Archive for May, 2010

Village girl

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Travels

trying to catch up on my travels, new blog/website and coding.  not sure that it’s all worth it.peace.johno~

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Outside

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grand canyon, arizonia

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icicle creek – leavenworth, wa

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In the crowd

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skimmers – queen elizabeth game park, uganda

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Smile

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the enchantments, leavenworth, wa

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along the shore – point loma, san diego

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Smoke and Light – lake saka, uganda

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east to congo – fort portal, uganda

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sunset – queen elizabeth game park, uganda

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Coming soon… NEW WEBSITE!

As soon as I figure this web stuff out, I will be moving everything over to www.johno.org.  I’m hoping to streamline things between johno.org and johnathanthomas.com.  I’m even thinking of dropping lightexposure.org.Difficult time.  Anyhow, I hope to have a site that is more blog friendly and works with my photography.  We will see.Until then, thanks everyone for your patience.peace.johno~

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Hannah and Zakalyia

Here's a photo of two of my kids.

peace
Johno~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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blessings and…

What a day!  Heavily packed with joy and tears. 

It began this morning as Hannah and I were picked up by World Vision and set out to meet our sponsored child Zakalyia.  Our driver had to make a stop and pick up his tire that he replaced while on his way to pick us up.  We headed out to Bundibugyo which is on the way to Rwebasango.  The road drops about 5000 feet into the low lands.  It’s hotter and dryer.  It’s also very close to the boarder of Congo. 

It is a busy road.  Barely enough room for one car, let alone, buses, taxis, cattle trucks and us… World Vision Land Rover.  It was on our way down that we saw a soldier who crossed his arms.  I heard our WV staff member say, “Is the road closed?”  My stomach sank.  How could this be?  We’ve driven all this way.  We can walk…  that was my thought.  But, as we drove, we didn’t see any road block… Until, we rounded a curve and were met with many vehicles.  There were lots of people and many were gathering around a large semi that failed to make a turn and now the backside was hanging off a cliff.  If that wasn’t bad enough, a smaller vehicle tried to get around and ended up getting stuck too.

Our WV staff person called the office and they sent a car from the other side to pick us up.  We walked down and around the incident a ways and found a nice shade spot and parked ourselves and waited for our 2nd driver.  He rolled up in a 4 door sedan.  We placed our packs in the trunk and off we went.

He was taking us to the WV offices in charge of our Area Development Program (ADP).  I was amazed that our driver was able to drive the road to the offices.  I thought for sure we are getting stuck but that was not the case.  On arriving we were given a small tour of the WV offices in charge of 3 ADP’s. We met the staff in charge of sponsorship program and were asked to sit and wait while they thought of a way to get us to our child since our vehicle was not stuck behind a lot of other folks.  We were then informed that the car wouldn’t be able to make it to where our sponsor child is…  They said, “The only way we can get you there is by motor bike.”  Well, if that’s what we have to do.  So Hannah and I jumped on the back of some boda bodas and headed into the mountain region to make our visit. 

It was a fun ride… for Hannah.  All  I could think of was, “Her mother is going to kill me.”  We went up hill and down hill, up, up hill and down.  It was a bit longer than I expected.  We arrived at the pathway to Zak’s home and started our climb.  Through the coca trees we found homes and then we found little Zaks home.  I saw him immediately. He looked just like his picture.  I shook his hand and he invited Hannah and I into his home.

We were welcomed by his Father,  Kiiza, Mohammad Katsirombi.  We sat at a table prepared for us with little stools to sit on.  Everything was covered in a nice table cloth with red roses embroidered in it.  We were gathered, along with many neighbors, with Zak’s family.  It was a special day.  His BIRTHDAY!  Yes, today is Zak’s 8th birthday.  However, Ugandans don’t celebrate birthdays, so when we put up the banner that said, “Happy Birthday” I’m not sure he understood what we were trying to say.

We opened up his backpack and started handing out gifts.  It was a blast.  I mean, how exciting to meet your sponsored child?  After handing out the gifts, we played soccer for a bit, blew bubbles (not sure they got the idea of that one as well as we hoped) and laughed.

We told them we pray for them every night and the father told us that he to prays for us.  We said our goodbyes and loaded up on the bikes and headed back.  On our return, the car that had dropped us off before was gone, so we had to ride the bikes again to the wreck and cross over to our transportation on the other side.  It was a long ride back.  I have many thoughts, none that I will share for now.  This is the short version.

We made it back to Fort Portal in time to meet up with the other team who had been visiting in a near by village.  They were attacked by a cobra that was in a tree.   Well, not attacked but it did “jump” according to them, from one tree to another.  They tried to find it and kill it but had not luck.  Upon meeting Jeff took us to by cookies so we could visit the children’s clinic in town to pray and give cookies.

I must say the clinic/hospital for kids is amazingly remodeled.  I could hardly believe it when I stepped in.  It looks great.  However, it is still sub par for the care that is needed there.  Many children simply have Malaria and need treatment.  Some have TB, others have broken a limb and some burned.

This is where my heart breaks.  After a wonderful day with such a healthy  boy, I met two kids, Joseph and Juliet in the burn unit.  I must say, I wept tonight for them. Juliet shook with pain as her mother showed us the burns that resulted in spilling a large pot of soup into her lap.  Her lower stomach, private area and upper leg were seriously burned.  We gave her cookies and she clutched them to her chest and stared at the ceiling. Joseph was rough housing with his siblings and ran into the boiling pot set on the fire.  He flip into it head first and the pot turned over onto him.

While I was standing there, his mother uncovered him from dirty sheets and lifted him out of bed so he could pee into a plastic basin.  I can’t even type this without tears.  This poor child, who most likely will die to infection, just wanted to play with his siblings and now he can barley stand to go to the bathroom which is no bathroom at all.  I suppose it’s so difficult because all I can see is my little boy. No mother or father or child should ever have to endure this suffering.  Jesus remove this suffering in a way that only YOU can.

All we had to offer was prayer and cookie packs, which this child couldn’t even eat due to his burned face and mouth.  I HATE this suffering.  My heart is broke.

“Help me God to have a heart that is broken by the things that break Your heart..”

If you find yourself reading this blog, do me a favor and hug your children.  I miss mine so much.  I feel so helpless.

“I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave.  Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged!  I am the LORD your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.”

–Joshua 1:9 CEV

Please help me Lord.

Johno~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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It’s really difficult to put into words.

Amazingly the week at Faith Quest Uganda has passed.  The week started in heavy rain… mud… mud… and more mud.  Vehicles stuck.  Huts incomplete for campers.  Water source non existent…  Toilets defiled… Yet, God was there in the midst of this insanity.  By the start of Faith Quest we were at our end, which is a good thing that the theme for the week was BACKWARDS!  If it was going to go wrong, chances were that it did.  Even when we set up our tents in our hut the roof started to leak all over our luggage.  Water was pouring in through the doorway and since our hut was mad from mud, I didn't think it would hold up to the pounding rain.  I thought for sure it would collapse any moment.

But, in spite of all the difficulty and us, God was there to do the great things.  

Tuesday had a bit more rain, but not as much as to start building an ark.  We adjusted, like good africans, and had some sharing time with the students and a few classes.

Ugandan students love to sing and dance, we could learn a lot about the joy the Lord gives to those who truly seek him.

During the week I turned 40.  I've considered the past few years of my life as walking in the desert…  I'm not sure why.  I've not had to wander physically, but I've been on a journey spiritually.  Not that I've had to live on manna (what is this)?  Yet, spiritually, I've eaten things and I've thought, "what is this?"  

What was it like for a generation to walk in the desert for 40 years and then have God say, "OK, now is the time to go and take the promise land."  This is where I feel I am.  So I look to what the Lord told Joshua.  Here is what He said…

"I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go."

What powerful words.  So here I am, 40 and a world away.  How can I live my life Strong and Brave?  What does that look like wherever I go?

My prayer is that the days left here will be won for the Lord.  That walls will be torn down and that I will be a messenger of the promise the Lord gave long ago.  Jesus is working hard on lives here.  The enemy is real, but we can overcome.  

So, tomorrow we will have a day of rest just in time to kick off Monday.  I plan to meet with a World Vision Rep to arrange my sponsorship visit.  I hope we find time for others to blog about their experiences.  They have lots of stories too.

peace.
johno~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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We Love Faith Quest Uganda

This has been a wonderful week. We can hardly believe the time has
flown by. The kids have wonderful spirits and their songs are
amazing. Glory to God.
We will clean up as soon as possible tomorrow and return to Fort Portal.

We look forward to showers and toilets.

Jesus, bless the youth of Uganda to make this a great nation.

peace.
johno~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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First full day at Faith Quest Uganda

Well, our first full day at camp is going well. We’ve readjusted the
schedule several times… it’s an African thing. The teens are
singing and praising God even though we’ve been rained on and mud is
covering the landscape.

African mud clumps to your shoes and you grow in hight and gain about
10 pounds… all due to mud.

Hannah (Hannah Texas Walker Ranger) is a trooper. She’s always
jumping in to new experiences. Yesterday she had the idea to rally
the troops to return to camp a 10,000 liter tank that was dropped off
on the side of the road. Workers had intended to deliver it to camp
but were unable to pass due to a service truck stuck in the single
lane road. They just pushed it off the truck and left.)

Hannah and Greg returned it to camp. However, the Jinja bus was stuck
in the same place as the service truck got stuck, which was just
pulled out 2 hours earlier. We told them they would not be able to
pass, however, they didn’t listen. They made it though but ended up
stuck again another 100 yards down the road.

I was in the Hilux (a ratty true african 4×4) with Hannah T. and
Janet. Jeff and Zach had managed the trail just before Jinja.

Greg, earlier in the day paddled a boat across lake Saka with supplies.

We’ve all been working hard. We’re dirty and damp. However, God is
good. These young people are hungry for the Lord.

Everyone is doing well and I’m glad I have this connection here at
camp for the moment… forgive my grammar and spelling… i’m typing
fast.

It is beautiful here. Monkeys are in the trees and the sun is setting.
Clouds on the horizon could be a sign of storms tonight.

We are blessed.
We love you all.
peace.
the team~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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On Monday…

Well, we’ve finished our Monday and it was full of wonderful experiences.  Well, for some that is.

Last night I had a really difficult dream… my first in a long time.  Must be the Larium.  Anyhow, I woke up just before 6 AM and realized I would/could not fall back to sleep, so I did a little study on my lessons.

Jeff and Andrew have been working hard on getting the camp ready.  At lunch I discovered that ALL of the missionaries that said they were coming to Faith Quest are not.  It will be Jeff, Andrew and Cheryl… and six white people from the Northwest America.   Very concerning as there should be a couple hundred students there.  Building at camp Saka has fallen to a snail pace.  Rain makes things difficult around here.

As it poured “Africa” rains, Janet, Hannah and My Hannah danced in the downpour. It was fun to watch.  I, however, sat on my be counting money and looking at receipts.  It seems as if the rain at camp created some serious mud and our supply truck became stuck in the mud.  Most of the work crew spent the entire work day trying to get it out… It’s still stuck.  This truck is blocking the main road to camp.  This will prevent any vehicles from getting into camp Saka.  Including the water truck and the food supply.  We ordered a 10,000 gallon tank to be delivered to camp.  The delivery truck came today to deliver it but was unable due to our vehicle stuck in the middle of the road.  So, they just pushed the tank off the side of the rig and left.  Now we have a 10,000 gallon tank we have to try to get to camp in a truck that’s stuck.

Several village churches showed up today to do some work to help pay for camp… Yet, they didn’t bring any food for themselves when they were specifically told they would need to provide for all their meals prior to camp starting.

None of the “cabin” huts are finished, which means we will have to use tents, (in the rain). Problem, all the unfinished cabin huts are in the locations where the tents need to go. Is this sounding African yet?

Good news… I finally heard back from World Vision Uganda.  I have numbers to the ADP contact that will be handling my visit.  I will only be able to visit our boy Zackaliya…  Good enough.  I will give the WV worker gifts we brought for other children to be delivered.  So sorry we will miss seeing Lucy.  Next time.

Side note, I received an email from WV that said I would have to pay for the travel of the WV staff and meals $260 US!  Ummm.  It’s about 4000 shillings, ($4) to take the bus from here to Bundibugyo.  I am looking into this to see if this is accurate.  If it is… I want a bargain!

It’s a late night and we have a lot to do tomorrow.  Non of it will get finished I’m sure of it.  We only need to be ready to encourage the youth and bring them nothing else but Jesus.  He is the answer to the world.

Here are a few pictures I promised to post from yesterday.

We can feel your prayers.  Thank you all.  We love you.

Johno~

Posted via web from Faith Quest Uganda

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It was on our way back from Saka to town…

Andrew took me to an overlook that allowed me to see the Congo mountains.  It was beautiful.  I’ll share pictures later.

On the way out, we saw a young boy laying on a bicycle be pushed by another man.  It was obvious this boy was ill.  The family was taking him to the local clinic to have a test to see if it was malaria.  He could barely move. We loaded him in to the Land Cruiser, with his brother, and rushed him to the clinic. 

I asked the boys name and his brother said, “Ronald.”  That’s my sons middle name.  We hurried down an incredible bumpy road as I took photos of this young boy dying from something that could be prevented with a $5 treated mosquito net.

Malaria kills about 2000 children a day worldwide.  Today I was face to face with this tragic reality.

We landed at the clinic and handed some shillings to our translator to give for treatment of the young boy.  His brother loaded him onto his back and carried him to the clinic. Jesus, be with this young boy.

We gathered back into the car and headed on our way.

Praise God for Andrew looking and seeing this.  I am humbled at this experience.  As I type this note, in bed surrounded by a mosquito net, I think of what opportunities I have everyday..  I think of Bono’s statement that says, “No child should die because they were born in the wrong longitude and latitude.”

Take a moment to visit  www.worldvision.org and make a donation to their malaria campaign.  With enough attention in the right places, Uganda and other countries affected by malaria, could rid their land completely of this weapon of mass destruction.

Thank you all for your support and prayers.  We are all very good… a little jetlagged, but good.

Peace.

Johno~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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Our First Day in Fort Portal

Sorry about not giving you an updates.  The data package that Verizon said would be available on my phone is not available in Fort Portal.  I spent several minutes typing on my tiny phones keyboard only to find out that I couldn’t send the message.  Very frustrating, but… Welcome to Uganda.

Anywho, It was a great morning to start.  Having breakfast with Morris is always a treat here at the Ruwenzori View Inn.

Today was a very nice day to be in Uganda.  We had a bit of a rainstorm early on however, by afternoon the clouds broke and the sun turned up the heat.  A little muggy but manageable.

Today we went to camp Saka for orientation and I have to say, it might not be able to be called a camp very soon.  There has been a lot of work on done on the grounds.  Huts, shelters, toilets are in many places.  Jeff has many workers building projects around camp. There is so much to be done, I have a hard time believing that will be finished before camp on Tuesday.

These are a few pics of the team at camp… although we are sitting in a car you couldn't really tell.

Peace.

johno~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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Update from May 30th… (I thought I would post thoughts that we’ve had for the record)

What an exhausting day.  Of course we landed in Entebbe and found that Hannah’s personal trunk was missing.  Off to the market place to try and buy those items we knew would be her American comfort food.  We ate lunch and as Ugandan time means nothing, we left for Ft Portal around 2 pm. As we left Kampala we divided into two teams.  Jeff, Greg and the Hailey’s set off to make a large purchase for Faith Quest… Andrew, Keebee, the two Hannah’s and I started the trip to Fort Portal.

The road is under construction for about a quarter of the way.  It was slow, bumpy, slow and bumpy.

Trying to sleep in the land rover, on the drive nearly induced a coma.  Just as you found that relaxed place, a rut or bump was hit which would then cast your weak, tired and limp body into the side of the vehicle resulting in your head knocking the side window or metal frame of the vehicle.  Difficult to sleep unless you owned a crash helmet.

Anywho, three days is a long time to travel. It will be nice to lay flat for the first time in days.

A quick shower and then off to bed

Peace.

Johno~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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We’ve got our internet up!

We've got our "Orange" wireless internet up and going.

We will be posting our updates from the past few days. Thanks everyone for your prayers and patience.

BTW, we got a call from the airport and Hannah's trunk is at the airport.  We're hoping Doug and Desiny, missionaries here in Fort Portal, can pick it up while they are in Kampala.  They have some business and should be back on Wednesday.

Peace.
Johno~

Posted via email from Faith Quest Uganda

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