Joe and Lance in Uganda for youth concert and Christmas party at Orphanage


It all started in October while I read the internet for an article to post on my facebook “TODAY’S MARIAN POST” series. This particular morning I was reading this site that had words like, Rosary Rap and God Swagg. And I recalled how so many youth/teenagers in Uganda are fans of rap music, but much that they are offered in this line is music that comes with so many secular messages. And the word “SWAGG” is very common in the youthful language here in Uganda, but still in a secular sense. So here I was reading a site that associates rap music with the Rosary, and Swagg with God! Wow…..I felt the difference our youth needed to know.

I can now say Joe Melendrez, the Rosary Rapper, is a man who loves Jesus and His Mother Mary. He is such a great transforming catholic youth minister.

I invited Joe to come to Uganda, give a concert and be part of the Christmas party at Home Sweet Orphanage. He was later to tell me that he and Lance(his great friend) had booked their tickets and they will be coming to Uganda. The joy started then!

The two disciples started their mission trip on Wednesday,12th December, 2:50pm at Los Angeles airport and flew to Frankfurt in Germany. Here they were supposed to take another flight to Ethiopia. This flight was delayed for several hours due to a snow storm.  We were united in praying the Rosary, and they later made it to Ethiopia, in time to take their next flight to Uganda. Saturday,15th December, 1:05am, they landed at Entebbe airport in Uganda. Lance already had his visa, but Joe had to get his here. They later get to learn that out of their 4 bags, they would only get 1, which was full of items they were to donate to the Orphanage. They could not tell how soon they will get their bags and be able to at least change clothes! I can imagine it was terrible for them, but God was with them.

They were supposed to remain at the airport until 6am in the morning when I would be able to pick them. They narrated to me that very soon after they were cleared by customs, there was a downpour, and all over a sudden a blackout. The airport was now in darkness, and very unsafe for them. They were unable to access internet or get in touch with me. Thank God, they were able to hire an airport taxi which took them to a nearby Inn where they checked-in for a few hours until morning when I was able to miraculously locate them.

It was a joyous moment when I met them and we drove home,where they rested for a few hours and we headed back to the airport to try and look for their bags. I remember we sat down on the floor at the airport praying the Rosary as we waited for someone to tell us about the bags. We then were able to recover 2 of the bags and 1 was still morning. Lance would not change clothes for the next several hours, but at least Joe would change clothes and get all that he had packed for the UGANDA on FIRE for JESUS concert that was taking place the next day.

On our way back home, we stopped by Ssese Gateway Beach, where my visitors were able to have some food. They must have been hungry by now.

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We then headed to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, where Trinity Worship Team, a local youth choir, was presenting its annual Christmas Carols. Joe was supposed to perform at this event, but we arrived late and he could not. All the same, we had fun for the evening.

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We were back at home early in the night for dinner. Sarah had prepared a special African treat for them! Of course most of what we had at table, they were tasting for their very first time. I thank God that they were able to fast adjust with the food and conditions . They did not have any complications.

The next day, Sunday 16th December was the concert day, and we attend morning Mass at Our Lady of Africa- Mbuya parish, which is only a few kms from the concert venue. Mass was in English, and they were able to follow all throughout. It was Gaudete Sunday….and yes, we were to Rejoice.

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The UGANDA on FIRE for Jesus concert started at around 3pm and Onama Robert one of the youth who attended says it all. I read this on Joe’s facebook page this morning:

“Joe, thank for coming to Uganda. The performance was so inspirational to us. I realized and discovered another genre of praising. Actually, a lot of youths did not know that one could pray through hiphop.
Uganda being dominated by youthful sons and daughters of Mother Mary, if you come next time, it will be more successful. This is because you lit the candle and we have to keep it burning.”

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These young girls below made the day on stage with Joe

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Monday morning, we drove back to the airport to look for the other bag (Lance’s). We called there on phone and we were told that the bag was no where. Standing on faith, we drove there to do all it takes to find it.Lance talked to the security personnel who gave him a pass to the luggage lounge where started the search for his bag. Meanwhile, I and Joe were sitting outside reciting the Rosary. You can imagine how wonderful it was to see him come out with his bag only minutes later. Thank you Mother Mary. At last, he could also have to change clothes.

Later that day in the evening, we visited the Uganda Martyrs Shrine. Do you know anything about the Uganda Martyrs? Click HERE to read more about them. Below are some pictures from the shrine.

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Tuesday morning we were on the road heading to Home Sweet Orphanage for the Children’s Christmas party. We traveled the 4 of us, myself and Sarah, Joe and Lance. I know it could have been the longest journey they have taken on road. Our first stop over was at the Equator. Did you know that the Equator closes Uganda? Yes it does! Wonderful.

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We arrived at the Orphanage a few minutes to 11am,  and the children welcomed us warmly with the jumping, dancing and singing.

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I am very grateful that Joe and Lance had carried so many gifts for the children. Each child was able to get a new bag (backpack), 3 new tshits and Christmas card. Wow…a lasting joy for the children.

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And lastly, we had a very delicious lunch with the children before we could head back to Kampala.

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Joe and Lance left Uganda yesterday and we already miss them. We thank God for their lives, for their kindness and generosity. We cannot take for granted the fact that they sacrificed much to take on this mission trip. May God bless them abundantly.

I want to thank all of you friends of Uganda Youth Ministry Association, and Home Sweet Orphanage. We had big budgets for the two events, and I am so grateful to those of you who generously donated. Without your support, all this would not have been successful. I am always humbled by your love and continued support.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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I will be writing another post after Christmas, before the New Year, with a detailed report of what we have been able to do this year, and what we can pray and hope for in the next year.I am glad to know that some of you have already received the Christmas parcels we sent to you. So great! If you have not received yours yet, it is on its way.

God bless you.

 

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