Tuesday, July 10, 2007

07.10.07 0 CC Uganda Blog #7

Well it has been some time since our last blog. With travel from Africa, the festival with over 5000 teenagers attending, and the reality that at most moments when we attempt to get on the Internet the power fails completely, or at least the internet is down at the time, it has been an interesting task to try to get you updated again. But now as i sit in the London airport, i have a moment, and great internet connectino to do so.
For a brief catch up, on Friday the 6th we got the great opportunity to visit the Orphanages that our contact church Gaba Community oversee where over 600 children are taken care of on an island on Lake Victoria. So we arrived about Noon, and took 2 boats over the Lake for about 45 minutes (which was truly amazing) before finally arriving at the Orphanage. Once there we were greeted by the Bethany staff and began to see what a top notch facility this was. This island had very little electricity, however all other resources were simple, but extremely clean and from what we could see a very compassionate enviroment was provided. There were still needs for children to be sponsored for their monthly needs, so ELEVATE youth have taken on a young lady who is 8 yrs old, that we will support with $30 US dollars a month. This will be a process for us, where as we raise more on a monthly basis, we will take on more children in partnership with Gaba Community. We had a great time playing with the children, and seeing the heart of the leadership that works with them, as we left it was amazing, we were not nearly as broken for these kids as we were for the random ones we met on the street. The way the orphanage was managing their resourses, so encouraged us for the possibility of their quality of life in the future.
That evening was a great fresh breath for our team as we practiced dramas and got ready for the festival the next day.
On Saturday the 7th, se arrived at the Festival at 9am, and began the process of greeting all the friends that we had made from the week prior. Now this is not an exageration, while there, i was asked no less than 100 times where a member of our team was, by name, so that one of the teenage youth who came looking for them could say “hello” and “chat”. It was truly incredible how impactful each of our team members had been on the youth they spent time with in their short time together earlier in the week.
We carried out our task of sharing the gospel through music, drama, teaching, and so much more for about 8 hours. While there litterally 20-30 teams of folks took part in sharing these items with the crowd attending. Obviously for us one of the highlights was seeing the children again, but there was another that was unexpected. As we had finished our second time on stage, a group from Freedom Church in england came on stage and did a very cool dance/drama, and then led the people in 2 worship songs. This breath of fresh air was amazing, most of what we sing in ELEVATE comes from the great move of worship leaders in England and on the rock side of the US. And they did one of each. Our team went crazy, we knew their songs, which inspired them to rock out even more. It was a very cool heaven moment as we saw a see of multicolored faces in front of the stage going wild to worship their Savior together with a music that was unfamiliar to most of them.
Saturday Night we were exausted. So we decided to rest and hang with one another. All together in the week we had been there we have presented the simple gospel of Jesus to over 20,000 high school students. 10,000 of those rose their hand to respond to the call we were presenting, that is the simple gospel of Jesus; Accept the reality that they like all mankind are sinners and need a redeemer to deal with their separation from God, Believe that Jesus paid that sacrifice as a perfect redeemer for their sins and is the only one that can bridge that gap, and Confess that he is Lord of their lives with his mouth. It was an awesome experience to celebrate those decisions, pray for many, many of them, and encourage them to get plugged into their new relationship with Jesus and get to know Him.
On Sunday the 8th, we were asked to partake in 2 services at Gaba Community church. In all comparisons, you could very easily say that Gaba is to Kampala, as Christ Church is to Nashville. They are a rather large community for that area, with a school attached, health clinic available, day care also attached, and job skills training center also in their midst. This is a church that is plugged into its communities needs. The first service was in English, and we shared the gospel again through our dramas and music, then in the second service was in Luganda (one of the many Ugandan languages) and so we translated all the way through the service.
On sunday afternoon we received the real treat of going to one of the local markets, and shopping for our gifts for family and friends that had supported us through this trip. The amount of God given talent in these markets was truly amazing. Sunday night as we finished dinner our friends from the Kenya team and Uganda team arrived to say their final goodbyes. There were many tears, but not as many as you might think. See as i have stated in my blog before these youth and these East Africans made a connection deeper than “wow it was great to bond with you, make friends, hope to see you agian some day” no instead what has happened is that we became part of each other’s spiritual families, and most on this trip are utterly convinced we will see most of those folks agian many more times in our life time. So this good bye was celebrated, because we all believe it will have a “hello, again” not far around the corner.
We flew out early Monday morning and arrived in London. Once at our Hotel, we met up with Pete Rizzuto and his 8 students that will be joining us for Jubilee in 2 weeks. We ate at Pizza Hut together and had a blast. Once again, your youth, your leaders have show some much maturity. And immediately embrased these 8 students as one of us, it was an astounding moment. For those of you who know Pete he has done an amazing job creating a youth ministry in a church where they did not know how to have one. His youth are great kids, with a love for him that is hard to explain.
After dinner we all jumped on the Tube and headed to Westminister, Big Ben, the London Bridge, Church of England, parliament, and a few other very cool, very old spots that had some much historical signifigance for the brief moment we spent at each it seemed quite over whelming.
We have since returned to our hotel, gotten a little rest, and are getting ready to board our flight to chicago, which is where i will leave you. There is so much more to tell, but at this point in order to get “the rest of the story” as Mr. Paul Harvey would say, you will just need to join us on Wednesday in Elevate and on Sunday PM in the main sanctuary.
Til then, as our friends from London have taught us - “cheers”
Pastor Steve
P.S. Baby i am coming home and can’t wait to see you in a few hours - Love - Steve

Friday, July 6, 2007

07.06.07 - CC Uganda Blog #6

So as we reach the middle of our 5th day in
Africa we have a lot of things running through our minds. We have now been here long enough to have a handle on the way our days work, the time difference, the food and what we are doing here. We have been running so hard over the last 5 days we are all completely drained. Both spiritually and physically. We pour out and pour out of ourselves and have really enjoyed doing this but it sometimes leaves us not just tired at the end of the day but emotionally drained. We as a team have been in over 18 high schools in that time. Visited with over`5000 students and led countless people to Christ. All of have been amazing and new experiences. We have all appreciated the people of
Uganda and the way they welcomed us to their country. It has been very refreshing to see smiles on faces everywhere we go. Everyone waves and is genuinely happy to see us. We found out late last night that today was going to be a treat of sorts for us. We were allowed to sleep in a little and wake up around 8am, which is awesome compared to the 5:15am mornings of most the other days. The rest of the treat will leave me CHANGED forever. We boarded the bus and went to
Lake Victoria where we boarded small fishing type boats and drove for 40 mins or so to an Orphanage run by the ministry that we have been working with here in the country. Once we heard this is what we were going to do today it made all of us excited. After all this is something that we all had been looking forward to the whole trip.
We arrived and began to tour the massive facility. We found the youngest kids of the trip all around us and overjoyed to have us at their school and orphanage. Hundreds and hundreds of young Ugandans surrounding us. Their clothes torn and dirty and all just wanting attention. This was a very hard thing to see. To see kids just like my 5 year old brother in this way. Without parents or any family to speak of, all living in conditions that are good for Uganda but nowhere near the way we live in America. We are in a country where 95% of it lives at or below the poverty level. A city with a population of 21 MILLION people. A city where a group 19 times the size of
Nashville’s population live in the worst conditions I have ever seen.
As a 26 year old man working for a Church I thought I knew what poverty was. I had NO idea. No idea how to live without running water or proper sewage systems. No idea that everyone doesn’t eat 3 meals a day. No idea that poverty is not just adults. It is a 5 year old just like my little brother Matthew. I look into their faces and hold them and I see him. I see kids that laugh and play just like him and go to what they call a home late at night hungry and thirsty. POVERTY has become real to me these last days. It has a name, Ashley, it has a face just like you and I, it has a country,
UGANDA. It has a beating heart looking for something - something more. We walked through an orphanage where it cost $30 a month to feed, clothe, and put a child through school. $30 dollars!!! I stand in the sponsorship office and ask how many kids still need sponsors and I am appalled by the answer of too many to count. And this is a NICE orphanage.
We all see on the news about problems in places a world away from ours and think it is somebody else’s problem. So I shed some tears and have parts of my heart tugged in ways it has never been before. Get on the bus to go back to our guest house, take out my Ipod and find myself taken back by all of this. All the faces, all the poverty, all the emptiness around me. Then I turn of my IPOD after it hits me. I walk away from kids who lack so much only to turn on the luxury of an IPOD. What are we doing? What am I doing? We are blessed with so much and take the simple things for granted. These kids don’t even know what an Ipod is and I am on my 3rd one since they came out years ago. How many sponsored kids have I wasted on a ipod? Well I now can say at least 3 years for a child. Now don’t get me wrong I understand the differences between our countries and that I do not need to beat myself up for the things I have and others don’t. But after the last week I will tell you that from here on out this week will cause me to question where and how I spend my money.
Uganda has forever changed my way of thinking. I hope it changes my way of acting and I pray as I close this blog it does BOTH to you all.
Jeremy Carlson, Campus Minister
Lisa said,
July 6, 2007 at 7:33 pm
Thanks so much for the updates! I rush home each day to see if there are any new ones posted. Of course selfishly I hope to see one from Savannah–so I can see how she is. I honestly can’t imagine what you all are seeing and experiencing–what I have read has brought tears to my eyes.
I think what you all are doing is amazing! Each and every one of you are in my prayers!
I can’t wait until you all get home so I can hear all the stories.
Please send Savannah my love and tell her that we miss her terribly and pray that she is okay.
Cassie Johnson said,
July 6, 2007 at 1:42 pm
Great job Jeremy!!! I can truly feel your heart for these people. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO proud of each one of you and what you are sacrificing on this trip. You guys all get an extra jewel in your crowns!!!
Sara it was so good to hear your voice, miss you LADYBUG!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

07.05.07 - CC Uganda Blog #4

It feels as if my body is going to collapse on itself. Every bone, joint and muscle wanted me to lie down and sleep. With four to five hours of sleep a night and a sweet crash going through my body I would usually agree, but I couldn’t. With 1500 Ugandan and Kenyan children wanting to accept God, it was a sacrifice that was worth every second. To see them rise from their seats and dance for the Lord. Every time I step off the bus for another school, a switch is flipped. All aches, pains, and drowsyness are washed away.
The energy starts to flow, the room become brighter, the felling is impossible to mistake for something other than the Holy Spirit. The sight of all the children smiling and having a good time, it’s a wonderful sight. For the first time in my life, I’ve witnessed what true poverty looks like. We wish we could all fix it now. Make their lives better, fix their homes, give them the shillings they need so that they cold all have a hot meal, but with the short time we’re here it’s just a wish, but God will do something with our wishes. He always does, God has blessed us. God gives us humility. He forgives and loves. Amen.
Love you mom, dad and sis – John Colley

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

07.04.07 - CC Uganda Blog #5

Well today was Day 2 of getting up extremely early to prepare for our days events. No matter how we spin it, getting up at 5am Uganda time could be tough on all of us. But then it happens. The youth and leaders arrive around 5:30 or so (mind you it is still pitch black outside) and their excitement for the days events are overwhelming.
Admittedly on my way to Africa I had set in my mind, that I would be lucky to get 1 good meal a day. However our hostess (Sarah) has made sure that all of our teammates are getting an incredible hot breakfast, and dinner each day. So besides just needing more food than normal to sustain our active days, no one has lost the 10-15 pounds we thought we might in Uganda.
We started our day at the 2nd nicest High School in Uganda. 1300 students greeted us as we began our time with them. To my surprise, 1299 were Native Ugandans however they did have one student who appeared to be from India. As we shared our testimonies, Skits, songs, dances, and gospel with these youth, we had a euphoric moment, we came to the realization of what a significant moment this was in time. In front of us, by statistics sake alone, were standing a very large percentage of Uganda’s future diplomats, lawyers, doctors, administrators, government officials, etc. And God provided a moment of incredible significance by allowing us to share the gospel of Jesus and his love of their lives. Wow, so many responded, so many lives were touched, again all we can say is wow God!
As our team split into Alpha and Bravo (12 Americans, 3-5 Kenyans, and Ugandans on each team) for the day to begin ministering in different high schools all over the city. I want to give you some perspective on what we see as we travel through this huge city of Uganda. First of all a few disclaimers,
1 – no words that I put on this computer could begin to adequately describe what we truly walk and drive through each day, you must experience it to truly understand it
2 – Though the description I am about to give you of this city is going to have many things that seem as negatives to us Americans. I want to be sure to communicate to all that Kampala is a beautiful city, and the Uganda’s are a beautiful and deep people that love their city and country.
Ok, so we leave on the bus, and as we pull out, I look to the left of the 3 lane dirt streets we are traveling on. Africa’s incredible red clay is piled everywhere, as are the people of Uganda. I am yet to be out at a time where the streets were not packed with people. Take a moment if you will to see wood, metal, concrete shacks all the way down the road we are traveling. On the street is trash in every direction, there is about 20 feet of red clay that serves as a front yard area. Self proprietor businesses of every kind are mixed with small wooden shacks, that serve as homes for any number of human beings. As we drive down the wrong side of the road, I am stunned by the way the vehicle system works here. There are almost no street signs and even less street lights.
People pretty much use the road as they please. Cab style mini vans are all over the road, and our bus glides past these vans, coming on and off the road without a hitch. The drivers in Uganda are extremely skilled, and patient. When asked about traffic accidents the Ugandans say there all most none. Instead they are so used to dealing with the gigantic pot holes on each road, the speed bumps that are as big as a Volkswagen, and drivers coming through from every direction. Again, words cannot explain the number of times that our bus is almost hit, or we have almost run over 2 or 3 motorcycles cabs at once, or that we move into the middle lane to allow a taxi out, only to have a car coming at us from the other direction. Now here is the amazing part, everyone just slows down. Instead of like America where we say “this is my lane, get out of my way” and we speed up. They simply slow down, gently honk their horn to acknowledge each other and then like a well oiled machine, work their way back into what my brain considers the wrong lanes.
Now for the deepest part of what we see. People everywhere. Entrepreneurs that are selling goods of every kind. Men discussing the rate of a taxi that they are jumping into with 5-7 other Ugandans already inside. The women carrying items of every kind to their homes and business, some on their head others on bikes or with both arms packed. Everywhere I look little children playing, elementary and highschool children walking to their schools as the sun begins to rise. There is truly activity everywhere, people are working on beds, selling prepaid airtime cards, cutting up sides of beef, laying out the fresh produce, and selling the days newspaper and so much more. I am struck by the interesting feel of unity that is active in peoples actions as I watch them, and their conversations with one another. If there is a single word to describe Ugandans it is “gentle”. And it is carried out in so many ways as they live together all day long, truly amazing!
Back to this days events, we eat our sack lunch on the way to our next round of schools. Team Alpha has our new friend Bishop Ben Bahati from Kenya with them as they head into their two schools for the afternoon. Team Bravo has the Ugandan dance team, and Jimmy Earle joining them. Each school is its own monster for lack of a better term. As we enter into the school we come with a basic plan of what we will present. However within about 10 minutes we need to be in the room that we are going to use, and have the AV set up, and depending on the number of students, and actual time we get 20min-2 hours, we then adjust our schedule to meet the needs of that school as best as we can. Then we set our teams loose, and the response of love given back to us for our efforts is overwhelming. And then it happens, in a room of 200 students, 35-50 respond to the gospel message, and we rejoice with the angels of heaven as that many more young people are ushered into a relationship with Jesus, and their assurance of life eternally with Jesus. Truly awe inspiring moment for all, each time our response is “Glory to our God in the highest”. So far we have presented the Gospel and its message to groups as small as 60, and as large as 1400 at a time. More than 5000 students thus far.
It is about 5:30pm by this time and we are making our way to tonight’s crusade. As we arrive there are 400 folks standing everywhere around a tall stage area. This meeting is in full motion as we arrive. Once again the Ugandan team, Kenyan team, American Team, and Keith Cook are doing their thing in a local neighborhood. Our folks are swarmed by all the Ugandan Children and that is exactly where we want to be.
As an adoptive father, obviously I have gone through the natural reaction of wanting to take all of them home with me. Our team loves these little ones for that short couple hours like they were their own. Many leave each night with tears feeling those same emotions.
We finally make it back to our home in Africa at about 10pm, sit down together as we enjoy a hot meal once again. Then we begin to share. Our victories, our defeats, the hopes and dreams we are facing, all the areas that God is growing us. These are good team moments. Moms, dads, family, cc community, words are not adequate to express what kind of folks that you have shared with us for this trip. Their integrity, drive, compassion, appropriateness to culture, has been so amazing. If you could be a fly on the wall here with us, each of you probably cry at the incredible growth your young person or adult counterpart has gone through in this short period of time.
We finally head to rest about 11:30pm, and most are asleep by midnight ready for our next 5am wake up call. As you can see by the amount of time we have at our home, and the reality that most nights electricity is cut between the hours of midnight at 4am to conserve in Kampala, blogging has been tough, but I hope that you have enjoyed this extra long update to keep you in the loop.
We love you all, and thank you for your prayers. All are well, and besides our issue with the luggage, there has not been a hitch in the trip yet.
Family and friends on a personal note i wanted to thank you all for praying so hard, giving so much, and trusting us so deeply with your most valuable asset. And i want to warn you, this group of 24 radicals all have in their mind that we are coming back and soon. There is so much to do, to be, and to become here, and we plan to bring you with us next time, so be prepared for such hopes, dreams, and actions as we return.
Peace – Pastor Steve
Cassie Johnson said,
July 6, 2007 at 9:40 am
Loved getting this exciting update. Thanks so much. It helps to know how to pray for your needs.
Love and blessings to all,
Ms. Cassie

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

07.03.07 - CC Uganda Blog #3

Another long flight, super close quarters, and drifting from dreams to turburlence. We got off the plane in Entebbe to walk off on the steps on to the African Cement! I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we took the first step off, looked around and just breathed in to take everything in. There is a different smell to
Africa, something between burning and vegetation. Smell that was not un-pleasant just different and not American.
We walked into the Airport from the plane to find some of us are missing baggage. We have a few suitcases, a few ministry supply buckets and a guitar missing. It was interesting trying to talk to the airport staff and clearly communicate because of the accent barrier. But after all the paperwork we found out that some bags are in London, some in Chicago, and even some still in Nashville. We hope to get the rest of the luggage on Thursday. Our team has really come together sharing clothes, toiletries, and comfort with those members missing luggage.
We got to the Adonai guest house to huge smiles. We went up to our rooms, changed, ate some great pasta and then headed straight out to minister at a high school. We were joined by our On The Go team members from Kenya and Uganda. We did a quick skit, that got the kids laughing and then Keith spoke. The children really seemed to take in what Keith was saying about asking Jesus into their hearts. We talked to some kids afterwards and then headed back. We all were exhausted and were so glad to take a nap. We woke up and waited for a new bus to come to take us to our next adventure – a satellite crusade. (street Ministry). It was amazing! We drove up to a crowd cheering for us. The children were so exuberant to be there. They all smiled and waved. Many came to speak to us. Keith drew the children in by telling them about Christians and lead them in a prayer to ask Jesus into their hearts. The
Kenya team did a cool dance and song that the children and Americans thought was so much fun. We prayed over the team and returned to the bus. When we got home. We ate some delicious tilapia, mashed potatoes, zucchini and the most delicious pineapple I’ve ever had we were back in our rooms at about 10:15. I think everyone will get a good night sleep tonight. We wake up at 5:00am tomorrow.
I think tonight everyone will be consumed in thoughts of the Ugandan children and all the new experiences. Where else do you see a cow walking in the middle of the road, just because it felt like it, and have it be the norm?
Its been a long day, a great day, and a day we all thank God for. We love and miss you all –
Love – Jeannie Lutz
PS – I love you mom and dad (and sisters!)
Mindy Bledsoe said,
July 5, 2007 at 11:09 am
Hello to our favorite Missionaries….
It’s strange to calculate the time and realize that while we’re having dinner, it’s the middle of the night for you. I hope you are all adjusting to the time change.
Jeannie, I thought this blog was written by Pastor Steve until I got to the bottom and saw your name, it was very well written. I’m sure your family was thrilled to get a personal greeting. I know you all are so busy, but this blog is really our lifeline to you. Even if it’s short and sweet, please drop us a note as frequently as you can!
Olivia, I have so much to say to you, but most of all that I miss you terribly, I can’t wait for you to get home and I love you more than you’ll ever know.
Hey, we’re all dying to know….did everyone’s luggage finally show up?
Love to you all - We’re so proud of you!
Mindy & Tim
Cassie Johnson said,
July 5, 2007 at 9:04 am
Hey everyone,
I know everyone is having the time of their life! Tell Sara that I miss her and can’t wait to get her back home to get some hugs.
Everyone here looks forward to seeing a new blog come up every day. It’s our only connection! So put those writing skills to work ya’ll. LOL
Keep up the good work that God has set before you!! Praying for you!
Love you bunches, Sara

Sunday, July 1, 2007

07.01.07- CC Uganda Blog Day 2

Well it is Day 2 and so much has happened! First on behalf of all of our team members, let me say thanks. Thanks for your time of prayer and send off in Nashville. Thanks for your financial provision and multiple layers of wisdom for this trip. Thanks for your continued emails of encouragement, and comments on our blogs, i will be sure to pass them on to our team.
Now for the quick play by play. Or as quick as Pastor Steve is capable of :<). We arrived in Chicago without a hitch last night, and spent a moment as a team getting some dinner and reflecting with much joy on what was to come in the week we are facing.
Next we jumped on a large 777 with British Airways and headed over Lake Michigan and towards our destination of London. The British Airways staff was more than excellent, they were accomodating in almost every way possible. For the first 2+ hours of the trip we enjoyed snack, dinner, tea and a lot of fellowship together. Though the plane was full, our team seemed to be very close together, and everybody has at least a buddy near them to chat with, this really was a God send for our team to continue to bond.
About 3am London time, the airplane shut off the lights to give us a chance to rest. For most this was not an easy task, sleep at 36,000ft going about 600mph in coach is not something we do everyday. So for most of us the 4 hours of lights out was filled with small 10-30min windows of sleep only to be awoken by the movement of the plane, or strange surroundings in our tight quarters.
We landed in London at Heathrow airport and began our adventure of getting to know the terminal and all its shops and food areas. Needless to say, London and Large American airports are not that different in look. However culture is everywhere! The list of foreign airlines that fly into Heathrow, takes a 4ft - 3 column board from top to bottom to list. So we have heard everytype of foreign language, seen every kind of dress, and even laughed when we hear more Americans around us at a certain moment than any others. In this time exploring a number of us got a well needed (non-moving) 30min-1hour nap.
Refreshed and ready for details, Jimmy Earle has been filling us up with details and teaching us all kinds of songs and skits we will perform during orphanage and school ministry in the week to come. At one point our youth were a little shy about the motions to the songs in front of all those people in the terminal. However, I quickly reminded them “People, you don’t know anyone in the London airport right now, and most of these folks you are not going to see again, so lets do this.” Much to their enjoyment and the crowd gathering, we began to really get into our songs and actions.
We did have one particular visitor, who came up to tell us we were awesome. That he was the stage manager for Ozzie Ozbournes band, and that he was passing through, and could tell we were serving God, and wanted to know where we were headed. When we told him about our goals for Uganda, he was stoked. He told us that a number of Ozzie’s band members now are believers, and that they have chosen to have bible studies and prayer times together while on the road with him. Wow, crazy huh?
Needless to say, we are really seeing the hand of God on this trip, even as we prep for what we are going to be and do in Uganda. We will board our next plane in 4 hours. Please continue to pray for our safety in flight, and our obedience to what God has for us, that we might hear his voice clearly as we serve him.
Til our next time together, Peace,
Pastor Steve + The Uganda Team
Ps. Kayla, Jake, Sara, and John just snuck up behind me, and wanted to say “hello” and send their “We love you’s” to their families and friedns, be sure if the internet is as available as we believe it will be in Kampala, you will be hearing from a good number of them very soon.
Barb said,
July 3, 2007 at 7:32 pm
Hi everyone!
You should be getting some well deserved sleep right now, (hope you are).
Thanks for the blogs and keeping us updated, I send them to my family and friends that know you are there. I thank you for welcoming John on this life changing experience. Everyone is so kind at Christ Church. Hey John can you send us a little hello on the blog? Aunt Sue and Uncle Rick said hey! and that they are proud of you and are continuing to pray for all of you. John sorry we didn’t get a phone card I miss talking to you. DAD AND I MISS YOU! and don’t forget the sunscreen. Hey are you taking pictures?
love and miss ya,
Barb Colley

sarahc said,
July 3, 2007 at 11:10 am
It’s so quiet without you all!! Thinking of you and praying for you daily.
Much Love-

Cassie Johnson said,
July 3, 2007 at 7:26 am
This blog thing is all new to me. I love getting them, keep them coming. Tell everyone (especially Sara, I LOVE YOU) hello and that I am praying for God to do a mighty work thru them. I am so proud of each and everyone of you! Get plenty of rest and don’t forget those malaria pills. (sorry, it’s the mother in me, I have to make sure you’re taking care of yourself).
Love you and can’t wait to get you back home to hear about this life changing experience.

06.30.07 - CC Uganda Blog #1

Over the next few blogs, i am going to be reposting writings from my last Uganda trip. These writings exist on the back side of a website that I no longer have any control over, and they are precious to me so i don't want to lose them. I will also be posting the comments from each post.

Well, it’s finally here. As I sit next to my son and enjoy a few more moments with him before our team heads east, I am reminded of all the hard work and time already put in for this trip. It will be interesting to see what God has in store for us, we have spent so much time preparing for this moment, I wonder how much of what God plans to teach us on this trip has already been done by His faithfulness shown to our team as we worked together to raise $80,000 to send all 24 of us overseas.
I am reminded of the scriptures where God commands us in the end of Matthew to Go into the world and make disciples. I a pause Lord may this be more than a pleasure trip, may it be more than sightseeing, may you use us to lead people toward a desire to know you more fully and become your followers (aka. Disciples).
The questions has aroused often to our group. Why Uganda? There are multiple answers for this. One of the first that comes to mind is that early in my return to Christ Church last summer as youth pastor, Pastor Eric Falk and I began to dream and try to see where was God doing something already. Could we find that place, and then partner with those already on the ground doing such a good work. One place that laid heavily on our heart and would not go away was Uganda, and so it began. With our brother heading to be with the Lord earlier this year, our resolve become clear.
Another reason is this, organizations like Invisible Children, Red, One, Water Aid, World Visionhave opened our eyes to the grave reality that faces Africa, especially for the children in the region of Northern, Southern Uganda and Sudan. However unlike so many other scenarios, Ugandans have hope. Hope that their world has all the resources to once again become a nation of thriving individuals for the glory of God. Where there is hope, there also is Jesus, and where he is at work, we want to be involved.
So what does the beginning of this trip bring to this small group of radicals. Well today it brings a moment of short term good byes. It brings prayer, anointing, covering, and send off. It brings 2 days of airplane travel to get to our destination. It brings opportunities starting from the moment we get on the first plane headed to Chicago, and we have committed together that we will do our best to take advantage of every moment we have.
As I close this our first blog on the trip, I am reminded of the scriptures where Jesus tells us that no man knows the day or time the Father has set by His own authority, only that we are to be filled by His Holy Spirit so that we may take Him to the very ends of the earth (Acts 1), so that as it says in 2nd Peter 3:9 that none may perish, but everyone may come to repentance and life in abundance with Him
Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your support, and most of all thank you for sending us off to be a part of this work. We love you all, words cant say that well enough, and if it is the Lords will we will be home soon.
Til then, continue to check our blog page for further updates,
Pastor Steve + elevate youth headed to Uganda

Mindy Bledsoe said,
July 3, 2007 at 9:21 am
Thank you for the detailed updates, it really helps us to fell more connected to what is going on there. I know that you are all a wonderful blessing to the people you’re meeting, be sure and experience each moment. I sure miss my Christ Church kids, especially Olivia. I love you livi! We are keeping ALL of you in our prayers and we look forward to hearing more about your experiences!
Love you all!
Edy Johnston said,
July 3, 2007 at 4:36 pm
Hi everyone!
I am so proud of all of you, going so far a way from home to spread the good news. You’re doing such a great deed and in the process your life will be enriched!.
Sounds like you are not waisting any time in going to work. Sorry to hear about the luggage, Todd had that experience in Peru.
Love you all, we will continue to pray for the team.
I miss my Todd!