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Laid Back Day in Africa…Saturday

What a good day. Very simple. AFter yesterday I needed a mental and emotional break. Today we went back to True Vine Ministry and visitied some of the same kids as we did on Wednesday. I guess we did more than just visit. We played basketball with the kids, the ladies in the group let the girls braid their hair, other guys in the group played soccer and volleyball. Today was just a relational day.

I had a chance to run downtown Torroro and purchased some soccer balls and basketballs to give to the ministry and school we visited. I took a motorcylce ride back. I went with a group of about 8 and we most definately stand out. We where the only white people in town. The Africans call us MUZUNGO…which means White and rich. Its not meant as a slam, just slang. Kinda like Gringo in the Mexican world. So as all 8 of us rode back on separate motorcyles and our drivers all lined up in a single file line people shouted Muzungo Train!

I have never met such a freindly and kind group of people. They actually see it as improper to not greet one another with a “Hello, How are you?” Everybody smiles. Its so refreshing. I think we Americans could work on this a bit. We have a tendency to be so independant and nervous around each other we’ve lost the art of friendliness. I want to challenge you for the rest of the day to say hello and smile to every person you make eye contact with.

One other quick story that is just fun and differnet and it proves that God is the creator of all things and He made everything very similar. So here’s the story. Just outside the front of our hotel is one giant tree that has a whole bunch of yellow birds. You know the kind you see only in cages in America. They are called Yellow Weavers. Beautiful bird. They are all making these round nests. Its seems like you could count 50 or so nests being woven together in this tree. The nests are round and about the size of a large Grapefruit. These Yellow Weavers hang upside down from the bottom of the nest and weave them together. In fact I found out that males are the ones who do all the work weaving these nests. You can watch these passionate men working away trying to make thier womans home just right and see all the energy and effort it takes. They leave a hole in the bottom of the nest and the birds enter the nest by flying up into it and then there is a flat inside the nest that they grab and rest and lay eggs in. Well after all the hard work of making the nest you can watch the male stop his work and sit on a branch close to the nest and he is chirping away with great pride at all his hard work. What happens next is amazing. The female then flies up into the bottom of the nest. She seems to remain inside for about 30 seconds to maybe a minute. If she approves of the nest, she flies out and then lands next to her male mate/husband and they chirp in agreement. If she doesn’t approve of the nest she flies out and lands just at where the Male Yellow weaver attached the nest with a braided string and she snips that string with her beak and the nest falls to the ground and is destroyed. The male looks at his work as it falls…seems to take a sigh…shake his head and then starts all over. Typical Wife….moving the furniture. God really did make all of creation very similar. You can tell there is only one great creative artist!!! LOL

Well, we’re back at the hotel. Its raining again. You can hear the rain coming down and you can actually hear monkeys running across the roof. Not sure what dinner is tonight, but I’m glad I get to blog a little early tonight and therefore get to bed earlier. .

Africa is outstanding. I hope you will plan on going someday. Traveling with Hope4Kids International makes it very simple.

I am so blessed to be here.
Thanks for reading.
I’ll update tomorrow. I’m going to an African Church service tomorrow…I have heard they can go on for many hours.
Gather with your church family tomorrow and celebrate how much God loves you. Don’t just go and attend a show…really give thanks to God. Bring your tithes and offering with you and sing out with all your love for God and take great notes as your preacher shares the Word of God. Then Go out and Be The Church!
The Hope of the World is the power of God working through your hands and feet and heart. Gather with people you love, enjoy the community of it all and keep being the Church! It really is the only hope our world has that lasts.

Love ya…

Oh My God! (Friday in Africa)

You read the title right for this blog and for my experience today. And, no its not said in a blaspemous way. Its the only expression I can respond with after seeing Africa’s children and people in the conditions they are in.

I awoke this morning a half hour prior to my alarm clock going off due to some rooster outside my hotel room crowing at the top of his lungs that this is going to be a great day in Africa!

We gathered for breakfast and I am thankful that we had bacon for the protien instead of the kidneys of some mammal like we had our first morning. I do think the kidneys belonged to monkeys…but I’m not positive. They tasted like liver. So…the bacon was great…scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, potatoes and chipata (thnk thick tortilla).

We gathered for our first all team meeting. There are about 60 people from all over the nation gathered here through the leadership of Hope 4 Kids International. People from Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, California. They are of all ages and everyone of them very wonderful people. This meeting just gave us our options and game plan for the day ahead. Some do’s and don’t do’s when it comes to mixing with the African people. We prayed and we prepared for a great day.

As we loaded the bus…and headed to the first African School in Jubba, Uganda…I was not prepared for the mix of emotions that I would experence. As I type this I can’t help but tear up and get that feeling in my chest that makes me want to literally weep and at the same time be so proud of a people who have so much faith in God and joy for life. I have emtions of anger at the lack of effort from way too many Christians around the world but especially in America.

I wish I could post pictures on this blog, but due to something in Africa I can’t on this blogsight…but I can on my Facebook page. I will send some pictures to my wife via email and she hopefully will post them on our Facebook page. TrentandKelliRenner.

When we arrived at this first school, kids come running at and after the bus screaming and yelling for joy. It is quite a sight to see. There is something about their beautiful dark skin in contrast with their bright white smile and white’s of their eyes that makes them glow and you can’t help but get down and hug them as they mob you and touch you and hold your hands and look up at you and smile. They are fascinated by the white skin and want to touch it. We have some people in our group who have a lot of freckles and the kids where so experimenting to see if the freckles would wipe off. The kids immediately gathered in a room and sang some songs and danced with joy in front of us. I was so proud and moved to tears by their exceptional talent and passion for singing about thier love for Uganda and for God and how they want to grow up and be responsible and successful. All the teachers at the school looked so worn out, but yet had such a great joy in telling us about what they teach and how they spend their days with so many kids and orphaned kids. I captured some video footage of their dancing and singing and will post it when I arrive back in Arizona so I can utilize the faster internet speed.
At this school, Hope 4 Kids International and the support it receives financially from people has created what is called The Chicken Project where hundreds of chickens are producing eggs and other chickens for income and the Ugandans we are supporting are working themselves toward self sufficiency. Everything is so nice and clean even though its among dirt and mud. We had to spray our shoes before we entered the dirt pen with sanitizer so we didn’t carry germs into the chicken pens and huts that could wipe out the whole flock.

We said our goodbyes with this group and it is so very difficult to leave these kids and get on the bus. They walk with you, holding your hands and grasping at you not to leave. They let go and stand there and just stare you in the eyes. Some smile and wave and some cry and some laugh and run to chase the bus for as far as they can keep up.

We then arrived at an orphanage called Smile Africa. This the place that messed me up emotionally. This orphanage is a property that has rescued children from abusive parents. We met babies that were left for dead in the streets. We met children who were thriving and well but would have been burned to death had someone not run into the burning hut…set on fire by an abusive father trying to kill his family. These children are all from one type or group of people in Africa that are considered outcasts. I don’t know how to spell the name of this group of people, so I am spelling it like their name is pronounced. The Karomojung People. They are rejected by others. But Christ accepts all people and it is such a joy to see hundreds of these kids without their parents going to school, lining up for their one meal for the day and we got the pleasure to hand deliver the bowls of a very scientific mix of food that provides all the nutrients they need for the whole day. They eat this plastic bowl of food with what everybody calls Ugandan Chop Stix…aka…Their fingers. I will make sure I send a couple of pics that Kelli will post.

Many of these kids were walking around with very runny noses, no pants or even underwear, sitting in the dirt and have very rough lives as they push each other for food and treat each other in a very rough manner. The staff of Smile AFrica had so much love and patience for these kids…aged newborn to teens as they teach them education, politeness, and life skills. What I saw these kids going through just makes me scream that its not okay…its not right. I had to walk away multiple times to prevent myself from just weeping in front of everybody. As I type this I have had to stop and wipe tears multiple times. My life will never be the same after this trip. Please save the money and make this trip next year or as soon as you can. I think we are commanded by Jesus to go. Take your older kids with you…it is safe. The African people so love Americans.
As I handed each child their plate of food…a mix of rice, chicken flavoring, extra nutrients and vitamins the body needs, vegetables…I bent down and whispered to my self each time…”This is unto you Jesus.”

Jesus said when you “give a cup of cold water to the thirsty, food to the hungry and care for least of these….you do so to me.”

I physically looked into the face of Jesus today. I will never be the same. I will never experieince church worship services the same again.

We were done serving the Smile Africa Children at 2PM (5am AZ time) and we headed back to the hotel for a quick lunch. I had “Fish and Chips.” Pretty good. They serve you a glass bottle of Coca-Cola. What is it about those glass bottles that make it taste so good!?

AFter lunch we got back on the bus and headed to a Village that one family from America has sponsored. Through H4KI you can round up about 45,000 dollars and from fresh dirt build a fresh water well, school, Church, a house for the village pastor a medical clinic and many other cool things. Get your church to sponsor an entire village all on its own. Get together with as many families as needed to raise that kind of money and create a village town square with everything I just mentioned. It is so life changing for thousands of people. For 10,000 you can provide a fresh water well which would allow thousands of people to have fresh water and no longer walk miles to fill up jugs with polluted water that the whole family must drink to survive, but end up dying because of the water born diseases.

I could share so much more from just this one day.

The whole experience makes me fall to my knees and cry out, “Oh My God…What can I do to be more of your hands and feet.

So many people give up on God because they don’t understand how a loving God could allow such injustices and horrible conditions for people to live in. God doesn’t allow it. He provided the answer to the problem. Its you and me. When we do nothing to be a part of the solution to this problem. We are the ones who allow such injustices and horrible conditions for people to live in. God has provided us as Americans so much. We must become givers. All our support we give through specifically H4KI…is not used as a welfare program. It is used for training and equipping the African people to become self supporting and learn how to provide for themselves so they may prosper. To whom much is given much is required.

You are the answers to so many people’s prayers. People are praying to God right now asking for God to intervene in thier lives and pull them from such horrible situations. God created you and me to be the answer to their prayers.
Oh My God!

Thursday in Uganda!

What a day. It was still mostly a heavy travel day. We rode in a bus for more than 5 hours today. We had some cool stops along the way. We drove for about 2 hours before we arrived at what is known as the source of the Nile River. It is in the town of Jinja, Uganda. The Nile River is the only river that runs North. It starts in Uganda and runs up through Egypt…where Moses was placed in the Nile as a baby…and then pours into the Mediteranean Sea. The source is beautiful. I am deeply sorry that I can’t post pictures on the blog…it must have something to do with being in Africa. So I will try to email my wife some pictures and you can check them out via Facebook. If it matters to you to know little trivia facts…Ghandi had his ashes placed in the Nile river at the source in Jinja. The Nile is also the longest River in the world. Pretty cool to see the source. I have some pics of it. There is a little island they took us to in the middle of the Nile and when we got on the Island a sign reads we are not allowed to Urinate anywhere. I’ll post it on facebook.
After leaving the source we drove by bus for another couple of hours and we pulled alongside the road and about 50 Africans came running to the bus carrying Chicken on a stick and Chipata (think big, thick, tortillas!) and Goat on a stick and bottles of water and soda. I ate the Chicken on a stick and chipata and passed on the goat. It was good. The Chicken on a Stick tasted…well…like Chicken! It was thoroughly cooked and I didn’t have any stomach pains when I was finished. Lunch was served.
As we pulled back on the highway we drove about 20 more minutes before we were forced to pull over because of a group of baboons in the middle of the road. They are bigger than the pictures show. We threw them some bananas and leftover chicken on a stick and they ran right up to the bus and grabbed the food and looked up at us as if to say…”Man…Trent…thanks for the food…you are the man!” At least that’s what I think they said! So wierd to be in a place where monkeys roam like cats in America. They are everywhere…big and little ones. Pretty cool. I haven’t tried to pet one yet…I’m sure it’ll be interesting when I give it a shot! Hey…I may never get to Africa again…got to take some chances!
After our monkey escapades we drove for about another hour and arrived at our hotel where we will stay for most of the remainder of the trip. You can look the hotel up online. Its called The Rock Classic Hotel in Torroro, Uganda. Its not too bad a place. There is a huge African Thunderstorm rolling through and its raining so hard it has knocked the electricity out twice now. AFter we check into the hotel we loaded the bus again at about 5:30pm and drove just 15 minutes to the True Vine Ministry Property where hundreds of kids are supported by people in America through Hope 4 Kids International. What a beautiful property. CCV donated some money to build a church building that seats 2000 people at one time. I will be worshipping at this facility this Sunday. I hear the African worship music and energy would make Andy Sonsky’s worship look tame. (Its gonna be wild!) While at this ministry center the kids came running and they want to touch you and hold your hand. I had a young kid grab my hand and walked with me the whole time we took a tour of the place. When the tour was over I grabbed a basketball and played with the kids. Took my iPhone and captured a bunch of the kids on video and let them watch themselves in thier own little movies. Their laughter is contagious. Their energy is thrilling. My daughter Madison wants me to grab one of the kids and bring him/her home. My heart aches for these kids…but in reality they are very well taken care of. H4KI is doing an amazing work. There is such a huge need in Africa. I’m glad I’m here. The traveling is tough…but once here…you’ll never be the same. I hope you can make it some day. Well…that’s enough for today. I’m beat. I’m looking for my first full nights rest in 3 days.
By the way… It was pretty cool today…I skyped with my wife…Arizona to Africa. What a cool time we live in. Be joyful and thankful for the good you have in your life. Standing in Africa makes me pause and think about how good I/we got it!
Sweet Dreams.

Arrival in Uganda Africa!

We left PHX, AZ at 10 am on Monday and arrived in Entebbe Uganda at 10 PM on Tuesday. Crazy Air Miles. My first 10 hour flight I sat next to a 25 year old lady who was born in Israel. She was raised in a cult-like church. The exact name is escaping me right now but I believe its called Hebrew Israelites. They practice animal sacrifices and have some major legalistic rules they must follow. This explains why she left it all and moved to America and was traveling home to visit her 10 other siblings. She was very outgoing. Told me all about how to use Mushrooms as a drug, but she didn’t recommend it because… “It will make you trip out like you’ve never experienced!” She has no idea. I”ve barely drank an entire beer in my life. Once I told her I was a Pastor she got out of the mushroom discussion and opened up the Marijuana one! Really! She explained all the diffrent kinds of highs you can get, etc. Anyway…she actually asked me a lot of questions about Church and about Jesus and she said that her biggest fear about the Bible is that it could be just a big hoax that somebody wrote. We talked through it all. I asked her if she would really take a good look at who Jesus is in the near future and she said she would. I wish I could tell you that I had her praying to Jesus and we all stopped the plane to do her baptism, but that isn’t the case. She did ask if my family facebook page would friend her on facebook though. Maybe someday she’ll fully acknowledge Jesus as Lord of her life. She was intereseting to speak with and she made the 10 hour flight go a little bit quicker.
That flight took me to Amsterdam where I had to run to catch the 8 hour flight to Uganda. We arrived and I have just checked into the hotel with a group with Hope 4 Kids International. There are about 60 of us. Big mix of people. Young and old from all over the US. Im in my hotel room right now typing this. The room is about 15 feet long and 8 feet wide with a single bed in it. The bathroom is decent and I”ll have to duck to get in the shower. I have always heard the phrase… “You can cut the air with a knife.” I’ve experienced humidity before, but now I know what it means to cut the air with a knife! Wow. No AC in my room. The window is open and there is zero air moving. Going to be a long night. Not complaining. I’m actually excited. What a wierd and cool expereince. I intend to be the hands and feet of Jesus tomorrow as we head out to meet the people of Africa! That’s it for now. Just been traveling and now am going to try to get some sleep. The time here is 9 hours ahead of AZ time. My clock is reading 1:02 A.M. right now, which means its 4 in the afternoon in PHX. I’ll represent AZ well. Stay tuned! I can’t really communicate with my family, but I sure miss them. Don’t take your family for granted. We may all irritate each other but its good…my heart goes out to military families. I can’t imagine the fear they think about daily and how their heart aches to be together. That is one extremely large ocean between me and my family. Love you all!

My Trip To Africa!

I’m waiting at Sky Harbor Airport to head to Portland and then to Amsterdam and then to Entebbe Uganda! I have 20 plus hours of flying ahead of me. The lady behind the counter with Delta got me an exit seat to Portland and I pray for the same as I fly the 10 hour flight to Amsterdam.
I am excited about the trip. I am curious what set of emotions I will experience as I arrive in such a mysterious and mystical place. Will I be disgusted at the unjustifiable poverty I find in Africa? Will I be frustrated at what is a lack of gratefulness and thankfulness of the quality of life we have in America. I wish I could pack up the whole “Occupy whatever town” in America and drop them in a 3rd world country so they could learn to count their blessings instead of cry out with entitlement mentalities.

I am asking God on this trip to make it clear to me if I am to dedicate the rest of my life to missions work or if I am to step back into a Lead Pastor Role of the Church. When did we ever separate the words Missions and Church? What a travesty. They are the same thing!

Anyway…time to go check in and get “comfy” on the plane. I ask for your prayers that I may return home with an expanded mind and experience in life.

I am honored that you are reading this post and the future ones to come. You matter to me and I want the very best for your life. Stay tuned!