Thursday, July 30, 2015

Haiti Round 2: Day 5

What a sweet team God orchestrated to serve on this team!  Each person serving others and sharing Gods love in unique ways.

Today was our last day spending time at the children's home. Over the last few days we have depended greatly on God's provisions, whether worldly things as electricity and air conditioning, or spiritual peace and comfort.  The time we spent with the kids today included a lot of playing ball, jumping rope, playing Uno, singing, crocheting and simply loving on the sweet kids.  
Others have reassured us of how much of a blessing we will have been to the children, however, I have seen that our team has been blessed beyond measure by those in Haiti. 

The best part of today was the worship time with the kids where Jordan played the guitar. The the kids also serenaded our team, then surrounded us with prayer before we left. What a sweet, sweet time! After saying goodbye, we then arrived at the guesthouse and after dinner we had worship time on the front porch with the Vaval family and friends! Kristie sang while Jordan played guitar. What a beautiful time of restoration. During these sweet worship times I have seen a true relationship built with this community.

Yeah God!


Haiti Adult Day 3

We all woke up for our 7:30 breakfast this morning and it was clear that today is the halfway mark, but of course the Lord still did some seriously awesome work. To me, this trip is unique because the bulk of our work is not building things, painting things, or cleaning things, but instead it's all about building relationships. I'm an emotional, touchy-feely, warm fuzzy type of person, so this specific kind of work is completely breaking my heart and revealing the goodness of the Father all at the same time. 

At the end of breakfast, Devin gave a short devotional and challenged us to ask the Lord which individual, unique gift He has given us specifically for this trip. So today I became an internal processor and took quite a few moments to just stop and look around at our group as we served. It was the most beautiful site to see. 

The fruits of the Spirit lesson today at the orphanage was awesome. The kids were so attentive and respectful! They colored their own name sign and decorated it with "fruit" stickers, to remind them of the fruits of the Spirit. One of the boys that I've grown close with just stared at me and smiled as I helped him write his name (Schneider) on his name sign. He doesn't know english at all and yet he looked at me and said I was doing a good job. These kids are changing me and blessing me more than I had imagined and I am praising Jesus for His sweet, intentional work in me this week. 

Today was my first Haitian church experience and I cannot believe how incredibly faithful, prayerful, and worshipful these people are. Not to mention we were all drenched in sweat the whole two hours! The kids also sat in during church today and even they were raising their hands, closing their eyes, and worshipping the Lord. We all smiled when we realized the pastor was speaking on the fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:16-25). God is so good. :) 

Each day on this trip, the Lord has shown us that He is at work here and sometimes it practically brings me to tears. I am usually a pretty anxious person, but the few things I thought would be obstacles on this trip have been completely removed by the Lord: the fear of safety, the fear of sickness, and the fear of language barriers. 

The Lord continues to rejuvenate us each morning so that we can pour out again and again. This is my first ever mission trip and I can't believe I've gotten the opportunity to serve alongside my husband, my sister, my mom, and my cousin! I'm so thankful. 

Also, I love fried plantains. 


Uganda Update Day 300026

Today we started the day by going to Phil's kids house to visit with the children one last time. When we arrived only the secondary kids were there as the primary children were still in school. We had a great time playing with them. Sam was in a group with Regina, Moses, Gabriel, Ruth and several other kids who started out hitting volleyball and ended up playing keep away. The kids were all so excited to have someone playing with them! The joy on their faces was great to see. Samuel, Peter Longoli and I sat around and talked for a while Hannah and a few of the kids threw an American football around. I will say they are better at soccer than football but they were all having so much fun and it was fun watching Hannah (future football star) teach them how to throw the ball. I got to see Scovia today and she looked good though she told me that Susan was sick with Malaria. Phil was in Kampala getting the truck fixed so we didn't get a chance to see him. But we thoroughly enjoyed the time with the kids. Moses wanted to be sure Jen that we told you he was praying for you and he loved you. Judy, Samuel wanted me to tell you that he loves you more than anyone in the whole world. Those two kids are amazing. I really will miss them all when we leave.


I then dropped the girls back at Musana so they could continue with "their" projects (Hannah with the dining room walls and Sam with the sign for Sol Café) and I got back into the car to head to Bulubandi. 

Arriving back at Musana I found Sam in the room sewing letters onto the sign for Sol Café. The final product is great and Patrick at the restaurant loves it. I immediately put on my paint clothes and joined Hannah at the wall. She is still creating remarkable things and relegating me to writing quotes. Today I wrote two – all the while talking to Isaac and several of the other kids. He is such a bright little boy. He kept asking me question after question about everything. He finally said, "I need to know your name". I told him my name was Suebee (Sue is too hard to pronounce) and he said I should have picked another name because that was hard to say. I responded by saying I didn't have a choice, my mother picked the name when I was born. I asked him how he got his name. He grinned really big, and told me his mama picked his too! After about two hours of painting and talking I called it a day and took my first real shower in two days. I can honestly say being clean never felt so good. Then Kyemba came back and off to Sol Café we went for Trivia night. I am proud to say I have a perfect record at that game. I am not so proud to say that my record is perfect in losing!! Andrea shared her story with us of how she came to be at Musana and all the struggles she went through in the first several years to get the school off the ground and running. It is an amazing story and reinforces that God was a part of this plan from the very beginning. It is unbelievable that as a young 20 year old she didn't give up but instead fought every battle and challenge that came her way. Today as she looks back she realizes that there are many things she would do differently in hindsight and is glad she had the guts to realize where they were making mistakes and had the courage to change directions. Acknowledging mistakes and the willingness to make changes is what has made Musana so successful over the years. That and the faith they have and the love they all share for the children and for each other.


So tomorrow is our last day here. Hard to believe this journey is almost over. It has been wonderful! I will miss the people, the countryside, Kyemba, all of Musana and chappati. I will not miss cold showers. I love you all.



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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Preparing to Say Goodbye...

Happy Anniversary to my seester and her husband! It was great to talk to you and hear your voice! I'm looking forward to when we can do that on a regular basis!


We got up early this morning (actually Hannah and Sam woke me up), our second day without water, and after a breakfast of Sarah's delicious eggs we headed back to the dining room to paint. We didn't pass go; we didn't collect our two hundred dollars.  We just collected our paint and got right to work. I finished the verse I started yesterday and wrote another one. Sam painted two new ones and Hannah created a new and wonderful design. Yesterday she was a little stressed that the job wouldn't get finished but after today I think she is feeling a little more confident. What she is designing is absolutely beautiful. The collection of creativity just blows me away. I am in my element just printing verses.


The kids still swarm us at every break they have. They are fascinated by the artwork. Even Gideon came down late this afternoon and painted the tires on his bicycle. Emma helped him (each side of the tires was a different color) though he told me this would just lead to the bicycle being stolen! But Gideon was having so much fun and was so proud of his work! Watching him paint was a very joyous experience! I will be amazed if my camera makes it back to the US in one piece. It now has touches of paint and is covered in orange dirt. The kids all try to grab it after each picture to see what they look like. Then as a group they all break into giggles. I have learned to be quick to take a picture and then to quickly lift the camera over their heads to display each picture! I love these faces! They are all beautiful.


The kids finished their exams today. Vicki, I spoke with both Solomon and Benjamin and told them you were interested in how they did. Both assured me they had done very well and both were happy that you had asked. It seems that every child I talked to feels good about their performance! That speaks so highly for the education they receive at Musana.


As I write this there is the constant sound of hammering in the background. Sam is in the kitchen hammering new fabric onto the sign for Sol Café. We have promised that it will be ready by tomorrow. With painting all day Sam is going to be up late sewing on the letters. She has taken full ownership of this project and she is serious about getting it done. I can't wait to see the final project. We asked Kyemba to go into town for us today to buy small nails. We probably need about 40; what we got was half a kilo! We now have enough nails to give every member of the Roman army their very own!! But we got them at the Ugandan price and not the Mzungu price so we are still ahead of the game! He also brought us chappati!! We were in heaven!


At the end of the day as the wind was blowing in and we were sure a storm was brewing I finished writing the first part of the Shema. There was a group of girls standing around me as I wrote the final word. I decided it was a good time to explain what the words meant. So I told them what we say every week in church that in God's smallest finger is enough power to transform the world. I then showed them how to say the Shema and had them say it with me. It was awesome seeing them raise their pinkie and repeat the words I had just written on the wall. I told them that every time they read those words they would know that God has the power to do anything. 

Tonight is our last dinner at Musana. I can't believe our time is almost over. It seems that we just got here and it is already time to go home. I have loved our time here. It has been the most productive trip I have ever been on both in terms of what we have accomplished and relationally. The projects have certainly helped to form relationships. And the relationships have led to other relationships. I am going to be so sad to head home and leave all these new friends behind. On the other hand, I am anxious to see my family and friends at home and share this trip. The pure joy we have experienced. 


Tomorrow we are heading to Phil's in the morning then I will bring Hannah and Sam back here to paint and I will head back to Bulubandi and Kokombo to finish some things I have started. I am hoping that these two stops don't take very long so I can get back and spend some time painting and with the kids. Tomorrow night is Trivia night at Sol Café. Hannah is putting together questions as I write. Those two young ladies have been incredible on this trip. They have done everything asked of them with pure willingness and have gone above the call of duty every single time. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve alongside them. I am so proud to have taken this trip with them. I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.


Thank you all for your prayers and your thoughts. We couldn't have done this without you. God has blessed us every step of the way.



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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adventures with Sue

I am starting tomorrow's blog tonightbecause I want to make sure I don't forget the excitement we just had. This huge bug got into my room and was flying around the light. Hannah, who is afraid of bugs, came in to save me with her shirt in hand and her toothbrush in her mouth. Next thing I know she is flinging her shirt at the bug and running away. This continued for a number of minutes as I am under the mosquito net fully protected and Sam is saying she will help in any way but has taken out her contacts and can't see a thing. Hannah is flinging away and jumping at every move. Finally the bug lands on the floor and I scoop it up in her shirt. Her next words are, "Don't squish it, I like that shirt". So outside we go, open the shirt up, fling the bug away and run into the room quickly closing the door! It was a good release for all of us! Hannah was a hero and Sam provided good support! Now fully exhausted from the day, we are all going to bed! 

Ok, turns out the bug we were so afraid of Sarah fries and eats for breakfast! She eats our enemy! She has an entire cup full of them ready to eat. I am so glad to have Bill Miller right down the road!!! All I can say is bugs beware. Sarah is on the prowl! She actually came in our room with a whole pot of them tonight and offered a few to us. I am a little embarrassed to say we all politely turned her down! She just smiled and downed another one!

Sam here! Since Hannah and I stayed at Musana painting most of the day, I thought I would add a bit about that for the blog tonight. If it hasn't been mentioned in previous blogs, Hannah has been tasked with painting the entire dining hall…which is very big. So today she managed to get most of the longer walls done. She has separated it into about three sections: a sky full of hot air balloons, two elephants playing with kids, and a sea. The sea hasn't been finished yet, but she has really big plans for that scene! Once she's finished it, I'll write about it and hopefully include a picture. I spent the day helping Hannah by painting the columns between sections and later working on a sign for Musana. At Musana's restaurant, Sol Café, there is a fabric sign they use to hang and sell jewelry made by Musana's ministry. They have asked us to redo it, so today I worked on finishing the fabric letters for the sign and removing the old fabric. All that's left is to attach the new fabric and sew the letters on. Once I finished what I could for the sign, I went back to help Hannah (as best as I could). It was really fun to paint the walls, especially later in the day when school is over. At that point, most of the kids have either gone back home for the day or have gone to play and do other things. A few kids will hang around us while we paint, so Hannah and I let them help us make flowers on the columns and waves in the water. Some kids like to add some paint and then go back to watching us, but a few of the older kids were really into painting. I enjoyed watching them play around with different colors and patterns on the wall; they really had a knack for it! I hope that if it's not already, art becomes something that those kids keep as a hobby, because they seemed to truly enjoy it and took pride in what they made. All in all it was a long, really fun day! 

It was a good day and I feel I was able to wrap up a lot of loose ends. I am so thankful for this trip and the peace I have felt. I know we are serving exactly where we are meant to be. I thank God for his grace in leading us to this place and the joy he has given us on our journey! Kari, you are in my prayers and thoughts. You are beautiful and talented. You are capable of doing anything. I believe in you with all my heart. I can't wait to hear from you… 

May God Bless you all!


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Monday, July 27, 2015

Haiti Round 2: Day 1 & 2

Well, we made it and it is so good to back! Waking up at 2am to be at the airport on time was not ideal, but today, by the grace of God, I feel rested and refreshed. Flying into Port au Prince is always an experience. When looking out of the window at the city, you see nothing but rusted sheet metal roofs and lots of dirt. The airport was crowded  and slightly overwhelming, but our translators take such good care of us. From the airport, we hopped into the tap taps to head to the market to buy a few supplies....primarily water because it is extremely hot! In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm checking to see if the street lights are lit indicating the city power is on! When the street lights are on, our AC works in the room, but as of right's not looking good... so we're preparing for another warm night.  

When we finally made it to the guest house, Francois and her daughters welcomed us with open arms. They are such a precious family. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in order to prepare for our first full day. 

Today (Monday), we started the day off at the museum so we could learn a little more about the history of Haiti. Wow.... the knowledge of where this country has come from is a game changer. After the museum, we went to the top of a mountain to a lookout area where we could see the entire city. It was beautiful!! The tiny houses lining the mountain and the crystal blue water along the coast were breathtaking to see. After we "ooh'd and ahh'd" and took a few pictures, we headed to the orphanage. This was what I was most excited about today. Since my last trip over a year ago, I've been looking forward to seeing two specific girls in the orphanage, Wilna and Kieshna. I searched everywhere for them only to find that their families had come for them and they were no longer in the orphanage. In that moment, I was experiencing such conflicting emotions. I was incredibly sad that they were gone, but so grateful that their families had found them. The rest of the kids were so excited to see us. They have an indescribable joy that is amazing to witness. We played jump rope and soccer most of the time, however there is nothing sweeter than sitting in the dirt with one of those precious kids in your lap. I want to bring them all home! 

We ended the day with a delicious meal prepared by Francois and her girls. After dinner, we spent time worshipping and talking about the days events. I can already see the Lord working in this team and I am so excited to see what He has in store for the next several days. Thank you all so much for your constant prayer. We are so grateful to be here! Stay tuned for more updates!



Hello there friends!

I hope that this blog finds everyone well and happy. 

After a couple days traveling around Iganga dropping off various supplies, going to church, and visiting friends, we were glad to have a day to spend at Musana. Most of my day was filled with staring at a blue wall while I painted it. Another wall of the dining hall is officially finished! This one is covered with clouds, sunbeams, and hot air balloons. I had to explain to the students and staff what a hot air balloon was, because apparently they aren't common in Uganda. Musana had also previously asked us if we could redecorate a bulletin board used for hanging and displaying jewelry for sale in Sol Café. Originally, the sign had cloth words stitched onto it saying Musana Children's Jewelry. This gave off the wrong impression that this jewelry is being sold to support some poor orphans at a home. Musana is not about using pity to try and buy support for their students. It is almost entirely self sufficient with over six hundred students, along with wonderful teachers and staff. They support themselves through a very large farm, Sol Café, a new bakery, and the craft room. Any donations they receive are used to help start up new programs and business ventures like a brand new hospital here in Iganga. The beautiful crafts sold at Sol are made by women in the community who were previously in unstable conditions. Musana seeks to empower these women and everyone else associated with the school including their students and staff. Therefore, the sign will soon be changed to say "Musana Crafts". Sue went into town with our driver Kymba to purchase some navy blue fabric for the sign and pick up some beautiful tie dyed fabric scraps from the women in the craft room. Samantha has been using the scraps to cut out the new letters to be sewn onto the sign. After a busy day, we were all back in our room around six o'clock exhausted. After seven hours of painting, I laid on the floor of our room for a while not even wanting to get up and shower. Thankfully for the sake of Sue and Samantha, I managed to shower before we headed to the dining room for dinner. Sarah had prepared rice, g-nut sauce, fresh pineapple, and Irish potatoes. Leah, Yvonne, Andrea, and little Dezi joined the interns and us for dinner tonight. It is so strange to think that we only have four days left here in Uganda, but I think that will be the perfect amount of time for Sue, Samantha, and I. While we will be very sad to leave Uganda and our friends, we are also looking forward to getting back home to our families and friends in the States. It has really been a special trip for us all. God has really blessed me personally on this trip with so many new friends and experiences. While the team was here, Tamara gave a BEAUTIFUL devotional about blessings. A blessing from God is not wealth or success or even health necessarily, even though it might include those things. Being blessed by God means to simply be in His presence and have your heart changed by experiencing His Glory. I can say for myself and the whole team that we have truly been blessed by God here in Uganda with His presence and perspective. We look forward to returning home soon with hearts that have been grown, stretched, changed, and matured. 


Thanks for reading,


Love Hannah


(P.S. Mom, Please buy me some dark chocolate for when I get back! I love you!!)

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Whoops and Poops from Uganda

Hello everyone! It's Samantha blogging tonight. Today was a really good, long day. We got up and drove to Kokombo for church. Several people were baptized at the end of the service, which was really cool to watch and be present for. After the service we stayed at Kokombo for a while and got to spend some time with the kids. I always really enjoy getting to play with kids, even if some don't speak English (or just won't speak to me), we're always able to have fun and play together. From Kokombo we went to Sol Café to have lunch with our friend Umar. During this time, there was a huge thunderclap that briefly took out the power and made all of us jump. Then it rained pretty hard throughout our meal, but thankfully it stopped right before we had to leave! Next on our stop was Pastor Andrew's house in Idudi. We got there before he did, so we passed the time with the neighborhood kids. At first they were excited to see us, but nervous to come up to us. A few brave ones started to creep up to us and then peer through the window of Andrew's house at us. Eventually we came out to play with them. Hannah and I made funny faces at them while Sue captured many photos. It's really fun to see how excited the kids get at seeing their own photos. After some time, Andrew's friend Peter arrived, so he and Kyemba took us to see New Life school that Andrew built. It wasn't long before Andrew arrived with his guest Francis. Francis is an evangelist from Kenya, who has spent the past two weeks in Uganda working to bring people to church. So he got a tour alongside Sue, Hannah, and I of the work that Andrew is doing. He has developed an amazing ministry so far, and has good plans for its future as well. The new school building was awesome to see, especially compared to the old, smaller building nearby. Andrew showed us around the different classrooms and offices, as well as the lesson plan they use for their kids who come to church classes on Saturdays. They showed us the spot on the property that they are planning to build dormitories for boys and girls, so that New Life can develop into a boarding school in addition to being a day school. Next we went back to Andrew's house, where we gave him some supplies of vitamins and seeds that we had brought for him. We then drove to the farm, where they have many adorable two-week old chicks. They have many different plants as well, along with an area they will develop for cattle. We had one more stop with Andrew left, which was the village that the Karamojong lived. We got to see them and where they get water, as well as a beautiful sunset on the horizon. The kids had a blast with Sue, as she quickly took photos before they shied away and then rushed to see their photo. It was really great to see Andrew's ministry and the work that he has put into his community. I feel that G-d has really blessed him and his service. By this point, it was past 7 pm before we went back to Musana. So we stopped at a super market for snacks and sodas on the way, and once we got back we had a feast while we discussed our "whoops and poops" ("highs/lows") of the day, as Hannah calls it. Although it was a long day, it felt very productive and good. We had a lot of fun with kids, as well as great conversations with the people we met, and were able to see G-d's work at hand in many ways. That's all for now, but I'll be writing again soon as I have been "promoted" to a more regular blogger now, since Hannah will be creating more beautiful murals here at Musana. Thanks for reading!




P.S. our feast included Ugandan steak (beef jerky). Please try to contain any jealousy.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

The sights, Sounds, Smells and Heart of Uganda.

We are up and Sarah is making us eggs. While we wait we are feasting on Sol Café's Banana bread…which is totally fantastic! They had six loafs for sale Trivia night and we bought up two! And so delighted we did. We have parceled them out carefully so they have lasted! They are so, so good! 


The other night as I was blogging I intended to write about the sights, sounds, smells and feels of Uganda. I decided to do this as we were sitting on hard wooden benches, four to a row (crammed in) waiting for the choir performance to begin. The benches have no backs to them and the seat portions are very narrow. Within minutes I found myself very fidgety. The benches were hard. Did I mention they were hard. So let me put this in perspective. Ugandan students sit on these benches all day long to study on. They are filled to the brim with little people trying to learn. They have no real space to call their own. Yesterday when the kids were taking exams they moved them to the dining area (an outside covered pavilion. This is great except when the other kids are let out of class for break, lunch, etc. they have to continue to focus amidst the noise. I was impressed with their concentration skills. What I am trying to convey is this is how it is done in Uganda and the kids are so thankful for the opportunity to get an education they listen well and do not squirm. However after a little more than an hour on the benches all of us were done. We were so sore! We had rearranged our bodies into every possible position, but after a while it just didn't make a difference. So for feelings the things here are hard. They are hot and they are buggy. And yet walking and sitting in community is great. The willingness to lend a helping hand is something we could all learn from. 


The sights have changed over the past five years. Iganga seems a lot more westernized though the poverty is still overwhelming. Cows in the road, roaming across soccer fields, open markets with every other vendor selling exactly the same thing. The obvious discrepancies between Uganda prices and Mzungu prices. Bicycles bursting from the seams carrying goods. Boda bodas with whole families and the driver on board. The technology has gotten better – almost everyone has a cell phone and more and more of the kids are connected to the Internet. Musana has been a huge blessing for me. The love that prevails and the hearts for the kids has just been great to see. I will go home and know that they are being fully cared for. The kids are being raised up to be the next generation of Ugandans in such a way that brings pride to their country. I won't worry about their welfare when I leave and return home.  Through all we have done to get to where we are one thing has never waivered. The joy in the faces of the people has always been there. The sights 


The smells are overwhelming. I guess part of this is because in the US I really don't allow myself to experience the every day smells of the world. I go from air-conditioned house to air conditioned home. Heaven forbid I should role down my window and take in the smells of the surrounding area. Here there is always the smell of charcoal as people are preparing their meals on outdoor fires. Along with that is the smell of smoke. The smell of body odor is prevalent (I'm sure after a long day we are equally adding to that smell). The smell of manure rings in the air.


And the sounds… horns honking. Constantly. Warning each other to get back in their own lane after passing a car, to warn pedestrians they are coming, to tell boda boda drivers they are bigger and the boda boda better get out of the way. You can barely drive five feet without the sound of a horn honking. You also hear the children yelling, "Mzungu, bye" as we drive by. They run to the side of the road and wave frantically and yell until you wave back. It is a sweet sound. 


So today we started the day watching the nursery students participating in their field day. It was a BIG deal. The parents were invited and tents were set and at the end of the day prizes were handed out to the winners. At the start there was a band from a secondary school with instruments just like we have in a band; trumpets, saxophones, etc. They started the day by playing the National Anthem. Once they finished their part they all headed to the volleyball courts and spent the rest of the time playing.We decided Ugandan kids aren't near as competitive as American kids and not one single parent yelled at anyone. All anyone did was cheer. Every time a student finished and won an event the teacher would pick them up and swing them around in happiness. Watching these little guys run and have fun was so joyous. They had games that included picking up straws and putting them on chairs that were about 20 yards away. Then they would have to run back and get another one until all the straws were moved from one location to another. Another game was running back and forth to get duplo pieces and putting them together to build a stack.  Then they stripped the boys down to their skivvies and they had to run to the chairs and see who could get dressed the fastest in their school uniform. They all did this in record time. One competition was to see who could write their name the clearest with the best formation of letters. While the nursery kids were playing all the students at Musana were proudly watching them perform. Across the fence by the road leading to the guesthouse the neighborhood kids were stacked three deep (some even in the trees) to watch the festivities. When it was all said and done the winning team was given a goat (who seemed to really be enjoying himself) that they were going to roast and feed to the kids tonight!! Poor little goat!!


In closing, we can't believe we only have one more week in this country. Our schedule is full and we have yet to slack in any way, shape or form. We still have the dining room to finish, the hospital to paint, the signs to finish, the women's ministry to revisit and hopefully a district volleyball game to cheer at. I am overwhelmed thinking of all we have to cram in into the next seven days. But each day brings us more connected to Musana and the blessings they have to offer.


I hope you all have a great weekend. We start our day off tomorrow worshipping at Kokombo. We are then going to spend some time with Wilson and Agnes. We will then go from their to Idudi where we will meet with Pastor Andrew and give him his seed and medicine. When we finish there we will return home and put back on our paint clothes and get back to work… 


We love you and miss you all. The picture is of Evelyn and Mama Jonah's new baby girl! She is beautiful.



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Friday, July 24, 2015

Jesus made time for kids and His job was to save the world

Hello Everyone! It's Hannah here J

Today was, like every other day, AMAZING. However today was especially special for me. While the whole team was here at Musana, Jen, Liz, Emily, and I were asked to do a mural on the outside of the nursery kid's building. Apparently, the staff at Musana was quite nervous to see how good our painting skills were. However, they were pleased with our skills and even asked if I would like to do more after the team had left. I think they got nervous all over again as I set out to paint the front of their small clinic by myself. I love painting. It is my favorite medium and my number one peaceful activity. They ended up loving it and asked me to paint the entire outside of the dining hall. I have always dreamed of getting to go crazy painting an entire building. God is really good. He knew that I love Africa, kids, and painting, and I was able to live inside those three loves today. I started painting around 10 this morning and didn't stop until 3. The kids at Musana LOVE to watch people paint. They also enjoy finger painting on the walls you just finished. Usually, that would really bother me. However, God was really faithful and sweet and gave me the patience and joy I needed to have fun with the kids while I painted. Jesus made time for kids and His job was to save the world. I thought I should too, considering my job was just painting a wall. So when the kids snuck up and drew on the walls when they thought I wasn't looking, I was able to smile. I let some of the older kids who looked interested help me paint some birds and flowers. I was reminded that when you make time to love people throughout your day, your heart is calmed and healed and loved in return. I would have missed out on building relationships with beautiful people today if I had been too concerned with my task at hand. Sue, Samantha, and Musana's interns went to watch the students' volleyball game during the day, and Musana won! Samantha said she was so impressed by the way Ishmael, the volleyball coach, interacted with his team. She said he was always patient, encouraging, and uplifting. The staff here at Musana is seriously the best. Sue and Samantha also got the chance to visit our beloved friend and bus driver Kymba's grandkids at their primary school. After the day's events, Sue and Samantha returned to Musana along with some very happy volleyball players. Samantha then helped me add detail to the mural after which she and Sue painted some more motivational signs that will be placed all throughout the campus. Afterwards, we had a nice visit with Andrea, her husband Haril, Leah, and the Interns. Sarah then made us all "burritos" with chipati, rice, and guacamole for dinner, and we finished the day off around a campfire with s'mores. I always love to look at the stars here in Uganda during our campfires. They are so much brighter in the night sky. We are all happy and healthy here in Uganda and are loving every second of our time here. Thanks for reading and we will see you in a about a week!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Music, Art and Trivia

Today we got up all prepared to head out to watch the choir perform. Kyemba was not only on time he was 30 minutes early. So we packed up the car and got as far as the front gate when we realized the choir was still here and had not even loaded up their instruments yet. So we all got out of the van and proceeded to do our thing. I'm not sure what the interns did but the three of us immediately settled in to paint the signs that Musana has posted in front of their dining area. Instead of painting the letters in different colors we decided to paint the backgrounds all different colors and then paint the words in white. Overnight the backgrounds had dried (with a few bugs and twigs permanently attached) so today we set about writing the words. I may have no art skills but my penmanship always got me A's in school! I decided to start with the longest since we've only been able to remove two of the signs from the ground. The others we are going to writing on two feet off the ground. That in itself will be a challenge. So we did that for a while and when we were sure the choir had gotten loaded and taken off we climbed back into the bus and headed for the same school where the netball and soccer tournaments had taken place. That school and one other school were in the competition and the second school really had some talent. All the schools were a huge blessing to listen to and Musana far outdid their performance on Sunday. Kids were sitting in the windows and the doorway was jammed from the children trying to get a glimpse of what was taking place. The costumes were great and the dancing was out of this world. I'm telling you the hip action is phenomenal. Both the boys and girls can move their hips in ways I can't even begin to imagine. The theme this year was early marriage, pregnancy and nutrition. Each school had to do a poem, dance and skit related to the theme. We stayed for most of the competition only leaving when the judges pulled each school into a private setting and didn't allow any audience. I'm not sure why that was done but we decided it was a good time to head back to Musana and finish up our painting.


As we were painting we heard drumming coming from the distance. The noise got louder and we started to hear muffled sounds that became clearer the closer they got. As they entered the school gate we realized the students were yelling, "We're number 1". It was so awesome. They had practiced hard and certainly deserved the award. They were all so excited and all the school children here dropped everything and ran to the bus to greet them. I love the enthusiasm and support they show for each other. It was great to see the camaraderie among the kids. Hannah leaned over at one point and said she felt the competition was a little unfair. The other schools had limited instruments. Everyone in the musana choir had an instrument and played. Andrea assures me by the time they get to District all the schools will be equally matched. I was just so proud of the kids and so excited for their accomplishment. Tomorrow we will head out to watch the volleyball team compete. It will be the first time to see them play in a match, though if they play any where near as good as they practice a win is inevitable! 


Tonight was trivia night, which meant a good dinner at Sol Café. On our way we had a flat tire. Kyemba wouldn't even let us out of the van as he jacked the car up and changed the tire. I will say we attracted a little attention, but once again he proved what a sweet and gentle man he is. I led Trivia tonight so for once I knew all the answers. There were three teams, the categories were soccer, mosquitos and general. Yvonne missed the one Canada question (not without a little haggling) and in the end Andrea, Jamie, Leah, Hannah, Yvonne and Dezi won. Dezi, of course, added the most knowledge!! She rocked the night away. We also got to try their new banana bread and it was awesome. All of you on our team that left early, you really missed a treat! 


So tomorrow we are heading out to see the Jamie and Josh at their school. Kyemba is so excited that we are doing this. Then we are on to the competition and then back to Musana to paint. They have asked us (meaning Hannah) to paint the walls surrounding the kid's dining area. They also have quotes they would like added so the three of us will be kept busy. We also still have plans to paint a mural in the hospital. Saturday we hope to visit Phil's kids again and then on Sunday spend the day at Kokombo worshipping and working with Wilson. The days are just flying by. Each day our relationships are developing into lasting friendships and we are seeing more and more of the personalities on the ground. Each day gets better than the one before. 


Please continue to pray for health and wisdom as we move forward. Tonight in trivia I learned that there are over 100 trillion mosquitos in the world and each one bites over five humans a day. I think they have all gotten together and decided I should be there target. Never have I been bitten so many times in so many places! 

I am attaching a picture of Hannah's mural on the clinic wall. It is awesome!! And a picture from the competition.


May God bless you all.  Sue

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015


Today was a good, calm day. We had a chance to sleep in a bit before breakfast, and later went down to Florence's office to get the paint supplies. I would say that we did a lot, but really the artistic abilities fell on Hannah. She began working on painting a mural for Musana's clinic while Sue and I went with our boda boda driver, Richard, to buy more paint, brushes, and sodas. We looked like locals carrying our paint cans and bags while riding effortlessly on a boda. Meanwhile, Hannah had begun creating a masterpiece on the wall of the clinic, which she finished later that day. Sue and I set out on our art project, meaning we had to straighten out and repaint several motivational/signs around the cafeteria. We were able to get the signs repainted with a couple of coats, so that we can finish the writing tomorrow. Sue and I helped tutor some of the students for about an hour, working on their spelling. In case you are wondering where Hannah was during all of this, she was being Hannah and creating beautiful art! Around 5 o'clock it began to rain, so we put away the paints and headed back up. 


During the day we had several fun moments with our friends here at Musana. At one point, Denis came up to Sue, Edward, and I with a scale and made all of us weigh ourselves…apparently Ugandans don't aim for small numbers like Americans tend to do, so Denis and Edward's compliments weren't as flattering as they hoped. Since Hannah wasn't there, we convinced Denis to bring the scale to her so that she could share in the fun. Don't worry, Sue explained to Denis and Edward that they shouldn't pull out the scale for Mzungus next time. There was a small moment where I got a small cut from the metal signs, quite a bit of blood gushed out, and got my wound cleaned up by sweet Florence in the clinic. Unfortunately I have a tendency to feel lightheaded at my own blood, so I took a short rest in the clinic before getting back to work. Before you ask Mom, I am up to date on my shots, was fine within fifteen minutes, and have been taking care of the cut sinceThankfully G-d gave us a cloudy sky and cool breeze while work. Throughout our painting, several students would hang around to watch us paint or, in Hannah's case, try to paint themselves whenever she wasn't looking. Overall it was a very fun day filled with paint, joy, some rain, and G-d's beauty in Hannah's creativity and the children's enjoyment of the variety of colors to put on each other. 


Since I haven't had a chance to blog since the first night of our trip, I'll add a small update from my perspective here. G-d has been really good to our team and is very present here in Uganda. The people are amazing and so loving to us, whether we are friends or strangers to them. We have had some incredible opportunities to serve and to continue/build relationships we have established here. I feel extremely blessed that G-d chose to call me here to such a beautiful country. It has been amazing getting to experience Him through these wonderful people and witness their passion and devotion to G-d. I'm excited for whatever He has next! 



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The Team Departs

Today started with the team packing up and getting ready to go. Kyemba came by in a regular size van and packed the trunk to the max. Suitcases were hanging out the rear, but fear not, he tied the trunk down and assured us that nothing would fall out. He is a master at this skill so I am not concerned that they all to the airport in one piece. The remainder of the luggage ended up tied to the roof. In typical Ugandan style the team crammed into the van and off they went, but not before a few tearful goodbyes. Leah and Yvonne came by later and were very sad to see that they had already left. They were hoping for a few hugs before you all left. Instead the two of them went down to the women's ministry room and started pairing fabric for new bags. It was great fun watching Leah trying new "weird" patterns and hearing Yvonne say that Theresa (the older sister in China) wouldn't like it. Then they would look at it again and both nod in approvement! Big sister may rule, but then again big sister is not present to make the decisions! I saw a little bit of glee. Hannah and Sam made some pairing decisions too and are anxious to hear if their choices are the number one seller in China!!!!


Afterwards the three of us hopped on two boda bodas with brooms, squeegees, buckets and soap and headed to Musana's new hospital. We are truly becoming Ugandan. Our intention was to continue cleaning the building but it appeared someone had beat us to the punch. There wasn't much point in cleaning any more as the windows were open, the red dirt was flying in and construction was still taking place. The top floor where the red clay was has all been removed but there is now a thick layer of dirt in all the rooms we cleaned. We decided except for the dust (which is inevitable) the whole building looked really pretty good. We will see what the status is before we go back and then will clean again if necessary. So we called the lead boda boda driver back (Richard), they returned for us and we returned to Musana where we ate a quick snack. Then we assisted Jamie in tutoring the kids in spelling and reading before school was dismissed. What a joy it was to see when they got something right. They were so excited! 


I then went and sat with the school cook and helped her and another woman sort through beans pulling the good from the bad. I actually found this quite refreshing after a day of running from one activity to another. It is quite therapeutic and I had a chance to talk with her and get to know her a little better. We then found out that Musana's Netball team was having a friendly match against another school so we went to the back forty and with all the Musana students cheered them on. It was awesome to see the students supporting their team and jumping up and down and yelling every time they scored. Rashida came by and her school uniform had a huge tear down the seam so I asked her to go change and bring it to me. I then proceeded to stitch it back together for her. Sadly, Musana lost todays match, but they were playing the best team in the area. This team really hustled and jumped and scraped for every ball. They weren't afraid to throw their bodies to the ground for a ball. Still Musana never gave up and their fans never stopped cheering. It was fun to watch. There is nothing better than faithful fans!


We are all moved into our new digs. Hannah and Sam are now sharing the room that Judy and I shared and I now have a room all to myself. We are in a two-bedroom suite (I use that word very loosely). We have two suitcases filled with snacks (we body searched the leaving team members to ensure they weren't trying to sneak any out) and are very happy. We did mourn our fellow team members for a while today and then got caught up in the activities of Musana. We are so thankful we are still here and have more time to spend with the teachers and staff. They are an amazing crew. We will spend the next ten days working with nursery kids, tutoring, doing some artwork at Sol Café, painting another mural and loving on the kids and staff. 

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Our last adventure here in Uganda...

20 July 2015


Let me begin by saying HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to Todd!  God blessed me beyond measure with reconnecting us in His perfect timing. Love you!!! 

I cannot believe that we are packing up tonight and leaving Uganda tomorrow. I know that I will be changed forever from the time I've spent here. Every morning we were sweetly greeted by Sarah, volunteer caretaker.  She has such a joyful heart and is a great cook, as well. 

This morning Kyemba arrived at 8:00 to drive us to Lake Victoria, with the 3 current Musana interns. The trip was very dusty and bumpy but more importantly, beautiful! We drove through villages that looked quite similar to Iganga and countryside that reminded me of Texas, lantana bushes, bougainvillea, piney woods and red dirt. Words don't do the scenery justice.  We made a quick stop for a restroom break just before the lake. I was told it was the nicest in the area…let me just say I would not want to see the others by that description! We all survived and loaded the Jesus boat without incident. More breathtaking scenery. Once ashore, boda bodas were gathered and the fun began. 

We arrived at a sweet village church, receiving the warmest of welcomes from the community.  We met the lead Pastor Charles and his wife, Sarah, his extended family and another local Pastor who was a muslim and converted to Christianity. After the choir performed for us, both adult and children, we listened to a sermon about being the salt of the earth. Jesus is the perfect teacher as he taught lessons that everyone could understand during his time on earth. He is still teaching them 2000+ years later. He loves us all and wants us to open our hearts to Him for a personal relationship, regardless of where on this beautiful planet we live.

Please pray for our new friends that live on islands in Uganda as well as all Ugandans to be strengthened by His love.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Worship and the Reality that Mzungu’s really CAN’T dance!

First off, I want to wish my sweet, sweet husband Happy Birthday! I am so glad you are finally a speed limit. Today we started our day at Kokombo going to church there with Pastor Wilson. I love Pastor Wilson and his heart. He is truly a male version of Mother Theresa. The women's choir performed for us and they have the most beautiful voices. Of course this is coming from the woman who can't carry a tune in a bucket. But they are such a joy to listen to. Every song comes with dancing and hip movements which no white person can begin to do. Then Wilson treated us to a sermon, in his usual animated style, and he reminded me so much of Scott. The hands were flowing and his voice raised and lowered as his expressions changed. Agnes, who works with Wilson, translated for us Mzungu's. One of the choir singers had a little girl who was three-ish. All the time the mama was dancing the little girl kept coming up and trying to hug on her. The mother just kept on dancing. After the service Wilson took all the books we had brought and dedicated them to his library. He was so thankful to be able to add to the books he already has. Then he prayed over the books. Wilson just glowed over Judy's thoughtfulness in providing him new books for his people to read and learn from.


Then the team, minus Tamara and myself, climbed the mountain (or should I say steep hill). They came back and said it was really overgrown this year and each member brought back a bunch of sticker burrs. Must have felt a lot like hiking in Texas! Tamara and I in the meantime met with Wilson and Agnes regarding the feeding program. We sat in the shade not exercising at all except our mouths. Both of us were quite content. During the time we were there two new children came in to add to the program. They patiently sat waiting for Wilson while we talked and finally I noticed they were there and asked Wilson to please take care of them. He and Agnes immediately jumped into action and did all that they needed to do to ensure they will be cared for appropriately. Agnes acts as the secretary and takes incredible notes on each child tracking their progress. Each child has its own individual file with pictures from the first day they came into the program to the day they are released.


Upon returning from their hike we went to Stephen Waiswa's house for a musical presentation from Rhythm Africa. The performance was incredible. The movements and endurance was overwhelming. The hip movements were phenomenal. I would have thrown out my hips in no time at all. They can shimmy and move their hips in such fast motion. I tried to demonstrate my dancing skills and all they did was laugh. I am always happy to entertain! There was one young boy that I remembered from last year. He was so cute and so enthusiastic! He moved his body until I was physically exhausted. The energy was something I am still amazed at!


Tomorrow we are headed to the Island. We are leaving at 8:30 and Kyemba has already assured us that the potholes can lead us to China. I love the drive and I love the boat ride. I hope the team enjoys it as much as I do. May God bless you all!


Saturday, July 18, 2015

The day we spent with our Ugandan family...

Guess what today is?!? It's my baby sister's birthday. Mary, I am so glad Mom tried once more for the perfect child. Happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy 28th birthday baby seeeester. I Love you. 

Setting the alarm last night for our 6:30am run was both scary and exciting. Today we were set to run the farthest so far in this training, and the thought of doing it here in the red dirt was almost too much to sleep through. Liz and I were up and at 'em, and hit the ground running. 8 miles is far in Texas, and I swear is even farther here in Uganda. It is a lot higher altitude and is more like trail running. The experience is so hard to put into words. The Lord sure does have an extra soft spot for this place. My 3 favorites from this morning's training were running with my sweet and amazing friend Liz (she's a rock star), seeing one of the biggest turkeys I've ever seen, and the sweet little toddler walking with her mother, carrying her own teeny tiny jerry cans. That, and being done!

After breakfast, we headed to Hope Africa. Hope Africa is a children's home here in Iganga, where a few of us have sponsored kids. Driving onto the compound is like driving home. All the kiddos are so excited to see you, and the waves and smiles just melt your heart. My sweet sponsored son, Moses, is very very tall, much like my son Camron is, and Brandon is becoming. He sticks out among all the other kids. As soon as we stopped, I yelled his name and went running to him. I figured he knew we were coming, but it was a big 'ol surprise! He just kept saying, "I did not know you were coming" over and over again. I hugged on that boy just as I hug on Camron and Brandon. He has the sweetest heart and is such a strong and compassionate young man. I then moved to shaking hands and hugging on all of the other kiddos, until I was given the biggest hug. I looked down and noticed is was sweet Massiat! Massiat is the Page's sponsored daughter, who I was able to connect with last time I was here. It was one of the highlights of my day to introduce those two. They were able to spend some sweet time together. We all had a great time connecting with new kids and reconnecting with our family there. Mama Jessica had such a big smile to see all of us again. It is such a sweet day to see all of our kids, but also a sad reminder for those of us who have kids that are no longer there. We have grown deep bonds with these kids, and it's very hard when we don't see them. Even though our time was short, we all very grateful for the time we did have there.

We then moved on down the street to Kyemba's house. He had invited us all over for lunch. We were welcomed with running and excitement from his family. When his wife, 
Namaganga, decides to prepare a meal, she REALLY prepares a meal. They even broke out a big 'ol shade tent, like something you would see at a wedding. Kyeamba went around and introduced us to his family, as Namaganga finished up our spread. Their family is the perfect picture of radical hospitality. He not only fed our team of 10, had his whole family come into town for us, they fed all the neighborhood kids first, before we had our first bite! There is a Joshua, twins Jack and Jamie, and now a new addition of Sue in Kyeamba's family. There was so much joy at their house, it was contagious. 

We made it back to Musana's guest house for another yummy dinner prepared by Sara. After dinner we were able to go back down to Musana for another movie night, this time for "The Little Rascals". Honestly, I was not really looking forward to it. We woke up early, ran, had a pretty emotional day, and I was just kind of done. But, in Uganda, you just power through. You know what happens at those kind of moments? God shows you something sweet. We got to movie night a little later than last time, and it was already dark. You couldn't see much in there, but one of the sweet girls came up to me to show me her seat that she was giving up. I sat down and she sat right nestled against me on the arm rest. I found out it was a little girl names Jessica. She leaned up agains me and held my hand the whole movie. It was so precious. It was the first time I had really been close to any of the kids here @ Musana. Sweet Jessica even leaned over a couple of times to scratch my back and play with my hair, one of my love languages. :)

Hi to Blake and my boys. I miss you.

Blessings, Jen

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Day for Accomplishments:

 Today, we went down to work on the library, all of us.  As we accomplished our  task in the library kids started to show up.  We taught a few of the older kids the method Judy and Julie created so the older kids could teach the younger kids.  After reading to the kids a little we headed to the Worship center where the school choir was going to preform.  I sat down in an empty row and a few kids sat around me.  After a good twenty minutes the choir was ready to preform.  (the choir has a competition the 23rd and they wanted us to watch their dress rehearsal.)  The entire thing was surrounded on the fact that young marriages and young pregnancies should NOT take place.  They were amazing, all the songs they sang were ones they wrote and they danced and did poetry.  It was so good, they danced and sang so beautifully.  During a short intermission some kids were dancing, Sue decides that next intermission we were gonna dance for them!  I was not too happy about that, but some how Tamara got out of it! I just wanna know how that even happened.  Well, once we got up on the stage I had no clue what to do, so I just wiggled my hips then the kids started to come up and dance with us.  Once the intermission was over we sat back down, then the choir finished.  The choir has made quit an accomplishment today and I know they'll do great in their competition.  After the choir preformance we headed back to the room so that the mural group could change into our paint clothes.  After we changed we went down and put the few finishing touches on the mural.  The group consisted of me, Liz and Hannah for today.  We finished up leaves and the kids in the tree, we finally accomplished the mural!  When we finished we planned on going to the market.  While we were waiting to here from Kyemba we sat in the breezeway connecting our rooms and some of the boys that live at Musana came over, Tony, Grace, Ezekiel<(goes to Musana, mom works at Musana), Betty<(i honestly do not know much about Betty).  Tony wanted to take pictures on my phone so I let him take a few because honestly it isn't very smart to give the kids your phone but me being me I did.  I got my phone back and then Tony and Ezekiel decide that they want to tickle me!  I finally got them to stop tickling me by tickling them.  Once we heard that Kyemba was on his way we walked to the gate to meet Kyemba to get in the van, and we headed to the market. 


Right as we drove into the market, it was like BANG! Meat, every where, normally I am pretty okay with meat but I'm talking like 10 carts in a row full of meat... with tails.  Some intestines here and there, it was pretty gross.  I could only look for so long, just reminds you not to eat most of the meat here because it sits out pretty much all day long.  


Once Kyemba parked and we went into the inner market it was good.  The inner market was mainly fruits, vegetables, kitchen utensils and brooms.   Once we got out we checked out the few fabric shops that were open.  Few shops were open because today was ED, a muslim holiday symbolizing the end of Ramadan.  After a few group members made their fabric purchases we got back in the van and headed back to Musana.  When we finished eating me, Judy and Hannah got to talk with Haril for a little bit and it was so sweet!  After we finished talking we headed down to the fire one of the interns, Jamie, had made.  It was good until the smoke gets all in your eyes and you gotta move, but it was fun to sit and just be there.  Not many people can say they've had a Ugandan camp fire?! :)  I got up and came to the room, I smell very smokey. ;)  Now, I'm here typing out this blog for you people to read, I say it like that cause i have no clue who all reads this but.. HI PEOPLE!! :)   (: And that is how my day went, hope you enjoyed reading our adventures this week, I can't believe we are gonna leave in a few days, its crazy!  Well anyways, BYE PEOPLE!! :)

Have mercy! ~ Emily Marquez

(for those of you that don't know "have mercy!" is a quote from the TV show Full House, I just felt like putting that quote there) (: