WOW! It’s been an amazing two weeks. I haven’t had power or internet other than a few hours on Mothers 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 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. That the new normal is to spend my evenings 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! 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 the African bush! 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. Leaders from a 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 Heroes from the Bible, and I got to teach each day about great women like Esther, Ruth, Naomi and others.

When we arrived the event got underway immediately, and as the day went on I began to wonder where I was going to sleep. Just before dark they took me to my home for the week. I want to be very careful in how I word my experience, it is very important 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, Joys House! Inside the hut they had placed a metal small bed frame and I saw someone bringing a mattress 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, as well as a handmade chair to sit on. You would have to see how everyone else lives to truly understand how much they did for me.

Inside the hut

As I mentioned it was almost dark when they took me to the hut. We still had the evenings 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 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 nights event was great, hundreds of people came from the nearby villages to see what was going on. When the event was over one of the young women took me to the Pastors house/hut to have supper. Afterwards I was thinking, I have to walk to my hut in the dark through the bush and stay my first night in a hut alone!

It was a few anxious moments as I first got into the hut, but then I could hear the people who were sleeping that night inside the church, praying. They weren’t specifically praying for my fears because no one knew how I was feeling, yet their prayers were 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 Gods children praying! 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 the dark!

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! Once I retrieved it 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 a few days later when I went to Lake Victoria for the week. 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, 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 thats 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 the following week, as I traveled down to Lake Victoria which is the largest fresh water 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 have 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 they attended were very long distances to walk daily to attend.

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, 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 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. There they 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 last week, 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 possible lice on unclean mattresses. 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 nose and my ears. I decided pretty quickly that I had to pray not to get lice, 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 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 week 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 and I didn’t have to 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 villages, its the crocodiles that live in the waters edge!!!

Once again we didn’t get back to the mission compound 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! I am thankful to be moving to another mission compound tomorrow they have been preparing. I 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,

Joy Breedlove

Missionary – East Africa