Monday, December 24, 2012

This is War

This is a war. This is a war that we are part of. Always in war there are casualties and often there is collateral damage, unintended consequences of the fight. We experienced some of this collateral damage last Friday (12/14). God had opened a door for us to go to Congo to participate in celebrations for a university graduation, pastoral ordinations, and new believers being baptized. The enemy, however, was willing to do whatever it took to keep us from getting there, including putting a small boy in the path of our vehicle.
As we were driving through Uganda on our way to the DRC, we came around a bend and the taxi in front of us pulled off the road to pick up some more passengers. As my eyes shifted from the taxi back to road, there was a boy running across the road ahead of us. He paused in the middle of the road as he saw us for the first time, but then he kept running. I saw him in the same moment he saw us and, despite slamming on the brakes and swerving away from him, the front corner of our vehicle struck the boy. He went on to die a few minutes later.
We didn’t continue our journey to Congo that day. We didn’t feel that we were able to after all that had happened. Some may say that in turning back we let Satan win that day. We don’t. We may not have reached Congo that day, it’s true. And we may have been knocked down for a few days, we were. But we’re still in the fight. Our Leader is still leading and we are still following, right into DRC.
A few days later I heard about a blog post that stated things well. The blog was written in response to the Newtown, CT shootings, but it is quite applicable in this situation as well. In it, the author relates this story:
“But in the middle of defying worship, I remember it – how a missionary told of this snake— longer than a man—that slithered its way right through their front door and straight to the kitchen. How she had flung outside screaming and a machete-wielding neighbor had calmly walked into her kitchen and he sliced off the head of the reptilian thing. But a snake’s neurology and blood flow make it such that it slithers wild even after it’s been sliced headless. For hours the missionary stood outside. And the body of the snake rampaged on, thrashing hard against windows and walls, destroying chairs and table and all things good and home. A snake can wreak havoc until it accepts it has no head — that it’s really dead.”

The snake is still thrashing, still seeking to kill, steal, and destroy, still making a mess of people’s lives. But praise God, his head is crushed, cut off; he is defeated. And, rather that focusing on the pain that Satan is causing in his death spasms, we are choosing to focus on how God is still working. Here are some of the ways we saw Him work, even in the midst of this tragedy.
  • No one within our vehicle was injured.
  • Our two older boys, Timothy and Benjamin, were staying with my sister’s family and didn’t have to experience this and try to understand it at ages 4 and 2.
  • There was a police officer right there in the trading center who removed us from the scene and escorted us to the police station.
  • Our field director, Jonathan, was traveling with us and was able to make calls to the police, our insurance agent, and our lawyer before I was even thinking clearly enough to know what to do.
  • The Local Councilor (a bit like a mayor) for that area witnessed the accident and testified to the police that it was an unfortunate accident, but I had done everything I could to avoid it.
  • The crowd that gathered immediately after the accident never got angry or threatened us, very uncommon here in Uganda.
  • The police officers who handled the case were all very understanding, honest, and professional.
  • The accident occurred in Uganda, not Congo, so language was less of an issue and our insurance agent was able to arrive quickly.
  • We’ve been reconciled with the family and they have agreed not to pursue the matter further or to bring it up again in the future.
God was fighting for us, even as we walked through this difficult situation. We don’t believe that it was God’s will for this child to die that day and, while we don’t understand why He allowed it to happen, we don’t believe this was God’s way of trying to close the door to Congo for us. Our hearts are wounded and hurting, but we have a God who heals. Our faith was shaken, but our Foundation remains sure. Our plans were postponed, but our God is not defeated.
Our eyes are fixed on God and He is the one leading us on to Congo. This is not the first opposition we have faced, nor do we expect it to be the last. We covet your prayers as we continue to heal from this traumatic experience, but even more we ask for your prayers for Congo and our future work there. We need you to stand with us as we fight this battle together. “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.” (Ephesians 6:12) And that is a battle that can be fought from wherever God has placed you.

Monday, December 17, 2012


We have felt your prayers. Thank you! We were in an accident on Friday. We were not injured. We  are dealing with all the details that come with it. We will share more as we are able. Thank you for holding us in this time.
A few weeks ago a friend at River of Grace sent me this picture. In church they were asked to put a finger print on the country that they were committing to pray for. Someone chose Uganda, and us as well. We have needed extra prayer the last few days, and will need more in the days to come. This picture reminds me of the one whose finger print I see, and all the others who have been praying faithfully. Thank you.

We need prayer and here are some of the requests:
  • Scott has some meetings Thursday and Friday with some government officials. Pray for favor and truth.
  • Pray that Jesus be glorified in all we do.
  • Pray for our boys and the Hallahan boys as we are living together for a few days.
  • Pray that we would continue to seek Jesus and grow in Him.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Package from Jesus

Jesus showed His love!
  • On Monday I said, "Scott, I really need to get some new pens. I can't find any that work."
  • On Sunday I put on the shopping list, new journal.
  • Scott had just been saying the week before that he was sad that he did not have any pumpkin spice VIA this year. 
  • I set up our Christmas tree last week and noticed it looked bare, but was thankful for a tree. 
  • Sunday night, Scott and I were talking about Congo and how frustrating the government processes can be. And how I am "scared" to go to such a difficult place. 

God heard all these small cries from our hearts. The big and small, and He answered them with a package. Friends in America sent us a package. We did not tell them anything. They bought and sent the package a month before we had any of these thoughts and wants.

In the package was :

  • A set of pens, the exact kind I would have bought.
  • Two new journals, purple :) 
  • Three sets of VIA coffee, one of which was pumpkin spice latte
  • Gold and red snowflake ornaments that match our other decorations
  • Other special gifts.
  • And a note, that says we are crazy for going to Congo, but our God is bigger than that. We felt validated in our feelings and encouraged to move forward in God's strength. 

Jesus must have been with our friend at Target that day. He must have lead her hand to each item put in that box. He was with her when she wrote the note. We were encouraged and strengthen because Jesus used one family. A family just like you! Would you let Jesus direct and guide you to bless someone else this season? Doesn't need to be a missionary, it could be your coworker, classmate or neighbor. Let Him guide your heart, and your hand to give this season.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

BEST Job Ever / Worst Job Ever

We have the best job ever! Ok, maybe not always, but in some ways we do. This week I got to deliver baby blankets to moms who needed them. Hope Lutheran Church in The Villages, Florida, sent us a box of baby blankets they made. They did the hard work and I got to give the blankets. I got to see the joy and appreciation on their faces. Here are a few pictures to give you a glimpse of what I got to see.

Stella has such a beautiful smile
Benja holding one of the babies
This is a single mom who is just finishing the equivalent of 10th grade 
Precious baby Abigail
Tim and Anna admiring one of the little ones

Beautiful blue blanket, for a baby girl. Good thing colors don't matter here :)
Baby Abigail with her new blanket

Like I said, we have the BEST job ever. Another time I will tell you some of the reasons this job is hard, but for now I am enjoying what God has asked me to do. I get to bless others because people in America, like you, bless us.

Thank You!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Our First Family Vacation Ever!

We went on our first family vacation. The coast of Kenya was beautiful and we are so thankful for a chance to get away. Here are some pictures :)

Exploring the "wishing stone"

On a glass-bottom boat for Tim's birthday

Dad and the birthday boy

Superhero pose
We enjoyed a great time as a family. Lots of laughs and refreshment. Glad to be back in Arua now.