Thanks for following along on our journey to Africa and welcome to any new readers! My prayer is that I can convey in words, my experiences and my awesome teammate's experiences. I will be posting a series of blogs throughout the next two weeks to keep all our supporters, family and friends informed about our mission and purpose while in Uganda.
Just to step back a bit for any new readers or followers who don't know much about Refuge 127...let me explain a little. Also for more information, you can always visit the refuge 127 website at www.refuge127.org. I currently serve on the Refuge 127 board, as the board vice president, but years before this officially formed non-profit and now years of doing mission work in Uganda, Africa...God connected me and my sister in law Mandy in ways we didn't think were possible.
First, we grew up together as both our father's coached together at EDWhite, we sleep at each other's houses as kids, we went to EDWhite together, we may or may not have partied together and done things we were not supposed to, years later we dated and married the Holloway brothers, and God radically changed our lives. He saved us. She taught me my first bible study. Ya'll I said we didn't always do good things...but then God...God took someone I knew, had a relationship with, to reach me and show me something about God that I didn't know. Since then life hasn't been the same and it has been the best adventure.
As I sit here in Uganda on my first full day of this trip, I am just in awe of the amazing things God has done with Refuge 127 and our awesome team members. Guys when I tell you that God is so mindful of the details and simply only needs willing vessels...I ain't lying!! If he can take two sister in laws (me and Mandy), about 10 plus years ago on the floor of her tiny living room at the time and give us the idea to do Tour of Homes, which would years later ultimately be the first fundraiser for our Uganda mission and birth of the non-profit organization, Refuge 127, he can do it for you!
Last night after we arrived into the Ugandan International airport, which is located in Entebbe, Uganda, we met up with our Uganda family (more about them in future blog post because they are all awesome) and we loaded (oh, I mean stuffed) our 32 suitcases of donations, our carry-ons, backpacks, and ourselves into the vans for about an hour drive to the capital city of Kampala, Uganda to stay the night. On our roller coaster journey, ride of your life, don't know if you will live to see the next morning drive into Kampala (the driving in Uganda is something I have never seen until I first started coming here and I can say that I am happy to only have to experience it once a year....my God!!!), I was talking to my sister in law Mandy, Tee Delatte and Jason Delatte (which it is his first time here) about just being excited to be in Uganda and the initial shock of "oh my goodness we in Africa people!" kind of feeling. He said something that I believe we can all relate to, he said if you would have told me when I first married Tee, "you guys will be doing mission work in Uganda, Africa....I would have never believed you!". But, guys that is what living for God is all about and being a willing vessel! He will open doors you would never believe is possible. He did it for me. He did it for my husband. He did it for my sister in law, Mandy and brother in law, Shay. He did it for Tee and Jason and all the other teammates who have joined us and he can do it for you. No that doesn't mean you are called to Uganda, Africa, but we are all called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
How can you do that where ever you may be today?
|(This is the bus that held 14 people...on top of all the luggage and look at all that luggage at the top! It seemed as if we were going 100 miles an hour around sharp curves and how we didn't lose any luggage is only a miracle!|
I think about the awesome people who are back home taking care of the team's children, my parents who are taking care of my children, the family and friends who have stood with us in prayer, my employees who hold the fort down every day doing amazing work, the people who have partnered with Refuge by donating their time, resources or money....these are all examples of being the hands and feet of Jesus.
We have so many things in store for this trip and I am happy to share that with you all over the next few weeks. Just to give you a little of an overview, so that you can be in prayer for our team in the next two weeks. We are going to be visiting multiple orphanage sites while we are on the journey. The first site is in the village of Kenkebu and this is the very first site that Shay and Mandy first visited many years ago, prior to Refuge 127 ever starting. The next site that we will be visiting, is in the village of Kachoma, which is the location that Refuge 127 has been involved with since the first time Mandy and Shay came to Uganda, Africa. On Mandy and Shay's first trip to Uganda, they prayed that God would show them the reason why they had come to Uganda. You see back then, Refuge 127 was not formed, it was the first time they stood on African soil, and they were part of a mission team they joined from Indiana for what they knew could be a one time thing. But, they were open. They were ready to hear from God and find their purpose.
Little did they know what God had in store for the future. During that first trip, Mandy and Shay were brought to the village of Kachoma, where the Bishop John Wayabire oversees (Bishop holds many positions, but in a nutshell, he is a cultural leader here in the villages in which we stay, a pastor, and has also started these orphanages). God connected Bishop John Wayabire and Shay in a mighty way over the years, but during that very first trip, they were able to view the property that was purchased in the Kachoma village, which would eventually house an orphanage and school for the orphaned and vulnerable children from that area. When they arrived on the property, all that existed was the shell of 4 buildings with only some basic walls. The bishop showed them the plans for the future site and explained the work that would need to be done in order to have the site up and running properly. After that visit, Mandy continued to pray about her purpose and she recalls God spoke to her loud and clear, "I just showed you!". She knew in that moment of prayer, exactly what the purpose was for her and Shay. The purpose to see this property. See the needs. See how long it had taken Bishop to simply build the shell of just 4 small buildings. She needed to see all of these things with her physical eyes so that her answer to prayer would make sense.
Since that very first trip so many things have happened, well first Mandy and Shay came back to Thibodaux and shared with our family just what God had done for them in Uganda. She knew that our fundraiser, Tour of Homes, was not just for orphaned or vulnerable children in our community, but also for the children of Uganda. Initially, it was a world wind, but things started forming and God started opening doors. Refuge 127 was formed and became an official 501(c) 3 by 2012. Now Mandy and Shay are leading teams to Uganda through the non-profit and we have done some amazing work in the village of Kachoma at the new orphanage site. Over the years through the donations that have come through to Refuge 127, we have seen the completion of 4 school classrooms, furniture for the classrooms, we have purchased 1.5 acres for future farming, built a girls dorm and just added bunk beds so every girl living there has here own bed to sleep in, dug two deep water wells for the orphanage site and also the people of the Kachoma village, and also built complete restrooms (and in case you wondering, basic buildings are not equipped with restrooms necessarily).
The purpose of us providing these facilities is because we want them to ultimately be self-sustainable, have adequate living quarters for children who are orphaned or vulnerable (meaning needy children, children without one of their parents, or without a family who can provide for them), have a place in which they can also attend school, and lastly and most importantly a safe place in which they can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ being taught. We have not completed all the work there, meaning all the facilities on the grounds have not been completed at this point. We currently need to build a boy's dorm because the boys are currently sleeping on the floor of their classrooms. So yes, they go to school there during the day and also sleep there at night. We need to build a common place or multi-purpose building which can be used for various purposes and also can be used as a church on Sundays. We desire to see the land be farmed, so they can reduce cost in food and truly live off of the land. We want them to be trained in Farming God's Way, which is a program to teach them proper farming skills by learning how to farm the way God designed. It's an incredible program and we have been lucky to be connected with some friends who are missionaries to Uganda doing this exact type of work, so we look forward to when we can use their calling. We also desire to build a fence around the property of the site to secure more safety for everyone there. This is just some of the projects that are in the works for Refuge 127.
If you want to know which way you can help, consider becoming a monthly sponsor through the Refuge 127 website and we can promise you your money will be used directly in Uganda. You can also do one-time donations through the Refuge 127 website also. We currently run a non-profit with very little overhead cost, using the majority of our donations directly on project specific needs. We all have full-time jobs and do this on a volunteer basis, so anytime you are desiring to help please let us know!
More to come!