Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Greetings from Uganda - Julie

Greetings from Uganda!


HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, Todd! What a blessing to have been married 15 years to my best friend! I love you, Todd!


What a trip we've had. The days have started to blur but I'll try to give a clear picture of comings and goings of today.


This morning started early, 5:45, as we hiked to Kigulu Hill, AKA Pride Rock. We were led by Leah, Andrea's sister and another Pauline sister, Theresa, came with us as well as 3 of her yoga students from China. Oh, how could I forget, Bernie tagged along, too. (Leah's puppy) In fact we have a cute picture of Grace holding him above her head as in The Lion King, Mufasa holding Simba, showing him his land. (I foresee some photo shopping once back in the states.)  To watch the sun appear in the sky, in all of God's brilliant colors, reaching out to touch all living things is a perfect way to start a day.


We went back to Musana to bid farewell to our dear Glenn. Kathy and Patsy went along to keep Kyemba company on the way home. Since they were passing through Kampala on the way, Kathy arranged a meeting with a child her family has sponsored for years in the Watoto Village. I can't wait to hear about their meeting.


The rest of the team and I are hanging out at Musana today. We took boda-bodas into town to do a little shopping in the market and get a cold soda. Paul has been such a blessing to our team this trip. He watches over us as we are shopping, negotiates prices, translates conversations and just brings a smile to our faces. Once  we returned from the market, Steve began  preparing for the trip home by packing up all the extra bags we brought. I'm thankful for Steve and his organizational skills as I would probably wait until Friday am to think about those other suitcases. :)


As soon as the kids finish with their classes, our plan is to go down and visit with as many as we can. Nathan, a teacher of P3, asked if we were going to come watch a football competition this afternoon so if I understood him correctly, we will be watching a soccer match this afternoon. This is sure to be fun!


Tomorrow we will be traveling with Pastor Wilson. He hasn't told us much about where we are going or what we will be doing but in Pastor Wilson style, he's all smiles and giggles when he talks about our day together. Should be a super blessing for us!


Thank you for your prayers and please continue praying for our time remaining as well as our travels home.  May God bless you and keep you!

Tamara Ramirez
Overflow Director
Riverside Community Church

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sweet Blessings from Uganda

Patsy Tucker here. I'm part of the Colorado cohort of this expedition although I'm a born and bred Texan...for the first 34 years of my life :-)

This morning's experience was the highlight of my Uganda trip so far. Kathy, Glenn and I visited the prison. Glenn met with the men and led them in worship. Kathy and I met with 14 female inmates to distribute hygiene kits to them, but they blessed us instead! I've never seen such joy as what I saw on these women's faces as they sang and  danced, and one of them was just about the best djembe player I've ever heard. As Kathy and I shared with them from Scripture about their worth in God's eyes,  they cheered and clapped.

These women are in a difficult place; many are serving sentences or indebtedness, and they have no representation in court. The joy they showed was amazing! The guard today was also a believer in Christ, so it was wonderful to have her worshipping along with us. I wish I had pictures to share with you of this amazing experience, but I wasn't allowed to take any. I hope I never forget what I heard and  saw today.

The rest of the team met with Pastor Wilson in Kokombo, then we all returned to Musana on schedule (!) for Glenn's concert with all of the schoolchildren.

After the concert we took a long drive south of Iganga through beautiful countryside to visit the blind community. We were able to meet with the women and distribute some kits, but it was a challenging situation because there were more women than we were prepared to serve. We pray that the blind women and the schoolgirls in the community were blessed.

A huge blessing to us today and an answer to prayer was God's provision of Agnes to translate for us. She is Pastor Wilson's ministry assistant, and she willingly agreed to go with us to the prison and to the blind community. Her help today was invaluable.

The things we experienced today remind me of the Wesley hymn "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing":

He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.

Hear Him ye deaf, His praise ye dumb, your loosened tongues  employ, Ye blind behold your Savior come, and leap ye lame for joy.

What a blessing that in eternity these prisoners will be free and blind will see!


Monday, July 18, 2016

Hitches, Glitches and a Card or Two

A Few Hitches…

We woke to another beautiful day in Uganda. The morning began with a devotion calling us to share in the words "Here I am", like so many saints who have gone before us (e.g. Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Mary).  As we enjoyed our typical breakfast of eggs, toast, and fruit made by Sarah (she's a real card, by the way), we got on our way… or so we thought.

We didn't get very far down the road before Kyemba pulled into a service station to have a flat tire repaired. Understand that these roads are brutal on tires, brakes, undercarriage, etc. - the potholes have potholes. So, we all piled out of the van and stood around as one young man beat the tar out of the tire to dislodge it from the rim and put an inner tube in it before beating the tar out of it to get the tire back on the rim. Meanwhile, there were 9 muzungu's gawking about as a boda-boda pulled in with two live goats and two chickens heading home to make ready for the day's meal.

Finally, the tire was done and off we went toward Idudi to see the New Life clinic. However, on the way we decided to stop and grab a few drinks. Kyemba pulled up behind some other vehicles, but was parked in the middle of the junction in the road. Unfortunately for us, there were three traffic officers nearby who quite obviously did not appreciate Kyemba's parking job and proceeded to take the keys from the van till Kyemba returned. After some pleading to no avail we turned the van around and were escorted to the nearby police station. Poor Kyemba. He felt terrible. First, it was the loss of his keys the other day, then the flat, now the traffic ticket. It makes little sense really because if you were to see the way people drive and park here, it's not like there are any hard and fast rules for the road. Nevertheless, Kyemba received the fine, which amounted to about $10 and we were on our way once again.

We arrived in Idudi to receive a wonderful tour of the new clinic. Umar, one of the doctors there, shared with us that this clinic has been open for the last 5 months and has served over 600 patients providing medical care for birthing mothers, malaria, seizures, sutures, and many other things. It is intended to be a general practice but often serves as quite a bit more since it is the nearest clinic for many miles.

As a bit of a treat today, our team was taken out a little farther beyond Idudi to an area where baboons hang out along the roadside. We stopped to fill up the van with large bunches of bananas. When we got there the baboons were waiting along the roadside for passersby to pull over and give them a meal for the day. It was fascinating watching the larger alpha males dominate the banana feast while some mothers carried their young on their backs or bellies grabbing what they could to feed themselves. We all got a good laugh when Sue raised up from her seat to take pictures and had obviously sat on a few bananas because her behind was plastered with them, thus the name "banana-butt" for a good part of the morning.

Afterwards, our team headed back to Musana, taking a snack lunch in the van. When we arrived back at home base the team went down to continue building relationships with some of the women in the craft ministries, then Sue, Julie, Kyemba, and I pulled out for a bit to go take care of some personal business with our sponsored kids. It was great for me to see Annet again and I know Julie was overjoyed to see her child, Masiat. We scurried off to go buy a few things for the girls before dropping me off at Hope Orphanage to play one last time for the kids.  It was great to sing and play, but the goodbyes were extra hard. Hugs and kisses all around then down the bumpy roads we went to return to Musana.

On the way home I was so hoping that Sarah would fix Rolex tonight for our dinner (picture an omelette rolled up in a tortilla), and sure enough she had fixed it just for me…or so she said. 

It feels more and more like home every time I come. That being said, I'm looking forward to boarding the plane in a couple of days (2 days ahead of the rest of the team) and getting home to my family and my community.

Please pray for Kyemba's grandson as he heals from malaria. Remember the staff and children of Musana and give thanks with us for their gracious hospitality. Pray for our schedule as there is much to do and so little time to do it all in these last few days. Join us in blessing God for this wonderful opportunity to experience the people and culture of Uganda.

Be Blessed!

Tamara Ramirez
Overflow Director
Riverside Community Church

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A full day in Uganda.

Sunday… we started the day at Idudi going to church with Andrew Wambi's community. The biggest take away from the day was that we went in with a plan. It was a good plan; a well thought out plan. We intended to paint the school emblem on the wall that faces the street as well as their motto. Yesterday we painted the wall white and we went in with good intentions. But in order to finish we needed "artist paintbrushes". I use that word loosely. Non the less they are smaller and better than regular paintbrushes. Sadly, we couldn't find them when we started the painting. Alas, I was to find them later in my room; obviously, right where I left them. So the take away was that the painting that occurred had nothing to do with plans. We improvised and it turned out beautiful and better than anything we had in mind. But let me begin at the beginning…


We arrived in Idudi in time for church where Andrew led the service beginning at 9 am. At the start the church was relatively empty but as time passed it filled to the brim. He had several choirs singing and the music was amazing. The voices are phenomenal and they are always filled with such joy! The faces are just amazing in their beauty. The choirs sang for over an hour and it was so fun seeing the children take such pride in their abilities. The senior students were there from both Iganga High and Victoria High. However, when it got to be 12:00 those wooden benches started to get really hard. It was good to be part of the worship but it was also good to stand up and exercise muscles that had just about bonded with the bench! And so we started painting. Justine and Grace teamed up (minus the gaggle of boys) to paint the name of the ministry on the fence. While she was doing this Patsy painted "New Life Ministries" on the wall. We then painted the kid's hands and had them put their handprints on the wall. It was not the concept we had but it fully included the children. So much so that at that times I felt like I was being pinned against the wall. Many of the kids thought it was so cool that they came back for seconds! The wall now has a display of red, blue and yellow handprints and it looks really welcoming.

We went Sol View for dinner where Glenn and Robin performed. They were Sol's first major attraction and they were wonderful to listen to. The restaurant had microphones but no stands so Glenn jerry rigged it to hold. The singing was great and the people there really enjoyed it. Leah, Andrea's sister returned from China today and it was so good to see her again. I also had the chance to meet Andrea's other sister, Theresa, who is here visiting from China. What a great family! I am so thankful for all that Musana does. The Sol is amazing!!!! I can't wait for those of you who have been here before to see the new location. For dinner tonight we were joined by several of Glenn's guitar students. It was a great evening but by the time we got home, and settled in for a team dinner, we had been on the go for over 13 hours… and tomorrow is another day!!!


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Team Gumby Strikes Again

Uganda Team Gumby Blog, Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hi. I'm Kathy Ruiter, one of the ladies from Colorado that was so graciously included on this trip.  About a year ago I learned of a need that tugged at my heart - school girls in developing countries often don't have access to disposable feminine hygiene products, don't have any other reliable means to protect their clothing, and this will often cause them to miss school each month during their periods.  Then, to quote one of the women who works here in the skills development center, "they are horribly shamed when they soil their skirts, then stay home for many days each month, get so behind in school that they can't catch up, so they run off to get pregnant so they can escape the impossible struggle through school."  Or, as a line in a song that the girls sang at the choir competition yesterday said, "I start to fail; you call me stupid; you marry me off."  So I'm no great evangelist, but I can sew pretty well.  So I started making washable hygiene kits that are leak-proof and will last 3 years if cared for.  I really see these school girls as some of "the least of these" that Jesus spoke of, and I want them to understand that they were uniquely and beautifully created by God, and that He treasures them!  Until now, I've sent 25-50 kits at a time with missionaries to various countries.  This time, through a series of Facebook "coincidences," I contacted Pastor Wambi in Iganga, who led me to Sue H., leader of this trip.  God has been so good in orchestrating all of this!  We brought 325 kits to Uganda to distribute, and I've met a teacher who can teach many others how to make them.

For the past week I've met with Cathy, the "tailoring tutor" (sewing teacher) at the Musana skills development center, teaching her how to make these kits.  She was very skilled, picked up everything so quickly, and did amazingly detailed work on a treadle (foot-powered) straight-stitch sewing machine.  We worked together for hours getting their overlock machine to work well.  In the end, she was SO PROUD of her pad holders and pads, and well equipped to teach her classroom of local some to make this product in their own villages!  What an answer to prayer.  Her boss, Juliet, is confident that she will be able to find the fabrics to make these kits, and that they will be able to make these kits for local school girls and women.  This has been so rewarding.

Next, I worked with the school social worker at Musana.  She had me teach the 6-7th grade girls a hygiene lesson, then how to use the kits, and distribute them.  They were so grateful!  She also took kits to distribute to high school girls (they go to boarding school here in HS) when they come home next.

Today we went to Pastor Wambi's village in Idudi, about a half hour drive from where we're staying.  The rest of the team worked on helping the locals paint a metal gate and 2 big walls, in preparation for painting a logo on them tomorrow… It was a long, very hot day for them, Steve & Glenn often on bouncy lean-to ladders made of lashed & nailed sticks.  Steve found that the best way to recruit local help was to give paint brushes to Justine & Grace.  Suddenly 8 local teen boys wanted to help with the project!!  Go figure…  Steve was attacked by a bag of nails in the paint store, but he's OK.  His glasses were also crushed in the van… It's a long, sad story.  Our expert driver, Jimba (sp), went to run a quick errand.  His keys were stolen, so he was unable to return for 2 hours (got a locksmith to make a new key).  In the meantime we were stranded with no drinkable water & hundreds of kids holding our hands, playing with our hair (Patsy got a real fancy hairdo :) )  playing with the blue veins on our arms, singing songs, dancing, taking thousands of photos to show the laughing kids.  The last 2 hours at the New Life Ministry (waiting for the delayed van) were tough; we were pretty exhausted when we left.  The girls tried to tell me that my hair was pretty, and theirs was not; I told them that God created them; that He was VERY happy with His work, and that He declares them beautiful.  I saw in their eyes that they got it - such a joy :)  

While the rest of the team was painting the wall, Patsy & I were teaching a few teachers, then about 80 school girls how to use & care for the hygiene kits.  The girls also asked if I would teach them their anatomy… got to do that too :).  They were soooo grateful for their kits - both the women and the girls.  Tomorrow we'll go back to Iganga for church, then paint some more & distribute kits to more girls who will be home from high school boarding school (just for this).

So today was exhausting, but a blessing in so many ways.  I'm so grateful to God for this opportunity to serve his children.

Many blessings, and thank you for praying for us, 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Houston the Team Has Bonded - Word From Uganda

15 July 2016

Greetings from Iganga, Uganda.  What a day full of happy memories! 16 years ago my husband and I began courting, 15 years ago we arrived at our destination wedding location, one year ago our team hiked up "Pride Rock" to watch the sunrise here in Uganda and today many memories are being added to this special day. Let me share some of these…
We reek of deet!
A team member who will remain nameless went to take her shower without a towel and had to dry off with underwear. 
I am the keeper of the internet, 
if you build it they will come, kind of corny, I know,
5-6 turkeys tied to the back of a taxi-ALIVE,
Phil Wickham AKA Fear Will Come, 
and last but certainly not least, tomorrow we are going to a village named Idududi, go ahead and say it aloud…HA! HA! HA! You said DOO-DEE! (Please forgive the immaturity)! 
As you can tell our team has bonded! 

Moving on to something a bit more profound, as we traveled to a choir competition today,  Paul Nakalanga shared a question the children from a village asked a crowd. (BTW, the village was celebrating a brand new water well, the first clean water they've ever had). Why is water colorless? We answered with "so God can see His beautiful creations swimming in the oceans, because He already used all the blue in the sky." Paul graciously let us get tired of guessing before he told us the answer. The children of  the village told the crowd that it was colorless because it looks like God. WOW! Powerful, huh? 

We arrived at the choir competition on time, 10:00 am. Thankfully there are always kids around to play with because the competition didn't start until 12:30. Every year the schools perform tribal poetry, singing, dancing encompassing a theme which was "Education leads to development and the future of the nation." All the kids were phenomenal and every delivery of this message was powerful! There is a generation of change ahead for Uganda! This gives me chills!!!

We stayed until 2:00, returned to Musana, dropped off a few friends and reloaded the van to head to Jinja. Our fearless leader, Sue, thought ahead and decided if we didn't go to Jinja today we might not have any other time for shopping. Tonight as we reflected on the day, everyone agreed that the day was just what was needed. 

In His Love,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Meet The Newest Member of Team Gumby - Uganda

Dear friends - my name is Donna. None of you know me or my joining your team here - I'm a last-minute add-on to the Riverside "Team Gumby" team here at Musana. I'm originally from Indiana and I am working primarily with Scripture Union for 6 weeks in Kampala. I came for a quick visit with Musana to see what they're doing here, when I met your absolutely delightful friends and family. They have so graciously invited me in, included me, and supported me; it's special group you have here. It has been great experiencing this adventure with them. They even let me have a spot on the blog roster! (Thank you, Sue…I really feel honored to be here).

This week has been a whirlwind of busyness, visits, people, food, more visits, little sleep, more people, etc. This afternoon, after lunch, we gathered in the gazebo for our afternoon devotion led by Steve. Steve talked about the story of the prodigal son, and challenged us with the thought that the story isn't just about the prodigal son, but is really about the lavish, marvelous gifts of the father TO the son. He paralleled this to God's love for us, His children. He also challenged us to pick one character trait or quality of the Ugandan people  that we would love to bring back and cultivate in the U.S. One of the recurring themes as we talked and discussed was this idea of community. Here in Uganda, there is a reliance on one another…when someone has a need, the community fills it. There is humility and vulnerability in relationships that cultivates this deep community. We discussed how in America we tend to be too proud to ask for help, we don't know our neighbors, etc. In Uganda, the people would not survive if not for each other. It was really, really cool to think about bringing this idea back to the States and share the community with our friends and family! How cool is it, also, that we have a family community with one another in Christ? It's really awesome.

This afternoon, we had the privilege of participating in home visits with Musana. At 2pm, we all piled in our vehicle and drove down to the admin building to meet our guides/social workers (Florence and Edward). When Sue came back to the van as we were waiting, she said to us, "I need 4 volunteers!" Well, long story short, the people she wanted to volunteer did not - and she had to just tell us who the volunteers were supposed to be (Justine, Grace, Robin, Julie, and myself). Turns out, the group was dividing and our group was assigned to take boda-boda rides to the home visits! We were ecstatic! Speaking for myself, I was super nervous to get on a boda-boda. I don't know how many of you have traveled in other parts of the world, but driving is CRAZY overseas, including Iganga, Uganda. There are no real rules, and all the roads are dirt, and you kind of have to have the attitude of "YOLO." And we did. It was Justine and Grace's first times as well, and we all had a blast (pictures to come as soon as the team gets back :).

The home visits were so humbling, eye-opening and joy-giving. About every few months, the social workers from Musana visit the homes of the children that are at school (to make sure everyone is doing well, etc.). The first lady that our team visited was severely handicapped. Due to a battle with epilepsy which caused burns on most of her body, and a handicap which does not allow her to walk, AND with 5 children to provide for, this family was in grave need of help. Thankfully, Musana was able to see this vulnerable situation and sponsor 2 of her children. It was a blessing to be able to pray with her and over her. The second home we visited, the lady ran up to all of us and greeted us with hugs! She welcomed us onto her property and had the biggest smile on her face the entire time - and this was the same with all the visits. The women would bring out chairs for us to sit on (benches, really. It was all the furniture they had!), and welcome us, and greet us with respect and love. It was so humbling: that they felt honored to meet us, when truly they were the blessing to us. My initial thoughts on these visits is overwhelming compassion. My heart breaks and yearns to see the Lord continue to provide for these families in amazing ways. It is almost impossible to put into words what we have seen and experienced.

Well - this is about all the time I have for tonight. Thanks for reading, and hopefully my ramblings and musings made a little sense :) Thank you for sharing your family and friends with me this week. Blessings to all of you!

Of Mice and Men (& Screaming Women)

Greetings once again from Uganda! We are having an amazing time here and continue to be overwhelmed by the joy and hospitality of these beautiful people.

So… you must be wondering about the title of this blog. I begin by going back to the night before as our group wrapped up and went to bed for the night. Steve and I were both in our room, which is next door to Julie and Sue. We were both doing our evening reading before going to bed (Steve with earbuds in) when all of a sudden I heard a huge shriek from next door followed by laughter. I thought, "maybe they're looking at some pictures from the day!?" Within 30 seconds more shrieking and hysterical laughter. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if they are throwing a party and we weren't invited. The screams and laughter continued until I heard a sharp knock on our door. It was Sue. "Can you please come and get the mouse out of our room?" she asked. So I nudged Steve and we got dressed and went with our trash can in hand to see if we could catch this ROUS (Rodent Of Unusual Size - aptly named by Steve from the movie Princess Bride). The scene was the proverbial "women on the chair pointing in the direction of a particular corner", and every time the little varmint would show himself they would scream with a mixture of fear and laughter shouting, "Did you see him?!! There he is!! Get him!!! Steve was quick to think about building a wall as I moved everything out of the way except for the big guitar box that this obviously massive rodent was hiding behind. As we pulled the box out we saw the tiniest mouse I have ever laid eyes on, probably the size of my pinky finger (now aptly renamed by Steve, ROUSS - Rodent Of Unusually SMALL Size). Within moments the ladies were rescued from their unwanted roommate as we moved the big box and he darted around the corner and out the door into the night. Who was more frightened?? Sue and Julie or the mouse…? I'll let you decide…

Fortunately, Sue and Julie seemed to do just fine for sleeping through the night as did the rest of our group and we awoke to a cool morning in Iganga. After breakfast of eggs, fruit and toast we embarked on our first excursion of the day. This past February Musana opened an amazing Hospital/Clinic filled with all the technological advancements. There has never been anything like it in or near Iganga. It's a two story building with lab rooms, receiving rooms, examination rooms, sonogram, a dentist office, and even a new x-ray machine, soon to be completed. Truly remarkable. After a short tour of the facility we went to work assembling cotton ball and gauze packs and a couple other small jobs. By the time we left, the place was humming. Wow!

Our driver Kyemba (pronounced "Chemba") made a request of our team this year that we visit the school for his 3 youngest children and one grandchild. So, off we went down the dry, dusty red dirt roads through town and into the small rural areas of Iganga. As we arrived at the school, if I'm not mistaken, we were told that we could not see the children because they were in school. However, we were ushered in to the administrator's office and asked to sign the guest book. Now, something you should know about Kyemba is that he is a well-known and well-respected man about town - Kyemba tends to get his way. Before long here came the head master. Not only were Kyemba's children brought to us at the office but they accompanied us to every single classroom where we were paraded in front and introduced to every class. Did I mention there were almost 800 children at this school? We introduced ourselves a lot! After saying goodbye to Kyemba's children we loaded the van and back down the bumpy roads we went to grab a quick lunch at Musana before our next activity. 

Following a typical Uganda lunch of rice, potatoes, cabbage, pineapple, etc. we piled back into the van and off we went again to the second Women's Ministry of Musana. Barreling down the back roads, as you are being waved at and waving back to these friendly smiles up and down narrow pathways lined with humble houses made of homemade brick and dirt, you can't help but think about trying to wave like this in America everywhere you go. I wonder what kind of looks you might receive?! We finally arrived at the ministry site where we learned the art of Uganda tie-dye. As a former Youth Minister, I've done a lot of tie-dye but I've never seen it like this. The women each take a large piece of wet material and begin scrunching it up on a tarp, then they make scoops out of leaves to cup the dye and pour it precisely onto the material. After letting it set for 30 minutes or so they would show us the most beautiful patterns on the material. After it began to dry, even more brilliant colors would start to emerge from the fabric. It was amazing. Then they danced and sang for us before we closed in prayer and went on our way.

Once more we headed back to Musana for a short pit stop before heading to Kyemba's house for our evening meal. Now this has become a group tradition. Kyemba's wife has worked doing catering for years, and she and her daughters cook such an amazing feast every year for us. We spent the remainder of our evening visiting with his family, stuffing our bellies till we felt we would pop, and singing songs to close. A prefect end to a perfect day.

You might be thinking, "What else is there left to do?" Well, still to come this week is a raucous good time of music and hand motions with the 700+ children of Musana, plus the grand opening of Musana's new coffee shop and restaurant called Sol View featuring Robin Grey and Glenn Green in concert. I'm kinda' looking forward to that. ;-)

In closing, we value your prayers for our team that no one gets sick. Donna, a new addition to our team here from Indiana was bitten by a bug today and it gave us a bit of a scare, but she's doing well now. Pray for the continuing good work of Musana and that God's hand of favor is on them. We love you all and miss you, but we are enjoying what God is doing here immensely.

Sula Bulungi (Rest Well)

- Glenn

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My day in Uganda…a lonely turkey, dancing women, and coming out of the closet

Being a doer, these past days in Uganda have been different than I expected.  We've spent the majority of our time touring (really visiting) the homes and villages of women who've graduated from Musana's trade school as well as Musana itself.  It felt more like vacation, or an educational field trip, than it did work.  That said, I'm not sure where the idea of a mission trip as work springs from.  Perhaps it's the distance traveled and the expense incurred.  I think I want to be able to say I did something when I return.  Some list of accomplishments that proved I'd done "something" for the Kingdom on this trip.  I even imagined the conversations…what could I say I'd done, but seen things…that doesn't seem worth the expense.  But then…


I expressed my feelings to the team and they gently reshaped my thought processes.  They led me to see that what we were doing was building relationships, for the long term.  When I pushed back that I would most likely never see these women or children again and that building a momentary relationship seemed pointless, my wife led me to understand that I'm part of a foundation being built for future teams.  That each interaction built a new synapse or tissue connection in the body of Christ.  Some imperceptible growth that makes the body stronger and more resilient.  That whether they remember or I remember or neither or both of us remember, the muscle memory is being built.  Thankful the team was gracious with my slow learning…women and relationships…who knew!


Thus, today started with more visits…and a new perspective!  First we visited the Musana farm where they have livestock, to include a lonely gobbler who strutted his stuff for us, 11 cows, goats (to include a baby born no more than an hour or so before we arrived) and some fairly smelly pigs.  They also grow sugar cane, corn and jack grass (??) used to produce energy.  It felt great to be on a farm that was so productive and full of life.  We then visited a village where a group of women had a knitting business.  It was a humble, clean, peaceful place with lots of children.  After introducing themselves to us, they sang us a song.  And then we danced!  All of us, one at a time with these beautiful women…to include this reserved old soldier.  The team didn't see it but I teared up when I did it.  It broke off a chunk of that reserved nature I carry…it was a blessed moment…and built by a singular relationship moment…not through work.  I like dancing women!


Finally, Kathy and I worked!  We helped organize a closet, really a walk-in closet for the Musana staff.  Who knew they'd have Lacrosse gear in Uganda, or the complete "Hunger Games" series in book form or John Eldredge's "Wild at Heart".  As well as about a bazillion color markers and crayons.  It made me ponder what I would think to send if I was in the states and how it would be received by a ministry in a foreign land.  It definitely shaped my future ideas about "gifting".  I left covered in dust but happy to have "worked". 


I'm fairly certain that I will talk about the dancing women experience and not the cleaning the closet when I get home.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday in Uganda

I have not seen passion like there is here anywhere else in my life. From the way the women work to provide to how Haril and Andrea and all the other Musana staff are so determined to build a better community. Before our tour of the school this morning H told us the background of Musana and how it began. Haril and Andrea's constant work in the community is so inspiring.
Andrea and Haril really take the saying of "give man a fish and he'll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he'll have food for everyday." to heart and you can see it coming to work in their training program for women to learn profitable services. We were able to have a tour of that too. They have three trades women can learn, knitting, sewing, and cooking in the bakery. One of the wonderful leaders named Juliet told us that in Uganda many know a skill but they don't know how to run a business, Musana prepares women in their vocational training program how to do this so the can sustain themselves after the graduating the program. They even further go beyond this in teaching the women how to make,use, or find resources they will need for their business out of Musana. The women in the bakery class learn how to make a brick oven so they can cook the bread or other food they prepare. I love how they have such innovative ways of solving problems
Musana is continually working to solve problems and have many projects to do this. They are currently building a secondary school for children that graduate their primary school. This school will be a three story building with classes of 50 or so and have a science lab. The dorms for the children who board and go to the school have semi private rooms to give as a reward to boys and girls that show leadership in the school and community.
Musana is a community invested school and one of the ways they do this is by granting loans to aspiring business owners in the village. We were able to walk through the village and visit three of these businesses/homes and see the work they are doing. It amazed me that it was all women who we met today that were working and aspiring to grow their business. Ugandan women have a work ethic like no other.
I'm inspired by the women and kids and how they work together and lookout for not only each other, but us. Today after returning from the village Justine and I were hanging out in the community field where the village boys were paying us close attention. Young boys from Musana took notice of this and told us to go back up to the school because someone was calling for us, they later explained that they boys were from the village and weren't good and they took us away to protect us. I love, upon many other things, the selflessness of this culture and am humbled to take teachings from such young children on how to care.
The day was filled with many treasures among the wonderful tours we took. Chimba, our driver, was a walking encyclopedia picking up every plant and pointing out every tree telling us exactly what it was and how it grows. My personal favorite thing is driving through the villages and waving at the kids as they chant "munzogu!" I love noticing how they will smile and wave and as soon as you do the same back their smile grows about 10 times.
Joyous time as our team closes the day listening to the talented Robin and Glen as they play the flute and guitar and sing for us. We are all growing and learning together.
with love,

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Saturday, July 10th. Hello everyone! It has been a a great day filled with laughter and tears for me. We started off our day with a scrumcious breakfast from our wonderful caregiver(cook) Sarah. We had eggs, avocados, pineapples, mangos, toast, and my absolute favorite coconut coffee. We had a beautiful devotion followed by a worship song at the breakfast table. After, we headed to the church of Musana to worship and listen to the sermon with the children. Oh man, words cannot even describe what I saw and how I felt. It was more than beautiful, to be in the house of God with His children praising Him. They are the most joyful people I have ever met and have so little. I wanted to break down and cry right there in church but had 5 plus kids holding my hands, hugging my side, and dancing that I just held the tears back. The way they take care of each other and love each other is just so breath taking and comforting. Makes my heart so happy and makes me want to love the way they do. After the church service we went back up to our rooms to have lunch and just relax a little before going back down to the kids. We helped the kids sort beans which was so fun! They are so smart and such diligent workers, and did not leave their table till they were done sorting the beans and cleaning their area. Just amazes me because most children in America would not sit through baskets and baskets of bean sorting, but clean up and then help others around them finish their beans. Then when everyone finished cleaning up, the kids got to go have a little free time & boy oh boy they wore me out. We played basket ball, volleyball, and a new sport I learned called net ball. A few hours later we went down to the "futbol" field to watch the Musana leaders play soccer. While they were playing I got to go down behind the field and play soccer with the kids, and barefooted too! They are so amazing. They know so much about the sport and are passionate about it. To watch them put so much effort and pride in something they love was just beautiful. And to play a sport with them that I am passionate about and they are passionate about was just the best feeling in the world. After a an hour or so of playing soccer, our mission team headed back to freshen up and get ready to head to dinner. We ate at an-oh-so delicious place called Sol View. It is a restaurant that helps support Musana. After eating yummy food, we headed back to Musana and our team gathered in the gazebo and got to share a couple things that really touched heart. It was so awesome to hear what everyone had to say and to see the different things God is showing each of us. As if He is touching our hearts and opening our eyes all in different areas where we lack Him. Well it is 10:20here in Uganda, and those precious kids wiped me out, so off to bed for me. We miss all of you guys and keep sending prayers our way!

    Love and blessings,

Saturday, July 9, 2016

There are Treasures Everywhere

Saturday, July 9

"There are treasures everywhere!" One treasure, Karo is a beautiful woman about 20.  She was washing her clothes in a bin on her front porch.  She was wringing, rinsing and then hanging them on bushes to dry.  Her precious little girl, Angel (2)was sitting beside me while her mom did laundry and we talked.  Karo teaches literacy at Musana.  Her husband is a soldier in the Ugandan Army.  He has been working on the Ivory Coast for 6 months.  She said they talk each night.  She was excited to tell me about her church where she loves to worship her God on Sundays.  

Our cook, Sara made us a scrumptious dinner.  It is called a Rolex.  It's a thick tortilla- like wrap (fresh and warm) filled with a veggie omelet.  Avocados, mangos and pineapple abound! We're eating quite well.  Sara is fun and her son Evan, who is running around this lounge area as I write is like the team little buddy.  

Some other treasures were playing on the soccer field after Saturday 1/2 day of school.  Grace, Julie, Kathy, Robin and Patsy hung out with the kids. Games were played and songs were sung.  A few kids taught me (Robin) as song about Jesus saving their souls. I saw joy, love and contentment in their eyes.  

A few girls outside of the school area were helping their moms pump, store and carry water to their homes.  Many of their homes had chickens running around outside.  Oh, I have to tell you about the lady I saw in a long white robe and head dress herding 4 cows through the edge of the soccer field holding an ax in one hand and short spear in another.  I'm sure the cows were her treasures she was protecting:)

Logistics with luggage has been difficult.  The 13 bags that didn't make it on the flight with us from Amsterdam were retrieved by the airline.  Sue, Steve and Justine had to go 4 hours to the airport (one way) to pick them up.  There were challenges at the airport with correct forms and as I write, we are praying that they obtain them all and can come back to Musana for the night.

The weather is pleasant (73). There are hibiscus, and other tropical plants around Musana.  It's a very lush green.  The stars were brilliant last night. The psalm that resonated with me this morning was, "the nearness of God is my good."  For the treasures here and everywhere-indeed!

PS   Update:  Sue called and they are on their way back to Musana as I type. Also, approximately 30 min ago, a driver from the airport dropped off the three "missing" bags. PRAISE GOD!!! Thank you for your prayers!!! 


Friday, July 8, 2016

A Day of Rest in Mission -Team Barnabas

Finding rest doesn't have to mean doing nothing. There is sweet rest in service for the Lord. As we travel around getting to experience each of the teams and the work they are doing, we see some sweet examples of rest in the midst of service. As the construction team works hard putting up drywall in the heat they are surprised with a moment of rest getting to have a water balloon fight to cool down. As our artists create a mural to depict the wonderful things Camps on the Rio is doing in their community they are blessed with a moment of rest to enjoy raspas, as did many other teams. Team Timothy was blessed with unexpected free time to enjoy activities around the camp. Children were seen taking time to enjoy playing Jenga, carpet ball, swimming, and goofing around on a skateboard. Youth were found enjoying the quiet of the beautiful garden behind the soccer field where the Lord is sure to unveil his promises. Our Bible study leaders provided rest to the women of the community of Los Naranjos and in turn received rest through their conversation and building relationships. When we allow the Lord to to teach us how to rest in Him we will receive true rest. - Mary

Team Uganda Has Arrived - Late and Lighter

Our trip officially started on the 6th though in reality it has been in the plans for over six months. In January we had our first team meeting and there were six of us, only one other that had ever been to Uganda. A few months later I was in Colorado visiting a dear friend when I got an email from a Ugandan pastor. He asked if I could contact someone he had never met to discuss her making some hygiene kits we could then take with us. Turns out Kathy lives outside of Denver and she not only was willing to make the kits but decided she would like to join the team. Her goal is to teach the locals how to make them for availability and business opportunities. Also turns out she has a friend that wanted to go as well. So then our team was eight strong. Then our Worship leader asked if he could join the team. So just like that our six became nine. It is always exciting to see the enthusiasm for our journey escalate as we get closer and closer to departure. Wednesday night we had a team dinner, were prayed over, and packed. We are each allowed two big suitcases and two carryons. This trip we have a total of 17 big bags (for the six original) plus everyone's individual stuff. Amazing the amount of stuff we are taking with us, but it is hard to say no when someone asks to deliver an item half way around the world! And so we are taking the hygiene kits, items Musana has specifically requested, seed for the Village Health Workers, vitamins for children and pregnant women and the requisite chocolate!!


So Friday morning my phone started ringing at 3:30 am. The flights out of Denver were delayed (and then cancelled) to Atlanta. Kathy and Patsy weren't sure if they would be arriving Thursday with the rest of us, or on Friday. Fortunately, they were able to reschedule and were to meet us in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, our flight out of Atlanta by delayed by over 3-1/2 hours and it became very questionable as to whether or not we would arrive in time to catch the next leg. Fast forward eight hours and we disembarked to find they were holding the plane! And so, for those of you old enough to remember the O.J. Simpson commercials with him sprinting through the airport, that was us. Good news we made the flight. Bad news… only four of our 17 bags arrived. Yes, that read four!! And so we spent the next two hours in the airport filling out paperwork, and with luck they will arrive at Musana tomorrow.


So we arrived at Banana Village around 1:30 a.m. and bless Jemimah's heart, she was there to greet us. We all fell into bed, and this morning upon awakening there were NO monkeys. We then started our trek to Musana. It was so good to see the countryside again; to see the people and children along the side of the highway. Ironically, as we were driving here, we passed Umar driving to Kampala. What are the chances? It was so cool to be driving through traffic and see a familiar face. We arrived at Musana and immediately saw Tony, Grace, Evan, Dezi and Sarah. (You wouldn't recognize Dezi). It was like old home week. Then we took a detour down to the school where I was able to see both Atwiiya and Rashidah. Atwiiya still doesn't say a word, but her eyebrows are working overtime. Rashidah is as beautiful as ever and more shy. Jen, I saw Reagan and he wanted to know why you were not here. He said to be sure I said hi to you. Vicki, I saw Vicky and she too said to say hi. I am supposed to tell you both that you have to come back next year. Then we saw Jacob, Isaac and so many other familiar faces. We got a huge hug (no bigger than what we gave back) form Florence and then later tonight got to see Susan. We also got hugs from Giddeon. Being back is amazing and once again I am so thankful for all of you who support me, and the team, on this journey.

Needless to say we are exhausted but invigorated. Tomorrow our work begins and I can't wait to see what is in store for us.

Love you all,


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day 1 in Mission - Medical Team Update

What a sweet time serving the colonia los naranjos. The medical team stretched out of our comfort zones and learned so much thru the process.

This year we offered a hand massage to people as they were waiting. Despite the language barrier you could see the delight in their faces as we took time to care for them with essential oils.

This was a perfect setting to ask if there was anything that we could pray for them while they got the massage. We were so moved as each patient accepted. We prayed individually for them and when asked we also prayed for their families. One man when initially asked if he would like prayer, declined. He patiently waited for his turn in he clinic and watched as we prayed over others. He later returned and asked if we could pray with him too. Our community volunteers were so moved that they asked if we would pray for them too.

Our last patient of the day was very sick and was referred to a hospital. Before leaving the entire team had an opportunity to stand on the street corner and pray with her. We were in awe as we witnessed the Lords hand on her.

Wow.... This is day one - Can't wait to see what G-d does tomorrow !

Mechelle Richard Miriam Makenzie Kat Abby

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Haiti Day 9

When I first arrived in Haiti I was scared out of my mind. My parents and family had been telling me that even though I said I knew a little of what to expect and feel, I had no idea what it was really going to be like. They were right. I remember thinking this is another world, there were people every where and the buildings were all crumbled with trash piled in the streets. But what I remember specifically was that I did not feel safe. It took me a few days to adjust to the everyday life in Haiti without all of the perks  we have in the U.S. Believe it or not, it did not always feel the best to work in the heat with sweat running down everywhere. Yes...everywhere. But when our team made it to the orphanage it was almost as if the heat didn't phase me. Every single one of the kids became attached to a member of our group within 30m of the first time most of us saw them. I came into the orphanage thinking I would be the one who would try and serve and love on them, but I can't remember a moment where one of them was not willing to sacrifice what little they had for us. It was so unbelievably fun to meet each one of them. Even some of the teenagers at the youth group had me laughing almost the whole service. Our last night at the church all of the kids walked us to the van holding our hands and waving us goodbye, and some tried to stowaway with us. Trust me it was tempting to let them. This morning we had to wake up at 4:25am and pile in the van at 5:25. As usual, some of us got motion sickness from the gas-to-break pattern the entire ride to the airport. And as we went threw security I got stopped because apparently you can't fly with an entire can of aerosol bug spray. When we finally got on the plane I was able to look at each person on my team, confidently knowing I became closer to them. 


Haiti Day 8

It has been a truly amazing week of serving God in Haiti. Yesterday we had to say a sad goodbye to the kids at the orphanage and the youth at Source de la Grace, and today we got to see the beauty of Haiti at the beach. It was so much fun! Haiti is SO beautiful! You look one way and see the beach and the other and see mountains! 

At the beach that we went to there was a dock that you could jump off of and we spent most of our time at the beach there. It was really cool seeing our team just have fun together having diving contests, cannonball contests, and seeing who can jump the farthest. While the beach was really fun what really stuck with me is the hope that the beauty of Haiti brings. It could easily be a top tourist destination with a little bit of simple marketing. If Haiti, as a tourist destination, was marketed right it would open up so many job opportunities for people who could otherwise not be able to find one, and that gives me great hope for the people of Haiti. 

-Emily Green

Haiti Day 7

This morning I was woken up by the sound of Mac’s feet running around in super tiny circles to get her cross country workout in for the day. After that it took me awhile to force my mind awake, but once I did I realized it was our last day working along side the community at Source de la Grace. I went to breakfast thinking how strange it is that in the very short time we’ve spent in Haiti it feels like home, and after spending only seven days together the amazing people on our team feel like family. Our breakfast was amazing as are all meals in Haiti courtesy to Francois and Angela, and if you were wondering all fruit in Haiti tastes 10000 times better than in America. After breakfast we crammed into the van and left for Source de la Grace around 8:30, and our car ride as always consisted of some of the most bizarre conversations strengthening our bonds even more. When we arrived we were automatically swarmed by the children, and where ever we went they followed. while we were there we played all sorts of games, we arm wrestled, played soccer, jumped rope, and a ton of hand games, but one of my favorite things to see in that first chunk of the morning was Bryce laying upside down on the tile stairs next to a little boy after playing out side for a little over an hour, but it wasn't just the fact they were laying next to each other it was also that the little boy would do whatever Bryce did and he just looked up to him and you could just feel the love radiate off of them. Next we went over to the children's home, because before we were in the church (its all on one compound), and when we went over there we were surrounded by the joy and the kids, but I immediately noticed that there was a little girl, Sarah, crying, but Emily Green was over there with her ready to help her in whatever way she could because God was pouring his love into her and giving her the kind of heart to go to her and do something. Next we went to eat lunch of amazing peanut sandwiches made by the rockstars Mac and Liz, and PG brought his artwork and it was amazing to see how God blessed every single one of us with a different gift and was working through us to do his will. After lunch we went back out to play with the kids and I finally saw Christlove, the girl I connected with the most in the orphanage and we jumped rope played volleyball and hand games, then she decided she wanted to do my hair… I can now officially say I've gotten corn rows (probably the most painful hairstyle ever), but you can ask any of my teammates, including the guys, it is completely and totally worth every single second of it because of how happy it makes them to be able to play with your hair. After they played with our hair for hours we left for a little while to stop at the Good Market and then the guest house. At the market we got mainly cultural food, Niaya, Mac, and I got this cool Haitian pina colada drink, and Bryce and Liz bought us a ton of the Haitian version of ramen noodles for tomorrow night. Next we went to the Guest house and had some relaxing time and played games and just sat around and talked, then we loaded up into the van to go back to Source de la Grace for youth and goodbyes. I think youth is absolutely beautiful, because they sing and they have such sweet voices, and when they pray everyone prays out loud at once and it makes like this beautiful song like chant because of all the different things being prayed for in two different languages. Also tonight at youth Grace, Esther, Emily Green, Kristie, and some people from the church  shared their testimonies beautifully. Afterwards I was called over by four girls and we sat and played games and ate s’mores until we had to leave and say our goodbyes. It was so hard to say goodbye but it felt good to know we were able to make connections with the people in such a short amount of time. When we got back to the guest house we ate dinner and had a devotional and went to sleep around midnight. good bye *waving hand*         


Monday, June 27, 2016

Haiti Day 6

Bonswa, koman ou ye? 

We started this wonderful day with another amazing breakfast from Francois. We are so unbelievably thankful for the effort she has put into making our stay in Haiti so hospitable even though we have once again returned to the Devil’s Armpit. 

As today is Sunday, we went to a church service that was almost entirely in Creole which was a very interesting experience. Even though we didn’t know what he was saying it was astounding to see the passion in his voice (it was very loud). We went on stage and sang with the youth group “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. We practiced it a butt ton yesterday night and it was cool to see how it all came together after so much effort. We also met the Haitian version of Ms. Sharon Green, which was pretty rad. She was the worship leader and had all of the same mannerisms.

After church we went to the National Haitian Museum and learned about the history of Haiti and how the past has contributed to both the culture’s strength and brokenness. A nation of slaves rose up with incredible strength to overcome their oppressors. I can’t imagine coming from a culture of entirely oppressed people that have been held down over and over again. When we were at Reach Global, Dave talked about the lack of entrepreneurship in Haiti that causes 10 women to sell the exact same mangos all lined up in a row. This drives down prices and reinforces the material poverty that already exists in the country. This is all routed in the turmoil in Haiti. But even with one dictator after another, Haiti has hope. The museum also had an art gallery with some incredible pieces. It wasn’t the typical art that we have all seen 1,000 time: Renoir, Pacaso, Monet. Instead, they were all Haitian artist who had a completely different take on the way the world looks than our own Eurocentric beliefs. I was looking at a painting with James that I saw a horrible message in: the poor work hard yet only the rich florist from it. But sweet James told me it meant that the harder you work the more money you make and the better person you can become. I want to be like James.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Haiti Day 5

Today we visited the orphanage for the very first time. Its been the best trip ever. When we first got to the orphanage, the children surrounded us and hugged and just loved on us for the whole time. When I first came out to see all the children, i thought that they wouldn't like me because, they liked anjian so much i wouldn't be the same. But these Kids didn't care they just wanted to be around us and never let us go. 

Another fun situation that happened was that 2 little boys came up to me with our translator James. Reshcard asked if i had a really big suitcase to bring him to texas so he could be with me. Then i told him it wasn't legal for children to be at the bottom of airplanes in a suitcase. Then he asked me how old would he have to be to get a passport and leave on a plane to visit us, i answer probably 18, and he was appalled. 

Every kid at the orphanage were the most loving, funny, and super kids ever. I cant wait to spend these past days with my new family. 


Friday, June 24, 2016

Haiti Day 4

Today, me and the team said goodbye to our friends at reach global and headed back to port au prince, and though it was hard to leave, I knew God had big things awaiting us back in the city.  After many miles and a few hours rest back at the guesthouse, we connected up with the group at the church, who are all super cool, and it was super encouraging to see a youth group that met hundreds of miles away from Riverside unite with mine over worship and silly games, which was really a God given encouragement to me. On the way back, me and Kristie Vaval talked about some of the similarities we both had growing up as Pastor’s kids and it was yet another picture that God loved me and that honestly the only thing separating our culture’s was materialism (seriously, they even have their own trump) but that also the Haitian people are some of the most strong and loving you’ll ever meet.

It’s been a pretty wild ride folks. Haiti, just as it always has, has brought incredible God given blessings along with trials that are unforeseen and at times difficult to work through. Life has been made easier by this team, and today i am especially thankful for them. The last few days have been new territory for me, as we visited reach global and helped out their mission team in the countryside, now we turn to the orphanage in Port-au-prince and partnering with the youth of the local church. The last few days I have been emotionally and physically tested, but have absolutely  loved getting to know the people on this trip, as every one of them brings something unique to the table. I ask that over the next three days you pray that we are able to give each other space, and that we are well rested to walk into the Lord’s promise. 

Isaiah 6:8


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Haiti Day 3

Hello parents and friends. First, all is well and as some of you may have heard, Camron mistook his finger for a tire and was cut, but is all good. Even though he has a marshmallow on his finger, he did not let it keep him from making relationships and spreading Gods grace. This morning, we woke up and traveled to a nearby village to help the residents build tire gardens, which provide a good source of food. Canyon, Camron, and Ryan worked with a man named Joe, who is viewed as a leader in the community. the Ladies also worked in and around the community including sifting compost for the gardens! Afterwards we went to a cafe run by a local ministry that helps provide jobs to the people in the community. In the afternoon, we gathered with the kids in the community to play soccer and play with them. It was lots of fun and was a good team/relationship building experience. When Canyon went to get a soccer ball out of the water he stepped knee deep in mud and covered his shoes in socks. To show him some love a couple of kids made him take off his socks and shoes, and they went and helped him wash them. This is our third attempt at writing this, thanks to Liz, so we hoped you enjoyed 

-Camron and Canyon

Haiti day 2

It is our first day here in Haiti, and man was it a whirlwind. We started it off by learning a few common Creole phrases (which of course I forgot within 20 minutes). We then headed out on a walk around the community. The purpose of this journey was to get a feel and understanding for the community that we are being emerged in. Our sweet translators were so proud to show us around. Community is all to them. After our little adventure, we ate some and walked down the block to a road made out of softball size rocks and covered with pot holes. Our goal was to level this road. We started off with one very huge pile of rocks. We worked by shoveling, spreading, and tossing rocks for what seemed like an eternity. About half way through, a large truck drives up. He opened up the bed and pouring out came another huge load of rocks. We thought "okay, we can do this"! We put our smiling faces on and toughed it out! About half way through THAT load, guess what? Another truck pulls up and dumps off another huge load of rocks. A bit weaker, and with smiles a bit more faded, we took on this next pile. FINALLY we were finished! We had spread out all of the rocks and the road looked fabulous. We were all relieved and ready to go home, until  we got word that, yep, you guessed it, another truck was coming with another huge load of rocks... Great. By the end of the day all of us American people were exhausted and probably not the best company to be around. However, for some crazy and amazing reason, these awesome members of this community had come to help us. It seemed as if everyone wanted a part of restoring this road. This community worked together to achieve their goal. I think we can all take a lesson from these people... Especially myself. I get so caught up in doing everything myself that I forget that I cannot do it alone. We need the support and guidance from others that we would not be able to achieve by ourselves. Oh, and all thanks to God for teaching me this lesson on the first day, or else this would end up being a pretty unproductive, draining, and all together messy trip. 

-Niaya Ramirez

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Haiti Day 1

So we are officially in Haiti!! Our flights today went surprisingly fast. It must have been the tvs with free movies and games that passed time so quickly. Lessons learned today: not to buy crepes from the airport, and watching the movie 10 cloverfield lane was a complete waste of time. 

We arrived in Port-Au-Prince just as the sun went down. I thought I had a clear understanding of what Haiti was like, but Hearing stories and seeing pictures of it is completely different than actually being there in person. The moment we stepped out of the airport, I didn't expect to smell burning trash. I guess it had never occurred to me that garbage would be everywhere. Everything, like the buildings and culture here are so different than home. I didn't understand how some of the others were talking and not paying attention to everything around us as we drove to the guesthouse. I couldn't stop watching and soaking all our surroundings in. 

The guesthouse is nice, and francoise is very kind. The dinner she prepared was great too! I'm so excited for what's to come on this trip.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Final Day in Jerusalem

Final Day – Jerusalem


Looking back over the last week it is hard to put into words how special this trip was.  We had an amazing team that was so joyful, loving and fun and I was truly blessed to be a part of this group.  Last year when we went we made some important connections with ministries that were on the ground and this year we continued to build on that foundation.  We have all seen God move so beautifully each and every day it was clear that we were right in the sweet spot.  It was so encouraging to see how many Jewish people are now coming to believe in Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah.  The conference was so important because it gathered together all of the ministries that are currently doing service on the ground which provided us with a wide range of opportunities to connect. 

Looking ahead we all see God extending on ongoing invitation to this incredibly important place and we are excited about future possibilities.  As we met with people on the ground what we discovered is that they are all quite isolated and lonely.  There has been no good way to connect all of the ministries until this past week. So we took time to take each one to share a meal, receive prayer, and just spend time listening and encouraging.  That seems to be the thing that God is doing the most – allowing us to bring encouragement to the leaders that are on the ground. 


Yesterday we remembered our past trips with Scott as we took to Mt Arbel for a full yet exhilarating climb up the mountain.  It was breathtakingly beautiful at the top where it overlooks the Sea of Galilee.  This is the mountain where Jesus might have gone away to pray.  The weather is unseasonably warm right now at a whopping 102 degrees.  Needless to say, it was a little warm trekking up those trails.  And then to end the day we went to have a final dinner overlooking the Sea of Galilee. 


It has been an incredible week and we are so thankful for the opportunities we have had to serve in Israel.  And now we turn towards home….