First day, Thursday

Good Morning from Uganda!!

We arrived last night to Entebbe at 10:30 pm.  The flights all went very well and we got through customs in great shape.  All of our luggage arrived with us and we were good to go.  Anna from the African Roots Guest House met us.  She had to call for reinforcement for getting us and all our luggage to the guest house.  We were settled by about midnight.  

Some of us slept better than others.  We had  a great breakfast, fruit, ommlettes and toast.   We started out with Moses about 8:45 am,  a few minutes down the road in Entebbe we heard a flapping belt. We stopped and Moses found the broke belt, he called for a new belt and we are now waiting on the side of the road for that.  Robert, a mechanic friend of Moses was able to repair the belt.  We are now back on the road, 11:00, two hours later ☺️!  Praise the Lord for a driver who is also a mechanic.  

We arrived in Jinja about 3:00 pm.  We stopped at a place to exchange money.  We were getting the famine money along with all of our money for hotels and food for the 10 days.  The place we were at did not have enough cash for us so they went to their other Jinja office twice in order for us to exchange all that we needed.  We also got 10 bibles for the newly sponsored older children.  Before we left we got take out lunch at the Deli and then picked up Aaron and Lisa Haarsma to ride to Soroti with us.  They were at Welcome Home orphanage where they had adopted their two boys from.  We left Jinja about 4:30 pm, we stopped in Mbale for coffee at Endiros and then arrived in Soroti at 9:30 pm.  We went right to Fred and Ruth’s home.  We were greeted by about 20 BACU children singing songs.  What an awesome sound they made!  

We checked into Soroti Hotel, unpacked some things and were in bed by 12:00 am.  

Amsterdam 

We just arrived in Amsterdam.  It is 1:45 am in Michigan and 7:45 am in Amsterdam.  We had a very good 6 hour 45 min flight, leaving late and arriving early.  We are hoping that Courtney and Michelle are both waiting at our new gate when we get there.  

Gate E20, the plane is here and we should be boarding in about 10 minutes.  We met up with Courtney and Michelle waiting at the gate.  God is good to bring us together to make this trip!!

Final Day!

Hi! We are eating at Phase 3 restaurant before the Fishers drop us off at the airport. We have internet connection here so I am hoping to post some pictures.

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Amsterdam – August 16, 2014

Hi from the airplane in Amsterdam. We had a great flight from Entebbe to Amsterdam and arrived early which was an awesome thing because we only had a little over an hour to catch our next flight. This flight is scheduled to leave at 8:00 am and it is looking like we are close to being on time. We will then arrive in Detroit, go through customs and drive home to Hudsonville.

As you can imagine the goodbyes last night were once again very hard. Not only were the Fisher’s saying goodbye to us but also to their son and brother, Christian. Many tears were shed, relationships deepened and an ever growing love and respect to a family who has done so much for the people in Uganda! We will forever be changed by watching the Fisher’s interact with Ugandan people.

We praise God for our renewed relationship with Fred and Ruth in Soroti and their extended family in the village of Obule. We also thank God for friendships made with the Afayo team, Bruce, Jeanine, Simon, Courtney and Rachael. We give thanks for Moses who drove one of the vans safely to Soroti and back and to the airport yesterday. We praise our Maker for the Naigobya people who
came faithfully for four days to help us put up a playground. We thank HIM for the people in the villages we were able to show Gods love to in the form of dresses, dolls, toys and candy. We thank God for the Providence Guest house, the caretaker Rebecah and the family from Texas who lived there with us. We praise God for Betty and Piese who came each day to clean and cook at the Fishers home and take care of Noah and Josie when we went all day to the village. We thank our Maker for George, the welder and the men from
East Africa playgrounds for welding pipes for the playground toys. We also praise God for our guards, Patrick, James and Anthony who kept our home and guesthouse safe during the day and at night while we were sleeping. We thank God for Kendall who has come to teach Chloe, TJ and Kidist and her willingness to help us with the playground. We thank God for Chris and Darwin, without their planning and execution skills the playground project would not have happened. We thank God for Michelle who fixed us meals and made sure we had everything we needed including a hair dryer! :). We thank God for
the man at the airport who found
a seat for Michael on the airplane to come home from Uganda when he though there was not “one” We praise God for the Worship Center Children and the Faith Promise Fund from Hillcrest CRC for funding this project. We praise God for the people who contributed to make it possible for us to go on this amazing journey to serve HIM! And finally, we thank God for 13 days free from sickness or injury, God’s protective hand was certainly on us from the beginning to the end.

In conclusion, the next time God says to us it is “Time for us to do something – we will!” Won’t you!!!!!

Serving HIM, Darwin, Sally, Michael, Bri, Sandy and Arry

We would like to add some prayer requests from the Fishers. Pray that they would receive a “written ruling” from the judge that they can have legal guardianship of Josie and Noah. Pray that they receive the proper work permits that will allow them to stay in Uganda for the next 4 or more months. Chris will be going to Kampala this week to try to get those permits. Pray for protection as they travel the roads of Uganda, only prayer can keep you free from accidents there. Pray for Christian that he adjusts well back to life in Hudsonville, that his family and friends will surround him as he is far away from his immediate family. Pray for Chris as he travels here at the end of the month to make arrangements for the family to move home. The family appreciates your prayers so much and can feel them every day. Thanks for praying!

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Playground – final day!

Good Morning! We write this post on our last morning in Jinga and our final day in Uganda. We feel like these last 13 days have been a whirlwind. We have seen, smelt, heard and experienced so much that it is going to take a while for it to all soak in. We are waiting at the guest house for the Fishers to pick us up and then we will be going to Kampala. In Kampala we are going to visit Isaac, the 15 year old boy we met last year who lived with the Fishers for awhile. We are anxious to renew our relationship with Isaac. We also hope to go to a craft market and out to lunch before heading to Entebbe to board our plane. It will be a tough day for all of us. Goodbyes are never as much fun as hellos. It will be especially hard for the Fishers as they say goodbye to Christian. He is flying home with us to start his 8th grade year at Hudsonville Christian.

So, now onto our final day at the playground! Yesterday morning Chris came to pick us up at 9:00, our group from Hudsonville went with him for the last day of playground work. When we arrived in Naigobya at the school there were already men working on putting the cement in the holes of the swing set and watchtowers. We needed to begin by sanding the poles of the swing set and could not touch them after the sanding until we painted the epoxy on. The epoxy was a gray paint that we painted on all the metal of both swing sets. They then needed to dry before we could paint colors on them. After the epoxy was dry we painted the poles, blue, green, orange and yellow. How fun it was to see the color go on. Chris got two loads of rocks delivered and the guys through them in the holes which they will then cover with cement.

After lunch of chipatas was finished we continued with our work. We also had the opportunity to hand out dresses to the village children. We first gave out and dressed about 10 girls. Those girls then told others and the back of the van was mobbed with girls. It was really fun to see the girls and put the dresses on them. I visited their moms at the bore hole and they told me how happy the girls were that they had received the dresses. We were once again so happy to give love to many children.

Before we left the village for the last time we had a group picture of all the people who helped. What fun to hear how thankful they were for the playground. The girls then sang and did motions to a song from Job 5. Our hearts were full to hear the voices of the children! We once again have many new friends in Africa, we are praising God that if we do not see these people on earth we will some day see them in heaven and be reunited.

We ended out day by eating at a nice restaurant in Jinga called the Keep. We had very good food, the restaurant was started by an American couple. Waiting for food we looked at our pictures of the past days on the computer. We could not believe how many things we had seen and done.

After devotions and prayer we are now on our way to Kampala. Hopefully we will be able to post this as soon as we get internet.

Your prayers have meant a lot to us while we have been in Uganda. We could not have spent these last 12 days here without the grace of God going before us, behind us and by our sides!

Darwin, Sally, Michael, Bri, Sandy and Arry

Playground – day 3

Hello once again from Jinga! Today we had high hopes that much would be accomplished at the playground. We prayed that it would be so, if God also had that in the plans for us. The first van left here at 6:30, on the way to the playground they picked up two welders from East African Playgrounds to help us for the day. This morning our welder, George called that he was sick and would not be able to come until Thursday.

The second van left at 8::30 and needed to do some errands in town before leaving for Naigobya. We were eager to see what had been accomplished at the playground when we arrived. Later in the morning we arrived, after driving on some very scary roads. The amount of rain the red dirt roads received last night had washed even more of them away. At times we are riding on rails with a ditch in the middle and ditches on each side! Driving here is not for the faint of heart. We pray each day before we leave for protection on the roads and that everything will go well.

When we arrived at the playground the welders were working on the two swing sets which actually took them until about 2:00 pm. Before that time the guys were able to get the see saws up and ready to be used after they are painted.

Because the women and girls were limited to what we could do today, Michelle and Rachel took us once again to a village. The people were wonderful and there were so many kids around because school is on break.

We were mobbed when we tried to give out toy wooden cars and suckers. The sweets were a huge hit with the women as well as the kids. We gave formula to two grandmas who are caring for infants who are not theirs. What a ministry Every Child Ministries has to these villages. We also were able to see Patrick’s garden which he farms to support his family.

One of the girls we met was pregnant and we plan to bring her a mothers kit tomorrow. She said she is 17 but Michelle guesses her to be 15 or even younger.

Sally and Bri had the opportunity to go with Courtney to visit a 4 day old baby and a month old one. They had the joy of holding both the babies. We are grateful to be able to show Gods love in these situations.

When we returned to the playground they were just getting ready to set up the watch towers. What fun to have some height added to our playground. Tomorrow we will be able to sand the metal on the swing sets and give them an epoxy coat. We cannot wait to start the process. We are sad that it will be our last day but are also thankful for the amount we were able to accomplish.

Please pray for us as we say goodbye to the many friends we have spent 4 days with at St Paul’s Primary School. We will miss there ready smiles and willingness to help us!

Darwin, Sally, Michael, Bri, Sandy and Arry

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Playground – Day 2

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Today we were blessed with another great day on the playground! The first van left Jinga at 8:00 am and were eager to once again start painting on our tire creations. When we arrived at the village at 10:30 we had many Ugandans ready to help us. We began by mixing paint colors so that we could match the colors of yesterday. There was a little work to be done on the Matatu (taxi) and the boda boda’s (motorcycles) before the tires could be cleaned and painted. We all got the paint and paintbrushes and worked on painting second coats on our tires. Today was a little tougher on the feet and shoes. It had rained at the school last night after we left and it was rather muddy and slippery!

Chris, Christian and TJ stayed behind to encourage George, the welder to finish up on the welding on the towers and swing sets. Chris then wanted to make sure that George got everything loaded in the truck and that the truck took off for the school in Naigobya. We heard from Chris at 2:00 that they were on there way and he was following the truck with the playground equipment on.

Meanwhile the rest of us ate lunch and prepared for the afternoon. Some people went back to the playground to paint and a few of us went to a village house to visit a baby that had been very sick. We went with Michelle and Rachael, a social worker with the Afayo project. We visited Teddy, a midwife who does labor and delivery in her own home. The baby we visited was her granddaughter Elizabeth, the baby’s mother, Teddy’s daughter died in child birth. The father had died one year ago. Since she was born Michelle has been visiting them and at first they only had cows milk to feed her. Michelle has now been bringing formula each week so that they can feed Elizabeth and keep her healthy. Except for a virus that Elizabeth had she is now doing well. We were all able to hold her and love on her. There were many children in their village and we were able to hand out wooden cars and knitted dolls for them to play with. The joy on their faces was incredible :).

One van left the village about 3:30 and Darwin, Sally, Michael and Chloe stayed to wait for the truck to come. When the truck arrived it had just begun to rain, the guys unloaded the steel structures with a crane attached to the truck. Tomorrow will be the day to set the equipment in the holes.

God blessed us today with safe travel which we are so thankful for! We were reminded of this once again when Chris’s van had a loaded sugar cane truck tip over two feet from them! God’s protection is amazing!

To God be the glory great things he has done! We are experiencing his grace everyday in Uganda.

Please pray for a productive day tomorrow as we only have two days left to get much accomplished! Darwin, Sally, Michael, Bri, Sandy and Arry

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Worship African Style

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Last night we spent at least two hours around a campfire talking about how each of us ended up in Africa, what are the good and hard parts and what we will feel like when we go home. We all agreed that you can meet people here for the first time and feel like you have know them all your life. You truly feel their love from the first handshake and hug you give and are given. We also agreed that God has lead us all here for a bigger purpose than we know now. We know that God has brought us here to put up a playground and talked about how God has worked in amazing ways to get it done. From meeting the owner of East African Playgrounds in an ice cream store to getting pipes welded on time are God’s provisions for us. HE truly has blessed each one of us with this opportunity to serve the people of Uganda and in particular the village of Naigobya!

Today we went to the church that the Fishers have been going to since they moved to Jinga. It is a large outdoor church and it is a mixture of Ugandans and mazungos (white people) who worship here. The singing was awesome and a white man did the preaching of the word. We enjoyed the 2 hour service and you could tell afterwards that many children from the neighborhood also attend this church. These children seem to gravitate toward white teenagers and just love being with them. Maybe it is the love and attention they are shown by our kids.

We went into the town of Jinga for lunch at an Indian restaurant which was Chloe’s choice, since it is her birthday today. Most everyone tried some kind of chicken served with rice and Indian flat bread. For many of us Indian food was a new experience and we enjoyed the food!

Tonight, we celebrated Chloe’s birthday with homemade pizza, and confetti cake with blue frosting! Yummy :). Chloe also received some great gifts, a good day for Chloe’s 12th birthday.

Tomorrow the first work crew will leave here at 7:30 and the second at 9:00. We are excited to get going on the playground and will hopefully be able to post some pictures tomorrow night. Please pray that the work goes great and that people from the villages come out to help us. Our work project begins!!!!!

Blessings to all of our readers, Darwin, Sally, Michael, Bri, Sandy and Arry

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Jinga, progress on the playground

Good Evening! Today has been a day dedicated to making sure that we have everything to complete the playground project in Jinga next week. Chris and Darwin spent the entire day going back and forth between the welders shop and East African playground’s offices to make sure that everything is either in our possession or on the truck that will deliver the large items on Monday. A man named Darwin says the things they have worked to get in 5 days could be purchased in one trip to Lowes. :). We know that almost 100 tires have already been delivered to St Paul’s Primary School in Naigobya. A man named George is helping us by welding the large metal pipes together. It is amazing to see how God is working. Everyone is telling us that East African Playgrounds normally take all of the tires in the summer for their projects so without their help we would not have found any. God know exactly what we need and is supplying those needs!

This afternoon we went to the craft market in Jinga and did some shopping. Even the boys enjoyed the time looking at all the items for sale.

Tonight we all had an old fashioned hot dog roast in a pit, hotdogs in Uganda taste no different then in the US.

Tomorrow we will experience worship with the Fishers. It is also Chloe’s 12 th birthday and we will be celebrating with her favorite foods, a cake and presents. Praise The Lord that God has blessed this beautiful young lady with another year to serve her Maker.

May God bless your worship tomorrow. Please continue to pray that all the bits and pieces come together for the playground! We appreciate your prayers!

Darwin, Sally, Michael, Bri, Sandy and Arry

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Soroti and visiting the village

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Good morning! We are back in Jinga after two blessed days with our friends Fred and Ruth. We arrived in Soroti on Thursday afternoon and were excited to see so many familiar sights from last year! We went to Pastor Fred’s home and were greeted by he and his children. He then took us to the store they have started called BACO. They are selling baskets, pictures and many other things including the matchbox cars that Hudsonville Christian collected. The money they make from the store is going toward building a home and church in their village which will also house some total orphans.

We then met Ruth at a wedding meeting in the town chambers. It was a wonderful reunion and we attended the meeting with them. In Uganda they fund raise for their wedding and reception and have several planning committees. Wow, it seems to me that it is much easier to plan a wedding in the US then here!

After the meeting we ate at Fred and Ruth’s home. We were served the traditional meal of beans, rice, atop, and a little meat. Those of us who were here before did not need to try the atop again but the others did. It is a brown play dough like food with what tastes like grains of sand in it, yum. Of course, that is only my take on what it tastes and feels like in your mouth.

We stayed Thursday night at a guest house behind Fred and Ruth’s home. We had a good nights sleep and God blessed us with the opportunity to visit their family village on Friday. We left for the village and drove the half hour to Pastor Fred’s family village. To drive down the path to their village was an exciting thing. Their village is beautiful and so are the faces of the people who live there! We were greeted by Fred’s dad and mom and so many people we met last year. The only man who was missing was the grandfather of the village who passed away a month ago. He was the first Christian in the area and did so much to spread the good news to the people here. After greeting everyone with handshakes and hugs we sat down to hear the history of the village by Joseph. He then took us on a tour of the property and ended up at the piece of land where they will be building their home and church. We then experienced first hand the building of the latrine. We saw a man laying on his back in a 6 ft by 3 ft hole, using a spade he was digging down. Right now he is 8 feet down and needs to go 20ft before he is finished! Building a toilet in America is way…easier.

After lunch we were privileged to give out some dresses to the village girls. They were made by Anita Huizenga and some of her friends. We were the blessed people to be able to take the dresses to the village and dress little girls who have so little, what fun! The looks and smiles on their faces were precious.

After the tour we were surprised to have the men play finger instruments for us. The instruments were all hand made and made a joyful noise unto The Lord!!!! They then served us lunch of rice, beans, posho (a white food which reminds me of mashed cauliflower), some meat and sauce and Chipatas. At home Chipatas would be very thick tortillas. They wash your hands before and after the meal with a pitcher and basin. Probably the hardest part of eating the meal is with your fingers and having all of the people “watch” you eat out of respect. We would never serve our guests and leave them but that is their custom.

After lunch we shared with them how much it meant for us to be in their village again. They also spoke to us to tell us how much they appreciated us coming again this year. They send there love to the people back home. Who knows, maybe the next time we meet we will be in heaven around the throne of God! Then there will be no difference in the color of our skin or how we live or talk. What a blessed day that will be! Yeah! After many tearful goodbyes we once again drove to our home away from home, Jinga.

This morning we are reading, cooking, baking, playing, resting and making sure everything is ready to start putting the playground up on Monday. The tires have been delivered to the school in Naigobya!! I was able to visit George’s shop this morning. He is making the swing sets and the watchtower and slide. How exciting and blessed to see things come into shape. God is good!!!!

Thanks for your prayers. We are blessed to be a blessing in Uganda!

Darwin, Sally, Michael, Bri, Sandy and Arry

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