Thursday, June 27, 2013

Meeting Results.......

Thanks so much for all the prayers!

Short version- the director cancelled the meeting!  He wasn't even on the school premises when we showed up.

Now, I don't really know what this means.  It could mean that he's going to honor our arrangement and let things be.  Or, it could be that he's going to surprise us with something else- a letter perhaps informing us that fees have increased.

This just means that we have to continue to pray harder, continue fighting for these kids, and continue planning for the future.

As you know long term we hope to have our own school.  Expensive to do on the front end but will save us a lot in the long term.

Short term, these plans don't really help as we have to have some place for the children to be in the meantime.  Pray for a really good option.  We're in the process of looking at other schools and working out arrangements with them.  Or best case scenario, this director will come to his senses and become really easy to work with and we can leave the kids where they are.

Only thing to do is pray, pray, pray and pray some more.  Please stand with us in praying for the best solution for the short term- the best school for the meantime.

And pray that our school will be a reality sooner rather than later!

And as always (even though I hate asking this), if you feel led to help us out in any way financially either through giving or organizing a fundraiser, it would be appreciated.  We still need quite a bit to finish up this term with all of our kids- not just this school.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Can I Just Be Real?

I think there's a lot of this "just be real" stuff going around.  You see missionaries hit a rut.  We get discouraged.  We feel like giving up.  We wonder what we're doing here.  We wonder if we're even making a difference.  So many questions that come to mind and so much that comes against us that makes us feel like just going home.

Thankfully, those moments are fleeting and we know that we can take those feeling to the ONE who cares far more than we ever could.  He holds the answers and knows the beginning from the end.  After all, He's the one that called us to this ministry in the first place.  It really belongs to Him, not us.

I never really know how much to share.  There's this temptation (pride) in not wanting to share the ugly, the bad, the hurtful, the failures, the shame.  I don't want people to know how much at times I feel like I'm barely holding it together.

You see I love Uganda.  I love the people here.  I love the kids Vision of Destiny works with.  I love their families.  I want so much for them, much more than it's humanly possible to provide.  I want them to attend the best schools.  I want them to grow and to learn.  I want them to know Christ.  I want them to walk in the fullness of His love and grace.  I don't want them to hurt.  I don't want them to go without.

It's just not possible.  I can want it.  I can fight for it.  But, my best efforts will never be good enough.  I can't force those unruly boys who are feeling the call of the streets to stay in school.  I can't make that mom stop prostituting in front of her kids.  I can't make that dad stop drinking.  That grandmother that is dying, I can't stop time.

So, I am often left frustrated.  I have this tendency to want to fix things for people.  It really trapped me when Vision of Destiny first started out.  A parent would come with a story, needing money for rent.  I would give it.  Only to find out that rent wasn't paid......  she drank it or spent it on a man, or bought a new dress......  So, I've had to learn to be more practical.  Firmly stand on helping the children through education.  That doesn't mean that at times when there is a legitimate need that we don't help out.  We often do.  Recently, we had a parent dying in the hospital.  We bought gloves, food, juice, etc. to try to make her more comfortable.  But, still those efforts weren't enough.  She died anyway.  An empty feeling of why couldn't I do more.

My dream for Vision of Destiny is to see these kids from the slums rise above their circumstances.  I hope to see them as the next generation changing Uganda for the better.  A new generation of pastors, teachers, doctors, moms, dads, husbands, and wives that love God first and want to see the world a better place.  I've prayed and prayed for these kids to receive the best.  By the way, $35/month can only stretch so far, but they receive the best that $35 can give!

We started out as a school.  And children were growing.  They were happy.  There were smiles and full bellies.  Until greed and selfishness came in.  You remember the landlord hiked the rent so high that it wasn't possible for us to continue running the school?  Well, that's the selfishness and greed that I'm talking about.  A building that was barely worth what we were currently paying, but she was insisting on more.  You see, people here see an American (insert any other white nationality) and think that dollars are flowing and they feel like they should get as big of a piece of that pie as possible.  So what if all we did is pay rent.  That wasn't her concern.  She just saw dollar signs.

Disappointment.  We closed the school.  We did what was best for the kids.  We arranged with a school where we already had students to allow us to bring all of the students there.  They even gave us an office so that we could be around and still a part of the lives of the students.  We negotiated on fees, came to an agreement (one that was higher than what we can really manage- but one that we were willing to look for and fight for so that our children could have the best).  School started for the new year and kids were happy!  They were excited to see their friends.  Excited to have their bellies full.  Excited to be learning.

Things were moving along fine.  We were working with the school as usual, making our monthly (sometimes twice a month payments) in order to take care of all the school fees.  Kids were learning.

But, again selfishness and greed is stepping in.  The school has decided (in the middle of the school year) that they no longer want to accept monthly payments.  This is after us having worked with them for 5 years (and never having a debt with them).  They want all the money in a lump sum before the beginning of each term.  They also want to raise the school fees in the middle of this term.

I'm distraught.  Sponsors give monthly.  I can only pay monthly.  I can't pay more fees...... remember that $35/month only goes so far.  I can't give over what sponsors give.  And really for most people that $35/month is a sacrifice.  I can't ask for more.  I don't want to ask for more.

So, now the negotiating, pleading, crying, begging God has begun.

I met with the school yesterday.  They were not pleased that I told them that I don't have a fat bank account (not in those words) and can't bring them all their money at once.  They were not happy to hear that the only thing I can do is to pay them monthly as we have been doing.

I am meeting with the director of the school tomorrow.  This will likely determine the future of the 125+ students we have at this school (well, over half of their student population).  Will we be looking for another school?  Probably so.

Please pray with me.
- that the director will have a soft heart towards these children and not be money minded.  We don't want to take advantage of the school and always we pay in full, but do have to do that in monthly payments

- pray that he will not raise the school fees

- pray that if it comes to it that we will have time to look for another school that can accept all of our students at the current fees that we are able to pay (as in that the kids won't have to change schools mid-term or mid- year)

- pray for a favorable outcome- one that favors our students- we want them to be able to attend a great school as if they are kids from the rich areas

- pray for all the funds to come in to pay off all of the schools our students are in so that we can keep that record of not having debts (about $12,000 more is needed for this term)

- pray for me- that I won't be stressed be stressed or anxious

- and most importantly- that God will get all the glory!