March 29 2014

Veronica’s African Diary Part 3

Veronica mugInto the Jungle and Beyond

After five nights of meetings and our days filled with ministry, we finally got a break.  Our morning meeting was off the charts full of glory and heavenly atmosphere, it was wonderful spending everyday with encouragement, love, and anointing.  I guess when you have to minister with the power and miracles we’d seen, the grace of God had to be over the top to function.

Today we got to go sight-seeing and shopping.  The bus went to a local market where merchants sold local souvenirs and gifts.  I bought what I could for my friends, parents, and little brothers; awesome things like hand-carved stone lions and giraffes, carved candlesticks, fabric, and purses.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a little store to get drinks and snacks.  Shelley, out of the goodness of her heart gave a little boy who was outside of the store the rest of her Coke that she couldn’t finish.  The boy happily drank it up and we all got back on the bus.

Suddenly a man was knocking on the bus doors demanding that Shelley get off the bus, he wanted to take her to the police.  Apparently, she had broken a strict law that you could not share food or drink because the outbreak of AIDS was so prevalent, and the boy she gave the Coke to was this man’s son.  The leaders that were with us, our guide, and bus driver tried to calm the man because he was yelling and demanding Shelley go with him.  After fifteen minutes of negotiations our people all got back on the bus and we drove away.

The leaders realized that the man was Muslim and was making such a big deal out of the situation to get paid off for his trouble instead of pressing charges, an actual scam.  This was part of the spiritual warfare we encountered often and was an annoyance of distraction for disrupting our great day.  Shelley was in tears and very upset.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs soon as we got to the hotel we packed our belongings to travel two hours to a resort in Jinja, which was on the Nile River.  We arrived there in the pouring rain at about midnight.  The resort provided dinner for us at that late hour, I wasn’t sure what I was eating but it was delicious – grilled meat on a stick.  After we’d eaten we found out that it was goat; a mainstay of most of third world countries, something I had never had.

Day 7

We drove to a nearby village.  It was still raining and the red dirt was a swamp of mud.  We visited an orphanage and school and the children seemed well-behaved and happy.  The homes were very simple, rustic, with dirt or concrete floors.  We spent time praying for the villagers who seemed to be hungry or needy.  Most of our feet and shoes ended up covered in red mud.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe spent the rest of the day in rest and relaxation.  Our group meeting that night of about forty team members was like a party.  We had lots of fellowship and we had a group picture and our “safari” gear was handed out.  We were going on a safari!

Day 8

By sunrise we were all packed into our busses that we would be on for the next seven hours to Misindi, cross the Nile by ferry, and spend the night at the Paraa Lodge.

Our close group of ten sat in the back of the bus which ended up being an extremely bumpy ride.  We stopped once to use the bathroom facilities (a hole in the ground inside a little shed outside), get food in a little store, and gas.  After a very short break we found Nile River viewourselves in the middle of the thick, dense jungle on a dirt road which seemed to go on forever. At one point an older lady on our team yelled out, “Stop the bus!” and we pulled over to the side of the road.  She jumped out the door and ran behind the bus.  Apparently, she had eaten something that had given her digestion problems and had to relieve herself (or explode) in the middle of nowhere.  We got concerned when we saw a pack of baboons come out of the foliage while she was out there alone.  Soon she was back and we rolled down the road again. Later she told me, “Whatcha goin’ to do, I had to go!” (in her Texas twang) when I told her she was gutsy about the whole incident.  She became my hero that day because she was not fazed at all by the situation. (Smile!)

After several hours the shock absorbers fell off the bus and now it felt like we were on a roller coaster, bouncing OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeverywhere. As soon as we got to the Nile River where we had to cross the ferry’s engine wouldn’t start so we sat on the dock in the busses until it could be fixed, again on African time.  We were so hungry at this point we started sharing all the tidbits and morsels of food that anyone had brought (power bars, chips, crackers, Coke, etc.), the thing we were lowest on was water, no air conditioning, and outhouses on this side of the river were horrendous!

In the late afternoon we finally crossed the river and saw many hippos that shared the same water, we checked in and settled into our rooms.  We had a little dinner and loaded back up into our little pink bus to take us on the safari!

Jungle roadWe saw many giraffes, lions, wildebeests, elephants, birds, and all kinds of different wildlife while we traveled on the plains above the jungle.  It was so surreal; we were the creatures in a cage looking out at the wandering, free animals.  Magnificent and awesome!  One bull elephant threatened to charge the bus but our guide let a shot off with his rifle and the elephant suddenly stopped.  Definitely a place you would not want to be alone.  It was getting dark so we traveled back to the lodge to eat and fall asleep, exhausted after a very long day!

 

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March 13 2014

My African Adventure

Veronica’s Diary – Part 1

Veronica mug      We finally landed at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda, Africa, in the middle of the night. After spending thirty-six hours to get here it almost seemed unreal. Our entire team was exhausted after flying from Oakland, California, to New York, with a twelve hour layover there, before heading across the Atlantic to Brussels.  At the Brussels airport we met up the British team, consisting of doctors, nurses, and a variety of hungry saints which would join us on our adventure to subtropical Africa. We had lots of time for friendships to begin to develop, creating bonds that would sustain us for our entire undertaking, and some relationships that would last a lifetime.airport polo

We were totally exhausted when we arrived, then an excruciating wait through customs (on ‘African time’) and were finally in our hotel rooms by two a.m., knowing that we would have to be up by six….

This whole trip was part of graduation for our first year in Bible School (The Supernatural School of Ministry).  At the end of the school year all the students had to go on a mission outreach somewhere in the world, most went to Mexico because it was less expensive and they just drove through California to get there.  If you had a burden to be in a specific country you had to come up with the funds on a certain deadline.  I have always wanted to go to Africa and I set my heart on that trip.  I fought the whole first part of the year to find the money to go, which tested my faith in extreme ways.   I’d resigned to just go to Mexico and pay those fees; because at least I’d be going somewhere.  When I went to the school office the financial manager told me all funds for the trip to Africa had been paid! In the end God supernaturally supplied the three thousand dollars I needed from an anonymous source. I was in shock and unbelief, I cried, I laughed, I rejoiced with my friends, and even testified in church on Friday night. I was going to Africa.!!! Thank you, Lord!

Day One:

I woke up scared. Doubts and unbelief filled my head.  What was I doing here? How could I even pretend to make a difference, and who did I think I was?  I remembered what a famous teacher once said, “If you are scared, do it anyways!”  So I went with my roommate, Elsie, to meet our team in a conference room to worship, pray, and get the days’ assignment.  Everyone was blurry-eyed, yawning, and practically comatose.  We all were in the same boat!  I was thankful for God’s grace and mercy for me this morning.

I tried to get into the groups going to orphanages and schools to minister, thinking that would be a great way to start; something easy that didn’t require much exertion (four hours of sleep was making me dizzy and no Starbucks – only Nescafe in the dining room).  I have determined that God loves a good laugh, never making my way easy; I got assigned to the maximum security mens prison to minister in for the day.

I was so thankful that our chaperones from school, Jess and Lisa, were going with us, they were always a great ‘go-to’ for wisdom, prayer, and encouragement, and they were the ones that kept us inspired all through our first year, especially learning to walk in the Spirit.  We boarded a large, pink bus after ten a.m., it was late because of getting the right permits, when we finally headed on the road out of town.  The trip only took a half hour, so we sang songs and got to know one another better.  Most of the students on this trip I’d hung out with at school or in classes, but with a student body of 1,500, you couldn’t really get to know everyone, suddenly these kids became very important to me.  I sat next to Elisabeth and Caroline, we were all scared, we didn’t know what to expect at all.

Since we hadn’t seen Kampala, the country’s capital, on the ride to the hotel in the middle of the night, morning brought an eye-opening experience that was everyday life in a third world country.  Massive amounts of people walking, on motorbikes, and crammed in passenger vans acting as mass transit.  Diesel fumes choke the air, odors of rot and sewage combined with the humidity made it over-whelming on the senses.  There was red dirt and trash everywhere.  Poverty was prevalent and the crowds wore it on their faces, emanating all their desperate needs.  We stopped by a grocery store to pick up supplies for the prisoners, and everyone on the bus got a can of Coke, the national drink. After loading salt and sugar in the back, we headed up the steep road to the high barbed-wired walls of the prison, which sat on a hill out in the outskirts of town, built in 1927. It didn’t look like they’d made any improvements since then.22

Once inside the offices, all of our identification and passports were seized, I guess for safe keeping.  You didn’t want to argue with guards carrying rifles and hand guns, then we were taken through several locked gates into the prison yard. The two thousand prisoners were not behind bars but were milling around the low roofed buildings within the prison walls.  This was a maximum security prison with men who were murderers, rapists, thieves, and all other kinds of major crimes. We walked across the middle of the compound which was a soccer (football) field – the national sport, to a secluded meeting area behind one of the buildings.  A church service had already started with singing, when our group of about fifteen was led to the front of the covered concrete slab, where we sat in plastic lawn chairs facing the hundred or so prisoners who came to the service.  We introduced ourselves and I said very little except my name and where I was from.

As the little meeting concluded, there was an alter call with thirty-one men that came forward.  This is where it took a great leap of faith, because our group was called upon to minister to those that came forward.  Most were dressed in rags that barely covered them, barefooted, and covered in a white, chalky dust.  I found out later that the prisoner’s families had to provide the common essentials like clothing, soap, bedding, and toothbrushes, or you didn’t get of those item at all.  Most of these prisoners must have been forgotten because they literally had nothing. The white, chalky dust was for parasites and lice.

Bravely, by the grace of God, I went to pray for one man that was covered with the white dust and only had on some plaid boxer shorts, he was crying.  I prayed whatever came on my heart, since I didn’t know the language, I had to trust the Spirit for the man’s actual needs.  I began to cry myself and realized the overwhelming love that God had on His children.  I had compassion for these desperate men, whom the Father loved as dear children.  I thought of the love He had for me, to send me to this remotest part of the Earth to pray for ones so needing the love of Christ.  I prayed for others, but I was undone by how quickly my perspective of the world had changed in an instant.  Many of the guards and the prison warden were Christians and we were allowed to minister there because of them.

Suddenly, I heard my name being called, saying we had to hurry to go back to the hotel to change for the meeting at the school grounds.3 - Copy redu

We partnered with an evangelist that was traveling through Africa with a mighty signs and wonders crusade and we were his feet on the ground, actually laying hands on those who needed prayer. By the time our bus arrived around seven thousand people showed up and I was so sleep deprived I could barely stay awake, even through loud African singers and this famous evangelist’s preaching.  The entire forty or so team members (including Africans) were all on the stage facing the crowds.  We were treated like celebrities.  Then at a certain point the evangelist send the entire team into the crowd to pray for everyone.  Caroline and I were partners for the night and we were assigned an interpreter named Francis.  We were so thankful for him because he made things so much easier to understand what people wanted prayer for.  It was so intimidating at first when the crowds began to form tightly around Caroline and me, trying to touch us and get our attention, besides it was so dangerous!

15 - Copy frameWe pressed through praying for healing, deliverance, and encouraging many; we lost count after a while.  I definitely felt a surge of power and grace to pray for HIV and AIDS, and strongholds of witchcraft.  Caroline, who was from Australia, and I were so stoked and jubilant about the success that we were seeing; we began to laugh and dance around, her long red hair flying.  I didn’t feel tired anymore.

When we boarded the bus, everyone had stories to tell and the glory of the Lord was so present in there, it was like a thick cloud, so that afterwards we called our pink bus, the glory wagon.  I met up with Elsie and we wanted to share so many things that happened all day, but now we were running on fumes and we agreed to talk at breakfast the next morning. Lights out and air-conditioning on.  zzzzzzzzzzz!

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Note: All events in this story are true, just names and dates have been changed, and a little artistic license by the author.

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