It’s been a memorable month in Gulu…sandwiched between health challenges. After two years, I finally succumb to malaria. Dr. Katie diagnosed me quickly and got me on meds. I was down for about a week. I’m currently fighting an unpleasant intestinal bacteria and once again I find myself thanking God for placing me with a doctor!! Dr. Katie to the rescue again. I’m trying to get well so that I can make the long trip home on Monday (June 13) for a few weeks of R&R.
In between these unpleasant weeks…the MOST amazing ten days occurred! After seven
years of waiting for the Lord’s timing…the day of my ordination to the priesthood finally arrived. I learned a lot during that long season of waiting and I never imagined it would happen in Uganda…but the Lord’s ways are not our ways. If you’re certain of a call on your life but the Lord has not brought it to pass yet…hold on and learn all you can while you wait. Be a sponge. You are still in a season of preparation.
It was a wonderful day and I was especially blessed to have friends by my side. The Rev. Louise Weld was right their beside me when the Bishop and other clergy of the Diocese of Northern Uganda laid their hands on me. Louise has been walking with me through this call for the entire process…always encouraging me when I wanted to give up. She foresaw this day long before I could. I was also blessed to have my good friend, Kelli Hample, with me on this day, who has also walked with me these last seven years…believing in my call. What a joy it was to see the huge smile on her face as I walked up to the altar for the laying on of hands. Saint James’ youth pastor, Alisha Griggs was also there to cheer me on. I am grateful for the sacrifice they made in traveling half-way across world, braving the heat, mosquitoes and other flying insects and sleepless nights. It was exhausting for them. I thank God for them. It meant the world to me to have them there.
I am grateful to Bishop Johnson Gakumba…who discerned almost immediately upon meeting me…the call of God on my life. He has been an encouraging “matter-of-fact” voice reminding me that “if God has called you to it, no one can stop it.” I am also thankful for all my Ugandan friends who have been supportive and who truly and genuinely celebrate with me the amazing faithfulness of God. I thank God for the Rev. Arthur Jenkins who has been unwavering in support and encouragement. Thank you to all the people of my home church, Saint James – James Island, for your prayers and to all who contributed to the ordination gift given to Bishop Johnson in my honor! With it bikes were purchased for the newly ordained to provide a means of transportation for their ministries! The presentation of the bikes at the celebration was something to see! There are many people who have walked with me through the last seven years who offered prayer, support, encouragement…the Lord surrounds me with some pretty amazing friends and I am at a loss for words right now…just know my heart overflows with love for each and every one of you.
I’m still processing it all. As always…my prayer each morning continues to be…”Lord, I lay down my life as a morning sacrifice for you.” One day at time, I will, to the best of ability and with God’s help, seek to keep the oaths I took and work to make Him known and bring Him glory in all I do. There were twenty-five ordained as deacons and one other woman ordained to the priesthood with me. It was a glorious day! Pray for us all we begin our ministries in the Diocese of Northern Uganda.
After the festivities, I became a tour guide and began showing my friends around Gulu…via my un-air-conditioned pick-up truck. A good, sweaty time was had by all. On June 1 we all loaded up the truck and headed to Murchison Falls Game Park and Paraa Safari Lodge, where we spent one night. After a four hour drive on some bumpy roads and many animal sightings, we arrived at the lodge, had lunch and went for a three hour Nile safari cruise. It was AWESOME! It was blistering hot. We saw hundreds of hippos, LOTS of elephants, many beautiful species of birds, crocs and much more. We made our way to the base of the falls and back again.
The next morning we took an early morning game drive with a very good guide. We departed before dawn and as we drove into wilderness, we huddled together and said a prayer that the Lord would bring lions into our path. I’ve been on two other safaris and never seen a lion. Well…the Lord did not disappoint! As we passed many giraffe and elephants and huge herds of antelope and other deer species…our eyes were peeled for lions. Our guide had eyes like an eagle. He spotted the pride of lions in the distance. Six in all. Two adult females and four cubs. The cubs were about a year old and were playing…no doubt practicing their hunting skills. All the animals around were on high alert…making noises to warn that danger was close. We watched for over an hour…as the sun came up. It was stunningly beautiful!!! Thank you, Lord!!
After another two hours of driving through God’s amazing creation and seeing many more animals, it was time to start the long drive back to Kampala and Entebbe and to the airport. We were all tired…but I think I speak for all four of us when I say we were full of gratitude and peace and awe.
I could not have asked for a more wonderful ordination week!! To God alone be the Glory!