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Trent Renner’s 2015 Africa Trip. Post 4 of 4… What a day Monday!!

Oh, what a great day. ( I will post pics when I return home…the Wifi is painfully slow here.) 

I awoke to one of the most beautiful mornings I’ve ever had.  The weather was slightly overcast with no rain, but a cool 65 degrees.  Uganda is on the Equator and everything is so very green.  Palm trees pressed against mango and papaya trees.  Lush hedges, green grass.  You just really need to see it for yourself.  Sam was running late this morning so I simply grabbed a chair and took it just outside the small cafe/kitchen of the hotel…took my coffee with me and just soaked it all in.  It was a moment of refreshing and gratefulness. 

Sam arrived about 40 minutes later and we went inside and had some breakfast.  The way to explain the breakfast would be to simply call it a breakfast burrito.  Africa has their version of flatbread…but its thinner than flatbread.  Maybe it could be Africa’s version of a tortilla…but it thicker than a tortilla…its called chapati.  They have the most wonderful egg omelets….they cook them very thin.  Then they take the omelet and lay it on the chapati and roll it like an awesome breakfast burrito.  Africa is known for tea so there is plenty of it to drink.  It was nearly a perfect morning.  The only thing missing was you! 

When breakfast was finished we gathered up our daily items of water bottles and bags, mosquito repellent. (BTW…there are hardly any mosquitos this trip…it’s the rainy season and there seem to be very few.), a few snacks and we were off to the 15 minute drive to Sam’s School called, “Wings of Grace.” 

The children at the school were ready.  When I got out of the car you could hear the shrills of excitement and you could see the children waving their welcomes!  Today was a day of presentations and celebrations.  Dancing, singing, laughing, playing.  Pure Joy!  I was treated like a guest of honor.  So many children introducing themselves in front of the whole school.  Singing with great passion, loudness, rhythm, and spectacular African dancing.  These children know how to dance.  It is obvious that they feel the music when they dance!  You must come witness it with me. 

The presentation went on for an hour or two. The teachers of the school acted out a play that made all my smile muscles ache.  The children were given gifts from some left over Samaritan’s purse Christmas boxes and this really created a buzz of joy.  When the celebration was over, I was hugged and thanked for helping them have better lives.  It is quite an emotional experience.  The people of Bugiri Uganda are so grateful and they express it with purity back to God and anybody who has blessed their lives.

I climbed back into the car and it was time to go and visit some fresh water wells that we have been able to provide.  These visits are exciting to me.  It requires that we travel deeper into the African bush.  We get out of town and head into the equator of the earth.  It is beautiful.  So much untouched natural creation.  You see it like God created it and it is breathtaking.  And then you arrive to meet God’s favorite of all creation…his people.  Many of these people, out in the African bush, have not seen white people.  I scared many children! LOL.  It is quite an experience to be the only white person for miles and miles.  Even if they have seen a white person, it is rare and fascinating to them.  It is a strange experience.  These people of God’s creation are beautiful and expressive…and in great desperation of the very things we in America take for granted.  Clean water.  There is much food in Uganda.  My trip this time brought me right into the middle of mango season.  They  are EVERYWHERE.  The ground is littered with mangos.  It is a time of joy for the kids.  As we drive down the roads…more like cattle trails instead of roads…you can see little village mud huts and outside are children climbing the mango trees or a group of them standing under a mango tree with a long stick trying to knock off the fresh mango fruit about to fall.  When you greet the children this time of year and shake their hands…they are very sticky from the sugar of mangos.  Its not gross…its funny.  Nothing a little wash of the hands from the new fresh water borehole won’t take care of! 

The boreholes…aka…fresh water wells that are hand pumped…provide the cleanest freshest water you’ve seen.  We visited one in a village called Sanika that was drilled in the shade of some huge trees…some of them mango trees.  It seemed the water came out ice cold and as clear as I’ve ever seen it.  Prior to receiving this borehole the people would have to walk about 2 miles, one direction, to carry water back from a diseased water hole.  This water hole is at the low point of the area, so all the rainwater running off the land and picking up animal feces and dead animal carcass disease with it.  Then the people have no choice but to drink it.  It is their only option.  Until you came into the picture.  Thank you for teaming with me and Return Hope.  We are providing fresh water wells to people who have never had fresh water in their lives. 

When the well begins to pump…and the people begin to drink the fresh water.  I am convinced you can witness them getting healthier already.  Fresh water wells changes the life of someone immediately.  Their kidneys and liver begin to function properly because they are loaded down with water born diseased and bacteria.  Skin diseases go away.  Nobody should have to drink dirty water in the 21 century.  Thank you.

We are in process of actually drilling 7 fresh water holes as you are reading this.  Each borehole can easily serve 10,000 people.  That is a lot of changed lives.  That is a lot of thankfulness.  You can imagine my day as we traveled and visited these fresh water wells.  The people knew we were coming and they were excited.  The came bearing gifts of nuts, mangos, chickens.  We had to accept their gifts.  Our trunk of the car was full.  We simply take the gifts back to the school children in town.  It is a win/win for everybody.  We were in some very poor villages or we would have probably had several goats given to us as well. 

One of the wells we drilled recently…had a problem and dried up.  We don’t know why.  But, we promise the people that Return Hope will never leave something that goes wrong undone.  You and I both know that things can go wrong.  So…it was exciting for me to show up and tell the people who’s well had gone dry that the drilling rigs would be following behind the new water surveyors and that a new well would be drilled within the next 14 days.  It feels good to prove our integrity.  I’m almost grateful for the well drying up, because it gave me a chance to prove I’m a man of my word.  The people were so grateful.  Imagine how concerned they must have felt after having fresh water for 6 months and then seeing the well literally go dry.  I imagine the people felt deep desperation thinking they would have to return to the diseased water source.   Again…it didn’t take long for us to solve the problem.  We found out the drilling company we were using…didn’t actually survey that specific water well location.  The locals told us they never brought out a surveyor like they usually do, or what is professionally called a geophysical surveyor equipment that identifies where great underwater sources are.  So…we fired that company and interviewed  a new one and we are convinced this one will not try to cheat us.  Time tells all things!  We are able to fix any problems with the wells without any extra costs to the donor who gave the money for the well to be drilled.  God is good….he provides, if you trust Him!

Return Hope charges 7000.00 US dollars for a fresh water borehole.  You can’t beat that price…and I promise you we do it with the best materials for drilling and pumping.  The water wells and the land are given as a gift to the community.  Nobody but God owns that water well and the people respect it and desperately need it.  I’ll post pictures when I return. 

That is what we did the rest of the day.  It began to get dark and the rain clouds were looking pretty dark and were approaching.  As the sun was setting I got to ride in the car back out of the African bush and into town.  Again…Uganda isn’t nicknamed “The Pearl of Africa” for no reason.  You must see it with your own eyes. 

I’m considering a short trip in October.  I think I can get us all back here for about 5 days on the ground for a very good price.  Do you think you could scramble raising some funds and join me?  October is one of the cheapest times to fly to Africa.  That is the biggest expense.  I don’t bring people to Africa to make money.  I do all I can to break even on the costs.  I promise you we will do a quick mission trip at the cheapest price I can get you.  You must come with me.  You’ll never be the same. 

I’m preparing to leave Africa today.  I have a 3 hour drive back into the city of 5 million.  Kampala Africa.  My plane doesn’t leave until 11:30 pm.  I think I have just finally adjusted to the 10 hour time change…but with only 3 days on the ground…it’s time to be thrown off my time clock again.  It can be a pretty brutal flight.  I won’t lie to you.  But it’s worth it. 

I love you and I’m grateful you have read along this journey with me.  Thank you for investing in Return Hope, financially.  If you are not doing so, would you please consider it? 

Jesus did so much for each of us.  We must return the love in anyway we can.  I can’t think of a better place or a better people, or a better need than those of Uganda. 

If you have questions please just contact me. 

trent@returnhope.com

The emails come directly to me.  I will personally answer them quickly. 

See you back on USA soil soon. 

Travel with me to Africa soil soon!

Trent


Trent Renner’s 2015 Africa Trip (Post 3 of 4…Sunday)

As in the previous 2 posts…the WiFi is still bad in Africa…so please know that I will post pictures when I return to the USA.

My time clock is all messed up.  I keep waking up at 5 am.  But, it gives me time to type out my blog post of the experiences I am having on this short venture.  Thank you for taking the time to read it.  I pray it inspires you to grow deeper and more committed to Jesus and all that He asks us to do.

As I rolled off of the thin foam mattress bed with a mosquito net hanging over it…it was time to do one of the hardest things for me to do on this trip.  It causes me great pain.  I had to take a shower and the electricity has been off for several hours.  The water is freezing!  I’m sure the other rooms could hear the gasps and laughs as I tortured myself with a cold shower.  (Suffering for Jesus, right?! LOL)  But at least I smell good again!

I didn’t bring dress clothes for Church services on this trip.  I have a pair of jeans and a Joy Christian School polo shirt that I sometimes teach my Bible classes in.  Wow…the people of Africa love to dress up for Church.  The colors of the rainbow are nothing compared to the women of Africa in their cultural dresses.  The men get on their very best suits and ties that they have.  I am astonished every time I see the bright white dress shirts on the dark skinned men coming out of the mud hut homes.  I don’t know how they keep so clean…they are very impressive and handsome.

I think the Ugandan people are some of the most beautiful people on the planet.  They have the darkest skin I’ve seen and contrast their super white smiles and it is magical.  Another thing that I notice is how straight the teeth are of the natives here.  On a past trip, I was able to travel with a dentist and she told me that the African people from childhood eat a very hard food plan.  Corn, very tough meat, the children are constantly chewing on sugar cane.  The dentist told me, that hard foods force the teeth into alignment.  Seeing is believing on this one.  I’m jealous of how white and how straight the teeth are for the African man and woman.   Maybe I’ll get Sam to open his mouth and I’ll take a picture so you can witness it for yourself. (that will make him laugh his contagious and unique high pitched laugh!) Better yet, come with me someday and see for yourself! 

The drive to church was only 20 minutes.  Sam, our director has started a Church out of his school facility of mud and sticks.  There were about 100 people in attendance…the men, women and children all sitting/standing together.  The children are very patient through the very long service.  They sing passionate music.  this church group can’t afford instruments yet…but one can’t tell as the voices of the people are so passionate and many melodies are sung, stomping and dancing to the rhythm they create together.  An occasional African woman will send out her high pitched shrill of joy…“lalalalalalalalalalalalal!”

They asked me to speak.  I told them that the older I get, I’m becoming a man of fewer words.  They actually enjoy much preaching.  A typical Ugandan Church service can last for 4 or more hours.  I’m thankful today’s service was only 3 hours.  So…I didn’t preach for long.  I spoke for maybe 15 minutes.  I told the African people that after living in America I have determined that talk is cheap.  I asked them to witness how much I love them by my actions and how much Return Hope International is doing on behalf of Jesus to love and serve them.  Sam preached and then another pastor, named Reno preached as well.

 There are many elderly who haven’t learned english, so there is always a translator.  But, know, most Ugandans speak english.  They did more music, then preached some more.  People came forward to pray and confess their sins and many did.  I was privileged to lay my hands on those who came forward to pray for them and help them understand how much their repentance causes Jesus to forgive them.  There were times the service just broke out in prayer…the whole room lifting their voices to God in prayer.  A man in wheelchair who is struggling with his health came forward and asked the whole church to pray for him.  We laid hands on him and he cried as we prayed for him.  The children watched and engaged the whole time.  More music, more preaching.  3 hours of love, learning, celebration, and so much more.  I enjoyed it tremendously.  I was touched. 

After the service we stood around and shook hands and gave hugs.  I grabbed my camera and used the opportunity to take some pictures.  I will post them when I return to America on Wednesday.  I haven’t shaved in weeks and the children were fascinated with my beard and hairy arms.  It is so thrilling to be amongst a group of people who are so loving and kind and curious.  I am curious about them too.  We learned about each other, from each other. 

It was approaching 2:30 and my stomach was growling, I asked Sam if we could head back to the hotel to grab some lunch.  He agreed.  Lunch was rice and beans, a chicken leg boiled in some fantastic broth, a mix of g-nut paste…(kind of like purple peanut butter), a great banana type mix that has the texture of mashed potatoes and the African staple called porsha…a corn mix…also in the texture of mashed potatoes.  To drink I had an ice cold glass bottle of coca-cola!  Who doesn’t love that?! 🙂

The rest of the day was dealing with the necessary evil I call business meetings.  Nothing to really post about.  When Sam and the RHI Ugandan team live 10 hours worth of time zones away from me…even with the internet…it is a must that we have clarifying meetings.  We compared our account sheets, budgets, estimates.  Not fun…but vitally important.  I vow to use every dollar that you invest in Return Hope with deep integrity and transparency.  If you would like to know any details of the Return Hope budget, I will gladly share them with you.  That meeting started at about 3:30 and went until dark.  It was a good meeting.  I am overwhelmed with all the work we are doing.  I am so inspired by the quality of the facility we are building and how we will use it to train around 1000 students at a time…year after year, and I can’t wait to get home and get back to the work of asking for followers of Jesus to sacrifice and invest this crazy paper thing called money.  When you and I consider how blessed we are, we will be incredible givers.  Are you an incredible giver? 

It’s Sunday.  It was a good day.  I only have a day and half left before I must climb aboard another airliner and fly at 31,000 feet back home. 

I am blessed.  Supremely blessed…and at the same time I am haunted.  Haunted by the conditions that this sin cursed world has created for such wonderful people like Ugandans…and sometimes even the people in our neighborhoods in the USA.  Poverty is not always a money thing.  Return Hope International is not just about Uganda Africa.  I teach the Bible in the US.  I am a Bible teacher at a Christian School and would be grateful to fill the pulpit of your pastor if he/she needs a break.  Return Hope makes this all possible.  God is good. Let’s continue to conquer the entrapment of poverty all around the world.

Is there anything in your life that separating you from God and causing poverty in your life.  Poverty of marriage?  Poverty of physical fitness?  Poverty of friendships?  Poverty of spirituality? Poverty of finances?  Poverty of parenting?  Poverty of emotional health? 

Only Jesus is the answer.  He won’t miraculously make you rich in those areas of life.  It will require you to become a fully devoted follower of Him.  He has asked much from you and me…but not before giving His all for us. 

We can do more for Him.  Your obedience matters.  Narrow is the road that leads to heaven.  I love you too much to just make you feel good, if you are walking down the road to hell.  Please don’t be separated from God for eternity.  I think it would be cool to spend eternity with you.

I pray you will use the tool of Return Hope to grow in your relationship with Jesus and become more like Him. Return Hope is the work of Jesus and the Church. 

It was a good Sunday.  I pray someday you will experience a Sunday with me…here in Africa!

I have only one full day left in Africa before I return.  We are preparing to drill 6 fresh water wells for people in the African bush who have never had clean water to drink. Each well will provide fresh water for approx 10,000 people.  Talk about making a difference in the lives of people! Many of the locals have been told that there just isn’t any water underground.  Wait until we show them what Jesus can do!!  He can do anything!  I am going to visit some of the locations and people, and take some pictures.  I will post about it tomorrow.  A couple of the well locations are deep enough in the African bush that some of the people will have never seen a white man.

Stay tuned.


Trent Renner’s Uganda Africa Trip 2015…Post 2 (Saturday)

It’s a long read, but I pray the content is worth your time!…

I awakened to a beautiful morning in Africa’s rainy season.  I could hear the rain. I could hear a rooster crowing, and I could hear a resident across the street blaring old church hymn music.  I asked Sam what she was doing playing that music so loud on a Saturday morning, and he told me that she was preparing for Sunday.  The people here have a strong faith, and its foundation is built on the American TV preacher.  They believe in a prosperity message.  If you give you will be blessed financially…yet poverty is ruling their lives.  I think the Ugandan people would benefit in knowing more of the relational and  practical side of biblical understanding and not so much the style of understanding the Television preacher’s teach.   

I got up, organized my room, packed my bags, and headed down two flights of stairs to breakfast.  Eggs and sausage.  It was a small breakfast, but it was good.  I brought my coffee with me from Starbucks.  The micro ground kind you can simply add to hot water.  You would think that the Coffee in Uganda would be great, but it is not.  They serve instant coffee.  Somebody in Uganda could start a coffee business and be very successful.  Maybe Return Hope will get that started someday, with a local farmer.   

We got in the car and our driver took Sam and I to Bugiri, Uganda.  My second home.  We immediately stopped at the Return Hope Headquarters and office house.  Sam lives in this facility too.  I got to meet the team that Sam has put together.  The paid staff are 5 in number.  3 men and two women.  (I will show you a pic when I return home.)  They are a good team and they are very proud of the work they do.  I am more proud of them.  Return Hope International simply wouldn’t exist without them.  The house we rent for our headquarters is beautiful.  It is one of the nicest homes in Bugiri and it costs Return Hope 160 dollars a month to rent.  Outside the house is parked the Return Hope Dump Truck.  This truck is the main work horse in our school construction project going on.  Once we are done using the truck for construction, we will begin to daily rent it out and it will become an income source for the school.  Remember, RHI’s goal is get the people of Bugiri to be self sufficient not more reliant on Donors.  Generating income is our highest goal, other than getting people to honor the Lord. 

After some time at the house talking with the staff, we left and ventured to the School that Return Hope is building a new facility for.   The school was founded by our director, Oketch Sam.  Sam, 5 years ago, sold his personal property and bought a small parcel of land and began to teach the children who were too poor to go to school anywhere else. He named the school “Wings of Grace.” 3 years later, Sam and I crossed each other’s paths and God has us working together in a direction that is changing thousands of lives for Jesus.  I am so grateful to work with Sam.  He is strong and highly organized leader.  I am so impressed with him!

Last year, Return Hope flew Sam to America to speak at Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills.  Pastor Don Lawrence and CCFH committed to give a year end offering for us to build a new school facility.  That offering is what has set into motion a school facility that has all the government officials of Uganda paying visits to check it out.  You see, Sam started his school by first renting a small building right next to a busy road.  2 years into that facility the government officials told him his building was too close to the road and they feared a car veering off the road would endanger the lives of the school children.  Sam was forced to move onto his parcel of land he bought.  However, it was just land.  There were no facilities at all.  So, Sam asked me if we had some money to help him get started.  Return Hope at the time was just starting and we had very little money.  What we had, we sent.  Sam was able to buy tree poles for support walls and then used mud to fill in the gaps of the walls and bought sheets of corrugated tin to use as roof material.  Every time it rained, the kids would have to rebuild and repair the mud walls for them to be able to have any kind of a facility.  The mud would dry and crack and snakes would live in the cracks of the walls.  But the students progressed and were grateful for a chance to earn a good education.  One year later…

Enter Christ Church of Fountain Hills!  Their year-end offering allowed us to dream big about a school facility that could change this whole town of Bugiri.  By this time Return Hope was also having some success in getting others to invest in the Jesus work we are doing.  The building that Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills invested in, began.  The year end offering was committed to build the foundation and first floor of a building that will soon be 6 stories tall.  It will be seen from up to 2 or 3 miles away.  It will be able to enroll approximately 1000 children.  Children who have never been able to access education before…Christian Education!  As I arrived on the property, and toured the, almost completed foundation, and first floor, I was in awe.  When this building is finished it is going to be a monument to the impossible work that Jesus can make possible.  Sam was laughed at by many local officials when he arrived at the city government building and told them what he was going to build.  They told him that men like himself can’t build buildings like this. They told him he is too poor and not an important enough man.  The first engineer that Sam tried to hire, to draw the blueprints, laughed at Sam and walked off and told him that he would only embarrass himself trying to build such a great facility.  Sam hired a different guy.  This engineer’s name is Paul.  He is very smart and took great pride showing me the blueprints and touring the construction work in progress.  Nobody is laughing anymore!

I am inspired by this building.  I never dreamed Return Hope would accomplish something so impactful, so quickly.  This building has caught so much attention that Ugandan Government officials are coming by to witness it.  It is being built with the best quality materials we can find in Uganda.  In fact, we couldn’t find the quality of cement in Uganda we needed, that is worthy of putting Jesus’s name on the building, so we purchased it from Kenya. 

I am so grateful for Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills because their foundation work is exactly that.  Most of their money went to lay the foundation and first floor of a building that has the strength to carry 5 floors above it!  The foundation had to be dug down deep, with giant footers.  The soil we dug through to lay this foundation, was not soil, but rock that had to be pick axed through.  This building is meant to stand for decades if not a century!  That is what Jesus and the Children of Uganda deserve.  In this small town, this new School with 6 total potential stories, will be considered a High Rise or skyscraper!  It is a monument to Jesus making possible, the impossible.

I imagine a future Ugandan President coming out of this school someday.  How about a future Olympic Athlete?  Teachers, preachers, world businessmen and women will come from this school.  All of them fully devoted followers of Jesus. Conversions to Christ are taking place already.  There are some local muslim children that attend our Christian School.  The future it bright!  The Ugandan government officials made us change the septic tank location of the masterplan of this facility.  They said they were not able to tell us why, but what they could tell us is that the city is planning on growing right in the area of the school and they wanted the septic tank…which is huge, (I’ll post a pic later) to tie into the future planned city sewer system.  They said our school is going to be close to a major road that will be built through the area.  The government officials told us it looks like we are building a University, not a children’s school!  I love that!  That is the kind of work that we must build to adequately represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

We, together are changing thousands of lives, and we are doing it under the name of Jesus as Lord!  I am inspired by the work that is happening.  This facility will be used for more than school children.  It will be a social center for people at night.  It will be a business training center.  Women can learn tailoring and other business skills.  Sam pastors a church that meets on location and it is growing.  I personally want to fund a future zip line that is attached to the top of this giant building.  This facility is intended to be a social outreach center for the entire town!

After this day, I am emboldened.  I am inspired and I will not be shy in asking for your investment in this work.  If you know me, you know the integrity that is going into this work.  I refuse to allow our work to get caught up in high overhead costs, bureaucracy, and power plays.    This is about Jesus The Christ!  This mission and movement is lead by Ugandan natives, like Sam.  I want us Americans to simply be the financial catalyst and the servants that helps set these great Ugandan people free from the trap of poverty and walks with them into self sufficiency.

I spent the rest of day at the school property just watching the wonderful people of Uganda use the property as a place of safe, loving community.  Children playing with a worn out soccer ball.  Children and women lined up to take clean water home to their family from the school’s new fresh water well that Return Hope drilled.  Older men sitting in chairs under a mango tree playing a game together.  It was a sight…that might be a little like Heaven. 

I am so grateful for you.  I am so grateful for what God is doing through us. 

When the first floor is finished and it will be soon, there are 5 floors that we must invest in together.  The quality of work we are doing in not cheap, like most of the buildings that are built by outsiders.  Each floor will cost around 30,000 US dollars, but each floor holds and loves around 250 students and teachers!  Would you consider teaming with anyone you can rally to invest in the finishing of this life changing facility.   I am bringing blue prints home with me.  I will post the square footage and pictures to help you comprehend how important this facility is and how reasonable the costs are…specially for the work of the Lord and for the very people Jesus commanded us to serve. 

I went back to the hotel in Bugiri, too tired to eat dinner.  I stepped into the humble little room of the hotel. No carpet, Mosquito net bed. One small room in which the little bed takes up nearly all the space.  A little bathroom where the toilet sits nearly under the shower nozzle.  A tiny sink in the corner.  I’m not comfortable, but I’m content.  The humid air is so still, I begged Sam to get me the oscillating fan he has in the office so I could have some air movement.  He went and got me the fan.  I love that man of God. 

I put my head to the pillow at about 8pm.  It was a good day.  God is good. I miss my family deeply, but the work must go on.  Jesus commands it. 

Stay tuned for Sunday.  I will be attending the Church that Sam leads in our School.  I’m sure they will ask me to speak, but I’d like to listen to a Ugandan preacher for once.  Maybe they will simply let me attend. 

I’ll let you know tomorrow.  My stay is so short this trip…I’m only on the ground for 3 days.  I can’t believe its almost time to go home and get back to doing what I must do.  Raising financial investments in this great Jesus work.  Would you invest? Are you storing up treasure in Heaven? Are you sacrificing for the least of these? It’s an investment that lasts for eternity!  It’s an investment that will cause you to meet people in Heaven who look very different from you, but you will be greeted and thanked with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen.  The Ugandan people are the most friendly people I have ever met.  They need our help to break them from extreme poverty.  We are progressing.  I pray for your investment in this work. 

Maybe someday you’ll come with me to this magical place and marvelous people.


Trent Renner’s Uganda Africa 2015 Trip…Day 1…

Preface….As you read this…please know that I am typing it from Uganda Africa.  The WiFi is not of the standard we as Americans are used to.  Thank you for your patience.  I hope you will read this and journey with me on what is a very short trip.  I am simply here to check up on all the great work that God is doing through us.  I pray you are encouraged and inspired.  My trip is only 3 days on the ground.  Please take a few moments with each new post I write and fall in love with the Uganda people and the work that Jesus asks all of us to do.  I assume there will only be 3…no more than 4 posts.

My wife and I woke up at 6:30am on Thursday.  No rush…the airplane was leaving at 10:02am.  Phoenix Sky Harbor is only 30 minutes away.  I was a little concerned about rush hour traffic in Phoenix, so we scrambled getting the finishing touches ready to go and out the door as I prepared to fly more than 25 hours of air time to arrive in what is called “The Pearl of Africa.”… Uganda. 

Almost 2 years ago I sensed God telling me that I had to do something about the poverty in this wonderful place.  The Bible is loaded with passages about loving One Another.  Uganda is full of people who love the Lord, have faith, and swim in desperation for the basics of food, water, and shelter.  So this is why Kelli and I are up.  We heeded God’s call.  I’m grateful for you if you are reading this and have chosen to use your personal time, talents, and treasure to also heed God’s call to obey Him.  I also am grateful for the support you give to the Church Work Organization I started, called Return Hope International.  It is through RHI that I communicating with you as I’m headed to a 3rd world country.

It was time for me, once again to walk away, temporarily, from the people I love and live with everyday, to go embrace and encourage the people I love, who live on the other side of the world. Both groups are literally my neighbors.  Jesus says to love our neighbors.

Every time I take this journey to Africa, I feel internally attacked.  I don’t know if it is my fleshly human nature that starts screaming at me about how… “this trip isn’t worth it.  The cost, the time away from my own people, the inconvenience, the pain of traveling through time zones, strange food, and crowds.”  Before each journey I take on behalf of Jesus, there is an internal pain that wells up that almost makes me want just stay home…again…internal voices whispering, haunting… “you really think this trip will do any good?  Who do you think you are, going over there to try to do something?  What if something bad happens like a plane crash, getting sick, getting lost, catching malaria, yellow fever, aids?  What if something bad happens to your family while you are gone?  You have so much to do…why are you leaving to go do more? “ 

Is it the insecurities of my flesh, the devil, or just normal thoughts like these that cause me such anguish every time I prepare to leave for Africa.  But still I go.  I must.  It is lonely, even when I travel with others.  I think it is why most never go.  I understand, first hand, why most never go.  It is painful and expensive and inconvenient, sometimes scary. 

This trip is a short one.  Leave Thursday…arrive in Entebbe Uganda on Friday night at 10:20PM.  There is a 10 hour time change between AZ and Uganda.  As I type this, it is 6:30AM Uganda time.  It is 8:30 PM Pacific Time.  I got some good sleep.  I have a head ache from the time change as I try to quickly adjust my body.  I’m only staying Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and then I get back on a plane on Tuesday night to return.  I think this trip is going to be kind of “time-clock-shock & awe.”  I return leave here on Tuesday night and arrive back in AZ on Wednesday, the 24th.

My first flight surprised me with a free upgrade to first class for the hour and 15 minute flight to LAX airport in Los Angeles.  Wow…first class…really is first class.  Too expensive for me and I never in good conscience could spend the kind of hard earned money it takes to raise for the Church Work that Return Hope does…but…if it’s free…my conscience goes away immediately! 🙂 

Once I arrived in LAX, I had a 2 hour lay over to catch my 2nd leg flight to Amsterdam, Netherlands.  LAX airport was a nightmare.  It is huge and everything was under construction.  I quickly felt lost, but have learned to stop and ask for help.  I find people are naturally willing and glad to help.  It’s still hard for me to stop and ask directions.  Pride?…or is it just part of being a man? 🙂

LAX is loaded with eclectic groupings of people  It seems nearly every world race and kind of people are scrambling through this port for air travel.  I suppose LAX is a peek into what Heaven will look like, just minus any peace.  That place is crazy hectic. 

As I finally got on the plane, I was in row 36…seat K.  That is a window seat, which most people would think is wonderful.  A window seat is better than the middle seat, but I prefer the isle seat.  My 2nd flight was just over 10 hours of flying and I would be locked into a seat with two people preventing me easy access to a restroom, or to just simply stand and stretch my legs.  They were a wonderful elderly couple traveling to Austria for fun.  They wore matching travel shirts and frequently reminded each other of their love for one another. That should be relationship goals for all of us married couples. They were wonderfully old.  He spilled his water on himself in the first 10 minutes, but was more concerned as to whether or not I got wet at all.  I assured him I did not.  He told me that he found it more and more difficult to control his body motions as he got older.  But he said it with a smile.  It was obvious he was going to enjoy his life instead of fret about the things he cannot change. 

As our plane began to take off…it literally had to apply the brakes and come to stop.  The captain’s voice came through the intercom and said that President Obama’s plane was landing on a parallel runway and national security policy demands all traffic stop.  We waited.  I didn’t time it, but it had to be 20-30 minutes.  My concern was that I didn’t leave much time between flights on this trip which means any delays could set my trip off course really quick. I am only spending 3 days on the ground and any missed flights could easily mean one or two days lost.  Obama landed.  We took off.  I had less than an hour to run through the airport in Amsterdam to make sure I caught my next flight.  I made it!

My next flight was nearly 10 hours and this time in an Isle seat next to a mother and her two young daughters ages 6 and 9.  The nine year old next to me was wonderfully considerate and she also had a fever.  I’m a bit nervous about that, but I’ll let you know if I caught anything. 

I slept on and off.  The plane stopped after 8 and half hours, for a quick layover in Rwanda’s airport and then a 37 minute flight into Entebbe Uganda.  Oketch Sam, Return Hope’s Ugandan Director was waiting for me. His giant smile, as I walked out of the Entebbe Airport was like a billboard of refreshing.  He always makes me smile and laugh. 

We drove nearly an hour, talking, planning, and laughing all the way to a little hotel on the East side of Kampala Uganda…a city of 5 million people.  I grabbed a shower, drank a couple bottles of fresh water, put down my mosquito net and prepared to try to sleep, even though my body’s time clock was telling me it was nearly lunch time.  But it was 1:00 am Uganda Time. 

I awakened at 6 am and began to type what is written above. 

I will make mental notes of my day that I am about to venture into and type it up soon.  I hope this blog allows you to be inspired and challenged in regard to your faith and what you are actually doing about what Jesus commanded of all of us.  I do not think it is okay for you to only experience Jesus’s commands via this blog and some financial support to RHI.  I pray you will be inspired to see needs and meet them.  Needs do not always have to do with people and their money condition.  Needs are simply needs and Jesus commands us to serve our neighbor in our house, across our streets, and across the giant lakes, we call oceans.  Our flying technology has made our world small and our neighbor circles of influence very large.   Love your neighbor.

I am grateful you are reading this post.  I am grateful for your support through your finances, prayers, and curiosity.  I pray you will join me someday on one of these “Obey Jesus Trips.”  Maybe it will  be to Uganda, or maybe somewhere else that God sends us.  Start saving some money now. Get a jar and start putting your change in it.  Skip a movie, a Redbox, or Starbucks on occasion and put the money in that jar instead.  You’ll be surprised how quickly it can add up.  And, when the time comes for your to travel, as God tells you to, then I will also help you with some ideas of how to raise money for a Jesus honoring trip such as this. 

Until then, have a great day, night…what ever your body time clock is telling you.

Stay tuned.  I’m about to get out of bed, and venture into Bugiri Uganda.