Sunday, June 22, 2008

Post Uganda

When Dan and I got back to O'Hare, Christina pulled up and Spencer shot out of the car and gave me a big hug. Lilly was all quiet for a little while (where ya been, Daddy?). It was so great to see my family (of course I missed them so much). When we got home, there was a huge "Welcome Back Daddy" sign on the wall, which was colored by the whole family so well. I am very blessed to have a wonderful wife and great kids.

So, I have been back from Uganda and I am already thinking about going back. Uganda is such a beautiful country and the people are the most beautiful part. A few observations about the people we met:

1) They truly possess the gift of hospitality. They really expressed how welcome we were to their villages, schools, and everywhere else we went. They went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and gave generously. They sacrificed their own comfort and resources to give to us what was not necessary but given out of love.

2) I was amazed by their faith and eagerness to talk about what God has done in their lives. I heard some amazing testimonies from some amazing people.

3) I felt an incredible sense of community. The folks in the village really pulled together on the different construction projects, eager to work together for the common good.

4) The folks who work for Global Family Rescue and the other Non Government Organizations within Uganda have such a passion to lift up the impoverished and under-resourced. They have extraordinary talents and would make significantly more money in the business-world. They have foregone treasures on earth and instead are storing them up in heaven.

5) The team I was on with Ben, Renata, Michelle, Kaitlin, Lee, Dan, Jamie, Jackie, Harrison, Brain, Andy, and Terry (aka T-Lish) was wonderful.

So what now? A few things. I keep thinking about the Child Mothers in Gulu and the people in Gulu in general. This was the toughest part of the trip for me. I will be praying for the people in Gulu and seeing where God might lead me.

I hope that you will consider sponsoring a family in Uganda. For $64 per month, you can transform a family. They can have regular meals, education, housing, and a stronger relationship with God. Olive and Aaron, the family Christina and I sponsor, were given this financial resource and truly capitalized on it. They now have a home, regular meals, education, and hope. Please check out for more information on sponsorship or to give a one-time gift.

Also, I am sure there are people who have followed my trip who are all over the spectrum on their feelings about God and their relationships with God. Prior to November 2006, I wasn't really sure about who God was (and at times, if there really was a God). I call tell you that God has transformed my life. If ever you want to hear my story about how this all happened, or just want to check out where I go to church, I would love to share with you.

Thank you to everyone who was with me on this journey.

Pictures of People

In no particlar order . . . (I will add more)

Fred our driver and me by the Nile ......................Andy walking in Gulu

Terry giving away his cap .....................................Dan's reunioun with Ruth

Brian, Renata, Ben, Dan and Terry (somewhere in Uganda) . . .Ben sporting his traditional dance.

Harrison, Jackie, Dan, Jamie, and Brian (Uganda looks different)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We made it back

We made it back safely last night. I had to go back to work today so I am dragging right now. I will post a wrap up and thoughts after returning from Uganda this weekend.

Thanks again who supported me through your encouragement, prayers, and/or financial support. It was an experience of a lifetime (although I will likely go back some time in the future).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Comin' Home

It's our last day in Africa. We will head out of Entebbe around 11:30pm, then to Brussels, then to New York, and then home. I will likely post more pictures and thoughts when I return home.

It has been a great trip.


We just got back from Gulu and Murchison Falls. Gulu was really heavy.

We went to visit one of the IDP camps and it was really a challenging site to see. Uganda has the longest running civil war in Africa, and Gulu is where many people who flee their villages end up going. They flee from Joseph Kony and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA has been trying to topple the Ugandan government. They have abducted children from all over Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Sudan. The LRA turns these children into militants and sex slaves.

One lady we spoke to in the camps has been there since 1999. She said the LRA has even raided the camps and they abducted her son when he was around 12 years old, and she has not seen him since. She said that the worst raid by the rebels claimed about 24 lives in her camp.

The lady we spoke with said that there hadn't been a raid on the camp in about 2 years but with peace talks breaking down, she feared that rebel activity may start again. She will not leave the camps since there is some military presence there which provides a sense of security for them

The Ugandan government has stopped sending the camps food since the ceasefire. The only source of food has been through the United Nations World Food Program.

We then visited the Child Mothers Ministry, which consists of women who were former abductees and who became pregnant by the rebels. They welcomed us and put on a traditional song and dance routine.

We then asked if there was anything we could pray about for them and what kind of help they needed. The striking thing about these women was that when asked they desired education, even over food.

I have never seen poverty on a scale like this. The kids were dirty and I am sure many were sick and malnourished. They were in ragged clothes or in some cases, had no clothes at all.

Even in this situation, the kids still smiled when they saw us, still ran around with heir friends, and still acted like kids. In the picture above, I took their picture (left). Then, I squatted down to take their picture again and see the picture on the right.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tomorrow thru Saturday

Tommorrow, we leave for Gulu to visit the Child Mothers Ministry IDP camps. After this evening, I will not be back on line until Saturday night (assuming we have power and the Internet).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oh Happy Day

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in the past few days. We have been out of town for the past two days (in Fort Portal and Kamwenge), and when we returned, no power here.

I am going to blog a little out of sequence since I am most excited about my meeting the Olive and Aaron, the family Christina and I sponsor. This is my second attempt to send this blog since the Internet decided to quit on my first try (and I didn’t type it in Word first so I lost it all).

We took the two-hour trip from Fort Portal to Kamwenge yesterday, which put my stomach to the test (rough road, tossing my stomach around the whole time).

Here I am meeting Olive for the first time. Olive has a very interesting story. She is a widow, who was actually dead for an hour. The village started preparing to bury her when she started coughing and came back. Then last year, with her and Aaron really bad off, ill, owning no property, no home, no livestock, and having no prospects for the future, Olive attempted to take her own life by drinking acid. When she didn’t die this second time, Olive believed that God kept her alive and had a purpose for her.

A few months later, her sponsorship started coming from my family. With this money, she has purchased the room in house she lives in (like a small condo). She has purchased a school uniform and Aaron attends school at the Primary 4 level (4th grade). They have livestock that includes 3 goats and a pig. Olive has started a sorghum beer brewing business and sells beer to the villagers for an income. Most of all, she has a bight future and a relationship with God.

Here we are in their home. I brought gifts and they were so appreciative. It was a wonderful experience. Every time I gave Aaron a gift, he had a smiled and gave me a hug.

Here are their goats.

Olive disappeared, then returned in her new dress. Aaron sang in the choir in a small celebration the village through for our arrival (picture on right - blue shirt, back left).

Here is Olive presenting me with gifts that included a gourd that she painted for me, a hand-woven mat, and a gourd full of honey.

Then, the ultimate in giving, Aaron gave me his largest rooster. A twelve year-old child gave me something that would be of huge value to him. He must have been very proud to be able to give such a gift.

The cost of sponsorship for a family in reality is very little to us but means so much to them. I am so proud of what Olive and Aaron have done with what they have received. There is such a huge need here in Uganda, with lack of food, medical care, and hope for an unbelievable amount of people. If you would be interested in changing the lives of a family here, please visit for more information on family sponsorship.

Here is a excerpt from a speech Olive wrote:

"I Oliva Mbarame wish to thank God for his mercy, that he has enabled me to survive up to this day. I had once died, but I am alive by the mercy of the Almighty God. People came to my place to bury me having heard that I was dead, but I came to life instantly due to God's mercy.

Now I am deaf, I can't hear any speech or any spoken word from my friends. However, I am able to talk. Praise the Lord! God is feeding me and he give me some porraige to drink. I had totally despaired, but now I have hope. I appreciate the work done by the Americans who usually send me money to sustain my life. May God bless the Americans."