If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your conviction and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. - Philippians 2:1-2

Friday, April 23, 2010

Building Construction in Kumi


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kumi Foods Collage

From Kumi Photos

Here are images of foods and drinks that our team consumed (esp the popular drink Stoney) while on the trip to Kumi last summer.


Kumi Creatures Collage

Here are some of the "friends" (four-legged or not, winged or not) that our team met on the mission trip to Kumi in July 2009.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Touch the Heavens, Change the Earth

In the summer of 2009, our mission team traveled to Kumi, Uganda, to meet with the YCVM folks. The team met with the leaders of YCVM, worked on the school building construction, visited displaced persons camp, and met with thousands of children at schools, orphanages, and in camps. On the trip,they reached out to touch pieces of heaven, to catch glimpses of what heaven could be, and the Heavens reached back. On this trip, they changed the earth. (Click on the image below to go see the video.)

From Exported Videos


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Is it finished?

Eight months have gone by since the Kumi Mission Team visited Uganda, and six months have gone by since we posted our last blog entry. We've been radio-silent on Kumi Konnect for far too long, so you might be thinking that we've forgotten. Forgotten to write. Forgotten to blog. Forgotten to connect. Forgotten what this whole endeavor is about.

Our quietness must have made you think that this mission ministry was simply about the trip to Kumi. You might have thought that our work, then, has been completed, finished. Alas, our silence might have contributed to a misunderstanding of our whole endeavor.

Now that we are in the Easter season, as Easter people, we remember that as Christ was dying on the cross, he uttered the words "It is finished" to usher in a new era of change -- a time in which the early disciples were called to speak, act, and live boldly as faithful believers of God's message of peace, love, justice, and equality. And they didn't just believe, those early Christians also worked unceasingly, at times wearily, in the Spirit to bring the kingdom of God a bit closer to home...

Bring it back to the communities we serve. Those were not merely words to describe the purpose of this blog. Those were words describing the Kumi team's motivation in going in the first place. By those words, we mean to share this experience with everyone we know in order that we could, as the motto of YCVM says, "touch the heavens and change the earth."

We've been to Kumi, and we've touched the heavens. Now that we've seen, now that we've tasted, now that we've experienced the goodness of God's people working together to transform the world, we believe more earnestly in the Power of God which changes the earth -- Power enabled through us. We renew our commitment with greater vigor, with more dedication, with more passion.

One way in which we hope to share this experience is by giving presentations. Various Kumi team members have visited a number of church groups that are interested in hearing about our trip, about YCVM, and about the children of the orphanage. We have been pleased to share with them snippets of the stories that helped our own faith community discern its call to mission and ministry.

Another way in which we share this experience is through a benefit dinner that we will host to raise funds to build a Christian boarding school in Kumi, Uganda. If you are interested in participating in any way, please click here.

Lest you think we're not serious about this, visit the YCVM blog to find out all the activities of the Kumi team since their return stateside.

And finally, we are now ready to share with you some images of our trip. After several presentations, talks, discussions, etc., over the past few months, we have finally managed to cull together several photographic series taken during our trip to Kumi in July 2009. Over the next few weeks, we will post photos which had been taken by our trip photographers. Some photos will make you laugh, and some will tug at your heart-strings. Some images will show you the progress of construction on the building; some images will share snapshots of life in Uganda. None of them, alone, will tell the full story of what we saw, tasted, touched, felt.

We invite you, wholeheartedly, to view these photos, to share in our stories, and to stay connected...


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Echo Back: from Valene and Dustin

The following post is contributed by Valene and Dustin who shared with their church some of the experiences from the Kumi mission trip.

Every day was an amazing experience in Uganda. We were in awe not only of how we saw God working in the lives of the Ugandan people and the members of YCVM, but also of how God took what little we thought we could offer and used us for great things. God had revealed his glory and his work to us so clearly that, by the middle of the trip, we were starting each day in expectation of God to do something wonderful, amazing, and miraculous that day.

One of these experiences happened early on our trip. We were discussing the schedule with the YCVM team and found out that they would like one of our team members to share a message for Sunday worship. Though before the trip, we were given the advice to be flexible, we didn’t expect to be asked to preach a sermon for two worship services. At first, two of the older team members decided to share the task and share a testimony or share an encouraging word. One of the YCVM team members revealed to us that the theme of the recent messages at church has been about “grace” and “salvation”. Once Dustin heard this, he sighed and said to himself, “Oh, gosh.” You see, first of all, when it was requested for someone to speak at church, Dustin felt that they weren’t asking for a testimony or sharing, but felt that they were expecting a bible teaching type message. Because he had already prepared a devotional for the team that was about “grace” and “salvation”, he knew that God wanted him to speak, and all he needed to do was tweak his devotional into a message.

Dustin was very anxious about speaking in front of so many people, but felt that God’s clear call was enough to make him take a step out of his comfort zone. Valene sensed Dustin’s nervousness and became his personal prayer warrior up until Sunday morning. When Dustin spoke during the worship service, God filled him with His words and His message, and he felt at ease. Six women got saved and gave their lives to the Lord that Sunday morning. The next Sunday, Dustin preached the same message in a local prison. About forty prisoners accepted Christ that day. We were completely humbled and in awe at how God used Dustin to preach His gospel and save lives. How awesome is our God!

Another special experience happened on our two year anniversary, which we celebrated in Uganda on July 14th. On this particular day, we had two things to do. First, in the morning, we went to the site of the YCVM’s future boarding school and helped work on the construction of the school building. Second, in the afternoon, we went to an all girls high school to do worship and to share the love of God in our lives.

Before going to the school, our team decided to have someone share his/her testimony to these high school girls. Valene felt God tugging on her heart that this would be the day that she should share. She personally does not like to talk in front of groups of people, especially a whole high school of people. However, Valene knew that God would be doing amazing things that day and knew that she needed to allow Him to use her in the process. During the one-hour ride there, Valene began to get very nervous, so much to the point that she had trouble breathing and felt like she had a stomach ache. Valene really had to call out to God to be her comfort and peace.

When we arrived at the school, Valene quickly learned that there were about 400 high school girls waiting for us. Although she was still nervous, she no longer felt sick. She allowed herself to dance and sing during the Praise & Worship time and felt truly filled with the Holy Spirit. There’s nothing like dancing and singing at the top of your lungs for God! Once the music stopped, Valene was introduced and invited to share. She truly felt at peace and surrounded by the love of all those around her as she talked. Valene knew that worshiping together had brought such a sense of community into the place. She was able to share about her insecurities as a female, and how God continues to remind her that she is His daughter and His wonderful creation. That afternoon, through God’s amazing power, we had the privilege of seeing over 150 girls give their lives to Christ. We felt God’s presence in that place in such a powerful way.

Our time in Uganda was filled with so many emotions and moments: magical, transforming, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Above all, it was truly God centered and God powered from day one.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Echo Back Sunday: by Becky

On September 20th, the Kumi Mission Team shared with the CCUMC congregation their experiences during/on the trip to Kumi, Uganda. The following is an excerpt from Becky:

First, thank you, CCUMC, for commissioning me, as one of the eight, to travel to Kumi on this mission trip. As someone who has done a fair amount of traveling, I have to say it turned out to be one of the most rewarding travel experiences I've ever had. I thank God for giving me the opportunity, and for being with me every step of the way. And since we have such a short time to share this morning, I had to think, what was it that made THIS trip so outstanding for me ….. and I have to say that it was being able to meet and work with the YCVM team in person.

I wish I could somehow transport you all to Kumi to meet the 4 very extraordinary people that became our friends, and treated us like family all the days we stayed there, not to mention their hours of prayer and preparation both before and after our trip, because a trip like this doesn't just happen. I truly felt the Holy Spirit working through all of us, and particularly through these 4 individuals.

So, meet Patrick, the ever-smiling Patrick, who is the most amazing worship and praise leader you can imagine. When he does the “Biggy God-O” song, you are jumping for joy and YOU KNOW that our God is SO BIG and SO LOVING and SO MIGHTY! But little did we know that just days before our arrival, Patrick was very sick, so sick that he couldn't move, couldn't get out of bed----and he is the athlete of the group, on the national volleyball team, so for him to be struck down takes a lot of sickness.

But he never mentioned it, and pitched right in with everything, from loading boxes, cases of heavy water, buying fresh chickens at the roadside, arranging for a place to sleep while we were in the comfortable hotel in Kampala. Patrick, who at that point didn't know how he was going to pay for his next semester at the university, because the summer job he had hoped for fell through. But he trusted in God, and came to give up 2 weeks of his time to devote to us and the mission trip. Miraculously, God answered his prayers for tuition fees.

Then there's Emma, short for Emmanuel, with the most gentle, unassuming Godly Spirit to offer us his support. The only one married in the group, his little son Jabez, only 1-yr-old, was going through a bout of malaria, and you can imagine how worrisome that must be for a child so young. Emma would be riding on the bus with his wife and sick baby to the hospital at the next larger town: Mbale, a 50-minute ride, there, and 50 minutes back, to get treatment for Jabez, and then Emma would appear at our sides, ready to join in on the work, probably having had little sleep the night before. Emma is an accountant, but he would come in the mornings to the building site and help us with the construction, then change clothing and go off to report to work at 1:00 in the afternoon. Then he'd be with us again in the evening for debriefing, planning, and sharing. It is this kind of sacrifice and devotion that deeply touched my heart.

Grace, the high school English teacher, and the one who was planning our mission every step of the way had arranged with her supervisor to take off two weeks of full-time work to be with us....as a teacher, I know how hard that is, to interrupt your classwork for 2 full weeks! It was Grace, who we later learned, was fasting and praying for us for the entire two weeks, skipping some meals to be communing with God on how to proceed-----remember, this was the first time for the YCVM to host a team from the US, and it certainly presented challenges to see that everyone was healthy and comfortable while doing the ministry work. Grace was like a guardian angel to all of us, attending to every detail!

Last, but not least, is Silver. Without Silver, there would be no YCVM. Silver, at different points in his life, reminded me of Joseph, Moses, and Isaiah. Silver, who seemed most shy to even talk about himself, finally shared some of his story with us. He told about how he was transformed from being a BAD BOY, a bully, into the visionary whose goal is to help the widows and orphans, all because of having invited Jesus into his life.

Each of these young adults lived through the times they call “The Insurgencies”, when Uganda was under ruthless dictators, and wars and lawlessness prevailed throughout the land. They were each uprooted from their homes as young children, and experienced harrowing dangers. It was difficult for them to talk about it with us, so painful were some of the memories, but we pressed them to tell their stories, so that we could know them more intimately.

There was a time when Silver, about 7 years old, was left home by himself in a rural village when bombing began. Not knowing what to do, he jumped in some swampy waters and hid himself while chaos reigned around him. We can only imagine his fright. Who knows how long he stayed there---perhaps for hours. When it seemed quiet enough to emerge from the waters, he saw only death and destruction around him. Deeply affected by the carnage, he soothed himself by playing his instrument and singing softly....from this experience, he composed the song “Child of Africa” a song of peace and hope.

Silver composes the songs and builds the humble instruments that the Band uses to spread the Gospel. Silver literally dreamed of the visions of helping the poor villagers to know God, and experience the joy of the Lord. Silver welcomes the orphans to stay with him when they are not in school----at age 34, he is like their dad. He farms the land to feed them, and by God's grace, is only now able to finish his certificate in Social Work.

My life has been forever changed: now I am called “Momma Becky” by Patrick, Emma, Grace, and Silver. I am honored to be a part of their work, half a world away, but spiritually, they'll always have a place right here in my heart.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blog post from Aeri: Report Back

Hi all!

It’s me, Aeri, reporting back from Uganda. I remained in Kampala atRTC to do my usual teaching stint until August 16th. I kept in touch with our YCVM leaders through phone calls. Silver came to Kampala towards the end of my stay, so that he can give me the latest updates on all the YCVM ministries.

Since the return of the mighty 8 minus one, the builders of YCVM kept up the good work of building the school all the way up to the window level, as you can see in the photos.

The other important piece of business was the purchase of the YCVM pick-up truck. The team had seen it already hard at work, transporting all the building materials to and from the work site, and doubling as the van (open topped!) for the YCVM band members to their many ministry sites. As soon as the Kumi team returned, they sent money so that the truck can be paid off.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Kumi Mission Team De-brief Session

Aug. 5, 2009

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you. Phillipians 4:8-9

For Reflection:

What have you learned from the mission trip? What have you received from God through it? What insights have you gained about yourself? About missions?

What have you seen God do in the lives of the people to whom you ministered?

Have you noticed any important changes in who you are since the mission trip? (Physical, social,, emotional, political, spiritual, financial)

What do you intend to do with what you have learned, i.e., your goals?

What obstacles might keep you from achieving your goals (fears, uncertainties, lack of strategy)?

Your plan for achieving your goals and for overcoming any obstacles you have identified.

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians 1:2-3


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reflection Upon Return from the Kumi Mission Trip

By Becky

This was my first international mission trip, and I returned truly amazed by what God could do with a small group of people, who may have thought they had very little to offer, yet God accomplished far more than any of us had imagined possible. I saw God's people in Africa offered the message of salvation and HOPE for their futures, as presented by the drama, the preaching, and testimonies. And I was humbled by the response, the hunger for the goodness of God to work in their lives, when I knew that the Ugandans had so few material goods, and had suffered so greatly due to no fault of their own. I was touched by their genuine warmth and openness, shown by the hospitality we received everywhere we went, from Miroi Village, to the Displaced Persons Camp, to the Soroti Prison.

While the construction of the school was interesting, and the VBS skits were fun, the relationships we had working with the people and with the YCVM team in particular is what was most outstanding to me about the entire trip. Silver, Grace, Emmanuel and Patrick are no longer names on paper and faces in a photo; they are unique individuals with amazing stories of faith, courage, and determination that will bring you to tears. They devoted their time to our team 24/7 to see that we were happy, comfortable, healthy, prayed for, and working alongside them as God's servants. As David Ofumbi wrote to me, “Now you have a family in Africa”, and he is right.

My first weeks back, I was constantly running the praise song “Biggy God-O” through my mind. I found myself thinking of the YCVM and praying for them and the people often. I was more mindful of my own wastefulness and am determined to be a better steward of God's precious resources. I would sometimes find myself close to tears thinking of the hardships the people endured, while I have had life so easy. And while I have always enjoyed travel as a hobby, I now know that travel with a mission purpose is the most rewarding travel experience one can have. My goals are to support the orphans financially and to help the Mission Team continue to work together and bring the stories we now have to new people and places, in order to fundraise for the completion of the Kumi School. And above all, I hope to encourage more people to engage in mission work, whether here or abroad, but especially in a very special place called Kumi.

Kumi Konnect is a blog created by the Chinese Community United Methodist Church in Oakland, CA.

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