"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faithin me." Acts 26:18

Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Life Presbyterian Church Photo

Our church took a group photo this morning.  They are a wonderful bunch of people!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Life OPCU Ground Breaking for the New Church Building

Last Saturday we had the ground breaking for our new church building!  What an exciting time!  Through the gifts of church members, attenders and friends we have almost (but not quite!) raised all the money needed to build.  The septic tank was put in a few weeks ago.  On Monday they began to lay the foundation.  

Normally, we have men's Bible study on our compound on Saturdays.  But since they were doing the ground breaking, they decided to meet on the church property. 

These kids and their shirts make me laugh sometimes...
 Martin Magala, Pastor Charles, Elder Tabytia, Eric, Pastor Messalamu, Deacon Milton and Paul Magala made the first digs.

Please continue to pray for this exciting project!  We are so thrilled that our church will finally have a place to worship in!  Pray for the building to go well, for safety for the workers, for the neighbors to see the love of Christ as they watch, and for the rest of the money to come in.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bullet Post Updates

:: Tomorrow we head back to a "normal" routine.  We are all done with Christmas, all done with New Years, all done with Youth Camp... now back to our regularly scheduled program. We are thankful for the holidays, but thankful for routine too!

::William and Matthew are down with Malaria this week!  Poor guys!  Prayers appreciated for a quick recovery.  This is William, bravely getting his blood taken for the malaria test.

::  Benaiah had some rough days this past week too.  It seems as if he is very allergic to something around our house/compound, but we have no idea what!  This past Wednesday his whole face swelled up and his eyes were swollen shut.  It seemed to be an anaphylactic response of sorts.  We are now trying to track down an epinephrine injection (something like an epi-pen) to keep on hand in case this gets worse!  On Monday night, he had started to have an asthma attack. We had just given him a nebulizer treatment and were realizing that he needed oxygen too. We had been gifted an oxygen tank (so thankful to the Lord and our friends at Musana camp for that!), but we couldn't get the bolt loose on the tank and Benaiah was starting to shake and wheeze with every breath.  We prayed and asked for prayer from my prayer group here in Mbale.  A second later the bolt loosened and the tank worked beautifully.  But when we checked him again, he was back up to normal and the wheezing had stopped!  He didn't need the oxygen or any more medicine for the rest of the evening!  God was so good to us to answer our prayers so quickly and fully!  On Sunday, most of the gang went to a village church, but William (who was already sick) and Benaiah (who didn't need to be around any more dust) stayed home with me.  Benaiah and I had a lovely lunch date together since William was asleep in bed.

::On a sadder note, on January 8, our Missionary Associate's younger sister was in a very horrible head-on collision.  She broke multiple bones and has already undergone three surgeries.  Sarah, our MA, is flying out tonight to go be with her family and help them.  Thankfully, she purchased a two-way ticket, so we hope to see her back in four weeks.  Prayers appreciated.  Sarah has a vibrant ministry here, not just to our family (she is only with us part time), but with the children of our church and many other really great things.  While this is certainly in God's hands and in his good will that she return to America for a time, I can see that it is also a "messenger from Satan" sent to discourage the good work that she is doing here.  We are going to miss her terribly for the next few weeks.  Pray for her safe travels, her sister's healing, our kids' hearts, that the kids in her reading classes will continue to come and learn underneath Connie Jackson's substitute teaching, and that our little home school will run smoothly for the next month.

:: Here is a picture of my little buddy Jackson.  When I first met him, he was 7 months old and weighed less than 15 pounds.  He was frail, sickly, malnourished and the grandmother was discouraged.  His mom had died when he was an infant and his grandmother had only been able to give him porridge and tea that his body wasn't ready for.  I began to buy him a little bit of formula every few weeks.  The grandmother was very diligent to give him the formula, never asking for more than she needed and never "sharing" with others it wasn't meant for.  Over the months, as he has healed and grown strong and healthy, the grandmother has grown in her confidence to care for him.  I know the calories from the milk was not what saved his life, but I do think it was the small hand up that encouraged his grandmother to begin to own and invest in his care.  I love it that a small gift can do so much in the life of one little boy.  I saw on fb a meme that says, "You have the power (and I would add that it's Holy Spirit power) to say, 'I will not let their story end like this.'"  So thankful that God gives us these opportunities to be a part of a different endings to the stories around us and that we can encourage others (like this grandmother) to also be a part of better stories.  And don't ya just want to squeeze those cheeks??

::Finally, we have heard that our lawyers have applied for a court date for Denise.  Please pray that we get a court date soon, so that we can continue to work towards getting her a visa to travel with us to America.  She's a precious kiddo...worth every prayer and penny!  :)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Personal Retreat

While the big kids and Eric were off at youth camp for the second half of the week, Sarah (our amazing Missionary Associate) stayed home with the littles and I had the opportunity to take a personal retreat.  I went to Jinja and stayed in a super sweet banda at a retreat center on the banks of the Nile.  Although most Ugandans would probably consider me clinically depressed for wanting to be by myself for a few days (A Ugandan would never be alone by choice) my intent was merely to spend some quality, uninterrupted time with Jesus.  And I highly, highly recommend this to any person who leads a life filled with people...be they big or little. :)  I love my quiet time in the morning reading my Bible, journaling and praying, but time constraints and the pitter patter of little feet wanting a morning snuggle, often cause me to wrap things up earlier than I want.  I took off from here wanting extended time for prayer, Bible reading and refreshment.  I downloaded a series by Elizabeth Elliot called Suffering is Not for Nothing.  It was so so good! (Although you do have to look past the 80s fashion styles...oy!)  I am super thankful to all my helpers for letting me do this.  It was a huge blessing to me and hopefully my family will also reap the fruit of this time as well!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Psalm 67:1-2: A Purpose for Seeking God's Blessings in the New Year

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” Ps. 67:1-2

At the beginning of a new year, many of us pray that God will be gracious to us and bless us in the coming year.  It is a good prayer.  A wonderful prayer, actually.  We want God’s grace and we want his blessing.  We want God to shine upon us!  We want God to be near to us and close at hand.  We want this because our hearts often cry with Peter: where else would we go?  Jesus has the words of eternal life! or with the Psalmist when he says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you.”  We want God in our new year.  We want his face to shine on us. We want his undeserved favor.  But perhaps we don’t often think of why.  Why do we want God to draw near with his favor?

Psalm 67 tells us one reason why.  We want God to bless us, so that his way may be known on the earth.  We want his grace, so that we can fulfill the Great Commission.  We want his face to shine on us, so that his great plan of salvation can be spread to all nations.  Have you ever thought about this when you ask God for his grace?

Why do we want God’s grace in our marriages this year?  So that we can have a marriage that enables the gospel to go forward.  We don’t want to have a poor marriage which is taking all of our energy to save it so that we are distracted from the great commission.  We don’t want a poor marriage that is a poor reflection of the gospel to our neighbors.  We also don’t want a marriage that is merely happy and therefore becomes a distraction: a marriage where we are so content to just be together that we think of little else other than work and weekends.  We want God to bless our marriages, to make them strong, so that they become a strong platform in which we can spread the gospel beginning with our neighborhood and ending with the far reaches of the world.  God give us this grace!

Why do we want God to bless our parenting this year?  So that we can raise children that move the gospel forward.  We don’t want to raise rebellious children that take so much of our time and energy that we are distracted from the gospel.  We also don’t want to raise children who blaspheme God’s plan of salvation.  We want to raise children who are straight, strong arrows used to defeat the enemy and push God’s kingdom forward.  We want children who are bold and brave with their friends and who won’t be afraid to leave the boarders of their own country one day.  God bless us!

Why do we want God to give us grace in our finances?  So that we can give generously and lavishly so that the Gospel may go forward.  We don’t want to be tempted to only look out for us.  We don’t want to be tempted to live on an island of one.  We want to see that God’s work is never stopped because of lack of funding.  We want missions, pastors, foster care homes, adoptions, youth ministries, prison ministries, hospital ministries, diaconal aid funds, GoFundMe sites of our fellow believers and many other ministries to all be able to become platforms for the gospel to be moved forward to the nations.  God give us your grace!

Why do we want God to bless our churches this year?  So that they can be a beacon of light and salty-salt to the neighborhoods around them and to the world.  We don’t want churches that are cold, dry and ingrown.  We don’t want lukewarm.  We want God to bless us with hot, vibrant, life giving love for everyone who walks in our doors.  We want abundant love for our fellow churches all around the world.  We want God to bless us financially this year so that our deacons have more to give and plenty to work with so that pastors and missionaries can be easily supported and communities can be strengthened by our faith joining together with our works.  God bless us!

Why do I want God to make his face to shine upon me as a person?  So that I will proclaim his good news of saving grace to everyone I meet through my actions and my words.  I don’t want to be a miserable, sad, unloving, non-peaceful, ungracious wretch that can’t see outside of my own little world.  I don’t want to be a hindrance to the gospel.  I want God to bless me with the fruit of the Spirit so that I will be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control so that the gospel will flow in a mighty rushing way out of my life in my words, thoughts, actions and prayers.  God make your face to shine upon me!

Oh yes, Lord, please bless us this year.  Please give us your grace.  Make your face to shine upon our marriages, children, finances, churches and our very lives.  Do this so that your way is made known on earth and your saving power to the nations.  Father bless us so that your Great Commission can go forward this year and until you return.

How are you praying for God to bless you this year?  How can you use that blessing to further the gospel among the nations?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Youth Conference

The youth (ages 12-30) of the Orthodox Presbyterian Churches of Uganda are heading out today for a week long conference.  We had about 70 youth in all who are joining with youth from Kampala and traveling to Kapchorwa for a week of teaching, singing and activities.  Everyone gathered on our compound today to head out.  So fun!

Waiting in line to get on the bus and get lunch of a rolex and a bottle of water.

Katelyn waiting with her friends.

But big sissy's going is pretty tough on the younger members of the family!

Prayers appreciated for this great group of kids...that they will have hearts and minds open to the teaching, that they will be safe and have a great time together!  You can also pray for Eric and Charles Jackson as they will be doing some of the teaching.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Family Vacation: Musana Camps

After Christmas, our family spent a week at Musana Camps for vacation.  We love this place!  It's beautiful, quiet and out of cell phone/internet range for us.  Just perfect!  This post is a total photo dump.