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TV SHOW OFFICIAL AIR DATE ANNOUNCEMENT

“Home Sweet Bus”
We are so excited to finally be able to tell you the air date for the pilot episode of our new TV show on TLC! The name of the show is “Home Sweet Bus” and the pilot will air on Tuesday, October 28 at 10 pm EST. Help us spread the word and tell your family, friends, and churches to be watching. As always, thank you for your prayers for our family. God is doing great things and we can’t wait to see what He does next!

-The Allen Family-

GOLF FOR UGANDA = SUCCESS

We hosted a golf tournament just a few days ago in Grand Haven, MI as a fundraiser for Uganda -more specifically, the water filters we distribute there. It was a huge success, and went above our expectations. Overall, the proceeds collected cover the cost of seventy water filters. That’s pretty amazing. We would like to extend a special thank you to our good friends the Millers. Had it not been for their planning and hard work, this golf tournament most likely would not have happened; and for all those who donated and participated, we are so grateful. Now, for the pictures:

CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS REPORT

Well I’m sure you’re all curious about the layout of the first unit of Hope Children’s Village, so I made an executive decision to post some pictures for you. Enjoy.

THE RETURN OF THE BLOGGER

Well, friends, it’s good to be back on the blog. Life has been a little chaotic lately, especially since we returned from Uganda. The past few weeks we have been trying to catch up on ministry work and blogging and the like. Wednesday afternoon, we dropped Mom off at the Lansing airport to catch a flight to Missouri where she is visiting Caleb and his family and getting some dental work done. The rest of us are hanging out in Michigan awaiting her return on Saturday. We’ve just been catching up on life; you know, sleep, school, work, concerts, etc. After Michigan we will be heading to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and beyond. I don’t have much to say in this post, I just wanted to give you a bit of an update on where we are and what we are doing. I also want to say thank you all so much for your prayers and support towards our 2014 Uganda mission trip. This year’s trip was the best one yet. It is just incredible to see the work God is doing in the country of Uganda, and even more amazing knowing He counts us worthy to be spokesmen for Him. When we go on mission trips, I am taken way out of my comfort zone, because we bring in these teams and I am forced to take the lead in some areas I am not used to leading in. But let me tell you all that it does not matter how unworthy or incapable you may feel, God can use you. No matter where you are at, He can and will use you to further His kingdom if you make yourself willing and available to answer His calling on your life. It’s funny, I could get up to speak in front of a group of people over there in Uganda, my knees shaking, so nervous I could hardly think straight. But as I began to speak to them about the love God has for them, I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit in such an awesome way. I found that He could work through my twisted, tongue-tied mess of words to speak to those people; to say the words that they needed to hear. I have no problem getting up in front of a large crowd of people and singing my heart out, but when it comes to speaking to a large crowd of people, I go into a state of semi-panic. I am always relieved when it’s over and I can breathe again. However, even when we got back from Uganda, at one of our first concerts back home, Mom asked if any of us would like to say a little about our trip on stage for the mission segment. I didn’t want to, but I volunteered myself for some reason. I got up on stage and I honestly could not tell you what I said, but when I finished and took a seat, I could see tears in the eyes of people in the audience mirroring my own and I knew that somehow, someway, God was able to use my nervous wreck of a speech to touch the hearts of those people. So no matter where you are at today, God wants to use you, and He will if you only surrender your will to His. It takes total sacrifice, but nothing could be more worth it. Keep serving The Lord. Thank you all once again and God bless!

-Abby

AN UPDATE ON THE CHILDREN’S VILLAGE

Posts for the last two weeks of our work in Uganda were scheduled to go out before we left the U.S. based upon our schedule for the mission trip and what we believed would be accomplished while we were there. During the last couple of days in Uganda, it became obvious to us that the first unit of Hope Children’s Village would not be completed while we were there, and the children would not be able to move in. However, the unit should be complete within the next week or so, and we are very excited about future plans. We were able to meet the children and spend a whole day playing with them and getting to know them. On our final Sunday in Uganda, we had a special time of dedication and prayer for the children and widows who will move in soon, and also for all those who will be housed on the property in years to come. God’s presence was very near as we stood inside the partially finished home and joined hands with the Ugandans to ask God’s blessing on this great work. Please continue to pray for the completion of the first unit and all funds necessary to make it a reality.

-Michelle Allen

Stats and Stories

The following statistics are to show you some of what the medical team has been up to. Robert Yarber is the head of the medical team, and by trade he is an ear, nose, and throat surgeon. His team has been working like a machine the entire trip. The first day alone they saw 39 patients and Dr. Yarber performed 5 surgeries. The following day he performed 22 surgeries, mostly tonsillectomies. Every day since, up to yesterday, has been just as jam-packed and grueling, if not more so; and those are some pretty impressive stats. I have yet to visit the hospital, but, then again, I’ve never been too fond of getting sick.

A day after arrival at the construction site, the workers recognized Andrew as the Forman, and a man named Richard became his friend as they worked closely on several projects. From Richard, Andrew learned that a good portion of the crew were Christians, or at least they knew enough to fake it rather well. Actually, three of the workers Richard himself had led to the cross where they met The Lord.
The Ugandan Forman’s name is Ibrahim, and he is a Muslim, –which in Uganda is grouped into the Christian moniker– so be in prayer for the salvation of Ibrahim, and the other workers on the site here.

As this blog, in its current state is a collection of seemingly random stories from the trip, here’s one I heard from my uncle David about a conversation he had with one of the Ugandan workers.

Preface: In Uganda they have what is known “Bride Price”. When a man wishes to marry another man’s
daughter, both men will agree on a Bride Price. Often, it is an unseemly high price, amounting in several cows, pigs, goats, chickens, and on occasion, includes money. The currency among the average villager in Uganda, is livestock. A cow being worth the most, a chicken, the least. The villagers trade, pay for things with, and purchase these animals for self dependent food, as well as trading tools. A lot of cows is a sign of social status, although the majority of the people are very poor, as Uganda is yet a developing 3rd world country. Thus, any livestock above a pig or goat would be scarce to find in most village households. So when a Bride Price includes more than one cow and several goats, it could be literal years until it was paid off. Some couples are celebrating there 10th or 15th wedding anniversary and the husband has not yet completed the payment of his Bride Price. This being said, enjoy:

As the story was told me, he (David)
was working alongside Andrew Sutton, the American Forman of the construction site, and David’s son-in-law, as a dog’s body(a man who did the bidding of another, much like a dog does the will of his master.). He did mostly odd jobs: calling for mortar, making sure Andrew had whatever he needed, and instructing others to do things that needed to be done.
As he was awaiting instruction from Andrew of what needed doing next, he struck up a conversation with one of the Ugandan workers. A conversation that ran something like this:

W(worker): How many cows do you have to pay for your bride in America?

D(David): No cows. We do not pay cows for our brides in America.

W: Then what do you pay?

D: Nothing. We do not pay for our brides. The woman’s father pays for the wedding.

W: I am going to America!

This happened a second time when the man asked about American wages.

W: How much do you get paid in America?
David have him a low estimate.

D: Seven dollars and fifty cents.

W: Per hour?!

D: Per hour.

W: I am going to America! I will be very rich!

We all had a good laugh about that one. In the next post, I’ll tell you about how Dad and Uncle David got in prison.

Until next time, Jared Allen signing off.

The Blessing In The Rain

It rained today… Never would’ve guessed that by the title, would you?
The majority of the team was at the construction site for Hope Children’s Village. Dr. Yarber and his wife Debbie along with Pam Vidrine travelled to the Ugandan hospital to preform surgeries. It was a rather stark awakening for some to experience work on a construction site, and a second home to others. Andrew and Robin were quite at home and soon dove into the work with little difficulty and no inhibitions. The rest of us, those inexperienced, slightly lost few, who, basically had no clue what to do or how to do it, were graciously and expertly instructed by the Ugandans on how and what to do. Soon everyone found their strong suit and in no time at all we saw people in the team becoming: brick carriers, road pavers, wall builders, cleaner uppers, lunch fixers, and many other types of “ers”. Me, I was a ditch digger; One of the more glamorous jobs in construction, ditch digging is.

To return to point, we worked like plow-horses for the next 7-9 hours, breaking briefly for tea and lunch. It was difficult, but very fun work, and it was God’s work. The thought of why we were doing it, who we were doing it for, and the difference it would make in the lives of little children, drove us on many times during the day and gave us new energy to continue.

The story here happened when, during a very late lunch at 3:30, it rained. Building came to a standstill.
After a time, it was decided that the entire team would travel to a school to do ministry with the young children there, and not just the few that had been initially intended to go.
It was unbelievable! Lighting up those kiddos lives just by caring enough to come and see them. The feeling of being special just because you were there, just because you existed, is unparalleled. It was as if we had given them each a million dollars and freedom from their poverty. They sang for us, we taught them songs. They listened to the youngest of our team, Christian and Bailey, tell them about Jesus and we made crafts with them. The blessing we gave to them was significant, but the blessing they gave us was so much greater. We were beacons of God’s love, and that is the most incredible feeling on this earth. To be filled with the love of God so much that it shines through you to the world… It is a thrill unparalleled by anything we can fathom.

And, the blessing in the rain was, that those working the construction site would never have experienced that joy and happiness on the faces of those kids, had it not rained that day.

God knows just what we need and allows us to serve Him and serve with Him. But, sometimes, God throws in things that we may not need, but He knows we will enjoy, because He is a good Father. The hope He allowed us to bring that day, is the wonderful blessing in the rain.

Until next time, Jared Allen signing off.

It Has Begun

Hello again! It’s been a while, but I’m back. Those of you who have been following the blog since this time last year, know that I blogged the mission trip to Uganda. This year, instead of random updates and advanced schedules of what we’re doing, I’ve been instructed to journal the stories of the trip. Significant events and out of the ordinary circumstances are most of what you’ll be seeing from me over the course of these next few weeks. It stands to follow that I will not post daily and the length of my post may fluctuate rather drastically. This being said, welcome to Uganda Missions 2014!

The first instance of unusual happenings happened before we were even at the airport. We Allens stopped in Alabama at Sardis Baptist Church, there to leave the bus for the duration of the trip. A lot of final packing, tagging, and weighing ensued upon arrival, and, lasted well more than a day and a half. On the afternoon of the 21st we were supposed to be joined by Robert and Debbie Yarber. Then we would, as a group head for the airport in Atlanta to join or be joined by the rest of the team. They were on time –or close enough to on time that it made very little difference– and we proceeded to load there luggage into the trailer that was to transport it. As we all piled into the church bus, Mother made a comment about where she should store the passports and the Yarbers realized, they had left theirs at home in Tupelo, MS, some 3 hours away. This was a problem. The plane took off at 9:30, and Atlanta was still 2 ½ hours away from where we were in Alabama. In short, Dr. Yarber drove back to Tupelo as the rest of us headed for the airport. He was met halfway and then backtracked to join us at the Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr. International Airport in Atlanta, GA.
Thus concludes the first conundrum of Uganda Missions 2014.

Until next time, Jared Allen, signing off.

WHAT’S UP WITH THE BUS?

Well, folks, we finally got our bus back after an extended stay at a repair shop in Toledo, Ohio. (Just for clarification’s sake, our bus was at the repair shop, not us.) Turns out we had to have a $34,000 engine replacement. So, after our trip to Uganda later this month we will have been out of our bus for about five months this year. Anyway, since we don’t generally have $34,000 readily available to dish over for an engine replacement, we are doing a fundraiser. So here’s the deal: we have some limited-edition (very limited) t-shirts that we are selling from right here on our website at $25, which is somewhat of a high price for a t-shirt, but really -if you put it in perspective- we have to raise thousands of dollars to pay off our engine replacement and you could help us out a lot by buying one of those t-shirts. Plus -since they won’t be around forever- you will have somewhat of a collector’s item, which will ultimately give you bragging rights. =) By the way, a little bit of important information here, the t-shirt simply says, “I’m glad I don’t live on a bus”. After all, with repair costs like $34,000, it isn’t difficult to be thankful you’re not the one paying off an entire bus engine. So, anyway, please buy a t-shirt so we don’t end up homeless once again.
Oh yes, and the answer to my last trivia question, that being: of all the Allens, which is the most accident prone?
And the answer is…..Jared

Jared has ended up in the hospital numerous times for all kinds of different reasons, most of which were not entirely his fault. Anyway, tune in next time to hear about our upcoming Uganda mission trip preparation. God bless!

-Abby

AN ARTISTIC ACCIDENT

First off, I want to say thanks to all of you who keep up with our family, and our blog; especially those of you who have offered your encouragement to me through your comments. I never really know how many people are reading our blog or how many people that read it even like it, so it’s a huge help when you tell me in-person or via the comment section. It’s just a wonderful blessing.

Okay, so today I have another story for you, only this one involves my sister-in-law, Steffanie, and myself. A few months after Caleb and Steffanie were married they traveled with us for a little while, increasing the total number of people on the bus to eleven. Having Caleb and Steffanie travel with us is always exciting and we also enjoy the added blessing of a few extra hands to help with cooking and loading in and out equipment. Which pretty much means we put them to work. :) Anyway, after eighteen years of living on a bus and singing, we have our own little routine for concert nights and everyone pretty much knows what we need to do and how we need to do it up front. Generally when we pull up in front of a church and have a few hours to get things ready before an evening concert, the boys will begin to load equipment into the church and get the stage all set up and the sound adjusted while Mom and Gabrielle set up our product table. Meanwhile, back in the bus, Danielle and I are either straightening things up or getting dinner ready. Then we go in for sound check and when we all get back to the bus we turn on a classic sitcom, (usually the Andy Griffith Show), and eat dinner. Then, since we decide what color to wear for the concert in advance, some of us start to get ready while others stay behind to clean the kitchen. Mom writes the song list and we all head out the door and into the church, and that’s what our concert prep generally looks like. It isn’t always quite this organized and routine, but occasionally things will run really smoothly.

Anyway, my story is about one such time when things didn’t exactly go the way we planned. The older guys were in the church setting up and Mom and Gabrielle were getting the table ready. Steffanie and I were getting things prepared for dinner and Danielle was in the back fixing her hair or something like that. I don’t really know where Zach and Christian were at the time, but Steff and I were the only two people in the front room. The microwave timer went off and I got some pot holders for Steffanie, who was attempting to take the mexican casserole out of the microwave, (we have a microwave/convection oven). Now, the pan that the casserole was in was one of those big, heavy Pampered Chef pans. I think they’re made out of clay or something like that. Anyway, it was a very heavy pan. So, Steffanie was trying to get the pan out of the microwave, but it caught on the microwave tray and while she was pulling the pan out, the tray began to slide out too. So, as it started slipping out, I grabbed the kitchen towel and tried my best to help her hold the pan up, however that was a bit of a challenge as I was in a really awkward position. Up until that point I had been standing on the other side of the microwave door holding it open for her, so to have to reach around the microwave door and help her hold up the pan was almost painful. Anyway, we stood there for a minute just holding this pan up so it wouldn’t fall and break into a million pieces, and I realized we really weren’t getting anywhere. So I said, “Hey Steff, I’m going to grab another pot holder so we can take this thing out.” With that, I let go of the pan and, apparently, she hadn’t realized that I was going to let go of it. So it started falling out and, try though she might to hold it up, it continued to fall. The pan fell into the sink and the casserole flew every direction, including up to the ceiling. Meanwhile, the microwave tray, (which was ceramic), fell onto the floor and shattered, leaving Steffanie and I standing in the middle of the floor amidst splattered casserole and broken ceramic. Being that I was on the other side of the microwave door, I hadn’t gotten hit with casserole, but Steffanie had been right next to the pan and thus had food all over her. On her clothes, in her hair; it was a mess. Thankfully no one was burned or hurt, but it was about a half hour before the concert and no one was ready yet and everyone was going to come in and want to eat and we had a huge mess to clean up. Add into that the fact that our dinner was all over the floor, couches, walls and ceilings, and it wasn’t the ideal situation. But we got it all cleaned up and I think some of us actually ate the casserole. There was a little left in the pan -which was still laying in the sink- and the rest had fallen on the floor and couches. Days later we were still finding beans in very odd places, which was proof of how much of a mess the casserole had made. It turned out all right in the end and no one had a panic attack or anything. And now, every time we mention that story Steff and I laugh about it. For everyone else it may have just been another mess to clean up, but for us it’s a fond memory of a very interesting experience we shared once upon a time. Funny how some of the most trying or even stressful encounters in life are the ones that stick with us and, occasionally, turn out to be something we can look back and laugh at.
Finding someone to pin the fault on is a difficulty in a situation like this, because since Steffanie had been the one to drop the pan it makes it sound like it was her fault. Which it wasn’t. So I could take all the blame for it, but technically it wasn’t all my fault either. It was a joint effort. And hey, next time you want a disastrous mess to clean up in your home, give us a call. Our prices are outrageous, but the results will undoubtedly be satisfactory. =)

-Abby