Sunday, April 28, 2019

Preparing for the Wedding

We're counting down the days before we leave for Uganda to take part in a very exciting occasion.  Edwin and Precious will finally make their special day a reality by getting married in May.  Because of the deaths in Precious's family and situations at the Home of Angels that needed attention, they have had to wait longer than expected.  Finally, everything is set and our cameras are ready to take pictures to share with you soon.

This blog will be more about the Canadian side of things.  It's not been easy to take pictures in the torrential rains they've been having near our home and we thought it would be fun for a chance to read about the amazing people who are helping Home of Angels from this side of the world and from Hong Kong.

We are so grateful to those who continue to support us.  You will never truly understand the impact you have on these children and their lives.  If anyone would like to sponsor a child, please let me know and I will set this up for you.  Costs are rising in Uganda, as they are all over the world, and we need to provide them with three meals a day, medical, school fees and living items.  To meet these financial needs, it's necessary to find 5 sponsors per child.  Please pray for these children as they continue to grow into wonderful adults and who will, in turn, help others as you have helped them.

Edwin and the children were blessed to receive guests for a day in early March.  Vic Weins from "Multiply" and Pastor Robert from Uganda visited for the day, taking in all the sites of our community, praying over the poor and enjoying the children.  I was able to join them by Skype in the evening at the children's praise and worship gathering before bed and saw how happy they were with their guests visiting.

Thanks Joweli, I almost forgot to pack the soccer ball pump

Once again our "banana bread manager" invited us to have a fundraiser in his store in North Vancouver.  It was fun to have his daughter Lauren help along with Linda Aylesworth and her friend Iza.  Between both Lauren and I  baking, we sold many loaves and honestly, between the three of them and the banana, we sold out in hours.

I hardly had to do a thing.

OK, this is something I have to explain.  I'm holding a card in my hand.  So, this man comes in, buys 2 loaves, tells us to hold them and he'll be back in 15 minutes.  He comes back, pays for the bread and hands me a card.  I am not to open it until he leaves.

I'm still laughing.....

We all laughed and figured out that he was a well-known cartoonist.  Since then, he has sent me a cartoon of a banana snake and a banana bird and has offered to help me with a project I need to have done for the children.  The blessings just keep coming.  Thanks, Graham.

A little background!  In our community, we have approximately 20 deaths a month due to malaria.   To receive a test at the hospital, it costs around $7.00 USD but the people don't have that kind of money.  They can't afford a test and eventually, malaria develops into stage 4 which is the brain.  They die.

Also, burn victims.  We have many situations of both children and adults being burnt with hot water.  I bring Polysporin and Ozonol with lots of bandages but Edwin keeps running out.  Why??  Because they call Uncle Edwin for help.  They can't afford a doctor to do it.  He literally bandages them in our grass hut and sends them home, one after the other.

Our dear friends in Hong Kong wanted to help Edwin by donating enough money to set up a house where we could provide help by testing for malaria and treating burn victims.  It will be called the "AID House" and help our children and the community medically.  This funding will also include hiring a nurse that will live there full time. It brings tears to my eyes to know that there is still so much good in this broken world.  Thank you, Thomas and Tom.

Here is Uncle Edwin treating a man who worked in a factory and the pipes exploded, burning him.  He was in so much pain that Edwin heard him crying from his mud hut in the morning and brought him home to help treat his wounds.

On a happier note, Desire and Hope came home from boarding school on their holidays to be greeted by their brothers and sisters.  Holidays are special.  Many children go home to families with a mom and dad, but our two girls go home to brothers and sisters who call our Home of Angels, their family.

Global warming is everywhere.  The problem is, in our community, they've never heard of it.  The torrential rainstorm that happened a few days ago left over 500 people homeless and there were 19 deaths.  This woman in the picture lost 6 of her family, with only her surviving.  Edwin has been attending as many funerals as he could, all the time worrying about the starvation ahead.  We know we can't save everyone but please, if any of you want to pray for these people, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again to everyone that has stood behind this project over the past 10 years and for making a difference in the lives of children who call our Home of Angels their home.  We know we have been truly blessed and we are excited to share each new story with you in these monthly blogs.

I would also like to thank the people that sent Edwin funds to help build their new home.  I will be bringing both Precious and his cards of thanks home to mail to you.  God bless you for doing that.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Our Angels Journey

Our sweet little angels often speak about the journey in their broken lives encountering highs and lows, joys and sorrows with a lot of heartache and solitude.  They couldn't see the road ahead, so they have had to take it as it comes.  Since they arrived at our Home of Angels, they've never had to face this journey alone.  They've learned that Jesus is always with them and there is nowhere they can go that He is not holding their hand.

There are many things that a person in the Western world would never understand about an orphan in our area.  Every time I've gone back in the past 10 years, there is always something new to learn.  How they have had to eat weeds for most of their lives and that's the reason they cannot learn as quickly as the other child... because their brains haven't developed the same.

Also, a large number of AIDS-related deaths amongst young adults have left behind over a million orphaned children and many of these children have never had the chance to fend for themselves with their parents deceased.  So there are many tragic situations, but in time, you learn to put the heartache aside and try to make a difference in their lives.  Edwin and I can see that happening now.  Yes, we can see the devastation they've had to go through, the bed wetting for years because of trauma, the walking around the compound all night by themselves (always watched by the guard) because they were told that the spirit gods from the smoke of a candle would kill them in their sleep.  But now we  see more and more dry mattresses and the school grades increasing because they are more confident.  Things are changing and we know that God has played a big part in all of this.

From left to right, meet Eddie, Alan, Chloe, and Precious.  I promised the sponsors to get an updated picture of their child and this is a beautiful one of just a few.  I still can't believe how happy they are.

Most people go to the shoe store to get shoes, but for us, we are able to have a man selling shoes come to Home of Angels.  He fits them all individually and makes sure their feet are comfortable.  This is where the book "When Helping Hurts" really makes you understand that Uganda or most other countries have everything we have and we must try and help their economy by purchasing them locally.

Meet Paul, our movie star Yasin in the middle and on the end, Silas.  Our friend Doreen, in Canada, made each boy a shirt at Helping Hands and believe it or not, they are still looking clean and smart. 

A common sight in our area is for young girls to be searching for wood for cooking.  If it's not a 20-liter jerry can of water on their heads, it's surely going to be wood.  The women and children work very hard to survive here.  The men, if any, are elsewhere trying to find work.

Mutesi...our wonderful Mutesi.  Why do bad things always happen over and over to the good people?
A few years ago, she and her son Alex had nowhere to live.  Thanks to Uncle Edwin, he found them a place.  She built her own home out of mud and now, with this last storm, it was torn apart.  Our staff decided to help her to construct a new one.  Mutesi and her son are now safe and dry.

This is Mutesi's water source.  Sula helps her to get water to make the mud.

Sula, James, and Cheeza are helping Mutesi build a house for herself and her son Alex.  We replaced the iron sheets on the roof so that the rains won't come in and she is so very happy.

Our Cheeza started working for us 9 months ago.  At first, he spent day after day picking up little stones and never complained.  I have to tell you that this young man grew up at 6 years old working in a distillery.  He drank alcohol day after day with little food.  The alcohol was his payment.  Over the years, he was the laughing stock of our community.  He had a bath once a year "yes" you heard me right, once a year.   Edwin found him sleeping in a ditch one day, woke him and told him we needed someone to chop our wood.  Would he do it?  Since then, Cheeza has committed himself to Home of Angels.  He recently bought his very first clothes and shoes in the market and is working towards earning enough money for his own mud hut to live in.  We feed him for his work and have called him back every day since.  The community was absolutely shocked at his transformation.  This had never happened before but when God intervenes, wonderful things can happen.  We have proof.

Meet Vic Wiens from MB Missions, now changed to the name "Multiply" and have their office in the same building as Northview church.  Vic visited Home of Angels for one day with Pastor Robert and I was privileged to spend some time on Skype with them along with Edwin and the children at their praise and worship service.  It was an amazing time and the children are still talking about it.  Thanks, Vic and Robert for loving on the children the way you did.  They won't forget you.

Apparently, we've been on the radio twice a week, letting people know about our Morning Star nursery school.  I can just imagine why....this gate.  Edwin showed it to me and all I could think about was "how did he pay for this beautiful gate?"  Well, the answer to that is that Edwin and his friends painted the existing black gate themselves.  Great job!!

Some of my board members and I will be going back to Uganda to attend Edwin's wedding in May.  If you have a sponsored child that you would like to send a letter to, I'd be more than happy to take it for you.

Thanks so much once again for helping these children feel loved and have a chance to make something out of themselves in their future.  We can finally see how excited they are about life 
and you must know that many of you are the reason just for caring and loving them. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Reason to Smile

We all have families.

Some of us are blessed to have families who love and support us.  For others, it can be difficult.  Whatever our family's role in our lives may be, it shapes our identity and teaches us what we know about love, the world and each other.

Our "Angels" have faced the most horrible human conditions possible.  They have lost their families in ways most Westerners couldn't comprehend.

Together with a group of dedicated staff, we have given these children a safe place to live where they can trust the people who care for them.  These children have dreams, wonderful dreams of what they want to be when they grow up.  Even more importantly, they know what they want to be now: a blessing and a force of good in their community.  They have a profound understanding of who Jesus is and with His help, they will fulfill their dreams in life.

True, this grandmother is white and lives in Canada, but to my second family in Africa, I am Jaaja (grandma).  I may only visit a few times a year, but I always feel that a deeper bond has developed within the family each time I return.  Edwin's father has been living at Home of Angels when he isn't in the hospital and the family will even be getting bigger when Edwin and Precious get married in the summer.  They have made plans to live with the children until their home is constructed.

We intended to take pictures of all the children but because the mumps has crept into our compound, we can't show you the little ones who recently contracted it.  Our prayer request to all of you is that these children will beat this disease as they recently did with the measles and chickenpox.  Thank you!

Meet our "Radiant Rachels", two UBC students, who for these past years have devoted their Christmas holidays baking and selling banana bread along with recipes from their own website.  Every fair was unique and decorated to their own taste.  Last year they raised enough to finish building part of our new nursery school and again this year to help supply the necessary equipment to accommodate the students. With almost 4,000 followers, I can see why they sold out.

In our area of Mpumudde and beyond, there is little chance of getting medical help due to poverty.  This child has the mumps and charcoal has been rubbed around the neck with the belief that it will heal her.

Before I show you pictures the children today, I'd like to share a few pictures of the time before they arrived at Home of Angels.  On the top left, we have Paul, Barbara, and Silas.  Eddie is on the right.  Shakira is on the far left bottom with Joanne in the middle and of course our little movie star that was filmed in the documentary "The Human Project", Yasin.  See below...

Meet our new Yasin

From left to right, we have Ratisha, Eddie, Betty, and James.  Eddie in the green shirt has been with us the longest with the other three coming in from the abandoned Agape orphanage.  James, the most recent child has thrown himself right into teaching the little boys their daily chores.  He is so grateful to finally have a permanent home where he is really loved.  Most of his friends that were also abandoned went to the streets.

These 4 little boys also were abandoned from Agape.  Elijah in the green shirt is on the left.  David is in the purple shirt with Yiga or Yahigha as most people call him, with the big smile.  And then we have our little Sam, aka Sambo on the end.

This is Joanne, Tracy, Mariam, Zakia, and Eva.  Tracy in the red shirt was another abandoned child but now is very happy with her new big sisters and family.   She is now officially one of "God's Little Angels" and helps the other children on Sundays to do something nice for the impoverished in our community.

Look at Junior!!!  It was just yesterday that he was the size of his buddies here and now he's a giant at almost 6'.  Sam is in the yellow shirt, Eric, Ivan, Junior, and Frank.  Our official Home of Angels football team.  If I don't remember to bring back soccer balls and a real pump, I might as well give in to old age.

Here we have Shakira on the left with Bridget, Annet, and Lovisa.  Lovisa and Yasin were the two chosen to be in the documentary with Aunty Joy. 

Desire is our first on the left and I can see a sign of mumps on her face.  She looks very different.  Beside her is Barbara (coming in the gate with her 2 brothers at the top), Joweli, our English whiz at 3 years old, Precious, my banana bread helper and at the end is Hope.  Both Hope and Desire will be going back to boarding school as soon as they're cleared of any mumps.  

If you are a sponsor for Alan, Yasin, Silas, Paul, Jimmy or Chloe, they're in bed, but I promise to update you when they're better.

We've reached the 10-year mark and want you to know that without many of you and God in our lives, it wouldn't have been possible.  Thanks again for all you've done to make our Home of Angels such a happy place in the lives of these children.