The reason for our hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: Four Corners Today

 

The team arrived in Mundri this morning without event, except for a rain shower in flight.  The rain cooled the air temperature and provided a transition that was a blessing!

 

They ate lunch with the South Sudanese field partners and traveled 33 miles southeast on a dirt road in Land Cruisers to their living quarters for the week in a village called Buagyi (pronounced Boo-ag-yee). This is one of the 5 villages that will be visited this week by the team and will be base camp.

 

As of now, they finished dinner (red beans and rice), had Bible study and a time of prayer with the field partners. It started raining during the Bible study and eased the heat. It is dry season right now but the rain is sure providing a cooler relief for the team!

 

Three men on the team have already had the privilege of sharing the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ just since they have arrived.

 

The medical and vision clinics will begin tomorrow as scheduled. I will list the schedule below and the travel distance from base camp so that you may pray specifically for the village by name.

 

Village                                                                   Distance

 

Monday:              Matta (pronounced Mah-tah)                    10 miles southeast

 

Tuesday               Witto (pronounced Wee-toh)                     6 miles southeast

 

Wednesday        Buagyi                                                                     0 miles                This is base camp for the week.

 

Thursday             Wiroh (pronounced Wi-roh)                       16 miles north

 

Friday                    Lanyi (pronounced Lahn-yee)                    10 miles northwest

 

More tomorrow,

 

Don

 

Category: Four Corners Today

 

As you know from my last email or texts from your team member, the team landed in Entebbe, Uganda last night local time. The delayed luggage bags turned out to be more than just a few. Only 1 out of 24 bags arrived last night with the team. The other 23 bags were tracked through Delta Airlines and scheduled for arrival in Entebbe at 10:20 PM Saturday night (remember they are 8 hours ahead of us).  After waiting at the airport for 2 hours, the team leader confirmed at 12:30 PM that all 24 bags were received!

 

The team relocated to a new guest house this morning and will stay overnight. The missionary chartered plane service (MAF) very graciously agreed to move the flights from Saturday to Sunday due to the extreme circumstances. This is such a blessing because they do not fly on Sunday as a matter of policy!

 

The team got a chance to catch up on much needed sleep and rest today. Some team members even went to a local zoo.

 

They will leave Entebbe Sunday morning at 8:00 AM bound for their destination in Mundri, South Sudan and should arrive between 10:00-11:00 AM local time. The team will meet with our Sudanese field partners, eat lunch, and possibly hold a small medical clinic before departing for the rural area in which they will be serving this week.

 

Although the schedule is off by one day, it appears likely that all five rural villages will be seen this week. The team will get to do the two things they were sent to do: share the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and treat those who are sick and suffering. May the name of Jesus be glorified this week!

 

The schedule for the first few days is much different than what was originally planned, but God showed Himself once again to be completely faithful, wholly good and in total control. It was yet another opportunity to be in awe of the God of heaven and earth!

 

Please pray for the stamina of your team members. They will be leaving Entebbe, where the air temperature is mild (80 degrees), and arriving in Mundri, where the air temperature will be between 100 and 104 degrees all week. The heat index will probably make it feel hotter and they will have no time to acclimate to the new temperatures.

 

More later,

 

Don

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

“March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” Not in Gulu, Uganda! March comes in hot and goes out hot here, typically. March is the latter part of the dry season. Since Gulu is so close to the equator and basically a tropical climate, there are only two seasons—wet season and dry season. Over this last week of March, we have had some rain and cooler temperatures. I never thought I would look forward to driving in the mud; but in this area, the cooler temperatures the rain brings are most welcomed. We have a bedside clock in our room that shows the temperature in Fahrenheit. For most of March, we were sleeping in a bedroom that was in the 90s. We do not have air conditioning; but fortunately, we own fans! We have a fan on a stand that sits at the foot of our bed and a ceiling fan. Most nights, we only run the stand fan because the ceiling fan makes a click, click, click sound. But we’ve had a few nights that Sandra said she could handle the click, click, click for a little more air stirring. You know it’s hot sleeping when your pillowcase and sheet below you is wet with sweat. Of course, that’s only on my side; Sandra does not sweat. Not only is there no spooning going on, I don’t even want to have my own legs touching.

 

One of the worst things about the dry season is the red dust. It gets into everything…including your eyes, ears and nose! We are always dusting and wiping down our computers and the furniture. Christine mops the floors every single morning except Sundays; and just a couple of hours later, you have red dust on the bottom of your clean socks. The aforementioned stand fan that sits at the foot of our bed gets dust on the blades and must be cleaned every few days. We must also wash the mosquito net covering our bed because there is a big, red dust ring right where the fan blows. About now, some of you are wondering, “Why are you doing this? You’re 66 years old! You’ve worked hard; God has blessed you with a great family, great friends, great church and a great deal of material things. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.” The simple answer is that we cannot be disobedient to God’s command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). About now, some may be thinking, “Well, after hearing about sleeping on sweaty sheets and red dust everywhere, I’m sure glad He didn’t call me,” or maybe, “Not everyone is called to foreign missions,” or more specifically, “I am not called to foreign missions.” Are you sure about that? Where in the Bible is missions ever identified as an optional program in the church?

 

“Now, we know that each of us has different gifts, different skills, different passions, and different callings from God. God has gifted you and me in different ways. This was undoubtedly the case with the disciples. Peter and Paul had different callings. James and John had different callings. However, each follower of Christ in the New Testament, regardless of his or her calling, was intended to take up the mantle of proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth. That’s the reason why he gave each of them his Spirit and why he gave them all the same plan: make disciples of all nations.” (Excerpts in the last two paragraphs are from Chapter Four of Radical by David Platt) By the way, He gave us the same Spirit and the same plan. The heat and the red dust and any other inconveniences we face do not compare to the inexplicable joy of being exactly where God has called us to be at this time in our lives.

 

Onen Santo started with us the first of March as Property Manager of Abaana’s Hope. Santo and his wife, Beatrice, have been a Godsend. They came highly recommended by missionaries we greatly respect, so we set up a lunch meeting where I asked them to pray about being a part of the Abaana’s Hope vision. They went home and felt led to fast for three days and earnestly pray for God’s direction. Santo said God gave him two dreams during the fast that confirmed this calling. Some of you will get to meet them later this year and I’ll leave it to Santo to share this with you. The more we are around Santo and Beatrice and the more we learn about them from others, just confirms that God greatly gifted Abaana’s Hope in sending them to us. Sandra and I realize that even after being here for several months, we know very little about the Ugandan and specifically about the Acholi culture. We are learning, but our missionary friends from Mobile, Alabama, Keith and Lisa Coggin have been here over 10 years and they admit they are still learning about this culture. The Acholi people that we have come to know are mostly humble, soft-speaking, polite people who will not tell you if you’ve done or said something that’s offensive. I made it a point to ask Santo to please let me know when (not if) I do or say anything offensive or just inappropriate. He is already becoming very valuable in guiding us with decisions that are more in tune with the Acholi culture. I have included a picture of Santo, Beatrice, 5-year old Patience and 5-month old Jubilee so you will have faces to associate with them as you pray.

 

 

Ok, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer about our chickens. We are out of the broiler business. One of the broilers got a virus and died. I told Peter to bury it but Dako (or maybe a lion) got to it first. Everything was gone but the feathers and quite a few of them were gone! Before another virus got to the other three, we (Christine) killed them and put them in the freezer. I keep encouraging Sandra to learn to kill chickens because we may have some in Greystone when we return home and not have Christine around. Actually, this was Russ’s (my golfing and fishing buddy in Alabama) idea, and I like it. I don’t remember seeing anything in the subdivision covenant about chickens. Oh yes, we still have Carmila and her eight baby chicks. Someday, we’ll be eating our own eggs. Oops, after writing this a week earlier, an eagle swooped down and got one of our baby chicks. Life can be tough in Africa! Now, we have seven baby chicks.

 

Sandra and I were privileged to go to our first Ugandan wedding in early March. The couple getting married is from the church we attend, and we mentioned to Christine that we were going to this wedding. She said, “I will go! I’ve never been to a born-again wedding.” She is Catholic and has been to many Catholic weddings but never a non-Catholic wedding. I guess an invitation is not required. The groom passed the invitations out at the previous Sunday service and Melody was here and got one so we rationalized that Christine could use Melody’s invitation. The invitation stated the wedding would begin at 10:00 am. About 8:00, I received a text message from Nate Wright, our pastor, saying the wedding would not likely start before 11:00. So, Christine, Lillian, Sandra and I arrived at 10:50. The church was decorated nicely and it was ready for the wedding, but there were only about 15 people milling around. Clearly, the majority of the wedding gathering knew something we didn’t know. About 11:20, the groom and his entourage showed up and about noon, the bride and her family and friends showed up. Christine whispered, “Catholics start their weddings on time (and shook her head unapprovingly).” The service was very meaningful, but there were a few things different from Mandi and Bill’s wedding (and every other wedding we’ve ever attended). For starters, the bride is escorted down the aisle by the best lady (yes, they call her best lady, not maid of honor) and the best man escorts the groom down the aisle. The best lady and the bride sit in two chairs on one side of the church and the best man and the groom sit on the other. Our pastor, Nate, leads in the service and a friend named Kenneth is the Master of Ceremonies. MC at a wedding? Yes, Kenneth is using English to describe the events as they happen to the few muzungus (white people) and other non-Lua speaking attendees. He also translates Nate’s English wedding sermon in Lua and basically tells everyone what will happen next. At one point the bride and groom come together and sit across from one another. The best lady begins cutting a cake that will be fed to the entire congregation…by the bride and groom. While there is a lull, Kenneth lets everyone know that the best lady is now “organizing” the cake and family members of the bride would sing—lots of songs. If a family member knows the song, they might just get out of their seats and go up, grab a microphone and join in. After the best lady got the cake organized, she gives the bride a piece and she gets down on her knees in front of the groom and serves him a piece of cake. I whisper to Sandra, “You won’t see many American brides do that at their weddings.” But after the bride does this, the groom then gets down on his knees and serves her. Actually, it was a beautiful expression of having a servant heart toward your spouse. After that, the bride and best lady go down one aisle while the groom and best man go down the other aisle serving the congregation cake. I noticed some of the little boys in front of us got cake from both and were giggling about their coup.

 

Following the two-hour wedding (did I mention there was lots of singing?), there was a reception at the groom’s uncle’s village. This was about two miles from the church and the only vehicles were Nate’s van and our Land Cruiser, so Nate and I shuttled most of the crowd to the reception while a few walked. I had an appointment with Santo at 4:30 that afternoon and thought with a 10:00 wedding, I would have plenty of time to meet him. Wrong! It would have been rude for us to leave without eating the meal, and they were still cooking when we arrived. About 4:00, I texted Santo and told him we were at a wedding reception and could not make the meeting. I’m sure he knows enough about Ugandan weddings to understand. They sat us (Nate, Sandra and I, the only muzungus at the reception) in seats of honor by the wedding party. Kenneth was a great MC, telling which relative would speak next and keeping the program going with singing and dancing. There was one dance the groom, best man and one or two other men did that was pretty cool. They pretended to have a spear in their right hand and a shield on the left arm and danced forward and thrust the spear and danced backward, then forward again. I’ve just gotta learn that one for the next wedding! We ended up leaving about 6:00 with things still going strong. We’ve heard some wedding celebrations here go on for a couple of days.

 

We are now in the seventh week of our discipleship training held each Saturday at 10:00 am on the front porch of the caretaker building at Abaana’s Hope. This discipleship training started with one 7 weeks ago and has had as many as ten. It has been such a blessing to see people growing in God’s Word. I had thought we would use the Multiply materials, but the two associate pastors, Dennis and Martin, along with Nate, developed a great 13-week Discipleship Program that covers such basic things as prayer, Bible study, baptism, the Trinity, witnessing, eternal security, etc. We had it printed and bound in a workbook in the Acholi language. The Sunday afternoon Bible studies at Abaana’s Hope are also a wonderful blessing. There are a large number of children and now a few women are joining the men for the adult Bible study. I have posted a few pictures of this too. If you recall the picture of the children’s Bible story time I posted in the January Update, there were about 10 then. Now, there are over 50!

 

 

I love hearing the adults sing the praise songs in Lua. I cannot understand the words but I can understand the hearts and see the faces. It is a long, bumpy drive out to the property and back on Saturday mornings and again on Sunday afternoons after the workweek and Sunday morning worship, but totally worth it! We are so appreciative for the commitment of Dennis and Martin to lead these. Santo and Beatrice have also joined us a few Sunday afternoons, and Santo has led the Bible study three times and Beatrice has led the music some as well. She has a beautiful voice and is an amazing translator. She is so quick and doesn’t appear to even think about which words to use and adds the same strong emphasis the speaker does to make a point. Santo is also leading a brief time of prayer and Bible devotion before each workday begins for any of our workers who want to participate. The workday begins at 7:30, so they usually start about 7:10…totally his idea.

 

Things at Abaana’s Hope are shaping up nicely. The front half of the property has the roads outlined so it is much easier to see and imagine where certain buildings will sit. The construction crew, led by Darrell Hobbs, has dug out and started pouring the foundations for the first Family Group Home and will pour the Medical Clinic’s foundation in early April. It was so heart-warming to actually stand on spots where orphans and vulnerable children will find a safe haven some day soon. I have attached a picture of the first Family Home foundation for you to visualize with us dozens of children of various ages with no mom, dad or responsible relative or friend to care for them, living in a safe environment with food, clothing, housing, schooling, medical care and learning how to become disciple-making Christ-followers themselves.

 

 

We have moved the Medical Clinic from the original place on the Master Site Plan to the front entrance of the property, which makes it more accessible for the surrounding community and provides for better security. If you would like to see a copy of the Master Site Plan, you may access it on our website: www.fourcorners.org. In addition to our staff and workers, we plan to offer medical care to the local village people for a price of about 3,000 shillings (about $1). Dr. Melody Sherwood, Darrell, Pam, Sandra and I went to visit a children’s village called Otino Waa, in Lira, Uganda in late February that has a very nice Medical Clinic sitting on the main road and open to the community there. Bob and Carol Higgins, the founders of Otino Waa showed us their clinic and shared things they liked and even told us things they would change if rebuilding it. This gave Melody and Darrell some great ideas in designing our clinic. We have also had the maize (corn) grinder installed at our Grist Mill. We still have the huller to be installed but we can now grind our own maize for the posho our 60-plus employees eat every working day. I have attached a couple of these pictures for you.

 

 

 

The end of March brings hope for the harvest! We are planting seeds of beans, maize, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, watermelons, sweet melons (like our honeydew melons), peas, g-nuts (peanuts) and a variety of fruit trees. The Bible makes reference to the harvest in Genesis and Revelation and in between. Following the flood, God said, ”I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Never will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:21-22) Then Jesus says in John 4:35, “Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest.” In Luke 10:2, He says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” We have been sent into His harvest and remain here because of your prayers. Thank you so much and please do not cease!

 

The end of March, this year, also brings Easter! Sandra and I got the sweetest email of encouragement from one of the members of the Board of Directors at Four Corners Ministries, Dr. Lisa Plaisance. I asked for her permission to share a portion of that email with you—“I have been reading and praying over Christ’s passion. It is so hard to imagine the adversity Christ underwent for us. In His adversity, I see a common theme of ‘the greatest Christian challenge…to praise God in the flames of adversity.’ This is the very thing Christ did for us on His journey to the cross. He did not face adversity; He was in the flames of it. Yet in all His suffering, He kept his focus on God always giving Him praise. I know life in Uganda has challenges I could not even begin to imagine but I want to encourage you to continue God’s work with praise and thanksgiving, as we know we will soon be celebrating His resurrection and victory over sin and death! Praise God. He has risen!”

 

Dear family and friends, remember this life…with all its hurts, pain, suffering, tribulation, persecution and adversity…is not our final destination. Please pray that we will continue God’s work with praise and thanksgiving. We love you!

 

All glory to Him,

 

Royce and Sandra

 

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.” A friend is valuable! A friend is a blessing from God! Sandra and I have had the pleasure of our friend, Dr. Melody Sherwood, staying with us this month. Melody is completing her final year of a Cardiology Fellowship at University of Alabama-Birmingham this coming June—“Just four more months!” As you might imagine, there are not a lot of board certified internal medicine physicians or cardiologists hanging out around Gulu. However, that does not mean there are not some very fine doctors here. We are friends with two—Dr. Owani Dennis and his wife, Dr. Rebecca. Rebecca works in the HIV-AIDS department at the Gulu Regional (Acholi) Hospital and Dennis has a private medical clinic in Gulu. This wonderful couple has helped us when medical teams have visited on several occasions. Dennis also arranged to meet us at the Gulu Regional Hospital and introduced Melody to the Director/Administrator of the hospital and the doctor overseeing the medical department. Melody has been able to round with and give lectures to the interns and medical students there.

 

While Melody was here, God used her medical skills in an amazing way to protect our fellow team members, Myron and Holly West in Alexander City, Alabama. Say what? Melody’s medical skills helped Myron and Holly in Alexander City, Alabama? Yes, indeed! You’ll have to stay with me on this. Myron and Holly and their two terrific tykes, Ryan and Rachel, will be joining our Gulu Team this July. They were here last October and we took them around to search for housing. We stopped by a house that Sandra and I looked at when we first came to Gulu in September. It’s a very nice house and the landlord happened to be there, so we stopped and he showed them through. They really liked it and felt like it would work well with their family and even had room for visiting guests. I made contact with the landlord recently and began negotiating on Myron and Holly’s behalf. Through several personal meetings with the landlord and several phone calls with Myron, we had come to an agreement and were ready to forward a copy of the lease for Myron to sign and return with a three months advance on the annual lease so the landlord could make their requested repairs and additions. It is not unusual here to advance some money for parts or materials to complete a job. Now, back to Melody and how God used her medical skills to help Myron and Holly. Melody went with us to our friend’s (Martin and Constance) house to check their sick 4-months old son. The baby had 103° fever and Melody believed he had malaria. Malaria can kill a child so young if they do not receive rapid treatment. We picked up some malaria meds, children’s Tylenol, and something similar to Pedialyte at a pharmacy then went back and gave the first dose to the little guy. Upon leaving our friend’s house, we saw a lady pushing a baby carriage coming from the gate of the house that Myron was planning to lease. We drove on by her, but I felt compelled to go back and talk with her about the landlord and house. This turned out to be a God-appointment in more ways than one. This lady works with malaria daily with Stop Malaria Now, an NGO (non-governmental organization) here and took us to their house (soon to be Myron and Holly’s house) to grab a quick-response malaria test kit and walked with Melody back to test the baby and show Melody how to use this test. While they were over at Martin and Constance’s house, Sandra and I learned from the house tenant that it would be a HUGE mistake for Myron and Holly to lease from this landlord. “He is a liar and cheat and has not done one thing he told us he would do. We wish we had never met him or had any dealings with him.” Also, some of the additions the landlord wanted Myron and Holly to pay for in advance had already been done and this tenant’s lease goes through November! Wow! Thank you, Lord for protecting Myron and Holly. Oh, and the baby? He did indeed have malaria, so Melody was happy about the confirmation of her diagnosis. The next day, Melody and Sandra went back to give the second day’s malaria dose and the baby had no fever and was eating and smiling! We learned where to get more malaria test kits and how to use them. I called Myron and told him that God must really love them the way He protected them from this landlord. Do we serve a great God or what?

 

Sandra has become friends with a 14-year old girl named Lillian who lives in a village near our house. Lillian has brought some of her friends by our house several times before and after we went home for Christmas. Sandra usually gives them some water and cookies if we have them while she sits and talks with them. It turns out Lillian’s mother and father are both dead and she lives with her aunt in their ot lum (mud hut with grass on top) along with six other children related to her in various ways. Her aunt sells sweet potatoes in a market here and struggles to feed and cloth these children. Lillian had to leave the primary school she attended because there was no one to pay the school fees. Last year, Lillian attended school that allows children to go there without paying fees. The problem is that it takes over two hours walking to get there and Lillian was often late and missed many days. Consequently, she was only in P-5 class (our 5th grade) due to missing so much school. There is a good primary school near her village, but the total cost of fees and supplies equaled about 135,000 shillings (the equivalent of about $52 dollars to us) for tuition, books, paper, pens, pencils, mathematic set, backpack, 2 brooms (soft and hard ones), toilet paper, 2 uniforms, shoes and socks. Of course, this amount was prohibitive to Lillian and her aunt. As you might imagine, we see situations daily that we know an insignificant amount of money to us would help people we meet, but we also have read the book, “When Helping Hurts” and never want to hurt Ugandan people by giving to them. Lillian goes to the same church we attend and she always brings 8-10 children with her. We talked to the Ugandan associate pastor and his wife about Lillian. They knew her from church and her traveling with this couple and us out to Abaana’s Hope on Sunday afternoons for Bible Study. This pastor is also a schoolteacher and knew the school near Lillian is a good one and mentioned that she is at a vulnerable age for some man to take advantage of without someone to help her. Unfortunately, that happens a lot here, he said. We prayed, God answered and we helped. Sandra, Melody and I took her to the school and got her enrolled. We bought her the items and supplies she needed and Sandra told Lillian that God had provided this help through us and He loves her and always wants what is best for her.

 

Fast forward to the Saturday following her first week in school. She was at our house helping Christine wash and clean. Christine has taken Lillian under her wing and told her that it would be responsible of her to help us this way. She also shared important things with Lillian that she had also shared with her own daughters. After cleaning up, she and Christine came into the house and talked with Sandra and Melody. I was at our bedroom desk on the computer and heard them all giggling like little girls. Melody was videoing Lillian and Christine with her iPhone and you’ve never heard such laughter. Later at dinner, Sandra told Melody and me that Lillian told her that a friend of hers asked to borrow her new shoes to wear to her village this weekend. Sandra asked Lillian if the friend would return them tonight and she said no, her friend would not be back until Sunday evening. Sandra told her that probably was not a good idea and Lillian responded with, “I told her, ‘of course you may use these shoes, they were a gift from God.’” Remember, this is someone who has never had a new pair of shoes in her life and yet willingly opened her hand to give them to a friend to wear. Sandra said she felt about 2 inches tall and was greatly humbled by Lillian’s generosity. She quickly told Lillian that she was absolutely right and should have loaned her friend the shoes God gifted her with. We thought we were teaching Lillian about God’s love and it was she who taught us! It is amazing how often God uses these precious Ugandan people to teach us what we need to learn about Him. “Blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” (Proverbs 14:21) I can’t help but wonder if it is a double blessing when the poor are generous to the poor.

 

I know some of you have been keeping up with our growing chicken flock so let me give you the latest—we’ve added five new broilers that are strictly for eating. I was told they do not reproduce or lay eggs. They are just for eating. So, how do we have these broilers if they do not reproduce? Where did they come from? I have asked several people and have not gotten a good answer yet. Christine’s aunt gave her and Melody and Sandra a big rooster when they went by for a visit. It was huge! Notice the past-tense? Yes, it started fighting all the other chickens as soon as they released it. Christine said it was “very rude” so we (Melody, Christine, Peter, Sandra and me) chased it all over the yard and finally caught it, killed it and ate it. I really wish you could have seen Melody and Sandra chasing this rooster like they wanted to actually catch it. For such a large chicken, it was very tender. On a sad note, we also lost Ebony (our black hen) and two baby chicks (unnamed) due to Diazinon poisoning. Wikipedia defines Diazinon as: “Diazinon (IUPAC name: O,O-Diethyl O-[4-methyl-6-(propan-2-yl)pyrimidin-2-yl] phosphorothioate, INN – Dimpylate), a colorless to dark brown liquid, is a thiophosphoric acid ester developed in 1952 by Ciba-Geigy, a Swiss chemical company (later Novartis and then Syngenta). It is a nonsystemic organophosphate insecticide formerly used to control cockroaches, silverfish, ants, and fleas in residential, non-food buildings. Diazinon was heavily used during the 1970s and early 1980s for general-purpose gardening use and indoor pest control. Residential uses of diazinon were outlawed in the U.S. in 2004.” Ok, that was probably more than you really wanted to know, but the point is you can still buy it in Gulu and it is extremely effective for killing ants. Unfortunately, it is also effective for killing chickens that eat those ants. Fortunately, we only lost two of the ten baby chicks and not their mother, Carmila. We also learned to sweep up the dead ants before the chickens can get to them. Lesson learned!

 

I am delighted to let you know that we’ve come to an agreement with Onen Santo and his wife, Beatrice, to be our Property Managers at Abaana’s Hope. Santo is currently serving as Pastor of the Gospel Assembly Church in Gulu Layibi and will begin employment with us on March 1, 2013. He will live in the Caretaker apartment during the week and come home to Layibi on weekends until their 5-year old, daughter, Patience, completes K3 and the family will join him at Abaana’s Hope. We are praying with Santo and Beatrice about a calling by God to be our first House Parents. They have been through a 15-week Biblical parenting program that was adapted to the Ugandan culture. In addition to Patience, they have a 4-month old son named Jubilee. After a trip to show Abaana’s Hope to Santo, we took Beatrice and the children a few days later. After looking at the Caretaker Building, I took them to see the Grist Mill and noticed that Patience was not with us. I questioned Santo and he said she would be fine. We left the Grist Mill and toured the Staff Housing buildings, the passion fruit vineyard, the nursery plants, the borehole (fresh-water well) and the kitchen area. We were gone from Patience 45 to 50 minutes and she continued to sit by the Caretaker house where her Dad had told her to sit. How many 5-year olds do you know who would do that? Santo provided us with an impressive CV and Sandra and I have been with Santo and Beatrice on several occasions including attending their worship service and hearing Santo preach. The worship was God-honoring and his sermon was doctrinally sound. Santo and Beatrice joined us for our Team Meeting last Saturday; then Santo went to the bush with us and led the adult Bible study Sunday afternoon. Melody led the children’s Bible study where we had an interesting guest—a baby monkey! The little girl who had the monkey wanted us to buy it for 2,000 shillings (about 80 cents) but Melody thought it was so small that it needed to be placed back with it’s mother. The little girl told us they ate the mother the previous evening. I must admit that I was tempted because how many of us have actually owned a monkey? Sandra convinced me that our 14 chickens and 1 dog were enough for us!

 

One of the voids at Abaana’s Hope is Ugandan input for making important decisions. We have been praying for God to leas us to the men He has prepared and called for Abaana’s Hope, and we feel such peace about inviting Santo and Beatrice to join our Uganda Team in Gulu. We are excited to have this important element for future decisions and believe God brought us to this special couple. We ask that you pray with us that He will continue to bring Ugandans of His choosing to fill future key management positions at Abaana’s Hope.

 

All glory to Him,

 

Royce & Sandra

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

Sandra and I made it back to Gulu with no problems whatsoever—all of our flights were on time and all of our luggage (and it was a lot) made it without loss or breakage of anything (I was particularly glad to see all of Sandra’s homemade jellies and jams were unbroken in their glass jars). We arrived at the Entebbe Airport at 11:00 pm and after going through the VISA process, picking up eight big duffle bags and driving to the Airport Guest House, it was after 1:00 am when we went to bed. Slept well and Lazurus, our driver, picked us (that’s the way they say it here, “picked us” instead of “picked us up”) at 8:30 am after a great breakfast of pineapple pancakes (yummy!). It takes five to six hours to make the drive up to Gulu. Sandra and I both decided to stay awake until nighttime and try to get on Ugandan time as quickly as possible. We both failed and fell asleep on the drive—which is quite an accomplishment for these roads.

 

It was so good to pull through a freshly painted gate opened by Peter at home and see Christine and her children, Richard, Roseline and Rita standing in the courtyard to greet us. They really seem to be our “family” here. Christine had prepared a great dinner of chicken (not one of ours), potatoes, rice and spinach (from our garden). That evening, Darrell and Pam came over and we did some “catching up.” They have become such special friends in such a short time. He told us what had been happening at Abaana’s Hope. We could hardly wait to get out there and see everything. It is so great to be in the exact spot where we know God has called us at this time in our lives. The peace that we experience here in Gulu is unexplainable! Francis Chan wrote the “Introduction” to David Platt’s newest book, “Follow Me” and in it he said what we feel much better than I could ever say it, “Peace began flooding back to me when we sold our home, packed up our family, and headed for Asia. It’s weird how uncertainty can actually bring peace while ease causes the opposite.”

 

I had several errands to run the first day. Since Roy and Sabrina left, we have two Toyota trucks in our driveway and…you guessed it, neither would start and one had a flat. Both batteries were so dead we could not jump-start either one so we called Jim, the local mechanic and friend of Peter’s. Jim brought a good battery and we finally got one started. I took off toward town and…you guessed it again, turned on my wipers when I wanted to use my turn signal and I drove on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately, the first “gentleman” I met on the road, let me know. I’m pretty sure he was an Alabama fan since he was giving me the number one sign.

 

Before we left for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Christine’s youngest child, Rita came home from boarding school for the holidays so, one evening, I asked if she and Christine would like to watch “Lion King” on my laptop. Rita said she had read the book but had never seen the movie. In fact, they had neither ever watched any movie. I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. They loved it so we brought several children’s movies back for all of them (Christine, Richard, age 17, Roseline, age 16, Rita, age 13 and of course, Peter, age 21) to watch. I thought if the movie is appropriate for our youngest grandson, Levi (age 7) to watch, it would be OK for them. We brought back “Stuart Little”, “Stuart Little 2”, “Stuart Little 3”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “Puss in Boots” and “Pixar Short Films 2”. It was so fun to just listen to them laughing and clapping out in Christine’s apartment. When they would finish one, they wanted to know if we had another. Children’s DVDs will be on our list of “what to bring” when friends and teams come.

 

We went out to Abaana’s Hope on Sunday afternoon to see the people and progress. Construction is at a slow point as far as seeing dramatic results such as walls and roofs. We are now in the finishing stages for the Caretaker/Storage building and Maze Mill. The guys have put in the windows and doors, put plaster over the bricks and painted both inside and out. They are putting in the splash aprons around the exterior of these buildings, finishing the flooring and repairing all cracks and chips. Darrell reports that we will have both of these buildings complete by mid-February. During the dry season or summer here (December-February) is the best time to get foundations poured so both the first Group Home and the Medical Center/Administrative buildings will begin by mid-March. It is exciting to think about what this place will look like by the end of this year. If you really want to get excited, think about five years out.

 

As you may recall from an earlier update, we provide breakfast and lunch for our workers. We now have between 50 and 60 workers on property five days/week and usually about four or five workers on weekends for security and some construction. The land at Abaana’s Hope is producing almost all of our food needs for these workers. We raise maize (corn), beans, g-nuts (peanuts), eggplant, onions, peppers, cabbage, and tomatoes. We have also planted many fruit trees such as bananas, passion fruit, tangerines, oranges, pineapples (is that a fruit tree?), mangos and avocados. We also have fifteen beehives and yes, they are African bees that inhabit them. Currently, the only food items we must purchase are oil (10 liters lasts about a month) and wany jiri (little minnow-size fish that are dried and mixed in pocho).

 

We have been selling eggplant in the market to provide income to help cover expenses. We have over 400 passion fruit vines that we can harvest in March and they will sell well in the market. Wouldn’t you love to see pictures of all this? You’re in luck—Jamie East, one of our team members here, does a tremendous job of providing regular updates with great pictures on the Abaana’s Hope Blog found under “Media” on the Four Corners Ministries’ website or you can click here to go to their blog. We will eventually have livestock on the property with the ultimate goal for Abaana’s Hope to be as self-sustaining as possible. Oh, we also have hundreds of shea trees that provide tons of shea nuts. Have any of you ladies ever heard of shea butter? I had not, but Sandra certainly has. My Wikipedia defines it: “Shea butter is a slightly yellowish or ivory-colored fat extract from the nut of the African Shea tree.” You will be amazed at all the uses of shea butter if you google it. We still have marketing rights in the United States, Europe and UAE available if anyone is interested.

 

We are back in the swing of doing the Bible study on Sunday afternoons on the Abaana’s Hope property. Harriet is the lady who teaches the children and is the wife of Dennis, the man who leads the Lua language adult Bible study. I have attached a picture of Harriet using the flannel board that the wonderful Cebert ladies (Paula McQueen, Jenny Gurley and Paula Butler) gave us for a Christmas present. I have also attached a pictures of our Hispanic chicken, Carmila, and her ten new baby chicks (Carmila is the brown one on the right, the white one is William and the black one is Ebony). Carmila is very protective of her babies as our dog, Dako, has learned on more than one occasion. Dako and I like to play in the yard with her running as hard as she can by me while I try to catch her. She will run all the way around the house sometimes and last week while we were playing our game, she made the mistake of running around our ot lum (which is pronounced “ot lum” and is a little grass-roofed hut)…right into Carmila and her babies! Dako came back from around the ot lum like a Cheetah after a gazelle! If you’ve never seen an angry mother hen chasing a dog with wings flapping and screaming clucks with every breath, well…you’ve missed a funny sight. I just thought Dako was fast playing our game!

 

In closing out this month’s Update, I want to include part of this month’s Bible study in Philippians 3:20-21. These are verses that follow up Paul’s comments to the Philippians about following the good examples before them while shunning the bad examples in their midst. Verse 20 tells us that we are not citizens of this world but “our citizenship is in heaven.” Now, living in Uganda, I find myself often wondering, “Why was I born in America and not Uganda or Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia?” “Why did Jesus call me to follow Him?” “Why me?” Oh, I know that I’m not deserving of the call of Christ, and I did not deserve to be born in America any more than those I meet who were born here in Uganda. I particularly think about these things when I meet good men like my Christ-following, Ugandan friend, David. You see, he lives in a dirt hut with a grass roof while I live in a nice house. David wears shoes and clothes that I would have thrown away long ago. He rides an old bicycle barely holding together while I drive a nice automobile. He is about my age but probably not as healthy because he’s never had Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance like me. Our backgrounds are literally world’s apart. We are citizens of different countries and cultures…BUT…both of us have CITIZENSHIP IN HEAVEN…for all of eternity. For all of eternity, David will live in a mansion, wear glorified clothing, be perfectly healthy (“and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorified body”) and praise God with his fellow citizen, Royce. WOW! David is a man with a perpetual smiling face that perpetually shines with the joy of Christ in his life. I can hardly wait to see his smiling face in our shared citizenship.

 

Speaking of world’s apart, today is the first time in seventeen years that we are unable to celebrate our oldest grandson’s birthday with him. Happy 17th birthday, Fisher. You are an amazing young man and continue to be a wonderful blessing to your Mimi and Papa. We love you!

 

Pressing on,

 

Royce and Sandra

 

 

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

As I write this, we are over the Atlantic Ocean traveling back to Gulu, Uganda through Brussels. I am one of the few still awake on this flight and am reflecting on the two months we have been home. It has been a wonderful time with family and friends in Alabama. We also went to Texas to visit family for Christmas and even got to spend a little time with friends in Bossier City, Louisiana on the return to Birmingham. It was a joyous time! Somehow, after spending a couple of months away and then knowing that we will be going back for at least 10 more months puts a different perspective on time with them. It truly makes that time even more valuable.

 

One of the highlights of our visit home was the opportunity to participate in three days of intense training with The Church at Brook Hills for those going on mid-term mission trips with the Brook Hills Global Disciple-Making Team. The Church at Brook Hills defines short-term mission trips as those of less than two months, mid-term as two months to two years and long-term as those going for over two years. Paul and Noah from the Global Discipleship Team lead this training and brought in several pastors such as Bob, David, Dennis, JD, Jonathan and others to cover such topics as the History of Missions, Personal Discipleship, Culture and Contextualization, Missions and Spiritual Warfare, Relationships and Partnerships, Disciple-Making and Church Planting Strategy. There were eleven of us in this training and we were commissioned by our church on December 23rd to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” What a blessing for missionaries to know their faith family is regularly praying and supportive in every way.

 

Sandra and I have been asked many times by friends and family if we were “ready to go back?” This is a natural and usual question with an easy answer. Absolutely! We have now experienced the joy and confirmation of knowing that God has called us to serve Him in Uganda at this time in our lives and we cannot be totally happy anywhere else! Of course it was great to be home. Sandra and I loved worshipping with our faith family at Brook Hills and the Bible Study and fellowship time with our small group. We loved the opportunity to share with Jim and Amy’s small group, the Early Seekers (our small group) and the Branches small group some of our experiences in Uganda. We loved the family meals at home and the friends that joined us for several of those. I loved watching Alabama win the Southeast Conference Championship (one of the best games ever!) and I loved watching them win the National Championship (one of the worst games ever if you’re a Notre Dame fan). I loved getting to play some golf with Russ, Tripp, Fred and Myron. I loved playing tennis with Paul, David, Nicky, Vivian, Audrie, Josh and our grandsons. I loved the good restaurants and Christmas fudge (too much). I loved the table games with family and friends. I loved winning the Watkins Family Christmas Texas Hold’em Tournament (finally, after 8 years—when I have always been the best player). I loved helping our grandsons skin a squirrel they killed in our yard with their pellet gun (I’m pretty sure we were the only family in the Greystone community killing and skinning a squirrel that day). I also loved playing Ping-Pong with them. Sandra loved lunch, shopping and time with some of her best friends on earth. Yes, we will miss all these fun times; and admittedly, it was hard this morning to leave the loving arms of Jim, Amy, Fisher, Jude, Tripp and Levi (particularly when looking into the teary eyes of 12-year old Jude as he gave Sandra some of his money to buy food for the orphans). But they plan to come to Uganda for a visit some time this year, as are several other friends, so we are looking forward to sharing life in Gulu with them.

 

We were also reminded of what an honor and joy it is to work with a ministry such as Four Corners. We were privileged to attend a couple of board meetings and the Christmas dinner with all Four Corners’ staff and spouses. What an amazing group of Christ-followers and confirmation of support for those of us serving in Uganda!

 

We have been in contact with Christine at the house in Gulu a few times. You will be glad to know our chickens are laying eggs and our rooster has risen to the occasion—we have little chicks on the way. Christine told Sandra that she made a nest in the kitchen for the hen to sit on eight eggs. Sandra said she just hoped Christine was talking about her kitchen and not Sandra’s.

 

As we return to Gulu and Abaana’s Hope, we want to thank each of you for your prayers. I doubt any of us fully realize the power of prayer. You are as much a part of this ministry as we are when you pray. I hope when you think about that, you will have an even greater resolve to pray more. We have seen things in Gulu that could only have happened because God answered prayers. At times, I believe that I can sense the prayers of believers because circumstances just work for good when there is no other explanation. Thank you so much!

 

We love you and are praying for you as you pray for us. We’ll be in Gulu in just a few hours and we can hardly wait!

 

Royce and Sandra

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

It’s early Thursday morning and I just poured my first cup of coffee. We have a Black and Decker coffee maker that is not real fast at brewing the pot and if you try to pour your cup too fast, you just make a mess on the kitchen counter. It simply will not allow you to hurry! Now, I often think that this simple act helps me prepare my mind for living out the day in Africa. As a group, we Americans are not very patient. We are a fast food nation! There is not a single fast food restaurant in Gulu. In fact, there is almost nothing that happens fast here. Actually that has been the most difficult thing for me to adjust to. Instant gratification is a problem with many of us Americans. Of course, I’m not denying that there are good things about accomplishing things fast. We are not the greatest nation on earth because we waited around to get things done. But, patience is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 for a reason. There is much more said about waiting in God’s Word than hurrying. Check it out!

 

The month of October has been extremely busy at Abaana’s Hope with our Ugandan Team working with construction and visiting mission teams, dealing with vehicle breakdowns, having visits from family members, dealing with food service inspectors/construction inspectors, planning and conducting team meetings, spending time with Dennis, the widows and the orphans and even practicing a little medicine with our Ugandan employees. Let me quickly say that most of these things have been such joyful blessings and even fun. The dealing with the health inspectors/construction inspectors brought on a little stress but Darrell Hobbs, our Construction Manager, is working through these details with them. We certainly desire to adhere to the appropriate construction and food handling regulations, be good neighbors, and make a positive impact for Christ on this wonderful village community.

 

We have really been blessed this month with a Medical Team from different churches in East Alabama led by Wanda Fontaine and Harold Harmon. This great team tirelessly gave of their energy and resources with Christ-honoring love and generosity, working four clinic days in three separate areas. They saw over 300 patients every clinic day. We praise God for them and pray His blessings on them for the many ways they helped the Ugandan people and encouraged the Ugandan Team here.

 

Sandra and I were also privileged to have my brother, Wallace, “stop by” to see us on his way home from Ethiopia, where he was involved with some other Texas Baptist Ministers doing pastor training. He even helped on one of the medical clinic days at Abaana’s Hope. For part of the day, he was the official worm medicine dispensing person—placing the worm tablets on the patient’s tongues to assure compliance and every patient got worm medicine. Of course, Gulu is not on the way to anywhere so you don’t just stop by. We were both blessed by his presence and encouragement, as this was no easy or inexpensive trip from any standpoint.

 

Sandra and I began participating in the small group Bible studies that are held on Sunday afternoons on Abaana’s Hope property. There are a few AH employees that attend but the vast majority is not and comes from the surrounding village. This Bible study is an outgrowth of Grace Baptist Church in Gulu, pastored by Nathan Wright. Two of the Ugandan associate pastors typically lead the adult teaching while one of the ladies teaches the children. Roy and Sabrina Durham, members of Four Corner’s Ugandan Team (more about them later) were instrumental in the implementation of this “small group.” The term “small group” would be a bit of a stretch now as there were 78 children present earlier this month and a like number of adults. There have been several adults asking how they can become followers of Christ and need someone to help them grow in discipleship. There is an elderly grey-haired man (about my age) that always reads the Scriptures from his very old Lwo (the Acholi language) Bible. A couple of Sundays ago, he asked me if I could get him an English Bible as he wanted to learn English better. I gave it to him this past Sunday and asked about his Bible and when he became a Christ-follower. He said he had been a Christian since he was a young man and held up his Bible to say he loves God’s Word and reads it daily. I told him we were going back to the United States next week but asked if he would be willing to lead a weekly Bible study with me for new Christian men and any others in the village when I return in early January. He enthusiastically agreed! Of course, the next step would be for Sandra and an Acholi lady to start another one for women. This is getting more and more exciting!

 

Yesterday was a sad day in that Roy and Sabrina left our Ugandan Team. Their presence here will be greatly missed! They traveled to Entebbe to fly to India to complete the U.S. VISA process for Sabrina. Once that is done, they will travel to Alabama to await God’s direction for the next chapter in their lives. Roy and Sabrina were married in India a little over a year ago and Roy’s Alabama family has not been able to meet her face-to-face. They are all excited for that time and Sandra and I can attest that she is easy to love—a wonderful lady and a perfect partner for Roy after losing his wife several years ago to brain cancer.

 

The last several days have been a tribute of showing love for this amazing couple. This past Saturday was payday at Abaana’s Hope; so as the employees were all gathered together, I saw several strong men with tears streaming down their cheeks over the announcement of Roy’s departure. Roy and Sabrina have stayed with us for their last three nights here and Sandra arranged a prayer time for them on Monday night (their last night) at our home with 26 people in attendance. We have learned an amazing thing through this experience. The people of Uganda do not have “casual” friends like we do in the United States. While most Americans have a few close friends and many casual friends, these people consider every friend a close friend. The Durhams have been in Gulu less than a year, but there have been several who have stopped by our house to say “good bye” with words and tears. This has been a very graphic lesson for us to better understand “friendship” in Uganda. As Darrell and Pam were spending a couple of months in America this past summer and recently going through hip-replacement surgery for Darrell, Roy has been the torch-carrier with AH construction. Darrell would be the first to say what an exemplary job Roy has done in this area. We will all miss them very much and will continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers.

 

You will be glad to learn that our animal crop has grown since the demise of our first chicken, William. We visited with Christine’s Aunt a couple of weeks ago and she gave us a beautiful reddish-brown chicken with a top-knot that resembles a crown so we named him William the Second. However, we were soon informed that William the Second is a hen (how do they figure that out?) I’m still calling her William 2 and she seems not to care at all. Then, last Friday, we were invited to Peter and Ronald’s village and they gave us a beautiful black hen and a white rooster. I told Christine and Peter that we now have an African, a Muzungu and a Hispanic chicken so we are well diversified. They just laughed even though they did not understand the Hispanic term. In addition, I mentioned that we were thinking about getting a dog and Peter said he had a dog out at his village and would love to bring it to our compound. I was a bit skeptical and told him that I wanted to get a puppy so I could train it with good habits. His dog is a puppy, he told me. In fact, when I saw her at his village, I thought she would work fine and asked him, “What is her name?” He said “poopie” and I laughed and asked if she earned this name by pooping a lot. He did not understand my question and finally I understood that he calls her “puppy.” I told him she would eventually grow up and would need an adult dog name so what did he think would be a good African name for her? After much discussion, we came up with “Dako” which means lady, woman and wife in Lwo. So, now we have Dako, William the Second and two unnamed chickens that will be ready for the skillet when we return in January. Sandra wants to raise some chickens and Christine told her we would need a bigger cock to do that. Just wish I’d been there for that conversation. We have been invaded by hundreds of crickets in the last few days and the chickens are helping eliminate them better than my insect spray in the house.

 

We are growing closer to our Ugandan Team members here and are so appreciative of how they have helped us adapt. Please pray for Jamie East who is currently visiting her mom in Louisiana, who has cancer. She is taking chemo treatment and we are praying for God’s miraculous hand on her. Jamie took Virginia, the baby, with her so Matt also needs our prayers as he homeschool’s Tristan and Cole while continuing his other duties with Abaana’s Hope.

 

God is teaching me so much through the study of Philippians we are doing with our Team. In verse 6 of chapter 1, Paul tells the church at Philippi, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Genuine spiritual progress in rooted in what God has done, is doing and will do. It is essential that we know that it is ALL Him. We had nothing to do with beginning a good work in ourselves nor will we have anything to do with bringing it to completion. Because it is God and not ourselves, we can have confidence that the God who saved us will never leave us nor forsake us nor let go of us. We simply trust Him and obey Him as He shows us His ways in His Word. It is His responsibility to bring everything to completion. What a comforting thought!

 

We will be going home in just four days! We Skype with Jim, Amy, and the boys weekly and Jim asked this week what we wanted to do first and where we wanted to eat. Those were not easy questions to answer. At this stage, we will be happy to eat anywhere as long as we can be with family and friends. I know we will not be able to see all of you as many are out of Alabama but we definitely want to see as many of you as possible. May God “open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

 

Royce and Sandra (she has promoted herself to co-author but denies any accountability for some of the things I wrote in this month’s update)

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

On September 30th, Sandra and I drove down to Lira, Uganda (about two hours drive) to visit Bob and Carol Higgins, the founders of Path Ministries, and tour their facilities. This was our first “trip” in the Land Cruiser with me driving. It was a little stressful for the driver and a lot stressful for the passenger, but we made it back alive.

 

Bob and Carol invited us to arrive by 8:30 and worship with them at the Ilera Community Church. This church was started to provide a worship service for the first 78 orphans they started with at Otino Waa (our children) Children’s Village about ten years ago. The surrounding community heard them singing and worshipping and asked if they could join them in worship. Eventually, they bought about two acres of land across the road and started the Ilera Community Church. They had about 700 worshippers on the Sunday we attended. The Higgins and we were the only Muzungus (white people) in attendance.

 

Bob and Carol met us at the back of the church and took us down to the front to sit in the honored guests’ plastic chairs with backs as opposed to the wooden bench “pews” that held most of the 700 worshippers. These folks unashamedly worshiped God without concern for what others thought about them. I think heaven will look more like their worship than what Sandra and I are accustomed to.

 

One neat thing that happened at the close of the service was the taking of the offering. Those who had cash placed it in one of the two baskets the Otino Waa students held at the front. Those who had little or no cash placed something of value (sweet potatoes, oranges, bell peppers, onions, g-nuts (peanuts) and clothing items on the stage platform. Following that, the associate pastor held an auction to turn these items into cash. I asked Bob if it would be ok for me to bid on an item and he said they would welcome that. I bought a terrific shirt for only 10,000 shillings ($4).

 

After the three and a half hour service, Bob and Carol took us across the road to the Otino Waa Children’s Village. While Carol went to their home to prepare lunch (who’s hungry after a three and a half hour worship service?), Bob gave us a tour of Otino Waa. They only have 20 acres here but it is amazing how much they have done with it.

 

We started in their café/gift store on the main road. By the way, this road is terrific! After being beat up for miles and miles on the Southbound Kampala “highway” out of Gulu, we turned left and traveled East on a road that I didn’t believe existed in Uganda. It was perfectly paved with a striped yellow line down the middle and white line marking the shoulder area. I actually saw a picture of a nice road like this in the colorful Ugandan coffee table book we bought, but I thought they must have taken the picture in Texas.

 

Bob showed us the administrative building, the vocational training center that teaches the children about construction/woodworking, bee keeping and computer skills. It is critical that these children have marketable skills when they outgrow the orphanage.

 

Otino Waa also has buildings that house the primary and secondary schools. In addition, they have a medical/dental clinic to take care of the children and staff as well as one that serves the community. A doctor and dentist from Oregon came there on a mission trip and decided to build the clinic for them. They came back and were the first visiting medical team that used it. Otino Waa currently has a full time nurse and physician assistant working in the clinic.

 

Over the years, Otino Waa has improved their playgrounds, landscaping, water filtration system, back-up electrical power system and started building ecological sanitation stations (toilets) with little or no odor. The newest of group homes has individual kitchens that improve the family-friendly environment. They now house about 260 orphans.

 

After the tour, we went to the Higgins home for lunch. This was a very productive time with all of our questions being answered and great, unsolicited advice for someone new to Uganda with involvement in starting a new children’s village. The Higgins are wonderful people who love the Lord and have left children and grandchildren to serve the Ugandan people for over 12 years. If you would like to learn more about them, their website is: www.pathministries.net. They will be a great resource for us.

 

Sandra and I have had two formal meetings with the “Gulu Team.” Of course, we have an agenda for items of immediate discussion needs. In addition to covering the agenda, We are beginning each Gulu Team meeting with a brief Bible study. At the first meeting I shared in 2 Peter 1:1-8 about how Simon Peter encouraged the churches of Asia Minor (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia) to “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

At our second meeting, I felt led to begin a study of the book of Philippians by giving an overview of the book and then in our next meetings go through and unpack this great book verse-by-verse. Some of the Bible’s greatest verses, most often quoted and memorized are found in the book of Philippians.

 

We were privileged in late September to have a visit from Tripp Skipper, the President of Four Corners Ministries and some FCM Board members. This gave the Gulu Team a great opportunity to discuss a number of immediate needs that Tripp and the Board could help with. We had some great fellowship with these wonderful people and they allowed the entire Gulu Team to accompany them to Murchison Falls National Park for an overnight stay a Paraa Lodge. This Lodge is very nice and we took a cruise down the Nile River to see Murchison Falls. We saw hundreds of hippos, and many other animals such as warthogs, baboons, crocodiles, etc. Going and coming to the Lodge, we saw dozens of different species of animals such as giraffes, hartebeest, lions, elephants, antelopes, bushbucks, African buffaloes and scores of bird species. As you can tell, it is not all work and ministry. The Gulu Team greatly appreciated the opportunity to visit Murchison Falls National Park and fellowship with the Four Corners Ministry leadership.

 

Sandra and I have had a few more opportunities to visit with Dennis (that I mentioned in the first update) and the orphans that God has entrusted to him and the widows helping him. They are precious children who always have a smile and are so grateful for even the small items of food and supplies we have taken them.

 

We now have a roof on the Caretaker’s house at Abaana’s Hope and are near completing the roof on the Grist Mill building. Tripp and the Board members who came encouraged us by agreeing to let us purchase some critical equipment for AH. They gave us the OK to purchase a tipper (dump truck for you Americans) and another brick making machine. We have two brick making machines now that are constantly working and need a third. This is hard work and the men on these machines make a little more money than the agriculture workers so these are coveted jobs, even with the tiresome days of labor.

 

Our rental house is coming together nicely. We’ve pretty much completed he kitchen, our bedroom and the small bedroom with two twin beds. We still need dining room furniture, living room furniture and a queen bed for the third bedroom. Then you guys can come visit us!!! My brother, Wallace, is coming for a short visit in about 8 days and we have enough for him to be comfortable. I am really looking forward to his visit and the opportunity for us to show him magnificent Gulu—one of the great tourist attractions of the world.

 

We have really enjoyed getting to know Christine and Peter, the people who help us manage our Downton Abby here. They are very humble, honest people of integrity. We are blessed to have them with us. Last week, I left 650,000 shillings (about $260 in dollars) in the cargo pocket of some shorts I had been wearing. I totally forgot about this money put the shorts in the dirty clothes basket. Christine washed them and found the money. This is between 3 and 4 months wages for her, but she simply told Sandra that she found it and had laid it out to dry.

 

We have encountered so much dishonesty, lying and deception with so many people here that it is very refreshing to find the honest ones. We now have found an honest plumber, electrician, and mechanic. Labor costs here are unbelievably cheap. We called our plumber to come repair a pipe spewing water out of the ground, and a leaking water tank up on our tower. He came immediately and surveyed the problem, then bicycled to town to get pipe, connections, and plumbing tape. He spent an hour and a half repairing the leaks and charged me 10,000 shillings for his labor—less than $4.00. Our mechanic repaired our slipping transmission, installed new brake shoes on the front wheels and fixed the rear spring that had lost a bolt, then had the audacity to charge us 15,000 shillings—less than $6.00. The labor charges are amazing and they come immediately when you call them. Such is an economy that has over 80% unemployment.

 

We were getting ready for our second Gulu Team meeting and Christine announced that we had guests. It was Peter’s mother and aunt. They were dressed in their Sunday best and had traveled over 4 hours to come see us. We were extremely honored. They brought us a chicken to cook on Independence Day. This is October 9th for Ugandans and this is a very special one—their 50th Anniversary of independence from British Colony rule. Looks like we were not the only ones that had to declare our independence from those British bullies.

 

Sorry this is so long. I have much more time on my hands when I am not playing golf and tennis or playing with grandsons and watching TV. You may have noticed that I entitled this the September Update. I thought we would try to send a monthly update from now on so as to not overwhelm you with too much Gulu news.

 

We love you and greatly appreciate your prayers and emails.

 

Royce and Sandra (Senior Editor)

 

Category: Abaana's Hope

 

We arrived in Gulu, Uganda at the end of August. It’s now 3:00 a.m. here in Gulu on Thursday morning. What a great time to give our family and friends an update! We spent most of the first week of our time getting ready to move into our rental house. We’ve bought two queen beds, a set of twin beds, four bedside tables, a dining room table with six chairs (all the furniture is being built by local tradesmen), a refrigerator, a stove/oven (yes, you can get just a cooktop here), a clothes washer and dryer (actually the dryer is a clothes line I helped put up), a water dispenser (big bottles, upside down on top) and scores of household items to set up living. We’ve hired a guard/yard guy and a cook/housekeeper–she was on a two-weeks trial basis with Sandra (she should have thought of that when we married). The guard/yard guy’s name is Peter and he is 22. He is the younger brother of Ronald, who is about 30 and the go-to guy for many of the mzungus (white people) here. Ronald has been a God-send! He found the house, found all the workers for repairing the place for living and goes with me to negotiate for purchases for the house. Ronald, Peter and I spent several hours at several different market places buying things for Peter–a bow with six arrows to kill intruders :), a raincoat, a torch (flashlight for finding the intruders so he can kill them), a heavy topcoat (it gets down to the mid-sixties here at night), a shovel, a hoe, hedge-clippers, a slasher (a machete with a bent blade on the end to cut the grass), a bed with mattress and blanket to go in the guardhouse (yes, he is at our house 24-hours a day Monday-Friday so I will man the bow and arrows on the weekends). Enough about Peter—on to Christine, the cook/housekeeper. She is about 30-32 (she is not sure) and has three children, ages 12, 15 and 17. Neither Christine nor Peter speak good English so we’ve had some comical moments on communication. She is great at cleaning and Sandra has already started reading the Bible with her so I think she will keep Christine.

 

We have a 1990-something Toyota Land Cruiser that we bought sight-unseen about 2 months ago for S10,500,000 shillings, (What? You think I paid too much!) which is about $4,500. Unfortunately, it needed brakes, shocks, transmission repairs, four-wheel drive hubs repaired and so on until we now have about $6,800 in it. Also, unfortunately, the transmission slips, the driver’s window will not open and the whole key ignition’s system comes out when I remove the key if I forget to push the button above the key. People drive on the wrong side of the road here and the steering wheel is on the right–everything is backwards! The gear shift is on the left, the turn signal is on the right and the windshield wiper control is on the left (I have turned on my wipers about 40 times trying to turn). The people here drive CRAZY! Motorcycles (they call the bodas) zip in and out of traffic like we’re at Barber Motor Sports; the big trucks and buses claim the middle of the road and the roads are disastrous with huge pot holes. I’m trying to show these people that driving on the right side of the road is better but they don’t get it yet.

 

We are really growing to love the team here. I cannot imagine anyone coming to a place like this without having a support team or community on the ground. We stayed with Roy and Sabrina Durham before we moved into our home and they have been such wonderful hosts. I took Sandra down to the bank that I opened an account with in June to get her added onto it. After two hours with the bank people, we still do not have her on the account. We must take her application to a lawyer to have her signature stamped and sealed like a notary would in the U. S.

 

We also met with a man named Dennis that goes to the church we attended last Sunday with Roy and Sabrina and Darrell and Pam Hobbs (another couple with Four Corners Ministries). Dennis was a child soldier with the LRA (Joseph Kony’s group of rebels) and now takes care of 16 orphans. He is the real deal and we look forward to a long relationship with Dennis and the kids. About 12 of them sang for us and Dennis invited us to come tell them Bible stories on a regular basis. These little guys are SO cute and precious. We are really looking forward to spending time with them.

 

Things at Abaana’s Hope are progressing well. Two buildings (caretakers house and grist mill) are ready to be roofed and the foundation is about ready to be poured for staff housing. All kind of crops and vegetables are growing and we now have bee hives and several planted fruit trees (bananas, mangos and avocados). The 40 to 50 workers are constantly busy making bricks, working the soil, cooking and constructing buildings. Unemployment is over 80% here so a regular job is a big deal!

 

We were so busy here in our first week that we did not have a lot of time getting homesick. We do miss our family and friends and the luxuries and conveniences of home, but you may have trouble imagining (I would in your place) how good it feels to know you are in the place that God has called you and confident at being in His will. We do miss you and thank you so much for your prayers. God has been so good to us with the traveling (no lost luggage and not a single item broken), finding a house and providing us with some wonderful new friends here. We attended a reception last Sunday evening for the American Ambassador for Uganda. There were about 150 Americans there so we got to meet several people with the Peace Corp, US Aid, and mostly missionaries. It was a good time. I anticipated a lot of security but TIA. Both Roy and Sabrina and Darrell and Pam keep a duffle bag packed for fleeing the country if an uprising occurs and we must flee rapidly. This is probably not a bad idea so we will do it, too. The Embassy keeps Americans updated of anything that may cause danger. We feel very safe here and certainly do not anticipate anything like this occurring.

 

Ok, I’m getting a little sleepy now so I will close this update down. We love you and miss you.

 

Royce & Sandra (Senior Editor)

 

Category: Archives

 

It has officially been two weeks since Chase and I said our “see you laters” and boarded a plane headed to Uganda. What a journey we have already been on! We are blessed beyond measure to be able to work with a fantastic team of missionary families, Royce & Sandra Watkins and Myron, Holly, Ryan & Rachel West, that love the Lord unconditionally and in return shows that same love to us! Especially in these early days! They have put a roof over our heads and food in our tummies! What a blessing they are to Chase and me!

 

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At the Atlanta Airport

 

First, I want to give a big thank you for everyone’s prayers and support throughout this journey. Chase and I have been completely humbled by your many emails, messages, cards and financial support. We could not do this without the help of so many individuals. Please know, that we do not take for granted any penny or prayer that has come our way to help us do the Lords work. I will also ask for you to please be patient with us writing thank you letters, they will come! Just not in the correct “Southern” fashion, more in the Ugandan time frame. Which means, they will eventually written and mailed to you! haha…

 

It has been evident, more than ever, that God has been planning every step of this journey and has provided provision for every need even before we knew we had a need (Jeremiah 29:11). His plan was perfect and is perfect. He knew arriving with a short-term Four Corners Mission Team would help us with our transition into life in Uganda. We met the FCM Missions Team with the Church of Brook Hills in the Amsterdam airport and continued our flights with them to Uganda. It was a blessing to be around such loving and caring people who came willing and ready to serve at Abaana’s Hope! They kept us busy and helped us dive in head first and begin our work here at Abaana’s Hope. Let me tell you, the team from the Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama set the bar high for future teams!

 

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The Church of Brook Hills Missions Team

 

While the team from Brook Hills was at AH the men worked with Chase and other AH employees to built a playground for future children at Abaana’s Hope and for children in the village surrounding the land at AH. I have never seen so many happy and excited children in one place at a time! All of their smiles, squeals and laughs could be heard all over the AH land! What a blessing it is to see so many children with joyful spirits!

 

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Installing the Merry Go Round

 

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Installing the Monkey Bars

 

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Discovering the Fun of a Merry Go Round

 

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All Smiles on the Seesaw

 

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Playing on the Monkey Bars

 

The women from the team worked with the ladies who are employed at Abaana’s Hope. They ministered to the women who are employed to make jewelry at AH and also taught a separate group of AH women how to knit! They did a wonderful job loving on and helping these women while they were here. In just three short days, the new knitting ladies had learned how to knit and several completed their first scarves! This shows how hardworking the women here in Uganda are and how extremely excited they are to learn new trades to help support their families.

 

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Having Fun Knitting Together

 

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She is Happy to be Learning

 

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Margaret Completed the First Scarf at AH

 

The Brook Hills Team has come and gone and life has slowed down a tiny bit, but everything is still exciting and new. Chase and I are currently in the hunt for a house to rent, which has proven it self more challenging than expected. Please pray that the Lord provides a house for us in a timely manner.

 

Chase and I are learning a lot everyday about the culture in Gulu, Uganda. We have been blessed to have an intern, Taylor Henderson from California, from this past summer stay with us to learn from and keep us company. The Lord is working in mighty ways through Abaana’s Hope; Chase and I are extremely excited to be apart of such a wonderful organization.

 

Blessings to you from Uganda!

 

Kimmey Barbrey

 

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