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Changing Bruno’s Story

Our summer team had the privilege of visiting many homes this last May and got to hug, hold and love on many different children and families.  Many families in Eastern Uganda have taken in other children because of loved ones who have passed away.  A home might contain grandparents who have become parents to their grandchildren, aunts and uncles who have taken in their nieces and nephews after parents have passed away, or older brothers and sisters who become the parents to their own siblings.  

One of the homes that the team had the chance to visit, was the home of Bruno.  At the time, he was 9 months old and had lost his mom suddenly so his uncle and grandparents took him in to care for him.  They could not afford to buy formula to feed him and give his body what it needed.  He was given black tea, because that was all they could offer him. After the team visited him, they soon realized that he needed more and they decided to help him.  They gathered some money to purchase formula for little Bruno and were able to find two amazing sponsors to help him and his caregivers.

Unfortunately for Bruno, his body just couldn’t gain the strength it needed to overcome this obstacle.  He passed away at 11 months of age.  

 

This news shook many people who had the opportunity to meet sweet little Bruno and also many others who simply heard about it.  But his story will bring other babies in the same situation some hope.  A friend of the ROWAN family has begun the process of starting a non profit called Formula ONE.  This organization will raise funds to help other babies like Bruno who have lost their mothers and have no way to get the nourishment their little bodies need to grow.  These funds will purchase formula for families that need it but can’t afford to purchase it themselves.  

In the meantime, if this story tugs at your heartstrings like it did to mine, please consider giving now to help a baby who needs more than black tea to nourish his body.  Let’s not allow another baby like Bruno to suffer because of something out of his control.  You can give to our baby formula campaign where $50 will provide a young baby with formula for one month.  The ROWAN clinic will purchase the formula and then will train the caregivers on how to care for the little ones who need it.  

Bruno will now become the voice for Formula ONE and will bring hope to so many, giving many other precious babies a chance to change their own story.

Post Author: Kris Mbabazi

“We are God’s Servants” – Reflections from Chanel

Meet Chanel! She is finishing her final year at Harvard and had the opportunity to join the team visiting Mawanga this past May.  She had the chance to experience the wonderful widows and orphans involved in ROWAN.  She shared her thoughts from her visit and how God spoke to her during her time in Mawanga.

Chanel (left) was “blessed in my new relationships, and amazed at God’s activity in the lives of His people.”

Here’s what Chanel had to say about her experiences

Coming back from my trip, I’ve been asking myself to reflect on why I went. What was the purpose of my week in rural Mawanga? As far as I can discern, I feel that God used the trip to do two things – to show me His heart for the poor and to recognize that my blessings (as an American) should never be limited to my own indulgence. The resources He’s given me aren’t only intended for circulation in my own life and my own community. God puts blessings under our authority for us to share. It feels counterintuitive at first, but I think all of us have felt the truth in “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” In Hebrews, God calls us His ambassadors because He designed us to rule over Creation for the sake of establishing His righteousness . . . Today, He continues to equip us with what it takes to bless others around us, and yet it’s so easy to accumulate wealth as an ever-thickening safety net. Coming back from Uganda, I’ve learned that even though I come from a society that seems to have everything figured out – measured by the prevalence of our material abundance – this doesn’t entail that I’m smarter or more capable of solving the problems of a developing country. My role isn’t to be a fixer, but rather a partner with the local community, who will listen and trust that they know the community’s needs better than any “well-educated” outsider. God has shown me that my job is to pray where and to what degree I ought to support. He’s shown me to have faith in entrusting others with money to bless their community in the same way that He has entrusted me with all I have . . . Where am I going with this? Well, the impoverished people of the village of Mawanga and others like it should never be viewed as lesser or having lesser lives. We have struggles, they have struggles –  brokenness can happen in the context of simple poverty or in our American circumstances (I will qualify, however, that in the States we can easily overestimate our struggles and overlook God’s daily provision) . . . As Americans. our wealth does not put us in a position of superiority as the “Benefactors of the Third World”, but rather we are God’s servants who’ve been doled a bigger responsibility in stewardship. Most of all, there is SO MUCH POTENTIAL for us to empower our brothers and sisters and show Christ’s love in tangible ways. This is exciting!!!!!

Margaret, whom I met during a home visit, lost her husband several years ago, and has since joined ROWAN (Rural Orphans & Widows AIDS Network). She and her five children need a plot of land and new home because her brother is seeking to eject them from her family’s ancestral plot (without a written will to divide the land, the local legal authorities will likely defer to the male opinion). How much would it cost to buy a plot of land and build a home for Margaret’s family? Near $4000. At another home visit, I met a women and her family of seven who’ve joined ROWAN as the result of testing positive for HIV. With ROWAN’s medical provisions, their family no longer suffers from the extreme, daily sickness caused by the disease; now that they live generally healthy lives, they are seeking to start a fish business. At the visit, they took us to see a pond – the dimensions of a large swimming pool – which they had dug themselves and hoped to fill with 5,000 fish. How much would it cost to buy 5,000 fish and upstart their business? $500.

The home visits were the most impactful part of my trip. God used them to show me that there’s nothing I’ve done to be worthy of the blessings and comforts He’s given me. There’s nothing I did to be born into the wealth of America and not the circumstances of poverty currently experienced by our hosts. Beyond this sobering understanding, God encouraged me to recognize the opportunity I have to uplift my brothers and sisters. $500 does not even account for my monthly food budget, but for the families we visited in Mawanga, it may take over a year to earn, and many, many more years to save. 

I’ve been reading Luke recently, and Jesus has challenged me to reflect on the question of “Do I believe that His Kingdom is more valuable than anything I hope to attain in this life?” And if I do, then does the way I live my life and the way I invest my treasures show that? . . . .

“And he said this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grains and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:18-21

“Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:32-34

“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14: 33

Jesus came with cutting truth to challenge us, but also a compassionate heart, full of mercy, to give us the opportunity to know and serve Him. Praise Him! 

If you want to support the Kingdom-centered mission of ROWAN, I highly recommend sponsoring a ROWAN orphan or widow. It costs $38 a month ($1.26 per day) to provide food, medicine, literacy classes/school fees, and other spiritual education opportunities. I met many of the orphans and widows on the sponsorship page and can personally attest that God is using ROWAN to empower them as members of their society and members of the Kingdom!! They have opportunities for one-time donations too. Here’s the link: https://loverowan.reachapp.co Also, if you want to go see the ministry firsthand, they welcome all and would LOVE to host you; please DO NOT HESITATE to ask me more about this possibility. 

Thank you again for supporting me in prayer and finances so that I could be completely safe in my travels, blessed in my new relationships, and amazed at God’s activity in the lives of His people. 

Sincerely,

Chanel

 

If Chanel’s thoughts are something that speak to you and maybe make you want to experience for yourself, you can read more about upcoming opportunities for you to go and encounter God and what he is doing with the people of ROWAN.

Post Author: Kris Mbabazi

I’d Like to Introduce you to Rose

Meet Rose…

Rose Namufuta is a mother of eight.  Her husband died in August of 2016 and she was left to care for her children. Rose works hard to support her children by digging in neighbouring gardens.  She brings her children along with her while she works and will earn about $0.20 a day. She is a new member to the ROWAN family and is very thankful for the love she has been shown. 

Rose loves Jesus and has known him for a while now.  When the team went to visit Rose in her home and meet her children they sang and prayed with her. Her children Doreen, John and Monica are awaiting sponsors, which will help support Rose, as caring for eight children can be difficult.

Please consider helping to welcome Rose to the ROWAN family by sponsoring one of her three children.

 

Post Author: Kris Mbabazi

We Danced until the Sun Went Down

Sunday, May 26th was a day to celebrate…

…and if you know anything about the people of Mawanga, they know how to party.

For those of you who don’t know what a party in Mawanga looks like, here’s what you would have seen if you were there. There were 2000 community members, ROWAN members, spiritual leaders, government officials and an international team of 17.  The ROWAN women and children danced and put on skits. ROWAN honoured the 32 students who have worked hard and graduated the program.  These students were awarded certificates. But the celebrations didn’t stop there. 

Tom Dluzak and Troy Nibbelink, who were instrumental in the design of the Hall of Hope were able to make the trip to ROWAN and see the completed project. They were excited to see the work that had been done. With over 8,000 square feet of space, the Hall of Hope will be a pillar in the community and ROWAN will be able to host all their programs and events within these walls!

Help is still needed

The Hall of Hope still needs some work to be fully completed and ready to serve the people the way it was designed. If you are willing to help fill the need of a solar panel and a water pump, please click here and donate.

 

Post Author: Kris Mbabazi

Mandazi – It Tastes Like Home

My husband stays quite connected to his friends, family and people from Uganda.  He has lived in Canada now for almost 11 years, but Facebook, Whats app, Instagram and other social media has given him the chance to stay way more connected that he was able to in the past.  Not only are there more opportunities, but it is much cheaper for us not having to purchase phone cards to use to call his friends and family.  Youtube has also kept him connected with the music and news from Uganda, but the one thing that we have to work at to keep his culture in our home and in his life is the food.  

The food in Uganda is something that brings many memories and great moments back for both of us.  Whether it was the popcorn Mama used to make with our morning tea in Mawanga, the rolex that Julius would make me at Namuwongo market, the many Fanta oranges that I enjoyed under the shade of a tree or down at the market while teaching my husband to play the guitar, or the roasted maize I would snack on while walking home from town.  Food is something that I associate with many wonderful people and amazing memories from my time in Uganda.

Over the 12 years of being married to Busiisi and the many months that I have spent in Uganda, I was able to pick up on how to make a few of the dishes that are staples in Uganda.  With my husband’s help, we can make a mean chapatti, thanks to the lessons that Jane gave me and the recipe that Hakim wrote in my journal.  My husband has taught me how to make “soup” using beef, chicken, pork or beans for him to enjoy with his rice.  I have yet to learn how to mingle posho, but Busiisi does a great job of making that.  

One of Busiisi’s favourite snacks that he used to get down at Namuwongo market was Mandazi.  It’s similar to a plain donut here in Canada, but a little heavier.  I find that when he is busy with life and is missing home, a batch or two of mandazi will cheer him up.  My boys enjoy baking with me, so this past weekend, we surprised Busiisi with a double batch of mandazi. We probably made about 75 of them when all was cut and fried.  As I sit and write this, there is not one piece left.  He told me they tasted like home. 

I cannot tell you my mandazi is better than Mama’s is, but for a mzungu, I think it tastes pretty good! Feel free to give it a try!

-Kris

Mandazi 

1 egg          1/2 cup sugar          1/2 cup milk          2 tbsp butter, softened

2 cups and a bit of white flour          2 tsp baking powder

-mix all ingredients together

-the dough should be soft, but not sticky

-roll it out to about a 1/4 inch thick

-cut into triangles or squares (or hearts if you are my boys)

-fry it in hot oil and place it on a paper towel

adapted from http://allthingskenyan.com/food-mandazi.html

 

Post Author: Kris Mbabazi

Sinking Deep

I was sitting in church this Sunday listening to our pastor talk about how we are to love each other because we are loved by God.  He challenged us as a church to make sure we get the “horizontal” right before we know that we have the “vertical” with God.  What he meant by that was that if we can’t show love to the people around us, then we can’t truly be connected to God because God is love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

1 John 4:7-8

This hit me hard.  I started to question my actions, words and behaviours with the people around me.  Am I a person who forgives those who have hurt me? Do I hold grudges? Am I welcoming? Is my first reaction to judge, rather than love? Do I reflect God’s love to others the way that I should?

Deep down I knew that the answers to those questions were not what God expected from me.  I need to do more to show the love that God has for me and to spread that love to others.  Sure, I care about others and do my best to be a good person.  Yes, I do things to encourage my friends and make sure that they know I care about them and love them.  But what about the people who have hurt me or the people that I care about?  Do I show them love? What about the hurt and lonely around me? Have I showed them hospitality and love in my actions?

So now it’s time for me to make some changes and step out of my comfort zone. God paid the ultimate sacrifice to show his love for me, I need to be sure that I am sharing that love with others. And I challenge you to do the same. 

We ended our service Sunday morning with a song that is becoming my prayer as I step out in faith to love others with all that I am. I want to leave you with the words to the chorus of that song. I pray it speaks to you the same way it has spoken to me. 

“I’m wide awake, drawing close, stirred by grace and all my heart is yours. All fear removed, I breathe you in, I lean into your love, oh your love.”

Hillsong – Sinking Deep

 

-Kris

 

Post Author: Kris Mbabazi

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