Sunday, March 21, 2010

God is so good, he's so good to me!

Today I am basking in the goodness and mercy of God, and in His worthiness of my praise. I have been asking Him to teach me how to worship Him as He deserves to be worshipped. Today, as I was worshipping during church, I realized how selfish that noble-sounding request really is. I saw that I have been wanting to worship God more fully, in part, because of what I would get from it, how it would make me feel! I am so selfish! Even in my worship of God, I am thinking of me! I realized that to worship Him "in spirit and in truth", my only desire must be that He received the praise and worship of which He is so worthy. And He is worthy - beyond what I can ever comprehend, or express.

Lord, please humble me. Help me deny my selfishness. I do long to worship you as you deserve to be worshipped. How thankful I am that even when I don't get it right, in all of my selfcenteredness and sinfulness, You still love me - undeservedly, immeasurably, eternally!

Friday, March 19, 2010

God Said YES!!!

We have a house! On Wednesday we met with the landlord and after some African-style negotiation, with a few concessions on both sides, we came to an agreement. The landlord will clean up the mess from the previous tenants, install an outdoor latrine, fix up the kitchen a bit, and complete the fence. He has assured us that all but the fence will be ready for us to move in by April 1, but knowing the lack of respect for timelines here in Africa, I have my doubts! But we are happy to have the house, and I think it will be a great home for the children. Some of the blessings of our new house:

• It cost about $100 less per month than our current home (but I did have to agree that we would paint the entire inside of the house when we leave – maybe a job for a mission team someday in the future when we are moving to our own property???). Getting a house for this price in today’s market is remarkable, and the amazing thing is that the house was offered for $500, but Gracious told the landlord when she first called him that we could only afford $400, and he agreed to that price without any further negotiation – practically unheard of here! As Gracious says, “It was God - that house for that amount!”

• It is close enough that the children can stay in their current school.

• It is right on a main road, which makes transport a bit easier (and cheaper). Some of the things we dream of doing to make a difference for God in our community will be more easily done in such a visible location.

• It has lots of room for a garden, plenty of room for kids to play, and a large paver-stone area which can hold a lot of people – one more thing that fits into our future plans.

• It has 4 bedrooms instead of 3 – a real plus when you have 17 people sharing a house!

God has answered our prayers for a place to move to just as we expected He would – showing that He continues to work on behalf of Redeemer House day by day. We still have some prayer requests regarding our move:

• We need to have $4800 by March 29 top pay 6 months in advance. We have part of this, but not all.

• We will need to find some way to move our “stuff” from one house to the other. (It’s probably about ¾ mile away.) Transport is always a problem, and very expensive. Pray that we might find someone who would be willing to help us for a reasonable price, maybe even just the price of gas.

• Pray that we will get some beds that were paid for several months before I came. The man who was building the beds first asked for more money, then had people tell us he had died, and now refuses to give us our money or our beds. The police are supposed to deal with it, but that’s usually not very productive, so we really need God’s intervention.

• Pray especially that we won’t be assessed for damages to our present house due to some dry rot that was present in the walls before we came, which has caused some of the lower walls to crumble. The property manager assured us it would be fixed right after we moved in, but now is telling the landlord there was no problem with the walls, and we simply damaged them. However, there is a paper signed by the property manager and me (which I insisted be placed in the file), in which the dry rot is listed, along with other small issues with the house when we rented it. I am finding, though, that this does not necessarily mean we will have justice. The cost to fix the walls could be substantial! I meet with the property manager on Monday. Please pray!

Although we still face challenges with moving, we are delighted with the new house God has given us, and expect the new landlord to be more reasonable. Thank you for your prayers. If you would like to donate toward helping with the rent for the next six months, please see the previous post. And thank God with us for what He has done!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A New Home for RHO?

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while may remember that I shared back in January about the problems we were having with our landlady. She is Ugandan, living in Ireland, and didn’t realize till visiting in January that her house had been rented out as an orphanage. The property manager assured us that she was delighted to have her house used to help orphans, and then, when she came, he denied ever knowing that we had children here! Such is business in Uganda! I haven’t updated on that situation, partly because it has been pretty much up in the air. We really didn’t know for sure whether the landlady would relent and let us stay, or whether she would indeed make us move. Shortly before I arrived in Uganda on March 5, Gracious received a letter from the property manager telling us we had to leave the house by March 31. We have a one year lease (until September 30) and we have in no way violated the lease agreement, but apparently she can still require us to leave. So, we have been looking for a new home for Redeemer House.

Oh, my goodness, I had to stop in the middle of this and go rescue my kids from a cowundo, or rescue a cowundo from my kids, I’m not sure which! They were chasing a bat around the compound, and had it cornered when I became suspicious of the roars of laughter. After a lesson on bats carrying rabies and cruelty to animals, and after trapping the bat in the corner for Uncle Noah to dispose of when he gets home, I had to take time out for a couple quick handclapping rhythm games with the girls, and then try to find some duct tape to fix the very leaky old soccer ball for the boys (no luck, and so now I find them trying to patch it with LAYERS of scotch tape)!

The school year starts here in Uganda in February, and this year we moved our kids to a new, much better school, for the same price. The kids are all happier at Buziga Hill School, and are doing much better in their classes. We don’t want to have to move them again, and we don’t believe we could find a better school for them anywhere in this area, so we really wanted to find a house nearby. We have engaged a broker (a fine Christian young man, Nicolas, who helped us find our present house, and has been a great friend to the orphanage), we have told friends, neighbors, and pastors, and we have prayed! I wish you could hear the children pray! Their faith is incredible!

Time is running short, and until today everything we have heard about is too expensive, and most didn’t want children. Today we think we may have found the right house! It is nearby, 4 bedrooms, not quite as nice as our present house (cement floors in the bedrooms instead of tile, for example), a little older – and very suited to house a bunch of kids! It has a large compound (yard) with room for the kids to play, and room for a large garden. We are hoping to get the house for $400 per month – actually very reasonable here, where landlords are now asking about $600 and up for houses big enough for us. (Our current house is $500 per month). Please pray with us, that if this is the house God has for us, we would get it at a good price and the landlord would agree to install an outdoor latrine (for times we don’t have water, and for the kids to use during the day) and finish the fence on one side (important here for the safety of the kids, AND we would be able to keep chickens in the compound and have eggs). We think it would be a wonderful home for the kids of Redeemer House.

In Uganda, houses this size are generally leased for 1 year, and landlords want 6-12 months’ rent at signing. That means we need at least $2400 – money we don’t have right now. Please pray that the landlord will only require 6 months’ in advance, and that we will have the money in time. We have the money to pay him one month at signing, which he would use to make some necessary repairs to the house. Then we would need the rest before we move in. Two other people were right behind us wanting to look at the house, and if we don’t come up with the money right away, we would likely lose the house.

If God is speaking to your heart about helping provide a home for the kids of Redeemer House, you can donate by making a check out to:

First Baptist Church

Include a note that it is for:

Redeemer House Orphanage

Mail it to:

James Lambert

544 NW Apollo Rd.

Prineville, OR 97754

We know God loves the kids of Redeemer House, and has a place for us. He has never failed us. Thanks for praying with us as we discover where He wants us to live and serve Him!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hands of Hope - Hearts of Love

What a blessing to have a team from Hands of Hope, a ministry based in California, come visit us at Redeemer House on Sunday and Monday! I met Rick and Wendi Cross, the team leaders, just last weekend at Annie’s fundraiser. We have had individuals visit us here at Redeemer House, but this was the first team that has come. How we loved them! They came early enough on Sunday to walk to church with the children. We had a wonderful time of worshipping in a small African church, where most of what was shared was translated for us Westerners. But there was really no translation needed for the worship service, with songs in both English and Luganda, and the children sharing three songs they had prepared for the visitors. It was a very precious time of worshipping together with brothers and sisters in Christ – different languages, different cultures, same God! During the Sunday school time the visitors shared with the children. Gerald, “Uncle G”, was a great hit with the kids. They loved the way he worshipped, and he connected with the kids so easily. They have been talking about him ever since he left. When I learned he is a teacher, I was not surprised. It is obvious that he loves children.

The team leaders, Rick and Wendi Cross, were such a blessing. Rick founded Hands of Hope after visiting Africa in 2008. He has such a tender heart for the children, and the faith to believe for great things from the hand of God! One of the visions he has is for people all over the world to participate in Hand of Hope garage sales on Fathers Day weekend each year, to raise money for orphan care. Last year there were about 8 locations, and they raised about $6000. If you are interested in letting God use you in this way, leave me a comment. I loved seeing Rick connect with the “big boys” one at a time. Wendi was great as she engaged the children in stories and songs. She also spearheaded the supply drive to bring things we could use to Redeemer House. They chose to come to Redeemer House just to bring a blessing, and they truly did. They also brought their 11 year old son Colby, and he brought his own contribution. When he found out he was coming, he organized a drive to collect soccer uniforms for the kids! I don’t think he could have chosen anything they would have liked more. With the sports equipment the team brought, the kids are set to go!

When Uncle Noah realized Colby hadn’t experienced where a chicken dinner comes from, he butchered one of his beloved chickens just for Colby. After realizing how special Uncle Noah’s chickens were to him, Colby couldn’t rest until he had bought Noah a new chicken the next day. And chickens here don’t come with cages, so he held the live chicken while coming home from market! What a tenderhearted kid! I think he is going to grow up to be just like his daddy!

It was clear that God brought Anthony and Bianca to love on the children. It seemed that every time I saw Bianca she was holding onto or cradling at least one of the kids. The kids just crave the love they felt from this team. I saw Anthony wiping tears from his eyes several times, when he was so touched by the stories of these kids’ past, or how hard life is for most of the people of Uganda, or by what wonderful, giving children these kids have become. I don’t know if I have ever seen such a tenderhearted group of men!

Auntie Jessie came with camera in hand, and captured many wonderful images of the kids. She also photographed “real life” when we had the privilege of visiting Mama Miracle and her family in their home on Sunday. It is hard to imagine 8 people sleeping on 3 mattresses in a 7’ x 10’ room with all their belongings, but that is the reality here. Jessie also brought backpacks full of supplies for all the children. She didn’t know that the kids have been begging for backpacks! I wish she could have seen the kids on the sitting room floor on Monday night, as Patrick and Mama Gracious helped them assemble 14 new puzzles! That was certainly a Kodak moment!

Besides the soccer uniforms and equipment, and the backpacks, the team also brought lots of everyday needs for the orphanage. Best of all were the collapsible organizer boxes which are going to help so much! And on Sunday, with the help of their wonderful driver Emmanuel, they also purchased furniture – two love seats, a chair, and a coffee table – from the local craftsmen, for our empty sitting room. Wow! The kids were amazed – none of them have ever lived in a house big enough for real furniture! It will be so nice to have a place to sit, other than at the dining room table. The amazing thing was that I had just discussed needs of the orphanage with Elysia, our American volunteer, when she had returned last month, and we agreed just days before I left that we needed sitting room furniture so the kids would have a place to gather other than in the bedrooms, as we wanted to establish a policy of no boys in the girls room or girls in the boys room. The team from Hands of Hope had no idea that we were asking God to provide furniture when they raised money for that very purpose! God is such a good provider! Sometimes I think He is just waiting for us to ask!

One of the things the team was impressed to do while they were here was to take pictures of kids who need sponsors for their education and try to find sponsors for them when they go back home. In addition to our kids, they took pictures of several of the children at church who are not going to school because their mothers can’t afford school fees. For about $20 per month, sponsors can provide an education, including school fees, uniforms, shoes, books and supplies (which include, among other things, toilet paper, brooms, and reams of paper). In Africa, education means hope for the future, and all kids desperately want to go to school. Two of the kids are already going to be sponsored, through members of the team! Praise God! Rebecca is one of them. She is very bright, and wants to be a doctor. She is high-school aged, but hasn’t been able to attend for the past two years. Not only is she being sponsored, but she has met her sponsor, and she thinks Jessie is wonderful! She is on cloud nine! She came over this morning and told me she wasn’t able to sleep last night because she is so excited that she will be going to school. In addition to education sponsorships, team members are considering the possibility of adopting two of our kids! Wow! Wouldn’t it be wonderful for some of our kids to have forever families, all because 7 people heard God call them to a short term mission trip to Africa, and said yes!

My heart is full as I write this, just reflecting on the goodness of God and His rich blessings for us these past couple of days. Thank God for people who see God’s heart for the orphan, and respond. Thank God for people who pray and give and fundraise and serve and come and adopt and love! I know you make His heart happy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

In Uganda at Last!

I have been in Uganda for less than 3 full days, and I don’t know where to begin! I am just now getting a chance to update, as the days have been very full. We had the wonderful experience of having a mission team from Hands of Hope, based in California, visit us for the past two days. Their visit was such a blessing that I want to devote a whole post to it, so I will try to do that in the next couple of days.

First of all, and most importantly, the kids! It is so wonderful to be back here with them. To be greeted with “Welcome, Jaja Kathy”, “Praise God, Jaja Kathy”, “God bless you, Jaja Kathy” by 14 laughing, giggling children, as they all attempt to hug me and help carry my things, does wonders for my soul! Even though I have come at this time essentially to take care of business (see below), they help me remember that it is not business, but love for the children, that brings me here. It always amazes me that God has given us 14 such lovable children to care for! I want to tell you more about each of them over the next few weeks and months.

After arriving in Uganda late Friday night, I met with Peter Nyombi, our newly-retained lawyer, the next morning. How grateful I am that God sent us to him! He is a highly respected, God-fearing man who understands that Redeemer House Ministries is motivated by a love for the children and a desire to walk obediently to God’s call for us to care for orphans. He also has a great deal of experience in working with setting up foreign NGOs (non-government organizations) in Uganda, which is what we have asked him to do for us. When he learned I was in Uganda for the fourth time and did not yet have a Ugandan name, he called his office staff of 3 into his office, and in a small “ceremony,” he gave me the name of Nanyonjo, from the Clan of Nakinsige (a small Ugandan bird), which is his clan. While it was an honor to be considered a part of his clan, I’m not sure why the office staff all laughed at the name he gave me!

Peter will be working to help us gain our NGO status and become a legally recognized entity in this country. At the same time he will be preparing many necessary documents we will need as we continue to operate here. It’s the kind of essential but frustrating process I hate to have to deal with, and it is nearly impossible to know how to negotiate it in a foreign country, so we are blessed to have Peter’s services. Besides the acres of documents I brought over with me, I also need to obtain a letter from the American Embassy, prepare a yearly work plan, and meet with someone from the Ministry of Gender (which Peter will arrange), for now. Peter will be taking care of almost everything else. Later I will need to do a few other things, such as go before the NGO board with Peter to present our application.  The process is likely to take 3-4 months, and I have committed to remain in Uganda until it is finished.

Please pray that God will grant us favor, throughout the many steps of this process, with the many different government entities and people with whom we will be involved. Also, please pray for funds to pay the necessary fees. Peter’s fees, along with all the government fees, come to just over $2700. This is not in our budget, but is a necessary part of doing business here, so that we can care for the children God has entrusted to our care. We believe that God will provide for this, and are eager to share the “God story” we will have to tell when He does.

Thanks for all of your prayers as we carry on with the work God has given us to do!



Friday, March 5, 2010

Halfway "Home"

I can hardly believe I am writing from the Amsterdam Airport, on my way back to Redeemer House Orphanage in Uganda for 3-4 months. In just a few hours, I will get to see "my kids" again!  I am so excited! On this trip, my main goal will be to work with a lawyer to complete registration of our orphanage as a foreign non-governmental organization. Please pray!  But there's a lot of other "stuff" in the works, too.  First off, we have our first mission team coming to help at Redeemer House on Sunday and Monday, with a plan to distribute soccer jerseys and soccer balls to the kids, and get in some games with them. The kids will love it! I had the chance to meet Wendi and Rick, leaders of the team, last Saturday night at Annie's fundraiser. (See previous post.)  What great people, with hearts that beat for orphans! I am looking forward to Sunday, feeling like I will be seeing dear old friends again, and anxious to meet the rest of the team.

I have spent the past few days scrambling to get ready, and so have not had a chance to post about Annie's fundraiser, but I will soon.  It was amazing - just like the whole weekend.  Wow, did God make his presence felt!  Can hardly wait to tell you about it.

But right now - I have a plane to catch.  Uganda, here I come!