Monday, May 23, 2011

3 weeks today and I will be seeing all your beautiful faces!!

So since the last post…

Exciting adventures
-An amazing Safari with 7 friends. I was in complete awe of God’s creation as we drove through the game park in our jeep standing up and seeing all the amazing animals. The thing that always astonishes me is that there are so many different animals in this world and I am soooooo blessed to have seen animals on a few different continents.

---Visiting the family that lives in the police barracks. My friend Charity and I love to visit them, encourage them and bring something that they appear to need.

----Spiritual emphasis week at Ssubi. Learning more about the Holy Spirit. Enjoyed living on the Village in a Watoto home with a family. It was really great to see how the Watoto kids “do life” and what their daily activities include. I enjoyed studying the bible and just having time to hang with friends and play with many of the kids at the village.
---Assisting at babies home during a day off.

----Ministering to our Living Hope client. We met her at a clinic (interesting sight to see) I got to carry her 2 month old grand baby who just received an injection (African caregivers are not overprotective by any means) For the first time I held a baby in a vehicle not in a car seat (car seats are few and far between here) as we went back to her home. We took them some bananas and enjoyed visiting and assisting with the baby. 

---- Teaching memory verses and organizing sports and games for students at Wells of Hope.

As I look forward to soaking up every activity and opportunity over the next 3 weeks I reflect on the previous 4 months. This experience hasn’t always been a smooth straight road – it has had many bumps and twists --however God never gives us more than we can handle.  I am defiantly the type of person who can learn from challenges and mistakes  (mine and others) and practically focus on doing things better  next time . I believe this experience has been extremely positive --as we have been required to look at who we are as individuals, identify our personality type and work on our strengths and weaknesses. I am here to grow and learn and try daily to identify my own errors and flaws and trying to make improvements the following day!! I have been privileged to be in Uganda and serving at Watoto Church this year. I have immensely enjoyed being able to invest time, love, (education) and provide assistance to many individuals and families.  There has been so many times of frustration but there has also been so many times of joy and moments to learn from. I have learned to be more patient and to love others not just on a surface level, but a genuine sincere love. ( “If you put others needs before your own – God will surly look after your needs).  
I have learned to:
- always strive to be better
-always be drawing closer to God and following his ways
 “all of life is a sacred act of worship.”

Miss you all and looking forward to seeing you IN T-3WEEKS (well the Canadian ones ) XOXO

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2 Months to go!!

Happy Easter Everyone!! 

Update :   After 3 months I hit the point of I know what to expect at each ministry and feel much more comfortable in the different settings we go to. I have enjoyed taking on more responsibilities and am really pushing myself to the max and using my skills to the best of my ability as it hit me that I only have about 8 weeks left and want to make the most of every SINGLE day.  I count every opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the people around me an incredible blessing. I don’t know what my future holds but I know it is in God’s hands. All I have for certain is today, that’s all anyone has but if we have faith in God and believes Jesus died on the cross and rose again we will have eternal life. I want to make a difference every day and not let one day be an ordinary day but every day an extra-ordinary day because I serve an extra-ordinary God and he has plucked me out of eternity and placed me in the here and now given me gifts and talents to serve the people of my generation. I am striving to live a life that honors God every day. 
Some fun/interesting experiences the last few weeks.
I have had the opportunity to go spend half a day at bulrushes, at the hospital and at the detention centre for juvenile delinquents. I also had a really fun time teaching the bible verse and organizing games for the children at wells of hope (a school for kids whose parents are in prison)
On Wednesday this past week we were at our Living Hope client’s house helping out and visiting and I had my first real encounter with teargas as there was some rioting in Kampala because fuel and some other costs went up  but we headed back to the church early so we would be out of any potential chaos.                                                            
We had an extra day off this weekend so 3 friends and I went to the slums about 10 min walk from our house. We often walk through a path to the shop etc. We just wanted to get to know the kids and see if there was any practical needs we could help with. We hit up a shop on the way and took the kids, toys, juice boxes, cookies and bread for a few families. Normally there are a few kids that see us and like to hold our hands and walk us for a few minutes then head back towards their homes. We saw a few kids talked for a few then a Mom invited us over to chat and showed us her baby – very cute. When we whipped out the toys and candy  -- suddenly about 15 -20 kids had all found their way over to us. We were invited in a few homes to find out (we knew it way behind a police station as we all see many police offices on the corner just before the slum) that all of the families had police officers in their family. (In most countries police get paid very well – to live comfortably at least. These are the men and women who risk their lives every day to protect us and they are not paid well at all. That shows firsthand the corruption in Uganda and how hard it is for people to get by here.) We were invited in a few homes and one girl about 13 year old grabbed my hand and said, “ come and see my baby,” So me and my friend went with her into the tiny room where they live to find a 3 week old baby. The mother of the baby and another 7 year old were there and she handed us the adorable sleeping baby boy. She told us that the 13 year old girl that brought us over to their home was a government child (aka. Foster care – man that is caring they don’t have much –but they are willing to help someone else.) She told us that they were struggling to pay school fees for their 7 year old and that she couldn’t produce breast milk so her baby was drinking black tea  -- we couldn’t imagine how a baby can survive on black tea and who else knows what they were giving the baby – which she told us had a heart problem already. We prayed with them then went to get lunch and buy some formula to give to the family. When we went back the mother was ecstatic saying thank and clapping it was obviously appreciated in ways we couldn’t understand. We will look forward to going back to visit and building a relationship with the family and getting to know the children and helping in whatever ways we can.
I believe God has amazing plans for us over the next 2 months.   
Proverbs 3:5-6 
 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Thanks to all who read and show you care!! 
Have an awesome spring and enjoy celebrating Easter with friends and family!

Love Amanda

Friday, March 18, 2011

G’day everyone!! Great experiences and adventures to share!!

First of all I am sorry for the length between blog posts – This one is packed though so you may be thanking me by the time you reach the end!!!
So far it appears the election season is nearly passed. The same president who has been in for the last 25 years won (despite the effort of many of the other candidates who literally plastered the city with posters as part of the campaigning process.) During the elections we experienced a few extra days inside due to increase tension in the capital city as polling stations were shut down due to mal-practices
During our 6 consecutive days off about half of the international students and 2 of our leaders decided to go to Ginga which is on the Nile. Originally I wanted to go to Rwanda with some of the crew but it didn’t work out.  But Ginja turned out to be an absolute blast!! The 2 hr drive was actually quite enjoyable (in a Ugandan taxi--  Interesting) Very scenic and the air just kept getting fresher!!  I choose not to bungee jump over the Nile – personally because it was expensive for 2 minutes of fun and after my sky dive in NZ last year for my graduation 50m just didn’t seem very high. I enjoyed being the photographer some of our group who chose to bungee. We stayed right on the Nile at beautiful little get away place and often saw monkeys running around during the morning or evening – we stayed for less than 10$ a night!!  The next day 8 of us white water rafted down the Nile  --  it was an incredible experience. I certainly got a workout that day, a few burses and water in my lungs to show I had an awesome day!!  A full day of rafting and going through rapids with lunch on an island and a nice hr. drive back to our accommodation aka—where we started. (Pictures are up on facebook)
We have been back to our normal routine for over a week now and enjoying the teaching.

Highlights of ministry experiences.
I have been stretched lately to reach out to people on their level.
Remand home – is a detention centre for Juvenile’s --  mostly boys but a few girls age range from 12-19 who have been accused of various crimes. On the way there we were told the plan had changed and we would be just playing games, getting to know the kids, praise and worship, sharing about Jesus and praying with the kids. On the way we quickly made a plan and I enjoyed facilitating lots of the games.  Even though I had to get someone to help translate I could use simple words and  actions to get some instructions across. The kids were shy at first but warmed up and joined in as time went on.

Hospital Ministry
This was probably the toughest thing I’ve had to do so far. We went to a hospital and were instructed to just go meet people and pray for people!!  WOW that can be challenging!! The people were very nice and all were happy to see a face that cared and wanted to pray to a God that loves and cares and heals the broken and hurting.   At first I was really nervous and scared to approach people in a large open room with beds everywhere and family practically living on the floor beside them while their loved ones were sick.  I found the environment and the care the hardest. People had to pay for I don’t even know how to describe the quality of care – but it is very hard to pay for medical costs for people in Uganda. The beds were foam and old and everything looked dirty    (didn’t even see a wash hands sign or sanitizer anywhere – which me --- yes the germaphobe found a bit concerning). Mom’s had young babies who had recently had operations or are soon to have operations – mothers in the western world would be so protective but without even asking they pass their baby to randoms –(us) to hold. I struggled watching people suffer and couldn’t stop thinking what if /I lived here and received the quality of care they do –I felt bad esp. when I think of  the times I complained about a long wait in the ER etc. as that is absolutely NOTHING compared to what sick or injured people go through here.


Living Hope was initiated in early 2008, the program is currently committed to transforming the lives of 1,200 women in Kampala and 900 women in Gulu. Left abandoned or widowed, the target group is HIV+ single women, returnees from abduction and teenage mothers.

The goal is to restore dignity to these women in the following ways:
By improving their quality of life, assisting them with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care
Providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS care including counselling and psychosocial support
Spiritual and moral discipleship
Empowering and equipping them with vocational skills
Setting them up with self sustainable income generating projects using micro-finance loans

A small group of the 360 students are given 2 clients and go and visit and spend time with each client getting to know them. Our first client was a single mom doing life as well as you can in the living conditions she has. She has a baby named Gloria (about 1) very cute a bit shy though. Gloria’s mom was so nice and we enjoyed helping here clean her place, catch up on dishes and the guys fetched some water for her. I also held her neighbors 1 month old baby who had the curliest hair ever and decided he liked me by releasing a massive    ---  ya   you can guess it on my lap my team members found this and my reaction hilarious.  I was a bit worried as the barrier between me and the baby wasn’t like a huggies brand quality. (I survived though!!)  Our next client was quite ill – her husband was shot a few years back so her husband’s brother took care of her and her children but  unfortunately she got HIV from her brother-in law and she now struggles to pay bills etc. and her children have to go to school and work. She seems peaceful and was happy to have visitors and such hardworking children.

Watoto Village
We usually do sports at Ssubi but last Saturday we went to Bbira. We went to see a few of our friend’s houses that have grown up in Watoto and are now completing 360 with us.  My friend Favour  and I were looking for a house with lots of kids as we both love children and some of our other friends just preferred hanging out with the older teens playing card games etc. We saw a bunch of kids outside this one house looking at us and we went up to it. There was 8 little kids there prob all under 7 and the mom was away so a teen girl was taking care of them. We entertained them for hrs – playing games singing songs, telling stories etc. By lunch time we were nearly worn out and had about 15 kids in total as neighbor’s children’s continued to join us. It was certainly a blast hanging out with the kids who have been rescued at all ages from a life of struggle and uncertain future and placed in a home with a loving mother and getting all their needs met.

Wells of Hope
(A school for children whose parents are in prison. Yesterday I enjoyed teaching a grade 1 class (a huge range of abilities). I think a few years ago if I was walked to a classroom (even though I had a Ugandan classmate with me) and told you have 3 hrs teach them anything – all the teachers are in the staff room I would have freaked out.  Defiantly a school lacking supplies desks and walls and books – well let’s just say at least we weren’t outside under a tree but it was something else. I enjoyed teaching some maths and spelling words like rat, cat, mat, as well as some other songs.

Discipleship Studies
We have developed a regular routine with 4 days of ministry and 2 days of discipleship program.
As I read through the New Testament and Psalms I am reminded daily that “As citizens of this kingdom, we are called to live in a way that reflects the reality of the kingdom, of God. When we become overly concerned about our appearance, our spiritual reputation, our coolness, and our acceptance, we are living as citizens of this world rather than as ambassadors, Francis Chan”. Every day I am striving to know God more and follow his ways. At times I stumble but I am so thankful for God’s grace and I am in an excellent learning environment here in Uganda.
Some things that have grasped my heart lately have been 1 Cor 13:13 And now these three things remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. And Psalms 57:10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. My love for others has grown so much deeper and my heart hurts immensely for those I see hurting.  I have recently been challenged to strive for excellence "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord" Col. 3:23
God is great!! I am nearly half way done and I know God has even greater things to come in the second half.
Enjoy your week!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Hello Everyone, I hope you all had a great Valentine’s day and I send my love from Uganda!! xoxo  I know I have been told by many  I am not updating my blog enough and I apologize. The reason why I don’t update that often is because Many days we are up and out before 7 am and often don’t return till after 6pm and I have friends that have overloaded their blog in the past and it is just too much so  I try to keep it simple and to the point  -- if you have any questions  -- I would love to answer them. 
Over the last few weeks we have settled into our normal routine which includes more ministry and just a bit more than 2 days of class.  Last week we had a visiting Pastor Jonathan Strut from Toronto area as well as the Ugandan Pastors speak. Pastor John and another one of our 360 leader joined us for our ministry which was really cool because the last 2 dimes we did street ministry it was just my group of about 7 on our own. We enjoyed visiting 3 families from the slums and giving books to the kids at school, pencils, soap, sandals etc. I also brought along my balloon making supplies and the kids went crazy over them (even though my skills need some work   dogs of all shapes and giraffes and swords were all I could pull off – apparently I have forgotten how to shape them  but surly will practice to get bunnies, parrots etc. an option.)  Last week was a big week for one of Watoto celebration points as there are many different Watoto churches in Kampala  (East, West, Centrual, North and South) North has built a new building as before it was a huge tent that was used beyond its years. So  my team of 20 spent a half day cleaning the property – raking leaves and picking up garbage and a full day Saturday with the whole team of more than 80 cleaning moving massive pieces of wood and other materials (muscle building work J) And cleaning chairs and cleaning floors some people even got put to work putting the grout in to help with the tiling  -- nothing like doing it the day before!!  Sunday  is always a big day  helping at 2 services --  I am always willing to do whatever as I have experience doing most ministry areas on Sunday  and find I really prefer mixing it up so it doesn’t get boring. Some Sunday duties include, car park attendant, usher, selling table, children’s ministry and security check on the way  in   -- like a simple bag check kinda thing.   Saturdays are usually sports days where we go and play with the kids at one of the Watoto Villages  (however some of the older kids don’t go and play  -- so  I said next time I think I’m going to go to one of their homes to play a game cause some of them aren’t keen to play sports and frankly  I’d rather hang out with them get to know some of the teens then it will be easier to get them to come and play sports with us as it is optional for them to play.  
Tomorrow we are going to Wells of hope school to teach a bible verse do worship and my job tomorrow is to plan the games  -- but not sure of the age range so  may  be coming up with games on the spot.
 This week we have 2 home days at least because Uganda is having a presidential election. The same president has been in power for the last 25 years and there is only an election once every 5 years so please pray that the best leader for Uganda will be elected and the votes will be fair and counted fairly. Also pray for peace during this season of voting – we will be staying in our compound because riots are possible. I will keep you updated as best as I can.  God is on our side and we know with Him all things are possible!!  
P.S. All the ladies were defiantly spoiled for Valentine’s day  -- roses, candle lit dinner and great waiters–great guys!!  
I hope you have a great day!!
Love Manda

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lots of Adventures to share!!

First of all  Thanks for all your prayers especially for my breathing  --  my throat no longer hurts and nose has cleared up and no more nose bleeds lately  -- I was getting lots during my cold!! But now I can breathe close to normally every once in a while the stench is too much out side but it is tolerable.     We had an interesting day last week when we went out to do a seed project by harvesting a corn maze and on the way the bus broke down  3 hrs later back on the road on the hot morning to harvest.  It was more rewarding than corn detasseling as you got to see the actual corn and chuck it in the pile. Our first day of serving at church was quite fun  for the first service I helped with children’s church then  for the second service I ushered – I enjoyed both  next week an earlier Saturday night as we have to be at church from 7am till like 430 so it’s a big day!  We were surprised earlier this week when we were sent off in groups of 8-9 to find a way to help the community or a family in our designated area and get to know them and pray for them then followed by 2 more visits one more visit to get to know than a third time to bring them something or do something for the community. We meet some really friendly people in the area  (slums) so  heart breaking to see kids wearing dirty clothes and no shoes and playing with things if we say a child in our country we would quickly take it away or pretty much Lysol their hands if they touched.  We hope to clean up a bit of garbage in their area  (garbage is something that is everywhere   I am actually starting to not see it or even realize if I am walking on old bottles or paper etc so  I can imagine that people here don’t even see it.) We also hope to bring the kids some balls sandals and some other things to just have fun with them or a while.  I am enjoying getting to know my team more – and figuring out myself more, drawing closer to God and helping people in what every way possible. This initial part is hard as my heart breaks when I see the conditions people live in – and kids home all day cause parents can’t afford school fees. I wish I could do more but I’m praying God can use me in mighty ways in the coming months.   Please pray for proactive attitudes and leadership skills as it is easily to become saddened and see a need that is so big and feel so small. Also pray for Uganda’s upcoming presidential election which takes place early feb.
Take care and miss you all,
Love Amanda xoxo

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

One week

Hi everyone!! I hope everyone is doing well -- Mom and Dad leave for their 1st cruise this weekend and I am very excited for them!!   Good news --  I received my lost luggage yesterday J  I was very excited to have my own shampoo and toothpaste and the remainder of my clothing. On Saturday we went to the Bulrushes (Baby Watoto  -- which I loved) as well as a tour of one of the Watoto Villages. It was so awesome to see a little bit of Watoto  -- much more to see.  We are in the orientation phase of getting to know the area, the facilities and the course content. I am excited to get fully into it yet know that it will be very busy and challenging at times if not all the time. If you could pray for my breathing as I have symptoms of a sinus infection and am struggling to breathe as they burn their garbage as well as have tons of very polluting vehicles.   Will be posting more often.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Arrival in Africa

Safe arrival in Africa !! After a long 7+ hr flight and delayed nearly 2 hrs because water was frozen on the plane and than apparently paperwork. So unfortunately we missed our connecting flight straight to Uganda  so we had to wait more than 8 hrs in London for another flight. British Airways put us on Air Kenya (a bit nicer air crafts) and we had to fly in to Nairobi 7.5 hrs and then fly to Uganda from there another hr. to Uganda-- long days flying but only a minor bump on the road. And enjoyed the company of Ash and Matt and 2 new Watoto 360ers. Upon arrival in Uganda I was greeted with only one of my bags – fortunately  I had clothes and some necessities in that bag but missing shampoo and toothpaste but everyone had lots.  We were warmly geeted by 2 Watoto employees and experienced Ugandan driving very quickly  -- buses, taxis, trucks,  which were often over crowded.  I was so surprised to see so many people on the side of the road there were people everywhere from kids playing, people washing clothes, children playing or walking alone, people just sitting around watching cars or sitting on motor bikes. We drove past a TON of people in a short distance. Watoto 360 house for international students is amazing I am sharing a room with Ashlie from Ottawa (Julia’s wedding as well as another girl from Las Vegas.  We went to the shops today to purchase internet so  I will be able to keep my blog updated –time permitting of course. We have had a bit of orientation today and I know more about what to expect but  I look forward to finding out more about the program tomorrow at orientation.  I hope everyone is well at home and enjoying snow  -- I don’t miss it yet but know I will very soon.  Thank you for all your prayers and support I look forward to keeping you all informed.  ***Please keep my loved city Brisbane in your prayers , I miss Brisbane and they are experiencing a tough time but they are  resilient aussies and they will get through it together, God is infinitely able.