It's so hard to know where to start. The Boiler Room team returned from Uganda a few days ago -- Micah, Bob, Jill, and me. Jill's first visit to Uganda in twelve years was a special time, and we are incredibly grateful. We saw old friends, taught in pastor conferences, shared the Gospel, encouraged faithful servants of Jesus, preached in various congregations, and helped to facilitate a mission team from ORU. And we genuinely had a lot of fun as we did it.
We walked along once-familiar streets, muddied and messy in the current rainy season. Children flocked to stare, and called out "Bye Muzungu" as we ambled by. We drank endless cups of sweet, milky tea and made our way outside to relieve ourselves in the still-not-really-comfortable squatties. We ate matooke with g.nut sauce, posho, chapatis, sweet potatoes, cassava, pumpkin, chicken, beans, goat, beef, and lots of sweet pineapple and bananas. We gazed into the night sky, once again awe-truck by the uncountable starry host. We reveled in the untamed beauty of the Mountains of the Moon, and nervously closed our eyes as we bounced through them and over them and around them in our minivan crammed with missionaries and Africans. We slept under mosquito nets as the mice played with our stuff. We looked fondly at Lake Victoria, and took in the lights of Kampala from our favorite viewing spot on Namirembe Hill, in the shadow of the great cathedral. We were assaulted by all the odors and sights of outdoor markets and trudged through the overcrowded streets of Uganda's capital city. We enjoyed coffee and sweet rolls at Cafe Frikadellen in Masaka and good Indian curry at Faze 3 in Entebbe. We received the warm hospitality of Ugandan pastors and Western missionaries. We were entertained with concerts by groups of orphaned and abandoned children, and worshipped our God with many wonderful brothers and sisters.
One of the primary purposes of this trip was to investigate the possibility of deeper involvement in the equipping of leaders for God's work in this nation and beyond. We prayed into this and had some meaningful conversations with pastors and leaders of church networks. If nothing else, the great need in this area was certainly confirmed. It would also appear that an open door is there for us. The questions now revolve around discerning God's particular guidance for us, and in considering the hows and the whens and the with whoms and the cost and the feasibility. We'd so appreciate it if you would enter into prayer with us regarding this.
The first week we were in Uganda, we were hosted by our friend Pastor Robert. Robert oversees a network of 130 churches, spread throughout the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda. A number of the pastors in this movement were at the conference where Micah, Bob and I taught for three days. The second week we conducted similar teachings in Masaka, working with around 35 pastors plus other ministers and church members in the Mt of the Lord network of churches, lead by our friend Pastor Kintu. This network includes many churches primarily in central and western Uganda, but also with a few in Tanzania and Rwanda. We spent time talking with a couple of other church network leaders as well, each of whom confirmed the need for training and invited us to continue working together. All our teaching was simple but well received. The core message of the Gospel, particularly as presented in the book of Galatians, was our focus.
In between pastor conferences, Jill and I visited several homes for formerly abandoned or orphaned children, including one that is operated by our friends Fatuma and Darren. Fatuma is a dear friend who became part of our extended family when we lived in Masaka, and it is such a thrill to see her now so fully engaged in Jesus' work of caring for the vulnerable. She has been reaching out to Masaka's street kids for years, and has now been able to gather a number of them to live with her and her family in a big home. The kids experience the love and acceptance of Jesus, and many have testimonies of radically transformed lives. Such a beautiful work!
I've really missed all of you, and am so happy to be home. Thank you for sending us to Uganda, and for covering us in prayer. The Father answered prayer so clearly, and my heart is filled with gratitude -- both because of receiving the answers themselves and because of the tender love the Father demonstrated to us in answering them. When He so clearly shows Himself to be involved in our lives in caring and gracious ways it's like nothing else. It causes my heart to soar, knowing that He sees me and provides for me and loves me.
I know that we don't always live in those triumphant moments, and I stand with those of you who are not experiencing that right now. Yet I hope my testimony will encourage you to hold onto hope, and to truly believe and trust in His love for you, too.
A few weeks ago, I asked for prayer because I was tired, and was feeling apprehensive as I considered the month ahead. To be honest, I was in some ways dreading the whole ordeal. For months I had been getting plenty of sleep, and was not really overly taxed, and yet I seemed to always feel fatigued. For the past three weeks, the tables have turned wonderfully. I have not gotten nearly as much sleep, nor as good. I've stayed up late and risen early, often with several wakings during the night. And yet I have had all the energy and vitality that each day required. Through a grueling week of missions prep with ORU and our time in Uganda, this has remained steady. The last couple of days in Uganda I finally began to feel worn down, but by then the primary ministry was over, and we were enjoying a more relaxed time of visiting friends and being refreshed. I am convinced this is God's gracious gift, and I am so so thankful. Thank you for praying for us!
In addition to that, the Lord provided all the funds we needed for this trip, including money for our kids to live on while we were gone. Bob, as many of you know, was in a rough place physically as well. Though the trip was difficult for him in that regard, and he did experience pain throughout, he was stronger and had more endurance than I've seen in him for some time. Even after re-injuring his knee at the very beginning of our travels, he managed to do all that was asked of him for the entire two weeks. Again, the grace of Jesus.
Jill's return to Uganda was perhaps the most special part of the whole thing for me. Throughout the trip I would look over and see her smiling face next to me, and could hardly believe this was finally happening. There have been times over the past dozen years we thought she would never go to Africa again, and so again this trip was a great gift. She was reunited with a number of very special people to her, and she brought joy and encouragement wherever she went. The Lord also used her to bring much needed mother-nurturing to the ORU team, and we were so thankful for her calming and gracious presence on more than one occasion. The last time I was in Uganda, it was heavy on my heart that Jill needed to come with me next time. When I mentioned that to a couple of friends there, they wholeheartedly agreed. Over the nearly three years since then, I've wavered in that conviction a number of times, but again the Father proved Himself greater than my doubts. I can't say thank you enough to all of you for helping to get her on this trip. We are so so grateful. You all are amazing.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.