Prayers for Elections in Uganda: #ugandadecides

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General elections take place today in Uganda. As we in the United States are currently in the midst of primaries, and undergoing all the steps to lead to our own general elections, my heart cannot help but break for Uganda. As frustrated as I get with our own process, and sometimes the outcomes, I am equally grateful for that process and a faith that the outcomes are fair and honest.

Today, I ask that you stand with us, and pray for Uganda.

As someone who loves Uganda and the people there, I ask that you join me (and our team) in praying for them. Pray for fairness, for a peaceful process, for honest outcomes, for whomever is elected to have wisdom in leading Uganda to new and better places.

The key election issues:
~ Unemployment,
~ Corruption and quality of public services,
~ Infrastructure development,
~ and health care.

A brief history:
Uganda was under the British until independence in 1962. There followed military rule. Most people over a certain age (myself included) can never forget the rule of the brutal dictator Idi Amin. An Army General, he ruled with terror and murdered anyone who stood in his way. He destroyed railways, slaughtered wild animal for his pleasure and kicked most foreigners out of the country so vital businesses disappeared overnight. The country collapsed.
The country held its first multi‐party democratic elections in 2005.

Yoweri Museveni, also a military man, has been in office since winning a five year guerrilla war in 1986. As I stated, he is now seeking to further extend his 30 year rule. Like many other African rulers, some say he is reluctant to hand over his power, since once he goes, many truths will be uncovered. He is quoted as saying “I entered by the gun and I shall only leave by the gun”. Many Ugandans therefore fear a bloody conflict, and so view a vote for him as a vote for stability and continued peace, rather than face the possible alternatives. He has reportedly said that he will occupy the office, regardless of the outcome of this election.

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Today’s election:
Over 15 million Ugandans are expected to vote today, out of a 37 million possible voters. In view of possible violent protests, the police have received new equipment for riot and crowd control. The news today says that 149,000 Police have been deployed into Kampala (the capital). There are teargas armoured vehicles positioned at strategic roundabouts and junctions. The people there have been warned to stock up on food and water and keep their phones charged and fuel in their cars. They have been advised to keep well away from town and busy public areas, just in case.

President Yoweri Museveni is given as favorite in front of the other seven candidates. The incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni, now 71, who has governed Uganda for 30 years, is seeking another five-year term on the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). In 2005, President Museveni won a campaign to lift the constitutional term limits, thus extending his rule.

There are a number of candidates who have put themselves up for election, but two are notably in the running against Museveni. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate is Amama Mbabazi, a former Prime Minister in the present government until he fell out with Museveni and was sacked in 2014. The other, Col. Dr Kizza Besigye, a candidate for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is from the town we will be working in when we return to Uganda in August, Rukungiri. He is well supported amongst his own tribe in western Uganda. He stood for election 5 years ago and was defeated amongst crys of vote rigging and corruption.The first ever TV debate was hosted recently but Museveni was notably absent. Museveni faces criticism from the West over the country’s worsening human rights record and he has accused Western Donors, concerned about misappropriation of donations, as interfering.

The candidates standing against Museveni have been arrested and held by Police on numerous occasions for “inciting unrest” and their rallies broken up with allegations that they are unsanctioned. The Police even raided the print room where the FDC manifesto was being printed. Uganda Broadcasting Corporation is state owned and has given Museveni an unfair portion of airtime compared to the other candidates.

 

Two election voting stations have already been closed, and voting there canceled because they received fake ballots. Teargas has been fired on crowds in Kampala because the crowds were angry over waiting hours for election materials to finally arrive.

One person died on Monday, when he was caught in a clash between Besigye supporters and security forces in Kampala. Several people were wounded as police fired bullets and tear gas, and the opposition threw rocks. The people of Uganda have become accustomed to this being “the norm” anytime someone is rallying for support in opposition to Museveni.

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Please pray for peace this week with the election and people of Uganda. Pray for those voting that they may vote with their conscience and not simply follow the general consensus. Pray for fair voting on polling day. Pray against corruption. Pray for peace once the results are declared, that Uganda may be God fearing Country and those who rule do so with servant‐hearts, for the good of their country.

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~Amy W.

(The pictures in this post are from Ugandans our team met in 2015)

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Prayers for Elections in Uganda: #ugandadecides

With God (2015)

Originally posted on August 24, 2015.

“With God every project succeeds!” These were the lyrics on the back of a work truck that I noticed today as we were driving to our work site this morning. I’m always amazed at the speaking of God even when I am not intentional about hearing Him. What impeccable timing He has to give me the perfect message for what’s going on in my life at that time….building a well in Uganda!

I can only imagine what God would say to me if I made it a point to focus on Him in all that I do. I hate to think about all the missed God messages because of my carelessness in seeking Him. It has been and continues to be my prayer to seek God with intention in every aspect of my life. Through my seeking I desire to know Him and to strengthen and grow closer to the God identity in me. So much so that I’m not frustrated or  bothered by the challenges of life but rather welcome them as an opportunity to be a part of God’s story for His glory!

With God every project succeeds!

We are half way through the building of the two wells in the subcounty of Barr in Lira, Uganda yet we did not come this far without challenges. The other day we arrived at the worksite to find out there was an obstruction, a large rock lodged down the pipe of our well. It was surmised that a person(s) from the village, perhaps a child out of curiosity threw the rock down the pipe.

Uncertain if we could undo the damage, we proceeded through with our physical corrective measures, but only With God! Our team leader Amy gathered us together and proceeded to pray over the project and resolution to the overnight event that had temporarily halted our progress.

We proceeded to follow instructions to chip away at the lodged rock with hopes that we would dislodge it from our pipe and continue building the well and still finish it according to schedule. We worked with a determined mindset and a willingness if necessary to redo three days of hard work.

We continued to persevere using the apparatus to chisel down the rock into pieces to be removed from the pipe. Within 20 minutes we hit the jackpot, chunks of rocks were pulled out.

Sometimes obstacles and setbacks allow us to see the power of God at work. It’s a reminder that what seems impossible is more than possible with God!  We can get caught up in the work, reaching the goal, or accomplishing the task that we lose sight of the purpose of our work.

Reading that signpost today, was a reset of my mind to put God first in all things. It was a prompting that in all things seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all other things will be granted. It’s a fact, “with God every project succeeds”! So in my project of life I go it not alone, but With God!

Almost Ready Well

Written by Kimberly

With God (2015)

Most Welcome (2015)

Originally posted on August 23, 2015.

Greetings are natural and expected even if it’s nothing more than a formality. “Most Welcome” is a greeting that is definitely a formality in Uganda, yet it is an expression that has been imprinted on my heart with expanded appreciation since arriving here.  I not only hear welcome I feel and see welcome throughout Uganda!

When we arrived at Kanberra Hotel in Lira, I immediately developed a relationship with Phiona the receptionist who was exemplary of the Uganda term I was sure to hear again, “most welcome.” My request to charge my cell phone prompted the response, “you are most welcome.”  During one of my most welcomed conversations with Phiona I told her we stayed in Kampala at a place called Banana Village. She was very familiar with it and proceeded to educate me on a few things. She told me that Entebbe where we landed means “take a seat” and Banana Village was a place of welcome. Phiona related it to inviting someone to have a seat in your living room as you do with family. She told me Kanberra was also a place of welcome. Quite naturally I expect the welcome experience in the hospitality business, but I saw it in the Uganda culture. I feel it in the gentleness of their tone and the warm spirit that subconsciously begins to soften me.

While building the well and meeting the people in the community “most welcome” was not spoken but rather experienced. The children greeted us with their presence at the entry point of the worksite. Others waved and smiled at us as we drove off in the van. A few extended a helping hand. An elder in the village offered his seat to me in the shade. What an Entebbe moment! My most heart warming experience of “most welcome” came when the female children as young as 2 or 3 years of age would extend their hand and bow with a quick curtsy. With each wave, smile, gesture or word I found myself most welcoming Uganda into my heart!

As we traveled around to visit the various private schools in Lira, we were greeted by the officials and the staff with the words welcome, you are most welcome.  From Kenframa to Amazing Grace and finally to the Uganda Christian Nursing Institute those words were a common language. It was obvious the extension of such a greeting and a warm reception to our given title of friend was customary yet the words resonated with me. It was an energy, a spirit that made me reflect on “welcome” from a different lens. I began to consider the perfect demonstration of “most welcome”…Jesus! The author of what it really means to welcome. Jesus welcomed us to life eternal with Him. With arms stretched out, He welcomed us into the holy family!  There’s nothing like the welcome of Jesus!

So the Ugandan’s most welcome is their walk in the truth of  Hebrews 13:1-3 which reads, keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Entebbe Uganda you are family!

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Written by Kimberly

Most Welcome (2015)

Our Caroline (2015)

Originally posted on August 22, 2015.

“Life is hard in Uganda
Majority of the people live in poverty
Against my will I left America
I had a good life
A good job
I was getting my papers in order
Then they tricked me
I was put on a plane back to Uganda
But God is so Good
God loves me so much
I am glad to be back home”

These were the words in the story that captivated us as we sat in Cafe Path after walking around the marketplace in Lira, Uganda. As we walked in, there was this beautiful tall presence that stood in a full length African style dress who spoke with familiarity to a gentleman behind the counter in the kitchen area.

Shortly thereafter she sat down at a table as she fumbled with the electronic devices and accessories housed in her bags. Sue and Sunday our Mission4water leaders had already engaged her in conversation. We quickly learned she indeed was more than familiar with the good American food at Cafe Path and she was also more than acquainted with America. She knew the life of an American, but what she knew best was her place of origin and the provision of God over her family, her home…Uganda!

This beautiful spirit is Caroline!

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Written by Kimberly

Our Caroline (2015)

Be Hospitable (2015)

Originally posted on August 21, 2015.

1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable with one another without complaint.

If God has intended to challenge me in new ways on this trip then my first challenge was delivered to me today.

This morning, day 2 of working, we began our day in Ephesians 4 discussing a life worthy of our calling.  Our devotional leader asked us, what gifts we thought we were brining to the trip. My immediate response was hospitality. My greatest joy is opening my home to friends and strangers. I live to provide people a comfortable space to build relationships and share in nice meals. Fortunately, God has provided me with the means to do so.  However, my response must have been one filled with pride rather than of service as only two hours I was confronted by God.

Yesterday, local villagers watched us work on the well and must have realized that we had no place to sit on breaks. So today they gifted us with four beautifully constructed chairs, chairs that according to our coordinator are not easy to come by. At that moment I felt challenged by God. The villagers who sometimes go without food or drink water from contaminated springs were able to care for us, for no reason other than to provide comfort.  I had to ask myself; if I had little or no resources to meet my basic needs or my family’s needs, could I be or rather, would I be as hospitable as I am now? Would I be willing to open my home to friends and strangers if I couldn’t provide for myself?

And just to drive the point home, God left his final statement for me in the form of a small boy and his great act of kindness. As we gathered our things to leave for the day we left a box behind with a single bottle of water. One bold little boy decided to see what we left behind and was elated to find the bottle of water. He immediately turned to a friend, smiled and gave the water the friend.

Challenge Accepted.

Julianna

Written by Julianna

Be Hospitable (2015)

We Hit Water! (2015)

Originally posted on August 19, 2015.

Our first day onsite was a huge success! Before we came, the head of Mission4Water, Sue Morgan, did a scouting mission to see which village would most benefit from a well. Amazingly, she found two right near each other. With the extra labor (us) and no extra transportation costs (because of the closeness of the two villages), she had determined that we could put in two wells for minimal extra money! Needless to say, we were thrilled and came prepared to do just that.

So, our team split up into two different groups and made our way to the sites. Immediately, we became the day’s entertainment for the village. Apparently, if “white people” are an exotic species around these parts, white people doing manual labor are sequin covered unicorns. It seemed like the entire village came out to greet us. And once we started working, they settled in for the show. Despite the blazing sun, the crowd only grew as the day went on.

Our biggest prayer before we came was that we would hit water quickly. As usual, God was not messing around. We hit it on our first try. We were able to dig twenty feet down on the very first day, praise the Lord!

Drilling the well is really hard, of course. We have some big metal poles and manual augers, but it takes some serious muscle power to make that hole. Nothing has ever felt better, though. Seeing the wide eyes of all those children as they watch us work and knowing that they’ve been told that we are doing this because God loves them is pretty much the greatest thing ever. We all feel so incredibly blessed to get to be a part of this.

Please pray that we won’t run into any complications and that, despite the language barriers, we will find a way to develop real relationships with the people of these villages. Thank you again for going along on this journey with us! Your prayers are definitely being answered!

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When we (first) arrived, these two little girls were collecting water for their families. They just walked all that way to get to the “good water.”

 

We Hit Water! (2015)

The Beginning (2015)

Originally posted August 18, 2015.

We made it to Uganda safely! Just over twenty-four hours after we began our journey. However, once we arrived, we still had to get from Entebbe to Lira. An eight hour drive to the north. It ended up being a blessing that we did. It allowed us to see so much more of the country.

The landscape we passed was beautiful, with stretches of thick jungle-ish (not a word?) shrubbery and other, sparser land punctuated by those striking African trees we all know from the movies. What was more interesting to me, however, were the people we passed along the way and their homes. I had seen them before, those tiny thatched huts that people use to house entire families. I had seen them in quite a few poorer countries across the globe. But this was different. Here they weren’t the primitive lodgings reserved for the underprivileged few who live on the outside of society. Here they seem to be the norm.

Uganda is indisputable a hugely impoverished country.

The other thing that was striking to me was that, while everyone we’ve met have been very friendly, we don’t seem to get the ready smiles and greetings that I’ve found in other areas of Africa. In fact, I don’t see them laughing with each other as much either. I’m sure it’s a fluke, that I’ve just been looking at the wrong times. I’ve only been here a couple of days after all. It’s also likely that they’re not greeting the tourists because this is not a typical tourist area. They’re not used to seeing us. They’re not trying to sell us anything.

I can’t stop thinking that it might be something else, though. That just maybe, as a people group with minimal access to water, a shortage of food resulting in (on average) one meager meal a day, and an entire family sleeping on the floor of a tiny structure cobbled together out of sticks, clay, and cow dung… it might just be that they don’t have much to smile about.

And yet, Ugandans are clearly an active, vibrant people group. Everywhere we’ve been, people are outside, going here and there, hanging out with their friends in front of the local shops. It feels like they are forever in motion, taking jerry cans of water home for their family or heading down the cratered dusty roads, making their way to some place I can only imagine.

It’s that zest for life that is opening my eyes to the fact that God might have brought us here to bless the Ugandans with clean water, but He will likely end up using them to bless us right back.

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* I’m going to post entries in order of experience. However, due to limited time, Internet access and tech issues, most entries will be a few days behind. Also, posts will be contributed by different team members. So, if some entries seem to depict wildly differing experiences or observations, it’s not because of schizophrenic issues.

The Beginning (2015)