Monday, May 28, 2012

(Posted by: Craig Willie, Chi Pledge Class, Spring 1999)

Thanks to everyone for your prayer and thoughts during this year’s trip! We made it back safely on Friday, May 25 and have been slowly jumping back into ‘life’ here in the States.

What a great trip though! We saw numerous people give their lives to Christ – children in schools amongst their peers, adults and family members in their homes, villagers at our church planting crusades, and church goers on Sunday morning in church. As our new friend Pastor Robert would say, “Hallelujahhhhhhhhh!”

On top of those decisions it was amazing to see the progress in the past year for Arise Africa. Children are attending school there and growing and learning, new school buildings have been built from the help of other donors, and they are currently making progress towards their goal of establishing 400 new churches throughout Uganda. FOUR HUNDRED CHURCHES!

God is definitely moving in this area, and it is so encouraging to work alongside our God-fearing brothers and sisters in Christ there. What faith and expectancy they have! The eight guys on the trip were great ambassadors and witnesses during this trip too, and I myself was challenged by their examples throughout the week.

Although the group is planning on returning to Uganda again next summer, my hope is we’ll continue to pray for them during the next 12 months. In this way we might be witnesses of God’s faithfulness and abundance throughout their region, just as Paul promised to the church in Philippians 4:19 – 20, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

As I am writing this on Memorial Day, thankful for the sacrifices of those who served our country, I’m dealing with a little bit of ‘blessing overload’ – thankful for God’s provisions for this trip, for the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ and His grace in our lives, and for your prayers during our time in Uganda. May God be glorified through your service to our team. Thank you!

Craig Willie
Chi Pledge Class (Spring 1999)
(Posted by; Cameron Bohls, Beta Beta PC, Spring 2011)

It’s our last full day here in Uganda, and boy was it a busy but rewarding day. This day was faced especially with a lot of fatigue and tiredness for me and for the whole team. But we knew that it was our last day to minister to the people of Bukaleba, and to do the work that God had set out for us. It turned a slow breakfast into a motivated day for us all. I especially prayed for us to not lose strength in Him as we went out.

It was our last day of painting and everyone was in the final stretch mode. We got to the secondary school classroom much earlier than previous days and finished painting the last two walls very quick. Next thing we knew we were putting the last final touches of red trim on the windows and was cleaning up the room. Now I can’t speak for our team and I am in no way a professional painter, but many of the teachers and students came to the room to see the work that we had done on the two classrooms.

Now today was not only the last day for us but was also the last day for our good friend Jackson who was heading back to his wife and child around mid-day today. He has been with us the entire trip and has been such a blessing for our team. I know that everyone on the team got really close to him and didn’t want to say goodbye. He was Ryan Andrews and my translator for our church service on Sunday, and has been so encouraging and a light for us this entire trip. I don’t think Jackson could read this right now, but I want to write it anyways: “Jackson thank you so much for serving with us and taking the time to be with us on our trip, your joyful heart and encouraging spirit lifted me and made me feel welcome. I hope to always remember you and one day see you in heaven or sooner”. Christopher and I were privileged to interview him for the next video I’m making. At one point I asked him how has it been working with us and he responded “I love you.” Nearly touched my heart when he said it too, for the feelings are likewise. Once we ate lunch after painting we presented a Ginkgo Brotherhood Award to him for his friendship and service to us, and said our goodbyes and just like that he was gone to be with his family. I was so blessed to have served with and to know him.

As lunch was over we headed to the orphanage one last time to see those babies. Going down to the guest house and seeing that orphanage always humbles me knowing that our fraternity doesn’t have to be used to give God the glory to serve these kids, but He did and being a part of that is so unspeakable to me. I’m stunned every time I hear them sing to greet us. This time it was “Kumbaya my Lord”, which was just another reminder of what I think heaven will be like when we are all together. It was great to play with these kids one last time before we went to our Crusade in the village of Bukaleba. As always it was hard to part from them. I will always be touched by the life that is coming out of that place and the glory that God still has to exhibit in further years in the orphanage of the Bukaleba project.

As we approached the village I read over some verses for our program we were doing at the church plant. We decided to do some of the skits from last year’s trip and since I was a part of that trip, the team thought I could explain the two skits well. When we saw the soccer field where the Arise Africa staff had set up, there was again a huge crowd there with many children waiting to greet us. The worship was loud and the villagers were dancing. Since it was our last day we knew we had to go all out. I prayed for our energy to be at an all time high and for the message to resonate among the people. Our skits were very well acted and I had a great opportunity to share how Christ should be followed and how he saves us from the stickiest sins. Rob then presented a profound gospel message and asked for people to be saved. Some even got in front of Rob and fell to their knees as they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It was such a beautiful picture of how we should approach the throne of God. It was picturesque with the sunset and large clouds rolling in as these men were on there knees. The clouds came in, and it started to rain a little bit, so we headed back to the guest house rather quickly.

Once we arrived back in the guest house we were surprised with the guest of …GODFREY whom we hadn’t see in a couple days. Dinner was running late so I had the idea to show Godfrey the documentary of last year’s trip on my computer. It was such a joy to see the look on his face when the video was over, he responded with, “I think you have a calling”. He had no idea how that made me feel with that being my passion to make documentaries. Some how the documentary brought conversations of the history of Arise Africa International and its origin and future. Talking with Godfrey was so neat to see the work that has been done and the work yet to be done here in Bukaleba. I’m so glad for our partnership with their ministry. Seeing their goals and accomplishments makes me so proud of the God we serve and the work he has allowed through Arise Africa. The more I talked to him the more passionate I get about this country. A year ago I prayed that God would give me a way to come back. Now that opportunity has almost come to a close and I couldn’t be more blessed. I am so grateful for the time spent here with new experiences and new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Till then we will be back in the states on Friday!!!

-Cameron Bohls
Beta Beta Pledge Class (Spring 2011)
Greetings Fellow Mzungus!
(Posted by Rob Hartland, Beta Beta PC, Spring 2011)

What a wonderful day it has been! There is nothing like waking up at 7 to a beautiful sunrise over Lake Victoria and some scrumptious Ugandan breakfast foods. The Arise Africa staff has been very generous and hospitable at every meal, giving us the needed energy for very busy days!

Following breakfast, we all made the journey to Arise Africa Secondary school. We walked into the previously sanded and primed school room and got to work. With a good amount of effort and a healthy dose of patience (especially for those meticulous windows…), we completed the room to a point where all we have left is some trim tomorrow! How exciting! Price has been exhibiting great leadership in ensuring that all tasks are being worked on and done efficiently. His strategic painting mind has been invaluable in making the team a formidable painting force!

After our manual labor was done for the day, we returned to the guest house for lunch. Needless to say, it was once again delicious. Upon eating our last bites, many of the team members listened to music, journaled, and fellowshipped. It was then time to head toward a new school to deliver the Gospel.

After about a 30 minute drive, we arrived at St. Henry’s College. We were escorted to a small lobby area where the school had us all sign the guest book. After signing in, we went to a school assembly room where we gave our presentation. Christopher led a hip version of “Jesus Loves Me” followed by a skit representing the story of the Good Samaritan. Cameron then led the group on guitar in singing “How Great Is Our God.” Then, Wesley and Christopher did a wonderful job of leading a skit we call the “Everything” skit. Through representations of greed (Anderson), drunkenness (Kyle), gambling (Andrews), Jesus (Thompson), and a wayward soul (Wesley), the teenagers of the school were able to see and understand an important message about the saving grace of Christ and God’s omnipotent nature. These guys have done an amazing job putting together these skits and performing them well.

Ryan Anderson then delivered yet another well put message about the worth of salvation in comparison to the world. He presented a wonderful analogy about a girl who gave up fake, worthless earrings for precious, costly earrings that her father paid a high price to get for her. This drove the message home that there are many things in life we may hold on to, but they are all worthless compared to the gift our Father in Heaven has offered us. Pastor Christopher then made an alter call and ten students came forward, in front of their student body, to profess publicly that they had decided to commit their lives to Christ. Now that is God working!

Once we had concluded the program, we headed to Bukaleba Village and continued our Church Plant/ Crusade (as many of our African friends call it). We jumped around with the kids, sang, clapped, and shouted praises to the Lord. We then redid our secondary school program for the villagers who were in attendance. Craig then gave a gospel message to the community and explained the importance of accepting Christ. Twenty-four people signed up to be members of the church! Incredible! We then proceeded to have another time of worship. However, after a few minutes, we noticed a mass of kids taking off into one of the fields. They had stolen our soccer ball! Of course, we took off after them and proceeded to play football with the children. Imagine 60 Ugandan kids vs. 9 Mzungus… pretty epic. After that, we loaded up the van and returned to the guest house for dinner and fellowship.

As I sit here typing this message, I am thoroughly amazed at God’s power and provision. His work has been more than apparent throughout the duration of this trip, and I cannot wait to see what He has planned for tomorrow. Please continue to pray for the Phi Chi team, our Arise Africa and associated friends, and the people that God has planned for us to encounter. Pray that hearts will be open for molding, that we would have the confidence of servants covered by the blood of Christ, and that it would be God’s words that are spoken, not our own.

“Erinya lya Yesu lirina amanyi…Haleluya” These are the words to a Lugandan Worship song. They translate to say “The name of Jesus is powerful.” My good friend Jackson taught me how to sing these words and my other good friend Dennis helped me spell them for you here. How true these words are! The power of the name of Jesus has been very apparent here in Uganda!

Well. It is around 10:15 here in Bukaleba. Well past my bed time! Goodnight (good afternoon) America!!

-Rob Hartland
Beta Beta Pledge Class (Spring 2011)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unity in Worship
Posted by Kyle Howerton (Beta Delta Pledge Class, Spring 2012)

Today was another great day in Uganda. We woke up and shared breakfast as a team. It was delicious. We then went to the Arise Africa Secondary School to continue our painting job. Up to this point we have completed one whole schoolroom and today we sanded and primed a second schoolroom. Throughout the rest of this week we will finish up this room. After we finished painting we washed up and shared lunch together.

After lunch we headed out again to do a presentation at the Delta Secondary School. This was by far the biggest school we have been to. There were about 400 kids present.  We sang songs and shared with them skits that portrayed bible stories such as the Good Samaritan. From there we went straight to the village of Bukaleba where members of the Arise Africa International staff had set up an open-air evangelism presentation.  There were so many village kids present. We had a time of praise and worship together. It is so awesome to see people from two different cultures and languages come together in unity to worship one almighty, all-powerful God! There was dancing and joy all around! We presented our skits again here then Nick Price gave a powerful gospel message. Afterwards we headed back to the guesthouse for the night. We relaxed and played card games until dinner. The food was superb like always, making Paula Dean’s cooking seem like it came out of an easy bake oven.

It has been amazing to see how God has worked on this trip. From growing newly planted churches to saving lives for Christ’s kingdom, God is at work here in Uganda. I am so blessed that God has allowed me to take part in what He is doing here. As our final days here in Uganda approach we ask that you would continue to pray for our team and the people of Uganda.

-Kyle Howerton
Beta Delta Pledge Class (Spring 2012)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sundays in Africa
Posted by: Nick Price (Beta Delta Pledge Class, Spring 2012)

Today was a great day of rest and rejuvenation! To start the day we broke into pairs and went to five different local churches (for those of you who are math inclined, Rob went alone allowing us to reach five churches) to give a sermon and help with Bible study. Overall everyone agreed this was one of our favorite days so far. Personally, this has been my stand alone high point of the trip. It was an awesome experience to get to speak in front of a church of mostly new believers and those who were actively working in their villages daily to spread God’s love and further His kingdom. To share with them and encourage them was incredible.

Although it was a little nerve racking preparing, as we got into our respective churches we got more comfortable being encouraged by the local pastors with whom we had spent the previous days doing hut to hut evangelism. Wesley Bryan and I teamed up and spoke in a growing church that received our message very well. From what I have heard, the other groups had good experiences as well. We all met up after church and had lunch and discussed our services and everyone said that it went much better than they expected.

Our afternoon was scheduled to consist of a day hike in the surrounding hills which overlook Lake Victoria. However, a shower of rain and front of lightning delayed us for a couple hours. We played card games and had fellowship in the pavilion-hut out front of our guest house and, I think everyone would agree, it was nice to have a little R & R. Luckily the rain stopped and we were still able to go on our hike around 5! As we reached the top of the hill just across from our guest house, we got to watch the sun set on the cloud line that hung above the horizon. Looking out over Lake Victoria was beautiful and there couldn’t have been a more rejuvenating scene. We returned after hiking another hill and washed up for dinner which was delicious as always.

The evening consisted of more card games and experimenting with night photos on Christopher Thompson’s camera. We managed to spell out Uganda using flashlights and camera tricks! We shortly all realized our exhaustion though, and one by one made our ways off to bed. We all fell asleep knowing that we had more work to accomplish and only four more days in Uganda, but it was easier to sleep after having a solid day of relaxation.

-Nick Price
Beta Delta Pledge Class (Spring 2012)
Hello Across the Pond!
Posted by: Wesley Bryan (Alpha Chi Pledge Class, Spring 2012)

Today was another beautiful day in Uganda! We woke up to a wonderful breakfast as usual and went out to the Arise Africa Secondary School to finish our painting job. After we finished we headed back for lunch, which was again fantastic and delicious. We then left for the Arise Africa Primary School where we had a school presentation. It was fun going there because we were able to see many of the older kids from the baby’s home as well as many new kids from the community. This was also where we met Josh, Godfrey’s son, as well as Jennings and her family. She represents an organization called 1018 that donates money to this secondary school. It was cool to meet someone else who donates money to Arise Africa. The children sang some neat songs and demonstrated what they were learning for us and the other group.

We walked from there to a village nearby where we met in Pastor Christopher’s church and prepared to go out into his community to share the gospel with the people who lived there. I went out with my translator, Watana Gideon, and shared Christ with many people. We ended up saving two girls on the side of the road, as well as a woman who had been to church but never been saved before. It was neat getting to talk to these people and share Christ with them because it is on the road that we take everyday to get to the Arise Africa Secondary School (where we paint every morning). We got to meet many of the kids that come out and yell “Mzungu” or “Jambo” at us everyday as we drive by (which never gets old). This church was simple and still being built, but it was beautiful in its own way. Many of the people in our group encountered some new groups of people: a satanic/demon worshipping family, a demon possessed man, a witchdoctor, and a few other people we don’t typically meet. Our group did well with them and still tried to touch them spiritually in some way, even if it was just praying over them.

When we got back tonight we played some games and took some time to write/think out our sermons we will be giving tomorrow. We are all excited, as well as a little anxious, but we know that the Lord will be with us and guide what we say. Again dinner here was delicious, which we were able to share with Jennings and her family. As I write this I am able to look out at the natural beauty of Uganda all around me and am just astounded at the beauty of the world that our Lord has made. Uganda is a beautiful place, with an even more beautiful people. May God bless you all.

-Wesley Bryan
Alpha Chi Pledge Class (Spring 2010)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Different, But The Same
posted by: Ryan Andrews (Beta Gamma Pledge Class, fall 2011)

It has been another incredible day of ministry here in Bukaleba!  We started the day off with a delicious breakfast highlighted by the Rolex (not a watch, a Ugandan breakfast burrito).  This hasn’t been the only amazing food we have had here so far though: the banana fritters, beef pie and mushroom soup on pasta have been some of my favorites.

After breakfast we went to the Arise Africa Secondary School to do some more painting.  When we left, we had nearly completed one of the classrooms.  We came back to the guest house to get lunch before going down to the Babies Home (orphanage) to see the orphans.  We got to give them our full primary school presentation today and I got to share the story of Jonah with them followed by a gospel presentation where some of the kids prayed to receive Christ! But the work of God was only just beginning for the day.

After the Babies Home, we all went to a nearby village where we got to help Arise Africa with a church plant.  As soon as the team got out of our vehicles in the village, we were swarmed by Ugandan children, many of which had probably never been that close to a mzungu (white person).  We made our way to the makeshift church that had been set up in the village: brick walls, a few benches and a blue tarp on top, about the size of a small bedroom.  We prayed for the work that God was about to do, paired up with a translator, and split up to go tell people in the village about Jesus.  It was such a blessing for me to get paired up with Pastor Robert as my translator.  We were able to share the gospel with many people including a handful who accepted Jesus for the first time, a man who was in leadership at the local mosque that did not make a decision but was very interested in our message, and a Christian woman who had been left by her husband and needed some encouragement.  Pastor Robert and I also had great conversation as he shared with me about his church and his family and I shared with him about where God was leading me in life.  We shared ways that we could pray for one another and I felt like we both walked away very encouraged from the evening.

It is certainly a very different place here in Uganda, but the same God we serve in America is very much at work and all of your prayers for our team are very much appreciated!

Ryan Andrews
Beta Gamma Pledge Class (Fall 2011)