Saturday, June 22, 2013

a little update

Thank you so very much for praying for David and I, for your support and for simply loving us and our beautiful kids! These last couple of months have been very full but God has been so very good to us! I am sorry that I haven't written more, I have been pretty overwhelmed with everything. Thank you so much to everyone who has also given financially to our ministry in the last couple of months, God has used you to allow us to be able to expand so that we can be able to raise even more forgotten children for Him. Thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts!

I am going to try and summarize some of the bigger things that God has been doing in our ministry API in the last couple of months. He has been so good! 

We have been doing home visits with the boys in our forever homes to see their biological families (as required by the Ugandan government for children in homes). I love our boys so very much, they are our kids, in our family and are our joy and responsibility and pride for the rest of their lives! Going home to visit their families has been so... complicated. The reasons that they run away are so varied but at the heart of it is always profound neglect and almost always abuse (and often witchcraft and/or alcoholism). It breaks my heart whenever we bring a boy to see his relative and they either deny him or state how, "hopeless" he is.  I think for some of them however, getting to come back (on their own terms) with safe people that they trust beside them just for a very short visit, has helped them connect a bit to their past and have some closure that they did not have before since most of them ran away when they were really distressed, without any goodbyes to not only their relative/parent but to any of their siblings or friends either. 

One of the boys in our home changed his name from Musoke (a name connected with witchcraft) to Paul. When we brought him to see his relatives he was afraid to visit his father because of how much he used to beat him. His dad is a drunk and homeless and we found him staggering down the street in town.  The last time he came home to visit from the streets his dad greeted him by severely beating him. When we came Paul was terrified of his dad (I made sure to stand in front of Paul, I may be small but I would do anything I had to to protect one of my boys) and so Paul kept a good distance from his father while talking to him briefly. His father however was happy to hear that Paul was in our home and going to school. His dad kept staggering around shouting to everyone and pointing to me saying "Look at Musoke's mother! He is now her son and he is in school!" Paul brought a bunch of pictures of himself since he has been in our home in his school uniform, with our dog Flint, dressed up for church, etc- giving them to his old friends and siblings,  telling everyone that he wanted them to have it to remember him by. We stayed for about an hour and as we got back into the car I told Paul over again how much we loved him, how happy we were that he was our son now and that he was going to be a different man than his father. He got a big smile and said he loved us too.

We now have a street children program every Tuesday and Thursday (in addition to the normal M, W, and Fri programs) with a deeper bible study, time of prayer and bible memory verse to help street kids have a deeper knowledge of who God is and His love for them. We also have a Sunday school class with them at Grace Fellowship Church every Sunday.  We won't be with all of the street children in our programs forever, so we want to put as much in them as possible with the time that we have!
We also started homeschooling our boys that are in first through third grade who are discouraged and behind in school. We are hoping to make learning fun (the educational system here still uses corporal punishment and teaches only through lecturing to children as they copy notes, even if they dont understand what they are writing). Our goal is for our kids to be able to develop an interest in school as well as to be able to catch up a little in school since they are all years and years behind. We started a little over a week ago but the Ugandan teachers we hired are terrific and  we are really excited about how it has been going!

Last Sunday, the older boys (18 years+)  from our home had a graduation party, time of prayer and send off and officially moved out of our children's home, Stephen's House into the discipleship house and program. Thank you so much to everyone that made that dream a reality!  They were trained to actually build the home (so that they could learn the skill) and it is just beautiful. There are house parents, kind of like RA's there to watch over them and do devotions with them at night for the two years they are there. While there they will be working and learning a vocation skill, going through business and savings classes and saving up money so that when they graduate they will be able to rent a place of their own as they get a job and never have to go back to the street. Next week we are planning on starting up our own bakery and so they are now learning how to bake bread and run it! It is another job skill and experience we think will be very helpful for them!

Joseph's House is doing very well, the home that was started almost 7 weeks ago for "special needs" street children who have so much trauma and have been on the streets so long that they are unable to go into "normal" homes for former street children. Caitlyn, the house director and mama wrote a blog update about the home here. It is truly amazing to see some of the transformations going on in that home with kids that Kampala deemed, "hopeless".
I Corinthians 1:27 says "Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? "  This verse is just coming alive in that home and it is beautiful to see the kids transformation!

We have hired a Ugandan social worker named Susan to work full-time resettling street children, getting their information on file, counseling children that have been resettled and doing follow-ups on their families once they are brought back home. Since she has come on board with API, we have resettled three street children each week home with their biological families. It is not always a fairytale ending for some kids going back home, but we have had several very successful resettlements in this last month and that always makes my heart glad. For kids that are resettled to abusive families (we only resettle children that want and request to go back home)  that do not want them, I always have to tell myself that they were able to run away to the streets before when they felt their lives were threatened and they can always do it again. God is always going to be looking out for them and makes everything work together for good for those who love Him and are called together according to His purpose.

Thank you all for praying for us and again for anyone who has given financially to make all of this possible! You love us and our kids so much, we minister to these kids together!

Please pray that God will show us which children to bring into the children's homes as we now have spaces open since the older boys graduated out. Please pray that God will continue to be the center of all that we are and do and that He will pour His love and healing into all of our boys and staff. There is a lot of pain on the streets of Kampala, but God is here and He is doing amazing things! A light shines all the brighter in darkness! Also, please pray for the success of the bakery as it is a new project that we are starting and for our d-house boys as they are adjusting to their new found independence and responsibilities! I'm proud of them but worry about them too!

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