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Bibles and Water and Lights… Oh My!!!!

Family,

I am excited to write you again.  I know it’s been a week or so since my last letter, but this has been a challenge for Dad and me.  Not being together has been difficult and then add in a nine-hour time difference and completely different schedules… and you have recipe for aggravation!  But, God has shown His grace through this and… well, here we are now!

I just got off the phone with Dad and MY GOODNESS….  So many exciting things are happening in Pallisa.  I’ll try to just highlight a few because I don’t want to overload you.  (But, if you want to get an earful of ALL the amazing things our merciful God is doing, just let me know and we can talk about it over lunch!)

So, Dad and Godfrey have hit the ground running in Pallisa and have had the pleasure of seeing great things.  In June we passed out the tracks with thirty-two Bible verses on them in hopes of encouraging people to read their Bibles.  If they learned the verses and recited them for Pastor Geoffrey, they received a Bible.  Well, I am happy to announce that SOOOOOO many people have been reciting these verses to Dad and Godfrey.  There are over 12,000 of these tracks in circulation in this one county.  Dad said just driving down the road you’d see them in people’s back pockets!  Exciting!!!!

Well, they are having meetings with groups of people and playing Bible challenge.  At each gathering, Dad, Godfrey and Geoffrey give away about 100,000 shillings.  The money brings them in, but the hearing of God’s word encourages people.  The winner gets money and a MacArthur Study Bible.  THEN… they’ve taken solar powered lights and introduced them to the people.  If the people promise to read God’s Word for one hour each day, they get a light!  Dad said you wouldn’t believe how excited the Ugandans are to read the Bible!!!!!  Our goal is to eventually have 1,000 people in this county reading the Bible for one hour a day.  Can you imagine what that would do for this region?!?!?!?!!

We’ll start fundraising/brainstorming soon for this ministry.  The lights cost about $16 each.

Dad told me a story of meeting with a husband and wife.  When he asked her if she read her Bible, she replied, “Of course I do!  It’s my LIFE!”  Just a testament to why we are there.  People are hungry for God’s word!

He also met with a man who is the head of the water authority there and his name was Moses.  He told Dad that they had a 30% success rate of finding water.  Dad showed him how he finds water (which is 100% successful).  Can you imagine what this will do for the people????  AND… there is an American here in the states who is possibly thinking of donating a drilling rig!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am so excited!!!!!  I’m telling you…. In June we prayed things would come together and we knew we were just sowing seeds, but now we really are seeing things come together!!!!  How merciful is God that He allows us to witness these blessings?????

AND…  the children’s catechisms are printed and we are praying for the right person to head up this ministry and take them to the schools.  From what we have heard, the schools are willing to build this into the curriculum!!!!!  Goodness gracious… just gives you chills!

AND…  my dad and the guys were asked to preview the new Campus Crusade video Walking with Jesus and they are getting great responses from that with the projectors we sent over there to use for outreach!

I know I said I didn’t want to overload you, but I just got so excited!!!!   God is so good and faithful and merciful and… overwhelmingly amazing.  The fact that He thinks enough of us to use us… that should bring us to our knees in humility and thanksgiving.

I thank you for being a part of this ministry.  For caring what we are trying to accomplish in Pallisa.  For loving our Father and being a part of the Great Commission.  This is such an exciting time to be a follower of Jesus.  I am thankful to call you family.  I love you all and thank you for your continued love, prayers and support.  May God bless you richly.

His,

Michelle

Hello again, Uganda!!!

Family,

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to write you. (As I tried to plan out my outline on paper, my handwriting became unintelligible because my body was jerking with excitement.  So, I had to hurry up and jump on the computer!)

I just got off the phone with Dad.  It was a week ago that he left Knoxville, Tennessee to go spend a month with our amazing brothers and sisters in Uganda, Africa.  We’ve only had the chance to speak on the phone a few times and tonight I couldn’t wait to write you and tell you all about it!!!!  That is how these emails will work this month.  I’ll write you when I have no option.  I think I would have burst tonight had I not written you.

God has paved a phenomenal path for our brothers in Uganda.  In Dad’s first few days there, he’s met with government officials, with many pastors, with brothers on fire for Christ that want to help with our ministry.  His excitement and anticipation has grown each day.

One thing I’m SO excited to share with you is the update on Pastor James.  Remember that one of our sisters here in the states bought him a truck?  Well, I am honored to share that he’s used this investment so well.  He rents the truck to others when he isn’t using it and then invests the money into the Kingdom!  He has used the money earned to buy some land and plant a church!!!!!!  Many are meeting Christ because of this truck and the fruit just keeps coming!!

Dad has bought a vehicle (thanks to a brother here in the states); he’s waiting to get mud tires on it and then he’s off to Pallisa!  Anti-terrorism forces are alive and well, so Dad had to spend many hours at the bank proving he was not a terrorist.  But, he passed the test and now has his van!  Please pray that relationships are built so that in the future when we send money to our family in Uganda, the transactions will go smoothly and painlessly.

Dad, Pastor James and Pastor Jeffery are in the beginning stages of forming a council in Pallisa that will be the wisdom of our ministry of Uganda.  Prayers for discernment and direction would be appreciated.  It is apparent that God is working and wants to do great things in Pallisa!  The children’s catechism we decided to make in June is now printed and in students’ hands!  We printed 6,000 and can’t wait to see how God uses them.

The story that broke my heart tonight was the story of our brother’s son.  Simon Peter’s son, Daniel, fell off his bike two years ago and broke his leg.  (Daniel is seven)  Simon Peter took him to the doctor and the doctor tied both of his legs together.  (I guess to serve as a type of splint?)  Daniel begged and begged his father to break him loose, but Simon Peter refused saying the doctor knew best.  He tried for three days to find the doctor, but he was nowhere to be found.  When the doctor finally resurfaced, he (the doctor) admitted he had made a mistake.   Both of Daniel’s legs were now useless and in need of being amputated.  So, Daniel, 7 years old, no longer has his legs.  Simon Peter shared with my dad that he cannot find it in his heart to forgive the doctor.  My flesh is screaming, “Can you blame him?”  But, we must take comfort in the FACT that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Would you please pray with us that Simon Peter, through God’s grace and mercy, forgives this doctor?  That WHEN Simon Peter extends that forgiveness, mercy and grace that the doctor will see Jesus and be called to Him?  That Daniel will devour the Bible Dad is taking him this week and become a mighty man of God?  That someone will be moved to help this young boy walk again?

I love you all and thank you for your hearts.  Thank you for being on this journey with us.  Your prayers, hearts and love make a difference.  We are all the Church and it’s so exciting to be reminded of that!  YOU have beautiful brothers and sisters in Uganda.  YOU have many who are not a part of the family yet, but will hear of our Father because of your prayers through this ministry.  We are part of a work MUCH bigger than ourselves.

My goodness… just brings you chills, doesn’t it?????

Please visit the blog I put together of our trip in June.  https://witnessinguganda.wordpress.com/about/  Please give me your input.  What would you like to hear more about?  Dad is trying to upload videos and as soon as he does, they will be in your inbox.  I’m doing my best to convey what is happening there, but I’m here!  I’m still in school.  So, if you would give feedback, I’d appreciate it.

I love you all.  You are my family whom I love dearly.  Thank you for your continued prayers.  God is about to amaze us.  If we open our eyes, He does that every day.  I am excited to see what He wants to show us this month.  I love you.  Thank you.

His,

Michelle

Teach me to pray

Family,

So, here I am.. almost a month after my travels in Uganda with Dad… I’m at a Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF) conference here in Milligan, Tennessee and I am flooded with emotion…  I can’t quite figure it out.  I haven’t felt the need to write since I was in Uganda.  (and that…I don’t know what to do with)  What is it that makes me have to process so much when I’m with my dad?  Why do I not process when I’m away from him?  Is it him?  Is it the fact that when I’m with him I’m steeped in Jesus?  Am I flooded with the Spirit and that’s why I feel this way?  I have no idea!!!  I have no idea what is going on right now…

What I do know is that I was just downstairs enjoying the most beautiful sing along with some amazing people.  Our beautiful brother John Linville led us in worship tonight.  But, it wasn’t all serious (or at least the tone wasn’t)… it was straight-up sing-along, folk, fun singing to Jesus.  I just met John yesterday, but knew instantly that I loved him.  He and his wonderful wife were just SO lovely and calming.  But, there is something different about his calming… it doesn’t sedate you… it fills you up.  I’ve never quite felt this way around someone before.

Anyway, John has cancer and tonight while he was singing and smiling and winking and bringing joy to the entire room, I felt this overwhelming urge to cry.  I wasn’t sad.  I wasn’t so lost in worship that I was crying.  I was grieved… and it wasn’t because he has cancer (well, not exactly).  I was moved to cry because I wanted (even needed) to pray for God to heal him.  But, I knew that I was inadequate.  (This isn’t a ploy for pity.. for my Christian friends to say “Oh Michelle… yadda yadda…”)

I feel God moving… I feel that He wants to teach me how to pray and on one hand I couldn’t be more excited about it… but, on the other, I’m afraid of that power.  I have a complex of being afraid of success… I know that sounds stupid… and eventually I’ll get over it, but that’s where I am.  But, think about it… Christ told us that we will do even greater things than He.  EVEN GREATER THINGS.  Greater things than Christ?  Yep.  That is truth, my friends.

So, that is what I’m processing.  I feel God is about to show me how to ask for His will.  How to pray in spirit and in truth.  How to know Him more.  How to be more like Jesus.  I am at that brink.  I’m at the place where I usually stop dead in my tracks and shutdown, but I can’t.  I have the overwhelming urge to throw myself at the feet of Jesus and BEG Him to teach me how to pray for my brother John.  BEG him to teach me how to pray for the healing of my dad.  BEG Him to teach me how to be His hands and feet.  BEG him for revival.

And then… accept that He will.

We serve the King of Kings.  The King of Kings has adopted me into His family and given me a new life that cries for others.  My tears tonight are not because John is so sick and I don’t want him to die, they are because he is so filled with the spirit and he overflows onto everyone else… and I want him to stick around to share that with as many people as possible.  I want to experience that as much as possible.  Maybe I’m just selfish…  Either way, I am certain that God wants me at the feet of Jesus begging Him to teach me to pray.

I’ve been reading a book titled, ­With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray.  I’m only on chapter thirteen and it is already rocking my world.

I’m just so blessed…

#19 June email “Obedience… even when you don’t feel like it”

Family,

Today is my second full day back and I’ve done everything except write you.  I’m sorry… I’ve even sat down to write and got about half-way through, then stopped.  I’m not sure what it is… maybe I was more inspired in Uganda.  Maybe I’m more distracted back home.  Maybe I wasn’t meant to write until now.  Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.  Yet again, I don’t really feel like writing, but I will.

I knew there was a chance that I’d have some major culture shock when I returned home.  When I came home from Costa Rica the first time, I felt so isolated and unable to connect to anyone or anything for quite sometime.  But, so far, I’m adjusting quite well this time around.  God planned it perfectly (as always) with me staying with Godfrey’s family.  Five days without a “proper” shower and toilet made me more than thankful for home.  I have an unending sense of gratitude for everything back home… my family, friends, babies, everything…

(So… I’ve been looking at this computer screen for far too long.. zero motivation)  I guess this is an obedience issue.  In Uganda, it was pretty simple to be obedient.  I’d wake up early, spend at least an hour with our Father and then I was able to spend the day intentionally glorifying Him.  I spent most the day with other believers and His name and mission were on the tip of all our tongues.  I was constantly edified and encouraged.  Something is different about being back home… I’m not saying it’s bad.  As a matter of fact, I’m more encouraged than anything.  I’m more conscious of looking for ways to be a blessing and give glory to God.  I am more excited than ever about bringing the mission field right here to Huntsville.  Everywhere we are… that IS our mission field.

I would love for you to continue to pray for this mission… here and in Uganda.  Really… we should be praying that God’s mission is fulfilled everywhere.  I truly believe the way to do that is for us to live the way Christ would.  There should not be this huge chasm between us.  There should not be people dying in poverty and others getting fatter and fatter with riches and greed.  There should not be religious people refusing to mingle with the irreligious.  When we refuse to help… that is sin.  Plain and simple.  We are putting SOMETHING before God.  We are holding on to our belongings, time, money, (you name it), instead of being obedient.  So, I ask you… what are you holding on to?  What is preventing you from serving our Father wholeheartedly?  I urge you to CRUSH it.  Flee from it.

For me, it was my comfort zone.  I had to flee my comfort zone to serve God wholeheartedly.  I continually put my comfort ahead of my obedience and once I crushed it, man… God was glorified and I was forever changed.  And the beauty of it is that this is not a one-time-occurrence.  He is faithful to bless me EVERYDAY I choose Him over my comfort.  Wow…

Thank you for your prayers.  You have no idea how much I appreciate all of you taking the time and effort to read my novellas I send.  Thank you for your hearts to pray for me, my dad and our passion for Uganda.  God has been so amazing to give us hearts for the unbelievably beautiful people of Uganda.  We are honored and excited to continue to serve our family there.

Wisdom… we need wisdom.  We are continuing to talk to, pray with and serve our brothers and sisters in Uganda.  We may be back home, but their needs are still very real.  God has been so good to allow us to be part of meeting some needs, but there are still many, many, many more.  When we go back in December (Lord willing!), we will focus on Pallisa.  Beautiful things have happened there since our visit.  (Remember we took Bibles, tracks and played Bible challenge there)  Because we could only afford 220 Bibles (about $1,500), the people had to learn thirty-two Bible verses before they could receive a Bible.  Well, the pastors have run out of tracks with the verses printed on them!  People are showing up at Pastor Jeffrey’s everyday to recite their verses and get their brand new Bible!  HOW AMAZING IS THAT!!!!  They have the Word written on the tablet of their hearts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’m so excited!!!  So, we are trying to send money to get more of those verses printed and more Bibles sent.  What an awesome opportunity!  They’ve assured us that in December, we’ll be overwhelmed with the crowd Bible challenge will draw.  Do you feel a revival coming on???

So, when we go back, we hope to shower Pallisa with Love and Truth.  We hope to take Pastor Jeffrey a projector along with Macarthur DVDs for teaching pastors and evangelism DVDs for the community.  We want to find water and begin the process of digging many more wells around the town.  We hope to have more Bibles to supply the need of the people.  We also are looking to get Macarthur study Bibles and Bible challenge books in all the pastors’ hands.  And that’s just the beginning… We’re still praying, praying, praying for wisdom and guidance.

Please pray with us.  Please pray that, if indeed this is God’s will, that we all step up and join Him.  Pray that wisdom and resources are showered to water the seeds of this passion.  We are the body.  Two people cannot do this enormous task.  So, please pray that more hearts will be joined with us to make Pallisa a bright light in Uganda.

We praise God for the things He is doing in Uganda.  Hearts were softened to begin the construction of Pastor Moses’ house in Namaseke.  AND… some money has been given to begin the concrete project at the school to put an end to the jigger problem for the kids.  Please pray more is given to be able to finish these projects  Again… I’m honored to walk alongside obedient people like you.  Thank you for loving our Father enough to love His people rightly.

I hope to find some time and get all the pictures together to send to you.  I also hope to upload many more videos to You Tube.  Please pray that I am obedient.  I find it much harder to be a joyful giver of my time and resources here at home.  But, through Him, I will persevere!

I love you all.  Thank you again.  I’m humbled and honored.

His,
Michelle

#18 June email “Overcome by Love”

Family,

I’m wrapping up my last night here in Uganda.  Words simply cannot express this blessing.  E v e r y single aspect of this experience has spoken to my soul in an inexplicable way.

Today was my last day with the baby class at Sanyu Kindergarten.  My goodness… At one point I found myself sitting on the little table while little Denis was holding my hand.  He was exploring my hand and arm as if he had never seen a human before.  And every stroke of his tiny fingers felt like pure love being injected into my veins.  I could have sat there forever.  I almost started crying right there in class (I’m holding back tears now just thinking about it).  The love that is flowing out of me and flowing toward me is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.

I spoke with Pastor James tonight.  He’s the one who is about to receive a truck from a beautiful heart in the U.S.  He was expressing his gratitude and said something I didn’t expect.  He said that he and his family thought there was something peculiar about our visit.  He said Westerners don’t usually want to go to the villages.  He thought it was peculiar (he kept using that word) that we loved them enough to go to his village and help find water.  He said he saw Christ in us.  He, then, understood why we were different.

That is the highest compliment I could ask for.  (Actually, the biggest compliment EVER was when my dear friend told me that I made her want to know God…  her words… I could never make anyone want God)  But, that is what this is all about.  To God be the glory.  There is nothing about ME that would make me want to come to Uganda.  There is nothing about ME that would enjoy living the life of a Ugandan.  There is nothing about ME that would strive to help people I’ve only met for seconds.  But, it is CHRIST IN me that makes this possible.

Godfrey and Eva have been the most beautiful hosts I could ever ask for.  Eva today told me that I was simple.  I never thought I’d take that as a compliment, but I’m so thankful she thinks so.  They both told me that I am tough, that I’ve handled Africa very well.  Eva is still not convinced that I was not scared to come here.  I say all of this because you know me… I’m not tough!!!  I don’t like to sweat.  I LOVE indoor plumbing!!!  I am a spoiled American.  But, I will boast in my weakness and let Christ show His strength through me.  I am so blessed that He stooped and decided to use me.  This trip has opened my eyes.

It’s so funny… for a couple of months now, I’ve been praying for God to give me eyes to see His people the way He does.  I had no idea how beautiful He thinks His people are… how much He loves His people… how He longs to bless them.  I had no idea…  now I have a little better grasp, and I anticipate that every trip will give me a deeper understanding of this love.

Thank you again for all your love and prayers.  I would not be here if it weren’t for each and every one of you.  Each of you has contributed to this mission.  Your love has made this new vision possible.  I am so honored to be here extending your love to the people of Uganda.

Godfrey, tonight, said that I am an ambassador.  I had never thought of it that way, but I guess I am.  I am an ambassador of Christ and you.  I am the face the people see, but they know that I talk to you every night.  They know their stories are being heard.  They are praying for you.  They have invited you into their homes, literally.  Pastor James and Pastor Godfrey have invited anyone to come and stay with them.  I promise you will never be the same.

God is so good.  I never thought I would be going home with the perspective I have now.  I will think twice about every dollar I spend, every glass of water I drink, every ounce of food I put on my plate, every life that I touch.  Or at least I pray I do… it’s amazing how quickly you can jump back into the American life.  Please pray that we are ALL changed by this.  That we ALL will continue to think of the Ugandan people.  That we ALL begin to see God’s people as He sees them.  That we ALL remember this experience and allow God to use it in our everyday lives.  To God be the glory!!!

Truly His,

Michelle

#17 June email “So long comfort zone”

Family,

Today was yet another blessing.  I spent the day with Teacher Eva and Teacher Esther at Sanyu Kindergarten.  And… Of course I spent it being showered with love from twenty-five three-year-olds.  I was supposed to spend the second part of the day with the older kids, but I didn’t feel well.  I didn’t even eat lunch!!!  Yikes!  I knew something wasn’t right then.  But after I rested, I went back to school to help Teacher Eva.  I’ve decided to make it my mission to help the teachers the way I’d love help during the school year.  So, I’ve been marking their books, grading papers and making copies.  When I say making copies, I mean LITERALLY making copies.  I can make three copies at a time with carbon paper.  Man.. just another example of what we spoiled folks take for granted!

I spoke with Teacher Eva, Godfrey’s wife, while grading primary one math papers.  She shared her vision of Sanyu with me.  She shared that it is hard to improve the school when twenty-five percent of the kids don’t pay their fees.  Plus, what little they do get goes toward HER family.  Their first-born was sent home from boarding school today because they haven’t paid all her tuition for the term.  So, windows for the school, mattresses for the kids to share during naptime (they sleep on the tables now), toys, etc. are lower on the totem pole.

After school, Eve came over and she and Eve told me about their vision of the orphanage they want to start.  Are you kidding me???  I’ve heard both of these women talk about how hard life is… that they barely have enough money to send their own kids to school.  I’ve heard their husbands talk to my dad about their needs.  I’ve heard about the twenty kids they are jointly sponsoring!  TWENTY KIDS!  My goodness…  Their vision of the orphanage is truly inspiring.  They want to start by increasing the number of kids they sponsor now.  Then they want to build an orphanage that includes housing and a vocational school.  Their hearts are bigger than I can even comprehend.  I was asking about how many kids they’d like to sponsor and they told me just to walk from here to Eve’s and I’d have more than enough.  They know the need.  They live the need.  Eva told me today, “When you are needy, it’s difficult to help your fellow needy.”

Just a week ago I was put off by people coming right out and asking for things.  I was uncomfortable.  I am reminded how many times I’ve told people who God grows me the most when He thrusts me out of my comfort zone.  Well, here I am in Uganda having people coming to me like I’m a business woman!  I’m a teacher people!  Don’t you know I’m broke!  (You all probably laughed at that poor attempt at a joke… when in all actuality, I’m rich compared MOST)  The average person makes $200 A YEAR here in Uganda.

Tonight the power went out.  I hear the power was out at home today too.  I hope you all made the most of it like we did.  We had a lovely candlelight dinner.  And, it gave me a great opportunity to give the kids the glow-in-the-dark crosses.  I wish you could have seen them eating their rice and beans with one hand while holding tightly their crosses in the other.  I am honored to be in this home.  They have gone out of their way to make me comfortable, even though I begged Eva not to.  She just won’t listen!

I am rejoicing to be out of my comfort zone.  I’m grateful that God has given me the opportunity to be the only white person in a (probably) one-mile radius.  (We’re in the capital.  It would be much larger if I was in the village)  I’m reminded when I first showed up at Lee High School.  Those kids were staring at me like I did not belong… and I couldn’t have agreed more!  But, we grew to know and love each other.  I think teaching at Lee is one of my favorite blessings from our Father.  I am no longer in that tiny box.  I now love kids that I would have stayed FAR away from.  (I’m embarrassed to say that, but what good would it do to lie)  Now those kids have become my favorite part of my days.  They keep me on my toes and love me so much.  I’m incredibly blessed.

God has given me a similar opportunity here in Uganda.  I have stepped out of my little box into a very large place with SO many people to love.  I am honored to be able to love these people and help where I can.  I pray that our Father opens your heart to be a part of this incredible blessing.

I love you all and thank you for your prayers.  Tomorrow is my last full day in Uganda.  Please pray that our Father is glorified.

His,

Michelle

#16 June email “Hard work”

Family,

So, I have officially been living the life of a true Ugandan for twenty-four hours now and it is HARD WORK!!!  Really… everything is work.  Not to be crude, but even going to the bathroom is hard work.  They work so hard for so little.  I always had an inkling that I was spoiled, but now I have NO DOUBT.  Did I share the other day that the women taught me how to wash clothes and I ended up with sores on my hands?!?!?  Eva, Godfrey’s wife and the woman who is taking ridiculously good care of me, said God knew what He was doing when He gave this life to the Africans.  He knew they could handle it.

Please don’t take this as me complaining… I most certainly am not.  If anything, I’m ashamed.  Ashamed at how much I take for granted.  Ashamed at how much I complain.  Ashamed at how much I act like my life is worse than most.  Ashamed at how often I REFUSE to even consider those less fortunate, let alone act.

Today was a great day.  I spent the day with little cutie patooties.  The money for Pastor James’ truck was transferred today at a total of $13,400.  Someone has given $2,400 to Pastor Godfrey’s church to start some micro-financing loans.  I actually was able to help teacher Eva out at school.  All in all, I’d say this was a fantastic day!  God is just beginning His blessings with our work here in Uganda.  We’ve only begun to lay the groundwork.  We are constantly brainstorming with our pastor-friends here and God is continually giving us and our friends the spirit of generosity.  Blessings are abounding!

Thank you for you prayers.  God was so gracious to give me forty-something kids today that wouldn’t let me out of their sight.  I couldn’t have shut-down if I’d tried.  Those adorable faces were the song in my heart today.  But, I will say… I tip my hat to elementary school teachers!  There is no way I could do that every day!  “Teacher Michelle!  Teacher Michelle!  Teacher me!  Teacher me!  Teacher!  Teacher!  Teacher!”  Whew!  I could have taken two naps!  Seriously!  That is hard work!  But, one thing I do love is how sweet they are AND the fact that they are not afraid to be sweet like sugar.  My students are sweet, but they never want me to know that.  These kids here were almost fighting each other to hold my hand or sit in my lap.  (Except in Uganda, there is no fighting… they would just push each other out of the way and the other would just walk away… I’ve never seen people so gentle in my life!!!)  I have to praise God for that gift!  He knew all along that this would be an emotional rollercoaster for me, that I’d want to shutdown and he decided to bless me with beautiful spirits just when I needed it.  So good…

Dad has made it to Chicago with the hopes of avoiding a six-hour layover and getting on an earlier flight.  Hopefully that will work out for him.  The traveling is brutal.  It’s not too bad for me… I’m short and overly-friendly when I’m nervous or unsure.  But, I must say that God has blessed us indeed during this trip.  Thankfully, neither of us are snobs in any way.  We had coffee in Pallisa and both said it was delicious!  Then when we were back at the guest house, I was bragging about how great the coffee was and come to find out it was Nescafe.  One of the hoity-toity guys almost cried, he was so appalled.  HA!  But, it’s been that way the entire time.  Everything has been fantastic!  The people are beyond lovely.  The food is great!  (Brace yourselves… I’ve gained quite a few pounds… everything is starch here… which doesn’t work well with my low-carb diet, but when in Uganda…)  I don’t have anything bad to say about this blessing.  Even the pit-latrines are handy as a leg exercise.

I love you all and am counting my blessings to know and love you.  I SOOOOOOOOO wish you could be here with me experiencing this love.  I’m (I was about to say speechless and then say the full-page above  HA!) so thankful to see clearly…  to have eyes to see these blessings.  Man… life is good and our God is great!

I love you and hope you have a wonderfully blessed Wednesday!

His,

Michelle

Brace yourselves… the following video MAY be too adorable to handle.  🙂  ENJOY… I know I am!!!

 

#15 June email “Perspective”

Family,

I’m going to be honest, I don’t feel like writing.  I’m feeling myself wanting to shut down.  This has been a really unproductive defense mechanism my entire life.  Something becomes too much… shut down.  About to get hurt… shut down.  Not going well… shut down.  Overwhelmed… shut down.

So, I will combat this by writing when I don’t feel like it.  My dad’s plane is supposed to take off in ten minutes.  I had no idea I would miss him so much.  I had no idea what I was missing for twenty-four years.  I’m so looking forward to what God has in store for us.  The ministry we are hoping to be a part of here in Uganda is VERY exciting.  I had no idea serving our Father with my father would be this wonderful.  I knew it would be good, but this has truly been amazing.

I’m writing you from Pastor Godfrey’s home in Kampala.  He and his wife have invited me in for the remainder of the week.  I hope to help Eva tomorrow at her school.  Thursday we hope to work on some administrative things in town. Friday I hope to help at school again.  And I have no idea what I’ll do Saturday except hop on a plane at 10:45 PM.  Actually, I have no idea what I’ll do each day.  I’ll just have to see what this beautiful family and God have in mind.  J

I would absolutely love prayers for continued openness.  Last year in Costa Rica, half-way through, I had the thought that “Man, if you love the people this much now… just imagine how much it will hurt when you leave!”  So, I shut down.  I still regret it.  But, do you know what I’m talking about?  Have you ever loved so much that it became too much???  Well, I’m at a crossroads.  And, I’m asking you to help me persevere and continue forward.

One great praise (one of many that popped in my head)… Dad called Pastor Jeffrey from Pallisa today.  Pastor J was in the middle of listening to a guy recite his thirty-two Bible verses to get his new Bible!!!  Then, twenty-minutes later, the young man called to thank Dad and share how excited he was!!!  I’m telling you… there is something special about to happen in Pallisa!  We have more ideas that we are discussing with the pastors… we are all very excited, honored and blessed that the Lord has decided to stoop and use us.

I also got to see Priscilla and Vivian down at the school today.  These were the super sweet girls who talked to me after I twisted my ankle, which is fine by the way.  They were sad I was leaving today, but we exchanged contact information.  I asked Priscilla if there was anything she’d like to ask.  I thought she’d just ask silly questions about America like before, but she asked if I could find someone to pay for her school fees.  I was taken aback at first… but, we talked further.  She has six siblings and her parents manage to send them all to school, but it is a really rough.  I asked how much her school fees were.  She said 35,000 shillings each trimester.  That equals to $45.45 a year.  I told her to pray and that I’d pray.  Fifty bucks… man, my dining out a few times could send her to school for a full year.

Godfrey has assured me tonight that God has a purpose for everything.  You may not know it now, but later on down the road you’ll see how great His plan really was.  I can’t wait to see what this trip is the beginning of.  I feel like it’s something big…

When Dad was leaving, he hugged me and said he’d been waiting for this for twenty-four years.  Twenty-four years we waited.  His ways are NOT our ways.  I feel like this relationship we are starting is a fine wine that has aged!  I look forward to every sip!

I love you all.  I look forward to loving on all the little cuties tomorrow.  I’ll take lots of pictures and video and will try to email some soon.  This family I’m staying with is so amazing… I wish I could share all their stories.  Just know that they are an incredible blessing and are showering me with hospitality.  They love our God and it pours out of them.

Thank you for your love and support.  I look forward to the cups of coffee, lunches, walks, hikes, rides and dinners when I get home.  We have a lot to do!!!!  Uganda is now my other home…(By the way… Pastor Godfrey said any of you are welcome to stay here if you can’t afford a hotel room!!!  YIPPEE!!!!)  I truly feel God calling me to come back as often as possible.  Ever felt that?  You get to a place and immediately know that you’ll be back again and again.  That’s what I feel here.  Such a blessing.

Love you.  Good night.  I’m looking forward to shrugging off this weight and loving life and our Father tomorrow.  Thank you.

His,

Michelle

#14 June email “The beginning”

Family,

I just watched my dad pull off in the car… He just went to the store with Fred, but I’m beginning to miss him already.  He leaves tonight and my heart is starting to get sad.  We don’t share those feelings too often and when we do it’s a little weird, but the feeling is still there.  I have learned so much about my dad, myself and God these past two weeks.  So many questions I have lived with for the past thirty years are beginning to make sense.  Parts of me that were wounded for so long are beginning to heal.  Beginning… I’ve written that MANY times in this paragraph, but that is what this is… the beginning.

I am beginning to look at my life, my relationships, my wants, my needs and my God differently.  Through many questions and searching, I am beginning to see more clearly.  I am thankful for your responses to my emails I have sent out.  Thank you for reading them and praying for us.  I wish I could say that I would have been as supportive, but I’m not convinced.  So many of you have poured out your heart to me in encouraging words and love.  You have attempted to comfort me with the struggles I’m having with the poverty here.  I am very grateful for your hearts and love for me.  But, I’m beginning to struggle even more… and… I’m so thankful for this struggle!!!!  When someone in my family is struggling or hurting, I want to help.  I don’t just stand back and say, “Well, I love them.  That’s enough!”  Now, there are times when I can’t help and all I CAN do is love and pray.  But, we act when we can.

These people have become my family.  I CAN act.  I MUST.  I want to share something with you…

“For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.  As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.’”  2 Corinthians 8:13-15

I encourage you to read all of 2 Corinthians 8.  In the NKJV, “fairness” is translated as EQUALITY.  Something isn’t adding up…

I know this is not pleasant for some.  Heck!  This isn’t pleasant for me either!!!!  As a matter of fact, I’ve already had one ask to be taken off this email list.  And… I EXPECT others to act differently toward me after this trip.  And… I look forward to what God has in store for me… and you!  We are called to a different standard!  We are called to love others the way Jesus did.  I have been asking God to open my eyes to see His children the way He does.  To use me.  And He is so faithful… In doing so, He’s restored my relationship with my father, given me more beautiful brothers and sisters, given me the courage to truly share my heart with you, given me a desire to spend meaningful time with Him AND answered my prayer.  So, He not only answered my prayer, He blessed me richly for having the heart to do His will.  How great is our God!?!?!?!

I love you all more than you’ll ever know.  I’m overflowing with love and blessings.  I have cried tears of joy and sorrow on a daily basis… and I’m so thankful.  Thank you again for your love and prayers.  I am so excited to walk this road with you.  I only know what the NEXT step is, but the possibilities are so AMAZING!  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I leave for Godfrey’s at 4:00 PM and Dad leaves for the airport tonight.  Please pray for his safe travels and a beautiful reunion with our family in Tennessee.  Please pray for me to be helpful to Godfrey and his family.  They would NEVER admit that I would be a burden in any way.  So, please pray that I may bless them as much as they will bless me.  (I may not be able to email until I get back in the States.  Godfrey has a computer, but we’ll have to see…)

Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I am praying for you and hope God is blessing you richly in your time with Him.  “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”  James 4:8

L O V E and B L E S S I N G S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unimaginably thankful to be His,

Michelle

 

#13 June email “Extending grace”

Family,

So, I wrote last night about the overwhelming needs here in this country.  We all know that, but most of us just have/had an abstract idea of the need.  Today was another learning experience.  It would be very easy to get depressed, throw my hands in the air and say “I couldn’t possibly make a difference.  Why bother?”  But, deep down, we all KNOW we simply CANNOT do that.  We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters to help.  So, I’ve decided to do what I can and at least tell their stories.

Remember how last night I talked about MMS and how Moses’ sister was poisoned.  Well, he came by today to visit with Dad before he left and learn how to make MMS.  He shared with us that his sister poisoned herself.  She has a total of seven kids.  Her husband died a couple years ago.  She was already a little unstable, but then was left with seven kids and no husband.  So, Moses took four of the kids.  (Moses already has NINE kids of his own)  Life with fifteen people in the house became too much.  So, this past Thursday, Moses took the four kids back to their mom.  She seemed fine with everything.  Then he got the call Saturday night that she had poisoned herself.  She had taken insecticide.

She is now fine (physically), but my goodness!!!  This woman is overwhelmed!  Seven kids!!!!  The average family in Africa has about eight kids.  But, what do you do when your people have all these kids and so many parents die from AIDS???  And… here’s where it’s easy for me to throw up my hands and say, “I’m overwhelmed just hearing about this!!!!!!!!!!!!  What could I possibly do to help?  I’m not a psychiatrist or foster mom!”

We talked with Moses today and he wanted to use the money raised to concrete the school floor to build a house that could accommodate his family plus his sisters’.  We said he had to use that money to concrete the floor since that is what the donor designated the money for.  So, we did some brainstorming, digging and praying… and someone has put up $2,500 to begin the house!!!!  We only need $2,500 more for it to be a finished product (floor, stucco, windows, etc.).  Hallelujah!!!

I praise God that every time I get overwhelmed and feel there is no way to make an impact, He intercedes.  How great is that?!?!?!  I’m telling you, it’s so easy to get depressed here when you really live life with these people and ask about their need.  That’s our calling!!!!  We are here to walk alongside them and meet needs (spiritual, physical, financial, etc.).  I’m not naïve, I know that my dad and I cannot fulfill all these needs we see every day over here.  But what I do know is… We are the body… and WE serve a King that calls us to be cheerful givers!  And… I’ve learned something about that too!!!  God laid on my heart a micro-financing idea to help some young men in the church here…   (Now, I’m not a business woman, but this idea is pretty ingenious and has the potential to really multiply and help a lot of people in the church!!!  I CANNOT WAIT TO GET THIS MONEY INTO THEIR HANDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Seriously!!!  That is how faithful our God is!  He gives us the heart to be obedient!  I’m going to be a ridiculously cheerful giver!  So, I say that so you don’t feel weird and choose not to read anymore of my emails.  If you are called to give, you’ll know.  J

Then, we visited the rock quarry down the hill.  Dad sat with an older gentleman while he worked.  We tried our best to have a productive conversation, but it didn’t work too well.  Dad tried to break the rock for a couple minutes.  It was hard work!!!  He didn’t even notice that the rock was so sharp, it had cut his hand.  Dad asked the man where his water was and he said he didn’t have any.  He had a little bucket with some food and that was it.  The words we did understand were that he was suffering.  Suffering.  My goodness.  What do you do with that?  How do we change this man’s life?  How do we love him rightly?  How do we deny our natural inclination to say, “Let’s leave.  This is depressing!”  I don’t know… I’m really asking… how do we?  How do I be more like Jesus when everything in me wants to throw my hands up and say, “This is all too much!!!”

I feel like everyday Dad and I brainstorm of bigger and better ways to help the Ugandans… and then we meet someone like the man at the quarry.  Suffering.   So, what I’m realizing is that you just do something.  You act.  You pray and then obey.  And… then you get opportunities to give cheerfully!  Just like my friend who is buying the truck!  That’s a lot of money to let go of… and every time I talk to her, she seems more and more cheerful and excited to give.  Now, that’s a blessing!  I used to think about giving just so I would be blessed with more money, but that isn’t always how it works out.  But, you will always be blessed.  Always.

So, I thank you again for all your prayers.  My dad leaves to go back home tomorrow.  I will leave the guest house and go stay with Pastor Godfrey and his family.  His wife, Eva, runs a school and I’ll be helping her for the remainder of the week.  I’m super excited.  She has a primary school, which is like an elementary school!  YIPPEE!!!  I would never want to teach little ones in the states, but I can’t get enough of these little Africans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  They are beyond adorable.  I will take as many pictures and videos as possible.

Thank you for journeying with me.  This has been an enlightening experience.  My views are continually being challenged and my walk with God is getting richer and richer.  Thank you for loving me enough to read my heart.  This is all an overflow… I’m beyond blessed and ever so thankful.  I love you all very much.

His,

Michelle

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