Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Last Sunset...

Well today was our last full day here in Uganda. It was a full mix of emotions as we said goodbye to some and hello to others. The hotel here invited us to hold a mini conference this morning for the local pastors and church leaders here in Jinja, that didn't get a chance to attend the conference last week in Kakira. So Pastor Scott and Pastor Jim each took two hours and taught the pastors on Preaching/Bible Interpretation and Biblical Conflict Management. About forty showed up and, once again, God did amazing things. The topic of conflict management really seems to be an untouched topic here, and so the pastors were eating it up. Now I've known Pastor Jim, my father-in-law, for about ten years now. I've known him as my high school chemistry teacher, my high school baseball coach, intimidating father of my high school love interest, and finally, intimidating father of my wife. I've heard him speak many times, but never like today. He went well over two hours, teaching the pastors all about conflict and how the Bible instructs us to create a culture of be peacemakers. The question and answer time started at 12:30 and didn't end until 1:30. He was passionate, educated, thought-provoking, eloquent, and for the first time (that I've seen anyway), he was emotional. Not that he's not all of those things all the time, but as I watched and listened, I couldn't help but notice how alive he was...more than usual. I was proud to call him my father-in-law, intimidating as it is.
We had a good lunch with Pastor Paul and his new bride, Margaret, and were joined by some other pastors that we've connected with in the past week. It was fun and we had a good time chatting and laughing for one last time. We left the hotel to shop, shop, shop. For a group of five adult men shopping on a foreign continent, I think we made our wives proud.
We finished the night by taking Moses with us (see previous blog), and heading down the street to the Sunset Hotel. The view of the sunset, from the Sunset, was spectacular. We dined and talked and watched the fishermen put out lanterns on the water to catch perch by twilight. I really missed my lady. I'm sure the others felt the same. Our last sunset did not disappoint as the clouds (which are always billowing and vibrant with movement and life), moved over the Nile, trying to choke out the sun. It was perfect. We're all a little weird right now. We're all so eager to get home and see our family. But I know that Africa doesn't really just go away from you. I can't even begin to sort out all the lessons and feelings from this trip. That's going to take at least a week or so to do. All in all, though, we are all confident of this: God far surpassed our expectations for this trip! I still cannot believe how He spoke and how He used us to teach them, and them to teach us. The prayers of all of you were certainly felt and I am so so so grateful for all of you who gave to make this possible. Because of your prayers and gifts, so many pastors learned for the first time how to properly study and teach the Bible, how to handle conflict in a way that glorifies God, how the Old and New Testaments speak of Jesus, and how God desires to do a great work in Uganda, Africa and the world. There were so many testimonies of God's power and God's work within the hearts of these men and women. And once I get my videos done, you can see it for yourself. But your giving and your praying did a great great work here for the glory of God!
Pray for us tomorrow as we travel. We will leave the hotel around 2pm and head to Entebbe. Our flight leaves around 10:20pm (12:20pm your time). So please pray for safe travels, health, and miraculously fast flights! And pray that we're reminded that God's work does not stop in Africa, it continues on the airplane, in the skies, on the ground in Amsterdam and Houston, in Los Angeles and in Ventura County, CA. For we are all missionaries, servants in the same Kingdom, for the same purpose and goal...the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saying Goodbye...for now.

Our last Sunday here, we all split up and went to different churches to preach this morning. It was a blessed time and all of us came back with wonderful and interesting stories. That's the way it is here in Uganda...wonderful and, well, interesting. What took me by surprise, though, was how difficult it was to say goodbye to some. I realized that I have really connected with many of the pastors here, but there are a few that I built a very special relationship with...not because our living situations are similar, but because of how much we have taught each other through conversations and visitations. There are three that stick out to me...two of them I'll talk about here:
Pastor Gerald (top picture) is serving as associate pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Kakira, where we have been holding the conference. I had heard about him before I came, but getting to know him personally, well, we just hit it off. The first time I met him, I realized how he was tall, skinny, with Kenyan features, and he kind of resembled Snoop Dogg. But his heart...oh his heart. He is so Biblically centered, devoted, warm and full of love. His story is intriguing. He lives with his wife and twin boys, who just turned one year old last March, in a rented room on the YWAM base just outside of Kakira city limits. He has a job as the basic maintenance man on campus. When I say it's a rented room...I mean that. That's the way most people live here, an entire family living in one room. All cooking is done outdoors, unless you have real money. His wife, Ruth, hasn't been to church since the twins were born and she says she probably won't until the boys are about three. Not that she doesn't want to go...on the contrary! But it's that there's no safe way to transport two baby boys over the distance to Kakira. Their only option is boda boda (rented motorcycle), and I don't have to tell you how dangerous that is. Or they can walk the hour long walk with two baby boys to the church and then an hour back. I already explained the dangers of being a pedestrian on those dirt roads. We asked about a stroller. But as we asked, I think we all realized that we haven't seen a single stroller since we've been in this country! Again...that's a luxury reserved for the top 3%. Yet she releases her husband to do what she knows he must, pastor and preach the Word with integrity. He has given up a lot to live for Christ. His father already disowned him and left him on his own when He accepted Christ. His is a faith that is truly day by day and so purified. I wish you could hear him talk and see how his true concerns rest on his family and others around him. He talks very little about his needs. One last thing: There's a funny tradition here at church services. Whenever someone is up singing a song, if people like it or are blessed by it, they will come up, dancing, and slip a little money into the performer's hand or pocket. (I'm thinking about starting this tradition at CBC...kidding.) I was watching him this morning as he led in a song about God's provision. And I was blessed, as everytime someone slipped him some money as a loving gesture, he would smile and slyly slip the money into the pocket of another pastor behind him, as a loving gesture. Because the other pastor, pastor Godfrey, is struggling to keep his family afloat as well. That is love. That is a pastor. Gerald is one I have to keep in touch with! Maybe I can find a way to slip them a double stroller, or a motorcycle, or a car. We'll see...
Pastor Moses grew up an orphan at the Psalm Ten house that we visited earlier and that Pastor Paul helps run. I have been blessed to come to call him brother and friend. He is currently serving as a children's pastor here in Jinja, and he does a great job. He is so full of scripture and looks for any opportunity to preach the Gospel. He also works at our hotel, which has been fun. Oh...did I mention that our hotel is owned and operated by devoted Bible believing Christians? Every morning, I sip my coffee and check email as I listen to the staff in their morning worship sessions. It's beautiful. We've really bonded with the staff of this hotel. He told us the other day that the hotel has a soccer team and they play the other hotels every Sunday, and he really wanted us to show up. I told him I wouldn't miss it. So we went this afternoon to cheer on Moses as he played goalie for the hotel's soccer team. It was cool to see the other team ready to play, but waiting on our hotel to finish praying so they could start the game. Praise God! I underestimated our influence. As soon as Moses saw us in the grass with the audience (we kind of stick out here like a sore thumb) he got his big smile and waved big with both hands, kind of like a five year old waving at his parents on the sidelines. And I many times has someone come to just cheer for him? He was blessed, we were blessed, and eventually when the hotel staff saw us there, they invited us to cheer with their group. It was so much fun! We got to intereact with all the staff that had been serving us all week and talk about the conference and laugh and joke and cheer like mad! The family of God is truly big. Of everyone...Moses has had the biggest impact on me. And our connection will last, I'm sure, as I pray for him and as he prays for me. Again...they pray for us more than we pray for them. There's a lesson for you.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oh Yeah...and p.s.

I forgot to talk about the cake. They only cut up two cakes. The rest are to be given to people chosen by the bride and the groom. So they chose to give our group one of the cakes. The whole thing. That was a wonderful gesture of appreciation and love and it meant a lot to be one of the few to receive such a gift. We are, of course, five "robust" American men, with no real need for a cake. So we gave it to the children's home. They were excited to receive it...


Weddings in Uganda are an all-day affair. In case you get invited and wonder, "I wonder how long a wedding is in Uganda?" All day. Long as it was, it was a really really really cool experience. To be invited at all is a tremendous get a cake to take home is an even greater priviledge! I'll explain later.
As far as tradition goes, the wedding and reception is very much like weddings in America, with a few differences. First, Pastor Paul arrived and everyone cheered and yelled and applauded. Then it was about twenty minutes of worship, waiting for the bride to arrive. Once she did, all the women out in front of the church, cheered and yelled and applauded, letting everyone inside know that the bride has arrived! It was cool. She (Margaret) had a large wedding party complete with the cutest flower girls you've ever seen. And walking down the aisle...well nobody walks down the aisle in Africa! They dance and sway, slowly...very slowly making their way down the aisle to take their seat opposite the groom. It was a cool feeling as I listened to the crowd scream, dance, cheer, yell, dance, scream, cheer and yell. It really reminded me of what that day will be like when the Bridegroom (Jesus) is presented with His perfect Bride (The Church). It's gonna be a lot of screaming, dancing, cheering, and yelling! The service was beautiful and Pastor Scott, who had the priviledge of officiating, did a fantastic job. Everything went off without a hitch and it was on to pictures!
We were invited to be in some of the pictures as we made our way to the source of the Nile. It was fun to watch Pastor Paul, who is usually pretty serious and very very quiet, come alive with his new bride. He's smiled more today than I've ever seen him smile.
We came back to the church for the wedding reception. Again, it's similar to our traditions with a few differences. Once the bride and groom cut the cake, the bride puts pieces of the cake into a basket and serves the groom's family. The groom does the same with the bride's family. It's a beautiful picture of thanks and servanthood. Then we are all served by the bridal party. Another tradition that was fun: At some point, the bride slipped away to change into a new dress. Paul, then slipped away and disguised himself and hid among the people in the audience. The bride came back to find her groom missing! So then she begins to go with the help of some bridesmaids all through the audience, looking for her groom. It's fun for the audience, because Paul slipped away without us knowing, so we don't know where he is either! And it's fun to greet the bride as she makes her way through your section of the audience. And it's fun to watch her find her husband, as they greeted each other with smiles and loving eyes. It's a cool tradition. I liked that. Then people brought all their gifts and left them at the feet of the bride and groom. Brightly colored boxes, wrapping paper, vases, goats and chickens. The goats and chickens were my favorite part. Next time someone complains about their wedding gifts and how nobody even looked at the registry, just could have gotten a goat.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Source...

Today, we took the afternoon to walk to the source of the Nile River. It was so beautiful to see the water and the currents and to know that we were standing at the source of one of the world's most exotic and famous rivers. Thunderstorms were all around us, and so the whole experience was truly amazing. I prepared myself, but Africa has surpassed all my expectations with all its natural beauty. Well done, God.

Day Five...The Last Day

Last day, and oh what at day! It was short, but certainly powerful. We each took 15 to 20 minutes, and challenged them with a parting word to wrap up the week. Everyone did so good. Pastor Tim even wrote a song and led the group in "The Duck Dance". Don't ask.
We handed out Bibles to all the pastors and gave them certificates saying that they had attended. I was surprised to see how much those certificates meant to them. But most them have no access to education right now, and something that shows that they are trying means the world. The Bibles were supplied by our team and the group was so appreciative. I just loved to see two cultures come together like this and accomplish something God-sized. It's great to travel halfway across the world and see that even though some of us speak Luganda and others speak English, together we all speak the same language...the language of the Spirit. For we are all one family under one Father, and our needs are ultimately one and the same. God spoke mightily and used both Americans and Ugandans to teach rich spiritual lessons.
It was so hard to leave. And it was really hard to say goodbye to those who had to travel far away. But one pastor reminded me that if we don't see each other again here on earth, we will celebrate together on the other side.
Please continue to pray. Tomorrow (Saturday), Pastor Paul is getting married! It's really exciting and they asked that Scott (my father) officiate the wedding. We're all excited, and it is a special priviledge over here to be invited to someone's wedding. So that means a lot to us.
Also, Sunday we are all going our separate ways to speak at local churches. Fred got assigned to the longest distance...30 km from Jinja. Pray that God speaks powerfully through us and pray for our connections with the people.
Monday...and then we fly out Tuesday night. That can't be right...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day Four...

I have failed to mention the diversity among those at the conference. People from all different tribes, worshipping together. People from all over Uganda, pastors from Rwanda and a few from Kenya, all worshipping God together. The most discriminated against and the most neglected group in this country happens to be the disabled...and they're here too. There's a lady that has been coming from day one. I'm not sure exactly what she suffers from. I've noticed that these countries are full of people who suffer from crippling diseases, but have little or no access to real treatment. Or they can't afford it. So the diseases are given freedom to run their course. We have yet to see an elevator anywhere, and the roads are almost undriveable. So the thought of having to wheel oneself around in a wheelchair is almost laughable.
And yet this woman smiles. And yet she is so happy to be in the presence of God. She always greets me every morning with a big smile, a crippled handshake and a "Bless you, pasta (pastor)". But I think what inspires me most is watching her raise her bent and broken hands in praise to the One who created her and allowed her disease. I think it inspires me, because we're both looking forward to the same Day, when we'll praise God together, face to face. And maybe she'll reach out to me with her perfect hands and lead me in a special dance of praise to the One who redeems our souls.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day Three...

Our third day was a bit of a challenge. Once we arrived at Kakira, Pastor Paul let us know that he wasn't feeling well and that he was really cold. Which is odd, since Uganda is hot and humid pretty much year round. "That can only mean one thing" he said, "malaria". It wasn't the word 'malaria' that struck me, so much as the way he said it so matter-of-factly. And it's true. Malaria is just something most people get "about two or three times a year". It's so odd, the things we take for granted. He was able to go and get treatment and was already feeling better. But continue to pray for him. He's very busy handling our group and hosting this conference. Oh, and did I mention he's getting married this Saturday? He's got a lot on his plate. Please pray for a speedy recovery.
The people continue to let us know how God is blessing and speaking. It's so much fun to watch God use our team in so many different ways. Jim's (my father in law) teaching on Biblical Conflict Resolution has really struck a chord with the pastors. I get the feeling that the subject has never really been addressed around here too much, and the people are eating it up.
Each time we worship as a group, the church asks for a worship leader to come and lead us in worship. It is so much fun to watch and a lesson for me. It's awesome, because without hesitation, anywhere from five to ten worship leaders will come up, and start everyone in a song of praise. The worship doesn't stop, they just pass the microphone (there's only two mics) to another worship leader and they take over where the last one stopped to start a new song. It's awesome to see worship leaders from other congregations and districts, truly worship and leading together! Today, an elderly woman got up, took the mic and just started praising God! Dancing, singing, clapping...she was doing it all! Praise God for such pure hearts! When she sat down, I had to hug her and let her know how she blessed me.
The pictures show it a little. But as I mentioned, Cornerstone Baptist Church in Kakira is nothing but a hollow basement. Their church building blew down in a storm a year or so ago (that's right, 'blew down'. Half of the structures out here are mud and straw, or sticks and straw). It's a lot of fun, though. Each time I walk down the steps into the basement, I imagine I'm heading to a worship service in the days of the early church! Geeky, I know. But that's me. Once inside, there are primitive short benches, dirt floors, two hanging light bulbs, some portable speakers and two mics. Oh...and a rather crude looking pulpit. I have so grown to love teaching in that place. There's a certain kind of relief in getting away from the many complications and technologies that are our American way of church. In a way...simplicity seems to draw me into worship a little bit easier. No powerpoint, just voices. No instruments (except a little Casio keyboard), just voices. No carpet, windows, air conditioning, cushioned seats, elaborate decorations or special stage lighting. Just family, worshipping God as only we know how; worshipping God for all of Kakira to hear. Add some rain, thunder and lightning, and I swear...God shakes that place.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day Two...

God is so good! I honestly can't quite gather my thoughts right now, so I'll try. We just finished the second day of the conference, and things went so smoothly and God spoke powerfully to all of us. The conference is being held at Cornerstone Baptist Church of Kakira. Actually, the conference is being held in the ground floor of the basement, because the church building has not been built yet. (I'll post pictures soon) But nobody cares where the conference is held. They are hungry for the Word, and I'm growing to understand that we could hold a worship service in one of the many open road-side ditches, and people would still be dancing and praising God, eager to hear His Word! The re-occurring thing we keep saying is "I wish my church could experience this!" It really puts into perspective what we should all focus on and what we waste our time on. And how all the petty arguing that goes on from time to time, is usually just that...petty and really pretty pointless. You don't need much to please God. Just a humble and obedient heart.

We can really feel the prayers of all of you. We've been so empowered to teach and preach, and the people are so responsive. What's odd to me, is that after we speak, people come up and tell us how grateful they are, and then proceed quote things that we said in our messages, word for word from memory! They really listen, and they really take it to heart. All the more reason to watch our life and doctrine closely. Something that God has been burdening me with, though, is the desire for so many to attend seminary, but they have no resources to do it. And it breaks my heart that study books and resources that we have in abundance in America, are few and far between here. And if you do happen to find one, it's very expensive. Something for all of us to pray about...

Please continue to pray. God is humbling us a lot as we watch Him go far beyond our expectations! What is happening here is not being exaggerated and I can't say enough how grateful the people are for you all. They pray for you, by the way. God is doing something here that is beyond anything our team is capable of. But I'm reminded that when God moves, the earth shakes.

Before I go...I realized that I never said anything about the food. It's very diverse but good! Lots of rice, beans and poshe (which is ground maize, cooked in banana leaves). The meat is something else. I had the opportunity to try fried kidneys at the hotel in Entebbe, but I chickened out. I haven't quite put my finger on what's in the sausages. But there's lots of eggs, beef, chicken, pork and goat. It's kind of like someone raided Old MacDonald's farm and went nuts. EE EYE EE EYE OH...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day One...

We just finished the first day and it was great! There are about 125+ people at the conference. To say that they are hungry for the tools we're offering is an understatement. I knew that we were going because there is a need, but I had no clue how deep the need actually goes. Most of these pastors and teachers are simply men and women who got saved and felt God calling them to go and they go and preach! I'm understanding that I am teaching them the Word of God. But God is challenging my heart and teaching me about what wholehearted obedience really looks like, and how God values a heart completely surrendered. A lot of these people left home and villages to travel and preach, not knowing anything except that God has changed their hearts and saved them through faith in Jesus Christ. I'm reminded that God can and does use anyone! The only requirement is wholehearted surrender to God and His will and purpose. I've traveled with the youth group to Costa Rica, and the theme of Costa Rica is 'Pura Vida' (Pure Life). But I'm finding that I'm learning a whole new purity in life...and I'm learning it from the people I'm supposed to be teaching. God is so amazing.

Please continue to pray for health and safety. Pray that God's Spirit will continue to bind us all together and teach us that which God desires to teach us. Again...thank you so much for all of you who have supported this team and made this trip possible. The people of Uganda continually tell us how grateful they are for you. And they pray for you everyday too...what a Pure Life.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Children's Home and "Uganda Five"...

We took some time this afternoon to go and visit the Living Hope Children's Home in Wairika, just outside of Kakira. This is the home that Psalm Ten supports. We didn't get to spend too much time there, but we sure had a blast. Of the 76 orphans, about 30 were at the home when we arrived. Beautiful faces, beautiful voices and bright shining personalities. It was so much fun to take pictures and let them see themselves on the video camera screens. We got to drop off a big box of M&Ms and some soccer balls (which were graciously donated by the Pitmans at CBC...thanks!). The children were so grateful and even though we could only stay for a bit, they touched us and I hope to go back again, if not on this trip, the next!
We left the home when Pastor Paul was called to Kakira to pick up some pastors and church members at the church. Now Pastor Paul, Scott, Fred and myself make four people in a van that can seat eleven, but really shouldn't seat more than nine. When we asked Pastor Paul how many we had to pick up, he said five. No big deal. When we pulled up to the church, there was a rather large group of people. I'm thinking to myself, "I wonder which ones need a ride?" I wasn't expecting all of them to come! So we agreed that "Uganda Five" equals about fourteen. There were fourteen of us packed in that little van. I love Uganda.

Outside My Window...

Just outside our hotel window, there's a house. Well, "house" is a loose term. It's more like some brick walls with a few pieces of tin for some shelter. It's backed up right to the Nile River, and so far, I've counted six or seven children, three women and two men living inside the roofed part. The youngest is a little boy, about Jack's age, and he loves to pass the time by scaring and kicking the chickens that run loose around the house. He does it until one of the mothers comes out screaming at him to stop. It's pretty funny to watch. Makes me miss the boys like crazy too.
The thing is, this "house" is actually a step up from most that we see as we travel the roads of Uganda. We finally made it to the village of Kakira for church services. I was taken back by the sights and smells of the typical east African village. But, as a worship leader, I was humbled and as a Christian, I was put in my place. Because while the poverty is quite common, something else is even more evident. These christians look not only to their own needs and concerns, but also to the needs and concerns of others. Worship this morning was incredible. I can only relate it to what I imagine Heaven will be like. I'm not gonna lie, I was pitying our churches for the Americanized version of "church" that they would be holding today. Sorry, I know that sounds both arrogant and brash. But I knew that there was no where else I would rather be than right there, and I knew that every Sunday morning, I will always remember how others worship and celebrate the life that is theirs in Christ, all over the world.
Despite all the poverty and hardship that I see around every corner, I caught a true sense of completion in Christ in the hearts of the people. I'm realizing more and more that as much as I have to teach this week, it pales in comparison to what God is doing in the hearts of our team. I've fallen in love with the countryside. I'm captured by the hearts of these people. I've got some soul-searching to do. Keep praying as we get started tomorrow. We know you've been praying because all of us truly feel empowered with a sense of courage and love. Keep praying. We thank you all and love you all so much! Happy Sunday, and hey... Go nuts this Sunday morning!! We have a lot to celebrate.
(From Scott)

The Conference begins Monday and will go from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm each day.

I will begin the sessions by teaching Bible Interpretation and Sermon Preparation, focusing on teaching and preaching the Word with integrity.

Jim will follow with his session on Biblical Conflict Management.

John is next with Old Testament Survey of the Bible.

Then Tim will teach his session on Church planting.

The final evening sessions will be a time of encouragement with Jim, Tim, John, Fred and I preaching ---each taking a night.

Tomorrow morning at Sunday services I will preach at the 8:00 am service, and Tim will preach at the 10:30 service. Services will conclude at 1:00 pm.

Next Sunday we will all spread out and go to other churches to encourage the people in the Lord. Please pray for God to accomplish His purposes, and to bring healing to Jim and John with their yuckiness right now.

God bless, Scott

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More shots...

Here's some shots... more to come...

A Baboon Stole Our Breakfast! No...really

It's Saturday morning as I'm writing this and we arrived safely to our hotel in Jinja late last night. Our first two days here in Africa have been a blast and a little challenging. We woke up early on Thusday morning, partly because our body clocks haven't quite adjusted and partly because I think we were all a little too eager to explore. Our driver, Charles, was supposed to pick us up around 9:30a.m., but didn't arrive until around 12:30. So we got off to a late start. The drive to the game reserve was supposed to take around 5 to 6 hours, but was actually closer to about 8. Now I've traveled quite a bit in my past, and I've seen how other cultures operate their vehicles. And up until now, I thought I had seen the worst of it. But nothing compares to the roads of Uganda! All of us were white-knuckled and gasping to ourselves as Charles sped (and I mean SPED) in and out of traffic on a little two lane road (even though there are no defined lanes), narrowly missing pedestrians (which are everywhere, all the time) and bicyclists by inches...inches. I think I can speak for the group when I say that we were both terrified, and pretty impressed. Hats off to you Charles!

We arrived at the game park where we got ready for bed. Most of us slept in little 9 by 7 shacks. Fred had to sleep in a tent. Beautiful sunset and a beautiful sunrise. Bugs were everywhere at night. It was a cool experience, falling asleep to the grand symphony of tree frogs, insects, and the warthogs that kept knocking on our doors. I've grown to love warthogs. Interesting animals, ugly as sin...but interesting. We woke up early the next morning to perhaps the longest day of our lives. The resort graciously packed us a breakfast in a paper bag, and we headed off around 6:30a.m. to the game reserve. We had to cross the river on a ferry in order to get to the park, and once inside, there were plenty of baboons waiting to ambush the poor unsuspecting tourists. In the blink of an eye as Charles was talking with one of the guards, a baboon, who up til this point was an object of entertainment, went in for the kill! All I heard from the back seat was Fred saying "Hey!" and all we say was a long hairy arm reach in and snatch our breakfast bag from the top of the dashboard. So we sat there...watching a long-armed bandit enjoy our delicious breakfast. Lesson learned: role up the window next time.

The game drive was incredible! Entire families of giraffes to the left of us, herds of elephants and hartebeasts to the right. Literally, everywhere you looked, wildlife was abundant. Water buffaloes, warthogs, all different types of deer. It was breathtaking. We got off the van and traded in for a boat, where we cruised up the river to see hundreds of hippos and crocs and all different types of birds as we made our way to majestic Murchison falls. That trip certainly did not disappoint. I think we all wished our families could be with us to experience it. I know I did.

Well, the trip from the game reserve is a "6 to 7 hour" drive. Ten hours later, beat up from hours on the rough dirt roads and hours sitting in traffic in the heart of Kampala, we limped into Jinja and checked into our hotel. It's nice to finally leave our baggage somewhere and settle for a bit. But we're all pretty tired and sore. So pray for energy and vision, please. Jinja is beautiful. Pastor Paul met us last night. It's always good to see his warm smile, and he's so excited we're here. We're visiting the Psalm Ten orphanage today. I've got my camera charged, because I know that's gonna be an experience. I can't wait. We're headed to breakfast now. I think we figured out how to post pictures, so I'll try to have some before tomorrow. Please continue to pray as we visit the Psalm Ten house and finally go to Kakira where we'll be ministering the rest of the trip. We've all got some preparation for the conference which technically starts tomorrow. I'm excited to worship with African brothers tomorrow. I think we're all a little antsy. Sore and tired, but antsy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We're Here!

After nearly 30 hours of traveling and about 4 to 5 hours of sleep, we finally landed in Entebbe, Uganda! Although pretty exhausted, we're all excited to be here and we're anxious to see what God is about to do! Everyone is healthy and in good spirits. The flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe was so much fun. It was fun to see all the different nationalities on the plane, all the lovely african sweet and outgoing. We arrived at our hotel, right on the shores of Lake Victoria, about 9pm Wednesday night (africa time). In case anyone's wondering, Uganda is ten hours ahead of California.

The night weather here is nice and humid with constant lightning in the distance. Beautiful. Step outside the hotel and all you hear are frogs, locusts and monkeys. It's beautiful. The plan for the next couple of days is to travel up north where we will embark on a mini safari, sleeping out in tents, right in the middle of lion country! Wives...we can all hear you now. Know that we're really excited to just unwind a little and grow closer as a team before the conference begins in Kakira on Sunday.

Well, that's about it for now. Keep checking back for more posts. I'll be posting blogs as much as possible. It's hard to tell when we'll have internet access. And pictures will follow soon enough! Thanks to all of you who have supported this mission and are so plugged into what God is doing here in the heart of Africa. I've been reminded lately that the true problem of man isn't social, or moral, or political, or even economic. The problem of man is SPIRITUAL. And by equipping the pastors so that they can better equip their congregations, we are addressing the TRUE need. Please pray for power and relevance for each of us, and pray that God will give us soft, humble hearts as we minister, encourage and teach! We've got a lot to learn here, and I'm so excited!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Please be in prayer for us as we travel. Here is a copy of our travel itenerary:

DEPART April 14 at 9:10 am from LAX to Houston
Arrive in Houston 2:26 pm

DEPART Houston at 3:40 pm to Amsterdam
Arrive in Amsterdam, Netherlands April 15 at 8:20 am (11:20 pm CA time on Apr 14)

DEPART Amsterdam at 11:10 am (2:10 am CA time) to Entebbe
Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda April 15 at 8:15 pm (10:15 am CA time)

On our way home---

DEPART April 28 at 10:20 pm (12:20 pm CA time) to Amsterdam
Arrive in Amsterdam, Netherlands April 29 at 5:50 am (8:50 pm CA time Apr 28)

DEPART Amsterdam at 10:10 am (1:10 am CA time) to Houston
Arrive in Houston 1:30 pm (11:30 am CA time)

DEPART Houston 3:45 pm (1:45 pm CA time) to LAX
Arrive LAX April 29 at 5:20 pm