Uganda– Year in Review

IMG_0165“I haven’t felt this alive in years!” 2015 has been a landmark year for our family as we moved to Uganda and jumped in with both feet trying to make an impact in the lives in others while being changed in the process. In looking back in this year, here’s how each of us were touched.

Drew and Blake
This year, our boys spent as much time with Ugandan children as they did with other Western missionary families. Our Ugandan neighbors had three boys who would play with Drew and Blake at every available opportunity. In addition, we decided as a family that Drew and Blake would have Ugandan sponsor children from Compassion that they could connect with. Our hope is that this lasting friendship, with someone who has little more than their basic needs met, would remind them to see how they can befriend and help others less fortunate than themselves.

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We met their sponsor friends, Charles and Innocent, for the first time in a mall in Kampala.   For Charles and Innocent, it was their first time being out of their village and in a city, a mall, or a play area. Probably even their first time riding in a car. As you can see from the pictures, the 4 boys got along fabulously and hopefully made memories that will last a lifetime.

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Jalina
I have been tremendously proud of the way Jalina invested her time and energy into serving the mothers and pregnant women in the slums of Namuwongo. She went to the places that most of us would try to avoid and quite literally got her hands dirty sharing the love of Christ. These women have next to nothing and it is heart breaking. I remember one time Jalina coming home and awkwardly wanting to thank me for not beating her like so many husbands in the slums do; for not kicking her and the children out of the house, or not controlling her by forcing her to stay in the house. Many of these women are desperate and while we can’t fix a systemic economic and cultural problem, Jalina has been able to breathe words of eternal life to those that may experience very little comfort in this world. Just by coming to their meager homes, listening to their story and praying for God to touch them she is powerfully showing love.

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Pregnancy Update
Jalina is now 39 weeks pregnant and has surpassed the 34 week mark when she had Drew. She is feeling well, but was being closely monitored by weekly ultrasounds and doctor appointments.  Jalina already had an overnight stay in the hospital for IV fluids and fetal monitoring due to low amniotic fluid levels.  We are praying for a healthy delivery.

Wassuwa

Wassuwa

Martin

Martin

Jason
This past year has challenged me to invest in individuals even if that means sacrificing progress towards a big picture goal. Christ instructed Christians to make disciples and that takes individual attention, but previously I have found myself too frantic doing other good work to have time for people’s “mundane” lives… and I’ve missed it. By inconveniencing my schedule, ministry opportunities have reveal themselves to me. For example, I’ve been able to make time for my neighbor Wassuwa as he came over sometimes at 7am while I was eating breakfast looking for help with his financial troubles and someone to be there for him. Wassuwa told me he views me as his best friend and asked me to be his honored guest at this wedding- I was blown away. Additionally, investing in Semei at work was the highlight of my time at the office. And then there’s Martin, who I’ll have to also tell you about in a future update. All of these relationships had a profound impact on me and my understanding of discipleship. In 2016, I hope to invest in people while simultaneously doing good work through EMI’s mission.

Semei

Semei

Thanks
Living in Uganda has been a wonderful adventure, informative experience, and a great opportunity to serve those in need more directly. We’d encourage everyone to give it a try.

Thank you for giving so we can minister with EMI.
You can donate either online at: https://secure-q.net/Donations/Engineer/3432

Or send a check to:
     EMI
130 East Kiowa, Suite 200,
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(Indicate account #: 2050)

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For God’s Glory,
Jason & Jalina, Drew, Blake, and baby boy #3

 

 

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Discipleship and Office Move

IMG_8241Discipleship
Who doesn’t love an underdog success story? I was recently asked how someone living in Uganda with very little would have a chance to climb out of the grips of poverty. I immediately thought of Semei, a staff member here in Uganda’s EMI office and someone with whom I have worked closely since I moved here.

Semei’s mother passed away when he was one year old. His father had multiple wives and had left Semei and his sisters when he was very young. Semei remembers being only about 8 years old when there was civil war in Uganda and he and his siblings were on the run due to the violence that surrounded them. Survival was more of a concern than school or even rising above their social status. But in 1993, Semei had his first important break. His aunt’s employer had a friend whose family was looking for some help in their home. Semei’s Aunt recommended him to help out at their house.

The first year working with the Casebows, Semei saved all his money for school fees. He served the family with diligence and they grew to truly care for him. They paid all his school dues for four years under the condition he would come every holiday time to work with them. After that, they recommended Semei to Cornerstone high school which sponsored Semei through the rest of school and even gave him a loan for University.

It was because of Semei’s trustworthiness and diligence at work that caused people to want to partner with him on his way to success.

IMG_9141After graduating from university the director of Cornerstone recommended to the director of EMI eight potential individuals from Cornerstone who could help with EMI’s staffing need- and Semei was chosen. This month Semei has celebrated 10 years with EMI!

Since my time here I too have partnered with Semei in his professional growth. We talk and pray through the professional and personal issues that arise in his life and it’s one of my favorite times at work. EMI continues to emphasize the transformation of people and not just the design and construction of the ministry buildings. Discipleship was one of Jesus’ primary approaches to ministry, and we at EMI are striving to learn how to do that well in our context.

Sadly, most of Semei’s seven siblings have passed away (only two remain) due to tragedies or HIV, but Semei stands as a shining light showing that great things can come from difficult beginnings. God loves to display his redemptive power through the obedience of His faithful people. As more lives are touched in this way, I see the trajectory of the country of Uganda also rising from the ashes that took place under Idi Amin’s time in the 1970s. Good things are happening here, and I’m glad I can be a small part of it.

Semei is married to Winnie and they have two children of their own: Mercy and Michael. After Semei’s brother passed away, he and Winnie kindly choose to also adopt his two nieces, Allen and Agnes, so they don’t have to go through the difficult beginnings that he experienced.

Finally, Semei and I share an affinity for New Hope Uganda, which is the ministry that the Casebow family and his Aunt’s employer worked for. You see that was the ministry for which I led my second EMI project trip back in 2005- when I first thought about moving to Uganda!   It is a small world indeed.

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Jason at the construction site

Office Move
At the end of August, EMI accomplished one of its long standing goals, which was to design and construct our own building. We’ve provided designed buildings for over 1,000 ministries in the past, but finally we were able to do that for a building that we can own ourselves here in Uganda. It is an accomplishment we are quite proud of after all this time.

Here are some pictures of the office build progress over the past year.
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I was put in charge of the packing day and loading up the furniture on move day. I’m pleased to announce that it was a success. And for the record, the head of that statue was already missing… honestly!

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First Aid Teaching and Ugandan Food

IMG_7158 - CopyMinistering with my Skills
I (Jalina) don’t feel like I know much compared to a doctor, but we all have more to offer than we realize if we just approach people with compassion. EMI has “support staff” which is made up of Ugandans. These are essential people who have a paid position to help out EMI in various positions, such as cooking, cleaning, or guarding the compound from intruders, etc. I was asked to teach a first aid course for the support staff to give some basic knowledge in common injuries.

I taught on cuts, major bleeding, broken bones, and signs of shock. Ironically, first aid is the one thing nurses aren’t taught in university although everyone immediately thinks of this being our primary expertise.

The two hour first aid teaching at Jason’s work went really well and everyone was very attentive. I showed small video clips about each one, reinforced it with some teaching, then had the class find a partner and act each one out with their neighbor.

Months later, one of the support staff named Stella told me about how she loved it when I did the health teaching. She said her daughter always gets bloody noses and Stella would always tell her to lay down with her head back (which is ill advised). The daughter would then get a stomach ache afterwards (from swallowing blood) and the nose bleeds would keep coming back. She had never heard about pinching the nose and leaning forward before, but was really excited about this new information.

Oh, the things we take for granted! We can easily look up a remedy on the internet for just about any problem we have and sometimes even self-diagnose in America, but here they do not have that luxury.IMG_7152

Stella was also telling me about her previous 6 pregnancies and how her legs would swell and it would hurt quite a bit. She would massage them, but didn’t know what else to do. I just gave her the simple advice to elevate her legs above the level of her heart when possible (I showed her examples) and she had never heard this before. She was beyond grateful for this new advice and so excited that she was friends with her own personal “nurse”!

The healthcare systems are very poor here. I have been seen some Dr.’s treat their patients very poorly. There are a lot of government run hospitals (who work for bribes) and many of the staff do not have good bedside manner or compassion. I have heard disturbing stories from several of the women in the Namuwongo slums who have given birth in these hospitals (b/c it was all they could afford). Some ended up giving birth on the floor of the waiting room because the staff was on “tea break” or didn’t care. IMG_7157Stella told me that when she was giving birth, the nurses yelled at her and told her to “shut up” because she was crying out with discomfort. Women go to the doctor for appointments and it is looked down upon if they are advocates for their own healthcare. There is no time to ask questions or understand what is going on in their bodies because the staff is too busy or do not care. It is a sad and heartbreaking system. I have sat down with Stella going over lab results with her (from a UTI) and explaining basic things that she wished a health care professional had just taken the time to do so she can understand her health better.

I’m no doctor and I never will be, but I’ve learned we can all contribute more than we think if we approach people with compassion. I don’t feel like I’m very good at preaching or teaching, but nonetheless I lead a bible lesson and health teaching every month to 70+ women. If you told me I would be doing this a year ago, I’m not sure I would have believed you. This new approach of compassion and helping where I can is something I hope to carry with me regardless of where I live.

What Do Ugandan’s Eat?
This is one the most common question missionaries get so we figured we’d answer it with a visual tutorial.

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Ugandans most commonly eat rice and beans with a vegetable sauce. Samosas are these yummy fried triangles with meat or split peas inside, this is one of Jason’s favorite Ugandan foods.

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Motoke is a green banana looking vegetable that is usually cooked and tastes like a potato.

Chipati

Rolex

Rolex

Chipati is a large fluffy fried pita and when

served with a scrambled egg on top is call a Rolex

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Pocho is made from white corn flour and water- it tastes like a bland potato. You’ll notice that Ugandans love starch foods.

IMG_6248TilapiaFish and ‘chips’ (French fries) is a classic meal that received its influence from Britain’s colonial times.

Jack Fruit 2Jackfruit is a large fruit that has a rubbery texture but actually has a good, sweet taste.

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Ground nuts, also called G-nuts, taste similar to peanuts which is often used to create a sauce to put on rice.
Here are some more random food fun facts:

  • Oranges are a green color here, but are still called oranges.
  • Sometimes when you bite down on your rice or other foods you experience a hard crunch… but instead of being food, it is sand or small stones or something like that. Food processing isn’t quite up to First World standards- oh well.
  • They have KFC in the city of Kampala
  • The don’t have sour cream here so we use plain yogurt instead and its surprisingly close.
  • Fried grasshoppers are common to eat after the wings have been taken off
  • Speaking of food processing standards, the first day I was here my co-worker was showing me the ropes of shopping and she told me that we should put my prepackaged bags of oatmeal in the freezer for a day or two after we got home. She then encouraged me to purchase the ones in clear packaging. This was because you could look to see if there were bugs in the prepackaged bags and if you missed it you could kill it in the freezer. Sure enough she grabbed a bag shifted it around in her hands and found an ant crawling around inside. “Welcome to Uganda” is all I thought!

Support the Effort
Thank you all for your tremendous generosity and for being behind our ministry.  We couldn’t do it without your partnership.

If you want to help us serve the Ugandan people you can donate either online at: https://secure-q.net/Donations/Engineer/3432

Or by mailing in a check written out to “EMI” with a note in the envelope that says “Jason Reinhardt- 2050”.  Then mail it to:
EMI
130 E. Kiowa St., Ste 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Thank you.

Is EMI Needed, Medical Supplies, and Wassuwa pt 2

Demolition at the university, is it closing down?

Demolition at the university, is it closing down?

Is EMI Needed?
The rumors started to spread throughout the community in Congo, “The university is closing down!” Universite Chretienne Bilingue du Congo (let’s just call them UCBC) is a university that started with an overly ambitious long-span, large auditorium design, and a construction crew without the experience and expertise required for such a massive and complicated project. This led to the decision years later to bring in a demolition team and tear down the building. Of course news started to spread and this turned to rumor that the whole university was shutting down. The humble leader of UCBC made a public statement admitting to their mistake of rushing the building project which cost thousands of dollars and inevitably produced a building unsafe to occupy. He reaffirmed to the community that they were going to continue ministering through the university and while they are tearing it down now, they have asked EMI to come in and partner with the design and the reconstruction of the university.
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This is a good reminder that we can’t excel at all areas of ministry and we should lean on each other’s expertise as we look to minister holistically. EMI loves partnering with ministries like UCBC who have a passion for the Lord and desire to minister with all their heart. It sadness us that they didn’t know about EMI when they initially planned for their building construction. If you know of any ministries looking to do new construction let them know about EMI’s desire to partner with their great work.IMG_2062

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The humble leader of UCBC displays EMI’s master plans for their future University.

Weighing Bags
Warm weather clothes… check. Toys for the boys… check. Bag of M&Ms to be rationed out for about five months… check. Medical supplies for Uganda…

Before we left for Uganda I (Jalina) asked Penrose Hospital, where I worked as a nurse, if they wanted to donate any medical equipment to our missions work in Uganda. As a Catholic hospital focused on caring for people medically and spiritually, they were eager to contribute. I waited in the hospital supply room as they kept loading up supplies and equipment into boxes, however the thought kept going through my head, “how are we going to fit this in our suitcase when we already have so much we want to bring”. Thankfully we were able to make enough room for it. Although it took us a while to find the right fit, once we got to Uganda, we were pleased when our friend Stella connected us to a Children’s Hospital that was in need of the supplies we brought. What a blessing to be able to share with people in need. They were so grateful!

Our friend, Stella, brings the medical supplies to a Children's Hospital in need.

Our friend, Stella, brings the medical supplies to a Children’s Hospital in need.

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It has been fun to find different ways to bless the people of Uganda whether that is through our gifts and skills, our finances, or in this case our connections to medical supplies and equipment.

Wassuwa’s Financial Woes:
As I mentioned in our last post, we wanted to help out our neighbor, Wassuwa, through some financial troubles. I tried to help him with capital for his vegetable stand business to develop a sustainable financial solution, but he wasn’t motivated to follow through with the plan. Instead he was more focused on the short term immediate needs and used some of the business funds to pay for other things. Wassuwa still came back to me for help to pay Ian’s Term 2 school fees. I agreed, but sadly as soon as I did, the school kicked Ian out because apparently Term 1 school fees hadn’t been paid previously. Wassuwa came back asking for more money.

I had asked all of you what you would do if you were in my shoes. Thanks to all of you who chimed in with your thoughts or advice on how to approach this tricky financial situation. Maybe I should have asked for feedback earlier since you all had good ideas. 🙂

Jalina and I discussed what we should do with Wassuwa’s request. We desired to come up with a plan that not only challenged us to be generous, but also enabled Wassuwa with some financial management skills that he could use even in their different cultural approach to money.

The total school fees for Term 1 were about 175,000/= (Ugandan Shillings) so I told Wassuwa that I would give 30,000/= each week towards school fees if he paid 10,000/= each week. I challenged him to explain this to the school and see if they would let Ian go back to school. While this wasn’t the solution Wassuwa had in mind, he agreed it was a reasonable amount for him to have to prioritize toward school each week.

Ian and Conrad help Drew and Blake wash our car.

Ian and Conrad help Drew and Blake wash our car.

To Wassuwa’s surprise they let Ian go back to school, and to my surprise the plan has mostly been working. He comes back to me with the bank slip showing both my and his portion paid and then I give him another week’s amount. I told him we could continue this arrangement into Ian’s following term also once Term 1 this was completed.

Overall, I feel like this was a success in terms of:

  1. Ian getting an education
  2. Jalina and I navigating cultural differences
  3. Wassuwa having a slightly greater ownership over developing weekly budget planning for his own child’s schooling.

After Jalina and I had made so many mistakes while trying to figure out how to minister and bless others well in a different cultural context, it is nice to have a few in the win column!

Blake enjoys the celebrations for his second birthday party

Blake enjoys the celebrations for his second birthday party

Contribute:

Thanks to all of you who have made our mission work possible. For those that would like to contribute you can do so at: http://www.emiworld.org/donate.php.  Once there, choose to Create Account, Sign In, or Make A One-Time Donation.  Select Staff and then select Reinhardt, Jason- 2050.

Making Friends and Ugandan Finances

Conrad, Samuel, Drew, Blake, Ian (from left to right)

Conrad, Samuel, Drew, Blake, Ian (from left to right)

Making Friends

At first I (Jason) thought Drew was talking to himself in a very loud voice, but then I realized he was telling stories to a Ugandan 7 year old, Ian, who lives in a house behind our back security wall. Ian had climbed up a tree to watch Drew and Blake play.

A couple days later Ian, his 12 year old brother and 9 year old cousin knocked on our gate. While theft is always a concern even with people you think are your friends, I thought as long as they played outside we should be ok. The thought kept going through my skeptical mind: “Why would a 12 year old want to play with Drew and Blake who are only 4 and 1?”

All 5 boys were having a blast as you can see in the pictures.

Pure bliss as Ian, his brothers, and cousin come over to play the first time.

Pure bliss as Ian, his brothers, and cousin come over to play the first time.

Our neighbor friends made a routine of coming over to our house and we quickly laxed on our rules about not playing inside. We found the neighbors did occasionally sneak into our pantry and take food without asking and at one point our guard caught one of them throwing Ugandan Shilling coins from our backyard over our wall into their property where another one was collecting it. Another one walked out of our gate with Drew’s Hotwheel cars saying Drew told him he could have them. When talking to Drew about it, I got a confusing answer and my best guess is Drew felt obligated to say it would be ok (but honestly I’m still not sure what happened). That night I had a talk with the neighbor boys and their father which was awkward but relatively productive.2-IMG_7076

For the most part, it has been a wonderful opportunity for Drew and Blake to have friends to play with and for us to interact with Ugandans in a way that we had hoped for by living here. We are able to bring Ian, Samuel, and Conrad to church every Sunday and occasionally bring them out to lunch and join Drew and Blake at an indoor play area. We have even offered for the neighbor boys to take a few Hotwheel cars (with Drew’s permission of course).

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Financial Assistance

“Ian will be kicked out of school unless you can help with his school fees,” Ian’s father, Wassuwa, told me.

I had been talking with another staff member at the EMI office about the idea of helping Wassuwa with his vegetable stand business, because it clearly wasn’t enough to provide for his family. There wasn’t any clear answer to how to actually help him improve his business skills. You see 40 feet away from Wassuwa’s vegetable stand was another neighbor who had an even bigger selection of food in a better location. It made me feel like Wassuwa should try to find a different job as he couldn’t really compete in that market, but finding a job in Uganda is next to impossible for many of them. Ian’s mother had passed away a few years before and so the burden of finding school fees for all the children fell to Wassuwa. So with the advice from my co-worker I decided to help Wassuwa with the capital for his business.

Wassuwa's son, Ian, is playing ball with Drew in our front year.

Wassuwa’s son, Ian, is playing ball with Drew in our front year.

When Wassuwa came to me with the need for Ian’s school fees, I told him that I had a ‘better’ idea in that I would help him increase his business productivity. I explained how with more food he could turn a bigger profit and still be able to pay for school fees. I also encouraged him to find different types of food than what the other vegetable stand had.

5-IMG_7074Through my experience here and from reading a book called “African Friends and Money Matters”, I have learned that Uganda’s approach to money, generosity, accounting, and business are actually quite different from ours. The things that we as Americans/Westerners would find offensive or even unethical are considered acceptable here.

Here are a few examples of the different cultural perspectives on finances:

  • Africans will become friends with as many people as possible knowing that if a hardship was to come their way they have more people they could ask for money. To us, making friends because of what they can do for us seems conniving.
  • Generosity is expected from all people. If you have something and someone else has a need, you should really give to their cause regardless of any other factors that we would normally put into play. Here’s an example, a couple weeks ago a motorcycle ran into my co-worker’s car and busted up the motorcycle’s front. A large crowd started to form (remember my previous explanation about mob justice on the streets of Uganda) and my co-worker ended up giving the motorcyclist money to fix the front light. It was the motorcyclists fault! However, the car driver needed to pay because he could afford it and the motorcyclist couldn’t- it’s just the way things work here. Our definition of what is ‘right’ is constantly being examined by being in a different culture.
  • Once you give money to someone, the giver no longer has a right to dictate how the money is spent. The receiver has complete control on how he chooses to spend it. You should be generous again to this same person even if they didn’t do what you wanted, because you don’t have a right to tell them what to do (even if I was your money in the first place). I bet you can see where my story is going now…
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In this picture you not only see Ian and Conrad climbing our clothes line but the edge of our house on the right and our security wall and Ian and Wassuwa’s house on the left.

After a long talk, Wassuwa agreed to my business plan and realized how increasing his sales is a more sustainable solution to not only help him solve this one issue but set him up for success in the future. Within one week he could turn around the money I gave him to pay off what the school requested and still have plenty of capital left to multiply his efforts. I was hopeful!

Sadly, Wassuwa came back to me and said he took a significant portion of the money I gave for the business and used it to pay other things he felt was more urgent. I was sad to realize that Wassuwa didn’t share my desire to grow his business and be self sustainable for his family. I realized he was always going to be looking for an external benefactor to always come in when he had a need. You see another person from the US already sponsors his 12 year old son’s school fees.

Ian shows off how to be a daredevil on the plastic toy boda.

Ian shows off how to be a daredevil on the plastic toy boda.

The business plan was now thrown out the door and the school was threatening to kick Ian out unless Wassuwa could pay within a week. After some counsel, I decided that paying Ian’s school fees wasn’t too much different than if I sponsored a child through Compassion or a different ministry, so I agreed to pay quite a bit more for the rest of Ian’s second school term.

During our discussion, Wassuwa shifted awkwardly in his seat as we sat on my front porch. He then tells me that he hasn’t been exactly transparent with where the funds I have given him before had gone. The story keeps changing! How am I supposed to help this man when I feel constantly lied to, but I remembered the principles from the book: just because I gave the money doesn’t mean he has to use it towards what I wanted.   So what did I do? I gave him all the money needed for the term 2 school fees.

Luckily, Jalina and I were able to have a good attitude through this whole process realizing that we are in Uganda because we want to experience these cultural complexities and hopefully learn and grow through them.

And look who is trying to copy Ian as he balances on his boda with perfect form.

And look who is trying to copy Ian as he balances on his boda with perfect form.

Wassuwa came back with the bank slip showing that all the money went towards Ian’s term 2 school fees. So while Plan A and Plan B didn’t work, at least Plan C was happening the way I hoped. But guess what? I soon found out that Ian wasn’t going to school (in the middle of term 2), but rather just hanging out at my house all day playing with Drew!   The school kicked him out… even though his term 2 school fees were all paid. I was flabbergasted and perplexed, but thankfully not infuriated. Apparently the school said Ian couldn’t go to school until term 1 school fees were paid in full, (even though we had already paid for term 2).

Shouldn't a parent be supervising here instead of taking pictures?

Shouldn’t a parent be supervising here instead of taking pictures?

So Wassuwa, with the encouragement of his wife, came back to me essentially begging me to help with the term 1 school fees. Initially, I didn’t know what to do. I mean, what would you do? I’m curious actually. Go ahead and email me or post your answer on Facebook or the blog. I’m interested in hearing what solutions are out there, and keep in mind a big reason for us being in Uganda is to help Ugandans.

In a few weeks, we’ll update the blog saying what we decided to try and the outcomes so far. Hopefully this interaction will be a little fun as we discuss the complex world of finances in a multicultural setting.   I’m looking forward to hearing from you…

Blake and his buddy, Conrad.

Blake and his buddy, Conrad.

Refuge and Hope & Mary’s Story

Somalia Flag

Somalia Flag is proudly displayed at the Refuge and Hope’s Annual Day of Celebration.

Finding Refuge

Health Insurance, auto Insurance, life insurance, retirement, savings – these are all methods that we use to protect us during an accident or catastrophe. In Africa the most common safety net that people have for difficult times is their extended family network. Africans use this network for sharing resources in a way that, on the surface, I admire and reminds me in what is described in the early church: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32)

Drew makes friends with some boys at Refuge and Hope.

Drew makes friends with some boys at Refuge and Hope.

Now imagine a war breaks out in your country and you run for your life with the people in your house and only the clothes on your back. You finally reach a refugee camp in a neighboring country. After a while you try to make a new life in this new country, but you are not welcomed by the locals. You can’t find a job so you have very little money, the market vendors charge you twice as much for food since they know you are a foreigner, and you have no network of family. Where can you turn?

Refuge and Hope is a ministry down the street from where we live in Kampala, Uganda that serves these people who desperately want to get back up on their feet. Most of these people are from Democratic Republic of Congo which has suffered much violence in recent years. They provide them with job training, English teaching, computer schooling, and most importantly a community of people that can create their own safety net network. It is a great

Refuge and Hope provides job training to help refugees get back on their feet.

Refuge and Hope provides job training to help refugees get back on their feet.

witness to show the hands and feet of God to people who are being introduced to Jesus for the first time. I (Jason) am amazed to see the joy that exudes from these people that have been given new hope. Occasionally, some will be willing to tell their horrendous stories of loss and fleeing to survive, which goes beyond my imagination of what it means to be destitute.

EMI has had an ongoing relationship with Refuge and Hope where we have been able to provide assistance in their training and one-on-one counseling.  I hope to contribute to this amazing ministry once I go through the volunteer process.

Jalina has already been able to join the women of the ministry for a time of celebration and also on a medical related visit.

I (Jalina) have a unique relationship with Refuge and Hope. I have become friends with the lady who runs the ministry and when she discovered I was a nurse, I was asked to assist several women with medical needs. One of these was a 21 year old refugee from Burundi. Her mom died and her stepdad tried to kill her. She ran and fled with nowhere to go and did not know anyone to turn to. I was near tears listening to her story. She had found Refuge and Hope and she was in good hands as the ministry was taking good care of her. She had discovered a lump in her breast and quite a bit of pain. I was asked to assist her during her doctor’s appointment, to be an advocate since the medical care here is not good.

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I was amazed to find that the doctor did not even look at the lump in her breast or prescribe pain meds. We were asked a series of questions by a very strict, unfriendly doctor and then asked to leave because the doctor felt she needed a repeat scan (the current scan we had showed a lump in the breast). I was curious about doing a biopsy or seeing what the doctor thought about the size of the lump, etc. We left the appointment disappointed, but we did not give up. After going to a totally different clinic, we discovered that the issue was actually hormonal and nothing to do with cancer. She was able to get treatment and the problem was resolved. I learned a lot about the healthcare system here through some of these experiences.

One very exciting opportunity I had was to join in on Refuge and Hope’s annual day of celebration. Young women were dressed in their traditional costumes from the countries that they came from. They were decked out with matching

The Refuge women were so fascinated by Drew and Blake and wanted their pictures with them.

The Refuge women were so fascinated by Drew and Blake and wanted their pictures with them.

headdresses and purses. These women looked absolutely beautiful. I met refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Congo, etc. They were not only celebrating their freedom from oppression, but they were celebrating mostly the freedom we have in being Children of God. The day was filled with singing, dancing and testimonies of how good God is. He has brought these women out of terrible circumstances and they have tremendous testimonies. What an amazing day. The funny part was that I brought Drew and Blake with me and I had packed PB & J sandwiches. The women were taking pictures of my kids and so curious what the boys were eating. One of the ministry leaders told the women that the boys were eating PB & J and it really is something American kids eat, not just something found in their text books! 🙂

Answer to Prayer

God is so faithful!  I sat in Mary’s home during a home visit in the slums as she poured out her heart and shared with me about her struggles. Her husband is an alcoholic and she desperately wants him to know the saving power of Jesus Christ. We prayed in faith that he would stop drinking alcohol and that God would pursue him. I prayed that specifically God would reveal himself to this man and that he could be a strong, godly man who would lead his family and that the chains of temptation would be broken.

During last week’s home visit, I spoke again with Mary in her home. She told me an astonishing story of God’s goodness and grace. Her husband was surrounded by Christian believers during the week that cared about him.  Mary describes what happened by saying, “They put him in water and cast out a demon from him.” A few nights after that, Mary woke up in the middle of the night because she heard some music. It happened to be her husband singing praise and worship to God! She joined him and they sang together. They have also been able to pray together.  Please continue to pray for Mary and her family as we believe he is on track to committing his life to the Lord. We do not want him to fall back into temptation. What an amazing testimony of what God can do! Praise the Lord, He is moving in the slums of Namuwongo!

Survey and Rachel Update

Jason assists on the survey of the African Bible University campus.

Jason assists on the survey of the African Bible University campus.

Surveying at African Bible University

One of the blessings of living in Uganda is the ability to serve ministries more quickly and the poor more directly. With only a days notice, I (Jason) was able to drop my office work and travel to a nearby town to help assist on a land survey for African Bible University (ABU).

African Bible University has a large campus with many buildings already constructed serving 200 students, however they wanted to expand. After purchasing 10 adjoining acres they asked EMI to revisit their master plan and help them grow to 500 students. As we find with many ministries they have no documentation of their property, buildings, waterlines, or other utilities. While an official plan isn’t always necessary when you are small, as your property becomes more complex it becomes critical. In this case it is a requirement as the university wants to become accredited.

EMI is excited to partner with ABU as they train their students to “take every thought captive for Christ” and help students explore the implications of their faith that will have an impact for their whole lives.

Our last Bible study with over 80 moms. I gave the Bible message thru a translator on Prov. 16:3, followed by a health teaching from my friend. Five women committed their lives to Christ after the message!!!

Our last Bible study with over 80 moms. I gave the Bible message thru a translator on Prov. 16:3, followed by a health teaching from my friend. Five women committed their lives to Christ after the message!!!

Rachel Update

On a previous blog post from April 23rd we talked about Rachel, one of the mom’s we have been ministering to and helping financially during our home visits. She lives in the slums and has a child that she didn’t really want and her husband was physically abusing her. Many of you have asked for an update on her situation and while it is not the ‘happily ever after’ report that we all hope for, it does give us a perspective on how difficult it is sometimes to make progress in ministry to the lives of people.

Overall, we have had some real emotional roller coasters with Rachel over the past few weeks. We have laughed together and cried together. There have been quite a few “ups” and “downs” and we still aren’t clear how this story will end.

  • First we celebrated together that she had a new job! We had been praying for that! This was great news because it meant that she could be providing for herself and her baby so her husband would hopefully not keep coming and bothering (or beating) her.

    A mom we minister to in the slums. She has a heart for worship and enjoys singing so we recently asked her to lead our praise time at Bible study. She is doing an amazing job.

    A mom we minister to in the slums. She has a heart for worship and enjoys singing so we recently asked her to lead our praise time at Bible study. She is doing an amazing job.

  • The next week I brought her rice and beans and she was crying because baby “Brian” was sick. I cried with her and prayed with her that Brian would recover quickly.
  • The following week was a hard week. We heard some bad news. Rachel’s husband had come and beat her. He took baby Brian (who is about 2-3 mo. old) for 1 day. When Rachel got the baby back he was sick and weak because he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink during the time the husband had him. Rachel immediately travelled a long distance back to her village and asked her sister in the village to care for baby Brian. Then she came back and had to move across the slums because her husband had moved in and took over her slum home (which we had been paying rent for).
A mom whose house recently flooded and lost some of the few possessions she owned. She has a beautiful heart and invites every pregnant woman she knows to Bible study. God is moving in her home. In our last home visit to see her, there were 12 mommas crammed in her home eagerly awaiting our message with the word of God.

A mom whose house recently flooded and lost some of the few possessions she owned. She has a beautiful heart and invites every pregnant woman she knows to Bible study. God is moving in her home. In our last home visit to see her, there were 12 mommas crammed in her home eagerly awaiting our message with the word of God.

  • I lost touch with Rachel because I didn’t know where she was living now, but she would still come to Bible study occasionally on some Tuesday evenings where I would see her and get brief updates that things were ok.
  • Just last week, two ministry workers happened to be in the area where Rachel used to live while doing home visits. They found Rachel living back in her home with her husband and baby. It seems as if maybe we were lied to, but we don’t know the full story and we are waiting for things to settle. Please be in prayer for her and her situation.

Expecting In Uganda

We are pleased to announce we are expecting our 3rd child!  Jalina is 11 weeks pregnant and thus due December 27th. Thankfully, we had an ultrasound proving there is only one baby!

While this wasn’t exactly our planned timing, it was God’s perfect timing and we are excited nonetheless.  With Jalina’s age and past pregnancy complications we are hearing mixed advice as to whether it is wise for her to give birth in Uganda or travel back to the States. We would appreciate your prayers as we try to discern God’s will.

Ultrasound of Reinhardt Baby #3

Ultrasound of Reinhardt Baby #3