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28 September, 2016

A Season of Flurries

We are in a season of flurries. Flurries of activity are frequent, almost constant some days. This season is marked by lots of people coming and going; travel, trips to the airport, arrangements to be made, and lots of, “hurry-up—let’s-go!” We have the privilege of welcoming people into Uganda, showing people the ministries in which WGM Uganda missionaries serve, hearing testimonies of transformation in lives and communities and hearing how people are being served.

Some days this season is very tiring. Some days we hear heart-breaking stories. Some days the flurry requires traipsing through the mud. Some days, it doesn’t even matter and we don’t even notice the fatigue and our hearts rejoice and we don’t even see the mud.

Worship during Masese AGC service
After a traffic-hassled trip from Kampala to Jinja and a restless night in a noisy town, we experienced our Living God in the worship service at Masese AGC. The music was beautiful, the children adorable, God’s Word was inspiring and the Holy Spirit moved among us. People chose to go deep with Christ, leaving behind the comfort of shore and the safety of shallow commitment. What a joy to pray with them. And joy flowed again as three young people prayed in repentance of sin and acceptance of Christ’s free gift of salvation. We rejoiced with the angels in heaven!

Overlooking the Nile River
Before the next flurry we had a bit of Sabbath rest as we paused on the shore of the great River Nile. 

Streams in the path
Tuesday evening it rained, hard. Large drops pelted down, creating streams of flowing water where just a couple of weeks ago the dry and dusty path felt crunchy beneath our feet. Today, the rain eventually slowed and mamas carefully made their way through the mud and filth to hear God’s Word taught in truth and to pray. Missionary mamas joined in, interceding and asking for Truth to be revealed and for Living Water to flow and cleanse. Women found hope in Jesus and a new freedom in His cleansing.

This is a season of flurries, and all of heaven is rejoicing!

10 August, 2016

Reflecting in Gratitude

August 10, 2015, a date etched in my mind. The day of my open heart surgery for aortic valve replacement and repair/replacement of the ascending aortic aneurysm. The first day on my road to recovery from a failing valve and growing aneurysm. I can’t believe it is already August 10 again!
As I reflect on the past 13 months, memories of preparation for surgery, going through surgery, learning to live with limited movement for several weeks, regaining strength, healing from pericarditis and cardiac rehabilitation work all swirl through my mind. And overriding it is the
realization, “All is well.”

My brief time in the hospital for surgery and four nights after surgery was filled with learning…
day 2 post op
how to control nausea caused by the drugs, how to move correctly, how to manage pain, how to rest when I needed it and how to use my "best friend", a heart shaped pillow, which was a necessity for movement in the early days following surgery.

My early days at home were filled with wonder that I could be THAT tired so easily, that I needed to rest THAT much and that I was prayed for by THAT many people. The words of encouragement and assurance of prayer poured in from around the world. Our WGM family, African friends and many others assured us they were traveling the road of recovery with us. Christine and I were strengthened and encouraged.

The onset of fever was an enigma to many, but perseverance in pursuing the cause led to proper treatment for pericarditis, a common occurrence following heart surgery. The right drug brought rapid relief. I was able to work hard in my cardiac rehabilitation classes and my recovery continued on a steady course from there onward.

3 mos post op 
Four months after surgery Christine and I boarded the plane to carry us home to Uganda. We arrived in Kampala December 31, an hour or so before midnight. On our way home from the airport, just as we crested the hill into Kampala, the clock struck midnight and the fireworks went off all over the city. We could see them all around as. Our hearts exclaimed, “All of Kampala is celebrating God’s faithfulness with us, His goodness to see us home to Kampala!”

We continue to proclaim God’s faithfulness. Surely, the Living God is among us! We rejoice in His provision for our return. His healing touch restored me fully. All is well.

Today, August 10, 2016, Christine and I are taking the day as Sabbath rest. Time to reflect, time to praise our God, time to rejoice in God’s faithfulness. We are remembering His provision through His people. Prayer, meals, words of encouragement, cards, text messages, hugs (very gently at first), housing, help at every turn. The Body of Christ ministered to us. All is well.

I am fine. I have no restrictions. I feel good. I play basketball for a couple of hours once a week. I completed my first run/walk 5K. I have no problem walking the hills of Kampala, Uganda. I work hard and I play hard. I am fine. All is well. And I am forever grateful.


05 July, 2016

Building an Altar

This was a weekend of milestones. We are carefully considering each one, using the stones to build a mental altar of worship to God as we see how far the Lord has brought us. Throughout the Old Testament we read of stones gathered and altars erected to commemorate God's faithfulness to his people. Here are some stones gathered for our (mental) altar.
July 1st marked six months since our return to Uganda following our homeland ministry assignment and medical leave last year. Hooray! Jeff’s health is great. He is not experiencing any heart problem. God’s has faithfully provided for our every need here. This stone we added to the altar.

We mentally picked up another milestone as we remember that one year ago we were waiting for the first appointment with the cardiac surgeon. We were eager to know the plan and timeline for Jeff’s open heart surgery, recovery and our return to Uganda. Admittedly, we were still navigating varying measures of uncertainty as we tried to wrap our heads around the news that Jeff’s heart valve was rapidly failing and he had an aneurysm growing close to a dangerous size.

During that time we had so many thoughts rolling around in our minds, some of them rising and receding like a tide but never leaving completely. “Will we ever get back to Uganda?” “In what ways will our lives change forever because of this condition?” “Should we travel for other surgical opinions?” “What if this is Jeff’s last birthday here on earth?”

But praise God, Sunday we celebrated Jeff’s birthday at our home in Kampala, Uganda! God provided for our every need along the journey of Jeff’s surgery, recovery and return to Uganda. In recent weeks, over and over we have talked of God’s faithfulness. It is still fresh in our minds how God miraculously carried us through all of that. We find it hard to believe that we have been in Uganda six months already.

Celebrating God's Faithfulness
So we had a party on July 3, Jeff’s birthday! Friends gathered with us to celebrate God’s faithfulness and wish Jeff a happy birthday. Our hearts were greatly encouraged as we shared evidence of God’s faithfulness in our lives. We heard of God’s faithfulness in provision, in protection, in comfort and in giving direction. We laughed together, wept, sang and prayed. We are still basking in the blessings of that corporate worship of our God. Another stone piled on the altar.

The third milestone in our mental altar is participation in a 5K fun run/walk here in Kampala. July 4, we joined several of our WGM colleagues and ran/walked a very user-friendly 5-K route in solidarity with a church in Indiana that is also doing a Fourth of July 5-K fun run/walk as a fundraiser. They are raising money for WGM Uganda to provide school scholarships for orphans living on Buvuma Island in Lake Victoria.   

Completing the 5-K run/walk
We remember how last year during Jeff’s rehabilitation from surgery we would encourage ourselves by planning to get Jeff’s stamina back to the point where we could participate in a 5-K run/walk. And yesterday we did it, in the hills of Kampala, no less. Jeff was able to run/walk for an average speed of about 12-minute-miles. Hooray! Way to go, Jeff! One more stone gratefully placed in worship of our God.

What milestones are you using to build your mental altar of worship to God? Please share your story so we can rejoice with you.

God is faithful and we praise him!

Jeff and Christine