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embrace_eternal
 amazing stuff! go here: 

http://africa-love.livejournal.com

Current Location: phoenix, AZ
Current Music: Simon and Garfunkle

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I have come to believe that "I have returned to the US" is a relative term for the sojourner who makes his 2nd, if not, 1st home in a place far from where he spent most of his life.
 
I am, as most of you know, currently in the United States, back in school at ASU and Phoenix College, pursuing my degree and the rest of my life… and what a pursuit it has become, and it often feels a pursuit of time while a pursuit of truth and direction. I don't speak this way to confuse, but to enlighten about the odd sense one has when he leaves much undone and much yet to understand. That sense of tearing away came unexpectedly for me this time. I had an odd sense that I desired to return to the US, to pursue school, and to move on with my passions, knowing I would return… But as I said goodbye to Lutaaya, Bosa, and Musa at the airport in Entebbe, it was too hard, harder than ever before. For the 1st time Uganda felt right, it felt like I understood something, that living there had the potential to be what it needed to be for me to actually consider such a radical change. Being easy, it would not be. The romance has worn off, but the reality is so much sweeter, no more pipe dream, just the people and the beauty of it all…
 
I spent just under one month in Uganda after I returned there from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo was phenomenal, and the place where I saw God moving in miraculous ways, and the plight of the people broke my heart. But Congo (and Malawi, where I spent last summer), isn't where I sense the most peace, despite the passion I have for that kind of ministry, and my desire to return to both whenever I can. I just love Uganda. Confused yet? Me too… but spend a month in Uganda with me, and somehow it all makes sense.
 
It makes sense because one night at African Hearts I went to my bed downstairs where all the boys sleep, and I found my usually messy bed perfectly made. Bosa, one of the boys who lives at the house, made my bed just to show that he loves me.
 
It makes sense because Laurence (who we lovingly call Mzungu) wants to be a freedom fighter, and his beautiful heart for the street kids, those who have been through so much like he has, grows every day, and we can get lost in the complexities of this life and what God desires of us….
 
It makes sense because Lutaaya, when told of an injustice in his country, concerning the people of the Congo who were refugees in Kampala, had his heart broken for how some people can just be used and abused… and he knew in that moment he had to do something about it.
 
It makes sense because I walked through the slums of Kisenyi with two amazing boys holding my hands, and all that they wanted in life was to be given a chance, to not live the life they lived, surviving on the streets, seemingly forgotten by God, huffing petrol to forget they are hungry… they just want to go to school, be loved, and to understand that a dream could come true… but more than that, that God hadn't forgotten them and moreover loved them more than anyone else ever could…
 
It makes sense because I know a man Jumah who has devoted his life to his people in every facet and way and is strategic and passionate to see change in his land, and the world. He doesn't have to brag, his life speaks volumes about the change that Christ can bring through a man. He trusts God with every step of his life, and it shows… and he, to me, is Uganda, and represents the hope I feel about that beautiful land.
 
It makes sense because a boda boda driver told me about a great church, because the guys who make my favorite kikomando get a kick out of my attempts to speak Luganda, because I've met men and women whose hearts break for the realities that exist, because you can just be yourself and know that life is good as you walk through small villages out at Ssenge.
 
Uganda, a place I would only claim to slightly understand, is a place I fully love. That's why it makes sense that I feel sad when detached from it. That's why I laughed as I talked to Bennon, Musa Musoke, and Musa Aworhi today on skype. That's why I had a sense of longing when I spoke about those boys and the boys who I don't even know that well living on the streets, cold, alone, and almost forgotten today at the Bead Museum where we sell most of our beads for African Hearts.
 
You know, people lately have asked me "How was Africa?" and depending on the day I've given different answers. There are not run-of-the-mill explanations or answers to encapsulate the things I, and those who I was with, experienced. I am thankful that everyone who speaks with me knows that, and is patient with me, as I search for the words. Sometimes I think of a story, I think of a moment, holding that boy at CEPIMA in Beni, Congo, and crying more than I've cried in a long while. I think of the 40+ prostituted women who gave their lives to the Lord and were able to leave prostitution that day. I think of all those kids from the slums learning about reconciliation in the Kenyan bush at SWAHIBA Camp. I think of Jumah's laughter, or Laurence's shy face, or Sandra's smile, or Serge's broken heart, or that boy who held my hand for a couple of hours as we walked over the city. To answer that question would be to simply say "as it should have been". Some of the darkest nights of my soul have come since landing here in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, hearing of the injustice and tears that continued in Kampala as I left. It's not so much that I ask "Where is God?" but I seek to know what to ask, what to do. I, however, am left with something more than that, a longing much greater, much deeper…
 
So, "How was Africa?". It was as it should be… but the thing most on my mind, the thing that was seemingly the most unexpected, was how the kids on the streets affected me. I didn't spend an incredible amount of time with kids on the street, but much more than I ever have before…. But something in me, this time, caused a stir… it was akin to that draw I feel towards the homeless here, it was akin to the pain I feel to see a disabled person treated with contempt as if they chose that life and situation. In Kampala, one day, I was walking alone and I saw a young boy sitting on the street, begging for money… this is not your average street kid actually, as the real street kids are usually boys who you won't ever really see, and live on the margins of society… but this child could barely speak, having seen terrible things throughout his life no doubt. At a hamburger joint, one of the few in Kampala, I picked up some chips (fries) and gave them to this young boy… he just looked at me, accepted, sat there and ate. I walked some distance away and just watched him eat, and watched the people see this downtrodden human being eat, and watched their response… where before he had been invisible, now he was visible, and people seemed taken aback by this young boy who didn't speak, just eating slowly and deliberately, with not much of an expression. Some laughed, some walked a wider circle, some stared, some looked with fascination, and such is the life of the victims of society. But what is an average Ugandan, barely getting by in the face of rising food prices, to do? Can they be affected after they've seen so much? Before he had eaten no one even looked, some had actually stepped over his legs, but somehow this boy eating caused society to face the reality. Somehow it made it harder to see. Maybe eating made him human again, and it is harder to ignore the plight of one you see so much of yourself in. And sometimes your joy of helping can be ripped away by the numbers and desperation of the situation. Today I came across Matthew 18:10-14, where Jesus speaks of going after the one sheep while leaving the 99, and the great joy of helping that one. Sometimes that's what you have to remember… When we were in Kisenyi among these smiling, very high, beloved children, there were "99", and over Kampala probably 99,999+, and their numbers and stories as you listen to each one, overwhelm you. You become overwhelmed by these sweet kids that you know have seen hell up close and personal, and you have to remember the one… that each is precious and loved and worth it.
 
Today that one came to us at African Hearts. Tomorrow there will be 3 more, and in the future, more. Today an 8-year-old boy, Wasswa, was taken off the streets and brought to Ssenge, African Hearts' project on the outskirts of Kampala (for the bigger story go here). I nearly wept at what this means. There he will be loved, safe, taught about the Lord, fed, and given a chance. He is but one of "99", but wholly special, unique, and loved… He's been on the streets for two years, alone, cold, hot, neglected, despised, most likely beaten, and worse yet, forgotten. He is that lost sheep… and praise God for Lutaaya, Tony, Junior, & Roscoe's vision to change the lives of a few, doing their part to restore the sons and daughters of the King by seeing in their faith and love that the Kingdom of Heaven is as much for now as it is for later. This isn't abstract theology, but the very heart of God… to set the captives free (Luke 4:18/Isaiah 61), it's an act of worship to do so. Today, my faith has been stirred, affirmed, and challenged…. I am not a major player in this saga, but God did whisper in my ear, above the roar of lies that satan screams at me, "I love you". I've been blessed to have but a taste of this ministry, to assist in a supporting way here in the US and there in Uganda, helping those with a healthy dose of vision get their plans and dreams into action. I feel comfortable in that position, where my desire to serve can be used effectively… but also ultimately looking to continue in the revelation about how my particular talents and passions can be used to glorify God through setting these captives free...
 
So that is how Africa was, and is. It's amazing, it's beautiful, and it's real. This boy, even if it were only him, and it won't be, would make it all worth it. I don't even know if he was one of the ones I had the pleasure of meeting while I was there, I just know that I love him. I love what Jesus says in Luke 18: 16 & 17 "Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it'." The kingdom of God belongs to this young boy, Wasswa.It belongs to all of us who call Him Father.
 
Thank you all for your support, for reading these updates, for checking my blog, for being the amazing people that you are! It is my desire that God has spoken to you through what He allowed me to experience in Africa this summer. I hope that my breaking heart for the women of Congo and the street kids of Kampala, breaks your heart. It is a blessing and a privilege to be affected by what we see and experience. Please stay in touch, I'd love to talk to you more, and thank you personally for your emails/comments, monetary support, and most of all, prayers. I know many of your went to your knees for Africa, the Congo team, African Hearts, and me during the past few months, and God heard your petition, and He responded. God Bless you all.
 
Until next time, Dan
 
Dan Hoffman
Phoenix, AZ
www.glocaldan.blogspot.com
www.afrihco.org
 
 
ps. Email me if you would like to know more about how to help African Hearts, we have so many ways for people to get involved, and everyday we're getting better at connecting people to Africa, so they too can be a part of what God's doing!

Current Location: Phoenix, AZ
Current Mood: excited excited
Current Music: Underoath "Lost in the Sounds of Separation"

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Friends, this is the email and case referral I sent to International Justice Mission concerning the plight of my Congolese friends.





Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Dan Hoffman, and I’m a US Citizen who volunteers at a ministry for street children in Kampala, Uganda known as African Hearts Community Organization. I spent the last 2 months in Kampala and for a short time speaking with another organization, Mending the Soul, in Beni, DR Congo.

While in Uganda I met a man named Serge Cloud, who is a refugee from the DRC in Kampala, Uganda. As I was able to get to know this man’s incredible life story, another story came to bear, the plight of he and his fellow Congolese refugees in Kampala. There are so many details, as I’m sure is often the case, but I’m going to attempt to give you a brief history to establish the context and exacting situation.

Serge is from the North Kivu district of DR Congo, home to the years and years of fighting, sexual violence, etc of Congo. Serge’s father was a government leader that refused to work with the rebel forces and because of that was killed along with the rest of his family, with Serge there to see. They did not know that, and Serge reported them to the government. These men went on to commit acts of genocide during the continued fighting. One of the men was arrested; the other four are still looking for Serge so they can kill him, because of his witness against them. Because of this, Serge escaped Congo, and hid in western Uganda for quite some time. He eventually made it to Kampala, and registered as a refugee. He will not go to the camps because he knows that at the camps they have photos of him up, so that those looking for him can kill him. This is a brief history of Serge, without the explanations of miracles that got him to Kampala. It’s hard to get all the stories and timelines straight since I’ve heard so many and I speak only English, but Serge and I have spent extensive time together and I can vouch for the validity (as much as possible) and congruity of his statements.

The “other” Congolese I will be referring to are 23 Congolese refugees living with Serge (at least previously) in Kampala. They are a disparate group from North Kivu as well, a people who lived in the refugee camps in western Uganda, and now have made it to Kampala. They are a typical band of Congolese refuges. Some are very young, some old, some in between. Many of the women have children from rape. A number of the men are pastors. Their joy is infectious, and a beautiful people, and they’ve been together in and out of the camps for a number of years. Eventually they made it to Kampala, so they could continue in trying to rebuild their lives since they, like Serge, have situations that keep them from being repatriated in the DR Congo. When they first got to Kampala they lived at Old Kampala Police station because at that time UNHCR didn’t have a place for them.

This is where the story begins, and where I’ll try to be as concise, yet detail-oriented, as possible. Again, it’s hard to understand many things because of language barriers and things concerning government that I simply can’t grasp in Africa, but I’ll do my best to tell you what I know.

I met Serge and he took me to Interaid, the Ugandan refugee agency (governmental) that works in Kampala. Serge had, a number of months before, met these other 23 Congolese here in Kampala and now they were living in a tent outside of this refugee agency. Now, as much as it confounds me, I will attempt to explain their situation and treatment during this time. UNHCR is the commanding presence when it comes to refugees, as you know. They are the controlling body and provide the funding and oversight for all things dealing with displaced people. UNHCR has the files for every single one of these refugees. Those files were supposed to be transferred to Interaid because they “subcontract”, if you will, the work to these people. It is my understanding that UNHCR provides the funding and food for those under Interaid’s umbrella. While the Congolese were at Interaid they were never fed and lived under a tent outside the walls. They lived off of the generosity of the Ugandan people, which was never enough to fully provide for their needs obviously. Interaid never actually had their files from UNHCR, so therefore were never considered refugees under Interaid’s charge. The exact reason for this is unknown to us because we never, in all our attempts, understood how exactly it was supposed to work. We just know it never did.

The Office of the Prime Minister, OPM, is the governing body for the Ugandan government’s control over refugees. They are the ones who work with IOM concerning sending the refugees here and there and to the US/Canada/Australia, etc. They, in some ways, are a go-between for Interaid and UNHCR. We never really understood their role more than that they were a huge roadblock to any progress. OPM was single-handedly the most ridiculous and unhelpful part of all of this. They refused to help the Congolese, or those of us helping them, at all. Not even nicely, just a complete failure to be of any assistance or information. As far as we know, they were the disconnect between UNHCR and Interaid. The OPM treated the Somali refugees well, and as far as I could tell, would hear their cases, but it was not the case with the Congolese. They would be ignored constantly. This never rectified itself.

When I started to get to know them, I started to get involved in any way I could. Primarily it was spiritual, just praying with them, encouraging them, hearing their stories, and providing food from time to time. A couple of time we took them to Ssenge, which is African Hearts’ new home for street kids, to help us with manual labor so we could pay them for their work and they could feed their families. As the situation worsened, it quickly came to light that more had to be done. Interaid was telling the Congolese that they could not sleep in the tent, outside Interaid, any longer. They were there because they had nowhere else to go. They couldn’t go to the camp for security reasons, they were supposed to be in the care of Interaid, and this was the one “shelter” that was available. Interaid grew more tired of them as the days went on. The Congolese sent letters about their situation to OPM but they were ignored. I believe some correspondence was made with UNHCR that also didn’t go anywhere. Interaid would just say, “we can’t help” as they helped other refugees, just not them. Things were not good. I talked more about this situation with Lutaaya Abdul, the chairman of African Hearts Community Organization (AfriHCO), and Jessica McDonnell, one of the American volunteers at AfriHCO like myself. We knew that it was not in our specific job description to take care of refugees’ problems, and our focus had to be street kids, but we also knew that this did not absolve us from doing everything we could to help these beautiful people, as God had put on our hearts. We would pray and strategize for long hours about how we could help, some of us even went to these orgs and tried to assist the Congolese in finding out what was going on. Some of us talked to the Refugee Law Project. We talked to churches. Every door slammed in our face. The discouragement was palpable as options were exhausted and the Congolese were facing more and more threats of being arrested by the Ugandan Police, due to Interaid wanting them gone. The Congolese were losing hope fast, they were almost always treated as the unwanted outsiders, and tribalism reared its ugly head more than we’d care to see.

One day it all came crashing. The Ugandan police came and tried to take them all away from the one place they could gather and live their meager existence. The Congolese told them, as they laid on the ground, “you can shoot us, but you can’t take us.” They’d lived with these police officers at Old Kampala Police station, and knew them well, they thought they might, perhaps, have some compassion from them. The Police did not take them, but they were escorted away from their “home”. Serge and others came to me. Long story short, we took them to the African Hearts house, fed them, loved on them, prayed with them and did our best to encourage them and plan for their future. It was decided that for that night, we’d house the women and children at our house while the men went back outside and slept because they didn’t want Interaid to get the idea that they actually had long-term living arrangements. The next day they had to leave African Hearts, as we desperately planned to establish long-term housing and job opportunites for these people

Nothing improved from that point. The tent was taken away because the Congolese had gone back to Interaid to sleep under it, and nothing else had transpired besides Interaid’s anger increasing. We continued trying everything we could to help. I took one to the US Embassy. I tried contacting various organizations that I thought could help. I talked with people in the US who called Representative and Senators. Some small things happened, but nothing big. It was very disheartening.

It eventually came to pass, about one week ago, that Interaid would, once and for all, kick them off the land. The Congolese were technically trespassing, and Interaid was fed up, but they still had zero answers for the Congolese. At this point in time the Congolese are desperate. The young children are sick, the older people are sick, and their spirits are broken. I contacted my friend Jumah Patrick who I had gone to the Congo with. He’s an amazing man who has worked in ministry for a long time and was pretty connected all over Uganda. He came down to African Hearts and Lutaaya, Jessica, Junior (another AfriHCO leader), and I all discussed to him the past happenings with the Congolese. Jumah was very upset and promised to do something. We took him to Interaid and from there he called everyone he knew. He talked to Ambassadors, the Ugandan equivalent of the FBI Commissioner for Kampala (who called off the police from coming that night), The Red Cross, some other people, and the Daily Monitor, which is a Ugandan newspaper. Two journalists came that night and took stories and photos. They promised to call the Office of the Prime Minister and say “if this doesn’t change, we’ll publish these photos and this story.” Jumah was amazing and called so many people, and made plans to meet many of those people the next day so they could see what had happened. That was my last night with them, I left for the United States the next day.

For a couple of days I heard nothing.

Yesterday, August 20th, I received an email from Jessica filling me in on what had happened (it is below). The Ugandan Police had beaten my beloved friends, to include the children, in the night, and those who did not escape were dragged off to the camps in the western side of Uganda. Currently some are in the hospital and a couple of others are at African Hearts. The rest, as stated before, are at the camps or somewhere in Kampala. I will attach the two emails from Jessica so you can hear it from her and also one from Lutaaya, giving me an update. It should also be known that I talked to Jessica yesterday on the phone and told her I wanted every detail I could get. I needed eyewitness accounts, photos, timelines, details, and hospital bills. We sent her $1000 to assist in any way that that could. We urged them to get a lawyer ASAP as a preliminary measure. As Jessica states in her email, she is formulating that information as we speak.

IJM, thank you for what you do in the world. I’ve long loved your organization and when this all went down, I thought you would perhaps have the best information for us about where we can go from here. It’s a complex scenario, as I’m sure they always are, but with these new events, the Ugandan government has severely overstepped their bounds, and there needs to be payment for such actions. Their treatment before the beatings was bad and borderline illegal, but the beatings obviously cross into new territory.

These Congolese have been through so much, and their stories will break your heart, and they, like so many others deserve justice. I am hoping you can contact us as soon as possible with what you believe can be done concerning this matter. Please feel free to contact any of the following people, as they will be your best contact. I would be your best bet in the United States, but Jessica, Lutaaya, and Jumah are who will be the best in Uganda. Serge is good too obviously, being one of the victims, but unless prompted, he doesn’t check his email often.

Again, I will include the emails thus far from Jessica and Lutaaya. There are photos and past stories of the Congolese and their living situation at my blog at www.glocaldan.blogspot.com .

May the Lord bless you and your work for as long as it is necessary.

Dan




RECEIVED AUGUST 20TH AT 9:24 AM PHOENIX TIME FROM JESSICA

Hey Dan,

Sorry, been too busy to get on here. I think Lutaaya wrote you a volume today, I don't know when he'll send it though. The situation w/ the Congolese stayed the same for a few days./ No one actually came to see them until yesterday(Tues), and it was the Red Cross, saying they would come back today (Wed) with food, medicine, and a tent. I got a text at 6:30 this a.m. from Ezikias saying the police had come in the night and beat them and arrested them. They were taken to Old Kampala. Then he beeped me until i called him back, saying that the situation was so bad, some had been beaten so bad they couldn't stand, even the children had wounds. Before Lutaaya and I could leave, he called again saying that they were in a truck but didn't know where they were being taken. I've talked w/ him several times, and he's sent lots of messages keeping me updated. Mze, the oldest man, was really beaten badly, and they eventually left him, his wife, and their baby at the hospital in Mpigi. Several others- including Serge- managed to escape. This morning, Abbi showed up at the house, and then Prosper's wife (Vicki) and her baby came. When I got back this afternoon, Grace (the girl who speaks english) was there with her baby. I know at least one other guy escaped, and Vicki said both of her children ran away in Mbarara- 4 and 2 years old. She's sick w/ worry about her kids, Grace is worried about her dad (Mze). She didn't know he'd been taken to the hospital.

Everyone was so hopeful tonight, but it's been a hard day. Grace has blood near her ear, and on her clothes. Apparently, the younger kids were very, very heroic in protecting the babies and parents. They're definitely my heroes.

For the ones who have reached the camp (Naki Valley), they don't have food or $. The ones here w/ us just have NOTHING.

I have a little money. Not tons, though. Jumah knows about the situation, but if the police/government start looking for the missing people, I know they're going to try to locate me. Not gonna lie, it makes me a little nervous, and George advised me to lay low- as in stay away from the police or directly trying to find help for them. It sucks, but i can't risk being deported.

But money- if you can raise some money, that would be awesome. they've got nothing, even less than before. I've only got a little. Now we've got 2 babies in the house, and nothing to use for diapers.

Anyway- my phone # is 0773728079. Pray for all of us, obviously. I gotta get back to the house.

Hope things are going ok for you... seriously, if you can fundraise, that's the best place you can be for this situation.

Miss you,
Jess




RECEIVED ON AUGUST 21 AT 4:23 AM PHOENIX TIME FROM JESSICA

Hey Dan,

Thanks for the call last night, it cheered me, seriously. Grace and Viki took their babies and went to UNHCR with Abbi really early this morning. They didn't even want food, so I insisted they take it with them. Serge and Lutaaya met with a couple Congolese guys today, and they're trying to set something up to help. Serge is saying that he is going to take his name off the list of refugees so that he can be free from their rules and regulations to live and go. Last night, he said that the Congo was so bad, but it's been nothing compared to what Uganda has put them through. That's saying something.

I think the course of action is going to be to find them places to rent and set them up with some employment so that they can be independent. For the ones here in Kampala with us, all of their paperwork is with the ones in the camp. Everyone in the camp is planning to leave asap. Ezikias called me this morning saying that they still hadn't received any food to eat.

I interviewed the group last night, and I'll add my 2 cents this evening, and then send it to you. I told Lutaaya about the $1000, but we're not going to say anything to the Congolese about it yet- I'll just have it available to help them. I guess I'll let them know i have some for them, but I won't say any amount.

Hope your day starts better than yesterday.
Jess




RECEIVED ON AUGUST 21ST AT 5:42 AM PHOENIX TIME FROM LUTAAYA

Hey Dan,
Thanks so much for your visit bro. thank you for your generosity and the time you take to support afrihco. I met Jumah yesterday over the issues of us being connected to Viva and also about the Congolese situation and he told me a lot of things that transpired during the meetings that he had with the different people and how they can help and a whole set of things that we can do at individual levels and the things we can’t do. You may want to give him a shout but I know you are busy.

Am not going to tell everything in details but I can tell the important issues that I noted from our discussion. He said that the minister told him that the situation can be put under control so the journalists should not publish the news. He also said that the very minister was with the president and the colonel who takes charge of all the government bodies said that he will be coming back soon and he wanted to meet all the people concerned and see that the issues are resolved. But they also told him that the law is very clear about refugees and it is that they have to accept what the government offers them and the place that they are given which is definitely a camp and then after that they can be supported in the camp.

I told him about our intentions to help and he told me that I should be very careful not to implicate the whole organization in trouble. He said that his ambassador friend said that he can’t help that he even doesn’t want the government to think that he is involved in any way because Uganda and Congo don’t have good political relationship and he thinks that if Uganda knew that the Sudanese representative was involved it would jeopardize their relationship. He said that the government is sensitive to refugees because some of them are spies. So he said that if Afrihco was to help the whole group then we needed to get clearance from inter aid, UNHCR, OPM giving us letter and the names of the people we want to help and then have a covering letter from the police if really these people are fine to stay.

His main concern were the children he suggested that if we can help the children and have may be 2 women take care of them that would be fine. He said that the law about children says that all children belong to the government and any one can take care of them. So he thinks that the kids though they might be Congolese they are also Ugandans and so we can help them with two women who can take care of them but he said that he doesn’t recommend us helping the whole group.

Yesterday Jessica told me that the Red cross was going to bring them a tent, food, medication and all those things but unfortunately they were raided very early in the morning today Wednesday 20th and many of them beaten even the children, and some could not stand that is what Ezechias said when he called us. We went to Police with Jess and the guy concerned told us that they were taken to the camp and that we can see them but not to take them out of the camp for that is Illegal. We called Juma to see how he can help and he said we have to visit them and see the situation. But shortly after the call, we got a text from Ezekias that Serge, Abby and other two had escaped but the old man who was beaten had been admitted in Mpigi hospital. As I was going home I met Abby one of the Congolese and he told me that they had escaped and doesn’t know where serge is.

I have talked to a friend of mine who also is Rwandese but grew up in Congo and he settled here I had given him an assignment to look for Congolese who are doing better may be in business to see if we can talk and have them get jobs for them but had not been so successful and he told me that he actually had been helping some Congolese who had escaped from the camp and that there is a Reverend father who took them on and he is helping them. So I told him that I want him to direct me to the girls and probably they would lead me to the father and as I speak I have not seen him again.

Now I think that we need to work as a team in all this and find the best way to help them I asked Juma for better ideas and he said that we could rent for them a house for 6 months and then tell them that this is what we can only provide. I also think that we can keep visiting them even in the camps and then support them and when we have things to we have put in place for them then we can give them transport to come back to the city.

Today Wednesday we went to the street and did a lot of with the boys out there, we had a very big number but Abs and Jess had prepared enough things for everyone. We played soccer with them, treated their wounds, took then to hospital for those who had serious problems, fed them, and gave out some gifts to them, and just loving them it was so awesome. Before we went to the street I had seen Abby the Congolese and shortly after he had gone another woman came in all of them had just escaped and then coming from the street I met another woman with a baby praise God they managed to escape. They told me that the police were so harsh on them and for one to escape she has to pass through the window of a car with her baby but some texted Jess that they had arrived in the camp so as I speak I have two women and one man and then two babies. I don’t know what the future holds for them and as I speak all the beds are full because all the boys are back from school
sheltering them for tonight is not a big problem but we will not continue to help them and I know that Serge and some other s also managed to escape so I expect them any time.


Current Location: Phoenix, AZ
Current Music: UnderOath "Desperate Time, Desperate Measures"

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It has been too long since I've last written you. Many of you do know that I am leaving the country soon, Thursday to be exact, and many of you have written, sent money, prayed (and hopefully will continue to do so), and called in support of my journey back to Africa for the Summer of 2008. Thank you for that!

This journey has already proven to be much different than the past times I've journeyed to the continent which I love... but the Lord has been good, as He always is, and has provided not only monetarily for me, but in all the things I need, whether it be the life lessons, time, or just relationships that are going to be crucial to my service in Africa... for that I am eternally grateful and hope that through these emails I'll be sending you will be able to hear and experience much of what God is doing in the African continent.

As most of you know I am going to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first third of my time in Africa. The opportunity was given to me by Mending the Soul Ministries, an abuse healing and counseling ministry here in Phoenix. Every year they take Pastors, Counselors, a gynecologist (once), and people who love the Lord to minister to the broken people in the DRC, one of the most afflicted areas on the planet. In many parts of the area we will be in, if you're a woman and you haven't been raped, you're the minority. The amount of sexual violence in this area is simply profound. One doesn't have to think too long about how this affects the very social and spiritual fabric of this beautiful and yet tortured land before realizing that this reality changes everything. Rape is being used as a weapon of war. If you'd like to read up on it, click this link HERE. Our purpose in going is to take our expertise we've been blessed with (more others than me ;-) and bless those in the Congo. We do not go to export our American values, but to share Kingdom values and principles with the common people, the perpetrators of evil, and caregivers. To empower the women and prostitutes to dream and know there is healing and hope. To free the men to understand women's equality and value, which allows them to be men. To free the youth from following in destructive patterns of violence and abuse. To share Christ with a broken world that will simply blow your mind. Specifically for me I am sharing the topics of Abstinence and "Satan's lies about sexuality" (I'm an expert. Just Kidding.) with the youth, and speaking with soldiers about the ethical treatment of women, since they commit most of the atrocities. I'm also the trip photographer and general "go to" guy... I hope they've picked the right guy!

But Satan does not want this trip to happen. Already we've had massive changes come up for this trip. A complete change of location in the Congo at the last minute, to name one of the problems. But God has hooked us up. Period.. and he's in the business of being God now as much as ever. It was brought up today at our final, and hectic, meeting tonight that we have only grown in weakness since we started to work towards this adventure in seeking the Lord in a foreign land. It's been one rough patch after the other... but in our weakness, He is exceedingly strong. As it was pointed out today it says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 " 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." His power, that is Christ's power, is sufficient, and overflowing... that's what we're claiming for this trip, we have to because we're not prepared and we're coming to a place where we have to rest on the Lord, because apart from Him we will inevitably fail. It's beautiful. Also my "anchor verse" for this trip is Matt 11:28-30 which says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." This is pertinent to me because I am weary and burdened, and leaning on Christ is hard for me to do, but when I do I know peace...

From Congo I will be returning with the team to Uganda, but not leaving as soon as they will be. I'm staying until the 16th of August. The rest of my summer in Uganda I'll be working at African Hearts Community Organization with Abby, Lutaaya, and 3 Interns from ASU we have convinced (against their will of course ;-) to travel with us to Uganda. Chiefly our initial work is preparing the new land in Ssenge (essentially a village-esque suburb of Kampala) for the arrival of the new street kids. There are over 1,000,000 million street kids in Uganda. That is a lot. Think about that statistic.... our goal is to bring in a dozen of them off the streets and love them to death. This is where it all begins and this is where Abby will be eventually spending the next many years of her life serving these new boys so it is definitely an exciting time! I am looking forward to just being there, grasping the ministry of presence a little more, and further understanding my role in this passionate pursuit of a life-changing environment that we seek, with the Lord's help & guidance, to create at African Hearts. It's hard to step in to it all when you're 10,000 miles away, but when you're there... finally there, you just have to drink it in.... and, again, know peace....

Thank you for your prayers and support thus far. There will be a list of prayer requests below as well. Please let me know whether or not you would like to receive this email update every week or so while I'm gone, and if not, I will happily take you off of the distribution list!

Prayer Requests
-Congo team adhesion and grace for one another and that we make it to Congo, not only safe, but with our supplies and sanity
-The people who we will be ministering too in Beni and for David Kisali of Congo Initiative
-All the people of Goma who are suffering greatly in this time of social upheaval that never really ends
-African Hearts: for the 'old' boys and for the new boys as they leave their marginalized and tragic lives
-for the Ugandan leaders and interns at African Hearts (Lutaaya, Rosco, Tony, Jr., Jessica, Abby[blog], Myself, and the interns, Sarah, Hannah, & Coreen[blog])
-that the spiritual battles would be fought with us by those of you back on the home front in prayer!
-that I would have a servant's heart and be able to speak His words to those people I'm speaking to
-that my clarity increases concerning my future at African Hearts and my future in general, and that I can trust Him in all those things
-my sponsored boy at African Hearts, Eugene
-Pray for God to do what only he can do, bring hope to one of the most tragic places on our small planet.

Thank you for your prayers. They go before us, paving the way and lighting our path.
Feel free to write me here while I'm gone, and please check out my blog and comment on it! other team member's blogs are listed on the left side too!

My iPod has enough Thrice and mewithoutYou to last me a while, so as long as my Bible still in my backpack, I'm off! Praise be to the Lord! I love you all.

~Dan~
Congo/Uganda
July 3rd-August 17th, 2008

www.glocaldan.blogspot.com

Current Location: Phoenix Arizona

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"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." C.S. Lewis



Current Location: Phoenix Arizona
Current Music: Adam Sinke

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The Beatitudes Focus Sheet

2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
• Did I rely on Jesus today to keep me in right relationship with God or were
there moments I thought I was doing God a favor by serving Him?

4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
• Did I spend any time in confession and repentance of my sin today?
• Was I honestly sorry for offending God?

5"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
• Did I flaunt my position or authority today for selfish gain?
• Did I speak of myself too highly or exaggerate my role or function?
• Was I patient, longsuffering and gentle or was I belligerent and impatient?

6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
• Did I thank Christ that He was my only way to God today?
• Did I live in right relationship with others?
• Did I live in right relationship with the world?

7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
• Did I do anything to make anyone’s life better today?
• Did I help or bless anyone in a tangible way?
• Did I encourage anyone who was hurting or downtrodden today?
• Were my eyes even open to seek such opportunities or was I too self-absorbed?

8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
• Did I pursue holiness and obedience today?
• Was there any duplicity of behavior in my life today or was the way I acted
consistently honoring to Christ?
• Would I have acted differently if my “church friends” had been around?
• Did my thought life reflect that Christ lives in me?

9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
• Did I leave a conflict unresolved?
• Was there any conflict I unnecessarily caused?
• Was there any conflict or injustice that I should have acted upon but avoided?

10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.

• Did I life my life so radically for Christ that I was noticeably different from
others?
• Were there any attitudes or behaviors that would have made people say, “He’s
no different than me,” or did I exhibit a life that is being transformed to Christ’s
image?
• Was I persecuted or ridiculed for my faith?
• Am I experiencing Christ more through any suffering?

Current Location: Phoenix, AZ
Current Music: Anberlin

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Teaching myself some disregard.

I’ve been in a peculiar mood on this fine day, the reasons are plenty I’m sure, and a combination of many things. But I’ve accomplished much, and will rest well knowing it was not a wasted day watching mindless television or doing things that didn’t need to be done. I spoke with some great friends, was able to give some advice; take some advice. I wrote all my boys in Africa… and it reminded me... I did some homework, finished that up, I have much more, but it never changes, so why get worried about it? Now I’m just eating fruit snacks, wishing I wouldn’t have to dirty my newly immaculate kitchen I spent so long cleaning, to make food more desirable. I promise I will at the end of this… who can sleep on an empty stomach? In Childhood Development class today I was thinking "this is so interesting to me"… which is unique, because most of school is not that interesting to me honestly, and that puts me into the vast majority, I know. But I do find C.D. quite interesting, because it’s so new… and positive. Kids have hopes and futures, they are usually loved. I love working with them more and more, it has a special place in my heart. I remember how much I used to just talk the little Chichewa I knew with the village kids in Mgwayi village in Malawi, they would just fill my heart with joy. They’re so unique and beautiful… I want to hold them all and help them know that they are loved. I think back to the boys at African Hearts… many just children as well... wonderful, wonderful kids! And there is more comin’! And today Anna called me and we talked about her crazy class of kids (she is a teacher) and how this week, for the first time, she’s getting respect… she’s getting to love…. She’s reaching out to these kids. The administration told her just to concentrate on teaching, not on changing these kids’ lives… but what is that?! Anna is filled with love for children, how can she help but love and care for them? To be successful in life is to be loved…. She is learning well how to love extravagantly these children, as her mentor Elizabeth does. It’s a beautiful thing really. But the sum of it all was my time today at Kiara’s house, where she has 3 beautiful children I adore so much! It was great to see them briefly, I played a bit with Keandre, and Kiara and I talked about transracial adoption (she’s white and Keandre’s black) and how amazing it is…. And then I went home and got on their family blog…. And it all comes rushing back to me, just how much, someday, I want to adopt kids as well. It’s no huge secret that my heart is for Africa, and sooner or later I’ll be in Uganda loving on my boys, teaching them, and them teaching me… but I don’t want kids of my own, I don’t plan to impregnate my future wife (TMI, I know), and I want to adopt a few. I’m honestly in no rush, and i know i sound overly maternal right now, and am not in a position to think too much about it now (as is the case with most things in my life), but it is cool to think about sharing a part of your life with a young child. This doesn’t mean I’ll only adopt young. I want to love the unloved… hopefully I’ve no delusions of what that means in a foreign context…. But I think I’m wired for it more and more. Satan has told me a lot of lies lately about many things. He often tells me that I couldn’t make it in Africa, that I love my pleasures here too much. But I disagree. I was made for this. He tells me I’m not good enough. I often believe him…. But I am good enough, because I’m redeemed… and I want to be loved extravagantly, all my life teeters on that opportunity…. And I want to love extravagantly, for perhaps another’s life teeters on that possibility. It’s not about me… I’m just a vessel. May I love ever more… God continue to hone and shape this man into who you desire him to be….

It’s been quite a day I’d say…

Current Location: PHX

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I’m often searching for the words, oh but You know me, and Your Word is on my lips, lift me up and give me life. me without You, i am nothing. When i wake, your world i wake to. How I love You.
I’m often searching for the words, but how we know one another, and her name is on my lips, walk with me through this life. me without you, i am half. When i wake i pray for you. How I love you.

Current Location: Phoenix, AZ
Current Mood: patient
Current Music: the sounds of silence

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“By the Grace of God”

It is humbling to sit and listen to men talk about what God has done in their lives. The stories of failure and triumph and death and release, stories of love and lust with adventure and revelation thrown in. Submission and reverence. God has been faithful in each one of their lives, much like He’s been faithful in mine. The subtle footsteps of Christ on men’s hearts. They’ve all experienced very diverse things, but the overall testimony is that God was faithful. It’s easy to forget that in my life, and let it get me down. But these men have endured, even if they haven’t finished the race. I should endure as well, understanding that the Lord’s grace separates me from my sin, and moreover that I’m not a slave to sin, but dead to it. There is freedom in Christ. With Him I can do all things, but not for me, for God’s glory! Why else do I live? Even my most treasured desire, thankfully, is still an expression of God’s glory! But He has to remain first, or it’s no longer for His glory. So these men struggle as I do…  they’ve just come to be broken, and God has redeemed them. What an encouragement! Christ is setting men free, for we’re not enslaved to our sin! How I needed this, how I needed Christian brothers to pray for me, to honestly pray for me. How I needed their accountability and wisdom…. When I often feel alone out here without someone helping me along, striving to be a man of integrity and leadership, who knows how to love, I so often fail.

This weekend at Oak Creek Arizona was what I needed although I was sick, missing my bible, and feeling simply terrible… the Lord spoke to my heart. I have to continue to find my rest in Him. No one else will be that escape. PJ, a good friend of mine at Whitton Ave Bible Church, where I attend now, and host of the Men’s retreat I was just at, told me something profound to me. That our God is a jealous God, and that He is faithful to be jealous for our hearts…

This is my verse for this time in my life… may I know it well, and moreover apply it to my life.

Colossians 3: 12-17
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Thanks for listening, love you all, Dan

Ps. Pray I find my bible, I brought it to the cabin this weekend, but I don’t know where it went. I love that bible….

Current Location: mostly written in Oak Creek, AZ
Current Mood: free
Current Music: Pages by Shane & Shane

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A Total Eclipse of the Soul


To call it uncertainty would be to downplay the emotions and the perceived status of my soul at this point in time. It’s overwhelming. I’ve been overwhelmed a number of times this past week, or even this year for that matter. Leaving Africa in January left me off-balance, without the emotional high that I’m used to. That’s ok, it’s more real that way. What I saw and experienced affected me, but so early in my life I do fear getting compassion fatigue. I’ve no reason have come to this point already, but I know that no matter the time in my life, whether a spiritual mountaintop or a spiritual desert, can justify not being affected by this world I live in, but lately I find my heart embracing the lullaby that I live here. The soul-sucking tune that reminds me that I’m human and ‘deserve’ certain things, while others simply go without. Perhaps it’s because these time seem to come paired with personal failings and regrets. They affect my relationships with those I love the most. Something that was revealed to me was that living a life of abandon, that is loving with abandon, will hurt me too. It will hurt those that I love, not so much from malice, but from the reality of a life not lived in the lie of a lullaby. It’s hard to relate sometimes when you know that all that you live now will eventually be given up. Oh but for the Joy set before me, I will endure that cross.
    It usually angers me when I hear the word “darkness” attached to anything dealing with Africa, because it strikes me as a thinly-veiled racist remark on a hopeless land that just doesn’t take into account the beauty and wonder of the people and land that God is doing an amazing work in. But having decided to travel to the Kivu district of the Democratic Republic of Congo this summer with Mending the Soul Ministries, the term darkness seems all too fitting. Over 5 Million people have died there since WWII, and almost no one knows that. I would call that darkness. The atrocities committed are simply unprecedented, as the hundreds of thousands of raped women can attest. This, as you can see, is overwhelming to me. The Lord, however, calls all His people to care, and to do something of eternal significance for His Kingdom. What would Jesus do in the Congo? Live with the people, healing them, telling them that a better world is coming and to love God the Father and their neighbor. How can we love our neighbor? By serving and teaching in love. This type of trip is usually not my style, but nevertheless I feel more and more peace about going to this “dark” land to serve in anyway I can. I’ll teach a little, but mostly I’ll be doing photography duty for the ministry as they travel through Goma and Beni in Eastern Congo. This is, as it readily apparent now, all overwhelming to me though, for just planning for these 18 days puts a burden on my shoulders only Christ will be able to carry. I think I may have found my theme verse here… since a burden is a light way to classify what is resting on the Congo after hundreds of years of murder, abuse, and toil. Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
    This is my prayer, that the Lord goes before us in Eastern Congo, sending His Holy Spirit to open their hearts to what God’s word says… about how Christ is longing to take our burdens from us. I, as much as them, need to hear it, as even in the past few days I’ve seen how trying to shoulder so much on my own has made me less of who I am to be…  Let me rest in the arms of the Creator, who knows me, loves me, and longs to give me rest

Amen.

Current Location: Phoenix, AZ
Current Mood: sick sick

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