Uganda Mission Trip 2011 Dear Family and Friends, Picture of Bill & Cass goes here. Since the day they were born, I have had a vision that my children would be exposed to the various ways in which God works in the lives of people in far away countries and in cultures vastly different from our own. My heart’s desire is that my daughters would grow up asking God how He wants to use them to help build His Kingdom wherever they may happen to live. Many nights, over the years, at each of their bedsides, I have prayed that God would show them how He wants to use them to bless and minister to others as ambassadors of His love. God is providing just such an opportunity this summer. From July 31st to August 15th of 2011, I am going to have the opportunity to take my oldest daughter, Cassidy, to Toggo, Uganda, Africa, on a short-‐term mission trip with Bridgeway Christian Church for those very reasons. Please allow me to tell you more of the story. About four years ago, the pastor of our Church, Lance Hahn, met an African pastor by the name of Steven Trint. Since 1995, Pastor Steve has felt called by God to start ministries in the villages of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. During his years of ministry in these areas, Pastor Steve was introduced to the village of Toggo, Uganda, and while he was there, he saw the desperate need of the children for education and to hear the message of the gospel of Christ. After meeting Pastor Lance in 2008 and sharing his vision for the children and families of Toggo, the leadership of Bridgeway determined that we should partner with Pastor Steve in ministry and helped him build a church in Toggo. In addition, the first Bridgeway Missions team to Uganda in 2009 helped to build the foundation for the Toggo International Children’s Center. Then, in May 2010, the first block of classrooms were opened for enrollment. While only about 50 students were expected, 100 arrived. Bridgeway sent another team in the summer of 2010, to work with the 140 students enrolled, in addition to working on more construction on the school project. Now there are nearly 400 students enrolled at Toggo International Children’s Center, and it is providing the best academic training in the region. This summer, we will continue working on the next block of classrooms so that the current students can continue to advance in their education through Primary 4, 5, and 6. Pastor Steve’s vision includes implementing a Technical Education Program to assist those who may not have had the opportunity for a more formal education. Here is a link to view some slideshows on Pastor Steve’s website. http://www.icbaiministries.com/photogallery.html In addition to building the new classrooms, we will also be addressing other very serious needs. One of the most important has to do with “Jigger prevention.” I had never heard of jiggers before, but briefly, they are very small sand fleas that live in the dust on floors or on the surface of the ground outside. They like to burrow into the skin of the feet or hands and lay their eggs. They are very painful to remove, but removed or treated they must be. Otherwise, amputation becomes necessary. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent jiggers environmentally rather than waiting for them to infest the people and cause significant suffering. Prevention of this problem may seem simple to us. Wear shoes and wash your hands frequently. But since water is hard to come by and most of the children are too poor to afford shoes, the problem continues. It would be logistically difficult and more costly to try to bring shoes for everyone, but the good news is that an affordable means of treating the grounds around the school has been discovered that is quite effective. Salt can be crushed into very fine particles that are actually crystalline. Although harmless to humans, the sharp edges of the salt crystals cut the jiggers when they come in contact with the salt which then dehydrates the jiggers and kills them immediately. This reduces the problem significantly. I have included a link to a ‘you-‐tube’ video so you can see just how horrifically these parasites attack the villagers and how we will be helping the village address this challenge. This video was created by a husband and wife team at Bridgeway who are helping lead this year’s trip. Please give a look. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wW7OmiWKjCY Another way that we will be helping to meet the physical needs of the entire village of Toggo is by bringing the seeds of the Moringa tree. This tree is an amazingly hearty plant that is grown in tropical climates in many parts of India and Africa, but is not yet in the Toggo region. It provides a wonderful source of protein and vitamins to supplement the diet of the Toggo people. The people can either grow them for their own families, or perhaps start an orchard that would also create jobs and improve the local economy. Please check out the links below to learn more about how this tree can bless a village. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa, http://www.naturalnews.com/022272.html Finally, we will be introducing the children of Toggo to the sport of baseball. We will have a baseball camp during which we will teach them the fundamentals of the sport all the while seeking to build relationships with the children so that we might later have an opportunity to tell them about the love Christ has for them. People everywhere have both physical and spiritual needs. God has called Christians to minister to people and to strive to meet their physical needs and then seek to introduce them to Jesus. This must always be done by developing relationships. Relationships do not mature overnight. That is why Bridgeway is committed to ministering to the people of Toggo for the long term. We are establishing relationships that continue to grow over the years as we keep going back to work alongside the villagers and help them to accomplish the vision that God has put on their hearts. By helping to establish a foundational education in the lives of the youth of Uganda, control parasites, treat those afflicted by disease, help to provide the means of nutrition and grow a commodity that can improve their economy, we are addressing the real physical needs and demonstrating the love of Christ. This paves the way to share the message of the gospel that God loves them so much that He sent His Son to redeem them spiritually. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to take Cassidy on this mission. As we seek to humbly minister to the people of Toggo, God will change both Cassidy and I as much as He will change many of the villagers. I would like to ask that you add Cassidy and me to your prayer list from now until we return. We will face many challenges, and we will need as much prayer covering as possible. In addition, if you are able to help financially, we would greatly appreciate it. The trip costs approximately $6,000 for both of us. We are trusting that God will provide those resources on our behalf. If you wish to make a financial contribution, please click on the link below to go to the Bridgeway website where you can make an online donation. The link will take you to a page where you will fill in your information and then click on the drop down menu to select either my name or Cassidy’s. Either one is fine. Another drop down allows you to select an amount you wish to contribute. https://bridgewaychristianchurch.wufoo.com/forms/uganda-‐2011-‐online-‐giving/ If you prefer not to contribute online, you can feel free to send a check, made out to Bridgeway, to my address: 6443 Cormorant Circle, Rocklin, CA 95765. However you support us, whether by prayer or financially, or both, we greatly appreciate your partnership with us in this ministry. Truly your part is just as important as ours, and we are grateful for your participation. In His Grace, Mercy, & Peace, Bill & Cassidy Thomas P.S. Here are a couple maps so you can get a better sense of where Uganda is. P.S.S. If you would like to forward this message to others or post it on your Facebook page or elsewhere, please feel free to do so. The more who learn about the opportunities to bless Uganda, the better.