The happiest moments of missionary life are when you see those you have shared the gospel with, in turn sharing with others. And I’m pretty sure in heaven one day we will realize that even this “full circle” is only one very tiny curve of what God is doing. One of the highlights of this last school holiday was seeing the youth pour their lives into others—eagerly sharing the joy and treasure they have found in Jesus. (If something is sweet and good we share it, right?!)
One of those happy moments was when I had a special dinner for "Timothy" and his friends while he was home from school. A few days beforehand he asked me: “Laura, can I have some time after my dinner to preach the gospel to my friends I’ve invited?” I happily obliged and he eagerly and enthusiastically shared with his friends by lamplight. A few days later "Timothy" told me, “Laura, I used to be afraid to pray out loud even at Bible club, but now I have even preached!... On Sunday night I only had one verse in my head—but as I began to share the verses and references came to my mind!” He was bubbling over with joy, and so was I. I showed him the story of Moses and shared how God promises to put words in our mouths when we are sharing.
One of our youth was telling me that they and a friend had noticed “Joe” had been struggling recently and getting bad habits—so he and another friend had taken this young boy aside and talked to him together. And, they continued to pursue him with friendship afterwards over the holiday. Sweetness! Sometimes I wonder how in the world my and I keep hundreds of kids “somehow” in order—and I think it’s because they each help one another; our more senior members coaching the new ones along.
So many happy things have happened this last quarter—our Staff safari retreat; our Field and Fun day with the library kids and seeing God at work in hearts. (See pictures below!) But, it has also been a season where the spiritual warfare seemed intense and heavy. THANK you so much for your prayers. Partially, I believe because of the spiritual heaviness and noise from Ramadan, and also because Satan was kicking hard at us. But Jesus is victorious and we are thankful He is stronger and has defeated the “big snake” Satan.
For example, in one day alone—the brakes went out on the safari vehicle my staff and I were in, (they got repaired and the staff went on their way home). I then got in my personal vehicle to continue on to Kampala for supplies, and on the way there I had a motorcycle driver slam into the back of my car on the highway (he hit and “ran”… well, abandoned his bike and ran) I tried to sort it out, reported to the police and continued on. Then when I finally reached Kampala and was stuck in gridlock traffic, a thief attempted to rob/hijack me in my car. (God gave me quick impulse and I began blowing the horn like a crazy woman, yelled at him—when I drew enough attention he fled!) I was happier than ever to reach my friends at the guesthouse where I stay and get a warm welcome-hug. (And that's just the physical evidence of the battle--in one day not the emotional and spiritual unseen war)
Over the school holiday, my kitchen and table seemed to be a constantly revolving door. (Did anyone tell me in advance that one of the primary practical “missional” ways to the hearts of people is by feeding them? No, but it’s SO true!) For a few weeks it seemed I had guests at my table almost every day. And, these youth here can EAT up! My pantry was pretty much completely cleaned out after the holiday. I know that Jesus has won a lot of spiritual victories around the table. (Ok, I’ll get back to the point—Keep reading!)
One evening as I was crawling into bed I had the inescapable sense that there was a snake in my house. And I couldn’t shake it. I got out of bed and checked every corner of my house to see if indeed there was a snake. I didn’t find anything, but I was fearful. I finally came to the conclusion that it must be simply an attack of fear from the enemy because I hate snakes. I reminded myself of the people who pray for my protection everyday (you know who you are—thank you!) and eventually fell off to sleep. But for several days I could feel the heaviness of spirit. Jesus gave grace to press on.
About 10 days later, my Pastor and friends from church came to visit and thanked me for what I had done for the children in the community. “Laura, I too was a young poor child in this community… I’m so excited to see the fruit in years to come.” At the end of our time sharing together, they prayed for me. (It was sweet!) A few days later one of the friends who was with the pastor and was also encountering heavy spiritual warfare, shared that while the pastor was praying for me at my house, He saw a huge snake circling my table: “But Laura, it wasn’t able to hurt anyone!”I told him, "well there has been a lot of spiritual victories won at that table." I immediately thought back to the evening I thought there was a snake in my house and everything made sense. We affirmed God’s protection, reaffirmed we are in a battle, and prayed for God to give us some relief from the intensity of the battle (Which Jesus did). Somehow, it was a sweet moment—realizing that Satan doesn’t fight against us if there’s no ground being taken for Jesus; and also, that Jesus was protecting us. God brought Psalm 23 to my mind in a whole new way: “You prepare a TABLE before me in the PRESENCE of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over.” Thank you, Jesus. Continue to pray that we would stand strong and use the whole armour of God. Our enemy is fierce and strong, but Jesus is stronger!
Speaking of coming full circle… its almost time for furlough! The weeks are getting jam-packed, full, and crazy. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you this Fall, and I’m also looking forward to much needed some rest and refreshment. My time will begin with attending one of my best friend’s weddings in Calgary and a family reunion in August.
Also pray that God would make my next steps for 2019 clear over the first little while I’m back “home.” I’m excited to see how He leads and I look forward to sharing that with you later this year. Pray for safety as there is a lot of travelling in the coming days and months. Pray for good goodbyes on this side and happy hellos with folks back home. One of the things I know from previous experience of coming and going is that things change with folks back home while I’m away. (If that sounds weird, it’s just because we tend to take a snapshot of “home” with us and “pause” it in our minds, thinking it will be exactly as it was when we left—but of course we are ALL changing and moving all the time!)
This week as I was reading God encouraged me with this verse, can I share it with you too? Paul said "I will gladly spend and be spent for your souls..." 2 Corinthians 12:15a. Another version says: "I will give myself and all that I have for the sake of your souls." Somedays I see I've got a whole lot more grey hair, somedays I think I'm tired of ministry and battle: but through God's grace He gives us joy so that we can gladly spend ourselves for the sake of His kingdom.
Thanks once again for your faithful support. I really am one of the luckiest missionaries around… I reviewed my support list and since I left for the field I have only 1 small donor dropped since I deployed (and I think it may just be due to a card expiry!), but I’ve added numerous more donors—and more money that has helped our sweet kiddos here. Jesus is faithful and good. May you relish and take joy in how He is at work and using you.
Lots of love,
Over the school holiday we visited a number of our youth in their homes. We met their parents and had an opportunity to share and talk with them. Multiple parents said that their children come home from Bible club and share what they've learned, recite their verses, read the Bible to their family and lead in prayer! Praise Jesus. We could almost immediately spot the homes of our club kids by the solar lanterns charging out in front of their homes.
Sometimes I make it for them, and sometimes I make them cook it with me!
The celebration dinner & game "spoons" for the first 15 kiddos who finished memorizing the book of 1 John. Some of them have since finished memorizing the book of James!
Staff Safari Retreat!
I took my staff & their family away for a weekend safari. We enjoyed time together, saw lions, hippos, my first in the wild leopard, and did the "Cat & Dog Theology" program (helping us discern if our walk of faith is Jesus-centered or us-centered). We had a sweet time and enjoyed the beauty of God's creation together.
With the departure of teammates earlier this year, their soccer clubs have come under the wing of our staff and we've added a girls club. Many girls haven't had the opportunity so skills are weak, BUT enthusiasm is plentiful! This has also drawn some new young women to Bible club. Pray for the staff and soccer clubs as they learn to lead on their own and work through growing pains.
We're thankful for Summer Interns & Bible Club Prizes!
The kiddos continue to memorize and hide God's Word in their hearts. Having extra help to hear verses recited is a blessing and the children love having visitors around.