“When you come, you bring hope.”

Our mission goes far beyond just the few days that we are here, and is much greater than any teachings and few gifts we can bring them.

Uganda 09 – Kaliro Day 1 Video Clips

Austin interviewed Rachel about the trip so far and tried to get her to commit on camera do doing the bungee jump later this week.

Here, Rob is praying with a woman as she gives her life to Christ and surrenders everything to him.

Luara hanging out the the locals while holding one lady's newborn baby.

Blair shared the gospel with a small group of people and many of them gave their lives to Christ.

Urgent Prayer Request from Uganda

My dear friend and Director of Arise Africa, Godfrey Wanamitsa and his family need your prayer. They have been through many trials this past year and it just seems that it won't let up. When we first arrived here, most of his family was healthy except that his youngest boy Joseph was struggling with malaria to the point of causing fever seizures. This was also happening when we were here in March. But now, as I write this update, ALL of his family except for him and his daughter Grace (he and his wife Joy have 8 kids) are sick with a serious and new strain of malaria that has proved very difficult to combat. Please view the video below and then take a few minutes as soon as it is done and lift up his family to the Lord. We need our director and his family to be healthy.

Please excuse the poor audio.  There was much activity going on around us.

Namayingo Day 2 Video Clips

Helen, Rachel, and Laura lead music with motions during one session of our children’s program.

Mary, Meagan, and Ashely do crafts during one session with our Children’s program

Everyday we send three people from our team to some local schools to minister to the kids at the school and share the Gospel with them. Here Blair is leading them in music.

Journey Students Summer Camp ’09 Slide Show

3 Week Overview

Wow. It has been a ridiculously long time since I have last blogged. No excuses, but it's not because I've been lazy. The past few weeks have been filled with fun, excitement, blessing and exhaustion. On July 4, the newest addition of our family, Karis Eleise Via, decided to join us! That's right she's an Independence Day baby. I wouldn't say that the process was uneventful, but there were no complications and God gave us a healthy baby girl weighing in at 7 lbs, 15 oz. 

IMG_0222Early that morning, Kelly had been feeling some contractions. Since she has a history of quick labor, we went ahead and had some family come and take Cana and Kayil with them for the day while we spent the day out counting contractions. The entire day Kelly's contractions were rarely ever closer together than eight minutes apart (sometimes there were as far as 20 minutes apart). For those of you who have had kids, you know that they tell you not to go to the hospital until your contractions are 5 minutes apart. So we kept waiting and waiting. Meanwhile, Kelly's contractions were getting harder and harder (but not closer together). Finally, I called the doctor, and she said that we were doing the right thing so we continued hanging out at the mall and waiting it out. Then suddenly, without warning Kelly's contractions moved to 3 minutes apart. We left the mall at 4:30 pm. Baby Karis was born at 6:05 pm. Crazy. It all happened so fast, Kelly didn't have time to get an epidural. The doctor wasn't even in the room until the end of the delivery. The nurse who was doing the paperwork and I basically delivered the baby! I've yet to learn whether or not that entitles us to a discount of some kind.


IMG_0245The week after that is a bit of a blur. Our family was getting acquainted to having a new baby in the house. I got very little work done, and we got even less sleep.  But as always, it's a very rewarding time and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. My wife is awesome. She's a freakin' machine. She just keeps going. One week after Karis was born, she was right back to work helping work with our middle school students. Most people didn't even expect to see her back at church yet, and she was already serving again. She never ceases to amaze me.

The next week, I left Kelly alone and took off to camp with 40 students. Again, my wife is awesome. She was totally cool with me taking off to camp only one week after baby Karis was born. Camp was incredible, God worked in the hearts and lives of many of our students. Lives were forever changed. Unfortunately, not everything that happened was good. On the second day of camp, I wrecked a little motor scooter and ended up spending most of the night in the ER.


They told me nothing was broken but that it looks like I may have torn my rotator cuff. I don't know what that means, except that I'm in a lot of pain, and it may require surgery. I have an MRI scheduled this week with an orthopedic surgeon to figure out exactly what is going on. And we're beginning to question the "no broken bones" verdict, since the entire area around the injury has turned yellow. Now my poor wife not only has a three year old, a two year old, and a newborn to take care of, she also has an injured husband to care for. She's keeping it all under control. She is amazing. Please keep her in your prayers.

Well, there you have it: the three week update. As life begins to settle down, I'll return to my regular blogging schedule. Tune in tomorrow; I'll post a picture slide show of camp.

Uganda Video Blog # 2

Uganda Update & Video Blog # 1

Well, we've just recently gotten back from Uganda. What a great trip. I think this is around my 6th or 7th trip there and it is never a disappointment. God really moved while we were there. Our primary focus was to provided training for the pastors and church leaders of Arise Africa's over 200 churches that spread across 22 zones in Uganda. 

God has been moving in a powerful way and he has been greatly using Arise Africa to accomplish his mission. This is the way it usually goes: Arise Africa plants a church; the church grows and people start coming from surrounding villages; eventually the church decides to plant another church more convenient to those having to walk long distances; that church grows and flourishes and people start coming from surrounding villages; eventually that church decides to plant another church more convenient to those who have to walk long distances… you get the idea.

The churches are growing so rapidly, and many of them are so far out in the bush that it has become very difficult to make sure that the churches are being properly trained and cared for. For some time now Godfrey Wanamitsa (the Director of Arise Africa and good friend of mine) has been expressing his burden over his responsibility to properly care for his pastors and churches. So when Jimmy and I first started talking with Godfrey about how we could be of use to him and his ministry, the one thing he kept coming back to was training and encouragement for his pastors and church leaders. After much discussion, Godfrey and I finally decided on a plan of attack that would reach all of the churches in all of his zones by traveling each day to 1 zone and providing the means to bring the pastors and church leaders from the surrounding zones to meet us there. Then we were able to spend the better portion of a day training and encouraging them. To reach these zones, however, would still be an enormous task. For instance, one day we did 13 hours of travel to do 5 hours of ministry. It was an 18 hour day! At one point in the day, Beverly (Jimmy's wife) turned to me and said, "Smooth, it's 12:00. We've been going for 8 hours, and the day has just begun!" That particular day, we got up at 4:00 am and got back in bed around midnight. The video below takes place on that day!

It was a long hard trip, but it was very rewarding. I look forward to being able to do it again.

Uganda Update # 2

This one is going to have to be quick. The ministry is going well. We are flat out getting it done. When I was making all of the plans with Godfrey (Director of Arise Africa), I told him that I wanted to go very far out deep into the bush because when most teams come, they can never reach there since it is so far away. So yesterday we spent 13 hours in the car and did 5 hours of training with some pastors and church leaders. That makes an 18 hour day! Wow. It was crazy.

Thankfully today we stayed in town and had the pastors from the surrounding zones come to us. So it was a very easy day, and we are rested up for another long day tomorrow.

The team is doing a great job. God is using us to teach, train, and encourage these precious pastors. It has been great to reach the ones who are far out in the bush. Because many of them have never had a team come visit them. They have been so overwhelmingly grateful for us. It has been a ton of fun to get to do this with my dad and my pastor, two heroes in my life. It has been a priveledge to lead this team here.

Please keep praying for us. There is still much work to be done. I will give updates as I can, and I will post some videos and pictures when I return.

Uganda Update

It just so happens that I was able to get to an internet connection, to be able to post an update. I'm in downtown Jinja, Uganda. I'm not supposed to be here yet. I abandoned Jimmy and Beverly way out in the bush. Jimmy was speaking when I left, so he didn't even know about it! I'm sure he's figured it out by now.

So why did I abandon them? This morning we filmed Pastor Jimmy preaching a message to the church. Our church… Journey Church… for this Sunday! That's right, while we're still here in Uganda, Pastor Jimmy will still preach to our church via video at both campuses (Lord willing). The plan was for me to shoot the video, edit it down and export it while still out in the bush, travel back to the city tonight and upload it over night. I planned for everything… or so I thought. We brought two batteries: one for the editing time, then a fresh one for the exporting time. I even had Arise Africa provide a generator and a power converter on site just in case the batteries didn't last. 

Well, once I started the exporting process it became evident very quickly that there was not going to be enough battery power to get the export done. So I went to our generator/power converter setup to plug the computer in. But it didn't work! By that time I was about an hour into the export process and didn't want to lose all that work. I checked the battery life, and it had 1 hour and 35 minutes remaining. The trip back to the city is about an hour and 30 minutes! In emergency "fix it" mode, I grabbed "Dr. Sam," a Ugandan friend of mine (he's not really a licensed doctor, but I trust him with my life). I quickly informed him of the situation, told him how much battery life I had left, and he said "get in the car." So we jumped in his Suzuki 4-wheel drive and we made the trip back to the city in 45 minutes! 

I thought Sam might kill somebody trying to get me here before the battery died! But we made it safe and sound. Now the video looks like it has another 3 – 4 hours of export time left. Then I will begin the upload. There is no telling how long that will take. Internet connections are not exactly reliable around here. Heck, electricity is not even reliable around here! So if you're reading this around the 10am hour your time there in the states, pray that God will bless these efforts and the video will upload without a hitch. Also pray for Pastor Jimmy. He's pretty sick and I abandoned him in a village way out in the bush to teach all by himself for the rest of the day. I'm sure he'll forgive me if I can make this video work.