When Words Fail

As I sit on a small plane headed back to Entebbe (central Uganda) from Arua (Northern Uganda/West Nile) I just thought I would jot down my thoughts from our time here. It’s hard to put into words what is happening up here but I’m going to try! The past 2 weeks we have been in Midigo, a place very dear to our hearts. We have been coming to this area for over 15 years. We have many friends here who we consider family even though we only get to see them every few years. Senior Pastor Charles and his wife Levenia are our dear friends along with many others. We wish we had more time with them, but are so grateful for the time He allowed us to be there. The first 5 days of our trip were spent joining a team from Promise Child and Frontline Missions. We got to tag along with them as they were basically doing a surveying trip to see what kind of ministry would be possible to do in the newly formed refugee camps that are about an hour drive from Midigo. So we spent most of our time the first week in Bidi Bidi and Yoyo refugee camps. It was blessing but also a sobering and humbling experience. There is a very great need here. One that I know we can’t fill, but one I wish I could. It really breaks your heart to see the need and not be able to do much physically. Not only are there physical needs of food, water, and clothing but there are also great spiritual needs. People are dealing with the heartache of war and the trauma of seeing loved ones slaughtered. Depression and Post Traumatic Stress are common among most everyone I talked with. People are now beginning to get settled and into a new routine but the wounds of war and the need for spiritual peace are still very present. Calvary Chapel Midigo has been able to start a church there for the believers to fellowship. Our hope is that Christ’s love would heal these broken hearts. We know it is only through him that true peace can be found, and these people have left all behind in search of a peaceful life.
 One man, Steven, translated for us as we went and met with different families around the newly started church told us his story. He, his wife, and 4 children fled from Juba (the Capital of South Sudan). In South Sudan he was in the military on the side of the government, but as the war grew worse he took the rebel side because he felt the tribe in power was discriminating against all the other tribes. (Tribal wars are very common in this region and have been going on for centuries.) As they fled from Juba to Uganda they took nothing with them, not even their Bibles, except for some money to buy food with. They knew anything they brought with them would be taken away from them by soldiers. They traveled on foot for 3 weeks. Steven carried his 2 oldest children and his wife carried the younger 2. They slept in the bush every night plucking leaves from bushes and trees to make beds. Many times rain found them sleeping out in the open or walking. Once they made it to Nimule a city on the border they were able to get transport to the camp. They were then given a small plot of land some grass mats for sleeping or sitting on and tarps to put up temporary shelter until they could build their own huts. They are given beans and corn flour every 15 days. Steven, like many other refugees, has started a small garden to grow some greens to add to their diet. He and his family are grateful to God for keeping them alive and bringing them to a place where they feel safe and can start a new life. It’s not without its challenges though as often there is not enough water to go around, food is not abundant, and the children are often sick.
Steven’s story is the story of many of these refugees. It is stories like these that really touch your heart. You wish you could just stop the wars and end hunger but you can’t. Though we weren’t able to meet any physical needs we were able to sit down with these people and try to encourage them, but What could I even say to these people? How could I help them in the midst of all their suffering? I have no great wisdom or special ability. Who am I to even have to opportunity to sit with them? I am no one, but my God is some who can heal them, give them hope, and ease their suffering. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to just be with these people. We listened to their stories, and told them of Gods love. We played with their children, and saw huge smiles light up their faces. We sat with a young girl, and helped her prepare her greens for supper. I pray that we were able to encourage at least a few of these precious people. I have been in many different refugee camps and have been into the bush of Sudan several times. These people went from an over 50 year war between North and South to getting freedom from the North and having a few years of peace into a new war basically between Dinkas and all the other tribes of South Sudan. Most of these people have grown up not knowing anything but war in their homeland and have already lived as refugees at least once. The good thing about these particular camps is instead of just a tent and food the refugees are given a plot of land. This helps them to start to create a new normal, have their own space, and build their own houses (which are huts here). They are free to move around Uganda and start new lives here. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in the camps. Pray that God will provide for these people and that they will see it as the Lord providing and not man! 

This week we spent time in the Midigo hospital. We were able to do 2 classes with all the medical staff. I went over the Nursing process, proper communication between healthcare workers, and physical assessment. Heather taught on Neonatal resuscitation. It was a great time with the staff and we really enjoyed teaching them. We were left wishing we had more time to be with them and do more education classes. After the classes we helped out around the ward. It was a blessing to be with our favorite nurse Sister Annette. She has been working up here for over 15 years now. Her face is lit with the joy of the Lord and she has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. She is truly an inspiration to us. It was good to meet the new staff as well and to catch up with our old friends there. As our time came to a close we hopped on a plane to go back to Kampala for our brother Anei Peter’s graduation. Next week we are headed back home to Soroti. Praise report: our Visas were extended until we leave with no charge! 🙌🏼 that was a huge blessing. Anyway sorry for the long post thanks for all the prayer and support. 

Love to you all,

Courtney


When Jesus Makes the Wheel Fall Off

Some think of this saying as a metaphor for life and hard times…but we actually mean it literally this time, but more on that later. This week in Kampala has been good. Some fun mixed with rest mixed with business and a little sickness. We took Majok to a movie theater for the first time and saw Queen of Katwe. (If you haven’t seen it and are wondering what like is like in Uganda, this movie is excellent!!) Charles and his family took us to a Ugandan museum and the wild life education center (the zoo). We ate some yummy food and lots of fruit and veggies since they aren’t readily available in Soroti. Majok got some business things done and we also got some necessary things done. Then Sunday we set off for the long drive to Midigo. It is usually a 10-12 hour drive, and the roads have improved so much that it’s really not too bad. Everything was going great and we even got to see some elephants cross the road in front of us, though Majok wasn’t so happy about that. (Part of the drive goes through one of the national parks.) We had been out of the park for about 30mins or so when there was a loud bang, the car jolted and we heard terrible scraping coming from the left front tire. God graciously allowed Charles to smoothly pull over to the side of the road. I thought we had blown a tire, but when we got out to look the ball joint holding the tire to the car had broken and the whole tire had quite literally fallen off! God was so good in that when the tire fell off, it got wedged beneath the car and saved us from losing control or flipping over! We are so thankful for His hand of protection over us. We immediately called people to come help us and for the police to come and guard us as well as direct the traffic around the car as we couldn’t quite get off the road. There is no AAA or tow trucks here, so instead we had to wait for friends to pick up a mechanic and the parts we would need to fix the vehicle. It took, oh, about 5 hours for them to get to us. (We were about 3 hours from the town they were coming from.) During our five hour wait no one was worried or upset. We were just hanging out and talking, though I’m sure Charles was a bit stressed with trying to figure everything out. Once things settled a bit, Levenia needed to find a toilet so she and Charles went to a house just off the road to ask if they could use theirs. (By toilet I mean a latrine, a building with hole in the ground) Charles sat and talked with the husband while he waited for Levenia. The husband had told Charles his children were sick and when Levenia came back he asked if he could pray for them. The husband readily agree, but as soon as Charles began praying, wife began rolling on the ground and growling and grabbing at them, clearly acting demon possessed . Charles and Levenia prayed for Jesus to free her from this demon. We could hear the commotion back at the car and began praying as we figured out what was going on. Once the demon had left and the woman returned to her senses, Charles was able to share the gospel and both of them accepted Jesus as their Savior. Immediately the family began to tell the neighbors what had happened. As the woman explained to them she said that she heard the demons say, “why have you brought these people here to disturb us! Let’s beat this woman before we flee!” And that is when she fell on the ground. Even the police officer who came to check on the commotion was amazed at the power of God. Jesus literally had our tire fall off to bring His salvation to this family and prayerfully more through them! They are in a rural village, so discipleship will be hard, but Charles got their numbers so that he can keep in touch and continue to encourage them in Jesus. Please pray with us for this family that God would fill them and that they would be able to learn more and follow Jesus faithfully! Our small detour was so worth 2 souls! By the time our friends and the mechanic reached us it was about 11:30pm. We then had to wait for them to fix the car which took another 3 hours. Finally around 1:45am the car was fixed and we finally arrived in Midigo around 7:45am without further incident!
We were all exhausted from not really sleeping all night and sadly didn’t make it to church, but in the afternoon we spent time with Pastor Brent and his team (including a couple of our Nepali friends!) just walking around the town and greeting people. Court and I have been brushing up on our Lugbara (the local language) and I am happy to report that the children understood the few phrases I was using! I do love this village as it was the first place in Uganda to steal my heart!
In our devotion time tonight one of the guys, Tony, shared from Exd 3:7-12 about God calling Moses. He reminded us that God can take anything even a stick and use it for His glory. As I was reading, God spoke to my heart in verses 11-12…”11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” There are two key phrases that I want to point out. The first is “Who am I…” Moses is standing before God and saying who am I that I should be your messenger and used to deliver your people? Why me? The most interesting part for me is how God answered Moses’ question. Which is the second phrase “But I will be with you…” God didn’t build Moses up or give him a pep talk to build up his self-esteem. He didn’t tell him, “wow, you are so great and you can do this!” No, God knew that Moses couldn’t do it nor was He the most gifted person for the task. In fact what’s interesting is that God didn’t really even answer Moses’ question. He just told him, “I will be with you…” What God spoke to my heart in that moment is that it’s not about who I am, but it’s ALL about who God is and that fact that He is WITH me! I think we often are asking the wrong question when God is asking us to be His instruments. We feel we need to be someone or something. We are so self-focused and don’t think God can use us or we think we are so great that He should use us. The reality is that we are nothing, but when God is with us we have everything and nothing can stop us. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! It was a beautiful reminder once again that all God needs from us is surrender. He will do the rest, we just need to let Him have His way with us!

Laying at His Feet,
Heather