Hey y’all and greetings from Kotido! We are way overdue on posting an update on what has been going on so we are going to just dive in.
January was a pretty exciting month as Sara’s mom flew in for a visit! She stayed around 16 days or so. During her stay we gave her the full experience! We took her around Kampala and then after about a week we took her up to Kotido, which we got turned around on the drive back and it took an extra couple of hours to get home. In Kotido we showed her around town and she got to see how we lived day to day. We then went with Bishop James and his wife up to the Ik Ridge, which is in the north eastern part of Uganda, overlooking the Rift Valley. The Ik ridge was beautiful and the view was breath taking. We then left and went to Kidepo Valley National Park. Kidepo was amazing. We stayed in Bandas and got to see Lions only a few feet away. They were tired as they had just finished eating. The day we left we got to tour a hotel that Idi Amin had built right before he was thrown out of power. The hotel is built right into the side of a mountain, it was amazing. It is being refurbished in hopes of opening it up to tourist. After leaving Kidepo we returned to Kotido for a day then took Sara’s mom back to Kampala. We celebrated Nora’s birthday and had a couple days to rest. It was very sad dropping her off at the airport; it reminded me how far away all our family is. It was also a very sobering moment as it was an unofficial halfway point in our work here. Towards the end of January Hayley flew in! Hayley was my youth assistant at Newkirk. She is spending a year in Gulu, Uganda working with International Justice Mission. If you like you can follow her work at www.hayleypotter.blog.
February was a slower month, but it was a build up month. School started back for kids here in Uganda. So for most of February you had kids coming by looking for school fees and help with books. School is not free so it takes usually a good month before school really starts as most of the first month is people registering. I had a Bible study going with Isaac. The study with Isaac was initially supposed to be all the local kids who had finished S4 (secondary 4), but as most young people do they scattered once they were out of school. Isaac and I began working through the book of Romans. Isaac will be leading his Scripture Union this year at Kotido Secondary School, so this was a wonderful opportunity for me to invest in him. Sara has continued to work with her friend Daniella and continues to build a wonderful friendship with her. I say friendship as it has moved beyond just being a relationship. I know she will be one of the things that Sara misses most about Kotido.
The church of Uganda also sent national missionaries to the Karamoja region, so we had to help plan for their arrival. The missionaries, which totaled over 200, where divided up amongst Kotido, Abim, Kacheri, and Kaabong. We were responsible for the Kotido group and made sure they were fed, had housing, water, and transportation. Sara drove one group to a couple different villages and I drove another group in a car we borrowed. The car ended up getting two different flat tires on the same trip! Sara ended up coming to get the missionaries and I waited with the car for the mechanic to bring another tire. It was quite the weekend; sadly, a group of the missionaries, who were in Kaabong, got into a car accident on the way home and were all hospitalized with two of them dying. It was a very sobering reminder of how dangerous driving is here.
So far March has been a whirlwind of activity. I got to preach at Christ Church at the beginning of the month on Mark 8:34-38. It seemed as if it was well received and was a blessing for me. I have met with the Bishop and was asked to work on a team to help improve the services at Christ church. The goal we were given was to improve the organization, the preaching schedules, and ensure that the preaching was consistent and growth inducing. It is a big challenge but one that will have a big future impact down the road. I am also working on going back to the schools to pick on the Bible Studies we started back in October and November. Sara started a bible study with Daniella that looks to be very promising. We also made a trip to Gulu to visit Hayley this past Saturday. We stayed overnight partly because it is a long trip there (4.5 hrs) and we would not be able to get home before dark. Unfortunately our car was broken into that very night. They stole the spare tire, the gas bomb (propane tank for the stove), a cooler full of food we bought to take back to Kotido, and the computer (tells the car to send gas to the engine; also the most expensive part). What started as a cheap trip ended up being a very expensive trip. We did manage to find another computer for the car and managed to get home, though we did get stuck in the mud on the way. The back left tire was stuck in knee deep mud! I used a panga(machete) to cut sticks to put under the tire, then I pushed and Sara drove the car out. It was a crazy trip!
So we are 7 months into our work here in Uganda. We are scheduled only for one year. What we have come to find out is that a year is a very short amount of time in the field. Though I have been told by other veteran missionaries that any time you are here is not enough time. We are forced to look ahead to when we return to the US to what we will be doing, where we will live, and what our future plans are. First, we know that God is in absolute control and his will is what we will follow. Will we come back to Africa? Truthfully I don’t know. I do know I have student loans that have to be paid off before we could seriously consider coming back as full term missionaries. Our current plan is once we are home to find a position working at a church full time. In anticipation of that we have sent out our resume to several places back home earlier in the year. If you have ever been in ministry then you know the hiring process takes a long time. A couple of points; this will not interfere with our work here; we will finish the task that was laid out before us. Should God open a different door or show us that He desires us to do something else we will be obedient to that. We are planning with what we know and what we anticipate. We are confident in God’s plan and our part in it even if we are uncertain on parts of it. If this mission work has taught us anything it has taught us that God always has a plan, always ask you to be obedient, doesn’t always show you the next step, but is always faithful to walk you through it.
We have been blessed to have some many people who faithfully given and provided for our work here. It has been humbling to experience and a blessing to see the body at work. We still have several months left and our funds are low due in part to the break in of our vehicle, vehicle maintenance and several sicknesses we have had to work through. We are asking that you prayer fully consider sending an extra gift to help us build our funds back up. If you decide you are able to help, you can go to the support us link at the top to give through AIM or you can let me know I can send you our home address and you can mail a check there to be deposited directly into our bank account. If you have any questions please let us know.
· Pray for our continued work here, specifically: my work in the schools with the Scripture Union, my work with the church and that the church would respond well to it, Sara’s Bible study, and our overall work in Kotido.
· Pray that God would provide financially (cover the cost of the break in, repairs, etc).
· Pray that God will give us direction when we go home, both in our adjustment back and in our search for a job.
· Pray for the future church that we will serve at.
· Pray for endurance and focus for us in the final months.
· Pray for our team (Shepherds, Turners, Mahood).
· Pray for the Karamojong.