Friday, June 18, 2021

Act or Perish

 Can you imagine?  With a population of 48,000,000 people in Uganda, only 175,000 COVID-19 shots from France and 100,000 shots from India have been donated too date.

The pandemic is increasing in 10 African countries, Uganda being one of them with a spike of 30% in the past week.  Three major television stations had a joint news bulletin with the theme "Act or Perish" and today, President Museveni announced to the nation revising ALL the directives spoken on June 6th.

I won't go into everything but the main new restriction is no more cross boundary movement of people on foot, public transport or private vehicles.  Everyone must stay where they are until further notice.  

I've written a blog a month for twelve years and this one is the most difficult.  I'm realizing, sitting here in my comfortable home, what this means.  The meaning behind this announcement is translated to thousands of people unemployed with no immediate way to provide for their families.  A health care crisis of this country's hospitals and clinics remain ill equipped to handle plus no oxygen left in hospitals to help the dying.  Today, it was announced that if you become sick, you stay home.  

Presently, there are 100's arriving at our gate daily begging for anything to eat.  As much as it breaks Edwin and Precious' heart, they cannot help due to word spreading.  I want to let you know how proud I am of Edwin.  As they are crying for food at the gate, if Edwin goes out to talk to them calmly and explain we have nothing to spare, they thank him and they leave quietly. 

Our story is only one of many and we realize this.  Precious and Pastor Richard tried so hard to go to the the many villages requesting them to bring Bibles.  These villages were where the soldiers delivered food in the latest famine and told them it was a gift from Jesus.  We had started our church and Edwin figures there would be 1,000 people from our community wanting to attend. Precious used her own finances to start building a Bible School where she and others could teach the people right on our property.  This was our dream for Home of Angels.  Please pray it comes to fruition and we will be able to help as many people as we can before it's too late.

In the meantime, I do have a few pictures to share with you.  In all this sadness, we want to share some happy times also.



The children are growing so fast that I hardly recognize them, especially now in masks.  They are vigelent about wearing them and understand the seriousness of COVID-19.




We'd like to introduce you to Aunty Betty, our newest employee.  She has had many years experience working for Amani Baby Cottage in Jinja until our friends Danyne and Serg left Uganda.  




Ptarmigan primary school is ready to be painted when everything opens up again.  They are currently deciding on a colour that will withstand the red dirt.  




When the soldiers delivered food in the famine a few months ago, they told the people in these poor villages that the food was from Jesus.  Weeks later, the village leaders started calling requesting we bring Bibles to their villages.  On this particular day, 48 out of 60 people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. You might be asking yourself, how can poor people like this dress so well?  If you go to church anywhere, you dress the best you can, even if it means you borrow clothes or shoes.





Here we have a picture of our own church being started.  Today, the foundation is down and the walls
will be going up as soon as we can start working again.  You can also see the concrete wall in the distance going up.




Under very sad circumstances, Precious had some money come into her possession.  She decided to build her dream and that was a Bible School.  They didn't tell me until I discovered a building going up in the distance of the school and called them on it.  Oh my, I destroyed my own surprise.  Precious is an amazing team partner, not only in marriage but in the operations also.  She works with Pastor Richard in the villages and really has a control with what's happening at our Home of Angels and with the children.  





I'd like to introduce you to our "Love Project"!  Precious is again handling all details allowing Edwin to work on the building projects.  A few years ago when I was there, 32 families with mentally and physically challenged children came for a meeting in our grass hut. We wanted to help them and with
the help of Edwin's friends, they were able to grow food on their land for one year.  Of course over the past few years, these children have grown and Mamas can't carry them anymore, so we got involved again. Today, this group of women and one man have grown in size to 81 families and Precious has established a committee with a board of which she is the head.  This won't be a bandage effect, but a way for them to be self-sufficient from now on.  They are learning with their children at their side to be able to raise money for food and survive as a community together.






We again have been truly blessed and have partnered with Galcom International in Ontario.  They have developed a solar, audible, very lightweight Bible in many languages, one of them being Lugandan.  I let Edwin listen to it online and he was amazed at how clear it was and that for the people in the bush he could visualize 20-30 people sitting under a mango tree listening together.  As soon as cargo is again allowed into Uganda, we will have many on board one of those planes.  Thank you Galcom for helping us help others in the Busoga Kingdom.


Believe me when I tell you that you are all in our prayers.  So many of you have followed our story for 12 years, sponsored children and helped us in huge ways that we could never have handled ourselves. This story is not about Banana Bread Barb, Edwin and Precious.  This is about God and how He used this old lady and a loaf of bread.  Who would have ever dreamt it would have come this far?  And I'm not joking about the "old" part.  Thanks everyone. 💝




Friday, April 23, 2021

Food from Jesus

I want to apologize for not sending out our monthly blog through this "new norm" we're all going through.

These are unprecedented times for everyone worldwide and we are all experiencing something that is very difficult and unpredictable. Besides the COVID-19, Uganda also had an election that turned out to be quite violent and most people evacuated back to their villages.  If you remember, at that same time, some of you had helped raised funds to feed 6,000 families and the army helped Edwin distribute it.  He had explained to the soldiers to tell them that this food was from Jesus. They did and with a smile on their faces.  

Even though these were terrible times for many, it was very obvious that God had His hand in it.  We were able to hire a pastor from YWAM (Youth With a Mission) and he is currently working with us.  Village leaders were calling Edwin asking for our pastor to come to these villages to explain who this Jesus was that gave them the food.  One particular leader called last week and asked Edwin if he could bring 60 bibles.  Precious and Pastor Richard went together and at the end of the day, 46 people out of the 60 had given their lives to Christ. This is a start of great things to come and we are so excited to share with you.


Like I said before, there was really nothing I could have shared with you in a recent blog since we had very little communication and all technology had been shut down.  The one thing our big family in Uganda wanted to share with you was their gratefulness for giving them a real family, a home and your love.  Look at the difference you made in their lives...from coming into Home of Angels so scared, malnourished and dirty to these happy faces.  This was their way of saying thanks to all of you.




The rains came hard this rainy season and our grass hut roof was destroyed.  Edwin found some better grass this time and it's currently being dried.  



In the process of repair




Remember our Morning Star nursery school?  After the election was through, the President made a new regulation that the children in nursery schools must be separate from the older kids.  We had just finished building our Ptarmigan primary school on the same property so we had to move elsewhere. Thanks to the wonderful people at Ptarmigan who have once again helped us build another school. 

This building will be made into apartments for whatever will come in the future.  Hope and Desire will be taking a six month course for teaching Sunday school at YWAM and this will give them a place to live until the church is built.




The crew has started to build Ptarmigan nursery school on the piece of property where we are going to build the church.  See below.

 


As school had been delayed for the nursery children until the end of July, we decided to build only one floor now.  This will be big enough for our children.  They will make a slab roof instead of the normal iron sheets so that when time allows, another level can be added.  The rules have also changed to one desk per child along with only 15 students per room.



We thought we would use chain link fencing to encase the property, but we are advised by officials that because of street children stealing the links to sell to the scrap metal companies for food and glue, it would be unwise.  To make the blocks was the only other way to build a wall.  Edwin's brother was kind enough to lend us the machines to make them and these boys made 6,500 in 2 weeks.  The next step will be to construct the actual wall.  



We were able to purchase Luganda bibles both in book form and solar audible.  We have also been advised from YWAM and the local radio station that we should be donating some of them to churches that can't afford to purchase them.  The parishioners would use them in the service, leaving them behind when they leave.



This is where Pastor Richard and Precious were requested to come last week. (end right)  This church wasn't deep in the bush where so many of them are, but all the same, these people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and possibly more will want the same in the future.



You can visually see our three compounds on Google Earth.  We have the home compound that we worked construction for the first 4 years.  The middle compound that now holds Ptarmigan primary school and the playground and the newest compound where the current nursery school is being built and our dream of a church.  

When Edwin started clearing the home compound in 2009, there were only 3 homes around us.  The rest was bush. Now, because of HOA, many have moved here and we include everyone into our life.  They were able to come to us for water; if injured, Edwin would wrap their wounds; we use only community people to work for us; we feed the widows and the poor and of course, take the children who have no one.  Our children have their own "God's Little Angels Ministry" and help a widow every Sunday.   (before the pandemic).  

Our dream now is to build a church on this property.  When I think back to praise and worship that the  children have every night before bed and how many people would line the wall outside listening.  Also, playing the Jesus video in the grass hut on Saturday night. We were only able to have one hundred people inside, so again, many outside listening.  How wonderful would it be to have a place for them?  

If anyone would like to help us build a structure that we could call their church, we would be so grateful.  Please contact me at barb@jaajashomeofangels.com if you'd like to help us.  Thanks.

Please be safe in these uneasy times and God bless all of you.




Monday, February 1, 2021

Overcoming Challenges


Since the pandemic first began spreading in early 2020, its changed life for everyone worldwide.  All of us are definitely overcoming many challenges.  We're separated from extended family and friends and learning new ways to cope with the isolation, stress, and anxiety that's come with this new normal.  The constant barrage of media news and knowledge can dominate our minds and it becomes increasingly difficult to find time to be quiet, to think and to pray. Statistics in Uganda are much better than ours.  They have had 318 known deaths since the start of COVID-19.

We recently evacuated the children to Edwin's family's home in Malindi village.  With the election violence around us, we felt it was important for the kid's safety. Edwin loaded the children into the school bus, and David, his brother followed in the van with bedding and essentials.  As you can see by these pictures, this was probably the most exciting time in their lives.  They had no knowledge of what was happening around them so besides the fact they were actually going on a real bus for the first time and a trip to boot...this was even more exciting than a soda pop. Can you imagine? 

Besides The COVID-19 and restrictions involved, plus the elections that were held recently, the country has been relatively locked down.  I've had little communication with Edwin this past month but I do know the children are safe and having fun playing on 40 acres in the village.  

Many of you are emailing me to ask if we are in trouble and where is the monthly blog?  Thanks for caring and know that everything is going to be just fine.  We just need a little time for the dust to settle from the election.  

In the meantime, here are some pictures to make you smile.




Thank you Lord for what you have done for these little munchkins.  They're so happy, healthy and full of love for each other.  This is the reason we don't call ourselves an orphanage....We are one big family.!!





First of all, I'd better explain this sign on the bus. Before evacuation, the company that made the sign had made a template in plastic.  This was it.  All the letters weren't on yet and there were errors, but all will be fixed when they return.  




Can you imagine being the bus driver (Edwin) and driving many hours listening to this excitement?





We want to thank everyone who donated towards the Bibles. These are in English, Lusoga and Luganda, but the ones previously ordered were solar, audible and Luganda. When everything settles down, Pastor Richard will be heading to the villages that are requesting him.  Why?  When COVID hit and the country was closed down, people in the deep villages had no access to food.  Between Edwin and the village leaders working together and our wonderful donors from Canada, they were able to feed many, many people.  Edwin and David accessed the food and because of the danger of starvation, the armed soldiers distributed it, explaining the food was from Jesus.  The big question for them now is....who is this Jesus?





OK, don't get excited.  Remember when we elderly people were kids?  We used to climb trees to pick fruit too.  These are jackfruit and my favourite.  If I ever get the chance to return, I won't be climbing but I'm definitely looking for this tree.




Annette, Joanne, Zakia, Marian and Eva....I'm so happy they have a few more years with us.




I'm thinking Edwin had gone to the market to get these clothes and Mama Precious is distributing them.   The one good thing is, everything is passed down and when they don't fit anyone, out to our neighbours they go.  It's been a year since I was there and the children are growing so quickly.  




Edwin teaching the kids English by singing.




Edwin and I would like you all to understand how much we appreciate what you have done for Home of Angels over the past almost 12 years.  Beginning in 2010, with a request from a person I didn't know, "Edwin" who wanted to feed some garbage dump kids.  He asked me for help!!  Long story short...I sent him some money for rice.  He sent me pictures of the dump and pictures of feeding the children.  I had never been there, but before I knew it, snakes or no snakes, I was on a plane and never looked back.




The local dump where orphans wanted to be called "Angels" 




Edwin asked the Aunties to help him feed the kids.  They did and this picture, I will treasure forever.  This was our beginning.  

Thanks to all of you for standing with us to make a difference in Jinja, Uganda.