On Belay Ministries blog keeps you up-to-date on all the latest happenings with our friends and family in Uganda. Check in regularly!

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Posted by On Belay on June 5, 2016 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Esta. In Uganda, words are pronounced so beautifully. English is spoken but it is lyrical and soft. Esther becomes “Esta.” Gestures are subtle, a slight nod of the head or raising of the eyebrows conveys meaning. Ugandans speak very softly, but can hear each other in loud rooms with noise all around. As we transition our first student, Esther, to On Belay, we want to be sensitive to her needs and cultural differences, listening to the nuances. We had hoped for a gradual and smooth transition. However, we found Esther suddenly fully transitioned to On Belay the day we landed in the US. We scrambled for safe housing and plans for the immediate future. God's provision was a loving and trustworthy pastor who willingly stepped in to assist Esther in our absence. He will obtain temporary housing and connect Esther with a recent graduate from Esther's university who will help guide her towards university life.


University Life. While in Uganda, we walked with Esther through the university application process. Kyambogo University is close to her home village and will allow her to maintain ties with her mother, siblings and home church. Esther's quick transition to On Belay was unexpected, so we could really use your help. Like any new college student, she has a number of needs as she starts this new chapter. She will need a laptop, a small gas cooker, a basin or bucket, hand soap and powdered soap, drinking water, a flat iron, a percolator, food, a suitcase, a mattress and bedding. Watch our future blogs to find out how you can help support Esther and be a part of God's story in her life.


Who's Next. We are excited at being able to take a "first step" with Esther, but the list is long of others that will need to transition soon. The needs are great so we covet your prayers for wisdom as we move forward, one student at a time. It is our desire that these students will grow to be "world changers" in their country. Men and women of God with calling on their lives.


Webale Nyo.* Thank you for being part of Esther’s story, our story and the future stories of hope for these young adults.

*Thank you so much, in Lugandan


There is Hope for the Future

Posted by On Belay on May 31, 2016 at 2:55 AM Comments comments (1)

There is Hope for the Future. Thank you to all who have contributed to this story. All of you participated. Some of you knowingly, some unknowingly, but our stories often intertwine. Our ten day journey is now coming to a close. We have had very high highs and very low lows, but God is faithful. He who has started a good work is faithful to complete it. And we believe that.

Details. Our mission is to provide transitional support for aging out orphans. Our goals for this trip were: to assess the needs, to develop the infrastructure for discipleship and mentoring, and to provide a safety net in case of emergency. Let me tell you about Esther. She has completed Senior 6 (High School) and will be entering Kyambogo University. (Pronounced Chaambogo). She will be majoring in Social Works. She loves children and hopes to be able to work with them in the future. We have connected Esther with local Pastors and individuals who will assist her with discipleship, career counseling, tutoring, and help with all the challenges that come with collegiate life. The safety net for her is coming together.

Challenges. Living in Uganda is challenging. Things that take a few minutes in the States can take several hours. The government agencies are challenging. Many hoops to jump through and someone's hand is always out for “compensation.” Traffic is challenging. A simple 15 minute drive took us over two hours. Challenging. The government closes a major highway because of a foreign diplomats arrival. So as our anxiety grew because of the long list we wanted to complete, we submitted and believed that the work that we accomplished was what we were sent to do.

Miracles Still Happen. Somehow through all of the challenges, we saw the hand of God working. Places where there was a breakdown in communication, a bridge was made and there was healing. Divine appointments abounded. Our health was very good and we always felt safe. Connections were made with the local church. At one point, we went to drop food to a local church only to find a young woman weeping uncontrollably. She needed work and God provided.

The Future. Esther is our first young adult actually in transition. However, there are 10 others that will be transitioned soon. We are currently working on a strategic plan to smoothly and seamlessly transition these young adults. We took our kids to a youth service at our partner church; we wish all of you could have seen our kids dancing, lifting their voices and hands in worship – in full abandon. Regardless of brokenness and heartache, they love their God and are trusting in Him for the future. We have much to learn from these young people that God is calling us to support. We are thankful for each one of them and what they have taught us. And thank you for pouring into their story!

Grace and Peace,

The VonHoffs


Stuck in the Jam.

Posted by On Belay on May 29, 2016 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Stuck in the Jam. Everywhere. Today. For breakfast this morning, I had jam on my bread. I didn't realize how much jam I would be getting into! It seems to us that anytime you have urgent business to attend to you get stuck in the jam. In Uganda, “stuck in the jam”, means a traffic jam. Picture this: a million cars on a one lane road, going who knows how many directions, without traffic lights, then throw in 8 million boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) and you have a serious jam.


Banking on the Bank. We needed to get to the bank by 2:00pm. We thought that leaving two and a half hours ahead of time would compensate for any type of jam. We were only going 10 kilometers. Well... we made it. At 1:52! We were able to process the necessary paperwork to submit our first college application fee. A huge step forward for On Belay Ministries! Yay!


OJ, Mangoes, and More Jam. Jam is the word for the day. We visited our friend Richard at his home. Jam the whole way. A wonderful time seeing the family; his children are so grown up and lovely. Richard showed us around his home, gave us fresh orange juice, sweet mangoes, and hugs from his wife, three daughters and son. We took a lot of “snaps” and Cathi was the selfie queen with the kids.


Seriously 6 Hours. We left Richard’s and immediately entered the jam. The president of South Korea was in town. You may say “So what?!” I did. But they, the Ugandan Police, decide to close the main thoroughfare in ALL directions! Now, it is the end of the rainy season here and just over 80 degrees. For Ugandans, it is very cool. For us, with 90% humidity, and in the car with no air conditioning, it was, well… HOT! We spent a total of over 6 hours in the jam today. I will never complain about Portland traffic again. I will never complain about Portland traffic again. I will never complain about Portland traffic again. I will…


Grace and Peace. And may the Jam be far from you.


The VonHoffs




Hard Days Night

Posted by On Belay on May 28, 2016 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Hard Days Night. Since arriving here in Uganda, I have a new appreciation for this Beatles song. Every day and night has been hard. Very hard. The highs and lows of Africa are overwhelming. Today was no exception. Heart wrenching stories that raise a righteous anger and deep sadness that overtake you. Then in the following hour, a circumstance or situation will bring about uncontrollable laughter and hope. This land and it's people have affected our hearts in places we didn't even know existed.


Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue. I was approached on Sunday by a young woman who told me part of her story. She has three children. The eldest is 3 years old. She also has four month old twins. Her husband was displeased with her and decided to leave. Leaving her to raise these three children alone. She lives in a small one room place. For income she has tried to sell goods, but it is very difficult with small children. She also has boarded a couple of young women. But that was for short stays. She asked me for ideas. Cathi and I had talked about bringing her wedding dress to Uganda to give away. However, Monica, a professor at the Uganda Christian University, who we met on the plane stated, “you know renting wedding dresses is a good business.” Shazzam! A new business is born.


Say What? When demand outstrips supply, there is a problem. Here in Uganda, we are finding that the demand is much more than we can realize. With our limited resources, we have had to improvise and are asking for your help. We ask you to donate a wedding dress to On Belay Ministries. All sizes and styles are welcome. No matter the age! We have a couple of young women who can start a rental business and make additional income for their families through this type of micro business. Can you donate a dress? Here are your options:


If you are close to Corvallis, please email and we will arrange to pick it up or you can drop it off. [email protected]

Mail to: On Belay Ministries, c/o the Hoffmans, 2921 NW Elmwood Dr. Corvallis, OR 97330



Don’t have a dress to donate? Consider the following:

  • School fees for a young man who desperately wants to finish high school. He has one more year. It is approximately $150 for one semester.
  • Housing and tuition for a talented young man who wants to be an engineer at a university. He currently sleeps on the floor of the church or with any friend that has a space. University cost: $1,500 per semester, Housing cost: $50 per month.
  • A 20 year old woman, forced to stay at school during holidays and school breaks because she has nowhere to go. Housing: $50 per month

You do not need to make a monthly commitment. Any size donation is welcome and will go directly to helping these young people.


Thank you,


The VonHoffs


Your donation is tax deductible.




Words Matter

Posted by On Belay on May 27, 2016 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Words Matter These last few days have proven to be very challenging. We are overwhelmed emotionally by the stories we have heard. The needs have far exceeded our resources.

I have a friend who is one of the strongest men I know. He is not a big man. However, he has a huge heart. As a young man, he grew up in a home of alcoholic parents. From a very young age he was in charge of himself and his younger brother. His junior high years were the most challenging. At one point, he was telling me, still haunted by the memory and with pain in his voice, about a coach that told him he would never amount to much. That incident had been over forty years ago. It grieved me deeply. Words matter. And throughout his high school years he lived with the memory of those words, and a spirit of hopelessness.

This week we have been speaking with our young Ugandan friends. Many grew up with no parents or in abusive situations. Or in circumstances where it was better for that child to continue life in an orphanage rather than at home. These young men and women have people speaking words to them that they have no value, others that they are a burden, and some no words at all. Just abandoned.

Some have been rescued by caring organizations but as they age out they still need us to come alongside of them and speak words of love, affirmation, encouragement, dignity, and value. Amazingly, many have a value to help others. Even sacrificing their own well being to do so.This is humbling to us.

My friend's life was turned around. He heard a different voice. A different calling. He dedicated his life to saving others. Now he is speaking a positive message. He has spoken into me and countless others. Words matter. Let's join together and give these young Ugandans a story of hope. Hope for a better future. So they can pass it forward. Words matter.

The VonHoffs

Peter Painter

Posted by On Belay on May 26, 2016 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Meet our friend, Peter Painter! We have known Peter since 2007 when he first had the dream of becoming an artist. He came by our hotel to show us his recent work. We are so proud of Peter! He loves the Lord and talks about His faithfulness throughout the years. We will be bringing these special paintings home with us. Peter is donating part of the proceeds from these paintings to On Belay! If you are interested in purchasing one and supporting both Peter and On Belay, please email us: [email protected]

Beautiful Africa

Posted by On Belay on May 22, 2016 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Arrival. We arrived after a long 23 hour plane ride. The flight was smooth and seamless. We met several wonderful people along the way: A mother of two young men, who lives part time in Seattle/Holland. A nice couple going on a cruise. Men working in Uganda from Canada. A Ugandan Professor teaching journalism. A brother/sister/friend on their way to Rwanda to run a marathon and taste coffee for their business (Sisters Coffee Company!). A team of Dutch Compassion International sponsors going to visit their kids. All of them engaged with us and were very interested in what we were doing. Customs was easy to pass through and our shuttle was waiting for us as we exited. We arrived at the J Residence motel around midnight, and had a quick nights sleep.


Africa. Ahhh… The familiar smells and sights as we started our journey to Kampala. Richard, our driver (see 2008 blog), was soooo happy to see us. A wonderful reunion! Our day began at the bank to exchange money. Then, off to the mall for water, cell phone, and air-time card. Next, to Gganda Village where we met with Pastor Prossy’s daughter, who then took us up, to visit some of our young men. It was great to catch up, take some pics, and receive big hugs! Then off to Kaliti, where we were united with our sponsored daughers, Esther and Betty and many others. Our hearts were full. In the evening, we had dinner with Ronald, Frank and Vincent, some of our younger men, and had a wonderful time catching up.


Pastor. On Sunday, we visited Prossy's church. Picture our transportation: riding double, well triple, on boda bodas! (small motorcycle taxis) Hoffmans doubled up on a one and next to them, the Vons on another...mind you, that is three adults each on a little Honda 90 type Moto bumping up a road that is more like a path. Upon arrival, we were welcomed and loved. The service started at 10:00 AM and lasted to 1:00 PM! Wow! Nothing can compare with African worship. Then in typical Ugandan hospitality, they served us lunch! A spectacular meal of Ugandan tea, boiled potatoes, beans, and chapati. YUM! We returned to the hotel with enough time to try to connect to the Internet and attempt to blog, before dinner.

Grace and Peace,

The Von Hoffs


It's Our Story

Posted by On Belay on May 18, 2016 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

It's Our Story. No, not just mine, all of ours. Everyone. It is an all inclusive story. You, me, our friends and neighbors, OUR story. A story of hope and redemption, forgiveness and reconciliation. Come on, join in.

Update Me. The Hoffmans and the Vons leave this afternoon for Seattle. Wait. I thought they were going to Africa. Yes. We leave from SeaTac airport tomorrow morning, fly to Amsterdam, then to Kagali, and finally to Entebbe (Uganda). We arrive at 10:50 PM just in time to get some shut eye. Our bags are packed, then emptied, then repacked, etc. Yup, that's how we roll. We checked our lists and our travel documents, and we are leaving in a couple hours.

Ok Seattle. Cathi's sister has offered us a place to stay for the night, and Rachel K, will take us to the airport, and will babysit our car. Thanks Rach!

Entebbe? Entebbe is Uganda's largest airport, serving the capital city of Kampala. This is where our (yours and mine), story begins. Are you ready? Hang on!

Hope for the Future!

Posted by On Belay on May 12, 2016 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)


First. Let me take a moment to thank all of you who have joined with us in this next chapter of our story. We are humbled and overwhelmed by your grace and kindness. Thank you.

The Back Story. We began sponsoring and falling in love with these children way back in 2007. They have stolen our hearts. Handwritten letters and occasional social media keeps us connected and we continue our relationships, although limited; we long for more.

Fast Forward Nine Years. These cute little children have now grown up into beautiful, articulate young adults. They are "aging out" of their sponsorship programs or do not have enough support to finish their education. They do not have family or any kind of safety net. These young people are at great risk. The statistics are staggering. Together we can change the statistics. You are part of the story. You are Hope for the Future.

Next Week. Barb, Bryan, Cathi and I, leave on May 19th from Seattle. Our circuitous route takes us from SeaTac to Amsterdam to Kagali to Entebbe. 22 1/2 hours of flight to reach our destination. Our goals of this trip are to connect with our kids, establish a baseline of need, develop infrastructure of discipleship and mentoring through the local faith community, and to ensure a safety net has been defined and put in place.

We are excited to see our kids and make deep meaningful connections. Thank you for being part of this story. I will be blogging and videoing all along our journey.



A Grand Reunion!

Posted by On Belay on April 26, 2016 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

December 2015