Category Archives: Journal Entries

August 30, 2019 Kigumba, Uganda

Greetings to our friends throughout the world,

A picture is worth a thousand words. Each day we spend here in Kigumba is a mosaic of life. We see beauty in nature. Beauty in the people. Daily resiliency in the tasks of each day. The sun rises each day on people interacting, laboring, wondering. I would love to share physical pictures with you, but I am not comfortable intruding into their dignity and feel it is a show of disrespect.

This is my fifth time in Kigumba and because I am walking the roads daily on various errands, I have become a familiar face. One thing which never changes is the joy of the children when we acknowledge their waves and calling out of hi and bye. On a deeper level I think that this simple gesture by us is an affirmation of their existence and value.

Let me create a picture for you of the past few days. The team, Dr. Pei Li, Brother Lau, Evelyn and I have breakfast together around 7 AM in the hotel restaurant. There is bread, fruit, juices, potatoes, Samosa, chapati. Each of us also orders eggs. I take scrambled, the others usually omelets. Evelyn does not like eggs, so we always bring some cheese slices for the cook to keep in the kitchen to make her omelets palatable for her.

After breakfast there is a coordination of who goes where. We prefer the ladies to not walk alone. Pei Li facilitated a four-day Youth Camp. This involved around thirty young people from the area and some who came from Kampala. Brother Lau would walk with Pei Li each morning to the venue at the church. He also participated in worship with his guitar.

After time with Pei Li, Brother Lau has gone each morning to the school office. They recently rented this space near town. His task has been to assist the administration of the school in establishing accurate financial records and accountability, student records, and organization of the three hundred books now in their library. He has been assisted these last few days by a young lady, Morine, who while only 15 years old is very sharp and eager to learn. This has been the first time she has touched a computer. Today Brother Lau will be joined by the school registrar, Joel, and office administrator, Florence.

Evelyn completed a four-day course yesterday on Counseling Techniques. She had included these same skills in November within a two-week Theories and Techniques course but felt that the students had not mastered the skills. In speaking with several of the students yesterday I heard that they now get it and have internalized the knowledge. Both Brother Lau and I were recruited during the course to assist in role plays of the techniques. For those familiar with these techniques I assisted in the empty chair format. I spoke to an unavailable person in my life as if they were in the chair. Evelyn, as the counselor guided in me in areas of unresolved grief and forgiveness. I was brought to tears. But not embarrassed.

Today, Friday, August 30 Pei Li and Evelyn will both be at the same venue, the borrowed school classrooms we have referred to in our previous emails. This time there seems to be many more of the boarding students around during this school break than before. This has created multiple distractions of
noise and activity. Pei Li will be offering a credit class to the bachelor students on Group Counseling. Evelyn will be leading a class for the diploma students on subjects of Ethics, Relationships, and more. These two classes will be 9 to 5 today, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Evelyn and Pei Li will have one day break on Sunday from teaching but will still be in sessions with the school administration.

Brother Lau has been asked to lead worship and preach for two services on Sunday. It will be a long morning for him from 8:00 AM to around 2:00 PM. We are grateful for his willingness to step into this role or it would have been Evelyn feeling pressure to participate. She is exhausted.
Each evening we all meet for dinner at 7:00 PM in the hotel dining room followed by a game. I introduced them to the mindless game of Toss-Up. So true personalities emerge. Risk taking, gloating, daring, challenging, and for me failure attitude. I am the only one who has never won.

We all head back to our rooms by 8:30 PM to be sure of a hot shower before the power might possibly go off. God has blessed us in this simple thing. Mostly power has been consistent. And water always. Our time one year ago when we had 20 team members was powerless and running waterless for several days. That really brought out personalities.

I can give you a quick picture of my days since my task is to fill in the gaps. I have been to printer and now count Grace as a friend. Yesterday, I spent over an hour. The shop was very busy, so I worked behind the counter to collate and staple while Grace ran the copier. People gave a second look as they entered. I even helped one customer find something. My visa says very clearly, CANNOT WORK, so no pay. When I went back for another print job the power was off. They have light with solar but an extra charge to use generator for the copier. Last day of class so I paid the extra.

I confess a habit of needing a Mt. Dew in the morning so a few times I have gone to the one modern place in the town, an eight-month-old gas and convenience store on the main corner. The staff know me, and I sit and drink my soda while observing the range of people and activity. Most of the gasoline sales are to motorbikes. However, when the cars and trucks come it is like 1960’s in the USA. One attendant pumps the gas, another checks under the hood, and a third washes the windshield. Driver never has to get out of their vehicle.

There is a plan for me to go to Kampala one day to find and purchase some folding chairs and tables for the school. We pray that I will have success. A friend of the school with access to a van will be assisting me.
My normal way is to have this approved by Evelyn before sending out. I stayed back this morning and am going to go ahead and send. Hopefully this will give you a picture of our days. Thank you so much to those following Instagram. Your comments and encouragement are greatly appreciated.

Steve, for the Global Mosiac International team.
https://www.instagram.com/globalmosaicintl/
https://www.facebook.com/GlobalMosaicInternational/

Greetings from Global Mosaic International Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 22, 2019

Greetings from Global Mosaic International Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Four of us will be departing in twenty-four hours from Kuala Lumpur, heading back to Kigumba, Uganda. We will be flying on Ethiopian Airlines. First stop is Singapore. We stay on the plane. Then to Addis Ababa, a twelve-hour flight. We have just under three-hour layover and then another three-hour flight to Entebbe, Uganda.

Our arrival in Uganda is just before noon on Saturday, August 24. The average age of our group is 64. Three of us are old and one is many years younger. I add this info because Evelyn and I have found from our time in May that a good decision is to take a night of rest in Entebbe before the road journey to Kigumba. This is the challenge. 250KM/150 Miles can become a seven-hour journey depending on the traffic through Kampala, the capital and busiest area in all of Uganda.

Our goal is to be in Kigumba by early Sunday afternoon, August 25.

Now that we have answered the travel questions always asked, time to share our agenda. However, as I have mentioned before, whenever we head out on mission, there is Plan A on paper and in purpose, but flexibility and adaptability are the cornerstones of this work. Always be ready to go to Plan B, C, D, or whatever.

Plan A

Team member Dr. Pei Li will facilitate a youth camp in the community for the first four days. She will then become professor and offer a credit class for the Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School (KCMCS) at the BA level on Groups Counseling. (She is the younger person referred to above.) This is Dr. Pei Li’s second volunteer time with GMI in Uganda.

Team member and GMI director, Dr. Evelyn Biles, as always, will be wearing many hats. She will continue to mentor the administration and staff of KCMCS as they prepare for visits by the accreditation committee from the Department of Education. Another task is helping to conceptualize and develop a realistic and sustainable plan for the curriculum, teaching accountability, and student expectations for the school. She really thrives in this role as she can use her talents and deep experience in guiding and encouraging those in Kigumba. This is an ongoing process, with multiple interactions throughout the year through e-contact. Evelyn will also facilitate 2 courses for the Diploma level students on Counseling Techniques, and Liability and Ethics.

Team member Brother Lau is joining GMI for the first time. But this is far from his first time of global immersion, having served communities here in Malaysia and multiple countries in Asia. This will be his first time to Africa. Brother Lau brings multiple strengths and a wide range of expertise. He was specifically recruited for his administrative and financial skills. His Plan A is to mentor and assist the administration of KCMCS toward the goal of proper and ethical accounting of moneys, property, inventory. This will include establishing proper accounting and documentation of income, expenses, and financial sustainability. An additional need and probable task will be to begin and possibly complete an inventory, categorizing, and labeling of the many books now in the KCMCS library, which have been donated and brought there by our volunteers over the past year.

Team member Steve will be filling in the gaps. His plan is to supplement Plan A. He has no official assignment but to be the main undergirding supporter. Presence and response to needs that arise is the underlying goal.

We will depart from Kigumba on Thursday, September 5 and arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, September 6. We covet your prayers for safe travel, preparation of the students, strength, and stamina for the GMI team along with sensitivity to all whom we encounter and interact. Prayer that we will be humble and always come from a heart of service and love.

Thank you from the August Kigumba Four

Update from Global Mosaic International re: Uganda

Thank you for the opportunity to share the story of how Global Mosaic International has begun what many naysayers see as a pipe dream – to establish a degree-granting counseling college in Kigumba, Uganda. Just

remember that we are talking about a God-given vision of Evelyn Biles, who has never been easily discouraged.

Since 2002, Global Mosaic International has brought training to leaders and people groups throughout the South East Asian and African world. These venues have been from remote areas of India and Cambodia to the most

modern worlds of Hong Kong and Singapore. Global Mosaic has been based primarily in Kuala Lumpur,

Malaysia as the take-off point to over thirty different countries throughout Asia and Africa. Each place of training and leading has presented unique challenges. Culture, language, transportation, materials,

food, facilities, and expectations have been just some of the factors always needing to be addressed. Recruitment of volunteers to assist in teaching and training has also been an ongoing enterprise. All who join Global Mosaic

on a project self-fund their personal expenses for travel, food, and housing. Global Mosaic has raised funds for on-site needs of training and materials. There have been over 500 individuals who have volunteered through the

years to be feet on the ground. Many more have been supporters financially and with prayer.

Currently the manual which Evelyn wrote on People Helping skills is being translated in multiple languages. A few of these are places to where Global Mosaic has not been physically but has developed contacts. Another

future vision is to send volunteers to each of these places at some point to train local teachers to be able to teach the content and skills to their communities.

But now back to Uganda. We say there can be naysayers because Uganda, despite much support from the world community, remains on the list of the 25 poorest countries in the world. 17 of these countries are in Sub-Sahara

Africa along with Uganda. We, as so many before us, must examine carefully how we use and provide our resources and how we help those we are assisting best to use and sustain these helps.

This undertaking began in 2005 in Lira, Uganda. Evelyn and a team from Global Mosaic International, conducted a training program with topics such as counseling and listening skills, and crisis and trauma recovery.

This was only a few years after many of the deadly wars within Uganda and the displacement into refugee camps of thousands who lost homes, families…everything. There were multiple relief organizations in the area

providing housing, food, and medical assistance. On ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ these are the first items needing to be addressed. But a little group of volunteers added another level. How do we help these people help

themselves emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically?

One of the students was a young man named Jimmy Obang. His heart was awakened to the great need to address this level of need. At the time he was a schoolteacher. As many of those in this area, he had migrated farther

south to safer areas, such as Kigumba (“Chigoomba”), which had escaped the war. On his certificate from the training was the signature, Dr. Evelyn Biles. He went to Facebook, (yes, Facebook is everywhere), to locate

Evelyn Biles to send a message of need for more training. This was pre-Facebook time for Evelyn. It was to be two years before she saw his message. Much to his delight, after patiently waiting, a line of communication was opened. He had already begun to make

use of the few materials from the training in Lira to start teaching others. Over the next several years Evelyn corresponded with him, sent training materials electronically, prayed for his work, and promised to one day

come to Kigumba. Six years ago, Jimmy left his teaching position to become a full-time pastor. He also began studies toward a degree from a Bible school in Kampala. God’s timing was slow for Pastor Obang but 2018

became the year ordained for Global Mosaic International to bring resources of people and instruction to Kigumba.

The decision was made late in 2017 to trust God for the planning, developing, and realization of a training project in August 2018. Back then, this seemed as adequate time for all to be made ready. It is not like we were

going to the moon. You could think that, but it was more like going to Mars.

You can picture all the logistics and needs. From our side: who would be able to go, how would they get there, where would they stay, visas, immunizations, funding, materials, what topics on which to focus, clothing,

packing, funding, expectations, orientation, malarial area, yellow fever area, passports, jobs, school, communication, and so on.

In April 2018, one volunteer travelled to Kigumba as a scout on a fact-finding mission only to find there were not many facts to be discovered. A small group of people knew that they wanted to serve their communities

better and understood that they needed training in doing so. They really had nothing else to offer except their enthusiasm.

The long-term goal was to establish an accredited school offering a bachelor level degree, diploma, and certificate. A name was given to the school – “Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School.” The school was

registered with the local government. A small office was rented – Tiny small!

August 2018, eleven volunteers from USA and twelve volunteers from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore travelled to Kigumba to teach three different classes over two weeks. “Healthy Relationships,” “Recovery from

Trauma,” and “Learning Basic People Helping Skills” were the covered topics. This first endeavour was more in the format of seminars. There were 197 students, many traveling from afar. Our volunteers also conducted a

daily Children’s program for around 150, and a parenting workshop. Even though this seminar was under the umbrella of KCMCS, we could not grant any college credit. Participants were given certificates of attendance.

November 2018 was to be the first credit-granting courses. 

The expectations for granting credit are much higher for the students. Attendance, accountability, testing of knowledge, and participation must be documented. We now saw the numbers decrease to around thirty students with fewer than ten qualifying to achieve a bachelor level. The others qualified for the certificate or diploma levels.

May 2109 five volunteers travelled to Kigumba and offered three different courses over three weeks. The number of students did not vary from earlier, although we did see some new faces. Word was getting around.

We concluded that 3 weeks was too intensive and challenging on both students and volunteers.

As of now, GMI is committed to offering credit classes three times per year. The schedule is based on when a local primary school is on break so we can use needed classrooms at no cost. The school’s owner generously

provides us this space. The timing, however, is difficult on the volunteers’ schedules and the higher airline fares. KCMCS technically charges student fees. This is a requirement for any future process of accreditation. Back to

one of the first paragraphs of this report. The people have no money – literally. This is one of those concerns we must address as we work toward the future. Paying the equivalent of US$22-$43 per course is a hardship (and impossibility for some). GMI donors generously sponsor up to half of the fees for most of the students.

In summary: We are actively developing a degree-granting counseling school for the local community of Kiryadongo, Uganda in the town of Kigumba. Their goal is to achieve accreditation. We understand it is the only one of its kind in all of Uganda and the Department of Education keenly gives their endorsement. Our goal is to step back eventually and have the teaching led by locals who are the first to receive their bachelor’s degrees. It appears to be at least a five-year commitment. We understand that some of the obstacles will never go away. We know that we are serving a very small number of people and that it will require a large amount of resources from our side. We know that we must always be aware of the need to help them become self-sustaining. We know we are fighting a tough battle that multiple groups and individuals through the years have not won. We plan to have a different outcome. We will continue to be good stewards and always to pray that we make wise decisions.

  • To organize student records – urgent
  • To create/organize financial books/records – urgent – ANSWERED!!
  • To organize and catalogue the library books – urgent
  • To help locate and negotiate procurement of larger venue for the office/library/classroom(s) – urgent
  • Teachers for topics of Counseling, Theology, and English Composition
  • Source identification and procurement of Bibles, children, & youth material from Uganda – needed
  • Funding for physical infrastructure of school
  • Office/Library: [present room monthly rental with electricity ~ US$60]
  • Larger location needed to accommodate classes
  • 3 tables and 18 chairs – needed
  • Secretary desk with chair – urgent
  • 3-drawer metal locking filing cabinet for student files – urgent
  • Projection screen – needed
  • 1 desktop and 2 laptops with locks – needed
  • Hard-wired Internet access (a monthly continuing cost) – urgent
  • Shelving for library books

Thank you for your interest in our work. Thank you for dreaming good dreams with us.

The Global Mosaic International Board

Final Uganda Update May 24, 2019

May 24, 2019

Kigumba, Uganda

Greetings to our friends, supporters, and encouragers;

This time in Uganda is ending. Tomorrow at 8:00 AM we will be heading to the airport at Entebbe. Evelyn, Robert, and Becky will fly through Dubai on their way to Kuala Lumpur. Irene will be

spending two more nights in Kampala before returning to Malaysia, to see some of the sites and life, both human and animal. Steve will head to Brussels and then to Washington, D.C. He will then drive to our home in Yorktown. In July he will rejoin Evelyn in Kuala Lumpur.

We never could have imagined a few years ago how our lives would be so intertwined with the lives of the people here in Kigumba. Our life paths have almost nothing in common. We have shared daily life these three weeks but for us it is a temporary experience. The inconveniences are only for a

moment. In a few hours we will return to our comfortable environments. Will we have greater appreciation for our circumstances? Of course, we will. Will we experience twinges of guilt? Of course, we will. Will we have turmoil within our thinking? Of course, we will. Will we want to shake up people

back home to have more gratitude for their advantages? 

Of course, we will.

I apologize for sharing our angst. The flip side is that we also see so much that is positive within the lives of the students. What we do share is a common goal. All our eyes are on the prize. We are coming together to build up a group of committed counselors – people helpers. Circumstances and

history may not change. How we each respond to these life challenges is the key. How we help others to respond is the cherry on top. Perhaps not the best analogy but a sweet picture.

This is a distance run. Slower but steady. We want all the students to reach the finish line. We have come to the agreement that two-week sessions are probably the outer limits for both students and

instructors. Because we are still relying on volunteer teachers from outside Uganda we need to keep to this concentrated format. A better option in the future will be less compacted and offered over a longer

term. Evelyn and I will be returning at the end of August along with at least one friend from Malaysia.

We look forward (yes, really) to once again sharing life here. We are encouraged by your responses to these updates and are comforted by your prayers.

Thank you so much. In a few days I hope to upload some pictures of our time here.

With appreciation, Steve, Evelyn, Irene, Becky, and Robert


Update from Global Mosaic in Kigumba, Uganda MAY 20

Greetings again to our friends, supporters, and encouragers;

The fifth member of our team, Dr. Irene Tan, arrived on Saturday from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The third week of our teaching session commenced this morning. Dr. Robert Wong and his wife, Becky, are repeating the Spiritual Formation class of last week. In the first offering the men and women were placed in separate classes. Our goal was to promote more equal involvement and participation which is sometimes hampered with the males dominating the platform.

Last week Becky had an intimate setting of four ladies which greatly enhanced the times of discussion and learning. Robert was next door with 20-25 fellows. Sometimes it was necessary to remind them when they became too loud, infringing on the ladies’ atmosphere. There are walls between but definitely not sound insulated.

Today was the start of a repeat of the Spiritual Formation class. It is never surprising how the number of students is never predicted correctly. We were expecting perhaps 30-35 students but this morning only one lady and three fellows. Robert and Becky are complementing each other in a combined class. They will probably accept new students to join on the second day but not past then, as too much content will have been missed. The students always express great gratitude but they were especially thankful in journeying with Robert and Becky on discovering and personalizing a pathway toward spiritual maturity. It is now their task to continue in lifelong habits and practices.

Dr. Irene is an experienced and highly degreed expert in the field of educational theory and development. Her assigned task for this time in Kigumba is to begin a process of helping the students learn how to learn. As I noted in earlier updates, there are many gaps in the education of the students. Interruptions from the wars, lack of resources, lowered expectations, limited access, and simply the hardships and challenges of daily life have all contributed to this fact.

I, with a lack of vision, saw a complex and perhaps insurmountable challenge. Dr. Irene has seen only the fertile ground of people excited about doing whatever it takes to become the vessels of God’s workmanship to serve their community. Discouragement and surrender are never options. I sat outside of Dr. Irene’s class for a few minutes this morning. She has captured the 23 students. She is also setting the bar high and letting them know that she expects excellence, which is not perfection. This is her first time to Africa but already declares it will not be her last.

Those who have followed us on Instagram or Facebook saw the picture from Saturday morning of the short session we held on computer skills. I was assigned to the group of those who had never touched a computer. I know it is the reality of the world but in this setting, it was such a teary and excited feeling. These are people who, simply because they were born in this part of the world, have been left behind.

Last week Evelyn and I traveled far off the beaten path to visit a village home of one of the students. We were greeted with flowers, singing, speeches, food, laughter, and love. One of the leaders made a presentation. He used the words we often hear, “Why we were born in Africa and into this life is between us and God but what we make of it is up to us.” Not “woe is me.”

This is an aside. He continued by telling us of the list of needs and challenges they face. The closest safe water supply is seven kilometers away. Most of the children drop out of school and have no skills. There is no health care. HIV is present in some. With drought, there is no food. There are orphans in their village and children who have been abandoned by parents who have no ability to care for them.

He hoped that we could bring water to the area. He hoped that we could brings schools to the area. He hoped that we could bring vocational training to the area. He hoped that we could bring healthcare to the area. It was just Evelyn and me being addressed.

My response was that I understood the overwhelming challenges facing them as a community. Our work was to bring content for learning in the field of counseling. GMI does not construct buildings or offer health care or vocational skills. I did promise them that I would pass along their story to our contacts in our home countries.

I am not sharing this story to attempt to pull at your heart strings. I know that I am looking forward to returning home in a few days to a life with very little inconvenience and unlimited resources. Our prayers are that through our focus on training counselors and people helpers many will benefit on emotional, spiritual, and psychological levels. This will strengthen relationships and community in order to work together toward shared goals.

Thank you for spending time with us by reading this update. We are so grateful for your support.

Evelyn and Steve along with Robert, Becky, and Irene

Update from Global Mosaic in Kigumba, Uganda MAY 13

Kigumba, Uganda

Greetings to our dear friends, partners, and encouragers;

My primary objective is to share news of our current activity here in Kigumba, Uganda. However, the pre-story of events prior to our arrival was also quite dramatic. Filling you in with those details is worth its own epistle.

Our last time in Kigumba was in November 2018. At that time, Evelyn taught two one-week courses on foundations of counseling and the theories and techniques of counseling. This was the first official credit-granting offering by the Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School. My role was classroom assistant, a step up from my role in August 2018 when I served as GO-FER for the one hundred forty Ugandan students and the fifteen volunteer instructors who had joined us from the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Planning started even before completion of the time in August for GMI to return to Kigumba for this time in May. Our goal is to provide courses at least three times each year for the students of KCMCS. Currently, we are still depending on volunteer instructors and teachers from outside of Uganda. The future goal, as always when we have done this in other locations, is to train and stand along beside locals from each country. We want to be able to step back and take ourselves out of the picture as they take on more independent roles.

Our counselor training is based upon a Christian worldview and understanding of concepts. We identified three essential needs for the development of the students toward the goal of becoming effective and competent counselors or people helpers. They first need to have a clear and strong grasp of their Christian faith and an understanding of other worldviews within their community. The second essential factor was to help them on a path toward Spiritual maturity based on in-depth growth in their personal walk of faith and understanding. A third need is to be able to raise the bar for their learning process to a degree granting, college level expectation.

May 6-10, I was honored to teach a course titled “Worldview and Christian Apologetics.” Through lecture, discussion, and group learning we added to our knowledge base the definition of worldview, the differences between them, and how they have an impact in the counseling process. We also emphasized two major foundations of Christian apologetics, the existence of God and the authority of the scriptures. Our week completed with student presentations of various topics within systematic theology.

To begin this second week of class Dr. Robert and Becky Wong from Kuala Lumpur have joined us. Today they have started to lead the “Spiritual Formation” course with background assistance from Evelyn. Next week, once Dr. Irene Tan arrives, she will teach the Fundamentals of Learning course while the Wongs repeat the Spiritual Formation course, opening it up also to Audit students. This Saturday, the four of us will start giving tutorials on how to use a computer and hopefully get them to where they can draft a paper in MS Word.

The 30 (give or take) students are very delighted to be receiving these courses and have become quite engaged after the initial shyness. They have had a severe drought throughout the land since we last saw them; crops failed, jobs dried up, food prices shot up, and morale was low. Most could not pay the meager tuition charged, so your “substantial sponsorship” is greatly appreciated. They keep repeating how grateful they are to their friends who enable them to study.

Please pray for the students to set their minds on becoming adult learners. Pray that what they learn will translate into life changes. Their burdens are heavy and they press us for answers to specific cases, which we cannot give.

Please pray for each of us teachers – for energy to last the day, for refreshing sleep each night, for wisdom to present in a culturally sensitive manner. Other obstacles abound, but the joys we find in being with the Ugandan family outweighs the challenges. Internet is too weak to send pictures so will do so when Steve returns to the USA

With our gratitude,

Steve & Evelyn Biles

Kigumba Journal August

Greetings and gratitude to all of you who supported the most recent project of Global Mosaic International in Kigumba, Uganda, August 4-18. You lifted us up in prayer, donated monies and supplies, reached out to us with encouragement, and truly stood along beside us each day.

We also greet with thankfulness the twenty-one people who took great steps of faith to be boots in the dirt of Kigumba (“Chigumba”). You sacrificed in so many ways to share your life with the people of Uganda, who so sweetly welcomed us with open arms, hearts, and minds.

It is not a recommended tactic in writing, but I do feel a need to offer a few disclaimers before proceeding with this story. First, to do justice to the experience it is going to be long. Second, is a difficult decision. In our last debrief before leaving Uganda it was emphasized to the team that we all acknowledge the negative but emphasize the positive takes as we share with family, friends, and supporters. Some negatives were not out of the realm of expectations, such as no running water for the last several days. However, without any expectation of any of us, a child of one of our participant couples was killed by a hit-and-run vehicle while crossing the road. I will include more of the details of this traumatic event within the story. The third and final disclaimer is that there is no way to fully immerse you to allow a complete understanding of all which engulfed us during our time in Uganda. Please enjoy the pictures and videos. Please make contact and allow the team members you know to share their own perspectives and learning. As with any and almost every “mission” it is the ones who go to “serve” who end up reaping the most benefits. Never be fooled by thinking where people live defines them. There are deep wells of faith and understanding within the people of Uganda which defines them and encourages us.

Now for the story. If you want to just skip to the end, we all lived happily ever after. But for those of you who want all the details……………….?

This undertaking began in 2005 in Lira, Uganda. Evelyn, and a team from Global Mosaic International, conducted a training program with topics such as counselling and listening skills, and crisis and trauma recovery. This was only a few years after much of the deadly wars within Uganda and the displacement into refugee camps of thousands who lost homes, families…everything. There were multiple relief organizations in the area providing housing, food, and medical. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs these are the first items needing to be addressed. But a little group of volunteers added another level. How do we help these people emotionally, spiritually, psychologically?

One of the students was a young man named Jimmy Obang His heart was awakened to the great need to address this level of need. At the time he was a schoolteacher. As many of those in this area, he had migrated farther south to safer areas, such as Kigumba, which had escaped the war. On his certificate from the training was the signature, Dr. Evelyn Biles. He went to Facebook, (yes, Facebook is everywhere), to locate Evelyn Biles to send a message of need for more training. This was pre-Facebook time for Evelyn. It was to be two years before she saw his message.

Much to his delight, after patiently waiting, a line of communication was opened. He had already begun to make use of the few materials from the training in Lira to start teaching others. Over the next several years Evelyn corresponded with him, sent training materials electronically, prayed for his work, and promised to one day come to Kigumba. Six years ago, Jimmy left his teaching position to become a full-time pastor. He also began studies toward a degree from a seminary in Kampala. God’s timing was slow for Pastor Obang but this year, 2018, became the year ordained for Global Mosaic International to bring resources of people and instruction to Kigumba.

The decision was made late in 2017 to trust God for the planning, developing, and realization of a training project in August 2018. At the time this seemed as plenty of adequate time for all to be made ready. It is not like we were going to the moon. You could think that, but it was more like going to Mars.

You can picture all the logistics and needs. From our side: who will be able to go, how will they get there, where will they stay, visas, immunizations, funding, materials, what topics to focus on, clothing, packing, funding, expectations, orientation, malaria area, yellow fever area, passports, jobs, school, communication, and on and on.

Evelyn and I had returned to the USA on December 27 (my birthday if you want to add to your calendar) thinking we would be there our usual three months. I know this is about the Uganda project but a side story taking place was that because of multiple medical and surgical needs to be addressed we did not head back to Malaysia until the first week of July. Instead of planned the three-month travel recovery we had only three weeks before heading to Uganda. We are getting older so that does make a difference. But back to the story.

For those curious about how some of the logistics and needs from the team side were conquered. The initial topics decided upon were “Healthy Relationships,” “Recovery from Trauma,” and “People Helping Skills”. Other topics also were added as seen below.
Who made up the team?

Six graduate counselling students from Trevecca University along with two of their professors were assigned to the first two topics.

Evelyn and a friend of a friend from Minnesota, USA co-taught the third topic, assisted by two former students of Evelyn’s from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

A spiritual trauma recovery training was offered by another of Evelyn’s former students, who joined us from her home in the Philippines.

A long-time friend and former student from Singapore recruited two of her colleagues to present sessions of using play and parenting role to support their children after trauma.

More people stepped forward from Malaysia. Many of the participants had children and we wanted to free them from childcare so they could attend the training. Now this was the original plan. Maybe 40-50 kids each day. Word was sent out and we had six volunteers with many years of experience in children’s ministry join the team. I described the children as free-range kids all around the area. No helicopter parenting. As a result, the numbers were up to an overwhelming 150 kids some days. Now four of these Children Ministry volunteers are up in years, so they truly gave it their all. If you know and see them be sure to give them a gigantic hug.

Volunteers raised or self-funded the monies for their personal travel and on-site expenses. Airline tickets were reserved and purchased. We all came through various connections on the final routes to Entebbe, Uganda. Doha, Qatar; Nairobi, Kenya; Dubai, UAE; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
Kigumba was a four to six-hour drive from the airport in Entebbe, depending on the traffic in Kampala. Evelyn and I arrived first on Friday, August 3 and I became the official greeter at the airport four times as the team arrived on different schedules beginning on August 4. One time I even had to tell the designated driver how to get to the airport entrance and how to punch in the parking ticket.

Visas were required by all those not from Malaysia. Documentation of Yellow Fever immunization was required by all upon entering. Most of us took Malaria preventative medicine. All beds had mosquito netting.

Most of the materials such as training manuals were printed in Malaysia and the weight was shared among those from here to carry in. The children’s ministry team also brought supplies and needs from Malaysia. You can see many of them in the pictures. Even the donut visuals. “Life without Jesus leaves a hole in me.”

Communication. Some had international phones. I got a SIM card when I arrived, but it did not work out in timing for anyone else to get sim cards. People connected to the WI-FI at the hotel when available. Another side story: The one teen on the team went on a gaming binge upon returning to Malaysia.

There were inconveniences, no electricity at times, no running water for last five days (it was the whole town) so the hotel provided five-gallon jerry cans for bathing. Noise at night was a factor interrupting sleep. These were all the possible occurrences that go with remote locations. A money saver was that there was absolutely nothing to buy in the town that could be called a souvenir. I, personally, was able to find Mountain Dew. Those who know me will understand this standard of civilization for me.

The logistics from the Uganda side.
Pastor Jimmy went far and wide to promote the training. He sent us names of those who registered for the course offerings. Many of these were committing to travel long distances, farther than they could commute each day. A hostel was reserved, and mattresses rented for these participants. Global Mosaic also pledged to provide three meals a day for the out of town participants. Lunch was also provided each day for the local residents and their children.

There was a team of volunteers who had been involved in all phases of the planning, procuring resources, renting a venue, tents, and chairs. Many women from Pastor Jimmy’s church daily cooked hundreds of meals. These were all prepared over wood fires. A huge stack of wood fuel gradually diminished and disappeared by the end of the project.

A little back up here. When we headed to Uganda on August 3 we had a registration list of 293 names. We were prepared with enough materials and despite some angst were ready for the challenge. Adaptability is a buzzword for remote missions. Around 140 different people sat in the classes which were offered twice each over the two weeks. Some were there every day and thoroughly engaged in all the sessions. There had been good rains so many needed to use some of the scheduled time to tend to their farming. Some had job and family responsibilities. The mantra of the team was that God had placed them in Uganda and God had brought to the table of learning those people whom He wanted to be in that place at that time.

The Global Mosaic team was asked to share individually during the final afternoon of certificate presentations what they saw as their most compelling take-away. I think 99% of their words were something like this: “I was so overwhelmed by the depth of your spiritual life. How dependent you are on your faith in a wonderful God. You live in a community of sharing and support. Your eagerness to learn and joy in asking questions, discussing life, probing us for more. I learned so much more from you than I could ever begin to teach you. I am humbled by knowing each of you.”

This was also the take-away from those working with the children. They saw the children as eager sponges, soaking up all that was given to them.

My heart is conflicted now as I need to share of the story of the child who was killed. There is no way to remember this event comfortably. Please listen with intention to feel the pain and understand the burden of such an event upon her parents. It also was such a defining moment for the whole community which now included us, as well.
On Friday, August 10, the children had gone from the school to the church where they were given lunch each day. This involved crossing a busy highway with no official pedestrian crossways or deterrents such as speed bumps to slow down vehicles. The children were instructed to stay at the church until the end of the day when they would be released or picked up by parents who were participating in the training. At some point a group of the children decided to go back across the highway to the school. Rosalyn, six years old, tagged along. When all the group saw an opening and ran across the highway, Rosalyn had not been paying attention probably and when she realized she was left back, then she also ran to cross the highway. Everyone in the school sessions heard the impact and screams of the children. Immediately, many went to the highway to stop traffic and attend to Rosalyn. Her father, Samuel gathered her up and sped with her on his motorbike to the hospital which was about six miles away. Betty, her mother was in Evelyn’s class and she was told of what happened. She obviously collapsed and was comforted by friends. The first communication from the hospital was that Rosalyn was still alive but within a few minutes it was communicated that she had died. It does not matter to Samuel and Betty but unfortunately, we were told that many times 2-3 people have been killed in accidents in the same area each week.

Samuel and Betty have two other children. One older and one younger than Rosalyn. They are a beautiful, gracious, lovely couple. Samuel teaches science and math at an upper level school. He also serves as the youth pastor of his church. Betty was characterized as one of the most engaged and thoughtful of the participants. Why? Why now? Why Rosalyn? Why Samuel and Betty? Why such a terrible event?

I cry every time I relate the next part of this story. Normally a funeral would not have been until the Monday at the earliest. I was told that Samuel and Betty wanted the funeral to be the next day on Saturday so that the training would not be interrupted on Monday. I was not surprised by such a selfless thought. What a testimony of true goodness.
It is fitting to end the story of the Uganda project with this story of Rosalyn. This is the life of faith. No one knows the path ahead of us. We do know, however, that we are not alone. God in His providence goes before us.

Thank you for patiently reading and engaging with our story. Many of you have supported the ministry of Global Mosaic for many years. Many have just come along beside us on this most recent project. We will be posting pictures and videos as they are gathered from the team to our website, Facebook, and Instagram.
Steve for all the team

Uganda 2018

Good morning/Good evening,

Evelyn and I are heading to the Kuala Lumpur airport in a couple of hours. We are on our way to Kigumba, Uganda. The last several months have been hectic, demanding, anxious, fruitful, exciting, scary, frustrating, full, draining, etc., etc., etc., but beyond all, very blessed.

All these emotions have run rampant at various times. We are people of faith and trust, but this has all been crazier from my perspective than it has been for Evelyn. I guess she’s more used to it. The time has now arrived for all to come together. There are close to 300 adults and 200++ children awaiting our arrival in Kigumba. Well, not only the arrival of Evelyn and myself. Tomorrow, nine volunteers will begin their journey from the USA with eight joining us from Malaysia and the Philippines, and Wednesday three more join us from Singapore.

On Sunday evening the Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School will be formally dedicated and celebrated African style. On Monday training will start and continue for two weeks. The whole story of this journey of faith is quite amazing. We invite you to join in on the excitement, thus, are sharing three links below to allow you to view the pictures and videos. Please pass them on to your circles.

The planning for this project began many years ago and more earnestly several months ago. Evelyn has, as always, spearheaded the daily planning and development of multiple Global Mosaic undertakings in the past. A frustration of hers has been not having the skill nor time to keep people informed who have given support and shown interest in what exactly has transpired on the field. This time a solution has been found in the capable skills of one of our volunteer members who is one third our age, which gives him a distinct skill advantage. Cole Binion has been assigned the role of social media coordinator. Therefore, we are sharing three ways you can follow us through Google Drive, Facebook, and Instagram. He will be posting stories, pictures, and updates during our time in Uganda. If you are clueless how to access any of these, find your own twenty-year-old.

I do not want to close this before mentioning one other person. Pastor Jimmy Obang in Kigumba, has been the rock of passion and caring for his community. We will share the specifics of his story and how all the connections were developed via our links of social media.

Google Drive – https://drive.google.com/open?id=176KorUq520jGgGJRw8TB7wXENKMfQLw6

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GlobalMosaicInternational/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/globalmosaicintl/

Thank you, Steve Biles

Kigumba Sunset

Kigumba Sunset

Pastor Jimmy Obang and Family April, 2018

Pastor Jimmy Obang and Family April, 2018

APTS Report 2015

I realize it is a very well-worn cliché but I truly had a mountain top experience last week. I was honored to be invited back for my fourth time to the Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio, Philippines. The seminary sponsors and brings a group of church leaders from mainland China to participate in a two-month long session of training and education. I had the pleasure of being with them for one week. A hearty thanks to the two individuals who sponsored our trip, the two lovely women who spent hours on translating the handouts, and the many individuals who collected and donated toiletry items.

Steve was able to join me this year, as well as Shan Na Ng, a sister-friend from here in Kuala Lumpur. It was her first trip to the Philippines although she went with us on last year’s trip to Cambodia. We flew fromKuala Lumpur on Sunday, July 26 to Clark International Airport. We drove from there to Baguio which is at a mile high elevation. In previous years the scenic drive took over seven hours but now with the completion of a new less-than-scenic highway it is less than four hours. The seminary clings to the side of a mountain with beautiful vistas. Although still tropical, the temperatures are much cooler than here in Kuala Lumpur, so it was a delightful time to enjoy mountain air. If it were not for the different foliage I could have imagined being in the Smokey Mountains.

Shan Na’s role in this journey was to translate my presentations into Mandarin. She also took over one session on her own,teaching in English and having someone else then do the interpretation. Steve truly enjoyed running up and down the hills and was there to push me up them when needed.

The group, mostly from China this year, consisted of twenty-seven individuals. As you can see in the group photo, there were only four men. This has been an interesting shift from the first years when it was men in the majority. I never know for sure until after the first interactions exactly what will be the most appropriate and useful areas of knowledge to share. I always want to challenge the students but also am sensitive to the depth of understanding among them.
We took them through personality and conflict handling models, assessments, and application examples, looked at introductory issues of conflict resolution, and helped them start their own self exploration of their profiles as leaders. It remains true in my experience, wherever I go, that despite cultural and ethnic differences all of us share more similarities than differences in values and aspirations.

Aug 8: Today, I am packing again. On Tuesday I will be flying to Bangalore, India. I am looking forward to reconnecting with friends and planning for future collaboration. I will return to Malaysia on Saturday, Aug 15. I hope to then have several days to catch up with projects here before heading on September 6 to Hong Kong for five weeks. I will spend my time there with the amazing staff and friends at Watermark Church. This relationship has been a continuing one dealing with a variety of areas. My concentration this time will be to focus on specific needs of their fast-growing children’s ministry.

Thank you for being a part of my work here in Asia through your thoughts, prayers, gifts, and caring. I hold each of you close to my heart. There is no greater comfort than that of true friends.
-Evelyn Biles
*Download the full report here: APTS report_2015