Thursday, November 1, 2012

Feet to Our Faith

Serving the "least of these" is a daunting task, but one which is also incredibly exciting and rewarding.  As we serve the community of Naigobya, we are often challenged with the reality of a life spent in physical and spiritual poverty, a hopeless life. It brings us great joy to bring hope to this community by literally putting feet to our faith.

Read on as Stacy reflects on caring for the feet of our neighbor children...

Washing someone’s feet is an intimate and humbling experience.  It is symbolic of servanthood, a lowering of one’s self. Now imagine washing feet that are dirty, wounded, and infested with jiggers, feet that are seldom washed or taken care of, feet that have no shoes and have walked many dirty, dusty paths.  These are the feet of many in our community of  Naigobya.  We had the honor of washing and treating our neighbors’ feet.  As we scrubbed and cleaned these feet our hearts were so touched by the privilege of serving  the least of these in this way.  Didn’t Jesus say‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  Were we really washing the feet of Jesus?  We were created for this, to serve, love and give of ourselves.  Such a small sacrifice on our part compared  to what Jesus did for us!
Stacy and team member Alisha Vice washing the feet of
neighbor children.

We knew that we had to do more than just wash these precious feet.  These children needed shoes to help keep their feet clean.  Off to the market we went in search of new shoes. The following week we were able to wash those dirty feet again and present Derek, Scovia, Agre, and Dennis with new shoes.  Little seven year old Derek danced and ran for joy when presented with his shoes.  It was very possible that these were the first shoes he had ever owned. The others were just as thankful; they couldn’t stop looking at their new shoes and we couldn’t stop the tears in our eyes at the joy we received in giving.  It is an experience that we will remember for a very long time.  Our hearts are full of thankfulness to be able to serve Him in such amazing ways!

Click here to see how you can donate to the Afayo Project to help us buy shoes for all the children of St. Paul's Primary School.

 Alisha washes Derek's feet
Derek has just had his feet washed, jiggers removed,
and ointment applied. Bandages help keep it clean.
Here's how you remove a jigger...
The "nurses!"
Derek receiving his shoes! A happy day!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Digging Deep

Current pit latrine for church and school
Constructing a pit latrine is not the most exciting thing to talk about, and definitely not the most interesting thing to donate toward.  But with that said, imagine a school without toilet facilities!  St. Paul's current pit latrine is a strong wind away from becoming a pile of rubble!  Afayo is stepping in to help solve that problem, in partnership with St. Paul's Primary School.   The school is currently raising money to dig the 40 foot deep hole, and in fact work has already begun.  When the hole is completed, our job begins!  We are now raising the $1500 that will be needed to complete the project.  If you are interested in helping to meet this basic but important need, please click here and find out how to donate!

The beginning of a new pit latrine. 30 more feet to go!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Water is Life

We have a new appreciation for water.  Even in the remote places of Congo and Tanzania where we have lived, we always had enough water. But in Naigobya, where we depend on rain and a 20 year old pump a quarter mile away, taking a shower or flushing a toilet are most certainly not taken for granted.  

We have two ways of getting water at our house.  The first is by collecting rain water.  We have a large tank which collects the water, but even a hard 30 minute rain will only fill the tank six or eight inches.  Unfortunately, there hasn't been much rain lately, so, with the tank on empty, we resorted to plan B, our second (and definitely not preferred!) option for getting water. 

Plan B involves a whole lot of work! First we fill 20 liter (about five gallons) plastic containers with water at the well (see below), carrying them back to the house in our van.  On this particular day, we filled 18 containers (360 liters). Since we have only six containers, we had to make three trips to the well.

Step 1: Filling plastic containers at the well.  The school kids are always happy to help!

Then, we use a rope and a lot of muscle to lift the containers up to the platform where the water tank sits.

Step 2: It takes two of us to lift and pull in order to get the containers to the top.
Finally, we pour the water into the large tank...

Step 3: It takes fifty 20 liter containers to fill this 1000 liter tank.
360 liters in one day was enough for this old man!

All that effort didn't even fill the tank halfway, which doesn't go very far if you are taking showers (there are eight people staying/working in our house!) and flushing toilets.  But the truth is, we still have it easy.  None of our neighbors have any indoor plumbing, and they haul their water on the back of a bicycle from the well.  I suppose I could make a long list of things that I take for granted, but water is no longer on the list.  Have you examined your list lately?  I suspect that almost every American takes water for granted, just as I once did.  Next time you have a chance, see what you can do to help make water more accessible to the poor in third world countries.  They will be very grateful for your help.  But best of all, you will be acting as the hands and feet of Jesus, the Living Water that we must bring to those so desperately in need!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Afayo Project Highlighted on Mission Network News

Recently Mark was interviewed by Mission Network News regarding our work in Naigobya.  Click here to read the article.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities

A typical homestead in Naigobya, compared to...
Today I sit in Jinja, second largest city in Uganda.  OK, that sounds more impressive than it really is, as Jinja is all of 100,000 people.  Still, there are a fair amount of pedestrians, taxis, bicycles, motorcycles, potholes, and pollution to navigate through just to go to the bank or the grocery store.  But then, at least there is a bank and a grocery store.  That's more than can be said for the tiny village of Naigobya, nestled "deep in the village," as they say, the African equivalent to being "out in the boondocks."   On our first visit, I thought we were headed to the ends of the earth (but I knew it wasn't because I had already been there when we lived in Tanzania).  What a contrast it provided to the hustle and bustle of Jinja and Kampala, two cities in Uganda where we have spent a fair amount of time.  At our home in Naigobya we have no water sources except rain (which we collect in a large tank) and a nearby well used by the entire community.  We don't have electricity, except for a couple solar panels, a battery, some 12v lighting, and a small inverter so we can charge our phones, which really don't work out there anyway, so why bother.  But it is quickly becoming home, since we didn't go there because of the posh accommodations.  We went there because the place is full of broken lives (not so unlike us) that need healing.  I think we can help with that, not because we are anything special, but because we have Jesus to offer, which means we have hope to offer, not just for today, but for tomorrow and for eternity.

...a typical home of a wealthy person in Jinja;

You have your own tale of two cities to tell, don't you?  The contrast between wherever you live and Naigobya is indeed extreme.  What can you do to help bring hope to the hopeless?  Lots.  But it begins with a realization that your chief goal in life cannot be to please yourself, but instead must be to bring glory to God.  Once you realize this, you'd be surprised at how much smaller your problems become, and how much bigger the needs of others become.  You might even think you are called to save the world, but don't make that mistake.  You are only called to serve him in whatever way he sees fit.  Maybe you would like to serve by partnering with us, not to save Naigobya, but simply to follow God into the homes of the broken.  We'd love it if you decided to do that.  It's a bumpy road at times, but always worth the trip.   

St. Paul Church in Naigobya, compared to the...

...ornate Bugembe Cathedral near Jinja;

The sleepy village of Naigobya, compared to the...

...Bustling downtown of Jinja.