Bruce Sonnenberg and Dan Wooding at the World AIDS Conference in Mexico City
Well, it’s that time of the year again!
I don’t mean my birthday, I don’t mean Thanksgiving, and I sure don’t mean Christmas. No, it’s that time of the year again where people around the world take a day and think about- AIDS! Well at least they used too. December 1st is World AIDS Day and it now tends to be just a little “bump-in-the-road” of life for most Americans. But really, who cares?
Yes, there are 34 million people living with HIV and AIDS in every country of the world, most of them very poor like Annette in Uganda or Valery in the Congo DR and yes, they live on less than $1 a day which means food is scarce and resources limited, and yes, only about 16 percent receive or ever will receive the AIDS life-giving medications, but who cares? Who cares that they still cost $ 3,000 a month?
Children fending for themselves: African AIDS orphans have no parents and, no matter how young they are, they have only each other … the older children struggle to serve as “parents” and breadwinners for their younger brothers and sisters
I know that there are 16 million AIDS orphans in the world today like Mark, and Florence and Abigail and Emmanuel, but what can I do about that? And besides, really, who cares? Why doesn’t their own country take care of them? Didn’t they do this to themselves? Well no, but who cares? Isn’t this God’s judgment on all of those sinners? Of course not! Is breast cancer God’s judgment on “women” sinners and prostate cancer God’s judgment on “men” who sin? Don’t be silly but… who really, let’s be honest, who cares?
On December 1st people around the world facing HIV/AIDS, people being kicked out of their churches for being HIV+, children with no parents, will be asking “Will someone help us?” But who cares?
And so do we at He Intends Victory! We really care and have been caring since 1990 and will continue to care with YOUR help. Since World AIDS Day last year, we have cared for 68,484 people living with HIV in 20 countries around the world. So if you really care and would like to help us bless those facing HIV/AIDS around the world, contact us at: PO Box 399, Irvine, CA 92650, USA, or by phone at: 1-800-HIV-HOPE. Our website is: www.HeIntendsVictory.com where you can get a free copy of Dan Wooding’s book, “He Intends Victory.”Read More
Bruce Sonnenberg of He Intends Victory shares with you the basics to HIV/AIDS.Read More
Our trip to Fort Portal in western Uganda was long, one of many long days of bus rides as we wound our way all the way from Kenya to Uganda, almost to the border with the Congo. But we had one very exciting stop to make before we settled in for the night. We went to our new He Intends Victory offices in Ft. Portal, where Mama Lovey Kisembo is our local director. Mama Lovey and her husband Benezeri are Anglicans and Benezeri is the retired bishop of their district, Ruwenzori.
We unloaded blankets, water barrels, mosquito nets and other donations and stored them in the He Intends Victory office.
While there, we had the honor of giving away the goats that had been donated by people in the USA. The goats are a major source of financial and physical sustenance for people living with HIV/AIDS. It’s always fun hearing all the goats bleating and seeing them running around. We had a record number of goats this year, all together I believe it was around 40 or 50.
When we were in the bus on our way to Fort Portal, all I kept hearing about from my fellow travelers was how excited they were to be going to the Ruwenzori View Guest House. They had stayed there before and were very impressed. But when we arrived at the Guest House anticipating a nice meal, a shower and some rest, well, this was not to be. Somehow there was a mistake in the booking and we couldn’t stay there. Instead, we went to a poorly managed hotel where it took over 2 hours to get an unappetizing dinner. My roommate and I never got a toilet seat for the two days we were there. But we “offer it up” to the Lord and go on. This is Africa.
The next day took us on outreaches to several very rural villages in the hills of the Ruwenzori region. It is an area of unspoiled nature with villages hidden amidst the trees. There we visited Mama Lovey and Bishop Benezeri in their home and toured their new chicken coop and met their chickens. Mama Lovey will be teaching our support group members how to take care of chickens and use them for breeding instead of eating them right away. They will then be able to start businesses selling eggs.
We also toured the new Leon Holmstrom School for young children, from pre-school age to early elementary school. It is a cute log cabin school built by donations from a memorial fund for Leon Holmstrom, whose widow and son were there for the inauguration ceremony to launch the school. Marge Holmstrom is the mother of Jennifer Veary, one of our associates who is HIV positive, and the family is very supportive of AIDS causes. There were many tears as she and her son, Murry, toured the lovely little school for about 50 to 60 children that had been made possible by her husband’s memorial fund. They were thrilled to see the beautiful learning environment that these children had.
Next door to the school is an Anglican church called St. Paul’s. We were able to meet the pastor and go inside. It is a very, very humble room (see picture at right), with wooden benches, a small wooden altar table, a mud floor and tin roof. As you can see in the picture, their musical instruments were two African drums. This little church was a reminder that we can worship God anywhere and that He comes to meet us whenever and wherever we seek Him. I hope that we at Holy Spirit Anglican might decide to become a sister church with St. Paul’s in the future and maybe provide some resources for special projects and needs.
After that we completed our last outreaches of the trip where we were received with much joy.
We then went for two days of rest and recuperation and stayed at the Mweya Lodge overlooking Lake Edward in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. We were spoiled with good food, swimming, rest, some noisy “Phase 10” games and much wonderful fellowship. We had grown to be a close team and the thought of separating in just a couple of days was bittersweet.
A drive in the National Park is a great experience and we saw elephants, warthogs, African crowned cranes, a lion, eagles, and many types of deer and antelopes. It was a real feast of God’s creation. We also were able to go on a boat ride in the Kazinga Channel where we saw hippos, Cape buffalo, crocodiles, more elephants and countless varieties of water fowl. I kept marveling at the amazing creation of God.
After two days of flying, we arrived at LAX. We went through customs and after that, many ran to catch their planes or meet their loved ones. All of a sudden, we were back in the mix and everybody was scattered! What a shock! I wasn’t able to say good bye to everybody because they went in so many directions, and I hated to leave my comrades of two and a half weeks.
I called Galen the minute our plane landed and when he answered, I excitedly said, “I’m here!” He said, “What?, today?, I thought you were coming tomorrow, I’m in San Diego.” The wind went out of my sails as I realized that I wouldn’t see him when I got out of the airport. I was so anxious to see him after 17 days away. He had gotten the wrong date because he had looked at an incorrect version of our itinerary and he thought I would be gone one more day. Sigh?! So, fortunately some of our group members were taking a shuttle to OC and I was finally reunited with Galen there. It was great to be home!
I thank God for the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people all over Uganda and Kenya, and for the many He Intends Victory workers and volunteers who make such a difference in people’s lives as they share the hope of Jesus. I am grateful for my church family at Holy Spirit for all their support and prayers.
Get rid of that “stuff” you don’t need anymore and turn it into something that will bless AIDS widows and AIDS orphans around the world!
On November 10, 2012, participants from across the United States will be having an HIV National Garage Sale with all proceeds going to the ministry of He Intends Victory. From Yorktown, Virginia to Lake Forest, California; from Phoenix, Arizona to Washington DC, our “partners” will be selling old furniture, clothing, knick-knacks, tools, and much more to support those AIDS orphans and AIDS widows in the 20 countries in which He Intends Victory serves. EVERY little bit counts- no garage sale too small and none too large. Ask you neighbors, ask your family, ask your Church for all of their old “stuff” as well and turn into “love”.
It’s happening: November 10, 2012 (7AM – 12PM)
RSVP By: October 20, 2012
To participate please fill out this form:
Together we CAN make a difference!
Here we go with part two of my Africa report. I wanted to mention that I was able to meet Margaret, an eight year old girl whose mother and she are HIV positive. Galen and I sponsor her through Terry´s Kids, He Intends Victory’s orphan sponsorship progam. Magy as she is called, is bright, friendly and was a little shy when we first met. However, it wasn´t long before she was sitting in my lap and we enjoyed the program and the outreach together. She shadowed me throughout the day and I was so sad to part from her.
After spending time in Kenya, we packed up our twenty some suitcases, our group of volunteers, our drivers and headed out to cross the border into Uganda. A trip across the border involves driving up to the country line, getting out of the bus, waiting in line to get a visa to go into Uganda, walking across the border and taking off in the bus again. A border stop usually takes an hour or more, depending on the line. We meet with money changers who are eager to exchange our Kenyan shillings into Uganda shillings. We found a man who would give us a favorable rate and after getting our visas we all lined up to change our money.
We headed off to Jinja, Uganda where we stayed by the headwaters of the Nile River. To the left is a picture of our founder, Bruce, and his wife Joni at the Nile. We had a leisurely evening and several people went swimming while others caught some much needed rest. The next day we headed out to Nagamuli for our first Uganda outreach. The trip to Nagamuli is always an indescribable experience. We drive for about two hours into the country where we go for miles without seeing any homes. We are in the jungle with banana trees and all measure of tropical foliage. Occasionally we see a small hut with women and children outside enjoying the fresh air. The houses are made of adobe and they are very simple indeed. It is so cute to see the little toddlers playing outside as they run around without any pants on. The red dirt covers their clothes and everything else. When we arrive at the village of Nagamuli, where we see virtually no people, all of a sudden people come streaming out of the jungle and before you know it there are hundreds of people greeting us with dancing, singing and hugs. We had our customary greetings and set up the outreach. There were several stations again. In Nagamuli the chief moves out of his adobe house for the day and the doctor sees patients in the rooms of the house. One day nurse Lorrayne told us that a chicken kept going into the “exam room” and she wondered why. She looked in and found that the chicken had a nest in the room and wanted to sit on her eggs. So she proceeded to enter in unobstructed and went to her nest while the doctor was seeing patients. Only in Africa! We distributed items, gave away goats, provided eyeglasses and the children´s team had a program for them. There continued to be much gaiety and singing and dancing. This little guy on the left was tuckered out with the long day´s activities.
We went to Nalimawa the next day and had a smaller outreach. The folks enjoyed the drama that was presented by our talented acting team.
After Nalimawa we went to Kampala where our director, Moses Drake Luswata, his wife Jennifer and their children live and care for several orphans. They invited us to their church, Grace Place Community where we had a meeting under showery skies with no roof over most of the people. We huddled under our umbrella and I got to develop a fast friendship with three children who snuggled with me under the umbrella. We have three support groups in the wider Kampala area and the members of the group were present. The children sang for us and their songs are educational songs that combine information about HIV/AIDS with beautiful voices and rhythms. The next day we toured a brick making project that was funded by a donor from the USA. Eleven AIDS widows received this grant which allowed them to make bricks which they will be able to sell for a good livelihood for them and their families.
Then we had a march in Kampala to end AIDS. The theme was “It´s no laughing matter.” We processed to a large rally where the theme of AIDS was highlighted, again with songs and dance. As the sign to the right says, “AIDS Still Exists.”
Part 3: next week