Turning “if onlies” into “I’m glads”

If you could sit down with a group of orphans, if you could pull them into your lap, hold their hands, feel their pulses, hear their stories, what would they tell you?

One child might say, “I never knew my mother.  She died in childbirth, and no one came for me.

Another might tell you, “My parents died when I was eight.  I had to care for my younger sister.

One might look up at you with lost, confused eyes and simply tell you, “She left.  I don’t know why.

And another might tell a story of her father who lives nearby, but has no ability to feed her.

Beneath the surface of many of these orphans’ stories is an ‘If only‘:

If only my parents could have afforded food.

If only she could have gotten medical care in time.

If only there was somebody there to help.

We believe that by turning these potential negative situations into positive ones, children can stay in their families, not having to experience the trauma and danger of abandonment or orphan-hood. By training and equipping vulnerable mothers, The Mighty River Project will help provide ways for them to care for their families through partnerships, not handouts.  We want to turn these ‘If onlies‘ into ‘I’m glad’s‘:

I’m glad my parents could provide food for my family.

I’m glad my mother had the means to get the medical care she needed.

I’m glad there was somebody there to help my mom and our family.

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Now available: Paypal Donations

We have our Paypal donation system up and running! If you would like to donate to The Mighty River Project, click here.

Our most immediate need is for funds to cover the 501(c)3 filing fee. Once this is pending, we will be able to start funding our program fees, including setting up a property in Uganda and banking several months of funds upfront to ensure job and program security for the families who will be involved in our program.

We appreciate your support!

Questions?  Email us at info@themightyriverproject.com

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Boda Ride

Sometimes, even though we really, really think that what we are doing is in line with God’s will, things get a little scary. When we use logic, we think things will go great. We have a good plan, we know all about Uganda, we trust God….right? But then, emotion can start to take the place of logic a little bit. What if we get to Uganda and can’t raise enough support to run The Mighty River Project. Or what happens if our kids hate it in Uganda. What about the stuff that we can’t control, like the political climate in Uganda, or disease or any other worst case scenario that pops into a husband/father’s mind.

Well, while on the vision trip, I had one of these moments where logically I knew everything was going to be fine, but I couldn’t keep my mind from thinking worst case scenario at least a couple of times. Brian, Fred and I were riding on Bodas. Bodas are motorcycle taxis. Each of us had our own Boda and driver. We set off from Main Street in Jinja, right at the foot of the local police station, to take a supposed fifteen minute ride out to a ministry in a village called Masese 1.

Riding on Bodas is tons of fun. I mean who wouldn’t love cruising down the road seeing view like this?

It is a great way to get in touch with the real Uganda. The sights, smells (good and bad!) and sensations of Africa are coming and going at a brisk 40 miles per hour as you scoot towards your destination. It’s a blast….until it isn’t.

So back to the story. The three of us were riding along, all within view of each other for a while. Then, for some reason, my driver decides to let Brian and Fred get quite a bit ahead of us. I keep asking him to speed up….catch up with the other two. We finally catch up because Brian and Fred arrived at the Boda stage (where all the drivers wait around for business) at Masese 1 and have spent some time asking for directions to the ministry we wanted to visit.

All three of us take off on our Bodas to our final destination,all following the leader, since he’s the only one that actually got the directions. As we get off of the main paved road, traveling up rutted out, rocky 30 degree inclines, I’m thinking to myself ‘Wow, this is awesome. I hope Brian doesn’t fall off the back of his Boda up there. He’s kind of looking precarious. I’m sure he’s fine. Plus, it seems like we’re almost there.’

Shortly thereafter things started to get really interesting. Brian and Fred turn off to the right, up ahead of me and my driver. I could see the back of Brian’s shirt disappear to my right just as my driver took the left hand fork. I tell him to turn around and go the other way, because that’s the way the other guys went. We turn around and follow, only to drive around for about 35 more minutes, lost….in the village…in Uganda….with no phone….with a stranger driving….who’s not being all that helpful….or asking for directions…..or really listening to me at all when I try to tell him we need to find the others.

It was at this point that the logical part of me, the part saying ‘Don’t worry, nothing bad is going to happen. This driver is just lost, and a little bit wacky, but nothing to worry about. Worst case scenario I can just get the driver to stop, pay him what I owe him for the ride, and find my way back to Jinja. Any other Boda driver I find, wherever I am, can surely get back to Jinja. Then I will meet up with Brian and Fred later tonight.’  That part got overtaken a little bit by fear. Just for a bit, but it happened.

I got worried. I stopped trusting myself and my driver and let the worry creep in. ‘What if this guy wants to separate from Brian and Fred so he can rob me? I mean, I have heard some bad stories about Boda drivers in the past. Man, how am I going to get back to Jinja with no money and no phone. What if we run out of gas out here in the middle of nowhere.’ I think the only logical thought going through my mind at this time was ‘Well, at least I’m the one separated from the group, not Brian. I’m sure he would be fine, but he would be even more worried than I am right now!’ Well, these worries lasted a good ten minutes. I finally convinced my driver to ask for our fifth or sixth set of directions to ‘the place where they take care of sick kids,’ and finally somebody seemed like they knew.

So we take a few more turns and head up a path just wide enough for us pass through. Great, I thought, there is no way that this is where I am supposed to be going. What is this guy thinking. He is driving up a path that nobody ever uses, probably to a place that is deserted, or at least nowhere I want to go.

We get to the gate of the house at the end of the path. I wander in and am greeted by a couple of kids. I ask for my contact at the ministry we are looking for and quickly find out that we were again in the wrong place. ‘What a mess,’ I think to myself.

And then it happened. The fear, nervousness and frustration melted away. It became so evident that I was in the exact place that God wanted me to be. I heard a voice behind me that I recognized. I spun around to see an old friend. A child that I think about probably once a week. The last time I saw him was in 2006 at the orphanage Erin and I worked at. I knew him well from the time Erin and I spent living in Uganda. My heart melted at seeing him. If I had been able to write down a top ten list of people I wanted to see on this vision trip, this eleven year old would have topped the list. And here I find him, as I drive around ‘lost’ in the village, 30 minutes away from my actual destination. He is in a great place, with people who love him and love Jesus. He is doing so well. I have never been so struck by God’s plans, even in the small things, than I was in that moment. The moment is still so surreal, I have trouble even believing it happened.

Well, my little friend from the past went to find one of the grown ups working at the ministry he now lives with. We got some decent directions and headed off. About five minutes later we find Brian and Fred, together, but lost as well. In the end we finally made it to our final destination and had a great time there.

It’s amazing to me what God taught me that day. How much joy he must have in planning joyful things for his children. I felt so much happiness in being reunited with an old friend after 5 years absence. How much more happiness and elation must God feel when we come back to him for eternity.

God’s plan is always right, and always good, even if it is sometimes a little bit scary. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t ever trade having that wonderful chance encounter with a long-lost friend for not having to have to fifteen minutes of fear and apprehension leading up to it. This is one of the things that we are going to try to keep in mind as we move forward with The Mighty River Project. Sometimes it will be easy and exciting and great, and sometimes it will get tough, or scary or frustrating, but we know that God gives wisdom to those who seek it. We would be crazy to trade God’s wisdom for our own.

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Wednesday Update: Tukula and Baskets

So today, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Joe and Melissa Terranova. They run a business here in Uganda called tukula that employs local tailors to make handbags and other products. I was excited to meet with them not only because of all the great things I’ve heard about the program and it’s founders, but also because I knew that they would have a great perspective on some of the challenges we may face starting The Mighty River Project. They also connected us with a great local resource for all things craft-making at one of the craft shops here. She was able to give us some great information on the basket making process and material costs.

Be sure to check out tukula and all of their great products and stories here:

http://www.tukula.org

Thanks for reading! Here’s a video update too…

http://www.facebook.com/v/10150172230328716

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Monday Morning Update

On Monday morning, we have had the pleasure of visiting a Jinja area orphanage. It was a great time of hanging out with the children, caretakers and volunteers from the U.S. and Canada.

One of the core values of The Mighty River Project is orphan care. We know of God’s heart for orphans, and hope to see His love for orphans spread across the area.

Check out this video link for an update from Main Street in Jinja!

http://www.facebook.com/v/10150568611035462

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Update: Sunday morning

Scott and I got a great night of sleep. Last night was the first night that we slept more than 2 hours in a row since Wednesday night. We were exhausted and didn’t want to wake up.

However, we woke up around 8 (while Fred was up at 6 am) and we enjoyed a great breakfast from the hotel.  The fruit in Uganda is amazing, especially the pineapple.

We walked a few miles this morning into the market where we picked up some bananas and bottled water.

Catch ya’ll later..

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Ever play chicken with an 18 wheeler?

There were many things that I think we (Erin and Scott) did a pretty good job of preparing Brian for as we planned our trip to Uganda. We told him all about all of the vaccinations and medicines he should bring. We gave him a pretty good idea of the kinds of foods that would be available here. We even remembered to tell him all about the awesomely tasty Sprites and Cokes that you can buy here.

One thing that we apparently forgot to tell him about was the driving. We got hooked up with a great taxi driver to take us from the airport in Entebbe to our hotel in Jinja. The problem is, no matter how great the driver, your first few car riding experiences in Uganda are going to be a bit of a shock.

As we came within inches of boda bodas (bicycle taxis) and continuously played chicken with eighteen wheelers in the other lanes, I could see Brian fighting back the urge to slam on his imaginary brake pedal and swerve with his invisible, passenger seat, steering wheel. I did feel kind of bad about not warning him, but hey what’s a trip to Africa without at least a few surprises.

When we get a better internet connection, we’ll post some videos of the action.

http://www.facebook.com/v/10150169272128716

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