Monday, September 19, 2011

Not The End

We had our last worship with the village and then did a eye-glass clinic for various people in the village. Many of these people have a small problem with their eyes that prohibits them from reading and can easily be corrected by the right prescription reading glasses. It was so fun to test their sight, give them a pair of glasses and then see their faces light up as the words came into focus. It was such a seemingly small thing, but so huge in the way it impacted their everyday life. The whole village had an over-all more studious look as all the glasses patients walked around sporting their black rimmed reading glasses. :)

We said goodbye to all the church leaders who had hosted us for almost a week, the women who had done so much to feed us well and make us feel welcome and then to all the dozens and dozens of kids who had watched our every move, played with us and laughed as we tried to speak their language. :)

It was surreal leaving the village....We prayed that we would never forget the things we heard and learned and saw and experienced there....I started jumping up and down when the next hotel we stayed in had hot showers and real toilets...It's incredible how much we take things for granted until we no longer have them. I seriously was ecstatic to have these simple luxuries back.

We had the blessing at a Safari Lodge for a few days with the Cashes. It was so nice to rest, wash, swim and try to process the past week's adventures. The Lodge was located on the Nile River down from Murchison Falls! We saw everything from hippos playing in the Nile, to baby giraffes with their mothers...It was incredible!!!

Jeff and Issac

Brayden, Silas and Kinley watching hippos.

Sunrise over the Nile. 

Kinley and Alex!

Cheryl and the kiddos.

Murchison Falls in the background. 

After a few days there and a few days to rest in the capital with the Cashes, we boarded our flight headed home. We still are speechless in many ways as we try to process everything we learned , the experiences we had and the ways we know God changed us....It is hard to mentally make sense of it all right now, much less retell it well. But we are incredibly thankful for all the support- prayers, money, encouragement etc that made it possible for us to go and spend the summer in Uganda. Neither of us will ever be the same. Hopefully, we can share more stories and pictures and videos in the near future. We couldn't have gone without you all! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 

We know that this isn't "the end" by far. The work in Uganda is still being carried on faithfully. We both have an incredible respect for the Cash family. They helped us see what missions and ministry truly are. They helped us see what sacrifice means. What devotion means. 

I pray that we never forget the people in Africa-their faces, lives, struggles. Their lives are just as real as ours...just half a world away. I pray that we both can go back sometime. 

And as we stressed at the beginning of this blog, we should all be serving Christ with all our heart and dedication and joy -no matter where we are. Sometimes, it's easy to get back to "normal" life and work and school and church and forget that just because the "mission trip" is over, doesn' mean we're somehow off the hook of giving Him our all. God has given us all different homes, talents and passions to use for Him. Don't waste those! Life is too short to live for ourselves- whether we are on the plains or jungles of Africa, or back in good 'ol East Texas. 

Thanks for reading the blog guys, it was truly a blessing knowing that so many people were keeping us in mind. Praying that we would all see the bigger picture and be filled with boldness to tell the world about this crazy Love that has called us out of darkness, rescued us and called us His own. May we be Souled Out. every day. always. 

Love you all! Bryn and Brayden Goode ( Akiiki and Apuuli) :) 

Hand washing clothes :) 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bonding Trip: Part 3

The next leg of our journey took us to the town of Kiryandongo. We traveled a long way first on foot, then in the back of trucks, then by bus and then on the back of “boda bodas” or motorcycles. 

We saw the Nile River for the first time and looked out our window to see dozens of hippos!  

Bridge over the Nile

All those dots are hippos

This baby wouldn't stop staring at us haha

As we traveled by bus, the driver played Ugandan pop music, we passed through country and villages, and a game park – stopping only for bus stations and military check points. It was endless miles of “safari” type landscape (yes, it really does exist J ) Definitely felt like we were in Africa. J 

Vendors outside the bus selling food 

In this village, most of these people had seen very few white people. One 40 year old man told us that we were the first Americans he had ever seen.

They were extremely welcoming tho. We felt like kings and queens. The church there is lead by a former Kenyan, who is very extroverted!  Let’s just say his preaching was intense and very heart-felt. J We both taught and tried to encourage the church that is growing there. The kids choir sang for us in their thick Ugandan/English accents. It was precious.

The church

Kids choir

One of the younger guys in the church that was completely full of life and joy- his name was Solomon. He was hilarious- his facial expressions were priceless. He got up before we taught and said he was going to sing a song that was his favorite. He said he sings it every day because it reminds him of how good God is and that he is nothing without Him. He then began to sing the song Jesus, All For Jesus.

“Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be. 

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands. 

For it's only in Your will that I am free,
For it's only in Your will that I am free,
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.

It was such an incredible blessing from God. That is praise song that has a special place in our hearts and many Americans don’t even know it. And here we were in the middle of an African village that had never seen Americans, and that song is being sung to encourage us….Our God reigns. And goes with us even to the end of the world. And does little things to remind us of His faithfulness.

That night, after teaching, a huge storm blew in. We watched the lightning and wind come across the plain before we all gathered in the biggest hut to have tea and dinner. They had prepared beds with mosquito nets for us….The next morning, we woke up to find that on the other side of the sheet walls, all the women and children of the church were sleeping on mats all over the floor because of the storm that had come…and they had given us beds and mosquito nets. Talk about humbling…

We said goodbye the next morning and took the long journey back. The church had given us a chicken as a parting gift along with a few other things. They were so kind…but we had to travel with the chicken and keep it alive so the meat wouldn’t spoil….:D  Poor guy, he must have known his fate, because he kept trying desperately to escape. But boy did he taste good later. Hahaa

We were so thankful for God’s protection and ready to get back to our “home” at our host village of Nebbe. The kids were waiting for us when we arrived. We almost immediately ate dinner then both taught again…

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bonding Trip: Part 2

After leaving the village, we traveled by public bus to a fishing town on the shores of Lake Albert in Northern Uganda. We spent the night there...we felt like a performing circus coming through town. Everyone stared and pointed and gathered on the side of the road to see the "Muzungus" or white people.

We crossed Lake Albert in a wooden boat....which was an experience in and of itself. Boat rides are like other forms of public transport in Africa- they fit as many people and chickens and luggage as possible into the boat and will spend hours waiting for more to come so that the boat will be as full as possible.

It was disconcerting to think about the fact that there were not only far more people in the boat than it was supposed to hold but also that most, if not all of them, couldn't swim. Bryn got the sunburn of her life- which looked like a first degree burn by the end of the day...One of the funniest moments was right before we started off across the lake. We were wondering just exactly how all this was supposed to work and looked over to see the boat next to us....

Yeah, pretty apropos.

We got halfway across the lake and the engine died. Everyone started saying they didnt know if they had brought enough fuel to make it across. Fantastic. Thankfully though, they found some more and we continued on our way. When we reached the other side, we were carried to shore. The water is deep and they don't want the passengers to have to get wet, so they are carried to shore...even the guys hahaa. It's pretty funny to see.

We traveled by truck to the village where we would be staying most of the week. The church members met us at the roadside and helped us carry our backpacks down the path, past gardens and to the village. We had our own place to stay, which was so awesome. The people there were very welcoming and tried to make us very comfortable. They brought us mattresses and even tried to fix food they new we would like- rice, chicken etc...

Our house

View from the inside of our house 

We met the elders and greeted all the people and discussed plans for the rest of the week. They wanted us to visit 13 different village churches, but we said considering that we only had 3 or four days left, we didn't think that would be possible. :O  ....

Bryn playing guitar for the kids- lots of kids 

The kids would wait outside in the mornings for us to wake up

Chicken coop 

stunt man 

The next day, we traveled with a truck load of the people to a neighboring village. It was so cool to hear them singing in African harmony all the way to the next village. As we passed in the truck, people would come out to hear...

We arrived and had tea then went to the middle of the village under a huge tree to share the gospel and do some was awesome. For two kids who grew up in the Bible belt, it was such an incredible thing to share the Gospel- the beautiful story of forgiveness, hope and life to a group of people that really may have not heard it before ....It really had an impact on both of us...

Slept super well that night after such a busy day...

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Bonding Trip: Part 1

Hey guys! We just returned from our bonding trip in Northern Uganda. Since it was quite a trip and we visited several places, we’re going to post in several parts. We are also still processing much of it and experienced more than we could possibly describe…but will try to summarize and share some stories.

Jeff set up a week for us to travel with a village church leader and stay with him in his village and do some teaching.  This is a good way for us to get out of our comfort zone and learn more about Africa first-hand. 

We left on Sunday the 21st after church. The church prayed over us and we said goodbye to friends…taught our last Sunday school with the kids. :'(   ...We traveled with Charles (one of the leaders of the church in Nebbe area) from Fort Portal all the way to Belisa District on Lake Albert. It was so cool, we topped the last hill and before us was a plain of Africa with grass thatched houses beside the lake. We stayed in Boigoiga fishing village with the church members there.  They were very welcoming and gave us a house to stay in and cooked all of our meals and tea for us.

In this region, it is customary to have tea separate from meals. So sometimes we have tea for breakfast with rice or potatoes, but often time we would have it in the afternoon or before dinner. It took us a little time to understand this. The first time we had tea and potatoes, it was very late at night. (The tea in Uganda is really good btw) Brayden finished his and said, “Thank you so much for dinner, it was so good and I’m really full now.” Charles looked at him and started laughing, “Oh, that wasn’t dinner- that was just tea. Dinner is coming in a minute.” J They were very gracious though and tried to serve food they thought we would like…which made us super grateful! It is very humbling when you realize that they are feeding you, the guest, their best food….
This was the first place we started teaching the people in the church…which is such a challenge and a really neat experience at the same time. We kept thinking about how Jesus taught fishermen by the lakes in Israel…
It is so incredibly humbling to have fellow Believers ask you for prayer about things you can hardly imagine. They pray that their fishing industry will be given back to them by those who have taken it away so that they can eat and feed their families  because they can’t grow much in the land…or they pray that they will be given some type of transportation so they can have church  meetings ever now and then…And I think my problems are bad! It really puts things into perspective…

The kids here were hilarious. They hadn't seen white people much and were very curious. They would fall down every time they laughed really hard- it was adorable!!

The house where we stayed...

Meeting with the leaders

When we left, the whole village helped carry our stuff down to the roadside to wait for a bus and say goodbye…

                                                                Waiting for the bus

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Prayer Request

Hey guys!!

We're headed to Northern Uganda tomorrow with a church leader from there. We'll be going with backpacks, guitar and us! haha We will be traveling by public transportation, so it will prolly take more than a day to get there. We'll be staying in one of the villages there for about a week. We also will probably have the opportunity to teach while we are there.

Please pray for safety, health, wisdom and joy for this upcoming trip. We're excited to see what God has planned! We'll be sure to post after the trip.

It's hard to believe we only have two weeks left in

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Filming, Sunday School and Sickness

The past few weeks several bugs and viruses have been rotating around the family...Brayden was boasting about being the last man standing- only to wake up puking one night. :P We couldn't help but laugh (after the fact) how ironic it was. He was talking about being the only one not really into vitamins and was the only one who didn't seem to be getting sick...well, so much for that! We are hoping this ends soon! No fun at all, but just part of it...Praying that everyone gets their strength back soon.

The past few weeks we have had the blessing of being able to teach Sunday school with the kids. We have been doing puppet shows, singing, acting out Bible lessons, coloring and etc. It has been so fun! Trying to bring the Bible to life for them and explain stories even through translation is a little bit of a challege...but seeing understanding and smiles cross their faces is priceless....seeing their faces light up when we praise them. No, they're not always little angels, but we're still very thankful we have had this opportunity!

We also took a couple of days to do some filming...we've been trying to get a lot of footage of different locations and parts of the ministry here. We went out to camp Saaka, to the airstrip, the church and etc...Seeing what God has been doing...seeing the projects and things that still may done...Probably a favorite experience of the filming was riding through some forest and villages on the top of the land cruiser...never had a better view of the mountains and roads!! We laughed and laughed at the kids faces as we drove past...crazy American kids riding on the top of a vehicle- who does that? :)

Friends back home and especially the Brazell family are still very much on our hearts...God has faithfully been our strength and comfort the past week. We love you guys and pray for you often...think of you so much and praise God for Jimmy's life...we will never be the same after having the blessing of being counted among his friends...God is our strength and song. His love is truly better than life...


Doing some school

Love this pic!

Filming with Jeff and Derrick

:) whole baked fish- lunch

Brayden at the airstrip

Filming- African style

Brayden and Derrick taking a break at Saaka