Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trip Preview

14 Days. 1700 Miles. 7 Cities/towns/villages. 5 Flights. 3 Countries. Countless conversations.

That's my next 2 weeks in a nutshell. I leave in the morning to begin a trip that will include 9 days in Isiro and Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo to survey how we might partner with the church there, a few days in Kampala to assist with a pastoral training of trainers with the Africa Gospel Church Uganda, and a couple days in South Sudan meeting with pastors to discuss a way forward in training and to meet a missionary who has some ideas about using media devices here in Africa.

Would you PRAY for this trip? Pray that I would have a clear sense of God's leading as we think about the future for our ministry and our family. Pray that the right relationships are formed. Pray that I would listen more than I talk. Pray for clear vision and understanding of what God is already doing in these areas. Pray for opportunities to point people to who Jesus really is. Pray for Meg and the boys (all 3 of them) as they remain at home in Arua. Pray for protection, both physical and spiritual. Pray for courage to obey all that Jesus is leading us into.

I'll try to post as I can, so keep checking back. No promises though, I'm not sure what internet access will look like.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"God will make a way!"

Well, here we are; on the cusp of a new adventure. On Thursday Scott flies to Isiro, Democratic Republic of Congo to begin to scout out the land and see where we can partner with the work God is doing. Two weeks ago everything seemed like it was falling into place for this trip to happen. Flights were being booked and scheduled, contacts were being made, things seemed great. Then, last Tuesday, we got an email from the missionaries I'll be staying with in Isiro telling me that a visa from the border wouldn't be good enough and I would need to get one from the embassy in Kampala (300+ miles away). Oh and, before I could apply for that visa, I would need a letter of invitation from the church in Congo.

So last Wednesday night, passport in hand, I got on a night bus from Arua to Kampala. I was hoping, expecting the letter to be there in my email, waiting for me when I arrived in Kampala Thursday morning. But it wasn't. And at noon, it wasn't. And at 4pm, when the embassy was closing, it wasn't. And even when I went to bed it wasn't. I was frustrated and disappointed and stressed and wondering what was going to happen. I asked Jesus to make a way where there seemed to be no way. All the official paperwork said that the visa required 48 hours for processing, and since I hadn't gotten it in on Thursday I was sure that I was going to have to spend the weekend in Kampala, away from my family that I was about to leave for two weeks.

But when I woke up Friday morning, there was the letter waiting in my inbox. Even though it had been sent before I went to bed, for some reason it wasn't delivered until 4:30 in the morning. I got ready and went to the embassy, filled out the application, went to the bank to pay for the visa, came back and turned everything in. I handed her the stack of papers; passport, copy of passport, yellow fever vaccine card, letter of invitation, receipt from the bank, the application, and two small photos, and I held my breath. I knew that everything I thought I needed was there, but what if I didn't know about EVERYTHING? She looked through the pile of papers, looked at the clock, and said, "You come back and pick it this afternoon, after three," and turned back to her work.

I was so excited! I was hopeful! But I tried to temper my excitement, because after all, this is Africa and anything could have happened. And I was praying that it really would be ready by the afternoon. And so I headed back to my sister's house to wait out the next five hours. I sat down in her living room and on the table next to my chair was sitting "The Jesus Storybook Bible." I picked it up to flip through (By the way, I highly recommend it to anyone, whether you have children or not! We have a copy here in Uganda and one in America), and just so happened to land on the page where the Israelites are standing on the shores of the Red Sea. This is what I read:

"We're going to die!" they shrieked.
"Don't be afraid!" Moses said.
"But there's nothing we can do!" they screamed.
"God knows you can't do anything!" Moses said. "God will do it for you. Trust him. And watch!"
"But there's no way out!" they cried.
"God will make a way!" Moses said.
Another minute and it would have been over. But then the strangest thing happened....

And it hit me, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. I felt just like the children of Israel, there was no way I could think of for me to get out of this visa situation. But God had His own plan. Thankfully, He's not limited to the options I see in my mind. And when it seemed like there was no way out, God made a way.

I went back to the embassy just after three on Friday afternoon. I walked up to the desk and there was someone there ahead of me, but when the receptionist saw me, she smiled and held up my passport. He had down it. He made the way. When there was nothing more I could do, that was when He was able to do his thing. All I could do was trust, and He was faithful and He showed up. In the time I felt weak and helpless, then He was strong.

Isn't that just like our God? He's there, waiting for us to let Him do what he does best. I still had to do my part. I couldn't have just sat in Arua praying that a visa would appear in my passport (at least I don't think I could have, maybe I still have more to learn?). But when I did what I could do and what I knew I needed to do, God was able to do the rest. But I had to trust. I still could have tried to make things happen in my own strength; I could have tried to bribe her, I could have demanded to speak with someone with power, but I didn't need to. I chose to trust God, even though I couldn't see the dry path through the sea. And He was faithful.

Thank you for praying with us through all of this. I am sure that it was your prayers that paved the way for this to happen. This is a battle, I'm sure of it, a battle for the hearts of people all around the world. Thank you for standing with us, for fighting alongside us. We know as we push into enemy territory Satan is going to push back. Please keep praying with us and for us. This is not something we can do alone. We need God fighting for us, but we need you too!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Current Travels

Check out the Uganda Prayer Room Blog for ways to be praying for us. There have been some great posts this week. Feel free to email or facebook with questions. We covet your prayers!

Arua Team Travel Plans
* add Scott traveling TODAY (Feb 8th 2pm-10pm EST) to Kampala to get visas, please pray for safety in travel and expedience at the embassies

Wives and Family at Home
* please pray for Tim and Ben to feel secure about their Dad not being around as much

Thanks for praying! Keep checking back to our blog (I will try my best!) and the Uganda Prayer Room Blog for ways to be connected and praying

Tim and Ben "helping" me cook :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Morning of Grocery Shopping

I wanted to try to capture what it is like to go shopping for food here in Arua. Pictures can never fully explain an experience, so feel free to come and visit any time!

First, there is the food market. This is where we go to get fresh food. To get there you must first park somewhere and walk down Market Rd.

This is Market Rd.
All along Market Rd. there are little shops (called dukas) and small stands. In these shops you can find all kinds of things. I have not yet fully investigated them. The stands tend to sell basic needs such as salt and different soaps. Some sell fun things like sunglasses, locks, candy or cheap watches.

The other option is there are always people walking up and down the road trying to sell the same things. I don’t normally buy things along the road but there are some exceptions. I get eggs from a little shop right near the market.

Two boys selling salt and soap. The blue sticks are long sticks of soap that they break into smaller pieces to use.
Once inside the market there are lots of places to go. For the most part the market is grouped by type of food you are buying.

Lots of sugar, rice and tea leaves
This is where we buy sugar. You can buy it on the street but I am trying to build relationships and so I try and buy from the same people as much as possible. Also, at this stand both the sellers speak Swahili. I practice with them every time I go in. It has helped a lot to have regular interaction in it. Sadly, when I brought the camera the other woman who I practice with the most was not there.

Next I go to see my friend, Mama Lucy. Her and her daughter Lucy have this stand. I don’t buy much from them but we greet each other and talk every time I come to the market. I do not think they know Jesus but I pray that I can be a light to them. We are building our relationship slowly but I am excited to see what God wants to do through it.

Mama Lucy
 From here I go to “Mundu Row” which is how they say “Visitor (white person) Row.” They sell things here that are not common for the Lugbara people to buy. They sell them for people like me, which I am quite grateful for. Here I can find, when it is in season, carrots, peas, green beans, lettuce, green peppers, watermelon, zucchini, cilantro, and cucumbers. All these things are not there all the time, but it is nice to be able to find them when I can.

Mundu (Visitors) Row
We get some onions and potatoes by the basin full and we are halfway done. We go down this row to get oranges or tangerines.

Basins of onions and potatoes
 Next, I get tomatoes from this stand. There are a group of women who work it together. They let me practice Lugbara with them. They always make me count in Lugbara which is good practice then we talk price in Lugbara as well.

One of my favorite stands for cultural purposes was not open this day. It is where we buy ground nuts, similar to peanuts. They also sell a variety of bugs. We can get some for you to try when you come visit :)

Our last stop for the day is beans. There are many ladies in the market who sell beans. It is the major source of protein for people here. These ladies do not normally speak much English and not much Swahili either. I often buy from whoever speaks English well enough. The bags of beans you see, when full, are 100 Kilo bags which is about 220 pounds. I would not like to carry those!

From here we go to the supermarket. My favorite of the five in town is West Nile Supermarket. Each supermarket has the same basics but then they each carry slightly different things. I also go to Arua Supermarket regularly to get things they carry that West Nile does not.

Here is one of the four aisles of the store. I get basics here, peanut butter, milk, pasta, butter, flour, cleaning products, cheese when available, snacky foods, oil, powdered milk, baking supplies, and cooking things. There is a “toy aisle” but the toys are cheap in price and quality. Tim still loves going to look at the toy aisle whenever we go.

Tim loving the "toy aisle"
Cookie options, but not nearly as good as double stuffed oreos
Cooking Supplies, sometimes there is a better selection
Checking out
The pictures give you and idea of what things are available. We have much more available to us than there used to be in Arua. We are so thankful.

So this is grocery shopping in Arua. What questions did this leave for you? What else would you like to know?! Tell me so I can help you understand life this side of the world.