Sunday, 15 September 2013

“…But time can be a greedy thing – sometimes it steals all the details for itself…” Khaled Hosseini wrote in his book, The Kite Runner, when referring to the loss of memories to time.

So true that with the quick pace we run at, the time between events and recounting them leaves enough of a haze to somehow loose the details. Obviously it’s been a while since I’ve recounted to you stories from here, but that does not mean that they have not been happening! So, I am sitting here to do my best to try to steal back some of the details and provide you a few glimpses back into what God is continuing to do in the Ssese Islands here in Uganda! Enjoy the short stories!!

Our two very special girls...

(Remember the photos from the last entry of these two beautiful faces? I told you I'd tell you more…)

Pastors wife with a bag of help to feed the mouths!

Pastor and his wife, at Mukaka have been busy taking care of the two young girls (two and half and three and a half years old) while their own children are grown. About four months ago the girls’ mother was brought to the attention of this couple in the church when she was very sick. The father had died of AIDS a few years earlier and the mother’s disease had progressed leaving her too ill to care for herself and her daughters. The pastor, also the Community Based Volunteer (CBV) in this camp, together with the believers in the church and some from the community decided to unite and help. They brought what they had to assist in different ways since there was no family remaining who would agree to care for them. The pastor took the children, another from the community agreed to care for the mother, and several contributed toward the expense of feeding two more mouths. They continued these efforts and remain a beautiful example of Christ’s care and value for children within this and other island communities. Sadly, a week ago the mother passed away and now the children are left with relatives who don’t want and are not able to care for them well. Please continue to pray for the pastor and his wife who want to take the girls in and care for them if the family will agree!

Alice with little Joy, one of her sunday school kids and a gem we find each time we visit!
The church at Kagonya is slowly growing again after many of the believers had fallen away in the community, discouraged by lack of leadership or having moved to other camps following the fishing industry. Francis and Alice Kiyimba, our teammates, have their home a Kagonya and view this community as their very own. Particularly over the last year God has spoken to Alice on many occasions about the church body its need for strength and unity to fight against the strong powers at work around them. Francis and Alice have taken it upon themselves to spend as much of their time as possible teaching, leading, and encouraging the believers there and Alice has been leading a children’s Sunday school for some time now and over her holiday began an adult Sunday school that meets prior to the worship time. A few of the members have begun fasting and praying every Saturday and some have started working collectively to identify and care for sick people in the community. They are putting into practice what they have learned over the years in bringing what little they have to offer physically, whether food, skills, time, or knowledge, together to demonstrate the physical care of Christ and use the opportunities to pray for people, share the gospel truth, and educate on topics such as health care, sanitation, and planning. One success story as a result of their efforts in the past few years is that the believers have cared for the needs and schooling of an orphaned girl in the community who is now twelve years old!

Early this year while visiting Kakyanga clinic run by the CBV and his wife, a mother and baby were brought to the attention of our team. The mother had delivered a premature baby who a few days after birth returned weak and unable to suck and swallow, quickly dehydrating and incapable of adapting to the camp environment. The mother has other children and the father was doubtful this one was his so he was refusing to provide food or care for them. Together the CBV, nurse, mother, pastor of her Kamese community, and the team made a plan for her to take the baby on the public transport to the mainland that day. The plan was that she would travel to a hospital with facilities to care for a premature infant near the woman’s home village where she could receive the support of her family while her children were cared for by a community member. Though frightened of the outcome of the situation for her baby and children, she was dedicated to doing her best to care even if the baby would die, which she was confident of at the time. The team shared the truth about Jesus with her and she accepted prayer before the CBV and pastor helped her board the boat. Fast forward a few months, we arrived at Kamese one afternoon to visit with Pastor and found the mother and her children, even baby Giovani, now plump, healthy, and nursing well! The mother is full of joy and grateful for those who came along side her to demonstrate compassion and assistance when she cared so much but felt so helpless. She happily accounted to us all of the details of how she, the health care team in the hospital, and the family had worked together diligently every day for several weeks to fight for Giovani’s life. Mother and children now are a part of the church body at Kamese and this beautiful woman is not quiet about her testimony! She and her children remain in a difficult home situation, however she has learned and the community as well has seen the possibilities that come when we unite to demonstrate and fight for the value of every life. (Photos to come of this chunky fella soon…)

Kitobo Community landing site
Kitobo and Banda in the recent months had an extended visit from a false prophet who returned to Kitobo after a few years ago coming to Banda where he had deceived and robbed the believers when he left. He spent several weeks in the Kitobo church wanting to preach and requesting that people bring the believers from Banda to Kitobo church to be prayed for and that they would receive blessings. Thankfully the pastors joined together, warned one another, took seriously shepherding their congregations, and guided the believers in the truth in God’s Word during the time this man stayed in the camp until he moved on to another place. 

Over the past year Pastor from Namasengere, Pastor from Kaya, and Pastor from Semawundo have given testimonies of God’s work in their marriages. Since their attendance at a Transformation of the Heart Conference and a weekend of follow up at Boyovu, God has worked in the couples’ lives to expose their hearts toward their spouses. They are learning to forgive one another and to begin to trust each other with shared finances, phones, business, issues in the home, and children. The road is long and difficult, but all have expressed their praise to God for beginning to uncover and change things in their hearts and relationships in the past and present.

Pastor and wife and baby Blessing and her brother from Kamese
If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you may recall that Pastor and his wife at Kamese have experienced some hard times over the past year, however are not quiet about giving testimony to the power and faithfulness of God in their camp. Less than two years ago the church at Kamese blew down in a windstorm and God has provided through the believers coming together to rebuild along with the help of AIM. The church is now nearly rebuilt and this time out of brick to be a more solid structure and a visual representation to the community that God is a permanent fixture in the ever-shifting communities. About a year ago Pastor’s wife went into labor with bleeding complications in the nearby camp clinic while he was at a pastor’s conference and she was in need of an emergency cesarean delivery. This family experienced the provision and love of God through the pastors who came together and brought a boat to carry her to the mainland where she safely delivered a beautiful baby girl named Blessing! Finally, the couple had been struggling to provide food for their family through farming and a small home business. At the Transformation of the Heart Conference, Pastor was convicted by the Holy Spirit to restore relationships with the family he had not seen for 20 years and his wife found herself aware of her need to entrust her business to God and believe in His provision. Since that point, Pastor’s family relationships have been restored and their business has been thriving so they also have been able to care for and help others in their camp, including Giovani! They are now humbled, and joyfully outspoken giving glory to God for his work. (Kamese Pastor and family photo)

Our CBV at Bossa, an individual who cares deeply for people in his community and is a practicing Muslim, actively connects people with necessary healthcare on the mainland. He regularly attends and participates in the trainings at Boyovu whenever he is able. Early this year he contacted the Ssese Islands Team about a big problem he was caught in and called to court over. He came to AIM for wisdom, advice, emotional, and spiritual support as he was in the middle of a divorce and was called to court with threats from his wife and the potential of loosing his children. This I believe gives testimony itself to what God is doing in the hearts of those directly related to and impacted by the Gospel teachings and truths over the years.

These are just a few of the recent stories that remind us that God is not finished here! I am honored to know these people and walk together in our difficult places and I am thankful I have the opportunity to share with you their stories…stories that tell of a much bigger story taking place in our world and time! God is not content to leave us as we are and He’s clearly redeeming day by day each of us as we learn what it means to grow in His image and demonstrate Him to those around us as He works to redeem His creation to Himself. Thanks for tuning in…I hope you’ve appreciated the read and that it’s also left you thinking of that bigger story and holding on to some of those details that time tries to steal away from us!

Thank you to all of you who are involved in financial or prayer support to make this all possible!

Before too long! Until then…peace to you!
Melanie Joy

Mwelaba! Kwaherini! Bye for now! See you again soon!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Well look who it is!

Hello hello! Just want to touch base and say hello from home and let you know I haven’t forgotten about you! I’m sitting down for a few minutes on my day of rest…ha ha! That’s a funny sentence, but a true one! I have sat down more than once today and am thankful for each time I do so and let my mind wander and return before continuing whatever is the next thing on the list to get done before my eyelids close tonight! Anyway, there goes my mind off wandering, ha ha! I am still here despite my absence from this page! I continue traveling between the Ssese Islands and realize that I’ve been terrible about including you in on what’s been going on! Forgive me!

So here’s a quick glimpse of the week…tomorrow I head back out to Kagonya community to one of the churches for the day and then to Boyovu where we’ll be gathering our Community Based Volunteers (CBVs) together for two days to review a training they participated in earlier this year about HIV/AIDS in the church and the church’s response. I’m sure there will be lots of interesting and lively conversations about the challenges faced and solutions discovered! God is at work! I’ll return to Kampala late in the week, God willing, at which point I have every intention of writing up a variety of brief stories to share with you how He’s been at work over the past few months. I hope it will help to bring you back to speed with what’s going on and how best you can join us in making it possible through prayer and other means.

I’m off to finish up packing to be on the road by 630am tomorrow heading toward Lake Victoria…Once I’m back from our very own Gilligan’s Island Episode this week…I’ll tune back in!

Upcoming stories will include details about God’s work in the lives of the above beautiful joyful faces…