Things Have Changed

DSCN0023Things have changed. I’m not the same person I was 18 months ago.  The world looks very different to me.  I vacillate between feelings of despair for a broken world and hurting humanity and a deep sense of gratitude and joy for Emmanuel. This is probably the most profound Advent I’ve ever personally experienced simply because of a deepening awareness of the humility and love expressed in the birth of Christ…despite the deprivation of mankind and its willful disregard of the Lord as is seen in the history of Israel and its prophets right up to the present day. It’s a strange thing to me…but lately I find myself crying as I watch the world news. The tears used to confuse me until I realize it was the Spirit inside me weeping. What is happening in the world today is first and foremost part of an ongoing spiritual battle for the collective soul of humanity. I cry for Uganda and for the world. Even though the victory over evil has been won…the battle rages on and I’m more aware of it.  I am filled with sadness and compassion as I watch the world searching for answers to the evil that seems to be prevailing…knowing the answer to all that ails us can only be found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. 

Here I sit on the guest bed in my parent’s home…the ceiling fan is whirring overhead and the sound of rain is drifting in through the open window and I’m drinking coffee with real half & half and waiting for biscuits to come out of the oven. Feels nice.  It’s going to be close to 80 degrees today…two days before Christmas.  Considering the weather, I suppose I feel at home…from a DSCN0045Ugandan perspective. It’s a good thing too because I really don’t have any winter clothes anymore.  I have a little over two weeks left on my break from the mission field. Now as I sit in the quiet comfort of familiarity and safety, I let my thoughts wander to the year gone by and the year that is quickly approaching. 

There were many successes but also failures in the mission field in 2015.  I have learned a lot.  Some of the lessons learned remind me of the story of Elisha’s servant whose eyes were opened to see the armies of heaven poised to intervene and bring about the will of the Lord (2 Kings 6:17).  Sometimes things just don’t make sense until you see it in the spiritual realm.  And then you have to keep reminding yourself that even when things look bad in the temporal world…there is always a purpose and a plan being played out in the spiritual realm.  When I reflect on all I have been doing in Gulu, I am asking the Lord to show me what I cannot see with my natural eyes as I prepare to return.  Of all the things I’m involved in…what will help advance the Kingdom of God in the region of Northern Uganda both now and in the long run? What can I do that will have the greatest spiritual impact?

I am sensing that the answer to these questions is to multiply ministry by training indigenous men and women for ministry in N. Uganda through the Archbishop Janani Luwum Theological College.  2015-02-09 14.17.17This is where I feel I can have the greatest impact for the Kingdom in Northern Uganda at this time.  I have always had a passion for it. There is a debilitating shortage of well-trained leadership in the Diocese of N. Uganda.  Many of the challenges faced by the Church at present could be met if men and women were properly equipped with a right understanding of basic theology and were spiritually formed so as to withstand the unique temptations and pressures of ministering in a place still heavily influenced by traditional African religion…not to mention the ever-increasing influences of Islam.  Right now the Church is weakened by its lack of leaders and I see the Lord working to raise up rightly trained and equipped workers for the field. The College is growing and being blessed.  We have moved to a new location with more classroom space.  We are graduating our first class in 2016 since the college re-opened in 2013. The Lord is equipping His Church.   

The spiritual battle raging in N. Uganda is becoming more evident to me.  African traditional religion still plays a significant role in the life of Christians there.  Many still worship their cultural gods, practice polygamy and don’t have a basic understanding of the gospel.  There is a works righteousness approach to Christian living and not unlike many in the U.S., a large number of AJLTC Studentspeople are Christian in name only and do not seek daily to be followers of Christ.  Added to these challenges is the lack of trained leaders who can stand against the cultural norms that are in direct conflict with the basic tenants of faith. Many leaders themselves practice these things because their training was not adequate, even though they are prohibited by the Church.  Even if they recognize such things as being detrimental to the life of believers, these leaders face a steep uphill battle to change the culture and even face being ostracized if they try. I’ve learned this from my students and from watching things unfold in daily life within the Church. Also…with Islam continuing to push into Uganda and grow in influence, leaders must be able to adequately articulate the faith to believers when they are tempted by offers free education and other monetary gains to convert.  All too often, desperately poor Christians who do not understand the differences between Christianity and Islam are easily swayed to follow the money.   

As a missionary from the west, I have seen that I am limited by my lack of fully understanding the culture of the Acholi.  As much as I have learned…I’ll never fully comprehend it.  Acholi people ministering to Acholi people has the greatest potential for bringing about change within the culture where the Christian faith is concerned.  That’s why raising up and equipping more Acholi people for ministry is so vitally important.  I feel most alive when I’m teaching those students.  I feel the greatest impact for the Kingdom when I’m helping to empower the students by developing them both in knowledge of theology and in spiritual formation. 

In short…I see the Lord building an army in N. Uganda!  He continues to provide the resources Theology Students Worshippingneeded for this. I think it’s the single most important work going on in the Diocese right now. This is where I see Him working and where I feel compelled to pour my efforts. As I think about 2016 this is what excites me.  Of course I still have other responsibilities at Christ Church, with the Jesus Film and as the Bishop’s assistant…but the College is the future of the Church in this region. It’s where the Lord is moving.  I think getting the students involved in taking the Jesus Film out as a discipleship tool is one way that particular ministry is going to evolve in 2016.

Even as I write this blog post, I feel the excitement rising within me to return.  But for now, rest is imperative and a quiet reflection on the meaning of Christmas is welcome. 

I ask you to please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry financially so that I can continue my work in Uganda in 2016.  I rely 100% on giving from the Body of Christ to sustain me in the mission field. Saint James Church in Charleston, SC is my sending church and they receive all donations on my behalf.  All gifts are fully tax-deductible. For your convenience, you can contribute through Paypal by clicking on the link on this page.  You can also send a check made payable to Saint James with Bumpas Uganda Mission in the memo line to the address below. All contributions must be received or postmarked by Dec. 31 to receive tax credit for 2015.

Saint James Church
Attn: Bumpas Uganda Mission 
1872 Camp Rd. 
Charleston, SC 29412

Thank you for partnering with me as I minister in Northern Uganda.  I am grateful for those who pray for me regularly. It has sustained me more than you will ever know.  I give thanks to God for providing for me in so many ways in 2015, for protection, for leading me by His Spirit and for His astounding faithfulness!! 

Looking forward to 2016 and all the adventures that await!

blessings in Christ,



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His Ways are Higher

I’m sitting on my bed staring out the window at the huge tree with beautiful orange blossoms as tears roll down my face. I’ve been trying to write a blog post for weeks but the words would not come. It’s been a difficult and challenging six months. Dr. Katie (American doctor who has been ministering in Uganda for almost 12 ElizabethBumpasyears and in whose guest house I live) encouraged me by telling me that for long term missionaries, years two and three are usually the hardest. What I’m feeling is not unusual and is to be expected. (For my Lifeshapes friends, it’s D2 on steroids in a strange world where nothing makes sense.) Years 2 and 3 require a great deal of patience and understanding. The honeymoon period is over. The realization that this is really hard has smacked me in the face. Becoming aware of the Lord at work in every minute of every day has GOT to become routine if I am to persevere. It should be routine regardless of where we live and who we minister to…but never more so than for a person living and ministering in a foreign culture…and especially so if that culture is recovering from 20 years of devastating civil war and living in unspeakable poverty. Our experiences form and shape us…for better and for worse…and the experiences the people of Northern Uganda have been shaped by are nothing like anything I’ve ever seen. There are many obstacles along the path of transformation for these people (as for all people)…and it’s the Lord’s work to remove those obstacles…not mine. I can do nothing apart from Him. I am powerless to change people. When I look at the challenges in Northern Uganda I feel overwhelmed and frustrated and many days greatly disappointed…but when I practice seeing these people and their challenges with the Lord’s eyes…His compassion and love rise up within me. I see them (and myself) floundering around trying to survive day to day and often making poor choices in the process, all the while not acknowledging God at all.  I’ve grown more grateful for his patience, love and compassion towards me because I can’t see the sins of the Ugandan people without seeing my own.  It humbles me.

Now, I know that many of my Ugandan friends will read this post and I want to assure them that if they were to spend a long period of time in the U.S. they would struggle with the same challenges of living and ministering in a foreign culture. There would be days when you would be disappointed and overwhelmed at the great need of American Christians to be transformed into the image of Christ and you would feel at a loss as to how go about ministering. I am not reflecting negatively on Ugandan culture…just acknowledging the challenges of living and ministering in a foreign land. I’ve mentioned this before in other posts. As humans we ALL fall short of the glory of God. We are all equally corrupted by our sin nature. As my worldview has been broadened in the last 18 months and I’ve seen the depths of our depravity in new and startling ways, I’m more grateful than ever for a God who, whilst humanity was still willfully choosing to sin against Him and spit in His face essentially, took on human flesh and walked amongst us and who chose to pay, on our behalf, the only penalty that could atone for our sin…death…so that we might be reconciled to Him. When I watch the news, I see a world more desperate than ever for some bit of Good News. There is only one place to find it…in the person of Jesus Christ and His love and grace and salvation.

So…every morning I recommit myself to the call to be a witness of the love of God to a lost and broken world. I often fail by mid-afternoon. I ask the Lord to give me His eyes to see, to show me where to go and what to do. I especially ask for His patience. There are a thousand things a day that challenge me in this regard in this culture. However, I’m in it for long haul. I recognize that ultimately it’s His work, not mine. If I join Him where He is already at work then I will always see success…not my success but His. This is not easy because my own pride and tendency to think I know it all gets in the way. So the tears of frustration that slide down my face some days are just my way of releasing back to God what is His and recognizing that instead of sharing the yoke of ministry, I have taken it squarely upon my shoulders alone. The last six months have been more about the Lord working in me than me working in the lives of the people of Northern Uganda. Once again I have been brought to the end of myself. Apart from Him I can do absolutely nothing. The way the Lord ministers never looks like the way I would minister. There is good reason for that! (LOL!) His ways are higher than my ways. That’s why I have to join Him in what He is doing on a moment by moment basis. This takes enormous discipline…discipline in which I need a great deal of growth.

I continue to acclimate to my new post as curate in charge of the English service at Christ Church Gulu. Learning in front of 600 people every week has been, well…a bit nerve racking. This season of transitioning into ordained ministry in the Church of Uganda has been one of learning on the job. I am a person who is always prepared ahead of time and I plan things out so I’ll not be caught unprepared… but this is not how Ugandan culture works…there is no formal training so it’s been stressful. This too has cultivated my need to rely on the Lord to help me. He’s never let me down. The people of Christ Church have been patient and supportive.

On the home front, I have reluctantly realized that it’s time to sell my home back in Charleston. Two good friends of mine, Paul and Pam Cooper, have been acting as my property managers for the last 18 months as I have been renting out my condo in Mt. Pleasant (fully furnished) to cover the mortgage. This has been a tremendous sacrifice on their part because things were frequently breaking down and needing repair. It took a lot of their time and energy. Anyway, I came to the conclusion that I just can’t afford to keep a home in the US and live full-time in Uganda. So, I’m putting it on the market. This is the first time since I bought the condo back in 2008 that I’m not upside down in it. Property values are on the rise and it’s a seller’s market. Sadly, I’m letting it go. I’ve cried some tears over this as well. The condo was my first…and likely last…foray into home ownership.  I have found comfort the last year and a half knowing I had a home waiting for me when the Lord releases me from serving in Uganda. I suppose it’s time to more fully accept that Uganda is my home for now. The Lord has provided amazing help in the last couple of weeks in get things rolling. Pam found a storage unit for me. A group of people from my home church, Saint James, went in last weekend and moved all my furniture into storage. Helping someone move their stuff down two flights of stairs is a real act of love!! Then my friend Jennifer Woodworth, who already made the ultimate sacrifice of fostering my dog, is helping me organize work to get the condo ready to go on the market while I’m still in Uganda. Rees Johnston, wife of Bishop TJ Johnston, is acting as my real estate agent, which gives me great peace knowing she is a godly and trustworthy woman. Paul Cooper is coordinating a group of men from Holy Cross to go in and rip out old carpet and counter tops to get ready for the re-install…no small task!! I’m a control freak and so not being able to coordinate all this from the other side of the planet has been difficult. There have been sleepless nights! More letting go! But when I see the forces of heaven moving in Charleston on my behalf…all I can do is say thank you and be amazed! Thank you Lord! Thank you Pam and Paul Cooper, Jennifer Woodworth, Andrew Williams and the teams from Saint James and Holy Cross. Rees Johnston and others!! I wish I could do something to show my appreciation. Words don’t seem adequate. May the Lord heap blessings upon you all for your service!!

I’ll be home on Dec 2 and will spend a great deal of time working in the condo so we can put it on the market by the end of the year. Please pray for the Lord’s favor. It needs to sell quickly because I have exhausted my savings to pay the mortgage since the last tenant moved out. While I’m sad to see it go…the freedom that will come from being out from under the mortgage and upkeep costs will be welcome. I’ll not be distracted by it and can focus more fully on life in Uganda. Of course, this has me speculating about what the Lord’s plans for me might be for me long term. But…I’m trying not to go there…taking it a day at a time.

I look forward to some rest while I’m home and to preparing to return to Uganda in January. I’ll have a more in-depth wrap-up blog towards the end of the year. I hope to see many of you while I’m on furlough. It’s time to begin fundraising for 2016 so that I can return to Uganda for another year. Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry. You can give through Paypal on the blog or mail a check to my home church, Saint James. For more info, click on “Become a Partner.”

Happy Thanksgiving to you all…and to God be the glory!!!

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Ordination – August 11, 2015

Tents were set up and the people were assembled outside the church building because it was not big enough to hold the large crowd. The service began and I was asked to give the first reading from Isaiah 6:1-8. When I got to these words, my voice cracked and I choked back the tears. I could barely get them out.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?

Reading Isaiah 6:1-8

Reading Isaiah 6:1-8

And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me!”

If you had told me even just 16 months ago that I would be standing where the first missionaries arrived and brought the gospel to the Acholi people in 1903, reading this Scripture at my own ordination, I would have scoffed and laughed in your face. But…nothing is impossible for the Lord. His call is irrevocable. He only needs our willingness. He is faithful and able to bring to pass that which He has ordained.


Being Examined by the Bishop

After I had been examined and said my vows, the moment had finally come. The hot African sun was directly overhead. It was almost noon. Sweat rolled down my face and back as I stood there, waiting. The clergy collar felt tight around my neck…like wearing a turtle neck in 90 degree heat. My alb was supposed to be a cooler alternative to the cassock and surplus but I don’t think it made a difference. My damp hair stuck to my neck.

Smiling faces of folks from St. Johns in the back row! I was facing them as I was presented to the Bishop. Mimi and Leila never stopped smiling!

Laying on of hands…

I glanced beyond the Bishop and saw the team from St. Johns Parish (Johns Island) looking on…big smiles on their faces. They were my surrogate family. I thanked God that they were there with me to share in this moment…if for nothing else to be a witness to the fact that it actually happened. Surely I must be dreaming. I found my thoughts drifting back to the long road that had led to this day and this very moment, wondering how I got here. Is this real? I am about to be ordained a transitional deacon in the Church of Uganda…this little girl who was born in the Mississippi delta and spent her childhood under the Friday night lights as the daughter of high school football coach…now living in Africa ministering to the Acholi people. This was not the plan I had for my life. For those who know me well…you know how I fought the call and when I finally yes, I found the road of obedience was a crooked path of disappointment, confusion and doubt…but also of tremendous personal growth and intimacy with the Lord as He has shown himself faithful. And now…after many years of voices of encouragement telling me not to give up on God’s call…I kneel before the Bishop and he lays his hands on my head and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit for the Office and work of a Deacon in the Church of God, now committed to you by the imposition of hands, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” My knees buckled under me and for a moment I thought I might collapse…not from the heat of the noonday sun, but from the power in the moment. I told my friend Rev. Canon Willy Akena, the Bishop’s chaplain, that he would have to help me up. I was grateful for the laughter which changed the environment from a solemn moment into a joyous one.

There were three deacons and five priests ordained that day. Afterwards, we formed a line and every single person at this service lined up and shook our hands! I think I shook about 500 hands.  There was jubilation and dancing…done as only Ugandans can do!

Receiving my official papers and a Bible (in Acholi) from the Bishop. Guess I have to really double down on those language lessons.

There…it was done. I am joined to the Church forever in the service of God Almighty. And now it begins…

Christ Church, Gulu

To my surprise, the Bishop has appointed me as curate to Christ Church, the largest church in the Diocese. There is only one priest at this church and now two new Deacons. I am head of the English service, which has about 400 people each Sunday in worship. I’m not quite sure yet exactly what being the “head” of the service entails but I will learn. Yes, I am in over my head. I’m out of my comfort zone. But what else is new? I’ve been out of my comfort zone for the last 15 months. As a newly ordained person, I admit I am a little intimidated by this appointment to lead one of the largest services in the Diocese. But…I can do all things through Christ who calls me and strengthens me. Please pray for me!!!

With this new duty, I now have a very full plate of responsibilities. It can be daunting if I dwell on it too much. I’m trying to adopt the Acholi way of living in the moment, just as Jesus taught us. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Some prayer requests:

  • That I will learn fast and adjust to my new role.
  • That the Lord would give me favor with the people at Christ Church
  • That I quickly develop good relationships with the lay leaders of the church and especially the team of people I will work with in the English service.
  • Dr. Katie fell and broke her arm last week. I am helping to care for her. Pray for fast healing of her bones.
  • For peace and patience each day as I continue to adjust to this culture
  • For continued good health
  • Protection from the evil one

I give thanks for Bishop Johnson Gakumba and his discernment regarding this call and his willingness to ordain me and welcome me officially into this Diocese not just a missionary but now as one under the authority of the Church of Uganda. I am grateful for the Rev. Sandra Earixson whose friendship and wisdom have helped me tremendously over the past year and will go on doing so as I learn my role as a deacon. I am thankful for my home church, Saint James, James Island, and the Rev. Arthur Jenkins and the Rev. Louise Weld for their constant love, prayers and support. To all the friends and family who were constantly holding me up in prayer and sending encouragement my way, I love you.

The Lord is good all the time. All the time the Lord is good because that’s His nature. Wow!




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Seeing is Believing!

Last week I took the Jesus Film to the students of the Women’s Development Center.  The Jesus Film shares the gospel verbatim from the book of Luke.  It is translated into the local Acholi language.  The girls were spell bound all throughout the film.  Seeing the story unfold on the screen is compelling and powerful.

We gathered in one of the classrooms

We gathered in one of the classrooms

This is the new 120" screen. It's easy to assemble and very portable.

This is the new 120″ screen. It’s easy to assemble and very portable.

I couldn't stop watching their faces...the gospel is powerful and compelling!

I couldn’t stop watching their faces…the gospel is powerful and compelling!

We had some little children who heard the film and came to the door. I quickly invited them inside to watch.

We had some little children who heard the film and came to the door. I quickly invited them inside to watch.

Over twenty girls accepted Christ for the first time at the end of the film.

Over twenty girls accepted Christ for the first time at the end of the film.


I can't tell you how much joy filled my heart at this moment!

I can’t tell you how much joy filled my heart at this moment!

Others recommitted their lives.  This film is a powerful discipleship tool as well.

Others recommitted their lives. This film is a powerful discipleship tool as well.

I’m thanking God for his love and grace for these girls and for the donation that allowed the purchase of the equipment to take the gospel to the Acholi people in their own language in this powerful medium.  We’ve only just begun!

Update: There are now seven churches in the Diocese of South Carolina who are partnering with the Women’s Development Center (WDC) to sell purses and tote bags made by the Production Unit of the Center to help it become self-sustaining. The Center provides a one year training course that gives the girls skills with which to support themselves and their families.  For more information on the WDC, see my post called “Uganda Labor Day Musings”.

God is good…all the time…because that’s His nature!

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My Normal Life

One year ago today I arrived in Uganda…full of excitement but also apprehension…wondering what lay ahead of me.  As I’m sure anyone who has lived in a developing country for an extended period of time will tell you…it’s changes you. My worldview will never be the same. I find it difficult to truly articulate my experiences of the last year.  Often I’ve sat at my computer trying to write a blog post about life here and there are just DSCN0342no words to adequately describe it.  I will say that having been born and raised in the richest nation on the planet…looking back at my country and culture from this vantage point has been, well…shocking.  I thought I had a pretty normal life and upbringing.  But there was nothing normal about it.  It was privileged and full of opportunity.  Compared to the majority of people on the planet, it was abnormal.  My experiences of the last year are the norm for most people in the world. I am living a normal life here in Uganda.  I grew up having electricity and running water, having access to healthcare and a good education, having decent roads and a functioning democracy, having enough food…we take it all for granted.  I know you’ve heard this before from visiting missionaries in your church or in books you’ve read or through documentaries about poverty, or on the evening news, etc.  I had heard stories but nothing could have prepared me for the last twelve months.  Today I was talking to a friend here about how much I’ve learned and about how my view of the world has changed.  I laugh at the notions I brought with me to Uganda.  I had on rose colored glasses but now I see more clearly.  When I go on Facebook these days and see the first world posts of beloved friends and family back home I can’t help but to think that we really do live in a bubble in the US.  We take our hugely blessed abnormal lives for granted. We DSCF3298say we know how blessed we are but we really don’t.  I didn’t…until I came to Uganda.  I didn’t come from what would be considered a rich family but somehow I’ve managed to get a first rate education, (including seven years of higher education) I’ve lived on three continents and I own a home in one the most desired cities in the world.  How did that happen? It’s bizarre to see photos of friends’ lives on FB…grilling steaks on Memorial Day, celebrating the purchase of a new car, posting pics of vacations at various locations all over the world, having meals at restaurants, etc.  From my vantage point here in Uganda, it’s all very “Richie Rich”.  I’m not judging it in a negative way.  I’m simply acknowledging that I see it in a whole new way.  But…wealth corrupts…and poverty corrupts…this is the same no matter where you are in the world.  The great equalizer in humanity is the grave.  We all end up there and because of our propensity for corruption, we all deserve the grave. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer to what ails us all and gives us the assurance that there is more…we are all only passing through this world.

Ten Random Observations 

  1. Culture: It’s sooooo powerful! You can’t know just how much you have been formed and shaped by it unless you leave your culture for a period of time…not a couple of weeks…not even a couple of months…but long enough to make you realize that cultureDSCN0349 has a grip on you and has stamped you with an identity and worldview that is almost impossible to change. It fascinates me and baffles me. All the other observations below are mostly related to culture.
  2. Communication: I think I know what it must have been like at the Tower of Babel when the Lord confused the languages of people.  I have had more conversations that sounded like a “Who is on first” comedy sketch than I can count. Some days it’s funny…some days it’s incredibly frustrating. Before I began to catch on to what was happening, there were days when I thought I might be losing my mind. I’ve had to learn to speak “African” English…and it’s still challenging.  This means not only annunciating all my words…but being hyper aware of what I’m saying. For example…today I said to someone that I was trying to beat the rain…meaning I was rushing to get home before the rain came. I realized how confusing that must have sounded…why would I beat on the rain? How do you do that? Do you try to hit it? I find myself explaining American idioms all the time. You can never be sure you have been understood and even the most straightforward questions cannot be guaranteed a simply straightforward answer.
  3. Patience: People in Africa pay no attention to time. Here is Gulu I always hear people talking about getting better at keeping time…but it seems one of those cultural things that is impossible to change. Things move slow…like at a snail’s pace. This is not always bad…but for someone coming out of the American culture where time is money…it can really wig you out after a while. I’m learning to wait…and not be in a rush.  But some days I just want to show my Ugandan friends how much better some things would be if Graduation Day Jun 27 to Parabongo Visit F 290we could keep time. Meetings here can last for hours and hours and events can start two or three hours late. Planning is not a priority. People live in the moment…not in the future. Planning a huge event with many moving parts in just a few days is not unheard of.
  4. Traffic: One of the interesting and confusing things in this culture is that although no one keeps time and things move at a snail’s pace…it’s not so when it comes to driving a vehicle.  People drive at crazy speeds on these bad roads and accidents are common. It’s like people kick into high gear behind the wheel and put lives at risk to get to their destination in record time. Yet…in all other areas of life time is not important. I don’t understand it. People die in accidents all the time yet nothing is
    Thanking God for transportation!

    Thanking God for transportation!

    done to make the roads safer. Maybe the US has become hyper safety conscience? Watch the news…recalls on cars, parts, etc. to insure safety. You would never see that in Africa.

  5. Women: I am in awe of the women here in Northern Uganda. They work so hard! Most have to haul the water, dig the garden, care for the children, haul the firewood, cook the food, wash the clothes (by hand). Women here are strong! Yesterday I was in town buying fabric with the manager of the Women’s Development Center. We had a big load to carry to the truck. I could barely lift the bag I was carrying. I turned to see how the girl with us was carrying her heavy bag. She had it on her head and I thought…I’m going to try that. I lifted the heavy bag full of fabric to my head and it was a breeze to Graduation Day Jun 27 to Parabongo Visit F 231carry! Everyone was staring in unbelief…that a white woman was doing manual labor.  They think we are all weak…and truth is that we are weak. The other thing about women…a bride price is paid before any wedding can take place. Families haggle over the price paid for a woman who is to be married. This part of the culture is still very strong…even with western culture influencing other aspects of marriage…this is firmly entrenched. Women are essentially sold. It bothers me a lot. But women’s rights are growing here and little by little they are gaining more power over their own lives.
  6. Electricity and water: These two luxuries are what we take for granted the most in the west. It’s been a huge struggle for me. In the west, electricity is as available as the air we breathe. Turning on the tap and having drinkable water is the norm. Life is so much different without these two first world luxuries. These two simple things alone have the power to transform a developing country into a modern 21st century country. Of course we can live without electricity. Lots of people do. But it makes life so much easier, safer and healthier. Manufacturing is impossible without it. With it water can be pumped waterinto homes. Life-saving drugs needing refrigeration can be kept. Communication is easier. Most people here in N. Uganda have limited access to the internet. Cost and access to computers are challenging…but you also have to have an energy source. Just having a refrigerator alone would change life dramatically for people here.  Think of it…being able to preserve food would change the life of women here in immeasurable ways! Using the internet for education when books are not available. I could go on and on. When you turn on your electric stove or warm your dinner in the microwave today…stop and think of how much easier your life is with these conveniences…not to mention your washing machine and dryer.
  7. Animals: We are so removed from farm life in the US. Life is so clean and sanitized. We don’t see the cows being butchered or the chickens being killed. Here…it’s just the way of life. If you want chicken for dinner…you go outside, catch one, kill it and prepare it.2013-10-30 03.27.27 When I tell my friends that no one butchers their own animals in the US…that they go to a supermarket to buy meat…they think this is so strange. The fact that I’ve never grown my own food is strange. On the way into town there is a goat market where dozens of goats are tied up and waiting for their demise. I find it difficult every time I pass it. I want to stop and rescue them all. LOL! But seriously, some days, if it’s been a particularly stressful day…the sight of those goats is the last straw. My emotional reaction to the goats is even strange to me sometimes. Again…it goes back to culture. I see pics on Facebook all the time of cute goats that people have as pets and cows that do funny things, etc. This would be so strange to a Ugandan.  Animals are food.  No one has pets. Cats and dogs serve a purpose and are rarely considered “pets” in the way we have pets. I had a cow follow me one day after it read my thoughts…or so I believed. I stopped as I was walking to the office one day and looked this cow in the eyes and was thinking to myself, “If I could I would take you home with me so the shepherd can’t beat you anymore” and the cow started to follow me!! This is a true story. The shepherd boy had to stop the cow from going home with me.
  8. Food: I admit that I struggle with Ugandan food. I try. I really do. But I don’t feel so bad because I know if a Ugandan came to the US they would hate American food. Again, it’s one of those cultural things. For the life of me I can’t understand how people eat some of the staples here…but they love it! In my mind I think that if they came to the US and ate some food…they would never want posho again. But this is not the case. When a food culture has been imprinted on your brain…that’s it. That’s the only food you will ever really enjoy.  It’s hard to change your preference for food after that. No…I’ll never eat white ants. I can’t get beyond the idea of eating a bug. But that’s just because culturally I’ve been imprinted that way.  I’ve been told that a really good cut of tender beef would not be liked by most Ugandans. They would not like the texture. Go figure.
  9. Money: This took some getting use to. One dollar is equal to 3,000 shillings.  To fill the truck up with fuel cost 150,000 shillings. It took a while but now when I pay 25,000 shillings for something…this is considered somewhat expensive but it’s really only about $8. Tipping 1,000 shillings (.33 cents) is considered a good tip. The average Ugandan in the north makes about 15,000 shillings per day. That’s $5. When I go to the western style supermarket in town and buy a can of tuna for 8,000 shillings…it’s almost as much as a Ugandan will make in a day. Puts things in perspective fast. This is why I’m considered rich here in Uganda while in US my income puts me below the poverty level.
  10. Faith: There are many challenges to Christianity but one of the greatest is African traditional religion. Many people still follow tribal traditions and have one foot in Christianity and one foot in their tribal traditional religion. Again…culture hugs us like tightly wound cling wrap. It’s like the skin we wear. It’s hard to peel off. It’s our identity. The church struggles here…many Christians still go to witch doctors…still 2014-07-06 07.27.05practice polygamy, still have idols of local gods in their homes. But as I have reflected…the same could be said of American culture…it just looks a little different.  We go to fortune tellers, we read horoscopes, we study numerology, we think nothing of marriage infidelity (or so it seems), we have multiple sexual partners throughout life (we just don’t marry them) and we worship many idols…we just don’t admit they are gods. For all the ways our cultures make us different from one another…culture can’t hide the one thing we all have in common…our fallen sin nature. It’s the same on every continent, in every country, of every race.

My top ten observations…it’s only just a beginning.  I’m learning so much everyday….about myself, about the world, about how our heavenly Father sees us.  My eyes see the world through different lenses.  I’ll never be able to go back to seeing things as I used to.  I don’t want to.  I want to see the world as the Lord sees it.  I want to have the compassion that He has for it. I want to be a part of His redeeming work in it.  It took a year but I think I have the lay of the land and I’m ready for the second year.  I’m sure it will be full of new and eye-opening experiences.

It’s been easy…it’s been hard…it’s gone by fast.  It’s been the most enlightening year of my life.  My thanks to my Ugandan friends and partners in ministry who have helped me ease into this strange new world.  They have made me feel welcomed and loved. My thanks and appreciation to all who have enabled me to be here through financial support and prayers.  There are many more days of learning to come and I look forward to them all. What a blessed life…what a normal life I have here in Uganda. Thankful for every minute.

To God be the glory!

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Uganda Labor Day Musings…

It’s Labor Day here in Gulu…a national holiday. The offices are closed so I’ve been spending the morning doing chores here at the guest house.  I’ve pretty much given up trying to fight the red dust on a daily basis.  It is what it is. But every few weeks I do the best I can to dust my bedroom and give everything a good wipe down.  Right now I’m feeling accomplished with the morning’s tasks.  The house is relatively clean, the laundry is hanging on the line and I’ll sleep good tonight on clean sheets.

It’s been a while since my last blog post.  I think that my life now has settled into a routine here in Gulu and I’m not sure what’s blog worthy anymore, to be honest.  As I sit in my room looking out the window…the tree which lost all of its leaves during the dry season is full of leaves again and soon it will begin to bud with those huge orange flowers.  I’m so happy to have rain and the cool air at night makes it possible to sleep without the fan if the electricity is off.  Once again I’m under the mosquito net nightly…with rain comes those blood-sucking flying vampires.  At night when I’m under the net I constantly hear them buzzing all around me and I’m sure one has somehow made it through the netting but when I turn the light on to check…I can see them flying just outside.  It’s a satisfying feeling…to see them struggling outside the net, trying their best to get at me. I feel triumphant watching them buzzing around me…my defeated enemy! No blood for you!!

The power continues to come and go.  I made a comment on Facebook about how

Foot washing during Holy Week at the college

Foot washing during Holy Week at the college

surprised I am at the happiness I feel when the power comes back after being off for several days or even for six hours.  If I’m home, I know the power is coming back because my fan always kicks on first before any of the other outlets get power.  Not sure why…but the hum of that fan makes me so happy inside! It’s strange I know, but I’ve taken it for granted my whole life. Electricity makes life so much easier.  Most people here in N. Uganda don’t have it yet.  If they do have it, they mostly only use it for light at night and to charge cell phones.  They don’t have refrigerators or lots of electronics to power.  I’m realizing that the fridge is pretty much useless if you can’t count on a somewhat reliable energy source.  I’ve had lots of food spoil due to being without power for 24 hours or more at any one time.  So what’s the point of having a fridge is there is no constant power supply?  When there finally is a constant power supply in N. Uganda and more people do begin to use refrigerators…it’s going to change things dramatically, especially for women who do all the cooking.  They would be able to cook enough food at one time to make three or four big meals which could be kept in the fridge and they wouldn’t have to go to the market as often and meat could be bought and stored for later use. Women work incredibly hard here and a lot of their time involves cooking. They grow most of the food, haul the firewood, do the cooking, cleaning, washing clothes by hand, caring for children.  Ladies in the US…if you only knew how easy you have it when it comes to raising children in a first world country you would never complain again about piles of laundry you have to pick off the floor and put into a machine to wash or loading the dishwasher or turning your oven on to cook.  I have so much respect for the women here.


St. James Church Parabongo


The church needs an altar…

For my peeps at my home church, Saint James on James Island, SC…here is a pic of the completed church you helped to build.  It’s a very beautiful church!  They are having weekly services but as you can see from the pic of the inside…they do not have pews or an altar or altar chairs yet. I’m excited because this is already a huge congregation and I think it will only continue to grow.

I’ve been busy with many things in the couple of months.  We finished up the January term at the college.  I’m happy to say that my students did very well on their exam in Old Testament Prophets.  The students taught me a lot about the culture here and about African traditional religion.  Traditional spiritual beliefs that are mixed with Christianity beliefs continues to be a challenge for the Church here.  Many people still go to witch doctors, have small idols or charms in their homes that they worship and many follow traditional customs like polygamy. Like Elijah on Mt. Carmel challenging the 450 prophets of Baal…N. Uganda needs the power of God to come and show that He alone is Lord.  This is my prayer.  I’ll be teaching Intro to Theology next term and I’m looking forward to it.  The college is moving to its new location in time to begin classes the week of May 11th.  We have been working hard to get it

Students helping to prepare the new campus for classes.

Students helping to prepare the new campus for classes.

ready.  The classrooms and dorm rooms have been cleaned and painted, the kitchen house has been repaired and is nearly ready for cooking. The buildings have been wired for electricity. A whole new bunch of students are coming which will increase our numbers from 40 to about 70.  The college is growing and I’m excited to see how the Lord will use it to equip many men and women for ministry in N. Uganda.


My bedroom is now storage for sound equipment!

Things here take time…often LOTS of time. I’m learning to be more patient.  I came back in January with the funds to purchase the sound equipment and video projector for the Jesus Film Project.  It took over three months to finally get to Kampala to buy the stuff.  It required coordinating many things.  Kampala is about a seven hour drive.  I can’t drive myself…I have to have a Ugandan with me. Then we needed help knowing where to go. Kampala is a huge city and knowing where to buy quality things is challenging. But eventually the timing was right and Rev. Collins and I made the trip to Kampala.  We were aided by a man named Simon who is on the sound team at St. Francis Church at a local university.  He took us straight where we needed to go to buy good equipment.  We did in three hours what would have taken three days without him.  He was extremely helpful! We also made it to the Bible Society to buy bibles and got repairs to the truck while were there too.  Rev. Collins had an interview at the US Embassy and we are grateful that he was approved for a US Visa because he has been invited to spend a month in Michigan this summer at a youth camp.  It’s not easy these days to get a US Visa if you’re from certain parts of the world.  Anyway…we got everything but the video projector…which cannot be purchased here, which I did not know or I would have purchased it and brought it back in January.  So….I’m going to get the projector in the US in June and bring it back with me.  We got two speakers with stands, mic, sound board, UPS to protect the electronics from power surges and all the necessary cables. We will rely on a generator for our power needs on the road. I think I’m about to learn a lot about how to operate sound equipment! LOL! All in all…the Jesus Film Project is off to a slow start but it’s all in God’s hands and His timing.  As I’ve been thinking and praying, I’m pretty certain our trips out with the film will be as much about teaching discipleship as calling people to faith for the first time.  When we went out in March to Apaa village the feedback we got was how encouraging the film was to people who were already Christians.  Sometimes you just need to be reminded of who Jesus is and His promise to always be with us as we journey through this broken world of ours.

The Archbishop, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntnagi, will be coming to the Diocese for a week starting May 18th for a pastoral visit.  Everyone has kicked into high gear preparing for his visit.  There will be a huge service at St. Philip’s Cathedral on May 24th.  I’ve been helping to write invitations and put together the order of service.  My friend and co-worker with whom I share an office, Rev. Canon Willy Akena, has begun his studies at UCU for his Master in Theology and Development. Normally he would be doing these things. I’m very excited for him so I’m trying my best to fill his shoes where possible.  I look forward to meeting the Archbishop.

Students of Women Development Centre

The young girls of the Women’s Development Center

Lastly, I want to mention another post I made on Facebook about six weeks ago.  I commented about how sad I was that some girls of the Women’s Development Center (WDC) were leaving the school because they could not pay their fees.  That day, there was a stream of girls coming in to talk to Willy and they were all upset.  I asked him what was happening and he told me they could not pay fees and were being sent home…but they did not want to leave.  I felt their despair. These girls (ages 16-18 roughly), for whatever reason, did not attend school as children. Many cannot even write their names. They come from rural villages and they either did not go to school because the parents could not afford to send them or their parents did not value an education for them.  So when they saw an opportunity to learn a trade at the WDC…either tailoring or hairdressing…they took a chance and left the village.  The course is for one year and it empowers them to be able to provide a living for themselves.  It’s probably the only opportunity they will have to get skills like this.  They are also discipled while they are here and they learn about the love of Christ for them.  So when I saw them crying because they were having to leave, my heart just broke. Some days the challenges people face here weigh on me heavily.  When I made a comment on Facebook regarding this…I had no intention of raising money. I just felt the need to express my heart that day.  However, $1200 was contributed to my mission fund to go toward the fees of these girls! Wow! The Lord must want me to do something about this problem.  As I thought and prayed about it, I felt what I needed to do was take this money and invest it in such a way that it would benefit all the girls and making a lasting impact…not a momentary solution to an ongoing problem.  Besides, if you offer scholarships to a few girls…the other students feel that is unfair.  So I came up with an idea.  The school has a production arm that sews school uniforms for local schools.  it was develop to help the school be self-supporting. However, the profit margin is so small that they don’t make money at it. They need to produce different products and they need a market for their goods. What if I could invest the money in buying materials to make hand bags, purses, etc. and get churches in the US to agree to buy one box of fifty products to sell and the money would go directly to scholarships.  Ultimately I’d like to lower the tuition to an amount that is actually more affordable for ALL the girls.  By my estimation, if I got 15 churches to agree to buy one box of 50 products for $1000 per year for three years then the production unit could gross $15,000 per year…enough to dramatically lower the fees for all the girls. The products that they make are really cute.  I brought some home at Christmas to sell and sold them all rather fast. I’ve discussed this idea with the staff of the WDC and they are excited and willing to work hard to make this happen.  They understand that what matters at the school is the welfare of the girls and keeping the school open. However, instead of this being a handout…it’s a hand up. By buying the material needed to make the products to get the production started on this…I would be investing in a small business which would benefit the students. If you would prayerfully consider accepting a shipment of these products to sell in your church it would go to empower young girls with a vocational skill that could change their lives.  And I’m not exaggerated…change their lives! I will be helping to facilitate this project and also helping them to create a market here in Gulu for their products as well because ultimately they need customers here to make the production unit of the school successful in the long run. Let me hear back from those of you who are interested in helping to empower these young girls. I can give you more detailed info about getting involved.

Well, the power has just gone so I think it’s time to end this long blog before the battery on my laptop is drained.  I’ll be home on June 10 to a few weeks.  It’s time for an annual follow-up with my docs.  It’s been just over a year since I was diagnosed and had surgery for colon cancer. Praise God…I’m feeling great! But I have to have a follow-up colonoscopy…which I’m really looking forward to! (said no one ever!) I’m looking forward to some rest, to taking hot showers and eating some steak and bloomin’ onions!  Until then…thanks to all of you who pray for me on a regular basis.  It makes a huge difference!

Love in Jesus,


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Rain, Rain, Come and Stay!

Oh, the Weather outside is Frightful: It seems I open every blog post with something about the weather and this one will be no different.  I feel as though I’ve had a lot of grace these last 10 months in adjusting to my new home but these last few weeks have tested my resolve. It’s HOT and DRY and very uncomfortable. I actually broke down and cried two nights ago from sheer frustration over the heat and the lack of electricity to power the fan. In the US we have become so accustomed to air conditioning that the heat of summer is just little more than a nuisance…because we know we can escape it at any time. Oh, how I dream of a cool air-conditioned room with a ceiling fan humming while I’m tucked into cold, crisp sheets. Here…I can’t go anywhere (except Sandra’s car because the AC in the truck is not working) to escape it and I find that it’s effecting my attitude in ways I do not like. Snippy would be the nice way to describe it. Night before last there was no power and thus no fan to keep the hot air moving.  I got little sleep because it was so oppressive and I was drenched in sweat all night. The local radio report says rain will come this Wednesday. :>) There are clouds gathering outside even as I write this…but just when you think the bottom will fall out…the clouds move away.  Doh! It’s torture.  I’m not the only one suffering but I am almost the only one complaining.  My Ugandan co-workers tell me they are suffering too, but they have a much better attitude about it than me.  The best part of the day is the cold shower at night just before I go to bed.  It cools me down for about half an hour. I thought about sleeping in the shower one night.  I don’t see how women cook over a hot fire everyday in this heat.  They amaze me.

Jesus Film Goes to Apaa – Last weekend we took the Jesus film out to Apaa village.  Rev. Collins and Rev. Norah along with myself and two students from the theological college loaded the truck and headed out. This remote area has no electricity and no cell DSCN0106_01phone service.  We drove for two hours down nearly deserted dirt roads until we finally reached the village market.  As we approached the church (a rectangular shaped thatched grass hut, our truck was surrounded by welcoming parishioners singing and dancing. The Archdeacon led us to a building where lunch had been prepared for us. (By this time is was already 4:00pm)  While we were eating, the dancing and singing outside never stopped. I joined the dancing briefly and they got a big kick out of seeing a mazungu dance. It was fun. I don’t know how they have the energy in this heat.  The kids were especially interested in my white skin and I invited them to touch my arm and had a translator tell them that we are we are the same. They must DSCN0352not get many white people visiting there. Since we did not have our new sound equipment and video projector yet, we used the antiquated reel to reel projector to show the film.  I’m told that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  This night it worked just fine.  We set up the equipment (including a generator for power) and at dusk Rev. Collins preached before the film began.  The people had been anticipating this all day and they all sat so still, listening intently, eyes fixed on the makeshift screen.  After each scene where Jesus would perform a miracle there was clapping and cheering.  There were four reels and each time there was an intermission to DSCN0349change the reel, no one moved.  Everyone sat quietly and patiently.  I didn’t realize how pitch black the night was until the movie DSCN0371stopped at the end of a reel.  For a few seconds before a light was switched on it was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.  I found myself gazing up at the stars…and thinking of how big our God is and imagining how pleased He must be for the good news to unfold in the pitch black night in a remote village somewhere in northwestern Uganda.  At these intermissions I realized that the crowd was growing larger and larger.  It was hard to see but Collins and Norah both commented on how many people were being drawn by the sound and sight of the movie in the dark night.  The film was dubbed in Acholi so the people understood perfectly.  When we came to the part where Jesus is beaten and finally hung on the cross, there were sounds of horror and dismay coming from the people.  Of course when Jesus rose from the dead there was cheering and clapping again. At the end, no one wanted it to be over.  Rev. Collins said a few more words, as did Rev. Norah.  We estimated that about 350 people had gathered toDSCN0342 watch the film.  I think about 7 people committed their lives to Christ.  Not as big a number as we hoped but we thank God for those lives. It was the feedback from those who were already following Christ that was so encouraging.  They said their faith had been strengthened by seeing the film.  It was good to see the story unfold on film.  I promised the Archdeacon I would return with Acholi Bibles after my trip to the Bible Society in Kampala. Most people there don’t own a Bible. The people began dancing and singing again and I was told this would go on all night until the morning worship service where several people would be baptized.  We loaded the truck and started the two hour drive in the pitch black night back home to Gulu.  We ended up bring a goat back with us…a thank-you gift for bringing the film.  We arrived back home just before 1:00am.  It was a good day.  We are in the process of planning our next showing of the film, which will probably be in May before the next term begins at the college.  We are thinking perhaps of going to Ajulu. I will do some preaching along with Rev. Collins at future trips. We hope to get a sort of set program to do at each site we visit. Thanks to all of you who prayed for safety as we traveled that day.

Getting the sound equipment has been more a challenge than I thought it would be but Dr. Katie gave us a contact in Kampala who is helping.  I should have thought of this before…but I have to buy the video projector in the US when I’m home in June.  It has to be a special outdoor projector which can project a large image and that can’t be found in Kampala.  Although we had planned two different trips to Kampala in the last two months, both were cancelled for different reasons.  The next trip to Kampala will be on April 20th so that Rev. Collins can go to the US Embassy to get a travel visa and at that time we will buy the sound equipment, purchase Bibles from the Bible Society and also have the AC in the truck repaired.  I will also buy feta cheese and hope I can find some Ritz crackers…very important indeed. I’m also going to buy Rev. Willy a new printer/scanner out of my savings.  It’s hard to do your job without basic resources and he needs one.

Women’s Development Center: Last week I posted something on FB about being broken hearted that some girls of the Women’s Develop Center were being sent home because they could not pay their school fees.  Many of you expressed an interest in Students of Women Development Centrehelping.  I am grateful to those who did.  Since that time I have been thinking about how to help the WDC become self-sustaining and at the same time reduce fees for the girls to a level that is more affordable for them.  I will share more on this in an upcoming post.  For those of you who want to see more women empowered in developing nations like Uganda, I will need your help.  I need at least 15 churches to be involved in this to be successful. The WDC is a program that offers a one year skills training program for girls who have not had access to much formal education.  It enables them to be able to start small businesses and provide for themselves and their children. Watch this blog for a proposal soon.

Exam Week Approaches – We are almost to the end of the term at the college.  Exams DSCN0315are in two weeks.  The weather affects the students a lot.  No one wants to do anything in this heat so I think we are all looking forward to next term and milder temps.  Work continues on the new site for the college.  We do a little at a time as we have money.  We hope to move there in May before the next term starts.  We haven’t had any takers interested in helping to build the security wall around the compound yet.  I trust the Lord will provide. The buildings are being re-wired for electricity and the kitchen building DSCN0310is being renovated to make it usable.  I’ve included some photos of the site.

I would love prayer for stamina to get through this hottest part of the year.  Pray for our students as they begin to prepare for final exams. Pray for all the funding we need to prepare the new site of the school for classes.  A friend of mine, Dr. Nick Laing who is the head of the Health Dept for the Diocese, has a particularly challenging job so please say a prayer for him.  As we finish up the Diocesan Strategic Plan, please pray that it will be a useful tool which moves the church forward.

Enjoy spring time! Blessings everyone!

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Floating on the Wind

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

Heart-shaped seeds

Heart-shaped seed

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.

2015-02-06 15.45.02Kidepo 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 mWildfire at Kidepo Valley National Park - Ugandaountains 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 2015-02-06 18.27.27keep 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

Students taking a break after classes

Students taking a break after classes

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 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!

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Hot and very Dusty…But it’s All Good!!

Greetings from Northern Uganda!

I had such a good time during my visit home to the States and loved sharing all about Uganda with many of you. I was well fed (by my mom, my friend Jennifer and lots of people who took me out to my favorite restaurants) and taken care of on my furlough…so much so that my Ugandan friends all commented on how much I had grown while I was away. LOL!  It was good to see my family and rest. I’m grateful for all who are praying for me regularly and who have contributed to my Uganda Mission Fund so that I can continue doing the work of the Lord.  He is very faithful indeed to see that I have every thing I need to live and do ministry here.  I want to give a huge shout out to Saint James Church, Charleston, SC, my home church and sending agency.  I felt so loved and cared for while I was home.  I am very blessed indeed.


My outside bed. It’s more comfortable than it looks.

It’s the dry season in Gulu…its VERY hot and dry.  I’ve been back in Uganda for a little over two weeks.  It’s really good to be back.  On the drive from Kampala to Gulu, even I was surprised at how genuinely happy I felt as we drove through the countryside.  During the first week the heat was not all that bad…but the last seven days…completely different.  The sun is very intense.  The red dust is everywhere. At times on the road it’s like a dense red fog making it hard to see oncoming vehicles.  It coats everything. Of course, we are breathing this all the time and everyone is walking around with stopped up noses and heads. The air quality is not good. It’s so hot that the last two nights I actually slept outside, which I am told lots of people do this time of year.  The power has been off at night and that means the fan isn’t working and the air in the house is stagnant and probably around 85 degrees. I just lay in bed sweating. However, it’s about 15 degrees cooler outside.  So, I’ve taken my pillow out to the padded bench on the porch.  That’s where Dr. Katie has found me the last two mornings when she lets the security guard out of the compound at 6:30am.  The landscape looks very different than when I left in December. It’s not very green anymore.  Most of the grass has turned brown, leaves have fallen off some of the trees and it’s like being in a dessert in some ways.  Low humidity.  My lips are chapped all the time and I’m on allergy meds for the dust.  On the flip side, I am thankful that I finally finished my oral chemo this week!  I visited my oncologist for the last time in December and all is good.  I have to have a follow-up colonoscopy in June so I’ll be back in Charleston in six months.  That chapter is put behind me forever!!

Thanking God for transportation!

Thanking God for transportation!

My Nissan Hardbody double cab, diesel, four-wheel drive pick-up was finally delivered about a week ago!  I’m so thankful to have a vehicle.  It means more freedom for me and makes life a whole lot easier.  Of course, it will be used for ministry when we take the Jesus Film out around the Diocese.  I still do not believe this is my life some days…like when I’m driving this truck through some of the roughest roads in Gulu.  Two years ago…no way I could have predicted this!!

Thanks Saint James for approving the funds to get the truck operating again for my use!
Thanks Saint James for approving the funds to get the truck operating again for my use!


A few days after I arrived back in Gulu, I welcomed Ryan and Elizabeth Jones to the guest house.  They are here for three weeks.  Ryan is a classmate of mine from Fuller Seminary.

Ryan & Elizabeth Jones

Ryan & Elizabeth Jones

He is teaching a workshop on the book of Matthew and Elizabeth is learning about how counseling is done in this culture.  It’s been fun showing them    around.  One of the perks of living in Africa is the close proximity to some of the best game parks in East Africa.  This coming weekend we are all driving up to the northeastern corner of Uganda to visit the Kadepo Game Preserve.  It’s one of the best places to see lots of different types of animals.  It’s only about a five hour drive but because it is so remote it is one of the least visited parks.  It’s not remote for us!! So we are loading up the truck and headed that way.  Since it’s the dry season, most of the animals hang out near the water sources that don’t dry up so we are counting on seeing lions, leopards, zebra, giraffes, elephants, just to name a few.  Pics to follow.  You know I love a good adventure!!  LOL!

Classes have resumed at the Janani Luwum Theological College.  I am teaching Old Testament Prophets.  The school has recently been accredited by Uganda Christian University as the primary center for theological education in all of Northern Uganda, which consists of seven dioceses in the Church of Uganda.  We are moving to a new location, less than a mile from the current location.  It will give us a lot more space to grow but it needs repairs before we can begin having classes there.  I think in three years time this school will have several hundreds students studying for a variety of degrees.  There is much work to be done but we know the Lord will provide.  This theological college is extremely important to the future of the church in Northern Uganda.  I can’t stress how strategic it is to insuring the continued growth and health of the Church.

Praise God! He provided all the funds needed for the Jesus Film Project, which I have written about in previous blog posts. I had a meeting with the Mission Dept today and it was decided that our first road trip will be March 18th to Apaa in Kilak Archdeaconry.  There is a three day outreach planned at the end of which we will show the Jesus Film. We are now trying to plan a two-three day trip to Kampala to shop for our new equipment. Once we have our new sound system and video projector we will have a practice run here at the Diocese in Gulu to make sure we know how to operate all the equipment. I’m very excited!!  Below is an excerpt from their website:

Every eight seconds, somewhere in the world, another person indicates a decision to follow Christ after watching the “JESUS” film. Every eight seconds… that’s 10,800 people per day, 324,000 per month and more than 3.8 million per year! That’s like the population of the entire city of Pittsburgh, PA coming to Christ every 28 ¼ days. And yet, if you are like many people, you may have never even heard of it.

Called by some “one of the best-kept secrets in Christian missions,” a number of mission experts have acclaimed the film as one of the greatest evangelistic tools of all time. Since 1979 more than 200 million men, women and children worldwide have indicated decisions to follow Jesus after viewing the film. In addition, through hundreds of partners an estimated 10+ million decisions have been made as the film “JESUS” is used extensively by the Body of Christ worldwide.

I cannot wait until March! Please keep this in your prayers as the Diocese teams up with the Kilak Archdeaconry  leadership to bring the gospel of Luke to the Acholi in their own language. Pray especially for a harvest among the young people.  More to come!

Please pray for my health…that the red dust won’t keep me sick with allergies.  Pray for safety and protection as I drive this truck around Gulu.  Pray that my teaching will be well received and understood by the students.  Pray for the college…that the Lord would provide for all the funds needed to get the new site location up and running.  Pray that we are successful on our trip to Kampala to buy new electronic equipment.  Pray for Bishop Johnson Gakumba as he works tirelessly for this Diocese.

Thanks much and blessings all around!!





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Diving into New Adventures in 2015!

Happy New Year…almost! Guess I’m ready to dive into 2015…Preaching at Cathedral

I’ve been home in the US for a couple of weeks, enjoying hot showers, good food and friends and family.  But my heart is already back in Gulu.

2014 was certainly an eventful year for me.  I am so thankful to everyone who walked through the challenges and celebrations of the year with me and without whom I would not be serving God in Uganda.  Among them are Christa Milligan, who stayed with me in the hospital during my surgery for colon cancer and went above and beyond the call.  Pam & Paul Cooper, who put a roof over my head for four months after I leased in my condo in preparation for moving to Uganda and who also act as my property managers in my absence.  Saint James Church, Charleston, SC and all the wonderful people who support me there and pray for me including the Rev. Arthur Jenkins and Rev. Louise Weld, Mark and Robin VonAllmen and everyone in the Missions Group.  Jennifer Miller, whose friendship and generosity knows no bounds.  Jennifer Woodworth for sacrificially taking care of my sweet dog, Daisy.  There are dozens more but to name you all would take a couple of pages.  I’m more thankful than I know how to express.  I am a blessed woman!

I look forward to 2015 with much excitement and anticipation.  When I return to Uganda on January 15th I have so much work waiting for me.  I’ll be teaching OT Prophets to the Diploma class of the Archbishop Janani Luwum Theological College.  I’ll also be acting as the full-time Bursar for the College.  I will begin working with the Missions Department of the Diocese of Northern Uganda to take the Jesus Film on the road…going to each Archdeaconry in the Diocese in 2015.  I will purchase and begin to distribute Acholi Bibles to those most in need in the remote villages of Northern Uganda.  I’ll continue to act as the Assistant to the Bishop for International Relations, corresponding with partners from all around the world.  These are the things I know about…but I’ve learned to be ready to respond to whatever each day brings in Uganda.  You never know what the day will hold or where the Lord will lead.  It’s a life full of excitement and adventure and it’s a privilege to serve the Lord in this way.

I am still in need of about $10,000 to cover not only my living expenses but also costs of the Jesus Film Ministry and Acholi Bible Fund.  It’s not too late to make a tax deductable contribution before the end of this year.  Please…partner with me in the work the Lord has called me to do in Uganda.  Click on the Donate button to contribute through Paypal or mail a check to Saint James Church.  You can find the mailing address under “Partner with Me” tab above.  All gifts must received through Paypal or postmarked by Dec. 31st.

I can’t wait to begin to post again from Gulu with new updates and pics of all the Lord is doing there.  I ask your prayers as I travel back to Africa in about two weeks.

May your year be filled with the life-changing love, mercy and grace of Christ Jesus and may you continue to discover His dreams for you as you follow Him.

with love,

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