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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


70 X 7 (a quick reminder about forgiveness)

I am in frustrated awe of how bitterness, hurt, and anger will stealthily try to creep back in my heart, soul, mind, and strength…even after fully forgiving, reconciling, and dealing with it all.  

Might this be why Jesus answered Peter the way He did in this passage?…forgiveness-21

Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!”

70  X  7 !?

It’s not about the math…don’t get out your calculator!  You and I both know the math is 490.  Some have forgiven the same person beyond 490 times.  Does that mean that Jesus now gives them permission to stop forgiving?  By no means!  Remember what Mother Theresa said, “When you refuse to forgive someone, it’s like you drinking poison and hoping it kills the person who hurt you.”

Forgiveness frees us from the prison of bitterness, hurt, and anger.  I’ve never felt like forgiving someone.  It is a decision made from holy discipline.  Its just the right thing to do. Period.

When the devil gets in your ear and starts whispering to you…, “remember when that person did that to you?”  You only need to respond, “Yes, I remember, and I also remember forgiving them.”  … Go to hell, satan.

Forgive  c   o   n   t   i   n   u   a   l   l   y   .  .  .  .  .  .  .


The Bible vs The Quran

quran-vs-bible-2I can understand the perspective of those who say that both writings have awful verses that demand awful things.

The Quran can only be somewhat comparable to the Bible’s Old Covenant. Only one of the books pictured has a New Covenant.

Jesus of Nazareth ushered in a new way that overrules the old way. Love the Lord AND love thy neighbor.

The Bible teaches us to love even those who won’t convert. The Quran teaches its followers to destroy those who don’t believe its teachings.

I’m so grateful for Jesus.

I wish more of His followers would behave more like Him.


Having Done in Room 1501 (Week 19-22) Passion or Fear in 2015?

Week 19 & 20 in room 1501 at Joy Christian High School were a wrapping up of the entire first semester of the 2014-2015 school year. (Weeks 21 & 22 were Christmas break)FullSizeRender

Week 19 & 20 were a couple of weeks of tidying up Bible Class Notebooks that would serve as the final grade of this first semester of Bible Class.  There were a couple of Zeros I had to give as a final grade.  The Notebooks worthy of being graded actually received a grade as low as 12 out of 100 and some received a 100!  It is quite an experience grading final work.  It shows how much the student cares and for some it simply shows that the student has brilliant strategy.  Strategic students know the educational system.  They know they want to pass the class, get the grade and move on.  Some of the students are doing so incredibly well in the class, that to even take a zero on the notebook, doesn’t drop their grade even a letter grade.  So…a few skipped the notebook and got a zero.

Now, to the rule follower adults reading this, who are shaking your head or even possibly feeling disgusted by this type of student behavior…This strategy actually made me smile.  As a teacher, I gave these students a zero on their final grade and moved on.  I can’t take it personal.  Some of these students who strategically took a zero learned a principle I taught in the first two weeks of Bible Class. They learned about what I call our Personal Hermeneutic.  If you want to know what these 6 levels of Hermeneutic are all about, you can read about it in full detail  here… Week 6 of this blog series of “Having Done in Room 1501”, titled (Spirit Week).  Simply click here.

These few students took ownership in their decision and knew that they could still get an A or even a B by taking a zero on the final project/test of this first semester.  If you read the levels of Hermeneutic, these students did not live in fear of being punished (Avoider), they are not living to please(Pleaser) their teacher or even their parents.  They are not living for some worldly reward (Seeker).  They simply worked hard all semester and knew they had created enough of what I call “grace space” that they could relax/sluff-off and be fine with the final result.

I personally think these students can be the ones who end up being the leaders of our future, because they know how to move forward in life successfully without pleasing everybody around them.  Some of the greatest world changers became what they are because they knew how to strategically break the rules, think outside of the box, generate change, and not be held back by fear of what other’s think.

Please know…I love the students who did the final project perfectly and accomplished an amazing Bible Notebook that is in perfect order. These students too, can have great success, and their work ethic of near perfection, shows it.   The principle I’m trying to point out, is that both example students mentioned above are right.  Just different.  I would bet a lot of money (and I’m not a betting man) that the student who understands the strategy of being able to get away with a zero and still get the grade has more potential at becoming a world changer and leader.  Why?  Usually the person who is in pursuit of the perfect grade, and doing everything by the exact rules laid before them…is someone who is not willing to break outside the box and break a few rules to accomplish something.  Again…this is not about right or wrong.  It’s about style and strategy.mandela and fear

Martin Luther King Jr. had to break a few rules to make change.

Nelson Mandela had to break a few rules to make change.

Benjamin Franklin had to take some huge risks to bring us some incredible inventions.

Michael Jordan failed at the freshman high school basketball tryouts and was cut from the team.

Isaac Newton was told by his teacher that he would never amount to anything.

Beethoven was told to he would never be successful in the music world.

You get the point.Road to success

After all…what is school really about?  Is about getting the best grade? Getting an A?   Is it about doing everything the teacher asks or requires?  No.  It is about the student becoming prepared to be successful in life.  Some of life’s greatest successes happen when we live motivated by our passion and not our fear.   

Are the majority of your decisions you make in life motived out of fear or pursuit of your passion?

I believe your best decisions in life are not the ones that make a lot of sense to other people…even your friends or family.  I think the best decisions in life are made through the understanding of how God made you, what He made you passionate about, and then pursuing those passions through the risk necessary to do what God asks of you.  It’s different for everybody.

The longer I am in the educational and academic system the more I am recognizing that Academia would prefer you to be a robot just like the robot sitting next to you in your class…just like the robots sitting in the Academic Chairs of Authority….so tests are created to make sure you are answering the right robotic questions to make sure you are the robot you should be….measuring all the robots in the industrial robot production lines to other robots.

I’m afraid the average school system is too much like the original line of Henry Ford’s industrial age, assembly line production, of the first car he produced.  These cars came off the assembly line with only one color to choose from, all exactly the same.  It was a great victory for the American way to build a profitable business.  My problem is that it seems that America is stuck in the past of thinking this is still the best process to create success today.  This might be true in the production of material goods, but not in any people business.

I believe our current culture is stuck in the cul-de-sac of the Assembly line age.  Those who are of age to have been influenced by the Industrial age of Assembly lines, are still in leadership of American businesses and are wrestling with the younger generation who have been raised under the influenced of the World Wide Web.  There is a giant traffic jam currently stuck in this Cul De Sac.  It is going to take time and lots of frustration before the traffic takes a U Turn and leaves the Cul de Sac.

Let’s take a moment and think in more detail about what I’m trying to say.   What does Henry Ford and the world of academia have to do with each other?

I do not think Henry Ford’s greatest invention was the Model T car.  In fact Henry Ford didn’t invent the car.  He invented the Model T version of a car. But, I do not think Henry Ford’s greatest influence upon our world came from the Model T…it came from the invention of the Assembly line.  Henry Ford discovered the ability to produce an affordable car through the assembly line that increased the efficiency of manufacture and decreased its cost.  Ford did not conceive the concept, he perfected it. Prior to the introduction of the assembly line, cars were individually crafted by teams of skilled workmen – a slow and expensive procedure. The assembly line reversed the process of automobile manufacture. Instead of workers going to the car, the car came to the worker who performed the same task of assembly over and over again. With the introduction and perfection of the process, Ford was able to reduce the assembly time of a Model T from twelve and a half hours to less than six hours.1926-ford-model-t-assembly-line-photo-338182-s-1280x782

Henry Ford is an inspiration to the USA.  He is a hero to capitalism.  Henry Ford’s style influenced millions of Americans to think differently about production and success.  I think Henry Ford and the other’s who were inspired to copy his style of business might have influenced our American Education System.

Have we created an education assembly line, that maneuvers individual souls down conveyor belts, to Education Assemblers who aim to manufacture products of same-ness?

It is an honest and fair question.  I think the answer is, yes.  And, I think this style has crept into our Churches, Hospitals, HOA’s, Sports world, and many other people circles.

This is why I personally am thrilled to see students jump off the “assembly line”…okay with getting a zero… to live strategically towards their passions, not afraid of the wrath of the Assembly line workers.

I am convinced… greater purpose and fulfillment is achieved through living in your passions and not your fears.  I am also convinced that those who live in their fears will someday arrive at death’s door very safe.  It is terrifying to step out, challenge, and/or ignore the assembly line workers, and live for your passions…but those who push through the terror of stepping out…will be the ones who change something in this world.

Some with a strong Bible understanding, might say that fear can be good, and also might quote the incredibly wise Bible verse of Proverbs 9:10,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  

I agree that there is a great purpose in Fear.  Please understand when I celebrate the person who strategically ignores a few rules, that I am not talking about anything that has to do with sin.  When I say I love the person who follows their passion…I am not referring, for even a second, that I celebrate unholy living of any kind.  That is not success.   Some fear is necessary.  The fear of putting your hand on a burning stove.  The fear of being too close to the unguarded edge of the Grand Canyon.  The fear of head on collisions in automobiles. The fear of breaking the heart and will of God.

That’s good fear.

That Bible verse, above…it says the BEGINNING OF WISDOM.  I don’t just want wisdom’s beginning.  I want it’s middle and end.  I want its fullness.  We must have some motivation based from fear.  I’m simply saying we must be very wise in WHO we fear.  I have a serious problem with the RULER Hermeneutic (Clink link and go to Ruler Definition section of that blog).  This type of person believes that if you break their rules, you dishonor God.  This type of person would really have struggled with Jesus in how He confronted the Pharisee’s of His time.   My goodness…Jesus was a rule breaker.  He followed His Passion…To honor ONLY the Will of His Father…at the ignoring of many authority’s rules.

And He was successful.  It didn’t make a lot of sense to the people around Him.  Even those very close to Him…who spent years with Him.  Jesus was so misunderstood because He followed His God given passion.  I wouldn’t say that Jesus ignored His fears…He instead had great courage and trust in His Holy Father that overruled his fear.

It’s not wrong to be afraid.  It’s wrong to listen to your fear at the demise of the Passion that God you to accomplish something for Him.

2015 is Here…ANOTHER YEAR IS ABOUT TO BLAZE BY….What fears are holding you back from living in the Purpose(s) that God is calling you to live for?

What do you fear?  Is it possible that the Devil has instilled some fear in you to try to keep you from doing what God would have you do and be?

I challenge you to really break down your fears by thinking about what it is you truly fear.  When you write down a few things you fear…then…ask yourself Why you fear it.  When you think of the answer…write that down too.  Then ask yourself Why again.  Do this process about 5 or 6 times and I think you will get to the root of what you truly fear.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all Wisdom.  I challenge you to live in complete wisdom…not just in wisdom’s beginning. Complete wisdom will be found by filtering through all the voices in your life and in your head and only listening to the Voice of God.   Listen to only God’s voice.  WARNING NOTE:  God’s voice will never tell you to do something that isn’t already founded in the Bible.  Or, as I like to say it…

GOD’S WILL will never go against GOD’S WORD.

Living for GOD’S Will through God’s Word…will cause you to live as an individual designed by God as an individual, who will stand before God individually to give an account of everything you did.  Don’t be a robot.  God created you as an individual.  If you live in the USA, then you also live in a country that is founded on individuality, filled with truths to be self evident.  You are created to be free.  Live in the Freedom of how God created you to live and follow His guidelines (Bible) of true freedom.  It’s the difference of living for your fears or for your passions.

Happy New Year.

Bring it!

 

 

 


Having Done in Room 1501 (Week 18) Walk a mile in their shoes…

FullSizeRenderRoom 1501 is preparing to close down for the semester.  I cannot believe how fast it has gone by.  It seems like only yesterday that I walked into Room 1501 and met it’s students for the first time.  This past week…inside Room 1501…has been pretty uneventful as we wrap up a great semester.  My “having done in Room 1501” and lessons learned, came once again, outside of my room.  I hope you enjoy the rest of this read…

I didn’t take the time to look up who originally said it, but it has been said… “YOU CAN’T REALLY UNDERSTAND ANOTHER PERSON’S EXPERIENCE UNTIL YOU’VE WALKED A MILE IN THEIR SHOES.”

I personally think that every American should have to do a job swap for a two week period, once a year.  The entire USA workforce should have to do this.  For example…I think every American should have to be a teacher for 2 weeks.  It would be transformational.  On the TV show called Family Feud, 100 people were asked to rate between a 1 and 10 if they felt they could do their boss’s job better than he/she could.  A majority of the people polled answered with a 10.  Meaning…nearly everybody thinks they can do their boss’s job better.

Not only am I professionally teaching for the first time ever, I am also taking on Basketball coaching for the first time ever.  I have always played  basketball, and I like to think I was pretty good at it.  It’s been 18 years since I played basketball for Manhattan Christian College, where I earned the National Bible College Athletic Association Division I All American Award.  Since then I have been in the stands cheering on my kids and yelling at referees and thinking ridiculous thoughts about the coach’s abilities, decisions, and plays.  I have been a critic.  I have thought many times that I would be a way better coach than “that guy coaching that team.”

And…now I’m coaching.  I’m walking in a coach’s shoes…for more than a mile!  Already…just the other day…as I’m sitting on the bench and the team is out warming up for the game about to start… I had a parent walk up behind me and say, “That is not a very intimidating warm up routine for our basketball team.” Frankly…it ticked me off.  Then I remembered how critical I could be from the stands.  It actually made me laugh.  I deserved this comment from the parent.  “What goes around, comes around.”   But…here’s the truth…

It is so easy to be a critic.

It is so easy to watch the slow motion replay for your favorite NFL team and yell at the coach about how stupid that play call was, or how the running back should have cut right, not left.

It is so easy to criticize the Sunday preacher for his misquote of a passage.

It is so easy to think you can do it better.

I really wish…now that I’m a coach and a teacher…when I was being critical…that someone would have had the courage to say, “Shut up Renner…if you think you can do it better, then get your butt out there and do it.”

I love the quote from Theodore Roosevelt about Critics…  Theordore Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

You and I need to fully acknowledge that ^T.R.^ was right and still is right.

What have you been criticizing?  Here’s my advice to you.  It is spoken with loving boldness…

“Shut thy mouth!” 🙂  “Being a critic is easy.  If you think you can do it better, then get out there and go for it.”

I love the example of Jesus.  When we…His prized creation…messed up and sinned…He didn’t complain and criticize.  He took on our skin.  He became one of us.  He didn’t just walk a mile in our shoes, He put on our shoes and wore them for 33 years….and He did it perfectly.  He put on our shoes and wore them way better than we ever could.  And still, He is not a critic.  He is love.

I pray we will not criticize others………ever again.  That will be difficult, but possible.

What good does criticism do?  Does it accomplish anything…I mean…other than make us look like a jerk?

Let’s end with a great Bible passage to put us all in our place and direct us to become the kind of people we really want to be.

“3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”  

Philippians 2:3-8

My first semester as a teacher, and now, as a coach at Joy Christian School has taught me a lot.  I can now say, after walking a mile in the shoes of a teacher and coach, how arrogant I must have sounded when I criticized the teachers and coaches of my past.  Oh…I didn’t criticize so much publicly to other people, but for sure God heard it.  I wonder what my words and heart made Him think?

I will try to do all I can to zip my lips when they try to get critical.  It will be a challenge.

If, after reading this post, you have been convicted about being critical towards anybody or any profession, I hope you will have the courage to at least volunteer in that area and see for yourself that it is not as easy as you think.

It will be an adventure that will humble you and make you a better person.

Thanks for reading this…I’m honored by you taking the time to do so, and for not criticizing this blog post. 🙂

Trent