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Remote Village Tuesday

Today was a great day in Uganda.  I got a great nights sleep and got up and had a great breakfast with the team.  We had bacon, eggs, coffee, french fries…yep…for breakfast!  

After breakfast we met for a team meeting.  Its called “Family Time.”  We rehash our experiences from the previous day, we pray, do a devotion and laugh a lot even cry some at the miraculous stories of love we hear from each other.   It is truly amazing how each person in the group keeping a focus on the mission of Christ and each person maintaining an attitude of servanthood makes for a united group that becomes friends.  There is a message in this fact.  Think about it.  I am gathered with 60 strangers from all over the USA.  We are out of our comfort zones and getting very little sleep, eating food that’s a bit different than we are used to, and getting worn out everyday meeting and mixing and serving others in Africa.  That is a formula for fighting, bickering and group irritation.  However…none of that is happening.  The group laughs, treats each other with respect and enjoys each other’s company.  

It makes me wonder about two other types of groups.  Let’s start with your biological family.  I mean…”We Always Hurt The Ones We Love…” right?  Isn’t that what the song tells us?  We all know that family life is very challenging.  I wonder if you put the elements I mentioned above into your family environment might it be better?   1.  A focus on the mission of  Christ…each family member.  2. Each family member maintaining an attitude of servanthood.    I know its ideal to think this is possible all the time, especially when we are dealing with children and teens in our families.  But its a worthy goal, right?!

The other group I am talking about is the Church.  I won’t preach too much on this one, but let me say this.  If there is a ton of fighting, bickering and group irritation…I’m not a betting man…but I’d bet there is a lack of Focus on the MIssion of Jesus Christ and a lack of people maintaining an attitude of servanthood.  I believe it all starts at the top and trickles down from the church leadership.  Think about your church…think about its current status and think about what I mention above.  

Today I chose to go with the group that was heading out to two villages to dedicate two fresh water wells that were given to these villages.  The names of the two villages are Lulonda and Bwaya Villages.  We went to Bwaya Village first and it is the most remote village that Hope 4 Kids International is involved with.  THIS VILLAGE WAS FULL OF PEOPLE WHO HAD NEVER SEEN A WHITE PERSON!  Can you imagine?  As we got out of the buses at the village there were some children who greeted us with song and dancing, but there was hardly anybody around.  The village leader told us that most of the village were afraid and they ran to their huts.   However…as the music continued to be sung and we began to mix with the people…more and more Africans came out and greeted us in a very  nervous manner.  There was a group of about 10 kids who were standing in a porch area away from us all about 50 yards.  I headed their way all by myself.  As I got about 20 yards from them they literally sprinted from me as if I were a Lion.  The looks on their faces was terror.  They all ran but one child.  I am guessing he was about 8 years old.  He stood there like a brave young man and I smiled, and slowly walked up to him with my hand extended hoping he would take my hand and shake it.  He did!  The other 9 kids were peaking from a distance and most of them…after they recognized I wasn’t going to eat them…slowly and nervously approached me and greeted me.  What a cool moment with them.  

I think its important for all us to recognize that we as white Americans don’t have the market share on Jesus.  This whole village believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  I don’t know how…but they did.  Heaven will be filled with all colors and cultures.  Heaven will look very little like what America looks like.  I think the greatest thing I am learning from my time in Africa is this…..COMMUNITY.   Its unbelievable how these people rely on each other for their very lives.  They do everything together.  American can learn from Africa.  The Church can learn from Africans about community.

After mixing with the people in this village we all gathered around in a giant circle in the shade of Africa.  We spent time teaching how to use proper hygiene.   How to poop and wipe appropriately when there is no toilet and paper and you have to go in the bush of Africa.  We taught proper washing of hands and we taught them about germs and how they spread.  Our Hygiene leader had a great idea.  He used glitter to teach the African people about the spreading of germs.  He was very animated.  He took the glitter and poured it into his own hands and he pretended to sneeze and wipe his nose with the glitter covered hands and then he squatted and pretended to poop and then he grabbed some leaves and pretended to wipe and then he pretended to sit down and eat with those same hands and then he walked over to the children and began to touch them and shake their hands and the glitter got all over them and they got the picture very well.   

He told them that if they wash their hands and be smart in being careful with the spreading of germs that God would bless them and they would live longer healthier lives.  

After the session on hygiene we gathered around the water well that had been dug and was now pumping fresh clean water and we prayed over it and gave the well to the people and told them that every time they drink this fresh water that we hoped they would thank God for the gift and remember how we American Christians love them very much.  

Many asked how we found them in such a remote place from so far away . We simply told them that God led us to them and that God was answering their prayers.   Now please understand the people in this village were having to walk daily nearly a mile to get water from a watering hole where cattle pooped in it and major water born diseases stagnated and they had no choice but to drink from it because the Ugandan Government told the people that this was a waterless area because they tried to dig up to 20 wells and never hit water.  The problem is that the government was being lazy and only drilled down about 30 feet.  When Hope 4 Kids heard about this we chose this village and sent the drilling team (all African local workers) and we are willing to pay for the drill to drill down to 300 feet.   They found water and it is considered miraculous.   Guess who gets the credit for the miracle.  You got it…Jesus Christ!   

You can personally pay for a well to be dug for another remote village like this.  It costs 10,000 for everything.  If you can’t personally pay for it…why not get all your neighbors to contribute to it and do something amazing as a whole neighborhood?   Or your Church or your family?   Or if a loved one dies…instead of flowers at the funeral, ask people to give towards digging a well.  That would be cool.  If you want more information, contact Hope 4 Kids International.  They are pros at doing this and they do it best!

As we prayed over the well and prepared to leave….The people in the Village gave us a goat.  Now understand…to have a goat in these villages is to be considered very rich.  For them to give us the goat…shows intense love and gratefulness.  

Once we got the goat in the bus, there is a group of people from one  Church in California who had made what are called “pillow case dresses and tie died t shirts to give to the African children.  It was such a joy to give these items to the kids.  I chose to help the young girls part because young girls in Africa get very little attention from their dads…if they even have a dad around.  The little girls left their village clothes on and we gently put the dresses over the  girls head, they helped us pull the dresses over their bodies and we tied the shoulder straps on.  These little girls giggled with each other and beamed huge white smiles when they received their dresses.   It made me miss my two girls at home…Madison and Mia.  I love them very much and it was a joy to help these young girls as I told them that I had two daughters at home and how I hoped to bring them one day to Africa.  Yep…go ahead and tease me that I helped with the little girls…I can’t tell you how choked up I am about being able to serve in such a simple way for the least of these.  “That which you do for the least of these…you do for me.” –Jesus.

Before we left we gave the most needy families mosquito nets to help fight the mosquitos and prevent the spread of Malaria. We hugged and waved and headed back to the hotel. 

I have arrived at the hotel…incredibly dirty…and there is no water.  Don’t know why.  Would love a shower….hope it comes on.   If not…I’ll still be grateful for all the blessings I have in my life.  

I miss my family.  I am excited to be reunited with them soon.  In the meantime…if you are reading this…I am doing this in honor of you.  I am carrying your love for Jesus here with me and I am telling the African people how much you love them .   

I hope someday you can experience this.  I don’t care if it takes you 20 years to save the money.  Start now.  

Wow.  What a day.  

Love 
Trent


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.

Enough.
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!
Trent


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