"And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." Ephesians 3:17b-18

Sunday, August 12, 2012

So…What can 13 people with 35 trunks of supplies accomplish in 14 days with God’s direction?

The journey began months ago with prayer and planning. Transportation and lodging would require 29 hours on 3 buses, 34 hours on 4 airplanes (plus 26 hours in layovers), and 5 hotels. We would be crossing time zones to one 8 hours ahead of EST to visit 6 ministry sites and work at 3 of them.

Ministry work provided:
  •   238 children attended Children’s Bible Club
  •  123 adults attended Community Health Evangelism classes on nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, safe water, first aid
  •  32 women attended a class on Woman’s Health and Pregnancy
  • 484 preschool and elementary age children had a day of Vacation Bible School
  • 259 people attended a 1 day Medical Clinic in a remote village of a strong Muslim district, where 18 gave their lives to Christ
  • 300+ Beanie Babies given to sick children at a children’s hospital

As the team is settling back into their lives in the US we are reminded of the blessings that living in the US provide, which is a simple fact of the location of our birth. Life in Uganda is hard. Simple things of everyday life that we don’t even think about are a struggle there. Food, water, shelter, and health care are not easy to come by, and sometimes not even possible. But love is universal and can bring a big smile to the face of someone in need, no matter where you are born. To have the privilege to share the love of Christ in Uganda was just that – a privilege. We are so thankful that God has allowed us to be a part of His work. Thankful for families who sacrificed to make it possible for us to leave our homes for 2 weeks. Thankful for the everyone who prayed with us and for us. Thankful for those who gave willingly of their time and resources to help make it possible for us to go and have the supplies needed to accomplish the work. But most of all we are thankful to have a Lord and Savior willing to die on a cross to provide salvation for all who seek Him!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thoughts from our youngest team members:

Cole – Yesterday once we stopped at the children’s hospital I was sad, because they were all very sick.  I felt bad for them because they had to get shots & medicine. I thought it was interesting how they did the IV’s with the wrist thing.  I guess I learned something from that. Then today, we spent a lot of time riding. We stopped at Isacc’s orphanage (Canaan). The first thing that happens when you step off the bus the children hug you, hold your hand, & stay with you. I met my friend Gideon, who I met last year. We played football (soccer) together last year, but didn’t have time this year. While I was there I had my first full Novida = a malt beverage with 48% sugar in it. Then we drove to GSF for a quick visit. I was hoping to see my friend Eli.  Though I didn’t see him, I made 2 new friends. I got to see where Amos use to sleep and while doing that, I got to see last year’s friend Brian and gave him a hug. Then we gave good-byes and drove to the Central Inn to get all ready to fly out in morning. The end.

Amos – Today was the most interesting day of the trip for me! I was very interested when I went to the first orphanage (Canaan). I’ve never been to a different orphanage. GSF was the only orphanage I had ever been to. I use to know how the kids felt when they had so much laughter and joy when we came, because I use to be one of them. The most interesting part of the day was meeting all my friends. When I went to GSF I was surprised to see how much had changed. I met almost all my friends, my Aunt (my mom’s sister), guess you could say one of my older brothers (Morris). Saw new people I had never seen before. This is the saddest days of my life as well, because one of my good friends (Matthew) was paralyzed from the waist down, but I still rejoiced for him.  Even though he couldn’t speak to me, he understood me.  I’m glad that Andrew was driving us, because I think he is one of the most trustworthy bus driver I have ever met. This was my first time meeting Andrew, but I knew him even before I saw him, because people had been talking a lot about him. At the airport he ask me what his name was, I said, “Andrew.”  He said, “Shut-up, mama Cindy told you.” This is when all our joking started. When at the Coggins (Gulu), Andrew, Elijah, and I were cooking and I was the Chef.  Then Andrew ask me, “Whats nek (next)?” He asked me that question every single day. We always laughed about it, but this afternoon when he left he asked me one more time. And I said, “This is what’s nek” and then I hugged him good-bye. Tomorrow morning I will be sad, because we are leaving. When we leave, I will take one good look back and think about next year. The end. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Is it really coming to an end....

Greetings from Pallisa! We arrived here 2 days ago and meet up with Pastor Samuel and his Family. We felt such a warm welcome from everyone here. Yesterday morning we had Vacation Bible School at the School with 169 kids. The kids just loved everything we did for them and learning about Noah’s Ark. In the afternoon we did Community Health Evangelism with the Ladies and Bible Club with 68 kids at Pastor Samuel’s. To end the day we counted all the meds for the clinic. Some of us stayed up past our bedtimes to get them all counted. 

Today ended our work here in Uganda where we had a clinic and saw over 259 people and were able to provide resources to them and share the Word of God. Come to find out we were the first “muzungus” (white people) to ever go to this village. We also had 15 Villagers lead to Christ which was a big blessing for the team knowing that we are doing God’s work over here.  Tomorrow we head to Jinja to visit the Children’s Hospital to show them that we and God love them as we visit and pass out beanie babies. After visiting with them we will do a little shopping and end the day off at Ling Ling’s Chinese Restaurant. And yes, there is a Chinese restaurant in the middle of Uganda.

We have enjoyed our time here in Uganda and have had such a blessing to be able to come on this trip and see what God is doing in Uganda. This trip has touched our lives and we will always remember the experiences we have had over here. This was a new experience for me (Beth) and a very different one that will not soon be forgotten. Sean has also been able to experience the joy of sharing this with his wife. We have met some great people who will forever be friends as well as Brothers and Sisters in Christ. God has put us on this trip for a reason and I know we were used like God had planned. Thanks for all the prayers and love. See you all soon!
Beth & Sean McGann

Friday, August 3, 2012

Being the change {and feeling the impact}

Good evening! Nicole here with warm greetings from Pallisa. As our trip progresses the days seem to get longer and the workload larger. Each time we board the bus again it feels like we never got off, but the team is just as energetic and motivated as on day one. 

We wrapped up our work in Kitgum and have since traveled South, but the time we spent there is still filling my heart. As Ryan, Deb and Cindy mentioned in our last post, we visited Faith Academy/Faith Alive Ministries where we really made the most of the time we had! Aside from the VBS, Bible Club and Community Health Evangelism (CHE), we introduced a new program for women focusing on women's health issues, specifically related to reproduction and childbirth. Kitgum has an extremely high mortality rate related to pregnancy, childbirth and infant deaths, so I was eager to see how the ladies would react to the teaching. 

Of all the things we've done thus far, this program really had the biggest impact on me. The crowd was large, engaged and very interested in the education. It goes with saying that the things we take for granted in America are too many to count, but most people probably don't even realize that there are so many women in this world who don't even know what is happening when they are pregnant. 

Rhonda and Susan organized an amazingly educational session complete with pictures, diagrams and even a stuffed 3D pelvis and baby! Even though we were using a translator, it was clear that the women were really learning and many questions were asked. Though it was just a couple hours of what may seem like basic information to most of us, I saw what an amazing impact it will have on reducing the death rate of these women and their infants. 

Have you ever physically, emotionally and spiritually felt yourself directly making an impact on the world? That's what we get to experience everyday here. 

We were rewarded our last evening in Kitgum with an amazing meal at Clayton and Monica's house and quite an adventure to go along with it! The path to their house had been blocked by a river which raised due to rain, something we were told rarely happens...

Lisa's Land Cruiser was the only vehicle which could transport us across so we loaded in the bus, went as far as we could go, crossed the flooded road 8 at a time crammed into the Cruiser (except Justin and Sean who decided to roll up their pants and wade across!) and then waited in Clayton's truck on the other side until everyone was there. 

We then road to dinner standing in the back of the truck, bouncing down the road (and I mean bouncing!), ducking to avoid tree limbs and eating bugs, laughing until we cried. It was even more fun on the way back when we couldn't see the limbs :) 

We did all make it in one piece and each with two eyes, what more could you ask for?

xo ~ Nicole

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The team arrived in Pallisa this evening from Kitgum. As to be expected in Africa...things can take a little longer & not always go as planned. FLEX is certainly the name of the game. Our 5 hour drive was actually 8 hours & upon arriving at the hotel, which Samuel had coordinated with multiple times over the past few weeks to ensure that everything was prepared for us, there were a few issues with the rooms. We do have the most important things - a bed, electricity & water (which actually are more of a luxury than necessity here). The team has settled into them respective rooms and started getting ready for bed.

It never ceases to amaze me how tiring sitting all day in a vehicle can be....especially here where the bus ride is more like an amusement park ride - dodging craters, dropping into some craters, traversing streams, & swerving to miss the goat or cow or person on the bicycle. Tomorrow we begin our final ministry work here in Uganda. We have VBS in the morning & Bible Club in the afternoon, then it will clinic prep for the medical clinic on Saturday. More to updates to come tomorrow :)

Thank you for your prayers! Everyone is doing wonderful! With that we will say "Good-Night"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Greetings from Kitgum, Uganda!

From Gulu, we have moved three hours west onto Kitgum, to visit Faith Alive Ministries/Faith Academy led by Pastor Clayton and Pastor Alex. Last year, we toured a piece of land that was no more than brush and dirt that was to be made into their ministry site. As we approached it yesterday morning, I did not even recognize it. They have started by erecting a small pavilion with a tarp covering it, and a brick building consisting of a large, open aired room for congregating and school, and also a smaller room for storage and for the teachers to take a break from the children. The second day we were here, a large storage unit was transferred to the site from Sanctuary of Grace in Gulu. Now that they have a place for storage, the other room can be used primarily for the teacher’s use.
If there is one common interest between myself and almost every other man and boy in this country that I have found, it is a passion for international football.  As I got to talking to some of the members of the ministry, they informed me of their plans for the future to have at least one or two more buildings up by this time next year. The young men of the ministry have a plan for attracting local interest to their Church/academy through this shared passion. Their plan is to invite the young men, and women if they like to play, for a game of soccer every Sunday, then encourage them to stay for song, praise, and worship. They have not yet set up a field of play, but have plans to flatten out a small patch of land (no more than 30 or 40 yards in length), and set up goal-posts.


Coming to Uganda this year was a difficult decision for me to make.  My Mom has been going downhill in health since my last trip here.  Even though I was excited to be able to plan for the trip, I did not know if this was God’s will for my life at this time.  One week before we were to leave I had to put her in the hospital with pneumonia and congestive heart failure.  What was I to do?  What was God’s will for my life in a place so far away?  I placed Mom in God’s hands, she got so much better before I left.  I felt that it was OK for me to leave for a country half way around the world to do His will working with children who were so needy. Just as I knew mother would like for me to do as she had taught me to do growing up.  Take care of those children who needed love and compassion.
Working in Gulu. at Sanctuary of Grace school with my P1( 1st grade ) class was a joy.  The children were such a pleasure to work with during the morning at Vacation Bible School.  We told stories, made necklaces out of sea shells, worked with stickers to remind the children of God’s love for them.  At Faith Academy, Nicole, Amos and I once again worked with P1 students.  They were good. We went through the same stories and crafts that we had done the day before.  We went back to Faith Academy on Wednesday where Nicole worked with the ladies of the villages concerning health and nutrition. I worked with Susan and others for our Bible Club presentation.  When we went outside the pavilion to play games I came up to one of the little ones who was getting run over by the older students.  I stopped to pick her up to carry her out of “danger”.  She was so tired, she went to sleep on my shoulder almost as soon as I picked her up.  She stayed in my arms for the rest of the time we had with the children.  I know that it was right for me to come to Uganda this trip to do God’s will.



This has been a very busy and ever changing mission trip – and the team has REALLY stepped up to the plate. We knew that we would have a very busy schedule and that it was subject to change, but we also knew that every change would be God lead if we were willing to follow His direction.

So far we have completed:
Vacation Bible School with over 400 children
Health Seminar with over 80 men & women
Women's Health Seminar with about 20 women
Children's Bible Club with over 500 children
...and there is more to come :)

The ministries here in Northern Uganda have a great work to do after 23 years of war. We have had the privilege of coming along side them for a short period of time physically – but through prayer we can partner with them every day to come.

Tonight we were hosted at Clayton & Monica’s house for a wonderful dinner under the mango tree. What an awesome time of fellowship! The women had been working all day to provide thewonderful meal of their local dishes for us.

When we returned to the hotel Amos lead the team in a devotion on tithing – not only monetary tithing but tithing of the gifts and talents that God has provided each one of us. I was struck by a convicting thought, one of which I am certainly guilty of…In American, a land of such abundance and affluence, (I would venture to say) that we are so reluctant to give of our very best and certainly not all that we have every day to the Lord. In Uganda, where mere survival is the focus of each day and their faith in God is all they have to hold onto, they are willing to give all that they have to the Lord. Their commitment to sharing the gospel of salvation is the over powering motivation that drives them to forward each day.

Faith Alive Ministries is only a few years old and yet they have a school of about 200 children, whom they educate, feed, and care for. They are committed to evangelism. Pastor Alex was sharing with me tonight that they have been doing door-to-door evangelism for the past 2 weeks, as well as, counseling and discipleship. Through this effort they have had 70 come to Christ! Bear in mind this is a small congregation with a small all volunteer ministry staff.

They said we blessed them with the activities we have done the past 2 days – I believe we are the ones to receive the greater blessing! I am so humbled and thankful for the Lord’s prompting to serve here in Uganda with such wonderful brothers & sisters in Christ!