WOW! It’s been an amazing two weeks. I haven’t had power or internet other than a few hours on Mother’s Day so writing home has been impossible. Even now I am able to write only using a generator. Two weeks in a hut without power or water has made me appreciate being back at the mission house regardless of not having power and water. It’s incredible how you adjust to life when God is in control. There is no other explanation than God is sustaining me.

I’ve learned many things. Pastor Moses says I am learning to be an African, but I know I am just learning how to survive the conditions in this place God has called me to serve. I know now to always leave buckets outside to catch the rain water each day. I know to finish my work if possible before dark where I don’t need much light to keep the mosquitos away. It is very normal now for me to spend my evenings at the mission house by candlelight.

 I’ve gone from being excited that I learned how to take a bath including washing my hair with a bucket of rain water, to now being able to do it with (3) 16oz. bottles of water when it hasn’t rained and I don’t have rain water! Not only have I adjusted, I find that I am okay with it being this way. In the beginning just after I arrived, I would have been so pleased to have warm water to take a shower, now I am happy to have water for a cold shower. I would have been happy to have a toilet with a lid, but now I am happy when I have a toilet!

Without a doubt I think it is safe to say that I have now been fully initiated as a missionary to Africa! In the last two weeks I’ve experienced the African way of life that I must say I wasn’t fully prepared for, yet needed in order to understand the people and their everyday lives here.

Last week it was my privilege to teach at the women’s conference in Kenya for the women leaders of the GCCM (Grace Calvary Christian Ministries.)

The women leaders from this Baptist association met together to organize and structure the women’s ministries for Kenya. What a joy it was to meet and spend time with so many Godly women who have a heart for helping the women. Their theme was Women Hero’s from the bible, so I got to teach each day about great women like Esther, Ruth, Naomi and others.

When we arrived the events got underway immediately. As the day went on I began to wonder where I was going to sleep. Just before dark they took me and showed me my home for the week. I want to be very careful in how I word my experience because it is very important to me to give honor and respect for the sacrifice and genuine love they displayed in their preparations for my stay.

My Kenya Hut

They had swept all around the hut and planted some bushes. On the tin door of the hut they had written with chalk ….Joy’s House! Inside the hut they had placed a metal small bed frame and I saw someone bringing a mattress for it on the back of their bicycle. They had purchased a mosquito net which meant a sacrifice was made so I would be protected. They placed a little table with a small oil burning lamp for me as well as a handmade chair to sit on.

Inside the hut

You would have to see how everyone else lived there to truly understand how much they did for me.

As I mentioned it was almost dark when they took me to the hut. We still had the evening’s events ahead of us, but it was time to settle into my new home for the week. As they left me to get settled I sat down in the little chair and looked around and thought oh my goodness Lord….I am not so sure about this. There was an opening to the outside all around the top of the wall where the wall and grass roof came together, and there was an open space under the door.

Hut surroundings

As you can see from the picture, the hut sits in the middle of the bush.  I definitely had some insecurity about what could get inside the hut during the night and I am not talking about mosquitoes!

The night’s events were great. Hundreds of people came from the nearby villages to see what was going on. Pastor Moses had brought a screen, projector and generator and showed some movies. The people there had never seen anything like it before. When the event was over one of the young women took me to the Pastor’s house/hut to have supper. While we were there Pastor Moses and Jimmy (My interpreter) decided it was time to tell me all about the scary stories that I should know. All the while they are having a blast telling me African ways, I was thinking….I have to walk to my hut in the dark through the bush and stay my first night in a hut after hearing all their horror stories! What joy these 2 are to serve with….they accept me and look out after me and yes, take a great deal of time having fun with me!

It was a few anxious moments as I first got into the hut, but then I could hear the people who were sleeping at night inside the church, praying. They weren’t specifically praying for my fears because no one knew how I was feeling, yet their prayers was soothing to my nerves and helped me fall right to sleep!

Early the next morning those same people were up praying before daylight and that is how I woke up! Listening to the new sounds of nature waking up around me and God’s children praying! I really had to go to the bathroom (yep…going to the bathroom….those are stories I will spare you from….just take my word for it….you don’t want to know!) I sat up and begin to feel for my flashlight that I lay beside me when I went to bed. It wasn’t there! Trust me, when there is no moon, it is so dark in Africa that you can’t see anything….even when your eyes are adjusted to it.

I realized that my flashlight must have rolled off the bed during the night. Then I realized I had to reach my hand down to the ground and feel for it. All I could think about was the opening under the door and I begin to pray…Please Lord, please please Lord….don’t let there be a snake! What an experience! I thought to myself I have now experienced the worse I will probably experience! But, that night was a piece of cake compared to the night I had this past week when I went to Lake Victoria for the week. You will have to wait and read about that night later in the message.

The rest of the week was so good. I met and made so many new friends. I taught my lessons under a mango tree outside the Pastors home.

The women I had the honor to teach in Kenya along with their Pastor

The women sat on handmade benches after sleeping on the ground inside the church during the night. They are so strong not only physically, but in their desire to grow in their relationships with the Lord. I couldn’t help but think about the women’s conferences I’ve been to in the states and how they were all in the best buildings with comfortable seating, great food and heating and air conditioning. Yet, these women had slept on the ground and sat for hours on wooden benches and you never saw them show signs of weariness.

On the last day they voted for women leaders who are going to step up to the plate and make a difference in Kenya.

New Kenya Women's Leaders and their Pastors

You must realize what it means to be a leader in the bush churches. These women have no transportation and the churches are very far apart. This means that not only will they do their every day chores, but they will walk many many miles to fulfill their commitments in serving as leaders. I am excited to watch God work through them. I know great and wonderful things are going to come to not only them, but the women they are leading because of their faithfulness.

We didn’t arrive back to Uganda until late on Friday night and as what seems to be normal I didn’t have power at the mission house, but Praise the Lord….I had water! I took 2 showers trying to get clean. I laughed as I climbed in the bed in the dark and thought about my nights in the hut! Laying there in the mission house bed in the dark really wasn’t all that different….well….that’s not quite true…I don’t have to worry about snakes in the mission house…just mosquitoes and lizards!

Other than those anxious moments the first night, I can truly say my first experience staying in a hut in the African bush was a good experience! Now on to the second trip and next adventure of a different hut and different surroundings!

This past week I traveled down to Lake Victoria which is the largest lake in the world.

Lake Victoria

We traveled about 2 hours down bush roads to reach our destination. I have always been good on directions but I admit the past two weeks I couldn’t haven’t found my way back from either of these places!

There on the shores of Lake Victoria I attended a youth camp that was held for 6 bush orphan schools. I have never experienced a reception such as the one we received when we pulled up. Hundreds of young people lined the roadway singing and dancing. They had never participated in any type of event prepared just for them. For weeks they had been preparing to compete in all sorts of activities. The bush orphan schools that attended walked from very long distances to attend.

Jimmy, Pastor Moses and Pastor John

In this picture from the left is my interpretur and one of my dearest friends here – Jimmy and then my Pastor who is the man I serve with for Helping Hands, Pastor Moses Barasa. The man with the stick is Pastor John who oversees one of the bush schools that traveled to participate. They walked 60 kilometers to get there. The stick in his hand is what helps him walk. One of his legs doesn’t work at all. He puts his good leg forward then the stick and swings himself along. I don’t know my kilometer measurements but I know it took them a very long time to walk it. Pastor John is great…he talks about in the Old Testament when the lame couldn’t go into the temple to worship. He tells everyone how much he loves Jesus because Jesus made it possible for him to not only worship but Pastor!

The host church was expecting 300 youth for the event and on the first day we had 620 registered. The following day and the days there after there were over 1000 each day. The church area couldn’t contain them all for the meetings. Many stood down the roadways listening because there was no room anywhere else for them to stand. The sporting events were held at an open field about 3 or 4 miles away from the church. What an experience to see this many young people walking the distance each day back and forth.

Playing Field

Waters Edge for Swimming Competition

Many many of these young people were homeless orphans. Each day you could tell which ones were homeless because by middle of the afternoon they were laying all along the sides of the field sleeping. They didn’t have enough nutrition to get them through the day. Many of them were half clothed and their stomachs were so extended that they looked like they would burst. But they had a wonderful time and there were many who gave their hearts to Jesus.

Sleeping Homeless Orphans

At the women’s conference as well as teaching the women at youth camp, I heard testimony after testimony of how a missionary came and they heard the gospel for the first time and surrendered their hearts to Jesus. All my life back in the states I have heard the opposite side of the stories….the missionaries sides, but to be here and visually see the impact missionaries have made….what a joy to experience!

The women I had the honor to teach at Lake Victoria

These bush churches are very poor financially, but they are making such an impact on the lives of children in their regions. They don’t have much but what they have is shared with the orphans. The pastors along the shores of Lake Victoria are targeting the undeveloped islands out in the middle of Lake Victoria where there are more than 1 million people who have never heard the gospel. I could keep writing on and on about all God is doing here! He is at work all around us!

This time the same process happened when we arrived. The activities started immediately, but this time I didn’t get to see where I was going to sleep until very late that night. We were having a meal at the Pastors hut and I could see people going in and out of a hut not too far away. Eventually I realized they were getting everything ready for me. I saw them carry a bed frame, then a mattress and I was so relieved because I didn’t know at either place if I was going to have to sleep on the ground inside the hut or not. It had started raining so one of the women came and took me to get settled in for the night. Just as the hut I stayed in for the women’s conference I could tell they had worked really hard to prepare a nice place for me.

My Lake Victoria Hut home

I walked in and was met by thousands of bugs inside the hut!

Bugs that welcomed me!

This picture was taken right beside my bed. I had two choices at that point. I could remove the mosquito net they had placed there for me and put the clean bedding I had brought with me on the bed which would allow all the bugs inside my net. Or, I could leave my clothes on and jump under the net and sleep in what had been prepared for me which was not what I wanted to do because of lice and other skin diseases. So, I had to choose between the possibilities of lice or sleeping with the flying bugs which by that time were going in my mouth, my ears, my nose and my ears.

I decided pretty quickly that I had to pray not to get lice or skin diseases and get under that net away from the other bugs. It had been thundering and lightning and the rain had gotten heavier as I went to the hut. Within two minutes of getting in the hut I was under the protection of that net! As I lay down I began to feel something on my face and I realize it was raining on my bed! It didn’t take but a second when the next bolt of lightning flashed to see why….the hut had holes in the straw. I actually laid there in the rain watching the lighting through the holes.

Hut Roof Holes

What a night it was! As I mentioned earlier I think it is safe to say I have now been officially initiated as a missionary to Africa. I made it through that night and the nights there after. I didn’t have worry about snakes coming under the door of this hut, as you can see from the picture Lake Victoria is just behind my hut and although I am sure there were snakes all around, it’s not the snakes they fear there in the village…it’s the crocodiles that live in the water’s edge!

Once again we didn’t get back to Busia until late Friday night and this time I didn’t have water or power so there were no showers to get me clean! Today makes day 7 with no shower…ugh!  I am thankful to be here at the mission house! I am moving to the new mission house tomorrow they have been preparing and look forward to having some uneventful days for a while! I really hope when I get there that water and electricity are plentiful….but if not…I guess I’ll do some more adjusting!!!!!!!!!!

Love to all