Sunday, October 2, 2016

Heartbreak to Hope

Here we are, less than three months until Christmas and I'm already counting down the days.  All I can think about is seeing Edwin again and the 26 children who call Home of Angels their family.  I left in March and since then, Edwin has worked tirelessly visiting villages finding the child that is truly suffering.  It says in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." They have gone from heartbreak to hope, but with Jesus in their lives, they will forget their suffering in time.

We now have 8 new children. These kids have come from horrific conditions and with the love and attention their new brothers and sisters will give them, they will overcome. We've been given enough Gleaners soup to once again celebrate Christmas together with the many children in our community.  Northview church has given us snowflakes to cut out and hang instead of balloons this year.  Not that they will understand what a snowflake is, but they will have the thrill of creating a beautiful atmosphere and with teaching, understand the true meaning of Christmas for the first time.

Thank you sponsors for helping these children feel loved and cared for.  Many of you donated items to your children in the container last January but I must tell you that due to corruption in Uganda, it will not be leaving Vancouver.  We've unloaded it and I will be taking it in suitcases in future trips.

These little ones I will meet for the first time 

When the children arrive, there are a number of things that Edwin and the aunties must do to help them.  Almost all the kids come in with fungal diseases, so heads are shaved, washed and special fungal cream administered.  If there are jiggers in their hands or feet, the aunties or Edwin will spend many hours removing them.  Jiggers are like a little flea in the dirt with a sac containing 1,000,000 eggs.  They get into the skin and must be removed to prevent pain. This is why shoes are so important.

Our 500 chicks are 2 months old now and doing well.  We should have eggs in about 5 months and the children are already talking about who "Uncle Eddie" will choose to sort them.

Since no one knows how old they are or when they were born, each child picks a day in the year for their birthday.  I then send everyone a special card in one big envelope so they all will receive them.
Because I mailed them before the new kids arrived, Edwin went to the store and purchased and printed in their card so they weren't left out.  They never knew the difference and all were happy!

This time, I put a picture of themselves in their card.  For some, such as Yasin in the green shirt in front, had never seen himself before.  It was a lesson for me....I never thought of this ....they have never seen themselves.  We take it for granted that everyone has mirrors....they don't.  Thanks Edwin for capturing these expressions.

Look at these beauties turning into amazing teenagers.  The one thing I love about this culture is, even though Junior is the only boy, they treat each other equally.  There is no gender issue.

Hope and Desire in the white shirts are on their way back to school to study for their National exams in November.  Please pray for these two girls.  This will determine what school they qualify to go to next year and because they are sisters and have never been separated before, nerves are on edge.

Here are some of the little people and I am shocked at how they are growing.  Remember Yasin in the mud hut?  Look at this precious child front and centre.  Alan, our mischievous Alan! He turned out to the be big brother to all the new kids....a role model.

Paul and James are hard at it again in the garden.  The draught and rains have reversed seasons this past year but they keep trying.  They're planting maize and greens here.  For 8 years now they have never disappointed us in their work ethics.  Very hard working men.

Thank you Northview for the Bibles for the new children.

Message from Edwin

The staff, children and myself would like to thank everyone for all they have done for us over the years.  You stood with us not only in the good times, but also in the tough days where we felt like giving up with such a huge project.  You encouraged us to keep going and we will never forget.

I want you to know that we are praying God's blessings on all of you for the love and trust you have showed to us. We won't let you down and I promise you that these children will make you proud in the years to come.  Thank you for standing with us.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Our Family of Faith

Home of Angels is a family of faith.  God provides mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers for us and he has called us to serve one another in need.  Edwin is trying so hard to do that in a place of despair.  For him to go out into the bush and find the a child truly suffering takes time and patience.  He doesn't want people to know why he's there so he spends days just talking to people.  Eventually he finds a small child trying to survive alone and the paperwork begins.

The gardens are thriving once again and the goats in Malindi village are multiplying.  Soon we will be able to sell them on the International market to provide enough for next years gardens and necessary items for survival.  On our own farm compound, the children also have their own goat to take care of.  They are learning responsibility by making sure they have food and water and they do understand that one day they will have to sacrifice them for food.

I would also like to inform you that the container designated for Jinja in 2016 will not be going to Uganda due to corruption in the Port of Kenya.  It is not our policy to pay bribes and feed this corruption so we have decided not to send it.   For those of you who donated items and the sponsors who donated to your sponsored child, I will try and carry as much as I can back with me in December.  The items not taken to Uganda will be dispersed to other charities within the lower mainland, throughout B.C.and other missionaries around the world.

Home of Angels is full of activity lately and we would like to share with you.

Guess what Edwin's digging???

Yikes....more banana trees!  His father in the village has 800 trees and I think they plotted that if they start planting them on our property,  I would have to come over and start baking banana bread.   What do you think?

Our gardens are doing really well.  Lots of vegetables for the kids and also enough to help our neighbours occasionally.

Thank you Northview for leaving us with enough to purchase 500 chicks from Israel.  They finally arrived and soon we will be able to have eggs for the kids and elderly in our community.

This melted my heart!  Lovisa in the blue dress welcomed our new little Alice to Home of Angels.
This is what I mean when I say the children living there now will always welcome a new child and make them feel a part of the family.  Edwin says it's like Alice has lived there for months already.

And our Alan....he has 3 new buddies.  Silas, Paul and the most recent.... John-Mark.  I'm really excited to get back there and meet all these new little guys.  

John-Mark might be new, but he's already welcoming little Eddie in the orange shirt.  Before
you know it, little Eddie will be part of the family.  I have to tell you that every one of these new kids are coming in with major trauma.  When we had our meeting on Skype with the older children, they told me that they know the word "trauma" because they all went through it and they know how to help the new kids.  This is our "Family of Faith".

Sula, now named Paul, is still working hard.  He has been with us since 2009 and never asked for anything.  He's digging a hole for drainage (sock pit) for our new wash station.

This is the wash station completely finished.   Before they would carry their water a long way just to wash a shirt, but no longer.  The water comes into this station and they can also get rid of it into the nearby sock pit that Paul dug.  Even the 3 year olds are taught to wash daily.

Every night I talk with Edwin....every night for 6 years.  I feel so blessed to work with a person so dedicated to these children and to serve God.  It's not an easy job over there with all the daily obstacles, but Edwin with his calm demeanor makes it all work.  We plan to house 30 to 35 children for the next little while and let the Lord guide us from there.

I also wanted everyone to know that my email has changed to

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hope in Suffering

We all have families.  Parents, grandparents, siblings..........

Some of us are lucky enough to have families who love and support us.  Others of us are not so lucky.  Whatever our family's role in our life is, it shapes our identity and teaches us what we know about love, the world and each other.  Whether we suffer from our own choices or from those of others, despair may threaten to overwhelm us.

Our Angels came from families who faced the most terrible human conditions possible.  They either lost their loved ones or were abandoned by the people who should care for them the most.

Edwin and I knew how we wanted this home to operate before we opened in 2013, but it took God's guidance in this journey to show us the way.  We now have a beautiful home with children who have hope; know how to love each other and take pride in helping others that are suffering.  What surprises us the most is the way these children bond so quickly with a new child.   They remember the devastation from their past and want their new brother or sister to feel the love they do now.

The pictures below visually tell a story of children who came from such difficult situations and made the transition to love and hope at our Home of Angels.

These children are our neighbours.  Every day they must go to this same spot and get water for Mama to cook and do her cleaning.  These children do not go to school because of lack of money.

These are desperate times for finding water in our community.  The drought has again taken over water and crops.  Once again we thank Laury and Tom for our well....still pumping 5000 litres of water an hour.  The children help the community doing many different things but one of them is passing out water.  The school closed down for 3 hours so the kids could take water home to their families before commencing classes again.

Meet Jimmy Kintu, age 5 years old.  He will be coming to live with us with his brother Derrick as
soon as we find enough sponsors to provide the basics for them.

This is Derrick Kintu age 7 years

Meet Frank Ochat, age 5 years

This sad little guy is Edwin Ssmonga, 6 years old and will be the first to arrive.
I'm going to call him "Eddie"

Most of you know our precious Jowell.  If you ask any of the kid's "Who is your best friend?" the answer is always Jowell.  I can't even put in words how special this child is and how she has taught the little ones everything they must know to be a true "Angel".  Jowell has recently been diagnosed with heart failure and Edwin and I would love it if you would please pray for her healing. Thank you!

Wow!  Look at these beauties in their new dresses.  Uncle Edwin decided that the kid's church clothes were getting very worn so he hired a seamstress to come in and sew outfits that fit.  By doing this, we save money at the market; we help a woman in our community to have work and we can call her anytime for help.  We also think that she will be a good person to teach the older girls to sew on our sewing machines, providing a trade for them in later years.   I just melt when I see this....

I can't stop staring at these pictures.  Because of special events at school, all the kids couldn't have their picture taken at this time but we can see the expressions by getting a new outfit.  This is a first for Paul and Silas in front....left.  Can you imagine when the next 4 little ones come in?

Our guardhouse needed some cheer.

Slowly we are completing the final touches on the compound.  The guards are sometimes stuck inside this guardhouse for hours protecting Edwin, staff and the children so a new coat of paint and a concrete floor is a real treat for them.

OK....this is serious!!  Edwin's father planted a banana plantation in 2014 for me to bake banana bread and I was just informed to come back to Uganda to start baking because it's getting out of control.  There are currently 700 trees....I might be 90 years old when this is finished.....

Thanks to all of you who have helped us provide everything necessary to raise these children.  We couldn't have done it without you.  Always remember that 100% of your donations go to our Home of Angels and a tax receipt is issued at the end of the year.

God bless you all

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Free from Fear

Fear sneaks into our hearts without permission.  It paints a picture of helplessness and hopelessness, so you can imagine what it's been like for the children that we are bringing into our Home of Angels.  With the fear and trauma they have experienced in the past, they bring it all with them as they walk through our gate for the first time.  Usually they come with jiggers buried in their feet due to living in the dirt with no shoes.  The pain of removing those jiggers and having a child say thank-you because you cared enough to help them is something we cannot imagine.  Most of them come hungry and malnourished so not worrying where the next meal will come from is a blessing in itself.

I recently returned home from Uganda with a surprise letter from every child.  As I read each one, I was humbled by how they genuinely felt.  They've learned to trust Uncle Edwin and I with their inner most thoughts and I now understand the pain they dealt with before their arrival.  Every child has a different story to tell, but when they learn how much God loves them, they eventually learn to relax in His peace and take refuge from that pain.  How wonderful it would be for them to teach others in the community what they have learned about God's love living at Home of Angels.

We currently have 21 children but our goal is to house a total of 50 in the future.  It's our prayer that we will be able to find 10 more homeless little ones soon.  Edwin spends many hours making sure it's done properly by involving community leaders and social workers.  We want to thank all the sponsors for giving these children a home full of love and hope.  It truly brings a smile when we see the incredible changes in all of them.

Every day chores are done and because of their dedication, we have a beautiful compound.  These kids take great pride in their new home and it shows in the smiles on their faces.  We also want to thank our guards,  Frank and Sam for helping them to appreciate what they now have.

Since our schoolroom was originally in the boys home and it's presently filling up with little bodies, we are now moving it into the end unit of our main home.  Thanks to Nina throughout the years for equipping it with the necessary items to teach with.  We have a whiteboard, chairs, table and supplies.  Edwin and I are now thinking we can help some of the community kids too so I'm really looking forward to this when I return.

Meet the wonderful students of the Tri-Cities Rotaract Club in Port Moody, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.  They recently held a concert called the "West Coast Story" on our behalf and it was a HUGE success.  Not only that, they also gave each child a new backpack filled with surprises and school supplies.  I can't say enough about these fantastic young adults and how hard they've worked to help our Home of Angels over the years.  We all thank you!!!

Judy made a huge impact on our children as did the entire team from Northview, and to this day they feel sad about their departure.  Kevin and Kristen also taught them a new game that will never be forgotten.  I don't think we have ever seen them have so much fun.

We are raising our goats in Malindi village in the north.  Thanks Thomas for purchasing the fencing for 30 acres and for also purchasing the goats.  Goats seem to multiply almost as quickly as rabbits it seems....we are at 175 already.  George is one amazing man to be doing this for us and he seems to have his entire village helping him.  Thanks Thomas and George for making this project successful.

Thomas in Hong Kong has always had it in his heart to help us in a medical way.  Edwin and the children decided to purchase a Neem tree, when in time, it would produce leaves to help our chickens and the children's 14 goats in our compound.  The Neem leaf acts as a antibiotic for these animals and has been proven very successful in India.  This tree has been planted in Thomas's honour.

3 year old Precious.  She has recently been taught how to shine her school shoes by her older brothers and sisters.  If anyone deserves the name "Precious" this little one does.

The gardens are thriving and the maize is on it's 2nd crop

I couldn't resist this....Yasin before
                                                Yasin today

This is what I meant when I said "they originally came through our gate for the first time with fear". This little one had rarely ever been outside this mud hut, in fact, we didn't know there were 2 other children living in there with their 98 year old grandpa.  Look at him now.

Hopelessness may be the way these children entered their new home but positive self-image and self-confidence is how they will depart when they are older.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Welcome to the Family

What a wonderful time when new children are welcomed into our Home of Angels.

It starts with a Skype meeting between Canada and Uganda with all children included.  We talk about situations in the community.  Should we bring in a boy or girl and what ages do they think they should be?  They are included into the decision making.  Why?  Because we are a family and we make decisions together.  This way, when that new child arrives, they feel as though they contributed
and start the welcoming process.  A welcome song is sung and within hours of playing, the new arrival(s) feel comfortable enough to call this their new home and family.

Before we started building in 2010, two of the original children told us they didn't like being called orphans.  They had always dreamed of a real home.  We told them that we thought of them as more like "angels" not orphans, hence the name Jaaja Barb's Home of Angels was established.

We are currently into our 7th year and it just keeps getting better.  God takes the weakest of the weakest and sets them loose.  You just have to see the pictures in this blog and the smiles on these children's faces to know that it was Him in control.  We never know what's going to happen in the future but the one thing we do know is, He will give Edwin and I the tools to provide this home for a total of 50 "angels".

Thanks again to all that have gone the extra mile to help us, especially offering to be sponsors.
We desperately need people who will care about a little one and give them that home they dream about.

I'd like you to meet the Tri-Cities Rotaract Club.  This special club had raised money for us in the past and this year decided to have a "Benefit Concert".  I was sad I was in Uganda at the time but with the pictures they sent, I was able to share it with Edwin and the kids.  A big thanks to all of you who worked so hard to make this a success.  You made a difference in these children's lives and they all say "Thank you".

Everyone felt it was time to find 5 more children.  Edwin travelled north and found 2 twin boys ages 4 1/2 years that lived with a very ill grandmother.  He offered to help her by taking the boys to raise.  When all paperwork was finalized, they were brought to their new home with their sister Sarah who asked if she could accompany them to make it an easier transition.

Meet Paul

 The other children shared their clothes with them and Edwin later took them to the market for shoes, clothes and other necessities.  Shoes are for sure in order by the looks of it.

Meet Silas

Silas chose the alligator and dinosaur PJ's.  For these kids all clothing is good for bed and for play.

Meet Sarah

Two weeks later Edwin got a call that grandma was very ill and as Sarah had been her caregiver, it was too difficult for her now.  She was just too young to lift and cook for her.  The community leader asked if it would be possible for us to raise her with her siblings.  The answer of course was a yes and Edwin started the process of her coming into the family. We are very happy to have all three siblings living together and know that this was always in God's plan from the very beginning.  

To see these children coming from the desperate situations they came from, to seeing them now is truly a blessing.  It might look like we are always telling these kids to smile but we're not.  They're truly this happy right down to 5am washing their clothes and singing outside my bedroom window.  Who needs an alarm clock?

If you went back 70 blogs and saw where Joanne (left) and Hope (right) came from, you would not
believe them to be the same children.  Precious in the middle had similar circumstances and is already feeling amazing love from her new family.

A special day!  Edwin's father sent down matoke and cabbage from his village and Aunty Joy and the girls are preparing their favourite dish.

Edwin and Sula prepare the cabbage and onions.

We wanted to show you the boys home and how the trees are growing so tall for shade.  The hot sun and the torrential rains play a big part on the beauty of our home.

The home is now the girls home with Edwin's office on the end.  We felt it much better that he be close to the gate as we don't want people wandering around in the compound.  And no, that isn't our ambulance.  It had broken down while trying to help us and now waiting for parts.

Edwin and I don't take any of this for granted but when we see the expressions of outsiders who come to visit, we really give our heads a shake to understand what is really happening here.  It truly is a miracle in the middle of the jungle.  OK, bush but I call it jungle without animals. :)