Life’s been busy! I wanted to take a moment to write and thank you for your prayers for me as I relocated back to the Capitol Region.
Less than 24 hours after I landed in Ottawa I was offered a job working back on the Hill in politics—and just a few days after that God provided me with a “perfect for me at this time” place to live. A cozy little bachelor apartment, fully furnished in the basement of a young couples home. Towels, linens, dishes—and even a coffee maker included! With living the transient “hobo” life this year and most of my household supplies still in Uganda, this was an extra blessing. They even gave me a large screen TV, which is just about the same size as the little couch they provided. Haha. After hosting movie nights in Uganda with groups of people huddled around my laptop computer screen—it seems weird to have a large TV all to myself!
I’ve enjoyed being back on the Hill, and the first few weeks it seemed every time I turned a corner I had staffers and politicians giving me big welcome back hugs. Sometimes I have these strange moments where I feel like I’m living two lives… Wasn’t I just sitting on a dirt floor sharing laughter and eating matoke with my hands-What am I doing have a 3-hour leisurely lunch with a Cabinet Minister in a fancy restaurant? Wasn’t I just counting out shillings yesterday in the village and now I’m reviewing and formulating budget proposals from organizations in our constituency worth millions of dollars? All I can say is life is an adventure!
God has so graciously taken care of all the details of my life. Psalm 68:19 says: “For each day He carries us in His arms.”This has certainly been the case as God so lovingly works out all the details of my life. Please continue to pray for me as I begin the fundraising process and balance it with a busy work life. Keep praying for me and my teammates already on the ground in Uganda!
Recently someone at church commented to me that they miss reading the stories and musings I sent home in newsletters while I was in Uganda. I know my life back in Canada isn’t as fascinating for you folks… So, I decided that during the next months as I prepare to go back to Uganda, I’ll take the time to tell some untold stories from my previous time in Uganda (There’s still lots of them!) I also want to share with you what God continues to teach me and do in my heart.
I’m including one such musing and story below. So, for those of you who are hearty readers and want more details and stories—read on! For the rest of you, goodnight!
With much love,
P.S. I received my new prayers cards. If you’d like one be sure to message me your mailing address, I’d love to send you one!
This week I’ve been listening to the Song Farther Along-you can listen to it HERE. “Farther along we’ll know all about it, farther along we’ll understand why… There's so much more to life than we've been told, it's full of beauty that will unfold...“
The events of last year were probably some of the hardest of my life. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why God allowed them to happen, but I know that “Farther along” I’ll understand—and it may not be until heaven. I know that at the moment we reach heaven, the glory and awe of that moment, with the ability to see our Savior face to face and understand Him and His perfect ways clearly with perfect viewpoint will forever erase the pain and tears we’ve gone through here on earth.
These last few weeks I’ve come to a realization that those who serve Christ will most likely suffer more than the average person—and that’s a hard truth to sit with.
Last night as I watched one of my favorite episodes of The West Wing, someone encouraged Charlie with the phrase “You know you’re doing something right if you’re getting shot at.” This was such a good reminder. Spiritual warfare is very real. Our adversary roams about like a “roaring lion” seeking who he can devour. I find it interesting that this warning is included in 1 Peter, a book that talks about our suffering. Some suffering is a result of sin and the brokenness of this world—but this, as well as other "trials of our faith" are allowed and given to us by the hand of a Sovereign God. Satan wants to use trials to make us doubt who God is. Peter tells us to “submit to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” Our response in the midst of these trials is to “submit"-putting yourself under and affirm God’s sovereignty & His authority.
A few weeks ago, my new team leaders in Uganda entered the grief of suddenly loosing her little sister in a tragic accident; years before he lost his little brother. Their lives are already not easy raising small children living in a third world country in a remote area. And, on top of the pressures of daily life-there's the pressures that come from doing Spiritual battle in an area that needs Jesus so much.
I think about other friends of mine who are missionaries in China and the trials they’ve gone through since God gave them a child with spina bifida. She shared that one of the hardest parts of wrestling with the trial was that they had already chosen a difficult path—why did God have to allow more trials and pain? These same questions had a part in my grief last fall as I asked God why He had to allow what He did in Ugandalast year—Hadn’t I already given up enough? Hadn’t I already left behind a successful career, a beautiful home, my friends and family, and everything familiar in my life?
As I read I Peter over and over last year I realized one reason God allows more suffering in the lives of His servants is because when you suffer, the Spirit of God rests on you in a special way—this is why we can rejoice. “But rejoice to the extent that you partake in Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed you may be glad with exceeding joy… blessed are you for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you!”
Those who are serving Christ need His Spirit in a special way—their efforts are worth nothing unless God’s Spirit is at work. Jesus suffered more than anyone else, and He reminds us that no servant should expect anything different than his Master. 2 Corinthians details Paul’s experience as a Servant of God “we are hard pressed on every side… despairing of life… perplexed…” Paul goes on to tell us this is so that we will see the excellency of the power is of God and not of us. These things make us more and more weak in ourselves—but they make us more reliant on Jesus; and trials empty us of our self-will making room for the working of the Spirit.
I’ve learned that’s it ok to ask God why, but at the same time we lift up ourselves and our hearts to Jesus in faith learning to trust more and more in WHO He is-not what He does. Lamentations 3 says: “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord… It is good for a man to bear the yoke in His youth. Let him sit silently because God has laid it on him… Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.”
Sometimes in the middle of grief that’s all we can do—lift up our broken hearts and weary hands to Christ in faith. Farrther along we’ll understand why.
“I think there are temptations in ministry to become a polished performer rather than an empowered disciple… some of us in ministry will have resumes full of what we did for God, but I would rather have a resume full of what God did through me… If we can hear God, and I believe that we can—that’s what I want to depend on when I minister in the dark dangerous despised places of the world. It gives me great comfort to know I’m not ministering in my own inadequate strength.”—Caleb Bislow, Dangerous. And this friends, is one of the primary reasons why God brings suffering into the lives of His servants to a greater extent—because it makes more room for Him and His Spirit.
Pray for all those who who have stepped away from ordinary lives to serve Christ; we need him. We need Him to keep our hearts full of faith—we need to keep our eyes on heaven and the beauty and joy to come! We need your prayers to “not become weary in well-doing-for in due season we will reap if we faint not!”
Now, having gone down on that “little” bunny trail-back to my stories from the last years in Uganda! Trust me, it relates :-)
While there are things we don’t understand, like the events of last year—I’m so thankful that in other situations God gives us glimpses of understanding into His purposes. Such was the case with my motorcycle “boda-boda” accident.
Yes, almost two years ago on a hot afternoon on the way home from an afternoon Bible study in the village the tire of the bike slid out on some small loose stones. The very hot motor of the bike and the tail pipe landed on my lower leg and literally burnt holes in my leg. These weren’t just small burns, with one about the size of the average hand. And, they were deep third-degree burns. I triaged the burns and the next day I went into the Capitol for medical treatment. It wasn’t a pleasant process having the Dr. scrape out the dead and then dress it—and because I didn’t live close enough to return often, they showed me how to do this myself. This process would be repeated every 3-5 days for a few weeks.
Thankfully, although they threatened the need for skin grafts, God healed my leg without them. (Honey is nature’s magic for healing burns! )And, thanks to Mederma Scar cream, it now doesn’t look too bad. (For the record, I will never again ride a motorbike in a skirt…. Only jeans, which does limit where you can go in a rural culture where women don’t wear pants!)
Now as a girl, although it was extremely painful, the thing that caused me the most grief was being worried about how my leg would look. (Vain, I know!) So, yes, I had some talks with God about this. However, in the month to come I came to understand why God had let me go through this incident—it was to prepare me to help the multiple others in my village who that same summer would come to me needing treatment for serious burns.
I remember after church when one Mama asked if she could bring her baby to my house because she wanted me to look at the baby's legs. At the time I had no idea why. It turns out this little toddler with down syndrome had been placed too close to the cooking fire and when the Momma turned her back, she had rolled her legs into the fire. Thankfully they realized soon enough to pull her out so the little one didn’t loose her legs. But, this Momma not knowing what to do had simply put tights on her baby and a day later when she arrived at my house she ripped them off to show me the burns. (So sad.) That day as I dressed this little ones wounds and prayed for her, how thankful I was in my heart that I knew exactly what to do—I knew how to comfort and emphasize with this little one because I had gone through this same pain just weeks before.
Now, some of you are asking yourself—why were they coming to you? Why indeed! My family would have previously heartily laughed at the thought that I would even be able to deal with carrying out any form medical treatment! (Yes, I’m the kid who doesn’t even like to look at a PICTURE of white blood cells, let alone real blood and internal organs!) You see, I grew up in a family where my Grandma, my Aunts, My Mom, and my sister are trained in medical sciences, but I was not. I guess somehow between all of them talking about their work, as well as talk at the dinner table by my farmer Dad about the latest calf birth, I’ve gained a little knowledge along the way. I will readily admit I’m NOT a medical professional—far from it!
However, when you are in a village that’s not close to any sort of hospital or medical professional, and one has certified as a lifeguard and studied CPR/First Aid, people assume that’s enough. At first it all started while visiting the homes of people in my Bible studies and seeing incidents like a lady with a massive swollen leg because she nicked her barefoot toe in the garden with the hoe… So, I began to teach them that if they cared for minor open wounds they wouldn’t end up with serious infections and problems. It all started rather innocently… somehow I became “Dr.” Auntie Laura. I appreciated the opportunity to love the people in my village by caring for them, but sometimes I was in WAY over my head.
One such time happened on a rainy dark night. I was babysitting my co workers children and one of the interns came running to the house to inform me that we have received a call that someone was badly hurt and they were on their way. I asked her to stay with the kids, and we retrieved my medic bag (by this point I kept one prepared because of numerous previous emergencies.) The man arrived on the porch, but I could barely see what was going on because it was a dark night and rain was pouring down. I told his friends to bring him inside.
Moments later the light showed a hand that had been almost completely detached, hanging exactly the opposite way it should have been—by a small strand. Someone had thankfully tied a tourniquet on his arm before he began the 30-minute walk to my house from where he lived. But, blood was continuing to pour all over.
I immediately was struck with the feeling that he was going to die right in front of me—however I prayed and decided we needed to do what we could. I put on latex gloves and told one of the interns to start unwrapping the rolls of gauze in the medic bag. The man was already almost at the point of passing out… I talked to him asking his name and telling him that he had to be stronger than he had ever been before—just trying to get him to stay with us. He moaned as I began applying more and more pressure and attempted to fasten the hand to back on his arm with bandages so that it didn’t rip off—then wrapping the whole arm I stabilized it to his body in a sling. I sent someone to go get the local Pastor and the keys to the jeep—we would need to begin the 1-hour journey to the closet local hospital as soon as I had him triaged.
We put him in the jeep and began the long journey out of the village on roads that barely qualify as roads. The local pastor driving was having difficulty seeing because of the rain pouring down—all the while trying to dodge holes in the road, tree branches, and the culverts that they put on top of the road—rather than digging them! Miraculously, an hour later, when we arrived at the hospital the man was still conscious. However, it took us well over an hour to convince the local nurses and staff that this man needed immediate treatment. (I guess my bandaging job looked pretty professional? I don’t know!) At first they told me to go and sit down they would look at him tomorrow. (I stubbornly refused and continued to tell them he needed immediate help.) They finally agreed to take his blood “pressure” and it was only then they realized he really needed help… And luckily an Irish Doctor wandered into the ward curious as to why there were white people at the hospital. They went and woke up the surgeon and took this man into X-ray. Shortly after midnight (some 4 hours after the accident) they took him into surgery. I sat outside the little cement building with some of his family members. The Doctor asked me if I wanted to scrub in and help with the surgery—but I declined (I think God’s grace had reached its limit—I wasn’t sure it could carry me through assisting in a surgery! :-) Several hours of surgery, reconnecting tendons and all, he was stable and we went home to catch a bit of sleep.
By God’s grace, not only did this man live—but about a month later he began attending church AND God graciously gave him the use of his hand back! I had prayed and hoped that we could save his life, but I never dreamed that God would also restore the use of his hand. Sometimes the difficulties in these countries cause people to ask “why does God let people die?” But, I came to see that it’s a miracle that God allows so many people to live! Despite their burns, machete cuts, fights,diseases etc.
In closing, I'm VERY happy that on my new team in Ugandathere are trained and real medical professionals on the team! While God gave me His grace and taught me more reliance on him through my “medical practice” experiences, I’m pretty happy to hang up my Doctor’s hat and leave that part of ministry to the professionals!