I’m back from Uganda – Early!

I ended up having to return from Uganda early due to some pressing business issues (not Ten Eighteen). That was really a bummer… I hated missing the visit to Jinja, Bukaleba, and the party yesterday at Ray of Hope. Fortunately my son is still there, so he’s carried out Ten Eighteen’s commitments and done a great job.

While I was there, I had a great time and great visits with many of our ladies. The weather was great — not nearly as hot as the February visit, thank goodness! — and we had many great conversations in the community. Here are some of the highlights, followed by photos of the party at Ray of Hope.

*  LAULA. We helped Laula’s mother last visit with a micro-business grant for selling chapati and cooked goods. She did pretty well until she had Laula, who was born with a club foot. Since then, she’s traveled around the vicinity, looking for a hospital that would perform the surgery. One in Mukono said they would do it free, but the wait was at least until January. With this type of surgery, the earlier you do the procedure, the better the outcome, so she was hoping for something sooner. Entebbe Hospital could do it quickly, but the cost was 100,000 shillings, out of her reach. We were able to leave the fee for the procedure, plus money for transport and food for the family during the three weeks they’d be in hospital, and are eagerly anticipating the good news of a successful surgery.

I had to adjust the exposure so Laula's foot was visible in the dim light.

I had to adjust the exposure so Laula’s foot was visible in the dim light.

* OLIVER. Last visit, we gave a grant to a hard-working woman named Oliver. She has a business selling scrap, and was doing okay — well enough to have a small stall — but she wasn’t making enough for a decent home. She was renting a place that was quite literally over the sewer ditch, and it was terribly hot and dark on top of the smell and health hazards. With a grant, she expanded her stock and has now been able to purchase land and a house not very far from her business. She is so, so happy! And the house is two large rooms, with a barred glass door and plastered walls. Amazing!

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* ROSE. Rose is new to Ray of Hope, but what a lovely spirit she has! It is now rainy season in Kampala, and the Sunday I got there saw torrential rains. Rose and her family had been living in the lower side of Namuwongo, where the buildings all flood with rain water, sewage, and other terrible filth. We saw Rose on Monday; on Sunday she’d moved to a new home because the waters had gotten so high inside her former one, and it was making them all sick (not to mention that their belongings were flooded). That had taken the capital she had for her maize-roasting business, plus she’d borrowed more. (In the slums, you have to pay at least three months rent in advance, which can be 120,000 or more — a ton of money for these families!) After our visit, I left the money for capital for her with Ray of Hope, and we ended up delivering it to her the following day. She was ecstatic!

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We didn’t have the funds this trip to do more grants, but we visited new and old friends and saw how well they are doing. Sometimes, it’s just about relationship, and that’s more than enough!

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My son did the Jinja trip, and spent the night at the babies home in Bukaleba. He has always loved it there, and has such a heart for the kids. These two are among our sponsored children. Marvin, on the left, is more than twice as old as Matthew, but was severely malnourished as a baby and has struggled with developmental delays and illnesses. He’s doing really well now, though, for which we are so thankful! Matthew was found in a trash can on the day of his birth, covered with trash to make him invisible. He weighed about 5lb. We were in Jinja that day, and another newborn, Jacob, was also found, abandoned in the market. He’s doing well, but he’s a very solemn little guy!

Zeke with Marvin and Matthew

Yesterday was the Ray of Hope/Project Friendship party. Pictures are starting to trickle in, so I’ll share the few I have so far. My son said the party went really well, and several of the young men that we sponsor who chat with me on Facebook have already let me know how much fun it was. I HATED to miss it!!

Aisha ROH party Emily Agnes ROH party Caroline Doreen ROH party little ones ROH party Edmond Francis ROH party Christine ROH party Keren ROH party Zeke at ROH party Edmond birthday ROH party

I’ll have some more pictures of the party, at least when my son gets home. A photographer friend was there and took tons of photos. I can’t wait to see them!

So that’s the trip! If you would like to contribute to Ten Eighteen by becoming a sponsor or making a one-time gift, please go to our GoFundMe site. We would love to have you partner with us!

Greetings from the Bahamas!

I’m here! Well, I’m here as in “in country.” I’m in Nassau until after lunch today, hopefully to meet with the attorney or her assistants this morning and get the final info on what we need to do to get our nonprofit registered here. I find that, in places like Uganda and the Bahamas, face-to-face is the only way (literally!) to get anything done! So I’m calling them again promptly at 9am, and hoping to catch a cab for Chancellors Chambers soon afterwards. Meanwhile, the sunrise here this morning was stunning:

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I have had some really amazing divine appointments on the trip so far. First, the man that sat next to me from Atlanta to Nassau lives in Freeport, and gave me not only a great place to go on Wednesdays in Freeport for a fish fry (very good information indeed since we’ll be there in November!), but also the name of a wealthy man here in Nassau who is very generous, especially to local health-related causes. If I can get a meeting with him, he may be the solution to the hospice funding. That’s huge!

Then, I met the guys from the Hampton University basketball team, who are here for a tournament. They are just super guys to a man, and they all signed a tee shirt for me to give away at the camp. I think it will mean a lot to the kids that a college basketball team took the time to encourage them. (A couple of the guys – who shall remain nameless – said they’d rather do the camp than the tournament!)  I’ll be cheering for Hampton from now on – I may even have to get a tee shirt for game days!

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Then, when I was down here in the lobby using the internet (theoretically I have it in the room, but in actuality, not so much), I met two men who are here for a Christian converence. One lives in Wrightsville Beach and seemed very interested in Ten Eighteen. He asked me to slide a card under his door (he was headed back to the conference’s evening session and I didn’t have my purse). The other man is involved with the ministry putting on the conference. He wrote down the website address and also seemed interested. So you never know how those connections will bear fruit, but it was great to chat with them, and they are praying for the camp.

And THEN… Yep, there’s more! … While I was at the restaurant where the team was signing the shirt, a guy came over to the team who, it turns out, coached the high school coach of three of the guys. Byron Dinkins, who the man had coached in Germany, went on to play in the NBA with the Rockets. Anyway, this man is very involved with some non-profits in the sports world, including one that’s in 60 countries (and 20 of them in places like Iraq!). He was also very interested in Ten Eighteen and took my card. He thinks he can hook me up with some of his contacts.

That was all between 2:30 and 8:00 yesterday…. Whew!  The moral of the story? Go where God sends you. Listen. when he prompts you to speak to someone, do it (I initiated the conversations with the basketball team and with the guys here for the conference). You may feel stupid (or crazy). But you just don’t know what will come of it! The Holy Spirit doesn’t waste anything. These contacts may or may not come out like we’re all thinking they will in the natural. But those contacts were all for reason, and I’m just excited to see how it all turns out.

So I’m off to Andros after lunch. I may or may not have internet (I’d say it’s 50/50 at best.) If you don’t hear from me for awhile, that’s why. I hope you will, though – I hope we have internet and I can post updates and pictures from the camp all throughout the week.

We covet your prayers. God has sent me here – sent this team to this place for this time. Please pray that we will make the most of every single opportunity He sends our way, not matter how strange it may seem at the time. My prayer for this team, especially, is that they will begin to see that following the Holy Spirit is “a wild goose chase” (to quote Mark Batterson and his wonderful book by the same name), and that they will begin to be open to true Kingdom life.

Bye for now!

god is so amazing

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!

Luganda-Bible

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.

What does “short term missions” mean to Ten Eighteen?

Basketball camp staff 2011

I guess because summer is upon us and a lot of people are going on short term missions trips, there have been a lot of articles and blogs around the web on what short terms missions are for. I wrote this article about a blog post that I strongly disagree with, and posted this link on the Ten Eighteen Facebook page to one I strong agree with. Ten Eighteen is about to take it’s second group for a short term missions trip, so I thought I’d give an explanation of our mission and vision for those who might not have heard me talk about it.

me with a gang

Ten Eighteen is not an organization that specializes in short term missions trips.  We did one team trip in August of 2011 to do a basketball camp in Nsambya for 44 kids from Ray of Hope. To date, that’s our only team trip.

Why? From our founding, Ten Eighteen has been about relationships. We never intended to have a “one and done” type of a ministry. We have returned to Uganda 6 times since the original visit (or, more accurately 8, since my daughter went twice by herself). On each trip, we stick with our mission, which is to continue to build relationships with the people we have met and work with there. We do not promote an atmosphere of hand-outs, which is very easily done when you are going on a one-time, short term trip. It feels good to give kids stuff, to see them smile… But in most cases, that does more harm than good. It fosters an entitlement/welfare mentality, rather than one where self-reliance is the goal.

Agnes, May 2012

Agnes, May 2012

So why not big teams? I have been able to go 7 times. I have been able to get to know the ladies of Nawezakana, the kids of Ray of Hope and Nesco, the children at the babies home, the staff of hospice. We email, we Facebook, we even Tweet. My daughter has received a dozen or more wonderful, loving, heartfelt messages of congratulations on her upcoming marriage from her Ugandan friends. Taking teams takes time. Group mentalities are what they are – when you are with a group of people you know, you naturally talk to those people. You move as a big blob through the environment, making it difficult for people to break in and talk to you.  That doesn’t help our goal of relationship.

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Well then, why do teams at all? First and foremost, because on both occasions, God has been very clear about doing it. The basketball camp was God’s idea, and the camp went great. We had a dozen Ugandan volunteers along with our six, and the kids had a blast. This youth camp is the same. When we were in Andros over Easter, God gave me a very clear vision of this camp. One way to know an idea is from God is if it’s something that isn’t at all in your wheelhouse. These camps aren’t. I’m an introvert that doesn’t love large groups. I find being responsible for groups stressful. I enjoy one-on-one interaction. But I am ridiculously excited about this team and this camp, and that’s how I know it’s a God thing.

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Shouldn’t you do one every year, if they go so well? The typical “church” answer would be, “Of course!” We tend to try to institutionalize anything that is successful once. We were asked when we were doing another basketball camp, and my answer was (and remains), “When God tells me to do it.” He hasn’t yet. The same will be true of this youth camp in Andros in August. No matter how well it goes, unless God tells me to, I will not start planning “Youth Camp 2014” as soon as we get home. There are times and seasons for everything. Success doesn’t mean you must duplicate. Obedience is what God’s after. Those are the principles on which we operate.

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So what’s in it for me? Well… maybe nothing except a new stamp in your passport. You might get sick. You might be hot and miserable. You might find a bunch of kids annoying. You might hate the food. You might hate being with a group of people for a week. You might not cope well with a lack of power, water, or internet. If you’re going because there’s something in it for you, PLEASE reconsider spending your money (or other people’s donations). If God calls you to a missions trip, it’s for the people you’ll be serving. Your lack of ability to cope, eat, sleep, or be content and happy will be more than made up for by God’s… If you let it. Take one week (or however long your trip is), put yourself aside, and serve others to the best of your ability. Hug, laugh, talk, and show His love. Even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you’re grumpy. Give to whoever He called you to what He has given to you – uncompromising, unequivocal, unconditional love.

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My family and I go to Uganda, and now Andros, as an ongoing calling. We don’t consider what we do “short term missions” even though we’re there between 2-4 weeks at a time. We are visiting friends. We are showing God’s love in the ways that He opens up for us. Maybe thinking about your short term trip in this same way will help you keep your focus on what’s ultimately important: HIM.

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A meeting and an evacuation

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We had our first meeting for the Andros missions trip today, and it was going great… Until a fireman knocked on the door and told us we had to evacuate because there was a broken gas line up the street! The ended things quickly!

We did get our information covered, and I showed a slideshow, which you can see here as a video.

As it turned out, we didn’t totally evacuate. We got the dog out right away, and then my son and I spent 15 min looking for the cat. By the time we got her into her carrier, the gas smell was gone and my husband was standing in road talking to a neighbor. The police and firemen didn’t ask us to leave, so we put the animals in the car and hung out in the yard. Apparently getting blown up in the yard would have been preferable to getting blown up in the house…!  Anyway, although there were more than a half dozen vehicles with flashing lights in the street, it was over in less than an hour from start to finish and all is well.

With the much excitement at the meeting, just think how exciting the trip will be!

Project Friendship Call to Action

I just totalled up the number of frienship bracelets we’re going to need between the Andros trip in August and the Uganda trip in September, and realized it is between 500-600. Then I had a heart attack…

If you are already part of Project Friendship and can commit to making bracelets, please let me know. If you’re not and want to be, ditto. And if you are in some group that would love to do this project — Bible study, Sunday school, youth group, etc — DITTO. We need all the help we can get!

Thanks so much for your support!

Project Friendship bracelets and tees at the basketball camp reunion party

Project Friendship bracelets and tees at the basketball camp reunion party

Project Friendship!

Project Friendship!

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Project Friendship!

Project Friendship!

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Just take one! yeah… that didn’t happen!

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Age is no barrier – EVERYONE loves the friendship bracelets!

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