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“Hi, my name is Trent Renner, Who are you?”

So…you walk into a gathering of people who do the same thing you do. You are asked over and over, as you meet different people, “Who are you?” Sound familiar? Have you been in this situation before? Of course you have. You’ve been asked a thousand times…”who are you?” My question is, “How have you answered?” If I approached you right now and asked you, “who are you?” I know you would give me a smile and your name. The key question is, what would you answer next? I would answer; “my name is Trent Renner and I am the Lead and founding Pastor of Parkway Christian Church in Surprise Arizona.”
That answer seems like a good answer at first. However the problem is this; Parkway Christian Church no longer exists. I merged Parkway with Christ’s Church of the Valley in April of 2011. Parkway was completely absorbed and acquired by Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria AZ. Parkway Church doesn’t exist anymore. My leadership of her doesn’t exist anymore. So before Parkway was merged with Christ’s Church of the Valley, and somebody asked me who I was, and I answered by giving my name and Title…well…then looking back…was I giving a good description of who I was? If who I am is based on my name and Title only…then what happens to my identity when that titled is no longer truthful as to who I am? If who I am is based on something that no longer exists then I no longer exist. Who are you? Please don’t tell me your existence is founded on what you do as a job.  Check out this great video clip…it makes my point very well. Anger Management…\”Who are you?\”
If tomorrow you woke up and your job title no longer existed, who would you be? If tomorrow, all the people who followed you, no longer actually followed you, who would you be? If tomorrow you found out that 13 or 30 years of your life blood, sweat, sacrifice, time and energy, just evaporated, who would you be?

Where is your identity? By what do define yourself? Who are you?

I have learned the hard way that I must hold onto everything lightly. Nothing is really mine. You are just like me. So, nothing is really yours. You and me…we are not entitled to anything. Please base your identity on what your Creator calls you and by what He did for you. Everything else is temporal. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Who are you?
My name is Trent Renner…forgiven man of God, temporal husband, father, and spiritual leader. A man who loves the Lord and one who ultimately knows that nothing is permanent.

Who are you? How do you define yourself?


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!


African Monday…

What a day.  It was this time last week that I was packing for this trip and today takes me through the halfway mark.  The way this trip has been organized is perfect.  It seems that every other day is an emotional roller coaster.  That was yesterday.  So today was a day of physical strain.  I am wiped out.  

First of all, last night after I had finished blogging such a long post and went to my room, brushed my teeth and went to bed.  However…I started to get complacent and used a little water from the bathroom sink faucet to brush my teeth.  Didn’t think about it until 3 am when the stomach starts telling me that something abnormal is growing in it!  I got up…took a “cipro” which is a stomach and intestine antibiotic…spent the next 3 hours in the bathroom…(you don’t need details do you?!)  So its needless to say…if you can do the math…that I got a total of about 2 hours sleep last night.  After a couple of hours the Cipro did its job and I am totally fine now!

So we got up early and headed to what is called “The Rock”…it is a towering moutain that really only takes about 30 minutes to get to the top because it is straight up.  Many places they have permanently fastened ladders to the mountain because of the extreme slope.  The view from the top overlooking the African plains is breathtaking.   I also was completely inspired to lose about 20 pounds off my bod.  I am starting now.  Eat less for dinner!  Repeat at Breakfast and Lunch too.  Hopefully that works.  
If you want to see images of “The Rock” Just google The Rock in Torroro Uganda.  

Once we got back down the mountain we grabbed a late breakfast and had an all group meeting to get the rest of the day planned.  There were several options and so today I chose to keep it physical.  I went to a local village school and simply helped clean and paint a new building that was just built to expand the villages school.  Sounds pretty simple, but you mustn’t forget that when we “Muzungo’s” show up…you get 50 little kids swarming around you wanting to touch you and play with you.   They are fascinated by the hair on my arms.  I saw two 8 month olds today who had never seen a white man.  They screamed in utter terror.  The mothers just laughed and try to calm their infants.  Of course I had to try to get the infants to relax by smiling and approaching them again…but it didn’t work.  Complete terror.  Oh well.  

That’s what I did all day…painted and took breaks to play with the kids of the Jubba Village in Uganda Africa.  

I am in Africa!  I really have fallen in love this mystical place and even more so its people.  On the way home we stopped in the city square of Torroro.  It is a very busy place.  Some of the group stayed on the bus, the medical team with us went into a pharmacy warehouse and bought some medications for helping some African people and I took the few moments we had to wander down to the local market store and buy an Orange Fanta!   It is quite a strange feeling to be walking about hundreds of people and be the only white one!  I loved it.  The people in Africa love to greet you.  Little children will come up to you to shake your hand and when you do shake it, they go to their knees as a sign of respect and kindness.  Its strange, but its their culture.  

I wonder how I can get my wife Kelli to do that!?  LOL

Well…I’m back at the hotel and I’m going to try to catch up on some lost sleep from last night.  This trip will soon be over…and I know that Africa will forever be in my blood.  I so want to return as soon as I can and bring some of my family with me to experience what is such a remarkable and mysterious place. 

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