Reflections on our life and lessons in uganda
So I wanted to take this time to talk about things I am grateful for. At home I found it tough to remember to be thankful for things. (I doubt I was alone in that struggle). Even here it can be easy to focus on how much I miss pepperoni pizza vs. how much work the kitchen ladies put in to prepping our meals 3 times a day. But the other night it struck me that there were some things here I was very grateful for.
Background story: I have been sick the last few days with stomach problems (which I am determined is food adjustment and NOT a parasite), but the stomach troubles led to me getting dehydrated which gave me nausea and headaches which meant I didn’t eat which made me sleepy. So I was kind of a sad, pathetic mess for poor Jon to deal with. But then we were asked to housesit for the principle of the institute because they’d gotten stuck in Kampala overnight. (They and their 6 kids live in a semi-Americanized home [by that I mean they have plumbing]). So as I was standing in a cold shower, which suddenly became lukewarm, and was able to use a real toilet instead of a pit latrine; it hit me. I was so thankful that God had coordinated things how He did that it made my knees shake. So I began to think on other things I am grateful for.
1. I am grateful that God paired me with Jon and called us out here, because it is a privilege and honor.
2. I am grateful for our story: because in sharing how God has worked in our life and marriage, we were able to walk with another couple who are struggling and say ‘God redeems it, keep on’.
3. I am grateful for the grace that is given to Jon and I as we struggle to learn a new culture. Being at New Hope has given us a safe place to shed some of our American habits (like sarcasm) without causing TOO much offense.
4. I am grateful for the Godly leadership the Lord has placed over our Institute class and the wisdom they have to share.
5. I am grateful for pit latrines that have walls and doors (because as Chin tells us, that isn’t always the case).
6. I AM grateful for the wonderful kitchen ladies who work hard to make us food day in and day out, with a smile.
7. I am grateful for those who have adopted us as friends and mentees as we walk this new journey out.
8. I am grateful that we have water. (Many people and places don’t have clean water, or even accessible water).
9. I am grateful for the Godly leadership in our lives before we left, who support and pray for and pastor us even now.
10. I am grateful for those who support us in prayers, finances and encouragement. It is easy to feel isolated, and many of our loved ones have gone out of their way to not let that be so.
I could easily make a list of 100 instead of 10. I could mention Jon’s incredible leadership, our family’s love and support, consistentish electricity and wifi, games, laughter, and chapati (you’ll hear more about chapati later on), but that would take too long. But for today, those are the things that I am meditating on and just basking in how good God really is. Psalm 34:8 tells us, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Well I have tasted and seen and daily His goodness is beyond measure. I have tasted in plenty and found Him gracious. I have tasted in want and found His grace more than sufficient. I have tasted in heartache and found comfort. And I have tasted in celebration and found joy beyond my wildest dreams.
And a new video from one of the pastors here. How do you bring the Fatherhood of God to the Fatherless?
Reflections on Worship
You have probably noticed that we have been more active than anticipated online recently. One, we are utilizing good wifi while we have it (being that the power does go off for days at a time). Two, we haven’t started class yet (which starts Wednesday) so we are trying to utilize the free time we have to update before we get busy and cannot
So we attended our first Ugandan church service at Kasana Community Church here at New Hope. Church was a total of 2 ½ hours. We worshipped in song for an hour and a half! And I have noticed something incredible about the worship in this place: they can’t contain themselves! Especially the group of men leading at another city site which is specifically for the rehabilitation of child soldiers. They get so excited about worshipping Jesus that they just leap and dance and shout.
I have to be honest, back in American churches I would probably have been offended by such behavior. But that is because I have much pride still for the Lord to rid me of and American worship culture is not that. As NHU Ministries US president said “In America we stand still and if the Spirit really works we might put a hand up”. To see someone leaping as high as they could in the air shouting would seem nearly obscene to us in a US church, right?
Now I am not saying, NOT saying, that there is a right way to worship. The ONLY definitive I will make about a right or wrong way to worship is that “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). So that is what I will say about that.
But I will say that there is faith produced by trials and tribulations, and many of these people have known TRIALS and pains. And yet instead of bitterness, I see in these believers an almost uncontainable love for God. He saved some of them out of pits of despair so low I would have probably not survived had I been them. He pulled them through and was their guide. So now all they can do is proclaim what He has done and shout, sing, clap, dance for joy. I wondered to myself, ‘if I had known trials like many of those dancing men and clappping women, would I also find God so indescribable, so incredible, so beautiful that I wouldn’t be able to contain myself either?’ Now, I worshipped God wholeheartedly in the US (sometimes). But the more time I spend here, the more I am convinced that having easy, trial free lives is both a blessing and a curse. I can only truly know how far God can reach into the depths by being in them. David had an incredibly hard life, and He knew God so intimately because He was all David had many times.
Now don’t misunderstand me, I am not about to pray for hard times (I don’t have that much faith yet haha). I am merely encouraging us to look deeply at our personal worship. How often do I stand in church with eyes closed merely making sounds while my mind is elsewhere? Too often. I am challenging myself (and all of you too) to take a minute every time we go to worship and think hard about where and what God saved us from. Even if your life has not been incredibly difficult (as is my case), there is still the awe-inspiring fact that Jesus kicked down the gates of hell to claim us as His own. If that doesn’t inspire a little jumping and dancing in me, I don’t know what will.
Psalm 30:1-4, “I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God I cried out to You and You healed me. O Lord you brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive that I should not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name!”
To see some worship from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPPTKQSxknM
First Impressions of Uganda
Well we are here in New Hope Uganda. It was not an easy trip getting here: (we got delayed coming out of Denver when the plane was late and then the de-icing truck broke; stayed overnight in Chicago, switched airlines, finally got here a day later; had 5 of 6 bags not here, had no driver, almost couldn’t get ahold of our contact, got a taxi to take us to our guesthouse, got lost going to the guest house, got there at 1 am, and didn’t receive bags until Tuesday night which meant the same clothes for 5 days). But in all of that, one thing remains true: God is so good.
I have found that the folks on staff here and the people in class in the Institute with us are so very in love with Jesus and His Word. They could easily spend hours praying just about the good attributes of God found in His Word. Many people here have had unpampered lives to say the least, and many have faced great struggle and pains. But they have a love of God and faith that inspires me to love Him better.
Life runs on a different time here, and priorities are different. They believe that business can wait but relationship cannot. This makes them a (generally) very friendly people and they greet you heartily even if it is just passing on the street. I greatly enjoy the relationship investment of that (even if it can make getting important tasks done nearly impossible). I have enjoyed the vibrant worship (although I am not used to clapping so much). Many dance for joy during worship because of what the Lord has done.
Though we miss those we love and hold dear at home very much, we feel very privileged to be a small part of what God is doing in this beautiful country. (And though I sometimes miss pizza and flushing toilets, I don’t think I would trade it).Thank you for your continued support, love and prayers.
We also wanted to let you all know for anyone that has not yet seen the link on facebook. Our first YouTube video is live!!! You can watch it at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOS0Lx0zuKI and we really hope you enjoy seeing what New Hope Uganda actually looks like.
And finally, here is the part that I promised would be in every blog post we have. Romans 12:1-3 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Here’s what we should remember. The problem with a living sacrifice is that when a sacrifice was made, it was cut up and usually burned. A living sacrifice would not be living for very long. In words of author Douglas Adams, “I always tried to dissect a cat to see how it worked, but the problem is, as soon as you start to dissect, the first thing you have is a non-working cat.” When we present ourselves as a living sacrifice, we must first be willing to die to ourselves, as that is the next thing that will happen.
It says don’t be conformed, but be transformed. The only way to be conformed is again by continually offering ourselves as a sacrifice to God because it is only Him that has the power to transform us, which He does by renewing our minds. Remember, the heart and the mind work so closely together that it difficult for our heart to be changed without first our minds being changed. Then remember that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, there is no work of our own to boast with but only God’s grace at work in us. Paul had every qualification to be a Hebrew of Hebrews, but not one of them qualified him to be a child of God, only God’s grace.
We don’t know what the future holds, but we know God holds the future. In regards to God’s kingdom and His work, the greatest ability we have to offer is availability.
Hello to all of our faithful supporters and all those who are sending us out. I want to wish you a happy new year and a reminder that no matter what our resolutions this year, only what is done for the Kingdom of God matters. I’m sending out this blog post now to handle just a little bit of housekeeping before we hop on the airplane to our new mission field in 6 days. But don’t worry, after I know that I’ve thought of everything to tell you, expect to see some truth from God’s Word. It is our goal that you will never read a blog post or a newsletter and not get God’s Word in the process.
First is that on the 7th, the day before we leave, we will be sending out our first newsletter. What you can expect to see in our newsletters is a list of specific prayer requests that you can pray for us as well as updates and pictures from our mission. Our desire is for all of our friends and family who support our mission both financially and in prayer to have the details on exactly how God is working in Uganda through your support. The reason I point this out is because there are quite a few people who read our blog posts but are not subscribed to receive our newsletters. If this is you, I want to give you the chance to get signed up now before we send it out. So if you need to get signed up...here’s how…
Go to our website www.coupalstouganda.com, click on the tab that says “contact”, scroll down the page and look on the right side, there will be a place for you to type in your email address and subscribe to our newsletter.
Secondly, I want to let you know that our YouTube channel will be going active this week. This is very exciting for us, because it will allow our supporters to get to see the work that God is doing in video. I know that we all have busy schedules and not everyone has the time, or sometimes the desire, to sit down and read a blog post or a newsletter, so this will allow a way for you to see what is happening without needing to sit down and read our updates. Although I recommend you still do read them, because we can’t put everything in the videos. I will include more information on how to find our YouTube channel in the newsletter this week.
Third and final thing to say. And just so you know, this is our least favorite part of being a missionary, but we have to do it because how will you know what we need if we don’t tell you? So here is what we need. Our goal right now is to live on and run our mission on a budget of $18,000 dollars a year. This probably seems ridiculously low because most of us American’s wouldn’t dream of living on a budget that small, but we believe that it is totally do-able in Uganda. Now if you break that down it comes to $1,500 dollars a month. Now what this means is that in order for our mission to operate on a long-term basis, we need to have that amount coming in every month, and be able to count on that amount too (which means more than just one time donations that fluctuate every month.) So all that comes to this end...we need 10-20 families who are willing to make us your primary supported missionaries, and commit to monthly donations of $100-$200 dollars. I hope that every person who reads this blog post would prayerfully consider putting your money where your mouth is and supporting us in this way. If this is you, then let me tell you how to accomplish it…
Head to our website www.coupalstouganda.com, click on the tab that says “get involved”, and at the bottom of the page click the button that says “online giving”, this will redirect you to Calvary Chapel Cherry Creek’s online giving page. Once there, input the amount you would like to donate, and select the frequency (again, please pray about committing to monthly giving), IMPORTANT: there is a drop down menu that says “select a fund”, be sure to select Uganda Missions. Input all your information and card information and click “give now” and you’re good to go.
I hope that everyone will pray about committing to supporting us monthly, but even if you are not called to support us financially, or can’t, don’t feel like you are not a part of what God is doing in Uganda through our mission. Souls that will be reached with the gospel and kids without parents will see the love of a Father God through us by the consistent and deliberate prayers of the church. Even if you can’t support us financially, please don’t forget to join alongside us in prayer.
Finally, the part that I am most excited to share, a message from God’s Word. In Matthew 4:17, we see the very beginning of Jesus earthly ministry after He was baptised by John the Baptist. It says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” This is very first time we see Jesus publicly preaching in the Bible, and what is His message? REPENT! GET SAVED!!!
Knowing that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (our time on this world is short) means that if you are not saved, get saved. Stop waiting, there is no better time to start walking with the God who made the entire universe yet knows the number of hairs on your head. It means that if you ARE saved, take it serious. Don’t just continue in the way you always have. A relationship with God inspires change, letting His Word be effective in your life requires growth. Don’t be stagnant, be serious!