A New Journey

Hi friends!

It’s been awhile! Life has been very full these last two years since I was last in Uganda. Most of my time has been spend loving on women who are coming out of difficult situations and wanting to be discipled in the way of Jesus. It has been a joy to walk with them and see how they have grown and how God has brought healing. Of course we also had many sad stories of those who weren’t ready to surrender to Jesus and went back to their life of drugs, but through it all God taught me such patience and grace. Now I have finished my time living in the home, but continue to work with them in an administrative capacity.

Which brings me to the purpose of my writing. Courtney and I are once again on a journey in Uganda to minister to and with the people of Soroti. When Courtney was here in September, Dr J and Elizabeth asked if we could both come back to help train and open the new NICU building. They will be going from a tiny one room NICU to a building of its own. Our goal in coming is primarily to teach and train the nurses in neonatal care. Last time I was here in 2016 I wrote a protocol of them, so I will be going over that and adding some things as they will have some new equipment and most exciting medical air and oxygen available from the wall! Our hope is to not only teach on medical care, but also about the reason we love and care for people, Jesus. We pray that we can also be a blessing and encouragement to our Ugandan family and missionaries. Our time will be short as we are only here for three weeks. We would appreciate your prayers for the ability to communicate in Ugandan English well, that those we teach will understand easily and that the nurse who will be in charge of the department will learn enough to teach those who will join after we leave. We are humbled and thankful for the opportunity to love and serve these people! Thank you for your prayers and support of this work. We will post small updates via instagram and Facebook and probably weekly here. Our phones work fairly well for texting and data so feel free to reach out with questions or reminding us to update! 😂

Heather

PS for those who are new to our Ugandan journey, feel free to look back at old posts from our time here in 2016 and Courtney’s most recent trip in September

Our Last week and thoughts on obedience

We just left Soroti and are headed back to Kampala for the night. The past week has been a pretty busy one with weird sleep schedules as we worked in the NICU with all our sweet preemies! We got 3 more admissions after the twins. The first one was little girl about 30 weeks and around 3 lbs named Faith. We switched the twins into 1 isolette and gave her the other. She did awesome and had a great sucking reflex so we got her breastfeeding and doing kangaroo with mom pretty quickly. The next admit was also a girl but this baby was full term. She was an emergency C section due to compound presentation. She wasn’t breathing and had to be resuscitated by the OR team, but she suffered a brain injury due to the lack of oxygen. She is able to breath on her own but seems to be having seizure like activity. There are not tests here we can do to check for seizures so we just started her on a seizure med. right now she is getting her feeds through a tube which she wasn’t tolerating at first but now is, praise God! I’m not sure what her out come will be but be praying for little Joanne. Our last admit was a sweet boy, our only boy admit! He was also about 30 weeks and weighed around 3lbs. He came with pretty severe distress. He spent a few days on 5L on the oxygen concentrator (approx. 35% FiO2) Yesterday he was breathing better so we were able to wean him down to 2L and start feeds through a tube. It was really hard to leave them knowing they are a little short staffed, but I know God is faithful. I am already planning my trip back and will hopefully be coming with Heather in end of November to help open their new NICU unit! So be praying for the Lord’s will to be done there!

One of the twins Apio

Jenn and the other twin Acen

Our 30 week girl Faith

Our term baby Joanne with a cute yawn

Our 30 week boy (he doesn’t have a name yet)

The new NICU building is coming along

Tomorrow we will start the long flight home! Although as I say long flight I think of the missionaries years ago who took boats and then trains and all the disease they encountered along they way without all the treatment that is available today! It really puts the “long flight” into perspective. I have so much respect for those missionaries who lived years ago. They truly left all, they didn’t have much of a choice. It was a few month journey at least just to get to their destination. They weren’t able to communicate back home very easily mostly by mail that would take months to arrive. On one hand I think wow we sure have it easy, but with that we are burdened with more distractions. The people that have gone before me (Helen Roseavere, David Livingston, Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot, and many more) inspire me to live a life of obedience.

Jim Elliot once said,

“Rest in this: it is His business to lead, command, impel, send, call or whatever you want to call it. It is your business to obey, follow, move, respond, or what have you.”

“I may no longer depend on pleasant impulses to bring me before the Lord. I must rather respond to principles I know to be right, whether I feel them to be enjoyable or not.”

God desires obedience over sacrifice. We could travel all around the world and “sacrifice” time, money, and comfort, but if that’s not what he called us to do or we are doing it for our own glory then we are living in disobedience. Obedience presupposes a defined authority outside of our self and allows us to participate with God in the works he has divinely prepared for us. Before Jesus asks you to do something he already prepares the way we just need to obey.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

In order to be obedient we need to be close to the Lord to hear him. The way to do ministry is to humble yourself and be obedient. God is asking us to take steps of obedience. He might not give us all the steps in advance but He promises to be with us and to lead us in the way we are to go. We can have no influence without obedience. The choices we make influence those around us. Also Obedience protects us from danger and preserves God’s blessings for ourselves and those around us.

Spiritual people are indifferent to their emotions they are more concerned with obedience then happiness -Tozer

Obedience positions us to be all that God calls us to be and provides us with the grace to do all that he calls us to do

Are you committed to obedience? I pray that you are it’s a daily commitment for me and I daily fail but thank the Lord he is gracious! Obedience doesn’t mean it’s going to be some big act or that He is going to send you to a different country. It’s just living your life where he has you and doing what he puts in front of you whether that is being a stay at home mom, working in the corporate world, or serving in ministry.

As we wrap up this trip I want to thank you all for your prayers and support. You are all a blessing to me! Love you all!

-Courtney

Apio and Acen

Well it’s 1am and I’ve been up since 7am and at the hospital since 8am except for a few breaks here and there. I have a few more hours to go before Jenn and Elizabeth come to relieve me from NICU duty. We were blessed with 2 sweet NICU admits this afternoon. They are twins and about 2 months early. They only weigh about 2.5lbs. They are the cutest little girls. Apio and Acen (pronounced achen) those are the names always given to twin girls here in Soroti.

The day started with a group of kids here for their school check up. Jenn and Elizabeth took vitals and did pharmacy while I talked with some of the midwifes about plans for the NICU. (Not knowing that the babies would come that afternoon) and sat and talked with the kids for a while. The day seemed to slow down after all the kids had been seen and I was told that we were getting two premature babies and that we didn’t have any other information. The babies came by ambulance but with no isolettes. The midwife that brought them used a hot water bottle to keep them warm. I was handed one bundle of blankets with a squirming little nugget inside and one of our midwifes took the other. Though we have new equipment here we only have 1 massimo pulse oximeter and 1 IV pump. Thankfully we have 2 isolettes. We have had to improvise by switching he pulse ox and IV pump between the 2 kids. The midwife who came for night duty is alone and has 3 mothers in labor and delivering soon so I am taking the night shift with the babies and Jenn and Elizabeth will come early in the morning to take over. The NICU room is small and hot! They keep the door and window closed to try and reduce infection but that makes it sweltering in here and I can’t wait to go shower. I just heard tonight that the new NICU that is being built will have AC 🙌🏼 praise the Lamb! It’s really amazing to see what God is doing here NS has done since Heather and I first helped with the NICU in 2016.

Apio

Acen

Keep praying for Apio and Acen to grow and be able to catch on to eating quickly. Pray that they don’t get any infection and can continue to breath without oxygen. Thanks for all the prayer and support throughout this trip! I appreciate all of you! God bless!

-Courtney

First 2 weeks in Uganda

Hey all! 👋🏼 it’s Courtney here

Just wanted to write an update. Sorry it’s super long but I haven’t had a good signal until today. So thus a really long post!

I am currently in Uganda and have been here with a team from my church for 2 weeks now. I will be here for another 2 weeks with my little sister Elizabeth and her friend Jen who are newly graduated Nurses. I’m so excited to work with them and proud of all the hard work they have put into this degree!

So the first two weeks of our trip were awesome! We did medical clinics, nursing education, and VBS. The second two weeks will be spent back with the hospital staff in Soroti and will be most likely doing some training with the nurses on care of the premature infants. We are hoping to help them get there NICU up and running again.(its been closed due to equipment failure)

The first few days of our trip were busy with travel, between long plane rides and bus rides. We were able to spend sometime with my siblings over here (Anei, Majok, and Abong Lydia) it was such a blessing to be able to spend time with them as they are all indifferent parts of Uganda now. It was a reminder of what a sweet time it was two years ago when all our Ugandan siblings were living in Soroti with Heather and I for those 5 months.

Anyway we are all doing well and the Lord has been faithful! While in Soroti I spent time in the maternity ward with Elizabeth, Jenn, and Laura (an L and D nurse) while the rest of the team did VBS with about 300 kids. We were able to assist with a c-section for a young Mom who had been laboring at Home, but had not progressed in her labor. During the C Section before the baby was out the Mom suddenly stopped breathing and her vitals dropped. We began to help code her and when the surgeon got the baby out we took him and ended up resuscitating the baby for about 2 minutes. It was a long few minutes for us, but thankfully the Lord had us there to help. Baby and Mom ended up perfectly healthy praise the Lord!

The next day started off with another unexpected medical appointment. We were running late to head to a clinic we were doing for the elderly and as we were almost to the hospital we came upon a motor accident. A little boy had run out in front of a motorcycle and was hit. He split his head open and needed stitches. We quickly dressed the wound and loaded him and his dad onto the bus with us and went straight to the hospital to get him some stitches. He will be just fine as soon as the wound heals up! The rest of the day was a busy with the medical clinic for the elderly in the community. Most of the elderly in the community are not taken care of and are in a way cast off because of their age. We had many patients come through, and we were able to love on them, share Jesus with them, and treat there physical needs. My hand is currently sore from pumping up manual BP cuffs. Haha it really makes you grateful for our technology at home.

We made a quick trip to a village outside of Iganga to dedicate a church and a new birthing center that will be opening soon. It is called Hearts for Africa and the heart and desire of the ministry is to give mothers a clean and healthy place to give birth. It was started by a midwife from the US along with a doctor and his wife who is also a midwife. Along with the hospital they also built a church and my brother Majok Abraham is now leading the brand new fellowship! It was such a blessing to be there and watch him in this new role! I am so proud of him and excited to see what God is doing in him.

Next stop Midigo, we started our time there in church and it was so fun to catch up with old friends there. The next day we did a mobile medical outreach where we went to a nearby village and set up a makeshift clinic outside a school. We saw over 100 patients and were able to pray over them and share the love of Jesus. Most of these patients had malaria and had been living with malaria for a few weeks if not months. I love doing these clinics but they are also hard because there are always more patients then we are able to see. It makes it really hard to pack it up for the day. While the medical clinic was going on the other part of them team did a VBS with the kids from church. They had a blast! Tuesday everyone went to the refugee camp and spent time with the church inside the camp. Everyone was really blessed. Wednesday a few of us nurses did a some teaching to the medical staff on pediatric emergencies and the staff asked great questions and were really attentive which made it a pleasure to teach. Then we drove to Arua for Wednesday night service at Calvary Chapel Arua.

Elizabeth teaching on respiratory distress

Morning devotions out on prayer rock.

Thursday we headed off the our place near the game park. We stayed at a pretty cool place overlooking the Nile River. We stayed in super nice glamping tents. It was absolutely beautiful and so cool to see God’s hand work in creation from the animals to the beautiful Murchison Falls. Though I have seen it many times it never ceases to amaze me.

The view

Our tent

It has been such a blessing to serve with this team! I’m going to miss them all the next few weeks!

Currently Jen, Elizabeth, and I are all having a restful day with our sister Lydia before we drop her back off at school tomorrow and head up to Soroti to start working at the hospital.

As a team we have been going through the book Calvary Road by Roy Hession. If you have never read his book before I would encourage you to pick it up. It’s a pretty quick read but it cuts to the heart. It was written in 1950 (I think) but it is still super relevant for today! I have read this book before a few years back but it has been so convicting and yet refreshing to read through it again. This part of chapter 2 really got me.

“Only one thing prevents Jesus filling our cups as He passes by, and thaT is sin in one of its thousand forms. The Lord Jesus does not fill dirty cups. Anything that springs from self, however small it may be, is sin. Self-energy or self-complacency in service is sin. Self-pity in trials or difficulties, self-seeking in business or Christian work, self-indulgence in one’s spare time, sensitiveness, touchiness, resentment and self-defence when we are hurt or injured by others,self-consciousness, reserve, worry, fear, all spring from self and all are sin and make our cups unclean. [*] But all of them were put into that other cup, which the Lord Jesus shrank from momentarily in Gethsemane, but which He drank to the dregs at Calvary–the cup of our sin. And if we will allow Him to show us what is in our cups and then give it to Him, He will cleanse them in the precious Blood that still flows for sin. That does not mean mere cleansing from the guilt of sin, nor even from the stain of sin–though thank God both of these are true–but from the sin itself, whatever it may be. And as He cleanses our cups, so He fills them to overflowing with His Holy Spirit.” -Roy Hession, The Calvary Road

Again he Lord is gently telling me to lay down my own rights, and to surrender to His will and plans. To be thinking of others more then myself. To be open and transparent with those around me and to have true humility. I am totally not that person yet but I press on toward the goal of the upward call of Christ, and desire to be like him!

Thank you all for your prayers and keep praying for us that the Lord will Work humility in all of us and that we will be open and willing to do whatever the Lord has for us. Love you all!

Late Night Thoughts On Missions and Christian Living

The Lord has taught me so much through my brief times in the mission field. Lessons that I have been learning my whole life and that I know I’m not done learning. Humility, grace, sacrifice, and working not for the approval of man but for God are just a few of them. I definitely don’t claim to have it all together or to be any kind of expert. I just felt like sharing some of what God has been doing in my heart and life over the years. I have shared bits of this before in previous posts and in different conversations, but it honestly helps me when I write things out, so I thought I’d share.

I have had the opportunity to go to many different counrties to share the love of Jesus. I am humbled to have been given the opportunity to travel to these different places for different lengths of time from weeks to months. I’m grateful that He would use me in spite of my weaknesses and many faults! I am just like any other human being. I am prideful, selfish, and just plain mean in my flesh! Thankfully the Lord is gracious and works through me so that anything good that comes out of me is really Him!

I used to think of myself as a pretty humble person, but as I grow closer to the Lord, the more I see how full of pride I really am. I read this book a few years ago called Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, by Tim KeIler. It really convicted me. In this book, he describes humbleness in a way that opened my eyes to my own pride. He said that humbleness is not thinking less of your self or having a low opinion of yourself. lt is simply not even thinking of your self, or in others words, thinking of yourself less. Even if you are constantly thinking of how you are a terrible person or how you are less then someone else. You are still focused on your self and your thoughts are not centered on the Lord or others. It makes you miserable, and it is still a form of pride. He gave the example of getting your feelings hurt. He says that is really our ego being hurt. If we are truly not thinking of ourselves and thinking of others more, our feelings will not be hurt. We wouldn’t be upset because we would be more concerned for the other person. (Now there is righteous anger but that is a whole other subject) That really stuck out to me and changed they way I thought about humbleness. It was actually really freeing like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I definitely still struggle in this area but I just feel a lightness in my heart that is so amazing and it’s only from the Lord. And as soon as I am in my flesh, the heaviness returns, but as soon as I humble myself and get my focus back where it needs to be, on the Lord, that weight is lifted again. If your like me, then you are thinking, “It is too hard to be humble. I can’t do it.” And you would be right! We can’t do it on our own.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

When we are yoked with Jesus He is the stronger ox who carries the burden and we get the light end of the deal. When we surrender to Him and stop fighting it actually becomes easy and not hard at all.

When I was younger I always thought that a missionary was someone with an amazing relationship with God that was on a higher level than the average Joe. I quickly learned that a missionary is no one extraordinary. No, in fact, missionaries are quite ordinary with an extraordinary God. A life of missions isn’t something unattainable. In fact we are all called to be missionaries. Ambassadors of Christ to the world, and being a missionary in a foreign country is simply just living your life in a different country. You should be living with the same heart and values in your home country as you would on the mission field. You don’t have to be a missionary in a different country, a pastor, or a famous Christian leader to please God. You simply need to be obedient to what He has told you to do whether that is working as unto the Lord at your job, loving your husband or wife, being a parent, or a student. It’s the little choices in life that add up to make the majority of where your life goes. I feel like sometimes we Americans, myself included, get so busy chasing the “America dream” or wanting to be insta famous that we miss out on the most important things. We want to do big things and see big results immediately, but all God wants from us is obedience. He will take care of the results, and his thoughts on time are definitely different then ours. We love to appear as if we are sacrificing so much so others can see how great we are, but God says he desires obedience over sacrifice.

I have found this to be true especially in short term missions. A short term team that is self-consumed and ethnocentric can actually end up doing a lot more harm then good. We think we have sacrificed so much by coming from far away to help those less fortunate than us. We have to be wary of the savior complex, and beware of trying to make Americans rather then disciples of Jesus. I know I’m guilty of both of those in my ignorance. On another note, we aren’t always more fortunate then some of these people. Yes, we may have materially more then them, but if we are shallow and dry, spiritually, then we may actually be the less fortunate ones.

We have to remember that our goal is to bring the love of Jesus for it is His love that compels us to go in the first place. His love crosses cultural barriers and is relevant to every culture. We should strive to meet people where they are at. Build churches that can be realistically self-sufficient and come along side the existing church (if there is one) to serve. Not come in with a whirlwind of activity and leave the people of the church exhausted and with no real fruit to show for it. Real fruit takes time and patience to cultivate. Just as it takes a lot of hard work and patience for a farmer to get a harvest. (Hence the analogy of fruit) It is really hard to do that on a short trip. That’s why it is important to come along side the people that live there and are patiently laboring. Don’t get me wrong I love short term missions, and have been on plenty. I just feel like they should be done in wisdom and humility and the knowledge that our actions will potentially have a lasting affect on the area whether it be a positive or negative one.

I don’t know what God has for all of you, but I know you can trust Him! I know He is faithful and He loves you. He will show us the way to go as we listen to Him! Even though we mess up and worry and fret at times he still loves us and forgives us! How incredible is that! That the God of the universe wants to use us to do his work! That is grace! Following Jesus full heartedly sometimes feels like it will be a boring life of dos and don’ts, and that you will have to sacrifice too much. In reality it’s a life of adventure, not that it doesn’t have its moments of monotony. It certainly does, but even times where life is slow are times for growth and learning. Sacrifice is involved in this life, but I find when I sacrifice I really feel like I get so much more in return for the little I have given up. Sometimes we feel like it’s just too much to let go of control of our lives, but when we do our life actually becomes easier and less stressful. For as it says it Matthew, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

In Hebrews, the writer says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

This is my goal! I pray that this would be your goal also. I would encourage you to lay aside the things in your life that may be keeping you from walking strong. Lay aside things that are keeping you from fully surrendering to the Lord. It may be a struggle and seem like a huge sacrifice, but it is worth it. Think about it, if you really believe that God loves you, then you need to walk in that love. What does that look like practically? It looks like trust. You will be able to trust him wherever he takes you. You will know that his love is a redeeming love and a love that wants what is best for you. It is a love that surpasses knowledge and with it comes perfect peace and sweet contentment no matter where you are or what your situation is. This, my friends,is worth more than all the money in the world. Personally, I find that these life lessons I am learning might not change much just the situations in which I am learning them. Be encouraged to continue to seek His face daily; let him teach you. Be a good student and soak up all that God has for you. Though it is not always easy, the reward is Christ!

I will end with a reminder from Ephesians

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, – Ephesians 6:10-18

This life is a battle, and it’s easy to get comfortable in the day to day life.

But don’t forget to put on the armor of God that way you will be able to stand against Satan. Satan has many tactics and can even use ministry to get us distracted. We can get so caught up in working for the Lord that we neglect the most important thing, Sitting at his feet. It’s a battle everyday to keep priorities straight and keep Jesus on the throne. But it’s worth it to be able to say with the apostle Paul.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

If you made it to the end, then thanks for listening to my rambling thoughts! Hope you were encouraged.

-Courtney

Hello Again

Hi Friends and Family!

This is Courtney here! 👋🏼 So It has been a little over a year since Heather or I have written on this blog! Times really flies by faster and faster as the years go by! I have been feeling like it was time for me to write a little more often even if it’s just a place to share my thoughts and get them written down for my own sake.

Since the last time I wrote I have worked in LA for 9 months, gone on a 3 week medical mission trip back to Uganda, made a quick trip to Peru with a friend, and went on a trip to Italy and Greece with my church in San Juan, which was amazing! The past year has been a busy but fruitful year of trusting the Lord, taking one step at a time, and watching Him work!

Here are just a few snap shots of the last year

Uganda: Reunited with the staff Heather and I worked with for 5 months

Uganda: I got to see a couple of the preemie twins that Heather and I helped deliver and take care of in the NICU. In this photo they were 9 months old and doing awesome! (These are the same twins Heather is holding in the picture at the top of the post)

Peru: Machu Picchu is a pretty amazing place 😍

Peru: The Bible college campus where my friends were serving.

Greece: We got to meet, play games, and sing songs with Syrian refugees and it was an extreme blessing!

Greece: The ancient city of Corinth where Paul planted a church and to whom the books of 1 & 2 Corinthians were written

Italy: Doing construction and landscaping at the new campus of Calvary Chapel Montebelluna

Utah: The amazing view from our patio

Utah: Arches National Park

Utah: The capital building

Utah: Zion National Park

Utah: Bryce Canyon National Park

I am now currently wrapping up a 3 month work assignment in Utah (Hence all the Utah pictures) before hopefully heading back to LA again for the summer! Utah has been a blast! Literally, we have been blasted with snow and wind and rain and occasionally sunshine! It sure is different living somewhere where seasons actually exist. I decided to come out with Faith who is going to school out here. It has been fun to have her as a Roomie and to spend time together. We are living near Salt Lake surrounded by beautiful mountains that make for some pretty spectacular views. The Lord has really blessed Faith and I with an awesome church out here and wonderful friends who are such a blessing. They have been so welcoming and really shown the love of Christ to us. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to meet them all.

As I have traveled around this last year I have been so amazed to see the body of Christ at work in a few different countries. It is amazing to see what a connection we instantly have with our brothers and sisters around the world and around our own country. It’s reminds me of John 15:5 where Jesus says,

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

As we are all connected to the true vine (Jesus) we are then connected to each other through Him! Giving us an instant spiritual bond with others who we don’t even know. This is such a cool thing! God has made us social beings who need each other and has given us a way to connect to each other in meaningful friendships.

What I feel God has me doing right now is working as a travel nurse. This means I take about 3 month assignments with different hospitals around the country. Since I am a temporary employee it allows me to work and then be off work for up to about 6months if I want/can afford to. This gives me a unique opportunity to be able to be flexible and travel around the country, but also to serve the Lord in different countries on my time off. My heart is to follow the Lord as He leads me in each season of life. I hope to use this blog to again bring you all along on my journey

In the end of August, I have an exciting opportunity to go back to Uganda with my church on a missions trip. I am also hoping and praying to stay about two weeks extra with my younger sister (who will be a newly graduated RN) to do more training with the NICU staff at the hospital in Soroti that Heather and I worked with for 5 months in 2016. My heart is to check in and see how everyone is doing and do some refresher training and just see how we can bless them! I am also hoping to spend time with our 2 brothers (Faith’s Biological brothers) and sister (Rebecca’s biological sister) who live in Uganda. We will leave in the end of August for Uganda, and will start the trip with the team from church serving in Soroti, Arua, and Midigo. This part of our trip will consist of mobile medical clinics, possibly a VBS, and visiting a refugee camp. After the team leaves we will travel back to Soroti where we will stay for a couple weeks working in the hospital.

My hope is that you will all partner with me in prayer. Here are a few things to pray for:

▪️Pray that our trip would encourage the churches there and not wear them out. We desire to come alongside them and serve with them!

▪️That we would be bold in our witness and yet filled with humility, esteeming others above ourselves.

▪️Pray that we would strive to make Jesus known and not ourselves

▪️Also that we would work in such a way that would make disciples of Jesus and not of the US

▪️Finally that we would be quick to hear the Holy Spirit and to follow where He leads

The cost of my trip will be about $3,500. I know God will provide if It is His will for me to go. If you feel led to give that is a blessing to me and I am so, so grateful! If you don’t feel led to give then please don’t feel pressured! I have never done fundraising online before and I would hate for anyone to feel pressured to give because of it!

Anything given above that amount needed for travel, food, and lodging will be put towards a much needed IV pump. For the hospital in Soroti.

I set up a go fund me account to see if that’s easier. The copy the link below into your browser

gofundme.com/hwk6a4-medical-missions-trip-to-uganda

gf.me/u/ifyu69

You can also donate directly to my church for a tax deductible donation. Just make the check directly to CCSJC add my name and Uganda 0818 in the memo section. The check can be mailed to

31612 El Camino Real

San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Thank you all for your support over the years! I’m so blessed and grateful to have you all in my life! Thanks for hanging in there through this long post and making it to the end

Until the next post (here’s to hoping it’s not in a year),

Courtney

Heading Home

15 days since we left Uganda, 168 days since we left the US…and now we are on our way home. It’s crazy to look back over the last 6 months and see all that God has done in us and in His people. But before I start reminiscing (in fact, I’ll let the video do that! Full video on Facebook. It wouldn’t let me upload it here.), let me share about the joys of Nepal!Nepal is such a beautiful country! The Himalayan mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop from almost every town. The people are kind and so beautiful. And the food is amazing! But so many of these beautiful people are without hope. They call on 330 million gods hoping for some help to get through life. But there is no answer. My heart longs for these people to know the love and joy and peace that is found in Jesus. Truly He is like no other and His love fulfills us like no other! Please pray for these people to know Hope, to know Joy, and to know Love!

Our first few days in Nepal we had some time to rest and get ready for all that lies ahead. We were also blessed to fellowship with some of the missionaries and even able to give our friends a date night by watching their precious boy! 

The main focus of our time was helping do some nutrition teaching with our friend Natalie who is working on her Master’s. Getting to walk around the villages and towns, meeting people and holding their babies while we taught them about nutrition and breastfeeding was a blessing! There were so many beautiful faces! We took a three day trip up to Gorkha last week to do a nutrition class and help with guitar teaching for some of the youth in the local church. It was a blessing to see the work of Jesus in these young people and hear some of their stories. 3 days ago Mom and Dad brought a team from our church to do some medical outreaches and discipleship up in the village we have kind of adopted, Swara. It was a blessing to get some time with them although we are bummed we can’t stay for the whole trip! 

Monday evening we got to spend time with the promise child girls orphanage. Each of these girls (ranging from 6-12) has lost one or both parents and has had a pretty tough life. They are so precious and love to be loved!!😍 They especially loved trying to teach us Nepali! They stole all of our hearts and I know we all wish we could bring them home with us! 

Tuesday was another blessing as we got to visit a leper colony on the outskirts of Kathmandu. It was a sweet time of getting to talk to them and not be afraid to touch them or talk with them. They are usually treated with such distain, so to be loved and not feared was a blessing and encouragement to them. Many of them are able to have their families with them which is so good, but their extended families don’t accept them even though they are on medication and not contagious anymore. One lady that was sharing her story with us said, “before I had Jesus, I had nothing, but now that I have Him, I have everything!” You could see the joy in her heart and on her face despite the trials that she faces! I know I was encouraged by her as much or more than she was encouraged by me! 

Now we are on our way home with full hearts and renewed joy. 

Pray for my parents and the team that’s still in Nepal. 

Pray for us as we transition back to being home in the US. Reverse culture shock is real. Not to mention jet lag! Court and I land in San Francisco tomorrow and will spend a few days there recovering from jet lag. But then we will be driving home Sunday or Monday, so please pray for continued traveling mercies!

Also, I start work Feb 21 back at UCSF and Courtney starts back at CHLA Feb 27. Pray that we are able to get everything done that we need to for starting back at work. And pray for our minds to be prepared to go back to US standards of nursing!

Pray for our time with our family before I go back up to San Francisco. 

Pray for Court and I to not have separation anxiety as we live in separate parts of the state after 6 months side by side. 😉

Most of all pray that Christ will continue to be glorified as we continue to let Him live our lives in this next chapter!

​​​​​​​​​​

A Time To Move Forward

A beautiful African Sunrise greets us as we head out on the long drive to Kampala. As if to say everything will be ok. It’s such a beautiful scene outside my window. The sunset is accompanied with a green and yellow landscape. A light mist still lingers among the trees before the Ugandan heat drives it away. Little huts are scattered across the land, smoke rising from the fires of mothers cooking their breakfasts. So many goodbyes have been said and a lot of tears have been shed. It feels a little unreal to leave a place that has become home and people that are family not knowing when I will return, but I trust the Lord. I know my times are in his hand. I know that this was the perfect time to be here and the perfect time for our departure. I don’t know exactly what lies ahead and this year is full of uncertainty. It’s hard to believe that 5 months have come and gone and it is already time for us to leave. So what do I know? I do know my God is faithful. So that makes me excited for what is ahead. As Heather and I move on to Nepal we are open and willing to do whatever He has for us there. Our desire is to spend some time in the remote village, Swara, sharing the love of Christ. Although this is our desire we want what the Lord has for us. Which might mean staying in Kathmandu, and helping out with whatever is needed. This might include things like babysitting, spending time at a girls home, cleaning, and organizing a possible new office. We are leaving Nepal sooner then we had originally intended to, and our trip to India was unfortunately canceled. That is life for you! To quote Pastor Chuck, “blessed are the flexible for they will not be broken.” That has kind of become a life motto. We will be coming back to the US at the end of this month. Thankfully the Lord has provided new nursing travel assignments for both of us starting the end of February. (3 month contracts to work as temporary staff at a hospital) Heather will be back in San Francisco and I will be back in LA for at least 3 months. We are sad to split up the act again, but are so thankful for the time we have been together serving the Lord. It is really awesome to have had my sister here to serve with and just be with. I am so grateful for the wisdom the Lord has given her and how we both learn from each other. Keep praying for us as we head out into a new environment. We are heading from a blazing hot summer into Nepali winter. Tuesday’s weather is a high of 57 and we have been living in the high 90s. Although we are looking forward to some cool weather, pray we don’t get sick from the weather change. Keep praying for our friends in Soroti and Midigo. I will list a few other prayer requests at the end of the blog. We really appreciate all the prayer and support we have received from all of you. God has really done a lot and I know it is because of prayer! 

As 2017 is just beginning, my goal for this year and every year is simply this, 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

I pray that this would be your goal also as we begin this new year. I would encourage you to lay aside the things in your life that may be keeping you from walking strong. Lay aside things that are keeping you from fully surrendering to the Lord. It may seem like a huge sacrifice, but it is worth it. And if you really believe that God loves you, (as Heather talked about in the previous blog post) you will be able to trust him where ever he takes you. You will know that his love is a redeeming love and a love that wants what is best for you. It is a love that surpasses knowledge and with it comes perfect peace and sweet contentment no matter where you are or what your situation is. This my friends is worth more then all the money in the world. It is the one thing that satisfies the human craving for more. My prayer for all of you comes from Ephesians . The book we studied together as a family in Uganda. 

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

I will sign off with a reminder that was looked at last night from our last devotion together. 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, – Ephesians 6:10-18

Love to you all,

Courtney
PS Here is a list of prayer requests

🔹The Nurses and Midwives will remember what we have taught them

🔹The hospital would continue to grow and to be self sustaining

🔹The church to flourish and keep preaching the word

🔹The new school of ministry that is starting up here

🔹In Midigo pray for the refuge situation, for unity in the church, and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit

🔹Traveling mercies for us

🔹Wisdom and grace for whatever is ahead

🔹A smooth adjustment and no sickness

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! As 2017 has come I’ve been praying and thinking about what this new year holds. Every year you hear about people’s New Years resolutions. But this year and every year, I only want one thing and that is expressed perfectly in Ephesians 3:19 “and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” I’ve talked some in my previous posts (see post “To Know the Love of Christ“) about why knowing and understanding the love of Christ is so important. Today I want to focus on how the love of Christ changes us and ask you all to help me walk this out better this year. I have been studying God’s love for us quite a bit over the last 5 months. 1 John is one of my favorite combinations of the practical and theological aspects of God’s love. 

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.
First off we see in verses 7 and 8 that we are called to love one another. But what is love? We see the answer to this in verses 9 and 10. First, we see that perfect love is sacrificial. God demonstrated His love for us in the sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross. Second, we see that perfect love is unconditional. God loved us before we deserved it and before we loved Him back. In our culture today, there are 2 main problems with the way we view love, and particularly God’s love. The first problem is that we tend to see love as very performance driven. We carry this into our relationship with God as our Father. We feel His love is conditional. We feel His pleasure when we are obeying, but we feel His displeasure when we are being disobedient. When we are disciplined by the Lord or allowed to suffer the consequences of our sin, we tend to think that means that we are no longer loved or that we must do something good to counteract the sin and once again earn our place as God’s child. That thinking is exactly why it is so important to remember why God loves us. (I’ll talk about this in a min.)

The second problem within our culture is that we associate love with acceptance and approval of whatever someone desires to be or do. We are told that it is most loving to encourage people no matter what and to never discourage or discipline. But what God says in Hebrews 12 is that true love is so much more. True love is looking at the big picture of someone’s life and encouraging or exhorting them to do the things that will allow them to bring honor and glory to God. True love is discipling, exhorting, encouraging, faithful, and gracious. The things God asks of us and the rules He gives us are for our ultimate good and to protect us from harm. Obeying God is hard because it goes against our sinful nature, but God doesn’t leave us helpless. 

These two problems have distorted our view of love and thus distort the way we view God. But God’s love is different! 

As we continue in 1 John 4, we see in verses 11-12 that the practical application of knowing God’s love for us is that we in turn love each other. That means that we are to love those around us sacrificially and unconditionally. Not an enabling love, but an empowering love whose power comes from the Holy Spirit as stated in verse 13. 

Verses 14-15 remind us that when we receive Christ as Savior we become one with Him. Our old nature is gone and the new nature in Christ has come. 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Verse 16 pretty much summarizes what I am trying to communicate. Knowing the love of God and allowing it to permeate our lives changes us. I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 which says “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” The love of God that has been given to me should take over and control my actions. It makes me one with Christ so that He lives my life. I no longer live for my own will and desires, but live out the will and desires of God! 

Verses 17-19 are beautiful conclusion that reminds us that the perfect love of God is not based in fear of punishment, but is based on reverence and a desire to please God from the gratitude and love within our hearts. 
I’ll end with a quote from Helen Roseveare “More and more, I have come to realise that love for my dear Lord and Saviour has to displace all other loves. Nothing else really counts. I must allow his love so to possess me that anything that hurts him hurts me. Equally, anything and everything that he loves, I am happy to love equally. But, even knowing this fact, I found it was not easy to let go of all else…Has he the power to enable us to give all these attitudes to him and to allow the Holy Spirit to deal honestly and truly with all that displeases him? I am not really asking ‘Has he enough power to do what needs to be done in me?’ but rather, ‘Have I enough grace and humility to acknowledge what I need and to allow him to make the necessary change?’ Yet I know that the needed grace and humility are his. And he certainly has enough of both to fulfil my need.”
My heart and prayer for this year is to know the love of Christ more and more so that I can be a pleasing aroma to Him and share His perfect unfailing love with everyone I meet! I pray that you too will know and be filled and captivated by this love!
Now for the update. Mary, our tetanus patient, went home a little over a week ago just before Christmas. We are thankful for her improvement, though she was discharged in order to go to her father’s funeral as he committed suicide. She didn’t have much of a relationship with him, but it’s still very sad and the family could use your prayers! Our premies that were discharged have continued to gain weight and we are thankful for that! Hopefully we will get to see them one more time before we leave. 

We have just one week before we fly out of Uganda to Nepal on Jan 9. We can’t believe how fast 5 months went! Please be praying for this week as we finish up at the hospital and spend time with our siblings. This place has become home and it feels a bit weird to be leaving, but both Courtney and I are excited for all that God has planned next. The details for the end of our trip have been changed many times in the last 5 months. The final result of all those changes are that we will now only be in Nepal for 2.5 weeks and will not going to India at all. Though things did not go how we thought, I have full confidence and peace in God’s perfect plans! He again is reminding us that He is in control and to just let go and trust Him. Even our time in Nepal is not completely planned as God has asked us to be flexible and allow Him to live through us. So, pray for us to listen well to His voice and obey as He speaks. We thank you all for your support of us throughout this trip and can’t wait to get home and tell you more in person!

Much love in Jesus,
Heather

Christmas Ponderings

As Christmas is quickly approaching and our time in Uganda is also drawing to a close, I find my self not wanting to think about leaving. In the short 5 months we’ve been here this place has really become home. Not that it doesn’t have its challenges and frustrations. No, it definitely does and it lacks the convince and comfort that we have in the US. It’s been interesting getting ready for Christmas. (One of my favorite times of the year.) I look outside while listening to the Christmas song let it snow, and I find myself thinking, “Well, the weather sure is frightful just a different kind of frightful. The wind is blowing but it’s blowing dust not snow or rain. And the fire is anything but delightful.” Our decorations are at a minimum, no tree or lights. (Those of you who know me know that I love having a tree and lots of lights!) We don’t have a lot of gifts, and no hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. (if we lived here full time we would have an artificial tree and lights and there would be more Christmas shopping) But it’s actually kind of nice. Christmas is not about the weather, the tree, or the gifts. It’s about Gods gift to man and the redemption that Jesus brought. And this Christmas has been a good reminder of that. 
God has given us such a love for these people and this country. I have loved being here with my brothers and sister and getting to know them better. Getting to study Gods word together and just talk about life. We’ve made some great friends and gotten reconnected with old friends. I know I’m called back home in the US for at least a while, and I’m excited to be back home and to see family and friends. I know what an extreme blessing it is to live in the US and in California at that. As much as I am excited for getting back to a 1st world country, I know I will have some reverse culture shock that I will have to work through. The grocery store may be overwhelming with the over abundance of fresh fruit and veggies. Being able to leave my house and in 10 minutes have bacon in my hand might bring tears of joy to my eyes. (And I’ve only been gone 5 months) The variety that is available, you can choose from hundreds of restaurants and types of food that are within minutes of where you live. We are so blessed. The bumpy red dirt roads, crowded markets, being the minority, lots of open space scattered with small huts, and cattle roaming around have all become the new normal. And it’s completely ok with me. The Lord has taught me so much here. Lessons that I have been learning my whole life and that I know I’m not done learning. Humility, grace, working not for the approval of man but God are just a few of them. I am humbled to have been able to be here for the time God gave. Humbled that he would use me. A missionary is no one extraordinary. No I fact missionaries are quite ordinary with an extraordinary God. A life of missions isn’t something unattainable. It is just living your life in a different country. You should be living with the same heart and values in the US as you would on the mission field. A lot has changed since I left, and things will continue to change because that’s life. I know the lord has more to teach me in Nepal and then in the US as we go home. I will be tested in contentment in times of want and plenty. I will be tempted to become bitter when people from the Orange County/LA bubble just don’t get it. Just as I have been tempted when people here don’t get it. I guess what I’m saying is that the lessons I’m learning might not change much just the situations in which I am learning them. I don’t know what God has up next for me, but I trust Him! I know He is faithful and He loves me. Even though I worry and fret at times he still loves me and forgives me! Following Jesus full heartedly sometimes feels like it will be a boring life of dos and don’ts, and that you will have to sacrifice too much. In reality it’s a life of adventure, not that it doesn’t have its moments of monotony. It certainly does but even times where life is slow are a time for growth and learning. Sacrifice is involved but I find when I sacrifice I really feel like I get so much more in return for the little I have given up. For those of you who have stuck with me through this long post, thanks for letting me write out my thoughts! 🙂

Now for a few updates from the past week. Mary our Tetanus patient is up and walking the halls with a walker. She is still very stiff, but can eat normal food now and has been out of bed playing most of the day! Thank you all for the prayers for this girl. We are so blessed to see her recover. All the premature babies are home. Our 29 weeker went home Monday, keep praying that she will grow and start eating well. Baby Heather came in for a check up also on Monday and has gained more weight. It was such a blessing to have all this happy news after having the baby with severe asphyxia that Heather mentioned in the previous post. As for us, on Friday we were able to do a fun and extremely beautiful hike to Sipi falls on mount Elgon. It was too beautiful to describe and so fun to get out and excercise. Our sister Lydia and brother Majok got to come with us! Tuesday we hitched a ride with some friends down to Kamapala. We rode true Ugandan style in a 10 seater van with 14 people. You could say it was a little snug! Thankfully we dropped one person off after a couple hours. We stopped in Jinja for some craft shopping, lunch, and a beautiful boat ride on the Nile. After 13 hours (due to a little car trouble and the Jinja stop) we made it to Kamapala and enjoyed some really yummy Indian food! We were so blessed to be given a ride here and a place to stay with our friends. I got to see Star Wars today which I didn’t think I would get to see in theaters so really God has showered us with blessings. It’s getting late here so I should probably get to sleep, but I pray you all have a blessed Christmas and remember the true reason for the season. Remember to show love and grace. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Display unity in the body of Christ by being of one heart and one mind in a world full of division and pride! Love you all and can’t thank each one of you enough for your prayers. 

Merry Christmas

Love,

Courtney

Here are a few pictures from the hike

We have had all the neighbor kids over a lot since it is Christmas break. The house has been full of noise and laughter and painting. So much fun!

Monday I taught a BLS class

Here is Mary with her walker

Here is a short clip of her walking

Silas and I at his first movie theater experience. 

Jinja at source of the Nile.