The reason for our hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

The beginning of July brought the much-needed rains we’ve lacked for our crops and the newly planted grass on the football (soccer) field and playground. As I mentioned in the June Update, God’s tank was much bigger than ours. We received just enough rain in June to keep things alive and the July rains are helping them to thrive. Farming is fun! Sandra and I have had a few home gardens through the years but nothing on the scale of Abaana’s Hope farming. The largest garden we’ve ever planted was probably less than 2 acres and we had both a tiller and a tractor with implements. All the cultivation done (about 40 acres) on Abaana’s Hope property is done with a hoe. Of course, we have about 44 agriculture workers on the end of those hoes. There is a man in downtown Gulu who loves to see me come in his store. I bought 20 hoes a couple of months ago and paid an additional 1,000 shillings (40¢) to have them sharpened. This week, I bought another 10 hoes and had them sharpened. When I was leaving, he wanted to know when I was coming back. I think I may have made a friend and definitely made his day with these purchases.

 

I know I am taking a risk with some of you anti-hunting readers by telling this, but there are hundreds of doves flying around our property. Jim, Amy, Fisher, Jude, Tripp and Levi are coming for a three-week visit in late July so I was thinking how much fun we could have dove hunting. All the boys like to hunt so I’m thinking this will be so much fun! The more I discussed it with our fellow team members, local missionaries and our Acholi friends, I found out it is extremely difficult to get shotguns (or any firearms) through the paperwork maze into Uganda. Then, most importantly, I was told that because of the war history of our area, the people would become very frightened by the sound of gunfire. So, that was a bad idea, but there’s just something genetically in most men and boys that makes them want to hunt (at least in Southern boys where I grew up). I also found out the Ugandan men love to hunt and use catapults (slingshots), spears, nets and bows and arrows. They hunt ground animals and birds in trees and on the ground. When Darrell left for his new job in Kenya, I bought a pellet (air rifle) gun from him. I have now set up a blind beside our soccer field and somehow, there are always a couple of ears of corn shelled out about 40 yards from this blind. I now have two plastic chairs in the blind and am ready for a grandson to join me. Hey, you gotta have a little fun! The 8-10 guys who spend the night on our property during the week love eating dove. Just be sure none of you tell Myron about my secret blind.

 

The East family (Matt, Jamie, Kristen, Cole and Virginia) left at the end of July for a time of furlough back home in the good old USA. Please pray that they will have a refreshing and enjoyable time with family and friends. Pray for them as they seek God’s direction and timing for opportunities to serve and glorify Him while at home and abroad. They were the first full-time missionaries for Four Corners Ministries and in many ways paved the way for us who followed.

 

We are very excited that the West family (Myron, Holly, Ryan and Rachel) joined our Ugandan team this month. We have eagerly anticipated this move for months and now it has arrived. Please pray for them as they adjust to the culture and adjust to being apart from family and friends. Pray for them as they seek how they may most glorify God in their service to the Acholi people and to move the vision of Abaana’s Hope forward. Pray for them that they will keep utmost in mind their call from God to “Go therefore and make disciples,” acknowledge their weakness in themselves and their utter dependence on God. This is a great family and we are extremely blessed to have them serving in Uganda.

 

We were blessed to have two mission teams visit us in July. First, a team of seven from Knoxville, Tennessee led by Ben Davis. Ben and one other team member, Jonathan Chastain had visited Abaana’s Hope in July 2012. When they last visited, there was only a foundation on the Caretaker Building and the Grist Mill. They were amazed at the transformation that God has done at AH in just one year. This team (Ben Davis, Jonathan Chastain, Rick and Leeann Starnes, Lilly Hackler, Elizabeth Ridge and Matthew Starnes) blessed us in so many ways—first, they gave us (Myron, Santo and me) a free ride on their bus from Kampala to Gulu and most importantly, they spent Saturday afternoon at our house, along with the West family praying for us, playing meaningful music on our iPod player, sharing meaningful scriptures and personal stories of how good God has been in their lives. It was just a terrific time of encouragement to each of us serving here and we praise God for their coming and already look forward to a return visit from these wonderful, Godly people.

 

The second team was Four Corners Ministries Board of Directors Chairman, Tommy Cummings, FCM Vice President, Yancy Carpenter and Robert Beacham, all from First Baptist Church in Opelika, Alabama. This church is extremely outward focused on missions and has blessed Abaana’s Hope with financial gifts to help build our Medical Clinic. We took some pictures of these guys installing the front door to the clinic. I thought there was some good symbolism to their putting the front door in place where literally hundreds of Acholi will walk through to be helped and many whose lives will be saved. We have recently heard of a baby boy of only a few months and a five-year old girl dying of malaria near this clinic. Malaria is so easy to treat if medication is started in the early stages. When this clinic opens later this year, lives like these will be saved.

 

 

 

Don’t you think Tommy looks like he belongs behind bars?

 

Jim, Amy, Fisher, Jude, Tripp and Levi arrived on July 25th!!!! We have been anticipating their visit for months. We have Skyped with them weekly, but that doesn’t compare to having them here in the flesh. They will be with us almost a month. We are going to work with a team from Alabama (three couples in our small group at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham and another four people from Opelika—more about them in the August Update.) We will be working with the guys installing our playground equipment and Sandra and Holly will be working with the ladies making jewelry, knitting and doing back-yard Bible club and games with children surrounding Abaana’s Hope.

 

Chase and Kimmey Barbrey will also be on the flight with the Alabama team. Chase will be our Construction Manager and Kimmey will manage the Intern Program along with working in the ladies ministries and several other things. We are tremendously excited they will be here soon. I have been a rather poor substitute as Construction Manager since Darrell Hobbs left at the end of May, so I am particularly glad to have this great couple becoming part of our Ugandan Team.

 

To those of you who are our “Family and Friends” group list, I have had several very positive comments about last month’s attachment of “The God Who Runs,” a sermon my brother, Wallace, preached while in Africa last October. Because of that I have attached another sermon that he recently preached at his home church, Central Baptist, in Marshall, Texas called “Manna.” It is well worth taking time to read. It spoke to my heart and I pray that it speaks to yours as well. For those reading this who are not on our “Family and Friends” group list and would like to receive the added attachments sent each month exclusively to this group list, just send us your email address and we will be happy to add you to this list.

 

Construction at Abaana’s Hope continues to progress and we are thankful for God’s protection of our workers who were involved in an accident. Six of our men were injured while driving from Abaana’s Hope to pick up a load of marrum for making bricks. The driver and two men were in the cab while three more were riding in the bed. The key was jarred out of the ignition and fell to the floorboard, locking the steering wheel, eliminating the ability to turn and they hit a tree hard on the right front near the headlight. The two men riding in the cab were thrown through the windshield the three in the bed were thrown over the cab while the driver was pinned behind the steering wheel and dash as it was pushed back into him. A piece of metal had gone into the outside of his right knee and thrust upward about six inches into his thigh. It was a miracle of God that not one of the men sustained a broken bone and the only injuries were cuts (all requiring sutures) and bruising. The Canter was totaled with the frame broken, the cab beyond repair and even the bed bent at odd angles. The light at the end of this tunnel was that we wanted to sell the Canter anyway and replace it with a tipper (dump truck) that would be more functional to us.

 

We were able to sell the Canter for parts and an anonymous donor bought us a tipper. The accident was on a Friday and Stephen, our driver with the injured leg, along with Santo, Myron and I went to Kampala on Monday morning to find and purchase a tipper. The four of us rode a bus to Kampala to save money ($9 each) as Stephen would drive the tipper back, if we found one, and the other three of us would ride back with the Knoxville, Tennessee team on their nice multi-passenger carrier. Even though we arrived about 25 minutes early for the bus, it was about 90% full. Santo and Stephen took the first two seats open together and Myron and I took the only other seats together on the very back row. The back row would hold five but there were only three of us so I’m thinking this will be fine. As the time to depart inched closer, more people came on and eventually another guy had to join us. There were only two seats left and one was by a lady who had put all her belongings in that vacant seat and the one by us. A new passenger got her to move her stuff and took that seat. Woo Hoo! It is time to leave—but you guessed it—one more passenger walks on. You rarely see overweight Ugandans but this was that rare exception and he takes the seat between Myron and me. Now the bus is totally full and the back row had five fairly large men packed in. For six hours we jockeyed our shoulders to have them back against the seat. If one of us rose up, he lost the “comfortable” position of having his shoulders against the seat. I finally got the position and leaned back and closed my eyes. I have frequently talked about the importance of prayer and how much we need your prayers and appreciate so much those of you who pray for us. I am somewhat ashamed to say that in my entire life I never remember praying for two hours straight. I did on this trip. I prayed for our family, I prayed for each of you on our group list, each member of the FCM team, our home church and the leadership there, the Acholi people we serve, the nation of Uganda, the United States and everyone God put on my mind. What would have been an uncomfortable, difficult ride became a joyful experience of time with God, the Creator of all.

 

I have learned that mzungus (white people) do not get the best prices on major (or minor) purchases in Uganda so I wanted Stephen and Santo to negotiate the price for the tipper before Myron and I even showed up. There are three places to buy used trucks in Kampala, and Santo and Stephen went to each. Stephen has a friend that was connected to one of the dealers and was able to get a great truck for a great deal. In fact, it was such a great deal, that the first week back, a businessman offered us a 9,000,000 shillings (about $3,600) profit for it.

 

Well, it’s time for a few table games with our family so I will close out this month’s update. Thank you for keeping up with us. Thank you who have sent us Premium Saltines, Peanut Butter, Vanilla Wafers, Oreos, Pecans, M&Ms, Cheese, Taco Seasoning, Homemade Jellies and various other goodies that we are unable to get here. As always, we are most grateful for your prayers for us and for this ministry God has called us to. We are certainly honored to be part of the mission here and have never been more excited to have front row seats for seeing what God is doing in this rather remote part of Uganda.

 

We love you and thank God for you,

 

Royce & Sandra

 

Category: Four Corners Today

 

The month of June started out very dry (which is unusual for May-June). Our crops and newly planted grass on the football field and playground needed rain desperately. A couple of our guys came up with an idea to irrigate our grass from a tank on the back of our Canter, attached by pipe to a metal bar with watering holes drilled in it. The idea actually worked better than I thought it would, but the tank is just too small to go very far and we must refill it with Jeri cans, which is extremely time-consuming. We know God’s tank is not too small and began praying for rain as a group.

 

 

Our Monthly Updates are always accompanied by an additional attachment to our “Family and Friends” group list of about 160 people. This attachment is not included on the Four Corners Ministries website showing our Monthly Updates. The additional attachment is simply something I share with our family and friends that God is teaching me at that time. I have shared the things God taught me through each of the four chapters of Philippians. I have shared about what the word “Propitiation” in Scripture means. I have shared about what God is teaching me about “Waiting.” I have shared what God is teaching me from a profound quote by missionary Jim Elliot. This month, I have not written anything to share. Have no fear that I have fallen away from God’s Word or His teaching; but without Darrell here to oversee construction, Matt and Jamie with a house full of interns and our first visiting mission team of the year here along with other wonderful visitors and a terrific film crew, I simply have not had enough time to write. Instead, I have asked permission to share a sermon from my brother, Wallace. He preached this sermon when in Ethiopia last Fall when attending a pastor-training conference. He visited us on his return home and told me about a sermon he preached at the conference from the passage in Luke 15:11-24. I asked him if he could email his notes to me and he said he had actually written out this entire sermon and would send that. It is called “The God Who Runs” and if you can read it without a tear running down your cheek, you are stronger than I. By the way, if you are not on our “Family and Friends” group list and would like to receive the additional attachments, please send us your email address and we will add you. If you have an interest in reading any of the previous attachments, just let us know.

 

We were privileged to have the Moody family from First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Alabama visit us for a few days in early June. Josh and Kim have five children: eight-year old twin girls named Avery and Ella, five-year old Addi, four-year old Steven, and three-year old Mark. They also brought Laura, a teacher who accompanied them to Uganda and helped with their kids. Steven and Mark were adopted two years ago from Sonrise Baby Home in Jinja, Uganda and Josh and Kim wanted to bring them back for a visit and also come up to Gulu to see what God is doing at Abaana’s Hope. Needless to say, our small house was full with some sleeping on the floor. There was never a boring minute, and it was such a joy to have the house buzzing with activity and laughter. Sandra and I enjoyed their visit very much and hope to see them return some day.

 

The following week, we had the opportunity to host Sara Watts, from Opelika, Alabama. Sara is a secondary school science teacher and wanted to visit the child she sponsors near Kampala and also see Abaana’s Hope. Sara courageously came by herself and was such a joy to be with. She has a great heart to see the gospel proclaimed and gave us some good counsel regarding the future Abaana’s Hope school. One of the things she suggested was to open our school to U.S. teachers wanting to volunteer to commit a year to come serve with us at our school. Since our children will be taught in English and we plan to have two teachers per classroom with a maximum of 50 students, this seems to be something we should seriously consider. It could be a great opportunity for you teachers to come serve with us.

 

 

The third week of June brought us our first Mission Team of 2013. This group was from First Baptist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana. This church was our home church when we lived in Bossier City. The pastor of First Baptist-Bossier is Fred Lowery and he and his wife, Leigh, are dear friends of ours. Fred and Leigh’s niece, Kasey and her husband, Brad (Mission’s Pastor), led this trip and they brought an amazingly great team (Dawn Coker, Paul Douglas, Kristi Ellender, Holly Enfinger, Michelle Hollenshead, Brianna Hopper and Bethany Towns) who were willing to work alongside our Acholi workers and do everything a team could do to serve. The above picture depicts the team attending Sunday morning worship at a local primary school in Liebe (just south of Gulu). This church is called Gospel Assembly and is pastored by Onen Santo.

 

 

This next picture shows the Bossier Team working with the 180+ kids attending the Sunday afternoon gathering for singing and a Bible story held at Abaana’s Hope.

 

The two men on this team, Brad and Paul helped repair a leak in our new flush toilet, planted two clothesline poles so deep in concrete that an elephant could not move them, and helped our workers complete the new permanent kitchen foundation. The ladies on this team, assisted by translators, worked with and ministered to our Acholi jewelry-making ladies. After a couple of days of sharing the love of Christ with these ladies, they ended these sessions by demonstrating the humility and service of Christ by washing the ladies’ feet. One of their team members, Holly Enfinger, shared from John 13:1-20 how Jesus humbled Himself to demonstrate service to His disciples and that we as Christ-followers should be willing to do the same. Holly told these Acholi ladies through a translator that:

 

“Jesus knew His time on Earth was coming to an end. He would be joining His Father in heaven; so Jesus gathered all of His disciples together one last time—at the Lord’s Supper. Out of love, Jesus taught them one last lesson—humility, by washing their feet. In order to spread the gospel to all nations, the disciples would need to learn how to serve others. Having arrogance and being prideful would hinder the disciples’ relationship with each other, with the people they were trying to lead to Christ, and most importantly, with God! Being humble and serving others shows love.

 

These lessons of humility are also important lessons for us as well. People are always trying to be first in line to do the things that are important, respected or fun; but Jesus showed His love of others by doing something that no one would want to do. He washed the disciples feet! During Jesus’ time, the lowest-ranked person in the room usually performed this task. Was Jesus the lowest-ranked person in that room? No! He was their great Teacher and Lord!

 

Are there tasks that we do not want to do because they are dirty, too hard, inconvenient or not fun? But don’t those tasks still have to be done? God will reward those who do His will and work. We need to be willing to do whatever task is needed and do it to glorify Him. (At this point, each of the ladies got a plastic tub with water in it, a washcloth and soap and washed the Acholi lady’s feet. While they did this, Holly read 1 Cor. 13:1-3, “If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”)

 

Jesus says the greatest people are not the leaders of a village, or heroes, or warriors. The greatest of people are like children. They are humble, obedient, and powerless (except in God). It is meant for us to fill the needs that we see, whatever they are, whenever they are, wherever they are!”

 

This was a moving, wonderful, humbling display of Christ’s servanthood demonstrated to our Acholi ladies, and Sandra and I are most appreciative for this team from First Baptist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana doing something in such a graphic way to demonstrate the love of Christ to the people we serve here.

 

The fourth week in June brought an incredibly talented film crew to document the work that is going on at Abaana’s Hope. Dan Atchison, Taylor Robinson and Jason Wallis “happened” to have a trip scheduled only two hours away in Lira, Uganda to do some filming for a great ministry called “Compassion International.” Tripp Skipper, the Four Corners Ministries President, was able to contract with them to shoot some film of the children and adults attending our Sunday afternoon Bible studies, the Abaana’s Hope workers, buildings and agriculture; and do some interviews with the summer interns, jewelry-making ladies, Acholi management team and the Ugandan mission team members. Part of what they did will be shown at the annual Four Corners Ministries “Experience Africa” Banquet on the first of August at the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center. See the Four Corners Ministries website for more information about this event.

 

I know many of you pray for us regularly because you tell us that you do. Many times, I’ve told people who said they were praying for us that it is likely that none of us really understand just how powerful our prayers are. There is no question that spiritual warfare is real and we need all the help in this area we can summon. I want to share with you a devotional that was printed in “Our Daily Bread” by Anne Cetas on January 15, 2013 that is titled “There’s Power:”

 

“When my sister found out she had cancer, I asked my friends to pray. When she had surgery, we prayed that the surgeon would be able to remove all of the cancer and that she wouldn’t have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. And God answered yes! When I reported the news, one friend remarked, ’I’m so glad there’s power in prayer.’ I responded, ‘I’m thankful that God answered with a yes this time.’

 

James says that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16). But does ‘effective’ and ‘fervent’ mean the harder we pray, or the more people we ask to pray, the more likely God is to answer with a yes? I’ve had enough ‘no’ and ‘wait’ answers to wonder about that.

 

Prayer is powerful, but it’s such a mystery. We’re taught to have faith, to ask earnestly and boldly, to persevere, to be surrendered to His will. Yet God answers in His wisdom and His answers are best. I’m just thankful that God wants to hear our hearts and that no matter the answer, He is still good.

 

I like Ole Hallesby’s words, ‘Prayer and helplessness are inseparable. Only those who are helpless can truly pray….Your helplessness is your best prayer.’ We can do helplessness quite well.

 

Lord, I’ve been taught many things about prayer—be specific, be bold, be surrendered, be strong in faith, be persistent. Today I recognize my helplessness and Your power as I share my heart with you. Amen.

 

Prayer is the child’s helpless cry to the Father’s attentive ear.”

 

Thanks so much for your prayers. Sandra and I truly are helpless without them.

 

Royce and Sandra

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

The first couple of days of May brought our first illness since we’ve been in Uganda. I had fever, chills, achy joints, throwing up and another symptom that I’ll just say will probably bring us a record water bill. Since we are taking Lariam for malaria, I thought I had the flu. Then we were told that one could get malaria even while taking the preventative medicine, so I started taking the three-day malaria treatment. The next morning, I felt no better so we went to the international clinic where most muzungus go. They ran various lab tests—blood, stool, urine and told me I had a bacterial infection, probably from something I ate. This was a surprise diagnosis since we are very careful what we eat and how our food is prepared at home. This doctor visit, including lab work and pharmacy meds, total cost was 25,000 shillings (about $9.75). Is this a great country or what? I just want to thank each of you who knew I was sick and prayed for me. We’ve been extremely blessed that this is the first illness (and such small thing at that) we’ve incurred.

 

On a sad note, May also brought the departure of teammates, Darrell and Pam Hobbs. Darrell had headed up Abaana’s Hope construction development from the beginning with site design, building drawings and managing all construction projects. FCM Board President, Tommy Cummings said in a note of appreciation to Darrell, “I’m convinced that God in His sovereignty caused our paths to cross. We would likely not be in Gulu today and certainly would not be as far down the road to making Abaana’s Hope a reality without your efforts.” Darrell has accepted a position with Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. Their son, Josh, attends this school and Darrell will be the General Superintendent of their new construction projects over the next two years until Josh graduates. They have been with Four Corners Ministries over a year and have become good friends. We will miss them greatly but recognize God’s hand in moving them to another opportunity to serve Him. We wish them the very best of God’s blessings!

 

May in Uganda also means school is out and Christine’s children, Richard (17), Rosalyn (16) and Rita (14) were here with us most of the month. Lillian turned 14 on May 12 and she and Rita have spent a lot of time talking and laughing together. We noticed she had a new dress on recently (she only has 2 or 3 so it’s easy to tell) and we learned she and Rita had traded dresses for a while. I guess girls here are similar to girls everywhere in many ways. I had brought back from our Christmas visit home a volleyball net and a couple of volleyballs for our guys out at Abaana’s Hope (AH) to play after lunch and also for those 10 or so who spend the night out there to play in the evenings. I had the extra volleyball and let the kids play with it. After a few days, I bought a “net” (a rope to string from our house to Christine’s house) and we’ve had many hours of fun with this. They laugh all the time playing—sometimes just falling on the ground they get so tickled. Of course, football (soccer) is the main sport played in Uganda so headers and feet are allowed while playing volleyball here. So far, I’ve just used my hands. That header thing looks like a potential headache. Another of their routine fun things is to take a hymnal and sing songs from it for an hour or more. It is such a blessing to hear them singing. We love hearing the pronouncement of the words and the “unusual” tunes from familiar songs. I cannot help but think of the simple things they have such fun with compared to the high tech toys and games we have in America.

 

We were blessed to have Audrie Cirlot, Josh Appel, Vivian Myers and Vivian’s Mom, Myra Myers visit us for a week in May. Words do not adequately express our appreciation for their visit. We recognize that there are many ways to spend the large amount of money required to travel here and many places more fun to spend a week of one’s vacation time, but they chose to spend it with us and it means more to us than they may realize. Yes, we know we are where God wants us to be at this time in our lives and do not desire to be anywhere else, but we do get lonely for family and friends. It was so refreshing to just be ourselves with people we know and love. We have been on several mission trips with Vivian and have grown to love her and appreciate her heart to use her medical gifts and knowledge to glorify God. This was the first “mission trip” that Vivian and her Mom had gone on together and Myra was so positive, encouraging and wonderful to be around. It was also fun to watch and hear them interact. They obviously have such a wonderful mother-daughter relationship. Speaking of relationships, it was also great to see our “adopted” daughter with her boyfriend, Josh. Audrie lived with us for a year and a half and has been on one mission trip with us to Jinja, Uganda about 18 months ago. We love her so much! She is an amazing and special young woman with so many gifts. It was such a blessing to see her in a Christ-honoring relationship with someone who desires to serve, honor and glorify God. Sandra and I were so encouraged and uplifted by all four of them coming for this visit. We were also blessed to go over to Murchison Falls National Park (about 2 hours from Gulu) where there is much African wildlife in their natural habitat. We were privileged to see a very rare thing—migrating giraffes (I’ve included a picture). Our guide said he’d never seen this before. You cannot tell from the picture but there were well over a hundred. Oh, you will be glad to know that the U.S. beat Uganda in the gold-metal finals of the Olympic games in volleyball.

 

 

Sandra and Jamie East, one of our teammates with FCM have started a ministry with some of the ladies who live near Abaana’s Hope. I’ve asked Sandra to share with you about this:

 

I am thrilled to share about the new ladies’ ministry at Abaana’s Hope because it has truly become the highlight of my week. Tripp Skipper had asked Jamie and me about starting a jewelry-making ministry for ladies at AH, teaching them a trade that would be an income source for them and at the same time provide an opportunity for Bible teaching. We started with twelve ladies, and to say they have been a blessing would be a gross understatement.

 

 

The first week, they were very quiet…just mainly listened to instruction and worked. Beatrice, the wife of our Property Manager, shared from the Bible and prayed. One of the ladies, Chalo, shared that she was a born again Christian. The second week, I asked if she would share her story with us. As she shared how she had to leave this land with her husband, children and stepchildren and relocate to an IDP Camp for 10 years, I was heart-broken to hear of the suffering she endured, yet was humbled at the gratitude and praise she offered to our Lord Jesus.

 

The ladies asked if we could start meeting two days a week instead of one; we said, “Sure.” They also asked about starting a savings program where they could save a portion of their earnings for their children’s school fees and medical needs. What a blessing for us to see their desire to educate and provide for their children. The next week when there was the opportunity for them to share their stories, each lady shared how the war had affected them. I can honestly say that all the accounts I have read about the LRA and the atrocities committed by the Rebels had not prepared me for what I heard because up until now, I did not know Lilly or Grace or Evalyn or Joyce…I did not see the face of that person or know their hearts. How sad it was to hear that everyone of them had to leave their homes. Two of them were abducted by the Rebels as small children and held captive for 10 years. One of them gave birth to two children while in captivity and doesn’t know where the children are or if they are still alive. The other eight ladies were in IDP Camps for 10 years, many separated from family members and still do not know where these family members are. Some returned to their homes only to find their land occupied by someone else. All of them had to start over…everything was gone…homes, cattle, chickens…everything.

 

As they told their stories, we started seeing the bond growing among them. We started seeing them express emotions…concern, understanding, compassion…we started seeing walls and barriers broken down as emotions and tears flowed. It was evident that God was doing a work in the hearts of these ladies.

 

One of the ladies, who was abducted by the Rebels at the age of five and held for ten years, asked Beatrice if she could talk with us about being born again. We had the privilege of sharing with her from the Bible that God loves her regardless of her past. This is difficult for her to grasp because she does not see how God could ever love or forgive her. We will continue to share God’s love with her and would ask you to pray for her to experience God’s saving grace.

 

Certainly, these ladies have very little in the way of material things…they work extremely hard digging in the garden just to feed their families…they have to walk to a bore hole (well) and carry heavy cans of water for drinking, cooking and bathing…they gather firewood and labor over a hot fire to cook. They survive and provide for their families by the sweat of the brow; however, they desire to give to others…whether it is a live chicken (a blessing one of the ladies gave Jamie) or the bag of mangoes that Rose brings me each week. They give so freely from the little they have. I pray God will continue to use these precious ladies to challenge and to teach me so many life lessons and that He will open my eyes to every opportunity He gives me to share the gospel with those who do not yet know Him. Pray for these ladies as we meet each Monday and Wednesday.

 

Now an update on our construction: Things are really moving fast at Abaana’s Hope. The Caretaker Building has been completed for our resident Property Manager, Onen Santo and his family. We finished the ceiling, tiled the floor, placed mosquito screens over all windows and vents, installed a solar system for the entire building and are currently installing gutters and a tank to capture the rainwater. There are three sections to the Caretaker Building, the residence of the Property Manager, a smaller room in the middle that we will use for a store to sell common staple items such as salt, sugar, cooking oil, soap, toothbrushes/toothpaste, gum (rubber) boots, foam mattresses, charcoal, etc. to our employees and the people of the community. This will provide some income to AH and is one example of how we are trying to become self-sustaining as soon as possible. We are also selling our excess produce such as bell peppers and G-nut (peanuts). Our Maize Mill is producing about 700,000 shillings ($273) per month income and we are not in the harvest season yet. As you can see from our newly made sign, we are now open for business.

 

 

We have completed the work with the Road Grader and Roller. We have a good road to our property, good roads on our property and a nice, level football (soccer) field and play ground. We are currently planting paspalum grass on the field and playground and putting murram (red clay and gravel mixture) on our roads. We have finished the foundation for the Medical Clinic and are building a toilet block near it that will be mostly for our visiting ladies on Mission Trips coming this June-October. Darrell drew up plans for a permanent kitchen for our twice-daily meals we feed our employees. With well over 60 employees now, the four people doing our cooking deserve much credit for the marvelous job they do cooking in such crude conditions. We had a generous donor to provide funds to cover both the toilet and kitchen. These were not in our budget for 2013 so we (especially our cooks) are most appreciative of this donation. We anticipate starting the kitchen sometime in July.

 

 

The above picture is the entrance to Abaana’s Hope. Eventually, there will be an Abaana’s Hope sign in the middle of this double entrance. For security reasons, this will be the only way in and out of the property.

 

 

How about this corn? It (and everything else) grows amazingly fast in this fertile soil.

 

 

These are pictures of our future football (soccer) field above and our future playground below. The football field is about 110 meters long and 55 meters wide. The playground is about 40 meters by 40 meters.

 

 

 

This picture of our Medical Center foundation was taken about a week ago. As of today, May 31, 2013, the foundation is complete and we are ready to start up on the walls. One of the major things this village community surrounding Abaana’s Hope needs is medical care. Please be praying with us for a doctor or physician assistant to help us manage our clinic along with a nurse/pharmacy tech. We plan to charge a minimal amount for medical care but there is no doubt from our current knowledge of the needs here that lives will be saved!

 

We are so grateful to God for His hand on this place. It is more and more evident as we invest ourselves here. I know I’ve said it over and over but it is such a blessing to be in the place where you know God wants you to be. Sandra and I recognize that we are career missionaries for the rest of our time on earth. Whether we are in Gulu, Uganda, East Asia, Central Asia, Europe, South America, Russia or Birmingham, Alabama, we plan to continue to recognize Christ’s statement in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” and be obedient to Him.

 

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement. It is an honor to serve.

 

All glory to Him,

 

Royce and Sandra

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

The first week of April brought us rain, welcomed cooler weather and our third wedding in Gulu. This couple is friends that help us with the Sunday afternoon Bible study at Abaana’s Hope (AH). Dennis often leads the adults while Harriet leads the children’s Bible story. I’ve shared with you that weddings here are long, but this one was a 12-hour time investment for me! I started out at 9:00 a.m. going out to AH to bring six of the men who attend the Sunday worship to the wedding, went back home, picked up Sandra and Christine (she doesn’t miss a wedding) then went back to the church building. Some of you may be wondering, “What about Lillian?” She was a bridesmaid. She and the other bridesmaid wore matching purple dresses with white trim. Sandra helped Lillian get hers; and the material, seamstress and shoes total cost was $15. During the two and a half years Celeste lived with us, I think she was in ten to fifteen weddings. I’m pretty sure her bridesmaid outfits cost a little more.

 

Following the wedding ceremony (lots of singing…always lots of singing) and the giving of gifts (this was organized with the family of the bride bringing their gifts first, then friends of the bride, followed by the family and friends of the groom and ending with guests bring their gifts). You take the gift to the front and lay it in front of the couple, then shake their hands or hug them. There were some interesting gifts including two mattresses, five chickens and two goats. They placed all the gifts in the corner along with the chickens and goats. A few of the animals left an additional contribution in the corner for the newlyweds. As the reception was winding down, it was now about 5:00 p.m. and I wanted to get the six guys back out to AH and get home before dark. Driving at night is flat out dangerous here! People are usually walking both sides of the roads. Bodas (motorcycles) and some cars drive with no lights and those who do usually have them on high beam. So, if possible, I never drive at night. However, the best man told me as we were about to leave there is a mechanical problem with the vehicle that was carrying Dennis and Harriet back to their home after the reception, so could I please return to the church and take them to their home? I said I would but when I arrived back, I discovered that in addition to Dennis and Harriet, there were three other adults, three children and all the gifts. We tied the two mattresses on the top rack along with several gifts, packed most of the rest of the gifts to the ceiling behind the people, who held the five chickens and the remainder of the gifts. I had visions of the Beverly Hillbillies. Two guys had to ride in the shotgun front seat. No room for the goats! By the way, they are now for sale at the bargain price of 55,000 shillings each, if you are interested.

 

When we arrived about 8:45 p.m. at Dennis and Harriet’s home, several of their friends were sitting around a fire in front of their place and stood and shouted congratulations. We got out, greeted the friends and hauled all the gifts into the house. I was already dreading the 30-minute drive home when Dennis asked me to return inside and pray with them for God’s blessings on their home and their marriage. The frustration I was holding inside melted away as God reminded me that one of the main reasons we are here is to glorify Him by serving these wonderful Ugandan people.

We met a new friend named Olara Samuel, the best man at the second wedding we attended, who works for Children Evangelism Fellowship here in Northern Uganda. He regularly visits 26 different schools for a short time of singing and time in the Bible. Sam asked me if I would be willing to speak at one of his schools called El Shaddai Primary School here in Gulu. He said he thought it would be good for the kids to hear from a muzungu and I would be the first to ever speak there. I told Sam that I could not speak Luo but he reassured me by telling me that they are being taught in English so that’s no problem. I told him I would be honored and was told they start at 4:00 p.m. and this devotional time usually lasted about 30 minutes; so I could have all the time or any portion I wanted. I assumed I would be speaking to a class of 5th or 6th graders, but it was to the entire school of about 300 kids and faculty. Well, as you may be aware, the British had great influence here for decades so the English language most Ugandans speak has somewhat of a British flavor. I had not gotten the first complete sentence out when there was an instant roar of laughter by almost all 300 people. I must say it unnerved me a bit as I was not trying to be funny. Sam informed me they were laughing at the way I talked. What? You guys never heard a Southerner speak English? No, they had not; and even after the school Headmaster told the kids to not laugh, a few could not help but snicker a bit. I told them I was honored to be the first muzungu to speak to them and shared that whether our skin color was black, white or brown, if we are followers of Christ, we are brothers and sisters. I had decided to share for about 15 minutes from the book of Job. I summarized that there were at least three lessons we can learn from Job:

 

  1. Suffering can be, but is not always, a penalty for sin.  In the same way, prosperity is not always a reward for being good.  Those who love God and are followers of Christ are not exempt from trouble.  (Prosperity gospel is prevalent in Uganda.)
  2. We must learn to recognize and not fear Satan’s attacks because Satan cannot exceed the limits that God sets.  Although you can’t control how Satan may attack, you can always choose how you will respond when it happens.  What is the best way to respond to adversity?  Trust God!
  3. Job showed the kind of trust we are to have in God.  When trouble and adversity come, we realize that God is all we really need.  God gives us Himself, but not all the details of His plans.  Remember, this life, with all its pain, is not our final destination.

This was really a fun experience and Sandra said I did a good job. Of course, she always says that even when I know it’s not true. In this case, I did feel that God blessed this time and was leading me to declare the “prosperity, health-and-wealth gospel” as not in accord with His Word and tell this audience of children and adults that they can trust God with whatever difficult situation they find themselves in.

 

People sometimes ask about the difficult circumstances we live in here, and I know I have often contributed by talking about the heat, the dust, the bad roads, the lack of good restaurants and such. The truth is we live a very comfortable life. We have a comfortable house, fairly reliable transportation, a good job that keeps us busy, great people to work with and actually eat healthier here than at home. We do miss some of the foods in the U.S. and when we see hamburgers, steaks and other items we enjoy advertised on our Slingbox TV connection, I do wish I could wrap my lips around a Five Guy’s hamburger, have an 8-ounce filet at Outback, have some good Tex-Mex or, better yet, eat a coconut popsicle at Steel City Pops, but that’s really no big deal and I enjoy carrying around about 20 less pounds.

 

Work at AH is progressing well. The foundation for the first Family Home is complete and the foundation for the Medical Clinic is underway but has been slowed some from rain. We have had our road repaired to the property. Woo-hoo! The last 3+ kilometers was a disaster to travel on. We’ve had a chain loader remove some of the trees and brush along side the road, the football (soccer) field and first playground. Then we brought in a road grader and heavy roller to design the roads and level the football field and playground area. We are in the process of covering the roads (the road coming to AH property and some on the property) with murram, a red clay and gravel combination and putting about four culverts in strategic low areas on the road to move the rainwater away. This roadwork will save us hundreds of dollars on auto repairs and ibuprofen for our backs. The good road will also make it more attractive for people to come to our Maize Mill, buy our fruits and vegetables and household items from our store, helping AH become more self-sustaining. At least this is my justification and I’m sticking to it.

 

 

Our chicken saga continues—if you recall from our March Update, after viruses and an eagle grabbing one of our baby chicks, we only had Carmila and her seven baby chicks. They are now too big for the eagles to snatch (we hope) and Christine had been telling Sandra “we need another cock to increase.” Since the last cock we had crowed so loud and particularly so early, I was pretty happy with our current stock. So were our missionary friends next door, Scott and Kelly. But when we made a visit to a friend’s village to dedicate and pray for his new home (three ot lums—one for sleeping, one for living and a smaller one that’s a pit latrine), they gave us a cock and hen. Then, we went to the burial of the brother of Onen Santo, our friend and Property Manager at AH and in their village there were two of the most unusual cocks we’d ever seen and Sandra asked what kind and said how beautiful they were. A couple of days later when Santo returned from handling the family affairs, he brought us one of these cocks. Sandra was elated and held it all the way home. We found they are called Transylvanian Naked Necks. When the breed was first introduced into the UK in the 1920s, the media made much of the suggestion that the birds were a result of a mating between chickens and turkeys. When we arrived home, Sandra wanted a picture so I’ve attached it here. When we set the cock on the ground, all the other chickens took notice and so did Dako (our dog). Dako decided to check out the newcomer by doing what dogs do—smell it. When Dako got within smelling distance, the cock exploded into Dako with wings flapping and beak and spurs attacking. We all laughed and Christine immediately thought we should name this one “Ladit,” which means “the ruler” in Luo. Needless to say, Dako gives Ladit a wide berth now.

 

 

 

We praise God that He has brought our Ugandan Team together to serve Him in this place. Darrell Hobbs and his wife, Pam have been in Uganda for over three years, serving with Four Corners Ministries (FCM) to head up our land development, building design and construction. Darrell served with a ministry called Watoto for two years prior to coming to FCM and brings us a wealth of experience. Matt and Jamie East were the first career missionaries with FCM and have been in Uganda for two years. They are in charge of the FCM Intern Program, the AH blog, helping with the continuous development of training materials for visiting teams, interns and family home parents. Matt also took care of the finances and banking before we arrived and has recently designed and priced out our 40 X 40 meter first playground, which I’ve attached. This summer, we another new family—the West family (Myron, Holly, Ryan and Rachel) coming that we are most excited about. They will be great additions to our Ugandan Team.

 

We are gearing up for mission teams coming this year. We have teams coming in June, July, August, September and October. Jamie and Sandra have developed a Mission Team Training Manual from one that Debbie Bowers, in Birmingham, developed for teams traveling to South Sudan with FCM. Jamie and Sandra adapted these materials to Uganda and they are critically helpful for teams to maximize their experience here. We went on a trip to South Sudan in March 2012, which Debbie led, and she did an amazing job of preparing us for that trip with these training materials.

 

Additionally, we have dear friends coming in May—Audrie, Josh, Vivian and Vivian’s mom, Myra. In August, Jim, Amy, Fisher, Jude, Tripp and Levi are coming for about a month-long visit. We are so excited and honored when personal friends and family spend significant money and time to come and minister with us in an area of the world that is not easy to get to. It is encouraging beyond description!

 

Many mission teams feel led to come and serve with a wide variety of skills and training such as medical, construction, discipleship, soccer camps, landscaping, teaching and just making themselves available to serve where most needed. We are so appreciative of this and want to make their experience as productive and fruitful as possible. Not everyone can take vital signs, diagnose and treat the sick. Not everyone can mix mortar and lay bricks; not everyone can teach a Bible story. Not everyone can sit with women making paper beads and jewelry on AH property and communicate to them the love and grace of Christ. Not everyone can install playground equipment. Not everyone can lead a children’s backyard Bible class. Not everyone can come and lead a kid’s soccer camp. BUT, everyone can make himself or herself available to be used by God to give a cool cup of water in Jesus’ name. We have opportunities to do all of this and more. We’ve pretty well maxed out mission trips for 2013 but you might want to consider being part of a trip in 2014. Your Sunday School class or small group might want to buy some playground equipment and come help install it. You and your friends in the medical field might want to come and save a life, help heal an illness, pull some teeth, place glasses with those who have no means of reading or seeing their children and grandchildren’s smile. You might know something of landscaping and want to come and beautify AH even further. You or your church might feel led to pay for an entire building and come help build it. You might be willing to just come and make yourselves available to allow God to use you in an amazing way none of us have even thought of. Pray and allow God to lead you. I promise you’ll not regret it!

 

We love you guys and are so thankful for your prayers,

 

Royce & Sandra

 

Category: Four Corners Today

 

We had another amazing clinic day today in Lanyi! Everyone’s prayers for our strength were answered. We even had some rain and cooler temperatures, which was wonderful for everyone! We saw 240 patients in Lanyi and 45 just now in Mundri with the South Sudan partner’s staff and family members, so 285 people total. Praise God! We rehydrated 2 babies until they were well again and distributed a lot of ibuprofen for many people who had pain and fever.

 

All members of the team are doing well, tired but not exhausted. We all got our second wind today and energy to serve more, thanks to your prayers and to the Lord. Wonderful weather, beautiful views and delicious meal after the rain showers tonight has everyone’s spirits high. Dr. Brobst led a great team devotional on Psalm 23 this morning.

 

Our MAF flight is at 10:30 tomorrow morning.

 

Category: Four Corners Today

 

It was another good day with the clinic in Buagyi. We saw 250 patients from 10:00AM-5:00PM. There was a lot of malaria again today-so much so that we used some meds from the Day 5 supplies. We also saw one case of cutaneous leishmaniasis (also known as Kala-azar), which is a skin infection caused by a parasite transmitted through sand fly bites. We visited the local pharmacy in Buagyi, which was neat. We gave out several Bibles again today. It was also the hottest day yet. The frog towels came in handy. Please pray for continued strength for all so we can serve to the fullest.

 

Jon shared the Gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ all day again today. He shared with one man for an hour contrasting Jesus and Muhammad. Although the man thought he was a Christian and had been baptized, he also believed there were many different ways to God. Jon shared many scriptures from the Bible with him explaining that Jesus was the Son of the living God and one can find salvation from God’s punishment of our sins only through him. Jon also said the Children’s Bible and the Ten Commandments game were well received again today.

 

Jeremy Hoggle has been leading the vision clinic effort this week and testified that “the vision clinic rocked” today. “We fitted over 100 people for glasses and as always, ran out of sunglasses to distribute. The sunglasses were a big hit! Steven, the translator, has been an incredible help to me. I can’t brag on him enough. He and I prayed over the blind that we could not help with the glasses. The people in today’s clinic were very appreciative.”

 

Thank you for your prayers for the team member with the sore back! They have felt better today and actually resting tonight.

 

May God continue to be glorified!

 

Category: Four Corners Today

 

We had a great day today. We saw 230 people in the clinic in Wiroh. We treated a lot of giardia and had just enough Coartem to treat malaria patients to the exact number. God is good! We also performed several ear irrigations and an oral rehydration. Jeremy saw 160 people for glasses. Several people besides Jon have gotten to share the story book of the Gospel and more Bibles were given out to interested people. Kids are loving the soccer balls we gave them to play with.

 

Everyone on the team is doing well! We are enjoying rice, beans, bread and cabbage for dinner and watching a pretty sunset tonight. Great team devotional and worship singing is giving us all encouragement, strength and peace. God has not only sustained us and met our needs, but exceeded expectations and helped us to do much work. We have had great team unity and fellowship!

 

The team will pack up base camp on Friday morning and travel 10 miles northwest to Lanyi for a clinic. After the clinic, they will travel another 23 miles north and west to the SSCA compound in Mundri for the night.

 

Category: Four Corners Today

 

We woke up to cool temps from the rain all night-thankfully. The first clinic was great-we saw 140 patients. The team was in their element, working together very well. Matta people sang and danced all day while we worked. We saw many cases of malaria. One patient had an eye worm (Loa Loa) and another patient had scabies (a skin irritation caused by mites burrowing in the skin). Sunglasses were a hit and 50 pairs of eyeglasses were given out today in the vision clinic.”

 

After dinner they sang worship songs under the mango tree. Jeffreys (South Sudanese Field Partner) commented that he loved the words and said he would read them over and over. He called today wonderful.

 

Jessica

 

Jessica is also blogging for the trip this week, though internet service will be unlikely while in South Sudan. She wrote a great piece while in Entebbe over the weekend which will give more detail about the flight to Africa and the unexpected extended stay. The blog address is www.goldengirlgabs.blogspot.com. I’m sure she will update the blog upon returning to Entebbe this weekend once she can reestablish internet connection.

 

Category: Four Corners Today

 

We saw 193 people in the clinic today, treated mainly for malaria, pain, and bacterial infections. Sunglasses were a big hit again today. The whole team worked together successfully.

 

Emily and Lauren gave out a Bible today. Jon has shared the gospel with every person he has met! One of the translators asked Jessica Golden to write down verses for him. The Gospel story and the Ten Commandments game has been shared with the kids. Reading stories from the Children’s Bible has been successful.

 

One team member is in need of prayer for a back injury sustained before departing on the trip. Please pray for them!

 

Happy Birthday Mom, from Shayna!

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

I so wish you could have walked around the property with Sandra, Darrell and me today. The roads are outlined in the front half of the property so it is much easier to locate and imagine how things will look in the future. The fields are getting ready for planting within the next couple of weeks and are already looking clean and pretty. The soil is so rich and fertile. The first group home has the foundation dug out and it is heart-warming to actually stand on the spot that vulnerable children will find a safe haven some day soon.

 

We walked down to the Grist Mill so I could show Sandra where yesterday the guys placed the framing in concrete that will hold the Grinder and Huller. The men dug down in the concrete to the re-bar and metal screening in the foundation. They placed foot long bolts in the holes and then poured a strong formula of concrete for a platform over this that the grinding equipment will sit on. Darrell said they placed it in the strongest portion of the foundation, so it should be there a while. This will have to cure or dry for seven days before the equipment can be installed. I told the vendor that I would pay the 50% balance when we’ve run 100 kilos of our maize (corn) through and gotten satisfactory results.

 

Santo, our newly hired Caretaker, has a bed, bedding, four plastic chairs and cooking supplies for living in the Caretaker Building. He is humble, soft-spoken and smart. He has already made some great suggestions and we are so grateful that God has sent him to be a part of Abaana’s Hope. He is also making a good impression on our other employees.

 

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