Two weeks and counting!

I leave for Andros in 12 days, but the team gets there August 10, two weeks from tomorrow. I’m so excited! Our meeting went really well, and I think the team is really motivated to really show the love of Jesus to the kids every single day of the camp. I know we haven’t done anything in Andros before, so I don’t have any idea how it will go, but going through pictures from my last Uganda trip (Feb 2013) with a friend really brought the excitement to the forefront for me. We are starting what I believe will be a long-term relationship with these kids and on this island, and I’m really excited to see where God is going to take it. (If you want to help with this camp and with our trip to Uganda, please visit GoFundMe here!)

I know Andros and Uganda are very different in a lot of ways, so I’m trying very hard not to build up preconceived ideas about how it will go and how the kids will respond/react. The kids in Uganda (as well as all the ladies!) absolutely LOVE Project Friendship. It’s a touchstone for both sides. Will the kids in Uganda feel that? Will they understand the significance behind those colorful bands of thread? I don’t know, but I hope so. I hope they will get the love behind the project.

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I hope that the message, Are You Enough?, resonates with them. I hope that it plants seeds for the future, on this island that is so in need of hope. Our theme at the basketball camp in 2011 was Life is Fair, during which we compared God’s sense of fair to man’s. Hint: NOT THE SAME! Our goal is to listen to the Holy Spirit in order to meet the kids at their place of need, to plant seeds that will help them hear the Lord as they grow and mature. It’s all we can do – the rest is up to Him!

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Here are some photos from the basketball camp – please pray with me that the joy we see on these faces will be the same joy we will see in Andros in a little over two weeks!

IMG_6847 IMG_7248 zeke with dexter the whole camp balls up me with a gang Amanda and Precious IMG_6018 IMG_5963 IMG_6393 IMG_6619 IMG_7080

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Are you enough?

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That’s the theme of our youth camp in Andros next month. ARE YOU ENOUGH?

I think this is something we all struggle with. Being a disappointment to someone – or worse, to God. Not being smart enough, pretty enough, athletic enough, funny enough, patient enough, quiet enough, loud enough, faithful enough, disciplined enough… You can fill in your own word.

For the children of Andros (and any other third world country), there is never enough. When you are grindingly poor, when there are no jobs, when you and your parents work long hours just to get by, it’s certainly hard to imagine that you can do anything for God. You don’t have anything to offer, you may not be educated, and no one even knows you exist outside of your own small community. How can you possibly be enough to be used?

Well, in camp, we’re going to talk about some of the people in the Bible who God used in incredible, powerful, mighty ways, who definitely thought they weren’t enough. Who are they? David. Moses. Esther. Joseph. There are plenty more: Gideon, Aaron,Ruth, Sampson, Jeremiah, Daniel. The list goes on. Our goal is to plant a seed in these children. YOU ARE ENOUGH. With God, all things are possible. You can have a vision and a task from God that can change your family, your community, and even your nation. YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.

In the US, “self-esteem” has risen to a ridiculous height in the pantheon of desireable traits. And all of us are pretty good at pretending we are “all that.” We’ve got it together. We’re invincible. We can handle our first world problems. We’re on it. Most people here don’t believe that, deep down. Most people are scared, worried, depressed, or baffled — they just don’t want to tell you, because then you’ll think they’re weak. (That’s a bad thing in the old US of A… We’re all supposed to be strong and capable, able to be independent and get by on our own.)

In third world countries, where real, third world problems mean that you may not eat even once a day, where you most likely have no power, when your “bathroom” is the ditch outside your door or a public toilet ten minutes away, where you go through garbage for scraps to eat or sell, people know they’re weak. They know that their government or their local council or maybe the church or school are the ones with power. That’s where you can eat, where they have a toilet, where the power is on. They know they’re not enough, in the world’s eyes. How can they be? They’re walking around in torn clothing that any first world person wouldn’t be caught dead in, in mismatched, ill-fitting shoes, with a belly always rumbling and cramping from hunger.

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To God, they are enough. In fact, in many ways, they’re ahead of us, because they already are humble. They already know they’re weak. They already know that they must rely on others for virtually everything. And if they’re Christians, they know they must rely on Him. Their difficulty is that no one tells them. No one says, “You’re enough! You can do anything God gives you a vision for. ANYTHING.” No one gives them hope, affirms their vision, or tells them that they really can get out of the slums and become whatever God tells them to be.

So we’re going to. We’re going to plant that seed. We’re going to tell them that they have value. That they have within them the ability to change the world. That they are enough to God, and that’s enough.

Pray with us as we plan and prepare our own hearts to share this truly life-changing vision with the kids of Andros. And on the way, that we’ll come to believe it for ourselves, as well!

Making lots of progress!

Now that the Youth Camp is firmly in the hands of my program director, I turned my sites to the Uganda trip. I began to panic a little bit, because Zeke leaves on August 21, and that is really not that far away! I’ve made an appointment with the travel nurse for both of us to get our typhoid updated (every 2 years…yay) and get our malaria prescriptions. That’s going to cost a pretty penny for Zeke’s long trip, but it can’t be helped. We’ve seen many people with malaria… No, thank you. (And don’t say, “They can treat it right away!” because I don’t even want 1 day of it!)

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I’ve made a tentative schedule, pending approval from our Ugandan partners, and arranged the transportation with Emmanuel Gabula, transport specialist extraordinaire. Here’s the tentative:

Zeke will go to Ray of Hope to work with the Haven boys on 3 Saturdays. This is going to be great, as the first Saturday will be the first one they’re out of school for the term, and the other two will be during the break, when they don’t have much to do.

Haven boys getting ready to dance for us

Haven boys getting ready to dance for us

I’m going on a quick day trip to Jinja on the day after I arrive for a friend’s wedding. No work that day (I may not even remember it, thanks to jet lag!).

Rinty and me, February, 2013

Rinty and me, February, 2013

September 16, 17, 19, and 20, I’ll be at Ray of Hope, going into the Namuwongo community, visiting our ladies, seeing the kids, and making the usual rounds. Hopefully it won’t be as hot as it was in February! Or raining. Rain plus slums isn’t a pretty picture.

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September 22 we’re going to head to Jinja. We’ll hopefully spend a night in Bukaleba at the Arise Africa babies home, and we’ll visit with hospice. I don’t have the time to go out in the field with them this trip, but we’ll spend half a day at the morning meeting and in the office. I was hoping to get to Tororo, but I don’t think we can this time – the trip is just too short.

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Friday, September 27, I’ll be back at Ray of Hope for a planning meeting. We try to look at the budget, evaluate the programs and see if we need to tweak anything, brainstorm some new craft ideas for the ladies (I actually have a great idea this time, so I’m excited to share it!).

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Saturday, September 28 is the Project Friendship party, always the highlight of the trip. Nesco will be catering it, of course, and we might use holi powder (what they use in the color run) with the kids. We’re going to do it in Andros next month, so I’ll see how that goes before deciding for sure. But it’ll be a party, at any rate, with friendship bracelets and tee shirts and food and dancing and speeches. I’m just super, super excited about it — it’s so great to see all our ROH friends (all 125 or so of them!) in one place before we leave.

Thank God for the tent!

Thank God for the tent!

 

 

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delicious lunch!

delicious lunch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 1 we leave! See how fast that is?? So barring any needed changes by Ray of Hope, Arise Africa or Hospice Jinja, that’s the itinerary. I know it’ll be here before I know it — the Andros trip is so soon!! Please pray for us, for safe travels but most especially that we would accomplish everything that God has set for us to do!

OHHHH – and HOPEFULLY (praying, fingers and toes crossed), the Luganda Bibles will be ready before Zeke goes, and he can take a box, and then I can take 2 more!

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Youth camp is a month from today!!

I just realized today is July 12. Our Andros Youth Camp in Mastic Point starts on August 12! I can’t believe how fast time is flying.

Here’s where we are so far:

Ryan and I met for lunch this week to get the final daily schedule figured out, as well as hone in on our theme of “Are You Enough?”

I ordered 15 pounds of holi powder, which is what they use in the color run. I’m so excited to do this on the last day!

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The camp tees for the kids have been ordered, and I ended up with a price of $6.10/ea which includes set-up, screenprinting, and shipping! That was a godsend!

Staff tees have also been ordered. Those were a bit more because I got a higher quality, but they still came it at under $10/ea.

We have confirmed 50 kids for the camp!

We have a team meeting on Sunday, July 21st, and by then the program will be set and we’ll hand out assignments. After that, we’ll have a “packing party,” and then… We’re off!

If you’d like to donate for balls, tees, prizes, craft supplies and other necessary items for the camp, please go to our Go Fund Me page. It’s tax deductible, and 100% (minus the small fee from Go Fund Me) goes towards our work.