Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Home from Uganda

In early 2010, I began planning for a mission trip to Uganda with my friend of 35 years, Carolyn Griebe. This mission was Carolyn’s 3rd since her husband Marty died in 2006. I noticed Carolyn’s joy and enthusiasm when she spoke about Hope 4 Kids International and her trips to Uganda. She contributed part of Marty’s life insurance money to build the 1st indoor kitchen for Smile Africa—an orphanage and school that feeds more than 400 Karamonjung children each day. (The Karamonjung tribe is a disdained group known for cattle rustling and many are nomadic.)

My daughter Kelley and I  left San Diego in late June. We met several “team members” in Amsterdam and the remainder were waiting in Tororo, Uganda for us to arrive.

My first impression of the team was that it consisted of mixed ages—some in their early teens and others in their late 60’s. Some had been to Uganda multiple times and others like me were newbie’s. We were of mixed races and descents and we traveled together in an old Toyota bus (the only air conditioning was an open window). We ate our breakfast and dinner meals together. While some team members who had been there before worked on specific projects, some were there to help and observe in any way they could.

Every morning after breakfast we met for family time. Here we talked about our impression and experience of the prior day and learned about the opportunities for the present day. Tom Eggum, president and founder of Hope 4 Kids has organized mission trips for nearly 40 years and he is as down to earth and committed as any individual I have ever met. His sister Rachel Eggum Cinader and her husband Robert have dedicated their lives to the Ugandan’ people by starting Hope 4 Women, a division that helps empower women to become self-sufficient with businesses of their own and raise their dignity through tea parties, day spas and celebrating women.

I immediately learned that Hope 4 Kids International strives to restore the dignity stripped away from innocent children and families that are suffering through extreme poverty and disease. They are committed to providing access to clean water in every community they serve along with providing relief to poverty-stricken villages caught up in the global AIDS crisis by building hospitals, medical and dental clinics and establishing emergency medical funds. Their strategies are designed to help these villagers become self-sufficient through these life-saving programs. They do so by providing help, dignity, joy and love.

Although the group is faith based and we started each day with prayer, I was drawn at the very beginning by the words in Mathew 25:34-36 when Christ is talking to his disciples. He says “…Come, you who are blessed by my Father: take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…”. We did each one of these things during the 2 weeks we were there.

Of the four principals that guide Hope 4 Kids, the first is to provide help (health). H4K is not a big bureaucratic government aid program. It is a group of individuals who have consciously decided to help others less fortunate and in our case aid Africans in Uganda about the basic fundamentals of living. Over 52% of infants under age 5 die from preventable diseases—malaria, dysentery and measles. Other children succumb to water borne illnesses. Individuals and churches have provided funds to dig over 65 wells to make clean water accessible to villages in Uganda. While we were there, we participated in dedicating 3 new wells. Building community latrines away from water sources seems fundamental to us, but new to many villages. Supporting a village by establishing “Victory Gardens”, fish hatcheries, chicken egg laying co-ops helps a village become self sustaining and able to barter for other fundamentals.

Another way to help is by sponsoring a child or woman. Although education is compulsory, only 25% of children go to school. I met my sponsored daughter Esther at her village in Juba. Esther is a 9 year old girl in P4. She is a child of God with a smile showing beautiful white teeth. The day we met she received her first goat. The goat will help her family’s financial position and the sponsorship will help her stay in school and obtain her education. I also sponsored a woman-- Miriam. As a widow with AIDS and the funds I committed for a year will teach her a business skill (making jewelry, sewing, etc.) and allow her to support her family again.

The second principal is Dignity. Our team took over 1500 pillow case dresses and that only made a dent in the number of little girls who need a dress. Watching a little girl cover up the rags she was wearing with a new, clean pillow case dress was so gratifying. Many of these innocent baby girls bowed, smiled and covered their eyes as they cried with joy when they received this gift from the Muzungu (white person).

Another way of providing dignity was to have tea parties, spa days and makeovers with the women in the villages. Many of these women work in the fields hoeing, weeding, watering and tending to their multiple children. They carry water back and forth from the nearest water source, sometimes 5K or more one way. We would arrive in their village for a dedication and set up chairs with a plastic bucket partially filled with water. After punch and cookies, we would polish their fingernails, apply lipstick, wash their crusty feet, apply oil and finish with a foot vibrator. We gave them a small container of beans or rice and a new hoe. For one short afternoon, these women felt special and joyously sang, chanted and thanked their white sisters and brothers in Christ for the special honor they felt.

The last two principals are Joy and Love. Years ago I remember my Dad telling me that during the depression they were so poor that his mother put cardboard in his worn shoes. They didn’t know they were poor because everyone was the same and they had a special joy that came from existing each day. The Ugandan’s know this special joy and love. Little did I realize that they gave me more Joy and Love than I could ever give them. My heart and tears flowed over while I was there. With the gentle touch of a poor child’s hand, a woman who hugged so hard she squeezed the breath out of me, I am reminded these people had blessed me—not the other way around.

Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians: 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Friday, July 2, 2010

Where do I begin?

Africa time, July 1

Today was the first full day in the villages of Uganda. The program provides four basic elements (hence HOPE4KIDS). The first is to provide HELP. Yesterday we spend a short time at True Vine, the primary Hope4Kids partner in Uganda. Started in 2000, True Vine is situated on 35 acres and consists of a church, medical clinic, pastor’s home, latrine and school, home for 350 orphans, housing for teachers and vegetable gardens. As we approached the site, dozens of young children ran toward our old bus waving and clapping. After touring the campus we came back for a good night’s sleep. The following day we left for Mumatumba, another village that partners with True Vine and Seaside Community in Huntington Beach. Since most diseases here are water born, latrines and wells are the most important asset of the village. This is the HELP we can provide.

The 2nd element is “DIGNITY”. Nearly 52% of African children under the age of 5 die from malaria, dysentery or measles and the remainder of AIDS. Most women have lost multiple children and often their husbands. They are on their own in their village. We were reminded Jesus brought dignity to the poor through love. After washing the widows feet, painting their fingernails, applying lipstick and giving them a new headscarf and container of rice, the party concluded with joyous singing and dancing. These women have probably never experienced this much pampering in their lifetime.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Getting ready for Uganda

For those of you who are following my mission trip to Uganda--welcome. I have hosted 5 "Dress a Girl" sewing nights and by mid May have over 180 dresses to take with me to Uganda. Thanks to each of you who have contributed your talents to making these wonderful little dresses. Cammie (from North Coast Church) modeled a dress for all to see. 24 women attended the sewing night. I am overwhelmed by the graciousness of each one of you and I will be taking you with me when I leave in late June. God is good! Thank you especially to those who have donated multiple completed dresses--Lorna, Janet, Robin, Lissa, the women of Holy Name of Mary in San Dimas and Debbie and the Kiwanis Club of Orange. Thank you to Susan and Teresa for adopting 5 ladies in the "Hope 4 Women" in Uganda. This program rescues a woman from the grips of HIV/AIDS and poverty by sending a woman through business training course and puts her on the road to owning her own business.
1 Peter 4:10-12 "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms...If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ".
Thank you and Bless You,

Monday, February 22, 2010

My friend and supporter,

Most of you know, I am a type A person and always striving to do some work for non-profits and charities. This time I am doing something WAY OUT of my comfort zone! In late June, 2010 I am going to Uganda, Africa with Hope 4 Kids International. http://www.hope4kidsinternational.org/africa Begun in 1973 by a college graduate Tom Eggums, he has led over 94 mission trips to China, Russia, Africa, Peru, Romania and the United States.
Hope 4 Kids is committed to serving impoverished children by leading teams on exciting two-week missions equipped with essential medical and dental supplies and other provisions. In addition, Hope 4 Kids has multiple ongoing long-term economic, spiritual, orphan and feeding programs in an effort to carry our message of hope through these outreaches. Ron has graciously given me his consent to go and my good friend Carolyn Griebe and Kelley, my daughter, are also going. I think it will be a life changing experience. We are so blessed here in the US and the children in Uganda are so forgotten—many are orphaned because of AIDS and Typhoid. Here is a video you might enjoy watching about the experience.

I would ask for your support but only if you can give it. I am paying the money to participate from my own pocket and am not asking for any help with the expenses. Here are ways you can help if you choose to.
1. You can pray for our trip—for the safety and security of all of us; that we can make a difference in the lives of children and women in Uganda.
2. Many of the children do NOT have clothes to wear. I am making and collecting pillow case dresses to take with me. My goal between now and June 1 is to have made or donated 100 dresses. There is an attachment to this email as well as a web site for making the dresses. Here are the directions. http://www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com/pillowcasedresspattern.htm I made 5 dresses in one evening last week for less than $5.00 each. Wal-Mart and Big Lots have pillow cases on discount all the time. I will also host 4 sewing parties at my home. More details to follow. I can also take packets (as described in the attachment) for the women in Uganda to sew. Please watch this heart moving video. http://www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com/apps/videos/videos/show/5759853-dress-a-girl-around-the-world-goes-to-uganda
3. You can sponsor a child for $31.00 per month. Sponsorship will provide basic provisions, food and school supplies and are tax deductible. If you are interested in this, please email me back and I will send you a brochure for your consideration.
4. You can sponsor a Ugandan Woman—help with business training courses and put them on the path to owning their own business. The automatic debit is just $36.00 a month.

This needs to come from your heart. Giving hope can make it possible for a child to dream—dream of a future that is unlike anything he or she has ever known. Thousands of children are waiting to dream. Won’t you help?

God Bless You,
Karen Adams

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Australia & Guadalcanal Trip

G'Day Mate,

Ron and I have had a very busy year and with some excess mileage and a new route for Delta, we decided we would vacation in Australia (Down Under) where the official language is English. We quickly learned that Aussies love colloquialisms and word plays and the results were very funny! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and found the "blokes" and "sheillas" to be extremely friendly and had "no worries". We soon learned that a few of our slang meant the opposite--ex. Ron's "fanny pack" ended up being derogatory slang--in AU it is called a "bum pack".

I decided to publish a blog about our 2 1/2 week "holiday". We spent an extra three days flying to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands to add to our WWII adventures. (More on that below including a slide show.) I will try to keep it brief!

Australia, about the same size as the US, consists of 7 states or territories and 20 million people. They are still part of the British Commonwealth and a Prime Minister is head of the federal government while the heads of their states are Premiers. There is on going debate about its future as a republic, but currently the system works well for Aussies. With 33% of their population immigrants, the debate continues. Taxation is a big issue and over 60% of their income goes to the government. We found a proud spirit and a very harmonious multicultural community. Australia was settled by the British in 1788 when this little upstart colony of America had a war with the Brits. One-half of the original settlers were convicts so many can trace their heritage back to a "criminal" although most were sent there for very minor offenses. Just like America, the "Aboriginals" were driven to the outback and until the 1990's, didn't own land.

We arrived in Sydney, NSW after a 15 hour flight from LAX. We lost a day when we crossed the International Date Line. We stayed downtown on the Circular Quay, close to and within walking distance of most venues. We set up tours by bus, boat, or rail once we arrived in the city. From our Intercontinental Hotel room, we could see the Sydney Opera House and the "Coathanger", Sydney famous bridge. It is a big city nearly surrounded by water. Sandstone base made the structures glisten in the cool days we had in Sydney. We toured famous Bondi Beach (Aboriginal for Noisy Waters) and the wharfs and harbors. The following day we took an all day trip to the Blue Mountains, an increase in elevation of 3,600 ft. Similar to the Grand Canyon, the lush vegetation and abundant eucalyptus and acacia trees, beautiful canyons and forests was the exact opposite of coast land Sydney. Driving through the Blue Mountain National park, we saw grazing cattle, sheep and kangaroos. One of the most spectacular rock sites was the "Three Sisters"
--Aboriginal legend includes a story about a father who turned his daughters to stone when they disobeyed him!

Two days in Sydney was not long enough as we boarded the Countrylink rail on the 3rd day for Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. It was a 12 hour train ride up some of the most beautiful coast land I have ever seen--even though we live at the beach. Spectacular seaside towns and agricultural regions, rolling pastures, eucalyptus "gum" trees and herds of kangaroos and an occasional palm tree made the day pass quickly. An additional three hour treterous bus ride from a town named Casino to Brisbane we labeled Mr. Toad's Wild Ride completed our long day. Once we were safely in our room in Brisbane, we were able to laugh at that part of the adventure.

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, situated on the Brisbane River, is a beautiful financial district of central Australia. We used an on-off city tour bus but the highlight of the day was a lovely 2 hour boat trip we took up and back on the Brisbane River. Most everyone parks outside the city and takes the boat (CityCat) to their destination, so we met many young and old Brisbane-siders. The buildings are old and a mixture of commercial and high rise residentials next to beautiful, quaint old 19th century homes dot the rivers edge. The street vendors and cafes lend to the enchantment. A lobster like crustacean called a Moerton Bay Bug was wonderful tasting dish.

Our next ride was a 24 hour train trek up the coast to Cairns in Northern Australia but still in Queensland. Due to downed electrical lines, the ride took 36 hours and we arrived at our hotel Sangri-La at 3:30 in the morning. We were exhausted and a little testy with each other but found Cairns totally different from Sydney and Brisbane. Cairns caters to tourists from all over the world but especially to backpackers so it was quite lay-back and far less expensive than our earlier stops. The Harbor is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and we took a overnight catamaran on the reef. We snorkeled and spent 2 days with other tourists, young and old. It was a great way relax and we enjoyed God's beauty immensely.

Our last day in Cairns was to the rain forest at Kuranda on another antique rail then on to the Tjapukai Cultural Center, a Aboriginal Dance theater where we saw traditional dances, watched natives play the didgeridoo and attempted to throw a boomerang. We also spent time at a wonderful Koala sanctuary where I got to hold an 8 year old female Koala named Seeanna. Walking through the gardens was a beautiful ending to our 2 1/2 week trip to Australia.

Our trip back to Vista was uneventful and as usual holidays are great but it is always good to get back home.

We were a 3 hour plane ride from Australia and to add to our WWII historical tours we spent 3 days at Guadalcanal, the site of the 1st amphibious landing of the Marines in the Pacific. Karen’s father served on Henderson Field beginning August 1943 until he returned home to El Toro with malaria he contracted while serving there. We were told the island has not changed in 65 years. It was very tropical and the Melanesian people are very poor. Many walked around toothless and with red mouths from the Beetle nut, an addictive “narcotic”.
We stayed in the King Solomon Hotel and climbed the hill to our room in an antique cable car. We toured the War Memorial, constructed in the 90’s as a tribute to the Marines, Army and Navy that joined the battle against the Japanese. Ron collected sand from Beach Red, the site of the landings to add to our wall of sand. We crossed the Tenaru and Lunga Rivers and Alligator Creek where battles took place. We also went to Bloody Ridge (aka Edson), the site of several assaults against the mounting Japanese forces.
We ended our stay with a brief visit to Iron Bottom Sound and the museum currently under construction. An Aussie family has started a huge collection of armaments and pay the natives to bring remnants, both live and spent. The week before they discovered the skeletons of two Japanese fighters—it is an ongoing discovery of artifacts. The slide show below highlights the island, then and now.

It was another great adventure for the Adams family. We hope you enjoy the pictures and please feel free to comment.

Karen & Ron