I wanted to take this opportunity to send out a little update and connect with each of you. Again, thank you for your prayers, support, encouragement and love. The months continue to fly by FAST-goodness! Where is the time going? Lord willing (and finances pending) I’ll be headed back to Uganda in six months-exciting!
Life at work on the Hill continues to be a blur as we finish up the spring legislative session in the next couple weeks. I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to be part of the lives of friends here in Ottawa. And, last month Spring arrived. (Is there really a more beautiful place than Canada in the Spring?!) God has also been re-infusing me with a renewed energy, enthusiasm, and passion to follow His call on my life for which I am very thankful. I’m working at getting appointments for dental work, optical, medical clearance, and immunizations all "squared-away" to get ready to GO!
I have also been planning out the remaining months of my time here in Canada. Some of you have asked about my plans—here’s a general timeline of what the months ahead hold:
I’ll continue to work full-time on the Hill until the end of August. (Spending two weeks "vacation" July 19-31st in Toronto doing my pre-field/language acquisition training.) I’ll also speak at few churches around here in the next couple months. In September, I’ll say goodbye to my job & the Ottawa gang and head out west/north to visit churches in Ontario. In October I’m hoping to visit supporters, friends, and churches in the USA. In November, I have a few more church presentations scheduled in Northern Ontario—and then I’ll spend the last couple weeks of November packing and enjoying some family time. I’ll send out a more detailed schedule of my presentations and church visits next time, I’m just working at finishing planning them all out. I hope to have the opportunity to see many of you in person!
As I promised in my last update, below I’ll be sharing another story of how God worked in the past in Uganda. This one illustrates the power of your prayers at work. Your prayers are so important, we can’t do what we do without them… and at times (perhaps really most of the time) we aren’t even completely aware of just how much we need Jesus and His Spirit!
Thanks for your continued prayers.
The Power of Your Prayers & our "Run-In" With Al-Shabaab
This summer marks the 10th anniversary of my first missions to trip to Uganda. (Crazy! Has it really been this long?) A few days after completing my freshman year of University, with all our youthful zeal, enthusiasm, and vigor we packed our bags and headed to Uganda. We had an impassioned desire to spread the gospel that had changed our lives. This was also a trip that I believe is now thought of in a particular short-term team missions office as “What should never happen” on a trip. I think our team may have helped "write" a whole additional section in their policy & procedures manual :)
The original plan was for us to work alongside an American missionary family from a California church. However, they had a change in their plans including the birth of their 3rd child and we ended up being primarily hosted by Nationals in the Ugandan Anglican Church.
This was a trip that God used to confirm much in my heart; we got to see Him work in amazing ways; but it was also a trip that has made all the other trips to Uganda seem like a walk-in-the-park in comparison (Although, admittedly Uganda is never a walk-in-the-park.) We spent weeks on the road—travelling in the back of a truck loaded with a bunch of college students, a tent for the guys & a tent for the girls, backpacks, and foam mattresses. We facilitated a youth camp, visited dozens of schools sharing the gospel, and visited churches to encourage local pastors.
We never really knew exactly where we would be hosted next, but the evening usually found us pitching our tents in the yard of a church or school, a meal made by the local church women, and at times some dancing and singing.
We learned how to take baths in a basin, washed our clothes in a bucket, and perfected the skill of using a drop toilet. (Which, for the record, also meant we got very close to other team members because we were terrified of the cock roaches and other creatures that also frequented these "venues" late at night: who wants to face them on your own? So, take along a buddy with a flashlight… Strength in numbers right?!) A few weeks into this trip we began to look like very poor Americans (we got a lot fewer requests for money)—and some of the Ugandan’s even complained about our appearance! Haha, let’s just say we weren’t as skilled at keeping up our appearance as they are under said conditions. We didn’t know how to heat a clothes iron over an open fire, or other such skills our Ugandan friends know so well. Nor, had we really perfected the art of getting clean in a bucket… enough said.
One such week found us doing some outreach work on a remote island on Lake Victoria. We saw God work in lives in ways we never had before. I’ll never forget one man who looked me in the face after we had shared the gospel with him asking me: “Why has no one ever told me this good news before?” Nor, will I ever forget our sister “Ruth” who that week placed her faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized on the far side of this island.
At the close of the week we made our way back to the side of the island to await the “ferry” barge-like boat that would take us back to the mainland. However, when we pulled into town to catch the ferry we immediately knew that something was wrong. The town was completely quiet (just for the record, towns in Uganda are never quiet during business hours—but are bustling with activity) The children who had previously poked our white skin, played with our hair, and sat on our laps when we arrived a week earlier were now hanging out in the shadows; strangely aloof. There were also little meetings taking place in the village. When the scheduled time came for the ferry to leave we were told that it was broken. We sat in the hot sunlight, with a goat that had been given to us in appreciation for our visit, running around our feet in the back of the truck. A few teammates had fallen sick from the hardships of the week. Finally, we made a call to the US Embassy and told them of our situation. At first they responded that they would send a police officer and a mechanic—but minutes later they called back and said the US Marines were “in the area” and they would soon arrive to rescue us. Curious, I thought-why are the Marines in the area? (Years later, I now completely understand why they were in the area…)
Interestingly, it seems only minutes after this news was heard —the Muslim ferry driver informed us that it was “working” and we were loaded up and began our trip back to the mainland. We knew something was up, something had been desperately wrong, but we never got to see the Marines, and we wouldn’t know until years later exactly how much danger we had really been in and how God had so mercifully protected us.
This last Fall when I was visiting with a National Pastor from Calvary Chapel up in Northern Uganda, we were talking about God’s protection, and I relayed this story to him. (It was probably one of the times I had been most afraid) He asked, “What Island were you on?” When I replied he said, “Laura do you know what the army shut down there?” “No”, I said. Turns out Al-Shabaab had been operating a terrorist training camp on that island.
Following this discovery I had a chill run up and down my spine and was overwhelmed with God’s protection—His good, sovereign protection. So often we really have no clue how close we come to danger, what we are spared from, and in addition we are often totally unaware of the many unseen spiritual battles happening around us. During that trip we had dozens of people praying for our safety.We were naïve young college students, but we had a powerful, sovereign God protecting us and also working through us!
There are dozens of other situations that we have found ourselves in over the years, some we recognized—but many more we likely still have no clue about! Yet, God protects, enables, strengthens, and works through His Spirit—and your prayers.
We need your prayers so very much—keep praying! I know that some of you may feel that perhaps your years of energy & contribution are done, or maybe you are tied down by work and family commitments—however, you can have a VERY REAL part in God’s work here on earth through prayer. Someone said: “Prayer is not the preparation for the work, it IS the work.” Will you commit to pray for the team and I?
Thanks for your prayers and your partnership in God’s kingdom work. Signing off now—until next time!