Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One Year in Uganda Video Update!

Hello friends and family! From the hills of Nakigalala outside Kampala we recount the work that's been done in our first year. Thank you to those who have partnered with us in the work! In this video we cover the major projects we are involved in. We love you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Exciting Praise!

I have the COOLEST news ever! Last Thursday Nathan prayed over me, sent me out the door and I drove 45 minutes away (the farthest I'd ever driven alone here) to a small village called Nakigalala. I blasted praise music, giddily prayed and felt Jesus speaking, "You were made for this. You were made to simply spend time loving people," over me. I snapped this photo of myself when I arrived to the village. I wanted to remember the first time I had ventured out this far away from home with just my Jesus.

Weeks before I met a woman who had 14 children (8 living with her), all of them extremely malnourished. I couldn't get her off my mind and knew I needed to see her again. I arrived to her home with overwhelming love in my heart, arms full of food and prayer on my lips. I had never witnessed poverty like what they were living in before. The pastor said he hadn't either. Nine of them sharing a full sized bed. Rain was pouring inside their home through unfinished roofing. Each child with bloated bellies and hollow eyes from malnutrition. 
Well listen to this! The pastor just called and shared the most beautiful news. Sunday at church the woman I visited testified about our time together. She called it 'the action gospel' because it was more than words. After she told of our time together, she rededicated her life to Christ and FOUR women came forward to accept Christ as their personal Savior. They want to know this Man of the 'action gospel.'
God is SO GOOD. We are shouting in praises over here! Friends, there is nothing greater that you can do today than to love others by simply spending time with them!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Life in Him

I remember it like it was yesterday.  The airstrip dotted with twinkling lights.  The immediate health inspection from masked nurses and the scramble for 21 pieces of luggage containing everything we currently owned.  A very dark parking lot. As we were loading in 2 vans, Uganda greeted us with a power outage. My heart began to race and fear welled up.  I couldn’t see anything; only sounds.  In a small crowd of people with my husband and children, I felt completely alone. Nathan and our teammates quickly turned their phone lights on and began packing the vehicles. We then made the windy, dark, one-hour trip to our new home.  Someone said, “almost there” when the van turned onto a narrow dirt road littered with potholes and my fear grew yet again.   My mind raced, “What has God called us to?”  As the big iron gate opened I saw unfamiliar things like a guard in a long black raincoat, tall concrete walls surrounding the property and razor wire lining every side.  When the van was unloaded our teammates left and Nathan shut the iron door to the house locking it from the inside like some bunker.  I was so fearful that night I had our children sleep with Nathan and I.
The first time I went for a jog alone, I was afraid I would get hurt. The first time I was pulled over by a police officer, I was afraid in the uncertainty of the protocol. The first time I was asked to speak at church here, I was afraid of making a fool of myself. The first time Nathan left us to minister in the village, I was afraid he would get hurt. The first time I was invited to a bible study, I was afraid that the women wouldn’t like me.
“Keep moving”. “Do it”. “Press in”. “Die to yourself.” These are the things God begs of me in moments of fear. Isn’t that what Christianity is at it’s core? A call to die to yourself. 
There are moments even still that fear rises up in me. But as I look over the last year of my life, I have realized in the dying to self, I have found life and freedom in Him.   

I now enjoy daily morning jogs where I'm often surrounded by giddy children cheering me on. 
I love exploring this beautiful city. 
Nathan’s village trips have become so rewarding I can’t wait for him to get back so I can hear the stories.  
My bumbling attempt at Luganda is met with kind smiles and gratitude for making an effort to speak their heart language.  

The weekly bible study I attend has been such a warm place of friendship and encouragement.  
So, brothers and sisters, what will we do? Will we choose to believe God even when our knees are shaking and our hearts are racing with fear?  

Let's live in the fullness and freedom that Christ offers today. Moment by moment. One choice at a time. It's life in Him.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Dignity Project Update!

Who is ready for an exciting Dignity Project Update?! May God be glorified! 

I love the Church. In the last 2 months we have received over 350 reusable sanitary pads to distribute. 
Women all over the U.S. have been gathering to make these in their homes and churches. 
We have been working with several of our AGC pastors to bring The Dignity Project to their villages, schools and orphanages. Due to the lack of proper feminine products many girls miss school during their menstrual cycle. God has given us the opportunity to teach both girls and boys. Nathan and I designed a curriculum that caters to ages 12-18 years old.  We discuss who God designed these teens to be, purity, holiness, correct expressions of love, marriage and gender. We came up with a fun 'true' and 'false' game that the kids absolutely have a blast playing!  
Over 150 kids came to learn at Kisugu Primary School!
Here at Kisugu we donated 90 reusable sanitary pads to the girls and teachers. Many of which were made by women from McGrawsville UMC.  McGrawsville is the church where I was discipled and mentored as a teenager.  Isn't God's plan incredible!
Here I am with the younger girls at Kisugu; the older girls needed to leave class early go to a prayer service for their upcoming exams. One by one the girls came to me after class and knelt to thank me and the women who made the pads. It was humbling and beautiful. 
Women in our community have been hearing about this project. It's been fun to get knocks at our gate and phone calls inquiring about them.  There is a group of Ugandan women who are making these for widows in their church. A popular seamstress here has been using the product, loves them and is going to start making them for a sustainable income. It's so awesome to watch God work!
Here we are at God is Good School and Orphanage in Katale, Uganda just outside Kampala. 
After we teach them all together, we separate the boys and girls. Many of them stayed after class for an additional hour to talk privately with Nathan and I about more sensitive issues. Most of the children here are orphans and it was an honor to pray for them individually and speak truth into their lives.
These photos bring tears to my eyes. Girls across the world bringing encouragement to one another! 

We distributed 40 reusable sanitary pads to God is Good Primary School and Orphanage. The day after we left, their Pastor called to say that the girls were so excited that the Headmaster had a hard time getting them to go to sleep that night. 
Here we are with my friend Julie (on the right) who volunteered to help me this day. Women from the church connected to this school/orphanage are going to begin making these products in the months to come!  

It's been awesome to hear positive feedback from the young girls and women who have been using these. I am so proud of my sisters in Christ in America for responding to this need!  The whole Church has come together showing love for each other!  Nathan has been studying 1 Thessalonians.  The activity surrounding the Dignity Project reminded him of Paul's word to the churches in Macedonia: "And in fact, you do love all God's family..."  So, as Ugandans often say, "Thank you for loving us!"

Please keep praying as some exciting things are on the horizon!

Many thanks to all of you who through prayers, time and resources give so generously to make this project successful! We are so grateful!

Comment below with your email address if you would like more information about The Dignity Product. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

AGC Library Grand Opening!

It started with desire.  Not mine, theirs.  Every Ugandan I met wanted to learn and yet few had the resources to help them.  I remembered the hundreds of books I left in storage back at home and felt compassion for them.  Something had to be done.  Jade and I tapped on a few shoulders and whispered in a few ears.  Before we knew it the books were arriving and piling up.  Our wonderful friends in America had latched on to an idea and partnered in a very special way.  It seems like it happened over night.  This is how the AGC Pastoral Library was born:

Jade worked with a friend in America to design a stamp specific to our little collection of books.  We stamped over 300 books as they arrived from generous partners in America.
Maddix and Sophie were 'hired' as librarians to help organize the books.
For a few months we stored the books at our home until the new space was ready.  Young Isaac (15) stared in awe at the selection.  He borrowed 'The Jesus I Never Knew' by Philip Yancey to study and read.
The library needed a big table.  Jade's dad and I went down to the local lumber yard to buy some wood.  This is a piece of Mahogany 2"X12"X18' which we bought for a great price!
I only own a jigsaw so the straight cuts and joints were a real challenge.  Do you see the shape coming together?
Jade's dad, Howie, had this idea to arrange the grains in a way that showed a cross.  Do you see it in the table?  The man on the right is Kevin Jumba, a very close family friend who does a lot of wood projects with me.  He is a talented man and a very hard worker.
With the table complete we began moving the library into its place.  We hung the light shade, a 25' timeline, a couple maps and several bookshelves.
It didn't take long for good discussions to find their way into the library space.  Even before the opening we found several hours here and there to "test" the space.  Here Rev. James Ouma and I (Nathan) are talking through church matters and vision for future work.
The day came to finally open the library.  Since we were short on chairs we needed to borrow a few.  Pastor Tony hopped up on top of the van to help keep the chairs from flying off during our short drive.  Even though everyone stared and pointed and laughed, I was a careful driver.
Jade helped several of the women in the church to prepare a meal for over 60 people!  They did a wonderful job and had fun in their work.  It was a loud kitchen:)
Pastors Tony, Aron and Rob were visiting from America as special guests for the event.  We were so blessed by their presence in our home and community over a week and a half.
The grand opening of the library was a service filled by God and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We enjoyed passionate worship, loving fellowship and a tone of encouragement throughout.
I spoke to the pastors and leaders about shepherding sheep, fighting wolves and being filled by the Lion of Judah.
We closed the service by laying hands on the leaders of World Gospel Mission and Africa Gospel Church.  Pastor Wilson led in prayer as all our voices were lifted up in agreement, petition and praise.
We sang together as we moved from the shelter to the doors of the new library.  Bishop Kefa officially opened the library cutting the ribbon and blessing the space.  With the doors open the African pastors filled in until there was no room to move.  Rev. David spoke words of blessing and encouragement followed by a closing prayer of dedication.
Every pastor received a copy of the newly printed 2nd Edition of the AGC Church Discipleship Manual.  Over the past months I (Nathan) have been working to update and improve the previous version of the manual.  The book is a step by step training tool used to facilitate the discipleship of new Christians entering our church communities.  We were so excited to provide this updated tool on the day of the library opening.
Here you see the finished library.  We had a small amount to get a few cushioned chairs, refinish the floor and put some screen doors on.  A fan in the corner and power outlets around the room make it an easy place to spend a lot of time.
Jade and I donated this painting to the Africa Gospel Church.  We've seen dozens of lion paintings here but this expression is unique.  The lion appears to be praying and asking for strength and direction.  We put it in the library as a reminder to our pastors of the posture in which we learn and grow.
Pastor Thomas made a beautiful wooden sign for the library which we hung in the corner.  It was awesome to see all the contributions that came together to make the space special.
It's been so rewarding walking through the library with pastors who have never seen this many books in one place.  I've shown them the different sections and explained how to use different kinds of books.  What an awesome place!
Bishop Kefa said, "It's been said 'If you want to hide knowledge from an African, put it in a book'.  That saying is no longer true of us!"  Pastor Gideon said, "It is my hope that one day this library will become a university where we can send our children."

Thank you so much to those who helped make this day possible!  If you would like to donate to the AGC library please contact us.  God bless you and God bless Uganda!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Celebrating 1 Year in Uganda!

Today marks one year living in Uganda! Let’s celebrate by having a normal day! The kids are at school where they have friends and favorite classes. Ruby is outside drinking tea and eating toast with our watchman. This morning Jade went on her daily jog and is headed to bible study shortly. I’m working with Kevin (a family friend) teaching him some carpentry today while I wait on revisions of the latest curriculum book to come back. It’s a very normal day. When your family has a year that my family has had it feels like a celebration to arrive at ‘normal’ again. A huge thanks to our partners who invest in this ministry and faithfully carry us in prayer. Here’s to another year!