Monday, September 29, 2014

Our First Update From Uganda!

     “It feels like we have just been talking about this forever.  Now we are actually doing it.”  Maddix spoke with giddy movement in the seat next to me.  Sophie sat to my left as she stared out the window at the twinkling lights below as they came closer and closer.  The wheels touched the tarmac and gave the plane a little bump.  Maddix breathed deeply and whispered, “We’re here”.  Ezra and Ruby were a few rows in front of us sitting with Jade.  We gathered our luggage and shuffled down the ramp into the airport.  Health inspection.  Visa.  Luggage.  Load the van.
     As we drove through the city at midnight I could hear the children in the backseat pointing at things they had never seen before.  “What’s he doing?” they would ask, “Why are they all up so late?”  In the front seats were Josh Hallahan and Jeff Stanfield, fellow missionaries serving as our welcome committee and transportation from the airport to our new home.  We reached the house after an hour and the men began unloading the vehicles.  “We can do this Nathan, have a seat.”  I was tired enough to accept the offer.  Jade and I scurried around the new house with our children as they laughed and squealed in excitement over every new corner and cupboard.  Within a few short minutes the excitement turned to fear and I returned to our room only to find every member of my family asleep in my bed.  I went to the kid’s room to sleep.  As I laid there with my head on my pillow and my heart racing I thought about everything my family no longer had around us.  The house we love.  The friends and family we love.  Images of my children enjoying our home in America flashed through my mind.  I wanted to cry.  “What have I just done?” my tired mind was running away from me.  God replied, “Relax, Nathan.  This was my idea.  Go to sleep.”  So I did.
     Jade woke me up.  She had been awake with Maddix since 6:30am drinking hot tea and standing on our front porch.  “Did you see our view?” I asked as I rubbed my morning eyes with the back of my hands.  Jade was encouraged about Maddix’s outlook after a good night's rest as well as her own.  These first few days were hour by hour.  Our family would feel confident and joyful in one moment and trembling with emotion the next.
     Every evening we've been treated to dinner with one family from our World Gospel Mission team here in Kampala.  Sometimes we would be picked up and taken to their home.  Other times they would bring food to our home and share an hour or so with us.  We were so encouraged by these experiences.  Very quickly they became a highlight of the day that kept us chugging through whatever trembling happened before 5pm.  On Saturday our team leader, Jon Mayo, stopped by the house to check on us.  Midway through the conversation he mentioned our truck and asked if I was ready to pick it up.  I’ve driven further and further every day since then.  Today I drove through Kabalagala to Gaba Road on my visit to a grocery store.  It wasn’t the most relaxing drive I’ve ever taken but I survived.  A boda (motorcycle taxi) driver with a big wooden box nearly met the passenger side of my bull bars but I don’t think he ever noticed.  I moved along quickly so I didn’t have to find out.
     Jade has been nesting.  Today I felt great warmth as I noticed her getting creative around the house.  She hung some things, folded some things and arranged the master bedroom.  Earlier today we visited a carpenter and put in an order for some furniture.  The house is coming together.  We are learning where things are and how to get food and who to send our questions to and how long certain tasks might take.  It’s a process that requires patience but we are seeing progress.
     We’ve been excited by comments here and there about ministry opportunities but our team has been insistent upon us taking things slow.  It’s good advice.  When we aren’t bogged down with the struggle of day to day normalcies our minds are searching for answers to important spiritual questions like “what do my devotions look like here” and “how can I best show love to the person in front of me”.
     I hope I’ve given you a picture of our early moments in Uganda that might help you to enter our world as you desire.  In that sharing of our experience we ask that you continue to pray for a thriving existence.  May God be glorified in everything we say and do in this beautiful country!

Maddix asked if she could read to Peter.  He loved it!

Ezra has spent countless hours chatting with our guards.

Jade has been adding her "touches" around the house helping it to feel like home.

We put in an order with this fine furniture maker.  We're excited to pick it up in 3 weeks!

This produce truck is just down the street from our house.  We will shop here often.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Home


We are here safely in Uganda! There is a paradox in this home. It is both an intimate cozy family space and a great community movement. We are a happy group of six sent by a passionate group of hundreds. There is a paradoxical pull between ambassadorship and fellowship. This building is both a home and an outpost. It both shelters our children and trains our hearts for ministry. To those who have sent us here and continue to pray for us: thank you.




Sunday, September 21, 2014

Everything in Him


Here is our empty keyring. After today's final preparations we are ready to go. We have no house here to unlock. We have no car to start. We've wept and asked God to receive our tears as worship. Our friends and family have loved us well and we've held their hands in prayer. Our keyring might convey the message that we have nothing. Do not be fooled. In Him, we have everything.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Being a Missionary

* Maddix is guest blogging today. These are the unedited, untouched, honest words of our oldest daughter.*

Being a missionary is hard. But there is happiness.  Happiness about going to new churches or making new church friends. What’s hard is that you have to say goodbye to friends and family but you’ll see them again. When you’re a missionary you are not going on one adventure.  You go to different churches and to training and adventures with friends.                          
  
At the party at Brookhaven there was snacks and drinks.  I had to say goodbye to some of my friends. Of course we took thousands of pictures and same with hugs. It isn’t easy to say goodbye to your best friends or teachers. But during training my family learned how to say good goodbyes so training was helpful. God has helped us through this past year.

Going to new churches and making new friends has been awesome! I was happy when I heard I was going to a cook out or fireworks or swimming or a pig roast. But most importantly I am happy to be a missionary! Bless the Lord!!!  


If God asked you to be a missionary would you do it even if it was not easy?    

Love,

(I took this picture)
                                                                                                                    

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Who is my family?

Barracks Sunday School Class - Brookhaven Wesleyan Church

We look like many but we are one.  Jesus Christ has bound us together in Him and adopted us as brothers and sisters into the family of God.  Like an army, we are one.  Like arms and legs of one body.  Like a thousand birds of the sky fluttering furiously about in their synchronized dance.  We are many.  We are one.

Jade and I have been constantly reminded of the unity of the Body of Christ over the last month.  Missionary work can quickly become an isolating venture.  Different churches.  Different states.  Different cultures.  A year of this kind of service causes any Christian to plead with God for some sense of consistent community.  Our family has been blessed to receive a few weeks of consistent community leading up to our departure.

Last night our Sunday school class threw us a party.  Hotdogs and hamburgers.  Kids laughing and wrestling around.  Ping-pong, prayer and potato chips.  It was awesome.  Before we ate they presented us with a gift.  Over the last year they have been sneakily putting together $5 here and $1 there.  We had no clue.  They handed us an envelope with over $500 and spoke words of confirmation that they were behind us, with us, sending us and praying for our family and the ministry God had in store.

The next morning after our Sunday School hour was over we had our picture taken.  My chest was shaking with emotion.  We went upstairs for the regular service.  I wept at the sound of my family, with whom I am bonded in Christ, singing "We believe in the Crucifixion!  We believe in the resurrection!"  I prayed, "Be praised, Lord.  Hear my family sing to you."

After two 8 hour flights our family will soon be in Uganda.  It doesn't seem like much when I put it that way I guess.  Two 8 hour flights.  That's it.  I like talking about it that way.  Close.  "We're just right over there," I say with a quick throw of my pointer finger toward the Eastern horizon.  Ha.  Oh man, it's really, really far away.  We all know that.  But I have brothers in Uganda, too.  I haven't met most of them yet but they are there.  My family in Uganda is hurting, helping, growing, laughing and making memories.  Jesus Christ has bound them together in Him and we're a part of the same family.  This is true of our Ugandan Christian family: We love them before we've met them.


Consider this challenging passage from Matthew as something to stir internal thought regarding missions:

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our Heroes of the Faith

We just got back from a month of training in Colorado.  I have to tell you about some people I met.  For about a month my family lived in the same building as fifteen or so other missionary families.  I’ll just highlight some of them here so you can see why I’m so encouraged/impressed.  These people are representing Christ around the world.  Yes!

Since some of them are going to dangerous locations I am not going to use any names here.
  • I met a man with great charisma and energy.  We were so moved by how he listened and cared for others as they spoke to him.  I told him about a sermon I was preparing and he found time to sit with me and talk about the things of God.  When we left I hugged him and said, “You changed my life.”  He smiled a huge smile and repeated several times, “Praise Jesus.”
  • I met two families preparing to go to Palestine.  They were quiet, humble, encouraging people who knew Jesus intimately.  If you spent time with them you would feel the warmth of their faith soften your doubts and fear.  God dwelt in these people.  I saw them cry at the thought of what may happen over seas and I saw them praise God for asking them to go.
  • I met a woman who is following God’s call to India even though she struggles with the idea of being there.  She requested, “Can you all pray that God would help me to love it there?”  I was blessed to witness her courage and submission to God.
  • I met a family preparing to move to Lebanon.  Late one night in a parking lot I discussed obedience to God with the father.  We talked about those who discuss the will of God as a suggestion or a possibility.  With a humble and confident posture he stated, “If God is Sovereign then what are we talking about?”
  • I met a husband in his 60’s who has decided to retire by moving to an area populated by Muslims and share the gospel with them.  We thanked him for his example of Christian retirement.  He smiled as if to say, “What else would I do?”
  • I remember the missionary who joined in our time of public grieving.  He approached the place of prayer, stood in quiet tears and then said, “Lord, please…”.  He said no more as he remained in that place crying.  After a couple minutes he sat back down.  We understood.
These are our new peers.  They are our heroes of the faith.  Our family is incredibly grateful to have met them and developed friendships with them.  In a matter of weeks and months our peers will be spread across the world.  Our daughters developed friendships with girls headed to China, Japan, India and Ireland.  I hiked a mountain with a friend headed to Indonesia and laughed often with a friend headed to the Middle East.  Jade shared coffee and late night chats with her friend headed to Jordan and went shopping with a friend headed to Africa.  We’ve seen the conviction in their eyes.  We’ve heard the desperation and passion of their worship.  May you all be as encouraged as we are to know that generations are being raised up in the faith and sent across the world.  Praise God!


Metz kids in the grass of the MTI playground where we spent nearly every evening.