Greeting friends and prayer partners,
As I sit and think on the amazing two weeks we have had as a team in Ishunga, I can’t help but marvel at the goodness of the Lord. The team bus drove off early this morning after lots of hugs and tears. The dust whipped up on the road as the morning fog lifted. Within minutes they were out of sight, but certainly not out of our minds. Those of us left here at the IMOC felt a sense of loss and joy as our teammates began their 8 hour road trip to Entebbe followed by a 24 hour flight home to Oregon.
The stories that God created here will last a lifetime in the minds and hearts of each one of us. As we ponder over many of the new experiences we have had this trip, we will undoubtedly have our own stories to tell as we have all left our own unique footprint on the land called Ishunga.
The foundation walls to the primary school have been built for about 30% of the school. The footings are ready for the remaining walls, but now we wait. God is good and will provide for the remaining resources needed to complete the rest of the foundation and school. Lord willing we will have the entire structure build by February 2016 and the classrooms will be filled with eager children waiting to learn. In addition to the school foundation, various building and maintenance projects were completed. The hard work of many has made the IMOC a wonderful place of living and service for the Lord.
The UV Filtration system has been installed and now we have safe drinking water for everyone who calls the IMOC home. The need for buying bottled water or using fuel or wood to boil the water has been eliminated and the cost savings can now go into better things such as food and/or other needed supplies. What a blessing to turn a tap and experience a fresh glass of cold natural water that is now bacteria free!
Community outreach was a real blessing to everyone. During our various outreach times, each one of us had moments that touched us deeply. Whether it was seeing small children in clothing that most of us would not even use in our garage as a shop towel, or receiving a chicken from an extremely poor woman as a gift because she was so thankful for Danyal and the ministering she has done for her family, we all have a part of each person we encountered embeded into our hearts. Yet, in and through it all, they had more joy to give to us than we have ever experienced living in America and having a lifestyle that offers us more than we could ever want or need.
Jackson, one of the town drunkards gave his heart to the Lord the morning after a small altercation with one of our team members. Tim felt in his spirit to drive down to his home early one morning and lead him to Christ. From that morning until today he has spent much time with us and is dedicated to taking his life one day at a time to be alcohol free and live for Christ.
Last but not the least was the three day soccer outreach. When I first heard about a soccer outreach I was a bit sceptical. I was wondering what 15 Muzungu’s from America were going to do to minister and witness to the people of Uganda during a soccer game. However, as I saw the magnitude of the outreach, the seriousness that the individual villages took this three day tournament, and getting a glimpse of the power of God while we were here, I began to get incredibly hopeful that God would reap a harvest. As the games began and the teams played one another, the competition and enthusiasm was fierce. Both Friday and Saturday the semi-finals were won by a shootout. The crowd of more that 1000 spectators erupted and rushed the field. You could have paid $1000 to go to the World Cup, but you would not have had a better soccer experience than we had those two days! In addition to the games, we shared the Gospel message to many people as our team split up into pairs with an interpreter between games and during the half time. Many souls were saved for the Kingdom and some renewed their commitments to seeking after God wholeheartedly.
On Sunday, the final day of the event, we held church at the field with a couple hundred people and then had the final game. You could not have asked for a more perfect day. The sun was out but the intermintent clouds aloud us to have times of relief as the cool breeze blew through our canopies.The winner of the match won a cow and a trophy. The cow will most likely be sold and the money will go to pay for new equipment for the village team or it will be butchered and a huge meal will be provided for the team and their fans. Either way, it will be a real blessing. The second place team won a sheep and a goat. Though only one team would take home the trophy and the cow, both teams played with great vigor and tenacity and the spirit of the event was friendly and festive.
The most amazing part of Sunday for most of us was seeing the 1500 or so people gathered around to cheer on their village team. For the most part, the men and women of Uganda are quiet and soft spoken, but you place them around a soccer pitch (field) and they come to life. And at the completion of the game we (the team from CCSE) were gathered center field with all the players for the awards ceremony. We were surrounded by a thousand eager fans awaiting the presentation of the cow. After the council members spoke from each district, the cow was presented and the day came to a close. People heard the Gospel message, many responded in faith to follow Christ, a cow was given to the winning team, and without a doubt everyone went home a different person than when they came.
This time in Uganda was simply amazing. It seems as though it went by so quickly though. No sooner did we land at the Entebbe airport, the team is now departing, leaving behind a piece of their hearts, soul, and spirits that will be filled with the memories of the mighty work God has done in each and every heart. God is good. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Though this chapter may have been a one time experience for some, for others it is simply one of many more to come. Several team members have been here many times, while others experienced their first time here. Either way, the life changing events that we have been witness to over the past 14 days will stay with each one of us and shape us more and more into the image of Christ.
Thank you so much for your prayers, your financial gifts, and your support and encouragement. This trip is not possible without your help and we are entirely grateful for you. Our heart and prayer is that as you live life alongside us you will get a glimpse of the Glory of God in the work He is doing in and through all of us. Through you as you stay stateside and pray and encourage, and though each of us as we go half way around the world and serve in conditions that none of us have ever seen in our culture. Please continue to pray today for the team as they travel and for Lori, Grayson, me, and the rest of the “Uganda” team as we stay and serve the beautiful people of Uganda.
To God be the Glory,
Keith Carey and the team!