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!


  1. Can you hear me shouting for joy? I AM!! God you are so good! Love EVERY word!

  2. Absolutely loved reading this, and honored to be a part of your Redeemer House family. Give the kids my love... I will be sending photos soon!