The Opposite of Hopelessness

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil,

to give you a future and a hope.   -Jeremiah 29:11

Many families in Uganda have very little hope for a good future for their children.  Imagine how you would feel if you couldn’t afford for your children to go to school and had little to no money to buy clothing, shoes or the basic necessities of life. Imagine the grief you would feel if you couldn’t afford to bring your children to a doctor when they are sick and imagine how hopeless you would feel if there were little no jobs for their future. 

This week I was able to experience the opposite of this type of hopelessness when I met my sponsored daughter, Grace.

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Grace and her twin sister Blessing are 13

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and attend the Mbarara PCM school. She did not know I was coming.  When I met her for the first time, she was overwhelmed with emotion. 

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She hugged me so tightly and wouldn’t let go as she cried and cried with gratefulness and thanksgiving. It is the dream of each of sponsored child to one day meet their sponsor and thank them in person.  I knew the children would be grateful to be sponsored, but I didn’t realize the depth of the gratitude and the life changing hope $35 a month meant to a child in Uganda that otherwise had no hope for a good future

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But that was small compared to the gratitude of her mother who made a special trip to the school to meet me.  When first introduced to her, a dam of emotions burst forth. She fell on me sobbing and sobbing with emotion and thankfulness. When her daughters were finally able to “peal” her off of me, of course I was crying by now too, she fell at my feet thanking me. Wow! After, we took several pictures together with the girls, she was still so overcome with emotion she could not even smile for any of them; but she assured me, they were tears joy.

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What an honor it was to represent YOU as a PCM sponsor this past week in Uganda.  I felt the full force of the love and gratitude from hundreds of sponsored children poured out on me when I visited each of the 5 Parental Care schools this past week with team 63. Unless you’ve actually had the privilege of experiencing it for yourself, its hard to begin to describe the depth and breadth of the warmth and love and joy that was felt in the songs, hugs, smiles and greetings of so many excited children as they swarmed our team at each school.  I was overwhelmed by this outpouring of love and moved to tears, but this outpouring of gratitude was not meant for just me and my team. We were only the flesh and blood representatives of the sponsors that they have yet to meet and thank in person.  So on their behalf, I thank you.

Thank you for caring enough to give faithfully each month to meet their most basic needs of food and shelter.  Thank you for caring enough to write a letter of encouragement letting him or her know that he or she has not been forgotten and matters to someone.  Thank you for the prayers and pictures that you send, the verses of encouragement and sharing a little bit of yourself with them.

Make no mistake about it…sponsorship gives hope!

-Mary Mulligan

Hudsonville, MI

Grieving in Rwemikoma

On Saturday we found out about the passing of one our students at the Rwemikoma Primary School. Our hearts were grieved for her family, classmates and entire community even though we had not yet heard who it was.

 

Today, as we arrived at the school we prayed the Lord would go before us. We had lots of fun games prepared, books to deliver, and a treat for the teachers.

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We also had some sponsorship work to do. However, we knew that the school might need something different and we were ready to do whatever they needed.

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Among the sponsorship work that we had to do was gather more information about this brother and sister and take their pictures.

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Carlin Root from Trip 62 formed a connection with them after hearing their story. The mother and family met Emmy D at a Rwemikoma parent meeting and after the meeting told him they had been listening to Glory FM since the radio station’s launch last year. At that time she told Emmy D her story. The mom to 4 boys and 1 girl, she was widowed when her husband died three years ago and have faced hardship ever since. When Lori’s team came he told Carlin the story and she decided to sponsor Jacob and Caroline.

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Not long after we arrived, we found out that the young girl that died was the same sweet girl that Carlin formed a connection with just two weeks ago. Her sobering loss is a grim reminder of the challenges facing the children PCM’s schools are serving.

Though a water filtration system is in place at the school, water is still gathered from local water sources by the families to be used for everything from bathing to cooking.

 

Though a feeding program is in place at the school, for many it might be the only meals that they receive.

 

There is a small medical clinic in the trading center near the Rwemikoma School, but most families do not have the ability to pay for the care, and the resources there are limited.

 

For ten-year-old Caroline Amumpe, they think malaria cut her life short. The fact that the combination of one mosquito bite and a lack of access to medical care in time could lead a family to bury their only daughter is more than my mind could process. Her four brothers are now without their playmate. Her seat is empty in her class. The void is great and the grief is raw.

 

Emmy D took me (Kathryn Bilberry), along with her four brothers, to their home. It was 25 minutes from the school by bus (which is an hour and a half plus walk to school each way).

 

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Emmy D couldn’t even get his bus close so we walked the last mile and a half through a meadow to the house.

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As we sat on the floor with this grieving mother, the Lord impressed a few things on my heart.

 

Grief knows no cultural bounds. Her mother’s heart was aching and the weeping and mourning were evidence of that. All we knew to do was to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12: 15.

 

We are to bring good news to the afflicted. Emmy D is known and loved by so many as our driver. However, he is so much more than a driver. He knows and understands God’s faithfulness in His life and that allows him to comfort those who are passing through similar situations. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners” Isaiah 61:1

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Believers are to care for the widows and orphans. I am thankful that being a part of PCM allowed me to represent thousands of you who are caring for the orphans, widows and needy children that fill PCM’s schools. This widow was strengthened and encouraged by the programs on Glory FM far from electricity’s reach. She was able to provide education for her children despite the loss of the provider for her family. And she was comforted in her time of mourning and knows that so many are going to be lifting her in prayer in the days to come. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress” James 1:27

 

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God, be near to this family.

 

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God, be near to this school.

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God, speak to us and show us how we can continue to glorify you.

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Edward

For nine-year-old Edward, innocence was stolen long before he could even write his name. It has been so long since he has seen his mother that he no longer remembers what her face looks like. As we stood trying to communicate around language barriers, I could feel a lump begin to swell up in my throat as the details of his story came out.

 

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However, as the story went on one word came to mind: restoration.

 

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Restoration by definition means:

  • the act or process of returning something to it’s original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
  • the act of returning something that was stolen or taken

When I look at that definition it is hard for me to imagine a nine-year-old ever needing restoration.

For Edward, restoration means leaving behind a generational cycle of drug abuse and crime to step in to the light. His father and three siblings that are 7, 12 and 15 still call the street home. Now Edward has a new place to call home.

 

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I met Edward when our team went to the home of Dennis and Rebecca.

 

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Dennis is the music teacher at Katyazo Secondary School. He is using his love and passion for music to give hope and purpose to our secondary students, but his love for students did not start when he became a music teacher.

 

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Dennis and Rebecca have a heart for Uganda’s street kids. Aside from their four biological children, 38 boys live at their home; a home built by Pastor Willy and his church. These 38 boys are like Edward, finding themselves homeless, lonely and trying to survive by any means possible. Dennis and Rebecca’s heart is for restoration. They desire to see these boys overcome addictions and self-destructive behaviors. Their hope is that through a culture of love and consistent discipline, they will find healing and hope.

When we arrived to their home, Edward stood at the front of the “house band” ready to proudly clang his broken cymbals together at just the right time.

 

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The instruments they held in their hands were worn down, but that did not stop them.

 

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After the band played, the team spent time playing games with the boys and talking about life.

 

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There are an estimated 10,000 children living on the streets in Uganda. Thanks to Dennis and Rebecca and the ministry foundation set forth by Pastor Willy and his wife, each child that comes through this home is one less homeless child. Each boy that they rehabilitate is one less child sleeping on the street. Each boy that they are able to love through drug withdrawals and behavior problems is one less child digging through the landfill for food.

 

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Soon, Dennis will be traveling with the PCM choir to the United States. The countdown is on and he will be sharing testimonies of the redemptive work of Jesus with all those who meet him. I am excited that PCM is stepping alongside this ministry to the street children. Their work is around the clock and what they need more than anything is prayer. However, there are other ways that we can support them and I know that the Lord will continue to let this relationship grow.

 

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Thank you Lord for Edward’s life. Thank you for the redemptive work you have started in him. Thank you for the restoration that will continue to take place in his life. Thank you Lord for Dennis and Rebecca. Bless their ministry and may you continue to use them in the lives of some of Uganda’s most vulnerable children.