It Is Never The Same – Krista

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Refugee Settlement houses and gardens

For the third year in a row, I have co-lead the Uganda Mission team with Amy, and together we are sent out via my church in partnership with local NGO’s and Ugandan people. We have never been the same since we started doing this together.

The mission and projects each year are never the same.
The teams are never the same.
The process to prepare is never the same.
The ways in which God works in each of our lives is never the same.
Uganda is never the same.
Amy and I are never the same.
Our community of supporters are never the same.

It is just never the same year in and year out.

It truly takes us a full year to plan the project, prepare the team, fundraise, go on the trip, and debrief afterwards. Whether we take 6 people or 13 with us, it is intense and we make no apologies because it is worth every bit of it once we are there in country or on the other side.

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The entrance to the reception and processing center for the refugees.

One hilarious moment in Uganda this year, I was lightly chiding two team members for not knowing something that had been communicated several times to them. Without losing a beat, one of them responded with, “To be fair, you send us a lot of information.” – I busted up laughing and proceeded to extend some more grace and patience as I re-explained what they needed to know. The reality is, for months upon months we DO share loads of information. We have meetings, send countless e-mails, they read books and give reports to the team, and hundreds upon hundreds (upon thousands?) of text messages (#willtimeverseethis?).. It IS so much information.

Our information spans from health needs, like shots and malaria medicine, to getting visa’s, what type of physical condition they should be working towards, what proper hydration looks like…
We have endless documents that have been slowly created over the years that tell them what should be packed, tips and trainings on fundraising, how to answer questions, and personal growth challenges like fasting, praying, and leading a team devotional.
Which doesn’t even include the on-the-ground preparation information so they can better understand the project and culture once we are there!

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Our team at the 4th Annual Race for Hope 6k Run/Walk an Cookout in June.

We never lose sight of the fact that our team is made up of the entire spectrum of personalities, gifts, strengths, weaknesses, fears, anxieties, backgrounds, and cultures. Some team members have been every year with us repeating, and others have never in their life considered doing anything like this! – So, we are strategic and intentional about teaching everyone, encouraging people to try new things, and sometimes we just ask them to trust our process without first understanding.

Amy and I say every year, “The Uganda mission is what our team’s mission is, but the people we take with us, they are the OUR mission.” We do everything we can to pick, cultivate, train, prepare, pour into, support, encourage, and lead the people who come with us. It is intense, and we spend a lot of hours talking through and strategizing how to best lead each person and the team as a whole. We spend so much time praying for and over each person, which includes processing through scripture we feel is uniquely for each one of them, and then we give them a journal with a few of our prayers and the scripture we have been praying for them.

Yet, no matter how much we prepare ahead of the trip each year, there is just something about actually going that opens the eyes of everyone we take with us; and that is what gives my intense physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion overwhelming joy. I love getting to lead the team each year. I am always amazed that God let’s me do this with Amy, but I am also deeply honored that the team of people follow me, especially the ones who return year after year. I am not perfect, and I am not exempt from the inevitable in-country meltdown, or the post-trip emotional chaos that is returning home. Yet, I am always amazed and grateful that the team trusts us and chooses vulnerability.

We are never the same.

Amy and I are never the same, our team is never the same, and Uganda is never the same.

To date, through our missions teams across the last four years, and because of the hundreds upon hundreds of people who have financially supported us, we have funded, and in some cases built 15 clean water wells and one Maternity Ward/Urgent Care facility in Uganda. That means that, somewhere in the vicinity of 5,200 people now have clean water, and an un-countable number of people have improved access to healthcare. Ugandans and South Sudanese men, women and children across generations are healthier in tangible ways because of the years of work we put into this trip, and because of the support we get from so many people around the world and in Uganda!

But, no matter how much work we do, how many amazing things we get to build, or the people we partner with; each year I am more convinced that it is Amy, myself and our team that are changed forever. We go to love, support, encourage and help, but we are the ones who are changed, honored, and blessed because of the experience. It is humbling in ways that really are hard to articulate.

No matter how many years I do this, the challenge comes in accurately putting into words what has happened. How do I share well all that God did, the world views that shifted, the sparks of life and new vision, passions that were ignited or discovered for the first time, new relationships that were formed, injustices that were witnessed, and so much self-discovery?… How do I learn and share so that other’s get to also learn?

I don’t know. I still stumble and babble my way through sharing with anyone who asks with no more eloquence than I did years ago. Each year is unique and different, and I am never the same, but my struggle to share it all well stays the same.

Because Amy and I know intimately the struggle with returning home, the difficulty in process and sharing what happened, on one of the last couple of nights we are in Uganda, we do a re-entry training preparing to come home. Over the years we have cultivated this training, added to it, and made it much more comprehensive than when we first started…. But, even still, sharing examples, questions to help process, creating timelines, and giving tips on how to accurately navigate the emotions and relationships we encounter when we get home; it doesn’t remove the struggle. No matter what we do to prepare the team, in some ways, it feels a little traumatic to return home to the busy chaos of our schedules. Uganda removes so many distractions simply by lack of power/wifi/cell service etc.. There’s just less competition for our attention, but also we build into our days so much more time for God, and life back home just doesn’t lend to the same cadence.

Each year, I think it will be better and easier to return home after Uganda.
Without fail, every time, it is not better or easier, but instead it is uniquely challenging, and really emotional and difficult in new ways. I think the only thing I get better at, is giving myself the space to navigate jet lag and self-care so that I am able to begin to process…  But, even my process looks different each year.

One week out, I have only really just begun to process all that God did in and through me this year in Uganda. So, unfortunately if you ask me how Uganda was, it’s really anyone’s guess what will come out of my mouth… You might get a funny story, a ridiculous situation, or intense feelings… My responses are never the same!

So, now what?

Well, we are still in need of some funds to complete the Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for the Imvepi Refugee Settlement! It is SO CLOSE to being fully funded and completed!!…

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Nikita and Elijah giving the medical donations from their companies to the doctor and nurses that run the current tent health centers.
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Our team literally standing on the foundation of our 521 supporters! (as of the day this picture was taken)
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My brother and I sharing in the joy and excitement of our supporters and the progress made on this project!

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But also, we already had to submit our application for 2019! Insane.

We don’t yet have our project nailed down for what we will be doing next year, but we are already starting to get that going and working with our on the ground NGO’s and contacts to figure out what next year’s project will be.

So, stay tuned as we continue to post blogs from different people on our team this year. They will be sharing thoughts, pictures, lessons learned, and who knows what else!

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My prayer brick installed in one of the walls. Psalm 147:3.

Thank you for following along with our journey.
Thank you for supporting us financially, with prayers, and for caring about what we care about!

I am full of so much gratitude and love for you all!

-Krista
Team Co-Leader
#ugandaexcited

Ps. Apologies if there are parts of this that ramble or don’t make sense…Still struggle bus emotions and thoughts so, this is what you get! 😉

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It Is Never The Same – Krista

1 Week Out! #Ugandaexcited

Hello friends!
We are currently one week out from leaving for Uganda!!!
We are so grateful for all of your support and encouragement!
Thank you for continuing to check in with us to see how we are doing on all fronts. – This is a huge undertaking, and we feel that; but, our trust is in God, and that this is His mission, not ours, and He will provide in all ways to His own glory!
We wanted to send you some updates, and also if you could be praying for and with us:
Prayer Needs:
1. Health and Safety – for our team, for our travel, for the workers in Uganda.
2. Protection against spiritual attack especially leading up to our departure.
3. For team leaders Amy and Krista as we lead this team and trip – all the things!
4. For all of us to see and experience Jesus in new ways.
5. Finances and fundraising – simply put, it takes money to do this!
6. Logistics – for medical supplies and equipment, for doctors and nurses to transfer over!
7. For Pastor Bob and Sue – Our on the ground contacts/coordinators/advocates/friends
8. For our team – For lives to be changed, eyes to be opened, hearts transformed, etc…
9. For this trip to be a marker moment and altar time to point back to in the lives of our team, the lives of Pastor Bob and Sue, and the South Sudanese and Ugandan people we are working with…that we will all look back on it and say…”remember what God did?”
10. Protection on a spiritual, physical, and emotional level, for everyone involved
11. The Salvation of the workers, South Sudanese, and Ugandans who do not yet know the Lord.
 
Financial Needs and Updates:
We are currently at 72%!!! God is so good!!! Which means we have just over 27 thousand left to raise, to see this through to TOTAL completion!
We know this means we will be fundraising even when we get back! So prayers over #5 anytime you think of it!!! And if you know anyone who you think may be interested in giving to this cause, would you consider sharing our fundraising link with them?

https://aoneeight.managedmissions.com/MyTrip/uganda2018

Stay Updated:
Additionally, we will be updating this blog, if possible while in Uganda so you can follow along here: https://ugandaexcited.wordpress.com/ (sign up to follow and get updates)
If we are not able to update our blog due to wifi access, etc. We will be updating and posting to Instagram (and then pushing that to Facebook), so go follow Amy and Krista if you don’t already!… Or just search #ugandaexcited on Facebook or Instagram!
Current on the Ground Plan:
At this point it is looking like we will be laying brick for internal walls, working to apply plaster, painting windows/doors, and possibly laying the cement for the sidewalk around the building… However, TIA (This is Africa) so the plan could change half a dozen times before we even get there! We will be flexible!
We keep talking about how we can’t remember a time when we’ve ever been in such a place of holy anticipation and expectantly waiting, we have this overwhelming sense that God is going to blow our minds! We joke that we keep saying “We have no idea” and that God is jokingly shaking his head and nodding…”you have no idea.”
We are so grateful for all of your support, encouragement, and love!
– A&K (and the rest of the team)
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1 Week Out! #Ugandaexcited

This is Really Happening!

Amy keeps laughing and marveling at the fact that, “This is really happening!”

The Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility is underway!

Long before we ever get to Uganda, and for a decent while afterwards work is happening! Stateside we are fundraising, and still need funds (please donate here), in Uganda is the real hard work of clearing land, laying stone, mixing and pouring concrete, and laying bricks!… And that’s just so far!

We are amazed at all that the Lord is doing, it is actually quite overwhelming to stop and look at the timing of everything. Every single time we needed to send money ahead so that work could start, continue or materials could be ordered we miraculously, by the blessing of the Lord had the money donated that week. He is going before us literally to start this project before we get there, and by prompting literally (on last count) 462 individual people to donate money to support our project and team!

SO! With that as the backdrop… Three weeks out from today, we will be LANDING in Entebbe Uganda, aiming to get a few hours of sleep, and then make the long drive up to Arua in the far North West area of Uganda.IMG_6773

The preparation for this type of project and trip takes a full year of planning, preparation, work and of course fundraising. – At the beginning of the planning process, it always feels a bit like getting ready to hike the largest mountain, navigate crazy terrain, traverse waterfalls, and often doing it all blindly in prayer and faith while leading a team of people behind us!

This year’s team is full of incredible people.

I (Krista) always say that getting to know, love, and then sharing the full year of learning and experiences of a project like this is my favorite part. We are a unique group and so full of varying personalities and perspectives, but, it has been so fun to see the constant within the team to be encourage and support first, followed by lots of laughter, prayer, and so much love.

At this point, it looks as though when we get there in three weeks, we will be joining the construction team in laying brick on the interior walls, mixing and pouring concrete/cement for the outside sidewalk area around the building, and likely plastering walls. It is always a unique experience to learn the Ugandan way to do these things (especially if we have never done anything like this stateside!). One of our big goals as a team though is not to push our American timelines or methods, but instead learn… learn, support, and work hard!.. But, also we want to build relationships with those we are working with.

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The update picture we received on June 13th!

We believe it would be a waste of time to go, build a beautiful Ugandan Hospital for the Imvepi Refugee Settlement in zone 2, and not to walk away with friends and stories to share from these incredible people.

This is really happening! We have no idea all that the Lord is going to do in and through us on this trip in just a few short weeks, but, we are full of holy anticipation and excitement.

So, at this point, we are getting a lot of questions somewhere along the lines of:
How can you support us?

Here is our short answer:
1. Prayers – For travel, health, safety, the Ugandan workers, our team, finances, the refugees, Pastor Bob and Sue (our on the ground contacts/partners/planners and friends), the team leaders (Amy and Krista), our team’s spiritual formation, and against spiritual attacks.

2. Finances. We still need about $26,000 to cover the last couple of phases of construction. (Our team’s expenses are fully covered, and the first two phases are mostly covered).

3. Send us encouragement. – Seriously, commenting on our social media posts, asking questions, write us notes.. whatever it is, the physical presence and engagement of those we love is HUGE.

4. Follow along with our journey! – We love all that the Lord is doing in each one of us, in Uganda long before we ever get there, and there is a building excitement and anticipation of what will happen while we’re there (and after we get home)! Follow along and be a part of what is happening!

Thank you to every single person who has donated,
shown up, encouraged, and prayed for us on this journey!

We aren’t even at the mountaintop high and God’s faithfulness is beginning to overwhelm us!

So much love and gratitude,
-Krista
(Team Leader)

This is Really Happening!

Let’s Build a Hospital

This year our team has taken on the incredible task of working with local Ugandans to  build a Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda!

Background Info:

Previously, our team has gone to Uganda to provide clean water (which is a huge issue throughout Uganda) and Mission4Water continues to do amazing work! They have taken some time to go back and re-visit wells to service them, and in some cases needing to entirely fix them! So, due to the nature and time it takes to plan these trips, we have decided for this year to shift the focus to a new project!

To help us identify needs and navigate logistics far ahead of our mid-summer arrival, we are working with Bob N. an amazing local Ugandan (who is also connected to Mission4Water)! Bob invests all of his time in helping shift the culture of Uganda, focusing on leadership development and community care trainings. He wrote a book you can get here and learn more about what he’s doing here and also watch this video.

What?

Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda!

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Maternity Ward Floor Plans

This is the floor plan for the building that we’ve decided to go with. It is much smaller than our original goal, but since it is already pre-approved by the government it means significantly less red-tape to jump through (which is worth it)!

Where?

Imvepi Refugee Settlement 
(On the far West side of the image)

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Image taken from link.

The current plan is to build in zone 2 of the Imvepi Refugee Settlement.

Imvepi is largely comprised of South Sudanese refugees; and this particular zone has a greater chance of being around for quite some time over the original hope of building in a different zone with greater need (but less chance of being around for as long). – So after lots of discussion about where to place the Maternity Ward, the long-term impact of zone 2 just couldn’t be dismissed in part due to the larger native community that would be also impacted, and better served currently as well as once the South Sudanese are able to return home safely.

UNHCR information on the South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda

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Click to watch the Future Site Video!

Watch the video above to see the (likely) location for our building! The two semi-permanent structures (tents) currently serve as the health facility and double as offices for food distribution to another zone.

When?

The current plan is to be in country for 14 days in the middle of summer. – The exact dates are still to be determined, and largely depend on trying to get the least expensive flight prices for our team in order to save travel costs that can then be applied to the project!

However, we will send funds ahead of our arrival so that they can lay the foundation, begin preparing with brick making on site, ship all materials, and of course tackle the very real need for water here as well. – You can’t make bricks without water, nor can you pour concrete!

Why?

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2017, Entebbe Uganda. Celebration dinner after providing 3 clean water wells with Mission4Water.

Team leaders Amy and Krista have a passion for building a community. – Specifically in rallying people together with common goals, and creating a way for people to learn, grow, and be a part of something that can change the world for the better.

Why this project?

After lots of discussions, Amy and Krista felt it was important to both highlight the work, and give a voice to the refugee crisis that is happening in Uganda. There is incredible work that is already happening, but the South Sudanese refugees (along with lots of other people from places like DRC, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, Rawanda and others) that are fleeing to Uganda, and largely being overlooked due to other refugee crises around the world.

So, the big question that we asked ourselves was, “What practical way can two people, leading a small team, backed by supporters impact and improve the lives of refugees?”

Lots of back and forth discussions with Bob N. and it was finally settled on the very tangible need for the refugee women to have a place to safely deliver their babies. Currently women are delivering children on the floors of their tents, which is dirty, dusty or muddy depending on the time of year… OR they are walking crazy distances to get medical care.

We decided that at the very least, we could rally people and companies to support us in literally saving the lives of innocent children, and providing medical care for those who have already experienced extreme trauma.

How can you help?

There are four main ways to help and support our team!

  1. Support us financially* or join one of our events!
  2. Follow along with our blog and on social media via the hashtag #ugandaexcited
  3. Learn and Share about the refugee crisis in Uganda
  4. Pray and send our team encouragement to uganda[at]aoneeight.org

Thank you to our family, friends, and the companies for the amazing support and encouragement already!

Thank you!

~Amy, Krista, and the Uganda team!

*Any donations received above our fundraising goal will be donated to the local NGO’s we are working with to ensure proper care and support for the community.

Let’s Build a Hospital

Prayers for Uganda

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Our team sans Rachel at our Commissioning!

We leave TOMORROW!

We have all of our shots, our money is in, our bags are (somewhat) packed, our excitement is mounting!!

What are we doing again?

We are partnering with Mission4Water and HAND AUGERING two clean water wells in the Rukungiri area of Uganda, Africa!

How can you pray for us?

  1. Health – But really!… We have 10 people going to do really hard work, with lots of opportunities for things to happen.
  2. Water – We need to hit water TWICE!
  3. Safety -We have 10 people going to do hard work, with lots of opportunities for things to happen. (haha.. This is also a big deal)
  4. Awareness – For many this is their first Mission, please pray that we are aware of God’s presence, and know when to speak, and when to listen.
  5. Fun – Pray that in the midst of it all we have fun!

Teammate Rachel asks:

“That God will ordain a divine appointment, and I will recognize it when He presents it and have the courage to step into it.”

Teammate Jessie asks:

  1. A new season with God. Praying that we each experience God in a new way and God reveals more of himself to each one of us. Praying for God to open our eyes to things we have not seen before. Praying for vulnerability with the team and that we would be able to have an unbreakable bond with one another.
  2. Focus and presence. I pray we would each allow ourselves to rest in him and be present in Uganda and all that he has to show me and the team. That I would not be worried about what will happen when I return or finding a job.
  3. Prayers for how we carry ourselves and interact with the people of Uganda. Praying we lead with love and that we are sensitive to their culture and learn more about their lives. That we would not come with our agenda but Gods agenda and that we would know God has been and will continue to be present in this wonderful country.

Below is a prayer written by our teammate Tia:

Dear God,

Its tomorrow! We’re leaving tomorrow! It has been months of researching, preparing, praying and asking (really begging) for money and now its tomorrow. I am beyond #Ugandaexcited. I am in Uganda disbelief. When I met Krista and Amy months ago in a coffee shop, I could not have pictured this place I am in now or the feelings and emotions stirring within me. Isaiah 6:8 reads: ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”‘  Here we are Lord, send us! God be with us. Walk where we walk. Use us, work through us. Let us be vessels of Your holy presence. Change the atmosphere in Uganda and Lord change us. May we never be the same. Do what only You can do Lord. Let hope flow through us, as fresh water flows through pumps. Thank You for calling us and allowing us to be on Your team Lord, in this mission and in life. It is in the might and matchless name of Jesus I pray.

Amen.

We are #UgandaExcited and #OnMissionEveryDay

Team Uganda,
Amy, Krista, Thomas, Joe, Debbie, Nicholle, Sally, Rachel, Jessie, Tia

If you would still like to donate, you can here!

Prayers for Uganda

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)

Prayers for Elections in Uganda: #ugandadecides