I'm going to be really honest with you. If you haven't already figured it out already :) Being a missionary here in northern Uganda is not easy. You wake up to goats crying in the morning, a rooster you secretly long to murder, and your stomach hasn't been “quite right” for about 11 months now. You deal with the disappointments of being betrayed by people you thought you could trust and the politics of church and culture that can be incredibly frustrating. You inhale dust in the dry season and walk through sewage in the wet season. Your entertainment consists of the local crazy man chasing you for money. And a "good meal" doesn't necessarily taste good but doesn't make you sick either. You have the pressure of being in charge of an organization that has to be flexible with the un-organization of Africa. And somehow you're trying to keep a group of girl teenagers with babies growing close to Jesus, becoming self-sustaining, and happy at the same time. Amidst all of this chaos, you try to keep some semblance of personal space with kids looking through your window and wanting "aunty." Personal space disappeared the moment I boarded the plane.
You endure it though because you love the people and you long to see God transform people's lives. You endure it because you are called to it. And finally you endure it because a big part of you loves this place and sees God here in this raw life. When my Congolese girls are laughing while singing "Doe a deer, a female deer" because they just watched The Sound of Music ("Maria" as they call it)...I feel joy I can't explain.
But you get tired. I read a statistic recently that freaked me out: over 90% of missionaries in their twenty's burn out on the field and don't go back. The last thing I want to become is...cynical. But it creeps in with every disappointment. Which is why its so critical to get out, get a break, get a cheeseburger (with normal meat) and get some alone time with God, and some people who love you so you can detox and probably de-wormify yourself. Ever since I came back from Jinja, I've been longing for more time with God and more time for rest. So....
I'll be coming back to the States in TWO WEEKS! for a few months.
For me its about pursuing more of the Father heart of God, more closeness with Him so that I actually feel like I have something to give again. It's also (pretty selfishly) about spending time with family and friends and getting loved up on. We all need that. And last, but definitely not least, its about seeing and thanking the people who've made this all possible and ensuring that we continue to see more lives changed. (You can read more in our April newsletter) Sometimes in the middle of it, when it gets hard, I forget all that's happened, and all that God has done. But if I look at it...it is pretty amazing. So this is my little tribute to the last 9 months of miracles and to all that you given to see it happen.
1. So you can see what I've been doing with my time and for some of you, your dollars :)
2. So you can see that God is who He says He is. Yeah, we think its a pretty good list:
- Met with camp leaders and conducted 3 tiers of interviews to identify the most vulnerable group of child mothers to enter into the program
- Opened a Rehabilitation home in October 2008 and offered 3 meals a day, counseling, and medical services to 9 child mothers and 12 children, both formerly abducted and vulnerable
- All of our girls received Jesus and were set free from oppression
- Saw one girl healed from a blood disease and another healed from nightmares
- Saw a baby healed from malaria
- Offered pre-natal care to 2 girls and birthing care to one of these girls
- Started a weekly child mother support group in Awer IDP camp in Amuru district of between 20-30 young mothers, both formerly abducted and vulnerable
- Conducted sensitization projects in IDP camps towards child mothers through the use of drama and handing out of agricultural supplies to promote peace & reconciliation
- Conducted a live-in 3 month long counseling course which all our girls graduated from
- Weekly group counseling and conflict resolution
- Paid for 2 girls to go through an intensive 1 week counseling training in Jinja
- Taught baking/catering training for 3 months (no not me thank God :)
- Immunized children; took care of all of medical care
- Abstinence training/HIV AIDS testing & prevention
- Parenting training
- Bible studies (bought Bibles for all girls)
- Found 2 girls 3 month long internships at Acholi Inn where they graduated and of whom both are now currently employed
- Paid school fees for two girls for secondary school
- Provided school supplies, uniforms, clothing, shoes, baby items, for all girls
- Partnered with Good Samaritan Vocational School to put 6 girls through a 6 month vocational training course in which they are currently studying
- Provided childcare for 12 children while mothers are at work/in school
- Bought bikes for all the girls to reach school/work
- Planned, organized, helped fund, and implemented a 3 day Pastor's Training in Gulu Town called “Thy Kingdom Come”
- Partnered with local churches and leaders to aid vulnerable young women and their children
- Conducted 2 photography workshops in Awer IDP camp where girls were given cameras to photograph their own lives. Photos were then developed and sold in the US to raise funds for the project. Girls were given copies of their photos.
- Prayed and managed to get one of our girls her two children back from an ex-husband who took them away
- Registered as a local NGO (not as easy as it sounds :)
- Was given 200 acres of land for farming and to resettle girls who have no homes and are currently in the process of planting that land
- Ministered to a group of Congolese refugee prostitutes where 20 received Jesus and were delivered from demonic oppression
- Opened up a rehabilitation home for Congolese prostitutes who want to change their lives and now provide: counseling, bible study/worship, English classes, medical, & bead making training
- Helped with ministering during a counseling training on forgiveness, healing, and the Father Heart of God where our Congolese girls attended and were deeply touched & healed
So if you feel that this is a ministry you want to get involved with, have an event/group for me to speak at, or maybe if you just want to sit down and talk with me, I'd love to.
This is my upcoming schedule for the US: Dates of Travel/Speaking:
May 5-20th—San Francisco, CA
May 21st-June—Virginia/DC (Charlottesville, DC, Harrisonburg)
May 27th—Potomac School, VA
June 13th—Ladies Tea—Warrenton, VA
June 14th—Oakbrook Church, Northern VA
June 17th—San Francisco, CA
July 7-14th—Texas (Houston, San Antonio)
August—CA & “open”
( ps—If you can provide transportation costs, I'd be happy to come somewhere else to see you (preferably if you live in Hawaii or an exotic island :)
It's been a great past year. Thanks for loving me, supporting me, and these girls.
Greetings from all of them.
Signing off from Gulu.