Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Martina's Joy...

Bryan and I, and a group of three others visited Pastor Experito in Gulu in October.  We asked to meet some of the families who live in Kochgoma, whose children can attend the school, as the school grows.
Oct 6 (Drea Thiele):
Today was a long day full of joy, sorrow, sad stories, some victorious, some with no hope. Kochgoma is about 2 hours in the bush outside of Gulu (Northern Uganda). The people here have been so affected by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and most have nothing. No food, one pair of clothes, no soap, no work, no land and no home. The children are mistreated or unwanted due to a parent’s inability to provide for them. Some have no parents at all.
Today I met with Martina, a widow, whose husband died years ago. She had threechildren, 2 boys and a girl. Her daughter died last month of HIV/AIDS. She now cares for 15 children, as her daughter-in-laws and their children also live with her, and her two sons leave often. She has been seriously affected by the war and the LRA rebels. She is having a hard time because she is old and can’t work and farm like others can. Her small garden is dried up, and her hut leaks. She has very little food and only the clothes on her back. Her daughter’s grave is just a few feet from her mud hut, with a simple home-made wooden cross.
Martina’s hope is Jesus. She became a born again believer when she was young. She lost most of her relatives in the LRA rebel war, and grew up virtually alone. Herheart was so troubled, but the Lord spoke to her and said, “Don’t be troubled, you will make it through.” Her miracle is “JOY” she says.  Even looking at the cross where her daughter is buried, she still has joy.
Her grandchildren cannot attend school because they have no money for school fees, but Martina still has joy!
Her granddaughter, Prisca, spent the majority of her day with me. She was leaning on me, playing with my fingers and cuddling with me. I learned later that it was her mom who had just died.  I was so blessed to be able to give her love and attention as she has to be mourning the loss of her mom.
Today the Lord has filled us with unspeakable joy! Joy to do His work. Watching these glorious servants of God, fills us also with hope! Hope to keep going, hope to know that this life is for one purpose only, hope to be the hands and feet of Jesus, the whole earth filled with his glory!
Upon our return to the U.S., we have had ongoing communication with Experito about how we can best help him and Justine and their church serve this widow and her grandchildren.
Experito Nov 1:  Helping Martina would be one of the most burden lifting moments for her and quite yoke breaking. She has been one of the families we help weekly with foodstuffs because of her limited ability to cultivate sufficient food supplies for such a huge extended family!  Martina spoke to Drea about her leaking grass thatched house. Apparently it wears her down to keep looking for the scarce grass to thatch her roof seasonally.
For several years we have been talking with Experito about a Habitat for Humanity type project in Kochgoma.  (The community and residents provides the labor, and others, like us, provide the money for materials). It is his desire, and therefore ours as well, to see the community freed from the chains of slavery to finding and hauling clean water.  The best way to do that is through housing that has iron sheet roofing.  Water is channeled from the iron sheet roof, down the rain gutters, into the water tank. They use this for their water source, rather than walking miles to pump it, and walking miles to haul a few gallons back to their hut.
We therefore asked him if a house would be appropriate for Martina and her 15 children.
Experito Nov 2: We thank God that he has brought you in our way to partner that we can together do whatever we could for the economically vulnerable. My wife has always been praying for them to have a better living condition. I must confess that you are stepping in as an answer to Justine’s daily heart cry.
Please Drea you have made us to genuinely appreciate the unfathomable love of God by feeling what we have been feeling for the least in society. It encourages us more to know that we are not alone but an army of God to bring the goodness of God to whom it had been denied. It sometimes emotionally drains us to see that we are helpless. However, praise be to God who cares. A house shall  take Martina leaps and bounds with her extended family.
Experito Nov 8: I was able to visit Martina and her grandkids.  They are supposed to be 15 in her care but the two had been taken to hospital because they were sick. They were not available for our camera and conversation. It was only 13 available as you can see in the picture.
About the house, I shared the opportunity to some members of the community and they have showed interest to come and provide manual labour when time comes for construction.  Martina is currying this burden of these kids because five of them have no father and mother. Three of them the mother is dead but their father became mentally derailed and his father is as well very ill. The other kids have mothers and the fathers whose whereabouts are unknown. Justine and I are praying that Martina will receive good-hearted people to help uplift her state of living conditions as well as the little kids get educated.
And when we asked what amenities the house should have, Experito wrote:
Experito Nov 12: We will be extremely delighted to see Martina’s family advance to a good standard of living. The house is intended to have 4 bedrooms. There will be a pit latrine bathroom outside. The house shall be built with bricks, doors, windows, and iron sheets (for roofing). It shall be plastered and painted, with a water harvest tank constructed as well. With the size of Martina’s family, a house of $30,000, which shall include a water harvest tank, might be appropriate.
100% of any donations go directly to Africa.  If you would like to donate toward Martina’s home, please send a note with your donation to Remember The Poor.  100% of your gift will go toward her home.  We’ll be taking pictures and hopefully video to provide updates on progress.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

Martina with her daughter - in- law, you can see the fresh grave in the background

Martina and I saying goodbye, until we meet again!

Justine (Experito's wife) Prisca (who's mother just died) and Martina
Martina and the 13 of the 15 children in her care

Blog shared by: Drea Thiele, Cindy May and Pastor Experito

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday...

Today, November 4, is Orphan Sunday. I find "Orphan Sunday" hard to say, because in God's economy every day is Orphan Day! James 1:27, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this; to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

I understand that Orphan Sunday is a day of recognition, and not the only day we celebrate, or remember, but is it? There are 147 million orphans in the world. 10,000 just in my home state, Arizona. Are we remembering? Are we celebrating with all the children that are forever home? My hearts cry is that every day we remember, every day we celebrate! Every day we should advocate, every day we should ask God, "How do you want to use me?" 

All over Gods word He tells us how we should care for orphans and widows. These words are not mere suggestions, they are commands. This command has no contingencies, based on finances, space in your home, economic times,  politics, tax deductions, age, gender, location, time, or .......

This command is direct, unchanging, inexcusable, there are no conditions to it. We are to care for orphans in their distress. The only consideration there is, is choosing if we will obey or disobey. 

Five years ago, God interrupted our lives with two beautiful girls, one from Russia and one from China. And then just two years later, 3 more from Ethiopia, 1 girl and 2 boys. We didn't know all He had in store for us and I am thankful that he changed the path we were on, to His path. It has been quite a journey. I have not for one second regretted our YES decision. We have planned, stepped out in blind faith, rejoiced, cried, celebrated, labored, but most importantly we have LOVED and been LOVED. 

"I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." John 14:18

My heart aches for the other 149 million children who don't know the love of a mother and father, who are alone, fending for themselves. The children who need touch, unconditional love, food, shelter, Jesus. It aches for the suffering, the uncomforted, the tears left unwiped, cries unheard, prayers unsaid.

147 million, minus 5 more, Cailee, Cyilea, Meske, Eyob, Sami...

What will you do with the words of God:

"Whoever receives on such child in my name receives me..." ~ Matthew 18:5

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." ~ Galatians 4:4-6

"Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation. God settles the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land." ~ Psalm 68: 5-6

My babies, representing 4 Nations

Forever Family

Bubby and Cyilea

The Thiele Clan

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