Friday, November 28, 2014

continued....Samuel


It’s been a while and I haven’t yet finished the continuation of the last blog post! I will first update on that and the next blog (hopefully in a couple of days) will be an update on our family! After leaving Zach with his father (previous blog), we were on to the next place; Samuels home. We figured he was about 30 minutes from Kamuli. Thirty minutes quickly turned into 2 hours of driving on almost impassible roads. Finally Samuel told us to stop. 

Samuel's Home

We stopped and then walked down a narrow path that had crops of maize and orange trees on either side. As we approached a sweet potato garden, we saw her. His mother. She was in the garden with her hoe in hand. She was crippled. She shook her head at Samuel and began walking ahead of us to their home. We approached one of the most poor places our feet have landed during our time in Uganda.
The Kitchen
 At first we were alone with her, then slowly others came and soon we had a crowd of about 15. They were not welcoming and not smiling. They were not happy with Samuel. Our two Ugandan friends explained the reason for our coming. They explained how Samuel was dropped at our gate. How he had been sleeping on the streets and digging in the waste containers for his food. He was approximately 10, but looked the size of a six year old. Once again, the story of the stepfather arose. It is not uncommon when a man or woman finds a new companion or remarries that the children of the former spouse are not accepted, are treated as slaves, or of no value. This was Samuels case. Out of desperation, he stole a phone and then fled the village. He found himself on a bus, landed in Kamuli, was taken to a child prison there, escaped, and then found his way to Jinja where he tried to survive living on the street. They pointed their fingers at him and said they didn’t want him there. They said they would rather see him leave and stay on the streets.  Our hearts were so broken for this child.  The family feared what would happen to them if Sam was discovered to be at home. We needed to clear the case with the police and ask for forgiveness from the lady he had stolen the phone from. Praise God both things happened, but the women said if Sam had shown up in town without us, he would have been stoned to death. Mob justice. Common here, but it certainly isn’t justice for the one who really is at fault.

As we were driving away, Sam asked us to stop.  Sam remembered who now had the phone he had stolen. We wanted to try to recover it to help bring reconciliation to this situation. As we pulled into the village, a crowd gathered quickly. Men and women were yelling as James explained the situation about the stolen phone. The villagers explained the man who was now in care of the phone was sick. They walked to the home where he was. A mud structure with a grass roof. It was dark inside, but lying to the left was a small child, naked with a sheet barely covering him, age unidentifiable as all that was left was bones. He was moaning and looked as if he was close to death. The man with the phone was on the other side of the dividing wall, lying on a bed with an IV. Suddenly the phone didn’t seem so important anymore as we knew we couldn’t leave this child to die like this. He was still responsive, even smiled weakly as we carried him into our van. The family had given up. They didn’t have the resources to get him the care he needed. They had been giving him water and it had been days since he had eaten anything. The family explained he had been living with an auntie and she had brought him in this condition. The man lying on the other side of the wall was his step father.  This child's name was David. He was 12 years old. He now weighed 17 kilograms. Just a few months ago, he could run and play. He was one of the top in his class at school. He was an orphan. We brought him to the best hospital we knew of in Jinja. The doctors ran all sorts of tests and did everything they could. His mother and grandmother stayed the night next to his side. They gave him blood, fluids, and antibiotics. He made it through the night. We prayed. We knew God could heal him. The diagnosis was made the following afternoon that he may have cancer. There were several masses they identified in the scan they did that morning. We made the decision to transfer him to Mulago Hospitol where there was better care. And then, the call came from our friend Patrick. David was now with his father in heaven. No more pain, no more suffering….only laughter, joy, and singing Praise to his Father. We arranged for the families travel and helped to cover the burial as it can be a burden to families in the village. The entire village will be invited and they will need to provide food for all.  

Sweet David
This was several weeks ago now. I have had time to process. I’ve had time to think about this young boys life. He mattered to God and this is why he mattered to us. This is why we were able to forgo our plans for the afternoon and do all we could for this child. Our prayer is that the family could see His love through us and that this same love would spark change in the village they traveled from. That they would value life as our Father in Heaven values life. We care for the ONE because of the ONE. 

We praise God that we were able to bring Samuel to a Christian boarding school where he was able to attend the last 3 weeks of school. He LOVED it! He is now on holiday, is staying with our friend James, and has been hanging out at our home. He was even able to enjoy Thanksgiving with our Uganda family! His English has improved and he is smiling all the time! Such a change from the day he was dropped at our gate by the boda man.  God is Good. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Good Shepherd




Since our feet stepped off the plane and onto the red dirt soil of Uganda two years ago, our hearts have beat for the children of this country. The ones who are alone, suffering, and without hope. He put a young man named Isaac into our lives that has helped us to better understand the lives of street children. To help us know the struggles, the why’s, and the solutions.  We can’t help every child in this country, obviously, but we can help the ones He puts in our path. In the parable of the Lost Sheep Jesus speaks about going to great lengths, out of our comfort zones for one. I can envision our friend Sandy, who came to visit us a year ago and told the children of Uganda this very story with her wooden sheep and felt mat.  The Lord has put many children into our lives that we have become mum and dad to. We have been able to mentor them and encourage them in their walks with Christ and remind them of who they are in Christ. They are God’s children. He loves them.

James, Chris, Rachel, Kendall, with M (in the brown shirt) with his family
A few weeks ago Chris left our house in the late evening around 11pm with our friend and guard, James.   After spending an hour driving the streets of Jinja, talking to some of the kids that call the streets home, they drove past a child who was walking alone, sobbing. Of course, they stopped. It was dark, the child was alone, and obviously something was wrong.  This child whom we will call M  was 10 years old, had been living with an auntie, and according to him was being mistreated. An older street child had found him in town and convinced him life was better an hour away in a town called Jinja.  After arriving in Jinja, this older boy took M’s mat, his things, and beat him.  Shortly after is when Chris and James found him.  They brought him home and he slept in the room in the back of our home. Over the next few days we sorted out his side of the story with a couple of our Ugandan friends, one of them a social worker. Chris and our Ugandan friends went to his auntie’s home to sort things out. They found out he had only been on the steet for a week! I’m leaving out lots of details or this would be such a long blog post, but the story ends beautifully! The next day, during a trip to Kampala, we were able to resettle M with his parents! They welcomed him home, and he will be attending school in Kampala.

A week after M left our home, a boda driver stopped at our gate and dropped a small boy who appeared to be 7 years old. He said the word on the street is that we help street children. Thankfully, James was around and was able to translate for this young child who knew no English. We will call him S. From the sounds of his story, he had only been on the street for a couple of weeks. This is good news, as children are much easier to resettle with family when their time on the street has been short. I’m going to pause here with S story. His story is still in the works and hasn’t been an easy one. However, I want to share about another friend of ours.


S- the one dropped at our gate by the boda driver

 We met this young guy right after moving to Jinja. He seemed to be well known by everyone in town. His stories changed each time you talked to him, but from what we gathered, he had been on the street for about 4 years. This young boy we’ll call Z,  started coming to our home with a couple of his friends to play football and wash his clothes.  They also began coming to church with us. This wasn’t always the most


Why we do what we do- JESUS (James, Z, Chris, and Dad to Z)
pleasant experience because Chris would be pinching them to keep them from sleeping and they would find random things funny and struggled to control the giggles. Because his English wasn’t great, we took the opportunity to have our friends James and Patrick talk to him. They are both awesome Christian men. We are thankful they are part of our lives. I remember one time Patrick asked Z if he wanted to be on the street with gray hairs. They challenged these boys to not only think about today, but where they will be in the future if they don’t make changes today. After many talks with Z, he said he wanted to go home. He wanted to go back to school. Street children’s stories are complicated. They are usually mixed with half truths they use as a way to survive. This past Wednesday, we made the trek to Z’s village. It was an hour away.  He was afraid to go back. He had borrowed a bicycle, let a friend borrow it, and this friend sold it. It was a family friend. Here in Uganda, if you are accused of stealing you could be stoned to death, even if you are a child. So you can understand why he was afraid. As we pulled into his home town center, his eyes began to fill with tears. Then he saw his father in the distance and the tears flowed down his cheeks. Something I still don’t understand here in Uganda is the lack of affection between Parents and their children. In my head I picture this father embracing his son that has been lost and here we stand with them looking at each other. No emotion. But it’s a cultural difference, and one we have seen many times.  One who has not received love and affection is going to struggle to give it. But this father did love his son. We listened to his story. He is a muslim. His first wife left him when Z was only 2 years old. He remarried. He was in an accident while driving that left him nearly dead. A Christian family helped pay his hospital bills that totaled over 27million. His second wife left him after the accident. One of the first things he said to us when we arrived is that he had been sick and almost died, just two weeks ago.  We talked, we listened, for hours. Forgiveness happened. Z wanted to stay! It turned out he had really only been on the streets for about 4 months or less. And then, the most amazing thing happened. Chris and James pulled Z and his father aside. Chris shared that the reason we were helping Z is because of Jesus. He shared Jesus. We prayed. We said our goodbyes to Z and his grandmother, then proceeded in our vehicle to take his father back to work. We were only a couple minutes down the road when his father, Mohammed, breaks the silence with; “ I want to profess Christ as my Savior.” We stop the car. Tears fill our eyes. My head puts the pieces together. The seeds planted…..a Christian family who paid all his doctor bills….two near death experiences….a sister who had been reading him the Bible….a Christian family who brings back his son……The Lord had been working on his heart for some time and he was ready! Now!! We pulled over, got out of the car and prayed with him. My dear friends, we now have another brother in Christ!




Dad, Z, and S
Dad signing resettlement papers
S (who likes to be in every picture:) ) Chris, Myself, and Dad to Z)
The second half of this day, we drove two hours further down a horrible dirt road to reach S’s village, in the middle of we weren’t even sure. The rest of the day was hard, draining, and will have to wait until the next blog post.

Today, we had the priviledge of joining Z and his father for prayers! A three and a half hour service that we could not understand, but it was worth it to see this man stand in prayer with his arms raised high. We then drove to a nearby school to see if they could enroll him for the last 4 weeks left in the term. We are exploring school options for him when the new year begins in February 2015. Pray for Z and his family. It will not be an easy transition back for him. Life on the streets, no matter how long, makes a young child grow up fast. There is often a piece of them that longs to go back to that freedom. Pray Z can stay focused at school and that the Lord would continue to work in his heart.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep- Luke 15
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.







Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Every good and perfect gift is from above.........


This is Patrick.  Father of Margaret. The first infant who was part of the formula program. Margaret's mother was one of two wives. She passed away during the delivery of baby Margaret, leaving behind several other children. Margaret was likely close to death when we first met her. Sick with pneumonia, feeding on cows milk and not thriving. Harriet, Patricks other wife, has accepted baby Margaret as her own, something that typically doesn’t happen in this culture. Today at 10 months,  Margaret is thriving and won’t even let us hold her anymore; She only wants her mommy!  Margaret's brother Godfrey is enrolled in the orphan scholarship program at St. Paul School.
Godfrey
I think he has the best smile of anyone I know. He is sweet and a little shy until you get to know him.  Last week, we were traveling from the village back to Jinja, already several kilometers from Naigobya, when we spotted Patrick pushing his bike up a hill. A basket full of eggplant on the back, he moved his bike up the dirt road. His brow  was covered in sweat. We offered to put his bike on our van and take him to the next town center where he would be selling his eggplant.  He sells the eggplant; 5 for 200 shillings.  To give you a better idea, if Patrick sold all the approximate 150 eggplant that was in his basket, he would come home with 6,000 shillings at the end of the night. This is equivelant to just a little over 2 US dollars.  Despite the many miles Patrick pushed his bike to this market this day, he also spent many hours planting and caring for the garden he harvested this eggplant from. He does this because he cares about his family and he wants to provide food, shelter, and schooling for his 11 children. They have nothing extra. They struggle to clothe their children. But they have joy and thankful hearts despite the struggles they face daily. It is evident each time we visit. I am so thankful for what this family has taught me. To love, to work hard, and to do the best with what you are given. I remember one of the first times we visited Harriet. We asked her if her husband cared for her, helped her as we sat there trying to imagine caring for this many children in a village such as this.  She laughed and smiled and said, “yes he cares for me. We have little, but we do what we can.”  They are beautiful examples of this and I am so thankful we have been called to encourage them and assist them with formula and school scholarship. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Thank You Jesus!
Harriet and baby Margaret
Some of the children in the village


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Spilled Paint

This past Thursday was The Day! The Day we would finish the playground. I awoke before my alarm had time to go off with a feeling of excitement. A project we have been working on for a month now. We were all wishing our Hillcrest friends were here to join us for this day! Kendall, Chloe, Trayton, Kidist, Patrick, and I left Jinja in the early morning hours. Our newly discovered short cut route would take us to Naigobya in an hour and 20 minutes. Down dusty, red dirt, pot hole filled, roads; dodging chickens, goats, and cows; taking in the beauty of the lush. green fields and gardens against the blue sky; little children running at us with toothy big smiles while calling out mazungo, windows down, fresh cool air,  and worship music filling the car. I love these drives. 

We pull into the school. The playground is covered with 300 purple uniforms, laughter filling the air. It was an awesome sight! The Tower. This is what we would complete today. The first task is filling our jerry cans at the bore hole in order to wash the tower down before painting. Lots of kids and mud= a very dirty tower. After letting the tower dry, we gather our paint cans from an old classroom. The place we believe is the reason for our last few visits at Sole Hope to remove several jiggers. We pry open the cans with our keys and find a nearby stick to stir the paint..... or rather what should have been paint and was now more like a rubbery sort of goo. We open three more cans and find the same rubbery goo. Purple. Purple didn't have hardener mixed with it yet and it was still OK. Praise God for purple . Patrick went high to paint the tower top and we began painting the few things that also would be purple. An eager, quite possibly first time painter joined us then. He quickly climbed a not so sturdy ladder, paint and brush in hand. Seconds later he was falling and so was the purple paint all over him and Kendall. I am giggling as I write this because it was quite a sight:) At the time, it was maybe not such a funny thing after just discovering our sticky goo paint and now seeing all the purple splatters that covered the orange, blue, lime green already dry paint.





So, we left a little earlier than usual that day. We visited with our friend Gloria who recently delivered a new little boy named Duncan. After arriving back in Jinja, we found a local paint store that would mix us more paint for our next trip, picked up some syrup for our pancakes that night and headed home. We have three new friends. They always find us on main street in Jinja. Today they found us parked at the supermarket picking our syrup. These three boys, average age of 11 live on the streets. We took them home with us to play for a while. They washed their clothes with buckets and a brush by hand, played soccer, and ate some pancakes with us. We gave them the last 3 blankets Fellowship Church VBS children made. Bellies full, sun setting, we let them go out the gate with their fresh smelling clothes and blankets in black plastic bags. Who loves you we ask. They reply, "Jesus." Now we were tired and exhausted. It would have been easy to do nothing today for these boys we have been getting to know more and more.  However, I know we all experienced His joy that comes along with being His hands and feet and sharing His love with them today:) Please pray for wisdom in this situation as we look into their family situations and the possibility of getting them into school as all three desire to attend.

A week later......The above was a blog that took a while to get out.......today we really did finish the playground! Chris (I am sooooo glad he is back:) ) , Kendall, Chloe, TJ, Kidist, Atlanta, and myself made the drive to the village and put a coat of paint on the whole tower!! We will need to put one more coat on the floor of the tower...but thats minor:) Final pics coming soon:)

Thank you to the Hillcrest Worship Center children, Hillcrest church, the team from Hillcrest that came all the way from Michigan, to put this playground in the ground, the Afayo team, the community of Naigobya, our supporters who covered this project in prayer, and most of all; we thank our Heavenly Father who really is the one who made this possible!

Prayer: We are missing our son Christian who is in the US for school right now. Please pray for Chris and I as we 'finish' our time here in Uganda and greatly look forward to being reunited as a family with Christian at the end of this year.  There is a definate void without him here.

Praise: We are so thankful for the recent help with the purchase of computers for Esther and Betty who are enrolled at Uganda Christian University! Thank you! They were so excited! Please pray for them as they continue to adjust to life in college.

Love,
The Fisher Family


Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Grandpa


Today was one of those days:) A day in the village that we didn't feel much was accomplished, turning down the wrong road making our hour and a half drive quite a bit longer, and getting hit with a rain storm, Kendall and I both agreed today is a day we need to be thankful for the little things. The little accomplishments. The rain, red dirt, Uncle Dick, paint in the hair, puddles, boda's that now have handle bars, paint thinner, childrens smiles, an opportunity to bring Gloria to the midwife....(soon to be baby), bathrooms, cabbage on bikes, and the list goes on. I am incredibly thankful that at the end of the day, a skype connection was able to happen and I could be present (via Skype) at my Grandfathers funeral. Chris is currently in Texas and he was also present via Skype. We praise God for this blessing and that we could even see my Grandma and parents prior to the funeral service starting.....all the way in Michigan. Below is a letter I wrote that was read by pastor shawn at the funeral service just a few hours ago. 





My Grandpa

Almost 15 years ago, behind his home, on a hill at the cemetery, we buried our first child. That day my grandpa smiled and said I will be joining him soon. He shared, “I will be buried right over there” as he pointed to a plot just a few steps away. Years passed.  He reached his goal of seeing our next child born, and the next, and the next and then our daughter who arrived home from Ethiopia, whom he taught her first English cheer leading words; “Go Blue”. Two years ago, my grandpa wrote our family a letter. He gave it to us as we left for ministry in Uganda.  It was a goodbye letter.  Not a letter of; I will see you when you return, but rather a letter that said; I will be seeing you in heaven someday.  To his and our surprise, a whole year later, we were blessed to see him again when we returned to the US!

 I am sure the Lord had many reasons in keeping my grandpa here on earth, so much longer than he thought. He knew there were many more people whose lives he needed to touch.  He knew my grandma needed him with her a few more years.  But there is another reason, a reason he was meant to stay here longer, so much longer than even the doctors thought possible.  It is because my children needed to know him.  They needed to see him greet them with a smile and a response that was always “Terrific” despite the daily struggles my grandpa had as his body weakened. They needed to hear him say he was ready to go, ready to be in heaven with Jesus. They needed to see him live and speak in such a way that told us this world was not his home, but there was something so much better ahead, something worth dying for. They needed to know a man of God who was completely ready to be at home; his real home. God gave him a little taste of this home during a near death experience many years ago. He was able to pass this hope on to us and onto our children and for that we are so thankful.

We are thankful for his determination and the way he fought to keep living life to the fullest. We are thankful for the many talks we had about his peace in dying. We are grateful for the encouraging words he has given us. We cherish his many words of wisdom and stories from his childhood. We are forever blessed by his testimony of his love for the Lord that was evident in his words and his life.

Thank you Jesus for my Grandpa. Thank you for letting him stay with us longer than what we thought was possible. Thank you that he is now basking in your love and your glory. May we all be ready as he was ready. May our lives also display through our words and our actions that this world is not our home, we are just passing through, getting ready to be where we are meant to be, with you Jesus! Please give him one last hug from all of us, until we meet again.

Written by: Michelle Fisher
(Chris and Michelle, Christian, Chloe, Trayton, Kidist, Josephine, and Noah Fisher)