Thursday, September 19, 2013

Snake bite, with permission of Emma

Matthew 17:20 Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

This is a verse that I have gone back to many times, because when I think about my faith, how much I can doubt and fret I can certainly say it resembles more of a mustard seed than anything big or grand. However, I have seen so many times that God can take my tiny little seed of faith that I plant when I am moving out on faith, and by the time I turn back around it has turned into a mountain that God has shifted...

Meet Emma. 

Emma in the homes now
Emma is rambunctious and hilarious and lives his life with his heart on his sleeve. 

Emma loves everyone and will go into a depression if he sees you upset, pouring all of his energy into making you smile once again.

Emma is precious to me. 

I have told him several times, if in my entire life the only thing that I ever did was be able to be used by God to take him off of the street that my life would have been worth it. I would have lived a life that mattered. 

Let me go back a little bit, so you can meet Emma when I first did several years ago on the street... 

Emma on the streets

Emma was tiny, and adorable and grabbed my entire heart when he lived on the street. He had been through so much in his life, including watching as his father died. Yet as hard as his life was on the streets, he still had the ability to smile and to bring joy to others around him. At that time, I didn't have a children's home yet and so there wasn't much I could do about the fact that he was on the street other than love him and encourage him and assure him how very much God loved him (which of course is no small thing). 

One Sunday morning I came to church to find Emma deathly ill. I had spent a lot of time around street children and seen all kinds of sicknesses and injuries and the moment I was with him, I knew in my heart that he was going to die (as I later found out, he knew too). 

He was so sick he could not sit up, drink, eat or do anything. I sat there with his head in my lap and prayed and prayed for him. We took him to a hospital where he was checked and x-rayed and a doctor confirmed that he had severe pneumonia and that his lungs were shockingly full of fluid, the doctor told us another night on the streets would have killed him. 

A group of Ugandan men that we were ministering with said that Emma could stay with them as he recovered and took his medicine. I promised to Emma that he would never, ever again return to the streets. 

In the few weeks that Emma was getting better, God miraculously made a way for us to start our home. Emma got better and came home immediately into our family. 

Emma and I a few months after he came into the home
 We have had such a fun time with Emma who of course always keeps you on your toes since he loves joking and moving around, is a little accident prone and loves any creature that moves. 

Several times in his past, God has spared Emma's life. 
God has big plans for this child. 

Very recently, I was going through a hard time. Somethings were going on and it felt like we were being crushed by the bad in the world, that the more we fought injustice, the more the unjust wanted to fight us. It was in the evening at the children's home and I had been crying over it and praying with some other leaders when I walked over towards the kitchen. I was talking to the nurse when suddenly Emma ran up and collapsed at our feet. 

He was hysterical and saying that he had just been bitten by a snake on his leg and that it hurt really really bad.

We recently had had a staff training on what to do if there is a snakebite (thanks nurse Amy!) which essentially said to immediately clean and wrap above the wound away from the heart, keep the child as calm/still as possible and rush to a hospital for anti-venom. 

The moment Emma told us, Mama Dan rushed out of the kitchen and gave us her wrapper (kind of like an "African apron") to loosely tie around his calf above the bite. I shouted to David who *just so happened* to be standing with the van keys and the van nearby who ran into the van turned it on. 

Mama Dan, the nurse Jennifer, the nearest child, Bob and I picked up Emma and rushed him into the van. Now, of all children in our homes, we have three main "guardians". Steady and soft-hearted boys who always take care of everyone around them. Bob is one of these guardians.


It was dusk and we were in the village but David floored it to the closest hospital/clinic. Bob, the nurse and I held onto Emma and began praying like crazy, all of us were crying. 
I kept telling God, "God you cannot take this child away from me! You have saved his life so many times before, please I beg you to do it again! Take me instead but not Emma... not Emma!"

We had been holding Emma in a laying position (me from the seat behind and Bob and the nurse from both sides of him on the first row). Emma began panicking again because of the pain (which is bad because it increases the heart rate and flow of poison) and so the nurse scooped him up into her arms like a baby to try and calm him. Sweet-hearted Bob, immediately cuddled him from the other side to calm him down, I kept my hand on his head and continued to plead for his life. 

About 30 seconds after David had begun driving (and remember we are in the middle of a village with no electricity and a crazy dirt road) something happened to the van.  

It pretty much sounded like the van was going to explode as a screeching metal sound filled the van and the night around us. We weren't sure what it was but knew that we had no time to stop and investigate, even if the car was completely ruined. The sound however filled the night and warned people on the road to jump out of the way far before we reached them. When we reached the main road their was construction going on and so David just...went around and over it. We reached the hospital, jumped out and carried Emma inside. 

The doctor was there and immediately gave him anti-venom. 

Almost immediately Emma was feeling no pain whatsoever. 

We looked for the bite on his foot and we could find nothing. 


God had miraculously (and kind of dramatically) once again saved the life of Emma!

In the van on the way back, God whispered in my heart, "See I am in control. Satan has no control over this ministry or over the lives of these boys. Just as I have fought for Emma's life I will continue to fight for you as you stand against injustice. Do not fear for I am your God..."

I thought back over everything that had happened. 

How Emma had collapsed at the feet of the nurse, as the van was next to us, that of all the kids it was Bob who had been nearby, how the metal (which ended up being just an unimportant piece of metal on the back of the van) had fallen down to clear the road for us, how the doctor had been in, and how Emma had instantly recovered)

God had been in control every single step of the way.

Our God is so much bigger than anything else that can come up against us in this world and this was a big reminder.

Maybe I should introduce him again... Meet Emma, the boy who I am sure, God has set aside to one day change the world!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Forever Homes Update!

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear His voice, Psalm 95:6-7

Our forever family in Bombo!

Hello all!  We here at API pray that you are all doing well.  We thank-you so much for your continued support of the ministry.  It is truly such a blessing for us and we couldn't do it without you.  We just wanted to send a little update about what God has been doing in the ministry in the last few months and let you know how He has blessed us through your prayers and gifts.  He has been so good to us the last few months and the following are just some of the new changes in our ministry:

We have opened our discipleship house! We now have a 2-3 year discipleship house and program for our older boys 17-21 years of age, who are severely behind in school and unable to finish where they can learn how to handle independence, work, learn vocational job skills, take adult education classes (because they are sooooo far behind in school and we want them to be able to read and write!) be mentored, have daily devotions and save their money before they launch out on their own. The boys learned the skill of building as they were trained to build the discipleship house themselves. They did a great job and are looking for other building projects where they can be hired to build as well!
The d-house boys

We have started a bakery out on the land in Bombo.  The boys in the discipleship/vocational program have been learning how to make bread there and then they have been going into the village and town to sell it. They recently received bikes to peddle the bread on, but have received driving instructions and so they are hoping one day to have a vehicle to drive and sell the bread from. Having a bakery also means that the boys in the homes now get fresh bread with their breakfast.  Such a blessing!

It's no wonder we are selling our bread with such charismatic bakers as Sadic!
Monday showing off his bread
Now that we have the discipleship house, it has allowed us to bring in an older boy, Albert off of the streets. Albert had been on the streets for over 7 years. He was tough and very street smart. However, he accepted Christ into his heart and began to desire to get off of the streets and out of the "thug life". He began coming to our programs, working hard to be a good example, working odd jobs in the slum(for hardly any money) and turning his life around. Albert is 17, has never been to school before and is used to being independent. When we asked if he wanted to come to Bombo to be in our discipleship home and vocational program he rejoiced at the opportunity. Albert has no script on what it looks like to be merciful, a godly man, etc- but it has been beautiful to see his heart to please and become a godly young man!He is doing great and growing spiritually each and every day!  Older boys on the streets have a difficult time getting vocational opportunities or getting jobs (because no one trusts them) and so many of them give up and give in to the "ghetto life" that they find themselves in in the slums. Every time that I see Albert my heart fills with joy to see him off the streets and happy!

 Albert showing off his bread by the ovens
We have had some new boys enter into our forever homes and forever family. The newest is a sweet young man named Luke! Luke had a hard time on the streets. The other kids were constantly hurting him and picking on him, he was so shut down he could hardly speak or look at you. He would always simply shadow me around, silently sitting close. When his family rejected him to come home, we celebrated the addition of him into our family. The eight year old boy who was so shut down on the streets has come alive and is now an impish and happy young man! Who knew?! God is definitely at work in his life, every time I see him, my heart melts at the joy it is to see him safe and happy at home!

Luke Kafero

Luke is in gray on the left on the trampoline

We were recently able to take our boys from the homes on a safari trip to Murchison Falls. For so long we had wanted our Ugandan kids to be able to see their national wildlife and the beauty of their own country! We were able to go on a couple of wildlife excursions to see national wildlife, we took a hike along the waterfalls, and then we took a boat ride on the Nile back to our base camp. The boat ride was a huge hit among the boys! We also had elephants, wart hogs and baboons all around our campsite (and yes it was a big job keeping the kids from trying to ride/feed/befriend them).  The boys were also given disposable cameras and they were able to take their own photographs.  The boys had such a great time and it was such a blessing to be able to be able to take them.

Setting out!

A hartabeast?


Hakim is not going under!

The lake (there were loads of hippos!) and my beautiful mom (and my dad who was not in the picture)
It was kind of a long drive...
We now have a chicken project of close to 150 chickens that we raised as small chicks. They chickens are being tended to by Mama Joyce with the help of the younger boys, and very soon when they reach maturity the boys will be eating eggs everyday and the discipleship boys will be selling the remaining eggs at a nearby trading center. Needless to say, the boys are very excited for the chickens to start laying eggs!

Bwogi showing us the chickens


We have also started homeschooling some of the boys out on the land.  We have hired some amazing teachers who are teaching the boys for us.  This program is specifically for the boys who need to catch up in school.  While they are on the streets the boys cannot go to school and they often fall far behind.  Being home schooled though, they will hopefully be able to make up about 2-3 years’ worth of school in 1 year’s time as well as learn in an enviornment where they do not feel ashamed for being so old for their class. The kids have been loving it! We have also been able to add some other needy children from the village to study with the boys which has been great! We want to be a light for all of Bombo!

Finally, it has been a long prayer of our ministry to be able to bring married couples to work in the homes out in Bombo as full-time caregivers, to love and raise the boys as well as give them a script of what a healthy marriage/family/father looks like.  Many of these boys do not have a good or accurate view of marriage or family because of their history which has often included neglect or abuse.  It is so important to us that they see how God intended families to function.  Our prayers have been answered and we have brought three married couples into each of our three homes. We now have a married couple and older "grandmother figure" at our two children's homes which has been a perfect combination of parenting for our kids, in addition to outside mentors like our music teacher, counselor, etc- 

Please continue to pray for a smooth transition for the families and the boys and that God would use these families in such a way to truly minister to these boys.  We praise God so much for the lovely people He has brought together to care for His children. We ask you to pray for us that we will continue to minister together in unity and that God will fill us up with love, peace, patience and understanding for His children.