It’s HOT! I’ve started putting an ice pack on my neck in the evenings to keep cool…that is, if the power is on and freezer hasn’t thawed. If the power is off and there is no fan…it’s downright miserable, especially at night while trying to sleep. But March is here and the rain will return soon. People are beginning to till the soil in preparation for planting. Dr. Katie’s flowers are blooming. Spring is coming to Gulu…well, in my mind it is anyway.
Floating on the Wind: In June 2006 I set out to drive across country from California back to South Carolina after graduating from Fuller Theological Seminary. I had a lot of time to spend with Lord and on the third day of that four day drive I distinctly remember describing to Him what my life felt like at that moment…like I was the seed of a dandelion floating on the wind. Even though I was behind the wheel of the car, I was not the one setting my course and I had no control over where I was being led. I told the Lord I hoped He had a plan because I felt like I was at the mercy of the winds and all I could do was trust that He would take me where I supposed to go. Fast forward almost nine years. I can tell you with certainty that I had no idea that eventually the Wind would drop me in
Northern Uganda. Over the last couple of weeks, signs of the returning rains have been a welcome sight here in Gulu. Daily clouds have brought late afternoon wind and thunder and just a tad bit of rain. The wind has been carrying these amazing seeds through the air from a certain type of tree and sometimes it looks like giant snowflakes floating to the ground. See the pic to the right. They are heart shaped and wrapped in what looks like a thin and fragile piece of tissue paper. The other day as I was sitting on the porch watching dark storm clouds gather when the wind set a bunch these seeds flying and it brought back the memory of that day I was driving across country…feeling like a dandelion seed floating on the wind. I believe the Lord brought that memory to me to show me just how trustworthy He is when we surrender to His plan for our lives. Now, I know that raises the question, “but how am I supposed to know God’s plan for my life?” Well, I didn’t know God’s specific plan…I just kept saying yes when I sensed the call to something. Ultimately that led to Uganda. I learned a lot over those nine years and sometimes when I said “yes” it didn’t always seem to work out at the time and I often doubted my decisions. But he has taken every challenge and used it to my benefit. I can’t explain it, all I can do is attribute it to the faithfulness of my loving God…He led me right to the place I’m supposed to be. I’ve never felt this confident and content in my own skin. It may sound corny and the metaphor may be cliché but that heart shaped seed wrapped in cellophane…that’s my heart…which the Lord, in His mercy and faithfulness, floated along and planted right here in Uganda. God is good…all the time….because that’s His nature. I’m excited to share with you all that in His faithfulness, the Lord has called me to be ordained to the priesthood here in the Diocese of Northern Uganda. I’m grateful for Bishop Johnson Gakumba and his discernment in this calling and I’m grateful for Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina for their support and consent. The Rev. Arthur Jenkins and the Rev. Louise Weld have been a constant source of wisdom and support in regards to ordination and I’m sure I wouldn’t be here without them. Many of you have been a voice of encouragement as well as I have walked out the discernment of this calling for many years. Thank you!! I will be ordained a transitional deacon some time this summer and will be ordained a priest a year after that. Praise God! I can hardly believe it. Didn’t think it would ever happen but the Lord’s call is irrevocable. I’ve always said yes to Him and He has always been faithful in response.
Frustration and Impatience: As glad as I am to be directed so lovingly by my Father, today I’m frustrated. I’ve tried to plan two trips to Kampala to purchase the equipment we need for the Jesus Film and twice I’ve had to postpone due to illness…first it was me and today it’s Rev. Collins who is sick. We are supposed to take the film out on March 18th. Its times like this that I wish I could hop in the truck and run to Office Depot or local music store for our needs. It’s just not that easy. Kampala is a six-hour drive. I can’t go alone…I have to have a Ugandan driver and also Collins has more knowledge about sound equipment than I do so he is needed. I’m just taking a deep breath and trusting in God’s timing. He’s got this. I’m trying to graciously practice patience.
Kidepo Valley National Park: Sandra Earixson and I, along with Ryan and Elizabeth Jones and Rev. Collins Olara, visited Kidepo Valley National Park a few weeks ago. With all of us sharing expenses, it was an affordable trip. Kidepo is about a six hour drive from Gulu. It’s really not that far…but the roads are bad. The drive was difficult but it was worth it. Kidepo, because it is so remote, is one of East Africa’s best kept secrets. It is in the northeast corner of Uganda on the boarder with South Sudan and Kenya. It’s a valley surrounded by mountains and the beauty of it is breathtaking. Unfortunately there was a wildfire sweeping through the valley when we were there. The fire came right up to our camp on our first night there but the firefighters (local village boys along with park rangers) were able to keep it at bay. We could here the crackle of the fire all night and the smoke make our eyes burn. This park is huge so the fire didn’t keep us from seeing lots of animals. Although I didn’t plan on it…I ended up driving my truck on our game drives. You would not believe where our guide had me drive…let’s just say there were times when my legs were like jelly. It was fun and I had to pinch myself several times to see if I was dreaming. I’ve attached some photos. It was AWESOME!! But the lions were no where to be seen. Boo.
Old Testament Prophets: I LOVE teaching the OT Prophets class. I have to admit…it has been a while since I read any of these books of the Bible. So preparing for classes each week and reviewing the historical setting of each prophet’s message has blown me away! It’s been a great reminder and it has shown me just how relevant these books of the Bible are today. In fact…I’m finding that NOTHING has changed since these men were sent by God to call Israel to repentance. Withholding His wrath over a period of roughly 600 years, the Lord pleads time and again with His chosen people to turn from their evil, sinful
ways…from their idolatry, murder, oppression of the poor, fraud, greed, debauchery, hypocrisy, heresy, injustice, extortion, etc. Watch the evening news and it’s not difficult to see a sin-filled world more in need of a Saviour than ever. The penalty for sin is still death. Judgment day is still coming and that message is still as unwanted and unpopular today as it was thousands of years ago when Israel was a divided nation, bent on willful disobedience with no acknowledgment of God. I’m trying to help my students to understand that a major responsibility they will have in their ordained ministry is that of the prophetic voice today calling for repentance and declaring the good news…that God, in his love, mercy and patience, has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. We need more prophetic voices in the Church today calling people to repentance…in addition to sharing the Good News. You can’t have one without the other. J I have been asked to teach Intro to Theology during the next term. I look forward to it.
Putting Up a Wall: As many of you know, if you read this blog or heard me speak over the holidays, the Archbishop Janani Luwum Theological College, where I teach and act as Bursar, has been accredited by Uganda Christian University and will be the regional center for theological training for seven dioceses in the Anglican communion. We will accept new students at the upcoming May term. We have been given some land on which stands buildings formerly used as a school. But there is a lot of work to be done to get this site ready to use by May. I plan on writing a grant for some of our long-range needs but right now we are in desperate need for immediate funds to build a security wall. Thieves will likely come in and steal from our buildings if we don’t build a wall. We don’t want to work hard to get the site ready to use only to have it be ransacked by thieves, which is likely without a wall. The property is big and we have estimated that it will cost at about $25,000 to build this security wall. (12 ft high brick wall covered with plaster with razor wire at the top). This is a worthwhile kingdom investment! This school is vital to the future of the Church here in N. Uganda. There are many challenges ahead for the Church and one of the greatest needs right now is well-trained clergy who are theologically sound and able to articulate the faith clearly. While building a wall might not be seen as a good use of mission funds…I’m here to say…it’s critical to missions in this area. Please prayerfully consider asking your church to contribute to this need. We really need to start building ASAP. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. There are many churches represented in those who read this blog. Thank you for considering this appeal!
Please pray for good health for myself and healing for Rev. Collins. Pray that the hot weather will break soon because it’s making me grumpy. Pray that soon we will be able to go to Kampala for our sound equipment. Pray for the Lord to provide for the financial needs of the College. Pray for me as I continue to teach.
I give thanks for your prayers and support!