Hello everyone and happy May! We are two weeks into May and we are approaching our last month in Uganda. We are scheduled to leave Kotido on June 27th, spend a few days in Kampala and then fly home on July 1st, arriving July 2nd. Can you believe it? It is both exciting and extremely sad. We will begin a new chapter but will also be finishing one out. We will be meeting new friends but leaving some behind. We have been trying to prepare ourselves and the kids so the culture shock that comes won’t be as bad. Beyond the beauty of this place we are going to miss the people the most. There are so many who have become close friends to us and to the kids. It will be hard knowing we might not see them again. We will trust God that we have been faithful in being a light for people so that they will in turn shine for others.
What’s the plan when we come home?
When we come home we are going to spend the month of July visiting family and friends. We also will be scouting out a new place to live. I have been offered a position of Youth Pastor at Matlock Baptist Church in Jackson, SC. In case you are wondering, I was able to video interview with this church and teach a class to their youth via the Internet. Is that not amazing! Jackson is about 20 minutes from the Augusta/Aiken area. It is roughly 2 hours from Rock Hill. We are all very excited about this church and this new chapter that God has opened before us. We have new experiences and skills that we will be able to apply in our work there that hopefully will translate to more people serving God. Matlock is a very mission oriented church and gave about 40% of its budget last year to missions! Please be praying for us, for Matlock, and for our families as we transition to this new phase of life. Pray God would be glorified.
What’s been happening in Kotido?
The rains have come early and it rained and rained and rained. Think Forrest Gump. Then one day it stopped. Then it waited a couple weeks and started again. If you came to this area in January then came again now you would not recognize it. Life has exploded and everything is green. The temperature is still high in between rains, but at night I have started using a blanket as it gets quite chilly. Though I wonder how much of it is me getting used to the weather versus it being cooler.
Schools have been out on break so there has been an abundance of kids running around town and through our compound. Christ Church has been an ant hill of activity. Capt. Florence and I spent time reorganizing Sunday services and other church programs in order to make them more orderly and effective. This was something the Bishop had requested of us. I believe it has turned out well and service seems more orderly and I think the teaching and preaching has been much more cohesive. Now each week is more expository and goes chapter by chapter, book by book. We did this for a couple reasons. First, random people would come and preach on random topics and it was usually topical, now we have set a very strict list of who is allowed to preach and what they are to preach on. Secondly, since each week builds on the previous everyone is hearing whole books of the Bible that they may or may not have heard before. It also allows the following week to build on the week before. We really wanted to push growth in the church members. We have changed the mid-week service to a mid-week teaching on doctrinal topics. We spend a month on one topic each week. In April it was fall and redemption. This month it is on being a Christian. Next month it is on the trinity. The Sunday night fellowship has been revamped by Dr. Paul and has had a big increase in people attending.
It is fascinating to see how God times things. Every two years here there is a PCC council that is elected from church members. This year was the year for the next election. The PCC is now comprised of mostly youth (people 35 and under) and 3 older people. There has been a changing of the guard and the new PCC is keen on mission work. They are excited and energized and determined to reach the villages around town for Christ. It has been very encouraging to see. The PCC makes many of the decisions on what the church does and how it is maintained. It has been wonderful to see.
There is a village not far from Kotido, called Nateripus, maybe 5 minutes or so driving, that has saved money to build their own church. They saved over 650,000 Uganda Shillings (about $175 US Dollars)! Now this may not seem like a huge amount, but it is enormous for a rural village. Most people here believe when you get money you spend it on food or something you need, saving is not a thought for people here. So the fact that this village saved so much is amazing! Now Nateripus did this completely alone, without any outside influence. Christ Church had no part in it. They started a long time ago, burnt bricks, bought poles, and asked for help finally. The new PCC jumped on it like a duck on a junebug. For the past month Christ Church has been taking a second offering to help build this church and for the past two weeks everyone has went out and done the work. We measured it off, dug the foundations, set the poles, and laid the bricks. It is really coming together. The village is so excited and fixes porridge made from maize and dinner each time we are out there. You can just see it in their faces how excited they are. God is great.
This is the very first rural Karamojong church Christ Church has planted. This isn’t even over yet and now they are planning to build one in Kacheri (about 40mins away) during youth camp later in the year. I believe this entire series of events God has timed just right and now it is starting to take flight. If you are interested in missions and this sounds like something you want to be a part of, seriously, let me know and I will put you in touch with the right people. There are so many people here to minister to. If you have mechanic, teaching, church, building, farming, medical skills you could come and work here for a time. Before you say that you have not been called to missions, let me encourage you by saying being obedient to Jesus’ command to go to all the nations and make disciples will lead to a call.
In a week or so schools should be letting back in. I plan on getting back in to lead Bible Studies and teach the kids how to study their Bibles. Sara is continuing to lead a Bible Study that has grown by a few women each week. She will continue to do that until we leave with hopes that one of the other ladies will be able to take over when she leaves. The kids are wrapping up school and are just enjoying the time they have left here. We as a family are selling the items we have in the house, most of which belong to AIM, and then figuring out what we will do with things we brought. A lot of it will be given away or sold to various people. We are selling the car and I believe we have someone who is interested, pray that it will come to fruition. We are also trying to plan for when we return home. We have to get insurance, new American numbers, find a place to rent in Jackson, etc. We are also trying to figure out what we are going to do with our dog Odie. It is very expensive to ship a dog home. Most airlines have changed policies on allowing them as checked baggage so the only option in most cases is to ship them as cargo.
- That our remaining time here will be fruitful.
- For us as a family as we begin to look at transitioning back to American culture.
- For our families back home as we come home then leave again.
- For Matlock and the transition they will be going from
- For Newkirk and all my friends there that we are leaving behind.
- Praise for Newkirk for helping send us to Africa!
- For us to know what to do with the Dog, bring him home or leave him behind.
- For the new church in Nateripus to be completed by June and become a light for God in the rural area.
- For Christ Church to maintain the passion to reach the lost.
- For the vehicle to sell before we leave.
- For a boy named Akorio Israel, who has become best friends with our boys. It is going to be extremely hard on him and the boys when we leave.
- For our team as we prepare and they prepare for us leaving.
- For all logistical plans with our leaving.
- For God to be glorified!