Friday, August 17, 2012

Home at Last!

As most of you probably already know by now, we all arrived home safely yesterday. I just wanted to inform everyone that after over forty hours of traveling, our trip to Uganda came to a close, and we are back to our normal lives again. It's weird not being there with the kids and all the friends we made but it's great to be home before we start back up at Biola. God's work for us may be finished in Uganda, but he is already continuing his work through us in America. Personally, I am so excited to see what he has in store for us next.

Again, thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We are so thankful for all the people who made this trip possible. We could not have done it without you, so I hope you are blessed as much as we were by this blog and by this trip.

Signing out,
Heather Pape and the rest of Team Uganda.

God Bless!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our Time in Ntinda

So Internet has been scarce the last couple days so we will try to catch you up on everything, but so much has happened that you are probably getting a very brief overview.

First off, on Saturday we journeyed to Ntinda to help at the Agape Baptist Compassion Project. Unfortunately, even though we had confirmed days before, communication was lost somewhere along the line and none of the kids were informed to show up. It ended up being a very bittersweet predicament though because it enabled us to go back to the Children’s Village for the day. We got to spend a couple hours with the kids before giving a long, hard, tearful goodbye to each kid. It was hard on all of us to leave them and we really saw how much of an impact we had on their lives when they wept at our departure.

We went out to dinner that night at a place called CafĂ© Java and the food was fine, but it was just nice to go out after working the last couple weeks at the Village.  Then we went to the home of the Masiko family, where we have been living the last couple days. They graciously opened up their home to us and allowed us to just relax and enjoy Africa. We did not really do a whole lot, but we had a great time hanging out with their family. 

The first full day we were there we went to church at Agape Baptist and enjoyed a Bible study and a message about the work and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. After that we came back and relaxed for a while before we went grocery shopping. The Masikos had asked that we make them an American meal so we spent the majority of the day buying groceries, cooking, and doing the dishes. It was a great experience though and we were happy to bless them with our food, even though cooking in Africa was quite the experiment. The girls made pasta, pasta sauce, chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, and a vegetable medley and they really enjoyed everything. The boys were put in charge of dessert and so they ended up making smoothies for appetizers and then a white cake with nutella frosting for dessert. Even though it took the whole day, we were so glad to do that for them. 

Then on Monday we went into Kampala, the capital city, to do some shopping. We went to this wonderful craft store, which is a marketplace that you can barter at, and we had a blast! It was so fun not only finding great items, but talking our way down to great prices. Then we went out to a late lunch at a restaurant called Nandos. There they try to give Uganda some American food by serving burgers, chicken, pizza, and ice cream. Soon after finishing we went home to be reunited with Sandy Balli (Chelsie’s mom) and her mission team from Calvary Chapel Lake Arrowhead, as well as ¾ of the James family (the missionaries at the Village). We had a huge feast as the families and teams came together and we enjoyed a lot of speeches about having our common love and common goal for Christ. It was so fun, but we were sad that we had to go through another set of hard goodbyes to the Calvary Chapel team, the James family, and some other great friends.

Then Tuesday morning we began our long journey home. We left a little before noon in a rented bus and drove a couple hours to the airport. The team enjoyed a couple of snacks before boarding the 5 hour flight to Dubai, which is where we are right now.

We landed safely, as you can tell, and we rushed through the visa process, got on the metro (or the nol as they call it), and went straight to the mall to see if we could catch any movies. We ended up watching Madagascar 3 and then getting some McDonalds, since everything else had already closed. Now here we are back at the airport lounging around and waiting for our flight back to LAX. Please be praying for a safe journey home because we still have at least 20 hours of traveling left.

We are all exhausted and even though we all wish we could have stayed with the kids in Africa a little longer, we know it’s time to come home and we cannot wait to rejoin our families and friends again. God has completely rocked our worlds and I’m sure every one of us would love to share that.

To see what will probably be our final pictures, go to Uganda 2012 Album 6.

We love you all and really appreciate your support for this blog, but especially for this trip. It has meant the world to us. We hope to blog once more and inform everyone of our safe return.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cherishing the Moments

Today was a much easier day, as far as work goes. We were able to rest and relax a bit this morning. We spent a few hours packing, cleaning, and organizing. We had to sort through all of our things to separate those that we are taking home and those that we are leaving here. As a team, we were able to leave almost two full suitcases of clothes and such. It blessed us to be able to bless the family here with some things and then to know that the rest will go to children who truly need it more than we do. We spent the remaining hours before dinner simply playing with the kids. We tried our best not to think about having to say goodbye soon.

After dinner, the kids blessed us with a little goodbye ceremony. One girl gave a short speech of thanks to our team and the work we have done here. Another sang us a song she wrote for our team about God taking care of her. Some of the girls performed a dance for us. It was a very sweet time. The best part of the night was probably when we presented  each of the kids with a jersey of their. By the grace of God, we had enough jerseys donated to give one to every kid here in the orphanage. The sitting room became utter chaos as we called each child's name to give them their jersey and a team bracelet. There was a tumult of cheering and clapping and laughter. Such a sweet sound! Afterward, we spent about half an hour worshipping our Lord around a bon fire. We loved getting one last opportunity to sing praises with the children. Some of the kids came back inside to play games before we had to send them all home for bed.

Though we do not fly out until Tuesday, we are departing from the Agape Children's Village in the morning. There is another team coming here in a few days, and the missionary family needs time to prepare. We will be spending the remaining three days in Ntinda with the Ugandan family who started this orphanage. We are going to a Compassion project at Agape Baptist in Ntinda tomorrow. Agape Baptist is the church which bore the orphanage here, and it is the church to whom the church here is accountable. We are excited to stay connected with the work that is happening at ACV by being apart of the ministry in its entirety. We hope to post pictures from the last two days tomorrow, but we do not know what the internet will be like in Ntinda.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and thoughts. They are greatly appreciated. We feel them as we are here. Please pray that saying goodbye to the children tomorrow will not be too hard on us and on the kids. Please pray for God's peace and comfort upon all of us as, saying goodbye will be so hard. We all send our love and gratitude to those at home.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Now for the Hard Work

Today was a day full of the Lord's work being done and it was amazing. We helped with devotions at the Compassion project again today and spent a larger part of the afternoon hanging out with them. Chelsie gave us an amazing sermon on Proverbs 9 and wisdom before splitting the boys and girls up into smaller groups. In the small groups we talked to the older kids about purity and how to avoid sins of the flesh as well as the sins of the mind. We felt that God spoke through us so that we could reach these kids. They had few questions, but let's just hope that is because they understood it so well!

After the talks, we played sports with the kids until lunch time. Then following lunch we got down to the tough work. Mari, Monica, and I finished the last of the painting of the baptismal and it looks fantastic! Hopefully we will have some pictures to show you tomorrow! Meanwhile the boys worked hard digging up the field so that we could level it for a volleyball court. We joined them after, helping with raking, crushing rocks, and actually leveling and spreading the dirt. It definitely looks a lot better than it did and we are so happy to give them a safe, level place for them to volleyball.

While all this was going on we were making a large effort to hang out with the older girls. It was brought to our attention that they may need more of our focus since we had been hanging out more with the small children. While the boys did some of the harder work, we had a blast spending time with the girls. There was prayer, dancing, laughter, and so much more.

We stopped for a dinner break and then Tim, Cris, and our friend King led a worship night for the older kids. We went out to the outdoor sanctuary which overlooks the beautiful African scenery and sang praises to God for an hour. It was so wonderful to worship God with those kids, and they were happy to have that experience with us as well. Then to top it all off, we had popcorn and a movie night in the living room of the James' house. We watched The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry and it was a great movie about kids trying to understand how to live a life for Christ. Overall, the day was pretty exhausting and there was a lot of hard work and accomplishments both physically and spiritually, but it was SO worth it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Darkness and Light

 A lot has happened over the last couple days, and a lot of those things kept us up late (thus no blog post). So here is my attempt to catch you up on everything!

Last Friday we finished off VBS week, then later that night went to a church in a nearby town called Seeta. Pastor Bill was asked to give them a weekend of teaching about evangelism and we were invited and encouraged to come. Going to that church was actually an incredible experience. They welcomed us with open arms by serving us food and we had a great time hearing their worship music and showing them ours. Then when Pastor Bill spoke about surrendering our lives to Christ and his purposes, everyone, including the team, was moved.

The next day we returned so that Bill could give them more seminars on evangelism. We ate breakfast and lunch with them while listening to two more INCREDIBLE sermons from Bill. After that we put what we learned about evangelism into practice. We split up into groups and went around the village handing out tracts and telling people about Jesus. A lot of us were encouraged by the results, despite the language barriers that we faced. Although most of us had a good experience, there was a lot of spiritual darkness encountered.

The team had actually been experiencing a lot of spiritual darkness, so last night we actually spent a couple hours going around the Children' Village just praying in Jesus' name. We all felt that praying for the Village was a huge reason why God sent us here, and were encouraged because the heaviness seemed to have been lifted.


On a lighter note, on Monday we went on a SAFARI! We got up and left the house at 6 AM and drove four hours to Lake Mburo National Park, stopping for goat, banana, and corn along the way. We also crossed the equator, which was an amazing and rare experience. We had a great time driving around the park looking at monkeys, zebras, warthogs, and much more. The team felt inspired to watch The Lion King after that since our search for lions turned out futile. Then we stopped at a Ugandan hotel restaurant before heading on the long drive back. We got home around 2 AM and then had to turn around and get up early so that we could lead worship for the kids.

Since then, we have finished a lot of the painting work that needed to be done. We painted lines on the basketball court for the key and the backboard yesterday and then today we painted the baptismal outside the church.

So that is just a brief overview of what happened, and there is just so much more that words just cannot express. God is doing crazy work in our lives and we are excited to see what else we will be used for in our last few days at Agape Children's Village. If everyone could just continue to keep us and darkness we have faced here in Uganda in prayer, we would appreciate that. There is still a lot of work to be done here but we are humbled by how much God's glory is being shown all around us.

For more pictures from the last couple days, go to: Uganda 2012 Album 5.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Today we completed VBS week, and it was very bittersweet. As exhausting as it was, we had so much fun with the kids. We have already seen a lot of what we did with them sticking in their minds. Today our theme was glorify so for the skit we presented them with the story of Jesus' death and resurrection and then explained to them the Gospel message. Then we had a free day to hang out with them, showing that now we have freedom in Christ. In preparation for the day with the fun and this heavy topic, yesterday we went through a nearby village and invited any kids we saw to come today. They responded extremely well to our invitation because today we estimated having 50 more kids than we have had in previous days. It was also really encouraging because as we walked through the streets, kids called us by name. Monica seemed like a local celebrity since kids would go "whoo whoo!" which was her team cheer. Another way that we knew they were soaking in what we did at VBS was that multiple times we heard some of the younger kids singing worship songs that we had taught them.

On Wednesday, our theme was endurance so we did a skit about the life of Joseph. The kids loved it! We continued with teaching them basketball and volleyball that day, as well as introduced them to frisbee. Then on Thursday we talked about training. Our skit was about how Jesus avoided temptation in the desert because he had the biblical training to know how to withstand and respond to Satan. To go along with the theme we had training stations that they could do. Monica taught the kids how to stretch and run so that they could do so in a healthy way on their own. Tim continued their basketball training, and Mari did relay-type drills with them. It was actually hilarious to watch because she had the kids running left, right, forward, and back, and then dropping to the ground at each blow of her whistle. That was a fun day for the kids though.

Thursday was also fun because the team decided to go out and play basketball with the kids in the afternoon. We played hard for awhile with even teams and we had a lot of fun, but the boys were discontent. Cris and Tim wanted to play together so we played Cris and Tim versus everyone else. Let's just say it went badly for everyone else. They showed us up pretty well, but hey at least the kids have a good example of something to strive for when it comes to skill in basketball.

Overall VBS week went extremely well and we were sad to say goodbye to the kids, but there is still a lot more work to be done here at Agape Children's Village. This weekend we are helping out at a church in a nearby village, teaching them how to evangelize. If you could be praying for that whole experience, that would be great. We have really appreciated all the prayer you guys sent our way concerning sickness. We are all feeling a lot better and your continued prayers for not just us, but for the health of the entire village, would be amazing.

To see more pictures from VBS week go to Uganda 2012 Album 4

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Strength and Teamwork

The last two days have been incredible. We have really been able to see God work here in Uganda, but we have also been experiencing a little bit of spiritual warfare. Every member of our team has been feeling a little under the weather. There is a nasty cold going around, and I’m sure playing out in the rain didn’t really help either.  So please pray that we are able to overcome this sickness and pray that it does not hinder us from doing what God has brought us here to do.

 On a lighter note, we have completed our first two days of VBS! The first day was a little rough because we were still learning how to engage the kids in this culture, but overall it was a success. There was a lot of worship music, prizes, bubbles, and fun to be had with the sports. The kids had a really good time learning dodge ball (or attempting to), kickball, and basketball. The theme of the day was strength so we did a skit on David and Goliath and the kids found it absolutely hilarious.  We applied the concept of strength from the Lord both to the skit and the sports we taught them. We really enjoyed this time with the children because we were able to teach them things that will be important to their lives long after we leave this place. The 100+ kids that came to VBS the first day hopefully found it to be educational and fun, because I know that is how we felt about it.

Today, we had even more kids come. They were a lot more excited and interactive today which was really encouraging. Cris opened the VBS by teaching them “Simon Says” and they absolutely LOVED it. From then on out the tone was set. They were so excited to participate in hand motions during worship, games, and other activities. Our theme today was teamwork and we did a skit about how Moses and Aaron worked together. Then in the sports we told them how to use teamwork to succeed. We taught them some mechanics in basketball, soccer, and volleyball so that they could not just play mindlessly, but actually hone their skills in each of those sports. The kids responded really well to everything we were teaching them. VBS actually went an hour long today because after our time of sports we played more Simon Says and sang more worship songs because everyone was still so pumped up.  Afterward we were all exhausted, but we were thrilled because of how well everything went.

So that has been the main thing happening with us here in Uganda. The only other huge thing of mention was that yesterday we attended a traditional Ugandan funeral. An 87-year-old villager named John died and Pastor Bill was asked to speak at the funeral. In Uganda, apparently it is a huge honor to have mzungos (white people) at your funeral, so Bill asked us if we would join him and pay our respects.  We obliged. We walked through the village to where the ceremony was being held. It was very different than what we are used to. They wrapped the body in bark cloth right in front of us and then placed it in the casket. Bill gave his sermon, there was a eulogy (at least we think it was, but it wasn’t in English), and then we proceeded to the burial site where they lowered the casket in a hole and buried him. It was odd though because a lot of unexpected occurrences happened. The person who was doing the eulogy answered and talked on his cell phone DURING the eulogy. A crazy man came up and started talking during the service. The casket was dropped and the body spilled out as they were trying to lower him into the hole. Cris was actually given a shovel and asked to help bury him. Overall, it was a good experience to see their village and their culture, but it was a bit uncomfortable. We walked away feeling terrible for the family, but thrilled that we have this life and this opportunity to honor God—and we have life with Him after.

We still have three days of VBS ahead of us and we are excited to see what God does with them.  As long as we are able to ignore the sickness and focus on God and these kids, I know it is going to go well. Please continue to pray that God fills us with His Spirit so we are able say the right words and do the right things to make an impact on these kids. Please also pray for healing as we battle illness while trying to maintain a joyfully, upbeat attitude during VBS.

For more pictures from the last two days, go to Uganda 2012 Album 3