could before we ran out of those. Though it was hard to leave those behind that we could not see, we took comfort in the fact that hundreds were helped.


I have not shared any news about our chickens lately; so just to keep you in the “chicken loop,” we have moved (“shifted” is what the Acholi call this) to another house and thought that was a good time to donate the chickens to Abaana’s Hope. Santo had a two level chicken coup built on stilts with a chicken ladder up to it. So they are just happily free ranging now living in a nice two-story condo. I am also definitely happier that I do not hear the two roosters crowing at 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. anymore.


We are continuing to be blessed by good attendance and people coming to Christ most every Sunday afternoon at Abaana’s Hope. One of the ladies that is part of the jewelry-making ministry, Mama Chalo, told about a 78 year old man that she met when moving into this community two years ago. Her family and neighbors told her to have nothing to do with him because he is a drunkard. He had been a drunk for decades, but Mama Chalo continued to share Christ with him and continued to pray for him. A couple of Sundays ago, he came by her ot lum in the morning and asked if she was going to the worship service at Abaana’s Hope that afternoon. She said, “yes” and he said he would like to go with her because he needed to be “born again.” When he showed up, there was some questioning among the locals why a drunk like him would be there. As the invitation to follow Christ was given after the sermon, he came forward to answer God’s calling to follow Him. He was at the service the next Sunday afternoon and is coming to the discipleship classes on Thursday afternoons. Myron told him to fight the urge to drink with prayer, Bible study and the power of the Holy Spirit. He also told me he has not smelled alcohol on this man’s breath since that Sunday he first came. How often do you get to witness a 78-year old drunkard become a born again Christ follower? I just keep thanking God that He has given us front row seats to see His great blessings. We just praise Him for testimonies like this and how He is using this ministry to glorify Himself.


You may recall my mentioning in our June Update that the Josh and Kim Moody family blessed us with a visit of a few days in early June. They attend the First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Alabama and Josh teaches a singles Bible study there. They had dinner and a few visits with Myron and Holly West before Myron and Holly came to Gulu as full-time missionaries in July. Josh and Kim are also praying about missions on a full-time basis, possibly in Gulu with us. Josh occasionally sends both Myron and me an encouraging email sharing what God is teaching him. We received one this month that I want to share with you. It definitely spoke to Myron and me and I hope it does to you as well.


Hey guys. I was studying and preparing my lesson for Sunday for my singles and came across something that I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed, but wanted to share with both of you because I immediately thought of you guys. We are currently taking our singles through Multiply and we are going through the sections of the Old Testament. The lesson I’m teaching Sunday is from Exodus and talking about Moses. He talks about in Exodus 3 when Moses encounters God in the burning bush, he basically asks God two questions: Who am I (Exodus 3:11)? And who are you (3:13)? It’s very interesting the way God answers the first question (who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?). He says “But I will be with you……” He points the answer back to Himself. Chan points out that when we belong to God, there is no way we can define ourselves apart from God. It is HIS PRESENCE with us that enables us to accomplish the tasks He gives us. So in other words, God is saying, “It doesn’t matter who you are. I am with you and that’s all you need to know!” I couldn’t help but think of you guys, and the monumental task you get up and take on every single day (and the monumental task that our family may one day get up and take on). And I also couldn’t help but think that some days you probably get up and feel beaten up and ill equipped to do what you are doing, but maybe this will encourage you. God is so good in putting you guys where you are to accomplish His purposes for His glory. And as long as His presence is with you, you’re okay. Maybe one day if you get up and say “Who am I to take the Gospel to a lost Acholi people in a dark region of northern Uganda?” God is responding the same way: “But I am with you…” That’s all you need!


That’s all indeed!


The response to the Women’s Refuge Center has been awesome! We start building ot lums for them next month. The grass that provides roofing for these houses is at its optimal stage in November. Thanks to each of you who felt led to help with this ministry, we have enough to build several ot lums. Since these ladies will have to carry water for over a half mile, we think we should have a borehole drilled on the 12.8 acres for them. This will cost about $3,000 and will give them clean drinking water for themselves and the animals we plan to place there for them to care for. The ultimate goal is to empower these women to support themselves and their children. Where there is a husband involved we want to Biblically restore the relationship with their husbands and families. We believe if we can have the husband and wife learn to properly care for pigs or goats or chickens or even cattle, we can help them become empowered to support themselves to reunite and restore their relationship.


We are going back to Birmingham in early November and staying through Christmas, then returning to Uganda on January 7th. I will not be writing an Update until we return. At this point, we are seeking God about how long we should remain here. Originally, we thought about a year, but that time frame has come and gone. We are confident that we want to remain connected to what God is doing here, whether that means continuing to live most of the year here or make a few visits throughout the year. Please pray with us that we will discern God’s will and follow Him in this. Thank you so much for your prayers and your support of Abaana’s Hope and Four Corners Ministries


All glory to Him,


Royce & Sandra


Category: Abaana's Hope


The following blog was written by visiting board member and great friend, Harold Harmon. We are so blessed to have him with us.


Why am I in Gulu, Uganda?


Many of you that know that I am an old pharmacist and Dee (wife) and I have made a few mission trips in the past years in charge of the pharmacy team. This year around May 2013, I felt a nudge from God to go to Gulu for longer than the week we usually do for medical teams. I started to pray about this and shared this with my friend, Royce Watkins, in Gulu. I asked Royce not to mention to anyone of this and pray; he did. After about 2 weeks Dee said, “Something is bothering you; what is it?” I shared with her my thoughts and she asked, “Do you want me to go with you?” I said, “Sure…would not go by myself.” She asked, “Well what would I do?” I think I shared this comment with Royce and Sandra, and almost immediately she received a reply from Sandra telling all the things she could do while in Gulu. Dee said, “That answers those prayers–off we go.”


Fast forward to September when we throw in with FCM board member, John Triplett, wife, Robbie, and their wonderful team from their church in Georgia for pill packing, prayers, meal and team instruction. Then we are on the ground doing what I thought God had sent me to do in Gulu. This amazing pharmacy team with pharmacist Bob, Dee, Holly, Amy, Ryan, Rachel, Royce, Myron and others with the local doctors saw over 1700 people. Praise God!


But this is only the beginning of the story. The next week, I spent time with the entire team on the ground in some aspect. I saw the vehicle that would not start, I saw the look in the West family as they did not have electricity or water. I also saw the compassion of Sandra, Amy and Holly working with ladies at AH making jewelry and scarves. All the time these ladies were working, most were attending to a nursing child or were heavy with child. There were three ladies that delivered three little girls that week.


Then about this time I became sick at my stomach and after about 2 days Sandra & Dee took me to the international clinic, where I was diagnosed with E. Coli and bacteria in my blood. During this time of spending more time in the hotel room that anticipated, I did much praying and reading. Even though I had been to Gulu before and had heard a brief overview of the turmoil that had taken place in northern Uganda, it became clearer to me as I read these books about the fighting of the rebels and the army. The atrocities of this war are hard for us to imagine. Young boys were taken and made to fight, kill & mutilate even their mothers and other friends and relatives. Then there is the story of the young girls abducted from a school and their plight to have them returned. In this story one of the commanders of the rebel army had 52 wives most of them the young Acholi girls that had been abducted as sex slaves. Reading this story how some of them escaped, I realized that I have ridden and walked some of these roads that these young teenage girls crossed carefully to keep from being seen and killed. I have walked the bush where these girls slept and struggled for food and water.


Then add to all this the government “rounds up” the Acholi people of the Gulu area and places them in IDP camps where they were tremendously overcrowded and reportedly 1,000 died daily from malnutrition, malaria and on and on. What I have come to realize is you had the rebels on one hand and the government on the other hand. These people in the villages near AH all have vivid stories to tell of them being in the camps or relatives beaten and killed in front of their eyes.


Now what does that have to do with me? As I suffered from diarrhea, God showed me all the children past and present that have diarrhea most every day of their lives. Many will die from this. God showed me the children in their escape route, maybe 14 years old, pregnant by a possible AIDS-infected commander, struggling for food or some water out of a stream from which I would not let my cows drink. When she arrives in her village she may be accused of being a rebel and her child being an outcast because of the rape by a rebel commander.


God has shown me the daily struggle that our previous and present missionaries on the ground in Gulu have just to serve God and these wonderful Acholi people. Just getting food for their families involves going to the local market, one place for bleach, another for salt and finally to Uchumi (local grocery) to see what they might have on the shelves. God has shown me just a small glimpse of the struggle the Acholi people have dealt with in the years of the war and the scars that remain on their bodies physically and mentally.


Every follower of Jesus Christ is familiar with Act 1:8 where Jesus is sending his followers 2000 years ago to spread his Gospel. This is true for all of us today because “to the end of the earth” is possibly approximately 18 miles from Gulu town on as bumpy road as you can travel. At this place called Abaana’s Hope, I have never seen the new clean white Toyota trucks of Save the Children, US-Aid, World Vision or any of the other relief organizations riding around, but you will see an old ’92 Prada, Land Rover or others from Four Corners Ministries. My friends, STOP what you are doing right now and pray for the Acholi people and the guys on the ground of FCM. Just Harold, not just passing out vitamins anymore.


Category: Abaana's Hope


On September 18, 2013, Uganda’s Leading Daily Newspaper had this article:


Gulu Choking On Her People—Gulu town could as well suffocate from the stench of it own sewage. This is a town characterized by the absence of consistent clean water supply, a poor drainage system with sewers bursting, spilling their content on the streets. According to information from the senior assistant town clerk, human waste is managed mainly through septic tanks or a functional sewage system. However, only approximately 30% of the population is connected to the central sewer.


The roads in the town that connect the four divisions and lead to villages are in a sorry state. With the exception of a few tarmac roads in the town center, most roads are gravel. And yet, the tarmac roads are partly eaten up by potholes the size of gullies. It is a nightmare when it rains.


The latest Vision Group survey indicates that sewage bursts are a major threat to the cleanliness of this town. About 82% of respondents in this survey claim to have seen sewage bursts. According to the responders, response towards fixing the bursts has always been very slow earning the town a mediocre 3.5/10 score. Indeed 20% of the respondents claimed to have seen open soak pits or manholes in the town and the majority had been open for nearly six months. For a town recovering from the ravages of war, the enemy now seems to be the increasing garbage and dirty streets.


The article goes on and on, but it does make you wonder why anyone would want to come to Gulu, Uganda, and specifically why anyone would want to live here? Even more so, why would someone from American want to live here? It must make you wonder why mission team members are willing to spend $3,000+ to come here? It makes you wonder why college students would want to serve a 1-3 months Internship here? It makes you wonder why not go to a cleaner, safer place with decent roads? Of all the places on Earth, it makes you wonder why we do what we do in Gulu, Uganda? Let me give you five reasons why:


  • God’s hand is on this place. Northern Uganda was ravaged by war for over 25 years. There’s not a single family around Abaana’s Hope that was not affected. These are a people who need a reason for hope. For the last 2-3 months, every Sunday afternoon at our 3:00 worship service at Abaana’s Hope, at least one person is called by God to become a born again Christ-follower. Because of your prayers and our prayers, God is pouring out incredible blessings on this100 acres of land called Abaana’s Hope.
  • A few months ago, a little 10-year old girl named Mercy, who had severe pain in her ears and had not been able to hear for weeks, was brought to Sandra and me. As we looked into her ears, we could not see her ear canal. It appeared that skin had grown over the canal (it was actually swelling caused by an infection). We took Mercy and her mother to the International Clinic in Gulu and they treated her for the infection and wax buildup. They told us if she had waited another month, she would likely have been deaf for life. A week after the treatment started, she was fine and could hear perfectly. Every Sunday afternoon, we are blessed by Mercy’s sweet smile as she greets us.
  • I have changed these names and some of the personal information, but these stories are real. Betty is one of the AH jewelry ladies, is HIV positive, has 4 children and pregnant with the 5th. Her husband took another “wife” and chased Betty away from their home. She was able to keep her 2-year old boy with her, but he kept the other four. She is trying to save money to get them back as the new wife is abusing them. She was able to move into a place a friend has that is a five hour walk from AH. On jewelry days, she walks five hours each way to make a little money from rolling beads and making jewelry. She has little to eat and no family to turn to. Another lady, Susan, who is part of the jewelry ministry was chased away from her home by the husband. He has repeatedly beaten her. She has a 1-year old girl and they have been sleeping outside in the bush and foraging for food. Betty, who has little food for her son and herself, took them into the place she was staying. These ladies start walking at 5:00 each Wednesday morning to get to AH by 10:00 to make jewelry. Another lady in this group often comes with bruises and swelling on her face from the beatings by her husband. We saw this situation and God put it on our hearts to want to help. Then just as quickly, He provided Four Corners Ministries the opportunity of buying 10 beautiful acres of land close to our property to give women like these a safe refuge. Everything at Abaana’s Hope has been planned for over two years—the Family Group Homes, the Grist/Maize Mill, the Water Well, the Staff Housing, the Caretaker Building, the Chapel, the Primary and Secondary Schools, the Football Field, the Toilets, the Playground, the Medical Clinic, the Guest House and the agriculture production. This is the first ministry opportunity God has shown us as a need we can and should address. Want to build an ot lum (a round brick and plaster house with a grass roof) to provide a home for one of the ladies and her children? It will cost $275 to provide a safe place for her to live.
  • We are currently building a Medical Clinic to care for the wonderful people in the villages surrounding Abaana’s Hope. It will be finished by the end of December. We had a Medical Mission Team visit us this month and they attended the Sunday afternoon worship service before starting their four clinic days on Monday. There was a young mother sitting nearby that had a 2-week old baby boy that had not nursed in four days and was severely dehydrated. A pharmacist on this team, Harold Harmon (also a FCM board member), looked at the baby and came to me with tears in his eyes saying we had to get this baby to a hospital now! Myron West and I, along with the mother, baby and a Ugandan nurse rushed toward the hospital. About half way there, the nurse said the baby was not breathing. Myron was driving and stopped when I understood the nurse had never been trained in CPR. I got in the back and started giving him CPR while Myron picked up our pace even more. After about 10 minutes, the nurse told me the baby was gone. We went on to the hospital emergency room but they confirmed the baby was dead and told us to take him back to his village for burial. I know you’re thinking why did the mother wait four days to seek help for a newborn not nursing? The answer is this young teenage mother simply did not know to seek help until it was too late. Our new Medical Clinic will have a covered porch that will serve as a classroom to provide the community with basic training in nutritional requirements, women’s and girl’s health issues and other needed healthcare information. A few months ago, the 18-month old nephew of one of our workers died from malaria. By the time the baby’s fever peaked and they rushed it all the way into Gulu, it was too late. These babies did not have to die and the healthcare and teaching provided at this clinic will save many lives in this community. What a blessing to be part of this!
  • A month ago, Myron West and Onen Santo started a Saturday afternoon Discipleship Class for the new believers and those who want to just grow in the Lord through the study of His Word. The first Saturday, there were 17 people, the second Saturday, there were 35, the third week, there were 42 and the last Saturday, there were 70. People in this area are hungry for eternal hope in God’s Word and want to know more about Him because you and our team have prayed for just such a thing. This is why we are here. We live for this!

These are just five reasons our missionaries from America live here. Sure, we wish we had better roads, a better sewage system, a better power system and just one Chick-fil-A; but it is what it is, and God called us here to serve Him. All these inconveniences pale in comparison to the blessings of serving a Lord who gave His Son to die on a cruel, humiliating cross for us! We live for this!


We were so blessed this month to have a wonderful team from Georgia—John and Robbie Triplett, Kris and Julie Mobbs, Bob Sykora and Ray Welch. In addition, this team included Harold and Delores Harmon from Alabama. Both John and Harold are Four Corners Board Members. I provide our Board of Directors with regular reports, but it is always great to have board members come over and see firsthand what God is doing at Abaana’s Hope. My written reports cannot adequately convey the many ways God is working here. One must come and see to get an accurate picture.


Though this team came primarily to provide medical care to the wonderful Acholi people around Gulu, they ministered in so many other ways. John led our Saturday afternoon Discipleship Class of about 80 people and Chris preached a mini sermon at Gospel Assembly in Gulu on Sunday morning and a mega sermon (mega in quality, not time) at our Sunday afternoon worship. After Chris preached, everyone walked over to the place where the Chapel construction will begin in January. We had placed flags to designate the exact location where the building will be constructed. There were about 300 people, including children that prayed over this ground and asked for God’s special blessings and protection on this place that will be the worship center for His church at Abaana’s Hope. There were more than a few tears of joy as we dreamed together what God will do on this ground.


This was an extremely hard working team that saw over 1,500 patients over the course of four days in two different villages. At the end of each day, Harold Harmon and I had to make a run down to a local pharmacy to purchase additional medicines. In addition to treating so many ill patients, there were scores fitted with both reading and distance glasses. One lady who had just gotten glasses so she could read again, immediately went over to a bench, sat down and started reading her Bible. John Triplett, who was one of three involved in helping fit people with glasses, said, upon seeing this lady, “That is what we’re here for. This one lady makes it worth the trip over.”


Yes, we started this week with a two-week old baby boy dying because he did not get medical treatment in a timely manner. We ended the week recognizing that lives were saved as a result of this team being here. As we dropped them at the Entebbe Airport Friday evening, we were all a little tired but felt so good about participating in a week of seeing God’s hand working in many miraculous ways.


This was also a mission team that greatly encouraged our Gulu Team Members. We are eternally grateful for John, Robbie, Chris, Julie, Bob, Ray, Harold and Dee coming to this remote part of the world to bring healing to the sick, help the near blind to see and make disciples all in the name of Jesus. God was most definitely glorified through this terrific team. We hope they will come back again.


One of these couples missed the return trip home—on purpose. Harold and Dee will be with us another five weeks and we are so excited to have this extended time with them. They have become such good friends to each of us living in Gulu, and we can hardly wait to see how God will use them over the coming month. Stay tuned in for that in the October Update.


All glory to Him,


Royce & Sandra


Category: Abaana's Hope


The Abaana’s Hope Team and I had the pleasure of hosting an Abaana’s Hope intern from California, Taylor Henderson, the month of August. Taylor was a complete pleasure and joy to work with. Her spirit and willingness to work hard was greatly appreciated by all of the Abaana’s Hope Team! Taylor spent a total of three months in Gulu, Uganda and her time in Gulu was not wasted!


Taylor worked closely with the women’s ministries, jewelry and knitting programs, at AH and developed relationships that allowed her to show the love of Christ through practical ways. She simple “did work” with the ladies three days a week. She sat on the same reed mates, rolled the same paper beads and fellowshipped with them daily.



Taylor’s last day at AH with the jewelry program she spent some special time helping a worker named Angom Evalyn make jewelry. Evalyn has had anything but an easy life. She was born in Kinene in 1974 as one of seven children. She was never able to attend school because there was not enough money to pay for school fees for all seven children. She married and gave birth to four children before her family had to leave for Cwero IDP Camp during the LRA War in 2003. She gave birth to one child while in the camp and three since leaving the camp in 2006. Three of her children have died from malaria-one at only two weeks old, one at two months old, and one at one years old. Evalyn has also lost several siblings and has adopted children that she provides for in addition to her own. She works extremely hard to provide for her children so that they can get an education that she never had the opportunity to receive.


At the end of the day, Evalyn tried so desperately to pay Taylor for her hard work helping her complete her jewelry peices. It was the sweetest thing ever. I stood and watched and hid behind my camera in disbelief and in awe of what was taking place! Through translation Taylor was able to share with Evalyn why she helped her, it was because she loved her and wanted to share the love of Jesus with her. It was beautiful and simply. The ability to witness just one moment of the Lord using His people, in this case, an intern from California to show unconditional love and support to a lady who otherwise has hardly seen it in her life time. Someone helping others without a reward is foreign to so many people, these ladies are no exception.



Two weeks after Taylor went back home to California to finish her last year of college Evalyn attended a worship service at Abaana’s Hope. She was touched and overcome with emotion and expressed that she has had such a hard life and realizes she cannot keep going without the help of Jesus! Wow! I cannot help but think the seed that was planted by Taylor was sprouted on that Sunday!


As Christians we do not always see growth from the seeds that we plant. But, what a beautiful day it is to share with you just one thing the Lord was able to do through Taylor, an AH Intern.


Do you know or are you a student who is wanting to spend time serving other people while gaining great skills that will aid you in finding a job after college or even joining the mission field yourself? We invite you to share or pray about an opportunity to serve as an Abaana’s Hope intern in 2014.


Internship sessions begin in January, June and September. The programs typically last no less than 30 days and no more than 6 months.


The majority of an intern’s time will revolve around participating in the ministries and outreaches Abaana’s Hope has already established. Each intern will be assigned to at least one ministry that fits their talents at Abaana’s Hope, but all interns will be involved with almost all aspects of Abaana’s Hope by the end of their time in Uganda.


Some of the Abaana’s Hope outreaches include, but are not limited to:


•Construction of the Comprehensive Children’s Village


•Abaana’s Hope Medical Clinic and Pharmacy assistance


•Agriculture Projects-Grist Mill and planting/harvesting of crops


•Abaana’s Hope Women’s Programs- Paper Jewelry & Knitting


•Abaana’s Hope Children’s Outreach-Coordinating with teams with VBS based curriculum and also caring for workers children


•Home visits of children in our sponsorship program


•Administration and organization at Abaana’s Hope


•Team preparations and planning (for short term teams)


****Part of an interns responsibilities will include helping with hospitality, which includes serving as well as helping to facilitate short-term teams while they are here at Abaana’s Hope. We aim to foster an atmosphere where interns experience more of the love of the Father in their own life through worship, devotionals and encouragement. We have seen hundreds of people leave with a passion to discover the unique purpose that God has for their lives.


I am excited about being the Internship Coordinator for Abaana’s Hope and having the opportunity to work with wonderful students from all over! Please visit the internships page on the FCM website to find out more information on the program and to download an application today! Internship Website: .


Thank you for your continues prayers and support as we serve the people of Gulu, Uganda! And also a big thank you to Taylor Henderson for choosing to serve at Abaana’s Hope!


In Him,


Kimberly Barbrey


Category: Abaana's Hope


August was the best month we’ve experienced in Gulu, Uganda! We were blessed to have our family here from late July through the first two weeks of this month. The West family has settled into their house and the work at Abaana’s Hope. The Barbrey family arrived and both Chase and Kimmey have already made an impact on our mission here. If that were not enough, friends from Alabama made up the visiting August Mission Team. Three couples on this team are from our small group at The Church at Brook Hills—Marty and Joan Elder, Ben and Carole Smith and Chuck and Pat Wallis. We also had Natalie Kelly, Thor Burk and Sarah Skipper, the wife of Four Corners Ministries President, Tripp Skipper. Their 6-year old daughter, Anna, came with her Mom and our youngest grandson, Levi, and Anna hit it off. Tripp saw several pictures of them together and told Jim the bride price for Anna was a lifetime supply of Steel City Pops.


No trip to Uganda is complete unless you’ve had the opportunity to catch, kill and eat your own chicken. We could not deny this opportunity to our grandsons so here is living proof of their success at catching their dinner. Double-click link below for live action.



We had delayed installing our playground equipment for the men on this team. None of these guys shy away from hard work and with the help of an auger Jim brought over, some Acholi men mixing concrete, Ben, Chuck, Marty, Chase, Myron, Ryan, Jim, Fisher, Jude, Tripp and occasionally, Levi, when he was not playing with Anna, had a playground up and ready for children as soon as the concrete cured after four day’s work. They even planted seven umbrella trees at strategic places on the playground and planted thirty-six eucalyptus trees around the perimeter. I had anticipated this team getting about half of the playground completed and the next team finishing it. They were amazing at finishing this job in such a short time. I also want to thank both the small groups at The Church at Brook Hills who contributed to the purchase of the playground equipment. I have included some pictures that you may enjoy.




While the men were working on the playground, the ladies taught some of the community ladies to knit, worked with our jewelry-making ladies and led a back yard Bible school with about 150 kids from the community. Bible stories were told and games were played and children noticed the playground with anticipation.


The last few days we had with our family in Uganda was spent on a vacation together. We started our vacation with the Alabama Team bus going to Murchison Falls National Park. Everyone but Sandra and I (we’ve been on game drives here before and space was limited) went on an afternoon safari. They saw the usual elephants, giraffes, warthogs, hippos, baboons, hartebeests, impalas, waterbuck, monkeys, Ugandan kobs, African buffalo, gazelles, a wide variety of birds and the rare lions. We usually do not see lions so this was a special treat. From there, the Alabama Team (along with Myron) took the bus on down to Entebbe to catch their flight home while our family rode down to Queen Elizabeth National Park in two Premier Safari Land Cruisers. At Queen Elizabeth National Park, we stayed in the Queen’s Cottage (she stayed here in 1959 when she dedicated this National Park) and to say it was fit for a queen is an understatement. This was, by far, the nicest accommodations we’ve ever stayed in. We went on a game drive there and were also blessed to see a very large male lion. Our guide said when they have a dark mane; it indicates they are older and larger.


The next morning, we traveled on down to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It is most famous for Mountain Gorilla trekking. Mountain Gorillas are an endangered species with only about 786 in the world. The minimum age for trekking gorillas is 16, so only Jim, Amy, Fisher and I could do this while Sandra took Jude, Tripp and Levi on a “River Walk” with a guide. We had a guide (pictured below) and other Ugandans who carried our backpacks of food and water. In fact, it was a lady that carried mine and I was thinking, “I’m stronger than she is. I can carry it myself.” WRONG! These guys do this several times a week and I can say with confidence that I would never have made it carrying my backpack. The guides are in constant radio contact with the trackers on the mountain who relay the exact location of the gorillas. Of course, they move. The previous day, they were on the side of the mountain that we climbed but they had moved to the top. I’m thinking, “Why couldn’t they make it a little easier on us and stay put on this side.” But no, the morning we go tracking, they had moved to the top.


Now, Fisher competes in triathlons and Amy walks and runs regularly. Neither has an ounce of fat on them. With Jim and me, it’s a different story. I’m worn slap out about one-third up this steep mountain. Of course, we stopped and rested periodically; but had I been in charge, we would have stopped much more often. As we near the top of the mountain, the guide gets a call from the trackers that the gorillas have moved down the other side and in the valley between two mountains. So now, when I’ve been thinking for the last hour, “Royce, you can do this! You will make it to the top of this mountain in spite of your burning thighs.” Now, with clothes totally soaked in sweat, near exhaustion, we learn that we must go down the other side of this mountain to find the gorillas. Going up a mountain puts stress on your thighs; going down a steep incline puts pressure on your knees. I have one total knee replacement on my right leg and have had anterior cruciate ligament surgery and three meniscus tears repaired on the “good” left knee. Do I need to just call it off and tell the guide to pick me up on the way back? That entered my mind but only for a second and I pushed that thought away. I see Jim is having a tough time, too, and I’m going to stick with him, Amy and Fisher to the finish. It is a good thing to push yourself beyond what you think you can do—if you survive; otherwise, it is probably a bad thing.


At the bottom of the mountain we meet up with the trackers. They tell us to put down our hiking sticks, water, food, backpacks, etc. and just bring our cameras. The trackers and backpack carriers stay with our stuff (like someone may happen to walk by and steal it) while we follow our guide into thick grass and brush. Finally, we come upon a huge silverback gorilla about 20 feet away. He is just sitting there eating on a green tubular plant of some kind. He is the one in charge of this family of gorillas. There are five Mountain Gorilla families that are trekked and the one we tracked is the oldest family on these mountains. In fact, this silverback was born here with people coming by him almost daily from the day he was born so he paid little attention to us. He took over when his father died. As his father became old and weak, other silverbacks would come and take some of his family members. When the son took over after his father died, there were only three family members remaining. He went after these former family members and got others because he is young and strong. Some Mountain Gorilla families have as many as 30-40 members. The silverbacks can reach a height of 6 ft. and weight of 350-500 lbs. Their life span is between 40-50 years and they cannot live in captivity. That is why you never see Mountain Gorillas in zoos.


Sandra planned this entire vacation for us and I was glad she was able to get us set up with the oldest gorilla family to trek. I’m not sure how excited we would have been to hear our guide tell us, “Now folks, this is the youngest family of gorillas on these mountains and you are privileged to be the first white people they’ve ever seen.”


We were amazed to be so close to this Mountain Gorilla family and though they would gaze at us occasionally, they mostly just went about their business of eating plants, leafs, roots and wood. It did surprise me to see them pulling dead pieces of wood off trees and eating it. I’m not sure if there were termites in this wood or what. There is an order to their eating. The silverback eats first, then the oldest female, the next oldest female and finally to the youngest. We saw this when the silverback went to the tree with the dead portion and ate it. When he left, a large female came there and ate from the same tree. One little guy kept watching and waiting on her to finish so he could have his turn but he finally got impatient and walked right by us (within 5-6 feet) to go for some other goodies in the forest.


We stayed and watched and took pictures for about 30 minutes. Then we turned back to pick up our hiking sticks, grab a drink of water and go back to where we began. We stopped after about 45 minutes and ate lunch. I think everyone was happy to sit down for a while. They actually had an easier trail to get back that I wondered why we didn’t take that up in the first place, but I suppose you must go directly toward the place the trackers have located the gorilla family.


Dian Fossey actually was against the idea of visiting Mountain Gorillas; however, it’s the money collected that provides for the survival of this endangered species, and their numbers have increased over recent years. According to the travel guides advertising Mountain Gorilla trekking, “it can take anywhere from 1 hour to 8 hours and can be quite strenuous, so a reasonable level of fitness is required.” Jim and I should have paid a little more attention to that statement. You better be in great shape if you want to enjoy this to the fullest; and when you see your first Mountain Gorilla close up and personal, it will be worth the effort.




It takes over two years for the Ugandan Wildlife people to get a gorilla family accustomed to people coming up close to them so they can guide groups. We were given a few rules such as do not make eye contact with the silverback. If he looks at you, turn your eyes away from him. To stare at him is threatening and not very smart. We were also told to stay 7 meters back but we got much closer than that with the guide. At one time a young gorilla came within about 5-6 feet of us. This was an amazing experience! I can say without question that when we first saw the silverback just 20 feet away, it was worth the difficult hike. All things considered, this was one of the greatest family vacations we’ve ever had. We ministered together, we worked together, we played and prayed together and we saw some of God’s most beautiful creations of land, plants, birds and animals.



A tired, but happy group of Mountain Gorilla trekkers. An experience of a lifetime!


When we left on vacation with Jim, Amy and the boys, Chase and Kimmey Barbrey, along with Taylor Henderson, an intern who stayed an additional month, moved into our house. It has been such a blessing to have them with us these last few weeks. Both Kimmey and Taylor have been helping Sandra with the jewelry making and knitting ladies ministries and they organized and categorized all the eyeglasses for our next Medical Team visit. Of course, we knew Chase and Kimmey before they came to Gulu, but we realize even more what an asset they are to this ministry and how much God blessed us with their coming to be a part of our Ugandan Team. Taylor is from California and she left us on the last day of August. She is such a wonderful young lady and we already miss her. While Sandra worked on Quick Books some evenings, we played games such as spades and Yamslam. I will have to say Chase and I have dominated Kimmey and Taylor at spades.


We have really started seeing growth in our Sunday afternoon worship services. Last Sunday afternoon, there were near 400 people, including children. We have a wonderful Acholi lady named Jennifer who leads the children in their Bible stories and they meet outside. We have no covered place to hold all the adults if rain comes so we are talking with our Board about a Chapel building being a priority in early 2014. Roy and Sabrina Durham started this Sunday afternoon worship service/small group/Bible study over a year ago with a handful of people, and God has blessed it in many ways as only He can. The community people attending have started giving toward a building and have said they want to volunteer their time to help us build it. All glory to God!


There have been many adults that have become Christ-followers through this Sunday afternoon service, the jewelry-making ladies ministry and the knitting ladies ministry. Myron West, one of our team members who has a passion for disciple-making, along with Santo, began a basic Discipleship Class for these new Christians on Saturday afternoons at 2:00. Yesterday, there were 22 men and women attending. This is what we are here for! “From the beginning of Christianity, the natural overflow of being a disciple of Jesus has always been to make disciples of Jesus. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). This was a promise: Jesus would take His disciples and turn them into disciple makers. And this was a command: He called each of us His disciples to go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey Him (Matthew 28: 19-20). From the start, God’s design has been for every single disciple of Jesus to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples until the gospel spreads to all people.” (Foreword by David Platt in the book, “Multiply” by Francis Chan with Mark Beuving)


It is so easy here to get caught up in constructing buildings, growing crops, maintaining vehicles, communicating with donors, bookkeeping, addressing personnel issues, looking for ways to provide increased income, dealing with Ugandan governmental issues and hosting mission teams and interns. These are good things and necessary things. But as a team of full-time missionaries, we cannot allow ourselves to do all these good and necessary things to a point of neglecting our time in the Word and losing sight of what we are here for. I am so grateful for people like Roy and Sabrina, Santo and Myron who have been and are making disciples of all nations—at Abaana’s Hope.


Thank you so much for your prayers and support of this ministry. We truly could not do what we do without you.


All glory to Him,


Royce & Sandra


Category: Abaana's Hope


Wednesday started out like a normal day for our team. We woke up, Mrs. Sandra spoiled us once again by making breakfast and then we all got ready for the day. Holly and Rachel got dropped off at our house and the boys left to take the West’s vehicle in to get worked on at the auto shop. While us women jumped in the car and headed for a day of jewelry making at Abaana’s Hope.


About 20 minutes into our normally 45 minutes drive the engine in our vehicle shut off. We did not think much about this; Mrs. Sandra just stopped and re-cranked the car. But, about 5 minutes later it did it again. The vehicle would not stay cranked to save our lives. We had just turned a corner that took us out of tall grass and to a semi safe place to sit in the car with enough room for oncoming traffic to pass. We called the guys and they called for help at the land. We sat for about 30 minutes before the boys arrived and we switched vehicles. Myron drove “the tank” and us ladies jumped in. We felt pretty good about getting to the land to work with our jewelry ladies with Myron driving. Just a side note about “the tank” it has a manual transmission. Remember one more thing, we are in Africa. Which means, the gear shifter is to be shifted with your left hand and we drive on the left side of the road.


Myron did far better driving the monster of a beast than any of us ladies could have. But, it is not easy getting used to driving on the left side of the road, needless to say driving a with a left gear shifter! As we take off we finally run into some guys from the land coming to help. We stop to tell them that we left Chase, Royce and Ryan at the broken vehicle and then the tank stalled out. No big deal right? We just re-crank the tank and hit the dirt road again. Not! This is Africa that would be too simple! Us ladies start laughing and then we hear Myron saying, “Where is the Key?” “There is no key in the ignition!” All of us ladies looked confused and then confirmed in fact, that there was not a key in the ignition. We searched the front seat and found no key! We called the boys and it was in Chase’s pocket back at our broke down car. Apparently the key falls out of the ignition while driving. A boda-boda driver that the men knew just happened to pass them while they were working on the vehicle, so they sent him to bring us the key to the tank. Mean while we got creative and Myron used a pocketknife to try and crank the vehicle. And, it worked! Yes, a knife cranked our vehicle!


Ok, so what else can go wrong? Right? Well we drive and the next thing we know the back door to the tank comes open. We stop again and I jump out, in more tall grass than I would have liked, and slammed the door. And we take off again. We finally arrived at the land only 45 minutes late. Our jewelry ladies were already hard at work.


Myron dropped our things and us off and headed back to help the men. This is where their adventure continues. They had a guy stop who claimed to be a mechanic on a boda-boda, but Chase claims the so-called mechanic probably made things worse. Remember once again, we are in Africa, there is no such thing as a tow truck company! The men decided that they could not fix the vehicle on the road. So they tied the broke down vehicle to the tank and begin to tow it back to the house. In the process the rope broke, they fixed it, and then it got wrapped around a tire at a bad place in the rode. They were able to quickly untangle it and continue on the road. Finally they made it to Myron’s house where they began to attempt to work on all of our Abaana’s Hope vehicles. Wow!



Back to us ladies on the land…


Working with the Abaana’s Hope jewelry ladies is a blessing, but it is also challenging for someone like myself who is a perfectionist, not to mention the difficulties teaching someone when there is a language barrier. Even though English is the official language of Uganda, not everyone speaks English. Depending on where you are in Uganda, different people groups speak different languages. Abaana’s Hope is home to the Acholi people group and they speak Acholi. Therefore majority of our workers at Abaana’s Hope speak Acholi, which can be a joy and challenge all at the same time.


Thank the Lord we had prepared the day before for our time with the jewelry ladies by measuring and separating their string into individual bags. Beatrice, Abaana’s Hope caretaker’s wife/translator, explained and showed the ladies what they were going to make that day. We passed out their bag of string; paper beads and they began working on a new necklace design.


The beads we use in our jewelry program are handmade by our ladies out of recycled paper posters. All of the beads are beautifully unique that the ladies roll and use to make the jewelry.


On the days the ladies make jewelry, they get paid for their work.The ladies, with little supervision, take it upon themselves at the end of the day to try and use what ever beads are left together to make a necklace or bracelet because they want to make as many pieces of jewelry as possible. You see, they are paid by the piece rather than the hour. It is so challenging to get the ladies to stop making jewelry to be able to pay them for their work because they want every bead and minute to count. But, can you blame them? Unless they are passionately working while they have the chance they have no other way to make money.


At the end of the day when beads are flying together on string without much thought my OCD and perfectionist human nature grabs hold of me. My mind and flesh wants me so desperately to yell stop, are you sure that matches? But, once they finish, without an interjection from the peanut gallery, each piece miraculously turns out fabulous! There is just something about how they make paper look amazing. It is a true talent!


When we finally got them to stop working so that we could pay them, really majority of them ran out of beads, to pay them their smiles and praises to the Lord for providing for them puts everything into perspective. It was a challenge to get to the land last Wednesday and as always I am learning we live in an imperfect world that is never going to be perfect until the Lord returns. Reality is, that if these ladies did not make this jewelry, beautiful imperfections in the beads and all, they would not have money to provide a meal for their family, or their children might not have their $50-$150 US dollars worth of school fees. At the end of the day, it was worth it. It is not about making jewelry, it is about ministering to the people we work with and providing them with an opportunity to work. Even though I am a little biased, it is some of the prettiest jewelry I have ever seen!


What a blessing it is to learn everyday from life in Uganda, there is always a lesson of patience around every corner! I am so thankful we have a team that can laugh in face of challenges and just simply roll with the punches! We decided to take it easy that night by ordering pizza and watching Duck Dynasty! What a day!



We are leaving tomorrow to go to Kampala to trade in the tank for a more reliable vehicle. Please pray for safety as we travel and for the Lord to provide us with a reliable vehicle!


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