"And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." Ephesians 3:17b-18

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The time is drawing to an end :(

March 10, 2013

Newsletter #9

Tonight is our last night in Uganda. Jeff is ready to get back home - he doesn't like to leave home to begin with LOL - I on the other hand would be content to say here forever, except for the fact that my family is in the US. Is there a way to mesh the two or be in 2 places at the same time????

I am somewhat at a loss on how to summarize this trip, I don't know that I am capable to translating all of the thoughts & feelings from the past 2 weeks into a newsletter. We have spent much of our time traveling, visiting, & fellowshipping with friends both old and new. God has used this time to stretch me & bring clarity to somethings I have been praying about. It is suffice to  say that God has truly been gracious & has revealed some things to me that reconfirm what He has called me to do - in the past & in the future.

There are 2 thoughts that I would like to close with:

#1   You can never go wrong when you answer God's call to touch another life - this was seen in the lives of the many young adults who were just little children when I first met them in 2000. Those that have invested themselves in the lives of these, & other, young adults have made a Kingdom impact that will last for eternity.

#2   There is still SO much work to be done. Not just here but everywhere. We live in a lost & dying world where so many are suffering (physically, emotionally, & spiritually). So lets get serious about doing God's work :)

We are headed home to NC tomorrow night arriving home Tuesday night. We would appreciate you prayers for safe travels.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Update on young mom who lost her baby last week.

March 9, 2013

Newsletter #8 - Just a quick note:

I just came from the Jinja Regional Hospital from visiting Vicky, the young 16 year old mom whose baby died in utero last Thursday after 2 days of labor. She is doing quite well. Yesterday she was up walking around a bit and she has not had a fever. Please continue to pray for a full recovery for her.

This was my first visit to this hospital, and as hospitals go in a third world country, it was rather nice & clean. Here are a few observations - some of which those in the medical field might find especially interesting:

  • There are no private rooms, only wards with approx 30-50 patients. 
  • The beds & equipment looks like something out of the 1950's or earlier.
  • Family members must stay with the patient to care for them & provide their food & any other requirements, such as medications.
  • If medications, or other requirements, are needed the patient is given a slip of paper listing what to get. A family member must then go into town to get the items. If they do not have the money or someone to get the items, the patient does without.
  • There is no pharmacy on the premises to purchase needed medications. So if items are needed during the night the patient many times will not receive them until the next day.
  • The nursing staff has a cart from which to distribute medications. Nothing is labeled for individual patients and they go from patient - to cart - to another patient with the same gloves on. 
  • There is little to no sterility while providing direct patient care. IV medications are given without the use of alcohol to clean the IV hub prior to administration.
  • The 3 doses of IV Flagyl that we got for Vicky cost 4500 shillings, less than $2.
  • Last, but not least......(for my CFV co-workers).....There is NO foaming in/out....I think I prefer foaming in/out though
The resources & training here are very limited and they do the best they can with what they have & know.All in all I was rather impressed with the facility...I have seen much worse.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Babies, Babies, and more Babies

March 8, 2013

Newsletter #7

What do you do when you grow up in an orphanage and then when you become an adult you see babies who are orphaned or have no hope of a future due to their dire circumstances - you open up a babies home. That is exactly what Damali did several years ago. There was no formal business plan, no foundation or grant funds to set up operations, only a  need and someone willing to step out in faith to fill it.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." James 1: 27a

I first met Damali years ago when she was a young girl at GSF. Now she is a grown woman of great faith who has a babies home, is married and has a 6 week old baby girl. There is a staff who help care for the over 20 babies under the age of 2. The Sonrise Babies Home is an amazing place full of God's love & happy babies who otherwise would have been discarded or abandoned and left to die.

Jeff & I have been able to reconnect with several of the young adults who were only young children when we first came to Uganda in 2000 and they are amazing. Their love of the Lord and the ministry work they are doing here is a testimony to the love shown them through dedicated missionaries who were willing to leave family & home to follow God's call to serve others. Their faith in God is humbling and inspiring.

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29

We also went to visit my 2 Ugandan boys, Aaron & Adam. Aaron attached himself, physically, to me in 2000. Very soon thereafter both boys had a special place in my heart. As happens sometimes, they were brought to GSF when they were about 6 months old, very sick and near death. For the first 12 years of their life it was thought they were orphans when in actuality they have a mother, siblings, and an extended family. They were resettled with their family & since that time I have remained in close contact. They will be 17 years old on June 10 - a tenuous age, especially here, at they are nearing a point of having to make some decisions regarding their future. Please pray that they will be diligent in seeking God's will for life and that He will guide them in their decisions.

My continued contact with the boys would not be possible with out David, of course he is also one the amazing young adults who grew up at GSF. He has helped me over the years in many ways when it comes to the boys, their education & their family situation . The boy's mother is very gracious and thankful for the help, as she is unmarried, and has 4 children. Today she presented us with a beautiful rooster as a thank you gift. As much as we would have loved for her to keep the rooster & use it for food for her family - to refuse the gift would have been a great insult, so....we left with a rooster in the trunk of the car. Since Jeff & I have no desire, knowledge, or need to prepare & cook a rooster we passed the gift onto David for him & his family. Since today is Woman's Day, a national holiday here, we told him to tell his wife he picked up dinner while he was out :)

Please continue to pray for Jeff's mother & my father. Both continue to have health problems.

Praising God for His gift of salvation & the privilege to be here serving Him!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

March 7, 2013

Newsletter #6

As our friends & family on the east coast being to start their day, we have just made our way back to the flat (apartment) we are staying in after a full day in town. The morning started off with a wonderful breakfast with Keith & Lisa at Terry & Deborah Nester's house, missionaries here from Roanoke VA. Then it was off to town to go our separate ways for the day.

Jeff went the the flat to hang out, while I headed to the crisis pregnancy center (this is a ladies only center). The group for today consisted of 7 young ladies, under the age of 19, 2 were pregnant & 5 had infants ranging from 6 weeks to 6 months. In a society where girls and women do not have a voice & are often not afforded education or training, to be a teen mother is especially difficult & life threatening for both mom & baby. Add to that the communicable diseases that spread rampantly here their odds of survival are very low. The focus of the center is to provide Godly support & encouragement so that mom & baby are able to stay together, be healthy, & have a start for their future, such as continuing with their education. I was so impressed with the program as they have a holistic approach - physical, emotional, & spiritual.

As the moms started coming they were greeted by Sarah & Rachel, served a cup of tea & some samosa's (similar to a small pizza pocket, but filled with beef & vegatables), & then given their individual journal book to record their thoughts, prayer needs, & answered prayers. Each baby is weighed & temperature is taken. There is a quick assessment of the mom & baby, for example are they sick. All of this information is recorded to the center is able to track the health & needs of the moms & babies.

After tea there is a program. Today Sarah taught on TB & HIV - what it is, how it spreads, prevention & treatment. The girls has lots of questions, as often happens here due to the lack of proper education on such topics. Then it was time for a devotion from the Bible.

There were several things that really stuck out to me. The relationships that these young ladies are forging with each other provide a support system they normally would not have.They were so relaxed, laughing & talking to each other, playing with each others babies. They had a sense of hope for their futures. They were engaged and anxious to learn & understand the teaching. What a blessing for them & their beautiful babies!

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes say my unformed body; all the days ordained for me where written in your book." Psalm 139:13-16

The need for such work here is so great. This was so evident later in the afternoon when I got a call that one of the young moms, who had gone to the hospital 2 days ago to deliver, baby died in utero today. Sarah was there at the hospital to purchase the required items for surgery (yes, you have to purchase your required items for treatment BEFORE they will treat you) then they were preparing to take Vickie to surgery to remove the baby. Such situations here are very life threatening for the mother. Please keep Vickie in your prayers.

Jeff met me in town & we meandered about some looking in the various shops that line Main Street. We had friends coming to meet us for lunch. Little did we know we would have several wonderful reunions! Richard & Godfrey came by - we have know them since our first trip in 2000. They have grown into wonderful young men. It was great to hear about their lives and what God is doing in and through them. Then our "expected" guest arrived, Pastor Samuel & Bruhan "Bull" from Pallisa. We have know Samuel & his parents since 2001 & have worked with them on several occasions over the years. Bull & Jeff instantly formed a close bond in 2010 while we were working in Pallisa. Bull has such a love of the Lord & is studying at seminary here - when he is not in school, he is preaching. We had a wonderful lunch catching up on everything in each other's lives and talking about what the future holds. It looks like Jeff & I will have to be back in 2015, not that I would not be back several time before then, for Bull's graduation.

God is good - all the time! All the time - God is good!
Blessed to be here! Praying you have a blessed day!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

To Jinja we go :)

March 6, 2013

Newsletter #5

We left SOG early this morning to head south to Jinja, where Jeff & I will spend the next 5 days. The saga of "a day in the life of a missionary in Uganda" continued today as Keith realized several hours into our drive the brakes were still not right. No worry we did have the emergency brake as a back up. While this may be a hard concept to wrap your mind around....sometimes it is just better to press on, with the situation bathed in prayer, than to pull the plug on what God has called you to do. Needless to say we made it safe & sound to Jinja. Keith has done an awesome job of getting us where we need to be, when we need to be there, despite all the the vehicle issues.

We did stop off at the Chobe Safari Lodge for breakfast, which is about 2 hours south of Gulu & located on the Nile River. After turning off the main road we made our way through a part of the game park to the lodge. There were a few giraffes, wort hogs, & monkeys spotted, plus many deer (Jeff was wishing it was deer season & he had his gun with him). As we approached the gate the guard was waving for us to stop several yards back...then we saw it....a big elephant munching on the large bush just to our right - Awesome! He finally finished his breakfast then meandered across the road, right in front of us, to start munching on another large bush. After a wonderful breakfast over looking the Nile with hippos swimming about, we continued our drive south (with the unreliable brakes).

Tomorrow I will attend a morning session at a crisis pregnancy center Carolyn Jasobsen, a dear friend, has started. The objective of the center is to provide Godly support and encouragement to keep young unwed mothers together with their babies. It is amazing to see the progress made so far and the impact she is having on these young mothers will have an eternal impact on not only the moms but the infants that other wise would have be at risk of abandonment and/or death.

The rest of our time here will be spent with friends here getting caught up on their ministry work here & how we may continue to support them through prayer & with teams.

Good night :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A day in the life of a missionary in Uganda....

March 5, 2013

Newsletter #4......I think :)

A day in the life of a missionary in Uganda....You spend all day getting the brakes fixed on your vehicle after they start acting up somewhere between Gulu (your home) and South Sudan....You get in the vehicle the next morning to head off to Kitgum, a 2-3 hour drive depending on the depth & number of pot holes, actually they were more like craters....You turn the vehicle around to head out, stop for a word of prayer, and it is still rolling with the brake pedal to the floor....Thank you Lord for letting us know we had no brakes BEFORE we started the long drive to Kitgum....Everyone gets out & hops into the truck (which is little AC & is a slightly more "bouncy" ride) & you call someone to take the vehicle back to the shop....About an hour of so into the drive the Kitgum the horn on the truck starts blowing randomly all by itself LOL....This causes some curious looks for people along the road or on bicycles who can not figure out why "we" were blowing the horn at them....It did not, however, choose to blow at any of the cattle or other livestock that meandered into our path....We made our way to Kitgum had a visit at Faith Academy then it was off to town for a time of fellowship & visiting with Clayton & Alex, 2 very dear Ugandan friends that I have known & worked with for over 7 years....Back in the truck we bounce, dodge, & honk our way back to Gulu....Drop Keith & Jeff off at the brake shop, they were "finishing up" on the vehicle, still unsure why the brakes were not working well....As Steven drives Lisa & I back to SOG we start to hear a loud grinding sound coming from the back wheel area anytime the truck is in gear, which by the way is necessary for forward movement....Lisa call Keith (who just sighs at this point) & it is agreed that we would cautiously make out way back to SOG....Several hours later Keith & Jeff make it back to SOG with the vehicle, which now has brakes, they hop into the truck to see what the problem is & there is no noise....No it was not the imagination of 2 very hot & tired ladies (Steven heard it too), but the noise was not there....Are you tired yet?????

We are met at SOG by the Rieger family of 8, who came out to stay the night for a time of fun & fellowship. Alyssa & Mary, whom Jeff & I known since 2000 when they were young girls at GSF, cooked a wonderful dinner for everyone. Tuesday (today) was a day of rest - the past week has been very busy & we have lodged a lot of miles, but it has also been very productive - God is good! Tomorrow we head to Jinja, which is in the south along Lake Victoria. It is supposedly a little cooler, which will be nice. This will be our last "big" drive, about 6-8 hours....depending on the roads & traffic.

Please be in prayer for Jeff's mother & my father, who are both having some health issues right now. It has been very difficult to be half way around the world from them knowing they are not feeling well but we trust in God's provision & grace.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7

Its about time for the generator to go off - it runs for several hours a night to charge things, other than that there is a little solar power - I am going to sign off will post some pic tomorrow night if possible. Power in Jinja can sometimes be sporadic (TIA - this is Africa).

Good night & God Bless!!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Who do you say I am?" Jesus asks

March 3, 2013

Newsletter #3

To South Sudan & back!

Friday we spend the morning about 30km outside of Gulu visiting the Four Corners Ministry site. Their project is similar to the Restoration Gateway ministry, although it is in its infancy stage. Presently they are developing a sustainable infrastructure so the work there will be self-sustainable and be a ministry to the surrounding community. Their master plan included having an orphanage, agriculture, discipleship & more. It was great to see the work that has been accomplished & will be to come.

Then it was time to head to South Sudan where we will be helping with a Youth Conference at Far Reaching Ministries (FRM) on Saturday. South Sudan has only been a country for 2 years. Although the 55 year old civil war is “over” there are still areas with ongoing war, not to mention the devastation that follows such a conflict. Side Note….dry season + dusty roads + BIG overloaded semi tractor trailers = ZERO visibility….one minute you are behind a truck, the next all you see is a cloud of dust & you can’t even see the truck any more, or anything else for that matter. FRM has been working in Nimuli for the past 14 years and has an extensive discipleship ministry and Chaplaincy Corp (training) program. Vickie was a humble gracious host & it has been wonderful to spend time with her & Elizabeth, another missionary here.

The Youth Conf was to start about 9am…TIA (this is Africa)…I think we started about 11am. There were over 50 youth plus some of the Chaplaincy Corps students in attendance. The theme of the conference was based on Matthew 16: 15b-18 which is when Jesus asks the disciples “Who do you say I am?” There were different sessions taught by Elizabeth with me reading her scripture references, Keith, Lisa, & Vickie. Jeff was asked to give his testimony. He also felt lead to do the FAITH presentation, a way of sharing your faith & assurance in Christ. The youth soaked everything up & had some very deep questions for the Q&A portion of the conference. It was interesting to note their point of reference, based on their life experiences of having been raised in a war torn country, and how it has shaped their world view.  “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matt 7: 7-8 (NIV). Their desire to know the one true God & to learn how to fully rely on Him was so sweet & heartfelt.  

We decided to leave South Sudan after the conference to head back to Gulu. After all it is just a little cooler in Gulu. Friday night we noted temps of 90 degrees in our room when we went to bed & 86 degrees when we woke up. Saturday it was 125 degrees in the sun & 100 degrees in the shade. So as much as we were enjoying our time at FAR the thought of sleeping somewhere under 85 degrees was just too incising.

Vickie came to Gulu with us in preparation for flying home for a conference. Sunday morning Jeff & Keith headed to town to have some work done on the AC in Vickie’s car & then on the brakes (which started to act up on the trip back from South Sudan) of Keith & Lisa’s car. After a wonderful morning of worship we headed to town to meet them… As to be expected it turned into an all day affair. Not to worry we walked to the Riegers, a wonderful missionary family serving here, visited & ordered in Ethiopian food for lunch. J

Finally back home, Lisa went into baking mode & made a wonderful Birthday cake for Alyssa. Today is her 25th birthday. Maddie Rieger added her talents by bringing a cake as well, so we  all feasted on cake for supper & enjoyed fellowshipping together. We also celebrated Lisa, Micah, & Mary's birthday...after all there was plenty of cake :)

Tomorrow, Monday, we are headed to Kitgum to meet with Clayton at Faith Alive Ministries, whom we have worked with over the years, to discuss his vision for his ministry & how we can help to support it with the work God is calling our teams to do in the future.

Time for bed – I pray everyone is doing well, as we are here!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Never underestimate the impact you can make in the life of another.

March 1, 2013                                       Newsletter #2

Never underestimate the impact you can make in the life of another.

I awoke this morning to the sound of the SOG school bell clanging to call the children in the village to start preparing to come to school and village life all around. The early morning newness & cool breeze is so refreshing –what a wonderful way to start the day. 

In 2000 Jeff & I first came to Uganda. Since that time the teams that have done MANY things: Vacation Bible School, construction, medical clinics, seminars, etc. But those are “programs” which require many “tasks” that we can identify with & check off our list of accomplishments. What we miss so many times is that it is not about the program but about people.

Yesterday I spent some time talking Alyssa. She & Mary, 2 wonderful Godly young women, were young girls when we first came 13 years ago. They are now starting an orphan’s ministry here in Gulu. Alyssa & I talked about what our teams have done over the years & our future work. The thing that struck me the most was her memories of those who came on the first trip in 2000. She shared how the time invested in her by others, if even for a short time, made such an impact on her life and that of the other children. She shared that the programs were great, but it was those small spontaneous interactions that left the greatest mark on her life. People who gave of themselves & spent time with her are treasured memories. She may have only met once or twice, but she continues to pray for them & thank God for the blessing of them on her life.

So….just in case you ever wonder if those spontaneous interactions are worth the interruption in the “program” of your daily life – they are! God’s appointments are always at the right time!

Today we will visit a new ministry here in Gulu then head to Southern Sudan after lunch for a Youth Conference with Far Reaching Ministries. 

As we get ready to load the land rover & hit the road let me share with you an interesting tid bit of trivia….. You can get a pair of broken leather strapped flip flops fixed for 0.13 cents :)