Daring To Hope

Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors is a touching, heartfelt recollection of Katie’s struggle to trust God in the dark times of life. She writes,

“Reality would shatter my optimism, but I would realize that it was only a cheap substitute for true hope anyway. The Lord would take the darkness and make it my secret place, the place where I knew Him more intimately and deeply than I had ever fathomed possible.” (page 5)

Reading this book feels a lot like reading a well edited personal journal. You read the true stories with both happy and sad endings of Ugandans she served. At the same time, Katie does a beautiful job of including Scripture and connecting what God was teaching her to those Scriptures. It has so much truth in it that anyone who reads it would find something to inspire them. I would be very interested in reading Katie’s bestselling book from 2012, Kisses From Katie, after reading Daring to Hope.

Here are a few thoughts that I earmarked:

“As I’m tempted to wallow in guilt over all that I am not for my children, gently He reminds me that I was never meant to meet all their needs anyway. It isn’t me who can make up for all their losses and hurts. He reminds me that I cannot be what they need Him to be — Savior.” (page 43)

“To dwell in the place I have been given. To do the things I have been given. To love the people I have been given. This is not mysterious or far reaching, and yet this is the truth of a God-ordained life.” (page 98)

“The pain and the hurt are everywhere. But the joy and the hope that we find in our Savior? They are everywhere, too…. Our pain does not minimize His goodness to us, but in fact allows us to experience it in a whole new way.”  (page 138)

“I desire to enter fully into the joy He places before us and I desire to enter fully into the suffering He places before us because both can be His gifts to us. Both can be made beautiful.” (page 195)

I was encouraged to embrace interruptions in life, to not run away from hard things but to look for God in the middle of them, and to be faithful with what God gives me to do each day.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing me with this book for free to read and review.

P.S. If you’re a podcast listener, you can hear Katie on the Family Life Today podcast on December 19-21, 2017. Here’s a link to the December 20 broadcast here.


Why Build A School In Uganda?

Isn’t Jesus the answer to the problems in a third world country? Let’s teach them about Jesus and that will solve many of their problems. Wealth isn’t the answer to their problems. I don’t want to make the American standard of living their standard of living. I battle against the need to keep up with the Jones’ every week. Is starting a school going to help them?

That was my thought process while Brad was in Uganda. I’m a huge fan of education, but I kept wondering “Why build a school?”

I’ve gathered several reasons while listening to Brad talk about his time in Uganda.

1. The Bible commands us to care for orphans, widows and the poor. With the established CarePoint, the children were being cared for with a meal six days a week of posha and rice and some Bible teaching. We wanted to do more for them, and a school is a way to do that. Whether we see amazing results from it or not, we are obeying the command to care for the poor and orphaned and maybe even widows through providing them with jobs.

2. Lodging

This is Alex. He is about ten years old. His dad recently died, and his mom is either dead or who knows where. He lives with his aunt and six cousins. IMG_4846The left third of this building is where Alex sleeps. He uses the mat Brad is holding in the above picture and has a mosquito net. The aunt sleeps in half of this section and the seven kids sleep in the other half. Brad thought it was similar to the size of a pickup bed. IMG_4852Brad gave Alex a toy car and some pictures of us but worried that was going to cause problems for him with his cousins. We would be happy to give Alex a bed and more clothes, but it would likely all end up going to his uncle or to others in the family. With our boarding school, Alex can have a bed in a larger room, can stay year round and have a few of his own things.

3. Food – These children eat posha, which is like a corn meal porridge, and rice almost all the time. Although they live in a tropical climate, they eat very little fruits and vegetables. Now that there is five acres with a fence around the school land (to keep others from helping themselves), we’re hoping to grow and raise different types of food for them to eat. Learning how to garden and care for animals could be a valuable part of these students’ education. Someone already planted orange trees and these boys worked hard at weeding them.

Uganda Orange Trees

4. Education – I wonder how often some of the kids get to the public school. In a letter Alex wrote us, he said through an interpreter “…my guardians mistreat me a lot they don’t cloth me. Because of this I fail to go to school. At school they need children to put on school uniforms which I don’t have so this has denied me the chance of studying and my life is in ruins.”

Sponsors of older girls in Kayango are paying so the girls can go to private schools, largely for the girls safety. Sending them to private schools is expensive, and they’re required to take certain things and have certain clothes. Brad and James took 14 girls and 4 boys shopping to get them clothes for private school. I’m not sure if the green dress in the following picture is for school or just for fun.


Brad said the private school students knew English, but the students in the public schools did not speak English even though English is Uganda’s national language. Public school classes have around 100 students to a teacher. We’re hoping to have 25 students in a class at our school.

5. Jobs – We’re starting with just a primary school but hope to have a secondary school someday. The focus of the secondary school would largely be vocational training. You’d be shocked at even the basic life skills most Ugandans need to learn.

At the same time, the school will create many jobs for people in Uganda.

6. More time to learn about Jesus – At the schools students are in now, they’re learning some religion but it’s never certain exactly what. Our boarding school would obviously be different!

7. Basic living conditions – One great example for you: At some of the private schools students are given only five liters of water for an entire day to do whatever they need involving water – drinking, bathing, cooking, etc. Another school relies on rainfall, so in the dry season they have no water at all. James asked the kids if they would want running water in the new school, and they saw no need for it. Even without running water, they will have whatever water they need.

I’m sure there are other reasons I’m failing to mention, but my doubt about why we should build a school is no longer.

What do you think?

The Start of a School

Brad was in Uganda to help start building a school, but our community is not just building a school. We’re starting a school. God is using small town Nebraska to start and maintain a boarding school in Uganda.

The challenges of that are more than we know, but it is clearly an opportunity for God to show HE IS ABLE. He has already shown up, and I know He will continue to do so.

Following are a sequence of pictures of the start of the building. Notice the fence topped with barbed wire. It is there to keep thieves out and surrounds the five acres of property purchased for the school.


How it looked when Brad and James arrived


chopping the lava rock with pick axes



The kids even helped with covering the ground with these big rocks.


Random Chicken

Random Chicken


Then they crushed the large rocks.


Cement Mixing. The sun was clearly too bright there for our little camera.


Plastic went on top of the rocks and cement on top of that

IMG_5012One fourth of this foundation was finished before Brad and James left. Two Americans who live in Uganda will continue to keep the construction of the school going. Several people are going back in May, and I look forward to seeing their pictures of the progress.

Why a school? I’ll tell you as much as I can about that next time.


Boda Towing and Bicycles

I’ll get to the real reason of going to Uganda soon, but for now a little story and pictures are easier to post.

Uganda Boda Boda

3 men on a boda boda

3 men on a boda boda

The second week Brad and James were in Uganda a pastor’s conference was going on at their hote. Brad and James each rented a boda boda from pastors at that conference for the week so they could get to and from the construction site. One morning on Brad’s drive to Kayango, he had a boda boda break down. The chain flew off and cracked something.

Brad was stranded on Ugandan road side. He thought he was going to have to push his boda a mile to the construction site, but James came to the rescue. While he was waiting for James someone who knew James was around stopped to keep Brad company, knowing that being a white man sitting alone on the side of the road wasn’t a very safe situation.

James came and they towed a boda with a boda.

IMG_4999They took it to a repair shop and the ticket stating what it would cost to fix it had super glue on it. They thought the $40 part was too expensive. James told them to get the part and the $40 part would be covered.

The other popular form of transportation in this part of Uganda is bicycles.

Twitter and Boda Boda Stories

I’m conquering my fear and telling you that I am now on twitter. Why do you I fear telling you that? Because you might think twitter is dumb, I have only tweeted twice, and you’ll think I’m a Husker sports fanatic if you look at who I follow on twitter. It feels pointless to tweet to only six followers, and I don’t know who else to follow. Please help me with both of those things if you’re able.

I joined twitter because I see it as an easy way to share tiny town Nebraska news. If you’re into twitter, you can find me at @smalltownNE. If you’re not into twitter and don’t want to miss out on tiny town Nebraska news, you can always just click on the “Sign Me Up” button on the right and you won’t miss a post.

I will make no promises on the frequency of my tweeting, but I’ll do my best to keep it interesting.

Now for the story behind my second tweet. “Just talked to Brad in Uganda-He was on a boda going to pick up a 16yr old who yesterday walked 3 hrs to and from work for a days wage of $2”

Brad and James rented boda boda (Ugandan motorcycle) for the week. Apparently having a license for such things is completely unnecessary. Monday at around 4pm a Ugandan teenage boy named James who was working for them said he needed to leave to head home. He had to leave early because it took him three hours to walk home! He’d left from home at four that morning! Brad and James offered to take him home on the boda, so Brad, James and James all rode together on the boda to take James home. I am told three people on a boda is completely normal.

When I talked to Brad last night, it was morning there and he was heading out on the boda to go pick up the Ugandan James. He was hoping he would find his home since it was somewhat off the beaten path and that he wouldn’t cause James to fall off. Brad hasn’t perfected his boda driving skills and the roads contain many wash outs.

This morning when talking to Brad about his day I asked if he had given James a ride without knocking off the boda. He said, “Yes, but…” Then he told me what had happened with the boda that day.

Brad drove two Ugandan workers out to a truck to help load it with rock. He hit some sand, the tires went funny, and he laid the boda over. The Ugandans bailed before it tipped and had a good laugh at Brad. Amazingly no one was hurt at all! I thank God for that.

I’m not the best story teller but these events are very humorous to me when I picture them happening to Brad over in Africa. I hope you can enjoy in spite of my story telling skills.

In Uganda – A Watchdog and A First Responder

The report James gave over the phone to our church on Sunday was that Brad sold his passport because they were running short on funds. Such a sense of humor they have over there.

Thankfully, they will not have to sell their passports or plain tickets for funding. They pay $1 for breakfast. A glass of tea was $.30. The price of things is great, but the Ugandans like to do what they can to get money from the white people. I’m hoping Brad will come home with some bartering skills because he’s getting to watch it happen often. Ugandans will name a price to a white man that is three times what they ask of a Ugandan. Brad referred to them as corrupt today and this was his story to support that claim.

They hired a truck to haul rock to the site. The deal was to pay for the truck, driver and his gas. When the truck arrived at the site, they actually put a stick in the gas tank to see how much gas was in it and then gave him a few gallons. Then Brad was told to ride along with him to make sure he didn’t go run away with the gas or use it for something else. Brad rode with him most of the morning and said he was very nice but now wonders if he was just trying to butter him up. In the afternoon Brad had to go drive the water truck, so he didn’t ride along. They gave the guy fuel at 1:00pm, he came back at 2:30pm saying he needed more fuel. He even parked on a slope so it would look like his tank was less full when they measured. They refused to give him more gas. Brad said it was an “animated” conversation and that it was good they owed the truck driver more money than he had taken in gas or they would’ve lost their rock hauler for the day. According to Brad, this kind of thing goes on all the time and slows down progress.

Brad was a watchdog for the morning but a first responder this afternoon. Since he is one of the few people there who knows how to drive, he has been given the job of driving a truck with a 1000 gal water tank to fetch water for their cement mixing. He had the truck full of water and at the site and heard someone yell his name. He turned and saw the thatched roof of a kitchen hut in flames. Fortunately, he was 200 feet from the truck and the truck was 200 feet from the fire. They got it out before it spread to the Carepoint building. He can now say he’s been a fireman in Nebraska and in Uganda.

If you’re wondering where they’re at with the project, they poured cement footings for columns that will hold up the second floor to the school building/boarding house. They’re putting smaller rock on top of the large rocks for the base of the foundation and will hope to start pouring the slab over that on Thursday.

Also, I just found some information on the Children’s HopeChest website that provides background information on the Kayango Carepoint. That link and the above Carepoint link are written in 2010 and 2011, but they are still somewhat informative and relevant. When Brad gets back I’ll go into the explanation of why they’re building a school.

Any questions?