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What Lies Beneath?

Do you remember the movie “What Lies Beneath” with Harrison Ford? Scary! Every one of us have something that lies beneath our surface. It is so important to understand what it is in your own life that motivates you. These things lying under our surface are our ultimate motivators. There are so many metaphors I could use. (Getting under the hood, the gas in your tank, what floats your boat) If you can think of others post them in the reply section!

I wrote out a quote several years ago. The quote is inspired by many different people that have impacted my life, for good and bad, and caused me to think deeper than just the obvious surface level.

The quote; “My dreams and goals are only the surface level of my deeper heart’s desire. I may find tragedy in the pursuit of my dreams or goals because that is how God gets us to submit to Him and allows us to expose the real motivations of our hearts desire.”

Think with me here for a minute. If you are a parent and you know what your teenage son’s grandest dream is…would you be doing anything good for your son if you just granted the dream for your child. No effort, no practice, no sweat equity. Just gave them the dream. You and I both know that it wouldn’t be good if we did. I suppose we can see it in the professional sports world. How many 20 something athletes do we see flounder when they were given a multi-million dollar contract?

I have personally seen it in “Church-World.” I have caused it in church world. I have personally given too much “power” to people because I hired them to be on my church staff when previously they had really done very little before. I can personally vouch that every time I did this…it backfired on me and them and the church.

Greatness is better earned.
Influence is better earned.
Wealth is better earned.

I’m getting off track here…To get to the point on this…I think we have to get back to the question of “WHY” is it you want what you want? WHY?

Why do you want to lose weight?
Why do you want to be the boss of your company?
Why won’t you ask for help in accomplishing that goal?
Why won’t you delegate some of your work?
Why won’t you give?
Why do you want to win first place in that competition?
Why do you want to use surgery to change your body?
Why do you want to speak badly about that person?
Why do you want to gain more friends this year?
Why do you want that tattoo?
Why do you want a different spouse?
Why do you want that house/car/motorcycle/etc?
Why?
It is the magic question.
Get to the magic answer…come to grips with it….then I think you will see God begin to help you achieve your desires.

God does want you to live a full life. God does want you to enjoy life. God can give you more than than you ever dreamed of.

God is waiting on you to be truthful with yourself as to WHY you want what you want.
I wonder how many people think that they are waiting on God for things to happen….when in reality….God is waiting on them to deal with what lies beneath.

What is your new goal?
Why?


Just another day? Really?


This photo is riveting to me. Haunting. It evokes powerful emotions in me. It creates a squeeze inside of me that could only come from the part of my body that is called soul.

I am just one week from my return from Uganda Africa where I met thousands of people just like the child in this picture.

Every time I see this picture I swear I hear God saying to me all kinds of things. Here are a few things that I think God has spoken to me in the multiple times I have viewed this picture; “This world is not about you and your plans.” “You are back home with everything you need, she is still there praying for many things to happen in her life.” “She just wants to crawl up in your lap and be held.” “Its not stuff she wants…she wants to know if she matters.” “She is wondering if she’ll be thought about again.” “She is wondering if you’ll ever come back to see her again.” “I’m not the answer to her prayers, you are.”

So here’s my questions for you and me today…
“Can you lay your life down, so a stranger can live?”
“Can you take want you need and take less than you give?”

Here’s the deal with this little girl in Uganda Africa and the millions of other children around the world in circumstances like hers.

She didn’t choose to be born where she was born. You didn’t choose to be born where you were born. I sometimes wonder if I got the lucky sided flip of the coin that allowed me to be born in a place with ample food, clean water, education and conveniences; “Heads!” And the young girl,in the picture, got the unlucky side as the coin spun on the floor and came to its final rest. “Tails!”

The fact is that I know better. There is no coin toss in matters such as these. God chose me to be born where I was born and to have the things that I have. It doesn’t make me better or you better. It actually puts more pressure on you and me. “To whom much is given, much is required.” I will be held more accountable because of the material I’ve been given and will have to give an account for how I used God’s material that He loaned to me. Will I have used it all on my self? Will I take what I need and take less than I give?

During my life, I suppose that I want to give as much as this little girl gives. When I showed up, she smiled and waved and crawled up into my lap and gave of her love and friendship and affection, her trust. She gave me everything she had. It was a gift for Kings. I felt like a king in her presence. Accepting the presents of her self.

So…now…I’m back home. Her wave goodbye haunts me. I don’t know how you will respond and how you will give and what “sacrifices” you will make to contribute back to the life of this little girl and the millions like her that weren’t born here. All I can do is speak for myself.

I, until God makes it clear to stop, will spend the rest of my life being an advocate for these little ones and big ones who are just like this little girl. I will be asking for your help. Your gift. Your time. Your service. I will ask you to never stop thinking about these. The people Jesus calls, “the least of these.” The people that Jesus says if we invest in their lives we are actually and personally investing in Jesus’ life. “That which you do for the least of these, you do unto me.”

She’s waving at you. You hold the choice to make that wave a wave of Hello or Goodbye.
Stay tuned.
I will ask you someday to respond to the wave of this child. Respond with your money, your time, your talents, your prayers and your heart.

Trent

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Thursday in Africa

My last day in Torroro, Uganda Africa…

I can’t really express the feeling I am experiencing inside my heart and soul.  I am physically and emotionally exhausted and invigorated.  I am so joyful to get home soon and hug my amazing wife and children and I have a huge heartache to leave a place that could use the encouragement and love of this American and many others.  So many children today knowing that our goodbyes must happen today wanted to just walk with me wherever I went holding my hand and asking if I was ever coming back.

This morning we got up…same breakfast as the previous blogs described…after breakfast half of the group headed off to the town of Mityana where many in the group have sponsored Children.  It is about a 5 hour drive to this town.  I’m not sure what that group fully did since I wasn’t with them.

We stayed in Torroro and went to the city square where all the business takes place during the day.  The streets are dirt and full of potholes….and there are thousands of people walking back an d forth, taxis in the form of motorcycles (boda boda’s) beeping their horns and zipping and zig zagging with no pattern in their direction of driving.  In the streets of Africa….EVERYBODY has the right of way…except pedestrians.  While we were downtown today a Boda-Boda was driving and a police officer tried to pull him over…the Boda-Boda would not pull over so the cop took it upon himself to ram the Boda-Boda…the driver fell to the ground and hit his head and died on the spot.  We were just around the corner, so we didn’t see the actual incident, but all of a sudden you could hear the roar of a crowd.  The market stores we were in told us to stay inside as they ran and grabbed the front doors of their businesses and pulled them shut.  We didn’t stay inside but chose to get out of the store and get out of the downtown area.  As we got outside of the building you could see the crowd gathering…the police officer took off for fear of his own life and the citizens of Torroro began to get big rocks and place them in the middle of the streets so that the police cars could not get in.   I’m not sure how it all ended.  We do know that the driver of the Boda-Boda was killed.  Its seems that all quieted down.  The people in the hotel told us that it is common for the Boda-Boda drivers to go on strike until the police admit fault and try to make amends.  Crazy.

After some shopping we headed back to the True Vine Ministries property and spent the whole afternoon playing soccer and throwing frisbees, and just spending time with some very special people in Africa.  I gathered about 10 young boys all ranging about 10-13 years old and we just walked for about 2 hours.  We talked about everything.  They asked me questions about America and I asked them questions about Africa and her language and words.  They had never really touched white skin before so I let them tug and pinch my arms.  They have no hair on their arms in Africa and they are fascinated with the white mans hairy arms.  When I told them they could feel my whiskers on my face…a full day and a half growth of very bristly whiskers!…they freaked out.  One boy couldn’t touch my whiskers….he looked like he was about to literally get sick.  He was somewhat emberassed by the whole thing, so I didn’t ask.  It was funny.

We talked about Bible stories that they had never heard before.  Imagine me talking to 10 boys ages 10-13 about the story of David and Bathsheba!!!  They knew King David, but they didn’t know this juicy story!  I had them leaning in as I told them about a great King who was wandering on the roof tops and spotted a beautiful woman bathing.   They leaned in more!  LOL   They got a sadness in their eyes about this sin of David.  Then we talked about Psalm 51 where David records his sorrow and repentance and we talked about forgiveness and how  good and patient our loving God is.  AweMazing moment with these young men.

As we walked around some more they wanted to show me their classrooms where they learn and get their education.  As they were showing me the different rooms, three of their teachers walked in.  Very sharp men.  Dressed in dark slacks and pressed button down shirts.  These men were dressed in such a way that they could be successful businessmen in America.  They greeted me with big smiles and I spoke with them for a few moments….then…I asked them the big question!   “What do I have to do in Africa to get an African name for myself?”   They laughed and spent about 15 minutes explaining the different names I could actually get.  Depending on where you live, your African name begins with a certain letter.  They asked me if I liked the City of Kampala or the City of Torroro better.  I love Torroro anyway and all three teachers lived in Torroro so they took great delight when I told them my favorite was Torroro.  This would mean to my African name that it would begin with an “O”   They then explained that since this is my first African name that they recommended that it be a very simple sounding name so it would be easy for me to remember.  I said “good!”  They then asked me my birthdate.  I told them October…October…they said that October is the sunny time in Torroro.   They asked me what time of day I was born.  I told them around 1 a.m.  These questions all help determine my African name.   After they discussed it, and even included the 10 boys I was with in the discussion they came up with several and then asked me to pick one.  They said that when they pronounce the different name options that one will feel right with my spirit and I’ll know.  I don’t remember the full set of choices…but when they pronounced “OCHIENG”  It just seemed like the one I wanted so I told them.  It is pronounced O-Chang.  (the O is a long O.)   They all smiled and clapped and I was nervous thinking they played a joke on me…but they consider it a great honor to name someone with an African name.  They were simply celebrating with me.  I asked them the meaning of my name and they said that October is the Sunny time of Torroro, Uganda, Africa and that the name Ochieng means person of light!  I was touched in a powerful way by that.  I feel honored by it.  My greatest desire and my greatest passion is to be a light bearer for Jesus Christ.

Now some of you might be a bit disappointed after reading this because you read last nights blog where I posted that you had to eat a White Ant in order to be given an African name.  Well that was just the leader of the group basically playing a joke on me.  HOWEVER…I promise you if we come across a White Ant in the next couple of days…I will eat it anyway and video record the whole thing for your delight!  I asked a little more detailed questions about this white ant.   It is actually a large termite that lives in the big dirt mounds you see in the middle of the African bush.  These things have wings and are about an inch long and as thick as up to two pencil widths.  Juicy and buttery…is what I’m told they taste like.  Again…If I find one…I will eat it and video it.

We leave early tomorrow for a place in Africa called Fort Portal where we will spend one day doing mission work and the other day going on an Africa Safari!

I’ve got to pack.  Then get to bed.  Tomorrow we have a 10 hour drive to Fort Portal.

May your day be blessed and may you fully serve the Lord in whatever you are doing throughout your day.

Trent


Medical Wednesday in Africa

Just when I think I’ve seen it all and can ‘t be caught off guard in Africa…today did it. 

Woke up this morning…still no water in the plumbing.  Had to get a big jug full of water from the front desk of the hotel and pour it into my toilet to be able to flush.  Did I mention in all the plumbing problems yesterday that I discovered that I can take a Water Bottle shower in 3 and 1/2 bottles?!   Try it at home for your next shower.  If you can do it…you qualify for the next Missions Trip to Africa!  LOL

Breakfast was the same as yesterday…eggs…scrambled and hard boiled…or you could ask for the staff to make you an omelet.  Bacon…Its good too…but thats a no brainer…I’m not sure I”ve ever had bad bacon.  Coffee, fresh fruit.  The bananas here are to die for…they  have so much taste.  

I had to eat a really quick breakfast because I found out last minute that the Medical Team was headed out to a remote village to help people who needed medical attention.  We drove out into Africa for 2 hours.  Rough roads, packed bus…made for a pretty uncomfortable ride.  As we pulled up to the village there was a brick church building where all the chairs were pulled out and the  main room is where we set up camp.  We had boxes and boxes of medical supplies, medicines and we were ready to take on the crowds.   As they began to pour in…what I saw is just sheer helplessness.  I mean…what would you do if you had 5 children…beautiful children…and they had temperatures of 104 and you had no doctors, medicine, vitamins, our cleanliness?  You wait for years for someone to offer some hope.  
The very first patient that came in was a little girl of around 9 years old.  She had this huge infectious sore on her forearm that was full of puss and anything else gross that you can imagine.  The mother told us that she had the sore on her arm now for 2 and 1/2 years.  The little girl was so brave as the medical team used a scalpel to begin to cut away the infectious skin.   She had no pain medicine.  She would cry out in pain…but not move a muscle.  She trusted us so much and knew that we were there in the name of Jesus Christ to help her. So brave and tough.

  I could type on for pages at the different types of people and problems that walked through the doors begging for any help they could get.  I’ll tell this one story…in comes a man with his 2 wives.  He has 16 children…8 of them are with him.  They all have raging fevers and are malnourished.  Both the wives have STD’s from the husband.  The 8 year old girl had the same STD..which means she was raped…maybe by the man of the house.  The youngest of the two wives was basically a skeleton with skin and she had twin boys.  The boys were just one year old.  Had we not intervened today…one of the little boys would have died in our arms today.  He was barely alive and the mother simply said they have no food and no money and she can’t support her babies with milk because she is malnourished too,  We spent time first saving the babies lives.  Giving them water, electrolytes, some bananas, medicine, etc.  With in about 2 hours the baby began to come to ‘life.”  We had some people run in to the town village store and buy some food, baby formula and we spent time teaching this family that they must begin to provide food and use some common sense or their babies would die.  We will not leave them hanging.  Hope 4 Kids will work with them until they are self sufficient.  H4KI will train them and not just be a welfare program for them.  That is what I love about H$KI.   

 We saw children with cancerous mouths, epilepsy, Malaria, Aids, ring worm and all kinds of skin diseases.    

I’m not a medical person, but before I become a pastor I was desiring to be in Sports Medicine, so I was fascinated all day today watching a team of people with medical backgrounds be their very best for Jesus Christ.  Nurses, Doctors, Dentists, EMTs, Physical Therapists.  Amazing, sacrificial people.  

I helped mostly with the dental hygienist.  Which means I held the flash light so she and a local dentist could pull teeth, clean teeth and sometimes just gasp at the condition of some peoples teeth problems.   The hardest subject on the dental side today was an 8 year old boy who had his far back molars on both sides rotted out and they had to be pulled.  We numbed his mouth and proceeded to pull.  I had to hold his arms and legs from flailing and we all cried as his teeth were removed and the whole village could hear his screams.  I swear he was cussing at me when we were finished but it was in some African dialect and I pray someday maybe he’ll thank me.   Man…he was mad!  Poor little guy.  

The best person we helped on the dental side was an 86 year old woman.  She was maybe 4 foot tall.  Her dark skin was wrinkled and leather.  She had a total of one molar left in her mouth and it had to go.  She literally jumped up on the desk, laid down and opened her mouth and we gave her some quick numbing meds and pulled.  She jumped down and went about her life.  I would love to hear her stories.  Born in 1925 in Uganda Africa.  Wow.  She smiled went home.  All she had left were her top front teeth.  All other teeth are missing.  I couldn’t help but to say to her as she left…”No more Peanut M&Ms for you!”  We all laughed…she didn’t understand a word I said.  

We did this all day long.  From early morning until 7pm.  We didn’t have lunch and not one of us complained.  We got back to the hotel around 9pm…had a great dinner.

And yes…Hot Showers!  The Water problem was fixed!!  

I wish you were hear with me.  It is life changing in a way that I never could have comprehended.  Many of you are wondering what I am going to do now that I have resigned from the Parkway/CCV merger.  I will not make a decision right now, because it would be an emotional decision.  I will be back in the US soon.  Spend time with my family and make an educated decision that is led by God.  When I know…I will share it with you.  

I hope your Wednesday is good.  Serve the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. If  you are reading this…I really do have a strong love for you and I want you to be your very best.  Your very best can only be achieved through Jesus Christ being your Lord and Savior and you doing what Jesus has commanded you to do.  

I will sign off with this….AWINJO…the meaning is this.  “If you hear it…you must obey it.”

“Go Into all the world, make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.”–Jesus
Trent

PS…I saw Tom Eggum’s name tag today and he had 4 different names in the African language on it.   I asked how he got the names and what they meant.  He told me that you have to eat a White Ant and then the African people will give you your African name.  Tom told me to make sure I rip the wings of the ant off first, then when you put it in your mouth you grind it up good or it will grab the inside of your throat and try to climb out.  

I want an African name.  The first chance I get.  I”m doing it.  I’ll video tape it.  
Stay tuned!


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