What every missionary wants you to know but doesn’t want to tell you

This week I (Jerilyn) had the incredible opportunity to go to a women’s retreat here in Jinja. It was specially designed for the missionary women in Uganda. A team from Kirbywoods Baptist Church in Tennessee has spent a year prayerfully planning this event and, let me tell you, their efforts were not wasted.

I sat in a room of 50 ladies. The stories were incredible! Some had recently lost loved ones. Some had adoptions denied after years of caring for the child in their home. Some were kicked out of their host country for being Christian. Some were struggling to learn a new culture as they are fresh to the field here in Uganda. Some women were leaving their ministry post of 15 years after a job well done while others were healing from many years of opposition. There were missionaries who were ready to be on the next flight out and missionaries who have been faithfully serving for over 20 years and still know this is where they belong.

These are our superheros- our missionaries. These are also real people with real problems. Spiritual warfare is undeniable. The fight is written on every line of these womens’ faces. Some have learned to “laugh at days to come.” Others are struggling just to keep their head above water. 

Our missionary families need our prayers and encouragement! Please don’t forget them. They need people who really care about what is going on in their lives, not just the statistics of their ministries.  They need people who won’t judge them but know them for who they are and chose to love them anyway. Isn’t that what we all need. They need people who love their children unconditionally. After only two months, I can see that raising multicultural children is a HUGE challenge.

I am so encouraged and enlightened by what I experienced.  I am seeing clearly the need for consistent, fervent support of all kinds, including notes, gifts from “home”, etc.  But what they need most is prayer!

Who do you know serving in vocational ministry? Please, I beg of you, lift them up today. They need it more than you will ever know! Your prayers work.  We have heard repeatedly testimonies of people who have been protected from something, only to find out later that someone was praying for them at that exact time.

Thank you for praying for our family this summer. Really. THANK YOU!

Prayer Requests:

– Pray for the BridgePoint Team as we continue to work out details for their arrival on the 10th. The team is still $1000 short for their ministry expenses. If you would like to contribute to this need you can do so online at http://www.fundly.com/walk-of-faith-to-uganda or via check to BridgePoint Church, 5796 Hillside Drive, Gloucester, Va 23061 (Uganda Trip in memo line)

 

 

Makukuba and Murchison

Whew… the last month and a half has been a whirlwind! We have hosted three teams and  several other various people. At any given meal there up to 20 people dining with us. We have spent umpteen hours in taxi’s traveling down dirt roads. We have met some incredible people who have left imprints on our hearts, only to have to say goodbye to them two weeks later. We have taught in Bible Training Schools, Women’s retreats, Graduations, Children’s ministry events, School Assemblies, and Bible Studies. Brian has played the drums each Thursday evening and Sunday morning for Acacia Community Church. He has helped the church, who recently moved into a new facility, completely reconfigure their meeting space and sound equipment. I originally hoped to blog weekly, but before I know it a week has come and gone.

In the last week we finally made it out to Makukuba. This is the village we have a desire to invest in (and BridgePoint already has.) Unfortunately, it is over two hours drive from where we are currently staying and travel is not quite as easy here as it is in the States. It was incredible to revisit the school and see their progress. We are thrilled about their philosophy for community development. They surveyed the community to find out what they saw as their greatest needs and began there. Because it was the community’s ideas, they had immediate buy in. They people of Makukuba have total investment in the projects. The school was made completely from poles harvested and donated from the community. The only purchase they needed to make was the metal roof sheets and nails. Men come in on rotation to volunteer their day to make bricks to help add new classrooms.

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The small group of believers are meeting together even though they do not currently have a pastor. They have refused to allow anyone to pay for their church building, but instead would like to make their own bricks as well. They are requesting help with just the nails and metal sheet roofing. These are commodities that are very difficult to get in that area. It is so refreshing to see people committed to changing their community.

This provides a stark contrast to some of the things we have seen. Many people are eager for Western people to pay their way for everything. It is a very difficult situation. We want to help, not hinder by creating dependance on outsiders. How can we be generous while being wise? Sometimes when we alleviate a problem for someone, we are actually doing more harm than good. We as white people come and “fix” all the problems.

Another thing we have realized this trip is the “we can fix it” approach has led our Ugandan friends to believe that white people have no problems. In no way has this been anyone’s intention, but it has been the impression left, no doubt. If you know me (J) at all, you know I’m an open book. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, which isn’t always a good thing. However, I also don’t mind saying how things are. This has been freeing to Ugandan women in so many conversations I have had. As I shared about my life and things that I have experienced, they seem freed to know that I have had troubles in my life. I apologized to one nineteen year old girl for the incorrect impression we have left.  We do an injustice to all that God has done for us when we fail to give a complete picture of our lives to people.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.…”1 Corinthians 1:3-5

On a lighter note, after the last team departed we went on a trip to Murchison Falls in western Uganda. We traveled to the top of the falls which was absolutely incredible. The entire Nile River is squeezed into a space of just 23 feet wide and drops 141 feet. The power of the water at that spot is indescribable. We took a boat ride along the Nile River and saw all kinds of wildlife that is not in the part of Uganda where we are staying. The next day we went on a game drive though the Murchison Falls National Park. There we got to see up close and personal all of the animals that we typically associate with Africa. We saw Lions, Giraffes, Elephants, Hyenas, Jackals, and all kinds of gazelle-like animals. It was stunning. It was a great, mid-trip break.  To see more pictures, look at our Ugandan Summer Album on Facebook.

Thank you so much for being a part of our summer through following us on this blog and praying consistently (or even inconsistently) for us. We have experienced the effectiveness of your prayers in so many ways that we have seen and, we are certain, innumerable ways that we have not.  Our God works through the prayers of His people.

Prayer Requests:

-Continue to pray for us as we seek the Lord’s will in regards to our future in Uganda.

– Pray for the BridgePoint team that arrives August 10th as they prepare and we prepare for their arrival.

– Pray for my Bible Study with my English and Chinese friend.

Death is real

Sunday afternoon Brian, Pastor Terry and several other Ugandan Pastors we work with traveled over three hours to grieve with a Pastor/Church Planter named Timothy. His wife Grace gave birth to a beautiful baby boy just 2 weeks ago. However, Grace had serious complications and remained in a coma after the baby was born.

We spent multiple nights praying for Grace and Timothy. We have had many conversations about death as we have been here, brought about by things like visiting a malnourished children’s home, meeting many orphans, and praying for Grace and our cook, Susan, who has lost 2 family members since we have been here.

Grace’s death was difficult for us to swallow as Americans. It was a senseless death. If she had only had adequate healthcare this could easily have been prevented. She simply bled to death.

Death is so raw and real here! Everyone we encounter knows death intimately. Daily, people die from lack of medicine, lack of knowledge, AIDS, auto accidents, inferior care etc.

This is just one of the many needs that flash before us each day. There are so many needs that sometimes it is overwhelming. But God is good! The reality of death has shaped this culture for the positive and negative.

In a negative sense, people are often living in survival mode. Some don’t have hope for tomorrow, much less their future. So live for today. This is played out in many ways such as stealing, violence, and hopelessness.

On the other hand, it also has some positive effects. The Ugandan people are all about their family and community. They are very relational. They truly come together to provide for each other in times of trouble. For example, there were about 1,000 people at the burial for Grace.  They gave over 1,000,000 shillings ($400, which is more than many people make in a year here) to the family to help Timothy care for their 6 children.

Most encouraging, however, is their openness to spiritual things. In the absence of material distractions and in light of the reality of death, the Ugandans are hungry for hope which the truth of Scripture amply supplies. They are open to hear about Jesus in a way that many people in first world countries don’t understand.

Is it a difficult life? YES! In no way do we want to diminish the struggles that these precious people face each day. On the other hand, I envy them. I envy their freedom in worship, their thankfulness for each thing they receive, their eagerness to give thanks in difficult circumstances and their yearning for God.

Pastor Timothy summed it up, when he saw Grace’s time was coming to an end on this earth. He told  Pastor Terry that he was simply trusting God’s will and rejoicing that she would no longer be in pain. Lord, help us to set our mind on things above. Give us your perspective on this World and the things in it. Give us your eyes.