Mzees

Lately it seems the Lord is stirring in the hearts of the mzees (mm-zays) – the old men, the elders of the villages. Some of them have for a long time been leaders in witchcraft.

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Egiriwas, seated between our translator Lokwii David and Pastor Dave, came to us seeking to be baptized. We began instructing him in the Christian faith. He now comes regularly to worship the Lord.

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He was soon joined in instruction by Joseph Ekemer. He is blind, but is seems God is opening his eyes. He attends weekly worship and devotional times very faithfully. Recently I asked him – would he continue to offer the sinful sacrifices of Karimojong traditional religion? And what if others pleaded with him – as a former elder who knows well the ritual chants, special cuts of meat, and other aspects of the pagan cult – to come and preside over another sacrifice: would he go? He said no – he wants to follow Jesus now.

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Loyep Daudi (David), a long-time believer and former leader at a church some distance away, comes to worship consistently. He has joined the other men and is preparing to profess his faith in Christ and become a member of Nakaale Presbyterian Church.

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Loduk Peter, another mzee, is also coming and learning the gospel. You can see his home behind him; it is in a terrible state, about to collapse. The physical needs of all of these men are very great. Old men and women, who are more likely to be weak and unable to contribute much, are often neglected.

We praise God for his work in these and other old men who are also receiving instruction. Please pray for Omena, one of our translators, who is teaching them every Saturday morning. Pray that the Spirit of God would accomplish a mighty change in their hearts: that he would bring them out of their bondage, enlighten their minds and hearts with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and bring them into his church. And pray that he would use them to reach many other mzees!

Preaching in Akuyam

Some months ago, while I was visiting the village of Akuyam (pronounced awk-wee-AHM), the mission was invited to come and hold worship services. For a long time I prayed and hoped and planned to get there, but was unable until today.

My wife provided a wonderful breakfast at 6:30 in the morning:

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(Margie & Forest, thank you again for the cup!)

Akuyam is one of the larger villages in the area, and as far as I know, there is no permanent church presence there. It’s a 30-45 minute walk from Nakaale. We had a substantial amount of rain last evening, so the river was somewhat full and the current was swift. Here’s Omena, the brother who came with me to translate:

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We had to take off our boots to cross, or they would have filled up with water!

The views at that early hour were beautiful:

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And here’s a look at Mount Kadam from just outside Akuyam:

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The Lord sent us 25 people or so. We conducted a worship service with the reading of Scripture, prayer, singing, and a sermon. The sermon was from the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23). May God grant that the soil of Akuyam will bear much fruit!

Here are some of the people who came, listening as the Word of God is read:

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The message and the worship service was well received. Now that they know we plan intend to come back next week – actually, for the next 6 or 7 weeks – we hope the word will spread, and more people will attend.

Here I am, crossing the river on the return journey:

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It’s the harvest season in Karamoja. Crops are ripening, like this sorghum:

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But right now, until the harvest is gathered, people are very hungry. Please pray with us that they may hunger for food that lasts – for Jesus Christ, the living Bread that came down from heaven to give life to the world (John 6:51). And please pray specifically for the village of Akuyam: may Christ reap a great harvest there and establish his church!

 

Pastor’s Conference

In 2015, our mission held a pastor’s conference in Namalu. It was well received, and we wanted to do it again. We settled on June 23. Pastor Emuron, whose church is in Namalu, did a great job of organizing and hosting the event.

It was a lovely day…

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A large choir was assembled –

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And there was quite a bit of exuberant dancing to introduce the speakers –

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But of course the main event was the teaching:

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The turnout was a little lower than we expected, but was still wonderful.

Our subject was suffering in the Christian life. I taught on Job; Pastor Dave taught on John the Baptist; and Pastor Eric, from our Mbale station, taught on Paul’s sufferings.

The Lord blessed it tremendously; it was a very special day. The pastors and church leaders received the messages very warmly and were very appreciative. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will use this Biblical instruction to inoculate the local church against the false teachings of the prosperity gospel; and pray also that we might be able to have more conferences like this!

Sick-ation

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

In early June, we felt we were ready for a little vacation. We planned a trip to Jinja, famous for being the source of the Nile. Jinja is west of Mbale, and the drive was only 5 hours or so from Karamoja. The kids did great.

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The first thing to greet us at the resort was this magnificent tree, filled with very excited yellow weaver birds going in and out of their nests! It was really something!

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As dusk was falling, we walked down to Lake Victoria. From here you can rent a boat and go out to the spring that is often identified as the Source.

That night, Rashel started to get hot. Really hot. We suspected malaria.

Early next morning, we took her to the emergency section of the Kym Nile Hospital. Sure enough: it was malaria – 10 to 100 count. (Not sure why they couldn’t give us more detail.) That’s pretty high even at the low number.

She had to be put on an IV to rehydrate and to give her some high-powered medication. Because the antimalarials had to be administered every 12 hours, she had to  stay in the hospital overnight. It was a trying time.

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When it was finally time for her to check out, the kids and I went out into the parking lot to get some wiggles out. This goat (or is it a sheep?) wandered onto the hospital compound and tried to head-butt Joshua! Here he is leading it back where it came from by its rope.

After Rashel was released, she still had to take the standard Coartem medication. She was really, really sick for several days, and we had to prolong our stay at the resort several days because she wasn’t in a condition to be moved.

While Mama was trying to rest and recover, I was busy caring for kiddos (I really don’t know how Rashel does it! she is amazing) and trying to encourage them with some play time. The resort scenery is spectacular…

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Two beautiful flowers! And another –

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We also had a lot of fun playing in the pools:

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When we were finally able to move, Rashel still wasn’t well. We decided to return to Mbale. We were planning to get another hotel, but our teammates in Mbale – the Jacksons and the Tuiningas – coordinated things so that we could stay at the home of the Jacksons.

It would be impossible to tell you what an incredible blessing it was.

Mama Connie made chicken noodle soup for Rashel and cared for her in every way. We miss our mothers in the US, but Connie took care of Rashel like her own mother would. The Tuiningas did our laundry, and together with the Jacksons, they played with our kids and entertained them and in the end, the kids really had a fun time. We praise God for our teammates and their generous, hospitable love!

The kids and I got to play a little football (aka soccer) at the Jacksons:

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And they enjoyed some exploring:

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In the few days we were there, Rashel was visibly gaining strength.

Then, just as we were thinking of returning to Karamoja, Emmalene developed a high fever…

It was malaria.

Emmalene was a trooper. It definitely didn’t hit her as hard as it hit Mom, but it wasn’t easy. She recovered pretty quickly, though.

We returned shortly after. Since then, Rashel, Emmalene, and I have all had mild cases of malaria. We just learned tonight that Joshua has come down with his first case. It seems like it will be mild.

Please pray that God would restore our health and keep us from sickness. We’ve been sick a lot lately, not just with malaria, but with other things, too. The last month and a half has been a very difficult season; it seems we have battled illness almost constantly. This is our biggest burden right now.

Martyr’s Day

Uganda celebrates Martyr’s Day as a national holiday, and there are lots of festivities. We drove down to Namalu to see what it was all about.

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Lots of people came out, so it was a great day to sell things!

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Local cuts at the butcher…

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Everyone was really dressed up! Aren’t these traditional dresses colorful?

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After walking through town, we arrived at the celebration, which was held outside the Catholic church.

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There was lots of music, lots of Scripture reading, lots of dancing, and many unusual costumes as well.

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Emmalene had a pretty good view from the shoulders of Miss Joyce… But then somehow we were urged to move to the very front (displacing some other people! we felt bad), and one of the nuns took Emmalene by the hand to sit with her on the front row:

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It was quite a day!

Please pray with us that the good news of the Gospel would come to our friends and neighbors with such power that they would not just remember the martyrs of the past, but daily take up their cross and follow the Savior!

An Evening at the Clinic

Two months and no posts! We’ve been so occupied with other things that blogging has fallen by the way. Let us try to bring you up to speed with a series of rapid-fire posts.

One evening, a friend’s wife was sick, so I took them to the clinic.

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“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

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These young men were hanging out by the road while I waited, so we improvised a little baseball. They were fantastic!

Heavy Rain

We had huge amounts of rain last night, and then more this afternoon. Showers on the mountain came rushing down to us and flooded some areas. Some of our neighbors have had water in their homes, and have needed to sleep elsewhere; some have lost crops; some have had food and household items swept away by the current. Please pray for those who are struggling in this difficult time – for joy in trial, for faith that grips the solid promises of God, for ears to hear the word of the gospel, for daily bread. Please also pray that the Lord would send the right amount of water at the right time and give a successful harvest!

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This is our “driveway.” We normally have water here, but not this much.

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This is the path to the clinic. Water doesn’t usually flow through here, but people say it was up to their necks yesterday. It is still flowing fast.

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The ends of the bridge were submerged, and the water on either end of the bridge was up to my knees.

On an unrelated note, it looks like we cannot access Facebook at the moment. Tomorrow is President Museveni’s inauguration day, and Facebook has probably been temporarily blocked as a security measure.