Saturday, March 22, 2008

Would You Like to Help Us Help Pastor Emmy?

Some of you have asked what you can do to help Pastor Emmy, the orphans in Uganda, the pastors that Emmy helps oversee and their churches.  I have created an email address that you can send me a short note saying you are interested in being a part of our ministry. will be the email i use for communicating
   his email is

This will not be a typical ministry.  We are in no way going to ask anything of anyone.  If all you can do is pray for the orphans and Emmy we would be honored to have your prayers. If the Holy Spirit moves you to do more then you will be blessed .....I promise.....just like us.  

For the children and orphans,


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pictures 1

For a few of the hundreds of pictures we took try this link .

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday March 16, 2008

"Mukama Asimwe" friends or "Praise the Lord" (in Nyankore)!

We had a lovely time with our dear friends Emmy and Sarah and their precious family!
The Lord has been so gracious to allow our family this opportunity to experience first hand His mighty work through his humble servants in Mbarara Uganda.  Every church we went to the Pastor would say "You are most highly welcome"!  This was an understatement to be sure - they treated us like royalty - hanging on our every word and giving us gifts (pineapple, watermelon, and a real live chicken) that they could not afford to give!  We were very humbled by their generosity and thankful hearts!  

Bailey and Libby were super troopers for Jesus!  Bailey was so helpful and loving toward everyone - always graciously loving on the children with a big smile!  She seemed even more beautiful in Africa because she really let her light shine for all to see!  Libby enjoyed getting up in  front of the churches to share her testimony of how the Lord led her to tell her mom to go to Africa last Feb. 2007 through a Christmas card she wrote in school!  The churches would erupt in praise! It was really good for her to see how happy she made these Africans because of her obedience to Jesus!

Leaving Uganda was difficult to say the least because we were leaving a huge part of our hearts with our dear friends.  It was quiet on the way to the airport because they were heavy.  When we did arrive for our morning departure we were floored to see an old Pastor named Pastor Peace waiting to greet us!  This precious pastor (whom we had never met) in his suit and tie (probably only one) had caught a motorbike ride from his remote village just to shake our hands and see us for 5 mins!  Then Pastor Emmy himself circled outside the glass of the terminal just to see us one last time. The last gesture of our love  in Christ for each other was to put our hands on the glass together and then walk the lonely terminal to the plane.  There really aren't any words for the love we were shown on this whole trip.

I wanted to share something I found interesting about this week.  The whole time we were there we kept hearing or seeing the word pearl.  It was on the back of buses and even in our conversation with the Governor of Mbarara.  I mentioned to the Governor that I felt impressed by the Lord that Uganda was the heart of Africa and the people were precious like jewels.  He replied with a sparkle in his eyes, "Winston Churchhill himself referred to Uganda as the Black Pearl"!  As I read my Bible now I see these people all over its pages because of their love and suffering for the Lord.  Matthew 13:45-46 says:  " Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls.  When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!"  Pearls are made in the oyster shell when a tiny piece of sand gets trapped in the shell and the animal secretes a substance to cover the sand that is causing its irritation and suffering.  Suffering produces something beautiful and valuable! Our family got a big surprise for our Spring Break - we spent the whole time in a Tiffany's store of fine pearls!  These people are extremely valuable.  

Jesus will always wear pearls.  

I pray we will always say "Yes Lord" so we can enter those pearly gates with our heads up.

Much love to you all,


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Friday March 14

Well, today was embassy day.  We were set to obtain some documents from the MKBI Uganda country manager but she was in Rwanda with the UN on a project. So we set off for the American Embassy destined to stand for our brother in Christ.  

We arrived at the American Embassy.  Quite impressive structure.  Fort Knox type security for sure.  We had no appointment but managed to get an appointment to talk to the counselor manager .   Emmy and Sarah had to wait outside on a bench.  We had his information, passport plus his stamped letter from the minister/ governor of Mbarara district.  When we arrived at the interview area we were sent to a small room with thick glass.  It felt like we trying to make a withdrawal from the bank.  Except all we were asking for was to borrow one of Uganda's best sons for a few weeks.  I could tell from the body language that the manager was being very defensive.  He basically said each case is based primary and almost exclusively on the individual merits of the applicant.  They have to show there is no intent to immigrate.  We shared our frustration in the past and the fact that the previous officers didn't even look at what Emmy had brought to show them. The manager said they dont look at land titles (since most are disputed in Uganda) or marriage papers or letters of reference too closely.  We asked him what they do look at?  He refused to say but then could tell we were disappointed with no information and he said they look at his job,  his income (for Emmy it is $120 USD a month), and travel history.
They want to see stability to his finances by looking at his bank statements for 3 months.  The cost of applying has gone up to $131 .  Amazing......more than your months salary and you dont even know if they will fairly consider your application.   He said letters of reference help but he has seen many from the Vice President of the US that have been denied.  The manager  was holding his ground and being firm but i think we pulled out some helpful information.  There just was no way we were going to get anything done without an application, an appointment, and all the requirements fulfilled.  We didnt fail really because we didn't really formally try. I am sure we would have so i am glad we didn't apply today.So we left the room and went to talk to EMmy.  He was so anxious to hear as you can imagine.  He took it extremely well.  He said,  "this must be the Lord's timing."  I wish i could respond like this to things i am praying for hard.  Emmy then  said something  even more profound:  "even if i am not coming to America right away,  I know that my story is going to be told and for that i am so very grateful. " We have work to do for a voice for so many.   

Anyway,  we all left the embassy grounds and headed to town. We started to do a little shopping.  First though we would have to negociate the roads of Kampala.  Not an easy task.  A city of 4 million with about 4 traffic lights.  Lots of police around but they seem to just stand around and blow their whistle because i think they can.  Next we went to look at a few car dealers.  Well you see here in Kampala there arent any new cars,  just old ones.  Emmy desparately needs a vehicle to minister to his school, orphanage and the many remote churches he travels to.   The vans like the one we have been driving come as a shell.  You walk up to the lot and they say....."dis is a is good."  Well the engine might be running or like the one we looked at it had no battery in it.  Its kinda like how can we strip everything of value off this van and then sell it like it is just the same.  I was starting to get the picture.  You get a car, but it is basically just an engine and a shell.  No seats or nothing inside.  They are 15 passenger vans but you dont get a chance to carry anybody yet.  You go get those somewhere else. Amazing.  Well that was enough for me.  We went back to the hotel and then took off for some Chinese food nearby.  Sarah stayed and rested.  It was us 4 and Emmy and "the playmaker".  This was a very nice resturant.  I could tell our guests were a bit uncomfortable.  They were given a hot wash cloth prior to the meal and both of them were a little unsure of what to do with it.  Often they are using their hands much like the other Ugandans.  This would be a new experience.   They had never been to a chinese resturant. Better yet, they haven't been to hardly any resturants ever.  They both felt more at ease holding the live chicken than flipping through a huge menu of choices.  We had a nice time and watched as our guests enjoyed playing with the lazy susan.  I told them leave it up for us Americans to find a way not to have to expend some energy. 

Next we did some other shopping. Walking around town on the most crowded of sidewalks as the only white people and seeing hardly any other childen  is quite the event.  We got a stare from EVERYONE who saw us. They would look at us and then follow us with there eyes like what in the world are you doing here.  You might describe it like this:  we were swimming upstream.  We were a blue Dora fish and all the striking beautiful nemos were going the the other way.  Its something my family shall never forget. 

 When you purchase something of decent size in the city, it comes complete with a Ugandan to carry it from the store to your hotel on his head.  Its a different world for sure. We went back to the hotel and rested but Emmy wanted to find the two small items i had been unable to find.  His servant heart went walking deep into the city to find a videotape for my camcorder while i sat down.  I could tell he was not going to let me go.  He has been such the perfect host. 

Next up was dinner. We decided to follow Dov's recommendation and do an italian resturant near the international part of town where many of the embassies were located.  It was a very nice place.  No one was hardly there so it was a good chance to talk.  We all shared what a special time this has been.  Emmy at one point got up and walked in the nearest restroom to us which was the female restroom.  There was no label, just the sign with the stick person in a dress.  I am not sure if he has ever seen that sign before.  What we were to find out next really made us cry.  We are setting there cramming bread in our mouths with this lovely special butter and Sarah starts talking about the orphans.  The orphans  had  fasted for THREE days prior to our arrival!!!!!    She said that they had mobilized themselves and had done it without her involvement.   Note to self........that is unbelievable.  Someone with hardly any provision would fast for me.  Its probably the most powerful thing we have heard all week.  I dont know what else to say except...........i am blessed to know these kids.  

We got back  to the hotel and knew this was our last night.  We went up to our room and prayed  together, just EMmy , Sarah, Monica and I. It was deep and heart felt.  Monica shared 2 Cor 6: 3-9.  Its basically Emmy summarized in one paragraph.  "We put no stumbling block  in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance, in troubles, in hardships and distresses; in beatings , imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepness nights and hunger; in purtiy , understanding, patience and kindness;  in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left ; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report: genuine yet regarded as imposters;  known yet regarded as unknown; dying yet we live on; beaten yet not killed; sorrowful yet always rejoicing; poor yet making many rich; having nothing yet possessing everything.  We were all crying at the end as you can imagine. Emmy's being the loudest........There was nothing else to say.  Except he tried.  He said "we have nothing to give you"..........I said "you have everything to give me as friend. " It was and is the only thing we seem to never have enough of ......true meaningful deep friendships.  We have found one.............and of course its on the other side of the world.  Oceans may divide us but nothing can separate the love that was felt in that room that night.

Finally it was nearing midnight.  I heard the Lord tell me i need to tape Emmy's stories for all of you so you could see and hear with your own ears this man's testimony.  We got the camcorder and pushed start and 1 hour later........we were out of disk space.  I shall not share what he said but i will give any of you who are interested an opportunity to hear every word very soon.  All i can tell you it was AWESOME.  The edit button was never touched.  It was completely one take of a man sharing his heart.  Oh what a story. 

As you can tell by this time we have made it to London.  We are here but i think we left our hearts in the Ugandan villages.  It shall be a good few days together,  but it wont be the same. 

My girls are all asleep.  I am anxiously awaiting my first real shower in a week. 

Scrub a dub,


Friday, March 14, 2008

Thursday March 13

One more note on yesterday evening's meal.  It was the first meal ever at a real hotel resturant for Emmy's 3 youngest children.  Oh my goodness are we blessed or what?

We packed our bags and Emmy was to arrive at 8am.  One of our friends had told us about this "African time"  Basically 930am means 1120am.  We were starting to understand.  We said goodbye to our valet friend Milton.  I have just loved his voice and huge grin greeting us at our hotel at each re arrival.  He told us we must return.  We will.

We ran about 2 more last minute errands and then headed for the first church of the day.  Well, they were told we were going to leave around 930am.  Basically,  they had all gathered and we praising the Lord for hours before we showed up.  Our greeting was the typical royal welcome that seems to be the only way they know how to treat guests.  Monica and I each got to share a short message of about 30 minutes total and then we were greeted with some beautiful music. Bongo drums in tune with one or two ladies leading the worship.  Our favorites were the 2 year olds dancing with da rhythm.  Oh my goodness they were adorable.   We sat down and promised to return to this church when we could spend more time some day.  They passed an offering plate and i was reminded of the scripture about giving.  I would see these incredibly poorest of the poor walking up to the basket and dumping their coin shillings in the basket, while i gave some folded money from our family. Yet, the Lord could see their hearts.  Their offering was so much more of a gift than ours.   I need to be  constantly reminded that everything we have is "all His."  MARK 12 :41-44. What i was next to witness was something we couldn't imagine. The pastor's wife walked over with a pineapple, holding it high in the air as a gift to our family. Next she went back and brought a watermelon.  We couldn't believe their generosity.  These gifts could feed many in their village.  We thought she was through but then couldn't believe our eyes. They presented the Barret family with a live chicken with his feet tied together.  We were so gracious,  at least most of us.  Our youngest, Libby, was terrified.  "No daddy,  we can't keep that.  I don't want that.  "  I said you eat chicken nearly every  day.  ChickFilA is a staple of your diet.  Well,  we surely couldn't say no so the chicken was placed in the back of the van by itself with a few eggs they had also given.  Needless to say,  Libby was now in the front seat with her feet raised high.   Aint no chicken gonna peck her.  After warmly greeting the church members and taking many picutres we were off with the pastor.  We were taking him with us to Kampala.  After waiting for the herd of longhorns to step aside on the road we were off again.  
We traveled about 20minutes to the second church.  This was a very humble structure.  In fact it had totally collapsed as termites had eating through all the wood structures.  I remember this church well because every concrete window was filled with carmel faces each gazing in to the church to hear the words we were speaking.  They have such "ears to hear."   I wish we in America were so eager to hear the Word.  One other thing was striking.  There were probably 100 people in and peering in to the church.   We counted just 3 men in the audience.  Monica took an ample opportunity to pray for the "men " of the church.  It was a terrific prayer.  We took some more photos and i promised to return to this church at every trip i make since we only got to spend minutes while the people had waited for hours.  They erupted in praise and thanksgiving that such a promise would be given.  I told them that as i find ways to praise your head pastor that they would see blessings flow down to them.   We packed up and found a box to keep the chicken so Emmy and the "playmaker" could pick it up on their return through the village.  

Next we traveled through some ran.  It made it harder to spot the potholes.   The van was doing well until all of a sudden we heard a sound like someone threw a wrench at it and it rattled around and something fell off.  We pulled over and couldn't find anything wrong.   We got back on the road and the same thing happened again.  We were hours from Kampala but nearly close to another small town.  The Lord was about to provide again.  Something was definitely wrong.  I started to look for a mechanic shop but of course dont' have a trained eye for any of that. The "playmaker" cooly motions over to a young man on the street.  They talk for a moment and then we do a U turn and intstantly we are in business.  Two Ugandans under the engine diagnosing the problem.   They removed the tire and noted the missing of two bolts which is what we lost.  What an answer to prayer.  In the meantime we became quite the local attraction. A cluster of young children were talking and smiling and waving across the street for the entire 30 minutes we were there.  One of the 8 year old aged boys came right over to us.  Of course he was riding a bike built for a 6 foot adult but he was managing. (Bikes only come in one size over here so if you want to ride you ride early.  Also ,  you can fit an entire bed of wood sideways as you travel kinda monopolizing the space that everyone else needs as well.) MOnica gave him some candy and his response was quite amazing. He love it.  Almost like some of the village boys on the safari as they would just grab a piece of sugar cane and start gnawing on it. 
The boys had fixed our van and we were so thankful. They handed a bill to Emmy.  10000 shillings.....the equivalent of $6.  My heart was heavy again for the such hard work and quickness in which the job was done.  I found them in the shop and gave them another appreciation gift which is the very least i could have done.  Their response was priceless. A heartfelt thank you , a bow, and an ear to ear smile.  Oh how the Lord has given us such grace. 
I cant begin to tell you how isolated and set apart you feel as the only white man you see for nearly all day.  The stares and double takes are routine.  But it is way over compensated by the true love of these people.  These people of God sure know how to greet others. 

Next we were back on the road again.  Headed for the capital, Kampala.  We were only 3-4 hours behind schedule but that is good for African time.  Emmy said we must pull over.  There were some wild zeeeeebra. We got a few shots and packed back in the van.  We stopped again and i wondered where we were.  At the equator of course.  So we stopped there for some action photos and then made it to the crazy inner city of Kampala.  Cars everywhere.  If you don't like your lane just make your own.  We were approaching only the second traffic light we had seen all week (and it was the same one!!)   Oh the smog of the motorbikes, buses and poorly tuned cars.   Ever picked a black booger........well come to Kampala and you shall have the chance.  People, cars, stores, congestion everywhere.   We finally made it to the city hotel, checked in and went to dinner with Emmy and Sarah.  It was a great opportunity to talk  the 4 of us.  Nearly the first we had had all week to do so.

We went to bed finally after some embassy strategy.

We were wiped.  It was the beginning of our reentry back from the village.  We all sensed a distance from the land we had grown to love so quickly.   We were 5 hours away but it could have been 50.  It just seemed like what we had just experienced through the grace of God was so incredibly special.  

I hope the pictures would tell more of the story.

More later tonight,


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12

Well, the day started with my 3 girls sleeping in for a much needed rest after some good work the day before. I woke up early and headed to town with Emmy and our driver Emmy (who by the way seems to be a body double for "the playmaker" Michael Irvin). He needs to be a playmaker to navigate the heavy street congestion, banana bike boys and the many pedestrians who come within inches of our vehicle. This man is very skilled at what he is doing, and we feel the Lord directing his path clearly.

Our first stop was the bank to open a new account for Pastor Emmy. You see here in Uganda pastors work for free. The Lord provides for them somehow someway. I have had a chance to be at Emmy's current house usually every evening, and it is quite a humble place. He has 4-5 rooms, a nice-sized living room with an old compaq huge computer in the corner. A large hole is next to that where he just sold his tv and vcr to feed the orphans last month. His house payment is $160 a month. Water is $25 and electricity (about 5 lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling) is $40. He feeds for $200 a month and keeps his 5 own children, his wife and about 14 more orphans - for a total of TWENTY ONE PEOPLE each month. All for around $500 a month. Wow ... I am astonished of how so little can take care of so many, and this would be upper-middle class for this country. He is quite the man ... I love watching the children come up to him in the city. They walk up, wait patiently for him to stop talking to me, and then almost bow in reverence to their pastor. He seems to know everyone by name, too.

So back to the city. We left the bank and went searching for soccer balls. We found two, and he said the orphans would love them. Then, we went to find some special snacks for the orphans. They would each get a small bag of treats (kinda an African treat) and a thing of juice. We got one for each of the 110 for just around 50 cents. Emmy said this would be quite the treat. They never get this. Just pouridge in the morning and some makobe, rice and beans for lunch and dinner.

Next, we went by the minister's office, but he was still busy. Who I thought was the governor was actually the state director of their equivalent of the CIA. Yikes. His office was in a very modest building, dusty concrete hallway. We were going to have to come back. The real governor was down the hall, but he was going to try to meet with us later.

We left for the orphanage bearing juice, crackers, and two brand new soccer balls. My heart sunk when I saw the rolled-up ball of tape they had been using so well. Our van soon arrived with the entire 110 greeing us like a ray of sunshine and sense of hope coming to Gilligan's Island. We told them that the Lord had told us we must return to bless their precious hearts. The Lord loves them, and we were only just beginning to help them. We would bring their story to many of our friends and family, and with our pictures and Emmy's arrival this summer after obtaining a visa, we would see the Lord continue this mighty work. The children carried the big boxes of juice and crackers in to the newly-constructed classroom buildings. Many of us had more elaborate childhood forts than these structures. These children don't know any different and have quite the pride of what the Lord is providing. Next we prayed and thanked Him and passed them out. Monica, Bailey, Libby and I passed them out. What a treat. Their genuine smiles were priceless. Many responded with their best English "thank you." Many of them just held them ... after a while, I began to observe that many had never even seen a cup of juice with a thin aluminum lid. They didn't even know how to open them!! Oh my goodness, I nearly lost it then. We went back around and helped them. They were holding it like the precious "cup of cold water" that is was. They didn't want to lose one drop. Oh Lord ... my cup so runneth over ... Thank you for blessing me so. We walked away from that experience feeling as if we were so poured into, I can't begin to tell you what it feels like. There is no better feeling in the world. I don't think I have had this much joy ever in my life. When you see the pictures, I will let you be the judge.

Next we went to bless the teachers and support staff. We prayed for all eight of the teachers and thanked them for their faithful dedication to this school. The Lord, in addition, provided a blessing for the two male and two female dorm leaders, the water boy (down to the river), the assistant cook and main cook. I shall post a picture of each and describe them all soon. One in particular, Elusam, is the main cook. He cooks for all of the 110. Then, he stays up all night protecting them all. He sleeps very little. We brought him two flashlights and gave a special blessing for everything he does. I can't imagine working so hard EVERY DAY ALL DAY AND NIGHT.

Next, we went back to the orphans and showed them the soccer balls. It was the LOUDEST OVATION of the entire week. They erupted with joy. The recreation teachers, Emmy and Bonny, were ear to ear ivory grinning. I think mine may have been bigger. What a thrill to see them so overjoyed with just two balls. There is precious little ground to play but we found a way to juggle with it and kick it around. I am even more determined to get more of these there soon.

We posed for some pictures and were trying to soak up our last few minutes with these precious children of God. We are so determined to return, and we haven't even left!!!

Next we went back to the minister's ofice. There, we were able to meet with John, who I thought was the governor. He went on explain all about his job as head of the CIA for the area. "We look for bad guys and keep this place safe" is basically his message. However, he continued to say how his government loved the Lord. What a blessing. Next, we waited outside for the real governor. He was very busy. Many important men were walking in and out of his office. Most of them were carrying their own security with large automatic weapons. ;o)

Monica had made friends with all of them, with a few life-savers. We were sitting there across from a park, and I asked Emmy what it was. He said it was a golf course. I asked him if he had ever played, and of course he said that he hadn't. I asked him next if he knew who Tiger Woods was ... he said no. What about Disneyworld? Nope. No concept. No clue. What a fantasy land of lifting up those who we think are heroes and thinking Disney is the ultimate trip. I have taken my girls there and have no problem with it ... it just seems a little over-emphasized ... way much so. Finding true joy is hard these days, but I can tell you that I have never taken a trip like this and felt more joy, more love for God's people and more confirmation that he has my family right where he wants us to be. I will soon be headed back to Tyler, but part of my heart will remain with my new friend, his school of orphans and his precious churches praising the Lord out in the African bush.

Finally, we were called to speak to the governor. He met us graciously and agreed to support Emmy on his travels. We wrote a letter, and he stamped it with his official seal. Amazing! What an answer to prayer. Next is up the embassy early in the morning Friday and a meeting with the MBKI lawyer that afternoon.

We returned to the hotel and treated Emmy's family to a meal. It was eating high on the hog for them . I wish you could have seen their kitchen in their home. THEY LOVED this meal. With their plates piled high, they enjoyed every morsel. Imagine eating a meal that cost half your dad's salary for the month. What a treat it was just to watch.

Emmy kept thanking us and the Lord. He said he feels like he is dreaming ... so am I.

Better go,

Thanks for praying for us. Pray for safe travel and good decisions from the "playmaker" behind the wheel.

Psalm 72