Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Greetings from Hong Kong!

Hello from the Hong Kong team! We've been here since Saturday night, but internet is not free here, so we haven't been blogging. VBS is going great! We have very limited space, but lots of smiling faces eager to learn more about Jesus, which makes the space issue seem minor. Yesterday was the "ABC" day, and we have several decisions for Christ. I'm not sure of the total number yet because all those who expressed interest in talking to someone about it have not been counseled yet. About 90% of the kids are from Nepal and are considered "under privileged." They have sweet hearts, but are sometimes very fiesty! Please pray that discipline problems would be minimal these last couple of days of VBS and that God would speak to them all He wants them to hear! He has been faithful so far, and we know He'll continue until the work is done!

Jetlag and sickness is becoming an issue, so please also pray that our team would be able to finish what we started here. We are so thankful for all your prayers and hope to be able to tell all of what God has done here in Hong Kong when we return! Thanks for checking in on our team!

Jamie Lambert

Leia Mais…

Monday, July 27, 2009

Webale, Topistar

I have looked so forward to my turn to blog- and yet, I dive into this at an almost complete loss for words. If I was abundant in words, I'm positive that they would still not do the experience justice.

I was told my life was about to be changed by this journey and I couldn't grasp in what ways it might until the stories started piling up and my heart was broken-- in the best possible way.

Instead of giving you the rundown of the day- as I'm sure you have read the others and have an idea of what has gone on- I am going to take you a little further into the experience of one child I have had the great privilege to love. I think just a glimpse with me into what goes on, has gone on, and continues to go on in the lives of these children will be enough from me and mean more than any words I may have.

Topistar (pronounced more like Dopista) is a beautiful, intelligent, 12 year old girl that lives at Africa Greater Life Orphanage.

The day that we brought beds to Africa Greater Life, I met Topistar. She was patiently waiting for me as I was walking out of the girls' dorm. When I rounded the corner, she tapped me on the shoulder to say in broken English (pretty much my favorite sound ever)... "Tonight... I get... to sleep. Thank you very much for helping us. God Bless you..." and off she went. Obviously struck by the statement, I made a mental picture of her face and went back to work.

The following day we returned to Africa Greater Life and walked with the children to their individual beds to talk with them. As I was walking down the hill toward the girls' dorm to speak with them, Topistar ran to me and grabbed my hand to show me her bed. I didn't realize until I was with her talking that she was the same girl from the previous day. Needless to say, we are new friends. :)

Today during the birthday party, Topistar ran to sit beside me and was attached to my hip for the day. When she received her bible as one of her birthday gifts, she ran back to me and wanted to read to me from it. As we read, we talked about how much God loved her and how He knew her before she was born... as soon as her birth was mentioned, Topistar's demeanor changed.

Soon enough, it was obvious that the topic bothering her was her birth and shortly thereafter a woman walked up to me and repeated "Wabale, Wabale, Wabale, Wabale..." (Lugandan for Thank You")

Topistar began to tell me that the woman was her grandmother and that her mother had died some time ago. She has been living at Africa Greater Life for years. As we spoke, I asked her if she could write her name for me. As she wrote, I asked her to tell me about her life.

The following is word for word my letter from Topistar. Hopefully it will give some insight into why my heart is broken, and yet full...

my name is Namusisi Topistar.
i am 12 years old.
my brother is called david.
my mother is died when was sick.
my father is died when bad person killed.
my mother when died i am ever so young. (**here I asked her if she felt sad which she wrote in response:**)
i feel bad person see me write on paper.
my father is work in police
my father is have young child the bad man came and kill father's child and father is fight with bad man
the bad man was kill my father
me and my brother david hide my father is left there.
me and david pastor is help us.

think you to help bring beds.

think you. God bless you.

I love you.

Bye Bye

I don't know that there are sufficient words to follow this up with. We discussed what she can do when she feels sad and how tightly God holds her in those times- and yet our eyes glistened and my heart broke. Topistar's story is so far from over, and I have no doubt that she is one of the committed hearts that the Lord searches all the earth for. "...He wants to make them strong."(II Chron. 16:9)

Luckily, when I leave and return to the states, although my heart will break to leave my new friends, I will have comfort in a great big God who will still be with them.

We are leaving them, but He will not... because this is so much bigger than me, and He is so much bigger than this.

Kathryn Campbell

Leia Mais…

Beds and the WHOLE village!

So today at Caring Heart started out with worship with all the children, teachers, and many people from the village. By the end of worship we were all dancing and jumping around singing "Jesus is a winner". It was precious and hysterical all at the same time. After worship we played outside with the children while waiting on the buses to bring us the beds. Two soccer balls, some jump ropes, three frisbees, and bubbles made for great fun for the almost 600 orphans.

I couldn't believe that I was playing frisbee with a group of 45 girls, and they were all getting along! At one point, I heard squealing and turned around to see all the youngest ones chasing bubbles around like they had never seen them before. It was amazing! The whole village had come today to see the beds being delivered. There were women and their babies and older men all awaiting the arrival of the beds. When the trucks pulled up with bed frames stacked way over the top, all the people began cheering and screaming. Before we unloaded all the bedframes, we had a ceremony with Pastor Paul, all the villagers, and all the orphans. We sang again and danced together. Then Pastor Paul asked the village people to bring gifts to our team in appreciation for what we were doing for them. It was very humbling to have the local women present us with banannas, avacados, sugar cane, and other fruits. Some even brought money. It was like the woman in the Bible who brought her offering to Jesus in the temple despite her poverty and need. Then they all lifted their hands up to the Lord and all prayed out loud over our team. It was so moving! After this moving ceremony, we began unloading the beds. Many hours later, more sweat than I even knew I had, and more dirty than I knew I could get, we had all the beds in the formerly large empty room where these precious children had been sleeping on the floor. How wonderful to think that tonight they can sleep off of the floor and with protection from the mosquitos. I've never seen people be more thankful and appreciative for gifts! Their sweet smiles and hugs were enough thanks for me!

One song that has been on my mind while we are hear is Steven Curtis Chapmans song "Yours". I have a brand new appreciation for these words and wanted to share them with you.

"I've walked the dirt roads of Uganda. I see the scars that war has left behind. Hope like the sun is fading. Their waiting for cure no one can find. I hear the children's voices singing of a God who heals and rescues and restores. And I'm reminded every child in Africa is YOURS"

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement on this journey! You are a part of it with us!

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cutie Pie CHAOS!

Sweet sleep is in Uganda, check out what's going on there!!!

Our first full day in Uganda and what a day! We took a whirlwind tour of the city of Kampala, outlying areas, and two orphanages. It was a day filled with overwhelming experiences and images. The city is a hustling, bustling metropolis filled with merchants, storefronts, honking cars making four or more lanes on a road built for two, with bicycles and motorcycles screaming by on either side. And then there's the dichotomy of the city: people nicely dressed for the most part, all seemingly chatting on their cell phone contrasted against a backdrop of sheer poverty and need. The people are beautiful. The shiny ebony tone of their skin, their smiling eyes and welcoming voices.

We pulled up at Caring Heart this morning, the first of our two orphanages we're visiting this week, and were welcomed by a throng of children running to meet us as we pulled into their driveway. With windows down, the soft melody of a song I can only assume they made up just for us, flooded our van. "We are SO happy to see you here today...We are so see today. So happy!"

After confirming with the director, we realized the sheer number of kids we were dealing with and had to reassess our game plan. For the 350 orphans we were expecting, the actual number was closer to 500-600. We spent a lot of time loving on these guys, cuddling, trying to learn names. Lugandan was overwhelming the spoken language here so we relied heavily on translators and the teachers to help us communicate. Following introductions of our team to everyone and then a song and dance program from them for us, we broke out into smaller groups. While half of the place was outside, getting fresh air and playing games, the rest stayed inside the meeting hall and worked on an arts and craft project.

After saying our goodbyes and loading on the van, we continued on to Africa Greater Life this afternoon. Again, the welcome mat was rolled out for us in the form of tiny faces and huge smiles. At this orphanage, the number of children present met our expectations of roughly 100. They, too, took us into a meeting hall and entertained us with beautiful music and hypnotizing dances. We shared in worship and then again, broke out into smaller groups to spend time getting to know our kids. I don't think any team member walked around with a free hand or arm the entire time.

It was a long, hot, hard day but oh so rewarding. Our only prayer is that these children and the people who care for them on a daily basis will see in us - in our expense and effort to get here, in our hugs and handshakes, in our presentations and games and arts & crafts projects - that there is a God. A God who created each one special and unique. Who knows their names. Who has not forsaken them. This is just one way for Him to say "well, hi there."

-Valerie Mangrum

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Habitat Home is Dedicated

Thanks to all who volunteered in April, May & June at the building of Shantha Saragoor and her family’s home. After a beautiful dedication ceremony on June 28, Shantha Saragoor and her children moved into their new home. Shantha extends her thanks to Brentwood Baptist Church.

Leia Mais…