My Dear Friends and Family,
It was an amazing April indeed, hallelujah! The Lord graciously lead me through several countries; from Nicaragua, Peru, Paraguay, Brasil, Turkey, Uganda and Kenya. In my last email I had updated some of you about the ministry in Nicaragua, rescuing young girls and women from sex trafficking, and prostitution. I recall telling you about the pedophile from America we were building a case on, and I am happy to report that he has been arrested. He was drugging and raping over 300 children each year, and now he is behind bars in Nicaragua… for life.
Immediately after I left Nicaragua, my friend Steve who runs the ministry had 8 more new cases, all of similar situations, which is so crazy! “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Proverbs 29:7 That ministry and those girls need a lot of prayer! As I have been seeing so many countries in the past couple years, my eyes are now more opened to the ‘gnarlyness’ of child sex trafficking and prostitution, it exists in every country, even America. What can we do to be more proactive in fighting against these atrocities? Aren’t we called to defend the poor and afflicted?
From Nicaragua, I had a one day layover in Peru which was immediately greeted with a divine appointment of a ‘praise’ singing taxi driver. You see, at 2 am it is dangerous to drive around in certain parts of Lima, and even some taxi drivers will rob you. So, I prayed in the airport, and got to see God’s quick and faithful reply. I spent the day walking and skateboarding around, and ended up down on the beach where I rented a surfboard and wet suit for $6. I paddled out, as was stoked to catch some really fun waves. O praise the Lord! It was so fun! After this day of rest and site seeing, I headed south to Paraguay.
Su Refugio Orphanage in Paraguay was started by Scott Kvandal who I met from Maranatha Chapel in Rancho Bernardo, Ca. I was picked up by his friend, a kind pastor at 4 am, then later that day we made way to the orphanage in Tobati, Paraguay. It is a lovely property, with two small lakes, a river, a mountain, nice open pasture for animals to graze, an amphitheater, church and the orphanage which also serves as a feeding center Monday through Wednesday. Each day I was able to hang out with the kids, help in the kitchen, bake pizza’s, teach them to skateboard, and my favorite part of all was being goofy and make kids laugh. I got to share with them about being a missionary, and teach the kids that God’s faithfulness over their lives will never fail, that He will always be there for them, to comfort, to rescue, to feed, clothe and love them. I miss being in Latin cultures now, because everyone takes naps in the afternoon. Haha
From Tobati, Paraguay, I took a long and gorgeous bus ride to Brasil to spend 5 days with a pastor buddy that I had met in Malaysia last year. I stayed with him and his wife and they are an amazing couple. They actually lead worship together at the church. It is a great church, and constantly growing as the Holy Spirit is stirring up hearts in that country. People are so hungry to know and serve the Lord! I got to see a church full of people so hungry that they are willing to surrender everything to ‘go’ and share His love. To my surprise, I was asked to preach on Saturday night, which is the big young adults service. It was a great turnout, and it went for 3 and a half hours! Wow, the Lord was really moving there, and after I got to share stories of God’s faithfulness and pray His favor and blessings over the church, I walked to the side of the stage and collapsed to my knees in awe of what the Lord was doing! It was such a powerful night, and God’s presence was so real and thick in that place. I was able to share about Loving Orphans Global with the church, and the following day I was interviewed for the church’s monthly magazine. They asked several questions about Loving Orphans Global, and are hoping to be able to promote it within their church and community. This was all a big fat humbling experience, being able to preach and then see the Lord really grab and stir people’s hearts! I kept asking the Lord, “Why me, why do You use me?!?”. We have a truly gracious and kind God, and He loves to use foolish and weak people. I qualify, we all qualify to be used! Praise the Lord!
Next stop, Africa, with a quick 24 hour layover in Istanbul, Turkey. In Istanbul I met up with my friend Matt, from San Diego, and we spent the day walking around, seeing the history, and eating local foods like Baklava, Pita’s, Olives, and feta cheeses. It was SO great to have a friend to be with. It really closed the gap from being so far from home, and made home feel a little closer. When Matt and I left Istanbul, we arrived in Uganda to meet up with our other friends Mike and Kelly from San Diego, and Olive our LOG Ministry Coordinator for Uganda. We spent that first day getting prepared, and buying supplies for the village. There is no electricity in the village, no running water and no paved roads. To get there requires several miles of crawling over rain cracked roads at a turtles pace, doing our best not to get stuck in the mud, or puncture the tires with sneaky thorn bushes. When we arrived at 10 pm, we were greeted by Olive’s mom, Jaja who is in her mid eighties. She was happy to see me again because after spending almost 6 weeks with this old woman last year, she now calls me a son. But, the excitement for her that evening was to much, and she had a heart attack after going to bed. Olive rushed her to the hospital, where she spent the next several days on a ventilator. We spent many hours praying for her, and the Lord heard those prayers. She was able to come home towards the end of our week there. While visiting her in the hospital, we got to prayer for the child in the bed next to hers. The child was suffering greatly with sickle cell anemia, and after spending some time in prayer, the child and parents were finally able to get a good night of sleep after a couple crazy weeks. However, as the Lord’s ways are higher than ours, she died the next day. Papa took that girl home to be with Him in glory. Yet, a midst losing their daughter, the parents thanked us for praying for her, they were grateful she was able to spend one last night without tossing and turning in pain.
Our week in the village was filled with school activities in the new Youme Clothing and Loving Orphans Global school, named ‘Kito Village Christian School’. We played games with the kids, taught fun bible stories, held lots of cute little dirty hands, went around and visited the elderly, sat and prayed with them, taught at church on Sunday, tried to help build a local style house (we were mostly in the way for that project, haha), and had a big village soccer tournament, with a trophy for the winning team. We were able to bless the two teams, the singles and the marrieds, with uniforms, and we had a tournament in which every villager in the whole area came to. It was SO much fun! Our buddy Mike was asked to play on the singles team, and he was the only ‘mzungu’ ‘white guy’ playing. He must have played really well because afterwards a woman in the village was really set on marrying him, hahah! It was fun to see this whole exchange. ha!
We drove to Kenya with Olive, and our friend Sam, who was the contractor and builder of that new school in Uganda. The drive was beautiful! We arrived in the town of Chwele, which is about and hour and a half from the boarder of Uganda. There we spent Saturday through Wednesday with a very full agenda, teaching and preaching at three different locations each day. Everyday was SO full, and we were also perpetually full in the stomachs because each location would feed us. We would arrive at 11am, preach, teach, eat, and prayer, then go to the next location by 1:30 and eat again, then preach and teach some more. Then, as our stomachs were about to burst from their amazing hospitality, we would dance for a while in worship. Then, onto the next location, more food… I am talking about whole chickens, freshly slaughtered, plucked and cooked for each person, more teaching, preaching and soul bleaching, then more food!!!! Ahhh, it was really tough because if we didn’t eat what was set before us, it was like an insult, we had bursting stomachs, and my belly button popped out (mostly due to my umbilical hernia) Proverbs 13:2 is true! “A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth…” Haha, looking back on it, I am really grateful, because last time through Africa, I lost a lot of weight. But now, I am still trying to digest all that African food; cooked bananas, corn millet, kasava, potatoes, chapati, and meat. Our last day with these pastors, we had an adventure to the Kakamega Rain Forest and the Crying Stone. The rain forests sounds just like walking through a jungle themed area in Disneyland, but it is a bit unnerving trekking through a Rain Forest full of Black and Green Mamba snakes, and humongous pythons and hoards of different species of monkeys and baboons. It was really cool though, literally and figuratively. The temperature dropped at least 10-15 degrees once in the forest.
When we left Chwele, we had another long drive to the center of Kenya, to an area known as Naivasha. Naivasha is home to a lot of wild life. The lake swarms with flamingos and hippos, and surrounding area had many different types of critters. The orphanage is not to far from all of this, but the children has never seen most of these animals in real life. The kids in this particular orphanage are orphans because their parents were murdered in the post election violence of 2007. Thousands of people were killed in this violence, and in the wake, many children were left without parents. So, these kids are unique, and very special to us. They came to the new orphanage 5 months ago, rarely would they smile, and there were lots of problems integrating them into living together. However, after spending a lot of time in prayer and discipleship, encouraging, loving and being there for these kids, they are now starting to act like a big family. They help each other, they love each other. As I am typing this, I am posting a video I was able to make with the new Jesus camera and computer I was blessed with. Thank you guys, these gifts have been a blessing to each place, through photos and video.
My last day in Kenya was spent preaching again, this time at a bigger church in the city of Nairobi. It was a fun message, all about not asking people for your needs, but rather pray more, because God is a faithful provider, He is THE faithful provider. I can testify of this, because He has not failed once in these past two years and four months. He has not failed since the beginning of creation, why would He fail on you, on me, on us?
Now, I am in Bangkok, Thailand. I am waiting for my Visa to process to enter Myanmar (Burma). Oh, I had a rad divine appointment while in my youth hostel yesterday. It was me and one other guy sharing a room. He was from Iran. I started pulling my laundry out of my bag to get it washed, and in doing so, I also placed my bible on the foot of the bed. This roommate, was just packing up and leaving. He actually walked out the door, then came right back in and asked if the book on my bed was a bible. I said ‘yes’ with a smile, and he proceeded to sit down on the opposite bed and asked if I could read him some of it. For 45 minutes we had an awesome time going through God’s word. Turns out, this guys is a new Christian, and really wants to know God more! We After we talked, and prayed together, I had a tug on my heart to give him some money, so I did. He was blown away! What happened was, he lost his passport and wallet a few days back and had been out of money for a few days. He had not eaten for two days, and was going to try and walk to the Iranian Embassy. He was so hungry, and rejoiced greatly when I passed on some of the Jesus money. We went and had a big lunch after and have spent the last day hanging out, listening to lots of worship music, and reading through the bible together. It has been really awesome! He asked if I could baptize him, so hopefully we can do that this weekend.
Next stop, Burma on Monday the 13th! Woohoo!!! This is exciting because we will be working on another school project… but more than that, I am SO STOKED to see my fiance again! Woohoo! This will be a neat month of ministry, and spending time with Htwe Htwe (my fiance), and meeting her family. I will update you all again next month.
Thank you for the prayer, love, support and encouragement! It strengthens me to persevere, and keeps these feet moving to bring Jesus’ love and gospel around the world. Be blessed, strengthened and filled with the joy of God’s presence.
Rejoice, and be glad!
p.s. for photos and video, check the Loving Orphans Global Facebook page.