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Turkeys making a difference

5 Apr

 

A report came into my inbox this morning from a student that graduated from our School of Ministry program and is now serving with me at the church as our missions intern.  Ken wrote to me about the story of faith in someone’s life that began with a turkey loan we gave out in June 2017.  In his own words, Ken writes:

“The Lord led us to a home where we met Mzee (elderly Man) Olaboro Clement and his wife Akayo Helen Grace, The former is 67yrs and the latter in her 50th. Both were very sad or looked sad at first glance, but thanks be to God they welcomed us to share with them the message of hope. In our first encounter, Mzee Olaboro and wife were inactive members of different churches; Mzee Olaboro belonged to the Anglican church of Uganda while the wife was a member of the Catholic Church; Mzee was not willing to surrender his life to Jesus Christ.

I praise the Lord for the Turkey revolving loan project which was an act of love and hope. It opened a door for us to continue ministering to the lives of the poor in our community. I being one of the students’ school of ministry, we were given opportunity to choose a Turkey loan family to benefit from the project and be able to continue discipling; God guided me to pick Mzee Olaboro Clement.

At the time I met Mzee Olaboro Clement, he was a hopeless drunkard and could not take responsibility of anything, so I had to consider his wife as the beneficiary of the Turkeys. Therefore, I continued following up with him and invited him to attend our Sunday fellowships and by the grace of God, one Sunday in September 2017, I led Mzee Olaboro through a confession prayer and he declared Jesus Christ His Lord and personal savior. Through the revolving loans’ project, I have seen and had many testimonies of how God has opened doors for sharing the gospel and through discipleship many lives have been changed and developed spiritually.

After a year’s training in school of ministry, I have learnt to develop action plans, therefore part of my action plan this year is to continue visiting our church community and disciple new believers particularly the illiterates who are less privileged to learn on their own through reading the bible. Therefore, in February I started the local language (Ateso) Bible study fellowships that meets once weekly together in the homes of the turkey families rotating regularly and after a while, Mrs. Akayo Hellen invited the fellowship to be permanently conducted in her home which is a central place for all members.

Recently as we were studying biblical foundations and were discussing repentance and baptism, all members of the discipleship who weren’t baptized, requested to be baptized and all together we baptized twelve believers including Mr. Olaboro, His wife and Daughter on 25th march 2018. We Praise God for the provision of the Turkey Project because it’s an act of Love to the communities that improves nutrition, livelihood of the People and above all, it’s opening doors for the gospel to reach the unreached. May God bless the donors and increase you greatly because we have achieved this together for the Kingdom of God.”

I love being a part of this work.  I love how God has used veterinary projects to open doors for the gospel.  I love to see my students putting into practice what they have learned in the classroom.  I love to see people being baptized and living a new life in Christ.

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Water Wars

17 Apr

Our story begins last September.

One of CLIDE’s US ministry partners (Fuel Uganda) put forth a vision for water projects in Karamoja, specifically starting in the community of Lomorucubae.  This just happens to be the community that was in the process of building a house for us so that we could spend time living with them in the village.  So, we put a team together and started drilling for water.  Our team came from Gulu, northern Uganda, and specialized in hand-dug boreholes instead of the traditional machine-dug holes.

Progress was slow in the beginning and the first site had to be abandoned.  The second site was starting to show some promise when all of the sudden…the wildlife authority arrived on the scene.

This is when things went downhill fast.

The wildlife authority is in a constant struggle with the local communities in this area as they are bordering on a federal game reserve.  Though the people have a legal right to live on this land (and have water access there), it seems the wildlife authority is always seeking to expand their territory and drive the people away.  They confronted our borehole drillers, taking their photos and threatening to arrest them if they continued digging in the area.  So work came to a grinding halt.

The community banded together and the issue was brought to the local district government, and eventually made its way up to the parliament, the first lady, and eventually to the president.  And there it has remained.  A resolution has been passed through parliament that the surrounding areas should be re-gazetted for human use instead of wildlife, but as of yet, there has been no signature from the president.

Through months of discouragement, the people have continued to struggle, but have brought their prayers and petitions to God in community-wide prayer meetings.

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A group of us praying over the drilling site in January.

Then, one day everything changed.

Out of the blue, another NGO showed up at the village with a drilling truck and in a matter of a few days, the borehole was in place.  Apart from the hand pump on the top.  So, everything was ready to go, but it still wasn’t actually usable by the community without the pump.  We talked, and speculated, and made phone calls, but couldn’t figure out why the hand pump never made it onto the borehole.  But anyways, we were all still very excited to be this close to a clean water source right at the village’s edge.

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The new borehole (minus the hand pump) at the edge of Lomorucubae.

As we continued to wait for the hand pump to arrive, some unwanted visitors found their way there instead.  The wildlife authority showed up in the village last week.  While holding the women and children of the community at gunpoint with their rifles, they proceeded to destroy the concrete foundation around the borehole,  break off the top of the pipe, and stuff stones and concrete chunks into the pipe.  After I received a phone call from the community the night this happened, I drove up the next morning and this is what I found.

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The interior pipe broken off the borehole and the destroyed concrete surround.

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A large piece of concrete wedged deep into the borehole pipe.

And this is where we remain today.  The incident has been reported to the district, the police, the internal security officer, but there is no resolution yet.

So we just have to keep doing what we have been doing: praying.

In the meantime, Fuel Uganda has produced an amazing video highlighting the water situation in Lomorucubae.  In it, you will see our village, our friends and neighbors, our community elders, the community’s only water source and the struggle to collect this foul and contaminated water.  Plus, if you watch it all the way through, you will even get to see some footage of me interacting with the community and talking about the work there.  I hope you enjoy and get a better idea of the desperate need for water you can be praying for in this place.

 

 

 

Training Day…er, Week

11 Oct

Last week Daniel and I participated in a Training of Trainers workshop.  A dear friend, Dr. Mary McDonald, came from the States and a team of Church of Uganda development workers came from Gulu to join the CLIDE staff for the training.  The purpose of the workshop was to train development workers, who spend a large portion of their time training others, how to include participatory techniques into their lessons because adult learners retain:

20% of what they hear

40% of what they hear and see

 80% of what they hear, see, and do

As an instructor, knowing that you can increase knowledge retention and application just by adding participatory techniques to your lesson plans is very motivating.   This training is a bit different from our usual trainings because we were training people how to train while training them.  Confused yet?  In addition, we had the secondary goal of teaching people how to integrate spiritual truths into their teaching (instead of just reading a verse or two at the beginning of the training).

Participatory methods are very useful in our work here as we have found that teaching in Uganda is, at times, a whole new world.  We end up with many unique situations—things that never impacted our teaching in the US, for example:

  • The literacy rate is low (about 65%) so handouts and meeting agendas aren’t really useful in many communities.  Imagine training for evangelists where only 2 of those participating can even read the Bible.  How do you teach people the Word of God so that they can share it with others?
  • The seasons really impact our training schedule.  Daniel has been doing livestock trainings in a nearby village and the 9am meetings begin at noon during the digging season—then the weeding season and so on.  When your students rely on their gardens for food to feed their families, those things take precedence.
  • Transport and food are always issues.  In some areas it is nearly impossible to have a meeting unless a meal is provided.  Hungry stomachs and tired feet (from miles of walking to reach a training) make it very diffcult for information to reach receptive minds.

We each facilitated sessions during the workshop: I taught Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills (or Head, Heart and Hands).  The idea behind this session is that our lesson plans need to have objectives that challenge each of these areas.  In many instances it is easier to use the banking style of teaching: you are the expert and you have many words to deposit into your students’ brains.  BUT, people will always retain more information if they participate in the training.  We practiced this is in the training by asking questions instead of always giving answers (very similar to the way that Jesus interacted with groups) and we incorporated attitude change objectives into our lesson plans.  True, lasting change will not happen in a community (or anywhere) unless the heart (or attitudes) of the people change.  This is just as true when we are talking about proper sanitation as when we are talking about living for Christ.

Daniel taught a session on codes.  Codes are things that represent another thing and stimulate discussion.  For example, look at this code (actually, this would be a much better code without the words but I figured you could get the idea from the picture):

This is an excellent code because it stimulates discussion about the topic.  When looking at this picture you can ask the SHOWD questions:

  1. What do you see?
  2. What is happening?
  3. Do we have this in our place?
  4. Why does it happen?
  5. What are we doing to do about it?

Or you can use the SPADE questions:

  1.  What did you see?
  2. What problems do you perceive?
  3. How does this apply to our situation?
  4. What can we do to improve our situation?
  5. Are there any environmental, ethnic or ethical issues that must be addressed?

As you can see, if you were looking at this picture (without the words) you could start a discussion about these things in which the group could DISCOVER the answer (and the connection between bad water and sickness) without being TOLD the answer.  Skits, testimonies and proverbs are also excellent examples of codes.  This method works very well in pre-literate cultures because people don’t need to be able to read in order to watch a skit or look at a picture.

Trainings always make for a long week of TIRING days.  I think we were in the office from 8am-8pm almost every day…with breakfast, lunch, and dinner ALSO in the office.  It was a great week and I think the staff learned a lot about including participants in the training and incorporating spiritual elements into each of our trainings (and just how important that is) BUT even this extrovert needed a little recharge time to recover 🙂

It’s in the mail….

7 Oct

Just a quick note to let you all know that we have our post office box opened.  Feel free to send us cards, notes, letters, etc.  We just spoke to someone recently who was even able to receive packages at their box.  So, if you are so inclined, you can try sending packages but please don’t include anything like money, electronics, or things of value that might entice someone who might theoretically want to open the box before we receive it.  Air mail is the preferred method of shipping as it comes quicker (a few weeks hopefully).  If you send something (especially a package) please let us know so we can keep an eye out for it to show up at the post office – and we can get a better estimate of how long things may take  to ship here.

PO Box 540 
Soroti, Uganda

Check out this article…

28 Sep

We are featured on the CVM website this month so I thought I’d share the link. CLICK HERE to see the featured article.

Also, if you haven’t checked out our page on the CVM website, here’s the link. CLICK HERE to see our page.

 

Albinos and the state of witchcraft in modern Africa

9 Dec

Ever since I posted some thoughts about child sacrifice in Uganda (A Child Sacrificed), I have had so many conversations with different folks about animism and witchcraft.  It also seems that a lot of these conversations about human sacrifice find their way to the subject of albinos – a topic that I have only heard bits and pieces about from different news sources.

Just like the children we talked about before, in some areas people with albinism are targeted by witchdoctors for the supposed powerful spiritual qualities of their body parts.  I have heard of this in a few news stories coming from Tanzania, Uganda’s southern neighbor.  My assumption is that given the instances of child sacrifice in Uganda, the targeting of albinos probably occurs their as well, though I have not seen any reports.

I came across the article “Spell of the Albino” on Al Jazeera – probably my favorite news source, they produce fantastic news videos.  You can read the article for more information, but I recommend watching the video – it is about 25 min and nearly brought me to tears several times.

You can’t tell me that these people don’t need to experience the awesome power of Jesus Christ in their lives.

We have a movie!

24 Nov

Our friend, Tim Nelson, helped us put together a (pretty darn cool) video this past week and we wanted to share it with you all.  Let us know what you think.

Massage for a Cause

10 Nov

We have a good friend, Sherrie McCann, who is a massage therapist in downtown Gresham.  She has such a joyful personality, she is just a pleasure to be around.  She has always been excited about us moving to Uganda and continues to be an encouragement to us.

Because of her desire to partner in our ministry, she has offered to donate a day at her spa (Free Spirit Massage); giving 30 minute massages for the whole day and waiving all her normal charges but asking for donations to be made instead to support our work with the Karamojong.  100% of all the donations made that day will go to support our project with Christian Veterinary Mission.

Here are the details:

Saturday, November 26 – 8:30-3:30

Free Spirit Massage – 343 N. Main Ave., Ste. B (Upstairs), Gresham, OR

To schedule a time slot, contact Daniel or Rachel (danielandrachelgraham@gmail.com) – here is a link to the Facebook event invite.  We will be there the whole day as well, so we can answer any questions you have about our ministry, about CVM, about Uganda, about the Karamojong, about Jesus, about guinea pigs – we will have snacks and Ugandan tea too!

A Child Sacrificed

14 Oct

Have you ever come across something interesting on the internet and wanted to share it with someone and at the same time that other someone was finding it and sharing it with you?

That is what happened this week when Rachel and I both found a BBC article called “Where child sacrifice is business.”  We already knew that the practice of witchcraft is prevalent throughout Uganda but this is truly disturbing.  Gripped by fear, the people try to control and manipulate the spiritual world in any way that they can; to them a powerful way of controlling spiritual forces is through sacrifices: money, animals, even children.

This is Allan.  A 9 yr. old boy living outside of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala.  He was abducted by a witchdoctor who attempted to behead him with a machete.  Though he failed to remove his head, he castrated him and left his body for dead.

Though we don’t often recognize it in the Western world, the spiritual realm is very real.  The Bible is very clear on this fact, just count the number of time that Jesus interacted with people possessed by demons.

“You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”  James 2:19

Most animistic people, like the Karamojong, believe in a creator God.  The Karamojong word for God is Akuj.  The problem is, they believe that Akuj has become very distant from people and they cannot interact directly with him anymore.  Therefore they look for spiritual power from other sources: spirits (demons) and witchcraft.

We know something that they don’t.  That God is not distant.  He is here and now.  He is not looking for what we can sacrifice to Him because He has already sacrificed enough for us.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time.”  1 Timothy 2: 5-6

Our desire is to tell the Karamojong that they can keep their goats (and their kids for that matter)!  Akuj is not distant and He loves them.  They don’t need to be afraid of Him and they don’t need the help of demons because He is greater then all other gods.  The sacrifice has been made for them already.

We referred to this article and video in our November prayer letter.  If you don’t already receive our updates and would like to, please sign up.

It’s like herding CATs

12 Sep

The team we will be joining in Uganda has a strong support base here in Oregon.  There have been 4 churches which have taken an active role by participating in the ministry to the Karamojong – Good Shepherd, Sunset Presbyterian, Rolling Hills, and NW Hills (in Corvallis).  Once a month, representatives from the churches meet together for updates from the field and to discuss funding, projects, and short-term trips.

I have been observing these meetings since they started about 2 years ago.  The most fascinating part of it all to me is to have watched 4 major independent churches begin to streamline their efforts, working together to meet funding needs, and staffing projects and short-term trips with commingled members from each of the churches.  They have learned to eliminate the inefficiency of acting independently of each other while working towards a common goal, community development leading to the evangelization of the Karamojong people.

Thus, the CLIDE Advocacy Team (CAT) was born into this world; what was once a frail neonatal kitten has now grown into a full-fledged feline which, like any self-respecting cat, is ready to take on the world.

Tonight is our monthly CAT meeting.  Rachel and I are excited that he dad, Steve, is joining us tonight as the first representative of our church, Stone Creek.  Topics for this evening will include preparation for Dr. Val’s home assignment coming up at the end of this month.