Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The launch of Project Friendship

You know those Klutz books that tell you how to do all kinds of fun child-like things like face painting and paper airplanes? Well, there's one on friendship bracelets - go get one!! We need you, and we need you now!

Here's the history and the plan for Project Friendship:

Every since my first trip to Uganda and Fathers House in 2009, I have come home with at least one friendship bracelet made by Jenneth or Keren. I have kept them all on until the literally fall off (I still have one on right now from my March trip), and all but once they've made it to the the next visit. These bracelets have been a constant reminder of what I'm doing - what GOD is doing - in Uganda, the people I love, and the wonderful men, women and children I work with there.

In planning for the basketball camp, I had the idea that we would make a bracelet for every child participating. As these things work in the Kingdom, friendship bracelets were big at New Life Camp this year, where 4 of our staff worked over the summer. So I bought 2 huge bags of floss at AC Moore, and when we got to Uganda we settled in to make the bracelets. We ended up with 53 bracelets, thanks to about a dozen craftsmen at Fathers House, and we were able to give one to every child as well as to the volunteers who helped us.

What we told them was, "These are called friendship bracelets, and we make them for our friends. You are all our friends, and we love you! We want you to remember the camp, and what we taught you about God, and all of us, when you see them; and we will wear bracelets too, and remember you." It was really awesome, actually!

So then I thought... Well, they're really cheap and easy to make. These kids are making them all the time anyway. Maybe we can collect donations of them, and use them to raise money here, and also take them over next trip for all the people that we are able to love on there. And so... Project Friendship was born!

We would love for you to make bracelets in your spare time (watching tv, talking after dinner, putting off cleaning the potty...) and send them to us! Any kind of friendship bracelet, in any colors, will do. (Uganda colors are red, black and yellow, which are always popular!) Make them with love... and say a prayer for whoever receives that bracelet, either through a donation or as a gift in Uganda.

Thanks so much!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Home, but missing Uganda!

After 32 hours of travel, and being awake 46+, we got home. Thankfully it was yesterday - if we'd traveled today, we'd be stuck in Detroit! After our non-scheduled adventures (like the stay at the hospital!), we were pretty ready to be back...

Zeke's room at IHK - his mosquito net was more like a farm - more inside than out!

I really hate that I didn't get out with the hospice in Jinja, and to the babies home in Bukaleba. Thank you all for your donations of clothing and toys - rest assured they all got to their intended recipients, as I was in Jinja for about 4 hours, and had taken all the donations with me. Everyone was so excited and grateful!

Rosemary - last trip, as I didn't have my camera at the tea!

I got updates on all our previous grant recipients in Namuwongo, and all the ladies are doing very well! I got to visit with a couple of them at our tea.

One, Rosemary, had opened a stand at the Oweno market, and had her money stolen. Since then, Oweno has burned down... So I gave her another 300,000 shilling grant to begin again. She had been doing well, and, as she has HIV/AIDS, she needs to be able to have a booth where she can work rather than trying to hawk her clothes up and down the street.

Angela (last trip, March 2011)

Angela is selling beans, and has been able to pay her food and rent, as well as save some money! She looked great (she came to the tea in a formal gown!), and is very happy.

Nulu, our business woman of the group, is still growing her produce stand. I didn't see her, as she had a baby week before last, as well as having a sick child at home.

We also spoke to Miriam at the tea. Ten Eighteen pays school fees for her daughters. She is from The Congo, and 4 of her relatives were killed recently by the rebels (Joseph Kony's LRA mob). But she is doing very well, up to 60 kilos from 42, and doing great on ARVs (anti-retrovirals for HIV/AIDS). Her dress making business is thriving, and she wore a beautiful dress she'd made. Next trip, I'm having her make me one!

Ryan with Harriet, one of our new recipients of school fees

Thanks for all your prayers and support! Please consider donating, especially for child sponsorships for school fees. We picked up 15 new kids, for a total of 35 in Kampala... We need your help!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Heading home today - with some big ideas!

Our internet here has been spotty this trip, as has the power. I probably could have updated a few times, but once it's on, the couple of areas the signal reaches gets swamped with people trying to check their email and Facebook, and so it becomes slow. I will do a complete update when I get home!

We had a great camp, and were at least able to deliver our donations to Arise Africa and Hospice Jinja. Most of you know our visit to Jinja was cut short (it was, in fact, 3 1/2 hours long!) because of Zeke's admission to IHK for pneumonia. He spent 3 nights there, and fortunately the private rooms have another bed for family, so we didn't leave from Tues night til Friday afternoon!

I had the great privilege of attending a gathering of about 20 of the regular ladies from Ray of Hope, and sharing tea and cookies and testimonies with them. It was really moving, and the strength of the women was palpable. It is amazing and humbling to see how so seemingly little help has made such a huge difference in their lives.

We are traveling home, starting at 8pm tonight, and will arrive in Raleigh at 7:20pm EDT, Lord willing and Hurricane Irene allowing... I really don't want to be stuck in Detroit, of all places!  So prayers are welcome!

Couple of projects we're going to pursue when we get home:

PROJECT FRIENDSHIP:  We made and distributed 53 friendship bracelets at the basketball camp, and they had a big impact on the kids. We would like to solicit donations of bracelets from you all - we will have them at our events for Americans, and we will bring them next time we visit Uganda. More to come!

THE "A-THONS": We are going to try to organize a couple of "a-thons" at local schools to raise money for the primary school in Bukaleba. Not sure what - walking, dancing, etc. - as we are in the research phase. If any of you have helped in one of these, we welcome your input!

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers! This has been an unusual trip, but we know God has been in control and in charge, and are thankful for all He's done.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

And today is the day!!!

Ryan is all packed...

After almost 17 months of planning, prayer and preparation, we are about to embark on our first ever Ten Eighteen team missions trip! Our first flight today is at 12:15pm, and we arrive in Entebbe at 3:15pm tomorrow (EST - 10:15pm local time), so we are in for the long haul. Fortunately KLM is a great airline, and we will be well taken care of.

So here's what we'll be doing when, if you want to check in and know what to pray for:

Travel:  Aug 4 and 5
Camp meetings and planning: Aug 6 and 7
Basketball camp:  Aug 8-11
Visits to the slums (group):  Aug 8 and 10
Travel to Lake Mburo: Aug 13-14
4 of the team TRAVEL back to US: Aug 14-15
Travel to Jinja: Aug 16
Out with hospice team: Aug 17
To Bukaleba and orphanage: Aug 18-19
Travel to Kampala: Aug 21
Visit with ladies in the slums about grants, school sponsorships: Aug 22 and 23
Travel back to US: Aug 25-26

Our prayers for the camp specifically are that the 40 kids and dozen volunteers will a) come to know God better (or be saved!) through our theme of "Life's Not Fair;" and b) enjoy 4 days of fun, basketball and fellowship.

Our general prayer is that everyone stays healthy, and for safe, easy travels.

We so appreciate your help, donations, thoughts and prayers as we embark on this great trip! I know that the lives of the 3 girls who have never been will be forever changed, and that the 3 of us who are "regulars" will continue to be knit to the people of the great country of Uganda. Thank you all so much!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Packing day!

Yesterday I went through about 2000 lb of clothes. OK, maybe not a literal ton, but definitely multiple hundreds!  We've had a lot of donations over the last year, and Zeke and I didn't take any extra bags when we went in the spring... which means lots and lots of clothes!

I also got 3 more basketballs, for a total of  16 now, and 5 frisbees. So today, when we pack, we will have to find the suitcases amidst mounds of things that are to go in them!

Ah yes, packing day! We are allowed 13 bags of 50 lb each, plus 2 carry ons apiece. Which means we will arrive in Uganda with 25 bags from very large to backpack size. haha! Here come the Americans!

One of our number, Erica, is SOOOO excited about the flying part of this trip. (Love you, Erica!) We have told her the flying part... well, sucks. But she is still excited about it. So here are some pictures in transit - you judge for yourself if it looks like fun!

In Amsterdam... having fun...
                                                                                                   Yep, this is fun!

                                         They look good because they've just started out... this is Uganda on the way home!