It’s time to board the plane soon. The Lord is faithful always. There’s much to process on many levels – spiritual, physical, emotional, mental. Praying now for the Lord to rain down blessings all around, to protect and keep and to be The One Who Sees the work that’s been done and the work as they return home – changed by where they’ve been.
After working on the roof for the Kitgum church, the “fundi” crew is now in Gulu. It wouldn’t have gotten this far without Oz, the Fundi/Construction Manager! True Vine Baptist Church in Gulu is working together to lay a new floor for their church building. One more day in Gulu, then the focus shifts to a new church plant outside of Kampala in Matugga. Goodbyes will be said to one another in Gulu until meeting again.
Much time has been spent listening to one another. It takes great effort, focus and attention to not miss any of the soft spoken words in a British-influenced accent. Day-to-day difficulties and circumstances that lead to significant personal and family set-backs are common. These set-backs far exceed what would be mistakenly perceived as insignificant situations. It’s humbling. It touches deep into the heart. The reality of the “one anothers” is on display: Serve one another – Gal. 5:13; Love one another – John 15:12; Pray for one another – James 5:16; Be kind and compassionate to one another – Eph. 4:32; Encourage one another and build up one another – 1 Thes. 5:11.
Time well spent; energy well invested.
Muzee (moo-zei) is a respectful and endearing word to address a wise old man. It becomes like the man’s name. Muzee Otto’s birthday was celebrated yesterday by many friends who shared the commonality of knowing the ways Muzee and Auntie Ivy served people and cared for people during the 30-plus years of their ministry here in Uganda. Story after story after story described, “how he cared for me when times were difficult”, “how he helped me build something”, “how they helped me get something I wanted”, “how he helped me move”, “how she (Ivy) cared for the sick during their last days”, . . . The sincerity and endearment expressed by people who felt the act of compassion was moving. Not unlike Christ “who had compassion on them” (Matthew 14:14). And, “What we see Jesus claim with his words in Matthew 11:29, we see him prove with his actions time and time again in all four Gospels. What he is, he does. He cannot act any other way. His life proves his heart.”1 Who gets to see this played out in real time? Encouraged to consider that I too might become like Christ, to have a heart like his so that what I am, I do. So I cannot act any other way. So that my life proves my heart to be one of compassion, like that of Christ.
Tomorrow the plan is to drive up to Gulu. (Lord willing – if transmission repairs on the vehicle are complete – prayers appreciated!) Drive time is opportune time for conversations – with Muzee and any other passengers along for the ride. Much is being learned this trip! Much to be grateful for! Much to look forward to!
We’ll meet up with Oz who has made great progress on the roof for the church building alongside his friend, “Fundi (Foon-dee) Francis”. Hearts in action all around!
1Dane Ortlund’s book, Gentle and Lowly The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, Chapter 2, His Heart in Action, page 25.
In a month the hope is there will be a roof on this building. The church has out-grown its previous structure, and the roof was torn off in a big wind storm. This will be a regional training center and a place for holding conferences. Weddings recognized by the State will be performed here, a very important aspect of cultural change that protects wives and children.
When there’s no Lowe’s you venture to the marketplace, jammed with vendors, to learn the ways of scheduling a truck to carry the load of materials needed to build a roof. Who knew the bargain price was only for the broker? The truck and driver still needed to be purchased, followed by the truck driver making rounds the remainder of the afternoon to find buyers who would add to the load, making the trip as worthwhile as possible. Still learning! There’s a new understanding of the unusually high percentage of extremely over-loaded trucks on these roads!
Destination Kitgum: Accomplished! The materials are on site; work can begin! Ozzie will stay as the project manager alongside his old friend, Francis (“Fundi Francis”). The people here are filled with excitement and energy!
It seemed like we might need to go back to training wheels for this ride, but the “pedaling twice as fast” before boarding the Uganda flight came with such familiarity! We missed this. We’ve missed our friends on the other side of the world. We’ve missed the joy that comes in the anticipation, the peace when He is preparing the way, and the delight when He shows up in the smallest but biggest details – making the seemingly insurmountable possible.
Who knew the plan was for these three to go along for the ride together! Bags were checked through to Entebbe and Seattle’s layover left just enough time, by God’s grace, to pass the scrutiny of COVID testing paperwork inspection for international travel! We clapped our hands when all three were on the same flight headed to Amsterdam where the morning will greet them. Please keep them in your prayers – they have one more set of airport officials to inspect COVID testing paperwork before the final flight to Entebbe. It would be a blessing to arrive together without delays or requests for additional COVID tests.
They know you’re in this with them and are grateful for you – grateful for your prayers! This is where friends like you can stay connected.
“You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12