Good bye Uganda

It was a splendid day of worship at Prayer Palace.  It is so exciting to circle the clock tower downtown and look to the left where choir music fills the air and the wood beams high in the air announce Prayer Palace expansion.  The chairs have been rearranged to put the construction at the back of the ssanctuary,, so it feeels a bit like an outdoor camp meeting since the platformm is a raised area with a tent where the wall has been taken out.  I was sorry to sit on the platform rather than the front row seats we are used to, but the choir was to our side, and the Spirit moves so mightily there, we were soon caught up in the worship.  They sang all of our favorite songs.  The choir sang “You are Awesome” and Grivas led the congregation in one of our favorite Lugandan songs.  We call it “oh Sunny Day,” but it is actually “Osanide” which means Lord, you are worthy.”

Grivas preached from Psalm 103, a passage I had quoted that morning as I lay in bed and prayed for the service.  It was powerful.  BTW, they take a Thanksgiving offering early in the service, then at the end, a gathering of the tithes, then a third free will offering.  Grivas acctually took up a 4th offering, asking people to pledge payment for one pole in the new sanctuary.  The platform filled with people who would support the building project.  These are giving people!!

Judy spoke on the anointing of David and his extraordinary faith in killing a lion, a bear and a giant.  She affirmed the anointing on Prayer Palace, how we had seen the drawings from their vision 6 years ago, and now God’s call through the television ministry to six nations.  Her prophesy was both an affirmation that God had kept His promise, and that He was leading them as nation changers.  It was an incredible service.  We got out about 3 in the afternoon, and had a last dinner with Eric at Java, which is a restaurant popular with foreigners as well as Ugandans for its semi-familiar food.

Grivas is coming for breakfast with us, and we will pray together.  Brief meetings with Willie from Waterstep and Pastor Steve, representing the Antioch alliance, and then we are off to Entebbe for the 30 plus hour plane adventure.  Our hearts are full,, and our arms are empty missing loved ones at home.   A grand reunion lies ahead.  Pray for our favor in customs annd connections.  It is hard to keep everything together for so many flights andd so little sleep.  The JOY of the Lord is our strength!

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Prayer Palace Sunday

My heart is always drawn to New Life Church on Sunday morning.  Judy is speaking at Prayer Palace this morning, and I have been praying for our service here and yours there through the night.  We are expecting a very supernatural visitation from God today.  I am curious as to how we will hold  service in their sanctuary that is in the middle of construction.  You can now see Prayer Palace roof from the center of Kampala.  There is lots of excitement and vision as the work progresses.

Let me catch you up on our ministry over the weekend.  Frday was a shopping day.  The craft market is only open every other friday, and it is a delight.  Artisans are carving, weaving, and creating everywhere, sitting on tarps, and a city block of beautiful creations are for sale.  I donate my clothes each year, so I have more room for baskets, and this year bull horn creations.  It’s a really fun day.

Saturday we returned to the orphanage to address many things.  People in the US have sacrificed and given so much for these children, and we want to have a close relationship there so there is accountability and a bond in ministry that is God directeed.  We hiked down to the place where the cistern was built that will eventually supply clean water to the orphanage as well as the community.  I was making jokes about snakes as we stepped carefully on the thick brush, but I was only half kidding.  Passtor Steve carried a big stick, and he promised if we were fortunate to find a snake, he would cook it for me for dinner.  Then I was REALLY glad we didn’t run on to a snake.  We visited the pig operation that supports daily operations.  Then we met the pastor who is growing a church in the community with services at Life Mercy on Wednesdday, Friday, and 3 services on Sunday.  We walked the land with Dixon and Willie, the Waterstep experts.  We are SO blessed to have partnered with them.  I have never met a more diligent African.  Dixon knows every detail of the water and sanitation needs, and can explain all the options available in a country where clean water is so scarce.  Precise time and detail is not common in Ugandan culture.  He really is sent from God to help us.

We visited with the contractors who are constructing the main hall buildding.  The homemade bricks have beeen baked.  They stack them, I believe they said 10,000 per stack, with a large hole  in the middle where they burn a fire for a couple days.  They are originally formed in a wood form and left in the sun until they are stackable.  A homemade wheel barrow carries them to the building, and the men threw them one at a time up to the homemade scaffoldinng whose safety is surely dependent on the Holy Spirit.  A young man, whom David said was a graduate from our orphanage and school, carried a square bucket of concrete and hoisted it up to the men working on the second story.  Their rhythm in moving and laying bricks and mortar was almost musical.

David met with us and explained more of the government requirements, and we were excited to learn that he has purchased a machine to process timber, and is using it to generate extra money for the building projects.  In spite of his stroke and partial blindness from last year, he is full of the joy of the Lord, and is dreaming God’s dreams.  The oldest children finished 3 days of government exams this weeek.  There were 29 students.  The headmaster was confident all would pass.  Praise God!  We give you the good report that God is mulltiplying your giving, and this year we are so excited to see the work spilling over into the community as they will benefit from the water improvements and church plant.  The orphanage pastor’s name is Andrew.  Please pray for him.

Saturday evening we met with Louis, the accountant/pastor/church planter who has miraculously talked the muslim land owner into selling him the piece of land he has beeen dreaming about for so long.  When he talked to him in early 2016, the owner told him he had no land to sell, and sold a partial plot to someone else.  Now Louis will own that piece, plus another small plot behind.  In Uganda, a property has to be 50 ft by 100 feet to get a title.  Louis was beaming as he showed us the paperwork, that actually required releases from 5 different owners since he was piecing two plots together to get a title.  Total cost, around $2,200.  Planting a new church on owned land in Uganda really is a miracle.  Louis will start his advanced Diploma studies in Prayer Palace’s school for ministers in two weeeks.  So God has helped us to connect these two ministries together.  The promise that one can slay a thousand and two can slay ten thousand surely applies here.  The hand of God is heavy on these leaders.  I gave Louis a special gift that God told me to bring to Uganda.  The moment was a healing miracle for me.  Just one more supernatural plan God had set in motion long before we stepped on Ugandan soil.

Three weeks is a long time to be separated from family and church and home.  You are especially dear to our hearts today as I think about packing and returning to a very different life and time.  It is so amazing to experience God’s work, His faithfulness, His unfolding plans, in a place few people would imagine.  I will try to post once more before we face customs and cramped planes and awful food… trying not to think about that yet!!

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Sunrise in Kampala

A storm in the night kept me up for a while, but this morning it is  amazing to look out over the city and feel the tropical sun.  We have been enjoying long days of ministry here.  Our days in Africa   are coming to a close, and there is so much more we would like to do.

Our conference in Kwelere has grown in the spiritual.  People are hungry to know God’s presence, and we are encouraged about stories that continue to bless us because of the Bibles and bicycles we have sent throughout Uganda.  We had a wonderful time of praise annd worship, teaching and preaching, prayer and deliverance.  Art and Judy really connected with the leaders with stories from their lives of God’s healing and protection.  The Ugandans are amazed that Americans have problems annd trials.  It truly set the atmosphere for our afternoon ssession of praying for healing and deliverance.  We prayed for people to find jobs, for severe conflict in homes, and for direction in ministry.  There were many who were sick with HIV and malaria.  And many talked about being tormeented by spirits.  I got a front row experieence with that, and the Lordd gave me direction.  I’m not sure I can fully explain, because the afternoon was so supernatural, I felt like afterwards there were details I could not remember.  I just knew the Holy Spirit was at work and I claimed His promise to pray for me when I didn’t have words.  A woman came to me and said he right side was paralyzed.  I lifted her arm and it was like lifting heavy wood.  Her fingers were stiff, and she began to shake when I took her hand.  I knew it was demonic.  Thanks to my daughter-in-law, I had brought roller bottles of essential oils that we used to anoint wih oil.  I grabbed her hand, began to pray, and started painting her arm from her fingertips upward, quoting healing scriptures and commanding any spirit that was not of God to go.  She began to wail.  I took her iron arm told her to proclaim the name of Jesus, to see the blood of Jesus that flowed for her deliverance.  As she spoke Jesus’ name, her arm began to feel like flesh.  I bent her fingers and she weakly took hold of my hand.  I could feel her exhaustion, so I began to pray for full restoration.  A peace came over us like standing on a beach and feeling waves of wind.  I took a deep breath as I rubbedd her arm, then she lifted it in the air and spoke in Lugandan.  I recognized the words for God and Father.  I asked heer to write down Psalm 91, and 46, and to speak them out loud over her body and to call on Jesus’ name at all times.  There is so much fear in the slums.  Gideon told us in past years about the wiitchcraft and evil that took place i the very place where he has purchased the land and claimed it for God’s glory.  Many were delivered from tormeent that afternoon.  It was such holy ground.

Last night we hosted a reception at our hotel for the Antioch Alliance pastors and their wives.  We bought pineapples, papaya, bananas, and melon at the market,, and the hotel chef graciously offered to cut it for us.  The heaping plates of delicious tropical fruit looked like artwork beyond our greatest expectations.  We bought a dark chocolatee cake at the market,, but they didn’t know what to do with it.  Processed food is so foreign to them.  We gave each one some simple gifts.  I had brought power sticks for charging a cell phone for each pastor,, and Judy had beautiful necklaces for the wives.  We brought 25 small backpacks, so they could take one for each of their children, and they were delighted to find a toothbrush andd toothpaste inside.  I was thankful I had gone to see Kerry Goodin the week before we left, and he sent the supplies from his dental office.  It was so good to visit with each of the pastors and hear about their work.  Judy anointed each one with oil and prophesied over their ministry; then they prayed together for us.  It was so powerful.  Gordon and Steve brought me gifts that women had made on the sewing machines we worked so hard to bring over.  Theey are amazing!!

There is much more to tell, but I am out of time.  A few more exciting days and we will fight the traffic jam of all traffic jams back to Entebbe airport.

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Leadership Conference at Kwelere

We have had  a couple of glorious long days, and I want to report before our conference starts this morning.  We visited a government school on Monday, and it was so helpful to understand how our Waterstep people work with other schools, as well as understandinng curriculum and government regulations.  The people here want to help everywhere you go.  After touring the school and meeting with the headmaster to discuss his operation, Willie, [the Waterstep expert] invieted us to his house and we talke about the builldding options available for our most urgent needs at Life Mercy Orphange.  The pit toilets he built at the governmet school are far superior to the ones we have, and there are chemical options that extend the life of the building.  [God cares about the details–this is the a little much]  We want to talk to Grivas as well about some of these options.  He has more thann 600 children at his orphanage.

I hurry on to tell you about our conference.  We are meeting at Gideon’s new church, and pastors have come from all over Uganda.  You haven’t lived if you haven’t been to a 7 hour African worship service!!  I think I might actually get rhythm if I stayed another month.  I love the joy in the Lord that lights up the faces of the worshipers.  Pastor Gordon is translating for us, and he is mightily anointed.  His is the ministry up north in Jinja, and I am continually amazed at his ministry.  He is a preacher and evangelist, and also runs a community center that provides for the elderly, the single moms, the orphan children, the sewing classes and more.  He goes out to huts in rural areas and sprays for beddbugs–hey that’s ministry.  He just has an incrediblee heart for the whole person and is the most energeetic person on earth.  He is clever, a jokester, which is really fun, beecause with the cultural andd language differences, you don’t always get his jokes immediately.  He laughs andd dances around, and you know there is something good to figure out.  He just makes life fun, and if we have a need, he knows the best places in Kampala.  He has made all the arrangements for buying Lugandan Bibles, sturdy bicycles for the pastors, pharmaceuticals for the medical work we did last year–Gordon is the go to man to get it done.

The church in Kwelere has expanded it’s walls in the years we have beeen here.  It used to be a tin bake oven.  Now it is larger, and the walls are homemade bricks with large holes for windows, which they will eventually buy.  We are so proud of Pastor Gideon who has bought the land and expanded his sanctuary.  The problem is still the road.  It’s a bit scary to drive in on the red mud slide with a deep sewer on the side.  You have to walk in the last 100 feet or so with deep ruts and rocks in the red clay path.  But you can hear the singing by the time you get to that point, and there is an excitement in the air as you approach the church. A single light bulb hangs over the pulpit.  I don’t know why they make pulpits so tall here.  It puts my notes too close to my farsighted eyes, but that helps me be more spontaneous and sensitive to where the Lord would take us.  I spoke about Barnabus ad Paul as pastors, using Acts 11 to contrast with I Corinithians.  The theme of God’s great grace runs through both the church at Antioch, where Barnabus saw God’s grace immediately, as well as the Church at Corinth, where a whole book of problems ended with “by God’s grace, I am what I am.”  The pastors have small notebooks and scraps of paper to take notes.  It would be wonderful to bring them notebooks and nice pens one year as a gift.

Today we will preach through the morning session, and after lunch, we will have a prayer and healing service which will probbly last about 3 hours.  I am wearing my all cotton lightest clothes; it is a sunny day on the equator.  As we left the church yesterday, there was a little girl, maybe about 3 years old, whose one eye was completely turned in, and the other appeared to be cloudy.  She was alone as she reached her hands out to me.  I stopped andd prayed for her, but her face has been in my mind ever since.  If God would deliver her today, it would change that whole area.  There is such hopelessness there.  It is the poorest part of Kampala, and the conditions are just not scenes I can capture with words.  What a contrast between the people who stare at us as we walk to the church, and the bubbling over joy that floods the house as we step over the high mud threshhold into a holy sanctuary.  I am so exited about today.  I wish my children and granddchildrenn could experience the presence of God in this place the way he has privileged me to know.  More soon….

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Worship in the inner city

Sunday services Uganda style are hard to describe.  People here love singing and dancing before the Lord.   I went to Passtor Steve’s church,, which I can only describe as turning right past the third cow and left where the ruts in the red clay road are 8 inches deeep.  I was thrilled as we got close and the music filled the market place nearby.  We arrived about 9:45, and Rita, Steeve’s wife was leading a choir of singers and dancers.  The building is a wood frame covered with corrugated tin sheets.  There are no windows, so this American felt a bit like I was being oven baked.  About 11 we stood up, andd I was seeing stars.  There are no reestrooms in the slums, so I hadd intentionally stopped drinking around 7:00.  It was a dilemma.  Should I ddrink the water in front of me, or see if the dizziness passed?  I had an energy fizz stick in my back pack, so I poured an inch of water,, added the fizz stick and gulped it down.  In two or three minutes, I was back in the spirit of joy and worship, andd enjoyed it immensely.  Steve introduced me to speak around 12:30.  I use a lot of scripture when I speak, and it is a problem for interpretation.  But a couple of times, I stopped and waited for the interpreter to find the scripture in a Lugandan translation.  People struggle to read, and Bibles are scarce andd precious.  I quit worryig about a smooth presentation, because I could tell from the peoples’ reponses that the truth was clearer whenn I stopped to listen, explain and to read.  The Word is powerful and alive, in eveery language.

I finished about 1:30, and it is tradition for someone to stand annd summarize the message when you are finished.  That’s always very enlighteninig, as you find out what they truly understood, and what did not connect.  I was so happy with their responnse.  They came to me after kneeling ddown to thank mee for coming..  The honor is almost embarrassing, but I loved hearing their responses and greeting the children.

I bought another sewing machine for Pastors Stevee and Gordon,, and I hadd asked about it.  Sometimes it hard to know if the gifts are relevant.  Steve drove me to a shop and I recognized the proprieter.  She had been at the service.  She makes dresses and teaches the young women at the church to sew.  The clothing was beautiful.  I ordered two dresses.  She sells them for $3 each.  I gave her $5, and Pastor Steve will bring them to me on Thursday.

We got to Pastor Steve’s house around 3 and had matoke and rice.  I was still very dehydrated, but they had bought Fanta Orange soda, probably something speecial for me.  I begged to decline.  Matoke sits heavy on the stomach.  I was grateful to get back to the hotel around 4:30, and had some bottled water.

David and Sumalie Matovu, the orphanage directors came around 8:15, and we went over the water purification, the P7 exams that will happen next week for the oldest students,, and the two buildings in progress, as well as the cistern we buit last year, and making it available to the community.  We will return to the orphanage on Saturday to finalize ways we can help the children this year.  The need is great.  I don’t know how they manage to feed everyone, let alone all of the other overhead.  It is truly God’s work.  It was after 11 when we prayed for one another aand gave hugs.  I am sleeping so well in spite of the noise.

We are up early this morning to pounding on the doors and barking dogs, and scrubbing the parking lot with stiff brooms.  At 5:30 a.m.?  Yes, it wwas 5:30.  We have a meeting this morning at a neighboring orphanage, so I will rush this.  Thank you all for your prayers.  Judy is feeling very well after several days of struggle, and I know God has provided His strength for His miraculous plans in these ayss.

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Seeking Wisdom and God’s Ways

Our Saturday was full of meetings to help us make ddecisions on how to invest here to make the greatest lasting impact for the kinigdom with the funds God has provided.  I am so thankful for Bishop Grivas who has provided us with a van and driver for the entire time we are here.  His heart is for the nation, so even though our work this week is with inner city churches with almosst no resources, we still have the infrastructure to work.

The Bishop met us for breakfast, and we went over many issues that need to be resolved at Life Mercy Orphanage.  Grivas has an orphanage and school of more than 600 children, so he has the years of expertise we need to understand how the government is involved, how to set up clean water systems, curriculum needs, etc. His school is about 2 hours away andd we have been there in years past.   He collects rain water into tanks from the downspouts, and also has a “bowl hole” at the primary school and other at the seconddary school.  We drilled a bowl hole at Life Mercy three years ago, but it is not producing enough water.

Dixon and Willie are water experts, and we met with them in the afternoon.  They have spent many days at our orphanage, and last year, we were able to hire their organization to build a cistern at the spring nearby.  The problem came with the man who owns land betweeen the spring and our 8 acre campus.  Most people in Uganda just fill up 20 gallon jugs from the dirty rivers and streams and carry it many miles.  Getting water can consume a good portion of life.  Getting clean water is a high priority for us this year, so we talked about different ways we can use the tanks and purifiers we have aleady purchased, solar electric vs. hand pumps at the cistern, etc.  The spring is massive, and a hand pump at the cistern would provide clean water for the entire village.  We decided to install the hand pump, and after we meet with David Matovu tomorrow, we will decide the most cost effective way to get water up to the orphanage property.

We also went with Louis to a property in an impoverished Muslim neighborhood where he has found a piece of land about 50 ft by 65 ft, that can bee purchased for $2,000.  If he owns the land rather than renting it, no one will be able to take his church.  He can build a worship building and pit latrine on the property for about $500 if he uses handmade bricks.  Can you imagine planting an entire church for $2,500???  He has been saving money for about a year, and has $300.  We want to help him get enrolled in Grivas’s ministry school, and we are praying about further help for him to minister in this community.  He brought his 6 year old daughter with him, and she was delightful.  He also has younger twins.  Louis has an accounting degree, and works at Lindsay.  We were drawn to his heart for ministry since the first year we began coming heere.  Thee needs are so great!

This morning we are going to the inner city churches with the Antioch Alliance.  I will be speaking at Pastor Steve’s church, and Judy will speak at Gideon’s church.  Then we will hold a region conference at Gideon’s church for pastors and leaders from the area next week.  Gideon just bought his land last year.  We were so thrilled for him, because he had faced tremendous opposition, and now the land and church are permanent.  His church is made of pieces of tin on rough wood frame  It is so hot in there, but it is where we have held our inner city conferences each year.  I understand more each year of the faithfulness and sacrifice of the Antioch pastors.  How they love the Lord!!

There is terrible witchcraft and darkness in the inner city.  Please pray for us this week as we encourage these precious believers to take their territory for God.  We will see great miracles here.  Every year the deliverance and healinig is just beyond words.    I want to tell you more, but the intenet is working, so I will send this quickly.

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The work is mmoving forward

Too much has happened since my last post, but our internet has been mostly down.  Yesterday we had a great day at the orphanage visiting classrooms, seeing the new buildings, and seeing the childdren hard at work in school.  The orphanage is surrounded by small mountain peaks, and the land is planted with banana groves, sweet potatoes, and beans.  The paths have been lined with stones, and David has built huge ovens that cure around 5,000 homemade bricks.  Two ovens are finished, and he is building 3 more to have bricks to build a wall around the perimeter of the property.  8 acres–that’s a lot of handmade bricks!!  We are meeting with the man who is directing the water project on Saturday.

Bishop Grivas arranged for Judy and I to ride out to the orphanage in a police truck, and Art and Eric followed.  The young policemen were delightful.  Everyone wants to talk about American politics, how much it costs to come to America, and what it is like there.

We spent today at Prayer Palace.  It was so God ordained.  We have befriended a young and passionate minister named Louis, who has been struggling for five years to establish a church.  The Muslims burned down his building a few years ago, and he continues to preach on the street.  He has an incredible heart for people.  We asked him to come to Prayer Palace and talk to Grivas.  Prayer Palace has a certificate, diploma, and degree program for pastors.  The Bishop offered to get Louis into the program and encouraged him to strengthen his relationships with his pastor and church.  His wisdom and counsel were so wonderful and encouraging.  This is an incredible opportunity for Louis.

We then met with Bishop Grivas and his leadership who will be managing the television station..  Art presented a few alternatives for developing a marketing plan to get operating revenue quickly as soon as the license is issued.  Grivas was very excited and he and his staff were able to take Art’s “American” ideas and brainstorm.  It was just supernatural.  We were all so excited about what God  is going to do with the television station.  You can always count on Grivas to have a God-sized vision.  What an incredible day!!

We then walked around the new construction at Prayer Palace and prayed for provision and glory in every place.   They are expanding their sanctuary to seat 10,000.  They need a roof before December rains come.  Walls are optional.  The metal beams are up and the roof is framed.  You can see where it is going.  We will worship there our final Sunday.  It is indescribable to worship at Prayer Palace.  It is like the temple where Isaiah saw the Lord.  Angelic hosts, the presence of God filling every space, and the place shakes with glory and praise–the whole city block shakes.  I LOVE worship at Prayer Palace!!

There is a wedding at our hotel, and the noise is deafening.  I am going to post while the internet is up!


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