Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter in Uganda

Since we are still in our first year of missions work we get to enjoy every holiday for the first time!  Today we celebrated Easter with our Ugandan friends.  The energy and excitement in their worship was such a great encouragement to us.  Here are some pictures from our first Easter weekend in Uganda.

We stuffed the Easter eggs with jelly beans and stickers.
Thanks to the generosity to a College Wesleyan small group and Dublin Wesleyan Church we were able to stuff 500 eggs!
We went to the orphanage on Good Friday and had a sweet time sharing the Easter story with the children. The concept of an Easter egg hunt was new to everyone so we explained how the egg represents new life in Christ and showed them how to open the eggs. The mommas (caretakers) had a blast helping the kids find the eggs. There was a lot of joyful shouting! 

After the Easter egg hunt it was time for lunch so, of course, we stayed and helped give the babies their bottles. 

Saturday afternoon haircuts for Nathan and Ezra (only $3 total!).  :)
To be honest for the first time in my life I (Jade) woke up fearful to go to church on Easter morning. Because of the recent Kenya attack the security here in Uganda has been heightened, which can cause fear and worry to rise up in us. I praise God that in my devotions this morning the Lord brought Scripture after Scripture to mind which brought me great peace. I was reminded that worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is.  So, we got dressed and ready--clothed in peace and joy and went to church!
We had an abundance of Easter eggs so we rolled the windows down and passed them out to passer-byes. 
As we passed out the eggs we said, "Happy Easter! Mukama Yebazibwe (Praise the Lord)! 

It was a blast!
Nathan preached about the common term 'born again' using the image of a baby to describe our new life in Christ.  The congregation sensed the presence of God in the room as the service went on.  At the end of the service Nathan invited those who hadn't been born again to come forward and pray.  A young man approached the front shaking with tears on his face.  For some time he prayed with Nathan, discussing things and crying.  Finally Nathan stood up and introduced him to the rest of the congregation as a new member of their family.  The church cheered and clapped and continued in worship.  What an awesome Easter experience!

We put on an Easter egg hunt for the kids at church too.

They loved it! 

The longer we are here the more our perspective changes.  We don't go to church wondering, "What will this be like?" or "What are we supposed to do?"  We don't enter so many rooms wondering who will be in there.  We don't wonder how to greet or carry on conversations with people.  In fact, it is an incredible joy to use our history within relationships to carry on conversation.  Nathan spoke with a man this morning who recently lost his son.  This morning he told Nathan that shortly after the death of his son he also lost a boy who was like a son to him.  Since Nathan has spoken with him before there was opportunity to move the relationship forward.  Together they shared about struggle and pain in this life.  The man testified, "Thank you for your ministry here Nathan.  We believe that no matter what happens God is good."  Our family is so thankful for everything that has happened today.  What a wonderful Easter!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indiana Wesleyan University Adult Chapel Video

This week we had the pleasure of being Skyped into an Indiana Wesleyan University Adult Chapel. Nathan graduated from and worked at IWU for 8 years and prior to our move here. Grab a cup of coffee and listen as we share from our hearts on our challenges and strategies here in Uganda. We hope it will encourage you all as you journey through this mission with us! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Our Month in Photos

Hello dear friends! We've been in Uganda for 6 months now.  The first 6 months has been wonderful, terrible, exhausting, inspiring, confusing, purifying, lonely, fruitful, unpredictable and memorable. Some days we fall and others we soar. We've cried for the good and bad. We've been broken, mended and broken again and again. No matter what the next 6 months require we will give it everything we have. God is worth it. 
In photos, we'd like to give you a glimpse of what we've been up to over the last month. 

We've completed our formal Luganda training and cultural classes with our teacher and friend Florence.  We learned so much and we praise God for how He opened our minds to learn a new language in our 'old' age. :) Jade continues to practice with a local shopkeeper and Nathan uses Luganda quite often when we preaches and works with our pastors. 
In addition to pastoral training and curriculum development Nathan leads a weekly Bible study at a local university. Once a month they study in our home, play soccer with our kids and drink Jade's delicious American Kool-Aid. Nathan has been brought to tears several times seeing the men light-up learning new deeper truths. 
Jade regularly serves at the orphanage and sometimes takes the children along with her. This month she helped take 17 of the children to a local indoor activity center where the kids swam, jumped in bouncy houses and rode rides.
Sophie had her first big school project on Anne Frank.  She got to write a report, make a poster, give an oral presentation and dress up like Anne.  Nathan and Sophie worked on the project every day after school. 
She got a 150/150 on her project! We are so proud of her!

The kids participated in Spirit Week at their school. One day was Wacky Day where they dressed up crazy! Ezra won SECOND place in the entire school K-12! He sure did look wacky! :)
Every Friday the children have chapel at school. Last week Maddix's class led it and Maddix had a solo.  Even though she said she was nervous her proud parents thought she sang beautifully!
Nathan and our day guard Peter often sit and talk through things that come to Peter's mind.  He asks about things he reads in the Scriptures or hears around town.  Together they have talked through everything from philosophy to theology to Bible study and Church history.  Nathan has been so impressed with the deep desire of most Ugandans to learn.  These people are the BEST students!
Nathan often practices his sermons with Peter to make sure they make sense in the African context.  Not only are Ugandans great students, they are also fantastic teachers.  Peter and other Ugandan men and women have shared their thoughts on spiritual things with us bringing much new light to old ideas.
Nathan preached a sermon series about the Incarnation at one of our AGC churches: Kisugu.  Here he was sharing some exercises picked up from Dr. Bounds, his theology professor at IWU.  The congregation loved the motions and followed along with smiles learning how Jesus is fully God, fully man, fully One and He came down and brought me life.  Uganda is a warm country, ignore the sweaty armpits:)
After the service Nathan taught the children how to play "knockout".  The game quickly disintegrated into "shoot and scream" but they loved it!
This particular Sunday we brought one of the girls' from church home for the afternoon.  
We had a blast playing one of our favorite games with her. We call it "the water game"...creative huh?! We put our initials on the pavers, turn on the spicket and watch the water flow slowly through the cracks. We get pretty excited to see whose paver gets hit by the water first! :)
Ruby sat for 5 hours to get her hair braided by a sweet woman named Esther. 
Her hair looks beautiful and will last about 2 months. She loves it and often goes to the mirror to look at it. :)
Rainy season is officially here! We rejoice! The cool breeze feels so wonderful!  Anytime it starts to rain here our whole family runs out to the front porch hollering out "15 minutes!" and "no, 25 minutes" excitedly guessing how long until the clouds reach our house.  Needless to say, it's a big deal.
Our first visitor has arrived: Jade's mom!   She is the first of 18 in the next 6 months.  It has been such a blessing to show one of our family members where we live, what we do and who we serve!
Over a weekend we took Jade's mom 5 hours away to Sipi Falls where we hiked to 3 waterfalls and a couple caves. We are so grateful to live in such a beautiful country!
Maddix and Sophie were quite adventurous!
The girls swimming with the local children of Sipi, Uganda. 
During our hikes we saw traditional African huts, women washing their clothes in the stream and children warming themselves by a fire after bathing. So simple and so beautiful! 
 Thank you for your great investment in our lives and ministry.  We hope these pictures have helped give you a little insight into what our lives are like.  God is working and we are thankful to be included in His work.  As we pray for you please pray for us.  God be glorified in us.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Future Or God's Glory

As he was beaten he shouted, “I’m a Christian!”  They hit him harder and he said it again, “I’m a Christian!”  If he would just renounce his faith the beating would stop.  The persecution became worse and he never stopped repeating the words.  “I’m a Christian!” he said until they killed him.  Witnessing believers were inspired by his actions and responded boldly resulting in even more deaths.  In fact, so many Christians were brought into this persecution that they were dying of suffocation from being so tightly packed together in their holding cells.

This particular story of persecution, while sounding like something from CNN yesterday, is actually over 1,800 years old.  So what happens when a young Church is faced with such severe treatment even unto mass death?  What happened 1,900 years ago when Christians were killed just so their bodies could be set on fire to provide light for the evening games?  What happened when leaders were crucified, burned to death and torn apart by animals just because they confessed Jesus Christ as the Son of God?

The Church grew.  God was with them.  The Gospel was spread.  God was glorified.

So what will happen if this current persecution doesn’t get better?  What happens if 60 countries at a summit can’t stop evil?  What will become of the Church?  What will become of the Christians?

The Church will grow.  God will be with us.  The Gospel will be spread.  God will be glorified.

As I read the news tonight I came across an article about the brother of two of the twenty-one martyred Coptic Christians.  He said he was thankful that ISIS included the declaration of faith in their video.  He said his faith was strengthened!  Those from their village said, “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs.”  Wow!

All of this can cause my insides to whirl around and bubble up with concern, curiosity and desired outcomes.  May I please be candid and share with you some of the thoughts I have in my heart right now?
  1. I’m concerned about the world my children will experience but optimistic about their capacity to improve it.
  2. I wish that hearts filled with hatred could know the joy of a heart filled with love.
  3. I hope my Christian brothers and sisters can show the world how to love people regardless of their faith, nationality, race, ethnicity, etc, etc, etc.
  4. I remember a challenge from years back to memorize more Scripture in preparation for persecution and wish I had taken it more seriously.
  5. I’m constantly asking myself “what if that happened to me?” or “what if that happened to someone in my family?” and praying about how I answer the question.
  6. It seems that living overseas has caused me to feel more connected to the Church around the world.
  7. I’m proud of my Christian family members living in persecution and I pray they are encouraged in their faith.
  8. I wonder if through this I am more concerned with my future than God's glory.
I know these thoughts all seem a little disjointed, maybe overly emotional, possibly even rash.  Persecution does this.  It acts like a fire under the pot that causes things to boil.  When we boil we begin to bubble and the waters in our souls shake and those things that have settled to the bottom are stirred up!  We say things and feel things that we might not have know were there.  Hidden fear, confusion and a long list of other unexpected responses can be stirred up when persecution enters the picture.  If that happens then take the opportunity to confess these feelings to God, repent and ask Him to help heal and cleanse.

So what happens in you when you hear news of terrorism or persecution and stop to think about it?  I've given you my list of thoughts and feelings that bubble up when I think about persecution.  What bubbles up in you?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Metz Family Video Update #1

In our first video update we share what it felt like to leave America and what ministry opportunities we are beginning to become involved in.  What we share in the video is personal to us but of value to the Church and therefore we do not hesitate to share our experiences with you.  As you watch and consider what we have said we ask that you enter into this ministry with prayer.

A package with a hard copy of this video on DVD and our new prayer cards is on it's way to our partnering churches, small groups and Sunday school classes. Thank you all for your incredible support!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Community Health Empowerment

This week Nathan has been in the village of Patete, Uganda helping with a Community Health Empowerment Training. He updated our Facebook account when he could. Here's what he shared: 
Day One of CHE training: We're studying the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6 and looking for what was available to the people. Our goal is to encourage positive thinking that solves community problems by building on assets rather than becoming overwhelmed by needs. I'm impressed by the great desire of the people to learn together. It's hot enough in this room that I'm sweating as I (Nathan) sit here. I heard a Ugandan woman say, "when it's this cold I get itchy." Wow.
Day Two of CHE training: We asked what projects had been done in the villages. The list (shown in picture) in response to this question was amazing. I'm constantly amazed by African community. In every word and action brotherhood is the assumed resource. As a missionary from a culture that celebrates the 'self-made man' I am challenged to celebrate interdependence with my neighbor as a sign of health and strength.

Day Three of CHE training: Meet Patrick. He's with me at a training in the village of Patete. This good man lives on the slopes of Mt. Elgon near the border of Uganda and Kenya. He is a bee farmer who has worked very hard to make the most of what's available to him. As a result of his hard work the government has given him $5,000 of equipment and arranged for him to attend a conference in Tokyo, remarkable achievements in these parts of the world. He is an encouragement to his community, a man quick to smile and be supportive and an absolute joy to talk to.

Day 4: I just finished preaching the morning service at Patete AGC near the Kenya border. I spoke about Hezekiah and how revival happens. At the close of the service a man prayed, "Lord, we cannot force you, but I invite you, revive us now." Wow.

Day 5 of CHE training: Today we conclude our training in Patete. I'm thankful to Pastor George for hosting us this week. George is a man of authority, respected by his community and leading through humble servanthood and Godly wisdom. We thank God for Pastor George.

An update from Jade: My first week of staying at home alone with the kids in Uganda was a success! I can't really call it a solo momma week because so so many of you were carrying us in prayer. Thanks to your prayers and the fact that I found bagels for the first time ever (I bought 12), it's been a successful week! :)

We love you all and thank you for your support. We're so grateful for you!