Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pray Request

August 28

I just had to write and ask for prayer. I don’t know all the details but a couple of the street kids were put in jail. Our teammate who works with the street kids noticed that a couple of the regular kids didn’t come to play soccer today. Later he found out that the police arrested them. I have heard two different reasons: 1. they were being idol or 2. they were doing drugs either way there are no charges pressed and two kids are sitting in jail. Kids! Our teammate brought them food and we are working with other Ugandans to figure out what to do.

Really I am furious. I can’t stand injustice. After living in third world countries, I now know why God hates injustice. It is wrong! What do you do about it? I, a white, wealthy (compared to my neighbors here), American, feels helpless in the face of injustices. How my Ugandan neighbors and friends must feel. You are trapped and can’t do anything. Power is a dangerous thing. No wonder people just give up and hopelessness abounds.

As always, I run to Jesus – my source of help and peace. He is bigger than these big things we face. He knows all about injustice and loves to defend the cause of the helpless. He is the Father of those boys and loves them far beyond our love. He also has more mercy for those we want to be angry at. I can trust in my God. Please pray for the street boys in jail, the other street kids, those causing the injustice, and us as we see and deal with injustices everyday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Follow Jesus Where?

August 27

After a powerful time with God in prayer with our team and with Josh teaching each day in the village, it is not too surprising that satan tries to bring a little discouragement our way. This week we are all weary, our kids have mild sicknesses, Grace has an ear infection, Josh’s motorcycle had a flat tire and our van, and our house help hasn’t come all week because she is sick. A few years ago when this kind of week would happen I would be a crabby mess. Thankfully I have grown in the Lord and know how to handle things better. My peace is in Him. Yes, home schooling was a bit hairy this week with Luka in the classroom and our house is a bit dirtier than normal, but the discouragement is not getting to us. God is our strength and we know we can pray for His help and healing. I pray the teaching Josh does this week rocks the village for God’s kingdom growth. Satan is defeated! Thanks for praying for us.

I am doing another Beth Moore Bible study. This one is on John called Beloved Disciple. It seems each day God speaks His truth to me in some way. This week I was touched by John 18:15 and 19:17-27 where John remained through the nightmare of Jesus arrest, trial, and death. He followed Jesus in His most glorious hour and His darkest hour. He knew the extremes of Jesus. John didn’t run away or cover his eyes. He beheld Jesus – in His torn, bloody body. It wasn’t what John wanted or expected. He didn’t understand. But he loved Jesus. We cannot behold what we are not willing to see.

We cannot claim to know someone until we have known them in the intensity of both suffering and celebration. Anyone truly willing to behold Jesus will at times be confused and shocked by what he sees. I we are willing to be taken to His extreme glory we will gain intimate knowledge, and be unable to explain the His work and ways. Will we stay with Jesus when human understanding can’t explain or when Jesus is looked at as defeated, weak or not there? When the world betrays Him – what will we do?

Will we remain with Jesus? Will we follow Him – anywhere? To places of danger and death? To the unjust? Into the darkness? To the sick and broken? Or only into the temple (church)? Jesus is in theses places or hurting and suffering. Will we be with Him? He is in the third world countries where children are abandon and dying of hunger and sicknesses. He is in the hospitals, the dumps, jails…the places of places of greatest suffering. Or do we only want to be with Him in our nice, orderly churches? Yes, Jesus is there too but He wants us to go deeper with Him and behold Him in His suffering. Our answer makes all the difference. Are we beloved disciples?

On that note, my sister told me about a ministry in Kampala to children in government rehabilitation homes there. The stories are nothing less than horrific! No child should ever know the evils done to them or live the inhumane way they have to. The children are kept in a home with bars to keep them in, they have no or little clothes, and are given no or very little food. Some of them are babies. When they arrive they are kept in a room for days with nothing. A lot of the kids are street kids put there to be “rehabilitated” some are just unwanted children. One child is blind and disabled because his grandma put acid in his eyes and broke his legs so he could get more money begging. Another child the parents gave him to the witch doctor to be sacrificed but while he was being killed he escaped and now is disabled and brain damaged. What is this?! Evil!!! I can hardly stand it. How can these be parents and grandparents? There is something very wrong with the family here. It is all too common for mothers and fathers to abandon their own children. That is not normal. They should want to protect and help them. I am wrestling with what to do with this. How can I help? I know about it now and cannot just turn away. I really feel the government needs to take responsibility for what they are doing. There is no need for a place like this. There are good homes for kids. So how do I get it to be addressed? Pray with me for these kids and for away to being them justice and freedom. Oh Lord, I can only imagine how many places like this there are around the world. God hear our prayers and comfort your children! (for more information visit

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Beauty of Prayer

August 23

Hi, we returned from a few days in Kampala (the capital) last week. We went to renew Lydia’s student visa which needs to be done every August. We saw God answer our prayers again. We started the process on Monday and by Tuesday at lunch we had the visa. That is amazing. God can do anything. He also provided a friend in immigrations that has been so helpful. We also were able to relax and enjoy our time away. We did do the normal shopping/stocking up, but we also were able to spend fun time together as a family. Lydia got her ears pierced which she is very proud of. She did great and looks so pretty. It was a big deal and special time. Our friends from Soroti were also in Kampala and stayed at the same guesthouse so the kids loved playing together and the adults even got to play games together. We decided to take one extra day and spend it at the pool as a family. The weather was great and everyone had fun. I was also thankful for some quality time with Josh. Things have been busy in Soroti with him teaching and even with me teaching. This gave us time to talk again.

God has really been teaching me about prayer the last six months. What a challenge. I realize that I pray but not with the passion and heart that I believe God desires. Let me explain how He has been teaching lately.

The other day I listened to a message on prayer. I was so touched by it. It was based on Hebrews 10:19-22. We are invited by God to come into the Most Holy place and experience Him! Prayer is not a discipline of the Christian life – it is our life. Prayer is fellowship with God. Relationship. Through prayer we can know God’s heart and be in the center of His will. We will know what God wants and do what He says. God doesn’t want our options when we pray but to share His heart with us. Building His kingdom is God’s will for this world. Pray in line with His will. Do you love God? It will show in prayer.

How I mourn for the way I and the church have failed in prayer. We too often think about it so casually, as a thing we are suppose to do. It is routine. We have not taken the invitation of our Father to come into His presence and fellowship with the One True God. What an awesome privilege. You desire to have a relationship with us. Why do we not long to be with you? We have not taken time, grown tired, selfish, lazy, and failed to pray. We have put our desire and will above God’s. So many Christians who claim to know and love God but don’t pray. It is not right. How can you love Him and not be with Him? You don’t know Him. What joy and power there is in prayer and we don’t even use it. God is our life. I pray He will teach us to be with Him in prayer!

As God teaches me, I have been praying for the Muslims for 30 days in this time of Ramadan. I have been challenged but the number of people who don’t know Jesus. There are 20 million people in Sudan who do not have one believer among them. Twenty Million! People of God this should not be. There are billions of Christians in the world why aren’t we sharing God’s love with them? I hear the Muslim call to prayer each night here in Uganda and wonder how can I reach out to the Muslims here and around the world? I have been praying. I appreciate the focus and passion it has brought to my prayer life. We need to enter God’s throne room and pray about the world, Muslims, and the lost. It is praying according to God’s will – to build His kingdom – His heart.

Then last night our team had a day of prayer and fasting for wisdom about a possible grant our team could receive. We wanted to know what ministry God wanted to use the money for. In the evening we gathered to pray together. We began with the message on prayer God had used in my life, praised God in song, then began to pray. It was a beautiful evening in the throne room of our God! What a beautiful experience. A place you never want to leave. Oh friends, God is here, alive, and active. I will never forget the picture of our team bowing before the Lord in prayer. What a sweet time. The God of the whole Universe was with us. There were tears and heartfelt crying out to God. We were all moved to pray for the people and the suffering here. How exciting it is to know you are praying God’s heart. We didn’t leave with any answers. We didn’t see any great visions. But we knew God had done something in our team. As Josh put God was telling us to keep the posture. Our team learned how to pray last night and it was a lesson we never want to forget. We want to trust God, follow His will, and love Him. I am so proud to be apart of this team. God is at work and that is where I want to be.

Praise God!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

July 2010 (195 photos), by Mandy Shaarda

I'd like to share my Snapfish photos with you. Once you have checked out my photos you can order prints and upload your own photos to share.
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Birthday, hospital, and street kids

August 6, 2010

Well Lydia is now seven years old! We had so much fun celebrating with her. She chose waffles for her birthday breakfast – a good way to start. Lydia put on her dress and a necklace her grandma sent her. She was so excited for her special day. Then we decorated the house for her birthday and party. The girls helped me frost the cake too.

In the afternoon we had a party! Five of Lydia’s missionary friends and four Ugandan friends came. We played games, decorated cookies, did face paints, signed a birthday shirt for Lydia, and of course ate cake. Lydia was also thrilled with the nice gifts everyone brought. It was a great day. The kids loved being together and playing and the ladies enjoyed sitting back and talking.

In the evening we celebrated as a family. Lydia chose chips and cheese for supper – yummy. She also opened her gifts from us and her grandparents. I wish you could have heard the squeal when she saw her new electric toothbrush. Oh, it was a fun day. Lydia brings so much joy to our lives. We thank God everyday for the gift of Lydia. Happy 7th birthday Lydia! We love you!

Other family news, Luka is mimicking a lot of words and learning new ones each week. He says “Bible” and “no” this week. (Isn’t the no stuff suppose to be when he is two?!) Our watchman left the ladder out the other day and I found Luka standing at the very top of it. Almost had a heart attack! I keep telling him God saved his life once already lets not make it twice. He is all boy and very different from what our girls were like. He is really good but active. He loves airplanes (goes back to his special time watching airplanes with his grandpa at the airport) and since Soroti has a flying school we hear them often. Every time Luka hears one he stops what he is playing and runs to the window and says, “Up, up. Bo.” (He calls them boat.)

School and teaching are going well. I really do enjoy being involved but it has made my life busier. I hope I am doing a good job and they are learning what they should be. The other day for Bible I really taught and just shared the story and talked about what we learn from it. I really enjoyed that and hope that continues.

Josh is busy too. He is taking on even more teaching and is gone about three full days a week. He loves it and is go good at it. It is great to see him using his gifts and seeing the Lord work in people through it.

Other new, last weekI visited a couple sick people at the hospital last week. One was the grandchild of our watchman. She is seven and we peeing blood and vomiting when she ate. Of course they said it was malaria which frustrated us because they didn’t even test the urine, but we kept praying for her and thankfully she is better now. She was in the children’s ward there it is a sad place. The place was overflowing with sick kids. IVs where everywhere. I just thought is there hope for these suffering children. It is so hard to see and know I can do nothing for them. Especially now that I have been there with a sick kid. My heart aches for them. It is so much easier to just know the hospital is there and stay away – not see them and feel for them. But how wrong. Jesus would be at their bed side loving them. I pray I brought a little of Jesus love in my visit. I visited the girl and her family and the kids and families next to them. I brought them some food and prayed for them.

I also went to visited and brought food to Anna Grace (the one dying of AIDs) and her sister. (At the hospital someone has to be there with you to feed you and care for you because no one there will.) A few days later Anna Grace died. I am so thankful her suffering is over and she is with her Savior. As I got in my van I noticed I was packed next to a truck with a dead body in it. Suffering is all around us. I read in my Bible study today that few of us choose to confront suffering because we feel so helpless. However, we are called to deny our own desire for personal comfort so that we can confront the unimaginable suffering around us. And the salve for all sickness and suffering – Jesus.

This week I walked over with Luka and Grace to see the home for street kids. It just opened in June and I heard about it through our team. One of our teammates is doing ministry with the kids who live on the streets. Again I was struck by the fact that I heard about the kids and the ministry but until I went and met them it didn’t mean too much. Now that I have seen their faces, know some names, and have seen their great need I am moved. Maybe even convicted. I can’t now know and do nothing. There are 13 kids there (12 boys and one girl who stays with the lady cook) ranging in age from 5 years old to 15 years old I think. When we got there they were playing games and reading with Bobbie and Rachel (our teammates) but if they weren’t there there would be nothing for those kids to do – nothing. I was blown away by the fact that there was not one single piece of furniture in the whole house! Imagine that. The kids were all very nice and curious of my kids. One boy, about 9 years old, asked if he could come home with me and for some clothes. I was not surprised by the request. Sad. Every child deserves a home and family. Those kids do have a need for clothes. One boys shorts (if you can call them that) where together by threads. Isn’t it every ones basic need or right for clothes? I just kept thinking of America and how people cannot believe this is how people live or have never even given it a thought. I also thought how every church or person I know would love to give to the needs of this place. So what do I do? How can I help and bless them? What is the right thing? How can the church here help too? Where do we begin? I would like to see some basic furniture for them, some clothes and shoes for each child, a worship time with our team, help make a classroom, and some Freedom in Christ teaching done with them. I am still praying about it because I want to help and get our team involved but I also want to see Christians here helping out and seeing the need. Everyone here know about the street kids. They sniff things in a bottle (like glue or paint thinner), don’t have homes, wonder the streets, and get in trouble. This is the first home opened for them. There are bound to be problems. When you get kids who have never had rules and are addicted it is hard work. I am so thankful some Ugandans are trying. They are taking in the younger more vulnerable kids so there will always be others left on the streets. Just in the last month two of them were killed. One was shot when he was stealing something and one was killed in a fight with another street kid. I guess I tell you all of this to make you aware and hopefully to cause you to pray for these kids and this new ministry to them. Thanks everyone.
One last thing for now, today we went to our friends Sam and Esther’s “traditional wedding”. We really didn’t know what this meant but felt we should go. Sam has been a friend since we moved to Soroti. He and Esther got pregnant in high school and we walked with them through that mess. We have been proud of how they have remained committed to each other and their desire to be married in the Lord. To do that Sam has to pay the bride price which then means they are married traditionally. And that is what we went to celebrate yesterday the giving of the bride price or traditional marriage. The village was almost an hour and a half away. Once we got there we were put in a hut and left alone which, crazy to us, is what you do to honored guests. We ventured out of the hut because our kids where outside entertaining everyone dancing to the music. And that was the beginning to a very long, boring afternoon. We sat from 2:30 to 5:30 and in that time they introduced Sam’s family to the in-laws, showed them the bride price and negotiated if it was enough (he had 4 cows and seven goats for them but they added on about $400 to that), and ate. To be honest it wasn’t much at all and we felt like we wasted out time, but that is what it is like here. You go because of the friendship. Oh well, our kids did great and I was more than thankful for a newly made latrine that my girls had me in more than once.

Wow, what a lot to read. Hope it was informative, entertaining and worth the read. Till next time!